Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Let it...

Right now in Alaska it is cold, there is snow on the ground, the sun has made its last appearance for the season, and the temperature has dropped into the negatives.
If I were still there I would have, long ago, posted about the first snowfall. That post would have been some time in August.

Now, it is well into November and I am happy to report that we had our first snow.
Big white flakes of non-negatively temp-ed fun came falling from the sky.

The South Africans went nuts. Many of them had never seen snow before and impromptu snowball fights broke out across campus.

There was much frolicking.

It even stuck to the ground. About a half inch of fluffy white covering everything.

As I stood out in the nowhere near blizzard conditions I had a few moments of “homesickness” for Alaska.

I missed the real constant presence of snow. The big coats. The icebergs.
The more-than-crunchy/squeaky sound of below freezing footsteps.
Not to mention the actually cold ice…
I even missed the ice flakes forming on my eyelashes.

Then I remembered, it is the end of November and I am standing outside in a thin leather jacket and a pair of Birkenstock sandals during the first snowfall of the year.
I barely feel the cold and haven’t yet dug out my gloves. (Though it might happen soon for the sake of snowballs.)

Though Alaska will always hold a place in my heart I am quite glad to be somewhere less extreme.
At least as far as the weather goes.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The wiggles

Last night I went to dinner with one of my more adventurous friends. We found a remote little crowded restaurant with fish tanks outside, low tables, and no chairs.

It is interesting to note that sitting on the floor is a unique and fun thing to do in a foreign country. It makes you feel part of the culture. Like a local.
A least for the first 30 minutes.

After that your feet fall asleep, your tushy starts to hurt, and you really want to lean back on something.
Plus, those little cushions are not nearly as thick as one would hope for.

Also, there was no one there with the slightest command for the English language.
The menu was only in Korean.

This is my kind of place.

There was no way to know what this restaurant served* or how to order what we wanted.

So we did the most logical thing we could think of, pointed to the fish tank indicating that we wanted something with squid in it and drew pictures of mussels.
Ordering has never been so easy.

The problem with our point and draw technique soon became apparent.

Our food was brought quickly.
Too quickly.
So quickly, in fact, you have to wonder how it was cooked.

It wasn’t.

Before us was a plate piled high of squid, tenicales and all.
Very fresh.
Perfectly raw.

So fresh in fact (if you know where this is going feel free to stop reading now) it was still moving.
Tiny tenicals twisting on my plate.

Suction cups attaching themselves to our chopsticks.
Fleshy parts wiggling with every prod and poke.

So yummy.
With hot sauce.

*Aside, of course, for the tanks of what would be dinner.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bathroom Break

Damn! Which way do I go?

It took seeing a urinal to figure it all out.

I think I mentioned that my little campus is often used as a set for commercials and what not.

Usually they come in with a few cameras, lighting equiptment, costume changes, and the odd assortment of props. Ususally they don't take up too much space.

On evening I ventured from my apartment to find something very odd.

Snow had covered the ground!
Christmas lights were hanging from every building!
Several Christmas trees littered the street!

This was all a little odd concidering that is was barely November and the tempature was hovering in the high 60's.

They were filming a Christmas commercial. They had rented out the village and filled it with fake snow and all sorts of holiday cheer.

This place is weird.

War Planes!

I happened upon the Korean War Museum as I was walking through Seoul this weekend.

There wasn't enough time to check out the whole thing, but I saw a few planes and tanks and statues.
One day soon I will actually go through the whole thing. That day there will be many more pictures.

Traditional Korean Mask

Creepy, huh?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Chip Chop

Chopsticks are a novelty in the States.
They are something you use, with a sense of frustration, after ordering Chinese food.
Something of a necessity with Sushi.

But here in Korea they are a fact of life. They are a daily item. A constant reminder that I am in a land far away.

Forks are not of this world.

When you are served soup (and I do love my soup) it is accompanied by a set of chopsticks.
Sometimes a spoon.
But that’s only if you’re lucky.

Sometimes you are served long slippery noodles and tiny pieces of sauce-covered bits. With only chopsticks to assist you in tasting the tastes.

Plus, the sticks they use in this country are not the friendly wooden type like those I have used in the past.
Instead they are shiny and metal. Thin and slightly rectangular.
Not rectangular enough to be useful, but just enough to be detrimental.

In my two months here I have become quite efficient at wielding these twiggy utensils. I am able to transfer most foods to my mouth with little to no thought.
Dinner no longer takes near as much concentration.

As proud as I have become by my new-found talents I am still put to shame every time I see my students, and other children scattered around campus, eat. I have seen children as young as 4 holding miniature chopsticks, eating slippery bits of peach, with no concern.
They giggle as they munch.
And laugh heartily as they watch me attempt the same feats.

They think it’s funny as hell.

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