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Monday, August 18, 2008

Day 42: the not-so secretive underground market

"Meet me at the underground market," she said. Underground market? Most black markets aren't that easy to find, so i asked how to get there. "just ask somebody..." she said, ending the conversation. I guess it was easy...

after asking 2 or 3 people, i found out which subway stop i should take. after getting off the train, i directly looked up, and there was a sign that said "underground market this way." i followed the signs and came upon tunnels under the city that were lined with shops. thats why it was the "underground" market, because it was literally underground. duh.

it contains the biggest flower market in korea (you wouldn't think that flowers would do so well in florescent lighting, but you'd be surprised.) there were thousands of people there. i met up with Kim Young and we shopped for 4 hours, and we still didn't see it all. then we took a break, got some 만두 (korean style potstickers) and went back out. we shopped until 2 in the morning and there was much more to be done. that lady has stamina, and she's 52 years old!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

days 39-41: the rooms of all colors

i have compressed the past 3 days into one entry mostly because: a.) it was too crazy to separate which days i did things and b.) i'm just lazy.

The BYU interns all finished on thursday night, so i've been hanging out (more like living with them) a lot. One of my buddy's roommates moved out, and so i moved in for the weekend. i couldn't turn down the offer to sleep in a bed that my legs actually didn't hang off. most of the time, we ended up watching the olympics during the day, and going out to the different specialized rooms at night. they have DVD rooms, Karaoke rooms, billiards rooms, computer game rooms, and board game rooms. with how much fun korea is, i didn't think that i missed having full conversations in english, but it felt so good to speak to someone without pulling out a dictionary.

I joined them for church at the english ward and got hit on by a 32 year old lady named Di who teaches english here. my BYU buddies say that she's tried to put the move on every single white guy that comes in, and its funny to watch. i guess i was todays show for the spectators.

afterwards, i came home, took a nap, and then left for dinner. i looked at the subway map, and dinner didn't look that far away on the little piece of paper, but i sure was wrong. it took me an hour and 45 minutes by subway to get there. i met up with Son Kisick and we had cow intestine stew. (Yummy... uh, wait a second...)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

day 38: the resting place

this one is for mom. today we went to Jean's Grandma's grave. I wasn't depressed because of the thought of the deceased, but because i had to drive with Jean's dad again...

when we arrived, we walked into a huge church where they showed us to Jean's grandma. she was in an urn in a wall with thousands of other people. Jean grabbed a mat and we did some traditional bows. then he turned to his dad and told him that i was going to do some stuff for his grandma. i looked at him a little weird, so he said, "remember when we went to your temple. you said you do stuff for people that die. well, go ahead." i tried to explain that we only do that stuff in the temple, but Jean didn't see the difference between the huge church and our temple. his dad shared the same feelings. I didn't know what to do, so i said a short prayer, and looked up. they looked disappointed that that was all. Jean asked me what i prayed for, and i said, "you know... stuff about fire and brimstone, the celestrial kingdom, and being patient while she's in the spirit world." (which wasn't at all what i prayed for, but i love to see Jean's reaction when he doesn't understand a word i say.) he said, "huh?" and i just told him not to worry because it was a good prayer.

then we all went out to VIPS, which is an upper class version of sizzler. Jean ate probably ten pounds of meat, while i gorged down the salad. (not a specialty of the koreans... so when i get some good type, i chow down.)

day 37: the midnight shops

you would think that 4 square miles of malls would be enough shopping for a city. well, you'd be wrong. when the sun goes down, the tents go up. the streets are lined with vendors who sell anything and everything; from halloween costumes to to camping gear to designer purses. i started looking around and stumbled across a concert. i guess if you get bored, you can sit down and watch a show, buy some drinks, and go back out. (i was told that most of the tents start to go down around 5 am.) since the subway closes down at 12:15, most people stay the whole night shopping until 5 am when the subway starts back up again. anyways, the concert was one of the weirdest things i had ever seen. what caught my attention was the rock music that centered around an aboriginal didgeridoos. then they moved to a guitar keyboard and had people start doing back flips. for the hour i watched, they probably used every instrument imaginable with all kinds of dance styles to amplify to night filled sounds. i moved out to the shopping area, and i was thinking, "hey, i could probably get hooked up with some sweet Louis Vatton knock off ties or maybe tiger fur for the new hard would floor in the family room." well, i would listen in, and then and hear the price. but because i'm white, they would always start high. that is one skill i haven't mastered yet... the art of bargaining.

