Saturday, March 21, 2009

Seoul Tower, St. Patrick's Day, and Duck

We went back to Insadong yesterday, where the automatic toilet was, and w e went back inside. This is Janique and I in the bathroom. (Please note, although it's hard to see, my hair is perfectly straight, and yesterday was the first time I didn't have time to blow dry it, so it air dried that perfect. No hair drier, no straightener!!!!!)

Last Tuesday was St. Patrick's Day. We went to Madigan's, the Irish Pub. (No Mom, they didn't play any of 'The Boys.') St. Patrick's Day got crazy for all the SLPers, but in general it was way more mellow than I thought. They were giving out shirts to anyone who bought 4 Guinness's, but I asked for a shirt and the owner gave it to me. If it's free it's for me!!! Amanda, Jamie, and I got off early from work, so we went at around 6:00, and we thought people who be there early for the celebrating, but we were the only ones there until about 7:30!!! We ate dinner there, and I had Shepard's Pie. It was good, but not as good as my Mother's!!! It was nice to eat some non-Korean food! More people started showing up a little later, and because the afternoon teachers didn't get out until 9pm, they didn't show up until about 10PM. After Madingan's closed at around 3am, we went back to our apartments, and we thought it was a great idea to go to Fish and Grill. I should have gone home, but instead, Anna, Liz, Jamie and I went and drank more at Fish and Grill. The time we went home is debatable. I think I got home a little after 4am, but Anna thinks it was after 5am. Either way, we are all preschool teachers and Wednesday morning was rough!!! Let's just say it was not a very Happy St. Kelly's Day!
This was the first day I could wash my hair. I didn't straighten it, just got out of the shower and blew dry it!!! Pretty amazing huh? As I blew dry it I was waiting for it to just frizz up and look like the normal Afro it does after I blow dry it. I was ready to cry. But it stayed perfect!!!!
Amanda, Jamie and me rocking Madigan's before anyone else showed up.

After work one night we went to this Duck restaurant that John knew about. I'm not really sure about this story, but from what I was told, it used to be a duck farm, but they got shut down for not treating the ducks right, so now they turned it into a bunch of duck restaurants. When they said we were going to an old duck farm restaurant, I was NOT expecting this.... We had to walk down this sketchy back dark road, and finally we came to this structure, not building, that looked like a green house. It was just a big tent. The floor was dirt, and the seats were egg crates with a cushion on it. The tables were just wooden boxes. It was VERY dirty and sketchy, and if I was in America I never would have eaten there, but When in Korea!!!! The duck was mixed with potatoes, green onions, rice cakes(not the cardboard kind you eat on a diet, they are squishy wet rice cakes), and a spicy sauce that wasn't that spicy at all! They dumped that mixture onto a pan on the table in front of us, and put a fire hot round brick under it, and that's how it cooked. We had to stir it. After it was cooked we all had little bowls, and we ate out of the pan with our chop sticks. It was really good. After a little while of eating, they came over with rice, and mixed it all together and it was like a new dish!

This is what it looked like after we were finished. This was after the rice was added.

These were the "tables." Of course no meal of duck is complete without mekjew and soju!

Here is a picture of the seats we were sitting on. Egg crates with a cushion! This was the guy who came with our fire bricks.

This is the duck when it was first poured into the pan. Kathy teacher, my Korean teaching partner, came with us, and she was sitting across from me and she did a great job telling us what and how to eat it. She is Korean and this was not her first duck experience! There were I think 11 of us, so we had 3 or 4 pans of duck. I was glad to be sitting with the only Korean at the table!!

This was our fire brick!

The tent/greenhouse/restaurant!

This was the outside. A real classy place!

Last weekend there were SO many people at SBS(Seoul Broadcasting Station). I couldn't even capture the entire crown from 11 stories up out my apartment window! People were lined up way down the street.

This is from the night we went to The Loft. Me and Janique. This was before Magic Straight.

This is Anna, one of the newest teachers at SLP. She was wearing a dress under that sweater, and she took off the sweater, and this old Korean man at the bar, maybe 50 years old, started chatter her up, and then he said, "You are very strong, how much?" kkk So later I noticed this whole in this hole in the ceiling, and we thought it would be funny to make it look like Strong Anna punched the hole.

Amanda and I went to Namsan Tower after work one day a few weeks ago. It's the tallest structure in Seoul, probably even in Korea. It's a very famous tourist destination, but for some reason when we got off the subway we couldn't find it!!! There were no signs for it anywhere, and we walked and walked and finally we found a way behind the back alley of a Woman's University. That probably wasn't the best way to get there, but it got us there. Our plan was to hike up to the top, which is quite a hike, but it was very unclear which way to hike. We started hiking, and I'd imagine we got a good amount of the way up it, but we knew there were stairs you had to climb, and we didn't see stairs and it was getting late, so we hiked back down and took the cable car to the top. Later we found that we probably were going the right way, the stairs are only at the very top.
At the top of the mountain, there is a structure that looks a lot like the Seattle Space Needle, (Or the Paris Needle, KKK) and it's very high. I forgot how many kilometers high the elevator said we were going up, but it was a lot! There is a viewing deck at the top, and there were different countries listed all around and it said how far away they were. It was so beautiful. By the time we reached the top it was dark, and the city looked beautiful! The pictures don't look impressive, but I promise it was very very beautiful.
Amanda and I used the tallest bathroom in Korea!!!!!
There was also a restaurant at the top but we didn't eat at it.
I'd definitely like to go back and walk to the top during the day.

