Sunday, August 26, 2007

My apartment in Korea (and some food for thought--get it?)

You wanted the Korea pictures, I bring you some Korea pictures. I haven't gotten comfortable enough yet to just drag my camera with me everywhere, snapping photos willy-nilly, so most of these are from the apartment.

Here you see the kitchen (around the corner), bedroom (through the open door), and glowing eyed Princess. The door to the left leads to the bathroom, which is not worth photographing at all, but does have a demonically possessed washing machine that still managed to clean some blankets. However, dryers are a luxury item in Korea, so I do not have one. Instead, I take my clothes upstairs to the rooftop area (so green, so beautiful!):

This is where the family of feral cats that Jane found lives. It also has some awesome hanging out on the rooftop possibilities when it stops being so gosh darn hot already (according to, Daegu, which they insist is "Taegu," was in the mid-nineties today)! Plus the backyards of the Korean villa (multi-family home apartments, like mine) have the most incredible stairs.

It's actually kind of scary climbing up to the roof (though nowhere near as scary as all those scaffolds, genies, and cages I climbed all over in my days as a theater painter and electrician!). The stairs are narrow and slightly uneven.

Anyhow, the best feature of my Korean apartment (currently anyhow) is the room with the AirCon (official Korean word for air conditioning... hee hee). It has an awesome window ledge thingy that Princess is in love with (and Mia before her, of course), a bright yellow floor, and the internet connection. I moved the floormat I bought at the Daegu Costco yesterday (because my bed is as hard as a rock, so I need something to make it more comfortable) into the room, and I've basically set myself up living here until the weather improves. Look at the neat desk and chair:

So that's the apartment. Two separate rooms from the main, plus bath makes it quite spacious and happy. The building is owned by Mr. Yu (I met him yesterday when he brought Jane a gas/electric bill), who used to own the school that Gwen and Samson run now, so she got a really good deal on the place. Like studio apartments (which are much more common in Korean cities) are much more expensive than this place. I got VERY lucky. I love it!

A note about food so far: I had decided before leaving that I was going to shift from my vegetarian plus seafood diet to a slightly more open one so that I can try all of the yummy new food I see all over. However, this does raise some concerns for my poor digestive tract since the last time I voluntarily consumed meat was in 2000. I am sticking with mostly vegetarian and seafood choices, but if some slivers of pork turn up in my dish (as they are wont to do in Korea, especially since my Korean language skills are at the level of imbecile), I plan to just eat around them and hope my belly can handle it.

This plan seems to be working delightfully; although it helps a lot that Jane pointed out the jars of Prego in the "foreign foods" section of Nais Mart, the local grocery store (yes, it is a "Nice" Mart!). It's so weird that all my kooky Asian cooking spices are all over the store, and I have to go to the "foreign" food aisle for peanut butter and spaghetti. I've been twice now to the Chinese food place (although like in the US where Chinese food is catering to American tastes, the Chinese dishes here have a Korean spin, so they are rather new and interesting). Jane took me the first day because they have a delicious handmade noodle dish with black bean sauce called jajangmyeon for 3,000 won (that's about $3 American). The portion was so big, I couldn't finish it! Dining out in Korea is THE BEST (there is no tipping here, by the way).

The second trip to the Chinese food restaurant was with the staff from the Oedae School yesterday. We had a celebratory lunch because intensives were finished, though it also could have been welcoming me and bidding Jane adieu. I wish I had taken pictures of the food--it was awesome! I think Jane snapped a few, so hopefully they'll be on her blog later. There was a lot of seafood, and I even ate a piece of chicken (hoping it might help build up some of those meat-digesting enzymes), but I easily ate around the pork. This was one of the most delicious meals I've ever eaten--we had about 10 dishes to be shared around and it took a few hours to get through it all. Such a great food day. Thanks Samson & Gwen!

Here's the best thing. We figured out how to order kimbap (a seaweed/rice handrolled dish like "sushi" but with different ingredients and no raw fish) without the strip of ham it usually comes with (saying "ham opsoyo" seemed to work), so now I can get this dish, 24 hours a day, for 1,000 won (again, about $1 US):

Do you see the deliciousness??? So good. Best fast food EVER.

Oh yeah... and I've already made a bunch of mistakes, but that's ok. I'm learning. Like buying the grapes that taste not like grapes, but exactly like that syrupy grape flavoring--yuck! And when I went to the outdoor market today to buy fruit, I couldn't explain in good enough charades that I only wanted three apricots, so instead I ended up with all this for 3,000 won.

Too bad I don't have an oven (another luxury item here), because I'm going to have to make some kind of pie or something. Maybe I'll freeze them? I don't want them to go bad--they're yummy!

I can't wait to start Korean language classes so I can progress from imbecile to mere moron...


  1. These are great! Thanks for the peek into your new apartment!

    I bet electricity is expensive over there which is why big appliances over there are a luxury, yes?

    I know when we were in Ireland last August, everyone line-dried their clothing.

  2. Yay on getting a swanky apartment. =)

    I've been talking to a current teacher at my school, and she says they have insane hours. They start their day at 7 and don't get off until 8:30 at night. I'm getting my recruiter to put in a clause stating that I won't work split shifts. He's taking a while to respond, so who knows how it'll turn out. If you would be willing to, keep your eyes open for any openings at good schools where you are - juuuust in case. :)

  3. Sweetie,

    Actually the gas is more expensive than the electricity! Go figure! (Which is most unfortunate because all my household appliances have buttons in Korean, so I accidentally turned on the floor heating instead of the water heater yesterday--oops). From what I gather, the US is pretty much the only place still where dryers are standard.

    Have you tried using more than one recruiter and looking at Dave's ESL Cafe for info? It seems like you know that people can get screwed coming over here if they aren't careful, but even slight misgivings at a school should probably be a "pass." If you have the luxury of some time, take it; there are always new openings.

    I'll keep my ears open in Daegu, but I'm a little "fresh off the boat" myself, so to speak. The teacher I'm replacing over here has a great blog and a guide to teaching English in Korea that's pretty helpful, because she had one really horrible experience (even had to pull a runner), but came back and had a great time. Her name is Jane and this is her blog.

  4. Looks like a real nice apartment.

    I'm curious about your cat. Does she act differently now that she's in a new and strange place?

  5. Actually, Princess has taken to her new digs like white on rice (if you'll pardon the expression).

    No really, she's been extremely laid back about the whole ordeal. If anything, she's gotten friendlier and more outgoing. She greeted Jane, Gwen, and Samson all very warmly when she met them. It used to take her a very long time to adjust to new people. I'm so glad I brought her!



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