November was FILLED with birthdays (including my own, but that took a back-burner over other foreigners birthdays).
One of the foreigners in my town, not previously mentioned because he was unknown to me for quite a while, had a birthday on November 6th. He invited myself and the other foreigners in our town (2 others) and also the people he had met during the TALK program orientation. I felt more than a little awkward because I was the only one to know no one else except for the birthday boy (the other 2 in my town didn’t show up). Seeing him around his friends made me realize how close the TALK people become when they have not one week but one MONTH of orientation together. So although I felt a little out of place, I did talk to some of his friends (of the 14 that showed up) and they are some awesome people. Anyway, after meeting up, we ate at an amazingly delicious Italian restaurant. I ended up leaving his birthday gang after dinner to hang out with my own friends but we coincidentally met up for lunch the next day at a “Mexican” restaurant (the Holy Grill)–which was awful. I will never eat there again; it was over priced and could hardly be called Mexican. (It’s owned by Canadians and the rice was more like ‘kimchi rice’ **shudder**.)
I spend a lot of my time in this city because I have made a lot of friends with the vast majority of the foreigners there. Well, it was one of the girl’s birthdays on November 13. Because she is a vegetarian, we split a vegetable pizza–it was delicious! And that says a lot coming from me<–I tend to avoid vegetables like the plague. haha. Anyway, later that night we had a collective birthday drinking night in honor of her birthday, my birthday, and our friend’s birthday (on the 14th). Another foreigner in town came to join in on the celebrations. We had a couple rounds of strawberry soju and then we headed to a chicken place (for the two guys who wanted chicken and beer lol). Myself and the birthday girl split a bottle of Coca-Cola. ^.^
My closest friend’s birthday was Sunday, November 14. His co-teacher wanted to take him/us hiking up a mountain called Mungyeong Saejae. There are three gates with the last gate being at the top of the mountain, where the borders of the Gyeongbuk Province and the ChunCheong Province meet. The walk was absolutely stunning. Unfortunately for me, the two kept neck-breaking speed for my short legs so I didn’t get much chance to take in the view until we actually headed back down the mountain. However, at the top of the mountain, I got to eat some delicious “Korean pizza” (Pajeong 파정). Which is..well honestly I don’t know even why they call it pizza lol. I mean it’s flat and may be roughly circular but that’s where the similarities end. Anyway, it was delicious—it was completely vegetarian but all the vegetables were from the mountainside—so it was fresh and the seasoning was delectable; I’ve never had anything like it before. It was truly incredible. (more pics here)
Bulgogi and a Charcoal Kiln Sauna (Jimjilbang–?)After the hike, we got treated to bulgogi! (Korean beef barbeque—It’s very popular and delicious but expensive). The bulgogi was even more incredible because the location makes its own charcoal for the food and they create the charcoal from wood which is burned to super high heats in these stone/dirt rooms. After the charcoal is removed, the residual heat lasts for hours and people go in there and bake themselves in the sauna. So after dinner, we went to the respective dressing rooms and clothed in the issued scrub-type outfits and headed to join the other Koreans already roasting themselves in the room. It was deliciously hot. I was somewhat embarrassed because it took me forever to start sweating. Hahaha. This is due to the fact that I needed to warm up from the COLD air outside and also that I LOVE the heat as I just recently moved from central Texas and sitting in saunas was one of my favorite pastimes in the gym. So the way to do saunas here is sit in there until you’re at like the end of your endurance and then leave, sit out in the cold air, drink some water…and repeat—at least 3 times . I skipped out on the first break because I had barely begun to start sweating-and I mean barely. Lol. Afterwards, I was very thankful that all of the older woman had already left or were still in the sauna. I got to save myself from the embarrassment of showering in front of old woman.
So on my birthday, as I already mentioned in my previous blog, my youngest co-teacher threw me a birthday party with her senior class. It was incredibly sweet and I was thrilled. Later that week, I joined up with the 3 other foreigners in my town to eat some pizza. It was calm, nothing special, but I felt I more than celebrated my birthday by joining in on everyone else’s. And honestly, the classroom birthday probably meant the most to me.