Thursday, June 14, 2012

You Take the Picture, Then You Stick the Picture

When I was but a girl.. I always wanted to have sticker pictures made with my BFF.  The only thing.. was they were expensive & a bit hard to find. 

Now that I am but a woman.. STICKER PICTURES ABOUND in my life.

One time Chelsea and i saw a girl on the subway in Busan literally looking at HUNDREDS of sticker picture sheets she had in her purse... we were amazed... to be a child in this society, must be like eating skittles and looking at rainbows everyday of your life! (we'll forget that they study in a private school until 10PM every day...for now... different blog)

So basically, you go into a store that has at least 15 different booths... you wander around, choose a booth that is 'speaking' to you through pictures... put $5 worth of 500Won coins into the machine.. choose a few backgrounds.. the machine countsdown.. pose.. pose.. pose.. choose a few more backgrounds.. pose.. pose.. pose.. (and if you're lucky, and you get a wicked awesome sticker picture business, they'll have costumes and funky wigs you can put on)..after you leave the booth, you go into a smaller booth, where there is one screen & 2 'pens'.. you add squiggles, pretty things, bows, misspelled English words, poop pictures, etc.... (EVERYTHING is on a timer by the way, so it is almost like participating in a game!)... wait a few minutes, then voila! The man at the front desk will cut your pictures up, and then you're on your way!

The machine Rehana, Ali & I used was from Japan.. it automatically made our eyes a bit bigger... and in one of them I could change my eye color :) (Jeonju)

Chelsea, Faith & I had pictures made in Gwangju.... SO FUN!

Dana and I had sticker pictures made right before I left Korea the first time.  (Jinju)

Seonyudo Island

Many people say that Jeju Island is the Korean form of paradise.  I beg to differ.  I found paradise, and I like to call it Seonyudo Island.

Jeju is gorgeous.. and well dubbed the Hawaii of Korea (::cough::  Hawaii with SNOW in winter), it's just such a hassle to get to & to get around on.  And Seonyudo took all of 3 hours to go from the Jeonju bus station to sinking my feet in island sand... and for $9 a day you can get your own personal bicycle to ride up and down the island hills, transportation: check!

My Jeonju friend Dawn sadly left us a few days ago.. her last request was to visit Seonyudo (no, she didn't die.. she just left us for her home country.. also known as the USA :) ).  And my am I glad she wanted to see Seonyudo one last time.

We took a bus for 45 minutes from Jeonju to Gunsan, then a 15 minute taxi to the ferry terminal, after a bit of waiting.. we boarded our glorious ferry & it dropped us off on Seonyudo.

I hadn't looked up any pictures of the island before we went there.. so my mouth pretty much dropped.  I'm used to awesome beaches.. Thailand, Mexico, the Galapagos.. and I'm not saying this island totally compared to those, but it is definitely up there for me!


It was super relaxed, not a lot of people.. but when there WERE people, holy moly did I have a good time!

A group of Koreans started playing a hilarious game of what I have dubbed 'Chicken'.. I couldn't stop laughing while we were watching them play.. and eventually someone asked me to join, then Rehana joined (I'm the only one standing without neon hiking gear on.. Rehana is the only one on the ground already :) .. I still have the skill of not moving until I HAVE to.. geeze do I hate competition! ).

Basically, you have two teams.  You start out in two lines facing each other.. then everyone holds onto one leg, you hop around until you ram into someone from the other team and make them fall down.. once everyone from one team is down, a winner is crowned!

Koreans are so amazing.  They were SO sweet and patient with us.. of course we didn't understand a word of the rules, a random guy spoke a few words of English.. but Rehana and I started pushing people with our hands (against the rules we figured out during round 2).. but no one tattled on us, everyone was just happy playing.. whether a stupid waegookin pushed them down illegally or not!

Afterwards, one of the men came over and brought Rehana and I 'service' beers. I thought it was funny, that we were getting 'service' on the beach (In restaurants & shops, people are often given a free little gift/drink and to tell you it is 'on the house'.. they say 'service-uh' -- that was with a Korean accent).

These people were amazing, it absolutely started my trip out on the right foot... no literally.

