She needs to get to the other side of the country for the forseeable future. Her shot of getting out of poverty just got completely taken away due to another person’s mental illness – completely out of her control. She now needs to go live with a friend but that means money, and she’s down to .30 in her pocket.
Today I woke up, slightly in a bad mood due to a little annoying dream plus lack of sleep due to a stupid cough I still have after my last cold a few weeks ago. It limits my sleep, no matter how early I go to bed. I was also excited because I can start my TEFL today, more info on that later. I was going to write a post about it today but I’m too angry to see straight.
I woke up, showered, turned on the computer and saw the bad news about the Boston Marathon potential terrorist attack.
I was horrified. I have a friend in Boston, although he wasn’t anywhere near the scene. The fact that people were just running for whatever personal reason, trying to be healthy, and BAM. Attacks that can leave some of them from ever running again just sickens me. Then, a group I subscribe to posted this video on twitter. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW4x5COCpmo
I couldn’t even make it through the 50% part. It’s set. I am an atheist. I am a PROUD atheist who will TAKE DOWN religion in my own little way. I will use all the wits and proof I have to make sure that people realize that religion is a virus that must be eradicated. I don’t even care who knows right now – mother, father, grandparents. Religion must be made history as fast as possible.
Fuck Christianity. Fuck Jesus and God.
Fuck Islam. Fuck Mohammad. Fuck Allah
These two plagues are the first that need to be wiped out ASAP. Don’t like my words? Wanna punish me? Kill me? THAT is why your religion needs to die.
I haven’t updated since November. Why? Well, an addiction to gaming has kept me from doing so, plus the fact that this blog isn’t all that high on my priority list. I do it because sometimes my family reads it, sometimes it’s just to remember what has happened as my memory for the past is near nonexistent after 3 years or so.
So, this post will be about what happened over the winter, as best as I can remember it.
Christmas was nice, I got to spend it with my family over Skype. I was a disembodied phone to them. To me, it was almost like being right back there. I got to see them open my gifts, which had come just in time for my mother to wrap them (I wrapped hers so she didn’t know, but didn’t have enough wrapping paper or room in the box for wrapped up gifts). My niece got a Korean alphabet book, a cool pencil case, and a whole, real Hanbok. I gave my mother a small mother-of-pearl box, and my grandmother some fun slippers and hair pins. My brothers and dad and grandfather got some interesting Korean snacks (including dried fish and squid).
January, I saved money like crazy, knowing what was coming in February. I went to New Zealand.
It was fun, and pretty relaxing as I stayed with a friend, she drove everywhere, met other friends of ours, and hung out. We went up to see Matamata (AKA Hobbiton), a white sand beach and a black sand beach, through mountain ranges and right by a volcano. We hit Rotorua, Wellington and Weta Workshops “cave”, and we stayed with her family friends in a few places as well just outside of towns we were visiting, and we even did some couchsurfing.
I ate. Lots. Insanely lots. My friends fed me to the point where I was sick of food. Holy cow did I find I missed really real french fries. Meat pies. Sushi. Real fresh beef. Huge bars of chocolate. Unpasturized milk. The list went on and on. Upon coming home, I seriously didn’t eat much except chips for the day.
Upon coming home, I also met a friend who had just moved to Hamyang, she was in town for only another night or two, and we had been talking on Youtube comments for a little while before she did. She had just married a man in this town and was moving here for that. We went out, but everything was closed so we didn’t get to do too much. Just look at her new apartment and take a walk around town. That’s it for this post. Next – start of the school year, more recent events, and more food recipies!
Admittedly, I’ve had a tough week, until yesterday which happened to be Friday, and also happened to be Thanksgiving, sorta – at least, the morning of Friday was Thursday food time in America. All of the English teachers in and around Hamyang got together into one of teacher’s apartments which happened to be a little larger than the norm. Some people brought bread, cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad, mac and cheese, and even stuffing. I brought pumpkin pie and some honey turkey slices – which happened to be the only turkey at the party so it went over really well. The party lasted well beyond 11pm, when i finally left, and a great time was had by all! I also discovered a coffee shop below one of the teachers’s apartments that was owned by a Italian guy I – astoundingly – already knew about from a message I had gotten only days earlier. Italian guy in Hamyang who happened to be a Couchsurfer, whom a friend of his had found me through the site, then I happen to go to his cafe I was told about only days earlier like I said. Strange how the world works.
