Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weird English Names

At my old hagwon, students generally stuck with their Korean names except for a few exceptions, but, at my new hagwon, children (or the children's parents) choose English names for their children to be used during class time.

Most names are pretty normal names. Biblical names like John, Matthew, Sarah, Luke, James, Mark, etc., seem to be fairly be fairly popular. For some reason the name Jay is quite popular, I have 3 or 4 Jays between my various classes.

Some students, though, have some Weird names. None of my students this month have strange names, but I've seen some names on other folks attendance lists... such as:

Kandi (with a heart to dot the i...)

Brings me back to the good old days of middle school Spanish, when we all had to choose a name to use in class. I used Ana for the longest time, but by college I seemed to go by Juana by no one's decision but my professor, but it seemed to fit. Though, back in Middle school, kids found out that Nacho was a name and insisted that that would be their Spanish name. Kids like to pick the most ridiculous names...

Unfortunately, when one becomes an adult, you need to have a respectable sounding name. I hope that one day students who choose to be called Donkey pick something a little less awkward when it comes time to make introductions.. .

Have you had some students with strange English names? Please feel free to add them to the comments, I need a good laugh...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A weekend of goodbyes...

This time of the year is always the saddest time for English teachers in Korea. This is the point of the year when the most teachers come and go from Korea, due to the starting of the new school year starting March.

Last night was a giant going away party for 4 of the girls from my old SLP. It was great to see all these people that I never have time to meet up with nowadays... We met at Wolfhounds for a few hours, and nearly everyone from my old school showed up, including a bunch of the Korean teachers and my old boss. After that we went to the Loft... which is the most dangerous place in Itaewon because they have free entrance and free drinks for women... Not sure how this place stays in business.... And after that we headed over to Dillenger's, a decent place slightly removed from the bustle of the main bar area of Itaewon. Finally, the party broke up while heading back to our neighborhood to look for a norebang... but all we could find was girlie norebangs and we realized again just how sketchy my neighborhood really is...

Tonight I'm meeting my current coworkers for some Greek food in Itaewon. It should be a good time, though if the party breaks up, my Saturday Korean class is having an end of the semester party tonight too, so I shouldn't be without options..

This being a long weekend, though, I need something to do on Sunday and Monday. If anyone has any ideas of exciting things to do, please let me know!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Vote now!

10 Magazine (English magazine in Korea) is taking a poll on the best blogs in Korea. If you feel I deserve to be on the list, go here and type in my blog (The View From Over Here). If I get three votes, I get on the list!

Dongdaemun History and Culture Park (Under Construction)

After two months at home, I sort of expected to see something change in Seoul... but fortunately or unfortunately, things seemed more or less the same... until I happened to pass by Dongdaemun STADIUM station, only to find that it no longer bore the name that I have always, so fondly, called it. It was now Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station. The name is so long in Korean that it's actually very slightly cut off from the digital display that shows each station's name as you ride the train. Since my boyfriend works near here, I feel like I am always talking about 동대문운동장 this or that... and now... I can't even remember the name of the stupid station in Korean because it is so freaking long. -_-

Anyway, enough rant. If a new park opens this close to my house I need to check it out. While it's only half finished, you're still welcome to walk about the finished park and check out the progress on the other half. The photo above is a plan of what it will look like when it's finished. Since Seoul is the "World Design Capital 2010" (whatever that means) It is basically one big flashy design project that they grace with the name park, for lack of a better word. There are a few trees, and a patch or two of grass, so I guess it's no worse than most neighborhood parks around here.

Yes, yes, Seoul, brag about the fact that you are the World Design Capital, but frankly, I don't think it's a major pull for your "Visit Korea Year 2010-2012"

I didn't have time to check out the insides yet, but this looks like some sort of cafe? Maybe there is/will be a museum here.

View from the middle of the park, looking at that mysterious newly constructed building across the street... not quite sure what's gona be in there...

As you can see, the walkways here are not on the ground, but raised in a artsy kind of way. It's fun to walk around, but just don't expect too much greenery here...

Here you can see some dead grass (well, it is winter) and the main shops of Dongdaemun in the background.

Next time you're in the area shopping, take a walk around... I don't expect the other half to be completed for some time, but in the meantime, have a look see at what they're working on and what they have finished..

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Weekend update

I don't have too much to write about, but I thought I'd just summarize my weekend, purely for my own recollections later, and if you're interested, than feel free to read along.

