2nd Email Update

Jeju Travel Blog

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Herbs at a local market.
Hey kids. Update from the Far East.

Had to miss work yesterday. I spent the entire day in the throws of one of the worst fevers I have ever had. My fever was so high that my skin was pink. I laid on my bed all day lost in delerium dreams convinced that I had scarlet fever and my brain was slowly cooking and I would wake up and be suddenly blind--just like Mary Ingalls. Either that, or I had Japanese Encephalitis, the one thing that I was told I should get a shot for before I came. Just when I felt like my bed was about to burst into flames, my fever broke and I laid there shivering in my bed with sweat beads running off my body, crying for my mommy. My fever had to have hit 103-4.

This morning, I still felt a little feverish, I couldn't hear anything or swallow and I felt like someone threw me under a truck. Hans, my boss, took me to a doctor today. Very surreal. After much poking and prodding and stilted English and hand signals, I was diagnosed with "acute tonsilitis" and given a prescription and sent out to see the nurse, who promptly dragged me into a nearby closet saying, "Injection, Injection." I looked at Hans horrified and he tried to reassure me--"They give injections for everything here" He tried to follow me but she shut the door on him. She told me to lie down and then she yanked my pants down and started smacking my ass. Yes folks, she slapped my ass while she gave me a shot. Then she bolted out the door leaving me there to think, "What the fuck." Possibly one of the weirdest moments of my life. In the elevator, Hans and I lauged so hard I thought my tonsils would explode. Am now on a daily med regimen that includes no less than 5 separate pills and a liquid gargle three times a day. Whatever was in that shot--opiates I am sure--made me feel very good for the rest of the day.

Everyone keeps emailing and asking about the DMZ. "Are they shooting at ya?" Thing is, we never here anything about North Korea here.  I never see anything in the news. Mel Gibson, however, did make front page news here with his drunken anti-Semitic tirade. Only the stuff that matters--see.

Am settling in to life here despite being deathly ill and I know that going home is going to be very hard for me. I am becoming attached to the kids, even if they are dirty disease-ridden brats.

Last weekend some colleagues and I hit a norebong--singing room--and had a blast singing away and getting drunk on soju--Korean vodka--until 3am when they kicked us out. Sat day I decided to go the beach by myself. When I got there, I looked around and realized a)Korean women do not wear bikinis and b) Korean people do not lay out in the sun. White skin is highly valued here and so people are literally in the water in long sleeves, pant and sun hats. Or they sit on the beach under umbrellas and sun shades. I realized that I was really going to be a freak show if I laid out, but figured whatever .I laid in the sun trying to ignore the stares and whispers "Megook! Megook" (Foreigner, Foreigner) One man came right up to me, " Ahhh, someone-a is-a suntan-a" Yeah.

Sat night we went to the expat bar--Blue Agave and when I walked in I realized that I really miss the smell of western men. Not that Koreans smell bad, but that yummy fresh-washed cologne and deoderant smell of a western man--ahhh. The bar was filled with western teachers--Canadian, American, British, Irish, Australian, Kiwi--kids must be getting some seriously conflicting English lessons here. Within minutes, we had a crowd around us--"Ah, you're new! How long have you been here? Where are you from? Where are you working? How long are you staying?" The night was awesome. Met some very cool people, including one Canadian guy, Jamie, who has been on Jeju for nine years teaching, is fluent in Korean and knows the island like the back of his hand. Naturally, he is my new best friend. That night ended with several cab-loads of drunken English teachers at the beach. We stripped off our clothes and ran naked into the ocean at 4am. I floated there in my nothingness surrounded by naked beautiful strangers in the hot Korean night and thought, "Goddamn, I love my life." Watched the sun come up over the mountain and finally called the night done.

The food is another thing everyone keep asking me about. Korean food is not especially palatable if you ask me. I am finding a few things--the purple rice is good, but honestly I subsist mainly on cereal, hard boiled eggs, croissants and fruit. There is a restaurant around the corner from my place that serves exclusively horse meat, but I haven't ventured in there yet. And yes, there are places that serve dog, but from what I understand, the dogs that are served as food are raised like veal--it's not like someone just got tired of Fido and decided to throw him in the cooker that night. But again--have not ventured there yet.

On Tuesday, my students finally gave me my Korean name--Go Seong Hi. Go is my surname and Seong Hi is my first name. I love it. They don't call me that though. They call me "Jen-teacher." But it sounds like JEN-TEACHAAAAAAH! Someone asked me how I can teach English to kids when I don't speak Korean--you would be surprised at how much you can communicate with someone even if you don't speak the same language. I act things out a lot, draw on the board and soemtimes I even sing. It works.

I have one channel at home that is in English--SeriesTV--pronounced Sid-ee-jus TV, and it only shows 80s reruns. Highway to Heaven, A-Team, Murder She Wrote, Knight Rider, Dallas--I am developing a serious crush on Steve Austin from The Six Million Dollar Man. By the way, you know what makes him bionic, don't you? Slow motion.

Okay, well, that is enough out of me for now. Sums up my life here at the moment. I am tempted to move here for a long period of time since there is a ton of money to be made here but Sarah would kick my ass. When she is done with high school I might consider it. In the meantime, I am trying to enjoy every last second, fever-ridden or not.

 Kay, I'm out.

Peace all,

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Herbs at a local market.
Herbs at a local market.
740 km (460 miles) traveled
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photo by: yasuyo