Adventures of a LuLu

Mischief and Mayhem in East Asia

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Location: Seoul, South Korea

Steer away from the beaten track and leave a trail for others to follow.



Yesterday was a successful day...third time lucky afterall. The girls (Eun-Jung and Buk-Shil) picked me up at 9.50, and we stopped at the local supermarket to pick up some supplies (chocolate, milk, water, crisps, bread/cakes, pot noodle thingy, satsumas- you name we bought it). It took us 6 hours to drive there, as we went the slower way by accident, but I got to learn some new Korean vocabluary (mostly swear words) and take some pictures of the scenery on the way. Despite the onset of a cold, I was having fantastic day, with good company to keep my cheerful.

When we got to Muju and the local vacinity, we got lost. Buk-shil drove in completely the wrong direction for a good hour before she realised that we had gone the wrong way (yes, the girls were in possession of map). It is here that I took the best photographs from the back of the car, see below:

View from Car

View from Car

View from Car

View from Car

The first 3 I have posted as small because as per, they have turned out too dark, so there is very little to see. Most of the trees have now lost their leaves, while the evergreen trees brighten the mountains against the overcast sky.

After 10 min of driving up a steep road we finally made it to the fortress (and to think I was going to walk it???). Buk-shil was so exhausted after all that driving that she slept in the car while Eun-Jung and I visited the temple (Anguksa) and the fortress Jeoksansanseong. Needless to say, I was very disappointed to find that the fortress was nothing more than a long, 1M high wall that ran the perimeter of the mountain. Nonetheless, the view from the wall was breath-taking; I dont think I have ever been so high. In the distance I could see the tallest mountain I have ever seen; the peak was covered with snow, which unfortunately I could not capture on camera. Instead I have photos of a much smaller mountain that faced the fortress, with a town nestled at the bottom of it in the valley:

View from Fortress wall 2

View from Fortress Wall

Situated within the fortress wall, was Anguksa, which swiftly bacame the main attraction. To be fair, it looked just like any other buddhist temple, but I could not help but remark to Eun-Jung that I could see why the Buddhist monks would choose I place like this to have their temple. The view is magnificent, and its so peaceful and secluded, without the busy humdrum of society to disturb you from following your path to enlightenment.

A potted History of Anguksa

Anguksa is the only temple inside Jeonsansanseong Fortress. Because of Amita Bodhisattva of paradise, Daseji Bodhisattva and the Goddess of Mercy is also enshrined here.

The building is characterised by many decorations on the column and a gable roof style. It has 3 compartments, each in the front and the side. Legend has it that a crane painted the building and flew away.

The temple was first built by the monk Wolin in King Chung Ryeol 3rd of the Goryeo dynasty (1277). Additons were made by the monk Mohak, and subsequently repaired 1613 and 1864. Jeosang mountain Sago (store house for history records) was set up within the fortress in 1614. It became a holy place to protect their country government troops and monk soldiers, It was this that gave Anguksa its name.

Steps leading to Anguksa Temple

This the steps leading up to the gate of the temple.

Myself and Eung-Jung, Anguksa

Myself and Eun-Jung at the top of the steps leading to the temple.

Buddha statues (outside Pottery collection-Anguksa)

To the left of the gate was a room housing one of the Monk's collection of old pottery and statues of gods from various religions. Outside sat a couple of Buddha statues, the one of the right was particularly amusing.

Centre piece inside Pottery Collection House (Anguksa)

Inside the Pottery room sat a large statue of Buddha as the centre piece (of course). I could not work out what it was made of...bronze perhaps???

Tibetan God statue

Due to limited storage capacity of my camera (yet to buy a memory card)a chose my favourite statue, and took a photo. This is a statue of a Tibetan God, though I really do not know which one.

Tradition 13C Korean Pottery

The room was full of pottery from Japan and China as well as Korea. Seeing as I am in Korea, I thought it fitting to photograph the Korean pottery collection. This bowl set and mask dates back to the 13th century; I was amazed at how it managed to remain in such good condition.


To the right of the gate was the bell tower (which I forgot to take a photo of). On the floor by the bell tower was a pile of slate roofing. For W10,000 you can write your prayer or wish on one of the tiles, and once the slates have been placed on the roof, the monks prayers will influence your wish to come true (see to the right of the photo above). Diagonally to the right of the gate was another building I did not inspect...probably another prayer room.

