Thursday, October 7, 2010


I’m sitting on the bus on my way back to Incheon writing this. It seems unreal that I’m already leaving; one week was not long enough to revisit all the places and people and foods I’ve been dreaming about for the last two years. Part of me is going, “But….but….you could get a job here today. You could walk into the hagwon (English academy) up the street and tell them you’re looking for a job and not have to leave.” Don’t I know it? But there are reasons why I left the ESL industry two years ago, and there are reasons I’ll be happy to be back in Shanghai, and a flight from Shanghai to Seoul CAN be relatively cheap and painless.

“Can” being the operative word there. Thank goodness I don’t have the same flight plan going back as I did coming here. Now doesn’t seem the time to go into THAT disaster; suffice it to say that you shouldn’t plan on staying overnight in a small provincial airport, just in case it isn’t – you know – open overnight.

‘Nuff said.

I told you about seeing friends, and I told you about Penis Park, and I’m not sure what else I should write. I still kind of maintain that just have to experience it to know. I got up each morning and walked to work with Emily, breathing in the “fresh” morning air, walking along the streets of Gangdong and exploring little alleys. I ate galbi (Korean barbecue) and dalkgalbi (spicy fried chicken and cabbage) and tons of little dishes made of tofu and my favorite street foods. Seoul has this great, lived-in feel about it. Dubai didn’t have it because everything’s been built in the last ten years…and sometimes Shanghai has a little too much of it. And it’s gotten even better since I left – they now have 50,000 won notes (before the biggest note was equivalent to about $10, which makes for a pretty fat wallet when you take $300 out of the ATM), AND they have cherry coke and Taco Bell now (I saw the Taco Bell with my own eyes, but I was on my way to Chili Chili Taco, down the street from Noksapyeong – Seoul’s original burrito shop and home of some good looking young burrito artists). Emily took me walking along the Han River with it all lit up at night, and yesterday I walked around the lake at Yuldong Park, and got teary eyed to see Korean anklebiters running around their teacher shrieking at each other in their little voices.

I didn’t go to GDA, though. Some of my last students are there, apparently, but it wouldn’t be the same – and I’m not sure they would even let me in. Nobody’s left from my days there, and apparently they’ve tightened up security since the days when any old looney from the Uber School (a neighboring preschool) could walk in and offer us legal support…

Then I had my lesson with Belynda, but only for an hour, because I didn’t read her directions and went all the way across town from where I was supposed to be. Oops. Just like old times…err…except for the fact that there’s a lot more of me to jiggle when I go into a shimmy. Unfortunately. We did the chunk of “Kashmir” between the intro and what I think of as a taqsim and she considers a drum solo, so when I’ve got those two bits figured out, I’ll have half a choreography. I’ve got half a costume at the moment – the bus ride to Samcheok gave me plenty of time for sewing – and maybe by the time I get the whole thing together I’ll have half a body as well.

A girl can hope.

Then I went BACK to Bundang (like a typical weekend in the old days, traversing the city twice) to see my Dark Lord and his family, hoping that his business trip had fallen through so that I wouldn’t be the only adult speaking English…and it had! I met Jung-Hwa and Michelle at the place formerly known as Samsung Plaza, and later my Master made it home (luckily – because Michelle was so worn out from her midterms that she crashed after we got home).

And that was it – my last night in Korea. Around 10 he took me back to the subway and we said goodbye and I started the long haul back up to Mark and Em’s, where I sat up til past one, tired, but not wanting to waste precious time in sleep. (Sleep? I can sleep when I’m dead.) And so annyeong for now to Gangnam, to Itaewon, and Namsan and Seoul Tower, goodbye to the Han and the 63 building. Goodbye my wonderfully irritating people, pushing ajjummas and spitting ahjjusshis and screaming children. Sarang-heyo ~ I love you all!

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