Monday, May 31, 2010
We've gone on before about the weird etiquettes, and funny bathrooms with musical bells and holes in the floors as toilets, and used loo paper being put in a bucket rather than being flushed. They are all really different to the way we do things and they each have their reasoning. I am about to add another oddity to the 'things that make you feel weird but make a whole bunch of sense but I'd rather do without it anyway' list.
I have appropriately named it 'Dick Soap'. I have heard of soap on a rope. Which makes sense. It's a piece of soap that has a length of rope running through it, and you can hang if from your shower, and it won't slip out of your hands, forcing you to do the whole, awkward bend over in the shower thing. Yes, I know, that only applies in prison, but you still feel weird bending over in your shower, admit it!
So to get to my point. Dick Soap is something very similar in concept but ohhh sooo different in execution. It is a piece of soap, usually quite round and quite oblong fastened to a metal bar which is fastened to the bathroom wall. The idea is quite clever, in that the soap automatically dries after being used because it is 'hanging' in mid air. Also it never sits in a dirty, mucky pool of water, so you will never again be forced to use a squishy, mushy piece of soap. Very clever.
The only problem is the way in which you have to use it. Look at the picture and take a guess at how one gets a good lathering of soap in ones hand...
A person wrists only have so much rotational movement to them so you could try turn your wrist left and right and left and right a few dozen times, or you could, yes, slide your hand up and down the wet, slippery soap a few times and be good to go. The only problem is the whole sliding up and down bit. It really is a little weird. And if you don't believe me, come here and try it for yourself. Then we'll speak again.
It still leaves me to wonder, why not simply fit liquid soap dispensers...?
Post by Oliver
Saturday, May 29, 2010
When we were in Seoul we managed to get rooms at a pension (motel) for a decent price. We got a room for myself and Oli and one for Chrissie and Rob. The rooms were pretty much identical. We both had massive televisions, a small table, a double bed, a hairdryer, an air conditioner, a water machine, and a bathroom.
- You never know if you are going to get a western style loo or a squat loo (a whole in the floor).
- You never know if there will be toilet paper.
- They don't seem to flush their loo paper here. So often you come across bathrooms with dustbins full of used toilet paper.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
With our Korean slowly getting better, and our confidence growing by the day (one needs some confidence to interact with the locals), we decided to brave the downtown market. It's about a 15 minute walk from our apartment, so we headed out on the overcast Saturday morning (about 10 ish). We also figured with our initial budget running a bit low, and both of us only being paid on the 10th of next month, a little bit of saving is in order, and what better way to do that than cooking at home rather than eating out the whole time.
Walking into the market can be a little daunting, but once you're in it and have made your first purchase, things only get easier. There are several hundred metres worth of market 'streets' to navigate, and they range from the covered areas that sell mostly baked and made goods (prepared foods, such as Kimchi and dried fish), and fresh fish and seafood. There are a few open air streets, where one would find the farm goods (fruit and veg), and there are a few more covered streets that sell all sorts of random goods, ranging from slip slops to blankets to caps to keys to crockery...literally all sorts!
There are also hundres of types of ready to eat hand foods to buy and snack bars or pseudo restaurants to sit down at for a quick bite. It is a brilliant experience!
Most of the buying is done with our (very) basic Korean, and then just guessing, gesticulating, and hoping that what you're expecting to get is what you are going to get.
We left the market with most of the things we were after, plus (as it happens when shopping) a few more randoms.
All in all a proper experience that we hope to repeat in the near future!
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Most people, whether they will admit it or not, have a burning desire to sing. However, karaoke bars filled with smoke and strangers can be understandably daunting. So a Noreabang is the answer, in fact, it is revolutionary. It is a small room just big enough for you and your friends to rock out until your throats are so sore you have to retire.
What's more, it is cheap, accessible, and sells alcohol (so if you still have some reservations when entering the small room, a beer or two should be able to help). The room is kitted out with a mirror ball, a large screen TV, and a selection of songs ranging from Nirvana to Metallica and finally to good old Celine.
