The Best Hot Dog Ever

28 07 2008

Street Food, originally uploaded by Jake & Kristin.

We’re heading to Seoul for a couple of days. May not post much. Yesterday in Seohyeon I was pretty hungry, so I got a hot dog with all the fixings including cabbage. It was awesome.


Universal Language

27 07 2008

Much of the time here, we don’t really know what’s going on for sure. Typically, outside of work, no one knows what we’re saying, either. Hopefully. Most of our interactions with Koreans, other than teaching them, have centered around obtaining food from them. This makes sense to me–after all, food is a central element of the human experience anywhere you go. Almost any significant event is celebrated with a festive meal, chefs may become famous, and recipes are passed down through generations. So, it makes sense that contests related to food and eating would be universal, too.

Today we decided to go to Seohyeon in search of a purse. By the time we walked the mile to Jookjeon station, we were both sweating profusely, so we decided to take a break in the air conditioned environment of Shinsegae, a fancy-pants mall right next door. We explored a little, found some dried squid and fresh crabs for sale next to the fine crystal, determined that everything in the place cost more than we cared to spend, and so we decided to head on to Seohyeon. The exit from Seohyeon leads directly up into another mall, Samsung Plaza, which turned out to be basically the same thing as Shinsegae: too expensive. As we were wandering around the place we noticed this going on down on the main floor:

An eating contest. We found this kind of funny, as on Friday, we discovered a little gem of American entertainment being rebroadcast for a Korean audience. I had actually seen the show a few years ago during the infancy of TiVo, thanks to a good friend (hi Justin!) who likes to adopt new technology early on. It was Glutton Bowl 2. A related show – Man vs. Beast – had aired a few days previously to GB2. Both shows are focused around ridiculous competitions. Glutton Bowl was specifically about competitive eating. In case you were wondering, yes, there are professional competitive eaters. These are people that train to be able to eat as much as possible of anything edible as quickly as they possibly can. Some of them manage to make a living off of prize money from various competitions. The champ for a number of years was a guy from Japan, Takeru Kobayashi. He also appeared in Man vs. Beast, facing off against a bear to see who could eat 50 hot dogs first. Eating, and doing silly things while eating, seem to in fact be universal sources of entertainment.

On a side note, this commercial keeps coming up on TV for some sort of dancing show that starts off advertising the music they’ll be playing. Jackson. Usher. Ropez. You know, Jennifer Ropez.

modern-day foragers

27 07 2008

Ford Fairlane, originally uploaded by Jake & Kristin.

It’s Sunday here in J-town (mad props to you, girl) and we are relaxing after a vigorous hike up the hill, down the hill, back up and back down. It was lovely. We have started using the bowling ball as a weight for a little lifting action at house. It’s quite ingenuitive of us, no?

We are thinking about going out for a little adventure this afternoon, perhaps to find Indian food. Most of our adventures (and it seems true for most other foreigners here) are about finding food. It’s like the modern version of our hunter/gatherer days. With credit cards.

We are looking forward to the week ahead. I told my friend Wesley that the reason we are going to Gangnam is because there is a Gap there, and she did not believe me. I am here to tell you that it is a major motivating factor of trip. I will of course post about the success and/or failure of that aspect of our adventure.

We are going to the Seoul National Museum as well; there is a Persia exhibit there now which should be interesting. We are also going to do a little hiking in the area, there is a mountain just outside of Seoul called Bukhansan National Park that the Lonely Planet Guide calls serene with misty mountain views, temples, rivers, and maple trees galore. Sounds good to me.

O.k. so we’re off. Daily picture is random but cool. This car was outside of Wolf Camera a few days before we left.

Like Mana From Heaven

24 07 2008

Rambo Grasshopper, originally uploaded by Jake & Kristin.

Today was a good day. We only had to work for half a day, lunch included some tasty fried veggies, and we found a bowling ball on our way to work. A number of things delighted me about this last event. Here are a few:

1) Who knew there was bowling in Korea?
2) I’ve always kind of wanted a bowling ball, but have never been able to justify a purchase. Or the temerity to smuggle one out of a bowling alley.
3) We found it in a street gutter. Oddly appropriate.
4) All of the possible and improbable explanations for how it came to be in our possession.
5) The kid who had show and tell today forgot his item and I was able to supply this for him instead. The class freaked out when I brought it into the room.
6) It says RAMBO Grasshopper on it.
7) It is blue.


24 07 2008


My Kindergarteners

23 07 2008

My Kindergarteners, originally uploaded by Jake & Kristin.

These are the little guys that I teach in the morning and early afternoon. They’ve only been learning English for about five months, so it can sometimes be tricky to get a point across. They do understand a surprising amount of what I say, but a lot of class involves them just repeating phrases.

In Korean terms, they’re seven, but that puts them at around six in the U.S. It’s a good age to teach. They’re able to handle emotions a little bit and resolve some conflicts by themselves so they don’t break down into tears very often. Also, they’ve got the whole going to the bathroom thing down, reducing risk of the need on my part to handle any wet cleanups. Last but not least, they’re generally pretty excited about school, which makes my job a lot more enjoyable.

They normally only wear uniforms on days when they have P.E. or when we go on a field trip. This was a P.E. day.