Saturday, December 30, 2006

Three Daze

So I have 5 daze of holidaze.
Day 1 was the coldest day I have experienced for 3 years. Damn cold. And somehow I replicated the pointless sightseeing escapades that characterised my time in Eastern Europe... It's documented on Ethan's blog. Basically we went to a boring cultural site, an abandoned museum, a closed arboretum. It was insane cold. But the second part of our plan was Dongaemun market, which is collection of high rise and sprawling building packed with tiny stalls, thousands of them. I went there the first week in Seoul and was totally overwhelmed. This time I went back with cash and a sense of purpose, which helps.
Bought my brother some cool jeans ("most popular style in Koreahhhh") and a cool grey hoodie ("you are the most beautiful girl in the world"). Found at coat for Ethan and a $6 v-neck for me... Just what I wanted.
Day 2 I lay around in bed, read 'How to be Good', spoke to a very hungover Sweet Charlie, watched some of '21 Grams' and 'Dr Phil', thought about how I'd spend the next few daze... Couldn't imagine getting the energy up to head into Hongdae with Gyeong-Ah to see some music. Weirdly I did, got ready in 10 minutes and raced into town. Was SO GLAD I DID. I was just so happy to see Gyeong-Ah, she is just the sweetest thing. Cute, but REAL. A real person, warm and affectionate and honest and lovely. She took me to a bar in a street I know well, and the music started shortly after. Mmm the singer was a really cute folk-style girl who did samba-beat ballads with a bit of jazzy skatting. Very nice and a friendly atmosphere. I'm gonna buy the CD. One of Gyeong-Ah's friends brought her cute boyfriend, Chandler. I asked him why he chose that name... He said cos Chandler from 'Friends' is cool... I said but he's so stupid! We laughed and agreed he was still nice and funny. Whatever.
Day 3 I randomly was called and asked to do some dodgy work at some random suburb, promotional stuff for a new Engrish school. Free money. So I was up early and catching a train to some place far away from Seoul. I didn't care, though the friends came with me were getting paranoid about doing 'off-contract' work. It was a fancy new English school, half-built, with a suspicious air of a failed investment about to happen. I was given a green apron and told to work in a 'charity shop' that was set up for prospective students to shop with play money in. Talk English, smile, mingle, pretend you work here. I did it. No problem. 5 hours, including a breakdancing show and lunch trip, posing for umpteen photos with random guys, asking dozens of kids 'how are you?' and 'what's your English name?'. My face is very sore from smiling. Easy money though.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Buffet Hate Rant

I hate buffets. Hate.
They take all the joy out of eating.

Last week I went to an 'American Style Grill' place called 'Ashley' that had a Laura Ashley theme... As in, lots of floral decor. Awful. It was a Christmas dinner for the teachers at my school. I had a plate of salad and stuff, finished eating and then sat back and watched 7 women shovel mountains of food into their faces while talking in Korean. As I sat I thought about why I hate buffets so much and how I was going to live the rest of my days not attending any buffets.

I thought I'd ranted about this to all and sundry. Evidently not. Yesterday JD Whatever took me to Marche in the COEX. It's a 'European Style Buffet'. As in, the hostesses are in ridiculous 'Bavarian' dresses... Ah! Check out the Marche site to see what I mean. As soon as I entered I got a bad feeling. I was told I could order something, that I didn't have to get the buffet. But then the hostesses talked JD into getting the buffet for us... It costs 24,000 won, about $30 Aussie.

Anyhow, after a couple of minutes I insisted we leave. My reasons for hating buffets are::

  • The group doesn't sit and eat together: friends or family get up and wander away as others are eating.
  • You have no idea how much you've eaten: plates can be infinitely refilled.
  • People use extra dishes, discarding each plate after each use.
  • I can't sit down and relax and eat; I have to get up and walk around, plate in hand.
  • It's expensive.
  • It's often weird international standard cuisine. Stodgy. Flavourless.
  • It's mass produced crap.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Hey it's less than a month. That means that there's a lot of stuffs I gotta do in the next weeks. Sights, shopping, photos, all that. The things you think you'll do later. Then you leave, the chance is lost. When in Lithuania, I never went to the Hill of Crosses, one of the many wacky sites that country offers... It was something I wanted to do, but stayed on the list. Now I guess it becomes a reason to go back.

Back at work today and yesterday, and tonight I taught 3 extra classes at our sister school which -ooops- doesn't have a native speaker teacher for a couple of weeks and -ooops- haven't organised a replacement. It was good for me, some extra money, paid cash, and the kids were all well-behaved and brought their textbooks. It was actually pleasant... Not being facetious neither.

