Sunday, 7 February 2010

A week in Changwon - Day 8

Its now Sunday morning and i've been in Changwon, Korea for just over a week. 7 days ago i woke up in a foreign land, knowing no one and having spoken to just a couple of expats on facebook. i didnt know what to do or where to go. i waited for the school director who came along and briefly showed me the city. I was amazed at the time. My room was still alien to me, the bathroom was scary and smelly and cold, my tv didnt work, i had no idea whether the electronic equipment would work, no way to contact hellen and my family and friends back in the UK.

A week later, i've been out 4 nights in a row (a new personal record) and i can honestly say i've never enjoyed going out more. I'm living the kind of life i wished i had at uni but didnt quite manage. Not the drunk expat life, but being in a place full of interesting and brave people with their own stories and reasons for being there and where theres a real equality among people as most of us have the same job, similar salary and working hours. 

Yesterday was really the icing on the cake that was my first week. I woke up and felt like going out hiking. Danica said she would be up for it, so we met up and went up one of the mountains/hills. It was so peaceful up there and really felt like the city had been escaped. From up there, you can look down at the tall buildings like they're tiny ant hills surrounded by little ants walking around going about their business. But hiking in this country is something of a luxury, as every shop i went into to buy a hiking jacket was charging upwards of 150-200 pounds for a jacket, most were about 250 and one i saw was actually 750 quid! Yup, 1,500,000 won, which is like 1.5 times the average monthly salary of a Korean.

Anyway so after the hike, i met up again with Danica and went to a Korean bbq. I thought when i heard that term there was like an American style bbq in Korea, it totally didnt occur to me that it was the sit down, cook your own meat things i had seen in blogs and on facebook. There was so much food for the small price we paid. You only pay for the meat, and they give you  load of accompaniments for free. These include tiny tiny prawns, octopus tentacles, kimchi (spicy cabbage), lettuce, mussels and many other things i forget now. I really like kimchi! Im surprised too, but it tasted pretty good. Danica also showed me some traditions/customs like how you have to pour the cold tea (yeah i didnt drink any). Also had some soju for the first time, it seemed much like vodka and i copied Danica in putting it with coke and treating it like a vodka and coke. Then we went to watch the band at International Pub. They were amazing, must have played for hours and hours and the place was quite full. As soon as we got there, i saw a table with people i knew. As always, there were a few i didnt know so i had to go through that phase where i bide my time before getting introduced and adding them to the list of cool people i can go and talk to in future. We played some drinking games that included this basic higher/lower, inside/outside, smoke/fire game that was quick but not that challenging. Then a new game was unveiled that involved betting (with drinks) on a suit in a kind of horse race thing. That was a lot of fun. Mine came up twice and i was drunk enough to celebrate like i'd won a small fortune. I also was umpiring a game of beer pong until a toilet break was needed and my number 2 seemed to have taken my role. But all was good as soon after i got to use my acting skills and some bravery and do a pretty good thing for someone who needed it.

Finally went to Obriens after. I definitely remember making an ass of myself there because unfortunately i saw sandwich man and was hungry and in need of food enough to bow down and almost pray to the guy. I spoke to some people waiting for food and they seemed to love the guy as much as i do now. Then went to OB's where more jokes were had. I remember losing my jacket and being realy quite worried for a while until this guy found it and i felt so grateful it turned up. Oh oh and the barman there, what a legend. He kept flipping beer mats, he even tried 2 at once but failed on five attempts. You could tell he so wanted to get it right. Eventually i must have found a cab home. I remember getting one and he took me to the wrong place, or atleast i couldnt figure out where the hell i was. Then got another and made it home alive. I did however sleep with the apartment front door open all night because the latch seems to not work very well. Its happened a few times now but just realised theres a problem.

So to conclude, its been an amazing, incredible, heart warming week. I feel at home here now, the Koreans dont bother me one bit. I dont look at them or their faces anymore when out walking, so unless i am looking for someone in the crowd, pretty much everyone around me is not there. It works for me and probably works for them as its supposed to be disrespectful to look into their eyes anyway. I slightly regret having 4 hangovers in a row and will definitely not be making it 5 in a row. But I can honestly say if i have even half as much fun and excitement every week as i have this week, i will have lived more this year than in the last ten.

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