Monday, December 24, 2012

1) Make a list 2) Read the list 3)Throw away the list

More fascinating oddities in Korea!

48. Pics with the foreigner
By now, I am so used to this that when Koreans ask me to take a picture with them I don't even think about it and just do it. Almost every time we go out in a group, Koreans ask us to take a picture with them. I've taken pictures with middle school kids, couples, kids, and 아저씨 (ajeoshis -married older men).

On one occasion, a group of about 15 expats were going hiking and of course an 아저씨 approached us with his camera. We thought he wanted a picture with all of us, BUT he only wanted a picture with  one girl from our group, probably because she had blonde hair and blue eyes. It was awkward when he approached us, and everybody in the group was ready to take a picture, but the 아저씨 only wanted a picture with one girl haha.
middle school girls who wanted a pic with us

49. Fast deliveries...see 32.

50. Mirror toilets
I still don't get this all. I get all the other mirrors everywhere else, but WHY...WHY would I want a mirror on the bathroom stall door crotch level? Am I supposed to see my tushie after I'm done to make sure it's clean?

51. Assigned seating at the movies
This is such a brilliant idea that should be implemented in the States and everywhere else. When you buy  your movie ticket they ask you where do you want to sit, and they show you which seats are available so that so you can chose. It's awesome because if you buy your tickets in advanced, you can be late and you'll know for sure you'll have your seats waiting for you. Or even if you buy your tickets and there's a long line at concessions, again, there's no hurry to save seats. BAM! Korea is awesome!

52. Kimjang
This happened a couple weeks ago; it usually happens at the beginning of winter. In order to prepare for the long winter, families make huge batches of kimchi, actually enough for a whole year. I have yet to see this, but they let it ferment in a big brown pot that is buried so that it won't go bad. I have also heard of "kimchi refrigerators" which are exactly what the word says; so homes will have two fridges.

Last year a friend gave me some kimchi, but I couldn't finish it all because it was super spicy. This year, a coworker gave me three WHOLE cabbages ...the kimchi is still stinking up my fridge -_-.

53. Stationary Stores
Or for my Spanish speakers paperlerías! Yaaaaay never thought I'd see these outside of Mexico. I used to love going to papelerías because I love crafts and anything scrapbooking station back home can attest to that.

These are stores where you can buy school materials on a daily basis, you don't have to run to the supermarket just to get a new pencil. And conveniently there is always a stationary store near every school, so if you need something for school, you can stop on your way to school. You can also buy tons of other craft materials for projects and DIY. The stores can range in size from small on a corner near a school to three-story mega stores...I go crazy in those! Gaaahh I love crafts!..sorry, I just a little moment. There's a chain I like called Alpha. They are pretty well stocked with just about anything. One just recently opened near my neighborhood, but they are almost everywhere. There's a ginormous one in Seoul where let's just say my wallet pays the price.

Alpha Co. Ltd.

54. Elections
This past December 19th was time for Korea to chose a new president. Two great things came out of this event. 1) We got the day off. Say whaaaaaaaaaa? Yes, day off to go out and vote. Well, not me of course, but other people. I'm not sure whether EVERYBODY gets the day off. I asked my coworker about it, and she vaguely replied that sometimes people have to wait in line for too long to vote so they just get the day off just in case. Yay for us waygooks!

2) Campaigning, and the best way to do so in Korea is by blasting loud music and doing cheesy little dances. It is awesome.  I took the picture below in downtown, Pohang. They are campaigning for candidate No. 1. Yes, they go by numbers, I believe there were 7 candidates.

No. 1, Mrs. Park was chosen as the new President. Not too many people around me were happy because she is disliked since her father was a dictator back in the day. Apparently she apologized for her father's actions, but she is still uber conservative. A coworker was so upset that she even got sick from the result and went home early on Thursday.

55. Wine Train
Wine + train ride = awesomeness! Yes ladies and gents, this is why Korea keeps winning! How can you beat unlimited wine for almost 8 hours?! Let me answer that, YOU CAN'T!

Ana and I decided to finally go on one of these on December 15th because we had heard about them and had been wanting to go on one for a while now. We paid 98,000 won  (~ $91) which I think was a pretty good deal, like I said there was unlimited wine, snacks (cheeeeeeeeeeseballz!), the winery's tour, a hot wine footbath, a pretty damn good lunch buffet, and train transportation to and from Seoul. We were with the Travel Pants group, a group of about 15 waygooks.

