Monday, December 14, 2009

Alcohol

Hello all! Times have been very busy here in Korea. I am working a part-time job as well as my full-time job and I am tutoring a woman. So...very busy -thank God, I love teaching English! When Thanksgiving hit, I did become very homesick. I missed the craziness of the holiday season; the baked goods, the food...oh God the FOOD, the gazillion Christmas parties, the Christmas lights, the mounds of snow (no snow here yet), the football game, and the 5:00 a.m. crazy American Black Friday shopping(which I hardly ever attended), the fun "night out" with my girlfriends the day before Thanksgiving....all of these thoughts came tumbling down and caused me much grief. Trust me, Americans know how to do the holidays up! I understand that now and realized that I took for granted all of these things and used to think most of them were quite annoying--not anymore my friends! I long for them and miss them dearly. But with that being said, I am better now and have a special Christmas present arriving on December 25th. I will save that story for January!

So, these Koreans (like any other country) like their alcohol. I am adding this section because it is a big part of their lives just as red wine is to Italians. More so, for Korean men. Koreans drink of the day is "Soju". Which is a Korean rice liquor (a rice vodka w/a hint of ginseng). I am attaching a picture (it is an advertisement). It is served in bottles similar to wine cooler bottles. The drink is to be poured in a pretty shot glass and sipped. (One person per bottle is normal--remember the alcohol content is vodka content...so VERY potent stuff!) And trust me, they drink this stuff by the BOTTLES. Ewww...I drank two bottles one night and well, let's just say I won't touch the stuff again.

Their beer here is nothing special. It is called Cass or Hite and is very similar to Miller Lite. Most restaurants/bars only serve beer and Soju. Beer is about $2.00 USD a bottle and Soju is about $1.50 USD a bottle. You cannot get a mixed drink or a glass of wine at most places. Woes me because I prefer red wine or a martini. I am beginning to think that the whole martini and mixed drink thing--is definitely an American tradition. I have found two places where I can get a mixed drink but it depends on who is waitressing because most of the bartenders do not know how to make the drinks that are on their OWN menu. Now; with that being said...you can buy liquor at most bars/restaurant but you have to buy the ENTIRE bottle. For example, Jack Daniels is $140 USD and Johnny Walker Black Label is $70 USD. You can by wine too at about $80 USD a bottle. Oh and what I did find interesting is that if you buy a bottle and don't finish it, you can give it to the bartender and they will put your name on it and "save" it for you for next time. I thought this was very cool, it gives the place a small town feel which can't be helped as the population in my little village is only 100,000.

If you are with a bunch of Koreans on a Saturday night, it is typical to see a bottle of Jack Daniels, Soju and beer at their table. A Korean teacher, Mr.Sung, told me that he and two others went to America for two weeks to visit and when they were at the bar they asked the bartender for a "bottle of Jack Daniels" (As this is how they drink it)they couldn't believe the bartender's reaction when she said, "Excuse me, the entire bottle? How the hell do you think you are getting home?" They told her by taxi --of course! They got served a bottle with the managers approval!

There is a "how you drink your drink" tradition as well. You are NEVER suppose to pour your own drink. You have a friend watch over your drink and he/she keeps it filled and you keep theirs filled in return.

Unfortunately, you see many Korean men out late or early morning vomiting on the street from too much alcohol. Beware of your step! This is very common and they are not in their 20's...most of these men vomiting are in their late 40's early 50's.

I am attaching photos of my hike up a beautiful mountain (10 minutes from my apartment) called Maroon Valley. The woman with me is the woman I tutor, Peyoung Chi. We have become good friends! Well folks...that is it for now, if you are still reading....stayed tuned next month will be about the schools and the student life and my Christmas present!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays...America is very much missed!














Sunday, October 18, 2009

The toilette






People did warn me before coming to Korea that their toilettes were "different". They do have modern toilettes but in public places, most of the time, they use what are called squat pots. They are sort of like a urnial but on the ground. So you have to REALLY squat. No matter what,I cannot get used to them. I have attached a picture. Not the funnest. People keep telling me I will get used to them, but it has been two months now, and I still don't care for them. And well, if you have to go number two---exactly....don't even go there Jodylynn. I have heard some people say they are more hyegenic. Hmmm.....how can this be, when about 95% of the time, there is no toilette paper, no soap to wash your hands and nothing to dry your hands. I also find it very perplexing that there is always water all over the floor and it hasn't been raining outside. Hmmmm....

