Archive | April, 2012

Easter Sunday in Daegu

10 Apr

With no advertising, no Easter Eggs and no regular church services, we very nearly missed Easter this year.

Baden and I have not attended church since Christmas day (and we are now in April) so we decided to scout out the options for English churches in Korea to celebrate the joy of God in our lives. Thanks to Facebook, we were able to locate a church in Daegu – only 1.5hours from Yeongju by bus.

Our tickets cost us 8000 won (R41) and when we reached the Daegu bus station, we had to catch a 30 minute subway to Igok station and then a taxi to the church. We had no Korean instructions though but Baden’s Korean pronouncation is so good that he was able to tell the taxi driver of a school nearby. We arrived 15 minutes late but fortunately the service hadn’t started and we were able to join other English speaking Christians in singing songs – it felt like so long since we worshipped that Baden and I belted out every song so loudly it sounded like the congregation was full (and actually there were only about 12 people).

Normally the church has small group discussions after church but this week was “potluck” (aka, bring and share) and although we had nothing to share, we were invited to join them at Cara and Peter’s house for lunch – yummy cooked ham, fried rice, chicken drumsticks, easter eggs and coke!

Slave to our bus times, we left soon after lunch and stopped by Home Plus to enter a car competition Baden saw advertised. Home Plus was so ridiculously busy that it reminded me of the exhausting nature of a city! – that feeling of always being tired! Unlike my experience of “placement envy” in Busan, I was so grateful for being in Yeongju – the quiet, the peace, the ease with which things move.

With only 30 minutes to get back for our bus, we ran between subway trains, screamed out of the station, illegally jumping barriers and crossing roads without pedestrian crossings (which is a cardinal sin in Korea!) and still missed our bus by about 2 minutes – as we arrived at the bus station, we saw the bus drive out of the terminal! This meant we were placed on the next bus 35 minutes later which turned out to be a luxury bus and now cost us 11 000 won (R77) – the seats were massive but the heater was so hot that I think our full 11 000 won went to pay for the heating device. I actually felt sick when I got off the bus at 6pm and we just sat for a few minutes on the side of the road trying to recover. But for the first time in months, it was warm in Yeongju, and sunny, and still. It felt like home.

Seoul Amusement Park

9 Apr

Friday6 April

When my school first invited me to attend the Seoul 1s Grade outing to the Lotte World Amusement Park, I decided to go purely because it was one tourist destination I could tick off my list. I didn’t realise that it would be an essential part of making friends with my staff and fitting into Korean culture.

Ju, an English speaking teacher at my school, offered to fetch me at 6.10am on Friday morning so we could catch the school bus at 6.30. She arrived at my apartment with homemade coffee for the road which I used primarily to keep me warm in the chilly hours of that morning. 3 hours later, we had arrived at Seoul Lotte World and outpoured 180 excited Korean girls dressed in tiny shorts with skin coloured stockings pretending that they weren’t freezing! Fashion is everywhere!!

Into the crowds they dissipated and Ju grabbed my arm and dragged me through the crowds. The teachers stuck together in the morning trying out some of the slower rides which I was grateful for. The day started with a slow train ride through the amusement park on the metrorail. After a short fruit snack, we ventured onto  a boat tube which sloshed through a river causing screeches from the female staff. It was then, at 10.30 in the morning, Korean style, that out came the soju whiskey and everyone was given shots in a dark corridor behind the ride. The funny thing is that it’s not hidden – in Korean culture, it’s perfectly normal to drink on a school outing.  A few teachers rode the pony ride which is usually a good setting for a horror film while the more adventurous (including me) braved the Viking – a big ship with rocked back and forth.

This signalled lunch time where they continued to drink 8 bottles of wine between 10 people in less than 2 hours. Not having much to contribute to the conversation, I ventured off alone to find more rides and visit the museum.  By this time, the park was so full that the waiting lines for the popular rides were so long that children were waiting for an hour. I did manage to find a few more quiet children’s rides and walked through the museum.

Upon returning to Yeongju, the staff announced that we were having a school staff dinner, where we went for grilled pork and more (many more) bottles of Soju. By this time, my fellow Korean teachers are so well oiled with alcohol that they are speaking English so confidently that I felt fully involved in the conversation (aided by a very fluent English teacher who played translater.) I think Korean’s have been taught to compliment in English because I was showered with compliments that evening. After “stage one” as they call it, we moved to a wine bar where they order more bottles of wine and more food (even though we’d been eating for the last 3 hours). Eventually everyone left their separate ways to catch taxis homes – no one had even driven to the restaurant because they knew they’d be too drunk to drive home.

It turned into a very fun evening getting to know the other teachers in my school.

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