Thursday, July 21, 2011

April Fool’s Giddy Girl (1 April)

Incredibly, I’ve forgotten that today is April Fool’s Day.  I had planned the most perfect prank for my students but it required the involvement of my co-teachers and this is where I’ve fallen flat – I forgot to speak to them and fill them in on the prank!  Since my school seems to have only just accepted that I’m actually planning to stay for at least the duration of my current contract, I was going to tell my students that I’ve decided to go back to SA and see what the reaction was.  Apparently this would be a bit mean so maybe it’s a good thing that it didn’t pan out as I’d hoped.  My poor planning didn’t prevent my students from pranking me however.

After my first lesson of the day, I must have decided that April Fool’s Day isn’t really acknowledged in Korea.  I was a little disappointed that my first (and favourite) class hadn’t done some type of prank so I am a bit surprised when Mr Jeong tells me to watch out for student pranks just before I enter my second lesson of the day.  As I walk into the classroom, I see them scurrying to get into position for their prank.  My students have turned their jerseys and ties around and are facing the back of the class.  It’s a well-organised prank and I appreciate the trouble they’ve gone to in organising things so I decide to play along for a few minutes. 

No Ms Kim, It's Not Radiation Poisoning...

My co-teacher arrives about 5 minutes into the lesson and doesn’t seem to appreciate the humour.  With that, the prank is over and students return to their normal positions and bored expressions.  In the scramble for books, I notice one of the boys looks like he’s about the throw up – and he does, right next to my co-teacher who looks horrified and scared.  A couple of the students look concerned to see that he’s thrown up blood, I’m a little confused as to what’s going on and my co-teacher quickly shuffles him out of the room while asking if he’s okay.  My attempts to begin the lesson are in vain as everyone’s attention is focused on the student and teacher outside.  Suddenly, the student jumps up shouting some form of surprise word, which my co-teacher seemed thrilled to hear.  She’s visibly relieved to discover the blood is nothing more than a fake blood capsule and an well-timed April Fool’s joke rather than some serious health condition or reaction to the feared radiation poisoning that heading straight to Korea from Japan. 

The students seem to have planned fairly elaborate pranks for several teachers throughout the day and this is a topic of much discussion among the teachers during lunch.  I’m surprised to discover that today is also my fantastic co-teacher’s birthday.  I find it rather ironic that today is her birthday since I’ve been meaning to ask her for several weeks when her birthday is.  I’m happy, however, that the English teachers – who are all sitting together at lunch today – are actually speaking English and including me in the general conversation. 

Mistranslations and Interesting Conversations 

I leave school early for an acupuncture appointment.  My back is really sore but I’m also, undeniably, looking forward to seeing cute doctor again since it’s been a while.  The co-ordinator seems happy to see me and tells me that it’s been a while since she last saw me.  Cute doctor seems just as happy to see me.  He greets me with, “Long time no see” and comments, in Korean, that it’s good to see me.  I get cheeky for a moment and ask if he’s happy to see me even though it means he has to speak English but, as usual, I speak too fast.  All he says is, “too fast” so I repeat myself at a slower pace, which still doesn’t seem to be successful.  The co-ordinator translates what I’ve said as, “even though you can’t speak English” which seems to prompt cute doctor into proving me wrong. 

He tells me that he saw me about a month prior to this outside Angel-in-us coffee shop, meeting a friend.  He specifies that it was a female friend because he knows I’m single – I’m assuming it was Catfish he saw me with – and that he was very happy to see me then.  I’m disappointed that he saw me but didn’t say hello and I tell him this. His response: “I’m shy boy” which prompts me to sing the Korean pop song ‘Shy boy’, which just happens to be playing on the radio at that moment.  I seem to embarrass him too much because he scurries away for something.  While he’s gone, the co-ordinator tells me that Koreans are shy to speak to foreigners when they see them unexpectedly even when they know the people – it has to do with a lack of confidence in speaking English.  Nevertheless, I make cute doctor promise to say hello to me the next time he sees me somewhere other than the medical centre. 

The co-ordinator keeps disappearing during the consultation and cute doctor seems to be out to prove that he can hold a conversation in English.  He also seems to be trying to say something else but is uncertain of how to proceed.  I’m confused by his comments of “hav[ing] an idea that [I] might not like” and “want[ing] to talk to me lots” despite his bad English.  I’m a little too enthusiastic when I hear this and respond in a manner not too dissimilar to that of a golden retriever pup.  He tries really hard to communicate with me in English and I’m impressed that he’s managed to keep it up for nearly two hours.  He even goes so far as to show me an anatomy book, in English, to try and explain what he thinks is wrong with me. 

