Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Korean Christmas

Last weekend I celebrated Christmas by Skypeing my family and going to a zany work dinner. It was a poor trade for a real Kalk family Christmas but I still had loads of fun.

The reason I didn't get too depressed was Christmas in Korea is nothing like back home. Its seen as another couples holiday like White Day, Valentines Day and Peppero Day. About half of my Elementary School Students reported getting a gift and none of my middle school students did. One distinctively Korean tradition is the Christmas Cake. These cakes are sold at every store on the peninsula and are more standard then Santa or a Tree. Some of the stores that sold cakes include Baskin Robbins, Paris (Baguette and Croissant), Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and countless others. The cakes look adorable but are generally dry and custardy. The Christmas Cake tradition is a bit of a let down compared to all of the wonderful baking I missed at home this year. Yet the Cakes do have home style Christmas beat on one thing. They all come with hats. Check out the Baskin Robbins penguins. It looks good on the cute salesgirl but I have seen these hats on old men and women on mountain tops. Only in Korea.

My favorite hat this year would have to been the Paris Baguette hat. Its a wolf..wearing sheepskin? And now for your viewing pleasure, the PB Christmas Cake commercial that has haunted my dreams for the last month. I had to give you the long version so you wouldn't miss out on 2PM's rap.

Christmas morning I went to Mass with a friend and her mother. Mass was in Korean but I could understand everything that took place because of the international standards of the Catholic Church. Its wonderful to feel so connected to Catholics around the world! The Choir was incredible. They sang all the Carols in Latin and with operatic style and quality. That being said their was still major differences. The most shocking one was that all of the women covered their head with pre-Vatican two doilies. I was told its wasn't mandatory but my friends and I were the only ones without. Also the sermon was as done as a musical number by the priest. After mass we were asked to stand up and say where we are from. You know that vising Ethiopian family? Yes, its me.

Do you like the traditional Korean manger complete with pumpkin on top?

After mass I went to the work party but it didn't fulfill my Christmas craving. I imagine that I will have a mini-break down in July when my Christmas alarms rings six months over due. I never even had a eggnog latte...

Merry Late Christmas Everyone!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Most Happy Wedding Day

This Sunday I was invited to a mandatory Wedding of So Yeon, the secretary at my work. She always greets me with a smile and a double wrist wave so I was excited to support her on her wedding day. My boss set out a envelope with all of the teachers names on it which were checked off after we gave 30,000 won. It was nice to have the gift covered stress free but I became wary when I realized everyone was forced to pay. Even those not attending the wedding.

On the big day we arrive at the Wedding Center. It is a six story ugly building in the middle of a nondescript neighborhood. I had seen these buildings before. On Sundays they swarm with men in suits and women in dresses. I walked in wondering how all of these people knew So Yeon. This was my first mistake.

The wedding was on the 5th floor. One of three devoted to ceremonies and the other half dedicated to buffet dining halls, more on that mess later. The floor was crammed, I saw a bride in a voluminous white cupcake walk by but she was not So Yeon. We were reunited with the Korean staff who (as always) were disproportionately shocked to she me dressed up. Unlike many Korean women I have a different wardrobe for weddings then I do teaching eight year old's. It seemed we had almost missed the main event. No not the ceremony, but the chance to take pictures with the Bride. Taking pictures seems to be the most important part of a Korean wedding. People show up a hour early to snap pictures. Also all Koreans have professional wedding photos taken before the wedding to display at the actual event.

Next to the photo-op platform was a small “chapel” with the doors open to the rest of the floor. I put chapel in quotes because I have no idea what to call that place. A discothèque mashed up with a fashion show catwalk would be more appropriate. Their were lights on the ceiling and a white piano in the background. I think George Michael of WHAM might have created more subtle décor. The room had about twelve tables each full of talking guests. We squeezed into a corner next to the open doors. Then the Mothers of the Bride and Groom started to walk down the catwalk in traditional Hanboks and I was shocked by what happened next. Nobody stopped talking. In fact people chatted the entire time. The banal chatter was made worse by the fact that the doors to the main floor remained open allowing all the guests of other weddings (or guests who didn't care to watch) noise to leak in.