Jet Ski

This is year #2 that a jet skier has ridden up to the beach and I've hopped on... does life get any better (or cheaper) than that??  Of course I never got to DRIVE them.. but it was fun playing passenger.  So basically this time was much safer than when I did it in Samcheon-po while living in Jinju.  This guy actually: a.)rode right up to the beach (the water wasn't even up to my knees) after I waved at him.. last year I had to swim a bit out to them to get their attention   b.)the first thing he did was whip out a life jacket... last year, I lived life a bit more on the edge I suppose, my mom also threatened to kill me herself if I ever did that again sans life jacket   c.)this guy seriously knew how to do tricks, I think I honestly peed a little sometimes!

Rehana jumped on for a ride next, we had SOOOO much fun.. it's too bad his friend didn't want to give rides as well.. we could have had a race :).

How many I LOVE KOREA moments can happen in one day??

The rest of the day we spent lounging on the beach, admiring the amazing sunset, chatting and eating (LOTS)!  We stayed in a pension for $10 each(same idea as Byeonsanbando, except it was one big room & 8 people).. we were awaken at about 5:30AM by ajushis (old men) either just waking up and talking loud, or just going to sleep and talking loud.. I normally would have thrown a fit, but it sounded like a group of grandfathers chatting about the good ole days.. I kind of wanted to join.. in all honesty, hehe.   The next day, Dawn and I rented bicycles and rode them around for a bit.. I'm ready to go back!

Good times, good people.  Again! Again!

So Long Early 20s!

Do I have to grow up?  I like the number 3.. may I keep it please?

Today.. my friends.. I have to part with my early-20s and welcome my mid-20s.  Just typing this, I must be honest.. my heart jumped a bit.  I don't even know what to think, I'm excited, I'm not excited.. I'm blessed with another amazing year to live, I had an awesome 23rd.. but I HAVE to ask myself, where are my bells and whistles?

Cheers to 'the day' being better than the day before!

Calling my parents so they can wish me a happy birthday :) hehe

Ali, Rehana & I will be going to the sauna.. getting all sparkly clean/eating lunch/doing nails/sipping cocktails/relaxing during our 5 hour lunch break.

Power hour after I get off work at 8PM.

Dinner with friends at 9PM @ TEAM.. my favoritest Italian restaurant in Korea! :)

Utter chaos for dessert?

Deep breaths til then.

My awesomely amazing friend Ali (Vida) adopted a stooooopid Panda in my name from the World Wildlife Foundation.  Happy Birthday to Paula the Panda and I :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Girl's Weekend Continued

Day 2

Moaksan Mountain
Nothing spells success like this post... so the first time I hiked up Moaksan, I practically died.  I was huffing and puffing all of the way up.. Noxy and I were the last ones up the mountain.. huffing and puffing for a good 30 minutes after we'd reached the summit.. and my ENTIRE body was literally sore for the next 4 days.  It hurt to go up stairs, it hurt to touch my muscles.. everything was just painful, not the best of experiences, yet I was so happy to have done it.

This go round.. I was the girl on fire, not to be confused with The Hunger Games :).  Vida and I absolutely rocked that mountain, it was such a nice, relaxing, beautiful time!  And THIS time, there were many more beauty stops along the way.  We found 3 mirrors strategically placed at the different rest stop/gazebo areas. A girls gotta look gooooood, right?!  Or as my professor says, no one will save her if she accidentally slips down the side of the mountain while looking mediocre.

The picture below is of a ginormous container of makgeoli (the Korean rice wine).. this is one of 2 about mid-way up the mountain.  I don't know how this isn't dangerous for them to do.. but drinking and hiking seems to be the way to go here.  It isn't the easiest of hikes either, I would tumble all the way down the mountain if I tried to drink and hike!!  1 point - Koreans.

I hadn't been to a sauna IN Jeonju yet, and neither had Vida, so we headed to Spa Lequa.  My goal.. to have a body scrub.. I haven't taken the best care of my skin recently, so it was much needed.  It was Vida's first time getting a scrub from an ajumma.. so it was fun to be there during the madness.

Check out this blog post from my first year in Korea to see some of the crazy things that happened my first time getting a Korean scrub at the sauna.