Towards the end of the appointment, his confidence seems to have grown and he tells me that he wishes he could speak better English so that he could show me how funny he really is.  He says that he’s actually a very funny person, and has a good sense of humour, but this doesn’t translate well due to his bad English.  I’m touched that he seems so concerned about the impression he makes and assure him that I do find him funny. 

Out of the blue, he asks if I have any Korean friends and seems somewhat taken aback when I confirm that I actually do although most of them live in Seoul.  His next question is how I know people who live in Seoul followed by whether or not my Korean friends speak English (yes again) which seems to intimidate him – especially when I try to make him feel more comfortable by telling him that most of them are English teachers or deal with foreigners regularly; unfortunately, this seems to backfire rather than work as I’d hoped.  Despite this, he continues to talk to me and informs me that he is currently doing his compulsory military service; that is how he ended up working at the Gunsan Medical Centre. 

When he asks me how he can improve his English, my brain shouts that this is the perfect opportunity to say, “Let’s hang out” but I don’t and the opportunity quickly passes while I proceed to kick myself repeatedly.  Again, he seems rather concerned about the impression he seems to be making on me and is eager to clarify that he actually had good marks for English when he was at school but that he is now old (32) and English is difficult.  He’s also quick to apologise for causing me pain during the treatment when he asks if I hate him for hurting me before repeatedly telling me that he doesn’t want to hurt me – a common statement from oriental medicine doctors who recognise that acupuncture is rather foreign to many westerners. 

At 5pm, I feel a bit guilty that he’s still working with me although he seems quite content.  I’m relieved to find out that, as of today, the medical centre is open until 6pm so I have nothing to worry about.  After confirming another appointment for the following Friday, I text Catfish and we arrange to meet for dinner at Hoa Binh.  Not having brought my yoga things with me, I have to rush home to change and get my things before heading back to Naun-dong at 8:20pm for yoga. 

Not So Pleasant News

By the time I finally get home for the evening, I’m exhausted.  I switch on my computer to check e-mails before heading to bed and my delirious mood takes a sudden nosedive at the news awaiting me.  My mom has e-mailed to inform me that my cousin’s dog was cruelly murdered and thrown into a dumpster near their house and that my cousin, with whom my parents are currently staying in Cyprus, has been rushed to hospital for an emergency operation to have a rather large ovarian cyst removed.  I feel torn between my elation at today’s conversation with cute doctor and the disturbing news of my cousin and helpless in the knowledge that there’s nothing I can do until at least 4pm tomorrow afternoon thanks to the time difference. 

Meet My Limit Kids! (28 March)

I sleep through four alarms this morning and only wake up at 8:40am which means I am late for school.  I’m tired, I’m grumpy and I don’t want to be at school today.  Despite this, my first lesson actually goes well.  My second class, however, are little monsters whose bad behaviour is worsened by the regular absence of my co-teacher for this class.  I’ve walked out of a lesson back home but this is the first time I’ve walked out of a class in Korea. 

As I stomp out of the class, I feel further frustration as I realise that I can’t exactly march into my co-teacher’s office and ask her to come to class because this will cause her to lose face in front of the vice-principal and the 11 other teachers potentially in her office at this time.  Causing her to lose face will only aggravate the situation; walking straight back into the classroom, however, will only further remove my authority.  My only choice: sit in the stairwell for 5 minutes and let the class (hopefully) stew about where I’ve gone. 

This seems to work to some extent because they’re more co-operative by the time I re-enter the class – even if my co-teacher never did find the venue for this particular lesson.

Don’t Feed the Gremlins (27 March)

The black mold that has invaded my bathroom is like a gremlin that is being fed after midnight and multiplying every time I take a shower.  Considering there is no direct sunlight anywhere in my apartment, let alone in the bathroom, destroying it is requiring nuclear strength cleaning products – pure bleach just doesn’t seem to be cutting it anymore..  Each shower sees the original Gizmo mold shake and shiver in pain before a new patch of mold springs forth and attaches itself to yet another location in the bathroom.  Fortunately, it seems to be contained to just the bathroom.  Unfortunately, I’m starting to feel a little high from the vast quantities of mold remover and bleach I’ve sprayed all over my bathroom…

A Typical Saturday (26 March)

Weekends seem to melt together as my time in Korea passes more and more quickly.  Instead of looking for things to do on the weekends, I now find myself looking for the weekends where I can just stay home and relax. 

