WTF?! Wednesday ~ A Poo-tiful Afternoon At Mr. Toilet House Museum

We’re gonna get shitty with today’s WTF?! Wednesday.  And when I say shitty, I mean it in the most entertaining of ways possible.

Korea has this really odd fascination with poop, and well, poop is hilarious to me so it works out swimmingly. A past boyfriend and I always used to have long weird conversations about poop and all the whathaveyous of it, but that was in the privacy of our own banter (and apparently now the rest of cyber space). Little did I think that many years down the line I’d move to a country that for some strange reason has a very impassioned love affair with the matter. But I did, and I’ve documented the mosaic’d and artistically crafted shit throughout this weird country I live in.

Well, unbeknownst to me, the shitty (“city” said with a Korean accent) of Suwon is where the great Toilet Culture Movement started, and since it’s inception in the late 1990s by Mr. Sim Jae-duck (respectfully nicknamed Mr. Toilet), it has really swept the nation and beyond in an effort to improve the “toilet culture” for all mankind. His dedication to the cause birthed the Mr. Toilet House Museum, and I of course had to make a trip down there.  So me, Andria and the beautiful Steven made an excursion down south to get educated in the culture of excrement.

mr. toilet

Nestled deep in Suwon is Haewoojae, otherwise known as Mr. Toilet House.  This museum and poop park used to be the home of Mr. Toilet, who after having been born in his grandmother’s toilet and nicknamed Gaetong-i (doggy poop), felt an intense connection to the porcelain God for the remainder of his life. His love of the toilet ranged from ensuring that toilets were hygienic and efficient, to remodeling his house in the shape of a toilet bowl. Talk about a passionate man!

toilet house

When you first arrive at Mr. Toilet House, you are greeted by Toile, the mascot of the museum. He is a, and I quote, “cute little poop character” there to guide you on your journey through the world of toilet culture.

toile

The museum is really bizarre, as you can imagine. It basically consists of old photos chronicling the growth of the Toilet Association, the evolution of the toilet since the 1950s, really graphic pooping statues, and different toilet symbols from around the globe.  Shockingly, I have never seen any of these so I’m calling bullshit on them. But still, funny nonetheless.

IMG_8840 IMG_8839 IMG_8838

My personal favorite big breasted woman enjoying some alone time.

IMG_8834

In the middle of the bottom floor in Mr. Toilet House is the bathroom, which we only thought was for show.  However, this bathroom is actually functional and pretty special because A) when the lights are turned on from the inside, you can watch everyone outside while you do your business, but the glass is opaque from the outside, and B) because Mr. Toilet hovers over you as you relieve yourself. He may even get a special treat as well (if he’s lucky!)

IMG_8826

IMG_8824

When you decide to exit the actual house, there is a poop park outside. This park shows the evolution of the toilet since the before Christ days.

Baby’s first toilet ~ Mom’s hand.

IMG_8817

Years of perfecting that squat, and it still suffers from stage fright in Southeast Asia.

IMG_8821

Cute pooping friends.

IMG_8849

Some would say they do their best thinking on the toilet.

IMG_8816

Stepping in shit has never looked or felt so awesome!

IMG_8822

In all seriousness though, I guess we really can thank Suwon and Mr. Toilet for the cleanliness of the public restrooms in Korea. I was telling Jin this morning about our gallivanting at the Toilet museum, and she told me that prior to the 2002 World Cup in Korea, the public restroom situation was actually really disgusting. In order to make the facilities more appealing to the foreign community visiting Korea, the Toilet Association of Suwon stepped in to tidy things up.  Since then, the “toilet culture” of Korea has been held to very high standards.

There is also a video at the end of the tour showing the devastation that comes from the lack of proper toilets in nearly 40% of the world. As a result, 2 million people die each year from waterborne contagious diseases.  Ridiculous museum with a meaningful message, I suppose. I wonder if they actually donate the money from the Toilet Angels to fund toilet installation in less fortunate countries.