Friday night I went out with my coworkers, between 6 people and 6 pitchers of beer I thought it was time to go home before round two. Unsurprisingly, Saturday morning was a more painful experience than usual.

Saturday I went to my free Korean class, as usual, and for dinner we got some halfway decent Japanese food from a restaurant that has probably never seen more than 5 people in the restaurant at once. Ordering was rather difficult, because they only had 3 menus for about 20 people. The food was slow, but decent... for Japanese food in Seoul, which tends to be a bit lacking. But, at least they gave everyone free ice cream for dessert.

Next stop was WaBar where we discussed the contents of my last post and had some other fun discussions.

After that, my boyfriend and I went to Gunja to meet some of his old elementary school friends for a pre-wedding party. We were invited to the wedding which is in a few weeks. The bar was typical Korean HOF style, but it was on the 10th floor of a random building, so it had some cool views. And, hanging out with all Koreans means I get to practice my Korean.

Sunday morning, way too early, we woke up to get back to Yongpyong, as we do every weekend nowadays. We hit the slopes before 10, but it took us a while to get up to the Rainbow slopes as it seemed everyone and their mother had come to Yongpyong on Sunday morning and Everyone needed to get on Rainbow. I've never seen such a long line at the gondola, or at the lift at the bottom of Rainbow. But by noon, it seems as though most people had given up with Rainbow. The trails were icy and the snow was too varied... too much/ too little within meters of each other. Even we were off rainbow by 3 o'clock. Back to Gold and Red for a while before my legs just couldn't stand it anymore.

After skiing we went to a friend of a friend's condo to wait for a little while before meeting some of the boyfriend's friends for dinner. The condos looked nice from the outside, but inside, it was amazing, the nicest I've ever seen in Korea before (though I have seen some nice ski condos in the US before). It had huge ceilings and a fireplace and three bathrooms for three bedrooms. Two of the bathrooms had jacuzzis and saunas too.

I took a nap here for a bit, then groggily went out for dinner with the boyfriend's friends. Dinner was unexpectedly good. Usually I am sorely disappointed after a meal in the town outside of Yongpyong, but we had this delicious chicken soup. One was not spicy, the other spicy. I found that if I mixed the two together in my bowl, I got the perfect level of spiciness.

We sailed home with no traffic, but it was still after 11 when we got home. We had to make several rest stops on the way home because the boyfriend was just way too tired to be driving well. But, we made it home alive and well but Monday morning came way too soon.

What not to name your children...

Over a few drinks after Korean class this weekend our group of half Koreans/ half forigners started talking about names that sound really bad in eachother's language. We got quite a bit of amusement talking about various terrible names, so I thought I'd provide you a list, so as to avoid any awkward naming for your children in the future.

Korean names that sound terrible in English:
석범- suk bum
오유석- Oh yu suk
민지- Min Ji (British English)

English names that sound terrible in Korean
Josephina- 조세피나 (sounds a bit like something else)
George- 조지

I think there might have been another few more, but I'll update if I can remember them. Please feel free to add to the list in the comments section.

On a similar note (well, not really) we also discussed some simple jokes in Korean. I was amused by these:

이마트 반대말 뭐에요?

세종대왕이 만든 우유 이름은 뭐에요?
아야어여오요 우유.

I'd translate this, but they are play on words that would just take too much explaination. If you ask me, I'll translate specific words for you if needed.

Do you know any other good jokes in Korean?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mercury Levels in Tuna

I'm no expert here, so don't quote anything you read here.

I was watching TV last night when a program about mercury levels in tuna came up. I eat a lot of tuna here so I was really interested in what they had to say. They had some interviews with Americans and Japanese people and their experiences in their own countries with Mercury poisoning. One American woman did some unscientific research for a news station. She ate one can of tuna every day for twenty days. After 10 days the mercury levels in her blood stream were elevated and by day 17 her blood mercury level had already reached a point where, if she had been pregnant, she could have been putting the baby at risk for birth defects. Her doctor urged her to end her little experiment.

Just eating tuna for 17 days straight to get mercury poisoning is a little frightening. They had another man who was a bicycle racer. Because of his lifestyle he needed to eat a lot of protein. He ate tuna often because it was cheap and easy. Then he started to have health issues like fatigue and dizziness and he fell off his bike while riding. His doctors diagnosed him with mercury poisoning.

