No Pain… no American friends?

 

Well, at least it may have taken me longer to meet them LOL. 

 

I’m finally feeling more like my normal self.  Though I’m still working through the vertigo crap (thank you Bolivan), I’ve been able to teach all my classes and enjoy my time with my students. 

 

I had an AWESOME day Wednesday!  Heur and I had to go back to the hospital to finish my E-2 paperwork and inquire about getting a Ko-friendly cell phone at the local dealer when the strangest thing happened... this Korea young lady began talking to me in fluent English.  LOL! 

 

Intro Nina… ;P

 

After a few seconds of staring stupidly with mouth agape, not quite knowing what to make of this.. I finally came to and managed to recall what it was she’d even said.  “Yes, I’m an English teacher” and “yes, I’m from America.”  So, Heur and I parted ways and Nina and I headed off to talk. 

 

We spent the better part of 3 hours getting to know each other.  Apparently I’m the veteran around here, so I showed her around and we went to a great little place to eat where they serve a mean Ox-bone soup.  Oh, BTW… though Nina is a Korean adoptee, she speaks almost NO Korean.  So, nevermind my befuddled look when she introduced herself to me… the citizens of Yecheon are in absolute disbelief that a person like her could and does exist!  The younger Koreans thought it was humorous that I’m the one speaking in Korean after Nina’s failed attempt at getting directions to a Japanese restaurant using hand gestures.  But, it seems that most of the ajummas and ajussis find little humor in a Korean adoptee that speaks almost no Korea.  Apparently, this is unacceptable.  So, for those of you concerned with whether or not I am having a rough time… no, I am not.  Especially when considering what others are going through. 


 
Jordan, Nina, and I hang out at the PC Bang
(basically a place where you pay by the hour to use computers)


Later that night Nina and I met up with Jordan, who is another American expat, teaching at the boy’s middle school in Yecheon.  Jordan’s in early 20’s and interested in economic policy, how it affects citizens and the dissemination of knowledge to the public, where they are unaware of their rights.  He’s already worked for a few months in Indonesia, helping a community who had no idea how to seek remuneration for the deaths and illnesses caused by contaminated runoff.  Sounds like a good cause to me!

 

Needless to say, that was a great night. 

 

The next day I was back at Eunpung Elementary, where I had a very good day with my students.  Though there were some computer glitches, which forced me to relocate to another room… my students were great and took everything in stride.  It’s definitely getting better! 

 

Friday is always a good day!!!  Heur was excited, because it was the last day of the work week (aren’t we all??!! LOL) and we would be leaving early to go to Daegu and submit my health screening paperwork to the Office of Immigration so they can issue my ARC (Alien Registration Certification?) card.  School was good, though my Ko-teacher acts very removed.  I am concerned she is unhappy with me, but due to the way the Korean culture does not verbalize their displeasure it is hard to get a straight answer.  This is especially true for people who are older.  Anyway, hopefully it will sort itself out. 

 

Since we were going to Daegu that afternoon, I had to cancel my dinner plans with the other English teachers. 


 
Daegu Korean Immigration Services


Daegu is a crazy, but awesome city.  Crazy is defined by the drivers and the traffic.  At one point this crazy ajumma (a middle aged woman, who is loud and has no qualms about saying or doing anything anywhere) literally got out of her car and walked up to Heur’s car and screamed at Heur, who had DARED to pull out in front of her.  Heur, being a gentleman to the very end, just apologized over and over, while she basically told him his apology is meaningless.  As she pulled away I could see dozens and dozens of dents and areas of heavy patchwork on her formerly very nice car. 


 
Who dat?


Heur dropped me off at the Daegu Station, which is one of the main Subway and train terminals in Daegu.  There I caught the subway to Banwoldong and met up with Jason, who had moved to Korea with his wife to teach.  We walked around the district where all the awesome little shops are located.  It’s basically the happening place in Daegu… lots of shops, movie theaters, restaurants, specialty stores, bars, and clubs.  There are also TONS of non-Koreans hanging out at some of their favorite bars and dives. 