IMG_8814

Happy pooping peeps, and remember: “The first thing a human being is required to do for sustainable life is to defecate.  That is why feces can be such a ‘poo-tiful’ (beautiful) thing.”

Advertisements

Dokdo & Ulleungdo: Where I Got Lucky

I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but my luck has GREATLY increased over the past few weeks.  Why?  You ask? Well, because according to Korean thought, if one lands on the island of Dokdo, you are a very lucky person. And well, I am of the less than 1% of the Korean population to have stepped foot on the sacred and prized and heavily disputed over island of Dokdo in the East Sea or Sea of Japan.  It’s all relative depending on your location in the east, or the map you chose to peruse, I suppose.

SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education ~ my employer) was generous enough to take 36 of the almost 700 native English teachers in Seoul, on an all-inclusive 4 day 3 night trip to Samcheok, Ulleungdo, and the mighty Dokdo.  Dokdo is comprised of 2 islands that have been in heavy dispute with Japan for many years over who’s territory it actually is.  So, we knew that in signing up for this trip we were in for a weekend fueled by propaganda and many a botched map to take many ganders at.  And it was and we did.

I actually didn’t know much about Dokdo prior to my trip to Japan back in September, when Josh decided to jokingly shout “TAKESHIMI TAKESHIMI” everywhere we went. TakeshimA is actually the Japanese name for Dokdo, so of course this was a controversial stance for a giant white man to make whilst being employed by the Korean government! 😉  Both Joshua and I, and our friend Art, ended up being part of the lucky (highly weird) few to go on this trip, so I was very happy to be in extra FUN company on a long weekend to Takeshimi. 🙂

Our first stop on the trip was Samcheok, where we struggled to listen to the translation of the first propaganda lecture regarding “the correct understanding of Dokdo for peace in East Asia”.  We ogled at some artifacts from the Joseon remains and General Isabu’s time, and took a walking tour down by the water, which was really beautiful.  I felt like I wasn’t in Korea which was amazing on my peepers and lungs.  Being stuck in a concrete jungle can really wear on you.  We also visited a temple which is said to be the coolest (in temperature) place in Samcheok.  Many people would come here to pray before traveling to Dokdo because they didn’t know if they would return to the mainland alive due to the roughness of the water.  Many also used to walk through this rock in hopes of being impregnated with a son, so I took the liberty of forging my way through (without falling) said rock.

Looks like I’m having a boy guys!

samcheok boy rock

When we finally checked into our pension for the night, we were shafted to the one next door to the “nice” hotel we were originally scheduled for. This place gave me and one other interesting fella bed bug bites for days!  I also got cursed with a ridiculously bitchy roommate who got an overdose spoonful of the “Schaeff’s-not-listening-to-you-sideways-up turned-head-tilt”.

Bright and early the next morning, we had Korean breakfast of gamjatang, AKA pork spine soup, and kimchi.  My breakfast therefore consisted of rice and the few bits of kimchi I struggled to shove into my mouth that early in the morning.  With an awful taste in our mouths, we were off to the Sunflower 2, our ferry over to the beautiful island of Ulleungdo.  This journey was about 3.5 hours.

My first thought after landing on Ulleungdo was that it was so strikingly lush and gorgeous. The abundance of green had me feeling like I was in Jurassic Park. We were taken on a tour of the entire island and heard many age-old myths about the different rock formations, the volcanic origin and the people who call the island their home. Currently, less than 7,500 people live on Ulleungdo, and it houses 3 (if I remember correctly) elementary schools, 1 high school and oddly enough, 3 universities.  It’s special delicacies include dried squid (sold in Dokdo packaging), and a sweet pumpkin type bread and pumpkin candy similar to taffy. Brought some of that goodness back for my Principal and Vice Principal.

