Sunday, May 2, 2010

An Empty Apartment

Well it’s been awhile. It feels like the last week has just been nonstop both for work and play. Last week I had far less classes than usual because the entire 5th grade was gone on a trip for three days. So I lost half of my class load. At first it I was fairly excited, it seemed like it would be a little break for me and give me time to tie up some lose ends and polish up some of my lessons. But I soon discovered that I had a lot more work to do than I thought. I teach two advanced classes after school and I was told last week that they wanted me to turn in all my lesson plans to the school. I thought that meant they wanted the lesson plans I had already done and the coming week but I was soon told that not only did they want those plans but they wanted all my lesson plans from now until August. “What? Really?” I said. I had been planning week by week based on how the kids were progressing and any new ideas I had. But this meant figuring out about 14 new lessons for each class. Needless to say that turned my miniature break into long days of non-stop lesson planning and by Friday I was ready for my weekend.

Friday night I went out with my friends Tony, Chelsea and Shenae to see Iron Man 2. Afterwards we just went to a bar and hung out for a while. It was a very relaxing night. Saturday I went down to a large shopping area in Seoul called Namdaemun with Andrea, Ashlea and Jenny, friends from the conference. Namdaemun is a large outdoor market. So you walk up and down streets that are just packed with different carts and stands filled with various items, mostly clothes. It did not take long for me to realize I was not going to find much for myself. Almost all the clothing was for women and not only that it seemed like it was for older women. The girls I was with confirmed this as they were not too impressed with the selection. A few scarves were purchased and a light weight hoodie but that was all.

Now it had been decided that Mexican food was desired and again it was not my idea I just immediately affirmed and supported the idea. Jenny then mentioned a restaurant called Dos Tacos. I got excited for that was the restaurant that Chelsea had told me about and that we were originally going to go to on that day we ended up at the baseball game. I remembered what train exit we needed to be at but after that I could not remember the directions. I had previously looked up where this restaurant was after the day I did not get to go there, with the intention of checking it out myself. But I had no idea that we were going to end up going to Dos Tacos so I did not bring along my direction for getting there. We just wandered around and finally got pointed in the right direction and found it. As we came in the first thing I notice was they had the soda machine in the main dinner area allowing for customers to get their own refills, my heart swelled with excitement and anticipation. We all ordered our food and of course I got a chicken burrito. When it came it looked good enough. It was rolled in such a way that one end (the one you should start with) was open. So it looked kind of like a large soft taco with one end tucked in. I did not hesitate but just went for it and it only took a few bites to realize this was the place to be. Everything went together perfectly, this was Mexican food. The meal was filled with good conversation, multiple cokes and real Mexican food. Really what else could one ask for?

As night approached there was a desire to continue hanging out and it did not take long to decide that we were going to the movies. And the movie everyone wanted to see was…yes Iron Man 2. When they found out I had seen it they talked about other movies we could all see and I said not to worry about it. I would go see it a second time for the second night in row. It was a fun movie and more importantly it is just fun to hang out and watch any movie with your friends. It’s a shared experience whether the movie is amazing or horrendous. Everyone had fun at the movie. I think I like the first one better but still liked this one. We then met some of Jenny’s other friends at a bar and just hung out for the rest of the night. We were out so long that I missed the last bus back to my side of town. So I ended up taking a taxi by myself for the first time. I got in and showed the driver my ARC (Alien Registration Card), which has my address on it and he punched it into his GPS and off we went. It cost about 5 dollars as opposed to one for the bus ride but I did get door to door service with the cab so overall no complaints.

Sunday I got up and was trying to decide if I was going to stay at home or go out exploring on my own. Part of me wanted to go back to Dos Tacos but I also wanted to go to Itaewon. Itaewon is the part of town with a lot of foreigners. It is where I went with Tony to watch hockey. The main reason I wanted to go there was because I had heard about a book store there of all English books. It is called “What the Book.” I had checked it out online and it looked like a good place. Besides what is just in the store the store allows you to order any book online and they can get it for you, kind of like a slower and a little more expensive version of Amazon. As I lay in bed just staring at the ceiling thinking about my options I got a text message from Andrea asking me if I wanted to head into Seoul. I texted her back and told her that it sounded like fun. She called and told me that she wanted to go to Itaewon to find a bookstore called What the Book. Perfect! I told her that I really wanted to go there so I got cleaned up and met her at a bus stop where we could take a bus into Seoul.

When we got to Itaewon we quickly realized that we did not know where the book store was. I immediately felt like an idiot because just like with Dos Tacos I had mapped out how to get the bookstore and written it down last week but it did not cross my mind to bring it with me. At least Saturday I could hide behind the fact that I did not know we were going to Dos Tacos but this time I just did not make the connection until it was too late. Andrea called one of her friends who had been to the bookstore and got some basic landmarks to follow and we found it. The bookstore itself is not very big but it has both new and used books. The fiction section dominates the store but there is a non-fiction section. But the non-fiction section is just one whole section there is no separation between topics like philosophy, history, self-help, math or science. But it was fun to look. I ended up buying one book, I could not help it. I am sure I will have fun writing about it at some point. After we left the store we looked around and decided to grab a hamburger. We found a place called Kraze Burgers, sounded good enough. The food was okay, but nothing amazing. The biggest problem was they just did not give you very large burgers. By that I mean the beef patty itself was not very big. It was like have a large restaurant sized burger in respects to the bun, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc but with a McDonald’s sized burger. Where’s the beef? But the fries were great.

Andrea wanted to go to Namsan, which is a large park in central Seoul with a large tower (kind of looks like the space needle) called Seoul Tower and it sounded good to me. So we jumped on one of the trains and found our way there. The hike up to the tower was a lot longer than I expected. As we walked up we saw that there was a cable car that ran from the top to the bottom. So we thought we would take that down after having looked around. When we finally got to the tower we found out that if you wanted to go all the way to the top to the observation deck it cost eight dollars so we decided not to worry about it and just looked around that part we were at. The view was great. As we walked around we saw that along the entire fence surrounding the platform there were tons of locks covered with writing. When I say locks I mean little pad locks and bike locks that were all just locked onto the fence. I found out that couples go up there and write little love notes about one another on their locks and lock them to the tower. Andrea took lots of pictures so I will attach them to the blog. As we got ready to leave we discovered that the line for the cable car was huge and we decided not to wait and just walk down ourselves. We got down to the bottom and eventually found our way back to a train station (we went down a different direction then we had come up) and headed back to Seoul station. Before we jumped on the bus home we grabbed some dinner. We went to Pizza Hut and had some pizza. It was fairly good, but not as good as the Pizza Hut near my apartment. Finally we got on the bus and went home. By the time I got home it was about 10pm and I was beat. Between Friday morning and Sunday night I was only in my apartment for about 18 hours, which was all spent either sleeping, cleaning up or talking on the phone to people making plans.

Now I am sitting at school and I just spoke with Seo the Korean English teacher who has been helping me so much and who is Jong Woo’s mother. Seo asked me if I had time to hang out with Jong Woo tonight. She was nervous to ask because at lunch I was telling them how tired I was and about all the things I did. But I said that was no problem. It is always fun to see Jong Woo. She was glad and said that Jong Woo really wanted to go to the movies and see…wait for it…wait for it…that’s right Iron Man 2. I really did laugh out loud. I told her that would be no problem. So after school I get to go home for about an hour and then it is off to see Iron Man 2 for the third time in four days. I am pretty sure Jong Woo won’t want to go to a bar after the movie so it shouldn't be too late of a night.

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