Pages of Euphoria
Dinner at the Korean Carnival
To my delight, my adult class on Thursday suggested instead of me ranting and raving in English (sounding like Doc from Back to the future) for two hours, that we go and party. I graciously accepted the invitation. We had dinner first, which as usual turned into a soju marathon. We all seriously got lit. This again is on a Thursday night, and there is still one more day of work ahead of us. The food was exquisite, the spirits were distilled to perfection, and the company was wonderful. I love talking like that...I am such a freakin nerd.
After the feast, we went to a place called WA bar, dont know the meaning. All the adults from the class work at the same bank, and I have one student who is the "boss" at the bank. I felt like a trophy wife the way he was taking me around the bar and introducing me to all these Koreans "prrease meet my English teacha." It was all a blur of emotion because I felt extremely proud, happy and embarrassed for how proud he was that I was his teacher but also really strange and bizarre because I barely know this guy or who the hell he was introducing me to. I could not even tell if he knew the people he was introducing me to. Total mayhem.
Next we went to a noray bong or Kareoke room where after arriving, they apparently ordered girls, because a line of like 5 of them walked in the room and stood in a line facing us (ages like 20-25). So I am just standing there, staring at these fairly attractive Korean girls trying to understand what is happening.....when my students prod me into action by saying "choose one, Josep" (how they pronounce it). I couldnt believe it....they actually made me choose a girl from out of this lineup. Once I realized that they wanted me to choose I seriously did not even look and just pointed at one quickly to end the extreme awkwardness. I ended up choosing a rather refined lady whose attire upon reflection, reminds me of my lovely grandmother Jeanne. She stood out like Waldo in comparison to other chicks. So I know what all of you are thinking....And I do not think they were prostitutes. There is that horrible word again. I am happy to report that at least none of that business went down while we were there....they were just our singing dates and designated fruit feeders. I was honestly hand fed fruit by this chick for an extended period of time. When I reciprocated she did not know how to handle it.
This was the second noray bong experience I have had and it was equally as potent as the first occasion but just in different ways. I still sang songs like a maniac jumping all over the room and sliding on the floor and what not, but doing it with my students and our "singing dates" was something else. During one song, we broke into slow dancing.....boy was it romantic. My date (who could be described as petite) must of felt like she was being crushed because I had her
wrapped up pretty tight. I love slow dances.....thats probably the un-manliest thing I have ever admitted but I dont give a rip. And the beauty of it all was that due to the extreme inebriation, it was never weird. After an hour and half or so I was escorted home in a taxi by two of my students, and then walked to my door by one of them. Front door escort service. What an amazing night.
Interesting to note that I did not see a single white person or any other ethnicity and was completely immersed in Koreans through the entirety of my little outing and I never thought about it or realized it once. There is a beauty in that I think. I also did not mention that they would not let me pay for a single item. I tried many times but I seriously did not pay for anything. I couldnt believe it.....that is just their way, extreme hospitality. I read somewhere that it is like ingrained in their minds to be so hospitable because they really want to be known to the rest of the world as that kind of place. Anyways, I ended up paying for all the fun that was had the next day by experiencing a 24 hour hangover from the bowels of hell. I seriously felt like I was hit by a damn train. My lovely teaching staff and administrators informed me throughout the day how much I reeked of soju, and would laugh as they told me. I wanted to curl up in a ball and hide under my desk. You would think my boss would be pissed but she knew I was out experiencing Korea and was actually happy for me I think. She also seemed to rather enjoy watching me struggle through out the day while I was in my hole of soju pain. I am freakin rambling here so I am going to cut myself off. Until next time, I am signing off.
Essence of ECC
So I am still recovering from a night of behaving like Rick James with an adult class of mine. If any of my thoughts or descriptions fall short of making any sense at all its because my brain really hurts right now.
Okay....so people have really expressed curiosity about my school, the classrooms, and most of all, the little monsters. So here is your moment of zen. On monday, wednesday, and frida
y I have 8 straight 40 minute classes starting at 2pm. I have 5 minute breaks between each of them, but those 5 minutes are no joke the biggest slap in the face of rest and relaxation I have ever experienced. 8 straight classes of teaching these kids has quite honestly been one of the most challenging experiences I have ever had.....and I have had to deal with some major adversity before, not just having college paid for, and living at home after graduating like Jack Black in the film "Orange County," but some hard stuff. But let me tell you, teachers have it pretty f*ckin tough, and I am just learning that now....after so many years of being on the other end. I have so much more respect for the occupation now its insane.
