Thursday, February 25, 2010

You Get Used to it...

There are numerous cultural and whatever else differences between home and Korea-this is obvious.

But there are a few things I wasn't expecting to get so used to:

1. Like having strangers fall asleep on your shoulder on the subway. This happens. A lot. A couple days ago this guy, probably not more than a couple years younger than me, falls asleep. His head slowly but surely makes its way to my shoulder. It's just more comfortable that way. This happens more frequently on really early and really late trains, but I never count it out. The Koreans are too good at falling asleep in moving vehicles. (and they have a magic ability to wake up right before their stop. amazing)
1a. I do not have this ability
1b. I haven't fallen asleep on anybody yet, but I hope to do it before I leave. Preferably on a hot Korean. Or an ajuma (grandma). Because that would be just too funny.


2. Men peeing on the street. A lot. As a sidenote, I've seen about a million more men peeing on the streets here than I did in Paris, so suck on that all you haters. The men just stop and go. Sometimes they don't even move to the side of the walkway. Yesterday I saw a three year old peeing in a drain...in the middle of a group of buildings. Awesome. Teach 'em young.
2a. Good thing there's nothing to see there
2b. It's like they don't even have to cover anything up!

3. Having it take at least an hour to get anywhere. I swear. Actually, if it takes an hour I'm happy, because thats good time. I've become quite good at reading with people surrounding me, staring at my English books.
3a. Sometimes the long distance sucks because the guy next to you will be chewing whatever food he's eating louder than you can think. I hate this.
3b. Sometimes its nice though, because its not like I can make the train move any faster. So I have more time to read. And people watch. And have strangers talk to me in Korean.

4. Having strangers talk to me in Korean, even after I've plainly stated (in their native tongue) that I, do not, speak Korean (I know its a surprise). I have an uncanny ability to pick the train with the craziest crazy people. Every time. One time there was this ajuma in the corner of the train who had a walking stick. Every couple minutes, she would go crazy with her walking stick, and just lash out and hit the wall, floor, and seat next to her. No one dare sit closer than 5 feet to her, in fear of their life. Another time this old guy was just sitting there, singing (or chanting) to himself. Which is fine. He does what he wants. But then he stands up and sees me: a white person. Out of a train full of Koreans, he approaches me and starts talking. Maybe his eyesight was bad. He just rambles off in Korean and I tell him I can't speak it. This doesn't bother him (maybe he's deaf?) and he keeps talking. One guy close to us translates, "Where are you from?" and so I say the U.S. This still doesn't stop the old guy and he keeps it going for another minute. I just stand there. A group of girls a couple feet away laugh. Finally, the old guy moves away from me and starts chanting again...but in no time he's back to my side, asking me questions. Or at least I'm assuming he's asking me questions. I liked him better when he chanted.

5. Sour Candy (comparable to sour straws...but better). I just love it. Best Korean candy out there, hands down.


(PS: Remember how I saw Backstreet Boys last night? I'll be living on that high note for a long, long time. In fact, I'm wearing my new concert t-shirt right now and I'll probably sleep in it...and wear it tomorrow.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

BSB BSB BSB

Right now my fb status says "dreams DO come true. thanks, bsb".
And it's true. It did start with a dream.
Well, it probably started more with a song, and then a dream formed.

I guess I don't really come across as someone who would like Backstreet Boys. I mean, I had a few surprised responses from friends when I mentioned I was going to the concert. But I can't deny it. They're good. They're very good.

When I was younger I was in love with them (ok, i still am). I had posters covering my walls and I would sing along to their CD's in my room. I had a little tv/vcr combo in my room, but I didn't have a cable line in there (for awhile at least-it would come and i would love it). Anyways, point of the matter is, I would watch MTV religiously (most importantly, TRL) and I would record music videos, interviews, or whatever else I desired, so that I could have it all on tape, so that I could watch them over and over again in my room. I was serious business. (Thanks for the memories, Carson Daly)

When Burger King released their BSB "For the Fans" CD's, I was there. Eating whoppers with Walkman in hand.