After that they showed some Japanese people who had suffered from high levels of mercury from their mother's womb. The mercury caused severe developmental defects.

They showed some graphs (in Korean) about levels of certain fish. Large tuna was among the highest, since they are very high up the food chain. But, the program told worried Koreans not to worry about Korean canned tuna. The tuna that Koreans use to make canned tuna is generally from smaller tuna, which are not as high up the food chain, and therefore containing less mercury.

Now, if this is true, it makes me feel a little better about eating the amount of tuna that I do... I would say I eat tuna 1-2 times per week, sometimes more here in Korea. But, on the other hand, it makes me wonder about the fishing practices of Korean fishing vessels. If they are fishing for young tuna, they are not letting them get to reproductive stages and therefore contributing to lowering the tuna population.

American canned tuna, on the other hand is generally made from fully grown tunas. These tuna generally have dangerously high levels of mercury and, like the woman I mentioned, if you eat tuna often, you are putting yourself at risk of mercury poisoning. And if you are pregnant you would be putting your baby at serious risk for developmental problems.

More information here from PBS

Wish I could find more info about Korean canned tuna, but I would expect that info to be in Korean on the web...

Top photo was taken by me in the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo

Monday, February 15, 2010

The rest of the long weekend... aka more skiing and a sweet hotel

As I said, after celebrating Seollal at Halmoni's house, we headed back up to Yongpyong Ski Resort, as we've been doing for the past three weekends. The closer we got to Pyongchang, the more and more snow we started seeing. While Seoul got a light dusting of snow continuously on Thrusday and Friday, Pyongchang got 80 cm of snow. We were quite excited about the morning's skiing, but for the moment we were more concerned about where we would sleep.

Actually, I should say, I was concerned where we would sleep. My coworker warned me that you have to make arrangements ahead of time on these holiday weekends, otherwise there will be no hotels left for the night. The boyfriend, cool and casual as usual laughed at my worry. His friend (who had been in Yongpyong for the past week... who needs to work?) offered to find us a place to stay while we were driving up. I'm not sure what my boyfriend requested, since the conversation took place in Korean, but when the keys were given to us, it turns out he got us a place at the Intercontinental Hotel near Alpensia Resort. Basically a 5 star hotel build in the off chance Korea gets to hold the 2018 Olympics.

I don't recall that I've ever been in a 5 star hotel before, but I was impressed by the King size bed and the fact that if you didn't like the pillow selection provided, you could call a number and get one of seven different kinds of pillows that the hotel has readily available for picky guests.

Our room
Our pillow selection. We were satisfied with what they gave us.

The lounge area of the hotel. We did not eat anything here. Only cut through to play in the snow.

Nearly up to my knees in snow.

Our hotel from the outside.

After hanging around the hotel for a while we met the boyfriend's friends at Yongpyong for some coffee and cake. The cake, from A Twosome Place, was delicious! Believe it or not..

Before 10 the next morning we were up to the top of Yongpyong hitting the trails hard. Not long after we met up with the boyfriend's crazy ski friends and we were skiing like madmen for a few hours. But, by noon time I had already fallen three times, not like me at all. My muscles were getting weaker by the second and everyone kept telling me to take a breather. Not wanting to hang out in the lounge alone, suffering from either boredom or someone dying to practice English with me, I held on for as long as I could, but eventually I gave up. The boyfriend and his friends did a few more runs and came in for lunch.

After lunch I did a few more runs, but I was pretty tired. Finally by 5 o'clock I was toast. We got in the car and drove straight home, not stopping to eat, drink or pee. Amazingly we made it home in 3 hours with no traffic, despite the long weekend rush home we expected.

All in all, another great weekend skiing.

Seollal, Korean Lunar New Year

I finally got to see a traditional Korean holiday celebration. This weekend was Lunar New Year, known to most people outside of Korea as Chinese New Year, but known here as Seollal. We entered the year of the Tiger and left behind the year of the Ox.

Saturday evening, after a day of badly needed apartment cleaning, we went to the boyfriend's grandmother's house. Saturday evening was rather uneventful, we just watched TV and ate dinner. Watched some of the Olympics and found a movie on TV that an acquaintance of mine made an appearance in. I had no idea and it was exciting to see someone I know on TV.