Now, with all of that being said, there are places that have extremely high tech toilettes. That do the cleaning for ya! I have attached a picture. As you can see there are many buttons. Well, curious minds wanted to know. One button is to heat the seat...kind of nice. The other squirts water on your hiney and you can even tell it what direction--front or back squirt!!! The last button is the dryer...blows your butt. I was laughing my butt off...pun intended. Most public facilities have squat pots...but there are some that have regular toilettes. If I am out and about...I try to stick to where I know they have the regular ones!

I am also attaching a picture of a button. These are at tables when dining out. When you need the watiress you just ring her! Nice, huh? Also, when dining out the biggest napkin you ever get is a cocktail napkin. Very stange. I went to a pizza place--PIZZA and we got several small cocktail napkins to use to clean up with. I was at a "high end" restaurant today --same thing...several cocktail napkins. Very strange. There are bar/restaurants where the toilette paper for the bathroom is at your table. Just a roll of toilette paper is sitting out by the "bell". They have a hard time with paper prodcuts here, I don't understand why they are not in the bathroom? Most places don't ever have any papertowel to dry your hands. Some places have actual "towels" like cloth towels and bars of soap (if there is any soap). But never liquid soap. Interesting...

Stayed tuned next...alcohol.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Food

Well I have lost five kilos in one month since I have been here! (what does that tell ya?) There food is very different. You won't find cheese, tortillas, salsa, Mexican anything, they have pasta sauce--but I have yet to find the pasta...ho hum.

Korean's live off of kimchi and rice. Kimchi is a cabbage dish. There are about 200 different varieties. When dining out, you are always served a side of Kimchi. They eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner but at dinner time it is accompanied with Kimchi soup. I don't eat it--because most of the time they add fish oil to it. They absolutely add fish oil to everything!

They eat a ton of fish, seafood, and veggies here. No wonder why they are so small! Most people have their own gardens. It is very customary to grow your own fruits and vegetables. There are crops everywhere. Even in the city. A tall skyscraper is surrounded by cornfields. There is very little grass here, because even those that have little land use it to its full potential.

One would think that because they eat very clean (meaning foods that are in their most natural state; from the ground) that being a vegetarian would be easy. But dining out and going to visit people, it is not. They use meat and fish in everything and chicken broth or fish broth for their soups. Yes, I cook at home all the time which is fine but they don't have "my staple" food items. Also, I miss dining terribly.

Going to the grocery story is very intersting...not only can't I ready anything but I have seen some vegetables that I haven't seen before. Alot of them are from the sea. I want to experiment; but --have no idea how to cook it. I will have to do some research and get back to you on that.

When getting beers, they serve you sweet pickles and dried corn as you can see from the picture. And of course utentils are chopsticks which I am getting better at! Also some places serve these puff thingys that are terrible, they taste like styrofoam. As you can see from the picture below, some places also serve dried ramon noodles. YUP. They just mix the seasoning mix on them and serve. I am not a big fan.

The last few pictures are of me at a traditional Korean restaurant. You leave your shoes at the door and sit on the floor. There were about eight of us at a rather large table. They were served a HUGE pasta dish with fish (I have never seen this type of fish before and thank God I am a veggie because it didn't look very appetizing as you could still see the "whiskers'....just saying.) Their appetizers were all veggies dishes and about 10 of them...small dishes of different veggies all seasoned differently. Most of them were extremely HOT, SPICY HOT. I was only able to eat about three of the dishes because the rest had fish oil. They did make me a soybean soup and rice....aaahhh... It was good. But I am not a fan of Korean food and am missing American food!! I miss whole wheat and rye bred, torillas, Mexican food, low-fat peanut butter, protein powder, my good healthy version of a pizza, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, oatmeal, grains in general, beans, pasta, sour cream, good chocolate, baked potatoes, good sweets in general, spray butter and of course Martinis! I am beginning to think that the whole Martini thing is an American thing! Stayed tune, next time --the TOILETTE.




