Another hectic weekend was had, beginning on Friday after school. At the sound of the 5:30 bell I left the school with the 6 other female teachers at Reading Town to head up the first ever bachelorette party experienced by any of them-exciting indeed! Sunny, our head teacher, is getting married this coming Saturday and was very excited when I pitched the idea of a party for her. On the actual day she was quite tired, as was everyone, so we decided to do it up rather low-key and began with dinner at a restaurant down the street from Reading Town. We enjoyed our meal on the floor and I explained to the ladies the concept of a bachelorette party and the activities that sometimes take place-including male strippers. While I did point out that this is not undertaken at all bachelorette parties, and that many women (including myself) are not particularly fond of the idea, Sunny was intrigued. This is hilarious in that she is 21, a zealous Christian, and has claimed to never been kissed by her boyfriend/future husband.
After eating we headed to….wait for it…..guess…..the nuraebang, my favorite place on earth. The ladies and I spent the next several hours rockin the house, dancing on couches and sipping on 2%-the original peach flavored water enjoyed by one and all. Not an ounce of alcohol consumed ladies and gents! It was a great time, and I think Sunny enjoyed herself. She had to call it a night at 9pm when her mother called to tell her to come home and clean up before guests came over. She’s a young one, I told you. Post-bachelorette Marisa, Lina, Jenny and I decided to check out a dvd room, where you can pay a set amount and rent a dvd, then watch it in special rooms. These rooms are often frequented by the young adult set-unmarried, dating, living with mom and pop, and need a place to get some action-come to the dvd room! They are very popular in Korea, as generally everone lives with their parents until they get married, no matter what age that may be. It was not the skeevy place that I was expecting (similar to a pay-by-the-hour motel in my mind), and I really enjoyed the whole thing. We watched a Korean film whose title translates to “Maundy Thursday”. It was absolutely amazing and I wept like a child through a large portion of it. Like, I could barely breathe, was making loud gasping noises, and many disgusting things were coming out of my nose, that kind of crying. Check it out if you can find it. Mom-you’ll love it, I promise.
Saturday morning Marisa and I were up bright and early (6am! holy mother!) to catch a bus to meet up with a group and head for a weekend getaway to the Korean Folk Village in Yongin. The trip was put together by my recruiter James, and marked the first time that I actually made his acquantaince-he quit the day before I got here in order to start his own agency. We had stayed in touch via email and I signed up for his weekend trip to Folk Village and Everland, which is yet another fabulous Korean amusement park. Cassy and Wang, my RMI friends, also signed up since James recruited all of us and we don’t get to see each other all that often, so I was excited for the trip overall. Saturday was a very wet and humid day, but the folk village was beautiful. I wandered around with Marisa and a new Korean friend, Kris all day long, taking far too many photos and enjoying the pleasantness of a rainy day outdoors. I was slightly disappointed about the lack of historical shows at the village though; they generally have traditional acrobatics and some military fighting-type events, but these were cancelled due to the rain. At about 3 pm our group of 30 waegooks and 10 Koreans-incredibly strange to be hanging out with such a large group of North Americans, by the way- boarded our bus and headed to our rented pension in the hills for an evening of barbecue, karaoke, soju and general raucousness. It was interesting spending time with so many different people who are essentially having my own experience in different places. Some love Korea, some are dating Koreans, some are bored and can’t wait to go home, some are exhausted from work, some just don’t like it here. Everyone is just finding their way, meandering along in this country and figuring it out as they go.
Sunday rose bright and beautiful, and humid as all get out even at 7 am. The group left the pension sparkling clean and respectable by 10ish and we took the 10 minute drive to Everland. It was truly spectacular and made for my second trip to a theme park within 7 days (Lotte World is still a winner partially due to it’s proximity to my house. That really counts for something.) Everland has the biggest wooden roller coaster in the world, which was super exciting for me-I rode that bad boy twice and loved every second. There was also a giant phantasmagoric water show that took place in the “European Adventure” section of the park at one point-I ran and played and completely soaked myself. Perhaps not the best idea since I was wearing sneaks which remained soaked for the rest of the day and are still somewhat damp and sitting in my bedroom, but sometimes you just have to let the child inside run free. And run free she did friends, yessir.I was astounded by the Safari ride, if it can really be called a ride, where small shuttle busses take groups of 15 through a habitat within the park that contains lions, tigers, bears, giraffes, even a liger! The animals are close and hang out right on the road, even though they have more than enough space. A tiger even jumped on the hood of a small jeep behind us and ate a piece of meat. It was a wonder to see some of those creatures so closely. I was impressed.
After spending 9 hours at one of the happiest places on the planet, the trip was at an end. We took the bus to Gangnam, then a train to Jamsil, then a bus home and arrived at our abode near 10pm, exhausted and sunburnt and far from ready for another week at school. It was quite nice actually going out and doing something touristy again though, it seems as if I haven’t really seen anything traditional or guidebook worthy in a few weeks. This coming weekend is Sunny’s wedding, so I’m looking forward to actually attending a Korean ceremony. I’ve been told they are boring, but nonetheless, I am excited.
I started my Korean lessons today. Two hours, twice a week, and lots of homework. Gloria is teaching me and I am very excited to start making some real progress in speaking and reading outside of what I’ve done so far through exposure in the country and my own studies. I do love languages and it will really help me to acclimate even more here. I think it’s so interesting to learn a language that’s so completely different than any other I know. English, French and Marshallese at least have the common factor of an identical written alphabet. French has accents, but overall, an a sounds like an a and all that. But Korean involves learning how to read, write and ,obviously, pronounce Hangul before I can even begin comprehension and vocabulary issues. More steps than I’m used to, but I like the challenge.
And to finish, a picture with Thomas, one of my very favorite littlest babies. So adorable, and so fun to play with everyday. He likes to squish my face.
Hope all is well at home. I’ll be back in the OH for a week in exactly one month. Preparations should begin now!