day 36: the waste basket

usually, when i see a waste basket i don't mind it. after studying today, we went to go see "The Dark Night" (the new batman movie). well, after sipping down a huge cup of korean juice, you can guess what i had to do. well, i accidentally knocked over the waste basket and found the most disgusting surprise. the waste baskets here are actually human waste baskets. they don't flush down their toilet paper, they throw it away. when I told Jean that there was no way i was cleaning it up, he agreed that that would be a good idea.

Monday, August 11, 2008

day 35: the 2 kingdoms

they said it was at SoeDaeMun. i checked the adress again and we kept asking people where it was. it wouldn't have been a big deal if it hadn't of taken us over an hour to get there. then i heard someone say, "are you lost?" i turned around, and there were the missionaries. i explained how it had taken everything in me to get Jean to go to the temple with me, and then i couldn't find it. turns out we went to the wrong subway stop, but still got what we were looking for. Jean said, "that is so strange that we were looking for your church and then your missionaries were just there." that little Jean has so much to learn!

we showed up to the temple and i knew that since it was monday that there wouldn't be anyone inside. i was atleast expecting there to be someone there in the visitor center. well, it turns out that they don't have a visitor center, nor do they have visitor center missionaries. the only person that was there was the head of security. he was a nice guy and let us walk around the very small grounds and take some pictures. (pretty much what you see in the picture is all of the temple is extremely packed in.) Jean was highly disappointed that we had come this far, and that was all there was to see. I think its a good thing since it will just raise a lot more questions in his mind.

Then we hopped back on the subway and rode it to InSaDong. We got out and were completely astonished by the difference. we had arrived to the king's palace. the buildings are massive and there was a lot of history. unfortunately, a lot of it is under renovation and some archaeological digs, so we didn't get to see all of it; leaving me with a lot of questions in my mind. (mostly because we missed the english tour and jean had no idea what anything was for.)

we finished up our day by shopping at the art district. they have these streets that are lined with people's drawings, crafts, costumes, statues, etc. I think adam would have loved some of the interior design stuff, and matt would have loved the artsy stuff. you would go for a couple of shops, then a couple of restaurants, then there would be a little art gallery. then it would repeat. the streets were packed with foreigners; our stomachs were packed with korean candy; and our shoes were packed with swollen feet. (we had been on our feet for almost 10 hours.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

day 34: the end of the world?

you know in the movies when all of the people gather around the tv to watch uniforms performing various sporting events. it was the women's archery that was how its the end of the world? today was like that. i was walking down the street and i came across a huge crowd gathered in front of a TV store. there was very little room to walk around on the side walk, and people were climbing trees to watch what was being shown. Taxi cab drivers were even stopping their cars and getting out to see the TV. I was thinking, "did the president get shot? was there some natural disaster? Am I on TV again? (that last one was a joke...)" i made my way through the crowd to see people in different colorcurrently being shown. a little history that i learned was that since 1980, the koreans have never lost this competition. the reason? i was told it was because koreans use silver chopsticks which give them a better grip. ha ha. whatever the reason, they do a good job.

i was also informed about every other korean gold for the day. the teenage swimmer (previously mentioned in another post), Park Taehwan, won the first korean gold medal in the 400 meter. and then there was the sweet Judo wrestling match where the koreans dominated.