Anguksa prayer room

Directly opposite the gate was the main prayer room, filled with gold plated statues of buddha. Just by the steps leading up to the prayer room, was a rusty traditonal rice pot, see below:

Traditional Rice Pot (Anguksa)

The views from the temple was magnificent, shame my camera does not capture the full grandeur of what lay before me. Here are a few photos:

View from Anguksa Temple

View from Anguksa Temple

Lastly, we 3 girls drove to a viewing tower 5 min from the fortress. After supressing a panic attack, I mangaged to get to the top. From there I could get a better view of the snow-capped mountain that I mentioned earlier, and it was from there I could fully appreciate how high it was. Again, I attempted to photograph it, but the image did not come out. Instead, I walked round to the other side of the viewing tower:

View from viewing tower

One the way back, exhausted by my cold, I fell asleep in the car. We stopped in JunJu
for dinner at Outback (memories of James devouring his dinner, my dinner and half of Jen's came flooding back).Despite the rather delicious western food, I had lost my appetite, and opted for a doggie bag instead.

The girls dropped me off at my apartment at around 9.30. Feeling like hell, I staggered into bed and settled down to watch TV. After a long telephone conversation with Ben, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.


Third Time Lucky?

Today has been wet and cold. November is drawing to an end and winter is fast approaching...even the Koreans have commented about the cold. One of my colleagues has suggested that I start wearing thermals. Over my dead body. But you never know, if it gets too cold for me to cope, I might just have to wear thermals aferall. Besides I am the only person who is going to get to see my tasteful under garments.

Today saw the last of my parcels being sent internationally. As per usual, the clerk insisted that I unpacked my beautifully gift-wrapped present, so that she could see the contents (no, I'm not sending a bomb). Then comes the fuss over the possibility that it might break, and me explaining that I am willing to accept full responsiblity if it does. This is usually followed by 20 min of re-wrapping, stuffing, packaging, stuffing and packaging again until said clerk is satisfied that the contents are safe. After all this, the clerk informs me of the cost of sending this to its destination, whereupon I routinely have a mini heart-attack right where I am standing.

On Wednesday my colleague at my other school invited me to see the castle that I never got to see with herself and her friend. Her friend has a car, which will dramatically shorten the journey time. I am hoping that it does not throw it down; I can probably cope with the cold at the minute, but I am not sure if I could cope with the rain up on the mountain. I am to meet them outside the local supermarket at 10am tomorrow morning. I am praying that I will be able to get up on time!!!


Trust NO1

The batty old lady I met on the coach on the way to Muju keeps on phoning me (see previous blog). She is desperate for me to marry her son. Why??? I don't know. I have never met him. Perhaps he is ugly, or has a nervous twitch, or if he is anything like his mother, just plain weird. Mind you, for all I know this could be old Korean tradition, so I should not slate it.

However, it is winding me up, to the point where I have resorted to asking people to follow the code if they ever want to phone me. Unfortunately I don't have caller ID on my apartment phone(or at least, I don't think I do); perhaps I should ask the Boss if he will set this up for me.

So the moral of the story is: TRUST NO ONE, even if they are a seemingly innocent 60 year old lady.

Today at Kumdo, my trainer showed me one of the sequences of movements I have to perform in order to get my green belt. I almost had a heart attack. For such a short title, the sequence is long and difficult, and involves jumping and swinging my sword at the same time. God help me. How will I ever remember all of that??? I have taken to writing everything down in a note book, so I have some hope of being able to practice it at home. Even if I dont get it perfect whilst at home, at least it will go some way towards helping me remember the sequence.

I'm off to school now, armed with chocolate to share with my colleague(other school,of course) as she is so good to me. I just love her to bits!!!!


Fingers and toes crossed

Today I had my 2to one students again. (see previous blog). I am proud to report that the technique I used on that little brat seemed to have worked. He was fairly quiet and paid attention for most of the lesson, which was a pleasant suprise. Mind you, I am wondering how long it will last. Perhaps by writing this I am jinxing it-maybe I am speaking too soon.

I managed to get some of th christmas presents sent today. When I mentioned that the two parcels were fragile, they refused to send them. Song-il, the guard, explained that they did not want to accept responsibility for the contents if they were to smash. I told them not to worry, that if everything breaks,its my fault. Now I feel that the parcels are jinxed too!!! I knew I was taking a risk when I bought them, but I wanted to get something that was traditional, and there is very little else that isn't tacky or too expensive.

