Kids Say the Darndest Things…

As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, my kids are hilarious. Almost as hilarious as me. Maybe. I guess I’ll let you be the judge of that. I had to start keeping post-it notes in my teacher basket to write down all of the hilarious things they said. Throughout the course of the year, only one class got hip to my note taking. I’ve been saving them since last year (I seriously have four pages of quotes typed up) and have been meaning to do a series of posts about them, but like I said in my last post, I’ve been lazy. So I guess the series of posts begins now. Some of the quotes will need a little translating. I only learned a little bit of Korean last year but, fortunately for you guys, I’m totally fluent in Konglish. I’ll start you off with some of my favorite misspellings:

canrats = carrots

apple tite = appetite

Catorick churche – Catholic church

French flies = French fries

cocorage = cockroach

umvellibubble = unbelievable (totes my fave)

Lingkyn = Lincoln

bulad = blood

vagitavle = vegetable (a very close second)

roerrcoaster = roller coaster

once upond = once upon

blowme = bloom

mitten test = midterm test

Earth ball = globe (not a misspelling, but still hilarious)

 
And now for some of my favorite quotes. I am putting their age next to their name to give it a little more context. I should probably preface this by saying I have some classes that I blatantly lie to, as you will see.  Also, some students are clearly much funnier than others. Those of you familiar with my Facebook posts should note that Robin is the kid I usually refer to as my 7- year-old love guru (you’ll see why shortly).

Me (to Robin after misbehaving): Do I need to make you stay for 2 minutes after the bell rings?

Robin (7): That means you are killing me one more time!

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Anthony (8): Statue of Lavratory (Statue of Liberty)

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Me: I like tall boys.

Amy (7): Maybe you should marry giraffe.

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Me (teasing a boy who is usually really on top of things): Sean, get your life together.

Robin (7) (in mocking voice): Sean, don’t just get your jacket, get your life, too. (What? Who is this kid?!)

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Mitchel (8): What the devil?! (Seriously, where on earth did he pick that up?!)

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Robin (7): Megan will destroy students with lots of homework.

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Sally (10): Rest in space (peace).

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9 Class (7): Homework, homework, no one wants to do the homework. (To the tune of Beat It)

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Spencer (11): Shut up your mouth!

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Anthony (8): Look at my new butthole (bottle).

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Me: I’m never wrong.

Amy (7): You are smart, but you can’t see everything. (Ouch, kid.)

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Sean (7): Amy is touching Robin!

Me: Amy is touching Robin’s pencil case. Let’s be clear about that.

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9 Class (7): Sean is the meth king (math king).

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Spencer (11): God loves us. God is gay.

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This next ones stems from me calling them slowpokes:

Robin (7): Girl is fast poke, boy is slowpoke.

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Sean (7): Die person go to…die person go to hell!

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Ben (8): I go bitch (I went to the beach).

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The two are playing a one-upping game:

Sean (7): I will be the god. (And by the god, he really just means God.)

Robin (7): I will be the… godfather!

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Spencer (11): Romance movies are so buttery(cheesy).

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Me: I’m the king of everything.

Robin (7): I will call to Obama and tell him to think about that.

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So, this next quote came about because the class was using waited in their sentence and I was trying to prompt them to change it to waiting. After several incorrect guesses, Eliza (8) raises her hand VERY enthusiastically and says, “I know! Waited-ed-ed!” Sorry kid, better luck next time.

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For the next one, we were learning about sports, and I asked them what was their favorite sport to play in P.E. Robin (7) told me that he doesn’t like any sports. I said, “None?!” He said, “I like fighting.” I responded, “They let you fight in gym class?” He told me proudly, “Yes. I am the best boy fighter in my class.” I teased him, asking. “Wait, there is a girl that is a better fighter than you?” He responded (with an evil grin on his face), “She had (has) a lot of power, but I can mess with her.” No doubt kid, no doubt.

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I was trying to explain election day to my kindergarteners (bear in mind their limited vocabulary) and I said, “Today is a very special day in America. Today we choose a new king.” Angela, my favorite of the little nuggets, shouts out, “I choose Megan!” Sorry Obama, I’ve got news for you…

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This was my very first quote. I had only been teaching for a few weeks. I was hurrying my then kindergarteners through something because we were running short on time. Robin (7) looked up at me and said, “Megan, you are not being patient with me.” I was stunned. I responded, “Fair enough. Take your time.” A week or so later, Robin was hurrying me because he knew that if we finished early we were going to play a game. I turned to him, fully expecting this to go right over his head, and said, “Robin, you are not being patient with me.” He looked at me for a second, and then busted up laughing. I couldn’t believe it! It totally became a long-running joke between the two of us. I heart this kid right in the face.

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That same class also liked to discuss (at great length) my love life. After what they think is several months of me being single (they would be SO disappointed in Megan Teacher if they knew how long it had really been), Robin (7) gave me some advice. He told me, “I will give you ‘Megan’s Project.’ Number 1: Be clean.” Apparently my showering skills leave something to be desired. “Number 2: More this (as he waves his hands over his face).” I ask, “You mean make-up?” “YES! Number 3:Wear beautiful clothes.” Clearly, my wardrobe is also quite lacking. “Number 4: Diet.” Ouch. “Number 5: Give to him a rose. Then you can kiss to him, marry to him, and lay a baby.” Yes, you read that correctly. And everyday for nearly 2 months they asked me if I was working on my project. Eventually I think they, much like my mother, decided it was an exercise in futility and accepted my future as a crazy cat lady. So I lied to them and told them Joe was my boyfriend. I hated letting them down. So now they think Megan Teacher is off in America planning her wedding and then I’m moving to England. At least my imaginary life is awesome.

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I should warn you that this next portion is rated R for adult content. I’m sure you’re thinking, “They’re children. How bad can it possibly be?” Bad. I assure you. This is the class that is mad at me because I won’t tell them what word is worse than the F word. Also, after telling this story numerous times, I’ve discovered that there are an alarming number of people that don’t know what that word is. If you don’t know, I’m not telling you, either. Anyway, here’s how the conversation went down. Spencer (11) asked, “Teacher, what does fuck mean?” To which I responded, “I canNOT tell you that and for the love of god and all that is holy, stop saying that in class.” His classmates proceeded to explain to him in Korean what it was in terms of “that’s how babies are made.” So he asked me, “So I can do this when I want to make a baby?” I replied, “You can do this when you are married.” He said, “I want to get married, but I DON’T want to do that.” Wait a couple of years kid, wait a couple of years.

