Saturday, October 16, 2010

Korean TV debut...... Outstanding!

video
So, no blog for a long time. Well, this is worthy of a blog.

So, one of my kids mothers is a journalist/publisher/slave to the media merry-go-round. She requested the attendance of three foreign faces to appear on a Korean TV show. She has recently published a book by a monk. The book is about temple food. So, to market the book she got a slot on a famous TV show. The show, weekly, is about foreigners trying Korean food and commenting on it.

So, off we went to a beautiful temple up in the hilly part of northern Seoul. We learnt how to bow Buddhist style. Then we picked vegetables from the garden, prepared them, watched them being cooked and finally, of course, ate them. All on camera. We were interviewed at different stages as we tried the ingredients raw. 50 year old soy sauce straight from it's fermenting and awfully smelling brewing pot outside. Quite a smell. Also some soup paste. Smelt like a number 2 trip to the bathroom, but tasted good.

The eating process was very interesting. We were informed NO SPEAKING NO EYE CONTACT and NO NOISE whilst eating. And most importantly, don't let anything go to waste. So much so that we cleaned the bowls with a large piece of fresh radish. Very interesting indeed.

The day was made all the more interesting as we were joined by 4 European monks. One of which, from Poland, was acting like a movie star. Walking away from the camera, demanding to speak to the producer etc etc. Very amusing.

This will be it now for another 6 months or so. Bye bye again blog.....

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Where the hell do you think you have been?"

 A nice view of thriving modern city, from an old vintage setting.

OK...... been a while huh? Yeah yeah yeah, I know, I said I had all these big ideas for my blog once I got back to Korea, like the format would be refreshed, enthralling and dripping with juicy, plump originality etc. But hey, what can I do? Sometimes things pan out differently against ones will. This will be my excuse. Things changed.

Some of you lucky enough to be really close to me, haha, will know that I have given my all to studying Korean. For those of you that aren't lucky enough to be close to me, and had no idea that was what I was doing, well, that is what I have been doing. I have spent on average 4/5 hours a day studying. Why? Because my brain isn't as efficient as others and I need to put in the extra work to get the same results as those others, with those natural absorbing brains, I hate those people.

I'll use this as an example. You know car oil? Well, I'm the cheap stuff you buy in a local garage, usually in the bright yellow plastic bottle, and other people, they're the GX, Multi Action, Super lubricating car oil, that comes packaged in the bomb proof, sexy silver bottles, and costs thrice as much (also comes with a free packet of XXX strong mints).

Struggling to think about things that would possibly interest you about the past month or so. Instead I will brief you briefly on the next week or so. Tomorrow I have my final test, and it's the mother of all tests, SPEAKING. Thursday is graduation. Friday, move out of my mini house/room. Saturday, take a boat ride to Fukuoka, Japan, in order to get my visa. Take some pictures, walk around and take it all in. Wednesday, come back. Thursday, start work. Friday, sign contract for new house. Get keys. Saturday, find a bed, fridge, sofa, chair, table, desk, cabinets, washing machine, toilet roll, in other words, my house has nothing...... Sunday, hopefully get very excited about my new house, whilst rummaging around cleaning and arranging. But, possibly, will discover things here and there that I didn't discover when I looked around first off. Example, when I moved into my house last year, I discovered that there wasn't a sink in the bathroom. Quite a shock at first, but soon adapted.

OK.... Here's a quick demo of where my Korean is at. I wrote this to my Korean friend, who lives in London. In Korean it says.......... (English Below)

지금은 홍대 PC빙에서 이메일을 써요. 오늘 공부하러 학교에갔어. 재미있어서 기분이좋아. 이본주에 복숩수업 많이 있어. 왜냐하면 다음주 화요일부터 듣기하고 쓰기하고 읽기하고 말하기 시험이 있어. 그 다음에 학기를 끝날거예요. 반 친구는 친절하고 재미있어서 보고싶어요. 그런데 일주일에 반 친구를 한번 만나려고 해요. 아마더
오늘 비가 오서 모두사람은 우산을 가지고왔어. 오늘 영국날씨가 어댔서???
한국날씨하고 영국날씨 중에서 어디가 더좋아요?
영국이 한국보다 날씨가 더 좋아요.

Now, I'm in a PC room, in Hongdae, writing an email. Today I went to school in order to study. It was interesting, so I'm feeling good. This week I have lots of review classes because next week, from Tuesday, I have listening, writing, reading and speaking tests. After that my course will finish. My class friends are fun, I will miss them. But, I plan to meet them once week, maybe more.
Today, it's raining, so everyone brought their umbrellas. What was the weather like in the United Kingdom today?
Which is better, Korean or British weather?
I prefer British weather to Korean weather........