Here’s me, Josh and Art Turtle Rocking out. This rock is said to have many tiny formations that look like little turtles climbing all over it.

turtle rock

The walk up to our pension overlooking the ocean.  Seriously beautiful and nothin’ but fresh air for days!

ulleungdo pension

We went to this temple where we heard an old Korean myth about a young boy and girl who were left behind by their families.  They never came back for them and both ended up dying here. Or so the tale goes.

boy girl myth

And we walked along these massive cliffs overlooking the sea. Super gorge!

ulleungdo mtns

The next day was the BIG day! After all the praying we were told to do, we guzzled down our seasickness drugs, filled out our tickets and hopped aboard our righteous boat to the beloved Dokdo! We took one of the 45 journeys per year that the boat makes, and got inducted into the tribe of the lucky.

dokdo ticket

Here’s an aerial shot of the islands that make up Dokdo.  The eastern island is where we went, and the western island is home to the two people who actually call Dokdo their home.

dokdo-airshot

2.5 hours and no seasickness later, we made the arrival of a lifetime.  We were ushered off the boat and told we had 30 minutes to take pictures with the Liancourt Rocks, signs and guards that protect the land. I’m not quite sure why our stay on the island is so short, but let me tell you, Josh and I with our “DOKDO IS OUR LAND” signs made fantastic use of it! If two grown adults could run around an island like kids in a candy store, that is what we looked like.

We gained some enemies along the way when Joshy “bali bali’d” an old Korean woman to hurry up and take her photo in this exact place.

dokdo rocks

We also acquired a fan club of Korean women who wanted to hop in every photo with us. Here is the sign mandating that this here is Korean territory.  We saw nothing indicating it was otherwise Japan’s. Questionable I tell ya!

dokdo korean friends

These are the guards who live on Dokdo.  The only time they have other human interaction is when a boat reaches Dokdo.  So, any of the less than 45 days a year the boat actually docks.  You can also see stairs behind us which we weren’t allowed to climb up.  I’m not sure what is on the other side, maybe something Japanese?

dokdo guards

And with that we were off, but not without bidding some fond farewells.

josh goodbye dokdo

ajumma phone dokdo

The 3 of us were the last ones to get back on the boat, as we kept getting whistles blown on us to hurry up! Round trip, the entire journey consisted of 9 hours spent on a bus, 7 hours on a ferry and 5 hours on a boat, so we definitely make that 30 minutes count!  That night we met up with our groups to think up a speech to give on our final day.  Josh and I must have been sipping happy water, because when we told our group members that we had so much fun on Dokdo, they looked at us like we were crazy faces from another planet. Sour puss foreigner freaks.

Later we celebrated our new found fortune by noraebanging our hearts out. We bonded with a few others on the trip and shoved ourselves into a massive VIP room for what seemed like 3 hours. I broke a glass, there was table dancing, and no shortage of mic hogging on my part, per the usual.

The next day we were forced to eat fish and tofu soup for breakfast (awful to begin with, more awful when you’re hungover), and then were given a tour of a South Korean Coast Guard ship where we learned that they do not skimp on their entertainment, event whilst at sea protecting Korea’s oceans. This ship was fully equipped with a jjimjilbang (sauna) and a noraebang (karaoke room).

Our last stop was to a little ocean side town.  We stopped to look at some more historical Isabu sites, but we opted to check out the ocean view and vibrant murals instead.  I really find myself appreciating how beautiful Korea is whenever I get out of Seoul and visit places so tranquil and remote like this. I don’t know why I don’t do it more often.

old man and muralsstu ocean

The trip was really wonderful, and I’m extremely grateful that SMOE was so generous in offering such an opportunity to a group of us foreigners. I know we look at the island of Dokdo much differently and with less seriousness than Koreans do, and mostly viewed this as a chance to A) get out of teaching for 2 days, B) take a free trip out of Seoul to a couple islands that we probably would never seek out on our own, and C) a weekend filled with propaganda. However, seeing as so few Koreans actually have the chance to make this journey, I’m very grateful to say that during my time in Korea I got to check off such a huge cultural experience from my list. As far as who’s territory it actually is, I don’t know. I think there has to be something more than fishing rights and lines being drawn on a map, but I think Koreans are so passionate about it because the Japanese have been so awful to them.  So, they want the right to that land. Or there’s oil.  Who knows.

