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Ever Evolving Primate: Travel, photography, food, cooking, and just about anything else.

Ever Evolving Primate: Travel, photography, food, cooking, and just about anything else.: March 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Korean Vietnamese Fusion

I don't know the name of the restaurant, but the day I moved to Daegu my coteacher took me and the irishman out for Korean-Vietnamese fusion. It was unreal. I finally located the restaurant and tonight Babehoney, the downstairs neighbor, and Laotianiqua went out and tried it out. It was just as good.

We ordered the big combo platter thing. It was 16,000W each, which is crazy expensive for Korea, but we had more than our fill of samgyeopsal, veggies, and a seafood hot pot that included many squid, octopus, prawns, and shellfish. The best part though are the do-it-yourself springrolls. You decide what goes in them, roll them, and then dip them into 3 kinds of sauce to your taste. It's the most fun restaurant I know in Daegu.

Anyway here is a pic of me about to tear into an overcooked octopus.

Here's a shot of the table with the grill/boiler in the middle, the wrapper sauce in the bowl, and various sauces.

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Date Night in Daegu, and a note on perspectives.

Last night Babehoney and I had a bit of a date night in the urban paradise of Daegu. Maybe "paradise" is overstating it a bit, but there's nothing wrong with liking where you're at, eh? Now I will regale you with tales from our night out. We get off of work at 4:30pm. We met back at the apartment building, changed into non-work clothes, and headed down to the subway station. We took the train down to Jungangno station and without even leaving the confines of climate control worked our way to the top of the Lotte Young Plaza where the CGV cinema is. We got tickets for the next showing of Battle: Los Angeles and realized that we had 2 hours to find dinner, do some banking, and shop around a bit.

We had dinner at Mi Buono, an "Italian" restaurant next to the movie theater. They serve spaghetti of various varieties and pizzas. We had a tandoori chicken pizza and a honey gorgonzola pizza. They were both really good, but there wasn't much gorgonzola flavor in the honey-gorg. We were happy to find a pizza place that doesn't suck and isn't too expensive. Yay!

After dinner we headed over to the Korea Exchange Bank because I needed to wire about a thousand bucks back to the US. The amazing thing about KEB is that I can make my international wire cheaply and either from home or the ATM. I didn't have my online bank account set up with them yet, so I did it at the ATM. A few button presses and 1,500,000 wons made their way to the USA. It didn't happen instantly though and I was a bit worried, so I went back to the bank today and double checked everything and set up my online banking. Sweet. I also found out that there was a favorable change in the exchange rate and instead of sending about $1,200 home I sent more like $1,325. That's cool.

We explored the downtown shopping options a bit. Babehoney got some new converse hi-tops, and I mainly watched as there are really no clothes or shoes that would fit me here. Downtown really lights up at night with tons of neon. We stumbled by either a church service or a protest of some sort. Everybody was singing along with someone on a stage and holding candles in front of a banner that was all in Hangul. Interesting site, if nothing else.

We made our way back to the theater and I THOROUGHLY enjoyed Battlefield: Los Angeles. What a great flick. It wasn't the standard formula of build tension, alien attack, amazing comeback by humanity. It started straight in on the action. Yes, it was cheesy. Yes it was cliche. Yes I loved it. I'll definitely be buying the Blu-Ray combo pack for this one when it comes out in the US. Well, when I move back to the US and have a TV that makes it worth buying the Blu-Ray again.

We had a little bit of a rush to get to the subway station (just below the movie theater about 9 floors) before the last train, but we made it on and had an uneventful ride home. What a nice evening.

In unrelated events, I bought my first video game since moving to Korea. I got Bulletstorm for the PS3. I had read a lot about the game and thought it would be fun, and the decision was extra easy to make because it was only 40,000W and the only game in the store in English. Decision made. It's a really fun game filled with profanity, dirty double entendre, and remote controlled dinosaurs complemented by over the top gore. There's not much to not like about it.

Ah, my note about perspectives. Living in Korea has done this amazing thing for me. It made me realize that my own country is kinda cool. Sure, the US is cutting corners on some really important things like education, the economy is horrible, and people who spent big money to get degrees are kinda screwed because there's no jobs in many fields and they're graduating with a fair amount of school debt. But, there's a lot about our country that's good. Special education in schools is a big one. That's not offered in every school here and parents can opt out. I like the inclusivity and diversity of the US too. Korea is not bad by any means, but everyone here is Korean less a few foreigners. This doesn't bother me as I'd usually just watch society pass me by, but sometimes I wish people didn't look at me like I have a giraffe crawling out of one of my ears on the subway :). I know I won't eyeball foreigners in my hometown anymore after my experience here.

