Friday, March 6, 2009

horsies, fried intestines, hookahs, and hongdae

well, ive just emerged after weeks of burying myself in the archives of photos since last year. all of these are coming way to late, but at least i did it, right? so, here's the post i started last month; ive broken it into chucks so that your browser wont take hours to load. i guess there's a total of 12, wow... well, better get started:

february 03~

yup, im working at a university now. the same university at which at least 15 of my friends from hawaii went to school. it's a good school too, one of the top in korea apparently. and i start on monday!

im excited and nervous. this job is definitely going to be harder - more students per class, more expectations, more prep work. the good news is i teach fewer hours per week, and im well taken care of. the other teachers are very kind and helpful. but i think i will miss the casual atmosphere i had with my students in suwon. we were able to go and get drinks after class and hang out at my apartment and chat (you'll see many, many examples of this in the pics below). i hope i'll be able to meet with them again soon.

i had a great send off last friday. lunch with students, dinner with students, and an after work party getting food and drinks with students and co-workers - the party lasted all night. i realized how many people i had an impact on and how many people had an impact on me. despite all the good things that awaited me in my new job, i was sorry to go...
well, more about that later.

now i want to get to all the things i never got to before. months and months of experiences, meetings, observations. most, im sorry to say, are probably lost in the folds of time, but i will do my best to resurrect what i can. im going to pull out the pics i took from then and just let my mind wander. we'll see what happens...

i think the last thing i posted chronologically (with exception to a few peaks in my life since then, such as ginny's sojourn with me at christmas) was my friend, daniel's wedding. let's take a look at the next pictures...

october 15~

the week after the wedding (this is mid october, i think), my friend minji and i decided to meet up in 경마공원 (seoul racecourse park), an enormous horse racing stadium that was very nearly its own town. it certainly seemed that way too - there was nothing else around it. when i got out of the subway and was able to breeze fresh air, all i saw was just open country. so discovering how self-sufficient the raceway was surprised me considerably - there was even a library! i met up with minji and we walked around the place. we had actually chosen a day when the racepark was closed, so there wasn't a soul around. it ws kind of eerie walking around such a HUGE place that seemed almost like a town and not seeing anyone else... the fall colors were beautiful, and i enjoyed walking through the leaves that fell from the trees lining the sidewalks. at one point we found the stables and decided to poke around a bit. even if there were no people about, the horses were still there so we paid them a visit. eventually we ran into a human who was hosing out the stables and asked him if we could say hello to the horses. he was happy to let us look around.
[walking along the lifeless roads around the racecourse]

after wandering around for a while, we got hungry, and decided to get something to eat before my evening classes. this is when we became disappointed that the whole place was closed and also that there were no signs of civilization outside of the park on the main road. so we decided to head to 금정 ('geumjeong') a transfer point on the subway in between anyang city and suwon where eateries are numerous. i had asked minji about trying to find a place to eat 닭똥집 ('darkddongjip' - literally means 'chicken shithouse' but in actuality it is a part of the chicken's digestive tract, the crop i think). i was only curious about this because my students had said it was delicious (it was quite humorous when one student tried explaining this word in class, giving the translation i wrote above). unfortunately, we couldnt fine a place to eat this, so we went to the next bext thing - 곱장 ('gopchang' - fried pig/cow intestines). gopchang is very chewy and nutritious. if you dont have a stomach for fatty meats, then i wouldnt recommend it. but it IS flavorful... a little crunchy... a little chewy... a little spicy... nice combo. AND only found in korea! usually eaten with pepper paste and/or made into a 삼 ('sam' - kinda sandwich wrapped in lettuce or some other leaf). we ordered two different servings, and i ate a LOT, but after about 30 or so of these suckers, i couldnt really take any more. i sort of pride myself on my ability to eat strange korean foods, but this one im still working on building up my tolerance...

october 18~
that weekend i headed into 홍대 ('hongdae') an area of seoul named after the university hongik daehakkyo. this part of seoul has the reputation of being extraordinarily lively - many bars, restaurants, cafes, and clubs (for which it is especially notorious) - there's also a good share of art culture around here; street musicians, sketchers, and people selling hand-made crafts and places to hear independent performers. i came here with wonchul and we met up with a couple friends from my second year in hawaii, 김현정 ('kim hyunjeong') and 김지선 ('kim jisun'), no relation.

[this is a pic of the entrance to hongdae university]

[we walked around the campus for a while, and i took this picture of some students working on some 3-D wood construction artwork]

[me and hyunjeong]

[getting sprayed by some rascals - there's a whole street of these posters randomly strewn about]

after wandering about hongdae for a while, we went to a pizza hut for dinner. the experience was completely different from the greasy, but delicious pepperoni encounters i was used to. first of all, there is a salad bar from which our table was allowed to fill two plates at a time; the salads consisted of considerably more gourmet fare than the pizza huts im used to, most of the salads being sweet, fruits, sweet potato salad, vinaigrettes, etc. secondly, the decore was bright, white, very hopital-cafeteria-like. thirdly, the clientele were nearly all girl groups or couples. WTF? finally, the pizza. ah... the pizza. if you've never had pizza in korea before, it is quite the surprise. luckily this was not my first attempt, but you can never be fully prepared... the pizza we ordered was a seafood: shrimp, clams, squid, and, of course, octopus! strange, but yum! less appetizing to me is the golden 'wedding band' of sweet potato that lines the inside perimeter of the crust. but koreans go crazy for it. during dinner my old roomie, 권정윤 ('kwon jungyoon' - aka nikki) joined us. yay! we split the rent for an apartment in hilo for a semester. we got along splendidly, but it was more than a little uncomfortable for me having to sneak in and out of the place under the cover of darkness because we were living illegally and right above the landlord... but, alas, i digress... after dinner chris (wonchul) and jisun had to say goodbye, and hyunjeong, nikki, and i went to a hookah bar nearby where we gossipped for hours until the hour was too late to ignore anymore. hookah bars are great for that.

[at the hookah bar]

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