i love to be in a country where everything stops for pride.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

day 33: the folk village pleasantries

The Amish might still live in the 1800s, but the koreans have found a way to outdo them too. This morning we went to a traditional folk village in Suwon. Kim Young and her friend Grace picked me up and we took the hour drive in fond memories of california traffic.

there was a large castle like wall that surrounded the village and all of the people were wearing traditional clothing. there was pottery, bamboo toys, oriental fans, and pretty much anything you could think of. they grow all of their own food. they raise animals. they even have oxen to pull, plow, and grind down grains. the picture to the left is of a korean guy selling things that he had made out of bamboo/wood/weeds. i thought it was funny that he didn't have any outer walls, but still had a modern door between rooms.

Kim Young and Grace had seen this place more than they could
remember (Grace grew up next to the village) so keeping their attention was a toughy. however, when it came to jumping on the see-saw, shooting archery, making pottery, swinging, seeing the calligrapher write words in chinese, or eating buckwheat noodles, they were all up for it. (we had this noodle soup that was in cold water/vinegar and cayenne pepper. spicy, delicious, and refreshing!)

Grace and Kim Young pretty much threw their towels in after a couple of hours, and we just drove around the wall and other sites. it was funny because they planned on looking at a lot of things, but you had to get out of the car. they didn't want to do that since it was hot, so we would drive up to the entrance, they would tell me what was behind the wall, or on top of the mountain, or whatever, and then we would drive to the next site. there is nothing like the korean pleasantries in life!

day 32: the korean swimming pool

there has been some concern for the welfare of my soul. i'll let you know that i am perfectly safe, and intend to be that way. my writing must be very captivating for you to worry, but think of it as only dramatic elements. i have never been more happy, healthy, or intact in my life.

having said that, today Jean and I went swimming today. (don't worry, i wore sun screen and there were no sharks either.) there is this huge water area near the river that everybody hangs out at. Jean came to my house and then we took a bus over to his buddy's. we waited and waited and waited. (Korean standard time is very similar to mormon standard time.) jean said that this was the first time he saw me not smile, so he took a picture. when we were about to leave, his buddy walked up the stairs. turns out that his buddy was waiting for us at Jean's house. (and i thought i couldn't communicate in korean.)

the place was packed with all ages because it is summer break right now and its about 100 degrees every day. when we walked in, they made us all buy hair caps. there were huge posters of the korean olympic swimmer everywhere. i was thinking that they just made me buy the stupid hair cap because they want everybody to look like the famous Olympian. i was looking forward to at least swimming some laps in my stylish new fashion, but was disappointed when i found out that the deepest pool went up to my chest and that koreans find speedos to be appropriate for public places (plus, there wasn't any room to actually swim that much with how many people were in the water.) we splashed around a little bit, and jean got his buddies and a lot of little koreans to try to take me down. little did they know how adapt i am to to water fights.

we came home, dried off, and went to Mcdonalds. (my idea, since i am getting a little sick of kimchee every day.) it still didn't taste american, but was close enough to make me happy.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

day 31: the most dangerous meal

Silk worm larva? check. Dog meat? check. Live octopus? check. what else could there possibly be left?

I asked Jean what we could go eat for lunch. "what do you want to eat," he asked. "uh... something new and exciting," i replied. boy, was i in for a treat. we took a taxi to this restaurant called a 복집, which means "pufferfish house." by being educated by the simpsons, i knew that pufferfish/swellfish (or Fugu, as the japanese call it) is one of the most dangerous meats on planet earth. there is very little that is actually eatable due to poison that runs through the fish. one little slip of the knife can leave a person in a comatose state, or could just simply kill him. I think this is wear Jean and i really bonded. he could totally feel my excitement.
we walked in, where we were greeted to the chef. (this is a common practice since you are putting your life in their hands.) turns out that Jean's mom is really good friends with them, and we got the meal for free. which is really good because swellfish is super expensive. (wouldn't you feel guilty if you charged your friend's son for a meal that killed him? i sure would.) on the wall was a few facts about the blowfish. here are the few that i could remember:

* A six-pound tiger swellfish has enough poison to take out at least 32 healthy adults.
* Swellfish is still widely banned in europe for consumption.
* The amount of swellfish poison required to kill a man can fit on the head of a pin.
* In modern Japan, it’s illegal to serve fugu to the emperor.
* All uneatable portions must be locked up and disposed by authorized officials.
* All chefs must be certified and must display certification.

