Wednesday, December 1, 2010

지독한 외국인 :Waguk Syndrome

one goes out to all my wonderful 외국인
This post has been a long time coming, I figured now is good a time as any! I wanted to talk to you about the weirdos here! Sometimes I'm not even sure how some of these people made from their respective countries, but most importantly America.They actually issued you a passport? I've heard the term LBH ( losers back home), amd TTW ( too weird for the west)I'm no expert but I 've met quite a few. Let just say I'm underwhelmed.  I don't even know where to begin with my disappointment in my fellow waguks. I'm sure I've ranted about  something like this before. But no, seriously. It's not just the lack of acknowledgment on the street but the actual making plans with people and people not showing up. NEWFLASH! That's RUDE! Don't be REAL Korean about and say " Oh thats just Korea!" No, that's UNACCEPTABLE! I mean c'mon what happened to socual etiquette? People just because you're in another country and they may treat you like "you're not the real person" at times doesnt mean you should behave as such. It's like " Better not say hi or act like the real person...dont want to lok stupid!" Okay douche bag! I'm thoroughly not impressed. I've passed my year mark in Korea, you'd think this wouldn't bother me anymore. Well guess what ? It does! I'm the real person ~ I was talking to a friend today about this situation and she gave me some insight
"Korea is like that ... many ppl are smelling themselves here... pretending that they are someone when back home they are no one. Its like college when freshman year people try to reinvent themselves until someone lets them know," hey you're not that important".  We're ALL here living in Korea. We've all had similar experiences, we've all traveled, and we've all taken a leap and decided to live and work here.So get a grip.
I've even heard the oldie but goodie" just because they're a foreigner and I'm a foreigner doesn't mean we should be friends." That's true but who says that? I'll tell you who douchebags, weirdos , social retards incapable of making real connections with people. The best one is " I'd rather go hang out with my Korean friends"  to this one I just nod and laugh. Really though? You're Korean friends? We're in Korea we ALL have Korean friends. And Ps. langauge exchange, hanging out in hopes of tapping into your sexual promescuity or using you to practice English posing is not a FRIENDSHIP! Just a little FYI! Anyways as foreigners we all go through it. But I'd like to take a moment and talk about the South African community here in SoKo. It's HUGE! They have outings, dances, and braais galore! I am the envy! Geez even the Canadians have a community here aye!. Nope not the Americans. It's unfortunate because we make up something like a little more than half of the teachers her in Korea.  You came to Korea  a new experience, so let it be just that. Open your youself up and experience life here with Korean and fellow foreigners.
C'mon take moment, step off the asshole train, and be REAL people. Just a thought! Until next time...

Confucius say: Of weirdo wayguks you must beware do like the rest, when in a confined space intetionally avoid their stare!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Slave to Starbucks: A Holiday Story

Dear Korea  ,
Dear Korean Starbucks,

You have made me a slave to your Christmas blend goodness. Not only did I buy your overpriced 19,000 W bag of  coffee for my french press, for weekend coffee enjoyment, I fell victim to your sly tricks.
Oh Toffee Nut Latte, you mock me everytime I pass my neighborhood Starbucks. I want to stop in for just another sip of your toffee nutty goodness. Not to mention Christmas blend is a holiday blend and before I know it you'll be gone and make me pine for you,yet another year. I'm not impressed that you antagonize me by giving me a holiday coffee point card. With each purchase I receive, a little coffe cup shaped sticker to place on my card. Now I have 10 little cups filled and 7 more to go. Each time I get excited! I am one Toffee Nut latte closer to a 2011 Starbucks planner/journal. So many wonderful things I could plan and do with that Starbucks limited edition holdiay planner/journal. ((sighs)) I almost gave in yesterday and bought it. Alas no brown one. It was not meant to be. When I saw the price... 17,000W. Ugh! It would be so easy to give in and buy it. I mean clearly the planner/journal is not worth 17 cups of 5,100W Toffee Nut Latte. However purchasing it would not give me the same satisfaction as collecting that last coffee cup shaped sticker on my point card and having a junior barista hand me my glorious limited edition 2011 Starbucks Planner/Journal! So I will be dillegent in my coffee drinking because, let's face it good coffee in Korea is hard to come by. So I will continue my servitude to the lady in green, paying homage and Won to Starbucks for it's comfy chairs, great coffee, and delightful Christmas melodies until my holiday point card is complete!
Ps. I do not appreciate your sly trickery of  the point card. I am not Korean I do count the lattes. Which total upwards of  86,000 W which is LUDACRIS! What's even more ridiculous is that I am still buying Toffee Nut Lattes on the regular! Ohhhh the shame. ((sighs)) Korea:4,390,6001 티파니: 3 :(
Until my next Toffee Nut Latte...

<3
티파니


Shhhh...Kimchi and Condoms

DISCLAIMER: If you are easily offended by jesus jokes or sexual references this post is NOT for you!                                                       A few weeks ago when our taxi adjeoshi wanted to get us to Yongsan station by avoiding the traffic, he took a short cut through Yongsan's red  ( more like hot pink ) light district. I'd seen depictions of a full on district at the Sex...excuse me "Erotica" park in Jeju, but I'd never seen it, full on. Scantily clad, disproporationate silicone induced Korean women( well some of them) making kissy faces and whining " 이리와 오 파" in 4 inch heels behind a wall of pink glass inviting men to come take a look at their wares. 
Now this was the first full on pink district I'd ever seen other than the erotica museum.
Korea is a very conservative place in many regards.  Or at least  it appears that way. Korea likes to put a conservative window dressing on society but in reality they are just as scandalous and perverted as anyone else. I can't tell you how many time Koreans smirk with hopeful eyes and ask Kate if she is from "러시아"? Russia ( in Korea)= WHORE. Not by my standard but by Koreans. Pretty Caucasin woman in a dress? Better ask if she "working"? Each time this question is posed she is less than impressed.
Moving on, I want to take minute and talk about the (C)overt brothels strewn about the city. I thought "man, there are a lot of barbers here in Korea". Not that many men need haircuts. As I did the research and looked into the "barber poles", read the signs above the doorways  and as I learn more Korean vocabulary I notice that it's not all cardigans and kimchi Jesus! For example there is one situated on the basement floor of my apartment buliding. I see many a man walk down those shady steps in the anticipation of a "haircut" and I shake my head as I make my way up the few flights to my apartment.
In a "conservative" country where DVD bong babies are a natural occurenence and the aboration rate sky rockets each year you'd think they'd put a little less funding into English and more into Sex Ed. It's crazy to me that Koreans think its strange and abhorent that we hand out free condoms. Tsk,tsk! I heard the a couple weeks ago was the annual "health class". This is an "educational time" where students can peruse aisles of a classroom gawking at old biology charts and archaic books. None of that is preparing them for the real world of sex, unplanned pregnancies, and STD's.
Okay, I admit we are more forth-coming with sexual exploitation in Western cultures. We are bombarded with it constantly, so we think nothing of seeing a half naked, hell ...a naked woman.
 It’s a bit more subtle here, but after a while you begin to recognize some telltale signs. But no worries as with all conservative societies, perversion is lurking right beneath the surface.
  One of the first things I noticed when I got here was the outlandish number of barber poles around the cities.  Nearly every building has one, if not several.  It wasn’t long before someone broke it down for me; One pole is suspect.  Two poles is really saying something.  A place with two poles which are spinning between the hours of midnight and 6am may as well just say “Vagina Sale!”.  There are several 노래 방 in my neighborhood which I’m sure are for another kind of duet. At this point every "business" I pass could conceivably be peddling flesh.  "아드레날린" (Adrenaline)  "coffee shop" I pass by frequently is covered in lights,with one door, no windows, and blacked out door panel and only open after 6pm.Coffee? Hmmmm? I never smell an java when I walk past. More like coffee flavored contraceptive and a happy ending!
But alas the sex trade and pseudo-conservatism are alive in well in South Korea.
If you're even tempted to visit one of these establishments for a "haircut" or better yet a "cup of coffee" after a long day on the job. Ask for a "물 티 수" first then inquire if you get the service Kimichi and condoms special!
Until next time...