Here’s a video that Jon Pak, the SMOE head coordinator, made of the trip.  See if you can spot me for the smattering of nanoseconds that I make an appearance.

And just for good measure so you can see how serious Koreans are about this island, and because who doesn’t love a flash mob set to the Dokdo song.

My Korean Mommy Got Married <3

On Sunday I finally had the opportunity to attend my first Korean wedding! Leni, my first co-teacher and Korean mommy when I was on my death bed, got married and looked like such a princess in her humungous gown as it flowed and draped so perfectly while she posed for photos with guests.  I got there a few minutes after the rest of my co-workers, and when they came out from taking photos with her, they told me she kept asking where I was. I quickly ran over to her and almost cried. Then we threw up some peace signs 🙂

IMG_8047

As for the rest of the wedding I really didn’t know what to expect.  All I’d heard was that Korean weddings are extremely different than weddings back home.  That they’re really quick ceremonies, like 20 minutes max, some people wear jeans, and that as soon as one ends the next wedding is ushered in, and of course the buffet afterwards.

That’s pretty much how it went.  After taking pictures with Leni we went downstairs and there were so many people there.  Jin told me that this was one of the biggest weddings she had been to.  I lost my group of people for a little bit, but ended up stumbling upon Leni’s twin sister and her parents, so I introduced myself.  They instantly knew who I was and their faces lit up.  I was so excited to meet them, especially her sister, and they were so adorable and sweet like her. I also met her hubby-to-be who was so smiley and cute when he said hello to me. Good thing about being the only foreigner there is that the important people instantly knew who I was!

Then I gave my white envelope of monies to Leni’s sister, after not really being sure who to give it to.  Jin later told me that the people sitting at these tables collect the money and have you sign some book.  They’re typically relatives of the family.  But she told me that giving it to the sister was perfect.  Life of a foreigner here, always being some kind of clueless! It’s also not customary to give gifts.  Everyone gives money, and you generally give varying amounts depending on how well you know the people.

IMG_8049

A few minutes later, the workers started ushering everyone to the sides to form a walkway.  The musician started playing, they rolled out a fancy red carpet (which apparently is unusual!) and down the aisle she came with her dad. I almost started crying again.

IMG_8041

And into the really long wedding hall.  Jin really liked this one because she felt it was really simple and not gaudy with lots of candles and chandeliers like most of them. Very *her style*.

IMG_8042IMG_8044

Here’s one of their engagement photos and the announcement for their wedding just outside the chapel.  It says their names, Oh Won Taek and Kim Chan Young (Leni).

IMG_8045

The ceremony was really different.  In the states everyone pays attention to what is going on and it’s intimate no matter the size. But here as I looked around everyone was on their phone or talking to each other, and a huge group of us were just gathered at the back by the door which was open into the foyer area.  The guests for the next wedding were all out in the foyer and it was super noisy.  Obviously I can’t understand the ceremony, but it was so loud back there.

The next part I thought was really cute and funny.  I wish I got it on video.  I guess a lot of times the groom or someone sings at the end of the ceremony.  So, the groom and his friend sang and rapped a song for Leni.  It was like a noraebang on steroids and chiffon.

Before the ceremony even finished, per usual Korean standards, I was told we were going to go eat now, and off to the buffet we went! We handed our food cards to the hostess and then my stomach exploded with excitement. SO MUCH FOOD! Here’s a picture of my second plate filled with sushi and japchae.