It's very interesting as an ex-pat to get the outside view of your own country. You can definitely see things that are embarassing or could possibly make life more difficult for you when you live overseas. You definitely want the government's foreign policy to not be unilateral and offensive on a global scale, and you're definitely proud when your country handles things right, and when they're on the scene immediately to provide aid when something horrible happens in a third country like Japan.

Anyway, that's the note on my perspective, and I told you all about date night in Daegu. I'm sorry that there's no fun pictures for this post, maybe I'll do something more picture worthy this weekend :).

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Being my own Anthony Bourdain

I have enjoyed Anthony Bourdain's television series "No Reservations" for quite some time. I remember two or three years ago having the flu, and watching his episode about Korea while I was waiting for someone to un-double park my car so I could go to the doctor. I remember seeing him eat some really exotic foods and thinking "if I ever went there I would do the same, because he is too freaking cool." Then his episode on Osaka came on and I found my two favorite episodes of his show, all in one miserable afternoon. I've always wanted to have that kind of experience, but Tony has always had one up on me because he has a local with him everywhere he goes to do the ordering and show him how whatever he's eating is supposed to be consumed. That's what I was missing...until last night.

We went out for a Daegu specialty with my coworkers, makchang. Makchang is basically grilled pork intestine dipped in a really spicy and flavorful sauce. Carolyn and I went to the dinner with a bit of trepidation because well, the concept didn't seem so appealing. Once the grill was on and the butts were on the grill though...well things were a little different. They weren't bad at all! In fact, I kinda liked them! We also had samgyeopsal (which was particularly good at this place) and lamyeon (Korean ramen) and plenty of beer. It was a fun outing and after that I figured we would go settle in at home to get an early start on the weekend resting...but just as in the Korea episode of No Reservations, there was to be no break. We piled into the music teacher's car and headed to Sangin-dong for another...MEAL!? We had seriously eaten about 2 pigs and that apparently was not enough, so it was off to eat a raw cow. Well, not a whole cow. Just the meaty bits.

Here I am throwing a munch on some makchang

Our table at Uncle Jang's Makchang

At the new restaurant plates of marinated and raw beef were served. You apparently dip these in different sauces and eat them...raw. When in Korea, eat as the Koreans do, I always say. So I dug in. It tasted a bit like sushi, but one of the marinated varieties was particularly good. I tried everything. Raw beef, raw beef liver, Korean snails (raw), beondaegi (marinated silkworms), and raw beef stomach lining. Not everything was something I would order again on purpose, but nothing was really too scary. The silkworms were not nearly as gross as I imagined they'd be. They tasted a bit like they looked (kinda like the top of a pecan pie, plus dirt). The snail was not my thing, too sandy. The raw beef liver was a bit too ookie for me, but I choked it down anyway. The raw and marinated beef bits though were pretty yummo. Oh, and the stomach lining, not really my thing.

The spread at the Raw Beef House of Joy

Me, the Irishman, and one of my Co-Teachers

About to dig into some beondaegi

After the majority of eating was done and bottles of soju were nearing their way to emptiness another great idea emerged. Drinking games! Now, I've always thought that drinking too much with coworkers was a bad idea, but these people were lots of fun and the odds of having to drink in their games were a bit lower than in American drinking games, so I didn't have to get hammered to participate and have a good time. Hopefully I earned some credibility and bonded a bit, and I feel like I know quite a few of my coworkers a bit better. I bet I'll get more hellos and such in the hallways at school now for sure :).

The only way last night could have gotten more epic would be if we had gone to a no rae bang (singing room, karaoke) and somehow carried the party all the way into the morning. That would have been the complete Korean Nightlife Megapack. Perhaps next time!

I guess I've learned that maybe I should be a little less of a homebody and join in on the late night fun a bit more. Last night was a complete blast and I can't wait to do it again. I believe I have a date with the English department next Friday.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

UFOs in Korea

Today I coined a new term to use in my life here in Korea., not the alien spaceship kind, but rather the kind that often appears in my school lunch, at the food stalls on the street, or even as bahn jahn with a nice meal. Unidentified Food Object. UFOs are sometimes great, like Mung Bean Jelly was before it became a Named Food Object. Some of them are not so great, and these usually appear in meals from the school cafeteria. Here are a few memorable ones from this week.