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Stay tuned for for Part 2 of Kids Say the Darndest Things…

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Hanok Village

I know what you guys are thinking. Aren’t you in America right now? Why are you still posting about Korea? Well, kids, here’s the thing – I was kinda lazy when I started this blog, so I didn’t get to write about everything I wanted to. Also, since I’m going back for a second year, I might as well keep it going while I’m home, keep you guys interested and such. I mean, you are interested, right? Of course you are. So you can look forward to a couple more posts about Korea and maybe even a couple about my time stateside. Lucky you.

Hanoks are traditional Korean-style houses. A Hanok Village is a bunch of hanoks that have been turned into either shops or restaurants or have been preserved to reflect the ways of the past. Jeonju Hanok Village has over 800 houses you can stroll  through. I’ve been there several times and every time I feel like I’m wandering a labyrinth. There are numerous tiny alleys that lead to new parts of the village to explore. Or sometimes they lead to me right back to where I started. I’m not very good with directions. So I guess, really, it could be a very tiny place and I just keep getting lost. I choose to believe the former. Amidst the shops and restaurants are mini-museums usually dedicated to one aspect of the Korean culture (paper, alcohol, fans, games, etc.). It’s a great place to try Korean food and pick up souvenirs. The majority of the souvenirs I brought home may or may not have come from there… This particular Hanok Village also has a bamboo forest and a one room gallery of portraits of famous Korean kings. But the best thing about it is a guy known as “The Magkeolli Man.” The foreign crowd refers to him as Casanova. I don’t know why. He’s not a ladies man by any means. He runs a small restaurant and has a table out front where he lures people in (mostly foreigners) and plows them with free alcohol. He seriously just shouts, “Hey, foreigner! Come here! Free magkeolli!” at every foreigner that walks by. If you stay for a long time, he’ll even give you free food. Don’t ask how I know this. No one can figure out how he can afford to do this (because he does it every day), but there are lots of rumors flying around town.

The village is also host to an abundance of festivals, like the bibimbap (a food Jeonju is famous for) and hanji (traditional Korean paper) festivals, where you can watch taekwondo performances, traditional Korean song and dance performances, and even contemporary performances. Or you can visit one of the many vendor stalls and try their food or scope out their wares. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon and get some fun photos.

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There’s No Place Like Home

So, I am currently writing this during my bajillion hour long layover in Beijing. I am, however, going to have to post it later as the Chinese clearly hate me and Facebook and WordPress because it won’t let me on either of those sites. Or any site that might amuse me/keep me from being bored out of my ever loving mind for the next 5 ½ hours. Suck it, China. If it were not for that gargantuan wall that I so desperately want to see, I would NOT being coming back. Despite the introduction, this post is not actually about how crappy my journey has been so far, or even about the further crappiness I expect to endure until the glorious moment when my plane touches down at SFO. As my year is up, I wanted to reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly that Korea has to offer and also what I’m most excited to return to in the good, ‘ol U.S. of A.

Despite my everlasting love for Korean food, my kids are what I’m going to miss the most. Especially my kinders. I can’t believe that I didn’t get up this morning and go shake my sillies out with them. Or that I’ll never pinch those adorable little cheeks of theirs or hear Angela call me “Beautiful Rainbow Princess Megan Teacher.” (That’s my official title now, in case you were wondering, and I expect you all to start using it post haste.) I wish that I could watch them grow and see the wonderful people they will become. That, I think, is reason numero uno that I’m not sure teaching is for me long term. As much as I love my job, I get so attached to those adorable little faces and it’s so hard to see them go. I’m not sure I could handle that year in and year out. I am also going to miss my amazing coworkers (both waygookin and Korean) who have helped me navigate the world that is being a foreign teacher in Korea. I have learned so much during the past year, and am excited to see what year two has to offer.

I will also miss the food horribly and terribly. I have been spoiled by the amazing cuisine in Jeonju and am worried that wherever I end up next won’t hold a candle to what I’m used to. Guess I’ll be making lots of trips to Jeonju next year! I will miss how friendly and helpful the Korean people are, on the whole. The taxi drivers that ask a million questions or the random stranger that comes up and starts talking to you because they are so eager to practice their English and want to know more about you. I will miss my ghetto apartment. It was my home for over a year and it holds so many great memories. I will miss how cheap everything is here. Like, SUPER cheap. And I’m cheap. So it works out pretty nicely. I will miss the “yogio button” at restaurants. Best. Idea. Ever. It’s a little button at your table that you press whenever you need something from your waiter. And other than that, he/she never bothers you. No, “Hi! I’m Kimmy! I’m going to be your server this evening and check on you every 15 seconds and annoy you so much that you regret leaving the house!” Or, conversely, “Hi. I’m Brad. I’m your server. You probably won’t see me again for, like, 20 minutes. Hope you’re not too hungry…” It makes the dining experience much more pleasant. I will miss hanging out in front of convenient stores having a few drinks with my friends. Seriously, that’s a thing here. A socially acceptable, not at all white trash thing. And it’s surprisingly fun. I will also miss all of the wonderful new friends I’ve made this past year. I hope to stay in contact with them all, but am sad to know that in reality, some of them I will probably never see again. Thank goodness for Facebook! (Except in China.)

I will not miss being gawked at. I will not miss being given the disapproving once over because of my weight. I will not miss being told I’m fat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m FULLY aware of what I look like. But it still sucks to hear, like, on a daily basis. And it makes it really difficult to feel good about the 35 lbs I’ve lost since I’ve been here. I will not miss the smog. I will not miss the grocery stores here. Unless you go right when they open or really late at night, they are insanely packed. And they have people yelling out specials all the time trying to get you to buy things and it’s super obnoxious. If I’m solo, I just put on my ipod and tune everyone out. I won’t miss the few Koreans who don’t like you because you’re a foreigner. On the whole, my experience has been really good. But the negative experiences seem to make a bigger impact than the positive ones, sadly. I will not miss my last class on MWF. Seriously, they were all jerks. Middle school teachers – I don’t know how you do it. You have my utmost respect because if I taught kids that age, I’d end up in jail. I will not miss the lunch lady. She was massively unpleasant. Even the Koreans didn’t like her, but they have to tolerate her because she’s older than they are. Homie don’t play that. Respect is a two way street. She was really nice to me on my last day and gave me an extra sandwich and I spent the entire day being worried that she’d tried to poison me. She’s that kind of awful. I will not miss my shower. Or my bathroom on the whole, really. I will not miss my college dorm room sized fridge. And I will not miss surprise tentacles in my food.