In the morning, we were supposed to wake up early, but we didn't wind up getting up until 9 when someone came in and woke us up. We got dressed and went down stairs to help prepare for the ceremony. We took all sorts of food on and placed them all on this small table, as you can see. In the back, there is a small frame with some Chinese characters for the name of the family member you wish to honor. Candles and incense were lit. Then a liquor was poured for the ancestor and they bowed numerous times to the ancestor, which happened to be the boyfriend's grandfather. Then the paper was changed and they placed a paper with the boyfriend's mother's name. The boyfriend bowed again for his mother, and I joined him in bowing near the end. Then his grandmother collected one piece of each food on the table and placed it in a bowl of water. The papers with the name written on them were burned and placed into the bowl and then she disappeared out the door with the food. I never did figure out what she did with that food.

After that, we took some of the food off the table and brought it to the kitchen table where we ate breakfast. It kind of felt like Thanksgiving and I was quite stuffed after the whole meal.

After that, some friends of the family came and a cute little grandmother dressed in hanbok gave money to the boyfriend's little brother and sister after they bowed and wished her luck in the new year.

Next was a trip to the grandfather's grave. This was my second time to visit the grave. The grave is literally located on a random piece of land on the side of a mountain. There's no real path to get up there, so there's generally some bushwacking involved to get up there. In the summer, we did some maintenance to keep the grave clean from grass and weeds, but of course, in the winter, there's no need for that. When we arrived, the boyfriend's father and brother spread out the mat to bow. They threw some soju on the tomb and placed some food on the little altar by the grave. Then after that, we ate a little of the food and headed down.

Me bowing in front of the tomb.

After coming back it was nearly time for lunch again. I was still quite full from breakfast but it was time to eat ddokguk. His grandmother was a little under the weather, so the boyfriend took over in the ddokguk making. It was his first time to make ddokguk, but it turned out quite well. He varied it a little by throwing some yummy mandu in there too. Eating ddokguk is traditionally eaten in the morning, but his grandparents never really liked ddokguk, so it became a lunch thing in their household. I noticed that the grandmother didn't eat much ddokguk at all. I believe the tradition is, when you eat the ddokguk you become one year older.

ddeok is a rice cake which is commonly found in many Korean foods. It doesn't have much taste, but it's nice with other flavors. Guk just means soup. So, rice cake soup.

That was the end. We took a small nap and then headed out to the ski resort by 4:00 that day. The next post will be about the events after we arrived in Yongpyong.

Another great Seollal gift...

In the last post I showed what I got for my seollal gift from my student. Now I'll show what my lucky boyfriend recived from his company for Seollal.

Yup, we're now the proud owners of 10 cans of spam. Sadly, in Korea, this is considered a good gift. I can't wait til the Korean tastebuds are slightly more refined to western foods... or at least start serving more mac n cheese.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Another 회 experience

Before I write about the excitement of Seollal/ Valentine's day, I want to finish writing about last weekend.

After skiing all day we went down to Jumunjin (just north of Gangneung on the east coast) to Jumunjin Sijang (market) where it's lined with seafood sellers and 횟집 (hwui chip- sashimi house). We met the boyfriend's friends for a dinner of 회 (sashimi). Unlike ordering sashimi in a Japanese restaurant, where you get a small plate of a few slices of raw fish, here you get endless courses of food.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like sashimi, but after eating a certain amount, my body kind of starts to say no more and I just simply can't eat any more.

I was quite excited about the non-seafood 반찬 (panchan- side dishes that come before/with Korean meals) at this restaurant. Here in the middle is a butter corn dish that was quite delicious. To the far right, you can see some seaweed pancakes that sound kind of nasty but were surprisingly good, above that is some kimbab. To the left of the kimbap is some broccoli, which I was super excited about because I never see broccoli in restaurants here. Below that are some fermented peanuts or something. You can also see in front of me is a bowl of miyokguk, seaweed soup. Not my favorite, the seaweed is a little too slimy for my refined taste buds.

Then the first main course came out. 물회 (water sashimi) which was some sort of raw fish in a spicy sauce with cabbage. Not bad.

Some more seafood like panchan came out with the 물회. I, on the whole, was not a fan...

