Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Matt!!!

Well folks, I did it. I totally conquered the NaBloPoMo! I can't think of a more fitting final post than this one. This is going to get a bit mushy so if that's not your type of thing you should either get a barf bag ready or just skip reading this one. ^^

Today is Matt's 29th birthday. That's a little bit strange to think about considering when I met him he was 19 years old. I had no idea when he wandered into my dorm room asking everyone silly questions that I was meeting one of the most important people in my life. Not only is he intelligent, hard working, funny, talented and strong but he is an all around kind and decent person. I am so much better for knowing him. He has taught me humility, how to relax and be spontaneous, true friendship, love and devotion. Matt is unconditional. Matt is open minded. Matt is genuine.

I probably don't say it enough but I am really fortunate that Matt is in my life. Every day I wake up knowing that I am with someone who honestly respects and adores me. You can't buy that sort of thing and it is extremely hard to find. So if you have some time today, please drop Matt a birthday note. Let him know what a fantastic guy he is and how much he is loved. Happy Birthday Matt. I love you!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Goodbye Nick!

So I thought I would change things up a bit (not blog about gimchi) and talk about how sad I am that one of my favorite students had their last day yesterday. He's going to the Philippines for a little while and will be coming back but by that time I will be finished my job. His English name is Nick and even though he's in A1 (lowest level) his English is amazing. He's a tiny kid too (short for his young age even) but really funny, clever and creative. He's the shortest boy in the picture wearing the Harry Potter glasses (they actually say Harry Potter on them).

I really like this class in general. They are all really smart, cute and hilarious. One girl is missing today. This picture is the "silly" one. I love how Max (the tallest boy) just smiled really big for his silly pose. He's an amazing artist. The boy furthest to the left (in the blue jacket) is really great too. The other kids say he looks and acts like Kung Fu Panda (he really does) and the funniest part is that I inadvertently gave him "Jack" as an English name (in case you don't get the joke, the voice of Kung Fu Panda is Jack Black).

The girls are really sweet too and this is just a lovely class to teach. I'm really lucky that most of my classes are smart, sweet and well behaved. I was lucky to be teaching this class during a really difficult day the other week. They really helped cheer me up by making me laugh with their funny jokes. Aren't they cute?

Friday, November 28, 2008

We're having to get creative...

We have so much gimchi and only a month left in Korea. Even Min Jung said she probably wouldn't be able to eat that much gimchi in a month! And the sad thing is, I doubt we would be able to take it with us so we have to eat it or give it away. (T T) So we are doing our best to eat it!

This leads us to try and think of innovative and creative uses for gimchi. Our first attempt was to make "Gimchi Burgers". Why not combine the two most stereotypical Western food and Korean food? Here's what we did:
Matt made the hamburger patties as usual but then finely chopped a gimchi surprise to add in the meat. After that we cooked things normally and even made some homemade french fries. You couldn't really taste the gimchi but since we had left over burgers and ran out of lettuce, the next day we used gimchi (instead of lettuce) on top of the burger. This was delicious! Lotteria probably has something similar or else it should. I'd definitely have this again. Gimchi Recipe #1 was a success!

Does anyone have any other ideas for creative ways we can use gimchi? We're thinking about gimchi spaghetti or maybe a gimchi and fried egg sandwich? Post your fantastic recipe ideas in the comment section!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Making Gimchi!!

Seems like the theme of this week is gimchi. I've never bought gimchi before and now I have so much I almost need a gimchi refrigerator! Yesterday we were invited to my gracious and generous Korean Mom's home to help make gimchi. She sped up the process a bit by buying cabbage that was already pickled. One of the other Korean Moms stopped by to help for awhile until she had to go pick her son up from school.

This Korean Mom (J) is really outgoing and chatty. She's actually planning on moving to Ontario in the New Year with her two sons so that they can learn English in a more natural environment. When we entered her home we were greeted by her husband and shown around the house. I wasn't that surprised to see that the largest room had been designated as the study room for her sons and that the walls were covered in certificates and other achievements and awards. Smart kids, hard workers.

Then it was time to get down to business. If you want to make gimchi you will need the following ingredients: pickled cabbage, daikon radish, green (spring) onions, garlic, ginger, chili pepper powder, oysters/shrimp, fish sauce, sugar. For an actual recipe you can go here though.