After they released their book (Backstreet Boys: The Official Book), my friend Kim and I saved up our money and walked to the closest Barnes and Noble, giddy to relish the photos and stories of our favorite singers. I will never get rid of that book. It was expensive, and the only money I had was from babysitting. Worth every penny.

BSB went on tour a few times, but I was never able to go.

Until now.

It was perfect. It was better than I had expected. Tears fill my eyes as I relive last nights experience. (ok not really but I'm sounding really lame already, so i thought i'd play a little more into it)

The venue was pretty small and I was literally-LITERALLY-twenty feet away from three of my biggest loves. And Howie. (hahaha JK to all you Howie fans)

I got to the place early because I wanted to sneak in. There were a couple doors unlocked around back, and security wasn't that tight, but there were Korean men wearing pink ties at every door that led to the band. Lame Korean pink ties.

There was this photographer who took a pic of our group, and in turn I took a pic with him.

Then inside there was this Korean guy who came to the concert all alone. He was 30. He was standing right next to us, so we got to be friends with him. I don't know much about him, but I do know that if he went to a BSB concert alone, I'd like him.

Then the boys came on stage. They sang. Brian and I locked eyes for an extended amount of time (during the song "Anywhere for You"-a classic) and it was at that moment I knew. I would never grow out of my love for them.


They played a good mix of old songs and new songs. They made me laugh. A.J. is going bald. Nick is still hot but he's losing his appeal (he liked the pelvic thrusts). Howie looks a lot better these days. And Brian is my more mature crush. (we missed you Kevin). It was like hanging out with old friends, and a bunch of Koreans.


So while I might not be 14 anymore, I will age gracefully with the boys who got me through adolescence.

(Ps don't judge me from this post. seriously.)


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Right Now...

...I'm digging on:

Korean Mens Volleyball games, with friends

Good times in P-taek with other friends (but I don't dig saying goodbye to any friends when they decide to go back to America six months in...)

Also, fuzzy blue sweaters found on the street for only 2,000W (a steal!). AKA my cookie monster sweater

Being able to buy whole chickens and knock-off wallets within inches of each other

Teenage Korean graffiti


Also, (picture-less) honorary mentions: The Olympics, Spring vacation (no school=awesome), naps, meeting Taekwondo masters on the bus, basic conversations in Korean (very basic), Tobias Funke, and living the dream.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Today I laughed a lot

You know, after being here for five months (crazy!), I've gotten used to living in Korea. I don't get lost on the subway, I like Korean food, and it has become my home. But every once in awhile, I look around me and I get wake up calls that I actually live in Korea. Along with these wake up calls, I get giant surges of love for my life here. I just love it so much.

Today was like one giant surge of love for Korea, in case you couldn't tell. And this time I'd like to give props to my cab drivers (like I said before, there are good ones and bad ones).
Align Center
I had to take the cab just a short distance to meet up with some friends. I flagged a driver down and got in the back seat. A good portion of the time, a single rider will just get in the front seat, but I prefer the back. So I sit down and tell the driver where I want to go. He repeats it back to me like 80 times, laughing at what was being said. I had no idea why, but he was just real giggly.

Because he started laughing, I started laughing. And this just caused a giant laugh from the both of us. Then he turned around and said "You are very beautiful", so I said thank you and then he started laughing again. Then he said "America?" and laughed again. He repeated those two sentiments over and over again, laughing every time. I was dying at this point, because I had no idea what was going on. He asked if I smoked, I said no, but then he asked if he could smoke, and I told him I didn't care. He got REALLY excited about this and started laughing more. Then he put his hand out behind the passenger seat (so directly in front of me) and I got the feeling he wanted to shake my hand. So I put my hand out too, and we're in a shaking hands position.

But then he just holds onto it.

He holds onto it for a good solid minute before letting it go.

Sad to say, but its the most action I've had in awhile.

But I laughed the entire cab ride. Worth it.