1) It looks like noodles, but no, those aren't sesame seeds, they're EYES! You're eating tiny, clear, BIG EYED fish. These often come with some sort of sweet seasoning and almonds. They have a gag factor of about 6/10. I haven't had the opportunity to photograph them, but I'll get a picture one day. When I see these on the kids' trays in the cafeteria my heart sinks because I'm going to be hungry all afternoon. It's hard to describe the flavor, I think they fit the idea of "it tastes like what you dip it in," but the texture is somewhere between copper wire and cardboard. And they look at you.

2) It also looks like noodles, but I don't know WHAT it is. Probably some sort of candied radish? These are difficult to eat because they're kind of pointy and don't want to go into your mouth easily. They taste like...I don't know, candied radish maybe, but the texture is quite similar to the tiny fish described above. They have a low gag factor though, I'd say maybe a 2/10.

3) It looks like pineapple chunks, but covered in kimchi paste. And it tastes like...candied kimchi paste. It might actually be candied or pickled radish in kimchi paste. Very low gag factor unless the bite is too big (there's no cutting your bites when you eat with chopsticks.)

4) That orange-ish brownish stew. You put the stew in your bowl and then cover it with broth. I believe this might be called dubu jigae, but I'm not sure. Usually there's lots of cabbage, onion, and radish leaves, chunks of something that looks like blood sausage made of tofu and there might sometimes be hot dogs or SPAM in it. I like it better with hot dogs and spam. The gag factor varies between a 1/10 and a 6/10 depending upon the ingredients.

5) Those long black things that look like noodles or black green onions. I don't have a clue what these are. The texture is similar to what the texture of a much larger tiny fish would be, the flavor is "whatever you dip it in" and it often occurs on bibimbap day. Strong gag factor 5/10. I also get sad when I see this.

6) The leftovers fried rice. You can usually tell most of what's in it. But it's never good news. Usually it's the leftovers of all the items mentioned here at the end of the week. You can't blame the school food service for using everything it buys, but you'd better eat a big breakfast when this rolls around. High gag factor 8/10.

It's really funny because I used to be quite the picky eater, but now I'm happy if it has tentacles because at least I have a clue as to what it is, and if it has leaves I know it doesn't have eyes. It's the UFOs that cause my gag reflex to warm up.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hope for the little gamer inside of me :)

Finally after hours and hours of searching (ironically for lesson plan ideas...) I found a thread about PS3 players in Korea. Someone in the thread mentioned shops to buy accessories and games at, and then someone just happened to mention a place called 88GameLand here in Daegu. It's only a few subway stops away, and it seems like the only thing comparable to a GameStop in this city of 2.5 million people.


Now I just need to survive for three more hours at my desk without sounding like a completely giddy and hopeful schoolgirl until I can go home. Not sure if we'll make it all the way downtown tonight as Babehoney is a bit under the weather, but maybe! We might also go out of Samgyeupsal tonight. Mmmmm pork belly.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dining with the Teachers, and Haggling like an Arab Trader

Last night I went to the welcome dinner for all of the new teachers at my school. What an interesting experience. It was a very good traditional Korean food restaurant with a long dining hall. All of the teachers showed up and started eating. There must have been 16 courses or more. I remember distinctly red bean paste soup, kimchi oysters and bean sprouts, rice noodles with soy glaze, pickled radish roots, fried chicken breast pieces topped with Korean red pepper sauce and lettuce frisee, a salad with mango dressing, freshwater fish caked with red pepper, marinated salmon, seafood jigae with crabs and prawns, bulgogi, ddok boki, and more. After a while an announcement was made that all the new teachers were to get up and introduce themselves. All the teachers talked for a bit and the other native English speaker said "what do you think we should say?" I replied "I'm not sure." Finally the mic was in my hands and the crowd cheered (led by my awesome co-teacher, of course.) I said "Hello! (cheers) Charlie im-mi da, mi-guk eso im-mida. That's all the Korean I know for this type of situation, so I'll just say I'm very happy to be here and excited to work with you all." As soon as I started speaking in Korean all of the teachers said "oooOOOOOOoooooo." They sounded a bit like the kids do if I mention the fact that I have a girlfriend. It was fun. After we sat down the P.E. teacher came over and started pouring beer for us and then ANOTHER course of food came out. This time it was a whole grilled fish with about 4 different bahn-jahns, a bowl of rice, and sheets of kim (nori) to wrap the rice in. At this point I could hardly eat or drink anything more, so I was quite thankful when the party ended and we all headed home. What a night!