It is so expensive to send the parcels, so they are birthday presents as well as christmas presents, which is a bit of a bummer. Oh well, I can only do my best...


To Deogyusan National Park...and back again

Oh, what a complete disaster.

I began to write this on the journey there:

So here I am sat at 청추 JungJu bus terminal. It took me 40 minutes to get here from Gunsan, but it took me 21/2 hours longer than it should have to get out of bed. My alarm went off a 7.30am which I ignored and fell straight to sleep. Last night I went out and somehow managed to get drunk on 2 pints of larger, spread over 3 1/2 hours. This is very much hindered my plans to make an early start so I can set out for Jeoksansanseong (a fortress which dates back to the Goryeo dynasty).

Having managed to leave the apartment by 11.30, by 12.40 I was at the bus terminal. It was there that I discovered that my Korean Colleague had misinformed me when she told me that there is a direct bus from Gunsan to Muju. Instead I had to take a bus to JungJu and wait for an hour for the bus to Muju.

I am worried if I will actually be back in Gunsan before the clock strikes midnight. Afterall, I have no idea when the coaches stop running, and I know nothing of the trains since they are not the main method of transport here in Korea. As a result, I worry that I will get to see very little of the fortress, especially as the nights are now drawing in at around 5.30pm.

This is truely an adventure, and I am experiencing it by myself. There is much to be said for travelling alone: you get to do what you want to do, when you want to do it with no comprimises. Plus you get to absorb your surroundings in peace, while being completely fine-tuned to what is going on around you-Ye Olde survival instincts. Instincts that we follow unwittingly, yet we alway put down to society alone. This is a concept I have believed in for a long time; being out here has strengthed my conviction.

I am exhausted. I dozed on the way to Jungju, when I realised that the mists where going to obscure my view of the countryside. The Koreans say that the mists are a sign that Winter is approaching (which I am really not looking forward to). Looks like I am going to be sleeping on the next coach, even though I have brought "The real Middle Earth" with me to read.

45 min later...

Well, there was no chance of catchin' some zeee's. Of all the people to sit next to me on the coach was a 60 year old village Elementary school English teacher. She started asking me questions, and told me a little about herself. Her level of English was very poor, almost as bad as my Korean. She asked me if I would ever help her out with her English. I agreed, and gave her my contact details. She then began to tell me a little about her 28 year old son who is currently living in Seoul. After a long pause I began to look out of the window. The mists blanketed the forest-covered mountains giving it an eerie quality. This is something I have never seen before; I was captivated.

"You are not ver interesting" remarked my 60 year old companion.
"I'm sorry" I replied. "but I am English and I have never seen this before". She nodded and smiled. I felt relieved that she understood. I resumed broken conversation in between glances out of the window.

When she got up to leave she held out her hand. I took it; as she did so she slipped me a piece of paper. It had her son's phone number on it. She gave me knowing look, and stepped off the bus.

From memory:

Relieved that she had left the bus. I wrapped my fleece around my backpack as a make-shift pillow, and conked out for the next hour or so on the way to Muju. When I finally arrived there, I got a bus from Muju to the Park. By this time it was 4.15 and I was starting to worry. I took some photos of the start of the trail, but as always, one has turned out too dark.

The road to the Fortress

View from Begining of Trail to Fortress

The sign stated that it was 4 km to the fortress. I took a deep breath and began walking up the path (see first photo). 1 km along the train there was a ticket booth, and an eating house. The woman who owned the restaurant cornered me, and would not let me continue alon the trail. I insisted (knowing that Koreans tend to be hypochondriacs). She suggested that I come back tomorrow, as it takes 2 hours to even get to the fortress. I explained that I have been travelling for over 4 1/2 hours from Gunsan, and there is no way that I am going back now, only do to the same thing all over again. She offered to have me sleep in her home so that I can do the trail tomorrow. I refused; after all, I did not have a change of clothes etc. The family who was dining at her restaurant kindly drove back to Muju bus terminal, where I faced another gruelling 4 1/2 trip.

After that I concluded that even if I had got up at 7.30 there is no way I could have got there in time. I think I will try again this weekend:I will have to stay over night in Jungju then get up early the next day.



Ay's and Ye's

Today has had it's minor frustrations, thats for sure.

(Plus yesterday I found out that the real reason why my other boss did not show is because he was hungover. I just knew he was lying).

