Well it doesn't sound like all that many, but this post marks the 50th entry into Lee's Korea Blog. I'm fairly pleased with what it has become and plan to keep it alive for as long as there are enough interesting things to show you all.
The first for this post being the Kenny Rogers karaoke bar. This is a franchise across Busan that is apparently doing well enough to warrant more than one outlet.
Rubbish (American: 'trash') is a rather complicated affair in Korea. You can only throw away rubbish on certain days of the week, and each day has a different kind of rubbish for collection. Food waste is collected and taken to the pig farms for food and recyclables are neatly sorted. You need to buy special bags that have a 'rubbish tax' on them to throw away general rubbish. Korea doesn't have a lot of land to spare, so people are encouraged to not be wasteful. One of the side effects of this though, is the spontaneous dumping of unmarked rubbish on the sides of roads. Sometimes the ajossis here will go through it like forensic scientists to determine who the culprits are.
Here's Jef and Maya walking down the road. Although it appears that Maya is a small child, she is actually 22 years old. And she's going to Harvard.
She's going to curse me for saying that again, but I can safely hide behind my monitor because she's in the States now.
Here's Jef, Maya and Swan at a pojang macha. These are street food outlets consisting of a tent and a few stools around a portable wagon. You sit down and eat various kinds of grilled foods and drink beer or soju. They're a good place to talk for hours and ponder the peculiarities of Korean culture.
Here's our favourite ajumma, at work in her tent, called The World Cup. She originally spelled it 'Wold Cup', but someone was kind enough to come along and correct the sign for her. In these places you basically just point out the food you want in the refrigerated partition and she'll cook it up for you.
We met Yu-jong, the girl in the pink, randomly in the Guri bar. Soon she was attached to us like a lost puppy. She didn't speak a considerable amount of English, but we were able to communicate effectively through the use of charades. In this photo, Maya is displaying the universal message for 'I like you'.
Daniel has fit into Busan life fairly well. He's speaking a lot of Korean these days and getting along with the locals. Here he's speaking to Yu-jong's friend, who is displaying the correct body language for 'I am interested in what you are saying'.
This rather more explosive gesture is open to interpretation.
Later that night we went for a song or two. We're a rather musical bunch and although there usually isn't a very updated selection available, we don't mind singing the classics. Local favourites include 'California Dreaming', 'It's Raining Men' and 'Like a Prayer'.
Four hours later we found ourselves on the streets with the sun in our eyes. I usually try to go home before this time, but sometimes you just get caught out. It's bad for my biological clock.
My latest purchase was this air-conditioner. Summers in Korea are stiflingly hot and the single unit in our living room just isn't enough. Heather ordered this one online for me and it arrived 3 days later, installed and running for only $350.
The following weekend it was Shira's birthday. Her nickname is Mum and she's been working with CDI for a while now. She's the girl on the left.
A lot of workers from across the city came and enjoyed beer, wine and Jef's amazing cream cheese and salsa dip.
Here's Jareb, Maya, Swan and Daniel posing with Tim's dog. Cute dogs like this will always be the star of a party, but they just make Jef more hungry. I still haven't gotten around to eating dog meat yet, but I intend to.
Swan and Heather have been working together at the Hwamyeong branch this past week. Swan is going back to Florida soon. I've never been to the States before, but I imagine that I would be more of a west-coast person. Probably because I listened to a lot of 2pac when I was growing up and 'West-side' just sounds cool.
Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to receive my second promotion in the company. I now work in the human resources department and am also the faculty manager of the April program. I'd never taught an April class before, so I was sent to Seoul last week for training at headquarters.
The Coatel hotel is where most new CDI workers stay while they receive their week of introductory training. Back when I first arrived, you may remember that we stayed at the Hotel Major in Gangnam, and we had a jacuzzi in our room.
The Coatel is not as interesting as the Hotel Major, but it was still fairly nice. I shared a room with Robin Choi, who turned out to be a cool guy. If your room-mate is cool, it makes the experience twice as good.
During the week I didn't go out much because I had to get up at 7:30am everyday and head across town. But on Thursday it was Josephine's birthday, so we went to this upmarket oyster bar nearby. Here you could buy three New Zealand oysters for $15.
We ate conservatively.
Traffic in Seoul has always been pretty bad. The standstills that occur for minutes at a time make me appreciate life in Busan. One trip to the training centre took us around 20 minutes, but on the way back there was a traffic jam and it took us over an hour to reach the hotel.
At the end of the week it was time to celebrate. We went out to Uncle Tom's Cabin in Apgujeong for some drinks. I met up with Eric and Maria, but looking through my camera, it seems that I didn't get around to taking any photos of us together. Eric just got back from a French summer camp, teaching French to young students.
This is from Club Circle, one of the trendiest places in Seoul. I also went there on the last gathering in Seoul. On this particular night, they had a Brazilian theme with dancers dressed up like they do in that festival they have there with lots of feathers and things. I'm sure it has a name.
Here's one of the dancers who was very popular with the ladies. Probably because of his quick wit and charming personality.
Or maybe it was his muscles.
Here's another nightclub called Mool, which means 'water' in Korean. These places are very expensive. A bottle of base spirits will cost you around $200.
But they're fun.
I don't teach on a regular basis anymore, filling in for teachers when they're sick or on leave. My main duties are in the office, coordinating various things and trying to keep people happy. I'm going to miss my students at the Saha branch who I've taught for the past year. They were remarkably well behaved.
For the last lesson, one of their new words was 'rifle'. Korean kids love guns and after breaktime I came back to see these drawings on the whiteboard. They're quite good and I'm pleased that they learned their new word. Although from a technical standpoint, I feel the need to mention that the ammunition magazines are curving the wrong way.
That's all for this time.
Thanks for reading!