IMG_8046

While we were eating, Leni and her husband came around dressed in hanbok to pop their heads in and say hi to their guests.  It was super informal and many of the people eating were attending different weddings.  In the dining hall there was also a huge projection screen on the wall showing the wedding that was going on.  So, essentially people can come to the wedding and just sit and eat and watch the wedding while stuffing their face.  So bizarre, but tis a huge cultural difference!

In total the whole wedding from arrival to departure was about 2 hours.  Totally different from the extravagant ceremony and reception that is typical of western culture.

I’m glad I finally got to attend a wedding in Korea, and I’m so happy it was for someone that I love so much!

A Pupu Platter Of 2012 Whathaveyous

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!

Wow, another year has come and gone, and I must say, 2012 was my favorite year of my almost-29 years gracing this planet.  So much that I had always dreamt of in years past same to fruition this year, and I can honestly say I am in the best place I have ever been in my life.  And it feels damn good 😉

I had made the resolution in 2011 that by the end of the year I would be living a life abroad ~ check.  In 2012 I promised myself I would do absolutely as much traveling of Asia as possible.  I came to Korea to conquer this continent like a blaze of fire, and in looking back I can say I did just that.  Along with the travel resolutions, I really put my best foot forward to work on getting what I really want, and making that start from within.  I try my best to communicate what I want, but a lot of time it fails when walls get put up, or life just gets in the way.  So, I’ve really tried to be as self-aware as possible just be the best version of myself and hope that it brings with it what I truly want.  That being said, 2012 has definitely been the happiest and most honest year to date 🙂

Now I’m just gonna throw together a few highlights from each month of 2012. Badabing herrrrrr goes!

I began the year on the beach in Koh Phangan, covered in florescent body paint and drinking liquor by the buckets with one of my dearest and oldest friends on the planet ~ my fave biatch and sista from anotha mista, Miz Diamond ❤

389416_10100547874676587_6679915_n

January marked my first birthday to be celebrated away from everyone I’ve always shared my (obviously) favorite holiday with.  I felt a little down about it, then in flew a gift from THE BEST sista ever ~ Sista Schaeff in the flesh, in Korea!

399825_10100601838417817_379245813_n

On her last night here, she snuggled my foot to sleep.  BY CHOICE! ❤

400230_10100601838432787_1590944865_n

In February I visited two of my favorite countries so far ~ Vietnam and Cambodia. I saw some of the most beautiful snorkeling waters, caught my first fish, shot my first gun, ate a bowl of pho a day, wondered why they allow Americans in, and saw my life flash before me about 1million times while in ‘Nam.

422577_10100677226279937_48203204_n

In Cambodia I visited the most breathtaking temples I have ever seen, spent an afternoon with beautiful children in an orphanage on the river, saw insurmountable beauties in some of the deepest poverty stricken eyes, and struggled to hold back tears while walking through a living history at the Killing Fields and S-21 genocide museum remnants from the Khmer Rouge of the 70s~80s.

424130_10100670071962247_1895316406_n

In March I visited the happiest place on earth, AKA the DMZ, for the second time.  This time we rode bikes along the most intensely guarded border in the world, all while Obama paid the peninsula a visit and peered over to the North with us.

526077_10100724236276527_1548630859_n

April means Passover, which also means the sea parts in Korea.  I made the trek down south with a homie and we met Moses, crossed the parted sea and drank makkoli while doing so, obvi.

579216_10100753526967747_1511141598_n

Later in April, my favorite story to date came to be.  A couple morons went to a Lady GaGa concert.  They got all gussied up in the hottest of pink and the tightest of attire, only to miss the whole thing whilst trying to attain the most coveted seats in the house during the “GaGa cover band”…. *face palm* At least we looked sexy.

33973_10100797141967937_428930537_n

In May, Wawa came for a visit.  We did many things, but by far our favorite day was our “Day of Culture.”  We visited Gyeongbukgong Palace, learned about the creation of Hangul (the Korean alphabet), ate a traditional lunch, drank tea in a lovely tea house, dressed up and cracked up in Hanbok (traditional Korean dress), and wrapped up with a journey to the Noryangjin Fish Market.  Twas a wondrous day!

