10 mins .08

Damn, why do I always write these right at the end of the day?

Today I had my weekly Korean lesson with Jenny and Maz. I both love and fear these lessons. It’s great to pick up the few grains of Korean language out of the barrel I’m given every week, at the same time it’s also quite stressful. During the actual lesson I have a fair bit of difficulty keeping the week’s sentence structure in my head long enough to actually recite it at the time, let alone memorise it. I suppose I must be osmosing some of it into my old brainbox, I have a tentative grasp on the location particles.

Here is something somewhat unrelated to the actual lesson content but I find funny enough to whack in a super-quick blog entry. It is an idiom in Korea to suggest that something is old fashioned, or from a long time ago by saying the following:

호랑이 담배 피던 실 얘기 하냐.

When tigers smoked.

For example, if someone’s jacket is, like, so last year, a hip young Korean would tell their unfashionable friend that the jacket is from when tigers smoked.

It’s popular mythology that a long time ago tigers roaming Korea would smoke long pipes. Perhaps they have given up since then.

I have just put the above sentence into Google translate to cooberate and it came back with “Do not tell a million rooms”. I have no idea what that’s about, but the word for tiger is deffinately in there (호랑이).

EDIT: Ha Young tells me that actually this is wrong, it should say:

호랑이 담배 피던 시절 얘기 하냐.

Which still comes back with something pretty weird: “Do not tell a million years ago.” Again, tiger is still in there, it must just be oddly translating the notion.

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10 mins .07

Cycling.

Or rather my attempts as doing so. As I have mentioned, I have bought a bicycle for the reasonable price of ₩200,000. Since buying it, I have not had a fantastically successful time actually riding it. After the trauma that was getting it back from Jamsil before the snow ate it, it actually turned out to be a lovely day yesterday (what the hell weather?), as such I put off Korean revision to try to cycle somewhere, I aimed myself vaguely towards Seoul to see how far and how fast I could go along my normal walking route.

After 15 mins of pure liberation and not a little unsteadiness, I hit a sharp curb far too steep for my thin cycling tyres. They immediately burst and I was forced to walk it home. Heaven forbid that I had been much further away, I may have died.

Twittering Dave had this to say:

Fucking. Puncture. – 7:13 PM Mar 23rd via Tweetie

Make that punctures. Front and back. I am a monster. – 7:24 PM Mar 23rd via Tweetie

I took it to a nearby cycle shop and the man replaced one thoroughly destroyed inner-tube, holes you could put a coat button through, and patched up the other. This afternoon on the second day of lovely weather (we actually sat outside intentionally for a while today) I got my stuff together and planned to meet Ha Young in Jamsil. Immediately I realised that the patch job hadn’t been suffient and the front tyre was a pancake.

state of my wheels and peace of mind yesterday evening

I took it back to the shop and said in no uncertain terms that I wanted the tube replaced minus the cost of yesterday’s puncture repair. To a man who spoke no English. I assume he didn’t go for it because I walked my bike away annoyed and still flat.

Have I bought a cursed bike? Was that the reason for it’s low, low price? Time will tell and I will let you know.
Unless it sends me flying into a speeding train first.

10 mins .06

Tea.


Today my short blog will be about tea. I bloody love tea. I tend to go through phases of only drinking a particular type of tea, usually because I’ve drank a particularly fantastic cup of that form of preparation at some sophisticated event. I went through a bout of only drinking Chai after experiencing the majesty of Chai Wallahs at Glastonbury Festival and once I drank rooibos a lot after visiting South Africa (where the regular black tea doesn’t taste quite right).

Tea, prepared in my insulating mug to keep my tea hot while teaching. Knock over-proof lid not shown.

Right now I am enjoying a fine cup of PG Tips pyramid bag. The box of tea itself was brought over to Korea by Jon’s parents as a Christmas present (I think, maybe they just like giving people tea), also I asked for it. At the same time I also got some fine Whittards Breakfast tea –  thank you Laura.

Anyway, finding good tea in Korea is a bit of a bugger. Koreans are very fond of brown rice tea, which I find utterly foul. It comes in the form of green tea in bags containing, that’s right, brown rice. They must also put something else in the mix because I don’t quite see how mere rice could contain that much distate.

A surprising revelation about Korea was that tea in general is quite expensive, far more than at home. I tried to buy a box of loose green tealeaves in our local supermarket. I thought it was a bit pricy until I found out that actually, it was a box of about 10 bags. I was so outraged that I literally refuse to drink it. I might feed it to my hermit crabs.

I would have thought that I could pick up some green tea super-cheep given my proximity to China on 75% of the boarders (closer than England anyway). However it’s impossible, even though there are plenty of flower tea balls and other types of interesting herbal teas at Lotte Department Store in Jamsil, they are all pretty damn expensive. So I am now looking at importing loose tea from China to Korea VIA England where it is a fraction of the price. Apparently England is world renowned for cheep tea, I just thought that was the going rate.