Confucius say: beware of double barber poles spinning to and fro and hallogen hot pink lights. You may go for a "haircut" and end up spending the night!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Out of sight out of mind?


티파니 who?
As I have finally made a solid group of friends here who are not creepers, douche bags or *LHBs ( Losers Back Home ) thanks TS. I've started to wonder about friends and fam stateside. I know I've heard that saying, "Distance makes the heart grow fonder." but I know for most people it's " Out of sight, Out of Mind".
Now dont get me wrong  I absolutely love my SoKo fam! I'm over-joyed to have such a great group of awesome, genuine people to hang with. It's always nice to have to kindred spirits to kick it with, crack jokes, eat delicious food with, and gripe about life in Korea.
However I wonder about my friends across the pond!  I miss being a part of their daily lives and them being a part of mine. I miss being their shoulders to cry on, or the first person they call when something ridiculous has happened. I am reduced to emails, and SKYPE :( I some times ( Ok a lot of the time)  feel out of the loop. Their lives are changing and I'm not there for it :( (Facebook updates just aren't enough) I guess that's the price you pay living overseas. I try my best to skype and call as much as possible. My new resolution is to write more. Whatever happened to letter writing? We've become so disconnected in the digital age, sending a quick IM or email. We've forgotten how nice it is to get something by snail mail. Going to the mailbox, seeing a hand written letter with your name on it. almost 30 and I still get excited about the mail. What good is Korea with all these damn stationary stores if I dont send a letter? So if you want to be my pen pal ( I know it's real gay) inbox me your addy and I'll send some snail mail your way. Lots of love from Soko to all my friends and loved ones statside. Can't wait to see you all!
Don't forget about me. Unitl next time...

Confucius say:  Emails are crap but letters are forever or can be used for toilet paper in 3rd world countries. It's all about perspective!

Korea, You'll Always be my Baby

Dear Korea,
I know it's been a while. I just haven't been feeling the love between us lately from the pushy opinionated adjumma to the utterly ludacris logic. I know, I've been distant and down right indignant. I didn't even celebrate our year anniversary. I'm taking a cue from Mariah. It's time to " Shake it off". So I promise to work on it. Like in all relationships, the things I once loved about you, irritate the hell out of me, and like any lover you truly know how to push my buttons. I'm not one to hold a grudge so I forgive you. Let's move on from here. No hard feelings. Let's go into out second yr with a clean slate.


With that being said I have so many things I want to share with you, and look forward to our adventures together.

Always,
티파니 ♥

Monday, October 4, 2010

Co-teacher Rant!

WTF
Ok so it's Tuesday morning and my co teacher is already causing me grief coming into my classroom. Really? It's not even first period yet! She comes in with a paper showing me dates and times saying " Oh these are Korean classes offered by the government for native teachers the vice principal and I think you should go. It is your duty. It will be good for you!"  First of all, I'm an adult and what I do in my free time after work is my business. I'm pretty sure there's no stipulation in my contract that says I have to attend Korean classes.So no it's NOT my duty!
 I smiled and said thank and explained I do other things during the week. What I wanted to say is " You should have taken advantage of those English classes in your teaching program! That would have been good for you! "But I don't believe in being an a**hole before I get my morning coffee.
I'm already not a fan of her, she just insists on making things worse. I try not to be an all out jerk, but that does not stop her from being a whole douche. She's taking me to the point of no return.
I truly miss my old Co-teacher Ms. Kim. She was fantastic. Her English was great, and she treated me like a REAL person. Ms. Kim was a great buffer to ease me into my first 6 months in Korea. I am sure that if I had "The Jeon" when I first I arrived I probably would not have stayed.
That's the risk you take coming to Korea. Not all co-teachers will be like " The Kim".
I think what irks me about my current co-teacher is the she's in her 50's, just finished English education training, barely understands English and yet she treats me like I'm the RETARD! I'm more qualified and mentally equipt to be her supervisor. If anything I'm over qualified to do this job, but I do it because I love it! Where as she is my supervisor, she can barely speak English, she's a terrible teacher, and has no concern for others.  She constantly "checks-out" while I am teaching. The students complain and say " can we just have you and not "The Jeon" teacher? I wish! On a daily basis she gives me mis-information and sometimes flat out lies for her own benefit. She makes my job that much harder!It is truly taking everything in me. to be respectful and not rip her a new one! But  I'm never one to let small minded individuals get the better of me. So as I drink my coffee and mentally strangle her I think of being scolded by the principal this morning for not doing her job. Next time she comes at me with bulls**t  I will take a deep breath smile,"wooo-sahhh" and laugh inwardly at her mustache. Til next time...

Confucius say: When peons annoy you and start to speak, smile  and think... it must be so sad for you, you've reached your peak!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mustacheeeeee!

It's so crazy how Korean people,children especially are fascinated with body hair. I don't really understand the "Whoa!" factor. I've seen hairy Koreans. Like adjeoshi or younger men with not so much leg hair as patchy "plots" sporatically growing on their legs. Yes it is rare to see a Korean man with facial hair.However lately I've seen a few beards on the subway. It's strange.
But Koreans are no stranger to hair! I've seen countless mustaches and overgrown eye brows and nose hairs for days.
My students are AMAZED with my arm hair and try to "pet" it when I am trying to help them with their work. My girls constantly try to sneak up on me and run their dirty fingers through my hair. I AM NOT IMPRESSED! Nor am I some Waguk Barbie. I constantly have to tell them to keep their hands to themselves.  I once asked my special needs co-teacher why my students are so enamored with my arm hair. " You know the Korean people ( as most Korean lies start off) are not hairy! We do not have hair like the foreigners" As her upper lip is weighed down by and extra-thick mustache. Korean men might not be hairy but the women sure are. At least foreign women have the sense to pluck, or wax mustaches instead of cake them with concealer.That is no bueno. The little mirror/comb combo thats seems to be so popular these days is not to comb your mustache or shape your eyebrows ladies. it's for your bangs. I've got an idea. Instead of little mirrors with combs Korean beauty stores should invest in developing  little wax strip/lipgloss compacts. I'm sure they would sell like Spam kits during Chuseok!
Next time someone pets my arm hair like a dog or tries to finger F&%K my freshly styled coiff,I'm going to grab their little Korean mustache hairs and pull for dear life. Until next time...

Confucius say: When there are Korean claims of hairlessness beware. Because I'll be after your bushy top lip with a bottle of Nair!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chuseok~ and Lesbian sex books?


