Thursday, April 30, 2009

When a Brush With Death is Normal

Hey all! Cindy here. Today a man on a scooter rushed passed me so close that his leg brushed my side and I could smell his cologne. I just kept on walking and humming the same song . A few minutes later I actually thought about what had happened. I hadn't flinched, moved, screamed, or even noticed that a scooter almost ran me over. I think I am getting too comfortable here! Death by scooter is only a fear for those new to Korea. For the rest of us it is just a regular day.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Brief, Cold Trip to the Beach

Since we finally had a Saturday off we decided to make the most of it and planned a trip with Matt and Melissa. We decided to go to Busan..a city on the coast with beautiful beaches. The plan was to leave early Saturday morning and spend two glorious days skipping and dancing in the sunshine in beautiful Busan. Well, we messed it up before we even left Daegu.

Friday night the four of us went out with our friend Dan who is visiting Korea from Canada. We headed downtown promising that we would all be home and asleep by 2am. I vaguely remember 2am....and from what I remember, Matt was saying "more beer", and I was describing how sometimes you don't know how drunk you are until you stand up. At 3am Matt was saying "one more beer" and I was thinking I may need to cut myself off soon. At 4am we were all inside a kimbap shop eating a lot of food. And as the sun came up at 5:30, Brett and I finally got home, while remarking on how time flies in Korea.

So our early start was pushed to a "noonish" start. Well, when "noonish" came, Matt was not feeling so well and the rest of us didn't feel like rushing. It was more six-ish by the time we all left Daegu, so we arrived in Busan in time for dinner. A late start, but that's ok!

Our plans were then further hindered by the fact the sunshine was on strike. Just would not shine. But we didn't let it get us down. We bundled up in our sweaters and jackets and explored the beach and the city in the wind and the cold. We had a look at some nasty fish in the aquarium and made the locals stare by performing some leaps and jumps on the beach (they were going to stare at us anyway, so we thought we might as well give them something interesting to look at). It was a good trip, although we will have to return another time and actually relax on the beach instead of shiver.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Would you like some WHINE with that?

Here is where I make an excuse for our severe lack of blogness. Um, don't have one....except the weather has been "real purdy" and we have been enjoying it. Oh- and Brett is drunk on soju all of the time. Typical.

I can honestly say we have really improved at this "living in Korea" thing. We really have things down pat. We have favourite stores, we know how much things cost, we know how to say "too expensive" (aka- you are ripping me off) in Korean, and we even have our students convinced we can understand them when they are saying bad things about us in Korean (thanks to our super-teacher-spidey-sense...we really just can tell when a child is being cheeky). Other than a small restaurant mishap last week that left us rather hungry, we have been doing really well and really enjoying life.

There is one thing though that we just can't seem to get past. For our first few months here, we really thought people were upset or angry all of the time. Since we could not understand the language, we were really just relying on tone. Often we would hear women or children talking to each other in a tone similar to the tone i hear everyday when teaching grade one in Canada. It sounds like this "Miiiiiiisssssssss Booooooooyeeesssss, heeeeeeee hiiiit meeeee" (say it in a really whiney voice...I know you have heard it).

One day I was sitting in my favourite restaurant. We call it "Orange" since we don't know the name, and the sign is orange. There are usually 4 lovely women working there. They welcome us with smiles and bow when taking our money. We love it, and we love the food. Anyway, back to the story. I was eating my favourite bibimbap with my back to the ladies. I could hear what I thought was a real war breaking out between them. Seriously! The tone was that of distress, disgust and anger. They were whining at each other. Crabbing. Yelling. Oh oh. I thought I was going to have to duck. I pictured hand fulls of rice being thrown across the restaurant as this war escalated to food-violence. But when I turned to look at the ladies, they were all smiling, and two of them were even holding hands. I had made a "foreigner mistake". What would be a whining tone at home, is not a whining tone here.

Every day we remark on this difference. It doesn't seem to stop surprising us. No matter how much we practice speaking Korean, we know we will never be able to master the "tone".

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cough Cough Cough

Sorry folks! It's been a while but I (Cindy) have been a bit ill. Being sick in Korea is a strange thing. I have had a sore throat for over two weeks now, and this week it took my voice away. When my voice came back, it brought along a BARK with it. I cough cough bark bark bark cough. It really sounds like I am dying. I did finally give in and go to a doctor who sort of speaks English. He asked me many questions, and after each one he would furrow his brow at my answer and tell me that my answer was simply not good enough. Apparently the answers I have always given in Canada are not sufficient here in Korea. Saying my chest is congested was not good enough, he wanted to know exactly where, how heavy the congestion was, what exactly it felt like, and even what I thought was in there. It took many tries before he would accept my explanation of how my ears hurt. He stuck things in my ears that beeped, things up my nose the shot out steam, and I had to inhale something through my mouth that tasted like vanilla. After all of this, he told me to come back the next day.
"You have understand? You have allergy and I test tomorrow before noon. Closeee tomorrow noon-uh lunchee two hours. Understand?"
"I have to work tomorrow, I cannot come."
"No you come tomorrow. Allergy."
"WORK tomorrow."
"Yes, see you before noon."
I didn't go. I really did have to work. So here I sit, barking and coughing, hoping that it will cure itself somehow.

Anyway, last weekend we set out on an adventure with our good friends Matt and Mel and their friend Rob. We went to Jinhae for their Cherry Blossom Festival. This involved taking a train to Changwan, and then a second train to Jinhae. All went well getting there, and we had a great time. There were so many cherry blossom trees that it was actually raining pink petals when the wind blew.

When it was time to go home, we realized that we perhaps were going to have a problem. The train to Changwon was sold out. The buses were so full that people were hanging out of them. We HAD to get to Changwon to get our train home.......and time was running out.

(***Mom, stop reading here. Trust me. Just imagine that we got on a lovely bus and had a lovely ride, and caught our lovely skip to the end and look at the pictures.**)

So, after some negotiation and a call to a person who could translate for us, we got a taxi driver to agree to take us to Changwon. Almost right away we realized the roads were packed and we were not going to make our train to Daegu at that pace. The taxi driver seemed to sense our need for speed, and after one more call to someone who could translate for us, he stepped on the gas and began what could only be described as a taxi ride straight from a video game. We sped past lines of cars caught in traffic, we were often on the wrong side of the road, the tires squealed as we went around corners, and since there were no seatbelts for us to wear, we were thrown into each other as we laughed nervously. However, we made it there alive and in time to catch our train. Another successful mission.