They brought out the fish raw in a large pot. then threw in all sorts of vegetables and spices and cooked it in front of us. Jean and i could hardly wait. i took a big breath and took a bite. it was by far the best tasting fish i had ever tasted.

and considering that i'm sitll alive is a definite bonus!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

day 30: the Con

tonight i was walking down the street looking for a place to eat. there didn't look like anything that would hit the spot, so i sat down at a little cafe and ordered a smoothie and opened up my new book. while i was reading, this little korean guy came and sat next to me and started up a conversation. (it seems that when i sit down to study somewhere i gain an instant friend.) so we talked for about 20 minutes and he said he was going to go meet up with his buddies and asked me if i wanted to join him. it seemed like a new adventure, plus new people to meet, so i was totally up for it. we talked on our way down the street and made our way into a building and down some stairs. it opened up to a large bar, a lot of stalls, and a vacant dance floor. i was thinking, "oh no... i sure hope he didn't bring me to a night club..."

he sat me down at one of the booths and his friends showed up a few minutes later. they sat down next to me and we kept talking over the music, (mostly about how i didn't drink... they couldn't believe it!) and then the little korean fella said, "oh, we need 이만원 ($20) from you." i looked at him and said, "oh, don't worry.... remember, i don't drink. and plus i just ate, so don't order anything for me." he just looked at me. then he said, "we need the money. we work here." "why," i asked. "well, you walked in. the price of this club is 이만원. since you have been here for a while, you have to pay us. its not free." i remembered a conversation i had with a return missionary when i was at BYU. he told me to be careful because sometimes older people will give you "free" food, only to demand payment after you eat it. this was like that, but on a different scale. so i played the stupid american card and said, "huh, i didn't understand those words. can you repeat them?" he repeated. i wasn't going to let him get the money, so i still acted like i didn't understand. he grabbed a napkin and drew a door with a guy passing through it and then he drew the money sign. i looked up at him and said, "oh, pictionary. i love this game! how many syllables?" (simply a miracle that i came up with that.) he looked at his buddies and then at me with a blank stare. "you know... pictionary...," i said as i grabbed the pen and started to draw another picture. "this game is going to be really tough for me in korean because i don't know a lot of vocabulary words... we should play another game." again, they just looked at me. "did you understand me?" i asked. the shook their head no. "okay, stay here. i will go get my dictionary and i'll come right back. this will not be a fun night if you don't understand me." i stood up and the little korean stood up with me. "no, go ahead and stay with your friends. order some drinks and i'll come right back. i only live around the corner." he actually bought it and sat back down. i took off up the stairs, went to my apartment, grabbed my bag, and returned to the night club...

but only to take a picture for all y'all sakes. to top off the night, i found this help wanted sign on my way back. (click on the picture to enlarge it.)

it was a funny evening.

day 29: the view

with how exciting studying is, its pretty easy to get cabin fever. i went for a walk around 4:30 today, just to get some fresh air, and i didn't get home until 10. when i first went out, i met this down syndrome kid named Yoseph (the koreans adopted the Portuguese spelling of Joseph for some reason). he told me that he was thirsty, so we went and got a drink to eat and i sat and talked to him in korean for an hour. he was way funny, and i could understand him pretty well. As we sat there, Kim Young called and asked me to dinner. i showed up at the building and called her. she told me to come up to the 6th floor and i would see her. there she was, getting her nails done. if not being asain was bad enough, try being a guy in a nail parlor. that really turns heads. luckily, kim young didn't make it awkward at all by asking me if i thought the girl that was doing her nails was pretty...

so then we took an elevator to the top floor, where we had a view of all of Cheunho (the part of Seoul that i live in). it was awesome and with the lights the streets just dazzled. then i realized what was around me. there were just a ton of couples everywhere, eating and enjoying the view. then i realized that it probably looked like i was on a date with a 55 year old lady. then i realized that i needed an excuse to get out of their quickly.

the stars must have alligned, because the missionaries called and asked if i was going to help teach the english class. i was so relieved! we ate quickly and i said goodbye to the view.