One of my two2one students, who is always a brat, stepped up the routine and was simply impossible. He would not get his text book out of his bag (he often does this), and when he did, he started to tear the pages. He then got another book from a different class out and began to read it. When I took the other book off him, he threw a temper tantrum, refusing to even open his text book (which, I hasten to add, I specifically chose as it is far more stimulating than the other books available and I hoped that it would capture his interest for more than 5 min) and began tearing round the class room. This time I did not have the patience for it, and concious that this was impinging on the study time for the other student, I chose to ignore him completely.

"fine" I said. "sit there and do nothing."

I began working through the book with the other student. 10 min into it, he began flicking through the text book, looking at the pictures until he finally found the page we were looking at. I still continued to ignore him. After 30 min of study, I spent the last 10 min playing cards with the other student, and did not invite him to join us, knowing that he loves to play cards. When class was over, I rewarded the other student with a dollar (dollars equal real money to spend on snacks and sweets), right in front of him.

Call me cruel, but without sending him to the Boss for a beating (no exhaggeration), there is no discipling him. However, my reaction to today's little performance may have had an effect. Let's see what happens next Monday...

A couple of days ago I received a Burgandy jumper from my grandparents as a christmas present. Today I had been wearing it with pride (and a large amount of gratefulness as the school has no heating and is therefore freezing cold) when to my annoyance, I caught the jumper on the edge of the blackboard, and ripped a hole in the seam. To make matters worse, I have no needle and thread, so it will be a while before I can get round to mending it. One of my colleagues promised that she will bring a needle and thread in for me tomorrow; I hope she doesn't forget!!!

Another thing that really, really gets on my tits, is the American spellings and expressions that i have to use. Everytime I see an american spelling or expression eg ax vs axe, favor vs favour, cotton candy vs candy floss, I have to pause, take a deep breath,remind myself that the US is the biggest and most influencial English speaking county, swallow the temptation to scream, and carry on.

It can be so frustrating being the only person from England in the whole of Gunsan (though Paula is from Southern Ireland, which is better than nothing). The vast majority of the foreign teacher community (all 25 or so of us) are Canadian and tend to stick together. So, in short, I am surrounded by Yey's and Ay's ( Koreans and Canadian's respectively).

Paula and I have often spent many a private moment venting our frustration over this to each other, as we both understand what its like. In fact we were having one of our sessions on the way to school, only to be almost knocked over whilst crossing at the, er, crossing in the street. This pretty normal in Korea. The lights are not the rule, it seems, they are just a guideline. Red equals "IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA TO STOP". Green equates to " TEAR DOWN THE STREET AT 50 MPH AND HONK EVERYONE ELSE TO GET OUT OF YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU CAUSE AN ACCIDENT".

Paula and I started swearing in our disgust, then started laughing.
"there's a point system here in Korea, did you not know?" I remarked. "80 points if you hit a European or Australian, 90 if you hit a Canadian, and 100 if you knock down an American" I informed Paula, who was in stitches by this point.

(This is in-keeping with Koreans purposely walking into you as if you dont exist. These days I dont dive out of the way, I let them smack into me, or make them dodge when they realise that I aint gonna move).

Well, you have to laugh, or else you cry.


at least something good came of it


Got to Fortress near Muju ski resort on Saturday, possibly catch a ferry from Gunsan port to the island on Sunday.


I mention that I am going to the fortress to my boss at the other school. He suggests, no, insists that his teenage son, himself and I could all go together on the Sunday (he will drive us there) if I give his son an English lesson at the same time. I gracefully accept, switching my plans to visit the island to the Saturday.


Teacher dearest springs me a surprise belt test. I am not ready; I have not been shown all the moves and have lost some of my strength and stamina from being ill. I whine and whinged but he insists. It is to take place at 15:00 ie right smack bang in the middle of the afternoon. What an inconvenience.


Survive the belt test and gain my yellow belt.


I dragged myself out of bed at 12.30 and managed to get to the Dojan at 1pm. I sat watching some Japanese anime in the teacher's sleeping quarters with a 6 year old red belt while the fellas prepared the gym for the test. At 2.30 I was fumbling my way through the final practice for the test at 3pm. By 3.30 the room was filled with 100 kids (some of which are my students-I definitely I have to pass or I will be a laughing-stock for the next god-knows-how-long) and associated parents, proudly sat at the back of the gym, brandishing cameras and various other recording devices as eagerly as the kids with their swords.