 
Banwoldong subway exit 13


After sight-seeing and stopped at a few places, Jason and I headed to the subway to meet up with his wife and go to dinner with his coworkers and boss.  Right before we got on the train I realized I’d left my bookbag somewhere, so I literally jumped out of the train and said I’d catch him when he got back LOL.  Honestly, I didn’t know what in the world I was doing, but I figured I’d work it out as I went along.

 
Awesome little caf'd out mini bike


In the end I managed to speed walk for almost 2.5 hours all around the little downtown district and managed to find EVERY place we’d stopped except the one place I thought my bag would be, which was a coffee shop.  I knew the name of the coffee shop, the name of the Japanese restaurant across the street from it…but still no dice.  By this time my Korean moto friend, Lee Jung Tae was trying to get a hold of me.  He had gotten out of work and was waiting for me at the subway exit.  So, I ran back there and waited for him next to his (oh-so-amazing) bike.  Shortly after that he came walking up and we set off to find some grub.


 
Jung Tae


Ok, NOW my lack of skills in speaking Korean becomes quite irksome.  I’m beyond cursing myself for not knowing more.  Thank you Google translate, for existing… but who REALLY wants to spend 90% of your time with someone conversing via a cell phone?  LOL!!!  Still, it’s better than hand gestures! 

 

Jung Tae took me to a nice BimBimBap restaurant close by and then we settled down at a Japanese restaurants where another moto chingu (Seiren Sim) works for some beer and was eventually joined by Thor Bae.  Thor Bae’s English is super good, so he sort of became our Google translator after that.


 
Thor


Since all of us expats are pretty much only able to use our phone where there’s wifi access, communicating with each other is down right frustrating as hell.  Jason and his wife couldn’t find the Japanese restaurant and I felt horrible, because communicating our location to them was difficult.  Still, eventually they arrived and we all sat and talked for a while. 

 

I decided to keep hanging out with my Korean friends and said goodnight to Jason and his very lovely wife.  After that Thor, Jung Tae, and I went to Organ, which is a hole in the wall bar where a lot of expat teachers hang out and they play AWESOME music!  Wow… Ben, my old roomie from Indy would have been thoroughly impressed :D.  Eventually, Jung Tae headed off and Thor and I walked to where his art and music studio is located.  Which, from what I can tell, is sort of a crash pad for his musician and artist friends. 


 
Thor's Studio


The studio was super large, occupying a whole floor of the building.  Inside there were numerous bedrooms, a band practice room/art gallery, a huge kitchen and bathroom, as well as a mini half pipe skateboarding section and then the “formal” living room, where everyone generally congregates. This is where I stayed.

 

The next day was spent recovering from staying out so late (gee, I’m old LOL).  During the night, the various tenants trickled in from their jobs.  That morning, on the couch across from me, was this kid completely sound asleep on another couch.  Not long after I wake up, he gets up and immediately starts rattling off in English.  Within minutes of meeting him, I’m already half in love with this little brat, whose name is Chang Wan Ha.  Chang Wan is 20 years old and is starting back to college tomorrow, where he’s studying philosophy.  Thor described him as a sponge and I couldn’t agree more.  He’s exceptionally bright and absorbs everything and always wants to know more.  Sounds like someone I know LOL. 


 
Chang Wan


So, we breakfasted on some toast and jellies, then set off to visit the Dogbone Yaro motorcycle shop on motorcycle row, which was maybe a mile away.  Thor rode his bicycle and I rode Chang Wan’s BMX (he rode on the rear pegs hahaha).  Soon after we got there and I was introduced to the Yaro crew, this woman comes riding up on a scooter and proceeds to serve us fresh iced coffee, sweetened beautifully, from a ball jar.  OMG, Korea is awesome!  This service is $5 and she literally brings you the cups and dishes it out at your table. 


