Friday, April 20, 2007

I'm happy!

Leaving for Thailand in a few hours and i'm happy.

To life.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Spring in Seoul

Have you ever had so many bills that your money doesn’t fit in your wallet? I actually have such a problem quite often in Korea…

See, the biggest bill you can get here is 10 000 won – which is like 10 dollars. So if you’ve got 300 bucks on you, it means there are 30 bills in your wallet.

That’s what it looked like before I emptied it to buy D&G super sunglasses! 50% off! Sion bought Prada’s and Twyla also got D&G. I love that you can do that here. We make good money, don’t pay rent, sweet deal.

So it’s the week-end and I’m really happy. Right now the flowers are blooming all over Korea and it’s phenomenal. Azaleas are especially beautiful.

Last night we went out to the “luxurious” noraebang (karaoke bar) in hongdae. Look at this!

The concept is very simple: you get a private room with your friends and sing, dance and scream as you like. It’s usually cheap, and this one was 18$/hour for the four of us. Sweet deal.

There was a street festival so the area was very lively. I actually think those artists are really good!

We ended up at Tinpan once again and I’m incredibly thankful that Twyla’s friend is still here because he is a GREAT dancer! We had a really good time and ended up going home at 8AM this morning.

Going to Thailand next week-end and I’m really really really excited! Life is pretty good, I’m really thankful.

Plus I got a basketball today. It so made my day! When you're single, doesn't take much to make you happy!

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Friday, April 13, 2007

My butt in Korea

Never have I been so aware of my butt.

Butt-grabbing in Korea is shameless, and a sign of curiosity. I’ve had my hair touched by total strangers on the street (given, you don’t find lots of blond curly hair in Asia), my skin patted and of course I’ve been stared at. But my butt??

On my very first day in Seoul I hopped on the bus and two ajummas (women over 50) slapped my tushi and just laughed their head off! It was like their “dare moment” of the day.

Today one of my housewives students literally put her hand on my butt as the other housewives giggled. She asked “is this sexual harassment if I do this?” Of course I smiled and so she did it again! How am I supposed to react?

I chose to think it’s funny. I know they're not gay r pervert; just curious.

I feel like an alien here, but in a good way. When I got to Korea, I was expecting to be on the other side of the wall. I thought I would experience racism.

As it turns out, it’s reversed racism. Like I said before, being a white girl in Korea is a ticket to heaven!

Yesterday at the gym I got my membership extended 3 weeks for n-o-t-h-i-n-g! On top of that I joined spinning class for only 20 bucks. It think it’s safe to say that I love Yuni :D

Reversed racism also includes the free food, incessant compliments and special treatment. It’s really nice. But sometimes it’s too much.

One of the guys at the organic fruit market by my place yells every time he sees me “hello girlfriend!” and then he turns to the costumers and says “MY girlfriend!” While it was cute the first time, it kinda gets tiring.

Moreover, white girls here are often seen as sexual objects that can fully fulfil men’s desire. Of course it’s not true, but how do you get rid of that image?

Tonight at the jimjilbang (sauna) Twyla and I were asked by a very bad-looking pathetic Korean man if we are Russian. Roughly translated it means "are you hookers?"

Russian women come here as prostitutes because the money is good and Korean men are horny for white chicks. It's one of the biggest insult when you get asked that.

I understand the curiosity of that little Korean girl staring at me because she probably never sees a 5"11 naked white girl. It's just curiosity. Ajummas grabbing my tushi is understandable too. I chose to laugh, but of course I could be mad and insulted.

It's all about the attitude.

But you don't see me slapping the butt of Chinese women back home!!!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Forced to be gay

I love those morning classes with Korean housewives. We just have some tea and discuss whatever topic comes up. They are adorable, funny and very sweet (when they don’t scare new students away)! Plus, they teach me a lot about Korean culture.

Like this morning. Sue told us this story about a woman who was worried that her son never married. One day, she found out he was gay. Apparently, his boss had “forced” him to become gay.

This story came up after Stella showed up with a baseball cap on (meaning “bad hair day”), telling us that she HAD TO drink last night. She’s a freelance translator for LG and the Chinese clients she’ll be translating for this Friday invited her out for dinner.

In Korea, you can’t say no to that. You can’t refuse a work-related invitation; otherwise it’s seen as rude and could be really bad for business.

But not only do you HAVE TO show up for dinner. You CANNOT refuse a drink. And God knows how wasted those businessmen can get. So you basically drink the whole night long and end up being totally drunk.

Some people have this trick where they hide a bucket under the table and empty their glass when no one’s looking. Stella couldn’t find one I guess…

So anyway, they told me how Korean bosses basically own you and you pretty much have to do whatever they ask you to do. Thus Sue’s story about the gay dude.

I thought it was quite funny because where I come from, you’re born gay; you don’t “become” gay. Maybe in some developing countries people are forced to have sex with people from the same sex for money. But that’s not being gay; it’s sexual slavery!

I found out that Korean mentality towards homosexuality is very conservative. The housewives insisted that public opinion has improved a lot on the matter, but it still seems to be a hell of a ride to be gay in Korea.

Ironically, it’s a very touchy-feely society. Girls hold hands, touch each other and so do boys, who would especially look gay in a foreign country when they’re drunk and hug each other.

Moreover, people see naked bodies every time they go to the sauna. Back home, nakedness is a very private thing… except for nudists and strippers!

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Too young to be old... and North Korea

Ain’t got no idea how my friend got up this morning. She’s visiting the DMZ, I’m still dizzy. What a week-end!

