Sunday, December 19, 2010

Top Ten At Ten

Hello all my lovely readers/Mom. I have been pretty lazy on my blogging lately and my time in Korea quickly runs to a close. I want to get a KaTU style Ten At Ten segments about my favorite, worst and most surreal moment in the last two years. So lets get started!

Top Ten Awkward Cringe Inducing Moments (in no particular order)

10. Bungee jumping
Most people jump off a bridge for the excitement and energy rush. I have never wanted to go bungee jumping, to be honest it always looked too damn scary. Yet my third weekend in Korea I went on a DMZ tour of the northeast province. Bungee jumping wasn't part of the trip but it was only 30,000 won (28 bucks) and I decided to go because... it was cheap. Mistake. I was the last one in line and only jumped after being hooked up twice and eventually got pushed off in the dark. I actually enjoyed the fall and the adrenaline rush. The reason bungee jumping is on this list is my tear-stained face and ruined lungs and the firm reminder that you shouldn't attempt a extreme sport simply because its cheap.


Any trip where the highlight is feeding seagulls in sure to end in failure. From the beginning of this trip where I almost got seasick on ferry to the end where we thought we had to stay another night. It was a disaster. Rain, expensive terrible food and nothing to do. How did this lonely depressing little island have the undying love of an entire country? The answer is tied to Dokdo and Korean national pride neither of which applies to a group of foreigners naively dreaming of a beach vacation. I think the majority of this trip can be summed up in the tiny five per room hotels and the fleas which distracted me from the sound of incessant rain.

No one can ever see it but, trust me it's out there and it belongs to Korea.

8.The Korean Theme Park Death Ride

From the strange mashup of themes to the sketchiness of the roller coasters Korean theme parks are the guilty pleasure of Korea. I know I shouldn't enjoy the cheesy decor but I do. I have been to two local Daegu parks, the strangle baby animal roundup in Everland in Seoul and California themed waterpark where none of the pools are over a meter deep. The best ride at any Korean theme park is the tambourine. Its 80's inspired grandeur was at every theme park I explored. Its a massive wheel which spins around and shudders, throwing your entire body off the seat. There is no seat belt, just the desperation of your own sweaty palms. I know a friend whose spine was injured on this ride and another couple who vomited on it. I have managed to survive this ride multiple times and the first I was given no warning except hold on. Its a nasty ride and one that would never survive in America's sue happy system.

7. Andong

This place claimed to be a interesting Korean folk village. Perhaps it is not during the freezing cold month of December. A three hour bus ride lead me and my friends into the middle a empty folk village. It was cold miserable and the level of excitement accepted before something get labeled a "attraction" is much lower in Korea then I am used to. However Andong set a new high for level of boring in a major attraction. There was signs which labeled "Pine Forest", "Straw Roof" and a whole building devoted to Queen Elizabeth's visit. In Andong's defense we did go during off season and the Jimduck (Chicken, veggies and rice noodle mashup) was out of this world. Still I will never forgive Andong for the frostbite I suffered on my soul.

6. WWF at Camp Walker

See earlier post and bask in the excitement of our military based deodorant shopping spree.

5. Exploring the Infamous Sangin Nighuh
As I have often explained prostitution in its various degrees exists all over my neighborhood. On strange Wednesday night my friends and I decided to enter Sangin Night, the local nightclub with on demand prostitution in the backrooms. The night was bizarre with barely anyone else in the place and the strange floor show which was not staffed with Russians despite the questions I occasionally receive. Chatting with your everyday bouncer/ hustler was strange indeed and a interesting view into the world that is everywhere around us yet completely hidden.

4. Limousine?
It was the end of the Frisbee season and our fantastic Irish captain had decided to rent our bottom of the League team a limousine to arrive at the field basting "The Final Countdown" and breaking out into dance. When the Limo arrived it was in fact a airport van and the driver would not can't from blasting ABBA for enough time for our arrival to look even quasi bad-ass. Awkward? Of course but that moment when the van pulled up to see all of us dressed to the nines accompanied by Kenneth's Irish swearing was some of the best gut busting laughter of my life.

3. Park Sung Tae

He's more than your local Representative he is...the most interesting man in the world. Ok, maybe not. In far he was a far cry from that. Meeting him the hallway of my school was hysterical. Going to his formal election night party was anything but, awkward with no one who spoke english or under the age of 50, it was a far cry from my black tie, DonP fantasy which involved Hannah and I riding around in his campaigning trucks. We stayed there for two desperate hours before we fled the scene.

2. Being a Medically Induced Vegan

Heck I don't quite understand it myself but thanks to lame genetics (love you Dad!) I can no longer eat animal products. This is universality awkward but Korea as is a country of meat meat meat and flash dieting. Nobody really believes that I have health reasons for what I am doing. "What is that wonderful flash diet your on?" some Korean friends love to ask. Also no one in the restaurant business believes me. They just think I am a horrible picky foreigner who just doesn't like beef/eggs/milk. As you can imagine this has put a major damper on work dinners as I eat only rice and pretend not to mind public discussions about my weight.
Luckily the majority of my friends have been super understanding and bend over backwards to eat where I can eat. However their food still looks better than mine.

1. Everything my students inappropriately share

Sometimes my students can be pointed rude and often racist but most of the its naively cute. Like the time where my boy students talked about their "fire balls" through class. Other times its much stranger like the Korean obsession of cartoon pictures of poop. The most awkward teaching moment is when my 8 year old male student asked me if I had a boyfriend. When I negatively replied he told me I should date his brother who would "put a baby in me". To this day I don't know where he heard that.

Well that's all for this top ten. Whats next? Most awe striking travel moments? Things that should be carried over to the States? Couplewear? Anyone have any suggestions, I have plans to write at least two more before I start my travels.


  1. Having been there, I can affirm that all you say is true. I admire the Koreans for loving their country so much,for being wonderfully hospitable to foreigners (or ignoring us - either way is good)and especially for giving you the opportunity to immerse yourself in their culture,history and daily lives.
    And I'm sure I can think of a few things for your next blog!!!!!

  2. Great to see you post again Katie ~ Sorry we missed you on your trip "home" (the one containing the weird genetics) -

    Have a great Christmas and another interesting year ~

    John Paterson

    (Can't eat MEAT??? - WHAT THE??? - Does that include pretend meat like sushi?)