This past week we celebrated Chuseok ( Korean Thanksgiving).  Originally I was a little depressed because Kate and I couldn't plan a mini-vacay due to our conflicting days off. I had to work last Monday ( I use the term "work" loosely) while Kate got to sleep in, and I had Friday off and of course she had to work. We tried to fanangle a 4 day get away somewhere. We played with the ideas of Taipei or Hong Kong. We finally decided to go to Hong Kong since I was keen on checking out Disneyland Hong Kong and Kate was excited about the shopping, but alas it wasn't meant to be. The return times coupled with the exhorbited price of returning flights from Hong Kong just didnt seem worth it. Bottom lips poked out we decided staying  that Korea was our best bet. A few days later we while having morning coffee,and watching CNN Weather there were reports that a typhoon had hit Hong Kong and a hurricane had swept over Taipei. We would have had a soggy Chuseok adventure, and thats no fun for anyone. At first I wasn't excited about the Chuseok mini break but it definitely started to look up last Tuesday night. I had a little dinner party at my aparment, where my friend Tina so graciously offered to cook some Thai specialties. Her green curry and Chicken Satay were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! After everyone had their fill...some more than others. We half-assed played Dirty Minds. We did our usual mini-rant about Korea and how ridiculous it is. However somewhere in between the cheese and crackers and the appetizers the night got more interesting when my friend Ricky picked up my Complete Guide to Lesbian Sex Book and started reading passages. That's when things got RIDICULOUS. " Maybe you should give seminars on this stuff... men need to know" I agreed with my friends. They could learn a lot from their Sapphic counterparts. Page after page, the room errupted in laughter as we theorized sordid sexual situations , munched on Krispy Kreme doughnuts and drank Moscato out of Dixie cups ( classy right?). Who knew chuseok dinner+A Lesbian Sex guide could =so much fun?  The dinner party turned into a wrap session which carried into the wee hours of the morning. I'm sure this was the most risque Chuseok dinner conversation this side of the Han river.
The party was a sucess and I'm sure we all learned a few new sexual tidbits. It was great way to start off my mini Chuseok Vacay!
What's on the agenda for the Christmas party...egg nog, Christmas cookies and an S& M demonstration?
 I love my friends...never a dull moment. Until next time...
Confucius says: To spice up a dinner party or next office picnic, pick up the next edition lesbian sex guide that shoul do the trick!
( I'm sure you wouldn't find this tip in Home Living or Martha Stuart)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Operation: Do What It Do!

Tiffany Teacher+broken Western toilet + Squat toilet + Rumble in the Jungle x crowded bathroom with co-workers= not a good time for ANYONE!
 Operation : Do what it Do
(Disclaimer: if you don't find poop amusing or the least bit funny...read no further)
I know there are some things people just don't talk about... well just so we're clear, I'm not those people!

Last Friday started off like most days. Bearing the elements and making it to school on time,morning classes, followed by iced tea and a  n sugary breakfast snack of some sort.Around second period there was a rumble in the jungle. When a situation such as this arises at school, I try my best to calm the storm. Because I know, like most people no one wants to drop a "deuce"at work. The more I tried to keep it at bay, the more my stomach rumbled. I def should have skipped the iced tea that morning. Let me pause right here and take a moment to explain my school's bathroom room facilities. The bathroom is located outside of the main building and is rinsed daily with an over-sized hose by a cranky purple haired adjumma. There are 4 stalls, one of which is a Western toilet which is also doubles as a mop closet. The other 3 stalls are squat toilets. Which my co-workers frequent on the regular. See the picture on the right. There is rarely toilet paper in the stalls, so of course I'm always prepared with a roll of my own. I waited as as long as I could  while I changed into my rain boots, instead of my usual slippers. One can never be too careful about splatter. Didn't want poop slippers, that would have been awkward and hard to explain. I bided my time as I waited for my co-workers to finish their after lunch dash for the bathroom for make-up reapplication and teeth brushing. I waited until I saw my co-workers file out of the bathroom. I made my way to the squat toilet furthest from the door and to my surprise WTF? The TP bandit struck again.My toilet paper roll I put in there an hour earlier had disappeared. Ugh! So I dashed back to the teacher's lounge and grabbed another roll. When I returned to the bathroom, it was jam packed with co-workers. I decided to wait them out. Consequently, I ended up brushing my teeth 3 times :(
It's not like I could blow it up  in the bathroom and then blame another foreigner.A: I'm the only one at my school. B : I didn't even have any Lysol. Now when I first got Korea I scoffed at the thought of ever using a squat toilet. It proves to be quite a balancing act which I've mastered in the past months. But squat poop? That was a whole nother issue with a whole nother set of problems.


I am guilty of having the "Finch" syndrome of wanting to save "the deuce" for home. Most Koreans could care less and let it rip anywhere. But this was no time for "Finch". It was time for action! Me and my duck boots, a roll of toilet paper, and my fingers crossed, assumed the position. In minutes my frustration and angst were over. I have to tell you...it wasn't that bad.
That squat toilet may seem daunting but trust me people it's all bark and no bite.Could you imagine if it did? Needless to say I already asked my school to repair the Western toilet. I won't be making a habit of
"pooping a squat ". Crisis averted and all was calm in the jungle. Note to self: Caffeine + sugary breakfast treats are not my friends between the hours of 8:00am and 4:30pm. I hope this serves as a warning for my fellow expat teachers. Til next time!

Confucius say: When in doubt and one must squat! Be care where you aim  or Deucie will be your new nickname!

The 90's

( press PLAY on the video below so you can listen as your read)

The 90's are back in full affect!
In Korea the 90's are back HARD like Winona Ryder in  a Reality Bites or Tia Carrere in Wayne's World type of way!
Cut-off shorts, baggy shirt/sweaters hanging off the shoulder,combat boots, 501 mom jeans. Crowds of Koreans who think they're DOIN' IT, in woollen V neck jumpers, either on or tied to the waist,tears in the jeans topped off with prom shoes.Numerous faces of pale makeup with smokey eyes and bad dye jobs. It's like a continuous episode of Melrose Place or 90210. Me personally, I'm not one for the re-vamping of 90's fashion! You won't see me in a romper, stone washed jeans,ripped tights, an over-sized t-shirt reading NOT!, lining my lips or rocking a scrunchie! That's all you Korea!
No thanks! I'm not sure if it's just Korea or Fashion in general. NowI know its the nature of fashion to recycle but the 90's? Really?
I'm sooo not impressed! Til next time...

Confucius says: Beware of the 90's wave washing over your local retail stores, dont get caught with a scrunchie in your hair or stone washed jeans. What not to Wear will be knocking at your door!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Semester begins...

I'm sometimes amazed at what a nerd I am
It was bright and early Wednesday morning. After having an unrestful sleep I woke up anxious as if  it were my first day of school not the students'. I put on my "super teacher" black dress complete with yellow power sweater and turquoise pearls ( ok, maybe not so super or poer but they're my favorites) I took down my hair which I had so time consumingly curled last night to perfection. I was ready. With one last glance in the mirror I dashed out the bathroom, grabbed my purse, ipod and umbrella and I was out the door. However what I wasn't ready for was the unbelievable humidity and torrential downpour at 7:30am. By time I made it the few blocks to the bus stop I could feel my make up running and I knew it was over for my hair. So, a less than chipper Tippani teachuh made it up the hill a great deal wetter and sweatier than anticipated. Not a good combo on the first day of school. Before greeting my fellow teachers I made a B line for the ladies room which smelled of old mop water and Old spice. Maybe the cleaning adjumma changed her aftershave. I looked in the mirror and instead of the fahionable diva who left the apartment only 30 mins ago , a haggart , soaked  very frizzy homeless woman stared back at me. :( Thank goodness for my make up bag, a spare brush and a mini flat iron in the bottom drawer of my desk. In under 15 mins I began to see an inkling of my former self. After saying my hellos to colleagues and  answering a million questions about my vacation I attempted explaining my India trip to the English teacherswho barely speak English...go figure! It was part English, part Korean with a whole lot of charades in between to explain words/situations that were entirely too difficult to try and translate. I headed up to the "English Zo e" my "n" broke over the break! The day was uneventful. My classes were cancelled. All that planning and no students :( Surprise, surprise. That's Korea for you. Greeted by students bowing ( that never gets old) to students screaming my name down the hallway and waving "Tippani Teachuh"! But alas no class for the Tippani, so I made use of my free time by playing on FB and lesson planning for the coming weeks but then I was distracted by an overwhelming urge to make "Korean Bingo". It's like Walmart Bingo but better! Who wouldnt want to scour the city looking for an adjumma with green hair , an ajeoshi bar fight before 6pm, or a girl with pockets hanging out of her short shorts! I thought it was a great idea! That was the end of anything school related right there! Great start to the semester, go me. I cant say that it was my finest moment as an educator but whatever ...it's desk warming don't judge!So if you're in the Anyang area on Saturday and wanted to do drinks and Korean Bingo. I'm there like a Korean at Costco before Chusok.
Until next time...

