Saturday, December 27, 2008

A bunch of random stuff from the last 3 weeks I haven't been posting . . .

Ever since I arrived in Korea (March 2005) on Ganghwa Island I've had a fascination with this bird. They are extremely skittish and hard to get good photos of. This is one of the more 'decent' pics I've managed to get.

Julianne and I go at least once a week to a Galbi place near our apartment. The guy in the kitchen says something that is either "Oh joy!" in mangled English, or something in Korean that I don't know every time we walk in the door.

The ajumma that runs the place watches us the entire time we're there. From the second we sit down till we're done she's watching no matter what part of the restaurant she's in.

I usually let her run the show cause I know the dangers of starting a conflict with an ajumma and try to avoid saying or doing anything that will set one off. But this time I'd had enough with her micromanaging every aspect of how I was cooking the galbi--for the 20th time in front of her.

She came over while we still had a lot of cooked pieces to eat and began shoving the pieces to the side of the BBQ. She then picked up our last strip of galbi and slapped it down onto the grill. I told her stop in Korean, took the tongs from her, and in my own limited Korean explained that cooking Canadian style sees putting RAW MEAT DRIPPING WITH JUICES onto cooked meat that will be EATEN as DANGEROUS.

I think she didn't go all nuclear-ajumma on me because I'm usually very respectful to her, her husband, and the younger girl/waitress they usually have working there. I also suspect that my tone of voice and eyes let her know that if she made a stink about a health issue that wouldn't have any impact on her body (one where SHE wouldn't be the one sitting on a toilet possibly with a bucket on her lap too for hours . . . eek, and yes, it has happened to me before), and that Julianne and I would likely NOT come back to eat there again . . .

That, and she might even know that it's a bad thing to put raw meat dripping with juices right next to, or on top of, cooked meat that people are eating . . . I'm not sure.

I really LOVE the soups in Korea. I was never really a big soup eater when living in Canada. I think I'd have tomato soup once and a while with grilled cheese sandwiches, or chicken noodle soup with something for lunch or dinner. But in Korea, soups are AWESOME!

The only thing is that they come to your table BOILING. I mean it looks like a volcano about to explode . . . and Koreans will immediately dip their spoons in, NOT blow on the spoon or the molten lava soup on the spoon, and shovel it into their mouths while making massive sucking and slurping sounds in an attempt to get cold air mixed with the molten lava soup that must be melting and burning their tongues and the insides of their mouths.

I guess a lifetime of eating soup Korean style must build up a layer of super-human flesh inside the mouth and on the tongues of Korean people (I'm being sarcastic here, but I wonder) so that they can eat molten lava liquids without having to go to the Emergency Room at the local hospital for severe burns.

Then again, it may just be the ajumma-power threat that if you don't eat what is put in front of you, immediately and without complaint, YOU DIE. Donno, but the image is funny.

Lately I've been reading more about how to use my digital SLR camera. I've been trying to put it on the manual setting more so that I have to be extremely deliberate and aware of what the shutter speed, aperture setting, ISO setting, etc, are when I take a picture.

Julianne and I were in a taxi on the way to KFC for dinner--woohoo! Zinger burgers are back--and I was messing around taking pics . . .

More messing around with the camera in KFC . . .

I noticed these things hanging from the ceiling. I tried to memorize the names of each at the time but it's been so long since I actually took the pic that I can't remember now. Oh well.

At the main intersection of downtown Chuncheon there was a Christmas tree . . . with a little bit too much Christmas sitting on top if you ask me . . . I really wish Koreans understood that NEON RED CROSSES are generally reserved for vampire and horror movies, and other things of that particular genre. Mixing that with a Christmas tree is just not . . . not.

Julianne and I wandered around into parts of the Myeongdong area in downtown Chuncheon that we hadn't explored much yet. Julianne was intrigued by the whole cone pizza phenomenon.

At the end of an alley I noticed this montage of paintings . . . it was neat to look at.

Julianne noticed this funny pair of "couplehood" sweaters. I ALMOST wish they had our sizes because it'd be funny as hell to wear them out to a party full of foreign English teachers to see reactions. Somebody should have a Halloween party next year where the theme is "Couplehood" and have prizes for the best top 3 couples . . .

About two weeks ago I was in GS Mart and Julianne and I saw this Christmas display with a mechanical blowup Santa doll (yes, blowup Santa doll-lol) rising and falling out of the chimney sitting in the center of the display.

The picture isn't that great because I took it very quickly. You have to be a little covert when doing this kind of thing in the bigger department stores.

This is about 10 or 12 days ago. There was still a fair bit of snow on the ground. I've also noticed that Chuncheon is a very FOGGY place. I think that the mountains that surround the city must somehow trap all the moisture within the city, and then temperature fluctuations do something to produce a lot of fog.

I think these fish supply trucks are interesting. Every time I see one actually unloading fish I never seem to have the time to stop and take a pic, or I've forgotten my camera at home. Either way, at least I got this pic of something that I don't see back in Canada.

Two weekends ago Julianne and I went to Seoul for a Christmas shopping spree. This is what a bus ticket looks like in Korea. The thing that kills me here is the cost. In Canada, a two hour bus trip would cost about 70.00 dollars--in Korea, 8, 500won. The travel system here rocks.

Inside the bus terminal waiting . . .

I was messing around with my camera trying to figure out the whole aperture and shutter speed relationship thing . . . I still don't fully get it, but I will, I will.

The mountains looked really cool covered in snow but the inside of the bus was rather 'moist' so the windows fogged up--argh.