 
Our coffee delivery service


After our refreshments, we walked down the street and looked around at the various motorcycles and scooters that were for sale.  It would seem that purchasing a motorcycle in Korea is going to be more expensive than in America, unless I get a Hyosung or something comparable (ie, made in Korea).  But, truthfully I don’t have a problem with this. 


 
Ajussi (little old man) is hauling ass down motorcycle row
with his walker and cane... hell on wheels!


Once we’d gotten our fill of the place, we said our goodbyes and then headed off to the “mechanics” row, which is block upon block of small mechanics shops, tool vendors, and materials suppliers all lined up on a street that cross-sects motorcycle row.  Talk about Ava’s idea of heaven!  My next job just might have to be in Daegu LOL!

 

Eventually we made our way back to the studio and cooled off by eating a cold noodle soup with sliced pear and cucumbers added to the soybean broth.  Sooo yummy and refreshing!


 
Cold soybean noodle soup... yummy!!!


At this point, Jason and his lady (aka the Keller crew) had let me know that they had found my bag at the coffee shop (OMG I’m deliriously happy, because my ADD medicine is in it) and they said they want to come over to check out Thor’s place.  A few hours later, it looks like they won’t make it over, so Chang Wan and I take the BMX bike downtown.  Heeheeheeheeeeeee…

 
Introducing my Korean moto friends to
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance...
You're welcome Mr. Pirsig :P and my moto brethren!

There’s something I’ve yet to disclose about riding a bike, a motorcycle, or even being a pedestrian in Daegu.  The streets and sidewalks and pretty much fair game for any of the afore mentioned forms of traveling.  So, if you’re a pedestrian, you often walk on the street and if you’re on two wheels, you may find yourself on the sidewalk dodging pedestrians in heavily congested areas one minute and cars and service vehicles on the road the next!  This goes for bikes too.  So, that being said, I’m “driving” the bike and Chang Wan is standing up on the foot pegs behind me, holding onto my shoulders, while I ride like a maniac through the streets and sidewalks of downtown Daegu.  LOL!  It was awesome!!!! 


We eventually made it to the meeting spot, drenched in sweat (Daegu is the Florida of SoKo) and waited for the Keller crew to show up.  They were exhausted themselves and about to keel over from starvation, so our greetings were brief.  Chang Wan and I were soon peddling back into the mayhem in a hurry to get home (Thor had a house warming party to attend and I was invited). 

 

After getting cleaned up (yay, clean clothes and toiletries!!!), Thor and I set off for the get-together.  This ended up being on the North? Side of Daegu in a nice suburb section of town.  We went up to the roof of the building, where 90% of the guests were expats and those that weren’t were girlfriends/ fiancées of the expats.  Everyone was very nice and welcoming and almost all had been living and working in the area for years, so they were very much like a family. 


 
Rooftop party


We hung out there for hours and eventually left with one other friend and headed downtown.  The plan was to see a band play at the bar where Chang Wan worked, but by the time we got there they had already wrapped it up.


By this time I was exhausted and had a raging headache, so I took a cab back to Thor’s place and basically crashed for the night.  The next morning I took Chang Wan to the Paris Baguette and treated him to some breakfast pastries and coffee.  We brought fresh bread back for the roomies. 


Chang Wan researching where the closest bus station is :P


A few hours later he and I set off for the terminal, where I’d take the bus back to Yecheon.  After realizing how far away this was from the studio, I basically have decided that if this kid ever wants to come to the US, then he has a permanent place to stay with me… I’ll be his American noona (older sister) LOL! 

 

We sat at the bus terminal until it was time for me to leave and after saying goodbye, I got on the bus and headed back to Yecheon. 


As I write this, I am once again safely in the confines of my little apartment.  So, rest assured I have arrived safely and am about to prepare for my work week. 


What an amazing week and weekend!!!! 


Much love to everyone… from a very content me :P