The first step involves a lot of chopping of vegetables. From this experience I learned that usually the man's job is to wash all the materials thoroughly and later mix things up (although I am sure the mixing is often done by women but J's Husband is really cool and helpful). Our main task was conquering the numerous daikon radishes, which need to be chopped in thin coins and then chopped further into thin strips. I have the blister to prove it. Plus all the work is done on the floor so the whole time you are either squatting, kneeling or sitting cross legged on the floor. My butt kind of hurts today. Haha!

So all the chopped veggies are thrown into a giant bowl and then in another container they mix the spicy sauce part of it. Next you have to start gradually adding and mixing together the two ingredients. Once you have a huge bowl of this you can start to make the actual gimchi. You break the head of lettuce up into quarters (approximately) and you carefully coat or paint each individual leaf on the head. Once you're satisfied with the amount of sauce on the cabbage you can pat it back into it's original shape and stick it in a container.

Here's a look at the finished product. Doesn't it make your mouth water a little bit? (N0? Just me then? ^^) After we had made some of it (since our time was constrained by having to go to work) then we spent a little time with J's boys, who had returned from Korean elementary school and were having some down time before attending hagwons. J also cooked us the most amazing lunch!! Because I have a terrible memory I can't remember what they call the small coins of pork. But you wrap it up in a white, pickled cabbage leaf and add some gimchi and yum! Plus she made us soup, rice, salmon and another kind of fish. The gimchi we ate was the stuff we'd just made. It was pretty spicy since we used strong pepper powder and since it hasn't fermented yet but it was delicious! After we stuffed ourselves we had a little bit of milk coffee and some persimmons.

Matt finished up his chess game and we had to go to work. Now we have one bag of gimchi in our fridge and two more fermenting on our windowsill. The bag with the pink dots is from the Mom that briefly helped us today and the brown bag is the gimchi we helped make! If you want to see a few more pictures of our gimchi making adventure you can go over here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Out of the Woodwork

Pretty much everyone knows that we are leaving Korea at the end of next month. It's been really interesting to see who is contacting us wanting to get together. Of course, the people we regularly hang out with are on the list but there are some older friends that we haven't/don't hear from so much. This reminds me of when we left Edmonton for the first time, since the same thing occurred. I'm happy to see everyone though.

As it stands, our schedules and weekends are filling up pretty fast. That's exciting because it means that we have a lot to look forward to. This weekend we're celebrating Matt's birthday in Bundang. If you're interested in coming I think we will meet at about 5:30 pm at Jukjeon station. We're planning on dinner at a Vietnamese place that is nearby and then hanging out and eventually norae bang. We're also planning a party on December 13th so if you can't make the one this Saturday you could catch us two weeks from now.

In gimchi news, I have more gimchi. This bag has to ferment a little longer so it's by the window for 3 more days. I'm sure our neighbours must think that we moved out and some Korean people moved in just by the smell coming from our place. Today we get to try our hand at making gimchi because we have been invited to one of my Korean Moms' apartments to learn how. Should be interesting! Expect some pictures of the occassion tomorrow or the next day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Love Gimchi!

I can really, honestly say that now. At first, our relationship was rough and unpredictable. I like trying new foods but I can be a bit of a chicken about it sometimes. I attribute this to how I was raised- it was definitely a meat and potatoes upbringing. In fact, I didn't try sushi, any kind of Indian, Thai or Vietnamese food until I was in university. It just wasn't available where I grew up and my Mom didn't cook that kind of stuff. (Not that she couldn't, she just didn't- make no mistake, my Mom actually is the best cook in the world.)

Anyway, when we first moved to Korea I was pretty nervous about a lot of the new foods I was presented with. It took me awhile to get into eating Korean cuisine but I eased my way in with the classic galbi and samgyupsal (both kinds of barbecued meat). If I am being really honest, I didn't start to like and choose to eat gimchi until we started this contract (our second year). Now I really like it and sometimes even crave it. I'm over the whole "spicy" angle and I even have gimchi preferences (I like mine with more fish oil and garlic).

Needless to say I am delighted with the gimchi present from one of my Korean Moms. Her mother-in-law made it and shipped it all the way from one of the southern provinces. Now I can have gimchi at home with every meal if I want to. It's gimchi making season right now and I think one of the other Moms (the one who made the gimchi jeon) is going to be giving me more homemade gimchi (that she made). On top of that, one of the other Moms is going to let me make gimchi at her house sometime this week. Exciting! I know it's cliche but after living here for almost 2 years I've never had the opportunity to make it and now I feel like I am in a place where I can appreciate gimchi in all it's glory.