Despite promising myself that I would get up by 9:00am, I only wake up at 10:00.  Thus, I have only two hours before I’m due to meet Catfish and one of her former students at CGV for lunch and possibly a movie.  Somehow, I find time to still chat to YeonJeong via Facebook before rushing out to meet my friends.

A quick lunch at the Gal-B, followed by coffee at Café Bene and we’re soon walking the reluctant girls to their Math Academy before heading back to CGV to watch Red Riding Hood.  We again have two hours to kill before the start of the movie so we take in a few games of pocketball.  We’ve both planned a cleaning day in our respective apartments so our evening culminates in the exciting task of shopping for cleaning supplies at Lotte Mart and finding the fantastic BB cream that we’d heard about two weeks ago before heading home and chatting some more on Facebook and Skype.  Just another typical Saturday afternoon.

HOT Yoga (22 March)

After a movie with M on Sunday, she invited us to join her for her yoga class on Monday night. Thinking that we’d try out the classes, Catfish and I were not quite prepared to hear that we have to sign up for a month at a time.  At 80 000 won for three classes per week, it’s hardly expensive – the question in my mind rather is: At 37 degrees Celsius in the room, it is certainly HOT yoga; will I survive?

I’m getting a taste of the summer humidity that everyone keeps telling me about and, honestly, I don’t like it.  I’m not a fan of heat – or sweating – and the idea of going to work in weather that will have me swimming in soaking wet clothes by the time I’ve walked from my apartment to my office is not an enticing one.  The one major immediate advantage of the hot yoga is that I’m so tired after the class that a quick shower is immediately followed by my passing out on my bed for the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a while. 

On a sadder note, I’m reminded that it’s now seven years since one of my closest friends drowned in an untimely accident.  It’s scary to think that you can still miss people so much after so much time without them.

Girly Confessions (17 March)

In a moment of bonding during a post-lunch walk at school, I confess to my fantastic co-teacher that I have a crush on my Oriental Medicine Doctor and I ask for her advice on the situation.  She finds it amusing and seems surprised that I’ve confided in her – so surprised that she keeps asking me if I’m interested in him as a man or as a friend.  I tell her that I’d be happy having him as a friend but that I’m definitely interested in him as a man.  After a brief discussion, she makes me promise to keep her updated because she finds this news exciting and assures me that she won’t say anything to anyone else. 

I find myself repeating most of this story later that night when Catfish and I meet M for dinner at Hoa Binh.  The cute guy who works there comes over to say hello to us as we have our inauguration dinner with M followed by coffee across the road at Ti-amo.  Since M only finishes work at 8:20pm, it’s a late dinner – and an even later night as we all get to know one another a little better.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hangang Booze Cruise (12 March)

Despite a severe earthquake having hit Japan yesterday, Catfish and I head to Seoul for a Booze Cruise on the Han River.   We head to Seoul early on Saturday morning where we’re planning to take a look around Yongsan Electronics Market, which we’ve heard so much about.  The market is smaller than we anticipated although there are definitely some fantastic deals if you’re in the market for a new laptop, camera or phone.  We’re also surprised to see walkmans (yes, the tape playing kind) and Discmans at the market.  Korea is probably one of the only countries in the world still to be actively producing cassettes.  On a happy note, however, I finally, after five months of searching Korea, find a power cable for my laptop.

With growling stomachs, we head to the foodcourt in the basement for some lunch.  Our options are Korean food, which neither of us are really enthusiastic about today, or the Hooters next door.  Never in my life did I think that I would ever set foot inside of a Hooters yet here I am, at the age of 29, voluntarily entering one for a hamburger.  As we step inside, the conversations of the all-male clientele come to a sudden halt and we awkwardly make our way inside.  The waitresses, however, seem almost relieved to be serving female customers for a moment.  The other patrons create a rather sleazy and unappealing atmosphere and it’s pretty much exactly what I imagined Hooters to be – minus the topless waitresses. 