The Groom walked down the aisle followed by the Bride and her father. Their was no groomsmen or bridesmaids. They bowed to each other and a man, a prominent friend of the grooms fathers (the perfect tool for business kissup) gave the lecture. He spoke for about 15 minutes and although I didn't understand a word, I was never bored. I was horrified by the videographer shoving the camera into the Bride and Grooms face. The ceremony was also projected on a large screen about ten feet from the real thing and had a distracting amount of camera angles. Before I knew it the speaking was finished and the Grooms friend sang a love ballad to the new couple. After that the sound-track strutters to a stop and everyone climbs on stage to take a group photo. I'm lurking in the back like a freakish tall person. The bride tosses the bouquet to a assigned person (also a photo-op) and we all wander out of the room.

I walk out feeling a bit punked. Do Korean's think they can take all the cute symbols but none of the mean of a western wedding and still create meaning out of it. It took less than 30 minutes. What is the point? Well the couple now changes into their traditional Hanboks and moves to another room. It looks like the inside of a traditional Korean house except for the fact that there are three of these rooms next to each other. I wanted to watch this ceremony but was told by my co-workers it was much too long, about 45 minutes. We then went to downstairs to the reason the majority of guests come. The buffet, I imagine this is what my 30,000 won went to. I hope not because the food was nothing special and didn't include booze or cake. My friends and I ate in silence. What was that? How does that rushed flashy show reflect of Korean marriages and most importantly, why did I spend two hours getting dressed up to spend only a hour watching a show and eating bad food?

In the end this hour/day is nothing about me. So Yeon looked gorgeous and her husband couldn't stop smiling. I, on the other hand will get married in Tunisia. Its much more fun.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Halfway Point

Last night when I was watching a horrible (then horribly funny) gore-fest titled Ninja assassin staring Korean boy-band singer RAIN. It dawned on me that it was December 2nd and I had been living in Korea for six months. My contract is half over!
Sometimes I feel like I have been living here forever but more commonly I feel like its only been weeks. I every time I think I have my Korea figured out it surprises me again. Sometimes in a quirky "is that a Cafe where couples pay to spend time with cats?" and other times in a depressing "I can only be called fat and ugly so many times" way. Korea is a place strange place to live. On the surface it looks allot like home, the brands and stores are familiar. Under the surface however Korea is more alienating then Tunisia. The lack of diversity and being the constant other is difficult to adapt to. There is one place in Korean society for people of my age and background which is a ESL teacher. Unfortunately this comes with negative stereotypes that many Koreans will use when interacting with me.
Despite all this I have met wonderful friends in Korea. I feel more at ease socially then in my last two years of college. I have more money saved then I ever had before and I am able to finance my own global adventures. I am having the time of my life in land of (stone stupas?) pickled vegetables. I have to make some important choices in the next few months. Will I resign, teach in another country or move home?

Whatever I chose in the future, I know it wasn't a mistake to come to Korea. It was opened up my world and this is the first time I have fully supported myself. I am motivated to continue live a international lifestyle and to meet the challenges of everyday.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cappadocia Day Three

As the Sun rose on our last day in Cappadocia, Carolyn and I felt like we had done all of the major things we wanted to do. Cappadocia needs weeks to explore but if you only have days you can still see the key sights.

Our last day in Cappadocia was Republic Day and even the small city was decked out with large scale banners of Ataturk and the flag. I was a bit disappointed that I missed out on the celebration in Istanbul but I managed to make do with watching these school children put on a play.

We then decided to walk to the highest point in Cappadocia, Uchisar Castle. It is called a Castle for tourist reasons but a central government figure was never held here. More likely it was another mountainous village. It took about a hour to make it from our hotel to the top of Uchisar. The view from the top was almost as good (and much cheaper) than the scenes from the hot air balloon. We had a really nice girl from Canada traveling with us that day and she had a blast taking modelish shots of us. I could never manage to keep a straight face but still manged to look presentable in a couple of shots.

After our photo-op at the local peak we walked back to the hotel through beautiful Pigeon Valley. Named after all of the ruins of pigeon houses that scatter the landscape.

When we arrived back in town it was time to catch our flight back to Istanbul. I was ready to return to the big city. There was still so much I wanted to see and with only one day left in my trip, I was feeling a bit antsy.

Cappadocia Day Two

Sorry its been so long since I've written. Jill visited last week and I traveled to some new interesting places in Korea like Suwon Fortress. I am going to finish my Turkey blogs ASAP so I can get back to talking about Korea.

