Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cutting a Hair

I'm not really big on beauty treatments and such, nor am I extremely vain, but there is one part of me that I'm rather particular about: My hair.

I suppose I'm so particular about it because for most of my life I didn't have much control of it.  My mother wanted it as long as it could be.  Even though she said I could cut it once I was ten, she always made me feel guilty about wanting to cut it, so I still felt like I had no control.

At sixteen I finally gained control of it and got fourteen inches cut off and donated to Locks of Love.  My hair was still halfway down my back after that though, so to most people it was still long.

After that point I went through a lot of experimenting with my hair in terms of styles and lengths.  Back in Florida I only ever went to the Ritz Salon in Bluewater Bay to have my hair done.

First few times it was done I had it done it was okay, but was never quite the way I really wanted it.  About four years ago I started seeing a different lady and she did a great job, it was never exactly what I wanted, but was about as close as I thought it could get.

I was wanting to grow my hair out a bit so I didn't get it cut again before I came to Korealand.  Then, once I got here, I realized that yes, Asian hair is different than European hair and not every hair salon has someone that knows how to work with European hair.

This made me rather nervous about getting a haircut here, which wasn't helped by the fact that there would still be a language barrier.

Thing is though, my hair finally got to the point that I was going crazy, it needed to be taken care of or I was going to go insane.

So I asked on the Changwon Facebook group for suggestions and got a few, but most were over in Masan or somewhere downtown, but no one could give me an address and I wasn't looking forward to wandering around blindly and hoping I would find the right place.

Then the other day I was making small talk about this with Casey and he mentioned that one of Michael B's friends goes to Frank Provost and that they have someone that speaks English and knows how to cut European hair.

So I wandered on over there today and decided to check it out.

They took this
And gave me this
And the side view
And, no, I did not color my hair, that's just the lighting.  I've never colored my hair and I never plan to, I like my dirty blonde quite a bit.

So, I got the awesome style and cut for ₩ 20,000, which is a little less than $20, oh, and no tip.  Compare that to the $30 to $35 I'd spend at the Ritz Salon.  And, this is the closest my hair has ever gotten to the image in my head - astounding!
Quite awesome I think, quite, quite awesome.
So, I highly recommend Frank Provost at City 7.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Run for the hills!  It lives!!!

Or, rather, it did.

In the past two months a 'creature' descended upon my apartment.  It liked to reside in the corner above the window in my kitchen, right where I couldn't get to it.

Apparently it liked the fact that the sun couldn't reach there.  It also liked the fact that the rice cooker was on the windowsill underneath.  This of course created a dark and moist environment just perfect for such a despicable creature.

It didn't matter that I only closed my bathroom window when I was actually in the shower.  It didn't matter that I ran the hood fan whenever I cooked.

It just kept growing.

Getting larger and larger.

So, I finally admitted defeat.

I gave in and talked to my Director.

She talked to my landlord and he came by on Sunday morning to defeat the icky creature.

He came armed with a stool, a bucket, rags, bleach, and new wallpaper.

Through his bravery and dedication the evil creature was defeated.

Humans: 1
Mold: 0

Before the Battle
During the Battle
After the Battle
The war may not be over.

After all, who knows if the creature has family with a thirst for revenge?

Be that as it may, by the time it can get reorganized and return I should be gone.

If not, then I'll just have to make sure we win the rematch.

I don't like to lose.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Different Sea

Saturday dawned with a beauty that hasn't been seen in awhile here.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky, yet the temperature was above freezing.

This came as a bit of a shock to me since Casey and I had originally been scheduled to do overtime on Saturday afternoon (a recruitment event), but we were told on Thursday that it was canceled due to the bad/cold weather expected on Saturday.

I ended up over in good ol' Busan (부산) with MY.  We got there a little after noon and spent time navigating the Subway system on the way to meet his Hyeong (형).  형 means 'older brother for a boy', but in this case it means an older male friend.  It's a term of endearment and respect.  If my relationship with MY was in Korean I would call him Oppa (오빠).  오빠 means 'older brother for a girl', but is also what girls call older males that they're close to.  Again, it's a term of endearment and respect.  This is because you can technically only be friends with people born in the same Lunar New Year as you.

So, Laura, Margret, Derrick, Nick, Michael, and myself could call each other friends, because we're all from the Year of the Dragon.  Kristen would be different though, she would have to call Michael 오빠 and me Eonni (언니).  Elinore would have to call Michael 오빠 and Kristen and me 언니.