Monday, August 4, 2008

day 28: the battle at the gates

Jean was sick so i had the day to myself. (prayers do get answered!) i was thinking, "hmm... what will i do today? i could go hiking, sightseeing, or catch a movie." i didn't do any of those thoughts. i ended up trying to find a laundromat nearby. i spent an hour and a half walking up and down the streets asking people if they knew where a close one was. i never found it.

after lunch i came back here and worked on some english stuff and then i got a call from some of my BYU buddies that are here. we all met up and had dinner together and walked through the huge markets. then we went back to their dorms. because i am not a student there, i was supposed to get some guest pass but the station was closed. so they told me to just walk through with them. they have these narrow passage ways with glass doors that swing open (like an elevator door) when you slide a card, and then close after you pass through. they all went through and then i followed danny through. it closed on my leg and hurt like crazy. so i backed up and we tried it again. this time it closed up on my arm and gave me a huge gash. i didn't think the third time would be a charm, so i just jumped the dang thing. none of them had anything to clean it up with, so i wrapped it up in toilet paper. i make a way better mummy than jet lee. anyways, by the time i was half way home on the subway, it had seeped through. the bad thing was that the subway was packed, and i couldn't move my arm that much without touching someone. luckily, i made it home without spreading my magical blood on these wonderful people.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

day 27: the coffee break

Due to the freak thunderstorm last night, we got up at 3 o'clock and huddled under a little fort thing until it died down. we all fell asleep there until daylight, and i woke up with Jean's dad's arm flopped on top of me and Jean's legs on top of mine. its too bad that we didn't get a picture of that.

we made some more ramen noodles with some fish that we caught the night before for breakfast and packed up our soaked things. on the way back... the dog threw up on me again.

it took us a while to get back because we got lost, and they made frequent stops for "snack breaks" which were really full course meal breaks and where they could smoke a chimney afterwards.

It felt good to be home, but i didn't get that comfortable. i met up with the elders around 6 and we went and taught a few less actives (single girls that they can't teach without someone else) and waited for this guy from iran to meet us in front of E-mart. he must have caught the korean time schedule, because he showed up an hour late. in the mean time, we street contacted and everyone kept looking at us. can't 3 white guys walk down the streets of seoul without anyone being suspicious or curious? all we were doing was stopping every body and asking them if they'd like to learn more. is that so strange?

Masoot (the guy from Iran) was awesome. he is a presbyterian and has a ton of questions. he had previously looked into the church a few years ago, but he did it here in korea when his korean wasn't that good, and neither was his english. but now he speaks korean really well. the only place we could find to sit down was at a coffee place. that would have made for another good picture: 3 mormons from america at a coffee joint on sunday teaching an arab guy in korean.

day 26: the fishing extravaganza

I awoke to a bad smell. (this is happening to me more than i would like.) the people that Jean and I rode up with had a dog and it had just thrown up all over me. (another thing that happens more than i would like.) with how funny it was, we still drove on for another 2 hours.

we pulled up to the campsite early in the morning and set up our tents and claimed our territory. we ate some ramen noodles for breakfast and took a short nap, and then we went fishing. not with poles, but with nets. i caught the largest fish, which was a whopping 2 inches. all the fish that we caught went into a stew that we had for dinner. and all the case of alcohol that Jean's parents brought from their restaurant was consumed within a half an hour. the whole company was completely plastered, which left me the only civilized person within miles. luckily, the conversations with the drunks the night before had trained me how to understand a drunk korean.