Confucius say: When one feel the agnst of desk warming limbo start to creep kick back, grab your Snuggie and start counting sheep

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Incredible India... I think not

The Taj at my fingertips
Karol Bagh
Ok... so I'm back home trying to collect myself, after my India expedition. I'm not even even sure where to begin. It was like re-enacting Slumdog Millionaire but without the dancing, or the millionaire. We arrived with high hopes a little tired in Delhi. The Indirah Ghandi International Airport was less than magical. I'm sure Indirah would not be pleased! Still walking on cloud nine from actually being in India, I shrugged off this sub-par airport and we picked up our bags. A chauffeur from the hotel met us at the gate. ( Whew! airport pick- up was not a scam) We made our way outside through hoards of gawking Indian men with our packs and found our vehicle which looked like some kind of 1970's "Pinto" reject. It didn't look like our bags would fit in this car let alone all 3 of us. Once our bags were stowed we hit the "road" to New Delhi. By "road" I mean and extremely large dirt path with innumerous construction vehicles lined up by the curb, worker's shanty shacks, roadside barbers, public urination ( penises facing the road) and families squatting with fruit and water. As the car came to its first halt women and children rushed the car " Madame, food, money, please, Dont kill the baby" dust clad babies are crying while their malnourished mothers and siblings are banging on the car windows. Sounds exciting huh? Umm not quite. We made our way into New Delhi. Rickshaws, Tuk-tuks, delivery trucks, bikes, cars, and taxis whizzed and out of traffic meandering through the automotive clusterfuck. In disregard to any possible traffic rules our driver moved in and out of lanes into on coming traffic. It was like a not so fun  Indian version of Motorcross Urban Fever because I was in the backseat sans seat belt and Kate was not impressed. As we made our way through Delhi we came to what can only be explained as a village from Slumdog Millionaire. Kate and I both looked at one another and keeping our fingers crossed that this was not where out hotel was. Lucky Day! We turned down this dirt road with half constructed building and children chasing the car with their hands out. " Oh fuck" says Kate We pulled up to the Delhi Pride Hotel. The pictures online were a bit misleading to say the leasr. But once we got inside it was actually a " nice" hotel. Well Im guessing for India's standards. After resting a few and freshening up we decided to hit the town and check out the infamous Karol Bagh market. After a few right and left turns we made our way to the Karol Bagh entrance. Excited about all the shopping that was about to commence from reading Lonely Planet India ( which is severely inaccurate bordering bold face lie). Kate and I put on our bargaining faces and moved forward. But to our surprise, instead of Karol Bagh being one of Asia's most amazing markets, it turned out to be a series of run-down store fronts with a myriad of jewelry and fabric stores, needless to say we were not impressed. A little parched and sad about the lack of shopping options I stopped for a fountain Cola at a pastry shop. By the time I got back to the hotel there was a layer of dust in my cola and dust in my straw. :( That was the beginning of the end! Our hotel set us up with an Indian travel agency that squared away our train tickets and car transport around various cities. I pretty sure we got dooped on the price.I felt like that little kid on the old school Moutain Dew commercial " We've been hosed Tommy, we've been hosed!"

Yup that's about right! India was series , of one terrible experience after another. Day two we got into a car accident and Kate was almost pick-pocketed at a Buddhist Temple! C'mon now, a temple? Really? We ran the guy down and the police apprehended him. Temples, tombs, the Taj Mahl and other sites were all dwarfed by the gawking, and being followed by and having my picture taken by creepy Indian men, not to mention the fly entourages that seemed to follow me everywhere!
You say what about the food! Of course it couldn't have been all bad right? WRONG! Everyone knows how much I love Indian food it's my second runner up to Thai. I was so pumped to eat my weight in Naan and delicious curries ( thanks Kate). The food we were served was obviously made for tourists ( sorry if that sounds pretentious, but I know good Indian food) Rubbery samosas, weird chicken brinyani, strange palak paneer. "OMG did you just give me Heinz ketchup to put on my samosas!" I was insulted to say the least! I couldn't believe it after years of eating Indian food, then going to India and not having delicious food. I was sooo disappointed I could have cried.
Yet in stiil after pick pocketing, car accidents,terrible food/ service, and lets not forget constant public harassment, I still tried to make the best of our trip. I mean don't get me wrong there were some very hilarious moments. The Indian head bobbing accompanied with "teegut" or smininature, thats right sminature toilet paper rolls, or the strange veggie menu at McDonalds ( which I did not eat at)Or like when our travel agent Shabir took Kate and I out to dinner. Before getting in the car he unbuttoned his black silk shirt to right above his navel which showed off his massive mound of chest fur and umpteen gold medallions. His drunk assistant drove us to a restaurant ( where the food was great) We shared a meal while his assistant giggled drunkenly and harassed young children from the table (PEDO!!)After dinner when we reached the hotel Shabir pushed the button for the elevator , grabbed Kate's arm and said " Katee maybe we go somewhere, Tiff will not mind" I stepped in and grabbed her arm, laughed and said "thanks, but no we're going to bed!" Oh no but it didnt stop there, once we were safe in our room Kare gets a phone call from Shabir letting her know he is staying right down the hall, in case she wanted to come visit, when I was sleeping. He was sooo serious too. After Kate let him down easy as not to hurt his feelings ( because we didn't him to feel salty or cancel our tickers , because we had already paid him for our tour package) We looked at each other and laughed hysterically. He thought we wanted the "package PLUS" deal. No dirty Indian shame for me, thanks though!
Watch out for those city tigers
Kate and I toughed it out listening to the advice of friends who've been to India and who said " Once you get out of Delhi, its sooo much better" Well We did and it wasn't. Each city was a bigger and dirtier version of the last. Pigs and other livestock running rampant in street eating from the various garbage piles along the road side. During our multi-city tour, we saw sooo many pigs. Our very strange but fun driver Mr. Yogesh pointed them out " city tigers" you know? He laughed as his head swayed back and forth like a bobble head doll" Teegut"!