This was the hike down. It was pretty steep and the stairs were big, so we felt like midgets walking down them!

This is a famous part of Seoul Tower, it's a gate that is covered in locks. People who are in love go up and put a lock with their names on it, and then they lock it on the fence and throw the key off the mountain. It's supposed to mean that they will stay in love forever I guess. The fence is very long, this is just one small section of it. There is a rumor that a Big Bang(The very famous Korean boy band) member has a lock up here with a girl.

"Beautiful Mind Makes Beautiful Place" This was a sign on the inside door of the highest bathroom in Korea. Its on the inside of each toilet's door.

Well this is how far away I am from home. 11,061 kilometers away!!!

A view from the top. As I said, the picture does not even come close to how amazing the view really was!

This is from when we started walking up the mountain.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Magic Straight

Today I went to the hair salon that all the people who I work with go to, and I got a trim, and I got this thing done to it called Magic Straight. It was invented in Asia, I think either Korea or Japan, and it is like a perm, but it makes it straight, not curly! No more spending hours straightening my hair!!!!!
It took 5 hours to do!!! My appointment was at 2pm, and I didn't leave until after 7pm!!! They first put a solution in my hair, and I had to sit for maybe an hour with it in. They wrapped my hair in Seran Wrap and I felt like leftovers!!!! They also set up this heater behind me, that has to kind of blades, but they were heaters, and they slowly rotated around my head. It was crazy looking. They rinsed out the solution, and straightened my hair for SO long. They used special straighteners that are only used with Magic Straight. There were two of them working on my head, and it still took them almost an hour to do. They were VERY careful to make sure it was extra straight! Then they had it looking very beautiful, and they went and put ANOTHER solution in it!!! I almost died when they ruined the work they just did! They put these little shower cap things that are meant for ears so the solution didn't get on my ears. I felt really silly wearing them! Then they rinsed the second solution out from my hair, blew dry it, and straightened it all over again!!! Then they cut my hair and they were finished!
The hair washer man is nicknamed Magic Fingers, because he gives wonderful head massages when he washes your hair. I almost fell asleep sitting in that chair!!!
It was pretty expensive, it cost me $200. I think it will be WELL worth it if I don't have to straighten my hair again!!! My friend Jamie also got it done, and hers wasn't as expensive because she doesn't have as much hair as me so it didn't take as long.
The place we went to is called Zen, and it is also a school for training how to work on foreign hair. They train people who are already hairdressers how to do trendy haircuts as she put it. The woman cutting my hair had the left side cut to a bob, and the right side long, and the right side had some bleached streaks and some other colors and the left side was black. They all have pretty funky haircuts. She said 90% of the clients are foreign because all the hairdressers speak English, and they are on the 5th floor of a building, so they don't have a lot of Koreans who see it and walk in. And the foreigners all tell their friends about it. It was really busy all day, and I only saw one Korean woman and she was speaking English!
Now that I have this done, I can't wash my hair until Tuesday night!!! I also can't get it wet, put it in a pony tail, or tuck it behind my ears. I can wash it on Tuesday, but for a week I still can't put it in a ponytail. I'm trying my hardest to keep it flat and straight. It's hard for me not to tuck it behind my ears because that's such a natural habit of mine.
My hair feels beautiful. Tara got it done about a week ago, and I thought since it's like a perm, it would leave her hair dry and damaged like perms and dying does often, but my hair is so nice and soft and feels very healthy. Plus I won't have to straighten it anymore, and that does so much damage to my hair!

Last night we went to the Loft in Itaewon, where ladies drink for free. It was a great night, I took full advantage of the free drinks, and I'm not feeling so hot today so I'm not going out tonight. Plus since I can't wash my hair until Tuesday night, I don't really want to go out tonight because my hair will smell like cigarettes since you can smoke in the bars in Seoul, and I will have to smell like an ashtray until Tuesday!

Things are great in Korea! Work is going well. I like my preschool classes a lot. I have a few real cute kids, a few punks, and I have some really smart kids, and some kids who are realllly dumb! I think we will have a good year. On Friday I lost one of my preschoolers, Julie K. She is one of the smallest girls, so she is probably one of the younger kids, so she is probably just barely 5 years old in American years. At 11:00am the kids eat snack, and that is when we switch classes with our Korean teaching partner, and teach the other class for the rest of the morning until lunch time. While the kids eat snack, the teachers have a 10 minute break, and we go up to the office. When I went back downstairs after snack, Julie K was missing. I asked the kids and they didn't know where she was, so I went to the bathroom and called her name and no one answered. I went to my Korean teaching partner's class and asked her where Julie K was, and Jenny(my Korean partner for preschool) kind of flipped out, and we had all of the helper teachers frantically looking for Julie K. We looked in every classroom, and downstairs and upstairs and we were really worried about her. A few minutes later she came calmly walking out of the bathroom. She was there the whole time and just didn't answer when I called her name. Thank god I don't speak Korean and I wouldn't have to be the one to call her mother and explain to her that I lost her daughter!!!
It's actually good and bad that we can't talk to the parents. We don't have to deal with parents who are a pain in the ass and call every day asking if their son or daughter is a good student. But also if there is a problem with the kid, I'd love to be able to talk to a parent, but instead I have to tell my Korean teacher and she translates it to Korean and tells the parents. Who knows how it comes out after being translated....
I will take pictures of my new students soon!

I will keep you all updated on my hair in a few days when I can wash it and see if it really stays straight!!!