The next day, things got even better. I had been having an off and on minor headache/toothache that was annoying but bearable -but I hadn’t been to a dentist in almost two years. A year before coming to Korea, because i had no dental insurance and nowhere near enough money for a basic cleaning, much less the one or two cavities I knew that needed fillings. And then, being uncomfortable with finding a dentist here in Korea when I didn’t know if they could speak English, gave me more pause. So i waited until they became a problem, which in this last week had just started showing signs of doing so. So, I asked the English teachers in the area, one was recommended for me whom spoke basically decent English, and I went in today (Saturday!) and got an immediate appointment. I was concerned about money, because it was not the 25th so I had no money yet to pay. He waved it off, and said “don’t worry about it”. After a small consultation, he informed me that I had SIX cavities (Oh god. I knew about two, thought by now I’d have three, but SIX?) Four on one side, two on the other. He said he could fix the ones on the left side first, all at once, and I said OK. He did the work and it seems to be okay (My mouth is still adjusting). I needed no numbing agent, he just had me raise my hand if I felt pain. I felt very little pain – less than I remembered from having two cavities a long time ago. I was surprised when it was done.
Then, the dentist asked, very politely, if I could help him with a personal issue. I know, you think “What….” considering the words sound rather strange in such a context and us Americans would automatically think “what does he wanna do with me” in a sexual context, but this is Korea – and people wanna study their English. Badly. So when i get asked a question such s that, I know immediately that it is because people want help with their English. I agreed, and went into his office with him, where we sat down at a computer and TV setup, and he pulled out detailed, DETAILED notes, all in English. The notes were about videos, and until the videos started, I wasn’t sure what the notes were about. Turns out, they are the English words from Discovery Health and BBC scientific shows. This man listens to those shows and writes down every single word he hears. However, there were of course bits and pieces that he couldn’t understand – but VERY few. I was amazed. So what he wanted from me was to clear up the words so he could hear them properly. I did so of course- this man had just given me the USA equivalent of $800 worth of dental services – for FREE! So if he wanted a trade of my English services for his services….uh, NO PROBLEM. * (I just need to make a little note here, that I was not paid for my service, and it was not set up prior. It was goodwill traded for goodwill only and it would have been insanely rude of me to not help the man. This note is provided for those who may say I’ve done something illegal, but in this case, I was not paid so it is not.) *
I still have two more teeth to fill, and so I intend to go back next weekend and if he needs more help, I’ll provide it. I am really surprised that there is not much in the way of English speaking opportunities for adults in Hamyang. The hagwons are for kids here, not adults. So the adults must trade services or perhaps innocently ask questions on the street. If you’re new to Korea – be aware. People will suddenly start talking to you in English, and all they want to do, seriously ALL they want to do, is use their English. Us USA people would be very scared, and trust me, I still am (I AM from one of the two most dangerous cities in the USA) but I am slowly learning that I don’t need to automatically think that these people wanna “get with me” or distract me into a dangerous scenario.
Anyway, after making a quick stop at the Kimo mart to grab some “weekend food” (Junk food. Yeah, after the dentist. Smart, I know). Two bags of chips and a milk soda. And that’s when my favorite cashier told me that I had accumulated the points needed to get the 5000 won discount. So a 5200 won bill became 200 won. Nice! I go home, and check the normal things, facebook, etc. Then I got curious to know how much I had in my account (Which I knew was less than 13000 won) and discovered that I’ve been paid 2 days early!
This past two days has been Win.
I’m not gonna say “I’ve been busy”. No. That doesn’t describe it nearly correctly. Truthfully, since I returned from Japan my life has been rather crazy, flipped around, and put back upside down. Emotionally. It’s been constrained time-wise at work, and at home I’ve spend many of my night in World of Warcraft. Then, a recent emotional upset, training that I need to do, financial worries for the third month in a row, and trying to plan for future pretty much barely describes the past weeks since my last post. So, let me update you all a little.
