I need to apologize to the internet for not providing ya’ll with more frequent blog posts. I know that you need your virtual fix of molly (heh heh) because you can’t have the real thing, but I’ve been busy, man! I’m sorry ok??! Whaddaya want from me?!! *insert dramatic rom-com apology scene here….in the rain, emotions high, desperation ensues* But really, I’ve been spending 75% of my time with children, 20% of my planning to be with them, and 5% of my time hiking up mountains to be as far away from them as possible. JUST …kidding? …. lol. Everyone needs a break, don’t judge me! Also this month was pretty stressful because I had to make a lot of tests, make videos for my kindergarten classes to post online for the moms, and now my kindergarten and elementary report cards are due next week- so I’ve been taking a lot of my work home. I think things will get easier once I get my bearings though. I feel like a womb-fresh newborn baby whose been thrust- quite literally lol- into a new world and then thrown into water to see if I can swim. Because newborn babies actually do know how to swim if you put them into water. Science! Try this at home and see if it works! Everything will be fine. It’s science I think.
I have been making friends, and I’ve been taking advantage of my time off on the weekends. I’m so happy I learned about meet-up before I got here because it’s a wonderful way to meet people with a common interest. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a website where anyone can make a group- let’s say you’re super all about yoga and you want to do yoga with new people. Great. But HOW you ask! Just make a meet up group and post your yoga events and people can join your group and do yoga with you! I feel like an informercial: “Have you ever been by yourself in a new city? Do all your friends live on the other side of the world? *que scene of a sad person walking alone.* Well wait no longer! *big red X appears on the screen and the person is suddenly happy!* Try meet up today! Buy one get one free! But wait, there’s more!” lol. Every city has a million different meet up groups devoted to everything from art aficionados to bungee jumping and everything in between- and it’s completely free to join. It’s great because before I came here I made a promise to myself that I would hike at least once a week. So far I’ve kept to that goal- but we’ll see how long things stay this way. I got a little carried away with this particular item on my bucket list. Next Friday I will be doing a 10 hour hike, so I might die. Stay tuned, and see what happens next week! Korea is very mountainous, but especially the way Seoul is positioned makes hiking very accessible via public transportation. If you look at an ariel or topographical map, mountains literally cut through the city. Which makes sense, because when the city was mapped out in ancient times the mountains served as a way to protect the city from invasion. I just think that’s neat and all those mountains are just begging to be walked on!
I’ve gone on some pretty cool trips and met some pretty cool people on these hiking trips. One of the most interesting people I’ve met is a 60-something man whose in impeccable shape, who hikes barefoot and makes his own prune-based alcohol- which is amazing. The people I’ve met and the things I’ve seen so far have been beautiful, and I’m so appreciative of the opportunity I’ve been given to live out my wildest dream. For the first time I feel alive. Yes, I’m a little overwhelmed from being in a new city, not knowing a single seoul, and can’t even talk to locals on top of starting a new job. But I love the adventure and I’m drunk on life. I think back to where I was just a few short weeks ago and everything that was stressing me out seems so small and trivial. “It’s funny how some distance, makes everything seem small! And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all!!” Such wise words from such a cold hearted person. PUN! heh heh heh. I spent so much time worrying about a job that doesn’t matter. I let horrible bosses dictate my mood outside of work, for a job that I hated because I knew it didn’t matter. I was working in the warehouse of a jewelry store and also working in a restaurant. I was doubting myself and my capabilities. I was really negative and stressed out and eating horribly and living a very unhealthy lifestyle in general. I felt stuck. I was afraid to look for a better job because I was tight on money. As a result I wasn’t going out with my friends or doing anything other than working because I couldn’t afford it. I wish I could go back and tell myself “this doesn’t matter. You’re capable of so much more, you just have to take a chance on yourself.” I’m so glad I finally did, because it’s the most empowering feeling that I’ve ever had in my life. I actually love my life now and I never want to go back to where I was. People are so afraid of things they don’t know. They will walk their whole young lives out, thinking of the things they want out of life, but it all just seems so far away and unattainable. “I don’t have the money. I already have so much debt because of loans. What if I’m not good at it? What if I fail?” etc. It isn’t ever realized that they’ve been walking on a treadmill holding binoculars over their eyes- until it’s too late to do something. You’re too old now and tired of walking. Then reality sinks in. They stop, look around and realize that all the while they had the ability to get off that treadmill- which they never even realized was there in the first place- and the only reason those things seemed so far away is because they believed in what the binoculars were showing them, without ever trying to take them off. I never want to be that person again.
So far I’ve hiked every week, and still managed to get down to Jeonju for an international film festival. This makes me seem so cultured but don’t be fooled- I only went there for the food. #realtalk. You laugh, but it’s true. #hatemecuzyouaintme. I went there to learn how to make bibimbop- food of the gods. Jeonju is where the dish was invented, so where better to learn how to make it than from whence it came?! It’s made with rice, steamed vegetables, an egg, and some magical red pepper paste- of which the name escapes me.
I love that Korea is #allaboutthemsides #boutthemsides #nomains because they’re all fo’ FREE and amazing. You always get kimchi (usually fermented cabbage, but there are other kinds- sounds nasty but it’s shaaaa gewd) usually a bean sprout soup and some other fermented vegetable.