292642_10100837689290777_174469039_n

Then came June, and Buddha’s birthday.  A crew of us high-tailed out of Seoul to Gangneung, a little beach town on the East Sea. There were makkoli and soju spurred chicken fights, sexy man-wrestles, toasty bonfires, crashing of high class fancy Korean booking clubs and frisbee games resulting in broken pinky toes and racial slurs. The Buddhaman had an awesome birthday!!

11802_10101614196718667_1052308168_n

538332_3485835258592_1603982897_n

Then came July and two events which could be classified as the greatest events of the century. One more than the other, but one got more hype than the other according to the Facebook.  You can use your own judgement on that one.  One required us to dress to the nines to bid adieu to all the homies we grew to call family, and also the ones we grew apart from because a lot of people that came with us were weirdos, let’s face it. The other required some prior temple-sculpting, lots and lots and lots of soju, mudmudmud and practically no clothes. Mud Fest was by far my favorite event of 2012.  Shit was CRAY TO THE MAX!

582038_10101675057398377_1247042343_n

576040_10151910103675533_522225362_n

August was the most bittersweet month of the year I’d say.  It was sweet because I took a 2.5 week summer jaunt on over to the Philippines with my lovely lass from home, Brianne.  We saw some of the most picturesque islands, snorkeled and ate our faces off, hiked miles in our little warrior Havaianas, posed with stalagtites, missed the whale sharks, got in a fist fight with a very mean typhoon, and let tempers fly with shitty budget airlines.

530133_10101730633802817_336303735_n

August was bitter because our contracts ended and some left KoKo and I had to face the harsh reality that the world as I knew it was shattering before me.  Well, that’s an over-dramatization, but that’s how it felt at the time dammit. I also got thrown into my deathbed by some plague I contracted in the Philippines.   So, not only were my friends leaving, but I was deathly ill and partying with an IV in the hospital, unable to hand out proper goodbye hugs. NOT COOL WORLD.

221837_10101729142017367_955163249_n

556478_10101734957183727_1250932164_n

559261_10101729141862677_1059884625_n

photo

Then on rolled September.  Grabbing my bearings on who was still left in my Seoul-cial circle happened naturally.  I got back in the go-out mode (at least for the time being), and some friendships from the previous year had the chance to blossom.  Late in the month for Chuseok holiday, a group of us gals decided to pop off to Osaka and Kyoto, Japan with boy toy Joshy. We frolicked by bicycle all over Kyoto, made the most of the typhoon stricken city by stuffing our faces with enough sushi and sake to fuel an army, and tore up (literally) a karaoke room.  Best weekend ever!!!

246785_10101793784393527_575667527_n

October was of course Halloween, and we got down with our bad selves…and Bob the Builder.

549092_10102094756667677_1447584716_n

In November I actually had a REAL Thanksgiving, none of that Pho shit (pardon me, it’s just not suitable cuisine for Thanksgiving).  Josh Rich was also in town as my 6th visitor to the Orient. A Happy Happy Turkey Day it was!

531068_10102136514424797_168268462_n

And last but not least, I think the winner for best December event goes to my dance crew’s (WORD TO YO MAMA’S HIGH WAISTED JEANS) epic ass kicking in the 90s dance battle for the African kids. Real winners put in the effort, and effort we put in. Obviously you would know this had you been at our latke-rehearsal party, our cheese and crackers rehearsal party where Matty ripped his jeans, and our final rehearsal party that almost interfered with us attending the actual party because we were too focused on perfecting our dance.  What a BOMB DIGGITY way send out 2012!!!

-1

As you can see, 2012 was quite the year, and it’s been a pleasure looking back on it with you. Here’s to an even better 2013, and going home to America in 10 days!!!!!!!

