Annyounghasehyo from Korea! (That means HELLO)!!!
It has been awhile since my last real post and after the weekend I had, I have so much to blog about. 🙂 So get your popcorn ready because you are in for some good stories!
First I just want to send out some shout outs to the homeland …….. Happy Belated Birthday to my Quarter Century Old Sister Kara … sad to have missed the feast and birthday cake! – and my happy belated birthday to my beautiful mother (I won’t share your age mom haha) and grandmother (75th!). Also, Congratulations to Uncle Dave and Aunt Genny with their new addition, born April 5, my new cousin Leah 🙂 Can’t wait to meet her!
Where do I begin … last week I started my afternoon classes which is where I get to make up lesson materials and teach the class for the entire class. The first day didn’t go so well … at all … and I was pretty bummed out about it. They were lower level classes and it was my first couple classes, so needless to say, both parties weren’t totally ready for what was to come. They weren’t ready for my inability to speak Korean and I wasn’t ready for their lack of understanding of what I was saying. But after sleeping on it and some last minute adjustments to my lesson plans, the next day was a complete success and I have been on a roll ever since! The classes are really fun and it really gives me an opportunity to provide more one on one teaching and to learn more about my students as people. So we are having fun with it so far. I am constantly looking for new material and ideas so if any of you have anything you think would be a good idea, feel free to share 🙂
Last week I also got to experience something I don’t think a lot of foreigners will experience in their time here in Korea … I was “invited” to attend a funeral service for one of the school staff’s mothers who had passed away. Normally I don’t do well in these situations, but I kindly accepted the offer as I was curious to see the cultural differences that take place while paying respects to the deceased. I initially expected that I would just be a spectator but I was asked to join in on the service, so I kindly complied. The service itself is a very short, intimate experience in which you enter a room with a small group of people – there is a mantle in honor of the deceased, dressed with pictures and personal items … and you take a flower and place it on the box. Then there are a series of bows to the deceased and the family members – both standing and kneeling – and then you quietly and swiftly exit the room. From there we took a seat at a table and took part in some food and drinks … which was served by the extended family members of the deceased. It was a very short service … it is comparable to the visitation that we tend to have in Canadian culture … but it was interesting in to experience nonetheless.
Saturday was a day of firsts …. hahahaha … if you are conservative … stop reading in fear of being offended. Dad – don’t judge. Mom – you will be proud.
So Saturday some friends and I decided to head to the hot springs in Dongnae … we weren’t completely unsure as to what we were in for, but that’s sort of the expected in Korea. Luckily we did have a Korean friend with us and as we approached the building that housed the hot springs, he informed us it was a public bath house… aka nude time. After little hesitation it was unanimous that we would be going in. We all quickly introduced ourselves to each other as we were about to get closely acquainted.
Just for clarity sake and in fear of being removed from my father’s will – these bath houses are NOT co-ed. There are two separate areas for girls and boys … thank the Lord.
Anyway – we made our way in to the “spa” … it was completely and utterly awkward from the get-go but we dropped drawers and headed for the showers anyway. You aren’t allowed a towel or anything … and the small scrubbing towl they gave me, I kept getting yelled at by Korean woman to not hide. haha After the courtesy shower, we entered the bathing areas … it’s basically a huge room with all sorts of different tubs and pools – hot tubs, cold tubs, warm tubs, grape colored and scented tubs, salt water tubs, outdoor tubs, and saunas … all different tubs that you just bob to and from for as long as you wish. There are also some paid services that you can have done … full body massages and full body exfoliations, facials, etc … I opted for the full body exfoliation and am I glad I did! I could feel and see the skin being scraped off my body … it was so gross it felt great. My skin feels amazing and I was glowing! The girls and I enjoyed sipping on some freshly squeezed OJ and pomegranate juice as we bobbed from tub to tub. After a couple hours of awkwardness we decided to hit the showers and meet up with the boys who were already downstairs drinking beer and eating food waiting for us. hahaha It was a completely unreal experience – especially being a foreigner – but it was definitely something that needed to be done. The teachers are my school were so proud to hear that I went. haha They thought it was hilarious. hahaha I will likely go back just for another body scrub … and apparently there is a bigger, better and newer bathhouse not far from my place, so that will obviously need to be done as well. hahaha
After the bath house we went out for some Korean eats and then went to a soccer game. It was pretty fun! Nothing too unlike a soccer game at home – actually far less busy – but nothing really to write home about. EXCEPT for the fact that you can bring your own food and drinks in to the game … so we stopped off at a department store called Home plus and stocked up on snacks and drinks and then headed to the game. A mere 8000 won (less than 8 dollars CDN) got us a seat anywhere we wanted in the house. Unfortunately, after being drained from being in tubs and saunas all day, we were all pretty dehydrated so for most of us, headaches started setting in so we called it an early night. Which, I was very thankful for on Sunday morning!
Sunday was a very eventful day! I woke up early and made my way down to Haeundae beach to take part in the Moontan Road Cherry Blossom Festival. Moontan Road is one of my favorite places in Busan … it is this windy curvy road through the mountain that connects Haeundae Beach and Songjeong Beach …. and the Cherry Blossom Festival involved a 2 hour + hike along the road and through the paths in the mountain… it was abosolutely breath taking! (literally and figuratively). The sun was out in full force and the trek itself was pretty intense … and the sights I got to see where incredible. And part of the glory for me, was doing it on my own. Well, me and 3000 of my closest Korean friends 🙂 … but seriously, I was hiking the mountains – just me, my ipod, my camera and a couple twisted ankles and it was awesome. I would do it again in a heart beat. I was a little bit confused as to what I was supposed to do when I got to Songjeong beach … so I wandered around for awhile and then caught up with some other hikers and followed them around … luckily they knew where they were going, as we headed for the buses and bused it home. I stopped home for lunch and then headed back out to Haeundae beach to take in the sights and sounds. The beach was busier as it was a gorgeous day … so I roamed around for a bit and then headed for home. All in all it was a great day!
I have posted some pictures from the Cherry Blossom Festival – sorry, no photos from the public bath 🙂 hahaha … sickos. I also tried recording a video to include in here, but it doesn’t seem to want to work … so I will try to troubleshoot this problem and maybe in my next post you will have a video to watch!!!
I hope all is well at home. Miss and love you all ! xoxoxo