when everyone had wound down, we went night fishing. we caught some biggies and then sat back and watched some fireworks... how romantic.

day 25: the american night

My wish didn't come true, but atleast it was a good night. Jean came over with his girlfriend at 5:30 to see what i was doing. i didn't have any plans, but i had bought a new book on korean culture and idioms and thought i'd just take a long soak and read. he didn't like that idea, so he went and bought me a ticket to the new "mummy 3" movie. if you know me, you would know how much i'm a fan of the mummy movies....

Jean's girlfriend got us pretty good seats and i sat back with some popcorn and coke. (they don't have diet coke with lime here... so disappointing...) even though Brendan Frasier's acting still is horrible, Jet lee did a good job. (there's the optimistic mike that you've been missing.)

when we left, i was way hungry, so we went to pizza hut. here, Pizza Hut is actually a nice restaurant. we got a large (which is the size between one of our smalls and mediums) and it cost me 22 dollars. they put sweet potato on the edges and some other things are different, but it was still good. then Jean said, "my parents picking us up at 3 in morning." i started thinking, "wow, Jean, you are 20 years old and you are still having your parents pick you and your girlfriend up?" then he said, " when we ready, i will call you. ok?" i then realized that i was involved in this "us" that he was talking about. "where are we going Jean?" i asked. "valley place. fireworks. fish. very very fun," he said. so we sat and talked there in pizza hut until about 12:30 and then i went home and packed and took a short nap.

i went outside at 2:45, and like always, Jean didn't show up until an hour late. it was ok, because i had a lot of language practice with a lot of drunks that were intrigued by a white kid.

then we waited for the rest of Jean's Parent's workers to join us. they all showed up at the meeting place at 4:30 and we drove off.

Friday, August 1, 2008

day 24: the new pen pal

its a good thing that i didn't bring any mosquito repellent because then i wouldn't be itching like i am. last night emily's mom woke up in the middle of the night and came into our room and she said it felt like a sauna, so she opened a window. when i woke up, my legs, arms, and feet were covered in bites. it made for a really comfortable 14 hour travel home.

we got on the ferry at 8 a.m. and got put in this gigantic room with 85 other people. there wasn't any place to sit, so jean and i sat up on the deck. while we were there, this korean lady in her late 30s asked if i would talk to her son in english. she introduced me to her 9 year old son, and we talked for a little bit. he kept giggling and kept saying, "i don't know." so, then he finally got away from his mom's grip and ran off. she stayed by me for most of the rest of the 5 hours asking me questions about how i liked korea and all that jazz. she was a very nice lady, and it turns out that she's going to send her son to america in the next 2 years to be a foreign exchange student. then she asked me if i would be his teacher while i stayed here in korea. i told her that i didn't have any time, plus we lived in seoul (she lived near the bottom of korea) but that i'd be happy to be his pen pal. we exchanged email adresses and then the boat came to the port. (its surprising how many people i've given my email adress to. i should have made up business cards or something so i wouldn't have to write it on an old wrapper or napkin or something.) we said our goodbyes, and as we were walking off, she asked where we were going next. we told her, and she told us to wait for 5 minutes for a surprise. Jean wanted to go because he thought she was crazy (which she kind of is) but i was curious. then she pulled up in her car and told us that she would drive us to the bus terminal since it was another 30 minutes away. ah, I love being an American.

we finally arrived home at 10 pm, and i really hope that Jean gives me the weekend off because i'm starting to get sick of being with him every waking moment.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

day 23: the reason God created hiking boots

Today I found out why people buy hiking boots. We woke up at 6 am to catch the bus to Halla Mountain, one of korea’s natural treasures. The bus brought us to the bottom and we hiked and hiked and hiked. Imagine climbing up 80,000 flights of stairs, then you will come close to understanding. We hiked 2000 vertical meters in 3 hours. I’m not going to brag, but we did it an hour faster than all the people say it would take us. At the top was a huge crater that was left from a volcano thousands of years ago. We sat up there after feeling like we had just been mugged by the stair-master. That lasted for about a half an hour, and then we started the decent. If you thought climbing up hot molten rock was easy, try going down it. it almost took us the same amount of time to go down, but we luckily made it down in one piece. (Well, as one-piece-ish as you can call legs that don’t work anymore.)