PEACE & CHICKEN GREASE, HOMIEZ.

An Awkward Date & Signing Away My Life

A couple awkward things happened in the past couple days.  Won’t you let me tell you about them?

1. There is a little maintenance man who works at my school, and who also happens to live in Danggogae up in North Korea where I live.  About a month or so ago he sold me my pretty purple bike with a basket.  Ever since then he has been so nice to me and literally every time he sees me starts rambling mumbo jumbo that I don’t understand, throws his hands up in excitement and then brings me some kind of treat.  First it was a peanut butter sandwich that he probably got from Family Mart down the street, then it was a Capri Sun, then it was a ginger drink, then an energy Bacchus drink, ice cream and a cup of ice water, then it was 2 pieces of caramel candy. THEN he wanted to get 피자 (“peecha”…or pizza) with me in our hood. After asking me (thru Jin) a couple times, I obliged. So we met this past Sunday at 3pm in the Dontgogay. This is the story of how I was courted by a tiny little ajussi (old Korean man).

First we ate Nangmyeon (냉면) which is delish.  It’s buckwheat noodles in an icey cold broth with a hard boiled egg, julienned cucumber and pears and then you put vinegar and dijon mustard in to taste. Tis the perfect summer meal! Anyways, we went and ate that first.  He talked to me, I didn’t understand, he slurped uncontrollably, I tried to remain unnerved by it.

Next he bought me an iced latte from the 17th Street coffee shop that I sometimes go to.  I drank, he smoked a cigarette and tried to talk with me some more.  He basically said Itaewon (the foreigner area) over and over again because he knows I went there one of many weekends.

THEN after motioning to me if I wanted any home supplies (I didn’t), we went over to the THE school.  Pizza School that is.  He motioned for me to pick out any pizza I wanted, so I chose cheese pizza.  This is him sitting and waiting for it to finish cooking.  That’s his jazzy bike in the foreground.

And to conclude our “date,” he put my pizza on the back of his bike, walked me in a circle through some janky Danggogae alley way, back to the station and to the hill before I turn off to go to my apartment.  Gladly he did not walk me further so he doesn’t know where I live. Then he told me “bali bali” (kinda like hurry hurry, go go), handed me my pizza and I was off on my way.

It was slightly awkward, but it’s interactions like this that make me so happy I’m living abroad.  It’s so interesting to me how two people literally can not effectively communicate because of a thing called language. So simple yet so complex.  Good sociology project I reckon.

2. For those who are out of the loop, I renewed my contract and signed my life away to Korea for one more year.  The first step in the renewal process is to get a medical check.  You know, to make sure I don’t have AIDS and to see if the crack is all out of my system.  The whole check consists of peeing in a cup, giving blood, getting a chest x-ray, getting my blood pressure, vision, hearing, height and weight checked, and being “interviewed” (if you can even call it that) by a doctor.  All he was concerned about was if I had any cocaine or other narcotics exposure and if I had the AIDS. Thank God I’m not a dirty waygook!

Anyways, my male co-teacher, Mr. Jang, took me and it was slightly awkward, but whatever in the grand scheme of things.  The part that really gave me a good giggle was when he directed me to the room I was supposed to go change into the x-ray gown in.  He points and whispers to me “now you must go in and take off your clothes.”  Normal co-teacher chatter. Afterwards, he continued to stand behind me through each process.  He honestly could have just sat in the waiting room while I handled it. I’m a big girl.  He almost walked me right into the women’s restroom stall until I put a hand up and said “I got it.”  He got the message.

So yea, next on the list of renewal to-dos is to renew my visa at immigration.  Now all you people who have not come to visit me have a whole year longer to figure out how to get to the far east.  Make it happen.

