Sep 17, 2012

first week(s) of school

Things have been fantastically busy since the fall semester started. I'm working in two different departments, so I get to deal with two different people for every single thing. Basically twice the opportunity for everything to go wrong. I'm also teaching credit classes that don't have assigned books which has meant spending a whole lot of time preparing materials for the semester. And also dealing with the occasional sketchiness along the way.

Like going to my classroom and finding it locked, which has happened quite a bit and can usually be easily resolved. So a student went to find the key, while we all waited. After a really long time, he hadn't returned, so I went to see what the hold up was. Upon seeing me, a foreigner, the admin later started running and handed us a 마스터 키. Since it was a master key, I assumed it would work for all rooms in the building, but no, it didn't work on our classroom. We all had to walk on down the four flights of stairs and over to the library to my conversation classroom. Which was littered with books and papers from lesson planning, so I had to quickly collect everything and still try to keep some semblance of of a legit university credit class. And then class was only interrupted about 5 times by people wandering in and phone calls from the department about the classroom change, so yeah, sketchiest class ever.

And then there was also the awesome moment when I found out that instead of using my office phone number, they opted to just post my personal phone number to every single student. So yeah, not the most stellar start of the semester.

That's what makgeolli is good for.

But my teaching schedule has enabled me to avoid a welcoming/farewell party of awkwardness, so I can't say it's all bad.

more snacks from china

 Corn on a stick, tastes just like the Korean version. And instant noodles, they tend to come with all kinds of things inside, like a stewed egg.

 Steamed dumpling with some greenery inside and orange ice cream.
 Soy beans and beer at a little cafe off of Pingjiang Road in Suzhou.

And a street sandwich, the last food I got from Xian before my flight back to Korea. It was basically a bun that they filled with whatever you wanted, which ended up being all kinds of vegetables, an egg and tofu for 3.50 yuan or $0.54 Cdn.

Sep 16, 2012


 Last shots from Shanghai, military giving haircuts in the shopping district.
 And an interesting take on fries. I still regret not trying the strawberry shortcake ones.

The second city I traveled to in China was Suzhou. I headed off to the train station, purchased a ticket using info written down for me in Mandarin by some helpful staff at the Shanghai hostel I stayed at and was on my way. It only took about 30 minutes to get there and made taking the train in China to be easy, quick, organized and a great way to travel. Which I would later realize, that for longer travel, really isn't the case at all.
 Suzhou has been called China's Venice since there are waterways throughout the city and it's incredibly beautiful. Here are some garbage collectors rowing on through Pingjiang Road.

 Suzhou bridge lit up at night and a souvenir shop.
 Market fresh meat section and a night food stand. Streets in China fill up with vendors, tables and chairs with all kinds of food as soon as it starts getting dark.

 The Beisi pagoda, which you can actually go inside, walk up the stairs and get a nice view of the city. The entrance fee was around 20 yuan or $3 Cdn.
 The Lingering Garden, lots of buildings surrounded by ponds, waterways and rocky mazes. Absolutely beautiful, but also incredibly humid when I visited. But visiting a garden is a must do while in Suzhou, it's another thing they're renowned for.
 And finishing with a boat tour around the city.

world mart

I've been asked many times how to get there after people haven't been able to find it, and walked people to its location, so I figured it's time to make a map.
Here's a picture to try to explain it's location. If you walk under the tented area, on the edge of the market, alongside the river, you will come across the market. In this picture you can see a banner and tube advertising World Mart in Korean and English, so when you find those, you've found World Mart in an alley about ten metres away. Note the orange triangle bridge to the top right hand corner of the picture, World Mart is East of the orange triangles, on the last street before crossing the river.

And if those directions don't help, here's a map:
World Mart

And if you still can't find it, at this point, just contact me and I'll give you a guided tour.

World Mart really only has Asian food, but a decent selection (for Chungju) from different countries. My favourite offering: dried chickpeas! Other places of note for foreign food: Elim's House (Phillipine goods, located by Emart) and a Chinese store close to the market. Emart itself has a pretty good selection of foreign foods itself, but give the smaller places a shot first.

Sep 2, 2012

brussel sprouts

They do exist in Korea!!!
This is the first time, in my 2.5 years here, that I've ever seen them fresh anywhere. I did see them one time, in frozen form, at the foreign food mart in Itaewon, but I passed always hoping for fresh. And my students always told me I could find them at the market, but that they'd be expensive, yet I never did. And today, magically out of nowhere, I stumbled upon them at Emart.

Maybe not everyone's favourite food, or something they'd miss out on. But cut in halves or quarters, tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and then roasted is delicious. I have a feeling they're going to disappear again soon for who knows how long, so it's going to be brussel sprout time until then.

Sep 1, 2012

delicious chinese street bread

In Canada, I never really cared all that much for Chinese food. Generally it means buffet food, which I guess is ok because then I can just pick whatever is meat-less, but it was never really my thing.

And Chinese food in Korea has essentially been jajangmyun and japchae for me, which are both delicious, but otherwise I steer clear.

Well Chinese food in China is a whole different thing, naturally and thankfully. What I most enjoyed definitely had to be the street food, specifically the greasy, street bread. Doesn't sound appealing, probably not healthy on a regular basis, but on vacation, why not?

 This is kind of a... crepe, bread folded in half with green onions and egg in the centre. You can see the grease starting to seep through the bag and this was just after it was handed to me. This cost 3 yuan or $.47 Cdn.
 These are cut up slices from a big piece that kinda looks like a pizza. You can order this by the amount you want to pay and they'll weigh it out for you and then slice it up with a cleaver.
 And these guys are mini versions of the first one, with the bread being a little thicker and the contents only being green onion. 1 yuan each, 2 yuan total = $.31 Cdn.
 So I managed to forget to take a picture of a bread stand with the typical offerings, except for this one, and only because the cat was chilling out in the corner. But they're little shops that open out onto the street and are located most commonly within markets, but can be found on their own as well. Super greasy, like Chinese food in general, but super delicious, cheap and perfect when you're on the go. Which was my situation, as I was trying to cram in as much of China, in a 10 day span, as possible while still getting in some time to relax.
 I did get a shot in from a department store, but the offerings weren't quite as good.

Aug 29, 2012


I'm back in Korea and have already taught one class, writing, and it looks like I'm going to be spending a decent amount of time on prep, so I won't be going to Japan. Plus the typhoon that's been hanging out has made me feel less adventurous.

On my first trip ever to China, my destination city was Shanghai. A friend met me at the airport and we took the subway into downtown. So it was nice to have someone there take out the initial shock of visiting a new place and figuring out what to do.

The first meal in China was sweet and sour cabbage, mapa tofu, and some greenery. My friend did the ordering and this was our third restaurant after the first two weren't vegetarian friendly. My first thought was that it was a bad food omen for the rest of my trip... but this was a great meal, even though the server seemed extremely nervous about serving a foreigner and spilled tea all over the table and then ran off. Quite the introduction to China.

Some of the things I noticed:
 A family sleeping on the street. They took off their shoes and went to sleep on a busy street corner.
 Cabbies have protective shields, smart idea.
 People treat the streets like a part of their home. And with the lack of space and sheer number of people, I can't say I'm surprised.
And after visiting other Asian countries, Shanghai felt pretty similar and things didn't seem all that strange. or different.