White Day Fun

With an uber-awkward lunch out of the way, we head to IPark mall’s square for coffee and to wait out the next three hours before we can head to Yeouido for the cruise.  There’s a variety of kid’s games, including hula hoops, available and we participate in these while we wait.  When Catfish discovers that a White Day competition is about to start on the stage, she asks if we can enter as a couple.  The organisers say yes and rush over the announcer who seems flustered at the prospect of including two waegookens in the proceedings.  The Korean participants find it amusing but are quick to try and include us in the fun.  They manage to communicate that we will have to wait for the second round but that we should watch the first round to get an idea of what we will have to do in the competition.  So, seated in the front row, we watch…with sinking hearts.

By now, we should be fully aware that everything that Koreans attempt is approached with a 100% attitude.  I don’t think the word, “fail” is in the average Korean’s vocabulary.  Games are no different. 

First, each couple is given a peppero stick (chocolate covered biscuit) that the woman holds between her teeth.  The man has to bite the peppero stick as short as possible – without kissing his partner because we all know that kissing in public is sinful in Korea.  This proves to be highly entertaining to watch although Catfish is clearly losing enthusiasm for her desire to enter us.  The next game involves a serious workout.
The men are told to pick up their partners.  They may hold them any way they choose provided the partner’s feet are not touching the ground.  Considering most of their partners are fashionably dressed women – in typically short skirts – there is an awkward shuffle to try and preserve their modesty despite these wardrobe interferences.  So prepared are the Korean organisers that they’ve even provided blankets for the women to wrap around their waists to cover what their skirts fail to hide.  The fireman’s carry is my favourite of the choice positions.

The men now have to do squats.  The youngest couple is the first to be eliminated and a joke is made about him being a baby because he has yet to do military service. It’s evident that the rest of the men have done military service in the last five years or so because their levels of fitness are incredible.  They are literally perspiring by the time the MC has finished putting them through their paces. 

After the squats, they have to face each other, throw a ball in the air, spin round and catch it between the pair before it hits the ground.  It sounds easy enough but, judging by the number of contestants who struggled with this, it’s harder than it appears.  The final game is where the couples stand on a rapidly diminishing sheet of newspaper.  As the paper gets smaller, so the difficulty in maintaining one’s balance increases. 

As entertaining as the games are to watch, we realise that we’re out of time and won’t be able to participate in the second round since we have to leave for the cruise.  I wish that I could say that the cruise was as much fun as watching the White Day Competition at IPark Mall but it’s not: It’s a group of loud and drunk foreigners assembled for the sole purpose of drinking and getting even more drunk while the boat travels up and down the Han River for three hours.  After the cruise, we all head back to KiwiKat’s apartment where we’re spending the night before meeting YeonJeong for lunch the next day and a bit of shopping

Lunchtime Craziness (10 March)

Lunchtime seems to always be something of a crazy event and the crazy and amusing happenings in the school cafeteria are not limited to my school.  Speak to any foreign teacher in Korea and they’ll probably have at least a dozen strange or amusing stories to tell of things that happen in their school’s cafeteria.  My school’s the same. 

Yesterday seemed to have been National Curry for School Lunch Day since many foreign teachers in both Gunsan and Seoul reported having had curry on the menu.  The reason I comment on the curry for lunch is because I’m so used to not being able to eat half the lunches on offer (since there’s usually a lot of shellfish) that I’m always tickled pink when I can actually eat everything on that day’s menu – the curry is one of those days and thus one of my favourites! 

Usually, my lunch consists of rice, kimchi and soup with the possibility of one or two of the other side dishes and occasionally the main dish too.  Mr Jeong regularly asks me if I’m eating enough at school and keeps telling me to take more of the food that I do eat – I keep telling him that I eat more than enough and that everything I eat has to be done with chopsticks which naturally takes me longer to eat.  It’s an ongoing commentary.

In addition to frequently having to avoid half the food at lunch, I’m also accustomed to being ignored by the majority of the staff.  Since so few of the staff are willing to speak English, my conversation partners are rather limited.  My limited attempts at speaking Korean are often received with surprise and claps that make me feel like a performing monkey and so, I’ve accepted that people will mostly ignore me at lunch.  However, there are always exceptions and today seems to be one of them. 