When I got back from Japan, I was on an emotional HIGH. Seeing the places which I had wanted to see, eating the food that I have never found to be anything less than amazing, meeting the friend I’ve known for somewhere around 10 years…to say the least, I was energized to make a big life change and finally commit to learning Japanese properly for an eventual move there.
School started again, and after the first week, everything settled again into place. I told my co-teacher that I decided to learn Japanese and wanted to move there in a few years, after Korea. She surprised the hell out of me when she said she wanted to learn Japanese too. We instantly started making plans to teach ourselves Japanese with the help of my friend in Japan. He agreed to help us, and bam, a plan was formed.
In the meantime, we had only two weeks to do four weeks worth of learning for the entire school. We all went into zoom mode, making chapter-wide lesson plans to fit within 45 minutes and a revelation hit me on how to exert better control over the kids and give the teachers the time they so desperately needed. I started the new system the next week, and all but two classes have responded quite well to it. It was a necessary change in order to teach what I needed to teach and allows me to punish in a way that I personally am comfortable with, and the other teachers are comfortable with. In the MEANTIME, I had to teach a class with the principal, vice principal, and all three English teachers there watching. I had to make up an exacting lesson plan, and do it to a T. Unfortunately, while I was OK going in, my nerves overcame me at first, but I think I rescued myself after a few minutes and got through the class okay. We shall see – the watchers and ratings they gave will determine if I have a job with EPIK next year, if I understand correctly.
The same week, the new expansion for World of Warcraft was released. I spent a week ahead of time, preparing my characters and farming for herbs and ore, not so I could play, but to put up on the auctionhouse so others could buy it. I wasn’t able to play the new part of my game myself due to the next issue.
I was completely and totally out of money. Back a few weeks ago, I ended up in the hospital 4 times in four days due to an extreme pain in my side (So bad that one of the days, I was throwing up due to the pain). While I have insurance which pays 50%, the other 50% when I only had an extra $200 in my account I had just barely started to save up, well that sure didn’t help matters. Not only did I have to pay that, but I had to pay to go to Jinju for extra testing, Xray, CT scan, Ultrasound, till they found the issue. Kidney stones. I then had to bring out my maxed credit card to pay for it since I had just spent my last $200 on the last 3 days in the hospital, and of course I have to pay all of it off Now since the card was maxed. Add that onto the $200 phone bill I had from needing it in Japan, and yeah. Out of money. I had to borrow some just to have food money. So after I got paid again, paid off the phone bill, electric, etc and borrowed money and sent the money I needed to the USA account, I then had to save $500 so I can go on a trip to Seoul later this month for mandatory training. Which means…I have a total of $46 to last me one month. That’s for food. $46. It’s October 3rd and I’ve spent $26 already. I still have to have money to get to Seoul. Yeah this isn’t gonna work. Hence financial worries. I’ll have to borrow again.
Then, to the last two days. found out an old roommate of mine committed suicide. AND I found out I had to do a lot of online training before I go to Seoul…and I’m a little behind. AND I am still trying to learn Japanese and Korean at the same time.
I’ll see you all in a month. That is when I think I’ll be able to post again, and have some interesting things to talk about from my training in Seoul.
My newest video: Jirisan Park with my co-workers. This is an unlisted video due to the people I am showing in it. http://youtu.be/pL33h-KD5AU No need to explain the video here, I explain it all at the end of the video.
As far as other things, I am planning a huge trip around Korea and Japan! My coworker from one of my last jobs, someone whom I’ve worked with for 5+ years, will be coming to Korea and Japan with me. Here’s the general layout for those who care.
Seoul 3 days
Yeosu (Expo)/ Suncheon 2.5 days
Busan 2 days
Hiroshima 2 days
Kyoto 2 days
Tokyo 2 days
Then we come home, however Janet stays in my town for 5 more days total and goes home at that point. Quite the whirlwind tour of Korea and Japan, don’t you think? Obviously, I’ve been staying home, doing very little in order to save up for this trip. That’s why there’s been no posts, nothing to comment on! And there probably won’t be another post until after the vacation too. No worries, pictures galore will be posted on various sites and linked here so you can see everything. I’ll even take some practical “how to get around” pictures for all you noobs like me out there.