Of course, first and foremost, I am most excited to see my family when I get back (read cats). I especially can’t wait to see my sister. She won’t get home until almost Christmas, which will make almost a year and a half apart. Which is balls. She says she’s going to come visit me during year two, and if she doesn’t I might cut her. Because a year without your sister is just too long. Are you reading this, Kristin? If you don’t make a Korea trip happen, I WILL CUT YOU. And you’ve been warned, so I don’t even think I can get in trouble for it. Wait, maybe that’s not quite how the system works… Whatever. The point is, make the damned trip! I can’t wait to see my kitties and poopsies. Especially Abby. I have been waiting over a year to have some couch cuddle time with my favorite dog/sasquatch hybrid. I can’t wait to have good Mexican food. A year without Mexican food is also too long. I can’t wait to see the stars again. You can almost never see them in Korea, and that sucks. I can’t wait to drive (providing I get my license back, but that’s a whole other story) and sing in the car. I can’t wait to experience the holiday season properly. My mom is going to kill me by the time Christmas is over and probably wish I’d just stayed in Korea. I can’t wait to drink decent beer without having to offer up my first born to the bartender. I can’t wait to watch TV. I have kept up on a few of my shows, but I have not just sat in front of a TV and vegged since I got to Korea. And I super-dee-duper cannot wait to go shopping. It is very difficult to get my size clothing in Korea and the selection is pretty limited (read unattractive). Also, all of the bottoms I have saw fit to die two weeks before I left. I am currently sitting in the airport in my last pair of yoga pants that are slightly too big and in the last 24 hours have sprung a hole on the inner thigh. I just pray they make it until I get to San Francisco or things are going to get really awkward…

So, there you have it. The good, the bad and the ugly. Korea friends – I miss you already and can’t wait to see you again! Friends and family stateside – it’s been too long! I can’t wait to see you all and share my amazing adventure with you! Also, I’ve posted a few of my favorite photos from the last year for your viewing pleasure.

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Something Wicked This Way Comes…

With Halloween falling on a Wednesday this year, we did what any responsible adult would do – we partied the Saturday prior. Joe, Emily and I went with a group costume that I’d wanted to do since the previous Halloween but did not yet have enough friends to pull off: Rock, Paper, Scissors. I’d seen it on Pinterest and when I came to Korea and saw how hugely popular the game is here, I knew I HAD to do it. In fact, wanting to do this costume in Korea makes up an irrational percentage of why I extended my contract. Seriously. The costumes took us four tedious days to create, but they were totally worth it. They looked great. We were nervous because it had rained all day and our costumes were made out of cardboard, but the weather gods smiled on us and the rain ceased before we went out and didn’t return for the remainder of the night. Getting in and out of taxis was still a bit precarious, however. I thought our core concept was pretty obvious, but somehow, even when the three of us were standing RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER, people still managed to be slow on the uptake. In some cases, there was no uptake at all. People kept asking Emily if she was a notebook. Yeah, I know, I can’t believe it either. We ended our night at a fairly packed bar, and I was alarmed to find how quickly my cohorts were willing to jump ship on the costume because “it was getting in the way.” I, alone, remained dedicated to the costume because a) I have no problem getting in other people’s way and b) you go big or you go home. I will keep this in mind when choosing costume partners in the future…

Our school Halloween party was in similar fashion to last year’s. We began, as any good party should, by scaring the shit out of small children. The kinders were the worst. I had one whose head was buried in my stomach and one grabbing on to my leg so tightly that I looked like I was walking with a peg leg. It took almost 10 minutes to calm them down. I felt TERRIBLE. Other teachers, however, were undeterred by the hysterics and continued to scare the bejesus out of kids for the remainder of the day. One of the Korean teachers seemed to be thoroughly enjoying it. Even after the haunted house portion was over, she hid at the end of the hallway scaring children as they walked by. One of my kinders, Daisy, had to go to the bathroom and was too scared to go by herself, so I had to walk with her and hold her hand. She got halfway down the hallway when the teacher came out from a doorway and Daisy immediately turned around and bolted back from whence she came. Attempt #2 was much more successful. However, while we were in the bathroom Daisy asked me, “Monica teacher is what are you doing?” This is 5-year-old Konglish for “What is Monica teacher doing?” I responded, “She is scaring children.” Daisy thought for a minute and then said, very matter-of-factly, like the following was a total normal question, “Monica Teacher is eat children?” I laughed and informed her that no, she was only scaring children. And that’s when Monica came in and ate Daisy. Just kidding! No children were eaten that day. Promise. The second round of students that went through the haunted house were also pretty hysterical. I thought comforting them seemed like the best approach. My Korean counterparts had their own way. They, after being the ones that scared the holy living hell out of these kids, yelled at them that if they did not stop crying they would take their party money away and that they would have to go through the haunted house again. Oh Korea, I have so much to learn about your ways…

After we finished tormenting students, they went around to different classrooms and played games. I hosted a dance party wherein we listened to Gangnam Style ALL. DAY. LONG. Listening to Gangnam Style for 8 hours on repeat changes a person. I may look, sound and act like the Megan you all know and love, but know that something inside of me has been forever altered. And may cause me to dragon kick any radio that plays Gangnam Style. Consider yourselves warned.  During the second round of kids, Monica came into my classroom and when the music in the song pauses, she turned of the lights. Bad idea. These kids clearly hadn’t fully recovered from the earlier trauma and looked like they were having Nam flashbacks. Megan Teacher gave LOTS of stamps at school the next day in an attempt to buy back some of their affection.
Note: I have umpteen adorable videos from the Halloween party, but cannot figure out how to get them from my phone to my computer. Will update when more technologically advanced. Until then, enjoy the photos.

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Jeonju Style

Since I’m leaving in, oh, about two weeks, I thought it was high time I told you guys a little bit about the town I live in. The city is called Jeonju, the capital of the North Jeolla province. It’s located in the south western part of South Korea. It is famed for it’s cuisine, and for good reason. I’ve had food all over Korea, and it’s by far the best (And the cheapest, hurrah!). It is known for its bibimbap in particular. If you don’t know what bibimbap is, this is it. Actually, that picture doesn’t do it much justice. Check this one out. Alright, it turns out bibimbap doesn’t look that appealing. But trust me, it’s totally delicious. And Jeonju makes it better than anyone else. Word on the street is that when Michael Jackson had concerts in Seoul, he had his people bring him Jeonju bibimbap. That is a six hour round trip drive. For rice. At least that’s what I heard, anyway… There is a restaurant just around the corner from my place that makes the best bibimbap I’ve had. I frequently order take out from there. Unfortunately, I have no idea what my actual address is, so I have to go to the restaurant, order my food there and show them the slip of paper that has my address written in Korean. Then I go home and they bring the food to me. The ridiculousness of the situation does not escape me.