This go round, my lady was wearing a lovely (sarcasm) red matching panty set.. I think Vida's lady was wearing a purple leopard print one.. and then there was another randomly lady having a scrub on the table in between Vida and I.  The first thing my lady tries to get me to do is take off my anklets and some of my bracelets (I had already taken off everything I was able to take off without cutting them..), and I of course knew they would do that.. but I body languaged that that wouldn't be possible.  It's always quite awkward in these situations, because we never know when the Koreans are really talking about us.. I got the gist every now and then when my lady would talk to the other two Korean workers and then they would look over at me.. and then one time she tugged at my anklets and said "GOLD UH SILBA! GOLD UH SILBA!"  then she tugged at my bracelets "GOLD UH SILBA!" .. she is of course doing it in a silly ajumma way, because they can pretty much get away with anything.. and wouldn't you tell people what to do if you were given that sort of power?!  So we chuckled together.. and I pointed to my two rings and my nose ring and said "SILBA! haaa" and that was that.

I noticed that they even smack the Korean ladies on the side of the bum when they wanted them to roll over onto their stomachs or vice versa... so it wasn't like they were only doing that to me because I couldn't speak Korean.  I still giggle every time they do that.

I would still have to say that the Korean sauna experience is one of the most culturally diverse things that a foreigner could do in Korea... I love the innocence and pure love of it.  It's a wonderful place when women can come together, strip down to their birthday suits, not be ashamed (although if you have tattoos/scars/things of that nature I think you're meant to be ashamed.. but times are changing.. slowly), truly understand that everyone was made differently and accept everyone at their most vulnerable.

At one point, it was Vida and I, and these 2 pre-pubescent girls in one of the tubs in an outdoor area.. Vida and I were talking about how if we were their age (about 10-12 years old) and we saw someone who was in their 20s buck naked.. it would probably be like a mouth drop 'omg that's what we're going to look like in 10 years' sort of freaked out thought.. but to them it is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.  I just can't even fathom it... there is something beautiful about women all being able to come together, saggy boobs and all, to learn from each other.  We're all the same, we all go through the same life cycles.. erm, and menstrual cycles.. there is nothing to be afraid of, we need to be proud of who we are, because even though it seems like what is happening to our bodies is sometimes the end of the world.. it's not.. it's the beginning of a new generation!

For example.. I've now learned what I'm probably going to look like stark naked at the age of 95.
Have you?
Food for thought.

Blog Continued: The 7-11 Man

Day 3

I piddled around the apartment.. we weren't really planning on meeting again.. however Rehana called.. of course she found another bottle of wine, so off we went to Deokjin park.. It has gotten GORGEOUS!  Now, the dead dried lilly pads are back alive and green.. there were lots of people.  Plenty of people that stopped and chatted (well tried to) as well.  We celebrated Dawn's last Korean Italian meal at Team... then off to sleep I went!!!  What a great end to the 3-day weekend!

The 7-11 Man

After the sauna, Vida and I decided we needed some MORE relaxation time.  We decided to do what we do best.. a patio party.. with ourselves!  So.. here we are, sitting at this 7-11 in Seoshin-dong, and ajushi (Korean man.. in his 50's) pulls up a plastic chair and plops right on down with us.  He then proceeds to reach over, and grab our soju bottle.  He blabbers some Korean words, I slightly tap (smack) his hand and take the bottle away.. moving it farther away from him on the table.

Vida and I are just looking at each other at this point with that "Another drunk crazy Korean man trying to talk to us.. how shall we get rid of him this time?!"

Then we know exactly what he is asking even though he's talking Korean.. basically a "You know what soju is? You drink soju? America? Where are you from? America? What do you do?" The same basic questions we would normally get by the same sort of stranger walking up to us.

The thing that ticked us off the most.. was a.) half the time they don't even say 'Hello' first.. they just start babbling on and asking their questions when we obviously do not know what they're talking about, b.) they seriously don't get the blatant hint to go away half of the time, c.) you just DON'T take someone's soju!! That's just wrong!

Lucky for us, he got distracted by his 'English Teacha' (the only English words he could say) friend and left.

5 minutes later, guess who comes back??  