Here's the main course. A huge helping of 회. There was three or four types of fish here. One of them happened to be poison blow fish. You know that fish that if you cut the wrong way you can die? Well, anyway, I ate one piece of that, but I stuck to the non-poisonous fish on the whole. There was some fish in the middle that still had bones in it (!) and I spit that out after putting it in my mouth. Everyone else just ate the bones too. (They were very small bones, if that makes you feel better)

After that, I was getting pretty full, and I couldn't believe my eyes when ANOTHER plate of 회 came out with a fish soup made from the remnant pieces of fish.

Here is a fish head found in that soup.

Here is the outside of the restaurant. All in all, not a bad experience for my second 회 experience in Korea. For my first experience, see here.

By the way, I was informed later that I ate some 개불 which most foreigners will recognise if I call it that penis looking fish. Of course, it must have been well chopped so that I didn't recognize it, if this is true. I, though, don't remember eating this........

Friday, February 12, 2010

What not to give...

You know, every culture has it's own tradition of gift giving. In Chinese culture, I've heard you shouldn't give a clock, because it means your time is ticking... and you shouldn't give knives.. for obvious reasons.

Western traditions have certain, possibly more subtle, gift giving guidelines... I'm pretty sure my only Seollal (Chinese New Year) gift from my students would fall under that "what not to give a westerner" category.

In case you can't read the fine print, I took a close up shot...

Anti hair loss energy. I guess I'm balding then. My Korean coworker was quite pleased with this gift. Don't get me wrong, I really appreciate that they got me a gift, since I've only been teaching their son for two weeks, but I guess this is a case where some cultural education must be made on the other side.

Oh well, I might use it anyway. Never too early to start preventing hair loss..

This weekend should be fairly eventful, and I will witness my first Seollal with a Korean family so I'll be sure to update next week and update on how that all goes on Sunday.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Skiing Skiing Skiing

Check out the sweet new helmet...

I feel like this winter's budget is going to be more or less completely consumed by skiing. My boyfriend has a season pass to Yongpyong, one of, if not the biggest ski resort in Korea. Compared with most of the dinky hills I've skied at/ seen, Yongpyong is decent sized with lots of advanced courses.

Yongpyong is located in Pyongchang which is an area which has a very different climate from even it's surrounding area. Even when I visited last summer, during one of the hottest weekends in the year, it was pleasantly warm in the day, and a bit chilly at night. Pyongchang sees more snow than most other areas of Korea.

For this reason, Korea is working very hard to get Pyongchang to be the location of the 2018 Olympics. Frankly, I think they have a long way to go. Yongpyong is only one of two ski resorts in the area. The other, a small resort, Alpensia, just opened this year and frankly, just based on the height, can't come close to competing with Yongpyong. Though my boyfriend, who is an expert skier says it's "good for practice".

Since I've already been skiing twice since I've been back (I'm only on week 4 now), my boyfriend has been pushing me to get some better ski wear (aka, stop borrowing all his stuff), so we went down to Dongdaemun to go shopping Friday night. Now, my boyfriend is very picky. He has no problem spending 100,000 won on a pair of gloves if they are the right quality that he is looking for. Myself, on the other hand, spending 100,000 won on a pair of gloves.. or even 50,000 won on a pair of gloves is a little sickening to me. Finally after at least an hour of walking around looking for gloves, I found the right fit. They fit well, AND they were only 35,000 won. Still more than I've ever spent on gloves in my life, but at least my boyfriend approved and I don't have to listen to him complain about my cheap 10,000 won e-mart gloves that I was wearing.

While we were in the basement of Migliore I found the other thing I was sort-of-kind-of in the market for. A helmet. I keep hearing stories of horrible head trauma from getting into accidents while skiing and it made me kind of nervous because I'm getting to that point while skiing that I'm getting better, so I'm starting to go faster down double black diamonds, but I'm not quite at the ski level of one who should be going at those speeds while going down black diamonds. Anyway, the guy told me that he would sell me the helmet for 60,000 won (that's cheap) because my boyfriend bought some goggles at the same booth. (Thank god he found those goggles because we passed about 50 shops before he found just the goggles he was looking for...)

Anyway, we went home happy with our purchases and Saturday afternoon we took off for Yongpyong again. We found a decent hotel to stay the night at. 50,000 won for two people isn't bad I guess. I think my boyfriend felt bad that he didn't want to shell out 150,000 won for a nice place, but frankly, that's a waste of money to me. We chose to sleep on the floor since we were cold and the floors are heated. We had no problems here and Sunday morning early, we headed out to the ski slopes.

