Saturday, September 10, 2005

Dinner and a Field Trip

It's Saturday night here. I just got back from a field trip.

WThursday night, one of the student's mother invited all of the teachers out for dinner. This was my first time at an upscale Korean restaurant. We took our shoes off at the entrance, and walked into a private room. Most of the food was already spread out on the table; we sat on the floor and waited for the rest to come out.

There were a few kinds of sushi - like shrimp on sticky rice. There was a kind of coleslaw, and apples in an unfamiliar sauce. We were also given seaweed soup and rice. The main part of the meal was beef; there were actually bbqs built into the tables. The server put a strip of meat onto the cooker, and came back to turn it. When it was cooked, the server used a large pair of scissors to cut it up into small pieces, and we ate directly from the cooker. They kept bringing meat until we stopped eating; I was good and stuffed. At the end of the meal, they brought out glasses of plum juice.

After an hour of sitting on the floor, your knees start to ache something awful. Interestingly, it didn't bother the Koreans at all; I suppose you can train your legs to sit crossed for long periods of time.

One of the foreign teachers has a digital camera, so I had him take pictures of the meal. Once he sends them to me, I'll pass them on.

We took the kindergarteners to the Folk Village today. The kids went nuts in the half-size bus I took - total chaos. The Village itself was interesting; buildings from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. We saw two fascinating performances. One was a horse show; the riders did tricks like hang off the side of the galloping horse, their heads inches from the ground. One rider did some archery work.

The second performance we saw was a marching band; they did a dance that seemed to come out of the martial arts. You've probably seen something like it in a kung fu movie; they jump, their torso goes parallel to the ground, and their legs kick through the air. And they had streamers attached to their hats; their kept their heads moving and the streamers moved in various patterns. It was just short of spectacular.

The kids' parents packed lunches for both them and the teachers. It was interesting; we made a picnic out of it. All Korean meals are very communal; everything just sits in the middle of the table (or in this case, a blanket) and you pick at it with chopsticks. Seaweed sushi wraps, cherry tomatos, chestnuts, small sandwiches, pineapple, grapes, and yams in some kind of sweet coating. It was a really good meal.

School is going well; I finally know all the kindergarteners' names, but I'm still working on the elementary students. The older kids are noticing I don' know all their names yet, and are starting to get annoyed. :)

The traffic here is really something else. There don't seem to be "traffic laws," so much as "traffic suggestions." It's standard to be cut off every few minutes; people fight viciously for their place in a lane. Motorbikes even drive on the sidewalks a lot.

The police occasionally do patrols in groups of ten; they just march down the street. I think it has something to do with North Korea/cold war mentality.

So yes, pictures forthcoming.

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