Mr Jo is kind of like a Korean father figure for me.  He’s gone out of his way to chat to me at times in his generally limited English, he regularly tells me that I look beautiful, he’s stood up for me when other teachers have been less than kind to me and he regularly asks me when I’m going to get married because I’m “already 30 years old and time is wasting”.  Today was one of the many conversations he’s had with me about my getting married and it’s too funny not to share:

Mr Jo: "Do you think you'll get married this year?"
Me: "Definitely not!"
Mr Jo: "You don't want to get married?"
Me: "I do but it won't be this year"
Mr Jo: "What's wrong with this year?"
Me: "Nothing. I just don't think I'll be getting married this year."
Mr Jo: "Hmmm...but so many men want to marry you."
Me: [Laugh] "No...No one does"
Mr Jo: "Yes. We have lots of single male teachers at school. What about one of them?"

Allow me to clarify that, at this point in the conversation, the teachers who understand this conversation are happily translating it to everyone else who is watching like it’s a popular drama.  They’re all enjoying the lunchtime entertainment and seem to find the entire conversation amusing.  Even the single teachers to whom Mr Jo is referring seem to be enjoying this conversation.

Me: [Awkward laugh] "I want to get married but I don't have anyone to marry."
Mr Jo: "I'll sort that out! I disappointed if you don't marry this year."
Me: "I'm sorry that I'll be disappointing you then."
Mr Jo: "Why has no one married you yet?"
Me: "Um...I don't know"
Mr Jo: "Young men today, they just talk and talk but don't do anything. It doesn't help to talk about someone - you have to talk to them."
Me: "Um, yeah" (when did his English suddenly get this good?)
Mr Jo: " sure you don't have man to marry?"
Me: "I'm sure!"
Mr Jo: "But Lots of men waiting for Sarah. Just choose one! I'll help you choose right man!"
Me: "Okay Mr Jo. Thank you."
Mr Jo: "You marry this year!"
Me: "Maybe."

As amusing as I myself have found this conversation, I can’t help feeling somewhat nervous as to what, if anything, is going to happen.  My co-teacher simply laughs along with the other teachers and later comments that he’s so nosy even if she did find the conversation rather amusing. 

Juhaeyo and An-juhaeyo (8 March)

It’s been a long gap since our first Korean lesson (before Catfish went to Thailand) so we’re thrilled to meet DaYoung at Promessa for dinner and a lesson.  Today’s lesson involves learning how to say “I like” and “I don’t like” which we practise over and over with various objects.  It’s incredible how pleased with are with ourselves when we start to semi-master such a simple phrase but the progress is phenomenal.

Catfish then gets cheeky and asks if I’ll be using the phrase on cute doctor which prompts DaYoung to ask for all the details.  She tells us that saying “juhaeyo” to a man has the same meaning as telling him that you’re interested in dating him.  She seems to enjoy hearing the story of cute doctor and proceeds to take down all of the information I can give her (full name and department) before telling me that she’s going to phone and ask for his phone number or email address to pass onto me so that I can contact him outside of the hospital. Now that’ll be an interesting change of events….

Daedunsan (5 March)

I meet Catfish at the Intercity Bus Terminal at 7:55am.  There are few buses to Daejeon and the first is at 8:05am.  It’s been a chaotic start to the morning, what with having overslept, and we’re hoping we’ll make to Daejeon in time to meet the AK bus at 10:20am.  We don’t know where in Daejeon we’re going, but all we need to worry about at this stage is getting to Daejeon – Seokjin will give the taxi driver directions once we get to Daejeon.

After a few silly photos on the bus, Catfish pulls down her beanie to cover her entire face and we’re both soon catching a little shut-eye in preparation for our day’s hike.  Before we know it, the bus arrives in Daejeon and we’re on the phone to Seokjin for directions.  Catfish dives into a vacant taxi and thrusts my phone at the driver who looks at in confusion while she mimes for him to talk on the phone.   We’re soon delivered to a wedding hall which is apparently the meeting place for the AK group.  With plenty of time to spare, we pick a direction and start foraging for somewhere to buy breakfast.  Unfortunately, our options seem to be limited to the small convenience store at a gas station and we’re soon making our way back to the meeting spot where we’re joined by two other girls who are also on the trip. 

No Spikes, No Hike

At 10:40am, the AK bus arrives and we greet Seokjin enthusiastically.  We’re also happy to see that Patricia and ByungMin are staffing this trip and we soon fall into an easy conversation with Patricia whom we haven’t seen since the DMZ trip.  Less than an hour later, we arrive at the rest stop where we take a group photo and Seokjin shows us the path that we’ll be following along the ridge of Daedun Mountain.  He also tells us that there’s still snow on the mountain so we’ll need to buy spikes before we take the cable car part of the way up the mountain. 