The second day in Cappadocia was the day of our Hot Air Balloon ride. It was extremely expensive (Won doesn't convert well into Euros) but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity I wasn't about to turn down. We woke up at dawn and drove out into the fields. There are many balloon companies in Cappadoica and the early morning colors were accented by the blazing flames.
Carolyn and I where copying the exact trip of friends of ours. He proposed during the balloon flight. A wise idea on his part, as it would be impossible to turn down any romantic idea hovering over the desert waves of history. The flight was just over an hour and we all were suspended in breathlessness. Except our pilot, who liked to spit over the side of the basket when he was not preforming daredevil sweeps next to rock faces. I felt like a wandering spirit as we peeked into cliff homes turned unusable by time and that can be seen only in flight. I will never forget that feeling.

After we descended back to earth we ate the worlds best breakfast. Turkish style yogurt, figs, dates, goat cheese (this is difficult to write about now that I'm back in the land of Kimchi and Rice). Carolyn and I still had the full day ahead of us and we decided to travel to Kayamkli underground city. After a delightful sketchy bus/air-porter van ride we arrived at the city. The city was carved over a thousand years ago for persecuted Christians. Only six floors are currently open but the city has over twenty floors not yet excavated. We explored the city with a keep of our guide for had no problem handing us a flashlight and then pointing us down tiny holes leading to churches, jail cells and general claustrophobia. It was mesmerizing to think of 3,000 people living in these human equivalents of ant hills. The richest living in the upper levels with the freshest air. We saw what remained of winery's, kitchens and large round doors.

After exploring the local village we returned to Goreme for a rained out mountain bike ride. I was a bit disappointed.

Stay tuned for my last two Turkey blogs. Coming soon I promise!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Pepero Day

I would like to wish all of my readers a happy Pepero day. (Or as many heathens know it, Pocky) And you thought valentines day was too corporate...

I think its just harmless fun and maybe my students will buy me cookies? I think this guy is contracting this all wrong. I'm not concerned with Koreans eating enough rice. I think that's pretty well taken care of.

Thank you for being so patient about the Turkey trip. I'll finish that soon!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cappadocia Day One

Cappadocia is a central state located in the middle of Turkey. It's famous for its stunning geography and its rich history and as the center of forbidden Christianity. The moment our van pulled into a view of I of Goreme my breath slowed. If there was was a place that deserved the title "pictures don't do it justice", this was it.

The stunning rock formations are contributed to a 2000 year old volcanic eruption. The tuffs of ash form soft rock with is later capped with denser rock. As the years go by the tuff erodes and the "fairy chimneys' are seen. Carolyn and I arrived at our gorgeous hotel (The highly recommended Kelebek) and this is the view from the hotel patio.

Our first adventure was to explore the open air museum. This is a group of homes, churches and monasterys craved out of the rock in the 300's but the frescoes that stand today are from the 11th century. Saint Basil was the active bishop and redecorated the ancient red ochre geometric designs with more extragalactic colors. There are so many churches to be seen in the museum that I saw both forms of decoration. Cave Church after Cave Church all mysteriously preserved and mine to explore. It became a little overwhelming. And the frescoes oh, I can barely describe it. It was like stirring in a dream but never fully waking up. If you want to see the frescoes in detail please look at Carolyn's website as she has a much better camera than me. Here I am in the entrance of a mausoleum. A skeleton is beside me roped off.

After we left the museum Carolyn and I started to play on the only jungle gym socially acceptable for adults, the rock pillars of Cappadocia. The homes that were once encased in rock are now open to the atmosphere. We were free to climb and explore this historic village that looked more like a science fiction set. It was easy to get swept away by the history of it all and grow disconnected from reality.

The height of my explorations came when I was stumbling over rocks and unexpectedly found myself inside a chapel. Some frescoes remained and a cross was craved into the wall. I said a quick prayer at the alter and sat in the priests chair for a long while (I'm sure they would understand) in a futile attempt let everything sink in.

The sun was setting and it was time to return to our picture perfect hotel. The next morning we had booked a hot air balloon ride over paradise.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Something about customs always make me nervous. Perhaps its a fear developed from watching too many spy movies. I know I have nothing to hide yet for some reason I always begin to sweat at the beginning of the line. This means that after waiting 20 minutes to be interviewed by a surly looking Turkish man, I am a wreck.