There's a few TV shows that I find myself watching semi-regularly that I'd never heard of until I saw them on TV here. Maybe I'm watching them in a kinda vacuum. They might not exist outside of my crappy pirated Defence Forces Network channel. They are::

  • Close to Home
  • Without a Trace
  • American Dad
  • Arrested Development
  • 1 Versus 100
  • Nanny 911
  • Boston Legal (oooh, James Spader, sigh)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Mall Christmas

It was Christmas. But it didn't feel like it. Not at all. Not even when Ethan gave me a HAMPER of AWESOME gifts... Kinda felt like a birthday or something. It wasn't merry. It wasn't sad or lonely, neither. I had a good day. Just strange and unChristmassy.

Spent ages on the phone to Ma and Jack in the morning, lovely, also strange cos it was cold and unSummery in Melbourne - similar weather to here - where it was a gorgeous mild Winters' day. Headed to COEX to meet Ethan and Jen, the plan was to see Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg in The Science of Sleep. Unfortunately every bastard in town was at the mall and we had to get 6pm movie tickets... Meaning we had 5 hours to burn in the mall. Why it didn't occur to us to get out of the complex, I don't know. Whatever. If we had have been in a hurry I wouldn't have this photo of me in the promo booth for The Science of Sleep::

Ok, so it was a little scary when the movie started and they were talking French. And Spanish. And the subtitles were in Korean. But we stayed cool. Maybe the movie was 55% in English. And I could understand maybe every fifth French word. We missed some jokes, but it's a highly visual film: great cinematography; mini animations; beautiful actors; lovely music; totally surreal in the Eternal Sunshine way.

Back to work tomorrow.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

It won't be a white Christmas. Last Saturday's snow is all but gone and the weather is kinda mild. And I haven't any mince pies. Dammit. At home, Jack's made a summer pudding with $50 of berries. Last year I made one and was so nervous cos the fruit was worth so much. It was delicious.
Far from home, Christmas is meaningless. My other Christmas 'away' was in Ireland, 3 years ago, and we had a typical working class Chrissy lunch at some stranger's house. It was rainy and we all drank a lot. The food was terrible. Classic.

Yesterday my afternoon disappeared into the subway. Hours riding around getting grumpy, occasionally getting off to run an errand. Eventually went to meet up with Gyeong-Ah in Itaewon. We went to a foreigner's bar where Hey-Young just started waitressing, and ordered a drink while we waited for her to finish her shift. It was so good to see the girls - last time we hung out was when we went bungy-jumping. They are just so much fun. Meeting them is a highlight of my time here. We always laugh so much and talk absolute garbage. Anyways, they had devised a night of activities, of which I agreed to some - I wasn't up for a noraebang just yet. So we headed up Namsan, to visit the tower. For Christmas, I guess, it was all lit up like a giant kaleidoscope. The view was great from the base so we decided we'd not got up to the observation deck, and instead spend our money in the cool gift shop. Then we got some strange chewy ice-cream. Unbeknownst to me, the girls had sneakily bought me a gift and written a really cute Christmas card for me, which they sprung on me later at the subway as we said goodbye. Love!

I feel like there's a whole something to say about Otto, who's 21st birthday would have been last week. If he hadn't 'left' when he was 18. Dad and I spoke about it, about how it's impossible not to remember him. Which means sadness.

Finished Gorky Park. Damn, so good. Was it really good or do I just secretly like pulp fiction?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Which Is For Me?

Considering the next chapter in my working life. So, two different organisations I might (like to) work for. Each has a set of 'attributes' or 'values' which should underpin the work I do and the way I do it. So which could I align myself most easily with?

Deliver quality results
Work collaboratively
Behave ethically
Respect and value others
Develop self and others

Building Organisational Capability
Builds and Maintains Relationships
Demonstrates Personal Integrity
Sets Direction
Drives Service Excellence

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Gorky Park

Gorky Park is so the right book to be reading now. All the snow. Not to mention vodka and intrigue.

I love the opening line::

"All nights should be so dark, all winters so warm, all headlights so dazzling.'

Yesterday while carefully walking over the snow-covered ice, a woman in step with me (as much as one could be) broke rank and started to skate on the ice in her sneakers. It was much quicker but she did get amused looks from the people at the bus stop.

It's only a matter of time until I post saying 'Today I fell on my arse. It hurt.'