Monday, November 24, 2008

American Thanksgiving with the Book Club

Yesterday we were treated to our second Thanksgiving dinner of the year. Since we have a lot of American friends we were able to partake in their Thanksgiving celebration as well. We headed off to Bundang since Mitzi was gracious enough to host the whole event. We talked about Sickened by Julie Gregory. Not exactly a cheery book but definitely was good for reminding us that we all have a lot to be thankful for.

The meal was delicious and the company was even better. We even got sent home with leftovers so we don't have to worry about lunch today! We're really going to miss this book club when we go back to Canada. I wonder if we'll be able to find one that can compare since it's a good motivator for me to be in a group. It gets me to read more consistently and helps me choose things I wouldn't pick up on my own.
After the meeting we picked up the next book- Old School by Tobias Wolff. As Matt said, "I don't think it's the book version of the movie" but who knows. Hahaha. Then we got home and both passed out in an insulin induced coma (Matt passed out a bit even before we got home since this picture was taken at Mitzi's house). Too much food. ^^

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Our Neighbour's Dog

Our next door neighbour got a new dog a few weeks ago. Before this she already had one dog but it was pretty well behaved and seldom barked but this new dog was kind of high strung. It barked quite a bit. Then we realized that our neighbour had decided to get the new dog de-barked. Have you heard of this operation? It's a bit disturbing to me. The dog still barks but it kind of sounds like it's been chain smoking for 25 years. It's really wheezy and creepy. I'd never heard of this operation before we moved here but Matt has received essays from students about dogs in apartments and the necessity for this proceedure. What do my readers think about it?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cake and Nice Things

It's been a crazy week but luckily we have awesome friends and shopping therapy to help us out. Min Jung bought us this gorgeous and delicious cake. I made Matt blow out the candles that came with it even though it's not his birthday yet.

Then I bought a couple things- the best slippers ever (since my monster slippers died earlier in the month) and a cool bag that I have coveted all year. I love that Panda. I don't know what I will do when I can't regularly visit Art Box.

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's gotten cold so...

I've been spending a lot of quality time with 소희. And since apartments in Korea lack power outlets, we have had to improvise and use the air con outlet when 소희's battery starts going dead. I've finished a game already and am really far in another. I really love my DS.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We have a ticket to Canada!!!

I have to say, it's been one heck of a week. I am super exhausted in all ways a person can be but I am stronger for it. The exciting news is we finally have some idea of what our last month in Korea will look like so we can actually start to make solid, real plans. Today we were given our flight ticket back to Edmonton and we will be leaving Korea (possibly forever, unless we visit at some point) on Tuesday, December 30th. Our flight leaves in the evening (I am so happy it's not an early morning one because YOU KNOW our school will have us working on December 29th) and because we are going through a lot of time zones we will also be arriving in Edmonton on December 30th. So there you have it people! We will be celebrating New Years Eve in Canada. Next on the list will be figuring out when we are leaving Canada again to explore Southeast Asia. Yes, I know it's weird that we are going to North America and then turning around and coming back to Asia, but it's a really long story and trust me, it does make sense. I am pretty excited but a bit sad at the same time. Here's hoping things go smoothly from now until we are finished our jobs.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

K-Pop is Everywhere...

I'm posting pretty late today since I wasn't sure what to write about. Then I remembered the cute videos I took of random Koreans dancing to Wonder Girl songs. The first video was taken in Myeongdong and these guys were dancing in front of a cosmetic store, probably trying to attract customers.

The second video is from Halloween when we met those adorable university students and played the spoon game. The last round we upped the stakes and the loser had to dance in front of everyone. Well this is the song the girl chose (the latest Wonder Girl single). I think she was pretty embarrassed but she was a good sport (plus the bar was really quiet).

To see the original versions of both songs (in case you don't live in Korea or don't follow K-Pop), the first one is "Tell Me" and the second is "Nobody". I kind of like "Nobody". It's catchy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Creative Kids and Korean Cuisine

Yesterday I was teaching one of my A1 (the lowest level) classes a story from the reading book about people that work at night. I've been teaching the same books (to different classes) for over 10 months now so it can get a bit dull at times. Luckily this particular class is incredibly clever and creative. I made them make two lists: one of night jobs and one of day jobs and this is what they came up with. Let me tell you that no other class mentioned fireworks, criminals or aerobics instructors on their lists.