Not bad huh??? Wrote this in about 20 mins.....

Much Love to all.....

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

25.2cm. 70 year record broken.


Well, had quite an eventful few days. In fact I have been apart of Korean history. On Monday it snowed 25.2cm, which is the deepest snowfall in 70 years. I woke up to, what I thought was a large amount, and a large percentage of this 25.2cm, but then it snowed for the entire day, and just spiraled out of control. I have never seen such cumbersome snowflakes. It’s like you could actually feel them hitting the ground. Luckily there wasn’t any wind, if so, I think I would have cried. I left the house with damp hair, and this soon froze in the outside conditions. The usual hustle and bustle of a Monday morning rush had been replaced with a delicate silence as the crunching of snow bellowed from underneath the wheels of cars. People shuffled and murmured their way to work, probably feeling a little romantic, and nostalgia for winter festivities just passed, in comparison to their usual commute.

As I sat in my class, the snow fell in true fairytale style. A small break every now and then, gave opportunity for thought, but the snow pretty much consistently worked its way down through my peripheral vision. My class is on the 10th floor, so it was even more dramatic, as we floated within the storm. As our class finished we made our way outside to the snow caressed streets. Men and women of all ages had been, and still were, busy at work, clearing pathways for pedestrians. Huge banks of snow created tunnels that worked their way along the pavements. Women still maintained their elegance, strutting carefully in their heels, and men shuffled along aggressively in their suits and ties. Life carried on.

I took the opportunity to document the event by taking a few pictures. Just outside my apartment sat a procession of motorbikes that had sensibly been left aside for decoration. Now, was certainly not the time to be working your way, from A to B, on a motorbike. This gave me a creative opening.

The day passed, without anymore snow fall. Tuesday arrives, and the snow remains. Temperatures remain low, very low. The snow is slowly solidifying and becoming slushy on impact and icey on the edges. Conditions are worsening. Cars seem more confident, but are more vulnerable than ever. The confidence in the suited men and the elegance of the heeled women has been replaced with a general cautiousness, as every step is carefully chosen and delicately executed. The sign of things to come I feel, as the winter of Korea is very much in a full empathic swing.

Friday, January 01, 2010

2009-2010 Transition




I think I should start of with correcting my last blog. I said I was off to research into my New Years Revolutions. HAHA, obviously I meant to say resolutions. Thanks Wizzo, for pointing that one out.

Maybe, we should all up the game a touch and  embrace a little revolutionary thinking around Christmas, instead of just eating our way through quality street, nuts and various flapping game birds. Not a serious suggestion at all.

I don’t have any specifically mouth watering resolutions this year. Always seem to make some kind of promise to myself, unofficially, and then officially forget it a few weeks later. Anyone know why this whole New Years Resolution gimmick started? Heading off now to research.

OK, so New Years Resolutions all began with the Babylonians approximately 4,000 years ago. News Years Day used to be March 23rd. This date will have significant interested to my friend Rick. He loves the number 23. Add this one to the collection of coincidences Mr Politz. 

Small piece of exciting news. I have gone through this conversation with so many people, that can’t remember if I have mentioned this before, but anyway, I have signed up for another year at the school I spent two years at. Easy decision in the end. I have spent a day or two there, over the last few weeks, just to hang out, and my mind cruised its way to the decision. So, come end of February, I will make a small visa run to Japan and begin working early March. Also, my very close friend Rick, will be joining the Korean Revolution at the same time, and if all goes to plan, which it usually does in Korea, then we’ll be living together again. Coverton Road, part 2.


My News Years Eve was very tame, enjoyable, chilly (in regards to weather), and warm (in regards to company). I spent the day with a new friend Dooki. Actual name Doori, but changed the –ri- to –ki- because that’s the noise she makes when she laughs. Fairly simple stuff.