Spikes in hand, we set off for the cable car that will take us most of the way uphill.  The view from the top is amazing and the Konglish signs provide much amusement for the crowd of native speakers.  I love the signposts that treat the mountain like a crossroads, the fact that hiking in Korea seems to always involve climbing up steps for the first part and the road signs that tell us not to ‘trifle” on the bridge and that certain paths are one way: Down. 

The first lot of stairs are fine although Catfish has a few issues with vertigo thanks to the stairs being made of an iron frame and mesh wire – she’s definitely not comfortable with being able to see the sharp drop beneath her although I can’t help but drink in the beauty of the wonders around me.  At one point, Catfish drops a glove and, naturally, it falls underneath the stairs and out of reach.  With an exclamation of disappointment that Seokjin, our fearless AK leader, hears, ByungMin (an AK staff member) is quickly dispatched to climb over the railing and under the stairs to retrieve the glove: Catfish’s hero.

We then proceed to the next part of the assault course: Natural rock stairs.  These are not just any stairs.  Oh no!  These stairs represent my own personal exercise hell.  At one point, I seriously consider giving up and heading back down the mountain with the other girls who’ve already gone that route – I’m just not fit enough to make it up the natural stair-master that only the devil could have created.  Somehow, with lots of encouraging words from Patricia (another AK staff member) and Catfish, I puff, pant and push myself to the top of the stairs.  For a brief moment, I revel in the knowledge that I’ve made it to the top – until Seokjin points out the final stretch to the actual peak of the mountain. 

Competing for the First Fall Award

This is where we have to put on our spikes.  The snow on the ground is patchy but since we’re ‘inexperienced’ hikers, unlike our fearless leader, we need the spikes – no spikes, no hike.  With my first step up the final stretch, I’m grateful for the spikes on my shoes.  I manage to pull myself up the rope, up the final set of stairs and halfway up the rope again when I hit not only a snowy patch but a rocky one too which makes the spikes useless – they don’t grip the rock.  It’s inevitable, I suppose, that one moment I’m looking up at Catfish just ahead of me on the peak, thinking that I’m almost there and the next, I’m sliding face first down the side of the peak.  I sense my arms flailing as my hands reach out for anything with grip and I catch a glimpse of Patricia’s frightened expression and her outstretched hand that can’t reach me.  It takes me a moment to realise that my hand has found a rope – just as my eyes see that my feet are currently hanging over the edge of a rather steep drop down the side of the mountain.  No one can beat me on this trip: I’ve already claimed the prize for First to Fall and Most Dramatic Fall.

After a 15 minute rest to take in the view from the top and get a few classic photos, we’re soon slipping and sliding our way back down to begin our ridge walking.  Here, we seem to split into two smaller groups: Our fearless leader, Seokjin, leads the way (while ByungMin runs between him and Patricia) and Patricia brings up the rear.   We hang out at the back – not because we can’t keep up but because we enjoy the company.

Along the way, we encounter various slippery and narrow paths – usually next to the steepest drops.  At one such intersection, five cute Korean guys, in full Korean hiking gear, step aside to let the foreign girls pass.  They gallantly hold out their arms for us to hold onto as we attempt to navigate the icy and treacherous path.   Pride interferes once more and I attempt to sidestep them without taking the offered arm.  My sidestep turns into a full on slide down the path ahead but, mercifully, not down the mountain itself.  I decide to exercise even more caution in future and take the proffered arms. 

Nice People

The rest of the ridge walking passes rather uneventfully and we’re soon beginning our descent.  Since the descent is rocky, Catfish and I take our time looking for steady rocks while ByungMin, who served in the marines for his military service, flies down the mountain and over the rocks like some Korean mountain goat.  A random Korean man stops and asks me if I have gloves for hiking.  When I shake my head, he quickly removes the gloves from his hands and offers them to me.  Back home, this would simply not happen and it’s just one of many instances of utter kindness from Koreans that constantly amazes and impresses me.  It’s over an hour, and he’s somewhere well ahead of me, before I finally see him again to return the gloves. 

Back on flat ground, the AK bus delivers us to the pick up site in Daejeon and we walk to the bus terminal where a bus to Gunsan is preparing to leave.  We’re delighted that we’ll make it back to Gunsan by 19:00 and in time for NZ2 and his fiance’s engagement party at Promessa.