Saturday, April 11, 2009

Episode 37: In Which DFM Receives A "Gift" And Gets One Glove

While I had been visiting Suwon last week, James mentioned that he wanted to come to Seoul and do some indoor rock climbing with me.

We met at 11 AM and had some lunch.  We went to a small little "hole in the wall" restaurant and looked at the large menu up high on the wall.  James had turned his chair a bit to see the menu, and this caused his chair to sneak into the aisle a bit.  A man came up and started yelling at him to move his chair out of the aisle.  At first I thought it was all a bit odd, but then I saw he was wearing pajama pants with hiking boots and I realized he was just one of many old, crazy drunk men around Seoul.  The other people in the restaurant were quietly laughing at the whole scene and I could tell they were looking to see how we would respond.  I figured this sort of thing happens all the time with that guy.

Speaking of crazy old guys in Korea, the other day I was on a train and this man came on with a pair of flashy Mizuno running shoes, a bright red Adidas track suit, a US Army canteen on his hip,  and a bright orange baton like you'd see someone at an airport use to guide in planes.  He looked very serious and I thought, "this guy is probably going to start telling everyone to repent of their sins."  As if on cue he starts marching back and forth yelling like a drill sergeant (a drill sergeant with a red track suit on though).  When he left, people on the train were laughing, but then they looked at me, the foreign guy, and started laughing even more.  One man told me that he was a Christian, but I wasn't surprised.  Some of the Christians in Korea take their Bible thumping really seriously.

After lunch, we still had 2 hours until the climbing gym opened up, so James and I went on a trek to find some workout parks.  Along the way James gave me a "gift."  It was a can of silkworm larvae, which are apparently very high in protein.  One can has 40% of your daily protein requirements.

We were in the middle of the city, so we couldn't find a park per se, but we did find an apartment complex that we snuck into.  In the back there was this playground for the local kids, but we used it to do some muscle-ups on the monkey bars, and we also worked on various ways to fly back and forth between the two outside rails.

After an hour at the first apartment complex we walked around and found another place.  This one was more of a public park for children.  We used the chin-up bars to attempt a new stunt of standing on the bar, because they were a little too low for doing muscle-ups.

Finally it was time to go climbing, but I'd be lying if I said we weren't both a bit tired and sore from our workout.  We had the gym pretty much to ourselves, and Ji-Hyeun came over and climbed some hard routes to show us just how much better she was than James and I.  No, that's unfair, I actually called her over to get some "beta" for a route I was trying to climb.


I had to go meet my boss, Mr. Kim, for a meeting of all his teachers at 5:30.  I was a bit early, so I stopped to watch these buskers playing in a subway station.  Unlike Canadian buskers, Korean buskers are invited by the city to play in the subway station to increase the cultural benefit of all its travelers.  There is a show every Friday.

The two musicians were really good, but some of the translations were a bit off, because I haven't heard of Bob Dylan's "Knock Heaven's Door" or Johnny Cash's "Rinj of Fire."  However, when one person wasn't playing the other was out in the crowd offering some of his food to me and engaging me in pleasant conversation.  As a tribute, they introduced me to the crowd as being from Canada and one of them played Neil Young's "Heart of Gold."

The "Rinj of Fire" incident reminded me of when I was shopping a few days ago and heard a tune I recognized.  It was unmistakably a Beatles' tune, but the words were in Korean.  Then, the next song on the radio was a Korean version of Biz Markie's classic(?) "Just A Friend."  Only in Korea?

My meeting with my boss was to introduce me to the other teachers he had working at his other schools, and also to go over the lesson plans for the next two weeks.  Most of the instructions/lessons I heard sounded far too difficult for my students to follow, but up until now no one has told me that I need to improve, so I figure that my school is a bit of an anomaly and that I should just continue to do my best.  Oddly enough since there's so many of them here, I've learned that English teachers are quite scarce compared to their demand, so I'm not too worried about being fired either.

After the meeting we were all taken out for food and drink by our boss (there he is in the front row with his fingers in the air).  If you look around you might also recognize Lee, who is now in charge of finding English teachers (that explains how I got the job), and also Thom (not a typo), at the top of the table with the blue T-shirt (Lee's friend from when I got taken out clubbing).

When the pork ribs were brought out, everyone was given a blue glove.  They are essentially those little knit stretchy gloves that we use in Canada for keeping our hands warm, but here in Korea they use them for preparing, and in this case eating food.

I was a bit miffed when my new repair job chipped whilst eating the pork.  I've felt some small chips on the edges recently and today a strip off the bottom came off.  It actually just brings the new tooth into line with the tooth beside it, which is nice, but it does not fill me with a lot of confidence in Korean dentistry.

My disappointment, combined with the fact it was getting late and I needed to wake up early the next morning, gave me the impetus to leave.  But at least now I have a copy of the class materials I'll be using so that I can prepare for my lessons a bit more.

At first I was glad to not have any cock roaches in my new gosiwon, but I guess the management just traded them for large spiders.

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