Wednesday, 27 May 2009

It's been a while.

This last few weeks have been full of upheaval, international tension, presidential suicide and swine flu.  Here's the skinny:

I've been transferred out of my current hagwon for being, and I quote, "too boring".  However, considering certain other circumstances (one of our teachers recently renewed his contract for another year, dropping attendances, the fact I am one of 2 English teachers at this level) I suspect other forces are at work.  I start at my new place on Monday.

Speaking of new starts, the latest government panic is about Swine Flu.  Over 50 foreign teachers (from other schools) have been quarantined so far, and all new teachers (for all schools) are being isolated until further notice.  What does this mean for me? Well, apart from having to jump in at the deep end by covering a shedload of classes at my new school without knowing anything about the syllabus or indeed how to teach elementaries, I have to have my temperature taken daily and "avoid public areas".  Not only this, but I get the feeling I'll be treated worse than usual by the average Korean, as the media focusses on the fact that THE EVIL FOREIGNERS MAY HAVE SWINE FLU!!! (As opposed to the 20-odd Koreans who DEFINITELY have it).

Also, the North has been threatening "military strikes" against the south in the aftermath of this nuclear test.  Before, I would treat these attempts at sabre-rattling as precisely that.  But after the last few weeks, well, I'm paranoid.  I have signed onto the embassy's mailing and calliing lists, but have stopped short of preparing an escape bag.

I'll be back.

Monday, 11 May 2009

I can't think of either a witty or an appropriate title.

Since the last time I updated, it has been a whirlwind of veritable misadventure:

1) I went to Busan for the first weekend in May.  For those of you who aren't in the loop, Busan is the second city of Korea and it's principal port on the south coast.  You can catch a ferry to Japan from here if the mood strikes you.  I went and met up with partners in crime Jason and Forrest.  

In addition to being known as an inexpensive way to get to japan, Busan is famous for 2 other things: the Jagalchi Fish market and Hae-Un-Dae (yes, as in the car) beach.  The fish market is unique, in that you can buy ridiculously fresh (as in: live) fish and take it away, or you can go to the seafood restaurants, tell them what fish you want, and they will go into the market, buy it, kill it, and prepare it for you.  The end result is the best damned fish I've ever eaten.  It was so good, we went back the second day and bought a king crab between the 4 of us for £12 each.  And this was a BIG crab.  Hae-Un_dae beach was a very chilled place, mainly because it's off season.  In Korea, most people inexplicably take vacation in the same 10 day period and the the beach becomes the holidaying equivalent of D-Day.

So, in between eating fine fish and having random Koreans join our group, we drank.  This was something that would continue the following Tuesday, AKA: Children's Day.  A day where children get treated as gods, and most foreigners or non-parents get drunk at the baseball game.  After this whirlwind of excitement, a fairly standard week; I got 2 new students (both of whom are good eggs).

Come Saturday, we went to Namdaemun.  This is one of the traditional markets in Korea, and this one sells pretty much everything.  Clothes (including fairly-good-fake-Levis), hats, fish, watches, digital cameras, stuff that's been smuggled out of the supermarket on the US garrison, you want it, you can probably find it there.  

And on Sunday I saw Star Trek.  Twas good.

Catch y'all later!