Oh yea, he sits down again.. calling over his 'English Teacha' friend, who is in fact just a golf clothing store owner who speaks a little English (SHE was very nice though).

He grabs for the soju, I move it farther away.  He reaches for Vida's cup because he wants to drink from that, she pulls it away.  Vida tells him, 'Get your nasty old man hand away from my cup!'  He goes for the soju again, and I just shouted out an "Aniyo!!!! 7-11, GO! Soju, 7-11!"  The man could obviously afford to buy his own soju, he was dressed nice, had keys to a nice car (which eventually fell out of his pocket, and were left lying on the sidewalk.. I told Vida I really wanted to be mean and move his car to another street so he can't find it, then leave the keys with the clerk.. but we decided that would be a bad idea), pretty sure he was already drunk.. based upon the red face and all.

He eventually left, thankfully.

And after him, a few police officers came with a Korean family.. from what I could understand by spying.. the boy lost his keys and someone took his car.. ironically enough Vida and I found keys, although we were awfully sure we knew who they belonged to.. the police officer we told said "Leave them there" (... SUCH a lazy Korean police officer thing to say!).. however, later on he took the keys to the clerk and left them in there.

OooOOooOh Korea!  It's amazing how outgoing some Koreans are.. the oogling and questioning never ends! (Although I do find it humorous at times.. and it gets old at other times! Oy vey.. my life in Korea!)

Back by Popular Demand (from myself).. GIRL'S WEEKEND!

Day 1

As I've mentioned time and time again.. my life is quite different this go round in Korea.  I've lived here for 9 months now, and have not yet had a 'true' girl's weekend (like in Jinju).  My mom is probably thinking this is a great thing.. mainly because my first year in Korea was.. a bit crazy!  I think I controlled myself quite well, but seeing as I had JUST graduated from University, and had worked a lot while in University.. I didn't have the craziest Uni life you could imagine.. so.. I let Korea make up for that a little bit!  However, night life in Korea is more of a cultural experience, almost more than any cultural experience you would receive during the day.. the Koreans are Night Owls!  Seriously.. their coffee shops don't open until 11AM or noon.. but they will be guaranteed open until 4 or 5AM at night.. err in the morning!  No joke.. one night I was walking home from a dance club that had closed down for the night at 4AM.. and the coffee shop was PACKED.  It's strange.. but that's how Korea works.  I don't understand it.. I would like to have a coffee at 8AM when I'm headed to a bus to go traveling on the weekends... but we don't all get our way now do we?!

Luckily a national holiday was upon us.. Buddha's Birthday.. thank you dear Buddha for having a birthday so that we may have a 3-day weekend.. and a break from teaching.  I would normally run as far away as possible from Jeonju on a long weekend, given the chance, but I felt differently this time!  We're about to go on holiday to the Philippines for 2 weeks, and then 6 weeks later I leave for Turkey and home.  Plus.. I've been dead tired recently, this chica wanted some relaxation time.  So Rehana (who will now be called Noxy), Ali (whose new name is Vida) and I (Chi-Chi) planned a girl's day for Saturday.. which ended up turning into the entire weekend.

#1 Brunch - Fish & Chips!!
Noxy and I went on a lovely walk to Gaeksa (downtown).  The weather was gorgeous, coffee in hand, getting our stroll on... we were headed to meet Vida at DeepInTo for brunch.  Although this brunch doesn't open until noon (::cough:: British people!), luckily Brits eat fish and chips at all times of the day.. so that's what I got to eat, WITH tartar sauce.  This doesn't happen very often, so I was ecstatic.  We had a lovely time reading Cosmos that were 4-9 months old, making a list of everything we wanted to do that day, gossiping, pouring orange juice and vodka down Noxy's throat so she could get the courage to pierce her belly button, which was next up on the list.