Jeonju is also known for it’s Hanok Village – a traditional Korean village. Many cities have these, but Jeonju’s is one of the best. It has over 800 hanok style buildings, tea shops, restaurants and souvenir shops. It’s a great way to spend a weekend afternoon, and I swear, I’m totally going to do a post on it soon. They often hold festivals there, which are always a good time. But the best thing about the Hanok Village is, far and away, the magkeolli man. Known to the foreigner community as Casanova, he plies us with alcohol whenever we pass by. Literally, if foreigners walk by he starts shouting, “Hey, foreigners, come here! Free magkeolli!” He lures you over and you think you’ll just stay for a minute. But four hours later, you’re still there and the group of foreigners has tripled. How he does this and manages to make a profit, I’ll never know. There are many rumors that have spread amongst the foreigners, each more far fetched than the last. But, this is Korea, so really, anything is possible.

That’s about all that distinguishes my town from any other town in Korea. They really do kind of all look the same. Any decent sized town is going to have an Emart, which is kind of like Walmart, and a Homeplus, which is kind of like Target. Most people do their grocery shopping there or at the street vendors. It’s kind of like a small scale farmer’s market that’s open every day. I prefer to get my veggies from there, because it’s insanely more cost effective. Every town also has street vendors selling chicken and pork skewers, deep fried tteok noodles (one of my personal faves), tteokbokkki, and deep fried corn dogs (Which are totally a heart attack waiting to happen. And for some reason, they just call them hotdogs.), amongst other tasty treats. These are great for eating on the cheap, on the run, or just for a quick snack. Cities here also have parks left and right, I imagine because most people live in apartments and therefor have no yard. It’s really awesome, but their parks are a bit different than ours. They still have the requisite swing sets, but they also have these giant, raised gazebos that old people just hang out on. Like all day. And well into the night. I’m not really sure what they do there. I think just wait until foreigners pass by so they can judge them. Also, the parks are pretty devoid of grass. There’s, like, shrubbery, and stuff. So there’s some greenery. But if you want to do cartwheels or somersaults or whatnot, you’re shit out of luck. Interestingly, all parks also have workout equipment. I mean, it’s cool that they’re all health conscious and stuff, but it’s still a little weird to see. Almost as weird as the ajumma’s doing aerobics to Kpop in the parks at night.

We’ve also got a zoo, a river that runs through town with a walking/biking path, an amazing park called Doekjin Park and, like any good Korean town, coffee shops and noreabangs on every corner. And dare I forget to mention the 7 story department store?! Sounds like heaven, right? Not so much. It’s crazy over priced and it’s really only good if you’re into Great Depression Chic. So, that’s my town in a nutshell. It’s a great starter town (not too big, not too small), but I’m ready for bigger and better things next year!

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Gangnam Style

It was never my plan to write an entry about Kpop (Korean Pop), but I don’t think any of us saw Psy coming. Aside from the fact that the song is as catchy as the video is weird, he’s the first Kpop artist to crossover onto the Western charts. How much of that has to do with people’s fascination with the odd video and his quirky style or truly loving the song, I have no idea. But since so many of my friends and family members are now aware of “Gangnam Style,” I thought I’d drop some knowledge on y’all about the song and it’s eccentric artist. Let’s start off with what having “Gangnam style” actually means. Gangnam is a trendy, well-to-do suburb of Seoul often referred to as the Beverly Hills of Korea. So saying you’ve got Gangnam style is essentially like saying you’ve got swag. Mom: If you don’t know what swag means, go to the website Urban Dictionary and search for it. Actually, scratch that. Mom: NEVER go to Urban Dictionary. In the chorus, Psy repeats, “Oppan Gangnam style.” Oppan or Oppa means brother, and Korean women often use the term to refer to an older male friend. So now we have what basically means “big brother’s got swag.” While this probably sounds pretty lame to you or I, we’re not the target demographic. Korean women love it. For more on the translation of the lyrics, check out this site. It has not only the English translation of the lyrics, but also the Romanization of the Korean lyrics in case you want to learn how to sing along. It’s so prevalent here that my kindergarteners are not only calling each other sexy, but calling me sexy, as well. Awkward with a capital A. I also had to teach one of my older classes how to properly say “sexy lady” because I could no longer take them singing, “Hey, sheckshee ray-ray!” I am currently substituting in another kindergarten class in addition to my own. They were mad because they wanted to sing the “Gangnam song” but I told them we were playing Simon Says instead. In an effort to boost their spirits, I said, “Simon says Gangnam style.” Everyone one of them busted out in the exact same move from the video. Then I said, “Simon says ‘Hey, sexy lady!'” And they all shouted, “Oppan Gangnam style!” It was hilarious. I nearly died.

Now here’s some information about Psy. While he may become a one hit wonder in the Western world, he’s actually been a major player in the Korean Kpop scene for years. His first album came out in 2001, and “Gangnam Style” is his 6th studio album. The Kpop world is similar to the Western world of pop only, from what I hear, more extreme. Groups here will train for years before they’re allowed to release their first single. They practice not only singing and dancing, but they often must learn English as well. Kpop songs frequently feature an English line or two, often in the chorus, and they sometimes even make sense. The groups almost never do any of their own song writing or choreography. So Psy is somewhat of an anomaly in that respect. He not only wrote “Gangnam Style,” but he choreographed the video and produced both the song and the video. He doesn’t fit the physical mold of the typical Kpop star, either. If that wasn’t enough, if you pay close attention to both the video and the song lyrics, you’ll find that there’s actually a mildly subversive message therein. That may not sound like much to you, but Koreans are hugely proud of both their culture and their way of life. It’s almost impossible to make it in this country while criticizing it’s people. Almost. Psy managed to hide his message in a seemingly vapid pop song where most folks are none the wiser. Here’s a really great article all about what Psy is really saying. It also has the video in case you’re the only person on the planet that hasn’t seen it yet.

So, that’s “Gangnam Style” in a nutshell. Here’s video of Psy teaching Britney Spears how to do the Gangnam dance, in case you’re looking for a laugh or haven’t yet mastered the choreography. This is my favorite “Gangnam Style” parody. This is a parody actually filmed in the town in which I live. And, in case you haven’t had your daily dose of cute, this is all of the kindergarteners at my school doing the “Gangnam Style” dance in their hanboks (traditional Korean outfits) at the Chuseok party.