So it sounds like I am just raining all over the parade of teaching english in Korea, but it really has shining moments as well. The kind of moments that can restore your faith in humanity and temporarily heal longings for home (even though I haven't had any because I have been too
busy kickin ass and takin names). Young kids of any culture are just so innocent and untainted...its so disarming how genuinely sweet they can be. Forgive me for sounding like Michael Jackson but im being serious. Of course that description applies to a select few, the select few that you just want to pick up and smother because they are so adorable. The rest of them I am convinced were spawned from the devils loins. All they care about are sticking things in teachers body orifices, lewd behavior, indecent exposure, and
just behaving like monkeys on cocaine.
I also have the curse and blessing to teach a wide age range, having 7-14 yearolds and adults as well. So my one adult class that I teach for 2 hours twice a week on tues/thurs, offered to take me out to dinner and debauchery, totally treating me like a king. Korea is seriously the most hospital place I have ever seen...its there biggest custom I would say. They are hospitable at least to good looking white American males (hee hee).
One other bright and shining attribute is the school teaching staff. 6 foreign teachers (3 males and 3 females), and like 9-10 korean teachers (all female). Honestly they are the most amazing group of people...and its funny, its really like a big family because you are around each other sooooo much. Honestly I am never alone except when I sleep, use the restroom, and eat breakfast...and the latter is because Koreans dont really eat breakfast. It is so easy to make friends because everyone is going through the same shit so bonding is immediate. Without having truly awesome people to relate with would make this job impossible. But I cant say enough about the school staff....Even el jeffe Mr. Moon. The dude is so great...Wes likened him to an Asian Bilbo Baggins and I have to say that description fits more than just the appearance. Some of the female teachers seem to have a slight distrust of him because they think he wants to handle their hooters or something but I dont think so, then again I dont have hooters to speak of. Okay....I am just getting weird here.
Changing gears, the name of the school is ECC, and I will post the school website shortly where you can see all of the teachers. There are a few ECC's throughout S.Korea, and I happened to enlist at the Pyongtaek location. But on the whole (there was a movie that destroyed the meaning of that saying) I dont think I could be more happy with where I am at and what I am doing. My job is challenging me in so many different ways, I am meeting truly beautiful and wonderful people, and am simply just taking a huge bite out of life. I tell you all right now, Korea is in trouble because this kid is starving.....Im out.
MTV Cribs: Pyongtaek Edition
How Im livin:
Okay, let me start out by saying that I have lived in some pretty atrocious domiciles in the past. I did 5 months in a 15 by 15 by 10 dorm room in Terry Hall at UW, living with two other college kids who like me did not have organization and cleanliness very high on the priority list. We were strait up rats in a cage, rats who apparently could find the cheese very easily. After the dorms, the next chapter was written in Greek, as I lived in two different frats in as many years. The frats were insanely fun, which is why you forgot about how disgustingly dirty it was. I used the term sesspool pool as a term of endearment in referring to one of my frats. I can remember the kitchen having completely perishable food items left out in the open and inside disfunctional refrigerators for the entire summer. So considering my background, the apartment I am living in now is not too shabby at all. Its studio style, with a large room that has a refrigerator, sink, stove, bed, table, tv, and a microwave (which I just had one kicked down to me). Attached to the main room is a closet, bathroom, and windowed in balcony which unfortunately has a view of a brick wall and is pretty much devoted to the clothes washing machine. The washing machine is pretty ghetto....I seriously put clothes in and they come out with new stains on them, dont ask me how. Koreans do not believe in drying machines, maybe because of the amount of energy they require, so I have a single drying string strung across the balcony room for drying clothes. The bathroom is, shall we say, a little stripped of American luxuries I am used to...as it is basically a shower stall with a toilet in the middle of it. There is a drain in the middle of it, and its pretty comical because when I take a shower the toilet gets sprayed with my shower water. I could care less if there was a live badger in there with me, as long as I have hot water I am cool. However, you have to manually turn on a water heater to get hot water. So thats about all the details I can think of on my little cozy hole in the wall apartment. There are three teachers that live in the same building, one right across the hall from, seriously like 15 feet away from my door. Most of the teachers all live close, and from my apartment it is like an 9 minute walk to ECC (the name of the school). Everything I need is at an arms length reach away...its really nice. There are a bunch of gyms around, about 2,000 7-11 style grocery marts, two good grocery stores, a plethora of dive bars, and a major mall. So its really not that bad at all once you forget your American lifestyle and adjust to a country that is not as high on the hog. One last detail that I will share is that my apartment building painted a pretty flamboyant shade of pink. On that note, I sign off. Ciao Ciao
PARRTAAYY: S.Korean Style
First off, please excuse my overuse of the words crazy and insane because I dont know any other words that accurately describe how things go down here and I love to use them. So I was counting down all day Friday to get off and stirr some stuff up. We all get done at 8pm on friday...its really late but we start at 2 so its not that bad. After work the entire school staff, teachers, secretaries, administrators, everybody, got together for a welcome dinner for myself and another foreign teacher fresh off the boat who just happens to be from Seattle and a WSU alum. Myself being a recent grad of UW, I must admit that I had to fight an urge to hurl dog excrement at her (husky/cougar rivalry). So at this social gathering some people ate food and other people proceeded to get slammed. The leader of the latter group was my boss, good old Mr. Moon, or as I like to think of him, the Moon miester. It was pretty much a soju marathon mixed in between bites of calbi and bulgolgi, (pork and beef). Everybody was toasting everyone else, I must have said gombay (cheers) a thousand times. It was a party full of mirth, meat and rice grain alcohol. It was so funny to see my two head administrators Mr. Moon and Shawn (a Korean woman in her early 40s) gettin loose. It was freakin awesome doing it with them. I love partyin with people above the age of 40. I should do it more often.
