Monday, September 1, 2008

The last few days in Seoul

I am sitting here in my little apartment in Seogwipo enjoying the early morning light and attempting to remember what i did in my last few days in Seoul. They seem to be blending together as they were all quite similiar during the day, but i must have done something at night.

Ah yes, so we went to a bath house in Myeong Dong which little did we know was a very wealthy and insanely busy shopping district. Everywhere we went there were small little streets packed with people and bright bright lights. As kim said it could probably induce an epileptic fit. It was really quite cool and i can see how it draws people in to shop. Thank god i had two people with me who didn't want to shop or might have spent all my money. So i am sure it is not a shock when i say that it took us a really long time to find the jimjilbang(sauna) and i still don't know whether it was the one that i read about or not. We finally found it and entered into a room that was an entrance to a restaurant and the jimjilbang. Of course as it is a very expensive shopping district it turned out to be a little more than expected, $15 for entrance to use the sauna and baths and another $60 for a scrub. So we decided to stick to just the sauna and baths, which were divine. The traditional sauna looks sort of like a huge oven with a tiny little door to crawl into and boy is it hot. I think we made it for about 25 mins split between two sessions. Wow there really is nothing so good as a good sweat. Afterwards kim and i went into the women only zone and lounged in the hot tub and then in the cool tub and then we went and sat in the coolest steam room i have ever seen. It was covered in crystals, mainly amethyst, and we got to sit on jade stool, talk about energy, incredible. I can't wait to go to the one here in seogwipo which isn't obscenely expensive.

I aslo went to Insa dong which is another popular tourist shopping area. Karen and i skipped out of our last (mandatory) class meeting to go and check it out. It is the supposed to be the art district and we saw lots of cool art galleries, although only from the outside as they were all closed. But we did get to see some great paper and ceramic artisan shops which were really spectacular. I have never seen so much incredible paper in my life, the prints and colours and textures were amazing. And to finish it all off we went to a beautiful buddhist temple called Jogyesa which had these three awesome statues of buddha. They were like 20 feet high and appeared to be made of solid gold. It was so incredible to meditate in front of them and here the monks and all the people chanting to them. I have decided that one of my goals in learning hangul is to be able to read the prayer books and chant along with the others.

The following day was a day long awaited by everyone, so we could finally discover where exactly we will be going and what schools we will be teaching at. And i thank god/allah/shiva/krishna..... that i got pretty much exactly what i wanted. I am living in Seogwipo which is the smaller city in the southern part of the island and i am teaching elementary at two different schools. This means i get a little extra money (100000 won or $100/mth) but am not at three different schools like some others. One of my schools is right near my apartment in the city and i am here three days a week teaching gr.2-6 and the other is in Daejong in the western part of the island teaching gr.1-6. I am very very pleased with my placements and so were most others except the couples who were supposed to get apartments near each other (jeju won't house couples) but they found out that they would be getting a monthly allowance instead and they have to find their own accomodations. It is really quite ridiculous and pretty much comes down to laziness on the part of the organizers, as they house us all in the same apartment blocks which are only tiny studio rooms.

But we still went out to celebrate and had an awesome time at this hilarious "flair bar" where the drinks were way too expensive but the show was pretty good. The three bartenders put on a cocktail show with strob lights and a fog machine and cheezy music and some awesome drink mixing moves. Evidently they had won a bunch of different bartending championships and they had it down. It was definitley a bizarre and entertaining thing to do on our last night in town.

The next morning was filled with lots of hugs, email exchanges and well wishing. When we finally hoped on our bus it took us about 8 hours to finally get to our homes. We had to take the bus to the airport then wait for our flight and then fly and then take another bus to seogwipo. But we arrived.........

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