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Chuseok

Chuseok is a 3-day holiday in Korea, often likened to America’s Thanksgiving. It is a rotating holiday, they make a lot of food and it coincides with the fall harvest. But that’s where the similarities end. Typical Chuseok festivities include: wearing a hanbok (traditional Korean clothing), bowing to their ancestors graves, bowing to their grandparents, getting money and making songpyeon (rice cake balls with a sweet filling). We had a party for the kinders the Friday before the holiday, and all of the little ones came to school dressed in their hanboks. So. Freaking. Cute. Seriously, people, look at the pictures. LOOK. They played traditional Korean games, made hanboks out of origami, made songpyeon and did a traditional Korean song and dance. And then we sang “Gangnam Style.” I feel like it added a whole new level of authenticity to the celebration. Or something. Ok, not really. But it was really cute watching them do the Gangnam dance. I was in the songpyeon making room, where my Korean coteacher informed me that the more beautiful your songpyeon, the more beautiful your daughters will be. Let’s just say I now hope to have sons. The kids’ songpyeon turned out pretty interesting, as you’ll see in the photos. Here’s a picture of what it’s actually supposed to look like.

Since we had a long weekend, Joe and I decided to head up to Suwon Friday night to visit Xander, a friend of mine from college. Suwon is about 30-45 minutes outside of Seoul and where I’m looking to go for my second year. After work, we booked it to the train station and made it to Suwon just in time to meet Xander and crew for a few drinks. The next day we got up and made our way to Hwaseong Fortress, which is basically an old, giant, cool-looking wall in Suwon. We wandered around the base for a bit, then followed the signs for the temple on the top of the hill. Which lead up to an iron fence where we were able to see the path to the top, but not actually access it. So back down we headed. Did I forget to mention that I’d been lugging around my carry-on this entire time? Cuz I had been. We finally figured out where we needed to go, but it seemed like too arduous of a trek for one encumbered with luggage. Also, we were really hungry and a little hungover. I decided to put it on my list for next year, and Joe decided he was willing to live the rest of his life without experiencing it because he’s not cool enough to be coming back next year. After lunch at a restaurant with a very menacing pig statue  in front, we reunited with Xander and crew to hang out at a pub for a bit and then we collectively made our way to Seoul. After Joe and I checked in to our hostel, we grabbed a bite to eat and then met some of Xander’s friends to celebrate a birthday. It was decided that we should try and hit as many clubs before 11 as possible because apparently there’s no cover charge before 11 and once you get the stamp you can get in all night.

I should preface this by saying that I am NOT a club kinda gal. I just feel like the music being so loud you can feel it on your insides canNOT be a good thing. Oh, no! Does that mean I’m old?! Am I a crotchety old lady complaining about kids these days listening to their music too loud? Oh, god. At least I have my cats… Ok, pity party over. Back to the matter at hand. The first club we went to wasn’t too bad. God knows it’d been a long time since I’d heard anything resembling hip hop outside of my own apartment. The second club we went to didn’t want to let me in because I was wearing sandals without a heel strap and they were concerned about me cutting my feet on broken glass. But the girl behind me with a tiny bit of leather going around her heel but otherwise just as much foot exposed as me was totally cool. Seems legit. Also, I would be way more concerned about the girls walking around in stripper heels. That’s just an accident waiting to happen. Eventually Xander came out and said that if I couldn’t come in, our entire group was leaving, so they caved. Apparently they weren’t that concerned about my feet, after all. As it turns out, this place was the reason the term “meat market” was invented. I felt dirty just being there. Fortunately we didn’t stay long, because diseases were definitely being spread that night and I didn’t want to stick around long enough to catch one. The next place we went didn’t let foreigners on the first floor where the party was at, but rather sent us to a basement type area where there were only a handful of other people. The rest of the night progressed in a similar fashion, going from club to club and going back and forth between feeling supremely underwhelmed and like I needed a tetanus shot.

We headed home much too late and, in turn, got up much too late the next day. Fortunately, being in Seoul, our options for food were greatly increased and I was able not only to indulge in one of my favorite hangover foods, but introduce it to Joe, as well – Taco Bell. It had been a year since I’d partaken of the sheer joy wrapped in a tortilla known as a crunchwrap supreme. The nacho-cheesiness touched my lips and I knew that all was right in the world. Joe was not as enthusiastic about his meal. It’s not his fault. He’s British. We spent the rest rest of the afternoon exploring the Hongdae area. We were amused by a person in a cat costume (the kind that team mascots wear, not the Halloween kind) laying on the sidewalk, occasionally handing out flyers. Further investigation revealed that they were handing out adverts for a nearby cat cafe. We were sold. Gimmick: 1 Innocent Passersby: 0. I was so excited at the prospect of holding a cat, I almost couldn’t contain myself. As it turns out, you’re only allowed to pet the cats, not hold them. And only if they are not sleeping (which most of them were). And they only wanted to come up to you if you had food for them. They were kind of assholes. I should have expected as much from a roomful of cats, but my prolonged absence from my own kitties has made me forgetful. The only friendly cat was one of those gross hairless cats, and I suspect that’s only because he’s so ugly nobody wants to pet him, making him the only cat there starved for attention. After the cat cafe, we again joined Xander et al. at a baseball game. It was my first Korean baseball game, and Joe’s first baseball game full stop. It was mostly just like any other baseball game. Except for the cheerleaders. Holding ramen. I can safely say I’ve never seen that at a ball game before. It was a pretty exciting game for a first game. A guy fouled the ball back into his own face and had to be taken away in an ambulance and the game went into extra innings. Joe wanted the real “American experience,” so he went to order us hot dogs. When he came back with only one, I looked at him, affronted, and asked. “Where’s mine.” He replied, “She only let me have one.” We shared the hot dog, but were still hungry. We decided that I should try this time. I walked to the counter and tried my luck ordering two hot dogs, and was happily handed  precisely that. When I returned, Joe looked at me agape and demanded, “Why did you get two?!” I decided that the lady looked at him and thought, “No American (He’s not American, but they assume all white people are American.), two is how you get fat.” Then she saw me coming and thought, “Please, take these hot dogs, just don’t eat our children!” Afterwards, we again headed out for dinner and drinks, and shuffled from place to place as every bar/restaurant seemed to be closed or about to close. There was one amazing moment, however, where Joe got locked in a bank. Yes, you read that correctly. The bank was closed, but the ATM area inside was open. Joe went in to take out some cash, but it wouldn’t let him. He attempted to come back outside, but the door was locked. Never have I ever seen anything so funny as the “oh shit” look on his face when he realized he couldn’t get out. He tried to use the phone inside to call for help, to no avail. Eventually, Xander decided to give the door a good shove, and I think it must have been scared of his brute strength because it opened right up. Once we all recovered from a bout of hysterical laughter, Xander and his  friends decided they wanted to try and find a bar playing the Niners game, which is no easy feat in South Korea at 1 a.m. on the Sunday of a holiday weekend. But we made it happen. So Joe also got to see his first football game that night. Or half of one. We bailed at halftime. It was ridiculously late (or early, depending on how you want to look at it), and neither one of us actually likes football.