Explanation of the Pics: #1. Mr. Moon and Me, pretty soused at this point, I dont even realize I have a peace of lettuce on my lip. #2. Group Pic: down with the Asian peace sign #3. Okay this blog is making me look like an alcoholic but these outings are only once or twice a week. The green bottles are all Soju bottles by the way.
Seoul. Holy Sh*t
What it do,
Sorry, this is going to be a long one. Okay, I just went through some insanity in the city of Seoul.
So Roger (a fellow American foreign teacher), his Korean girlfriend Rachel, and myself had to exit the carnage and inebriation that was being had at a welcoming dinner (for myself and one other newbie), and hopped on a train to Seoul at like 935pm on friday night. There was a big deal going on in Seoul called Soundday where you pay like 15,000 won and you automatically get in to a bunch of clubs where there is live music playing. Unfortunately we just got there too late and saw the last song of the last set. The night didnt end there though, it was far from over. After hanging out at the first place for an hour or so, we went to get a cheap hotel because Rogers girl wanted to throw the towel in. Upon her realizing that we were all going to share a room, she went crazy and insisted on me having my own room and paid for it herself. Interesting side note, upon unlocking my door, I must have turned too hard or the key was made out of tin foil because after unlocking it I broke it off inside the key slot. Pretty funny. So Roger and I hit the town and painted it red in major way: like 6 different club/bars, no covers, all free. Where else do you meet and hang out with Ukrainian models, (one was believable, one looked like the bride of frankenstein) but in Korea. However at all these clubs in Itawon (Eetaywon, section of Seoul) I got really weird vibes. It was still a blast. As we left the last club it was seriously getting light out, it must have been like 5 or 6am, and the night was made even more surreal by the fact that I didnt have a watch. I never knew what time it was. So me and my wingman decided to get one more sunrise beer from this place that unbeknownst to me had waitresses that also served double time in a less formidable line of work. Yes they were. So upon paying for one beer the one waitress/entertainer freaked out, lost mental control and got furiously upset with me looking for the right change in my wallet. I honestly dont know what happened or why, but she went nuts. Roger and I got out of there quicklike after we realized what they were, and also because it was just too weird. There was another foreigner coming in who I wasted no time in informing him of the freakin fruit bat inside. We make it like 20 feet up the street when I look over my shoulder to see the girl, we will name her Suzie, sprinting up the street after us screaming what could only be obscenities in Korean. She gets right up on me and seriously is trying to swat my head/facial area with an open palmed hand. My inner bruce lee came out and I was able to pretty much block every attempt from little suzie but omigosh was it freakin insane. She had no physical power whatsoever, it was like I was playing with a lifesized doll. It must have looked like a really terrible tango or something. Some korean guy broke it up and what was probably the funniest thing was that she made one last go at me by grabbing a bag of garbage and was stopped.....but I will always wonder just what she intended to do with it. Hopefully I will never have to fight off a waitress/saleswoman again. For those of you who think I am leaving a key detail (like dumping a bottle of beer on her head) out, I can assure you that I am not and her response was completely unprovoked and most likely due to a serious mental imbalance. Scouts honor. After that we went to bed and it was nice. We were ready to collapse because is it was around 6am, and we had been up all night. The next day was predictably hellish because we didnt make it out of our hotel rooms until like 2pm, and we were hungover all day. Our guide also experienced some navigation blunders getting us home from Seoul because it took us like 4 extra hours. Subways, trains, busses and boats.....I was ready to explode in an Arnold Schwarzenegger roid induced rage. I never thought I would be so happy to be in my little hole in the wall apartment. Alright I am done, and Im signing off. Peace
Jang Dung Buffet
So it was a long day after a strangely sleepless night. For whatever reason, last night I was up till about 5 am because I just wasnt tired. Sleeping here still feels a little bizarre....you would think I would be exhausted after teaching 8 classes a day with a plethora of different students, some sweet and innocent, some you want to inflict serious harm to. There was an amazing thunder and lightning storm at like 3am, so I bundled up and ran outside with my cam to try and record it....definitely a little sureal...on a street at 3 am in South Korea in the middle of a thunder and lightning storm.
