Fire Alarms and Flat Fish

So far, so good. Of course, although there is no atmosphere of fear here, us foreigners are certainly concerned about the situation with North Korea. I thought this article on BBC News did a good job of summing up the attitudes in Seoul and the atmosphere in the country — “South Korea’s Anger Over Nuclear Test.” The three of us foreigners at school have talked a little bit about what we think might possibly happen and what we would do during the worst case scenarios. It was (sort of) funny- we had just finished convincing each other that we weren’t that worried and then alarms went off in MokDong! It turns out it is a monthly drill, and no one else was concerned, we nearly jumped out of our skins and everyone else made fun of the wimpy foreigners. Ah well, I guess it’s just wait-and-see.

Nothing else really eventful is going on with me. A few of us went out Friday night and enjoyed some Korean beer and snacks. Usually you are expected to buy food at a bar and there are particular food items that are served just about everywhere. In the picture below is some flattened and dried cuttlefish and mystery fish (too flat to tell). The mystery fish is additionally treated with something sugary and you dip it in a mayo/vinegar dip which actually comes out pretty good, as gross as it looks and sounds. Shredded, dried, squid and cuttlefish (are they the same thing?) are ok. It’s a good thing I don’t mind this stuff because it’s pretty popular here. I see more of my students snacking on dried squid than on chips or anything like that. You also see a lot of seafood flavored snacks like shrimp chips and squid chips. My students were disappointed when I told them that those flavors weren’t available in America. That reminds me, minutemaid juice makes a delicious rambutan juice here that they should immediately put in American markets…. mmmmm….

Usually when I get local food its some sort of soup, noodle, or rice dish, which is always pretty good. There’s lots of fried things here but I always get sick when I eat heavily battered things so I haven’t tried much. I had raw crab that had been soaked in chili pepper sauce, my Korean friends were impressed. Mostly though I make my own food; simple stuff though, like grilled chicken, some cheese and tomatoes, and some fruit.

Some people have asked me about the prices of things so I’ll give a quick rundown:
– my utilities this month were $65 (US) including gas, electric, full cable, DSL internet, and a home phone line.
– a loaf of wheat bread at the “French” bakery $5 (anything Western is pricey)
– grande iced vanilla cappuccino at Starbucks $5 (surprised?)
– tteokbokki, al sorts of crazy things stirfried with noodles in chili sauce with a boiled egg and some dumplings thrown on top, served with a side of kimchi, pickled beets, and miso soup $3
– bus fare, 50 cents
– a pint of Cafri (Korean beer) $1.50
– a pint of Guinness $10
– a months worth of daily Chinese lessons, $100
– a copy of O! Magazine (Oprah’s Magazine) $22
– a day at the sauna $7
– a day of white water rafting including lunch and pick-up in Seoul $45
there’s a few of the odd high expense items but it’s easy to live cheaply if you want to.

OK, I’m tired now. I miss everyone!!!! Talk to you later!