This is India uncovered! You know that saying " If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all!" Well that doesn't apply here!
I know a number people who've been to India and " said "they had a fabulous time".IT IS THE LIE! Yeah it's great for photography, but guess what I don't work for National Geographic. India is not incredible it is impoverished to the likes of which I've never seen, filthy,  and  so disappointing. I've never been made to feel so uncomfortable and paranoid on vacation. I'm sorry people, but anyone who knows me, knows how optimistic I am. I can find a silver lining just about anywhere but unfortunately the silver lining was buried under a pile of garbage.Aside from the Taj, the beautiful fabrics and Masala tea, India was NO BUENO! I do not recommend it. If you are a dirty backpacker( so its true) and like being ripped off and given sub par standards of service then go ahead.
I've never disliked some place I've traveled before. It was a bit heartbreaking to have had such a terrible experience in my #2 place of all time. .In one word I was UNDERWHELMED! :(  Well at least I saw the Taj Mahal! After hours of swerving in and out of traffic from city to city, bad meal after bad meal , and 2 cases of Delhi Belly, Kate and I decided to cut our losses and hop on the next plane to Thailand to salvage what was left of our vacation. As always Thailand was fantastic so it wasn't all bad. I'm going to chalk my Un-incredible India trip up as an experience and keep on trucking. My next vacation can only get better! So with a sigh of disappointment, a hella big credit card bill, and the remnants of Delhi belly I close this chapter on  India! Namaste.



Confucius say: He who survives India and lives to tell the tale is but a wise and strong man, but he who falls victim to the Indian hype will get hosed and shit in hand.





Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Journey

I have less than 24 hours to India and I'm super pumped! As always something always goes wrong. The dogsitter canceled on me today! Ahhhh, some excuse about a " last minute" trip to the east coast. By last minute, do you mean planned for months and just now feeling it was important to tell me. No worries Korea. I'm quick on my feet. I mustered up my best Korean and called local vets and pet shops to find a suitable place for Binnie. To my surprise, I found a place right here in Anyang to house her. Phew...crisis overted. I've been procrastinating hardcore on packing,( partly because there's no dryer, so my clothes take days to dry)but there's no time like the present. At 2 :30pm, I head to the tailor's to get our secret pockets sewn into our sports bras ( no pick-pocketing going on over here) then off home to pack and straighten up the apartment. Tomorrow, I'm off to the bank to make sure my bank card will work in India. I do not want another Thailand episode. Being on vacation in a foreign country with a bum bank card is no bueno. I'm beyond excited. I remember when this trip seemed so far away, and here it is the day before. I'm freaking out over here just a little bit! I'm India bound in 24 hrs. So crazy.
On a serious note, I talked to an old friend today. We caught up on each others lives and talked about journeys of the mind, heart, and soul. We talked about the things that changed us, the things that held us back and the things that helped us grow. Not to sound all self-help book-esque, but anyone who feels themselves floundering, remember" you were created to live life. So give everything, to this life you are living. Hold nothing back." Just my perspective.
 This year, has been one of  loss and renewal. I truly believe it is what you do with the failures in your life that define your character. In this moment, I could not be happier. My life as it is now, is all that I wanted. Life, love, travel. I couldn't ask for more. I was told by someone " You create the world in which you live, drawing positive or negative energies into your life". So this is me,sending positivity to all of you out there hoping that it makes a difference in your lives.
The journey that I take to India has been many years in the making. Like I said it's # 2 on my list of lifetime places to visit. As long as I can remember I've dreamed of wearing saris,camel rides though the desert, and seeing the Taj Mahal. I've never been to the desert. People say it has an unparalleled beauty. I'm sure I will burst into tears at the sight of the Taj. Life moves and inspires me. With a freed sense of self and another stamp in my passport I'm off to India. Til next time  ... Namaste

Confucius says: Life is like a good curry, it can be unyielding and fierce but delicious and satisfying. The task is to endure it all.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Are you there 7 Eleven? It's Me, 티파니♥


 I'm not sure if your are aware of the 7 Eleven franchise phenomena throughout Asia. I saw a documentary on it, not too long before I left the states. It talked about how 7-Eleven's are dwindling in the states, but are booming in countries all over Asia. It's like a little piece of home no matter where I travel. Kind of like a landmark if you will.
For example, " Dude! I'm pretty sure this is a third world country, they're eating dog kabobs and I just laddled water into the toilet to flush it!" " Nope...there's a 7-11!" When in doubt always search for the trusty green, red, and orange "Oh thank heaven... 7 Eleven!" According to the documentaryYou can walk into any 7 Eleven in Asia and find a myriad of quality snacks from the home country in which it's situated, but also snacks from the UK and America. It's like the United Nations of snacking. ( Now I can only speak for  Thailand and Korea) Thailand's assortmert of snacks was pretty spectacular but Korea...EPIC FAIL! Their options for snacking are lacking! I mean don't get me wrong, sometimes you'll luck out and find Del Monte Fruit Cocktail or a Kit Kat (not to be confused the Korean knock off Kick Ker)next to the dried squid and Aloe juice,but those are isolated incidents. Korea keeps the ill lock-down on foreign snacks :(  I can't say that I'm ever in the mood for fruit in my "spam dog" thats been on the hot dog roller for hours or sweet red bean flavored pretzel. Womp, womp womp.
When I see the flourescent glow of the 7 Eleven sign I think of one thing and one thing only...SLURPEES!
I was sooo excited when I first got here and saw 7 Eleven! Unfortunatley,there are no SLURPEE machines in Korea! Every store I come across I peer in the window with hopeful eyes....nothin'. I'm surprised though, because Koreans are ALL about the ice cold treats! The icecream and popscicle game here is sooo serious!There are stores devoted to popscicles and iced treats. So why not opt for the SLURPEE  Korea? Then again Korea might bastardize the SLURPEE with flavors like Green Tea, Sweet Red Bean, or Aloe.It's mid July and what I wouldn't give for an ice cold cherry/cola SLURPEE! I can almost taste it. But no...I'm left to eat popscicles, Baskin "Lobbins" and 팥 빙 수 ( shaved ice, sweet read beans, fruit, icecream and cereal.I'm not knockin it ,Kate loves it, but it sounds like a stomachache waiting to happen!) I feel some type of way Korea. You bring Taco Bell to Korea (with no Chalupas, might I add) but no SLURPEE? What kind of madness it that? Is there some kind of  Asian anti-SLURPEE conspiracy Im not privy too? Is there someone I can write about this?
Well this "eventful" work day is about to end, so I'm left to walk home past three 7 Elevens and not one SLURPEE machine in sight! :( Until next time...

Confucius say: 7 Eleven with no SLURPEE is like Korea without KIMCHI...it's just WRONG!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A little face time

Dear Korea,

I wanted to take a minute to talk about face care. I've seen just about everything here in Korea when it comes to skin care. In such an image conscious society, it's normal to see a Skin Food, Face Shop, Etude House, Tony Moly or Holika Holika  or every corner. In a place, where a visit to the dermatologist is only 6,000 won, you really cant be mad at that. There is a cream , spray, or gel for everything from peeling, bleaching, pores, wrinkles, toning, hair removal, to dark circles. If there is a skin or facial need Korea has the cream, gel, or spray  to suit you. I'm sure of that! A cute little sales girl came up to Kate and  I as we were perusing nail polish colors in Tony Moly and in her best Konglish " Help you?, 당신이 찾고있는 무엇?" Holding up a conspicuous tomato shaped jar " 해볼까요? 3 minutes don't touchee" Unbelieving we tried this mysterious tomato paste on our hands and some other lotions. " ku-lean-uh! no dirty..yes?" After three minutes of raiding the lipglosses and trying other products, the sales girl wiped off the paste to reveal an even toned and clean part of my hand. SOLD! Only 8,000 won.Asaaaa! We also decided on a face detox/exfoliating gel and a pore reducer/oil expectorant. I'm usually not one for trying things that sales people push on me. But these were all winners! Our cute and bubbly our sales girl made her way to the counter showing up numerous products along the way including a waterless bubbling body and face cleansing spray.What will Korea come up with next? I love Korea's " go ahead...try it!" attitude with products. I like to know what I'm getting myself into. I might have to cast my Biore aside. 감사합니다 토니 모 리! I know lately I haven't been Korea's biggest fan but the tides are a changin'.  I posted some pics so you can see the after affects of the products. ( Gold egg: pore cleaner/oil expectorant, Tomato: skin purifier and toner, Blue Gel: Skin Detox and Exfoliator ♥ )  Yes that's me with NO makeup! Ouch...don't stare too long at the screen. So what I guess I'm trying  to say is ...Korea is I'm sorry being being so hard on you! Thanks for the awesome facial products!
Love ,
티파니
Ps. This doens't mean I forgive you for not carrying my shoe size!

