..a queasy, disorienting feeling came over me. Something was missing. I stood there on the roadside, checked for wallet, sunglasses, lens cap, glasses: all present. I clicked on the camera, reviewed the last shots from my Sineo-San walk, trying to spark a memory, saw this one of the cherry-bordered mountain road I’d just descended… Advertisements
Howdy, strangers. For the second time in Korea I’ve been knocked horizontal by something nastier than a common cold. Everything ached; party season at Club Mountaingoat was reluctantly curtailed. My malaise was exacerbated by an injured rib from a fall a few weeks back: every cough was a blade through my chest. Then just as the rib seemed to be mending, I coughed so hard I threw out my lower back, an old injury that flares up once or twice a year to transform me overnight from Bear Grylls to Grandpa Simpson. As you know, I’m not the complaining type, so I withdrew from the world and stewed in anonymity.
Hey, folks. Long time, no see. My American sojourn — that was my fifth but easily the best — is over and I’m back in southeastern Korea, still slightly jet-lagged, taking naps throughout each day, and dreading my return to school tomorrow. I’m not exactly depressed but a lot of the colour has been drained from my life.
Hey, all, and a Happy 2013 to my fellow bloggers and readers! My American adventure started brilliantly and just gets better and better. I was met at JFK by Kate, sister of Dude and close pal of Trouble, the couple whose wedding I flew over to attend. Kate and I had never met but she was a fan of this here blog. We immediately set forth on an erratic but always entertaining journey north to the girls’ camp in the Adirondacks where the wedding rehearsals were in progress. We were technically lost for several hours and I saw much more of the state of New York than I had anticipated. It was a totally engrossing drive, however; we talked non-stop and learned a lot about each other. I started the journey intrigued and finished it six hours later utterly infatuated. We missed the rehearsals.
It was minus 7 C this morning as I scurried, face half-paralysed with cold, towards coffee and life itself, prior to heading to N1 for the second-last time this year. An easy day, three classes, and I explicitly stated that there would be no learning whatsoever, which relaxed everyone immensely.
Hey, all. Some exciting goings-on have been keeping me occupied of late — more on that soon.
Well, I didn’t see that coming. After that little taste of Winter up on Bulmo-San last weekend, I’d assumed I wouldn’t be seeing any more snow locally until I climbed some more peaks later in the season. Last Winter here in the balmy south (late January or February) the hills nearby got just one light dusting and a few lonesome flakes kissed the school playground one day before a quick death and a return to sweet nothingness.
It was like a scene from a Hollywood nightmare. I enter the school grounds yesterday, cursing, kicking things, some of which might have been students (Monday morning pre-caffeine fuzziness), and come face to face with…myself.
Lunchtimes Monday to Wednesday I escape N1 and stroll to a park five minutes away with a sandwich, a coffee and the Kindle. I didn’t think much of this scrappy little patch of green at first, but with Summer it’s grown on me, like much of Korea — an oasis of respite from the chaotic din of the corridors and the depressing chimes that divide the school day. It’s even better when the two old men who enjoy staring at me from the opposite bench are absent.
On Tuesday last week I felt something in my throat “snap” as I was trying to control one of my most despised boys’ classes. The little twerps got me good.
Well, I’m back, and I’ll be damned if that school trip wasn’t the best three consecutive days I’ve had in Korea! I am hereby eating all my words of foreboding from the previous post.
Or something more chronic? This was the view entering my school on Friday:
Don’t ask me nothin’ about nothin’ I just might tell you the truth ~ Bob Dylan, ‘Outlaw Blues’ I teach in two schools. That is, I “teach” in two schools. At my second one, a co-teacher made the mistake of asking me how my Friday had been. It had actually started quite well, with few murderous or suicidal impulses, but by lunchtime it could’ve gone either way.
Seeing much, suffering much and studying much are the three pillars of learning ~ from the Day 1 class notes of my Korean co-teacher Thursday was Independence Movement Day, commemorating the first mass resistance to Japanese occupation on March 1st, 1919. When my vice principal told me about it, I recalled climbing a small mountain/big hill not far from home, half an hour downstream along the Dirty River:
Ha! Hope that got your attention! I was going to do a nice sunshiny post this time to reward readers who stuck with me through that sorry — and rather chilly — Jeju saga. I’ve done 16 hikes or prolonged rambles (the lines are blurring) in my five weeks in Korea and I’ve only been bone-chillingly, pre-gangrenously cold on a couple of them, so I have a lot of more temperate tales to choose from and a lot of catching up to do. But I’m being spontaneous here, tonight, sitting on my heated floor in my lovely little apartment, thinking about Iceland.
Happy Seollal — Korean Lunar New Year — readers! Not only is this the Year of the Dragon, which happens to be my Chinese sign, but this post is also, by some sweet cosmic synchronicity, my 100th on TGTW. My first post was published on January 29 last year. I’m proud to have kept this leaky little rowboat afloat so long in these turbulent times (the turbulence seems to follow me around) and hope you’ve been enjoying the journey.
Hey folks, I was going to do a post about the sensational weekend of improvised hiking I just had, but another huge lunch today seemed to go down badly — I knew I shouldn’t have kept grabbing more spiced cucumber — and I’ve been nauseous all evening.
It was a splendid winter’s morning today…
When I was trying to talk my Newfie friend Shawn P. Kelly into joining me for a tour of duty in Korea, I made the mistake of mentioning the mandatory medical on arrival, including drug and HIV tests and other goodies.
Greetings from Paris, readers! The Paris of Gyeongsangnamdo, that is. That’s in Korea, for that 100% of you who’ve never heard of it. The real Paris is way out of my league! Yes, I now call South Gyeongsangnam Province home.