Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Haesindang Park...aka Penis Park

When I was in high school I asked my Biology II AP teacher if the plural of penis was penises or peni. He was a cool guy who was pushing 70 if not already there, and so let us get away with a lot because he was past the retirement age, and thus didn't seem to care so much. He told me, after a little smile, that it was penises because the word is Latin, not Greek. I'm still disappointed because I think peni is much more fun to say, but alas, not proper English.

Yesterday I went on a journey to Heasindang Park. Now, first let me note that Korean culture is very conservative. Couples don't do any more than hold hands, and that's been a development in the last few of years. Women just started wearing tank tops last year, and those are more like shirts without sleeves - no spaghetti straps or anything. (Although the booty short is apparently okay for some reason...perhaps the knee high boots counters it?) That makes this park so much more interesting.

Legend has it (paraphrased from the handout I got at the park) that there was this beautiful virgin girl that liked to gather seaweed on a rock called Aebawi in the sea. One day her fiance took her out to the rock so she could collect some seaweed, and came back to the village. When he went to get her later, a storm had come and he couldn't get out to sea, and she drowned (statue of him calling to her and her on the faraway rock on the right). After that, the village couldn't fish worth a damn and blamed it on the lady being (justifiably) pissed, so they had a bright idea to appease her spirit by erecting -snicker- wooden phalluses to console her bitter soul. After they did, viola, the fishing became good again, and so they continue, to this day, to offer phalluses on the first full moon of the lunar year.

And thus we have a park full of wooden penises. In the middle of Korea, of all places.

So there are a lot more pictures, which you can look at over at Flickr. They're pretty interesting. It ended up being an all day adventure to get there though. Cheri, Sarah, her two friends visiting from the States, and I met up at 7am to get on the subway, arriving at the bus terminal a little after 8. Then we hopped on the bus to Samcheok and three hours later got off...at the wrong stop. It was supposed to be an express bus, meaning it didn't stop anywhere else, and everyone else got off there too. So we waited for an hour and got on the next bus for the 20 minutes to the right place (picture of us leaving the wrong station on the left). Then we opted to pay for a taxi instead of wait the hour for the city bus to the park...Sarah sat on my lap and the taxi driver pointed out several times that there isn't supposed to be five people in a taxi (it was a $25 fare, we weren't taking 2 taxis), arriving at the park at 2pm. Then after we saw the sights we froze to death at the bus stop for about ten minutes. The bus must have been running really late, because it came an hour earlier than it should have. This got us back in town with ten minutes to spare for the next bus to Seoul, and we then caught the subway home and got back to Sanbon at about 10:30pm.

It was a bit long of a trip for what it was, but it was fun and now I've seen the Sea of Japan (or the East Sea, according to Koreans. They don't like Japan so much). I'm saddest at the fact that the gift shop isn't open in the winter, because you all would be getting penis souvenirs.
Today we're taking a break to recuperate, but tomorrow we're going to the folk village. It won't be as visually entertaining as the pictures from this trip, but it looks like it's a pretty good cultural learning experience, and we all know how big of a nerd I am. :)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dr. Fish

Here is something I did back in the first couple of weeks I was here, but haven't posted it yet. Dr. Fish is a place in town where you can go and get coffee and such, as well as gelato. Then, with the purchase of something, you can pay a couple bucks extra for the Dr. Fish experience (I think it was $3 each). After enjoying our gelato, Gayle, Heather, and I had our experience.

First you wash your feet, as the lovely Heather is demonstrating.

Then you put them in here.

That's right, with a bunch of little fishes.

Then the little fishes eat the dead skin off of your feet. (Note my feet are the only ones that don't hit the bottom. Yeah, go ahead, laugh. Alas, I have found that Koreans aren't as short as you would think.)

See my cool, calm, smile? Not how I looked through most of it.

Not only am I not a big feet person, but it tickled like you wouldn't believe, not to mention feeling really bizarre. That, and the fish really liked my feet, so I got nibbled on more than everyone else. My non-arches were especially popular.

Gayle freaked out the longest, for a good 12 of the 15 minutes...and I caught it on video, of course! I've tried flipping them over but it's not working, so tilt your head sideways. This was after we had already been doing this for ten minutes - I only freaked out for the first two minutes or so, and not nearly so bad. Impressed? If you notice she barely has any fish around her feet either because she was next to the filter, whereas I was the fish buffet main course. In the second video, Heather is counting to five for Gayle to keep her feet still...and my laughter can be heard in both. I'm a good, compassionate friend. :)

My feet didn't end up feeling too different after the fact, but all in all it wasn't bad after the first couple of minutes.

