Saturday 25 June 2011

Teacher's day

          Ok, so back on the 15th of May Korea celebrated a wonderful day called Teacher's Day!!! It was and still is the only day where I was thankful for having such a large class... more pressies for me! :) In the days before I eagerly wondered what presents would come my way and I wasn't disappointed in the end. I got a little of everything from body and face washes (by far the most common present), to cookies, vouchers, lipglosses, dinners etc.
          One of the dinners we went on was absolutely delicious. Two of my kids mother's took me and my co-teacher Sylvia to a traditional Korean restaurant. Now I have to say going there I wasn't exactly excited as I haven't developed a great love for Korean food but I was pleasantly surprised. From the moment we entered it was clear that it was a step above most restaurants I'd eaten in. All of the servers wore the traditional Korean Hanbok dress and the presentation of every dish was amazing. From the first appetizers (no idea what it was) I was happy with their choice of restaurant. The food never stopped coming either as soon as we'd finish one set of dishes more would appear all equally delicious that is until the fermented skate!! This "delicacy" was something I had already read about before coming to Korea on a list of  Korean foods to never eat...(which of course meant I was dying to try it), they weren't lying. My kids mother's and Sylvia my co-teacher looked on as I placed the fermented(a.k.a. rotting) fish in my mouth. At first I was like "what's so bad?" but then..... Oh God, the taste. I actually thought I was going to vomit on the table right there. My eager audience burst into laughter at my expression at this point and I can't blame them. Somehow and I don't know how I managed to swallow the foul-tasting dish (with a little gagging) and rinse my mouth with glasses of water. After I had swallowed it the Koreans then informed me that non of them would eat it either! So not an experience I would ever recommend but still one I am glad I tried.
           Oh and I almost forget to tell a funny story that when along with that restaurant adventure altough it had nothing to do with food. When the mother's arrived I was happy to see they brought along my 2 kids with them but Winnie was holding a paper cup in her hand. She ran over and informed me that she had a little frog in the cup. In an effort to show me the frog her captive cunningly hopped right out and found itself jumping freely within a restaurant. Now despite the fact that Winnie had been holding the cup she obviously hadn't been the one to catch the frog in the first place as she backed away and refused to re-capture it. Sylvia was equally unanxious to go near the little green creature so the job came to me. I can't imagine what the other diners were thinking as a western girl with blonde hair weaved her way through the tables in chase of a runaway frog. I cornered the little guy though and had him back in his cup soon enough, thankfully!
           But the most interesting (in a Korean way) presents that I got involved 2 sets of factor 50+ sunscreen and the cheery on top of the Korean's attempt to keep me my optimum white skin tone came in a Chanel gift box. When I opened the bag and saw a neatly wrapped Chanel bow staring at me I happily let myself imagine what could be hiding inside waiting for me to find. I carefully took off the shiny black ribbon and let the contents drop into my hand..... Chanel Whitening Lotion! Yes that's right factor 50+ sunscreen wasn't enough but I actually got a present to make my skin even whiter. I had to laugh. It just goes to show the differences between cultures. Here in Korea having a tan means that you are poor as generally the farmers have tans as they spend more time outdoors. So each lunchtime as the kids play I desperatly try to expose as much skin as I can (decently) in a fruitless attempt to tan while my Korean co-workers walk under umbrellas and shelter in any shade they can find. Each to their own I guess.

Thursday 9 June 2011


          Yet another memorable weekend passed in Korea.. this time at RocKorea Indie/Rock tribute band concert. Dee, Kyle, Vanessa, Michael, Nicole, Mark and I decided to spend last Saturday  partying until the early hours so we set off from English village in our summer clothes and 2 tents. After a very long and tiring journey (only at the other side of Seoul but a lot of transferring was required) we finally made it to the RocKorea site. After World DJ fest I am sorry to say I was very underwhelmed my the whole thing to begin with. The concert consisted of one small main stage surrounded by tents selling food and drinks. The whole concert was set on a construction site for an entire new city they are building from scratch (to be completed in 2016), which ensured plenty mud around and NO grass! We set about pitching our tent (which turned out to be HUGE.. it said it slept 6 people but in my estimation we could probably have fit closer to 10.)
         Anyway The Beatles tribute band began playing and I got in the spirit until Dee came back saying the only alcohol they sold was beer! As I don't like beer I was a little annoyed but decided that all I could do was smile. I finished my beer and went on one last attempt to locate something else and thankfully it worked. I secured a bottle of soju from a guy with a black plastic bag in the back of his food tent! Much happier now and with the music still going strong we danced and laughed and sat on rugs in front of the stage. We heard them all from AC/DC to The Rolling Stones and Led Zepplin.
          The final bad point though, entirely our fault, was the cold. Dee and I hadn't packed the warmest of clothes when we left in the midday heat but by 4am that night curled up in our tent with one very light and small blanket it proved to be a decision we regretted. The morning heat eventually arrived though and we thawed our bones out again.. before the long trek home.

         I'll have to admit that despite it's poor first impression RocKorea actually turned out to be surprisingly good.