Monday, December 18, 2006

Things and Time

Things I didn't realise I'd be doing in my working life ::
1. Fixing lil girls' hair;
2. Teaching how to tell the time;
3. Posing as a teacher in school photos;
4. Discussing the weekend's lego achievements.

Time for a k-shit? Here's one on a little pink jumper::

WAWA girls

I want to with you
Work's one way
around the world

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Snow Drifts

Real snow!
Forecast was for -8 so I knew I didn't wanna go out and see a band late, and when it snow started dumping around 10pm last night, I was glad I wasn't stuck in town. But gosh, it's so beautiful. Made me feel giddy and happy. I hung out my window taking photos and watching the first snowman of winter be built, and the first snowball fights take place. Wow.

Snow makes me think of the beautiful times in Lithuania. And the icicles on my window ledge... Take me back to my gorgeous apartment in Vilnius.

Yesterday I was nearly recovered from my sickness so I went to see a movie at the huge COEX mall. I hoped I was gonna see The Departed, but no... Saw The Holiday instead. It's this year's Love Actually, as far as I can tell. I think I liked it. Can Kate Winslet save any movie? And I think I'm starting to see some appeal in Jude Law, who I never cared for. It's just that he says 'definitely' like Dear Sweet Charlie.

I wanted to see a movie here in Korea cos I thought I'd been to the movies in every country I'd been too, but on pressing from my Ma: "Really?! What movie did you see in Belarus? Finland?", I realised I hadn't. Ah well. Might just have to go back.

Had my first meal after nearly 3 sick days... At Jackie's Kitchen. Yeah. Ordered a grapefruitade to go with my dim sum, and listened to some cute Korean girls in high white boots and tiny Santa outfits play classical mash-ups of Christmas carols. Awful. But funny.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Me very sick.
I blame the yummy hot chocolate I had on Wednesday night at Ordinary Cafe in Hongdae.
Me nearly dead.

But. Recovery is scheduled for tomorrow.
I watched a DVD this arvo. Flight 93. Yeah. Not sure why it is entertainment.

I'm all about Iceland today. My dear friend JoJoHannahHannah is living there making me very jealous right now. I found a cool website of a dude from Reykjavik, checkit. Also I discovered 'Inupiat', the people and language from wayyy up Alaska way, and in the Bering Straits.

What was I going to say?
Ugh. How about them bushfires?
I'm outta here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

LOHAS and Zeitgeist

PC bangs are the internet cafes of Korea.
They are cheap, hi-tech, dark, smoky, open 24 hours, and full of boys and men. I have a regular, and a backup, in the street behind my house. Tonight I've gone to another one, and it is so different. First of all, the lights are up. That's what caught my eye when I was buying apples from the one-armed man the other day. But, more importantly, it is not called ' pc' or 'black hole' or anything like that. It's called 'LOHAS: Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability'. Wow. No shit. (Did anyone else not know that LOHAS was a thing? Google it!) LOHAS is still full of men/boys though.

Anyhoo. It's six weeks til I'm home. I've been focussed on finding a replacement for me. Please lemme know if you know anyone who'd be interested in coming to Korea for a year to teach. It ain't that bad a break.

Met a blogger peep on Saturday night. Cool, huh? She was damn cute. Though she did keep me waiting in the cold for a bit... Grr. It's so ace that I met Ethan and her through this geek machine. And in Korea too!

Just rediscovered the best tv show ever made. Had a marathon session watching the sixth and final season of Oz last night. Nearly killed me. Damn it is just so good. So many quotables. So hardcore. So clever.

"Maybe instead of forgive and forget it should be forgive and remember. Remember that you might wake up tomorrow and have to forgive all over again and again and again, the way the heart keeps beating like a drum. Forgive. I can't. You can. Forgive. Forgive. I can't. You can. Forgive."

Reading Richard and Dave's blogs and remembering the horror that was Meredith last year. You win some, you lose some. That was one weekend I coulda done without. Maybe next year I'll go back, work the bar again, but this time, not get sunburnt, not go with a shithead, and look after my KP better.

Thinking about trying to memorise the African capitals. They are my Achilles' heel in the capitals game. I'm thinking 50+ is possible, if other smarties can remember all the USA state capitals. And I already know some, like Ouagadougou for Burkina Faso. But I got all side tracked on the crazy weird history of Liberia. I had no idea. I had no idea it was established to provide a homeland for the free-born or formerly enslaved African Americans... It accounts for their flag and name, eh? Am I a geek?