Again, we stayed up much too late but did not have the luxury of being able to sleep in this time. We had to check out and get our day rolling. We had lots to do before heading home. We started by going to the largest market in Seoul to look for some souvenirs. Unfortunately, all the lockers in the subway station were full so I was stuck hauling my luggage again. Then, the specific places I wanted to pick up souvenirs at were closed for Chuseok. After an hour or so, I admitted defeat and we headed to Gangnam Station to take some “Gangnam Style” pics. Ever since I shared the idea with Joe, his eyes lit up at the mention of Gangnam. I, on the other hand, was torn between my desperate want to do this and the ensuing embarrassment of taking such a photo.  In the end, it was only mildly embarrassing and Joe can now die happy. Next, we made our way to the main shopping district to get Joe some clothes. Initially we had wanted to wander around for a bit, but we were so tired and bogged down with bags and baggage that we decided to call it a day and head home. We had a great time, even if the trip was not as fruitful as we had hoped. Looks like we’ll be making another stop in Seoul on our way out.

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Eat, Drink and Be Merry – Thai Style

I have decided to devote an entire post to the Thai cuisine because it was some of the best food I have ever had in my life. I also needed a way to justify the obscene amount of photos I took of food while there. Seriously guys, I have more food photos than beach photos.  As soon as we got settled in our hostel, we decided we needed some refueling. Having only just arrived, and not being very familiar with the area, we decided to stick close to the hostel. Literally, we could see the hostel from the patio of the restaurant. It was a small restaurant called Sala Bua, and there was only one other patron. I’d only had Thai food once or twice before, so the whole menu was pretty new to me. I opted for a traditional Thai dish. And by traditional, I mean I’d heard of it before. I ordered the shrimp pad thai, and it did not disappoint. It was like heaven in my mouth. I can’t remember what Joe ordered (I was too busy having a relationship with my meal to pay attention to him), but I know we both enjoyed our food so much that we intended to go back. Multiple times. Unfortunately, it was not to be. But we’ll always have the memories of our first Thai meal… For dinner on our first evening, we asked our very friendly hostel manager to recommend a seafood restaurant. She had her husband (also the hostel taxi driver) take us to a place in the middle of nowhere. Seriously, our driver got lost on more than one occasion, and at one point I was pretty sure we were headed somewhere the likes of which horror films are made. We eventually reached an open air restaurant located on a waterfront of some sort. It was really dark, so it’s pretty hard to say whether it was the ocean or just a really big pond. I like to pretend is was on the ocean, and it’s usually best to just go with it. Everything on the menu sounded delicious, and we finally narrowed it down to lobster and jumbo prawns. It was the kind of restaurant where you get to pick your food out from the tank. After much debate, we selected a worthy opponent and marked it for death. And it was…wait for it… A. May. Zing. We couldn’t believe how much tasty food we’d gotten so cheap. Then the bill came and we realized we’d made some pretty egregious calculation errors. Let’s just say neither one of us should be trusted to do math without adult supervision.
On day two, we met Joe’s parents at their hotel, the Andaman Seaview, and ate lunch there. I can’t remember the name of the dish I ordered, but I enjoyed it so much that in three days I tried all three versions of it. And all were delectable. All four of us liked the food there so much, that we ate there several times during our stay. I also had a cocktail in a dragon fruit. It was actually kind of weird, but it looked super awesome, so I felt pretty good about it on the whole. And it was the first of many cocktails inside of fruit to be consumed that week. That night we had dinner at the restaurant next door to our hostel. The food was good, but it was  probably the least memorable meal from our trip. Although I do recall that you could order “Amerigan Fried Rice,” whatever that might be…
Day three included lunch at the Andaman Seaview again, with the second variation of day two’s delightful dish. That evening, thanks to some skillful internet searching on the part of Joe’s dad, we enjoyed dinner at the After Beach Bar, a reggae themed restaurant on a hilltop overlooking Kata Beach. We arrived shortly before sunset and enjoyed a round of beverages (mine a Mai Tai in a pineapple) while taking in the sunset and waiting for our food. I ordered a shrimp dish of some fashion, which was kind of a trend for the duration of our trip. But really, how often can you get shrimp dishes that cheap? I had to take advantage of it. I did, however, object to Joe’s mom’s dinner that evening – a fish with the head still on. She claims it was delicious, but I just can’t eat anything that is still looking at me.

On day four we had lunch at – you guessed it! The Andaman Seaview. For dinner we headed up to the Kata Beach area once again, to a restaurant called Lucky Tom’s, which is apparently quite popular with tourists. It was a tiny place, and they had it packed to the gills. There were lots of interesting sounding dishes on the menu, but I went with a trusty shrimp dish. Joe and his dad were a little more adventurous. They ordered a curry that was served in a coconut and stir fried shark. I tried a little of each. I wasn’t a huge fan of the curry, but the shark was exquisite. I have never had meat that melted in my mouth like the shark did. I recommend going to Lucky Tom’s for this dish alone. Although everything we ordered that night was delicious. After dinner, Joe and I decided to check out a bar we’d passed earlier that day called Dino Bar. We’d been told that sometimes they have a small elephant wandering out front, and apparently we hadn’t had our fill of elephants yet.  We were in luck, and were able to pet and feed the little guy. Then we headed to the bar for a couple of drinks whose colors were so unnatural that it should have been off-putting, but really it made hanging out at a bar where the staff dressed like Fred Flintsone that much more fun. I thought it was a fun, kitschy little place and wanted to eat dinner there one night, but Joe informed me I was wrong and dinner there was not going to happen.  C’est la vie.

On day five we took the boat cruise from hell out to Phi Phi Island where we had the worst food of the entire trip, and probably some of the worst food I’ve ever had. All I can tell you about the boat cruises out to Phi Phi are – don’t do it! Totally not worth the time or money. That night, Joe and I had dinner at the Karon Hut. The food was amazing, but the service was awful! One table ordered, ate and left before anyone even came to talk to us! It took a good 30 minutes for us to even get drinks. Seriously. We almost walked out. Joe was ready to, but I really wanted my cocktail in a pineapple that I’d ordered. Fortunately, he’s pretty good at dealing with my irrational nature. All in all, the day was kind of a wash.