Following the warm up, salute to the Korean flag etc, I was first up, along with 5 other white belts. "Louise" the teacher yelled. "ye" I replied, attempting to walk in a measured manner towards my place in the middle of the gym, with over 100 pairs of beady eyes staring expectantly at me. I bowed to the teacher, the examiner, and then to the audience, and took up my "chariot" stance. The teacher began yelling the moves (in Korean, of course, not that I had memorized any of them). The audience, examiner and fellow trainees faded away;all I could hear was the sound of my teachers voice penetrating my brain. I fumbled my way though the moves, praying they were correct. Over head cut, middle, ears, waist, left block, right diagonal, right block,left diagonal, kenjo. Side step then right leg forward bent, with left leg straight, feet at an angle but parallel, overhead kenjo. Same stance, turn, overhead kenjo. Turn again, overhead cut. ETC. Twist, diagonal slash direct into sword pointing to the sky and standing on one leg. ETC. I barely registered the camera the black belt was holding flash directly into my eyes.

Then the teacher called for "check-gun": wipe your sword and place back in case. The next thing I knew the kids starting doing various stretches and exercises for the examiner, as the teacher barked out instructions. This was completely unfamiliar to me: I tried to copy, made a mess of it. Then came the forward roll, where I was literally left standing. I was completely confused; I hadn't been trained for any of these stretches.

We bowed to the examiner, and the audience, and I resumed my place at the back of the gym, almost deaf to the cheers of encouragement from the spectators.

I had failed. I just knew it. I was mortified. In front of my students as well. I am a foreigner in Korea, I stick out like a sore thumb, I have had my face in the paper (my boss has been advertising the hagwon) and EVERYONE KNOWS ME. WITH NO EXHAGGERAION, IN GUNSAN, I AM FAMOUS.

2 hours later, following the pomp and glory of the teacher and the examiner showing off their swanky moves by slicing through bamboo shoots to the amazement of a captivated audience, I was invited as an honoured guest to an eating house by the examiner, accompanied by his wife, children and my teacher. Assuming that I had failed I just concentrated on eating. Not that I actually ate much. Every single creature that could have come out of the Sea of Japan was laid on the table. Things had eyes and feelers, and some things were still writhing and twitching. I came close to heaving. The examiners wife looked at me with concern. "I don't like fish" I explained, even though the fish wasn't the problem, it was my squeamishness.

Afterwards I went to the PC Bang, then to bed, ashamed. At least I had the fortress to look forward to.

Sunday morning I was out of bed at and ready for 9.30am, as promised to meet with my other boss outside my apartment. By 10am he did not show. I phoned his mobile. I he was still in bed. 'I have classes today, sorry' was the explanation. I was furious. Why did he not phone me earlier on in the week to let me know???? I made the decision that when I see him next I will be deaf to any further promises of day trips, as he is clearly unreliable. After all, the fortress will always be there for him; I have only 10 months left here, and soon the snow will be settling in. I went back to bed in a hump.

Midday Paula phoned, wanting to know what my plans are. After explaining that everything I had planned to do had gone tits-up, I resolved to buy the thick hooded fleece that I saw in the shop by her apartment, whereupon she offered to come with me. After that we went for a walk round Eunpa lake then back to hers for cakes she had bought in Seoul (proper European cream and everything!) and TV.

Today, I went back to Kumdo. My teacher approached me, yellow belt in hand. "Good job, Louise".

I HAD PASSED!!!!. Though I am to perform the stretches on my own next time.

So something good came out of the whole thing after all!


four shocks in one day.

Yesterday was Pepero day, a marketing scam whereby you give pepero sticks to your friends and family. You see, yesterday was the 11/11, and the 1's look like the pepero sticks. To me, thats desperate. At least I got loads of chocolate sticks from the kids, and a massive one from one of the one2one students. A felt really bad as the kids where expecting to give out peperos, but of course, I did not have any!!!!

shock no 1:
This week was my first week back to Gumdo. Suprisingly the two week gap has been beneficial; I have improved dramatically. Yesterday, my teacher told me that he has booked me for the yellow belt test. I was not (and am still not) happy. This week I have been rushed through the last few moves, the most difficult ones, and I am still struggling to associate the moves with the Korean name for it. I refused to go, but the teacher insisted.