Then emily’s dad came and picked us up and drove us to the biggest lava tunnel in the world. It was long, dark, cold, and all the other adjectives that describe cave like structures.

Day 22: the windless wind surfing

When the wind is strong, that is the best time to go wind surfing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that way for us. We somehow picked the weakest day to go. After a short tutorial, we paddled out to sea and got on our boards. It took me about 5 minutes to master my balance, but then I soon found out that it is hard to actually stay up when you the waves are pushing you around instead of the wind. Jean and I tried it for a half an hour, but the wind didn’t ever pick up. So, we just played out there in the ocean until the main instructor came out to us on his wave runner and told us to come in. as we paddled in, the wind picked up and Jean and I got 10 minutes of good riding until our time was up. (We rented the boards for only the hour.)

Then we went to the Mongolian ruins. I was expecting something like the Mayan ruins from the little drawing that they had on the tourist map. When we showed up, it started to pour down, and there wasn’t anybody around. I was thinking, “sweet, this place is going to be all to ourselves!” I soon found out why the place was abandoned. It turned out to be a recent memorial for the soldiers that fought bravely 600 years ago. There was a huge headstone and that was about it. No broken down walls, no broken pottery, no idol worship. I was pretty disappointed and I bet that other people were too. (except that i know that my mom would have loved every bit of the headstone...) Then we found out that we weren’t on a bus route, and that because of the rain, there weren’t any taxis on the road. So we walked a mile or two until we came to a little information desk at the bottom of the mound. They called us a taxi, and we came back to the Ho’s house and ate some more spicy fish. My tongue wants a break.

day 21: the hawaii of korea

We arrived in Jeju a little early, and caught a taxi to the Ho’s house. It was pouring down sun, and we were sweating up a storm. Because we hadn’t showered for about 2 days, we went over to the bath house and had one of those Korean style wash downs. Then Jean informed me of a room that they have that you can go sleep in if you want. I was totally up for that since I pulled an all-nighter. Emily joined us for a little bit, but then she had to go to work (at a dog restaurant). we went and saw this lava rock that looked like a dragon and tried to rent a Vespa. They don’t like foreigners driving their things, so they wouldn’t allow us to take it. (and they think that we are the bad drivers...) lastly ,we went swimming at the beach, which is way warm. The bad thing is that its near the port, so its extremely dirty. And to top off the night, we bought some apples and watched a drama that revolved cooking pork. Only in Korea would you see a drama about finding the best pork chef.

Day 20: the korean titanic

So, the ferry to Jeju was supposed to bearable. That was an overstatement. After overbooking the boat by 75 people, we ended up in the boiler room. If the Titanic was run by Koreans, I bet a whole lot more people would have died. It was loud, hot, and there was no way that I was going to get any sleep (we left at 7 pm and would arrive at 7 am). We were in there with another 8 people, who were in our same position. One of the guys works for Korea Air and he was way funny. After an hour of complaining, they put us in another room… but this one was full of little kids. I’m not sure which was worse: a boiler room, or a room full children that have never had any interaction with a foreigner and like pulling his arm hairs and going through his luggage and making him translate every word in the Korean language to English. It’s a toss up. Luckily, I could always go out on the deck and have all the young teenage girls come up and say “hi, my name is (fill in the blank), how are you?” when I would respond, they would just look at me with blank stares not knowing what to do next. Then I would start talking to them in Korean and they would all giggle as they ran away. Simply priceless! ( Now if only I could get the older ones to do the opposite!) Luckily, around 1 a.m. the deck cleared out and I had it to myself, all until the funny guy from Korea air brought out some Japanese beer for me. I declined, but it raised a lot of questions. We sat out there on the deck until 4 talking about our differences in cultures, religions, and girls. (He brought that last subject up, not me – just to make it clear.)

