The Cheonan Chronicles

So, I’ll use this post to catch up on a little of recent events, as well as put up the last of my pictures from the weekend.

Thursday and Friday night I spent a lot of time at the Banana Bar in Yawoori playing pool. Thursday I actually stayed until the bar closed just after 4 AM then waited for a bus that started running at 6:20 AM. I had a couple other options, but I was mostly just punishing myself for thinking staying out that late with no cash for a cab home was a plausible idea. I can’t even really remember what I did Friday afternoon. Must not have been terribly exciting.

Saturday I woke up and finished laundry then began the journey to Gunsan. I got to the bus station around 1 PM, but the next bus for Gunsan didn’t leave until 3 PM, so I went to the bookstore and bought Robinson Crusoe and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (mostly because I’ve got a couple students that have read Sherlock Holmes and know who Arthur Conan Doyle is [he seems almost more popular here than in America]) to treat myself and have something to do while I waited. Got on the bus and listened to music and read Robinson Crusoe pretty much the entire time. Robinson Crusoe is an interesting novel to read while abroad. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m isolated and alone. I’ve got a decent group of friends that I see regularly, but a lot of my time is still alone, and I think someone that never feels a little isolated, at least a little, in a foreign country has something wrong with them. Anyway, pictures from the trip:

Still in Cheonan at this point. Whoever this man is, his supporters had a much more intricate dance than the women in the other picture. I’d definitely vote for him, given the chance.

Sorry for all of the repetitive mountain shots, but I can’t help it. Come from the part of Ohio that’s as flat as a table I’ll probably never get used to seeing mountains everywhere. I wouldn’t say I’m breath-taken by them, but they’re still fascinating to me. It’s amazingly more picturesque than any place in Ohio. Towards the end you can tell it started raining, and it didn’t stop all weekend.

In Gunsan, it behooved me to buy an umbrella — usang in Korean — since I was in a t-shirt, shorts and sandals (it was quite nice in Cheonan when I left). I met a guy named Jason whose blog I’ve linked a couple times. We met his friend Leandra, who comes from South Africa and has been here just a little shorter than I have, for dinner which was nice. Then we separated and Jason and I watched a movie called Black Dynamite, which was hysterical. It’s a 2009 spoof kung-fu spoof of the 70s blacksploitation films. I highly recommend it. After that, we met back up with Leandra and just chilled in some empty Korean bar. I liked it though. Good conversation, plus the bar was cool. It was cheap as hell, and you helped yourself to the beer you wanted and then just brought the bottles to the counter to pay.

I also had my first experience with ojineo-ib. Now, I’d had ojineo before, and quite liked it, so I figured whatever it was couldn’t be much different. My dictionary told me that ib means mouth. Squid mouth. So it comes out, and it looks pretty much like eyes. But apparently that’s just how squid mouths look. Jason, Leandra, and their late-comer friend Bryce refused to touch them. They weren’t bad, particularly dipped in gochujang, but there were some little black things in there that were hard to chew, so I had to keep spitting them out.

Afterward, we left for another bar, which was packed with GIs from the local army base. Gunsan is actually much smaller than Cheonan, but the bars were all packed, which is a hard thing to find in Cheonan, because of all the army dudes. We stayed for a drink, then Jason and I went to get some spicy chicken, and I had my second bottle of soju which was just enough to get me over the edge. I remember paying to leave the last place, but not anything after that. Cut to 10:30 AM Sunday morning.

Take a taxi to the bus station, then realize that the 10,000 won bill I assumed was in my wallet was gone. So he had to go to a bank so I could get cash, then take me back. I could tell he wasn’t happy about it. Particularly because I heard him mutter shilba — which is kind of like the blanket big boy curse in Korea. It’s translated in movies as anything from shit to fuck to damn to hell, etc…

One the bus ride back, I read a little more Robinson Crusoe, but also watched the latest Community (my giggles from the back attracted many a curious stare), and then a documentary about meth. It wasn’t the cheeriest movie I ever watched. Got home, then went to Chang-ki’s to chill before the Sunday meet up. We ended up watching the movie Daybreakers. Not fantastic, but at least it was working on a different premise than all the other vampire movies.

The Sunday meet ups are less about studying Korean and more about just hanging out, so we just had dinner with some people, then hung out at Ruth’s place. I taught the Koreans how to play Spades, but we didn’t finish the game before people had to leave. I had the sneaking suspicion that they weren’t loving it.

Monday was business as usual at school. After work I skipped the language meeting to watch Korea play Japan in soccer at Chang-ki’s. Korea won 2-0, which was really cool. They’re looking good going into the World Cup, but they’ll still need a small miracle to make it out of the group stage.

Tuesday morning I had a meeting with my principal and he just told me about all the extra work I need to be doing. I didn’t mind it terribly, since sometimes I honestly feel like I don’t have much to do with the kids. Then I went to each class and told them that if they would continue to misbehave, I’d have the principal call their parents. I don’t know how effective this was. All of the kids that are really cool and obedient were horrified, but all the trouble makers just kind of laughed about it. Damn.

After work Tuesday was another Cheonan City FC game, and as far as rankings were concerned they were favored to beat Daejon, but they ended up losing 0-1. It was super frustrating. Two chances were definitely goals, but one shot beat the keeper but not the post, and another shot that was flicked half-assed in was chased down from behind by a defender and cleared out. The last 20 minutes of the game was a constant barrage of shots at their goal, but none could make it into the net. Still, Cheonan is still in first place, so all we have to do is win the last two games. They control their own fate, so as long as they don’t lose again it’s all good. Next up is Mokpo, the second to worst team in the league, which has only won one game all season, so far. Hopefully they won’t be much of a struggle.

Tonight will be a quiet night of Breaking Bad, Colin (the British zombie made for around $70 that made it to the Cannes Film Festival), perhaps a little Korean studying. Tomorrow, I’ve got the language exchange. I haven’t even begun thinking about the weekend yet, as far as plans, I just know that I’m ready for it to be here. Mostly so I can sleep. I didn’t get a ton of sleep this weekend, and waking up at 8:30 AM every morning murders me.

Early this morning, I had two separate dreams about oversleeping. The first time, I woke up and it was like a quarter to three, which would’ve made me about two hours late for my first class, but I didn’t even care. I was so tired I rolled over and went back to sleep. The second time I woke up thinking it was some time around five in the afternoon. I didn’t feel amazing, but I worked up the courage to check my phone and it was actually 15 minutes before my alarm was set to go off. Technically a good thing, not missing work and all, but I always hate waking up with less than 30 minutes left before my alarm.

There are some big current events right now, as far as hostile North-South relations, but this is already pretty long, so I’ll save it for next time.

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