It’s been a while, due to not having much to talk about. I ran out of money to do fun stuff. Now I’ve been paid, but I can’t do much fun stuff cause of the upcoming plan to visit Japan. Trust me, you’ll hear more about that soon enough.
Today, I hope to give a bit more info about bringing birds to Korea. A poster contacted me and wanted to know more, despite being from Canada so the process is a little different. I will share with you all here what I researched to help you find a bit more info yourself and maybe it will help with getting paperwork ready in Canada or the USA.
Getting Birds Ready / Finding a Vet
Go talk to your vet starting with a minimum of 2 months before your trip, preferably 3 months. They may need time to get the paperwork in, call around to find out how to do it correctly, and perhaps they may even need to call that vet that I went to, to get clarification. Be aware…they may need to make long distance calls to Korea and to the USA in that case, prepare to pay for those calls. As I mentioned, I paid $300 for their time and effort (Worth every penny) PLUS, the USDA stamp needed ($12ish), PLUS later, the Airline fee for just having a pet with me as one of my allowed carry-ons. I’d go to them, ask if they:
1. Deal with birds in the first place. Find one that does before you say anything more to anyone.
2. Ask if they do microchipping and can (or are willing to) do microchipping with birds. I was lucky, my vet was almost out of regular dog/cat microchips so they ordered the mini microchips and the special gun for them special for me, which worked out for them too. Your vet may need to do the same, or perhaps they can get one on loan from a vet that already has a mini gun. MAKE SURE THEY GET THE INTERNATIONAL VERSION OF MICROCHIPS!!! Also, be aware – vets that deal with birds may have never microchipped a bird before. Mine was willing to try it and had years and years of experience so I was willing to trust her. She did it right – birds didn’t complain or pick at the spot where they were injected…I actually doubt they felt it much at all. I microchipped my birds 2 months before my trip. The vet, upon doing the health certificate just before my trip, checked to make sure the microchips hadn’t moved and that it was ‘secure”.
3. Are ABLE TO DO veterinary certificates of health in the first place. If they are a stand-up place, they should be able to, but this matters because the USDA/CFIA may have issues with less commonly known vet places. My vet has been operating for years and years and years.
Korean Regulations for birds is surprisingly a pretty light read. The commenter had asked if there was a quarantine for birds. The answer is NO, as long as you have the health certificate/quarantine letter and APHIS (And Cites, if you’re bringing a non-common bird) paperwork. Here is the link to the direct webpage. http://www.nvrqs.go.kr/eng/rese_quarantine_02.asp?pageNumber=3-0
-Airlines only accept certain crates. I got a hard sided one that was about 8″ high. Asiana accepted it, Delta – nope. In fact, no such case is made that Delta will accept, stupidly. When looking at bird crates, some will say “Airline Approved”. It means that MAYBE one airline will accept it, not all. Here’s the one I bought. http://www.birdsupplies.com/airline-approved-bird-carriers/ although I got mine from Ebay for a little cheaper. It worked pretty well for my birds.
This page may also be helpful to some, it has more general info about airlines, then skip the quarantine section. Go to the section about birds and from there, the rest is good info to keep in mind. http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/GK/GK_EN_2_1_4.jsp
Arrival in Korea
While I asked my recruiter for information about bringing birds, she wasn’t all that helpful with what she was able to find. Basically the info she found was the exact info i’ve pointed you to, which I had already looked at as well. So I had called the Quarantine office to get more info, and they gave me the document that I will attach below which mayor may not help you, but at least it’s from the Incheon quarantine office, which you will be visiting when you land in Seoul.
It’s kinda an open-air office, part of the normal airport. All you have to do is go to them, hand them all the forms and the little “airplane paper” they give you to declare what you’re bringing to Korea (And YES – you DO need to mark that little form in the little field where it says something about plants or animals.), and they go off for a bit, look at all the paperwork, get a supervisor or whatever, come back, mark the forms, ask a basic question or two and let you go on your way. That’s all they did with me!
