Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Out and about or if you're Canadian ouut and abouut

So today had a few firsts, it was a confidence thing for me personally. I finally got up the guts to go to the grocery store by myself and mail a few cards at the PO. I wasn't sure how the language thing would be but it was quick and simple. The clerk even said "ah, Kurisumasue card?", I said "ne!"(yes!). It felt good to finally get out and about a little on my own. Ben has been a lot better about this than I. But honestly I'm just scared of getting lost and not having a cell phone or anything kinda makes me a little nervous. But thats life elsewhere, not everyone has a cell phone and it makes you realize just how dependant on gadgets and gizmos we are.

Even a short walk to the grocery store can be dangerous here, the traffic is a whole new breed. Taxis will run you over without a second thought and cars drive up on the side walk like they belong there in the first place.

Just this morning I was watching the hustle and bustle on the street corner below and a car came flying up onto the side walk just missing a guy who was walking out of an ATM booth. My heart actually skipped a few beaps. So even just walking down the side walk you're liable to get hit by a car. They also like to park their cars any and everywhere including the sidewalk.

My favorite so far was a guy who apparently needed to run into the PO for a sec and there was a car already in the parking spot in front of the PO. The PO being on his right and he needing to make a right hand turn then logically drive further down to find a spot, oh no, this guy makes 75% of the right hand turn and parks! He's practically in the intersection and somehow putting your blinker or flashers on makes it all ok! The funny part is that no here cares, do whatever it takes. If you don't fit into a parallel parking spot just park in the lane where other people are currently driving and put your flashers on and they'll figure it out eventually. The unfortunate person who came to a screeching halt behind the "parked" van began hilariously honking their horn until they realized the was no one in the van and drove around it. This was the case last night as we were strolling home. The honking here is incessant as well. Taxi's will honk at you to get your attention and if you're a pedestrian who happens to be crossing the street when your light is green they still honk as if you cut them off.

I'm so glad neither of us drives here. Walking is good for you...except if you get run over by a food delivery moped, or a bike, or a "lunch box" flying up onto the sidewalk. The "lunch box" referral is how Ben's school director refers to the little cars, don't know exactly what they are called. They are literally the size of a tuna can and would do just as good if they were in an accident. Mr. Lee is very proud of his expensive car with ALL the bells and whistles including 2 TV/DVD players, heated seats for all, and a rear view back up camera. That one in particular should be mandatory around here considering the small kids that run about the streets. They dash across streets and run behind cars all the time. Sadly they probably get hit more often then I care to think about. There is a commercial on TV right now that is all about what to do if you hit someone. It's way over done but kind of disturbing, they show several scenarios mostly of hitting kids and then I think the idea is to call that company and they know how to get you off the hook for 5 or 10 million won. Apparently instead of dealing with authorities and the like here its easiest to just pay up so thats what we've heard people do.

So after I made it safely home I was in a the mood to cook so I spent the afternoon making ginger chicken. I found a recipe in an American magazine I'd brought with me. It sounded good and I had all the ingredients so I set to work. Its not easy preparing and cooking food in a kitchen that would fit in your coat closet. The ginger chicken part turned out great, better then expected actually with fresh local veggies. The rice to go with the ginger chicken, well, that was a complete and utter flop to say the least. It was also my first attempt at making Korean sticky rice and let me tell you there is an art to the whole thing. I got 85% of it right but it was the end part where I lost track and the bottom burned and I must have added a bit to much water cause the top part was too sticky. At least now I have a better idea of what I'm going for next time. It takes a while to make because in the winter months the instructions say you have to soak the rice for 1-2 hours. Part of the trick too is just using your instincts, even the recipe I looked up online said that. Just dump water in by the feel, at first your like really?!? But honestly it makes sense cause thats how I learned to cook, from my dear mother who doesn't like to use recipes. It's all about how it looks, feels, tastes, smells, thats how REAL cooks do it. So I'm working on it, someday I'll be that good but it takes lots of mistakes and I've made plenty of those so I'm hoping I get better sooner then later.

The selection of fresh veggies I got just got at the store: green pepper, garlic, scallions, broccoli stalk, broccoli florets, and the star ingredient fresh ginger.

The final product.

I realize my day was quite ordinary but I'm just reporting as I see and experience life here. Ben's been pretty tired so I said I'd blog this week. He had to be at school early today for a meeting at noon so thats a 10 hour day right there. The work schedule is just so not what we've been used to for so long. We are sleeping in later cause we're up later, he needs time to unwind when he comes home and by then is 1-1:30am, he gets up about 10-10:30 and then has a few hours to shoot the breeze until he has to head off to school about 1:30. We haven't been sleeping very well this week either so thats not helping matters. This morning I woke up at 6am to the disgusting sound of someone most likely having had to much Soju... I was doing any and everything to plug my ears. Not sure how or why that woke me out of a dead sleep but it did. Welcome to Korea!

Well thats about it for today...sorry about leaving that on a nasty note, literally but I can't think of anything else tonite. I'm still working on my paper decor too...stay tuned for pics!


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