Do we need to party so hard in order to have a good time? I’m too old for this now^^

Friday night we had a great time with Kyungah, Rachelle, Twyla and her friend Sion. Christine got us a table at Skyview (41st floor!) for dinner after work. The food was good, great wine, great atmosphere. Except maybe when the opera singer kicked in.

Everyone was tired so we called it a night, right after some delicious ice cream at Cold Stone – where Rachelle totally danced the whole time. It was hilarious!

Saturday we met with Erika, Sion, the hairdressers, Erin and her boyfriend for dinner in Itaewon. Right behind KFC there’s a small alley that goes up. Then turn left, walk to the end and go up the hill. There’s a French restaurant called “Mignon”. Exquisite!

After that we headed to a cool nearby bar called “Bungalow”. You basically sit in swings and the floor is covered with sand. Nothing better than enjoying your cocktail with your feet in the sand! Plus the waitresses have that "exotic" thing going! And there's a hottub on the roof!

As if this wasn’t enough, we ended up in a gay bar. As you probably guessed, the gay society in Seoul is very low-key and/so there are about 2 gay bars in Itaewon. Where are they located? Right on hooker’s hill! Apparently it’s another form of sexual deviance hehe

Back in Montreal my gay friends would take me out dancing. I just love gay bars! Men there know how to dance and it’s such a fun atmosphere! So I was glad to feel that energy, as opposed to everyone drinking their head out at straight bars.

Unsurprisingly, there were more foreigners there than Koreans. Sion made me dance the whole night long and it was phenomenal! I hadn’t had such a great dance partner in a really long time!

We left when the bar closed, and we got home around 6am. We tried staying up until the sunrise in order to catch a ferry to Deokjeokdo, but we totally passed out.

Woke up in the afternoon, had some McCrappy and spent the afternoon by the Han River. I’m lucky it’s close to my place. And it felt nice to just chill out a little.

I showed Sion and Annabella the Korean convenience stores – go to a 7/11, get your beer bottle and sit outside at a picnic table. Much cheaper than going to the bar. We tried some dry octopus and it was disgusting!

Then we tested our strength with the punching and kicking games. Quite fun.

Also found ourselves on the scene of an accident - this motorbike had crashed into this green bicycle... wasn't me!

Finally I took them to the sauna. First experience for them both – totally naked with strangers. Of course men are on one side, girls on the other. We got massaged. The usual way – spanking, hitting, rubbing, I was in pain. The ajumma yelled “Shower! Shower!” and then I came back for the scrubbing. Ouch mama!

Thank God I don’t usually drink this much. I can’t believe tomorrow is already Tuesday!

Here's a quick peek of the DMZ... thanks Bella!

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Food, stream, spaceship and ABC

First of all I must say that I LOVE my students! Especially the little kids. They are ADORABLE!
Second of all, Seoul is a great city! Last night I took my friend to Chonggyechon, this nice man-made stream downtown Seoul. There, we had Samgyeopsal (fat pork) and a few shots of soju.

Then we headed to the stream, it’s really nice at night with all the lights.

A Korean dude joined us. He’s studying cardiology in Germany and we ended up having a fun night.

You know how you always have to pay for public bathrooms in Paris? And usually they’re dirty and the meeting point of drug addicts?

Well public bathrooms are free in Korea. But there’s one in Gwanghwamun that costs 50 cents I think.

Oh my! It’s like you’re entering a spaceship! In the middle of the sidewalk. It’s the cleanest place on earth, with a lady talking to you in several languages, some classical music coming out of the speakers and a self-cleaning "bidet". Wow!

I’m sad I’ve got to work and so much grading to do, but at least I spend some tome with Annabella and she’s seen quite a lot of things so far. She said she knows Seoul pretty well. It’s fun to look at her pictures and hear the “tourist” stories. Reminds me of my first weeks in Korea. That is, without the throat infection of course ;)

Here's a few of my ABC students. They can be little monsters but don't they look adorable?!

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

French it!

It’s usually when you have friends come over that you realize how much you love the place you live in because you suddenly become very aware of everything/everyone! Korea is a fantastic culture! And a freakish one too...

Annabella brought saucisson and cheese directly from Spain so I bought wine and we had a “French” night yesterday. It totally feels awesome to speak French.

On the other hand, we only slept 3 hours and it was quite hilarious in my housewives class this morning – our discussion topic was pornography. This is going to be a long day.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

April 1st in Seoul

Wow. It totally feels like April’s fool! Except they don't really celebrate it in South Korea. Where does it come from anyway?

Annabella’s plane landed at 8am and I was still passed out in my apartment. Last night Erika and I got our hair done and then we decided to go out. Bad idea. I was tired and had so much stuff to do.

Anyway, we had shabu-shabu for dinner; a really cool Korea typical dish. They bring this broth to your table and you drop in vegetables and meat. When you’re done, you cook rice in there, with a raw egg. Delicious!

We ended up at this great Thai lounge in Hongdae - where we had shisha and way too many drinks. Among others, I got a “Chocolate kiss” and a few “Naked Canadians”. Erika’s ex-boyfriend showed up with some of his friends. It was really cool.

The end of the night was disastrous. Something to do with her ex. Thank God Twyla’s door was open even at 5am and we had a great talk.

I felt terrible for not being at the airport when Bella got here, but I hopped into a cab and we enjoyed a very expensive cab ride back to my place. We napped and then I showed her around Insadong. I bought a really cool tea set!

Having a friend here totally helps me realize I've been in Korea for over 10 months now. And yes, I LOVE Kimchi!! ^^

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