So after a long tiresome day, blowing off some steam with a few beers and an all you can eat buffet was in order. At this buffet we paid 9,000 won each (about 9 dollars) to eat as much meat as we could stomach and I came dangerously close to getting more than my moneys worth. You pile all the uncooked meat (out of a refer) on plates and bring them to your table where there is an inset circular coal grill (in the table) where you cook yourself. There are many other things that are offered but in the interest of time I will keep it limited. One of our Korean friends named John is a kind hearted mad man set upon devouring life. I have only known him for a few days but I am already well aware of his insatiable appetite for life. Hes like a wild korean barbarian...ripping through bulgolgi (marinated beef), completely intact crabs, and raw beef. Yes, seriously raw beef. He is really trying to get me to eat dog meat as well. I dont know why I am not offended at his suggestions.
After the buffet "the guys" met up with the female counterparts who were having their little ladies night out at a bar/club called XO. I got my hustle on playing pool and won about 6,000 won (pronounced like wand without the d at the end). It was a good night. All I can say is my hustle game is as sharp as a shank.
Whatup from South Korea
What it do
So tonight (Friday 4-14) I was about to catch a train at 11:30pm at night from Pyongtaek city (west coast) to the south east city of Gyeongju, eta of 4:30 something in the am. My plan was to crash in a 24 Computer room (for 1000 won an hour) once I got there. I think that trip would have probably been worth it, however I dont know my ass from my elbow over here and doing that trip would have been extremely difficult not knowing any korean besides hello, thank you and more beer please. So instead I stayed in Pyongtaek and had probably the most stellar night I have had here so far. This was on Friday and after teaching a full week of 7-37 year olds, I drastically needed good company, good food and good brew. After a good meal of which I do not yet know the name, the night started pretty innocently at Indian Camp, one of the many local bars. Everybody is having a good but tame time, just slowly drinkin and idally chit chattin. Of course, my main man John is holding it down like ozzy osbourne. To further illustrate his rock star tendencies, we were all drinking with a large group of foreigners. There is like 15-20 of us and we are all drinking responsibly for the most part and just enjoying the company. While everyone is on like 2 or three beers, he is in the corner and has already put down a pint of hard A, and proceeds to pound like 5 soju bombs (shot of soju in a pint of beer that you chug in its entirety) in between smoking a pack of freakin cigs. The funny thing is you would think he was a criminal or something but he has this quite voice, laughs at everything and never has a negative thing to say. He extremely nice and goes well out of his way to ensure that we have good times. After I tried to keep up with him, John, Mikka, Armen, Alicia (a fellow teacher who is my age who also is cooler than cool) and I went to a Noray Bong or kareoke room. I didnt think it would be my scene but holy shit it was one the funnest/hilarious times I have had in a long time. We went nuts in this little glass room where it was only us. Can you imagine hearing two Korean men emotionally belt out Elton Johns "Can you feel the love tonight"? I have to admit that my inner David Lee Roth came out when I was singing songs like Queens Bohemian Rhapsody, Smokey Robinsons Tracks of My Tears, Bryan Adams Summer of '69, and Rage Against the Machines Killing in the name of.....all with a furious passion. I was breaking out karate kicks and toe touches like a maniac with ants in his pants. We ended the night on a climactic rendition of Hey Jude. What a night. Absolutely mindblowing. Peace and love to everyone!
The gangstas in the pic are Me, John, Armen, John, Mikka and Shon. It was quite the squad. We played for about two hours and our court was right next to a weekend fair/market/carnival shindig. Throughout the duration of our playing, crowds of koreans would gather and watch us strange foreigners play.