Then during my Moms Class one of my Moms brought out a delicious snack she made! It's Korean style pizza! She made homemade gimchi over the weekend and today she used it to make gimchi jeon (김치 )! I've had this a number of times at different restaurants but I can honestly say hers is the best I've ever eaten. This was full of homemade gimchi, a few other veggies (green onions I think) and of course plenty of 오징어 (squid). She made a lot and I got to take the rest home to share with Matt. Ahssa!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Choco Rocko Chip Cookies and Progress

It was sad leaving the party early Saturday night but it did mean that we were incredibly productive on Sunday. This has been a hard month since work has been stressful and we are trying to plan our trip afterward and we both caught colds/sinus infections. I'm still battling mine but feeling a bit better.

Sunday we accomplished the following:
  • all of the laundry (there was a lot)
  • cleaned the kitchen
  • cooked 3 square meals
  • did all the dishes
  • made the bed
  • swept and washed the floors
  • cleaned the bathroom
  • blogged for the day
  • marked essays
  • made important trip decisions
  • baked the most kick ass cookies ever
We used all the white chocolate chips and couldn't find any more anywhere so this time we used these chocolate rock candies. They are so chocolate-y and delicious!

In other news, we've been trying to figure out the logistics of our travels after we finish our contract. It's a long story (so if you're really interested in all the details you can ask me privately) but it looks like it will actually be cheaper to use our contract return ticket to go back to Canada and drop off our stuff, visit a bit (celebrate my birthday!) and just buy return tickets to Thailand than to buy one way tickets to Thailand and then back to Canada and ship our stuff via cargo. One way tickets are ridiculously expensive! Anyway, it means more travel time but I've got my awesome DS and we don't mind plane rides. We're going to talk to our manager tomorrow and try to firm things up a bit more this week. I am hoping that it's going to be a really easy, low stress week. Cross your fingers! Oh and we're still waiting to hear from our potential couch surfers so we'll see.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dana Banana's Birthday

As I mentioned, last night we went out to celebrate Dana's birthday. There was a pretty good turnout of friends and we started things off at a Moroccan restaurant in Itaewon. The food was okay but nothing special and they really were pushing everyone to get the buffet. In fact, when a few members of our party tried to order something else off the menu (that wasn't included in the buffet) they were told that it wasn't available. With all the fabulous restaurants in Itaewon, I don't think I would go back to this place.
After dinner we headed over to a salsa club. Everyone did a little bit of dancing but most of us have little to no experience with salsa. It was a lot of fun and we managed to get there before the bar starting charging cover so that was fortunate. Definitely Dana and Octavio were the top dancers in our group. We had to call it an early night since today we had a lot of stuff to do. We might be hosting some couch surfers this week so we really needed to clean up plus we need to get our big trip planning going. Happy Birthday Dana!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Busy Weekend so far...

I'm making another quasi lame blog post for today. Hopefully I can take some fun pictures of Dana's birthday party tonight and do something more exciting tomorrow. Last night I went out on the town with Garrett, Emma (new teacher), Min Jung, and Ryan. It was pretty fun. I have to go and get ready for Dana's party though. We're going to Marakech Night which looks like a pretty awesome restaurant.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm Running Out of Things To Blog About.

Sad but true. So I thought I would post a boring little blog about what we're sort of up to. Still working, working hard. Looking forward to the end of this contract for so many reason. Would like to know when our Christmas break is so we can see exactly how many more working days we have. Today we cleaned up the apartment a bit since it was getting pretty grotty. It's still dirty actually and we should deal with that tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow- we are going to be celebrating the lovely Dana's birthday. We're going out with a million people for dinner and afterward we'll be salsa dancing. Should be fun.

On the topic of birthdays- Mr. Matt is having one at the end of the month. We've been so busy we haven't really planned anything either. When I asked him what he wanted to do he said he wanted to just hang out with lots of friends. We are trying to save money so that cancels out having a huge expensive party somewhere. Really we should be celebrating like crazy since it's his birthday and then it's basically time for us to leave and my birthday isn't that far behind. I'm sort of coming to terms about leaving Korea. I think it's going to be easy and hard. I'm trying to gather up stuff that I want to have but it's tough to do, especially when we are trying to budget for multiple months of traveling after we finish up here.

