Monday, September 29, 2008

Strange Dreams

The strangest thing happened last night. I dreamt I was driving in my old Nissan Sentra with Jason riding shotgun. It was almost twilight and we were driving along a deserted highway. There was sagebrush on the sides of the road and mountains in the distance. It reminded me of a Wyoming-style desert.

Suddenly the check engine light came on and the engine cut out. Jason turned to me and said, "Not again. This always happens in this area." I then had a memory of getting stuck on the same road before.

While I was trying to coast to the side of the road a deer ran in front of us. I tried to swerve but it was too difficult to steer with the car turned off. I was just about to hit the deer head on when I woke up.

It was 5:30 in the morning and still dark outside. The dream had spooked me a bit, so as usual when I have a bad dream, I cuddled up to Jason.

"I just had a bad dream." I whispered.

He was awake and said, "I did too."

"What was yours about?"

"We were almost in a car accident."

"What? That's what I dreamed about too."

"We were about to hit a deer."

"Mine too."

"You were driving and I was in the passenger seat."

"Mine too."

At this point, Jason sounded a bit freaked out. I had goosebumps all over my body even though I had been sweating before I woke up. We discussed the details of our dreams and although there were some differences it was essentially the same dream.

I have had shared dreams before. When I was in first or second grade my sister Jaime and I had the same dreams when we shared a bedroom. I had told this to Jason years ago. So last night I said to him, "I told you Jaime and I used to have the same dreams." To which he replied, "Yeah, but I thought you were making it up. Like you were trying to tell me how close you were or something. I didn't think it really happened."

It was really strange and kind of freaky...but I was satisfied that I could once again say, "I told you so!"

I must be a trying person to live with. Jason has the patience of a saint some days.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chusok! You Suck!

Chusok! You Suck! That was the theme of the weekend. Of course the boys added all sorts of colorful language after the 'you suck' part of the cheer. Yes, as wonderful as it was to hang out with Jason, Nathan, and Fritz for four days straight, I did get a bit weary of the 'male sense of humor'. Sorry about all the quotations but I don't think everyone reading this is ready for a description of the more 'colorful' language they used. ;)

Korea celebrated Chusok last weekend and consequently so did I. Chosuk is the 'Korean Thanksgiving' according to the locals. It's a bit different than our Thanksgiving pilgrim hats, cornucopias, or turkeys. Instead they travel for hours in hellish traffic to the paternal grandparent's (or eldest son's) home, the ladies cook Korean deliciacies including the lovely rice cakes (gag), and worship their ancestors.

Worshipping their ancestors means that they place food on a special table reserved for Chusok, then they bow and say prayers. The men go first, then the women, and finally the children (yes, this is sort of like the buffet line at Thanksgivings past). Aparently, over 50% of the women in Korea want to abolish the holiday. For them it's a lot of cooking, traveling, and hanging out with their in-laws. After listening to my book club ladies, I'm thankful once again that I actually like my in-laws.

Instead of the whole worshipping of ancestors thing, Jason and I traveled to Danyang to meet up with Nathan and Fritz (for those of you who don't know Fritz, his last name is Schmidt, so I'm sure you'd like him). Danyang is near Sobaeksan National Park. Suprise, suprise...we went hiking over the weekend!

In addition to hiking, we also went to a Gosu cave. This was the first cave I'd ever been to and I loved it.
Stalactites hang tight from the ceiling and stalagmites reach mightily for the sky...or something like that.
If you look closely you can see the jaw bone like crystals on the right side of the picture.

Gosu is a limestone cave that is 1.7 km in length. The pathways were quite narrow in some places and the walkways would make a batophobic cry (yep, I looked that word up).

Our happy little group photo.

Danyang is situated on the curve of a large dammed river. It's very beautiful from afar.

We also went to Guinsa Temple. It's the headquarters of some buddhist sect whose name I forget.

Some monks jiving about the local gossip, I'm sure.

That's me! I look so little in the photo and it's not because of my french lady diet either. The building was huge!

And finally, we hiked up birobang mountain. Yes, it sounds like Beer Bong...and no we didn't.

Fritz conquered the switchbackless mountain in fine form.

The hike was 5.5 km up and 6.8 km down the backside. I just realized I was converting km's wrong this weekend. It's 1.6 km to a mile not 2.2 (that's kilograms to pounds by the way).

This shot epitomizes the entire weekend for me.
1439 m and still smiling.

There were many flowers on the mountain, a bit surprising for being early September - it was lovely.

This was honestly one of my favorite hikes in Korea so far. The hike was pretty hard but the scenery at the top and down the backside was breathtaking.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mannequin in your new apartment?

I copied the following article out of the Korean Times, the English language newspaper out of Seoul. All I have to say is, WTF!

Man's Body Found 11 Months After Suicide

By Kim Rahn Staff Reporter

The dead body of a man who lived alone lay unnoticed for 11 months in a one-room flat in Busan. According to police, the new owner of the flat found the body of the previous owner, 49-year-old Sohn, Monday morning and reported it to police. Sohn seemed to have hung himself from a pipe in the kitchen, police said.