Shock 2:
When I arrived at work yesterday straight after Kumdo, the Boss called me into his office. He informed me that he thinks that I am a good teacher. My god, I nearly fell off my chair. However, there was a catch of course. Knowing my patriotic attitude towards the English language and my accent etc, he explained that while it is ok for me to use my English accent on the Elementary school students, the middle school students are not used to it, so please can I speak in an American accent instead? While he thinks that the Americans and Canadians are just Yankees, and the British accent is the original accent, the sound of the American accent is friendlier. (do I detect some little white lies and a large dollop of sickly charm?)

Who does he think he is? I told him that I would do my best, but no promises. I couldn't help myself; 'I am a teacher, not an actress' I pointed out (though I sometimes wonder if there is much difference).

shock 3:
Towards the end of the day he calls me into his office again. He informs me that it is Korean custom that the kids are not allowed to snack during the lessons, nor is the teacher. Unfortunately, I did not have time to point out that he has given me no breaks during my working day, that there are only 5 min between each class, giving me enough time to walk from one class room to the next, but there is no time for me to eat. When am I supposed to eat??? WTF???
Plus, the kids have been at Hagwon all day with back to back classes. So he is telling me that that by 8pm, they are still not allowed to eat??? HOW RIDICULOUS.

Shock 4:
The guard that I mentioned in previous blogs (the one I wondered if he was gay)took me out last night to a Korean eating house, followed by the singing room. When we got back to my apartment, he asked if I find him attractive and will I be his girlfriend??? In Korea, this means that all being well, he will want to marry me. I told him that while he is very handsome, I will be leaving Korea in 10 months time, and the chances are I will not come back. "its difficult"he said, "but I am hooked on you." Already??? He has met be 3 times, the previous two times for half an hour at a time. I know Korean men move fast; this is only good if you feel the same way of course. I told him that it is his decision, but he insisted it was mine. "No", I said. "I will leave you. You should think about it and decide". Plus there are other factors which I am not going to mention here.

However, all of this is nothing compared with finding out this week that Bush has been "voted" back in. PLEASE SEE LINK (TITLE OF TODAYS BLOG)FOR APOLOGIES FROM THE AMERICANS


Freaky hair

Discussed gay Koreans with my Korean colleague yesterday. My generation recognise gays, but they are believed to be not quite right in the head. She had never heard of them wearing an earing in the left ear. Hmmmm. Food for thought.

Stayed over at Paula's again, and watched telly until 4am. I got a craving for mangoes I would not shut up about it. I took me a while to sleep because of it. I would do anything for a mango I really would.

12 hours later I was sat in the hairdressers having my hair dyed then chopped. The colour does not suit me as well as I thought it would, looks a bit punky. I did not expect it to come out in a block colour and so stricking. The aim was to warm my face and have it contrast my eyes. It does that all right! Students and staff alike will not recognise me on Monday! And if they do, I hope they like it; they will tell me outright if they don't. At least they're honest.

I planned to find out if there is a tourist info office somewhere, but I did not have time today, and I doubt it will be open on a Sunday. Its back to Gomdo on Monday now I think it can hack it, but I will probably have to start from the begining, as i have lost a lot of my strength and flexibility, what I had of it that is.


Do Gay Koreans Exist?

This week has been pretty uneventful, which in a way, I am grateful for. However, yesterday, I was approached by a Northern Ireland woman called Ailse. She seemed quite nice but a little lonely. I think Paula and I might pay her a visit some point soon.

Today, after a week of frustration of trying to find a PC Bang whose computers have something closely resembling Word, I managed to get a couple of formal letters typed up and printed. This morning I popped into the post office to post these letters. I was approached my a rather handsome guard who wanted to help me, and seemed to fancy me (asking me how old I am, body language etc). But then, I noticed a rather girly-looking stud earing in his left ear (despite the fact that both ears were pierced. Back in England, this is a statement of homosexuality. Yet in Korea, the most men of my generation seem to be pretty boys, and are not afraid to dye their hair, wear jewelry, clense, tone and moisturise. You see, I have been told that homosexuality is not recognised here in Korea, most believe that it does not exist. Surely it must exist though???