#2 Belly Button Piercing
Now this is a funny story, Noxy has always wanted to have her belly button pierced, however she's always been too afraid to get it done (and it probably didn't help much that I told her that my belly button hurt WAY worse than my tattoos.. which was a true story, although it only hurt WAY worse for all of the 20 seconds it takes to get it done, rather than for 30+ minutes).  And you know how a lot of people say they're too afraid to do stuff like that, but it's really because they just don't want it bad enough? Well this was NOT her case.. she had gotten a tattoo 8ish years ago, and literally passed out one or two times while she was getting it done.  When we got within 10 minutes walking distance of the piercing place in Gaeksa.. her face went totally pale, she couldn't fully form correct sentences, she was shaky... I couldn't quite take her seriously because she HAD gotten the tattoo done, and that had to have taken a lot more guts than getting her belly button done.  But Vida and I held her hand as she picked out the jewelry.. and once she had FINALLY decided and was FINALLY ready.. the piercer (who spoke ZERO English.. while none of us really spoke Korean at all) just shook his head and said he can't do it if she is going to pass out.  Through body language, we told him that she had fainted when her tattoo was done.. and he just shook his head again.
The strange thing, is that here in Korea they pierce you while you're standing up.. I've never seen a piercing 'studio' (I use quotations, because none of them are actually studios.. more like stores, with a stool that they do the piercing part at) that had a bed/table to do those piercings at.  And the even funnier thing  was that Koreans rarely get their belly button pierced, and as Noxy is finally going through with it (with Vida and I behind her, bracing for when she passes out), 2 Korean girls walk in and the looks on their faces were about as shocked as Noxy's was.  It was hilarious.  But Noxy was a trooper, and although she nearly passed out and had to lie down for a good 5 minutes before she got any color to her face again, and a tiny walk to the bathroom to nearly puke.  SHE DID IT! We were all so proud, and she is one happy girl that she had the bravery to do it!

#3 Sticker Pictures
Once Noxy was back to normal, we moseyed on over to the sticker picture shop!!!  This is one of my favorite places to be in Korea.. I've made sticker pictures with Dana, Chelsea & Faith before.. all of which were heaps of fun to do.  I was sadat first, because the shop didn't have any cool hats or costumes that we could dress up in during them... HOWEVER, they had a booth that was made in Japan that automatically makes your eyes bigger (Asians LOVE this.. zero surgery involved :) ).  I was satisfied with this option.  AND satisfied with the results!

#4 Shopping
Lots of fun wandering around.. my main goal was to find a shirt with horrible English on it.. I was unsuccessful.  Of course, I found many shirts that had horrible English, however none were BAD enough for me to invest in one (invest all of $5... HOWEVER I've realized that whatever I buy now, I have to carry tote around with me in Istanbul on my layover!).  My favorite I found was 'Weepublican"  Get it?  The girls found plenty of things though, so it was definitely a success.

#5 Coffee Shop
On our way to the sticker pictures shop, we had found a precious coffee shop that was tucked in between some buildings, so we went back.  It was SOOO amazing.. with gardens, lots of tables, HOMEMADE cheese cake.. you had me at homemade.. and lots of character.

#6 Sunset
The weather was SO beautiful, we didn't want to leave it.  So at about 5PM we ran into Homeplus and grabbed different wines, headed to the riverside.  Plopped our tired butts down and enjoyed everything around us.  Of course, there was the usual 'random ajushi/ajumma' that was curious and wanted to talk to us.. the funniest thing though is when each of them continues to talk to you and ask you questions when they KNOW you don't speak a lick of Korean.. it's nearly impossible to shoo them away, yet quite entertaining for me most of the time.

We sat down on some exercise equipment (because you can find outdoors equipment everywhere around Korea cities..and when you can't find a normal bench, you can always use a sit-ups bench as a table :).  I managed to do 1 pull-up.. I was too excited that I did one properly, that I wasn't able to fully do another one.. but I think I could have!!

#7 Movie
'To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar'
Never in my life, did I know that Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes starred in a drag queen movie.  I never would have imagined that they would do SUCH a good job either.  Wow, the entire time, I got lost in the fact that they were who they were, and they were playing who they were playing.  Such a funny and positive movie!

We decided that Ali was Patrick's part (Vida) because she's so white and he's so white.. and they both have such sweet hearts, Rehana was Wesley's part (Noxy) because she's ghetto like that, and I would be the latina (Chi-Chi) for obvious reasons.. ha, I wish... We are still calling each other these names.. woohoo!