Monday Morning and wonderful Sungmoon suprises

So it's Monday afternoon and I can barely concentrate. Good thing, I planned my lessons last week. So as I mentioned in my previous blog. This weekend is my Jeju-do getaway! I'm super pumped. Let's hope the weather keeps and monsoon season doesn't piss on my parade.  Anyways, enough with the travel blabber. So my new coiff  is a big hit with the students. I've gotten comments like " Oooh teach handsome hairuh", " Oh teacher beautiful lion", " So pretty Girl's Generation hairuh", " You are so berry beatipul now!" and my favorite while pinching her cheeks my student said" Big eyes. big hair, oh so very beautiful. I envy you!" lol. 
One of my favorite students came into class today and said " Teachuh you like my ba-ling  ba-ling eyes-uh?" " So pretty like Lady Gaga right?" Referring to her anime-esque looking  blue-grey contacts.
 I even had one student with turquoise contacts to match her new balances and her pencil, which she called her " sky blue set-tuh" Oh Korea!
It's all about the looks in Korea! Today I even got asked on a coffee date by a high school student when I taught a special class this morning. A class of all boys no less.  After teaching in the high school and seeing the enthusiasm of the students and their English ability I wouldn't mind teaching high schoolers.
Random note: The past few afternoons my school broadcasting station has taken to playing no, blasting Korean Soft Rock around 7th period. Let's just say Im less than excitied about this development.      I must say I love Mondays, they are really low key after a weekend of no sleep. However I am excited to actually be teaching again and not having my classes cancelled  every five minutes. I was a little tired of desk warming. My day is winding down and I've just painted my nails a spectacular shade of turquoise ( similar to my student's set-tuh), I can't wait to get home to book hotels for India. Speaking of India, the new passport pics Kate and I took  for our Indian visas on Friday are ridiculous. I look like Im 12 and Kate looks like one of those Russian nesting dolls. Dear Korea, please ease up on the air brushing and photoshop. No one wants to look like an Anime charcter. Wait ...I'm sorry I forgot it's Korea! Looking forward to another weekend of birthday celebrations and fun in the sun on Jeju-do. Until next time...

Confucius say: Anime airbrushin... it's what the people want!!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dog Day Afternoon


Just finished talking to my old co-teacher. Did I mention how fantastic she is? She is also  always full of ridiculous misinterpretations and laughs. So she asked me about Soo Bin and her " injections". I told her that the vaccinations went well. She then told me about her dog Yoo Bi who is this cute little Maltese. "The other day Yoo Bi got the surgery". " Why, is he ok?" I asked. " I noticed that he was peeing strangee these days, like this" ( she lifted her leg). I almost lost it! " Oh you got him fixed!". Looking lost for a minute, "Yes he is not the man anymore...is he gay?" Then I started cracking up uncontrollably. When I was able to choke back my laughter. " You got him neutered".  " Ooooh, yes noodled" she said. I'm sorry it was too funny I couldn't correct it. " Noodled?" I love it! She smiled and said"But, he is not angry with me anymore "     You remove a dog's balls... I'm prtty sure he's still mad at you, but you pick up his poop and feed him, so he grins and bares it!

Confucius says: Beware of taking your dogs balls without warning, the next victim might be your favorite shoes then you'll be the one in mourning.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Yay! It's JULY ~

So it's  the second week of July and I realized my birthday is right around the corner. (to my friends and loved one stateside... I LOVE PACKAGES) wink, win @_< Anyways ( in my best korean voice), this year flown by and I can't believe I'm going to be 28.  I have to say this isn't where I thought I'd be at 28, but I'm not complaining. Tonight is my birthday dinner. It's a little early, but I was suprised with a trip to Jeju-do next weekend. Asaaaaa! If you didn't know, according to Koreans Jeju Island is the " Hawaii" of Korea! Kate you're the greastest! I can't wait fun in the sun, erotic parks ( cant wait to see that!), waterfalls and beautiful sunrises. Did I mention we're staying right on the ocean! Ahhhhh! But I digress, tonight we are going to do it up real Korean style with my favorite Samgypsal ( Korean pork BBQ) and soju, then Norebang so I can channel my inner Prince! I promise to take pictures to document the ridiculousnes.Those of you who know me, know I will be gettin with it! So watch out. I have to say  I'm super excited. July is turning out to be an eventful month this weekend my party, and an invitation from on of my students to see Eclipse, next week: off to Jeju-do, then we leave for India the following week. I can barely contain my excitement or concentrate! My job has been pretty low key this month cancelling classes left and right.생일 축하의 티파니no classes for you. I'm not complaining :) July seems to be the month of all things SPECTACULAR!

Confucius say: Birthdays are a  time to special celebrate, and surprise packages from the U.S. with presents are always great!

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Costco Caper and Onions Galore

Last weekend Kate and I took the train to Costco, which seemed to take forever because we had to transfer 3 times. I said we should take the rolling luggag to cart back groceries, but Kate said she didn't think we would need them so I grabbed my durable costco bag and headed out the door. Apparently Kate forgot how much we both like to shop. Needless to say we should have brought the suitcase. There were so many things I missed that i didn't know I missed until we were strolling down the towering aisles.  Costco is an overwhelming commerce experience. I had never been while living in the states, so when we entered the buy-in-bulk metropolis(which by the way, Koreans supposedly don't like) I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people and the special needs logic of people steering their over sized carts. Why is it that there were proper traffic jams in 10ft wide aisles? Six peoples' carts can fit across, so why is no one moving? Ahhhh...Kate took me aside " Tiffany, relax, remember it's still Korea!"  as she maneuvered us  through the cluster-fuck of carts I was grateful, that she was there. There were families with multiple carts, parents who converted carts into nap time carriages for their small children, as well as play pens. I could tell they were Costco for the long haul by the snack bags and water bottles in their carts. I had only planned to get a few things. What had I gotten myself into?
Kate had once told me about the Pizza at Costco. So I was very excited to have pizza that tasted like home. Apparently Koreans LOVE the Costco pizza too! The Food court was packed and buzzing with crying babies, yelling adjummas, snacking families, and hungry foreigners. In true Korean style the seating area was only big enough to accommodate about a quarter of the people buying food. Mothers watched closely, hovering over tables, waiting for an opening , then swooping down on the limited seating, while fathers had the arduous task over ordering and  then finding their way through the masses with their family's meal. Not enough seats for your family.... No problem. Feeding order: Children, Adjummas, Fathers, then doting Mothers. Eating in shifts? What's that? DPRK is that you?
Not only were pizzas being slung into carts in the food court left and right ,but hotdogs wrapped in foil moved so swiftly, I thought I might have an epileptic seizure from all the foil being thrown about. People were pushing a shoving making their way to the coveted condiment corner. I wasn't sure what all the fuss was about , but then I saw the Holy Grail of the Korean Costco food court... The Onion Dispenser! Koreans were lined up with plates in anticipation of turning the wheel clockwise( as it says on the dispenser )and recieving a pile of scumptious onion goodness. Koreans are serious about their onion game. While sitting at the table with Kate enjoying my pizza I couldn't help but stare at the onion phenomena, countless hands mixing enormous piles of onion with ketchup, mustard, relish, and hot sauce and subsequnetly shoveling  large fork fulls into their mouths. And I thought I liked onions! The family across from me ordred onions with a side of hotdog. There were more condiments on their hotdogs than actual hotdog. Are onions the new kimchi? But the onions, like most things  in Korea, Go HARD or Go Home!

