Work in Progress

“In the best travel, disconnection is a necessity. Concentrate on where you are; do no back-home business; take no assignments; remain incommunicado; be scarce. It is a good thing that people don’t know where you are or how to find you. Keep in mind the country you are in. That’s the theory.”
–Paul Theroux

A human who loves the world, finds beauty in the unknown, and can't keep her feet on the ground. I like finding unique (and cheap) ways of making my way around the globe. Interacting with people while living, learning, and loving the culture I'm surrounded by.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pinch me

 I couldn't imagine a more perfect place to live, and I've only been here a few days.

Love at First Sight
1. You can camp practically anywhere. On the beach, in the park, over here and over there. Everywhere.
2. Deawangam Park is next to Ilsan beach, a mere 20 minute walk away from me. The beach turns into a mountain park paradise. Green and trees and rocks and beach and the ocean all in one? I was tickled pink when I found this place my first morning here. I probably looked crazy to all the ajummas (little Korean women speed-walking around). I was giggling the whole time because I was so unbelievably happy that this was my new home - it was almost a joke. An awesome joke. 
3. Korea is called Land of the Morning Calm. I'm a morning person through and through.
4. The Market a few streets away gives me the chance to get delicious treats and eats for cheap, plus I can haggle! 
5. Koreans are active. They like to do things. Walk, run, swim, boat, fish, jet ski. 
6. Health is a part of their culture. They consider their food a source of energy. Their cuisine is filled with philosophy and science - it is traditionally meant to strengthen their minds and souls in addition to filling their bellies. There is so much food to try, but it's hard when I can get kimbap down the street from my school for a buck. 
7. They share. Bill splitting doesn't exist here.
8. The conversion rate between dollars and won is an easy 1 to 1. 5000 won is 5 bucks. Cake, much easier then when I lived in England.
9. Wifi is everywhere. All over. For free and you can usually find one that doesn't need a password.
10. There is a Korean man singing mantras on his morning walk behind me right this second. 
11. Respect is a priority in their culture.
12. Confucius. 
13. Hiking and camping are national pastimes. The majority of the country is covered in mountains. I LOVE MOUNTAINS.
14. Seafood. Korea is surrounded by water on 3 sides. They fish, a lot. Which is good for my belly. 
15. You can get coffee out of vending machines.
16. I think I see a jellyfish
17. My coworker/neighbor likes to do pretty much all the same things I do. Partner in crime? Yes please.
18. There isn't much crime here. Except for car accidents, I'm pretty safe.
19. Most things, as long as they aren't imported, are cheap.
20. Their flag symbolizes yin and yang and four trigrams which represent movement and harmony. It's beautiful, really. Every time I look at it I get an overwhelming sense of happiness.

I am right where I am supposed to be. That's crystal clear.

My neighborhood is awesome. I live in Dong-gu, which is a "newer" area of Ulsan. My apartment does not smell like kimchi. It's a bit out of the way of the city, but that's perfect for me. It's a quaint little block and I have everything I need close to me. On my first morning I wandered around the streets surrounding my home, checking out all the little hole in the wall restaurants and businesses. My first stop was a bakery where I found treats on treats on treats, all only 1000won (about a dollar). This little man pulls a cart around his waist collecting cardboard. I'll figure out his name one day. There are 7-Elevens everywhere. But no slushies.

Elderly Korean couple enjoying the view of Ulsan

The shipyards and industrial areas of the neighborhood aren't as menacing as I would have thought. It's actually pretty damn cool seeing all these giant ships being built along the coast and the ones already fit for water through the morning haze. Karyn, my coworker, and I are planning to your Hyndai soon. 

I am thankful for google translate and the fact that I learned the Korean alphabet prior to getting here. It's making things much easier. I spent some time my first morning translating all the symbols on my AC unit and washing machine. I WILL learn how to speak Korean, that's the goal. 

Oh, and they don't eat ALL the dogs. Most dogs hang outside of their owner's store front happily, like these guys that I pass every morning on my walk to the beach.

1 comment:

  1. It looks and sounds wonderful Ellie :-) I know your students are going to love you, we just hope that your travels will bring you back our way one day! Lots of love from all of us in Montefegatesi xxx