- There is seed, but basic types, and really small, basically made for straight-bills like finches. There are pellets available at a store in Seoul, and they do ship, but the site isn’t in English. Millet doesn’t exist here, neither does cuttlebone. Bring lots. I know two bird store in the USA (Missouri and California) who will ship to Korea, as they know me or I’ve done ebay business with them in the recent past.
-Cages are tiny, made for no bigger than 2 budgies or 1 lovebird per cage. I managed to find the one large cage, and then i found one more large cage available on Gmarket (a site you will come to love).
-There are no such things as perches here, the kind you screw onto a side of a cage. What you get with the cage is the only thing available. I swear, Korea is set in the era of 30 years ago in terms of bird care. So, plan to bring some small natural perches (Assume no more than 12″ in length). Same goes for toys, HOWEVER there are tons and tons of art shops. I’m easily able to make bird toys from wooden chopsticks and bits of string and little plastic rings and such.
It’s Monday. I’m glad the weekend is over. It was fun, but exhausting and I’m sure it will take me a few days to recover. All cause I decided that it was damned well time that I learned how to use the bus transportation in this town, to get OUT of this town for a day.
So I went to the bus stop, stared at the map blankly for a few minutes, gave up trying to read it and asked the lady for a ticket to Jinju. She said “No jinju” and pointed me to the other bus terminal a little farther south….the out-of-town bus terminal. I was at the intra-town bus terminal. Oh. I didn’t know there were two. So I headed there, asked for a ticket to Jinju, asked when the next bus would leave (all of this with the help of my cell phone translator program, of course)…and rightfully confused the answer. Thankfully, a young high school kid asked if I needed help, and he clarified that the bus would come in 5 minutes. I got the ticket (A grand total of 6400 won – $5.75) and he pointed me to the correct point where the bus would arrive, and then when the bus pulled up – pointed out that the bus had “Hamyang – Jinju” right in the window. Oh. Cool! I am now glad that I can read, albeit very slowly, the Korean language.
Got on the bus with a few other people, we set off for Jinju, and I pointed my phone at the window, taking video and watching the beautiful mountains and streams fly by. Till I got carsick, that is. Kept my phone pointed at the window, closed my eyes, laid back, and told my stomach to calm the hell down. I shouldn’t have had those Pringles for breakfast.
Upon arriving in Jinju, I promptly sat my butt down and let my stomach calm for about 10 minutes, until I was able to get something substantial in my stomach. Oh look, a Lotteria right across the street from the terminal! Perfect! I go in, enjoy some fries, coke, and a chicken sandwich (Warning: Chicken here is eaten with skin on. I find it not all that great usually, but knew a burger wouldn’t have gone down quite as well).
…30 minutes later, I was lost in Jinju. Destination: Nowhere in particular. I walked around, then when I got tired, I asked a cabbie for directions to Emart. He pointed me down a street and I took off walking again, stopping at a Galleria. It was like being back in St. Louis for a few minutes. It was 8 levels tall, and only the size of a small K-mart in width/length. It was just as upscale, but nowhere near as nice looking (though they tried). After walking up and down the Galleria, I asked for directions to Emart again, and started down a whole different street. 15 minutes later, I was there. I walked in, expecting to see a Walmart (non-suspersize) or something. Gosh was I disappointed. It wasn’t even quite the size of a Kohl’s on the first level. There was two levels at least, but the second one – same size. That was it. THIS IS A BIG STORE HERE?!
Wanted: Friend to take video of a Walmart Supersize, a Lowe’s, and a Shop n Save or Dierbergs. (Look on facebook for more details). I can’t wait to show these people what big really means. I have a feeling the adults will be just as shocked.
After buying a few things at E-mart (Like chocolate syrup and vinegrette dressing), I left and then decided to go up the hill towards a interesting looking wall. Following it, I found out it was a open air memorial museum type place, and it was close to the main river running through Jinju. It was gorgeous, and I walked it for a little while, hanging out in the beautiful grounds overlooking the river. It was quiet, no cars or noise. It was a nice place to rest after walking so much.