Confucius says: Beware of Korean adjumma's tales about not shopping in bulk, don't take the last 70lb bag of rice she might go hulk.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Monsoon Season and the Ashy Ankled Bandit

Now,I've been anticipating monsoon season since I got here. It's July, so I knew the torrential downpour was right around the corner.I KNEWwhat to expect.    I was warned and yet somehow I left the house this morning without my rain boots! Whyyyyyy did I do that? By time I got to school I had little pools of murky water in my favorite patent leather flats(strike 1). 축하 해요! As I mentioned before my school is up a steep hill, and situated at the base of a mountian. The downpour was no joke. Walking up the umpteen steps to the teacher's office I almost bit it. Tripping up the steps on a rainy day...NO BUENO! (strike2) At the top of the steps I took off my shoes and emptied my miniture lakes onto the sidewalk. Once I got inside I shook off  the rainy day blues and made it to my classroom without any major catastrophies, and relaxed. I ate my dry Honey Nut Cheerios ( Yay for Costco... that's another story) and started my Fall semester planning. When the bell rang, I was ready for action. Board games prepped, and lesson ready. As I was going over the phrase of the day I saw a student at one of the front tables staring at my feet. My students always stare at my tatoo, so I thought nothing of it.  When students were engaged in their groups playing their English Review board games. My oggling student raised her hand and called me over to her table with a worried look on her face. " Yes?" I said. " Ummm...( she paused for moment to think) ummm..teacher legs is sick?" " Huh? Sick? No,why?" I said  " Because teacher's legs "Hwite" color.(white) That's when it happened! I looked down at my legs after my cute black leggings stopped it was Ashiness for days!창피! (strike 3) womp..womp..womp, thanks for playing!
"No I'm ashy" I explained. Confused she scratched her head "Ashley?"." No, I'm ok" I said. She did a sign of relief, I laughed. There was no way I was going to have this conversation. So when the bell rang I rushed to my desk and moisturized my legs and feet thoroughly... "Ashley" the ashy ankle bandit was no more. From now on I know to do an "Ashley Check" on rainy days before class.

Confucius say: when rain is about and you are in doubt,lotion first ask questions later!

Monday, June 28, 2010

India... Ahhhh!

So where do I even begin? Kate and I leave for India in less than 4 weeks. It ranks # 2 on the places I"ve always wanted to travel to,right behind Egypt. So needless to say hitting India before I'm 30 is a pretty big deal. Visions of colorful silk and desert winds cloud my mind while I can almost taste the spices in the air. I almost can't believe I'm going. Every few days I randomly scream " I'm going to India...Ahhhh!" The original plan was to explore Indonesia and Malaysia but after Kate read the BBC news (which is her source for most things), we found out there was some political unrest going on in Indonesia, so a little distraught we opted out of our original plan. While scowering Seoul for a reliable,English speaking travel agent, and reasonably priced tickets we popped into a random shop I happened to see in passing. The gentlemen were really nice and asked where we wanted to go. Our hearts had been sooo set on our Indonesian/ Malaysian trek we hadn't really bothered to think of any other destinations. I looked up at the world clocks on the wall, and one read New Delhi. I shrugged and asked " Hypoethetically speaking my friend... how much would it be to go to India?" "Oooooh India" Kate smiled. A few minutes later he quoted us prices for round trip tickets. We could barely believe our ears. It was definitely within our price range and on our favorite... Thai Airways! I looked at Kate, Kate looked back at me. " India?" we both said... and in that moment our destination was decided. " I guess we're going to India!" I smiled at Kate. " Ahhhhhhhhh... India!" we yelled.
So now we've purchased our tickets, mapped our travel route and are about to book our hotels.  A sneak peek at part of our itenirary: New Delhi:Taj Mahal/ Red Fort ,Jaipur:Amer Elephant Safari (you know how I love riding elephants), Jaisalmer: Fortress/Paatu Bar,Thar Desert Trek ( What? A trek through the desert on a camel... yes please!) and then a little beach time in Goa(possibly some more elephant riding :)
I'm sure there are going to be some unexpected twists and turns along the way. Waiting for trains that never come, making sure I don't drink the water on this trip, keeping away from punjabi scam artists, and securing suitable accomodations No matter what I'm going to roll with it. I hear when it comes to India you either LOVE it or HATE it.  I'm going in with an open mind and a cautious stomach. :) I can't wait for our Indian adventure to begin.
Ps. Mom thanks for the new camera. I can't wait to capture the world!
P.ps. I'm going to India in less than 4 weeks...Ahhhhhhhhh!

Confucius: We all travel the same journey, each of us just have different maps


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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wanna know a joke about a Waguk?

Dear Korea,

It's been a while since my last love letter to you.  I got the kimchi scented roses you sent me...how lovely.  But as per usual, it's time for my four favorite words when  it comes to you. We need to talk! Now I know you are a homogenous country,but how long have "waguks" been a presence in Korea. Ummm let me check... quite a while. Something like the Korean War ring a bell? You've seen our faces time and time again and yet in still when we walk outside our homes, ride the train or ever...god forbid speak Korean you giggle, point and stare. Really? You laugh at me just for existing? That's some real a*****e  s**t!
I mean seriously, is it REALLY that unbelieveable that  we walk, talk, eat,shop, and travel all by ourselves. Contrary to what you think, we all had full adult lives before we came here and are quite capable of taking care of ourselves.I know it's hard for you to believe but we are REAL people. Another thing... we are NOT here for your amusement so stop screaming " Hi! How are you" and forcing impromptu language exchange. And stop watching us as if we are some crazy species of mammal in the zoo, and are about to do some kind of show! We are not minstrals. We are people! It's not cute and we are not impressed!
Wooh sah! I'm good...no more ranting my love, just needed to tell you how I feel. It doesn't mean that  한국의 name plate necklace that said " 티파니" isn't as special. We just have some things we need to work on if you want this relationship to work.
  사랑,
티파니

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Snack Attack!!!!

Store d'oeuvres: Snacks and food samples that a grocery store will serve at various locations in order to tempt the patrons into buying something they weren't planning on (pizza, chips and dip, sausage, etc.). Usually happens on the weekend but its EVERYDAY in Korea!
Usage:I went to E-mart the other day and filled up on store d'oeuvres
LUCKY DAY! ( I love this phrase, it's seen usually on special event store signs to let you know there's a sale, and guess what... it's your Lucky Day!)
This brings to mind my favorite thing in E-mart ( well my second favorite thing next to scaring little Korean children): The Store d'oeuvres
"God, I'm so hungry I could eat the ass end of a cow?"
"Wanna go for Samgyupsal?"
" I'm sooo broke, I dont get paid til next week!"
"No money... no problem"
" Let's go sample stalking at E-Mart"
" Asaaaaaa!"