Today was a nice day off. We were both pretty tired last night. I fell asleep while we were watching the most recent episode of America's Next Top Model last night and woke up this morning at about 8:30am when Babehoney's phone was ringing like crazy because someone had the wrong number. Boy were they puzzled when she said "ani-yeyo hangugo" which means "no Korean no Korean." It's the best we could come up with for the situation.

At any rate, the big adventure for the day was to go to Gyodong Electronics Market, a pretty vast area of downtown, to find a new power converter. On the way we stopped at a Dunkin' Donuts because Babehoney loves their coffee to no end and wanted a little taste of home. The donut flavors were interesting. Spinach, vegetable, and olive flavored donuts were all over the place. I had a banana filled donut (it was okay) and a peanut crunch donut (which was omg[ood]), while babehoney enjoyed her honey fritter. It was quite enjoyable, and gave us just enough energy to make it to Gyodong Market where I tried to haggle in Korean. It went pretty well even though the guy wouldn't move off of his super low price of 15,000W for a huge converter box. With dreams of an evening playing video games in my head we walked downtown from Gyodong Market and stopped in at the Kyobo bookstore. This is a massive bookstore that covers many floors of a huge high rise building and has a large English selection. Underneath the store in the Jungangno station shopping plaza was a huge stationery store where we spent a while picking out some stuff we needed for work and around the house. I found some sweet Domo-kun paper to write letters with to the nieces and nephews but decided to save that purchase for another day.

We were hungry again, so as luck would have it I sniffed our way to the Irish Potato, a french-fry restaurant where you get fries and toppings. It was okay, but the corn dogs we found on the street afterwards were awesome and way cheap. We looked around the HomePlus a bit at chairs and pillows and such before stopping in on the floor with the groceries to pick something up for dinner and head home.

Sadly the component cable I picked up for the PS3 doesn't fit the humongous TV, so the only video games I played were on my laptop. Sigh. I will have playstation soon. Oh yes. It will be mine. Now it's the end of a long day, I'm worn out, and my damn iPod needs a software update that is taking a really long time to download. This is particularly troubling because we have an amazingly fast internet connection. I guess I'll leave the computer on overnight and hope that it finishes. Or maybe it's best to just stop it and restart in the morning. Yeah. That I think.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Oh Sweet Modernity!

Babehoney and I finally got internet access at home and cell phones. It feels great to rejoin the world without having to pay 4500W for a cup of cawpee (coffee in Korea...they have no "f" sound in their language.) We're watching Castle on TV, in English with Korean subtitles, and it feels like home :). I'm also uploading photos to my flickr account at a stupid-fast pace while downloading a movie and an entire season of The Venture Bros. They said the internet access here was fast, and they weren't kidding.

A few notes about the new services:

1) We have found two TV channels that are nothing but people playing StarCraft with loud exciting Korean commentary.
2) My cell phone looks like "Kit" from the old Knight Rider series.
3) When I flip my phone open it makes the sound of a can of coke opening.
4) We had to buy a router today. We kept finding that the only WiFi we could log onto was "iptime" and today we giggled like schoolgirls at the HomePlus (repeat after me: Home-eh Puh-rus-suh) when we found an iptime brand router. Of course I set it up to be all password protected which was interesting since all the menus were in Korean :).

I need to go to Gyodong market to get a power converter so I can get my PS3 plugged in. Maybe I can find a power supply for a Wii there too!

Also a note about fast food in Korea:

We went to McDonald's. We had Quarter Pounder with Cheese meals. They were freaking amazing. Service workers here seem to take a huge amount of pride in their work, and they obviously don't cut corners on the fast food. KFC and Pizza Hut have been similar experiences. Much better than you can get at any of those places in the USA, even with the same "quality" ingredients.