Just for now though, I’m satisfied with my nice, strong black tea, curtosy of anyone who cares to post me some.

10 mins .05

Tonight I feel a little drained. Not sure I’ve got right into the swing of Monday although my morning was helped by what is essentially a calm colouring-in class with the youngest kids. What with the terror of ‘the yellow skies’ on Saturday, during which I didn’t go out much, I don’t feel like I’ve really had a weekend.

This evening I had lined up a quick bus trip to Jamsil to pick up my new bike from where I’d left it locked up. The plan as I sketched it out in my mind this morning, was to pick it up, ride over to the cycle shop and pick up a few bits and pieces as I needed them, then ride on home enjoying how quickly I can do it on wheels rather than on foot and how much more satisfying it was than sitting on a hot bus.

Sadly my plans were scuppered with a snow shower 5 or so hours on an off. I had to resort to bringing it back by bus, which wasn’t helped when I caught one that didn’t go to Jamsil (756-1 rather than 765, how can they be that different?). A fair amount of metro discomfort followed by bus discomfort to get back home again followed. Things that helped me on my trip: Ha Young for finding out bus information (thanks!), the Dorian Gray eBook.

Now I’m back home I’m quite content to play Jon’s new Final Fantasy XIII, eat some ramyen and maybe make myself a cup of tea before bed.

To cheer up this rather moany post, I thought I’d share this video I found a few days ago. From the same artists that brought us Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, it’s Das Racist with a song about I’m not sure what. Meat maybe?

10 mins .04

A couple of day ago I downloaded a photo app for my iPhone, inspired mainly by the few photos posted by a friend on her blog, back home in Bristol. Taking photos is another thing I think I do all too rarely. While I carry about my phone all the time, the photographic capability isn’t exactly stunning and it’s a fair bit of hassle lugging around my DSLR.

With this little photo app, which does little more than add a variety of old-crappy-hip stylings to iPhone pictures as you take them, I’ve gone a bit nuts. I don’t know what it is about the odd colours and intentionally rugged borders but damn nearly every photo I take with it comes out looking great. In my opinion that is. I don’t know, here are a few I’ve taken yesterday and today.

We went to the post office.

from Ashley's final Kimbap Chonguk

From a walk Ha Young and I took today:

bikes

"woof woof" said the yappy-type dog

The tarnish effect fortunately frames the bridge monument in this shot, perhaps accident and luck are a big part.

I also bought a second-hand bike for 200,000 KRW (about £100), good as new with a few extra bits added on.

I had to leave it in Jamsil though because you can't take them on buses. Sad. Face.

To demonstrate the true power of this app, an otherwise terrible picture taken of my shower.

witchcraft

These photos and more on my Sixth Month in Korea photo album… crikey has it been that long already?

10 mins .03

I’m taking the opportunity in my 10 minute blog today to talk about Yellow Dust.

Yellow Dust (or Yellow Sand) is a seasonal phenomenon over North-East Asia during spring and gives the outside world something of a dim-yellow tinged smog, even over areas of countryside. Wikipedia informs me that it’s caused by sand particles swept up in spring winds over the desert areas of China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, which then swoop all over Korea and Japan. What my body informs me is that it’s irritable to breathe – especially outside, I have a lot of mucus going on and that the ambient light from outside makes it feel like late evening at midday.

I’m sure that no-one told me about this thing before I came here. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it makes yet another season seem mildly inhospitable.

For those concerned (like me) there is even a Twitter feed to keep yourself abreast of the Yellow Dust levels in Seoul:

Yellow Dust Twitter Robot

and for those who read Korean, there’s one for you too:

황사 Twitter Robot

10 mins .02

In a desperate attempt to keep up with what now seems like a volley of wild promises posted yesterday, I will try to now produce a short blog worth reading. I’m not sure how well this is going to go. Right now I’m basically looking through a sort of gauze brought on by Kiwi and Soju cocktails (if there is one thing you take away from this post – soju melts right into cocktails. Far, far better than vodka. You can’t even tell it’s there), purchased liberally after Ashley’s leaving dinner.

Things done today:

  • Had a much better day than I expected at school. Yesterday I was full of the joys of a man beset by a headache. Easy ‘making kids read’ sort of lessons, finished with a couple of games in gym. Altogether less harrowing than I feared.
  • I updated my iPhone to firmware 3.1.2. Interesting right? Had a bit of a problem with PwnageTool but that was overcome (just forced through on the wrong iPhone model)
  • Visited Reading Town (rival Hagwon and ‘enemy’), met new girl I found asleep yesterday. Name is Lisa, seems nice.
  • Had a lovely shabu-shabu dinner followed by drinks (as mentioned) feeling a quite emotional about Ashley’s departure. 안돼!
  • Wandered into E-Mart drunk. I hate myself for loving E-mart. Despite being a big old ubiquitous supermarket, it’s just so Korean I can’t help having a soft spot for it.