We hoped on the train in Seoul at 9am and the drinking started at 10am. The only downside to the train was that it only offered Korean wine. Which I understand because the train seems to be organized by the Korean winery Chateau Manni. Their wine was alright, it got better after the third glass. On the the train they offered one white wine and three red wines...I think, a lot of things are a blur hehehe.

hot wine footbath
I need this at home!

I vaguely remember dancing with ajummas, stealing a couple bottles, making some odd smelling bags, bus number 3, awful drunk karaoke, and walking around a small town and seeing lots of ginseng.

<--- the odd smelling bags, I have no clue where mine ended up

The Travel Pants organizer also added a Christmas theme to the experience so we had a VERY drunk white elephant gift exchange on the way back...damn you person who stole the reusable hand warmer from me!

All in all, it was a great fun experience which I will definitely be doing again hehehe. And props to Travel Pants who did an amazing job!

 <-- with our white elephants gifts.

Yay last day of school today!
Happy Holidays!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Winter is coming...

It's that time of year again. The time when I almost called it quits on Korea...

Let me start with what happened last year and why it sucked. I'm from SD, where winter is almost non-existent. Does the weather get cold every once in a while? Yes. But you put on a sweater and you're good... and maybe a scarf to look cute, not because it's needed.

Coming to Korea, I knew there was a winter, a real one, but I wasn't sure how to prepare for it. Obviously I don't own winter clothes aside from a couple sweaters, a coat, and a jacket I bought when I went snowboarding in Big Bear (which I didn't bring to Korea because it was going to take up more room in my luggage...oh ignorant me).

As the weather started getting colder in November, I quickly realized that I was doomed. Aside from not having proper winter clothes, I didn't have layer-able clothes like long-sleeve shirts, knit sweaters, or even thermals. So of course I knew I needed to go shopping. Unfortunately, I was on a tight budget because I was saving up to go back to SD (plus paying my loans) so I knew I could not spend too much money. So I bought a few more sweaters and thankfully my mom sent me an early xmas present, a new coat and my jacket.

What made winter worse was that I was walking to work everyday. A 20 minute walk in the freezing cold! (...and 20 mins back to my house). Plus, add using public transportation to go everywhere... yeah not fun. My nose got so dry that it would suddenly start bleeding.

Korea hurt my feelings. It took my romantic view of winter and crumpled it like a worthless piece of paper ...and tossed it in the trash ... and spit on it. Living in SD and having pretty much only one season, I always loved it when the weather got colder because I got to wear "winter clothes" ...what I thought were winter clothes at least. I was so excited to finally live through a REAL winter. To wear hats and gloves and scarfs. To cuddle up with a blanket with a cup of cocoa and watch movies. Instead, I got daily nose bleeds, frozen toes and fingers, and dry skin (which totally surprised me because I have extremely oily skin, I even had to buy a special and expensive moisturizer).

But alas, this year, I have a feeling it will be a different story. Winter doesn't officially start until December 21st, but the temperature is quickly changing. Below is this week's weather forecast. As you an see from Wednesday, the temperatures are dropping dramatically ...and they will drop even more. Yesterday it was actually snowing in the west part of Korea; Seoul got a nice few inches of snow.

Ana and her friends made a Totoro!

Things that are different this year:

I have a car! Which means I don't have to walk to work nor wait for buses. Hooray! I honestly didn't even feel like winter was here already. Last year by late November, I was already complaining to Ana and she said, "Dude, it's barely November, winter hasn't even started."

I have REAL winter clothes! Now that I am able to actually spend a good amount of money I have been stocking up on thermals and knit sweaters ...I have a problem now hahaha. The other day I was thinking, "What the heck am I going to do with all these clothes when I go back to SD?" I also have my boots, that I brought from SD back in January, to keep my toes nice and toasty. My dad gave me those boots a long time ago as an xmas present; I used them once when I went to Big Bear. When I went back to SD in January, I remembered them so I thought they would be useful ...those were the only shoes I used for the remainder of winter after I came back, and they will be the only I shoes I wear this winter.

So yes winter, BRING IT ON! You won't defeat me this time. You won't bring me down to my knees begging you to stop. I plan to actually enjoy you and maybe hurt YOUR feelings, just kidding, I still like you so I will give you another chance ^_^.