Saturday, December 09, 2006


No photos of me today: I'm doing my hobo-chic down at the PC bang. Pretty much wearing all hand-me-downs, including, Charlie, Bunny on my head... Is that ok?

Hope nobody mistakes me for the crazy lady that I see crouched and rocking in the stairwell sometimes. She gives me the heebie-jeebies.

This week I saw someone riding one of those infernal mini-bikes... But I didn't mind - the dude was short-statured. Seriously, a good reason to ride a mini-bike: being a mini-person.

Last night I watched Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Satisfying adaptation. Says she who can barely remember the book save for a few scenes and a memory of excessive adjectives. While watching I thought about how it's a story about smell, and in the book they used all those words to express the cornucopia of smell as that is the book's medium - words. In the movie, it's the image. I think the images and cinematography were evocative in a similar way. In this way it was a success. Of course the actor playing Grenouille was better looking than the book would have you imagine, but I think this was one of very few 'Hollywoodisations.

Anyhoo. This week wasn't too cold. But rainy and dreary today.
I can't help noticing that women here are wearing more mini-skirts this winter than they wore in summer. They look very cute in their high socks, high boots and short coats.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Big, Full, Orange

The moon looks amazing tonight. Big, full, orange. Kinda like the 5 kilos of pumpkin I just got suckered into buying. Can you freeze pumpkin? I can't possibly eat it all.

Still a bit sick, but spirits are good. I got a birthday present today - from a very very sweet woman. It was such an awesome surprise. It's been months since I got any mail.

Sunday I got outta bed and outta my apartment and went to the National Museum with Ethan. There's a big show there with stuff from the Louvre but we didn't see that - we just saw their permanent collection - it woulda been too much to see both in one day. First thing to note about the museum was the sheer size of it. Huge! Makes the Tate Modern look like a playroom. Reminded me of the coolest building I saw in France - La Grande Arche, in La Defence.

I knew I'd tire before seeing all the exhibit, so I asked Ethan if we could start in the part that I thought would be most interesting - the Asian Artifacts section. There was art and stuffs from Indonesia, Central Asia, China, etc. I discovered a passion for celadon pottery. Love the stuff! Check it out.

Headed off to buy DVDs after and I convinced Ethan to eat with me at Lotteria - something I wanted to do just once. Yep. It'll be just once. Gawd I just don't do fast food. I still remember my first trip to McDonald's with horror.

One of the DVDs was 'Perfume' - one of mine (and KP's) favourite books. I had no idea it had been adapted for the screen. Haven't watched it yet.

One of the books my Dadda sent over with Dearest Charlie was the best Australian Essays 2005 - thanks Dad. I read a really beautiful story from it today. Very Australian in all the good ways. It's by Mark Tredennick. Check him out - especially you, JCW, if you haven't already. Here's a poem of his.

Oh, if you wanted to see my *new coat* and *new boots* ::

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sugar Plum Farm

I took a sickie yesterday and lay in bed watching DVDs like Neverland and Fever Pitch. Nearly cried in both. Heh heh. My boss called in the evening to see how I was and she was so sweet it heart tore a little. This morning I felt much better and watched V for Vendetta from bed before getting up and doing a lil spring cleaning. It felt good. The sun was shining so I thought stretching my legs was a good idea. I need a coat and boots, so I thought that was a good excuse to head down to the market. As I'm a cheapskate, I really wanted to find the cheapest coat ever. I'll only need it for the next seven weeks, so why go all out? All I could find were daggy granny coats for cheap. Ugh. Then I spotted a 'recycled' clothes stall in the market and headed in. Grabbed a long grey coat from the wall and checked it on. 15,000 - $20 - SOLD! Too easy. Went to a granny shoe shop and found some boots that fit the bill - only not long boots, but at this point I just need to stop wearing those damn espadrilles. They have a long pointed toe like witches' shoes, and the bossman in the store gave me a once-over before overcharging me. But 45,000 - $60 - Not bad.

Done, I headed home quite pleased with myself. Watched a movie with Colin Firth in a threesome, Where the Truth Lies. Thought about my employment prospects. Thought about Doc cos it was his birthday yesterday. Thought about my friends' home being auctioned today.

Now I'm thinking about Finland, Lapland, the Sami people, and their flag::

Friday, December 01, 2006

Gillard for PM

"This is the most important election for Australian in a generation.
This is not an election we can afford to lose.
It is an election we must win."

Is this really happening?