Keep on the lookout for more updates this week - I have a week of vacation and am planning to see a couple of sights, including a really interesting one that you aren't expecting!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Wonder Girls

Wonder Girls is a Korean girl band, and their song, Nobody, is everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

I know it exists in part thanks to the girls in my classes. One of them can even do the motions that they do along in the video. Being I thought she looked really silly, I looked up the video. Nope, the motions are just silly. I also looked it up because it was stuck in my head and I had never actually heard the whole thing.

For your viewing pleasure, I give you the video, complete with English translation. My student is very proud that she knows the hand motions and the fact that she does makes her kind of cool, just so you know (she's 9). Also, the actual song doesn't start until two minutes in, should you want to skip ahead.

May it not get stuck in your head.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Freezing and Korean Medicine

I know I talked about freezing to death once already, with lovely pictures of snow. Truth is that was a cold spell and it's been warm in the 40s. (I just wrote warm and 40s in the same sentence, and I'm not referring to Celsius...gods help me...)

Well, friendly supervisor texted to let us know that the next two days are supposed to be among the coldest of the winter and to bundle up. Excellent timing and all, since I'm sick.

Alas, it's true. I didn't fight it off, I got sick. I think it's a cold, though I have no snot in my nose whatsoever (bonus) but I do have a lovely cough. It's been a week and my voice is still funny. I have yet to return to man-voice, but have been pretty consistent in the hoarse voice I have right now. Some say it's sexy, though one of my coworkers said I sound like a 45 year old chain-smoker. Actually, it seems to be females think sexy and men and children think horrid, which works out pretty well for me.

I haven't gone to a doctor and I doubt I will - the medical profession here frightens me a bit. For one, all of the other foreign teachers have been to the doctor (as we've all gotten sick), and whenever they come back they end up with 5 prescriptions. Ted has had bronchitis for a month and they just keep giving him sets of five pills.

As you might already know, I'm not a big fan of medicine. We over-medicate like crazy and it's creating the mutant antibiotic resistant little bugs we now have today. I only take the medications that I think are absolutely necessary, and things like pain killers are not among them (one of Ted's five pills).

The other thing is that here you don't get your prescription in individual bottles with a nice list of side effects and warnings. Nope, the pharmacist puts the pills you need to take at one time in a nice little parchment pouch and you get them that way. While this is convenient, you have no idea what the pills are, what weird side effect you may have, nor have they been checked against any other meds you might be on. Being I've had a prescription once that had a listed side effect of turning your urine orange or red, sometimes those are important. (It did too - bright Kool-aid orange. Imagine waking up to that one morning if you didn't know it was possible as a side effect).

On another note, I'm not impressed with their medical ideas in other areas. In order to get your Alien card you have to do a medical exam that includes a blood test, hearing test, chest x-ray for TB, blood pressure, and a pee test. First was the blood test, where the woman didn't wear gloves! That's right, no gloves, nor handwashing before me or between me and the person afterwards (I at least got a new needle). The lady who serves me free samples at Emart wears gloves, but not the lady taking your blood. Then there was peeing in the cup. Now I've peed in many cups in my day, and they are lovely plastic things that are sealed and sterile, come with a screw on lid, and usually have some discreet way for you to move it from one place to another. The cup they gave me could have been a drinking cup - hence I took the picture of it. That and you walk down the hallway to the bathroom and back with it, out and uncovered like that.

So, anyway, I won't be going to a doctor unless I have to. The fact that it'd be all translated through my not-quite-fluent-in-English boss probably doesn't help either. She mistranslated to my supervisor that she had blood in her urine when she really needed to do a urine test. Oops.

Well, that was a nice tangent/rant thing. Back to my original complaining on dying, yet again- here is my forecast for the next two days:

High: 24˚F
Low: 13˚F

Mostly Sunny
High: 28˚F
Low: 14˚F


Do you see the part where it says High, and then were the number begins with a 2? A 2! And the low, that number begins with a 1, but it's not 3 digits like it's supposed to be. It's also nice enough to tell me that tomorrow at 12pm, when it is 22˚F, it's going to feel like 8˚F. That's a single digit...temperatures aren't supposed to come in single digits. :(

This may be the last you hear from me, as I may end up frozen to my doorknob when I leave the house tomorrow.

(I hear you laughing, and it isn't nice. You be good or I'll drag you to Vegas in the middle of August and see how you do in 122˚.)