Monday, October 6, 2008

Sinks, rocks and palaces

This weekend was the first weekend that I really had money and it was fantastic. Friday was some sort of national holiday, the closest translation I could finagle out of a Korean was 'Founder's Day.'Instead of dealing with 6 year old kids I slept in and then went to E-Mart. E-Mart is the Korean answer to Walmart, only with a better high quality grocery store. Think Target plus Stop and Shop only more logically arranged. I got to buy all of those things that I didn't really need but that make my stay in Korea much more comfortable. For instance: a coffee pot (Okay, I did actually need that. Korean instant coffee is so disgusting that it makes Folgers look good.), a web cam, a universal card reader for my camera, a web cam, a pillow (oh fluffy, glorious, goodness), better slippers for work (Have I mentioned you have to wear slippers at work? My podiatrist would have nightmares.) and lots of groceries! Even though I had a list and I basically stuck to it, it took me over 2 hours to find everything. Not to mention once I found it, to try and decipher the Korean label to see if it really was what I wanted. I paced each section at least twice and alternated between looking diligently for the next thing on my list and staring wide eyed at all of the things on display. I spent a good few minutes in an aisle I thought was devoted to olive oil only to realize from a few bottles with bilingual labels that it was a vinegar aisle. Seriously, an entire aisle devoted to vinegars. Well, one side of it anyways. Instead of braving the over crowded subway home again, I was extravagant and took a cab. To be fair, I had 3 large bags of stuff, plus my purse (and if anyone has ever picked it up, you know that isn't light what with the novel, notebook and nalgene water bottle). I even know how to say my address now in Korean so it was easy! Pointing at an address written in Korean in your notebook only works about a quarter of the time. Not to mention the fact that they tend to laugh at you, not meanly but still.

Saturday I mainly lazed about, cleaned my apartment and read. Early in the evening I decided I wanted to get a pedicure before meeting 2 of my friends for dinner. I planned on wearing closed toed shoes but for me a pedicure is a treat, something you do when you want to pamper yourself. Despite the fact that I know neither the words for pedicure nor feet I figured it was within my pointing vocabulary. How hard could it be? Walk in to a mani/pedi place and point to your feet. Simple right? Wrong.

First I walked into a place near where I was supposed to meet up for dinner. After 5 minutes of them jabbering at me in Korean and lots of gesticulating they managed to get the point across that I needed slippers to get a pedicure. I was surprised that they didn't have them because most businesses where they want you to wear slippers will just provide them for you by the door in little cubbies. No big deal, I said thank you and good bye (2 phrases I do know in Korean) and went down the street to what I thought was another pedicure place. After all, they have jars of nail polish lined up in the window. It turns out the nail polish is for women to amuse themselves with while they wait for plastic surgery, namely getting their eye crease done. Slightly embarrassed and discouraged I walked out of the second place. I was gearing up for a good 'woe is me' pout when I realized: a. I know where to buy those cheap plastic slippers. b. they are, as mentioned in a., cheap and c. I was not going to be defeated this easily. I stalked down the street, bought the first pair of slippers I saw and walked back into the first pedicure place. They cheered and clapped when I walked in and held up the sandals and then ushered me into a comfortable seat with pillows and started my pedicure. I love Koreans. They are unfailingly nice and encouraging to foreigners, at least in my experience.

Sunday I went to one of the palaces in Seoul, which was architecturally interesting though I was disappointed that there were no artifacts or refurnished rooms. Of course I forgot my camera, something that I kicked myself about throughout the entire tour.

That takes care of palaces and most of my weekend.

Saturday night, I got back from the club around 1am. Being the sensible person that I am (in some respects anyways) I went to brush my teeth before bed. And then my sink fell off of the wall. I'm completely serious. Instead of being bolted to the wall, it was glued. GLUED to the wall. Let me ask you, who on earth GLUES a sink to the wall????? Apparently the Koreans. According to a friend, this is not unusual either. I sat down on my bathroom floor and alternated laughing hysterically and sobbing a little. I mean really, first my kitchen sink explodes (and they had to replace it) and then my bathroom sink FALLS OFF OF THE WALL. I decided not to bug my landlord on a Sunday morning with my one useful vocab word for the situation (sink--sink-uh) and let my supervisor deal with it on Monday. I took a picture of my sink on the floor, handed it to her ("oh my!") and she said she'd talk to my landlord. She went and talked to him and apparently it was going to get fixed right away. Unfortunately, non exploding sinks seem to be of a lower priority since when I got home today it was still on the floor. I'll have to have my supervisor bug them again tomorrow morning--which is also when I go to do the next stage of paperwork for my ARC (alien registration card).


Today I went back to the gym and bouldered for an hour. It took about 30 seconds of stretching before I met another woman who speaks English and about 2 minutes to make a few new friends. The best thing about being a beginning climber is that they have a climbing instructor who just hangs about the easier climbs and gives tips and shows you how to do moves. People use their breaks to really help each other improve, not just give a little beta (pointers specifically related to a climb). I learned a new move, did some harder climbs and just had a lot of fun. Then the instructor recommended we go off to the weight room to do the suggested workout for optimal increase of climbing muscles. And by recommended I mean said 'do this.' All of the climbers at this gym do it though, they climb hard for an hour or two then they work out then boulder again lightly. Recommended for beginners:
-5 sets of 20 push-ups (yup, 100 push-ups)
-150 sit-ups
-10 pull-ups on a finger board, followed by a hanging exercise.

I did 100 push-ups (the other girl did 60), 150 sit-ups but I failed at the pull ups. Finger board pull ups are hard! Especially after climbing for awhile. I managed 6, sort of, and then did half pull-ups for the last 4. Needless to say, my arms feel like they are about to fall off. Did I mention I'm going camping this weekend to a mountain, 5 hours away to go rock climbing? I can't wait!


I know I end every post with "I'll post more this week" but it might actually happen this week. Maybe. At any rate, tomorrow there shall be pictures. PICTURES. Why not tonight you ask? Because it's 12:18am and I'm exhausted.

Last bit of news: I ordered dinner in Korean for the first time tonight, on my own and got what I wanted! There was no pointing! Now I need to learn how to order my other favorite dishes...

Really, the last bit of news: I can count to 100 in Korean!


Chris said...

That workout is extensive! I am mucho impressed

Josh said...

i'm impressed that you are able to type like you were talking after drinking 19 cups of coffee.......

Jessica said...

I think the amount of times you post isn't so important because each one is so detailed. Illness and workload has kept me from climbing. :'-(. Cannot wait for pictures! Later.

Nancy K said...

I'm impressed with that workout! What food did you order?

Josh said...

I still see no pictures....:-p

Anonymous said...


Alex said...

I now have pictures! And the reason I sound like I drank 19 cups of coffee is that I bought a coffee pot and it is SHINY. Her name is Bernie. Coffee is the ambrosia of mortals. *smiles happily at Bernie and hums in a slightly maniacal fashion*

On my own I only know how to order one thing, Bulgogi hana (one bulgogi) but if you order it in Korean like I do they give you more side dishes! Someone confirmed my hypothesis. I am learning how to order more things but I do love bulgogi...