We took a little tour of some popular spots around town for some window shopping, lunch, coffee, chilly wind dodging and picture taking. As the day grew older the temperature got severely close to ruining my ability to walk, think and speak. Some people were throwing the minus 16 mark around. I can clarify, safely, that it was definitely cold. As the evening hours ticked closer we decided to start forming a plan. Food and a couple of drinks was the obvious choice, so we decided to do just that. We found a rather repulsive place in a very nice area. The picture you see below is what was left over from our sausage, mash and chip platter type dish. The dish was ruined beyond all possible sensible judgements of taste by a repulsive sauce, that can only be described as a mixture of three or four over salted, over spiced, over peppered unnameable ingredients, by a very excited novice chef, in a kitchen of no culinary experience or guidance. At a glance at this place, Gordon Ramsey would have chopped of his right arm, diced it, lightly grilled it in some olive oil, served it on a bed of sesame leaves, rocket, cherry tomatoes and a drizzle of swear words directed at anyone brave enough to associate them with this dish, I promise you!!  

We ate it all, for some reason.....???!!!!!?!?!?!

Anyway, we ate, as we had paid, and drank, because it was New Years Eve, and then left, because of the food, and headed for the nearest place that had heating and NO, sausage, chip, potato, chef, kitchen or menu in sight. At around 11:30 we joined a very small group of friends for the midnight champagne moment. We all raised our glasses, clunked them, cheered, smiled, hugged, kissed and got back to our conversations. We were all in good spirits, and more significantly, a tame mood. Nobody wanted to wake up feeling like a 20 year old freshman, so we polished off our bottle of champagne and red wine and headed our separate ways, before the clock had struck 1:45am. Good work. Maturity paid off as Kyle and I had an absolutely delightful first lunch of 2010. We sat down for a large portion of Shabu Shabu, at around 1:30pm. This entire lunch sitting was all the confirmation we needed that heading home at a sensible hour, was indeed, as mentioned, the mature thing to do. See how long that mindset lasts. 
 
The Goodbye 2009 congregation. Minus the Photographer, ME....



Hope you all celebrated New Years Eve as you wished. Much love for the year ahead. Here’s to 2010.

Happy 2010, from Doo-ki


Sunday, December 27, 2009

The last few weeks have passed.


 
Little bit of snow 


I'm dreadfully sorry for the lack of updating. I have been awfully busy with adapting to the monstrosity that is the climate of this country. That has had me on the back foot for the last 7 days (originally wrote this a week ago, so sickness was actually 2 weeks ago now). Sunday morning I woke to the feeling of a regular hangover that would be issued to any normal foolish person that drinks too much, of this, that and the other. Thing is, this time, I had a very sombre, tranquil and neatly paced evening.

We kicked off with some nicely fried and spiced chicken drum sticks with a few chilled beers, then onto a birthday party at a house, with a couple of cans of chilled beers, then final stop, two more beers before bed. Went home feeling fine. Woke up feeling like I had spent the entire previous day and a half swimming 20 metres down in a pool of Scottish, forty year old, whiskey. My head felt like there was a sand bag, or two, sitting at the back of my sore strewn head. Lifting these sand bags wasn’t easy and resulted in very little movement from around 6am-11am. Then someone kindly sent me a message on my phone. I picked it up and opened my eyes. The result was an instant spin of the innards of my skull and then a very urgent dash to the kneeling position, around my ‘loo’, in my bathroom. The next few hours followed in this pattern, with any light exertion of my eyes, head or brain causing panic and muscle excitement from neck to waist.

Basically I had been struck down with something nasty. The headache stayed for a couple of days, as did the stomach muscle strains. The sickness was just for the Sunday. The next few days saw me hitting the Korean health sections in the corner shops. Stocking up on Ginseng juices, soups, candies, granules, etc etc. Saturday morning arrived and all was well.

Despite this fall in spirits I managed to have a very productive week of studying. Confidence was very high during this week. Still speaking like a 4 year old Korean, but still enjoying the classes and the life of a language student. My week goes something like this…….

Monday to Friday – Wake up at 8:45. Breakfast, shower, leave around 9:15. Get to school for about 9:30-9:40 – depending on weather I have bought a coffee on route or not. 10:00-11:00 speaking and grammar class. 11:00-12:00 more speaking and listening. 12:00-13:00 reading, listening and little bit of writing. 1:15 go to the University restaurant for some very decent and cheap food with a few of the students from my class. Once lunch is done then it’s off to a coffee shop for 1-2, or maybe, like today, 3 hours of studying.

So that is standard scheduling. Morning till evening is set aside for studying, evenings go as follows.
Monday night – language exchange with two Koreans. 45 minutes in Korean, for me, then, 45 minutes in English, for them.
Tuesday night – no plans. Usually get to together with a couple of mates for dinner and catch up.
Wednesday – round two of language exchange with two Koreans, as mentioned above.
Thursday – two hours of teaching English to a Korean.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as true as us western folk are I leave this open for festivities away from studying/work, although the more I drink, the less I want to drink, so might be occupying these leisure hours with something a little more brain powered. What a change that would be?!!