The last couple of days of our trip were a national Thai holiday – Buddha’s birthday. And apparently you aren’t allowed to purchase alcohol on those days. We had no idea, because we had no problem getting served on day five, until we tried to go to 7-11 and buy a couple of beers to take down to the beach. Apparently restaurants make concessions for foreigners since Buddha’s not our guy. But all of the bars were closed. So we ended up going back to our hostel, where the hostel managed gave us some beer that we had to keep concealed in case the cops came by. Since we couldn’t leave the hostel area, we ended up hanging out on the patio with some awesome tourists from Holland and taught them how to play redneck poker.

On our last day (still Buddha’s bday), we had lunch at Sofia Restaurant and Cafe where we tried our luck ordering beer. They served it to us, but they put it in little, dixie-style coffee cups and we had to hide the bottles under the table. Please, try not to be jealous of how classy we are. For food, we ordered some great curry, spring rolls and *gasp* another shrimp dish. Although we were very tempted to order the Swedish Breakfast, which apparently consists of “2 Aspirins served with a glass of water.” Sounds mouthwatering… For our last Thai meal, we headed to a restaurant that we’d passed by several times and kept saying, “We should stop here sometime.” So we finally did. The restaurant was called 2Gether (Anyone else having U+Me= Us (Calculus) flashbacks right now?) and owned by a really friendly Swedish guy. As it was low season, the restaurant was pretty slow, so he came out and joined our table for a bit. We had a lovely conversation and he recommended some great dishes. I decided to end it with the same dish I started with – shrimp pad thai. The owner sent out some complimentary spring rolls that were almost as delicious as the ones my Vietnamese neighbor used to make when I was a kid, and that’s a pretty big feat. Hers are the best spring rolls I’ve ever had. Somehow, the guys managed to have enough room for dessert. But neither of them ordered anything that was up my ally, so while they looked delicious, I have no idea whether they actually were or not. The whole trip was super amazing and went by way too quickly. I can’t wait to go back for a lot of reasons, but the food is one of the biggest. However, I’m a little concerned that authentic Thai food may have ruined me for American style Thai food. I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks when I head home…

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A Thai Holiday

Sorry, guys. This post is loooooong overdue. It’s either because I’ve had so many fun and exciting things going on while my time here comes to an end or because I’m supremely lazy. I’ll let you try and work that one out. Let me start off by saying that I will be devoting two posts to my trip to Thailand (no, you won’t have to wait two months for the follow-up). This post will be dedicated to all of the fantastically awesome things Joe and I did while in Thailand (spoiler alert – I pet a tiger!!!) and the follow up will be all about the delicious things I put in and around my mouth.  Our journey began, like any other good vacation, with an inordinate amount of travel. It took a 3 hour bus ride, a 1 hour subway ride, and two plane flights sandwiched around a 4-hour layover at 1 a.m. in Bangkok airport. I can’t tell you much about Bangkok, but I definitely do not recommend hanging out at their airport in the wee hours of the morning. Somehow we managed to make the 20-hour journey to Phuket on zero sleep, in one piece and without a single argument. Those of you that know me are aware of what a gigantic feat that is. Our taxi driver was waiting for us just outside the airport with a sign reading my name – just like in the movies – and I was pretty stoked to cross that off of my bucket list. Once we got back to our hostel (which only cost about $14/night and included a TV, fridge and private bathroom), we decided to forgo a nap and soldier on because we were in freaking THAILAND! Who’s got time to sleep when there are picturesque beaches to be seen and Thai massages to be had?!?! First order of business was food. As soon as we’d refueled, we thought we’d get our stay started off on a relaxing note with an hour-long Thai massage. That cost $16. And was the best massage I’ve ever had in my life. Then it was on to those fish tanks where you stick your feet in and they eat the dead skin off of your feet. It sounds really gross, but mostly it just tickles. A lot. I was only able to endure about 10 minutes, and I’m not sure how much softer my feet were, in the end. But for $1.50, it was worth the experience. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the beach and the area near the hostel. We ate dinner at an amazing seafood restaurant recommended by our ever-so-helpful hostel manager and then headed home to hit the hay.

