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Dear Korea (by Baden)

27 Feb

Dear Korea

Thank you so much for having us. Cath and I really enjoyed our stay.

Even though I was never 100% sure of what you were saying to me, showing me or asking of me, I felt very welcome here. You made an effort in making sure I was alright, and didn’t feel home sick. Thank you.

I have had so many wonderful experiences, challenges and explorations during my year here. There are three particular things I want to thank you for. First, as a kid in school, my teachers would sometimes asked me; “If you had a million bucks, what would you do?” Such a question seemed unfathomable. But you made this possible for me, thank you. Over this year I was not only a millionaire, but a multi millionaire. Second, Thanks for seasons. You really do have “four distinct seasons.” The beautiful cherry blossoms of spring, the scorching humidity, high temperatures and greenery of summer, the vibrant, reds, yellows, oranges, and brown colours of autumn and the white snow capped mountains, frozen rivers and minus temperatures of winter. It was such an honour to experience the earth’s seasons as they are taught in nursery school. And third, a taste of home only uniquely Korean; your delicious  braai (barbecue) style restaurants serving samgyup sal, sitting over a meat grill surrounded by an array of side dishes, Yum!

I will always remember you. Thank you for your hospitality and provision over the past year. My wife and I are eternally grateful. God bless you in all your future endeavours.

Yours truly

Baden Dowie (South African English teacher at Yeongju Jeil High School)

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Where is the bathroom?

7 Dec

by Baden

Surviving Korea

How to say “Where is the bathroom?” in Korean:

Hwa Jang shil Ee Aw Di Ae Yo 화장실이어디에요

 

The South African squatter versus the Asian Squatter

 When I was asked if I knew about the “squatter”, coming from South Africa, I said ‘yes!’:

“Squatting is the occupying of an abandoned or unoccupied area of land and taking residence there, and it’s said that there are one billion squatters globally, about one in every seven people on the planet.”

Then I was corrected, no, the squat Toilet. We were soon introduced.

Now the squat toilet is a toilet used by squatting, rather than sitting. There are several types of squat toilets, but they all consist essentially of a hole in the ground. Other countries that practice this fine art include Arabia, France, China, Japan, Korea, Iran, India, Pakistan, and Turkey. In some of these counties it is known as the Natural-Position toilet and claims to have health benefits.

Feeling right at home

 You know you are accustomed to a place when, 9 months after living in a foreign country, you notice that the place where you’ve been working for the last 9 months actually has a restroom with a western style toilet. And with this new found knowledge and the western style toilet freely available, you still choose the Asian squatter.

 

Things to remember while engaging a squatter:

 

  • Always keep tissues available: loo paper is not always provided.
  • It’s ok to use the wall for support, until you find your feet.
  • Wearing shoes with a slight heal helps.
  • The bin in the cubicle is for the loo paper: flushing it down is not allowed.
  • When traveling to western countries and feeling a little confused, don’t feel strange asking: “What should I do with the loo paper?”
  • Try imagine you at the top of Cathedral peak admiring the beauty of God’s Creation.
  • Make sure you don’t have loose change in your pocket.
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The Dowies in Asia

2 travellers and a baby