Peruse the market section of E-mart. You have you choice of various baked goods, kimchi, sauteed meats, fruit drinks and mandoo. Don't be shy about taking 3 or 4 helpings. Get in there with your toothpics and mini cups and have at it! You'll be stuffing your face with little adjummas and children alike.
Koreans will tell you" 먹 어"! "Nom, nom, nom" and the smacking symphony will commence!
I wish they would make E-Mart commercials featuring foreingners because I would be all about that. I would wear a shirt that said Snack Attack in Korean and perhaps even do a dance! You know Koreans are all about the ridiculous commercials complete with signature dance moves. Asaaaaa!


Confucius say: When funds are low and stomach starts to growl, head to E-Mart and start a sample prowl

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Poop Story


This morning on my way to work as I was leaving my apartment. I smelled something FOUL. Now I know Korea has it's own Eau du Funk if you will, but this was something different. Upon further inspection of the hallway I noticed huge piles of dog poop on the landing and consequetly tracked down 2 flights of stairs. I know a lot of things are lax in Korea, but dog shit in PILES in the HALLWAY C'mon! And these were not little doggie treasures. These were Great Dane after a 6 course meal poop piles. Irritated and running late,I made my way down stairs carefully as not to step in the doggie surprises 1 through 20 in my barely there sandals. I was not impressed.
 Now it's time for google translator and writing passive aggressive notes in Korean to my upstairs neighbors.
Until next time...

Confucius say: When there is poop on your stoop indeed you must take a stand, before the poop bandit gets out of hand!

As my uncle says: Put a wrap on the crap. Good luck and step carefully! ( haha I love it)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Silly wagukenim...

Dear Korea,

Now you know I love you dearly but there is something I have to get off my chest. Just because you lure me in with your foreign wiles, waving ridiculous accessories and "strangee" cultral customs in my face doesn't mean you can treat me any old kind of way. I'd like to take a moment and dicuss the 13 reasons you feel that I, the wagukenim, and my fellow expats are not considered the real people:

1.Why are we bound by contract unable to change jobs if treated badly without being banned from Korea?   (  not speaking from personal experience)
2. Why are we unable to get certain free cell phones ( Me: " Why do I have to pay 250,000  won for a phone my students get for FREE?"  SHOW: " You have no choice! you are the foreigner!" Thanks real nice...no need to sugar coat it for me)
3. Why are we second guessed when our solutions are the most logical? ( This applies to most situations)
4. Why do you think it is ok to " WHOA" and giggle as walk by then stare without blinking for minutes on end? (Is it funny that we exist? Didn't your mom ever tell you it was rude to stare? Wait it's Korea.... NOPE)
5. Why are all of our medical bills not covered under out insurance ( Doctor: Oh you are sick okay... maybe your insurance doesnt cover... Me: why?  Doctor: Oh maybe because you are the foreigner Me: Hmmm...FML)
6. Why do adjumma think it's appropriate to touch our food or person at any given time to "help us" or "show us the correct way to do something" ( I know you think we are accelrated 5 yr olds but we grown people, so stop it)
7.Why is it every time we attempt to eat spicy food " Whoa...do you know this food? It is very spicy... Are you sure you can eat?" ( I'm pretty sure Korean food isn't what we'd call super spicy. Ps. We have more peppers in North America)
8. Why is it that Koreans think we came here to teach because we were unemployable in our native countries ( All of us have degrees, and some multiple ones with teaching experience.Just a thought why would you hire someone who wasn't employable anyway? C'mon let's think about it)
9. Why is it that we are put in sub-par apartments and expected to tough it for a yr or more ( once again I'm no speaking from personal experience, but I've heard some horror stories)
10. Why do you think it is acceptable to make our business YOUR business? I'm pretty sure it's none of youe business where we go after work, if  we have the Korean boyfriends/girlfriends or if we sleep in til 2 on Sundays)
11. Why is that basic services are inaccessible due to us being  foreigners? (websites, phone registration, etc.) I'm sure most of us managed our lives before we came to Korea we dont need a korean to hold our hands every step of the way.( You would think it would be important for our bank/credit card statements to be in English , and thats just the tip of the iceberg)
12 Why are you AMAZED and ASTOUNDED when we can understand the slightist bit of Korean. Especially when we have lived here fo half a year or more? ( It's not like we have a choice in such a homogenous country )
13. Lastly, why do you think it is appropriate to comment on our appearance. Anything from clothing to hair to weight?( Once again didnt your mom ever tell you " If you dont have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all?" Of course not it's Korea)

According to Kate, Korea is the place that you can do all the inappropriate things your mother told you NOT to do when you were 5...but we're not the real people? Hmmm?

The answer to all of these questions is simple... " silly wagukenim you are not the real person"

Now, now Korea, don't get you hanbok in a twist I just wanted to tell you how I feel. Doesn't mean I love you less. I love you for you who are , the good, the bad and the ugly.
Until next time...

Love,
티 파 니

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Single Serving Friend

The concept of the single serving friend was first introduced to me in the book Fight Club. I laughed and thought how clever. Unfortunately the sad realization about living overseas well in South Korea anyways... as an expat teacher is that most people you meet are just that.  I'm not sure if people figure " Hey I'm only going to be here a yr better not get to close" or they are just too lazy to form real friendships. Now don't get me wrong I've made a few good friends. Btu as for the countless expat teachers I've come across most leave me wanting. I've met lots of flakes, lots of immature women thinking they're "grown" because they live on the other side of the world, and a hell of a lot of  prentious globe trotters posing as teachers . I think those are the worst. Don't get me wrong I'm sure a number of us took these less than glamourous teaching positions to feed and fund out wanderlust. None of us woke up one morning and said oooh let's move to Korea I can make "man man won yall". But most, if not all have an itch  travel and living here allows us to do so. Now let me make something clear, you must at minimum possess a Bachelors' degree to teach here in any subject ( which by the way I think Koreans should change, because some people should not teach) But I digress, these pretentious globe trotters posing at teachers get under my skin. You meet them and at first your are deceived...they seem interesting , then they start in their diatribes about traveling, as if you don't even own a passport with stamps in it. I don't mind a good story,but talk to me NOT at me. And here's a hint try listening instead of just waiting your turn to speak. Ugh! Newsflash: We are both expats no need to give me the low down on living overseas or the ins and outs of South Korea.I'm pretty sure I live here too! Yes I've traveled around the world but you don't hear me pushing my experiences on others. If you ask I'll tell you.
Second on my list of most wanted obnoxious expats are the non-friend friends. Now I don't know what is socially accpetable because I am far from appropriate at times. I know some times we can be strapped for cash over here, but if it's someone's birthday it is bad form to show up to a social gather, or dinner party without a gift or a bottle of something and especially dont make the guest of honor pay for you or their own meal. That's just TACKY! These non-friend friends are the same ones posing in a million pics and shouting you out as their bestie on FB. Womp womp womp FAIL! I am sooo not impressed.
Lastly, are the single serving friends you could spend all weekend hanging out with, exchange phone numbers, text like crazy, take photobooth pics, have a Korean adventure, buy matching phone charms, have a couple nights of ridiculous drinking and dancing, maybe even plan a vacation together. If you think this makes you friends, I'm sorry to be the one to inform you ,but in Korea...no dice.
You could see said "friend" out in Seoul a week or two later he or she may have quite possibly forgotten your and introduce him/herself to you again for the "first time". Now I know this seems crazy but I've seen it happen.
"Friends" like the ones mentioned above make me miss and cherish my friends stateside that much more!
I trudge on to hopefully come across a couple somewhat normal people in this crazy country to call me real friends. In the mean time in between time...
In the words of Edward Norton "Champagne for my real friends and real pain for my cham friends".

Confucius say:  In  South Korea if REAL friends are what you seek, you better get a Skype subscription because you're without a paddle up shit creek