Anyhow, there's not much more exciting going on here, just the joy of rejoining civilized society with faster internets than we've ever seen ever. EVAR even.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mount Palgongsan Natural Area

When we decided to move to Korea we were very excited about the chance to see ancient temples, colorful, old asian buildings tucked into small flat spots high up in the mountains with grand vistas. Long before coming to Korea, or even meeting Carolyn, I dreamed of hiking in Nepal and Tibet, encountering Buddhist monks in their element, and smelling the sandalwood incense burning in their temples. Last weekend’s adventure at the Daegu arboretum made us think we should try and venture a little bit farther out of town this week. We took the subway from Daegok station to Dongdaegu station and found the Daegu City Tour, a bus trip with on-off privileges that goes to some of the main sites in the Mt. Palgongsan Natural Area.

About 45 minutes by bus later, we found ourselves at Gatbawi, a site with a temple and a giant Buddha. The brochure for the tour said that we would have about a 2 hour round trip hike. We figured this would be easy enough to do and still make it to our prime directive, Donghwasa Temple. As we started the hike we noticed that the trail was fairly steep. About 45 minutes later we found ourselves outside of an operational Buddhist temple. Other hikers were doing their prostrations in front of the statues of Buddha, and beautifully carved dragons adorned the many buildings of the complex. I was particularly excited to see a funeral bell for the first time, and all of the lanterns had prayer cards hanging from them. It was absolutely stunning.  I felt a bit like I imagined Nate Drake would have felt as he entered the Tibetan village that was being ravaged by Lazarovic’s troops in Uncharted 2…well…without Lazorovic’s troops and stuff. We continued towards the giant Buddha for a bit, but realized we would need to summit the mountain to find him. A quick look at the verticality and distance of the  remaining part of the climb, and the remaining time before the last bus we could catch, and we decided to head back down the mountain. It was a gorgeous climb, and we will go back and finish climbing the mountain soon.

Gwanan Temple

Gwanan Temple

Dragon at Gwanan Temple

Carolyn at Gwanan Temple

Funeral Bell at Gwanan Temple

Donghwasa Temple

Dongwhasa Temple

Donghwasa Temple

Donghwasa Temple

After we got back to the base of the mountain we hopped on the tour bus and rode over to Dongwhasa temple. This temple is famous because it has the largest Buddha in all of Korea, or so we heard. The temple was absolutely beautiful, and I once again thought about how much I felt like I was “living the dream” of trekking through Nepal and Tibet, even though I am far from those places. Obviously the mountains here don’t look anything like the Himalayas, but it’s still surreal to be immersed in something as exotic as a Buddhist temple and monastery on a day trip. That’s going to take some getting used to.

We both felt great after such an awesome day out sightseeing. How cool is it to go out and see stuff like this? It’s FREAKING AWESOME. Anyway, that’s about it for now. We have TV shows to download, photos to post, and all sorts of other internets business to attend to.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dynamic Korea!

They call it Dynamic Korea for a reason, and for expats living here "Dynamic Korea" is a euphemism for "my schedule just got changed and nobody told me about it. It happened to me this morning. I walked into my classroom for first period and the students looked at me and said "Chal-lie teacher?" and I nodded and smiled, continuing to get my USB drive out ready to do my lesson, then one of the students said "Chal-lie teacher, we ah scheduled for math this period." And I said...really? Smiled, ran back to the office to check, and sure enough, Math! So I had the first hour off. Many of the expats here don't take kindly to this kind of unplanned schedule change, but I figure what the hell, when in Rome Daegu, do as the Romans Daegu Citizens do. It's really kind of fun because every day is a new adventure and you never know just what to expect.

I also found out that next month I'll have an after school class. I'm pretty excited about this as it's usually for the more advanced kids and I have complete academic freedom. I found out that this excitement means I want to start planning now, but I've run into a bit of a lesson planner's block. I want them to do a play, have a debate, or otherwise do something that will force them to speak a LOT and hopefully increase their fluency. I'm sure I'll come up with something.

Anyway, there's the muse of the day.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Climb Ev'ry Mountain!

Ah, I’m a bit late in updating the blog after a fairly eventful weekend, but the unreliable nature of being a waygook with no personal internets (soon, SOON!) has made it difficult to sit down with a connection long enough to blog for a few days.

When we left off in this odyssey, I had just attended the middle school band concert, where raucous Koreans went wild for Mamma Mia. The next morning we woke up, headed down to the coffee shop for super slow internets and downloaded some American TV shows. You have no idea how comforting the soothing voice of Tyra Banks and the America’s Next Top Model girls can be until you’ve lived overseas, I’d venture to say. Anyway, we weren’t there merely to download crappy TV shows, we were also there to meet our friend Laotia (she’s Laotian, and in case you haven’t noticed I try not to use real names on the blog) so that we could all walk over to the Daegu arboretum together and see some of Korea’s nature. Well, we walked through the arboretum until we found the back gate and found a muddy trail. Of course when life gives you a muddy trail, you should follow it.