If there is anyone out there who wants to burn me a CD full of Korean music, let me know. ^^ I want a bunch of silly stuff- like songs that were/are popular on the radio here to help me remember my time in Korea. Everything from Wonder Girls to Big Bang or Sugar Donuts. I'm a bit too cheap to buy all their CDs (especially since I don't like ALL their songs) and I'm not sure how to download Korean music. I also think I want to get my name on a necklace written in Korean. Anyway, this is just a hodgepodge of thoughts since I can't think of anything else to blog about. I'll try to do better for tomorrow.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Traditional Food Gift

My sweet friend Kyung Hwa (경화) had offered to have us at her home for dinner some time ago. Unfortunately circumstances kept preventing that from happening so she did the next best thing and brought a bag filled with goodies on Monday night. I was actually teaching my Moms class at the time but Matt happened to see her so he grabbed her and interrupted my class for a moment. The Moms were pretty surprised about the situation and made me open the package and show them the food. Later Kyung came and explained what it was and told me that her mom made everything.

Yesterday this is what we had for lunch! At the top you can see the main dish which was meat and quail eggs (so yummy). This was the only part of the meal that was hot (other than the rice). The other dishes are various banchan (side dishes). In the top left you have the garlic cloves pickled in vinegar and next to this there is a combination of fermented mung beans and pickled plum. On the bottom left you can see sesame leaves and then next to that is kimchi, of course. It was all really delicious, my favorites being the meat with quail eggs, the sesame leaves and the kimchi. Yum! Thanks so much Kyung! I'm so lucky to have such awesome friends!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Okay, I feel a little guilty...

So I'm going to make another entry today. On Saturday we met up with Rebecca from the book club and watched Body of Lies. I really liked it. Actually, I really like Leonardo DiCaprio in general. People may say that he sucks at accents or he's too political or his movies are too melodramatic but I think that he makes intelligent choices and his recent movies have important subject matter. Of course they are dramatic, it's a movie after all, but the things portrayed are happening in real life and probably the reality of things is far more dramatic than the movie would dare to be.
Anyway, after the movie we parted ways and I noticed that there was a massive line up by the Inkoii store. There were security secret service types guys all over the place and they had corded off a wide berth around the store. I was curious as to who was causing all this ruckus. Could it be Wonder Girls? Or Lee Hyori? Big Bang? Super Junior? SHINee? Nope, just some new singer named Son Dam Bi (손담비) that I've never heard of. I asked Min Jung about her and she didn't know who she was either.

Anyway, I decided I was going to play the stupid foreigner card and try to get a closer look. I started taking a few pictures and stopped in front of the store to try to catch a glance of this up and coming music sensation. I didn't see her (or I don't think I did) but I was amused by the way the security panicked. I could tell they were saying, "OH NO! Who can speak English well enough and is brave enough to try and tell the stupid foreigner that they can't just stand and look. It is a MAJOR security breach!!". In Canada I probably would have been tasered. Finally one security guard came up to me and said that I had to keep moving. I asked what was happening and he looked at me like I was retarded. He said a famous singer (haha) was signing autographs and if I wanted, I could go line up in the giant line. Just to piss him off (since I could read the giant posters) I asked him what the singer's name was. Yeah, I know, I am bad but I put up with lots of crap being a foreigner here and I am usually really well behaved. So that's the story of how I almost saw Son Dam Bi.

Pepero Aftermath

Yes, I know I already posted about Pepero Day yesterday but this whole blogging everyday thing is challenging. I can't think of something to post about today so I am copping out. If anyone has any suggestions or ideas about what they'd like me to write about, they are always welcome. Please leave your suggestions in the comments.

I don't know about Japan but Korea has started taking Pepero Day to a new level. Look at these HUGE stuffed Pepero toys! I look horrible (bang reality is sinking in, I don't have the patience to style them everyday so they will be pulled back a lot) but look at the size of the Pepero toy!

And here's a picture of our haul. I'd like to point out that I have by far the largest Pepero in this relationship. Hahah! I also win the award for the most Konglish/Engrishy box. In case you can't read it, it says, "May joy and happines fill every minute of your day. It feels happiness with the delicious sweet. Sweetest & Longing Thank of your loverly... You're My...". I'm sure lots of teachers received more Pepero than we did but unfortunately we have fewer students on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Maybe there will be some stranglers giving out Pepero today. My favorite is the Pepero with the nuts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Pepero Day!