 

WaWa & SchaeffSchaeff in KoKo

I just had my 9 month Korean anniversary last Thursday, May 17th. Holy shit! In the 9 months that I could have been with child, I have had 5 visitors, 4 of which hail from the Orient.  Damn I’m popular, especially amongst the Eastern folk. The last most amazing friend in the world to trek their ass across the world for me with a bag full of cheese and other American delicacies was my lil WAWA!!! Her 10 day visit definitely warrants a posting.

I was so freakin excited to see Wawa! I haven’t seen her since I think my birthday last year (I think), but of course we have kept up to speed on all the juicy gossip that’s gone on in our lives in between.  But, I was especially excited for 10 days of good old fashion girl talk, rehashing past relationships, current whatevers, what went wrong and adding further insight to the past, that we’ve since gained in our old age. Oh, and play tour guide of this country that is now my home away from home.  I was a little nervous to play tour guide because the pressure’s on, but it was probably the closest to relaxing yet jam-packed trip possible. Twas awesome.

Wawa and about 10 pounds of candy came to school with me 2 days of the week, so she helped teach and squeeze the cheeks of my 3rd and 4th graders with me and Jin.  My classroom is also on the 6th grade floor, and since she didn’t come to class on days I taught them or 5th graders, they could only get candy if they asked Wanda a question.  Most of them asked the same shit, “What’s your name?” “How old are you?” “Where are you from?” and just dug their dirty hands into the bag of candy, but then they had to actually ask her good questions.  Especially the smart ones. I made them. Some were actually good “Who’s your favorite Hollywood star?” and of course “Do you have a boyfriend? No? Why not?” Our favorite question EVER. Both days that she was here this is what it looked like just outside my classroom.  I had to play zookeeper to a bunch of candy crack babies  a couple times. That was fun.

Wawa is also no longer “solo.” I knew she’d come to Korea and find a boyfriend ASAP. This is her and her new boyfriend Julian. They even dress like a kouple.

Our absolute most favorite day of her trip was our “Day of Culture.”  That day we went shopping in Insadong where we got down to tradition and cried of laughter as we posed in Hanbok. We went to Gyeongbokgung Palace and got a taste of celebrity when some middle schoolers asked to have their picture taken with us, saw the King Sajong statue, ate some bomb tofu and pajeon (Korean seafood “pizza”), drank tea at a lovely little tea house, and went shopping for a fish and live octopus to eat at the Noryangjin fish market. I ate live octopus for my 2nd time. Jesus.

Here’s a video of us eating that octopus.

We also had some very ladylike evenings.  We caught a jazz show at  my favorite location in Seoul, Jazz Story, in Hyehwa, and had a night of vagina at Vato’s Tacos followed by some vagina pops at a Vagina Monologues show.

We went to Gangnam and did what you do in Gangnam. Take glamour shots and hang out with very sophisticated men.

We also hiked, or rather walked 50 million flights of stairs, up to Namsan Tower to lock up our love (next to mine and sista’s) to forever overlook the smoggy sky of Seoul, and found our first epic Geocache.

All in all, it was soooo much fun having my lil Wa here! I’m so happy she came and it’s always nice to have visitors because it gives me a chance to feel like a tourist once again 🙂 Here are a couple other highlights of her trip.

Our new Vietnamese family.

Eating fried potatoes with some new male suitors.

Eating a hot dog wrapped in a pancake.

Swapping manicure secrets.

Shopping with ajummas, her new favorite breed of people.

Schaeff Schaeff loves you WaWa! Now come back soon! Mwah!

안녕하세요!

That means “hello” in hangul (Korean).  A what up!  Pardon my delay in postings, I’ve been meaning to post for like the last week now but I’ve been busy, so sorrrrry.

To tide you over, I thought I’d post this because I think it’s a pretty quick and easy, and actually quite good guide to learning how to read Korean!  I’m no pro at reading, but I have pretty much taught myself how to read hangul just by riding the subway.  I play a game with myself and sound out the letters and then see if I get it right when the exit pops up in English. So yea, give it a whirl, it’s kinda fun ^^ (that’s a Korean smiley face).