Apparently they come a lot more lavish than the one we were in... I look forward to my future Noreabang experiences.
There were four of us rocking out in the Noreabang in Seoul. Check out our rock faces below:
Me, Rock on!
Rob, screaming....which is totally his style!heehe
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Well, you see, in Korea real men like pink. They wear it and they accessorize it. Many of Oliver's male students (who are between the ages of 6 and 13) have pink phones, so he thought he would join the crowd with a baby pink phone. We are still waiting to see if he will be laughed at or marvelled at.
On the topic of real men. Masculinity in South Korea is very different to masculinity in South Africa. Men here look more feminine and stylish, they are the epitome of meterosexual. Let's go through some of the do's and don'ts of men.
- Do feel free to carry your girlfriend's handbag (or your own) even sling it over your shoulder if that feels comfortable.
- Do stop, stare and preen yourself in anything reflective. This includes mirrors, shop windows, your phone or a telephone booth.
- Do wear couple outfits or shoes. That is shoes, T-shirts, or everything from head-to-toe so that you match your girlfriend.
- Do sing. A real man can sing in Korea.
- Do not drink flavoured Soju, that is reserved strictly for women.
This understanding of masculinity is different to what we are used to back home. But don't be fooled, most men in Korea are trained in a martial arts of sorts...if you mock their bag, or couple outfit it may be you who leaves the room with your tail between the legs.
Hope this provides a glimpse of a cultural trait which is so different to the western ideas of masculnity....
As we learn more about Korean people and their cultural practices (both modern and traditional) we will keep you in the loop
Post by Claudia
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
As I mentioned in my previous entry, our weeks have become pretty standardised but as for our weekends ... who knows!!!
Well this past weekend we headed off to Seoul for the Lotus Lantern Light Festival which is held every year a week before Buddha's birthday. What an experience!
Seoul is massive, but I mean MASSIVE. There are high rise buildings everywhere and it has a vibrancy about it that I expect you would find in any big city.
We decided to use the subway to get to where we were going. Looking like real tourists I had my Lonely Planet Book at hand and we were trying to figure out how the subway system worked. After a while of looking a little confused a man approached us and offered to help. What a nice guy. But then he whipped out a book about how to be saved or something .... we soon realised that every foreigner was being targeted. Heehe!
Eventually we figured out where we where heading. Once there we realised just how big this festival really was. People were everywhere. We walked around for the next hour or so trying to find accommodation. After being turned away a couple of times we landed with our bread in the butter. We got a clean room with a double bed and bathroom for close to nothing!!! whooop whooop.
After such an eventful morning we were hungry ... super hungry. After Chrissie and Rob joined us we went for some grub! YUM! The pic below is what was left once we were done. You have to love all the side dishes
We then headed off to Changdeokgung Palace which was amazing!
I set up my gorilla pod in an attempt to get a photo of all of us jumping in front of the palace but it went off too soon and instead we all just ended up looking constipated.
Oliver has all the amazing pics of the event!!! I just have the cute pics of us ... so here are some of them!
Oli has like a gazillion phots to work through ... once he is done I am sure he will post photos which will blow your mind.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
This stuff is as tasty as anything, if you like seaweed, rice and vegetables, plus it's really healthy, being made of...yes, seaweed, rice and veggies.
Trust me, next time you're keen on take aways, hit the nearest Kimbap Nara, you won't regret it!
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Just another shot of the trees. It's quite difficult to get any photos without people in them.
Our friends jumping for peace, or joy, or happiness, or just jumping for whatever!
The dinner we had the night after we got back from the island. Believe us when we say there is nothing like Korean food. It is mindblowingly good!
And the last one, of us drinking with the 'locals' on Nami Island!
Monday, May 10, 2010
We started off by going to Nami Island, so beautiful, but I forgot my camera (boo). Oliver has amazing pics though and I am sure he will put them up soon!
As for the rest of the weekend...it was soooooo cool!
Below is everyone who was there. What a blast!!!