I've discovered that buying ski passes at a little ski rental shop called K2 is the best way to go. They sell the passes at a 40% off rate. The day rate for the lift and gondola is 71,000 won, but if I buy it at this little ski shop it's 43,000 won. Quite a big difference. 43,000 for the day doesn't sound so bad, but 71,000 is enough to make one choke. Even if you're not renting skis, you can still get your passes here. I imagine other places have similar offers too. I'm still going here until I can find some poles to by for myself. My boyfriend's old skis and boots fit me. (sad but true).

We made some practice runs on some of the smaller hills and then headed up to Rainbow on the gondola, where the advanced trails are.

We more or less skied those double black diamonds all day (which are prob equivalent to US single black diamonds) and some how I wasn't completely exhausted by the end of the day, like I was last weekend. Near the end of the day we relaxed and did some of the easier/ shorter trails on the other side of the mountain.

After that we met the boyfriend's friends for dinner in Gangneung, but I'll leave that for the next post.

Manditory Seminar

SLP headquarters is releasing a new book series for our teaching delight. It's meant to replace an antiquated book called Hi Kids! Which has almost nothing to teach from except some wordless pictures in a book and some photocopied vocabulary and key phrase sheets.

They decided to make a seminar to explain to us how to teach this book, New Hi Kids!, even though there is a very clear and wonderful teacher's guide that comes along with the book that breaks the lesson down minute by minute. Not only that but, they held the seminar at Sogang University, which is 30 minutes from my house and an hour from work.

While my friends at Seongdong got out of going to this boring, useless seminar, my school had to go. I guess being owned by Sogang University means you have to set some kind of precedent.

The seminar was amazing and uplifting and after coming out, I felt my life was forever changed in an indescribable way. Though I spent about 4 hours for this seminar, 1 hour in commute either way, plus two hours here at the seminar, all I got was a lousy sandwich. I guess I can't complain, though, since they didn't have to give me a sandwich.

In other news, I'm sick of my commute to work already, an hour commute is not my idea of a good time. We'll see where this job goes...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

At the supermarket

This is what I came across my boyfriend doing at the supermarket the other day:

Listening to the sweet whispers of makkolli to decide which is the most tasty. Is this normal? Sometimes I wonder...

New Apartment

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I've been busy/lazy/sick/uninspired this week. Here are the long awaited photos of my new apartment. I had to wait until it was more or less put together... and clean to take these photos. So, the kitchen and small room photos were taken last week on a clean day (today is not a clean day in those rooms) and the big room and the bathroom were taken today. I just went outside to take photos from the outside too. I'm glad no one was out there to see the weigookin in her pajamas...

Here is the outside of my house. There is three apartments, one on the 2nd floor, 3rd floor and 4th floor. My apartment is on the 3rd floor. This style apartment building is called a villa. They are more traditional style than modern apartments and officetels. The layout of the apartments is different, and the bathrooms are quite different. We'll get to that later.

Here's where I put my trash and recycling. As you can see, there are different colored bags depending on what you're disposing of. General trash is in white bags, food trash is in yellow bags (though, note, that particular yellow bag is not food waste) and recycling can be put out in any bag you wish, and it doesn't need to be sorted. Big apartment complexes usually have bins to put the trash, but, since the trash is collected often, it's not uncommon to see piles of trash like this. In my old complex, the only day without trash pickup was Sunday. Here it seems to be every few days, as the large trucks can't make it down this street. There's a little old man with a cart that comes and picks up the trash.

This is my street. As you can see, I live in a sea of these sort of villa style apartments. It's a bit of a labyrinth to get to my place. I've noticed that the main streets tend to be lined with modern apartment buildings, but once you go behind the layer of modernity, you come to neighborhoods like mine, filled with old style apartments, stores, and the like. My neighborhood specializes in kitchen equipment. Mostly industrial style kitchen equipment. So, I suppose if you owned a restaurant, you would come to my neighborhood to get yourself outfitted with all the stoves, chairs, dishes, etc. that you would need. A lot of stuff that they sell looks used, and they repair it to sell it again. But that's just my guess.

Here is my kitchen. Not a bad size. The stove did not actually come with the apartment, nor did the fridge. Here you need to provide your own. We bought ours off the previous tenant, so we didn't need to move them. That was nice. The stove has three burners and a small oven big enough to grill a fish or maybe some bread. I haven't tried that feature yet. The burners are finicky. They work, but only after several tries. We also have a rice cooker, which might be my favorite thing about the new apartment, but we keep that in the bedroom, for some strange reason...