As I started to walk out of the building, I began coughing. "Cold'? he asked. "Yes" I replied, not bothering to get into the finer details. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a handful of sweets. "pumpkin candy, and pumpkin jelly" he proclaimed. "for you, my friend". I was bowled over. I gracefully accepted them, hiding my awkwardness and embarrassment. At this point I couldn't resist, I had to find out. "do you have a girlfriend"? I enquired. "No" he replied simply. Hmmmmmmm.
"see you again soon" he called after me, as I walked out the building.

How sweet. But I have noticed that Korean's in general, even my generation, stick to old fashioned values that seem to be dying in Western society. They are extremely caring, considerate and helpful, even towards foreigners. These are values I believe in myself; shame Western society is becoming more arrogant and selfish with each generation.

As for me asking outright if he had a girlfriend,I knew Icould get away with it without embarrassing myself, as these questions are normal to ask a stranger. Korea is still confucious in many ways, and men and women alike will ask you certain questions straight away so they know where to place you in their ranking system. (Also, if a Korean man is interested in you, your age is important, as the man needs to be around 3-4 years older than the woman in order to be considered as a love-interest/potential wife).

"How old are you?"
Where are you from?"
"Do you have a boyfriend?"

(After that, taxi drivers complete the inquisition by telling my that I am beautiful/ilpon etc).

Its a routine that I am used to now.


Goodbye Jeremy 2/Lucky escape

Saturday night was quiet but a blast. Went to K-One to met up with Jeremy, had a couple of orange juices and met Kathryn (Some Koreans like to adopt western names for themselves). Afterwards we went back to Josephs apartment and sat around chatting, eating take away chicken (yes, it was definately chicken), and in the case of everyone with me as the exception, drinking. (See my Flickr). Jeremy and Kathryn insisted on going to one of the Singing Rooms, and despite the Bronchitis, I went with them. The first song I sang went ok, "you must love me" Madonna/Evita, but it went down hill after that. Despite this I had a fantastic time. It is the first time I have done Kareoke, so I was feeling pretty proud of myself; I think I will go again once I am fully recovered.

Sunday was spent writing another 80 reports while listening to music. Late afternoon I went to Paula's and watched the Basket Ball Diaries, and Waking Ned, after doing an illegal rubbish run while the guards weren't watching.The Korean's are picky about the way they dispose of rubbish. Everything has to be seperated for recycling in different bags, and placed in specific bins. I got to see Jeremy again for the last time when he showed up to watch TV with us (he even watched Sex in the City, and I am so proud!). Paula and I helped him with his rubbish so that all he had to worry about was packing. One the way to Jeremy's apartment, we found a shopping trolley in the corridor. I jumped in while Paula raced me down the length of the corridor, smashing me into the wall. It came in useful for getting all of the rubbish from Jeremy's apartment to the bins in one go.

This morning I went back to the doctor's/Hospital. I described to the doctor how weak I was after him seeing me last. Even though I did have the occassional burst of energy, he said that if it had carried on for another couple of days, I would have been in hospital attached to a drip. I am very lucky given how low I sunk to have then turned around so quickly. I must be tough! I still have Bonchitis, but I am definately on the mend, and the doctor did not bother giving me anymore pills.

Lucky escape.

When I left work yesterday it was throwing it down. I did not have a brolly on me, so I really did not want to wait at the bus stop for 20min. This thwarted my plans over saving money. The taxi costs around W3500 or 1.80, while the bus costs W850 or 45p. W3500 may not seem like much, but it is when you only earn around 900 quid a month and half of that has been taken from you this month as a deposit for the flat. Given that I have little choice but to use some kind of transport to get to the school from where I live, you need to times that amount by at least 10, and then you start to get the idea. When I got back to my flat, I had a craving for Lotteria (Korean equivalent of MacDonalds, except that you wait 5 min after ordering the food). Such was my dedication, I walked 15 min in the pouring rain with the tail end of Bronchitis just for a bag of chips and a burger. But, oh, it tasted so good!

After Lotteria, I spent the next hour or so writing the reports that one of the English teachers gave me to complete. That is 140 kids so far, and counting, as this week is my first complete week at the school; Wednesdays was spent at a different school as a favour to The Boss's friend (Younger Brother/Older brother, as he always refers to his friends). I estimate that next month I will be writing 180 reports, and still be expected to know all the names. I dont even know the names of my closest colleagues. When it comes to Korean names, I have a mental block. I don't know why. Though I have heard that Westerners find it a struggle to remember Korean names. I dont have a problem with Indian or Pakistani names even, just Korean! Weird.