Hello to my dear friends and family, and to the newbies reading my blog. I have completed my third full week here in South Korea and so far it has been everything I hoped it would be. It is officially Sunday night here and this week has been a pretty busy week. I wish I could say it was busy with fun sightseeing activities, but alas, it was not. It was busy with work stuff. This weekend my school celebrated its 21st anniversary so we had a presentation for the parents of our students. The kindergarten class did a big presentation full of song, dance, and games with their parents. It was tons of fun but also a great deal of work was involved putting it together, especially for the kindergarten teachers (of which I am not). As the new teacher, I really did not have to do a whole lot initially. But as in true Korean work fashion, I was asked to do a few last minute things that I was not expecting to do all of which required me to memorize something the night before. That is ok though, I loved watching the kiddos do their thing and I think the parents enjoyed participating as well.
Since Saturday was the presentation, afterward the director invited all of us out for dinner. We went and ate at a traditional style Korean restaurant where you take off your shoes before entering and sit on the floor to eat. For most of us westerners, this is not the most comfortable position to sit in whilst pigging out. That being said, the food was amazing. It was a shabu and bbq restaurant, so the meal consisted of very thin slices of beef brisket on a grill, and the grill had a center piece where a broth was made and vegetables were added along with some of the meat. With the grilled meat we had another tray full of fresh veggies and different shredded leafy vegetables. There was what looked to be a napkin holder that held rice paper wrappers. What we did was dip the wrappers in hot water place them on a plate, stuff them full of veggies and meat, then added a little sauce, and shoved the whole thing in our mouths. At one point or another, we all looked like this.
Sorry, I forgot to take pictures of the dinner. I was too busy stuffing my face. On a side note, let me tell you a few perks about restaurant dining in Korea: first, no tipping. This doesn’t just go for restaurants, this goes for any service provided including delivery. Number 2, the servers do not harass you during your meal by asking you how everything tastes 100 times. Instead, after the order is taken and drinks are provided, there is a little buzzer at the table that you use should you need anything refilled and refills are free. Number 3, in most restaurants you get free side dishes of different vegetables and kimchi. If the restaurant is a smaller or cheaper place, they have a self-serve area where you can fill up on as much kimchi or pickled radish as you like, as well as a water or tea. I would say Korea has a very efficient way of doing things.
Today, I hung out with my coworker and friend. We decided to grab lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant. We both got the beef fried noodles, similar to a pad thai. They were fairly spicy but tasty. Best thing is that we both were able to eat for about $7. No folks, we did not share. We each had our own plate. I don’t know anywhere in the U.S where two people can eat for $7 anymore. Next, we went to a restaurant that specializes in shaved ice or bingsu. It is basically ice that has been shaved to almost a powder with a choice of different fruit toppings or in our case, we ate the traditional red bean one with rice cake powder. It was one of the Korean desserts that I had been wanting to try when I got here. It was so delicious. The texture is very light and airy, almost like a cold cotton candy but not quite as sweet. Here is what it looks like.
Afterward, Jin Hee (my coworker) was kind enough to give me a Korean lesson, and that is how we spent our rainy afternoon. I promise next weekend I will post something with more pictures. Hopefully, I will make another trip to Seoul on Saturday and hang out with my friend Norma. I do have some interesting trips planned but I will post them as I do them.
So finally, I’m sure you are wondering why there is a picture of shoes as the intro pic. Well, if you remember last week, I said I had an interesting experience looking for shoes in Seoul. I wear a size 10 in woman’s shoes and most Koreans do not wear more than an 8.5. Anyway, I was with my friends Norma and Lori at one of the Seoul subway stations. This particular station has lots of little boutiques and souvenir shops. Since we had some time to kill we decided to pass the time perusing the stores. A shoe caught my eye as we were walking, mainly because it was very gaudy and ugly. It was a gold colored cheap plastic sandal that was heavily bejeweled with lots of fake plastic jewelry. What caught my eye, besides its tackiness was that it looked to be a larger size. I was in need of some indoor shoes to wear at my school because in Korea you do not wear your outdoor shoes inside your home or in schools. The salesman noticed my curiosity and quickly ushered me in the store by my arm saying “oh, big feet yes? we have shoes for you. Come, come” in his broken English. At first, I said no thanks but he was insistent and very confident that he could find me a shoe. I laughed and told him there was no way but humored him anyway. First, he pulled out the ugly bejeweled shoe in a big size. He took off my shoe and tried to put the sandal on my foot. As you noticed I used the word “tried”. I felt like one of Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters trying to squeeze her foot into the glass slipper. I laughed and said, ” I told you it wouldn’t fit.” He said, “WOW, big feet! WOW!” then proceeded to put his foot into the shoe he was trying to put on me. We all busted out laughing hysterically. You would think that I would have been insulted, but I wasn’t. I found it just as funny as he did. Finally, I pointed to my friend Norma’s shoe and I asked if he had a similar style but maybe in a men’s size. He did and that is what I bought and what is in the intro picture. The salesman was such a nice and funny man and even though he was surprised by my big feet, he was very warm and kind and had a great sense of humor.
So, moral of the story…you can find shoes in Korea if you have big feet 😉
That is all for now. I am going to finish my little home facial then go to bed. I hope you all have an amazing day full of your own adventures. Please feel free to leave comments or suggestions of the blog or things you would like to see. I would love to hear from you.
Goodnight from Korea.