Friday, 19 March 2010

Korea - The first baby Guinness

Hello everyone!

I keep telling myself that I will rein in the spending and save a bit of cash. I keep failing. This week I have eaten out every night, from Monday to Thursday. I've tried some new things, one of which is called kam ja tang. This was in a large bowl, similar to the jjim dak and ddak galbi. There were large bones with pork on them, in a dark broth. These bones are actually the spine of the pig. The broth contains mushrooms, potatoes, a bit of ddok, and various other vegetables. Despite it's strange appearance, it was really good. The meat itself was surprisingly tender, and it was nice to eat potatoes as that is a rare occurrence out here! I didn't get a picture, as I didn't have my camera, but it looks similar to this (thank you, google images).

I got this with three people I hadn't really met before. Remember the guy I randomly met on the bridge? I went with him, his girlfriend, and another friend. They are all from Hull, and live pretty close to me. The other guy, Mike, actually lives really close to me. He lives in my apartment block. On my floor. So there ARE other Western people in my place! I had thought there were, as recently I left a cardboard box in the wrong place, and when I returned from school there was a note on it in perfect English telling me this was the wrong place. You may think a Korean just translated it, but the fact that the box was described as 'this bloody thing' was a strong hint that another Brit was about. He didn't write it though, strangely.

I met them on the Thursday evening, and even this late in the day didn't feel too great. That is entirely down to the night before. March 17. St. Paddy's. I was pretty busy that day, what with various teaching and lesson planning, not to mention running 12k. Slight aside, I didn't know that treadmills automatically turn themselves off after an hour?! Hopefully that won't mess up my training too much. As a result of those activities, I was shattered by the time I finished my working day at 9.40, and had decided in my mind that I would skip any socialising and get to bed. I checked my phone, and had a call from an unknown number. Worth finding out who it is, I guess, so I call it. It's a guy from Bucheon called Paul, who then asks me when I'm coming down. I guess I'm easily persuaded. Bags dropped at home, and to Bucheon I go.

People were in Cafe Nicolia, a small continental-esque restaurant. There weren't too many people there, and Matt and Phil left soon after I arrived. In the snow. Yes, it is STILL snowing out here, even in the middle of March.

Anyways, I started chatting to the people there, and got on the Guinness. Soon faces were being painted and everyone was having a jolly old time. The owners didn't mind when we started modifying their chalkboard menus to say things like 'alian moo' and 'bum waffle'. They also gave us free hats, which was nice.

The snow had begun to relent at this point, and we headed over to The Park to find more people. There weren't many. Not surprising, as it was after midnight on a weeknight. Their deal was to give out a scratch card, with prize potential, if you bought two Guinness. I did just that, and duly won their top prize - a big green t-shirt! We stayed for a while, then moved across to RnB, where they gave out a free drink if you were wearing green. That t-shirt came in handy!

We hung around talking to people for a while, and the time soon passed 4am. That was fine for the people who work in hagwans; less so for me. I got to bed at around 5am. I had told Mr. Kim to call me at 8.15 if I wasn't in school, as a kind of back-up alarm. My alarm went off at 7, which I snoozed. My phone then rang at 8.25. Uh oh. Especially as I was teaching first thing. The one thing I did before leaving my apartment was to wipe off the face paint. I had said during the night that I would wear it to school, but we all say silly things when inebriated. I bolted out of my place, and flagged down a taxi.

'Sorae high school', I say. 'Teacher?' he says as he drives off. I say yes, and then he says, 'You smell bad of beer'. Great. What a confidence boost. Incredibly I was only 10 minutes late. I may also have been still drunk. I had expected to be hungover, so the previous day had modified my slideshow to show my classes why I didn't possess my usual energy and vigour. We played hangman to elicit 'St. Patrick's Day', and I showed them some Guinness, before getting on with the lesson. It's strange that I've been late twice now, and, rather than being told off, I was instead commended for my prompt showing after the phone call. Seems like I can get away with murder at this place (touch wood). Even passing out on my desk, which is what I did once that lesson was over.

My lesson plan this week has been on describing people. I have decided that my Tuesday class, 1-13, will be my guinea pigs, upon whom I try a lesson for the first time. I normally survive on the grounds that they are all girls and just laugh at whatever I seem to do, and then I can tweak the lesson to make it vaguely productive. I'm getting them to describe various aspects of people, and then ending with them playing Guess Who. It works pretty well, mainly because they are encouraged by the lure of candy if they get it right. I think English teachers are single-handedly encouraging obesity in Korean children.

The Thursday afternoon lesson didn't exactly follow my plan, firstly as I taught the wrong class due to a scheduling error, and then because I ended up showing them videos of 'Macho Man' and 'Gay Bar'. At their request. A senior teacher walked past and looked in as all the boys were clapping along to the rather provocative video of 'Gay Bar'. They then turned and laughed at her. I think I'm the only reason why she didn't dole out some serious corporal punishment on them. Friday was parent's day, when the old folks come to school in the afternoon, thus meaning I only had to teach one lesson, rather than four. To say this job is cushy is a gross understatement.

Love you all


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