Friday, May 7, 2010
I have been asked endlessly about what the food is like in Korea. If I could sum it up in three words it would be SPICEY, TASTEY and GOOD!
Many of you who know me know that I can barely handle a packet of Peppadew Lays, let alone a plate of incredibly spicey food. But hey, a girl has to eat…so I have had to learn. I am proud to report that after a week and a half in Korea I am already showing a higher tolerance for hot food! Yeah Dawg!!!
We have not been able to take as many photos of food as we would have liked. Simply because we are terrified of looking like typical westerners (I know its stupid, but we have this weird paranoia).
OK, but enough with explanations. Let’s get to the food!
Oliver has bigger balls than me (duh!) because he ate silk worm larvae. I couldn’t make myself do it, and I am glad because he complained about the taste endlessly!
We went to another restaurant which had no pictures and only words. Feeling brave I pointed at a random one, indicating that that is what we will be having. We got a plate of some or other vegetable covered in hot sauce. It was delicious. But then we saw the table next to us get a plate of something that was moving, but I mean, really moving. We thought that it was a plate of worms, later we found out that it was octopus. They cut off the tentacles of an octopus while it’s alive and they vibrate on the plate for a while before the die down. That is the last time I pick a random object off of the menu. Phew!
As you would expect, there is a lot of rice! And it is the best rice ever! Gimbab (a roll of rice and fish – similar to sushi) and Bibimbap (rice mixed with vegetables and eggs).
In Korea you can find dried or pickled anything, octopus, squid, fish, vegetables. It’s weird and cool! We have had loads of the pickled stuff (delicious) and some dried mini fish (surprisingly Mmmmm).
Chicken in Korea is mind blowing…just thought I’d throw that out there!
With most meals you drink water, Soju (a watered down vodka), or Hof (draught beer).
Sweet stuff, there is not much in restaurants but tons in convenience stores. We bought some Dr. You the other
day. Chocolate cake that you don’t have to feel guilty about eating, supposedly!
OK, well that’s it for now!!!!
Bone meat soup!!! Yum!
Dr You: All the calories, none of the guilt
Rich Rich Chicken: sweet, crispy and unvelievable!
We bought some of this weird Korean fruit that one sees everywhere. Not sure what it's called in English, but once peeled, it has a similar consistency and tastes a lot like sweet melon. Quite good.
And of course some delicious strawberries. The local strawberries are really fantastic. Plus they sell them in 'punnets' the size of shoeboxes. Brilliant.
And what would a fruit shop be without some bananas. Again, local bananas = goodness!
That's all for now. Bye
Entry by Oliver
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
We both have our first two days of teaching behind us. My first two days were an absolute blast. The kids are really fun to work with, and most of them do cooperate quite well. Claudia's first day was quite hectic, with her being thrown somewhat in the deep end. Her second day was much better though. She did come home with a pretty big smile on her face!
Yesterday Claudia's director and his wife came to pick us up, in order for us to go to the hospital and do some tests for our medical aid and for our "Alien Cards". Alien cards....
Anyway, we got to the hospital, and had a whole bunch of tests lined up...sight tests...hearing tests...weight...height...chest x-rays...pee in a cup...blood test. It was pretty intense. And the craziest thing about it all, all of these tests took about 30 minutes to complete, for both of us. Back in South Africa this would have taken hours!
After that they took us for some nice lunch. Very cool!
And in other news, here are some completely unrelated pictures. Just some snaps to show our new home.
These flowers are all over our beautiful city, Wonju. They are what's left of the cherry blossoms that bloomed just before we got here. Pity we missed the big boom. Next year...
These signs are visible all over the city. Everywhere. These places are known as 'PC Bang' (bang rhymes with tongue). They are internet cafes where one can sit 24 hours a day just surfing or playing games. Usually Starcraft or Sudden Attack.
This is a picture I took of an ad on TV. It's really, really weird, like a lot of ads here. I wish I could find the video to show you. It really is crazy.
Post By Oliver
Sunday, May 2, 2010