Thursday, June 6, 2013

Weekend (5.25 - 5.26): Saturday Drama Class, Seoul Zoo, & Margaritas

Lately I've been thinking I should post more about my daily life - I guess that's what blogging is, right? - so let me tell you about my busy weekend.

I had to work Saturday, so after having dinner and a few soju-ciders with a couple of lovely Colombian research scientists (who I've just found out live in my neighbourhood) on Friday night, I hit it pretty early so I could wake my ass up at like 7:15. I'd actually prepared for Saturday drama class between classes that day, so I was all ready to teach for like 3 1/2 hours when I found out about 5 minutes before we started that all the classes were taking a trip to the library. No one told us that more than one class was going, but then, that's about how much we usually communicate. Awesome, whatever, that's less time I have to spend trying to keep them interested in theatre terminology.

So I do this cute, simple Red Riding Hood activity with them to teach them about dialogue using speech bubbles. We've been compiling everything they do and taking lots of photos so we can put little books together for the parents at the end - because a shiny finished product and looks are all that matter here - so I had also deemed a couple of related worksheets necessary and basically had them colour for 10 minutes at the end.

Then, in the heat and humidity, we walked them all to the local library where they spent 20 minutes reading whatever they wanted. Being in a building with A/C was nice; ours is a government facility, so they probably won't even turn it on until mid-June, even though everyone is complaining and it's probably dangerous for the very small children. 

Walking back was surprisingly pleasant. I chatted with two of my favourite students all along the way, about things like owning and driving cars, and even had lunch with them in the canteen when we got back. Rice in bean sprout water with leaves on the side is about the best sans animal lunch I can hope for here, so even that was better than the average Saturday.

Then I headed downstairs for a short workout in the gym, reading a chapter of A Wizard of Earthsea while doing the stationary cycle. I've been reading and re-reading lots of adolescent stuff and Roald Dahl, because we have our own library and I dig nostalgia. When it was cooler having a quiet designated reading time was my favourite part of trying to get fit, but lately I've just been looking forward to gymming because there's a cold shower waiting for me at the end, even if that cold shower is sometimes full of old ladies and middle school girls giving me funny looks. There's nothing quite like having Mrs. Kim ogle you like one might try to decipher the behaviours of an animal at the zoo.

I had to cut my workout short because I had an appointment at the Teng Teng Skin Clinic, a great place in Sinsa with a Korean-American M.D. named Julius who only needs to talk to you for like 5 minutes about any given problem. Doctors are incredibly fast about everything in Korea. In 10 minutes I had a months' supply of antibiotics, determined as I am now to get rid of my mild late-onset acne for good. Fuck you, humidity-exacerbated blemishes.

Next I began what was to become a long subway sojourn to Hongdae. I actually dozed off on Line 3 and went a half dozen stops too far into pretty obscure uncharted waters, like a boss. All said and done I ended up spending over 2 hours on the subway that day, but at least I had a seat for almost all of it. At Hongik Station I met up with a guy I was acquainted with in college about four years ago who's punctuating his travelling around Asia with M.A. studies here. I took him to Cafe Slobbie, where I had salad bibimbap, he had kimchi fried rice and we shared a bottle of organic honey makgeolli.

After that he did a little sunglasses shopping we went to Castle Praha, a pretty neat central European cathedral-themed restaurant and bar, for another drink before we each had to meet other people. It was pretty warm inside and it's naturally a bit overpriced, but I've been meaning to check it out since I got here and want to go back to try their salads and wines. 

Waiting for a couple of friends, I finally bought myself a much-needed new pair of sandals and felt pretty extravagant about it, even though I haggled the price down from 45,000 to 38,000 won. Even more extravagant was the patbingsu I ate by myself at Homestead Coffee. You'd think $10 for a bowl of mostly shaved ice would be pushing it until you move here from a completely dry climate. It was the third frozen thing I'd eaten that day, and it's only May.. T_T

I decided to try a language exchange party thing at a Spanish-themed bar called Somos in Sincheon, and it was pretty fucking lame, but there were a few alright people there, and I guess I'm glad I finally scoped one out just to say it happened. We had to leave because it was too hot and boring and my friend was getting sloppy, but I wanted to go to bed anyway. Definitely don't have any pics of that bit; they're mostly food because I've been trying to build up enough to start contributing to a site called My Destination Seoul.

Every Sunday morning I Skype with my mom. After the obligatory (but don't get me wrong, I love it) ritual, I hit The Loving Hut Thiendang for lunch with the same two dorks I'd been with in Sincheon the night before, and then we decided to meet another coworker at the Seoul Grand Park Zoo for a day out in the lovely weather.

First we went to the flower gardens and childrens'/petting zoo, but rose season hadn't quite started yet and you couldn't actually reach most of the cute fuzzy little critters. I mean, with the tiny monkeys that makes sense, but still. Either way, though, walking through this section of the zoo takes you to a lovely scenic part of the lake shore, and the vast wildernessy tropical sense of the area is really impressive now that winter has segwayed mercilessly into summer.

We got started quite late and didn't make it to the animal nursery in time, but we did walk quite a lot and saw most of the zoo. You always forget how big they are until you spend hours not even being able to cover them.

Anyway, we saw giraffes, meerkats, rhino sex, adorable sea lions, sleepy lions, sleepy hippos and the botanical garden, but the most interesting bit was the collection of tarantulas and similar bird-eating spiders. We thought one of them was going to dramatically lunge onto the cricket in its enclosure and eat it, but it seemed almost afraid instead. The cricket walked right up to the spider's mouth and once it touched its leg the spider was all like, "Eww, a bug!" and recoiled. The tarantula kept backing away nervously until he cricket started chirping a victory song right in front of it. It was very strange. I mean, it's one thing if your prey item could take out an eye or take off part of a leg defending itself, but crickets can't do shit.

Some of the tarantula enclosures are stupidly cute kids' furniture from G-Market, complete with tiny stately houses inside. I'm half-tempted to film a terrible 1950's-style B horror movie at the insect house.

By the end of the day we were pretty hungry, and I managed to talk the guys I was with into going to Itaewon for Mexican food. It was totally worth it. Amigos is by far my favourite new place; it's just like an American chain restaurant staffed and run by Mexicans and frequented by suburban white folk. The fact that this post is so food photo-heavy is probably making my ridiculously complicated diet seem easier than it actually is here, but that's OK.

At least I do a lot more here than I did back home, even if I'm not satified with how little I've done in the way of what I consider to be relevant or meaningful things. I'm working on that.

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