I went into this week extremely excited because Chuseok - which is a Korean holiday celebrating the harvest and one's ancestors - was starting on Wednesday. That meant one and a half days of school this week and lots of plans and celebrations to be had. I went into Sunday already feeling relaxed...
Sunday - A Walk to Anmok
On Sunday I undertook my first walking trip to Anmok beach, famous for its numerous coffee shops. In actuality, when I first stepped out of my apartment, I didn't really intend to head anywhere in particular, but I was determined to walk along the river in a direction that I had never headed before (which was East).
So I did.
|Yep. Those are more red peppers being dried. You literally pass by|
these things everywhere. Including in the middle of narrow sidewalks.
|Can you see the bug? He's got very nice camouflage.|
Welcome to several stories of clothing, home goods, home appliances, office supplies, and electronics. I wandered around, enjoying the air conditioning (but not really enjoying the pre-Chuseok crowds) and managed to find a set of measuring spoons, origami paper, and some note paper for letters. Score. I think I spent 3,200W? Anyway, good selection of stuff!
After e-Mart I aimed East and continued walking. The walk was basically me admiring all of the gardens and appreciating the lack of people. Honestly, I had no idea where I was beyond knowing that I was going towards the sea. This is also why Olleh Wi-Fi Eggs are so freaking convenient. I turned it on, slipped it in my pocket, and hopped on to Google Maps where I checked my current road and found that I just had to keep going.
|Seriously, where were all the people?|
|Pine City, Gangneung!|
|Look at those mountains in the back... I get to see that every day.|
Totally not living in reality.
|The walls along sidewalks are painted everywhere around here.|
By my place there are sunflowers, landscapes, and little traditionally-dressed
cartoon figures swinging around.
Look at that sky... can you see why I went for a walk?
|And no coffee area is complete without a Starbucks?|
|Baseball diamonds! There were teams playing in both of |
the diamonds when I walked by.
|This is the bridge I'm talking about.|
|No horns around the birds I guess? This was on the road where|
there was no sidewalk, right before the bird look-out point.
And then I made it back home. Total distance walked was around 7.5 kilometers. Sandals were a bad choice of footwear, but I did it and I saw some other cool stuff I want to check out later!
Monday - Dessert(s), Dinner, and Dessert
It was Niko's birthday! Eun Shin, John, and I didn't know until Eun Shin happened to hop on Facebook. So we planned a surprise mini-party after school. Eun Shin headed out and grabbed a cake, hiding it in the fridge. Of course, Niko got flowers and another cake too so we ate that over the course of the day.
|It had tomatoes and grapes on top?|
|If you get a big bite of this, the unsweet cocoa powder on top will|
make you cough out clouds of brown... not that that happened to me.
After school I hopped in a cab and headed to the Gangneung bus terminal to get my ticket to Seoul before my 5:30PM dinner engagement. Basically I smiled at the ticket officer once I was there, said "Hello" in Korean, and then handed them a post-it note that Niko wrote out for me. Yeah... I cheated.
Ticket acquired, I walked most of the way back to my apartment because I was an idiot and totally missed the huge line of taxis in front of the terminal. They have their own pick-up location with guide rails and a little roof for lines of people. Twenty-five minutes later though I finally managed to flag down a taxi (by some extreme stroke of non-luck, there weren't any for a ridiculous amount of time... no idea how that happened. Probably all sitting at the bus terminal. Hahaha... no).
I got home, one of the Korean teachers from my class proceeded to call me, I dropped my phone, changed, and headed outside about 30 seconds before they pulled up. Close call!
We headed out to Cafe Paul & Mary on the beach, but it is closed on Mondays. All Mondays. So we headed back into town to Ponam-dong where we got Vietnamese food.
For the main course we wet rice paper in warm water and then built little lettuce wraps. I had such a ridiculously hard time eating them! My chopsticks got stuck to the paper over and over again. I felt like such a fool, but all the teachers on either side of me did were help me out. They'd use the little tongs to help wrap the things for me, or wet the paper and put it on my plate for me, or pick it up and tell me to try eating it off of the little spoon instead. So that started the joke that one of the younger teachers is my mom. That one's sticking. And the other is my best friend. Also sticking. It was a great meal, good conversation (among the many eating failures I had, oh yes) and I got to try a new food! I also have lots of new numbers and Kakao Talk IDs.
One of our teachers had clarinet lessons so dinner ended. Since she was the one who brought me, I ended up heading home with the two youngest (and new at the school this year) teachers; also my mom (어머니) and best friend (베푸). We got coffee and dessert and somehow, with the help of a Korean-English dictionary,
lots of laughter, and the explanation of air quotes (which I apparently use frequently when explaining), I made two friends. Actually, I became a member of the Ibam-dong family.
Tuesday - I Got Socks, but Otherwise Nothing Super Exciting
Nothing super exciting really happened. I came in to school to find even MORE cake on my desk (thank you Niko). I managed to foist it off on the students though (minus the little bit that I couldn't resist...).
The principle gave every contract worker a pair of socks (though, seriously, thank you for the socks. I love socks and even if there are a plethora of really cute socks in this country, just having a normal really comfy pair is wonderful). Niko apparently asked where her socks were and he hit her and basically said, "None for you!" Hahaha!
Then, because eating never stops here, we had cookies and coffee. Niko had received a birthday box with muffins and cookies in it, while Eun Shin had some special Columbian coffee. (Columbian coffee is so good.) So, yeah, we ate more stuff. Niko also supplied me with four baked goods to take home and told me exactly when to eat each of them when I was traveling on the bus.
Then we puttered around until the end of the day (though many teachers left early) before finally heading home. Then I sat around and just did mostly nothing (reading, Netflix, Skype, etc.) - it was glorious. After that, off to bed for an early morning ride to Seoul!