An Expensive Weekend

Well, the weekend was a fairly slow one. Saturday was when the World Cup games were, but both South Korea and the US lost. I actually stayed up until 6 AM to watch the US game. So disappointing. The only good thing was that when the Banana Bar closed at 4 AM, the owner went and got gamjatang with me. I got his number and said we’d hang out some time. I can’t even remember what I did during Saturday, except biking to Yawoori to get some books.

Clockwise from the top right: Obama’s The Audacity of Hope (I suppose I couldn’t be a real liberal without owning it), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies(probably the only way I’ll be able to read Jane Austen), Snuff by Palahniuk (already read it — it was okay, not great), and a Korean kid’s book. Level 1 reader. The title means “A puppy is better than 100 points (on a test)” (lit. 100 points than puppy [omit. more] good). Total: just over 70,000 won. Buying American fiction or non-fiction is crazy expensive here. It’s like 26,000 won ($25) a book.

When I was in the book store looking at the English fiction books, I noticed a Korean woman approaching me. I had my buds in and was crouched down, so I didn’t immediately realize she was talking to me. I took them out and said hello. She started asking me about what kind of books I like to read and said how people who like to read like to acquire knowledge. At first, I thought she was trying to pick me up or something. Then she asked me if I was interested in magazines, and I immediately knew something up. She ended up giving me this publication for foreigners that counseled people based on the teachings of the Bible.

I told her I wasn’t religious, and I think she could tell I suddenly became a lot more stand-offish, because she let it drop pretty quickly. After that we just talked for a couple minutes about what I was doing in Korea. She walked away, and I finished picking out my books. Then I went and found her and asked her for some help. She was really nice and helped me find the easiest kids book in the store. Haha.

Sunday I went and bought a hookah in Songtan.

It was the smallest size, but it was only 45,000 won, and it’s perfectly fine for one person. I really like the color. Also, the little blue button turns on color changing LED lights in the little glass crystal. Pretty nifty. I haven’t smoked out of it yet, because I spent pretty much all Sunday once I got back to Cheonan in Yawoori with James. I didn’t have any aluminum foil either, and I didn’t want to get it after the language meeting yesterday, so I got it tonight.

These are the four flavors I bought. Nothing crazy. Mint, strawberry, cherry, and apple. Unfortunately, the boxes are really small. This means I’m either going to have to buy a ton at a time, or make like bi-weekly trips to Songtan, which is like half an hour by subway. Of course, I also got coals, but those aren’t really worth taking a picture of. All told, it ran 90,000.

When I got back to Cheonan, I met up with James and we had some coffee. Then, on a whim, we went and got a new pair of glasses for me. I didn’t really feel like taking them off for a picture, or taking a lame MySpace-y mirror or angle picture, so I’ll suppose you’ll just have to wait for a natural picture. They’re basically the exact same as my last pair, but ever so slightly bigger. It’s nearly imperceptible unless you compare them side by side to my old glasses.

I actually wasn’t a huge fan of them at first. I thought they were too big. I only got them because James insisted that they looked good. I trusted his instincts. Part of it is also that I pretty much never like how I look regardless of what I change or how, so it was kind of moot. People seem to react to them favorably, though, so I suppose they must fit me well.

The best part about getting the glasses was the cost. I was afraid that without insurance it’d be crazy expensive. I’m just too used to American prices and methods. The frames were only 70,000 won. There was no charge for the eye exam. Then it was 30,000 won for the lenses. The frames I picked were on sale for 20% off, which also applied to the lenses, and then I got the “know the dude behind the counter” discount, because James knew someone working there. Total, it came out to 70,000. Also, my glasses were ready in fifteen minutes. It’s been awhile since I got glasses in the States, but as I remember, you couldn’t get out of there for under $150 and it usually took like a week for the optometrist to receive the glasses that were made somewhere else.

After that, I went to Leechard Pro Hair to keep James company while he got his haircut. It was like getting your hair cut in a space ship. Everything was either bright white, stainless steel, or a mirror. It was gigantic, too. Probably fifty stylists were working. Also, you got complimentary juice, coffee, tea, etc… while waiting. Also, getting your haircut at a station that had a TV or a computer connected to the Internet is a possibility, and at no extra charge. That just tickled the shit out of me. I watched some guy get his hair cut, completely ignoring the stylist, and just surfing the web nonchalantly. Also, Koreans don’t seem to have that same urge to have a conversation with the person cutting their hair like we do in America.

Last picture of the day is something one of my first graders, Jane, gave me:

While it says “I heart love”, I’m pretty sure I’m what she hearts. At least, she said “I love you” when she gave it to me. Isn’t that sweet. I wish I only taught in one room, so I could keep everything my students give me at work and display them. Unfortunately, I teach in four different rooms. Still, I take everything home and put it next to my bed. I’ve got a small collection of things that my students either make, write, or just give to me.

Now I’m just killing time, waiting for True Blood to finish downloading. I’ll watch that tonight, continue reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and maybe study Korean a little. I read all of the Korean kids book by myself Sunday, and I understood the basic plot, but most of that was pictures coupled with the verbs I recognized. It’s an interesting thing going from reading classic English literature and analyzing it to walking around a book store cluelessly trying to find the easiest book possible. It’s really weird opening a book and going “Ten lines per page? This is WAY too hard for me” and putting it down.

Monday night I took it to the group Monday and just spent the whole time reading the book aloud and having the Korean guy explain all the words I didn’t know. The book is only 31 pages long, but I only got to page 16 in an hour and a half. Haha. Still, it was really helpful, and for grammar, too, as well as vocabulary.

I’m already dying for the weekend. There’s a scavenger hunt/going away party/kegger at the RnB. Looks to be an event filled weekend. Sunday night we’re having the barbeque at Ruth’s apartment. I guess there’s a nice balcony patio area we can grill on.

I want to do another blog about Korean oddities, but I keep forgetting all the stuff that occurs to me. I also want to take my camera with me to  a couple dinners and get shots of all the different food. I’ve posted some pictures, but I want to dedicate a whole post just to traditional, popular Korean food.


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