This was my first trip outside of Seoul, and it took about 6 hours to get there. Ugh. It was a holiday weekend and apparently all of Seoul moved to the country for 72+hours. So we got off the bus and put our stuff in a pension (a barren as fuq room where you sleep on a yoga mat on the floor). Henceforth shall commence all the noms! First was some BBQ. Then this lil’ guy whose still making my mouth water:
It’s a freshly made fish shaped waffle stuffed with some sort of magic custard (all condiments here are magical. Deal.), a lemon sorbet sort of frozen delight, drizzled with *real* (American tasting) chocolate, and assorted chocolate covered fruit on a stick. Then, we at least attempted to see a movie but they were all sold out. So I got a corn dog. Which was monumental because my vegan lifestyle wasn’t conducive toward breaded hot dogs on sticks. It was ok, but I don’t think it’s worth all the hype you carnivorous people talk. About an hour later we boarded a bus for 30 minutes to go a music concert. We got off and realized that we had just driven around the perimeter of festival to the other side of the square, when we could have walked there in 10 minutes. This fact was hilarious on its own, but we later discovered that the concert was canceled. So we got dinner and got tipsy on makgeoli (mahk-oh-lee) which is a Korean rice wine. It’s very sweet, and is a little gaseous…kind of like soda but not to that extent.
It’s great because it tastes sha gewd, costs about a dollar at your local convenience store, comes in a variety of flavors from mango to prune, and is packed with probiotics- so it’s good for you! The weird thing about dinner sides here, is sometimes you get fish. Which is normal, but it’s fried. Along with the head, tail, eyes, all the bones and some sand from its last swim still in tact. RIP. I found Nemo, kids! After the food watched and silently judged me- probably condemning my already damned soul, we went to a bar where my famous dance moves made their first international appearance! I can hear your cheers all the way from America! Meanwhile, apparently someone in the pension had turned the floor on, so after I tore the bar UP I was forced to sleep on a 70 degree (F) floor…I don’t know it in Celsius, sarry!
The next morning I had a PB&J sammie for breakfast- it was sadder than the fish but it couldn’t stare into my soul so at least there was that. Then I got a honey vanilla macchiato from starbucks- I’m telling you this place is spoiling me with amazing coffee! Then it rained. Imagine being soaked, while fighting your way through an overly crowded area. With a bunch of Koreans who don’t know anything about personal space, or how to walk properly. I think they should all have break lights on their backs because walking behind someone who frequently stops in the middle of foot traffic is something I’ll never get used to. Another thing that has been apparent since I stepped off the plane, was how obsessed this country is with appearances. Women on the train fresh from plastic surgeries on the reg. The weirdest one by far, is that a lot of women get the eyelid surgery to make their eyes appear bigger which isn’t isn’t the weird part! It’s when they wear contacts to make their iris look bigger and they wind up looking like a real life bratz doll. You know they aren’t supposed to look that way, and you can’t help but look! *I digress*.
Oh and before I got on the bus I got one of these:
It’s a waffle stick covered with ice cream chocolate sauce and a fruit syrup. Yes, I ate horribly last weekend. Judge me Judy!! Take me away bailiff! But all I’ve been eating lately is tuna Kimbop- sushi’s little brother. It’s a roll of rice and seaweed paper like sushi but is yummy in a different way. So because I ate horribly last weekend but have been hiking a lot, and eating better since, it’s okay…. Just let me have this!!
After 2 hours of walking in the rain, and feeling like fried death all morning, we went to the restaurant to learn how to make bibimbop. But the universe thinks my life is hilarious and we wound up at the wrong restaurant. Turns out the right restaurant was right behind the one we ate in. Go figure. So then I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around in the rain a little more. Which was…unpleasant. I did end up sitting in a wheel barrel to get my soul cleansed, which was a really, really good thing to do because then I found myself at the oldest church in Korea. On a Sunday. I was at church on a Sunday. I think the last time that happened Bush Jr. was president! They didn’t let me inside though, I could only look in from the outside steps. I think the purification I went through got me that far but not far enough to actually go in. Had I not sat in the purifying wheelbarrow I probably would have been smited right there and then on those steps lol.
The wheelbarrow was inside of this temple for whom I have no idea it belonged. I didn’t stay there long either because I thought it would provide refuge from the rain. It was an outdoor temple. I don’t know much about the temple, or even the proper etiquette when at one. But I do know that when there’s a sign that says “road of God” and big red no entrance symbol, God does not want you walking on that road! At least these Ajummas will be joining me for a beer in the eternal pit of fire in the afterlife.
For those who don’t know what an Ajumma is (“Ad-ju-ma” N)- it’s a term for a bossy, no fuqs givin’ Korean woman over 50. She is neither a young woman, nor a grandmother. She is very pushy, always sporting a fresh perm, a visor, an umbrella (rain or shine) and a permanent scowl. She has a wardrobe consisting primarily of perfectly matching colored hiking gear, and ajumma pants. See below for cross reference. On the left you see the fancier clad ajummas and to the right you see the casual ajumma style.
Notice that both pictures are captured outside- they’re always enjoying their natural habitat and always prepared. The ajumma is a rare breed, but a lovable one at that. I have always wanted to be like the ajumma without even knowing there was a name for it. She’s spunky, direct, sports a comfortable-casual fashion and ran out of fuqs 40 years ago.
Over all it has been a great trip so far, and I’m excited/nervous for my hike/crawl up the mountain at dawn next week! That’s if report cards don’t kill me first!