The new owner, Kim, had mistaken the body for a mannequin twice before realizing that it was a dead body. ``The body was dried up like a mummy. We suspect he died about 11 months ago, considering that his last phone call was made on Oct. 5 and that he was wearing fall clothes,'' a police officer said. After buying the house through an auction in July, Kim checked the house in July and August before living there but did not notice that there was a body. It was not until Monday that Kim found out what the ``mannequin'' was: Kim's girlfriend who came to help him clean the house said that it looked like a human body, and Kim touched it, learning that she was right.

``Neighbors did not know Sohn was dead, because the body did not give out a bad smell as it was dried up in the well-ventilated kitchen. He had severed ties with his family and lived alone, so no one tried to contact him over the last 11 months,'' the officer said.

The number of such cases is increasing amid growing individualism and apathy toward others, especially toward senior citizens living alone. The authorities are preparing preventive measures for such elderly people without families, but experts say the solution is not so easy for young adults living alone.

A county in Jeju once devised a program where the local government paid for yogurt for senior citizens living alone, so that yogurt deliverywomen could check their condition everyday,'' Lee Sung-kee, Inje University's social welfare department professor, said. He said, however, no country yet has programs against emergencies or the death of every person living alone. ``Unlike the elderly, it is not easy to apply such a care program to those who `choose' to live alone and alienate themselves from society, like Sohn. We cannot force them to be involved in such protective programs unless they want to,'' Lee said.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Take 1

I sometimes feel as though my life here in Korea is like a silent movie - only missing the fast tempo manic music and the placards. Jason could be Chaplin and I am that cute lady with pin curls and big eyes. I often have to piece together a reasonable scenario when a strange situation occurs. For instance....

I was standing outside our apartment building last Saturday waiting for Jason. We were going to see Dark Knight. It was humid and lightly raining. I was wearing these cute Victoria's Secret shorts my little sister gave me. Ordinarily I would be self conscious of my white legs in such short shorts but being in Korea has cured me of that. A mini-skirt or super short shorts are the must have accessory of the decade for Korean women under the age of 55. Plus I'm complimented on my ghostly white complexion on a regular basis here.

So, there I am I'm standing outside in my shorts, under an umbrella, minding my own business on a slightly rainy Saturday (cue the manic music) when an older slightly hunchbacked old lady in her 70's totters up to me faster than an energetic 40 year old American would. She's speaking very fast and I can't catch a word of what she's saying but it seems pleasant since she's smiling and laughing. She gestures toward my legs a few times and then steps closer. She quickly runs her hand up and down my thigh a few times. My eyes widen in shock but I say nothing. She keeps talking and laughing and I smile and nod at her. As she walks away she is still sneaking looks at me, smiling and laughing.

I've since come up with a few different scenarios as to what that was about. Let me know which one you think is right.

1.) Oh my gosh honey, you're going to get cold out here in the rain. It's a good thing you have an umbrella or I'd be really worried about you. Are those goose bumps? They're huge! I've never seen such big ones...let me feel (rub-rub).

2.) Oh my gosh, that is the most incredible shaving job I've ever seen! What do you use - a double or a triple blade? I'll bet it's a Venus. I've been wanting to get one of those. Let me feel (rub-rub). Yep, smooth as butter - just like I thought.

3.) Oh my gosh, young lady! You'd better cover those puppies up. What are you thinking? Sure it's okay for a Korean woman to show off her white legs in public, but you're a westerner. It's like a blonde wearing a low cut blouse in Mexico. You'll get lots of unwelcome attention. Yep, (rub rub) you should cover those puppies up ASAP.

So, what do you think? Your guess is as good as mine.

Here are some random photos (not of my white *ss legs mind you) for you to enjoy.

Jason dwarfs everything in Korea - even the semis.

On a drive through the countryside, I saw a lady on the side of the road selling asian pears. It reminded me of the summer fruit stands in California except there was only one kind of fruit. The pears are delicious though.
The orchards are a bit strange looking because they wrap all the pears in some sort of paper.
I'm thinking it has something to do with keeping the bugs away.....
This is the area where the first sunrise hits the Korean penninsula.
We didn't make it there until almost sunset. :)
I'd hate to have a blow up raft on this beach.
We stopped at a little roadside cafe for some coffee. It was kind of tacky as you can see.
Notice the toilet paper on the table...that's standard in most restaurants here. I have yet to see real napkins or paper towels.
I'm told that these rocks are ancient granite. I believe it because up close you can see the different striations.
I secretly photographed these monks that were visiting the same lighthouse we were. Jason really likes their outfits and wants to buy one for gardening some day.

All of the low lying areas of Korea that aren't paved over are used for agriculture. Our apartment complex is surrounded by rice paddies.
If you look closely you can see the actual rice on the plants. I was in awe when I first noticed the 'grains' of rice. I always wondered how rice grew. I think I assumed that the long green shoots were sliced up in rice sized pieces (just kidding).
It was obvious when Korea was competing in something that was televised in this year's Olympics. During the first night, I thought there was a concert or a riot in our parking lot. I heard hundreds of people cheering so I ran to the window. I then realized it was everyone sitting in their apartments watching the games with their windows open. This is the view out of the rear of our apartment.
Speaking of the Olympics...this guy is putting the final touches on his impromptu shrine down by a river close to our place.
I was super patriotic this year. I actually watched some of the Olympics! I was going to be ashamed if we didn't win the gold in basketball - which we did. I also find myself wanting to tell people that our baseball players were minor leaguers...but I don't.