Then, while out with some friends, this crazy flower seller lady approached our table. She finds us every time we go out, and she tries real hard to get the boys to buy flowers for all us girls. She's pretty old and pretty crazy, but tonight she was just off the rocker. After asking us to buy flowers, and us telling her no, she reached down to our table and started eating these banana chips out of a bowl. Then she just started laughing. I was sitting right next to where she was standing and so I started laughing too. She looked at me, after grabbing her banana chips, and with her giant metal filled mouth (she had a legit grill) let out this shrill laugh and patted me on the arm. She did this at least four times. And once all the banana chips were gone she left. We died.

And to add to this, our cab driver home just now asked me if I had a boyfriend.

If I were in the market for a Korean cab driver lover, I'd be in the promised land.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Growing Up

Growing up is so tough.

Against my intense disinterest in ever owning an umbrella, I finally broke down and bought one on the way to school last week. It was raining and I didn't have a hat that day and it was necessary. I still hate umbrellas, but I have been trying to focus on its positives. Like it makes a really good pointer.

Also, I have showered 13 of the last 14 days. Believe it.

You probably won't even know me when I get back to America. But hopefully you'll still love me.

(it rained like crazy when we were in Kyoto. I maintained my umbrella hatred until the tour guide felt really sorry for me and forced one upon me. this picture is at the Kyoto Imperial Palace gardens, in case you wondered)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Permanent


To my permanent Valentines:


Love you!

Happy Valentine's Day to the world.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Company

Its been raining here. Almost every time I leave the house, I must bring an umbrella.

This is not awesome. I hate umbrellas.

Because of this, I walk outside only when necessary.

So along with not having to teach this week (which I was told I would teach), I've had a lot of free time. Indoors. Away from the rain and umbrellas.

It's been good though, because I've been able to catch up on some of my fave tv shows. Thanks internets!


Let me first declare how excited I am for the next season of Celebrity Apprentice starting up in March. I seriously can't wait. The last two seasons have been high qual and I'm expecting even more with this one. I'm most excited about seeing the following celebrities: Bret Michaels (in his bio on NBC.com one of his highlights is "Poison's music has been featured in such big screen flicks as "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," "Grandma's Boy" and "Deuce Bigelow-European Gigolo." hahaha lame), Cyndi Lauper (girls just want to have fun), Michael Johnson (although I predict he'll be out quick...), Sharon Osbourne, Curtis Stone (yes, I'd take this chef home), and, of course, Sinbad!

Until then, however, I've been watching my current favorites: Project Runway and The Colbert Report. Ok, and Jersey Shore.


Jersey Shore is one of the funniest shows ever to exist. It has inspired me to get hair extensions, go tanning, and sell t-shirts on the boardwalk. Oh, and now I call myself Pookie, as given to me by a Jersey Shore name generator. Thank you, MTV, for another inspiration.


This season of Project Runway is pretty good. Let's just say I'm really glad they got rid of Ping this past week. She was crazzzzyyyy. My favorite contestant is Anthony. Mostly he says the most random and hysterical things. I wish I was talented and could design clothing.

And lastly, I just want to be Stephen Colbert. He is hilarious. And he saves the Olympics.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Before Japan...

...there was Jackie Chan.

Photo proof of our obvious connection:


I can't wait to see him again. And don't let his petit Asian-ness fool you. He's built.

(not Joe Semanoff built, but really who is?)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Look who I ran into in Japan!!!



More to come.

I win

At Osaka Castle, I totally destroyed a bunch of Japanese boys:

See the fear? The look of life flashing before their eyes? More product in their hair then I've used all year?

Best 300 yen I spent. Thanks for the costume Osaka.

And I want this hat for Christmas, fyi.

Why not?

A temple in Kyoto. Chion-in, to be exact.
A giant paper mache looking prostitute women hiding behind one of the buildings.

Come hither...to worship at the temple!

Yeah I don't know why this was there. But why not?

Chubby Baby

Chubby Japanese babies are cute.

Maybe the best shot of the trip.

Hiroshima and Miyajima

The places I was most excited to visit, and also my favorite places in Japan. So cool.

Up first: Hiroshima. The Atomic Bomb Dome. Memorial Peace Park. The start of inspirations.

A specialty of Hiroshima: Okonomiyaki. It's a kind of pancake but not. It's made out of vegetables, noodles, and whatever else you want. Ours had some octopus, shrimp, onions, egg, and other things I can't remember. One of my favorite meals in Japan.