Out the back of the arboretum we headed, along what looked to be an ancient dirt road. There were many Koreans out with their top-of-the-line hiking gear, but we thought we’d be just fine in our jeans so we braved nature anyway. Korea is quite mountainous, and soon the dirt path we were following took a steep incline. We continued onward, intrepidly braving the harrowing cliffs what must have been (we are in Asia after all) Mount Everest, or K2, or some other peak with a name. It was a pretty good workout for us, but 70 and even 80 year old Koreans were zooming by us on the trail. These people are FIT. As we neared the peak we noticed more and more people. As we reached the summit we noticed…even more people…nearly all senior citizens, and every one of them was on a piece of workout equipment. THEY PUT A FREAKING GYM ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN! Not only did those old Koreans pass us on the way up, but they WORKED OUT when they got there. Not surprisingly, THEY PASSED US ON THE WAY DOWN, TOO!

On the way down, we stumbled across a gravesite of some kind. It was really serene and picturesque, with a view of mountains in the distance. What a calm place, I can see why someone would want to be buried there for eternity and whatnot. It seems like the kind of place where you could just rest. Once we found our way back to the trailhead we headed back into town. We live one block from the mountain, so that wasn’t a very long walk. We were famished, so we continued one block past the house to the BBQ Chicken, a chain restaurant with awesome Korean Fried Chicken. We ate the entire box, and then cracked open a couple of bottles of soju.

Soju is an easy way to get intoxicated, it goes down smooth and hits hard. In my experience it also upsets the bottom end of your digestive tract. Pretty much immediately. The next morning Babehoney and I woke up and headed to Chilseong Market. We heard this would be a good place to look for furniture, but we really didn’t see anything we liked. We did see some authentic looking places to buy food and stuff, especially seafood, and found a neat stationery store. We stopped to do some grocery shopping on the way home (also always an adventure), and finally made it back to our comfortable little place in the sun.

That was the whole weekend in just under 700 words, wasn’t it?

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Band Concert

So on the first day of school my co-teacher told us that there was a wind orchestra concert, and I thought it might a) be really interesting, b) get us some goodwill, and c) be some free entertainment, so I committed. Babehoney got off work and we headed over to my school to meet the co-teacher and ride over to the performing arts center. We stopped for dinner at a Korean-Italian Fusion restaurant, which was surprisingly good. Much better than our last experience with that combination. Then we headed into the concert hall.

The concert hall is housed in a monumental performing arts center. I wish I would have purchased the fisheye add-on for my camera before I left the U.S. The band was pretty good. Interestingly there was a section with 3 drum corps style snare drums and one bass drum doing the same kind of tricks I used to see at the DCI I&E contests. They were pretty good, especially considering that Korea doesn't seem to have a drum corps circuit like the US does. If the kids learned simply by watching videos (which is totally possible with these kids) it's really astounding. Here's where it gets interesting. The 2nd to last tune the band played was a medley of ABBA tunes from the MAMMA MIA! movie. The crowd went wild. They were clapping, singing along, and cheering. I had heard that the Koreans love their ABBA, but this was over the top. It was interesting to watch the crowd go from staunch, buttoned up, serious looking folks to smiling, joyful, singing, clapping, and rhythmically bouncing people. This is the kind of experience you can't get from a place just by visiting.

After the concert we went downtown to an expat bar. It was pretty cool and now we know where to go if we just absolutely need to be surrounded by English speakers. We caught one of the later trains home and on the way a bunch of my students showed up and said "Charlie! Charlie! We go to Daejin middle school!" I introduced them to Babehoney and they all commented on how handsome I was and how beautiful she is. Then one of them told me that when I talk to the other teachers I should tell them that he helped us find our way home because he is a good guy. It was super cute.