November 11th is Pepero Day (11.11 looks like a bunch of Pepero sticks). Yesterday I got a couple of boxes from my Monday students but we'll see if I get many on the actual holiday. We need to go grocery shopping today and I'm sure the vendors will be out in full force. I'm thinking about buying some for my Moms Class. I like Pepero so I was hoping to get a nice haul. We'll see once the day is done I suppose.

Monday, November 10, 2008


I'm finally unveiling my lovely Nintendo DS because I bought a case for it yesterday. I know that Stephie and Carter will approve. I'm not a huge HK fan or anything but I do love apples. I think I've found a Korean name for my DS: 소희 or for those who can't read Korean, So-hee. This means "smile" and "pleasure" respectively. This also happens to be the name of one of the members of the Wondergirls (Ahn So-hee).
In other news, I spontaneously decided to get my hair cut today and I got bangs. This is really unlike me and I am kind of regretting it. What do you think? Matt doesn't like it. I haven't had bangs since about 7th grade. Min Jung said I look nice but really young. Maybe that's a good thing since soon I'll be pushing 30 like Matt. ^^ I suppose if I can't style them properly then I can just pin them back and wait for them to grow out. Or shave my head. I took about a million pictures today in a panic. Yes, I am a vain loser.

Presenting a Couple New Things...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Lunch with the Moms

On Thursday my Korean Moms took me out for lunch at a fancy traditional Korean restaurant that overlooked the Han River. It was a bit of a gong show getting there since we had to drop off B's car first and then that meant that J (who was driving) was in an area she wasn't familiar with so we got a bit lost. It was pretty hilarious actually and really interesting to see the Moms outside of the classroom. We made it to the restaurant on time and the food was delicious. I lost count of how many different courses they brought out. There was at least 5 courses but probably more. Most of the food I had tried before but never at the same time. Also this was way better quality for the most part and I did get to try sesame soup which was really interesting. I can't even describe it because I have nothing to compare it to. It tastes totally unique. We had a lot of laughs, like when they told me the joke about what ajummas and gangsters have in common or when I couldn't layer my meat on the cabbage and they had to do it for me. I got to work on time but it was tempting to skip and go to a jimjilbang, have some beer and head to noraebang like J suggested. Hahah. Don't worry, it was never a serious suggestion or consideration. I have to say that it's pretty neat having Korean Moms in my life.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Something a bit more uplifting...

After the pants debacle we went to Yongsan and bought a few things, including my awesome Nintendo DS (that I love more than I expected to even). On the way home afterward the subway was really crowded so we were standing up. There was a little girl with her mother sitting over in the section reserved for the elderly, disabled and pregnant women. She was wandering around a bit and couldn't have been older than 4 or 5 years old. She seemed like she was walking with no purpose until the ajumma beside me (in Korean) told me, "She wants you to go with her and sit down". I was a bit taken aback and not sure I'd understood correctly so I just smiled. Sure enough, the little girl came ambling back and when I looked at her she gestured to me to follow her.

At first I expected that she or her mother were learning English and wanted to practice on a native monkey, I mean speaker, but I quickly realized that neither spoke a word. I sat beside her on the small bench and noticed there was a lot of interest from the other passengers about our situation. Seems that this little girl was extremely spunky and playful and just wanted to hang out with me! I know it's probably because I looked interesting and foreign but I listened carefully and didn't hear any references to my "waegukin" status. Heck, they didn't even ask me where I'm from. It was as if this little girl had sensed that I was feeling sad and wanted to cheer me up. We made funny faces, talked in broken Korean and just played in general. She even gave me one of her princess cookies. Her mom just sat there the entire time, neither encouraging or discouraging her. It was a really bizarre situation especially since she was specifically interested in me, not Matt. He came over and stood beside us and she wasn't afraid of him, just indifferent.

It's certainly not the first time that I've been given attention but this time felt different. Maybe it's because I was feeling blue and she did cheer me up. Maybe it's because she reminded me of my Little Brown babies. I don't know exactly but it was a special moment in my day that I won't forget.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Pants Despair

Something really horrible happened on Saturday. I "lost" a pair of jeans. Everything was going fine, nothing out of the ordinary, when disaster struck. We were washing clothes and somehow my jeans tore in the washing machine and there is no way they can be repaired. If I was at home this would just be a minor annoyance but here this is a major crisis.

