I am more than halfway done with this semester and things are starting to feel familiar. I’m not so mesmerized by the farms on my walks to school. Ordering new things at a restaurant doesn’t give me a panic attack (though I still avoid it if I can). I’ve started to care a lot less about how silly I must look to others. And because I’ve made friends, I no longer feel like I am all alone.
Living in Korea feels a lot less exotic and a lot more like my life.
I now know what people mean when they say the honeymoon stage of living abroad ends after about 3 months. While I still have 1 more month to go until I reach my 3 month mark, I think I’m pretty much there. After a while, you realize that you aren’t on vacation — this is your life. I have a job with real responsibilities. I make dinner on the weekdays (sort of) and hang out in the city on the weekends. I have to discipline myself to work out if I want to be active. I even made myself a cleaning schedule so I can get into the habit of cleaning my apartment every week.
In a way, I kind of like it better this way. Teaching is way more enjoyable now that I’m starting to understand what works for me as a teacher, and what the students need. I even want to get certified in the States and possibly teach at an international school in the future. Of course, that’s neither here nor there. Today’s post is supposed to be about traveling. So here’s what I did the past 2 weekends:
Fish Market and Walking around Seoul
Two weeks ago, I turned 25! This was my first birthday not in America. To be honest, I was super pumped just to hang out at my apartment and watch Jane the Virgin. However, I ended up hanging with some friends at a pool hall and eating a yummy Oreo cake that my friend made (her family owns a rad bakery).
My school also had sports day for the students, so classes were cancelled for the second half of the day. I even ran! Of course, they didn’t tell me I was running until about 30 minutes before, but still . . . they gave me a giant thing of chicken and coke afterwards. I’d run for two hours to get a box of chicken!
To celebrate my birthday, some friends and I decided to spend that upcoming Saturday at the fish market.
The fish market is kind of crazy. And awful. I don’t mind the smell of fish or eating fish, but it was awful looking at the all the fish being held hostage in their tiny bowls. There were so many fish that they were overflowing out of the bowls! It was crazy. The whole thing felt entirely inhumane. And there were giant crabs bigger than my head!
The whole reason we went to the fish market was to choose a fish to kill and then eat it. One of my friends chose a random fish (we still don’t know what kind it was), where it was then taken out and then killed in front of us. They did it so quickly that I hardly even knew what happened. I’m not sure I like seeing how my food dies before I eat it. It felt so wrong smiling in the fish market when there were dead fish around me.
They then skinned the fish in the back and then cut it up in front of us.
We also chose an octopus and a weirdly shaped fish. They didn’t kill either of them though. They did cut up the octopus, but it was still moving!
Afterwards, we walked to a restaurant near the market, where they took our leftover fish and made the most delicious soup ever. We ate the fish raw and took turns eating the octopus. I was so scared eating the octopus because I was told that it can kill you if you don’t chew it enough. The octopus was sticking on the plate so much that I couldn’t even pick it up with my chopsticks. I literally had to pick it up with my hands.
The octopus didn’t really taste like anything. I think people mostly eat it for the experience. The entire thing just felt so wrong though. I kept thinking about all the vegans in the world and how disgusted they’d be by my eating still moving raw fish. You don’t get sadder than that.
After the fish market, we walked around a bit before heading on the subway to the art museum. I really wanted to visit an art museum, but we unfortunately got so sidetracked and it got so late that we never made it. There’s always next time!
Instead of the museum, we walked around Seoul for a while, ate dessert, and ran into a ceremony at one of the palaces/temples.
We also walked past tons of markets and even a political demonstration!
I wanted to buy a purse, but was so overwhelmed with the enormity of the market that I didn’t buy anything! Dongdaemun is shopping central if you are looking for cheap goods. Seriously.
After walking, we ran into a K-Pop performance by 2 groups. There are so many K-Pop performers here that it’s hard to keep track of them. The male group we saw was actually really fun, but the girl’s group was a little too promiscuous for me. I couldn’t believe how sexy their dances were!
Everland Amusement Park
Last Halloween weekend, I made the hour and a half trip to Everland. It was sort of a last minute thing and it was super cold, but I’m glad I went.
First of all, I discovered the beauty of express buses! They are AMAZING. Instead of getting on a crowded bus or subway . . . you can get on a nicer heated bus that will take you right to your destination.
My group left Ansan pretty late and didn’t arrive until about 2:30 pm. I wasn’t expecting much from Everland. I thought it’d be a small little park with only a few rides. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Though there weren’t a ton of rides for adults, it was still a somewhat large amusement park. They even had a zoo (that we did not get to see, but more on that later).
Our first order of business upon arriving was lunch. We chose a burger place near the entrance that wasn’t terrible. Of course, when you’re craving Western food, any sort of burger will do.
After lunch, we walked around just trying to find our way. The whole place was decorated for Halloween and quite a few people were also dressed up as well. They even had what looked to be professional cosplayers!
We also ran into a parade. It was weird to me that the majority of the people in the parade were Western looking with white skin and blonde hair. I was definitely not expecting that.
We also picked up some churros! It amazes me how much Koreans like churros.
Finally, after about an hour of walking, we tried to make it on our first ride. However, we got super confused because the ride attendant asked us for our ticket. We thought you had to buy a separate ticket for each ride and went to the main entrance to ask them about it. Turns out, you only have to buy a separate ticket for certain rides, but each ride does ask for the main entrance ticket. Why they do that is beyond me.
Anyways, once we figured that out, we finally made it on our very first ride, which was a loopy de loop ride. It was super fun!
Then, we waited in line for about 2 hours to get on another ride that did a ton of flips.
There were so many people at Everland on this day. It was crazy! Every ride had a 1-3 hour wait.
We walked around after that and went through a ghetto spooky house. One of the main reasons we went to Everland on Halloween was because they had a bunch of Halloween themed rides and events going on at night. However, when we walked to the events, everything was either sold out or had a 3 hour line! It was awful. And we didn’t know that a super famous Korean artist named Jay Park was performing. This was also sold out and would probably explain some of the crowds.
So no Halloween events for us.
Instead, we walked around trying to figure out what to do. It was very cold and I know I was pretty bummed about not being able to go on anything. I think I’d like to go back in the summer when I know what to expect and can actually go on the fun water rides.
In the end, we rode another surprisingly fun ride and then left the park around 7:00 pm.
We then took an Express bus back to Ansan. I was super pumped that I didn’t have to take a taxi back home. I also had some time to walk around Ansan for a bit and discovered that it is crazy awesome! There are so many shops and restaurants there! I’ll definitely have to go back when I’m not in a rush.