I hand the man my passport and that little yellow card. It must be apart of the chemical in the yellow that blocks memory, I can never seem to remember my social security number. By this time its 1:30 in the morning Turkey time and 8:30 in the morning in Korea. I didn't know if I could answer a single question correctly. This habit of not sleeping on planes and then slurring answers at customs almost landed me in Korean quarantine. The surly Turk opens it and looks me up and down. He glares at me and asks "Kalk?". I slowly begin to process the question. "Kalk?" he asks again this time much louder like he has recognized my name from a most wanted list. "Yeah, Kalk K-A-L-K" is all I can think to say, I'm just glad I didn't go into my Callll-K me on the telephone routine.

After I introduced myself the officer looks me straight in the eye and says "Stand up". Silence, then he repeats himself with no change of expression "stand up". All I could manage was a muttered "I am standing..." It must have done the trick as he stamped my passport and sent me on my way.

The next day I related the story to my friends who had the idea to run the word "kalk" into a English to Turkish dictionary.

Kalk- To demand a single person to stand up.

Who would have guessed the last name commonly mispronounced as cock in English could have its own quasi-popular song by the Turkish spice girls?

And who can forget "Olgan Olgan Kalk Gidelim"?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Istanbul Days One and Two

Having just returned from my trip to Turkey, I can barely describe how magical that Istanbul is. You can feel the history soaking up from the streets. The food is mind-blowing and most importantly I realized how much I missed the regional culture. Turkey is everything I loved about Tunisia with half the sketchiness.

My travel buddy Carolyn and I stayed in Istanbul with our friends Kaitlyn and Ace. After 20 hours travel time, I arrived in Istanbul. I knew I was in love from the moment we took the bus to their fabulous apartment located nearby Isticklal center. In the morning we woke up and took a ferry ride down the Bosphorus to Yoros Place. A medieval place on the shore of the Black Sea.

The Bosphorus river is one of the most famous and historic rivers in the world. The two hour cruise has palace after mosque after fort. Its exhilarating! After the trip we took a short trip through the spice market. Dried fruit, Turkish delight, Olives, here is the food I have been missing! Much smaller then the Grand Bizarre the spice market has real values and I couldn't resist trying a little of everything.

After classic Istanbul fish sandwiches under the Galata bridge, we shared glasses of Effes on a hotel rooftop overlooking the Golden Horn. I couldn't believe that gazing at the same river as Caesars, Emperors and Apostles. The city once know as Constantinople was mine to explore.

One Monday we woke up early to take pictures from the panoramic view of Galata Tower. Originally built in 1348, the tower was guarding the "modern" part of Istanbul 100 years before Columbus was born. The 360 degree views of the city were spectacular if not difficult to capture with my camera.

We walked to Sultanahmet by way to the Grand Bizarre. Three hours, two scarves and one lamp later we arrived at the the neighborhood of Sultanahmet. This is the most famous district of Istanbul with all the major sights. We visited the blue mosque first. Finished in 1616 the blue mosque is still a working place of worship. With six minarets walking up to the mosque is a humbling experience. The inside is covered with its famous blue tiles.

Most importantly however is the really good "pretzels" that are sold everywhere (Thats for you Brett).

For the history nerd in me the good times never stop in Istanbul. We walked around the hippodrome and were I feasted my eyes on monument after monument. Including a jaw dropping Obelisk. The carvings look crisp although it is 3500 years old. Built in Egypt and moved in 390, the Obelisk dominates the hippodrome. I could not tear my eyes from it. We originally planed on simply walking past but I came enraptured.

How do you top that you ask? Well I thought it was impossible but Istanbul loves to prove me wrong. Enter the Basilica Cistern, a random sight we decided to drop by before dinner, turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. Built in the 6th century the Cistern is 105,000 square feet. The feeling upon entering was like the I had the wind knocked out of me. It was eerie and strangely familiar. (Update-when I entered the Cistern reminded me of a Bond film moment, well I was right because it was featured in from Russia with Love! Score one me!) The Cisterns are lit perfectly with emphasis on the mysterious Medusa head's in the back. If you are in Istanbul, even just for one day, you must visit the Cisterns. I promise you will never forget them.

Wrapping up my second day in my new favorite city I went to bed early as tomorrow was our flight to Cappadoica. I was excited but hesitant to leave. What could top Istanbul?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Everyone Please Vote!

Do you love Olivia's Sorry Sorry Sorry music video? Do you love reading my vaguely humorous blogs? Then click this huge link and vote for Olivia's music video. If she wins she gets free round trip airfare to Korea! You need a youtube account and then go to that link and click on the "discussion" tab of the video. She just entered the video yesterday and already has climbed to the 7th spot!