Upon leaving, I pretty much just caught a cab and went back to the bus station, and headed home. The nice thing is? It started raining the moment I got on the bus. The bad part? Walking home in the rain, without a umbrella. I left for Jinju before it was even cloudy, so I didn’t know to bring one. Oh well, rain doesn’t hurt.
Next day – I went with a friend to her friend’s house. Her friends and her are Nepalese, NOT Korean (Although some are married to Koreans). I enjoyed playing with their four adorable little girls under the age of 4, speaking the little Korean to them that I knew, and drinking Chai tea (Something I missed sorely here, there is no Chai in this area of my country). They taught me how to make Chai, which is pretty easy, and I’m picking up some Chai leaves from my friend later this week. They made Nepalese food, which was BETTER THAN KOREAN but just about as spicy (hot) – although I could definitely taste the flavor more than I can with Korean food.
Side Note: Koreans don’t know how to make food spicy without ruining food. Simply put. They drown the food in red chili pepper sauce and serve it – that is all. I swear, someone needs to send a bunch of rural Korean cooks to France, or hell, even Mexico, to learn how to cook properly, with or without spice. The flavors get completely covered with red pepper and ruin the meal.
That about wraps up my weekend. It was a mess and a lot of walking, but fun. I think I’ll head back to Jinju in a few weeks, stop by a restaurant that isn’t in Hamyang, and head to LotteMart next. I have high hopes for that store, also considered large by Korean standards.
I haven’t written much this week, mainly due to lack of things to write about. I had sent most of my money home last month, which caused a problem of not having much money to spend on fun things. So I conserved it, only buying food and a few necessary basic shirts off a purchase site like Ebay, called Gmarket here. So, nothing really great to write about and I stuck myself indoors most of the time, so no weird things or meals planned or anything. Till Today – Payday! First thing I did was buy a bicycle, they were on sale and I’ve been eye-ing a specific one for months now. It’s white and purple and reminds me of a certain wheelchair I once owned and fixed up. I had a choice between 12 gears and 1 gear bikes, for a difference of only 10,000 won ($9). I took the 1 gear. I know what you’re thinking. WHAT? Well, here’s my reason. Hamyang is flat, save for a few tiny hills. It’s surrounded by mountains. I have no intention of mountain biking. I have no intention of using more than 3 of those gears total. Also, I’ve owned a 10 speed and a 3 speed. The 10 speed was worse to fix and get prepared every day. It may have just been that bike, but really, that old memory plus the fact that I didn’t need it, pretty much made the choice easy. So, I have a bike now!
I came home to find a very sick bird (Cockatiel). I called the vet…found he couldn’t speak English, and then had one of my co-teachers call. The guy said he didn’t help birds. DANG it…we had contacted him a month or so back, and his wife apparently said he helped birds. So we thought, GREAT! Well turns out his wife was mistaken. So no vet. We called others, no vet in this town deals with birds. We finally found one in Jinju, but it was too late in the day to go, so I went home to try and nurse my bird through the night so I could take him during the day.
Over the course of the night, I figured out the problem. Mold. I noticed that when I got closer to the window, his breathing, which was raggedy, panting, and clicking, got better when by it. I went outside with him, covered by my hand. He didn’t move, and his breathing got tons better instantly. I started looking for the source and discovered the problem. Some water had spilled in the cage apparently, and mold had started growing in the wood shavings. Also, I found another mold source – a plate of food I had forgotten about this week that had molded (Keep in mind, I clean this apartment every week). The mold went into the trash, and the trash went out immediately. I put on the fan, the bathroom fan, and the stove vent. The bird recovered a lot within 20 minutes, and 5 hours later, was back to almost normal. A call to my American vet confirmed I did the right thing and there wasn’t much more to be done but do what i was doing – keep the air moving and the air fresh. NO problem. Tomorrow the cage will be fully changed, scrubbed, and the walls wiped down to remove any trace of mold. The birds are sitting happily, grinding their beaks the normal content way they do. And I am no longer too worried about the bird making it through the night.