Today we're sitting in the coffee shop downloading american TV shows from iTunes because we're missing TV the most from home. Hopefully we'll have plenty of options to watch in just a bit.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Galbi for Dinner

So we weren’t super adventurous today. We went to work, came home, then went to the restaurant next door for galbi. We noticed two kinds of galbi on the menu last time we were there and we thought that we had only received one kind. That day the restaurant employees were very quick to try and serve us in English. Today we had a plan. We showed up and spoke Korean. Not very well, but we spoke Korean. I managed somehow to focus hard enough to read the menu (all of 2 items) in Hangeul. When the server showed up I said “Hana seong-kalbi-sal, hana yeong kalbi-sal, dul bap, mul juseyo” and the guy nodded! Then our two different kinds of galbi showed up, along with two bowls of spicy hell-broth soup, and bahn jahn of garlic, radish leaves, and a whole heap of sprouts, shaved radish root, and other veggies. It was pretty good, and I think that our horrible slaughtering of the Korean language may have made us a bit more welcome in the galbi house next door.


Aw snap. I double posted.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The First Day of School

Today was the first day of school at Daejin Middle School, and it was fairly uneventful. I heard that the first day of school is particularly chaotic here in Korea because the teachers don’t know what classes they are teaching until they start, but it seemed pretty smooth and well organized at my school. The other native English teacher and I spent the day in the office trying to prepare lessons for next week, and we’re going to be observing classes tomorrow and Friday before starting our teaching in earnest on Monday.

At the start of the day all of the new teachers, Korean, American, and Irish alike were ushered downstairs to the school’s broadcasting booth (seriously, they have a whole T.V. studio next to the admin office) where we were introduced to the students. A quick bow in front of the camera and it was back to the English teachers’ office where we spent the rest of the day. At the end of the day there was a quick faculty meeting and then the native teachers went home.

Lunch was interesting, though. The teachers eat at the same tables as the students.  We had Duk-poki, kimchi, soup, and fried roll of noodles. It was pretty decent considering it only cost 2500W. Interestingly, the students clean the cafeteria at the end of lunch. For that matter, a student cleaning crew came in after the last period of class and mopped our office. Talk about a place where US schools could save a few bucks.
Anyway, the first day of my CAREER IN EDUCATION has passed. Kinda anticlimactic J.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Going to the Movies in Korea

You’ve just moved to a new country. You don’t have internet access at home, no one on television speaks English, and you’re tired of exploring (literally, as in your legs don’t want to move anymore.) What do you do? Well, if you’re like me and Babehoney, you go to the movies! Going to the movies has always been something I’ve done to feel just a little more “at home” at a few different points in life. I think that it has something to do with the fact that I used to go to the movie every Tuesday afternoon when I was in college. It was my “me” time. When I lived in Hawaii I went to the movie every Monday for a while because it was my day off and it was a place that made me feel like I was back on the mainland. In Korea I think it’s going to be just because I want to see people speak English on the screen J.

The movie itself doesn’t matter, I’m writing this so you know what it’s like to go to the movies in Daegu. When you arrive at the theater you take a number (this seems pretty common in Korea) and look to see if there are seats available. Next to the movie’s title will be a number 55, 60, 200, 73, whatever. That’s the number of seats left in the theater. When your number comes up you walk up to the counter and buy your ticket. A ticket today was only 8,000W, a little less than $8 US. Once you have your ticket it’s time to head over to the snack bar. Popcorn comes in flavors here. I accidentally ordered the sweet. It was pretty good, similar to kettle corn, but with a little bit of “tastes like Korea” added in.  Two medium drinks and a large popcorn was 7,500W, around $7 US. It’s a bit less expensive to go to the movies here, I’d say. Now, True Grit came out several months ago in the US, so we were seeing it as a first-run movie in Korea, a bit late. I’m sure the bootleggers have plenty of copies running around here so it’s not hard to see why the price might be lower. The crowd was mainly westerners and the movie had Hangeul subtitles displayed at the bottom of the screen. It was worth every stinkin’ won we paid J.

We did find some interesting stuff on the way to the theater. There’s a dollar store chain here called Daiso, and we got some utensils and necessities for super cheap, and then we found a SANRIO STORE! Now, if you’re not familiar with Sanrio I’ll explain. Hello Kitty. Enough said. A WHOLE FREAKING STORE OF IT. WHAT A FREAK SHOW! Needless to say Babehoney and I were thrilled. Hopefully we’ll get back to it at a time that it’s a bit less crowded.

Tomorrow is the first day of school. We have our outfits picked out and we’re both sitting in bed at 9:28pm like good little educators. I’m sure there will be plenty of updating to do on our status after our first workday!