Namdaemun Market in Seoul. Julianne and I went here to hit the underground market to pick up stuff you can't find in the major department stores. Gillette men's deoderant and Irish Spring soap are two examples among many of what you can find there.

Every Christmas a couple of the booths have Christmas explosions that suddenly produce overflowing amounts of everything Christmas you can imagine, and then more that you never thought possible.

Anybody need some Christmas balls? Heheheh . . . had to say it, sorry.

Is it just me or is one of the Santa's a little too gangster-ish?

There were also these little mechanical Santa-thingies where Santa climbs up and down a rope, or is hanging from a parachute--seriously, do the people who make these not know that all he needs is his sack of gifts and his Santa suit? I foresee the need for many of us to include Christmas cultural background content in our winter English lessons--that and a copy of "The Santa Claus" with Tim Allen; it's seriously one of the best movies on the market for cramming everything about Christmas into one movie (oh, except for the baby Jesus part, lol).

Later on the subway going to Bandi & Lunis bookstore in Jonggak Station. Julianne thought this was crowded. I told her that she should have seen it during the world cup soccer period in Korea--that was NUTBAR!!! I wish I'd taken pics when I experienced the 'weightlessness' of being in a subway car with so many people that I could just lean back and not even bother trying to balance in the car . . . the whole red devil meets Daisy Duke tshirt and mini-skirt thing was also "interesting" to see too . . . lol.

Julianne wants to learn how to read, write, and speak more Korean. So we went looking for one or two more books to add to the 4 I already have in my own library. This ONE TABLE is the ENTIRE SECTION for learning Korean in Bandi & Lunis.

80% of it is crap. The other 20% is good, but I wish there was more of a selection. We also went to the Youngpoon bookstore that is in Jonggak station and they had a bigger selection . . . of which 80% was crap. I took a look at something made by the foreign office (American, I think) for learning Korean. It was strictly translation/grammar-based, memorization-based material and looked like it had been made on a 1960s-era typewriter IN THE 1960s . . .

We ended up buying "Korean for Dummies" by Jungwook Hong and Wang Lee, 31 000won, and "Korean Phrasebook for Travelers" by BJ Jones, Hollym 1987 for 9, 000won. I also have "Survival Korean" by Steven Revere and a couple of other books that I don't have handy right now to mention the titles accurately (you can see how often I pick them up).

The Survival Korean book also has another book in it's series that is more focused on accumulating a beginner to intermediate vocabulary and some grammar. It looked good and we might pick it up later.

We ate lunch at the Subway shop near Insadong. I noticed this box in the back corner . . . lol.

Taking a taxi back to the hotel I took this shot. It boggles my mind that this kind of improvised framework is legal and very widespread for motorbike delivery guys--but at the same time it doesn't. I've become totally desensitized to the sight of mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles loaded down with as much stuff as can be crammed and tied on driving down the SIDEWALK and anywhere and everywhere these guys need to go.

Taking the train back to Chuncheon I took one pic and then gave up. It was too dark, and we were tired from all the Christmas shopping we did.

We of course had to do the obligatory self-couplehood shot to occupy some time while traveling. The couple in front of us probably took shots non-stop for at least 15 minutes. After 5 minutes of, ZZZ-ping, ZZZ-ping, I was on the verge of going postal and taking the cell phone and snapping it in half, and then handing it back while saying, "Sehebokmanipaduseyo!" (Happy New Year!) but I restrained myself . . .

Yikes! My New Year's resolution: eat healthier, and exercise more . . .

A couple of days ago Julianne and I were coming home and saw one of the neighborhood cats.

I wonder where he's been that he's so dirty? Hopefully it's someplace warm that he finds to sleep at night.

Julianne and I have lately been thinking about getting a couch. We have one but it's a cheap uncomfortable thing that doubles as a foam stuffed, unfold two times into a bed couch-futon thing. When we saw this pink thing we considered it . . . but then thought, uhm, no.

In Korea it's common to see furniture out next to the garbage and recycling bins. It is usually old stuff that people dump and apparently the rule is that if you want it you can take it--though I suspect the real rule is you're supposed to leave it alone if there's a sticker on it (it means somebody or a company has been called and will pick it up) I know a lot of people go wandering at night looking for night tables, dressers, and other odds and ends that have been put out on the curb to take back to their apartments and clean the thing up. Why spend money on furniture for an apartment you'll only be living in for a year or two (most foreign teachers only stay that long, it's the rest of us 'babos' that stay longer).

And yet anther pic of dokgalbi . . . I think I'm becoming a connosieur of dokgalbi in Chuncheon--kind of. I can actually discern the difference in flavors, spices, and other small details that I never used to be able to . . . interesting.

I love the green and red color contrast here.

After dinner Julianne and I walked over to the M department store. It's a kind of high-end, posh department store. The reason I like it is because it's grocery department rocks!

It actually has a foreign foods section with stuff from America, Canada (22 000won for a TINY bottle of maple syrup--I nearly died at the import price jacking), Japan, China, etc.

I really love this place because they carry dill pickles, good nacho chips (not the crappy ones you can find at Emart, and GS mart), and other stuff that is hard to find in Chuncheon. Check it out.

Oh yeah, the Santa with two glow-in-the-dark batons directing traffic . . . nice.

Having stuffed ourselves on dokgalbi we decided to walk part of the way home. I noticed an independent butcher shop . . .

. . . where I also noticed these yummy things . . . YUM!

Yay for culinary diversity! LOL . . .


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