As I've settled more into a routine, I've only done a few touristy things lately. One of those things includes the Seoul Lantern Festival. There is a small river (almost more like a creek) that runs through downtown Seoul. People set up big glowing lanterns on this creek on platforms and tons of people come and wait in a very long line to walk along the river and look at them. When we went, we decided it was in our best interest to not wait in the super long line, but walk almost as close to the lanterns above on the street level and get a sort of birds eye view. It was pretty cool, but I was much less impressed than I was with the one we went to in Jinju. Getting there was quite an adventure. I was told by Ben, my head teacher, that I should take the 8100 bus until after the big tunnel. First I had to find Brigitte in her phonelessness (I assumed she would come near my house because that's where the bus picked us up when really she took my words to mean the subway station which I quickly realized and hurried to meet her there). Then we walked back to my house, waited for the bus, and got on the bus. By the time we were riding the bus, it was dark out. This means I never really knew if we were in a tunnel or not. Our other main Seoul knowledge person, whom we were meeting up with, had a dead phone. Finally we contacted her through her boyfriend and decided to get off the bus after the river, assuming that would mean we were fairly close. We got in a cab and quickly realized that we were not as close as we thought, and SOMEHOW communicated to the taxi driver that we wanted to go to eljio somethin yuk number 1. He understood and took us there, and we eventually found our other friends. Happy day!
My other most recent adventure was to the Suwon Fortress called Hwaseong Fortress. We walked around half of it (it's VERY long) before it got dark after getting kicked out of a cab for sneaking in 5 people instead of only 4 (the cabby didn't even notice until like 15 minutes into the cab drive, then scolded us a LOT for tricking him). The coolest part was the archery lessons they have set up. Every half hour you can pay 2,000 won for 10 arrows and they will teach you how to shoot them. Naturally we had no idea what he was saying, but it was still fun! Overall the fortress was pretty cool and I'd probably go back again to do the other half.
As far as an update on my normal, everyday life goes; I took a trip to the Suwon Immigration office and got my ARC stuff rolling which means either this week or next week I'll finally have my ARC which means I can get a bank card and a phone and have a normal life! HOORAY! This trip was pretty intense because you get there at 830, before it's open, and wait in a line of people, then old ladies push you to get their number. The funny thing was, no one was paying attention to the lady who was dinging numbers so she got to 12 and I was ready to be helped! The sad part was she wouldn't take my papers because my health check wasn't in an envelope. Good thing my boss was just a phone call away to save the day. The craziest part of this trip, though, was the old man (Chinese maybe?) who was SO pissed they skipped his number he started going off on this poor worker lady. Everyone in the immigration office went silent as hes stomping his foot and waving his came and screaming and this woman. Finally a male worker came over, pulled him to the side, and took the rest of the beating. That's one of the crazy things about Korean culture (and apparently other Asian cultures) is that you have to take a verbal beating from your elders, you're not allowed to tell them to be quiet or say they're rude or even walk away, even if they're completely out of line. One time Brigitte saw a young man get pretty much beat up by an old man with his umbrella on the subway because he spilled something (which admittedly is a pretty big no-no, but really?). Brigitte also sat through a verbally intense conversation at work where the mom of some kid was going off on another kid for an hour! Must be rough.
In other news, I have a new bed situation. I traveled an hour and a half to Itaewon to get a memory foam mattress pad, comforter, 2 memory foam pillows, sheets and duvet covers for 50,000 won (that's a really good deal!) The journey back was quite intense, however. I spent 2 hours on the subway, carried an extremely heavy mattress pad in the rain, but made a few friends along the way. One was a younger Korean man who was very interested in helping me carry it through two transfers (how nice of him, really) and wanted my name to add me on FB (he can't find me cuz that hasn't happened). The next 2 were older gentlemen that were like "Ummmm, what do you have in there??" keeping in mind it was a 2 foot in diameter, 4 feet wide, HEAVY mattress pad rolled up in a sheet. My response: "Umm, a mattress." The last was a younger Korean man right before I was going to go outside. He carried my mattress pad, and then waited in the taxi line with me with his friend holding it up off the ground because if they set it down it would get wet WHILE holding an umbrella for me and him! What nice nice people we find in Korea. All that to say I finally feel like my apartment is becoming my home. I bought the much needed shelf, decorated it, filled it, rearranged my room, I have a bed I love, a space heater, and finally found something sticky enough to keep pictures on the wall. Since my apartment has changed so much, I'm going to put up a new picture! Yay!
New view from the door.
Same same but new bed parts! Like the comforter and pillows. Oh and don't forget a space heater.
Aw my decorations are so cute. Today I told my second graders that I built a shelf and decorated my wall and they were like "Melissa Teacha? Why? Do you like it?" and I was like "Yes, it's fun." They were in shock!