It’s now Christmas Day morning (now I’m editing this on Sunday evening, 27th). I had written most of this blog last week (and been editing it ever since), but then delayed publishing it as I wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas. Today I will be having a very traditional Christmas, Korean style (I did). In Korea families don’t really get together, it’s more of a couples event. I don’t have a partner these days, so to have a traditional Korean Christmas was looking like an unlikely option. But then two nights ago (actually now 4 nights ago, as I’m editing) I was chatting to a lovely Korean lady in a bar and we decided it would be nice for all involved if we met on Christmas Day for lunch. So, I have a date on Christmas Day (It went well). Everyone back home will find this very peculiar, but as they say, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”.

Up to present time now. Boxing Day was relaxed and productive. I went and bought an electronic dictionary to assist in my journey of learning another language. It has helped me immensely already. Boxing Day afternoon I went to a coffee shop and utilised it successfully. Then again today, I went to a coffee shop and got some educational usage out of it. Very useful indeed.

Today, Sunday, I went to a new shopping bonanza, in Seoul, called Times Square. It’s a department store, come entertainment village, of epic proportions. The first thing I thought on arrival was, North Korea really did make the wrong choice back in the 50’s. It’s a ridiculous exhibition of wealth and class. My goodness, I have never been so gob-smacked, at such glutinous, but gorgeously stylistic shopping mall-esc architecture. I got a few snaps, here are a couple just to give you a taste. 



Very questionable, but equally interesting sculpture, outside one of the many entrances and exits.


Week ahead consists of more studying and electronic dictionary usage, and of course some research into some New Years revolutions.

What are yours?

The last few weeks have passed.


 
Little bit of snow 


I'm dreadfully sorry for the lack of updating. I have been awfully busy with adapting to the monstrosity that is the climate of this country. That has had me on the back foot for the last 7 days (originally wrote this a week ago, so sickness was actually 2 weeks ago now). Sunday morning I woke to the feeling of a regular hangover that would be issued to any normal foolish person that drinks too much, of this, that and the other. Thing is, this time, I had a very sombre, tranquil and neatly paced evening.

We kicked off with some nicely fried and spiced chicken drum sticks with a few chilled beers, then onto a birthday party at a house, with a couple of cans of chilled beers, then final stop, two more beers before bed. Went home feeling fine. Woke up feeling like I had spent the entire previous day and a half swimming 20 metres down in a pool of Scottish, forty year old, whiskey. My head felt like there was a sand bag, or two, sitting at the back of my sore strewn head. Lifting these sand bags wasn’t easy and resulted in very little movement from around 6am-11am. Then someone kindly sent me a message on my phone. I picked it up and opened my eyes. The result was an instant spin of the innards of my skull and then a very urgent dash to the kneeling position, around my ‘loo’, in my bathroom. The next few hours followed in this pattern, with any light exertion of my eyes, head or brain causing panic and muscle excitement from neck to waist.

Basically I had been struck down with something nasty. The headache stayed for a couple of days, as did the stomach muscle strains. The sickness was just for the Sunday. The next few days saw me hitting the Korean health sections in the corner shops. Stocking up on Ginseng juices, soups, candies, granules, etc etc. Saturday morning arrived and all was well.

Despite this fall in spirits I managed to have a very productive week of studying. Confidence was very high during this week. Still speaking like a 4 year old Korean, but still enjoying the classes and the life of a language student. My week goes something like this…….

Monday to Friday – Wake up at 8:45. Breakfast, shower, leave around 9:15. Get to school for about 9:30-9:40 – depending on weather I have bought a coffee on route or not. 10:00-11:00 speaking and grammar class. 11:00-12:00 more speaking and listening. 12:00-13:00 reading, listening and little bit of writing. 1:15 go to the University restaurant for some very decent and cheap food with a few of the students from my class. Once lunch is done then it’s off to a coffee shop for 1-2, or maybe, like today, 3 hours of studying.

So that is standard scheduling. Morning till evening is set aside for studying, evenings go as follows.
Monday night – language exchange with two Koreans. 45 minutes in Korean, for me, then, 45 minutes in English, for them.
Tuesday night – no plans. Usually get to together with a couple of mates for dinner and catch up.
Wednesday – round two of language exchange with two Koreans, as mentioned above.
Thursday – two hours of teaching English to a Korean.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as true as us western folk are I leave this open for festivities away from studying/work, although the more I drink, the less I want to drink, so might be occupying these leisure hours with something a little more brain powered. What a change that would be?!!