Miyajima!
When the tide is higher the shrine 'floats', but this was not the case for us. But it was cool to go up to it.

One of the most beautiful places. It was all misty and magical.

And maybe I took my shoes off for a little wading in the water of Japan.

Peace.

First things first


I'm pretty sure I fell in love with one, maybe two people in Japan.

And let me clarify. I'm talking about LOVE. Not lust. Although I did find myself attracted to Japanese men more than Korean. But since being back from Japan, I find Koreans a little more attractive than before. It's a testy thing, this yellow fever. But I'll embrace it while I'm here. Literally.

Kei worked at the hostel I stayed at in Kyoto. So if he ever googles his name and the word Kyoto hopefully this post will show up and he can see how creepy I am. But I won't put his last name, just to make that less likely to happen.

Kei was there when we checked in our first night. We were pretty tired from our day of traveling but we were also hungry, so being able to ask him where the best places to eat was the perfect ice breaker. (sometimes i struggle for icebreakers when i'm talking to foreigners. i can't use my go to 'thats what she said' comments and it makes things difficult).

Kei told us about a sushi place. So we went. We were in Japan after all. Plus, it was one of those places where the sushi just keeps going past you on conveyor belts. This place was three stories tall, full of sushi. Heaven.

So we ate our sushi (105 yen/plate. I'll take it!) and got back to the hostel. I didn't want to go to bed just yet, so I went out and talked to Kei. He taught me some Japanese, I tried teaching him how to say "walk" and "work" (its really hard for Asians) and we laughed well into the night.

The next morning he was there. He had to work or else he would've come with us for our day trip. At least I tell myself this. That day we went to Hiroshima and Miyajima, both awesome and maybe my favorite places in Japan. But it was long and hard without my new BFF/potential lover Kei. I even brought him back a little something something. I know how to work it.

We get back to the hostel later that night and Kei and I end up talking well past his 1:00am shift. Oops. So we went upstairs to the common room area.
And we made out.

Hahahahah ok not really. But that would've made a better story. We just chatted. It was his last night working at the hostel because he needed a job to pay him more money. He plans on opening up his own hostel in the next five years. I plan on returning to Japan in approx. five years to join his hostel. As a permanent resident.

The next morning tears were shed as we parted ways.
But our hearts will always be as one.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Japan

So, here's the deal.

First off, thanks for being impressed with my photo skills (even if you just said it because i told you to. and Jill, don't even try to pretend). Just wait until you see the other pictures I took on self timer. It really is quite unbelievable. Who needs friends when you have ten seconds to run and jump into a pose before the red light goes off?

Also, I don't know how to really explain my trip to Japan. It was both what I expected but not what I expected. I seriously haven't ever been on a trip like this one. I don't know if its because I'm older or more mature (probably not) or what, but I felt like Japan changed me a little bit. I think its moreso a result of the last few months living on my own in Korea, but Japan inspired me. It inspired me to be better. My theme from Japan was, get this, Inspiration, and its sticking with me.

Bet its not really what you were expecting. See, me neither.

I met a ton of super cool people, both other travelers and locals, and they all seemed to teach me something different about life. This is probably the main reason I love traveling. You never know who you'll end up meeting, and everyone you meet has a story.

What I was expecting to happen, and what did happen, was that I had an awesome time. I saw a lot of sweet places, walked around Kyoto in a crazy rainstorm that lasted no less than five hours, and put my feet into the waters of Japan. I loved it.

I will now highlight a few moments from the trip. Enjoy at your leisure.


It all started

It all started when I got to my seat on the plane.

Only seconds after I put my stuff down, a nice Japanese flight attendant approached me and told me I had been upgraded.

Hello leg room. Hello table cloth. Hello free champagne (joke!). Hello perfect flight.

If this was a sign for my adventures in Japan, I knew I was in for a classy and smooth vacation.

Stories, inspirations, and more to come tomorrow.

As for now, I still have to plan my lesson for tomorrow! Yucky.

(ps I really really want you to be impressed that I took this picture using my self-timer)