Before wiping out all day on the slopes
Well, I am sitting here at what will most likely be a frequent establishment for my visitations. With some Norah Jones playing in the background and the sites and sounds of Koreans enjoying a beautiful Wednesday afternoon, I decided to try and keep track of what's been going on in the past few days. Not sure exactly when my last entry was, so I am sure there are events that have happened that will not be documented and possibly not remembered for that matter. Last Saturday evening I went to the Jamsil station in Seoul
to meet up with Simon, a fellow couchsurfer from Suwon. We met on a rather chilly evening and kinda walked around, got lost and found our way back again.
my washing machine
Decided to sit down in the warmth of the station and sip on some soju while we waited for Narae, another couchsurfer, but also a local and beautiful Korean who was hooking us up with a cheap ticket to one of the best ski resorts in all of South Korea. We all chatted for a bit, but kept if brief because we were getting up and meeting before 6am for the 3hour bus trip to High1. Simon, a Canadian, and myself stayed at a "Jimjibong," which is a bathhouse/spa. These are typically hosts to the late night drunk who stayed out too late for the subway and just wants to sleep off the buzz till around 5 or 6 when the subway opens up again. So we hopped in the 45 degree Celsius pool of mineral water, chatted for a bit, grabbed a quick shower and then went into the sleeping room.
my drying machine
Basically it's a 12x12 (feet) cell with walls, ceiling and a floor. I used my jacket for a pillow...wasn't the best night sleep I've ever had. So finally 5:30 rolled around and I hopped in the freezing cold pool to wake myself up a bit, grabbed a shower some juice and was out the door. (Neat thing was the whole night cost about 8,000W, or about $5) After we went to the wrong bus stop (seems to happen a lot to me), Mark, our Irish friend called Narae and informed us that the bus had started and we better hurry the hell up. She spoke to the bus driver in Korean and said something to the cabbie, who proceeded to floor it! We barely made it, all of the other buses were pulling off and the driver was yelling at Narae, but we were in. We sat down payed our 40,000Won for the bus ride and the lift ticket and was on our way.
The whole bus was quiet, except for the sound of Koreans snoring and Narae and myself who decided to make the best of the 3hour trip and get to know each other a bit. She really is quite amazing, super cool friend I made along the way.
So we made it to High1, rented some gear and got on the mountain. Now this is the third time I've ever been snowboarding in my life and I was with a group that consisted of what I would call experts. They helped me with my carving a bit and I was able to hop on the intermediate slopes and handle myself fairly well. Mark, Narae and Simon on the other hand were kind and polite and were being very patient with my lack of speed. So I told them to go hit the real slopes and I will stick with the bunny slopes and try not to kill any children along the way (one thing.
..Koreans are not the best snowboarders, but man o' man, they sure do dress up for this event like it's some sort of fashion show or something, and I'll be damned if it is not uncomfortably crowded on the baby slopes). I quickly went back to the intermediate slopes where I had a little room to breath. I cannot count the number of times some dumb ass would run straight into me. One guy I just pushed, probably not the nicest thing I've ever done, but on the previous run a girl had slammed right into me and I grabbed her and took all of the fall with both of our weight...quite painful considering we were on an ice patch. Anyways, we had a great time. Had some warm steamy soup at lunch and went back out for some more shredding of the powder. Afterward, we got back on the bus and headed back.
This time, I slept the whole way back. Simon and I went to the Seoul area where I had been staying with Dee. The three of us went out for some grilled pork and beer. Yummy yummy, we grabbed my bags, said goodbye and thanks to Dee and headed down to Suwon. At this point, I was beginning to think I over packed, to which Simon concurred. I crashed with him on his floor that night, woke up and headed to Youngtong (my area of Suwon), went to my school, met the staff and the principal and saw my new desk. Afterward, the whole faculty (never really thought I'd be apart of that group) went out for a giant lunch of beef Galbi (galbi is where you grill it yourself on the table...funnest meal ever), the beef is is quite pricey so I haven't had it yet, but man, it was so good.
I keep eating these delicious meals and am fearful to eat something similar anywhere else for fear of disappointment. The meat kept coming and kept coming, then the soup, and all of the delicious side dishes that accompany every meal. Tons of fun...
After that, my teaching assistant informed me that my apartment was ready and I could move in. Yay!!! Finally, no more floors, no more love motels, no more bathhouses...my very own bed with a pillow, comfortable sheets, how could I handle this...am I ready for a bed? It's been so long, maybe I'll still sleep on the floor...haha - So we went to check it out. It's quaint, rather small. I've definitely seen bigger dorm rooms, but it's my new home and will be for quite some time. So like any good person I smiled and said thanks for the help.
So, a few quick disappointments. No bedsheets, no blanket, no pillow, no oven, smelly kitchen, tiny bathroom, thin walls with noisy neighbors, air force base is relatively close by, internet nonexistent by day and spotty at night, no cable, iron but no ironing board, can't figure out the heater, water takes ten minutes to warm up and I was told the A/C basically doesn't work (which isn't a problem yet, but I imagine I will not be impressed during the humid and hot summer)...other than that it's great. I've got a couch with pillows and the kitchen, equipped with a cold fridge, microwave, toaster, a gas stove, a washing machine and running water, has a sliding door to it to close off the funky smell. I've got adequate closet space to hold my clothes and suitcases and there is a small shelf for miscellaneous crap. It's maybe a 15 minutes walk to my school and then an additional ten minutes to the downtown area where you can find most everything.
So I think at this point, I am ready to take on 120 kids per day...as long as I get through the first day...