It’s now Christmas Day morning (now I’m editing this on Sunday evening, 27th). I had written most of this blog last week (and been editing it ever since), but then delayed publishing it as I wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas. Today I will be having a very traditional Christmas, Korean style (I did). In Korea families don’t really get together, it’s more of a couples event. I don’t have a partner these days, so to have a traditional Korean Christmas was looking like an unlikely option. But then two nights ago (actually now 4 nights ago, as I’m editing) I was chatting to a lovely Korean lady in a bar and we decided it would be nice for all involved if we met on Christmas Day for lunch. So, I have a date on Christmas Day (It went well). Everyone back home will find this very peculiar, but as they say, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”.

Up to present time now. Boxing Day was relaxed and productive. I went and bought an electronic dictionary to assist in my journey of learning another language. It has helped me immensely already. Boxing Day afternoon I went to a coffee shop and utilised it successfully. Then again today, I went to a coffee shop and got some educational usage out of it. Very useful indeed.

Today, Sunday, I went to a new shopping bonanza, in Seoul, called Times Square. It’s a department store, come entertainment village, of epic proportions. The first thing I thought on arrival was, North Korean really did make the wrong choice back in the 50’s. It’s a ridiculous exhibition of wealth and class. My goodness, I have never been so gob-smacked, at us glutinous, but gorgeously stylistic shopping mall-esc architecture. I got a few snaps, here are a couple just to give you a taste. 



Very questionable, but equally interesting sculpture, outside one of the many entrances and exits.


Week ahead consists of more studying and electronic dictionary usage, and of course some research into some New Years revolutions.

What are yours?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Role Reversal



So, quite a big change of events today. I just got back from my first day, in over 5 years, as a student. I got flashbacks from my first day at University, in regards to that uncertainty feeling, the excitement of exploring empty classrooms and scanning the corridors of fresh student faces. My first job was to find the list of names. There are seven different levels of study, within each level there is an ‘a’ and ‘b’ level, and with anything from 5-15 in a class, you can imagine the amount of names floating around the walls. I found my name, it was standing out, due to its length. DENHOLM TOBY ALEXANDER. Not hard to find. It was sitting 3rd in a line-up of about 10. 903, was my classroom number, 9th floor. I had a breeze through my co-students names, studying them and trying to dissect them and conclude upon some nationalities. I’d been told that most of my co-students (past statistics have proven) would be Japanese.

Well, I would never have guessed the line-up. Our first task was to introduce ourselves, in Korean of course (NO ENGLISH in class time), so as we went around we all said our name and nationality and something extra, maybe an “I like” or “I don’t like”, just something simple. Anyway, as we went around we discovered the geographical diversity of our group. From left to right we have, an American, a Frenchman, an Austrian-Korean, a Korean-American, Me, an Australian, a Vietnamese lady, a Japanese lady, a Singaporean lady, a Danish-Korean and finally a Cuban man. Oh, please don’t forget the Korean teacher.

Amazing I thought.

Something else amazing was the role reversal I’d found myself in. For the past two years I had taught myself to be a teacher, then became one, and loved it beyond my wildest and most distant of dreams. Now, here I was, being the student, sitting back and watching a teacher, teach me. It did feel a little peculiar. There were moments when I was like, “I wish I was up there”, making little jokes, funny facial expressions, and strange shapes with my mouth, tongue and cheek bones, to convey to the audience the perfect phonetical deliverance. At the same time though, I was loving the simplicity of sitting back and being a sponge, absorbing this and that, jotting down things at my leisure. A nice reversal of roles, if you like.

Both of my teachers are lovely. One male and one female. The male was very relaxed and leisurely. His style expressed this. Some loose, beige, trousers, with a long sleeved, nicely fitted t-shirt with beach/ocean imagery. The lady was a little more abrupt, styled matched this, but with that, more expressional and dramatised in actions, AKA, fun…..

The content, of the textbooks we got, seems to be all stuff that I have studied on my own, in the past. It’s material that I’ve studied but always stumbled and eventually tripped upon when it comes to the crunch, conversation. My university is geared towards enhancing speaking ability, so laminating this, previously swatted knowledge, into my conversational nature, is the goal. Fingers crossed. 

No pictures yet.