Sunday, February 17, 2013

Same Place, New Adventures

Last weekend I went to Busan. Now as you may know, my very first weekend in Korea was spent in Busan learning to surf for Chuseok. This time, it was Lunar New Year and MaLeah and I wanted to bust out of town for our 3 day weekend that are few and far between, especially for her. We found a trip last minute to Busan so we wired our money and were on our way at 11pm on Friday night.

MaLeah spent her 5 hours on the bus making new friends, while I spent mine sleeping. We rolled into Busan around 5 am and then slept until 12. At that time, we got up and went to brunch at a bar on the beach. The food was AMAZING and we hung out there all day playing shuffle board and such. Then we moved to the beach and hung out some more. After that, it was nap time until about 630 when we had to be on the bus to go to dinner with our crew. Dinner was a traditional Southern meal of pulled pork and baked beans (so delicious and nearly impossible to come by in Korea). We spent the night out, having a blast and making far too many memories (or lack thereof) as well as making new friends.

The following day we were supposed to go on a hike, but instead paid 1.50 for a train ride up to the top (well worth it after the night we had). There was a beautiful view of the ocean and a lighthouse along the way.

After our trip up the hill, we headed towards the famous fish market. It was fascinating and disgusting to see all of those fish. The main attraction of the fish market was closed. Supposedly there is a 3 story building where you can go in, choose your fish, they'll chop it up and serve it to you right there. That building was closed, however that's pretty much how the entire fish market worked anyways. As we walked along the outdoor part, we saw many fish, eel, and even a turtle here and there. We stopped to watch this man make something that seemed like it would turn out to be a fish soup. It was quite interesting to watch. A man told him which fish he wanted (this included a HUGE 4 foot fish that was like, a foot wide, and eel, 2 turtles, and a few other fish) and then the man threw it into a steamer. Then he mixed up some spices, mushrooms, and seasonings and added them to the pot. At that point, we got bored and continued along our merry way to find some skinless, headless, mini eel type things still squirming. We decided at that point, we were over the fish market.

As we were walking back towards the bus, I heard a small little voice say "Melissa Teachaaa!" One of my students, 6 hours from home, randomly in the streets of Busan, all dressed in her Hanbok for Lunar New Year. Adorable.

The evening progressed with another nap, more delicious "Western" style food and drinks for dinner and then a really cool bar that's 14 floors up in a building on the beach. Talk about gorgeous views!

On the last day, we went back to breakfast at the place we were at the first day in Busan, then we went to the temple by the sea. Sorry I was not too on top of pictures this time because I had already been to this temple previously. However we were there during the day this time, and it's still absolutely gorgeous.

The trip ended with another 5 hour bus ride back to Seoul with my new roomies and new homies and it was an entirely memorable weekend that I'll probably never forget.

(Pictures to come...)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Get the Ball Rolling

So this weekend, as you may or may not know, I attended a military ball. When I was first asked to attend by my friend, Steve, I was a little surprised, shocked, and mostly thinking “a ball? Really? What century is this?” To say the least, it was really awesome!

I went on a hunt for my dress 3 weekends prior, found one that wouldn’t work, then went on another dress hunt the following weekend to a different area where I was successful. That was quite an experience in and of itself. The first place we went, the lady had me try on a few dresses, right there, change in the middle of the store. Strip down. When I asked her how much the dresses were, she informed me they were around 300 something dollars. I was like no way byebye. Went to the next place, asked the lady if she had any around the 100 dollar range and I scored big time. At least trying on dresses at this place, there was a small curtain with no light so it was very dark and hard to see. But the lady was super nice, good English, and quite encouraging. She told me she’d alter the dress for free as well.

This brings me to the ball itself. It’s in another city, 3 hours away. Steve and I hop on the train at 1030 in the morning and arrive in Daegu around 1:30. We taxi to the hotel, get out, see a bunch of steve’s friends, go to check in to this super nice hotel and they’re like “sorry everyone, you have the wrong hotel.” We’re like “uhhhh we’re at the right one, isn’t this where the military ball is?” and she was like “no, that’s at the other hotel with the same name.” So she writes down the address, Steve and I squish in a car with 3 other guys, and we follow the girl with the gps. After navigating the crazy Korean streets, driving like Koreans, we pull into a gas station. We are informed that this is where the GPS says the hotel is. So now we have to ask Koreans for directions. Fortunately, we have one Korean with us and she tells us where to go and we finally arrive, at 3 pm, ball starts at 5, and I haven’t eaten since the morning. Steve and I run across the street after checking in to eat some food, then I hurry my little self up to get ready in an hour and a half.

We’re successfully ready for social hour at 5:05 and head down to the hotel bar to have a drink before we go to social hour. After our overpriced gin and tonic, social hour commences. A bunch of wonderfully dressed people are standing around, greeting each other, introducing their wives and dates, taking pictures and buying drinks. We get our picture taken professionally and have ourselves a drink. Then we are told it’s time to enter the ballroom. We all pour into the ball room, stand behind our chairs, and so it begins.
We pray, participate in some toasts, watch the flags come in, sing the anthems of Korea and the U.S. then sit down and eat a fantastic dinner. Wow. It was so good. Cream of broccoli soup, steak, salmon, a few veggies, some salad, and cheesecake for dessert. Then we begin to watch people get different “awards” (that’s in quotations cuz I don’t know what to actually call them, they aren’t really awards, promotional medals maybe?...I think yes). Then it’s time for the dragon idol, where people from within the army are performing different things. Pretty cool. Pretty good. When that’s over, the flags leave and then so do the people. People pretty much dispersed, either going down to the hotel bar, or out to downtown Daegu. We ended up taking that road, had a blast in Daegu, and then the night was over.

Overall I had a really good time, I was so happy to be there. A new cultural experience and not one I thought I’d ever get, especially in Korea. So big thanks to Steve for taking me and being great company.

Steve and I at the ball. 

In other news, it snowed like 4 inches last night so our bus to school has been delayed. It’s also the superbowl right now and I can’t watch it cuz I thought I was gunna be working. So I’ll be watching it later after work, and therefore ignoring all social media all day. Although I’ll be honestly proud if I can make it through the whole day without finding out who won.