There are special words for younger sister and younger brother, but usually the older person just calls the other person by name.

So, MY and I met his 형 at the Jungang Subway Station.  Then the three of us went to this little Japanese place down a little side street.  The chef there was actually Japanese, but the waiters spoke Korean.  The place was PACKED.  There were people waiting outside before we got there and even more people waiting outside when we left.

The food was delicious:
Savory with a slightly sweetish tang.  The roll is like a potato pancake, sort of...
The food was a type of Sweet Potato Curry.  It was sooooo yummy!

MY and MS (his 형) spent most of this time catching up in Korean.  MS speaks English, but I'm only the second foreigner he's actually met, and in his words: "The first real blonde American."

After we finished eating we moved to a coffee shop.  We spoke mostly in English there, with MS asking me the standard questions I usually get:

Where are you from?
Where do you teach?
Do you like it?
How are you enjoying Korea?
Why did you decide to come to Korea?
How'd you meet MY?

The coffee shop was a little no-name hole-in-the-wall, but the coffee was good and I found this map on the wall highly amusing:
Can you find what's off about it?
After coffee we walked back to MS's office and got his car, then the three of us went to Taejongdae Resort (태종대유원지).  Which is on the Korean Strait, which is sort of part of the Sea of Japan (East Sea).  Which is a bit different from the Gulf of Mexico...

It's on an island in Busan (부산) and is a nice hiking park.  With awesome beaches (rock beaches, not for swimming) and cliffs.  Well, how about I just show you?
Stoney Beach
So pretty...
I could've stood here all day...
We were at the park for about 1.5-2 hours walking this...
This was called Suicide Cliff, bodies are still supposed to be down there...
That's Busan (부 산) in the distance.
Have a meal on the rocks under the lighthouse.
No sand in sight...
The Lighthouse and some random dude.
A mini-Stone Mountain, on the shore.
The stairs MS just ran up.
MY and I went up at a more reasonable pace
It was truly a gorgeous day and a magnificent place to visit.  I'd like to go there again sometime, there were some things we didn't do that I'd like to try next time.

After the park MS drove MY and me over to the Busan Fish Market.  It was about a thirty minute drive and I actually slept sitting up...which I haven't done since I was a child.  Only one cup of coffee for the day, plus all that hiking left me exhausted.

We said goodbye to MS at the Busan Fish Market and MY and I went to a Paris Baguette for a light snack and some warm drinks.  We both needed the coffee that we got there (we'd had smoothies at the previous coffee shop).

After that we went on a walk through the Busan Fish Market.

There were just too many things too see.  I didn't get a lot of pictures.

I have to say though, that the most awesome thing I saw was an octopus slipping out of it's bucket and making it's way across the sidewalk before it got caught.  The octopus's head was about the size of a softball, so not too big, but big enough for me.

Got some awesome shots of the harbor:
The sun finishing setting
Busy, but not too busy...
Then we went inside.  This place is insane.  There's just buckets and tanks of water holding all sorts of types of things from the sea.  Things I recognize and things I don't.

What made it even crazier was the fact that most of the tanks were overflowing into other tanks, which then overflowed into drains on the floor before being cycled back around.  This kept the oxygen level in the tanks high enough without any fancy pumps and things.

It was insane, overwhelming, and totally awesome.

The Tanks
Shelled Thingies..
Massive Shrimp!
More Shelled Creatures!
After touring the Busan Fish Market we caught the subway and then the bus back to Changwon.  Where we ate some yummy Vietnamese noodles.

It was a very good, but exhausting day.  

My calves are still sore from all the stairs...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chicken to Tea

So, I've been randomly snapping pictures of unusual things I see for sale.  Here are just a few things:

Rubber chickens for Lily!!!

Yes!  Hide those unsightly door knobs!

Now, why can't you find pretty scales with flowers on them in the states?

So many jump ropes!

Burt's Bees is everywhere...

Toe socks, for work.

Wait a second....

Why does Alaska get Ice Tea?!?!?  Ice Tea is Southern......

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Another Market Visit

I went to the market again this past Saturday with MY. 

It wasn’t quite as smelly or overwhelming as it was the first time I went. 

I use the word smelly because there’s no other word good enough to describe the mix of smells given off by raw fish, raw meat, produce, kimchi ( ), Korean food cooking, and people. 

