Well, since February is a short month, this should in theory be a shorter blog.
February has been a reasonably quiet month, but I have explored a few new places so it has been a pretty good month!
KOREAN CLASSES WITH JIN SUN:
At the start of February Jong Sool and Sarah found out about the Korean lessons I had been going to in Seoul and offered to help me learn Korean.
This has happened through me having a hour to study Korean with Jin Sun on Thursdays at 7pm after I finish teaching for the day.
So far I have had 3 sessions with Jin Sun and its been really good as I can ask lots of questions which make it easier to understand. It is quite hard though as the language is so different and I don't just mean in terms of the alphabet which I am now quite familiar with and can read reasonably well. The structure of sentences is also completely different and they use markers to show what is the object, subject etc, rather than words like a/the/he/she etc.
The one area I am really not very good at is learning the vocabulary - I think I may just need to study harder!
NAMDAEMUN MARKET AND MYEONG-DONG:
This month I decided to explore Namdaemun Market and the area of Seoul called Myeong-Dong.
Nandaemum Market is a famous open-air market that has been around for hundreds of years and is open 24 hours a day.
The area is huge and I entered the market through an enclosed alley way that was lit using lights (even in the day as it was quite dark under the cover) and full of stalls on both sides and in the middle. There were several of these alley ways and it seemed that the stalls on the outside were people selling things and those in the middle seemed to be people offering services of some kind, with people set up with full size sewing machines repairing clothes etc.
The market was absolutely packed with people and it was a little overwhelming, but also a lot of fun to wander around and look at things. The market seemed to be organised into sections, although I wasn't too sure what was where, as I would walk around one section and see stalls full of shoes, then round the corner it would all be bags and so on.
Thankfully when I went to the market I didn't take much money with me, otherwise I could have spent a lot as there was so much variety of items and all really good value! I did treat myself to a nice scarf though!
Myeong-Dong is supposed to be the designer shopping street, but all this really seems to mean is that it is a little more Western with shops we would see back home and those that we wouldn't have more English that in many other areas of Seoul! This area again was pretty busy with a lot of people and I enjoyed wandering down the main street and stopping for a coffee break on the 3rd floor of Starbucks where I could sit and look out over the street and people watch!
I then took a detour down one of the side streets and found that just off Myeong-Dong there are several street vendors selling all sorts of items much like in Insa-dong and Namdaemun, although not in as large numbers.
I also happened to stumble across a band playing on a small stage in the middle of one of the streets. They turned out to be pretty good, so I hung around for a while to watch them play a couple of songs!
A GIFT FROM JAMES BOND:
Just before the long weekend we got for the Lunar New Year in the middle of February, James Bond came into my office again to see me. This time, instead of wanting to change his English name he had come to gift me a gift for the Lunar New Year. He had bought me a cute little yellow silk bag with really nice stitching. Was a nice surprise and a really nice gift!
LUNAR NEW YEAR:
The Lunar New Year weekend I was invited over to Sarah's mother house on the Monday for a big family gathering. This invitation is quite an honor so there was no way I could say no.
I met Jin Sun at the school at 1:30pm and she took me to her grandmothers house. When I arrived everyone was there to welcome me to the house and then I was taken into a small room that had only a rug on the floor to play a traditional Korean game with Sunny, Grace, Jin Sun and her brother. The game we played was a board game of sorts, but instead of rolling a dice to decide how many places you moved you throw 4 sticks into the air and how they land depends on how far you move! It was actually really fun, but I seemed to be bad luck as my team lost all of the 8 times that we played!
To eat I had some of the Korean food, I had a fishcake type thing and some salad, and me and Jin Sun made spaghetti carbonara which was delicious!
It turned about to be a pretty good few hours and I got home about 4:30pm so still had plenty of the day left to myself!
Last weekend I went up on the cable cars to Namsan Park which is where the N'Seoul Tower is. The tower is located on one of the many mountains in and surrounding Seoul so it is quite an impressive sight that can be seen from pretty much anywhere in the city.
I got lucky with the cable car ride up to Namsan Park as I was one of the first on which meant I could get right to the front for the best views on the way up. The views were amazing, and the city just seemed to grow in front of you as you gradually got higher and higher, and of course the mountain backdrop is always impressive!
Once I got to the top there were plenty of view points to take photos and there was a large open area with seating at the base of the tower. It was here that a large area had been roped off and several people had started to gather round. I had no idea what was going on, but decided to be a sheep and follow the crowd and took a place by the rope where I didn't have to wait long.
There was some sort of announcement and then several men dressed in traditional clothing appeared carrying flags much in the same way as the changing of the guard.
What followed was a series of demonstrations in traditional fighting methods including many of the traditional weapons. It was all very impressive and very entertaining and interesting to watch. I love the way that you can just stumble across something like this in Seoul!
After the performance which lasted about 30 minutes I took a few more photo's before heading back down on the cable car. I decided against heading up the tower as I plan to go back at night and get a nighttime view of Seoul which is meant to be incredible!
DINNER AT THE BBQ RESTAURANT:
This week on Thursday I was taken out for dinner to a BBQ restaurant on the main street at the other end of town to my apartment. This is somewhere we hadn't been to before and it was really delicious - I really love these BBQ restaurants.
This time there was only me, Jin Sun, Jong Sool and one of Jin Sun's cousins that went out for dinner and it was actually a really good evening.
We went out straight after school at 7pm and I got home at 9pm, which is actually quite a long dinner as usually it's straight in and out in about an hour!