Friday, September 18, 2009

South Korea

Hello all! Sorry it took me so long! South Korea has been very intersting to say the least. I have so much to say that I really don't know where to begin. It is definately very different. I had MAJOR culture shock in the beginning but am adapting well. These pictures are of a hike I took up a mountain....called Small Mountain. At the top of the hike is a little treasure--a Buddhist Temple. Very beautiful! The two Korean's in the picture are the owners of the school that I teach at. The have been very nice and very helpful.

In the pics you will eventually see, little rocks put on top of each other. These are called wishing rocks. A person picks a rock and makes a wish and sits it on top of another. Well, because I love dreaming and wishing....of course, I picked my rock and wished!

Just about everything is different here. Obviously the people. Very hard to shop here, because they are all little people. So, even buying shoes is very difficult as they only go to a size 7 1/2 and I wear an 8 1/2. Bra's...well that isn't even gonna happen as they only sell A and B cups. The largest clothing size I found was a size 10...and I am a 14. And if you are TALL, you will definately NOT find clothes here. Hmmm.....this is a dillema. Being blonde I stick out like a soar thumb and am constantly being stared at. But people are VERY friendly. I have people come up to me ALL the time. Trying to speak English. It is rather cute. When I go to the grocery store, little children tug on my shirt and say "HELLO!" Which is SO adorable. Because Hello in Korean is 'Ano ha say yo". So they are letting me know that they can speak a little of my language. I LOVE TEACHING. The kids are fabulous. But of course, there are some that are....very naughty and challenging. I have had to seriously work on my classroom mangements skills.

The food is VERY different and they put fish in EVERYTHING. And boy do I mean EVERYTHING. I am a veggie and don't eat fish or meat...so dining has been somewhat eliminated. Oh well, I'm sure I will lose those extra pounds that I have been meaning to lose! LOL When going to a Korean Restuarnt, you take your shoes off at the door and sit on the floor and of course, only use chopsticks! I have been getting better at chopsticks! One day, I went to a convenient a store because I was hungry and tried to see if I could find an energy bar. I can't read Korean (they use symbols which makes it EVEN harder), so I looked at the pictures and found one that had peanuts in it. It had three different kinds of peanuts. YEAH, fabulous. I bought it for about 80 cents. I opened the wrapper to find little beady eyes starring at me. YES, they added dried anchovies to the energy bar! Very strange...of course, I threw it out. YUCK! They put dried anchovies in EVERYTHING.

The language barrier is very difficult because of the symbols they use. So getting around is very difficult. I live in a very small village so NOTHING is in English. When taking the bus, they DON'T tell you the next stop...you are just "supposed to know". Hmm....and when taking a taxi home, if you don't know how to prounounce where you live, you are screwed because you obviously can't "spell it' in Korean. The first I used a taxi, they couldn't understand me....now what hell was I going to do? How do I get home? I had to call my boss and give the taxi driver the phone so she could translate. I have now gotten wise, and have had her "write" certian things (my apaartment being first) in Korean, so if they don't understand, I just simply point.

Anywho, enough for now. I will email more later. It has been quite the adventure!!

Enjoy the pics.

Many hugs from South Korea!












Saturday, August 1, 2009

Arizona

Here are some pictures of my family. My grams is in pink, my mother next to her and our very dear friend Sally. There truly is nothing like family. I very much enjoyed my stay with my family and cried and cried when they dropped me off to the airport. I didn't get any pictures of the scenery, it was 115 degrees outside, so needless to say--many days in the house. :-(

I am sitting at the San Francisco Airport and about to board my flight to South Korea in 3 1/2 hours! Next pictures...South Korea.

Hope everyone is well.

P.S. Why have I been wearing the same outfit in most of these pictures lately? I do have more clothes...I swear! ;-)




Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Michigan-Home






Home Sweet Home. I enjoyed my stay in Michigan! It was so nice to see everybody!!! I am a little behind posting pictures, lost my camera cord and just found out by my very good friend, that I could insert my camera memory card into my computer! Fabulous! I don't have to carry another cord around with me.

Arizona pictures coming soon!!