On day two, Joe’s parent’s arrived. After a much needed lie-in and some lunch, we headed off to their hotel to meet them. Their hotel was just a little nicer than ours, and we ended up spending a bit of time there over the course of the week. They had amazing food, and a super amazing pool. You know, the kind with a bar built into the pool? I’d always wanted to have a drink at one of those. Bucket list check #2. This was my first time meeting his parents in person (although we’d previously had many lovely skype conversations). They were very kind and a lot of fun and reminded me of my own parents in many ways, which was nice because I REALLY miss my parents. They were tired from their journey, so Joe and I let them rest while we headed to the Phuket Aquarium. I don’t know how apparent this has become yet, but I will go to any aquarium. Any time, any place, anywhere. I’m there. This was hands-down the saddest little aquarium I’ve ever seen. Granted, half of it was under construction, but still… At least they had a turtle and a ray, so I left happy. And entry was only $3. Can’t really complain about that. Although I think I just did… Afterwards, we met up with Joe’s folks for dinner and then spent the evening on the beach enjoying a few drinks.
Day three was jam-packed with activities. We started out with my birthday present from Joe – an elephant ride. Bucket list check #3. It’s was super awesome/scary and our guide was hilarious. Except for when he directed the elephant so that I was within about 8 inches of the biggest, scariest, most evil spider I have ever seen. Not cool, tour guide. NOT COOL! I swear it was THIS BIG! (Which is about the equivalent of my hand, in case you were wondering.) Aside from that awful moment, it was an amazing experience with beautiful scenery. Joe was even brave enough to get off the seat and straddle the elephant’s neck. They asked me if I wanted to do the same, but I politely declined. I’d already used up my allotted bravery points for that day. By the way – Joe has officially thrown down the gauntlet on awesome birthday presents. But I’m really excited to see what y’all will do next year in an effort to top him. I have high expectations, people. High expectations.  If anyone needs any ideas, swimming with dolphins is still on my bucket list… But I digress. After my super mega epic birthday present, we headed to the Big Buddha which sits on a local hill top. And where women are not allowed to show their shoulders. I knew this, and had brought a light sweater to cover my slutty shoulders but someone who shall remain nameless (Joe), left it in the car. Fortunately they had large scarves that you can wrap around your shoulders in case you are unprepared, as many women were. We were all wandering around with the same patterned scarf, which started to feel like a scarlet letter marking our Western ignominy (thank you, Mr. Alves’  junior year English). They weren’t finished building it yet, so there wasn’t a lot to see. We wrapped it up there pretty quickly and made our way to Chalong Temple. It was stunning. The buildings were so intricately detailed and ornate. I took approximately 1 million pictures, which made it very difficult to narrow down for the blog. Also, we saw a rainbow that formed a complete circle and is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. After the temple, we headed back to the hotel for lunch and an afternoon lounging by the pool. After dinner that evening, Joe and I decided to check out the local bar scene. It was severely lacking in patronage, as we went during off season. But that was fine with us because it meant the bartenders were extremely attentive. They keep games at the bar, which I’m not sure if is more for their entertainment or the customer’s, but they offered us a selection and we settled upon Connect 4. We played 25 games and the final count was 22:3. Guess who won? Poor Joe. Everyone at the bar was rooting for him by the end. On his 3rd win, he decided to quit while he was ahead (sort of).
Day four was pretty low-key. It consisted mostly of shopping, eating and lounging poolside. That night I got a pedicure. For $10. But day five was a hell of a day. We decided to book a day trip out to Phi Phi (pronounced pee pee) Island, which is where they filmed the movie The Beach and everyone had assured us we needed to visit it. Joe and I “lucked out” with seats on the very back of the boat. Where we were very nearly thrown off and killed. By they time we arrived at our first destination, we were drenched. Towels and all. I will say that the bays at which we stopped were some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I didn’t even know they made water that color in real life. However, the beauty was overshadowed by the unpleasantness of the ride (which had only just begun) and the number of other boats impeding the view of the breathtaking scenery.  And this was during low season. I can’t even begin to imagine how crowded it must get during peak tourist season. We were able to get off the boat and snorkel at our first stop, but there was only one kind of fish to see and not a whole lot else going on. We then made out way to Monkey Island, where you get to throw food at monkeys that live on the island from the boat. Which at first seems kinda cool, but then seems a little sad. If people stopped coming there, would these monkeys even know how to fend for themselves anymore? After that, we launched into what I refer to as “the worst hour of my entire life.” And I saw the remake of Footloose, people. The water was so rough and choppy that it felt like a roller coaster and I had whiplash the next day (no joke). We got out at Phi Phi Island and only had about an hour to eat the buffet lunch that was included in the package (and was terrible) and to do a little souvenir shopping. The island was so crowded with people and souvenir stalls, that any potential beauty that may be there was lost on me. The silver lining was a gentlemen with a monkey in a diaper that would let you hold the monkey for a couple of bucks. Which I did. Bucket list check #4. The tour guides were unable to take us to our last destination because the water was too rough, so they took us to an alternate. It was a tiny beach covered in chairs that we had to pay $5  to sit in and where I used the most disgusting bathroom I have ever encountered in my life. The best part of the day was getting back to the hostel, taking a very long shower and changing into not soaking wet clothes. Needless to say, I do not recommend the day trip to Phi Phi Island. After dinner that evening, Joe and I headed to a Bar/Restaurant we’d walked by a few times and had heard sometimes had an elephant wandering around out front. We’d never seen said elephant, but decided to give it another go. Great success! The tiny elephant was out front and we got to feed it bananas. Bucket list check #5. Also, it was called Dino Bar and the staff dressed like Fred Flintstone and I thought it would be a fun place to have dinner but then Joe informed me it was tacky. So we only had drinks there.
Day six was also pretty jam-packed. Their was a lot of last minute souveniring to do, and I had been wanting to pet a tiger all week.  We went to the Phuket Zoo, which is where said tiger petting occurs. Phuket Zoo is one of the most depressing places I have ever been. I have never seen such unhappy, poorly cared for animals. Do not go there. Unless you need to pet a tiger. It’s hard to resist the eye of the tiger. Petting the tiger was AMAZING. It was everything I had not to yell, “KITTAY!” But I had no desire to be mauled, so I resisted the urge. Until later. I didn’t want to leave, but there was a line. So they made me. I also got to hold a couple of parrots while I was there, one of which played dead in my hands, so that was pretty cool. But on the whole, the place is terrible. After the zoo we stopped by the Phuket Butterfly and Insect Garden, which was super cool. They have feeding stations all over where you can watch butterflies. And if you sit really still, the butterflies will just come land on you. They had a really cool chrysalis display, which had the chrysalises of different kinds of butterflies. I had no idea how different they all looked! There was also a really cool black and white butterfly. Next we headed to Old Town Phuket because I was one a mission for fabric. I knew my mother and sister would disown me if I came home without any. And I wanted some for myself, so I made it happen. When we got back, we decided to squeeze in another Thai massage. Still amazing. And dirt cheap. We met Joe’s parents for one last Thai dinner before we had to go back and pack for our early flight out.
Overall, the trip was amazing. We picked a great place to stay. It was nice, cheap and the staff was amazing. I ate some of the best food I’ve ever had. I did amazing things with one of my favorite people and met some great new people. Oh, and I went to Thailand, which means bucket list check #6 and crossing off the number one thing on my bucket list. Epic vacation, y’all!

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One Year and Counting…

It’s finally here. The day I’ve been waiting for since this day last year. My one year anniversary in Korea. To mark the occasion, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and ruminations about the last year. So here goes… I am so very thankful for all of the amazing, new friends I’ve made this year from all over the world. They are such a big part of why my experience in Korea has been so wonderful. And if any of said friends are reading this, know that I WILL be taking you up on your offer to couch surf in whichever super awesome country you hail from that I totally want to visit. No takesies backsies! I have experienced so many new and wonderful things, and I feel like I’ve grown so much. I have stepped WAY farther out of my comfort zone than I thought I ever would, and have loved (almost) every minute of it. I have really enjoyed fully immersing myself in another culture. It has taught me so much about both myself and the world around me. My students are amazing and, as trite and cliche as it sounds, they have truly taught me way more than I could ever hope to teach them. Although I did teach them how to do thumb wars and to say, “You’re killing me, Smalls!” So I feel pretty good about that.
Knowing that if I had wanted to, I could actually be home with my family right this very moment is making the day just a little bit tougher. I really miss home and can’t wait to go back (48 days. But hey, who’s counting?), but know that the choice to stay until closer to the holidays is a good decision, financially. It is probably the first decent financial decision I have ever made in my life, and let me tell you – I don’t see it becoming a pattern. It’s no fun at all. Staying longer also means that I get to hang with my BFF a little longer and that I’ll have a travel companion on the way home, since Joe is going to come back to the states with me for a bit. So I’m trying to focus on the silver lining and not the fact that I would kill for some decent Mexican food in and around my mouth. And that I could be snuggling with my kitties RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE. They miss me. Terribly.

Enough of my whining (for now). Here is the highlights reel from my last year: going to Thailand, going to the Expo, eating live octopus, discovering one of my new top 5 favorite foods – dak galbi, volunteering at/for the orphanages, Mud Fest, playing Harry Potter with fireworks on the beach in Busan, my students, my mom’s visit and, of course, meeting my best friend. Korea year 2 just won’t be the same without my bestie with testes.