Not that it smelled bad, it’s just a little overwhelming when you’re used to only smelling wet plant life and the sea breeze outside.  I’m sure the fact that it wasn’t as smelly is due to a mix between the cold weather and the fact that I’ve gotten used to all of those smells individually now, so being assaulted by all of them at once doesn’t overwhelm me anymore.

MY and I wandered around looking for a while. 

This lady did a double take when she realized I was a foreigner with a Korean guy.  We get that a lot.
We tried these pork patty things that reminded me of Salisbury steak, which was awesome.  Then we wandered around some more before going in to sample more food.

We ended up getting some more food at the same place Casey and I went to the first time we went to the market (that feels like ages and ages ago, though it was only a couple of months, wow).  We ate Kimchi-Jeon (  ), which is the same thing I had last time with Casey, we just had no clue what it was last time.  Oh, how just a couple months can change so many things…

Table Casey and I sat at last time.

Wandered around a bit more and saw a vendor selling several cows.

Cows in pieces that is...
Then MY and I got street odeng ( ) on a stick.  It’s really yummy.  is the Korean style of fish cakes.  I always keep some in my fridge and add it to my ramen ( ).  It makes the ramen more filling and gives me some good protein.

Near the end we encountered some people dressed in traditional Korean clothes and playing traditional Korean instruments.  A little noisy, but very nice.

They were doing it just because they could.  That's awesome.
All in all it was a good Saturday. 

I’m glad I got a chance to go to the market again now that I’m finally settled in to Korea.  It made the experience much different.

Part of that though might have been because I was there with MY and not Casey, which made ordering food a million times easier.  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Highly Amusing

So, this morning I talked with Apple Jack on Skype and, like usual, we discussed the weather.  He mentioned how nice it's been there lately and what not.  I complained about how cold it is here.

Well, while looking at the weather a few minutes ago I noticed something that made me laugh quite a bit:

Only difference is the wind chill.

Oh, and the humidity.

Isn't that amusing?

I think so.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Noraebang (노 래 방)

Upon sending an awesome picture on kakao to a number of folks back in the US of A I learned something terrible.

Said Awesome Picture
No one knew what a Noraebang ( ) was!!!!

Since this is such a huge part of the culture here I realized that I must explain it to all of the folks back in the good ol' US of A.

Now, ‘norae’ ( ) means ‘singing’ and ‘bang’ () means ‘room’.  So, ‘Noraebang’ ( ) means ‘Singing Room’.

If you’re an anime or manga fan you already know that the Japanese do Karaoke (カラオ)different than we do in the US of A. 

Instead of going onto a stage, in front of your friends and lots of strangers, and being publically humiliated you get to do it in a private room, surrounded by only those people that know you.

Here in Korealand it’s done the same way.

Quoted from the Great Wiki:
      South Koreans generally use another term - 노래방 (Noraebang/NRB), which translates into "Song Room". Norebangs typically have a number of private rooms ranging in size from four seats to upwards of thirty.
     There are usually two microphones, a book containing the names and artists of the songs, and a remote control for the karaoke machine. The remote controls allow the users to search for songs by name, artist, or country. The song selection available typically includes those from multiple languages.
     In South Korea, karaoke is very popular for all ages. According to statistics collected in 2009, there are 35,684 song rooms in Korea with an average of 1.9 million people participating each day.[11]     The pricing varies dependent on the size and location of the room but the average cost ranges from around 10,000₩ to 20,000₩ per hour (1,000₩ = approx. $1 USD).
     There are also "Coin Norebang" which translates into "Coin Song Room". The coin norebangs are usually used by teenagers and are usually located in Korean video arcades and can even be found on trains. Instead of paying hourly, the machines allow you to sing one song, upon your selection, with the insertion of a coin (the prices may vary from 200₩ to 500₩).
     Most norebangs sell food and alcohol. Also, many adults in South Korea use the norebangs to sober up after drinking

We go as a group and rent a room that comes with party lights, couches, a table, two microphones, tambourines, a karaoke machine, and sometimes a bathroom.

Then we can order food or drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) and proceed to sing until our voices die or we collapse in exhaustion. 

Which is pretty much what we did on Monday night.

Monday was Claire’s birthday so we went to a delicious chicken restaurant and then off to a Noraebang ( ) for the rest of the night.

It was a good night, but I didn't get home until late.  So, I was rather exhausted by the end of the day on Tuesday.


Casey snuck rum and coke in to the restaurant....

Playing Smoke and Fire

More Smoke and Fire

Side Dishes at the 노 래 방