Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Fun Continues...Back in Korea!

It's already been over a month since I've returned to Korea from the motherland - can you believe it?! So what exactly have I been doing? Other than sweating my face off with the humidity here of course. The first two weeks back in Korea my school was technically still on summer vacation, which really means that the kids only have to go to school until 5 o'clock, instead of the normal 10 pm.  Granted classes are a bit more relaxed and if their family has plans they don't have to come, but still - that is not summer vacation. The first week I had to teach summer camp, which was basically showing up around 2 in the afternoon to play games with 20 kids for two hours. Oh and my Friday class wound up being canceled ~ I have it rough here, seriously.  The weekend came and I was ready to get out of town so when my friend 주연 asked me to join her on a trip to Busan I jumped at it. 
지주연 and I on the train 
주연 was a teacher at our school (she left this semester to go finish her degree in Daegu) and although not an English teacher, my best friend at work - which sucks now that she left.  We met Saturday morning on the train for our two hour journey to Busan where we would be meeting her boyfriend and one of his friends.  Thankfully her boyfriend also speaks awesome English (thanks to living in the Philippines for a few years) so communication throughout the day was never a problem.  His friend was clearly shy at having to interact with a foreigner (apparently i'm only the 3rd he's ever met) but we were right back to square 1 where everything I did impressed him. Note: use chopsticks, speak Korea, use Korean technology, eat spicy food, drink soju, eat a lot, and the list goes on. 

There was no big plan for the day so soon after we arrived we found ourselves sitting in the car wondering where we should go. The obvious answer was food but then there was the big decision of what and where we should eat, no matter the country always a tough decision.  Everyone wanted to know what I prefer but that's never the right path to take because I will eat anything and usually enjoy it all.  The boys finally decided on 불고기 and 됀장찌재 both of which are delicious but maybe wouldn't have been my first choice on this blisteringly hot day (they come in a piping hot dolsot pot).  Lunch was a little frustrating as we tried to find conversation, I could immediately tell 민석 was a talker but was also extremely shy or unsure of any English he could use. Likewise 조연 kept telling them it was okay because I can understand Korean which  almost caused me to spit 찌재 across the table - "다 아니요!"  Not ALL Korea. Thankfully I didn't have to do much speaking to get the conversation flowing, the fact that I could use chopsticks, eat kimchi, and am apparently very pretty offered up a few speaking points.  Before long we were soon on our way to coffee (the natural second step in any meeting with Korean friends) and also a good time killer while we figured out our next move.

It was almost decided that we would go ice skating (definitely didn't see that one coming) but then we realized that we weren't really dressed for it, so instead we opted for bowling.  I think the boys thought I was kidding when I said that sounded fun, maybe they thought I didn't know hot to bowl?  But in truth, I've been wanting to get out bowling here for a while so this sounded like a great idea.  In an effort to even the playing field we teamed up boy/girl with 민석 and myself against 주연 and her boyfriend.  I must have channeled the bowling gods that day because I pulled out a decent game helping to lead our team to the win. We stayed for one more game this time making it a boys against girls match-up, but this time we didn't fare so well.

check out those shoes!
After bowling we were in search of another air conditioned location to spend some time so we made a stop at the Busan Marine museum, saw some fish, fossils, and other interesting artifacts.  Honestly I thought I was bad at museums (I have the attention span of a 5 year old) but the way these three blew through, I was impressed.  I thought the idea was to kill time and take advantage of some free aircon but apparently we were in a rush to get somewhere, the entire time they were questioning me on what I wanted to eat for dinner (umm I don't know, didn't we just finish lunch?).

With the late afternoon drop in temperatures we finally made our way to the beach!  I guess we could've spent the entire day there but honestly i'm kind of glad that's not what they suggested. To me the beach is one of those fun in theory things. Sure it sounds cool, but once i'm there, slightly covered in sand, salt and grime, sweating my butt off, and fighting crowds I wonder what part of this was supposed to be so much fun.  Our brief stop for some pictures, a leisurely stroll and a little people watching was the perfect dose of beach for my day.

Moments like these remind me, life is good
By the time we walked almost the full length of the beach we had clearly worked up a thirst so the logical next step was stopping for a beer (or two).  We picked some beach front bar which was much fancier on the inside than necessary but the atmosphere was enjoyable and the beer wasn't terrible. Of course in Korea you can't drink without eating so we also got a small Gorgonzola pizza to accompany our beer. I thought for 18,000 we'd get more than a tortilla sized cracker with some cheese on top, but obviously I was wrong.
'behind' shots will always remind me of my mom
After our beer, and overstaying our welcome in the "one hour parking" space we had found, our thoughts turned to dinner. 주연 and I still had to catch a train back home so there was almost a wrench in plans when we noticed all of the tickets were sold out, but with a little creativity and my assurance that I didn't mind getting home late, problems were averted. The boys chose pork ribs for dinner and I really wish I could remember the Korean name for it because it was an interesting dinner.  Never before had I sat down at the table and been handed an ove glove along with a plastic one to go over. I was told to put it on my non-dominant hand and as soon as the meat came I understood why.  We were given a heaping pile of ribs which thankfully we could grab (straight off the grill) with our gloved hand and then proceed to eat like animals. Finally, no messing with chopsticks, meat and bones - so much easier! We had 소맥 (soju and beer - potentially dangerous combination) to accompany our pile of meat and my ability to down both of them only continued to impress my company.  Of course after a few drinks, and spending the whole day together, the dinner conversation had a much more natural flow than at lunch, but unfortunately the fun had to end there.  After retrieving our car from the awesome merry-go-round (I wonder if there's an actual name for this thing) see picture below the boys took us back to the station so we could begin our journey home.  
Waiting for our car to come back to us
It wasn't too long ago that my friends and I were talking about needing to meet people in Busan so that we had a reason to visit more often. Success! I now have two awesome guys to go visit who are both willing and interested in meeting foreign friends, not to mention they were perfect gentleman and a lot of fun! Another added bonus to all of this is that I also got closer with 주연 which is bittersweet seeing as she no longer works at my school, but that just means we'll have to make more trips together! See you soon Busan ~~ 

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