Real blog coming soon I swear.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thank you!

Thank you everyone for reading my blog. My top 100 blogs about Korea prize came in the mail yesterday. I won this over the top cute pink Mickey Mouse MP3 player. Its made by the Korean company iRiver (copy Apple much?) and the "eyes" light up to tell you if its charging, updating and whatnot. And no, I did not get to chose the shape or color this was the universal prize for most people. Its pretty rad to win something for what I already love to do. Thanks again!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sangin Night-uh

I take allot of taxis here, they are cheap, safe and the the subway stops running at 11:30 PM. The only issue with taking taxi's is that the best way to direct a driver to my apartment is to say "Sangin Night-uh ju-si-oh" Which means please take me to the local nightclub. Nightclub has a different meaning in Korean than at home. A night club is often a hostess bar where the women "flirt" with you and if you buy a private room maybe a little more. Not quite a brothel (although Korea has its fair share of those) the Nightclub is certainly a sexual trade. I have actually been inside of the infamous Sangin Nights and it seemed pretty tame with a pathetic stage show and little to no clientele. Perhaps that's because of the street were I work is littered with business clubs. Business clubs are one of the many thinly veiled places to buy sexual services in Korea. Business club is for "business men" to drink with co-workers and often have company provided for them. Many nori-bangs (singing rooms) have girls who will sing with you and then solicit sex. Ticket da-bangs (tea rooms) are coffee delivery service which is a actually a call-girl. I almost discovered this the hard way.

The reason I know about this is mainly my good friend Internet but also because it doesn't hide. The picture at the start of this post is the same doorway to the school. The three words at the bottom of the picture say Chinese/Russian/Filipino. About once a month I get harassed by a drunk man calling me Russian aka a whore. I just tell him "No pervert!" in Korean and they usually wander off after a while. Ah the charms of being a female traveler. How Korea maintains a self-image of a super conservative country blows my mind. The sex trade is 1.6% of Korea's GDP which is down from twice that in 2004! As a person I am passionately against prostitution as it dehumanizes women and creates a environment of abuse. I wonder if the Korean government will ever stop looking the other way.

And in a much lighter note I've decided to keep you updated with k-pop. "Kiss" is a new solo by a singer in 2NE1. Can you make a solo if you group debuted in March? This song just came out and while I don't care much for the song the video is hilarious. Who is the sponsor??

Monday, October 5, 2009


This weekend was Chuseok. Its one of the largest holidays in Korea and can be compared to Thanksgiving as spending time with family is the most important part. Great information about Chuseok can be found here. While in a perfect world I would have liked to celebrate with a Korean family I never scored a invite and planned a trip to Japan for my three day weekend.Chuseok is determined by the lunar calender and the three days change from year to year. Next year teachers get a five day weekend.

Our trip to Japan was epic due to our ferry leaving early from Busan and the only train to Busan leaving at 2:00 AM. I didn't sleep Thursday and took a taxi, train, taxi and then we found our hydrofoil ferry. Its takes 2 and a half hours to travel from Busan to Fukuoka (fuku-oh-ka). Fukuoka is located on the southern island of Kyushu and the city has a population of 1.3 million about half the size of Daegu. We arrived at 11:30 AM Friday (sleeping in train stations anyone?) and I set foot in Japan.

I was like a kid in a candy store. It was a steady downpour for the majority of the day but I couldn't stop smiling. JAPAN! I have wanted to travel here my whole life! Which made me a little ashamed that I didn't know they drove on the left of side of the street.

Our first stop was lunch where I sampled the famous tonkotsu-ramen famous for its white broth made from pork bones. After lunch we checked into our Hotel, the beautiful Hataka B. By this time it had been a few hours after lunch and there was only one thing on my mind. Sushi! We had heard about a great sushi restaurant strangely located on top of a six story electronics store. The escalators opened to a arcade. A mind blowing arcade that makes all the Korean arcades pale in comparison. People of all ages and gender were having a good time with everything from claw machines, fighting and racing games to pogo stick racing?
After the arcade it was time for a Sushi go round. This one was not only delicious and cheap (110Y a plate) and you could order off of a computer menu and it would soon pass you on the belt with you seat number on it.