I've written in the past about the lack of size diversity with women's clothing and now I am facing the problem head on. I'd always had enough clothes with me to last for a year in Korea but apparently this time I was under prepared. Winter is here and I now have one pair of dress pants and one pair of jeans that fit properly (I have another pair but they were bought hastily and aren't really comfortable at all). This is a big problem. I do have numerous skirts but that requires tights and nylons, which I also have, but in a limited supply. Once they get holes in them I can't buy more (since the nylons/tights here are also in one size fits small). I had another pair of dress pants but they met their demise earlier in the year in a tragic bleaching accident.

Matt and I headed over to Itaewon last Sunday to try and rectify the situation but it didn't go that well. I thought I'd grown a thicker skin from being constantly told by small Korean children how fat I am but I've always had issues with clothes shopping. I am the type that prefers to be left alone and back home I always go shopping (for myself) alone and rarely ask for any help from the salespeople. I don't like trying things on and parading them for other people. I know what fits and what looks good and I don't need a second opinion. Shopping in Itaewon for pants was incredibly traumatic and degrading for me.

As we wandered the streets there were a number of stores proclaiming they had "BIG SIZE". We looked for the shop my friend Andy suggested and this was the only place I went. Yes, I know I should shop around to try to find the best deal or whatever, but I just didn't have it in me. The ajumma running the place was nice enough but it was just a humiliating experience all together. Most of the clothes were totally not my style and the jeans that I did end up buying, since I'm desperate, are only "okay". In fact, now I have a new problem because they are about 10 miles too long and also too large in the waist so I need to figure out where to get them altered and hope that the language barrier doesn't result in them fucking up the jeans altogether.

It really doesn't do much for your self esteem to have your boyfriend and some ajumma discussing your big ass while you try on countless ugly pairs of pants. Some of them were 6 inches larger in the waist than the size I buy back home because they were trying to find something to accommodate my hips. Really at this point I don't even want to look at the jeans I ended up buying. It makes me so sad. So the next time you're shopping in Canada and lamenting on how they never have your size, please remember it could be much, much worse.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


So since I updated my layout I had to restart my map that shows where people are reading my blog from. I have noticed a lot of red dots in places where I don't have any friends or acquaintances (to my knowledge). So I'm really curious who's reading my blog. If you read this entry I'm asking you to leave a comment and let me know how you found this little brown blog. ^^ Heck, even if I know you, leave a comment. Everyone loves getting comments and it's nice to see who's reading.

Halloween in Korea

Halloween isn't a holiday in Korea and outside of hagwon parties and bars there isn't much sign of it here. In fact, our school is so serious that they didn't have a party (which is pretty unusual, actually). This didn't stop Matt and I from slapping together some ghetto costumes and recognizing the day. We also brought candy and I snuck in a Halloween word search at the end of my lesson. I know, pretty lame, but you have to work with what you've got.

Our costumes were big hits though, even if some people didn't know it was Halloween and looked at me like I had totally lost my mind when I walked in.

After work we decided to go and get something to eat. We could have gone to one of the many parties in Itaewon, Hongdae or Apujeong but we were feeling kind of tired and needed a low key weekend so we didn't go far. Matt had taken off his "costume" but I decided to leave mine on and see what happened. Well, I did get more attention than usual, that's for sure. A group of drunk businessmen (and one businesswoman) started talking to us on our way to find dinner. They had decent enough English skills and they were having a work dinner party and invited us to come and have free drinks. Hahah. Maybe we should have gone with them but we were starving and probably would have been puking drunk after a few drinks since our stomachs were empty and they were probably drinking soju. We chose a new restaurant to try but it was kind of crappy unfortunately. Then we headed over to a bar we'd been at with Min Jeong where they gave us a lot of service stuff last time.

Even though it was advertised as a Western bar, there really wasn't anything Halloween related happening there. A few of the same employees were working and at the table behind us there was a group of three friendly university students. They liked my make up and decided to play a spoon game and invited us and the bartender to play. Basically everyone has a spoon sitting on the table face up and we all do rock, paper, scissors until there is a loser(s). The ones that lost have to flip their spoon over and it keeps going until one person's spoon is flipped a different way from everyone else's. That person is the loser and everyone got to draw something on their face with eyeliner. Matt and I never lost but the bartender got it pretty bad. It was really funny. It was a pretty quiet Halloween but that's okay. I'm looking forward to making a big deal out of it next year when we are back in Canada.