day 19: the destined hard floor

Trying to sleep on a marble floor really isn’t the most comfortable thing. But if you don’t take my word for it, then go ahead and try it. It was easy for Jean because he had a couple of drinks with his uncle’s friend. I, unfortunately, didn’t have that pleasure.

After Jean got over his hang over, we headed to another Buddhist temple on the beach. This place is extremely beautiful. If I was Buddhist, or if I knew a lot about being one with nature, I’d probably appreciate a lot more. We went down from the temple and went swimming at the beach. They have absolutely no waves, which is so weird. I was thinking that I’d see some type of sport out there, but it was just a lot of people on inflatable tubes. Jean also has a little bit of a skin deal, so he can’t go swimming, which left me to swim solo. It’s a good thing that I had such a good life saving merit badge counselor because I had to help a girl that couldn’t swim back to shore.

Then we went and ate barbecued clam. I hope by the end of this trip I’ll learn to like sea food like a pure Korean does.

day 18: the boxing match

Jean was hungry, and it was 7:30 in the morning. Our bus to Busan left at 8:45, so we had plenty of time to go grab a bite. Well, after eating stew for breakfast (that’s a normal thing here) we went back and found out that our bus actually left at 8:00. We had to wait there for another 4 hours at the bus stop for another bus. Luckily, I am well trained in the art of hang man. We arrived in Busan in the late afternoon and met up with a friend of Jean’s family. He took us to the beach and we walked around the area. Here, different companies own sections of the beach and rent out spots to lounge on where you can try out their products while you swim. Then we went to the aquarium where we watched an excellent rendition of beauty and the beast. Only, they changed the beast into a shark, and made it under water. So, it was more like the little mermaid and the shark. It was funny to hear them sing Americans songs, because I had no idea what they were singing, even though it was in English. The pronunciation was terrible. The shopping here is crazy and the Sashimi is amazing. We had dinner at a little sushi restaurant on the beach and I swallowed down some live octopus. Everybody should have a go at that. It’s kind of having a little boxing match in your mouth.

day 17: the variety of squid treats

what’s better than an American burger? How about a squid burger? Or maybe a kimchee burger? Or even a combination of the too if you wanted? That’s what you get when you go to Lotteria, a knock off of the good old McDonalds. Since we were hungry before our voyage to the southern tip of korea, we stopped in and got a burger. Lets just say that korea should stick to making rice, and America should stick to making healthy foods like hot dogs and hamburgers.

Anyways, the 5 hour train ride was looking pretty dim and boring until I got onto the train. I was welcomed with “let it be” by the Beatles, but only this was the Chinese instrumental version done with a kayagum (one of those oriental harp things). I love how our cultures have made such a great bond through pure talent. I knew that it wasn’t going to be that bad, and fell asleep instantly. I was awoken by a strange smell a couple of hours later. Jean had purchased some Jerky from the little vendor on the train, but it wasn’t the normal type. It was Squid Jerky. And, other than the smell, it tasted pretty good. I can’t get the smell off my hands or breath though, even after scrubbing with soap. Everything has its ups and downs, like the bathroom with windows so you can see if it is being occupied. Ha ha. No joke. But you gotta do what you gotta do.

When we got off the train, we hit up the Buddhist temple where Jean explained what was up with the sweet buildings, gold statues, and the water that you drink right out of the hills. (I just pray that I don’t get some weird mountain bacteria from trying it out.)
Then we came back and went to the hot spring and health club to relax. However, I had a hard time relaxing because the health spas here are like bath houses, and everybody walks around naked. They even work out the buff. There was no way that I was going to go near that weight bench!