I tired the tuna, salmon and sea cucumber. The cucumber was...pretty awful. After dinner we went out on the town in the Nakasu district. The Nakasu district was lively to say the least, lined with host bars and other adult entertainment. My group was content to slowly walk up and down the street with the best people watching in the world. The Japanese have a more varied style than in Korea or even America. The mens hair was fantastic with big yellow pompadours and Mohawks. The women wore everything from shiny skin tight dresses to traditional kimonos. We were in Nakasu during a small festival with traditional drum music and teams of women carrying platforms around the streets.

The star of the Nakasu district was its street food. Charts lined both sides of the streets selling everything imaginable. Pan fried noodles (cant find them in Korea), candy apples, octopus bread balls, sake, street meat and entire grilled lobsters!

After getting my fill of the sights and smells of Nakasu I returned to the Hotel. By this time I had been awake for 31 hours and I had to leave early in the morning.

It was a 2 and a half hour bus ride in breathtaking mountains and bamboo forests (the first I have ever seen!)and we arrived in Nagasaki. Nagasaki is famous for a the Atomic tragedy and being the historical Christian center of Japan. From 1550 to 1650 Nagasaki was the only city open to the West. First it was heavily influenced by the Portuguese and later the Dutch. Nagasaki was beautiful and a balmy 77 degrees. Its a small city of 450,000 and easy to travel around by streetcar.

We started the day with the Atomic Bomb Museum. It was riveting and depressing and I embarrassingly teared up a few times. Fat man dropped on Nagasaki on August 9 1945, three days after Hiroshima. The museum starts with a clock frozen at the time the bomb was dropped (11:03) and has water towers the were warped by the intense heat. This picture is of a human hand the was holding a glass bottle when the bomb was dropped.

After the museum we saw the Park and the Hypo-center of the explosion. Many of the statues were covered in paper cranes because traditionally 1000 paper cranes is thought to grant one wish. It became a symbol of peace with Sadako Sasaki and the story of the paper cranes. Their were many memorials in the Peace Park including one for the over 13,000 Koreans who died in the attack. The majority of these Koreans had been brought to Japan against their will in forced labor camps. Many more Koreans died in Hiroshima about 1 in 7. The Hypocenter of the bomb looks very 2001 but more interesting they persevered a piece of Urakami Cathedral. I felt super awkward in this picture. Is smiling appropriate in a place were 75,000 died?

After exploring the peace park and enjoying another sushi cafe, I wanted to see a Shinto shrine. For some reason I had been deemed honorary tour guide and I lead our group of six to Suwa-Jina Shrine. It is a breathtaking Shrine at the top of a hill over looking the city. Its also the location of the cities largest festival which takes place this weekend. I was heart breaking know how close I was to experiencing it. Luckily I caught a photo-op of the child performers.
Founded in 1625 Suwa shrine was just the reminder I needed that I am not in Korea anymore. While Korea has its own share of Buddhist Temples, Suwa is a Shinto Shrine. Shinto is a ancient religion based on the worship of Kami deity's. While the majority of Japanese take part in Shinto ritual they would still describe themselves as Christian, Buddhist or Agnostic. Who can blame them? It must be wonderful to have such a history. The Suwa Shrine had a long path way covered in red Torii (gates) and I once again felt ecstatic. I'm in Japan!

In the Shrine I left some prayers to be burned and purchased a love fortune. You read your fortune (unless your illiterate like me) and then you tie it to a tree branch for the Kami to hear your prayers. Mine tore in

After Suwa it was time to leave endearing Nagasaki. Our last night in Japan consisted of more arcades, ramen and enjoying the motherland of Karaoke. Much more than a simple nori-bang, this place was seven stories and had a faux-marble entrance hall.

The next day we had to leave early. I did some shopping in the 100 yen store an returned to the ferry. I was time to return to Korea.

I only spent 50 hours in Japan but I fell in love. The only reason I wasn't depressed when I left was that I know I will return. Maybe with Stephany in March or even better, live in Japan for a year after my contract here ends. It wasn't as expensive as I expected. It was about 500 USD for the entire weekend. Japan is clean, friendly, beautiful (palm trees?!) and most importantly I didn't get stared at,spit on, called a prostitute, elbowed or rubbed the entire weekend. Only one person asked where I was from and that was to invite me to the Kunchi Matsuri festival. Japan is also less uniform than in Korea, the apartments aren't all cookie cutter and not every woman under the age of 50 has bangs. I miss Japan already but I promise you. I will be back.