Although I spent most of yesterday just hanging out in my apartment, I’m still exhausted after the weekend’s crazy series of events. In addition, I don’t have actual lessons to keep me occupied at this point since the students are using the time to study for this week’s final exams. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that I have free time – it just means that I can do other things during the lessons while they study. As a result, I find myself struggling to stay awake in each class that I have to supervise and, at one point, even fall asleep at the teacher’s desk. My students seem to find it amusing that I’ve actually fallen asleep in class since I’m always waking up sleeping students during my lesson – at least, this is what I think is going when I wake up a few minutes later and discover half a dozen students hovering around the desk waiting to excuse themselves from my class. Either that, or I was snoring!
By the time I get home from school, all I want to do is change into comfortable clothes and laze about my apartment. I’ve barely changed out of my work clothes when my phone rings. Catfish is hungry and avoiding her apartment so we decide to meet for dinner which turns into dinner and a movie.
By the time I finally make it across town nearly 30 minutes later, I realise I’m dealing with a very hungry Catfish. We’ve met outside of Lotte Cinema – since that’s the closest landmark that I can pronounce – and she’s keen to show me a restaurant that she and the other South African have been to. We merrily head down the road in the general direction of the restaurant and I’m surprised to discover we’re walking past the Galbi restaurant that the Canadian couple took me to a month ago. Catfish isn’t entirely certain where the other restaurant is and I can strongly recommend this particular Galbi restaurant which we quickly agree upon since Catfish is now ravenous.
We’re seated at a table next to the window and the usual table setting occurs. This is the first time we’ve seen each other since the ER and jimjilbang experience on Saturday but it’s reassuring to note that there’s no awkwardness at all so we’re soon chatting about random events. A quick side note to explain how galbi works: Galbi is pork ribs that you cook over hot coals in the centre of the table. The idea is that each table cooks the meat themselves. Although Catfish and I are comfortable with this idea, we’re not given an opportunity to actually do any of the cooking ourselves. Instead, being the token foreigners in the restaurant, we become increasingly aware that the staff seems to passing our table on a constant loop – all of the male staff, that is. If we even look like we’re going to touch the meat, one of them will suddenly appear and do it for us. It’s rather entertaining to watch – especially when we notice that they’re also peering at us around corners and over the low wall in the middle of the restaurant. Being the token foreigners in places is a lot of fun and it’s one of the things I love most about my little town of Gunsan; why would I want to live in Seoul when we get so much special attention in Gunsan!
The food at the Galbi is delicious and, once fed, we decide we’re in the mood for a movie. Movies in Korea are shown in their original language with subtitles where necessary. This means that English movies are shown in English with Korean subtitles – unfortunately, Korean movies are still only shown in Korean with no subtitles for obvious reasons. While it’s great to be able to watch the occasional movie, we can’t really be fussy about what we want to watch since it very much depends on whether or not any English movies are even showing. Furthermore, I have yet to meet a foreigner who understands the movie schedule here so we all work on a system of “Show up and see what’s playing at the time” which is usually fairly successful.
Tonight’s English selection is Skyline which Catfish has already watched but is happy to watch again. It’s an…interesting and stereotypical movie that reminds me a lot of War of the Worlds in terms of the very basic plot (i.e. Aliens invade and take over humans except for the core group of lead actors who will survive regardless). By the end of the movie, however, we’re both exhausted and ready to call it a night. It’s a novelty that I’m able to find a taxi directly outside of the cinema and even more surprising that this particular driver speaks English.
On the way to my apartment, he asks me the usual questions of name, nationality, where I teach and so on. As we reach Soryong-dong, the conversation shifts and this is where I become a little more uncertain. We’re talking about Korean food and whether or not I like Korean food when he suddenly asks if I’ll have dinner with him. This is new territory for me so I don’t quite know how to respond. I somehow manage to stall until we get to my apartment building where he hands me a business card and tells me to call him. Great! I now have the telephone number of an English speaking taxi driver and, it seems, an unspoken agreement to have dinner with him at some point…