Here is the smaller of our two rooms. We call it our dressing room, since we mostly only keep clothes in here. You can kind of think of it as a giant walk in closet/ garage. It should be every girl's dream to have this much space for clothes storage, but honestly, I got rid of 3/4 of my clothes before I left Korea the first time. It's still big enough for someone to sleep on the floor if someone wants to spend the night, though. And there will be even more space if we can manage to sell that table in the corner that's not visible in this photo.

Here is one view of my big room. We use it as a bedroom/ living room/ dining room. No, we don't have a couch, but honestly, I'm quite happy sitting on the floor, since the floor is the warmest part of the house. I always thought I belonged in Asia, even back when I lived in Vermont. I used to make my supper, and sit on the floor using the coffee table as a dinner table and using the couch to support my back as I sat on the floor to eat there. Now I have this nifty floor table which we use as a desk/ eating area. We do need a tablecloth badly, though. The white table is getting stained from food. I don't think this was really meant to be used as a dining table because no matter how hard I scrub the table, the stains don't come off.

What do you think of my comforter set? We bought it on Gmarket (online Korean shopping site, similar to amazon). I was getting frustrated and told the boyfriend to pick out the colors... and this is what I got. It's ok though, it's better than what we were using before this. And the quality seems ok even though we didn't spend too much money.

Here's a second view of the big room. You can see our ginormous TV (29"), it's the biggest TV I've ever been in possession of. Our rice cooker is dwarfed in the corner by it's enormity. As is the TV stand, for that matter. I'm not a big TV watcher, so this is really not necessary for my life. On the up side, we decided not to get cable, but if you plug the cable cord into the TV, you can still get a few channels here, including AFN (American Forces Network) so, theoretically, if I wanted to watch TV, I could watch American programs. I did have fun watching Misuda, which is a program that features foreigners (generally young "beautiful" women) and they talk about cultural differences and occasionally poke fun at their language skills. I'm quite jealous of these people who speak Korean so well... some day I hope to get that good.

Finally, let me show you my bathroom.

You'll note that the big difference here between my bathroom and a western bathroom is the shower situation. I am fortunate enough that my shower is on this wall, opposite the sink. Many bathrooms in this style have the shower actually attached to the sink, which is awkward when you go to wash your hands and forget that the shower is on and get a dousing in your clothes. But, here the shower is located in the middle of the bathroom, the water flows wherever it wants and hopefully makes it into the drain in the middle of the floor. The bathroom is always in some state of wetness. In the morning, after a shower, it's covered in water. When i come home, there are some puddles still left here and there where it hasn't dried. I must have scrubbed off and inch of mold when I moved in, and I'm starting to think it's time to start scrubbing again... I'm kind of lazy about cleaning...

I was sick of having everything soaking wet when I got out of the shower, so I developed a system for keeping things relatively dry. It's nice when your toilet paper isn't soaked, and when your trash can isn't full of water, particularly.

One other thing I should mention about the bathroom is the lack of heating. Not only is it not heated in there, but it faces two outside walls. I sealed up the window, thinking the cold was coming through there, but, while that helped the draft a little bit, facing two, uninsulated outside walls, it might as well be the same temperature as outside. We constantly face the situation of leaving the door open so the water can dry and the bathroom can warm up. Or face the terrible drafts from the bathroom throughout the rest of the house when you leave the door open. Generally, I just try to leave it open and turn down the head when I leave my house for the day.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my tour. We still have some rearranging of furniture to do, and we desperately need a vacuum because the dust bunny situation is getting out of control. That should be coming in the mail today. I'd also like a nightstand and maybe a coat rack to put near the door. Otherwise, the apartment is ready to go.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

For Sale

I know I just moved in, but there are a few things I'm already ready to part with. If you're interested in any of these items, just let me know. If you're in Seoul we can probably deliver them to you for an extra 10,000 won.

Table- 10,000 won
2 chairs- 10,000 won
TV/ Stereo Speakers -10,000 won (missing one audio cable, should be easy to buy)
Computer tower- No idea of the specs, prob good for parts- 20,000 won

Email me with any questions, my email in in my profile on the side bar. All prices are OBO.