The end is nigh

20 02 2010

It’s Sunday. In Seoul. Long weekend. Unemployed as of today. FREEDOM!!!!

What a week. I had thought that packing up our lives in Sydney was one of the hardest things to do. Yes it was hard but nothing like packing our Korean lives up. That was physically and emotionally draining on all levels.

When we left Sydney we thought we were only leaving for one year. We would be back soon and would see all our family and friends again relatively soon. One year turned into over three but we have returned to Sydney multiple times, seen the people and places. Packing up and leaving Korea feels so much more permanent. We won’t come back in a few months to settle back in. We might not see any o our friends , Korean and foreign, again. We won’t be able to visit Seoul for the weekend again. It’s much more permanent a move his time around. And that makes it so much harder to do.

The past week has been a blur of packing and sending some things home. Sending much more to the bin. Selling some things online and some to friends in town. Every night was a farewell dinner of some kind. Teachers dinners, dinners with Korean friends and their families, dinners with the foreigners, generally saying goodbye to everyone. Much more difficult than leaving Sydney ever was. I guess as foreigners finding our place in a small country town we have put down deeper roots than most. Still, I wouldn’t change any of it. Comingto Korea was the best decision we ever made.

Next. Mmmmm. Next. First is frankfurt for a few days. Then on to Istanbul for a few more and then we head west. Wear until west is finished. And then, who knows.





Snow snow snow and more snow

18 02 2010

Its olympics time and surprise surprise, Vancouver is struggling for snow. I’ve heard they are having to truck it in from miles away. Athletes are struggling and even getting injured. I heard that the young Australian snowboarder fractured his wrist on a soggy slushy halfpipe. Terrible.

For those not aware, the South Korean resort of Pyeongchang has been bidding on the winter olympics for the past, well, forever. When we arrived in Korea there were still stickers for Pyeongchang 2010 on cars and billboards. They came a close 2nd, but lost out partly due to the fear of a lack of snow. Since then they’ve bid on 2014, 2018 and likely will continue until they get tired of it.

However, the whole lack of snow argument is quite amusing. Most of this winter season we’ve had little natural snow. A few good dumps early on, one big dumping early January but it has been a bit brown and meh. Until last week that is. 3 days of solid snow last week gave us about 50cm of the fluffy white stuff. The skiing was fantastic. Since then we’ve had more. Not quite as much, but at least another 20cm. I woke up this morning and its at it again. Another few cm and its still going.

Of course unlike certain European countries (yes, I’m looking at you England) things don’t shut down here when there is a pile of fresh snow. Daily life goes on, just with more car accidents. I think this late winter snow actually caught the local city government by surprise. It took a day or 2 to get the snow ploughs, gritting trucks and associated infrastructure into gear. Since then, all is mostly fine. The roads are still narrower and more slippery, but other than a few obvious spots, back alleys, car parks and big hills there are no problems.

Our apartment (not for much longer) sits on a hill, overlooking the valley of Taebaek. We can look down and see a road that climbs a hill just outside out place. Its always quite amusing sitting on the balcony watching cars on the hill when there is snow and ice around. Usually its worst first thing in the morning and around 6 or 7pm when the water/sludge starts freezing again. Cars start driving up, get about halfway and then start to struggle. Sometimes they make it, sometimes they slide back down. Only the persistent (and taxi drivers) give it a second shot. Some smart people have snow chains, no worries. Those with snow tyres of the studded kind, usually ok. Normal snow tyres? if you are lucky. The stupid few with summer tyres? Ha ha ha.

What does surprise me, actually it doesn’t surprise me, is how badly the school buses drive. Most Hakwons (private study academies) have their own private shuttle busses to get the kids to and from home. These minibuses are driven terribly in the best of weather, but the snow brings out the worst. Driving way to fast, stopping with no indication in the middle busy roads, cutting traffic off in icy conditions. All crazy.

Oh well. Back to my boredom. This so called “vacation” time between graduation (last week) and the new school year (beginning of march) is boring. Very boring. I’m supposed to come to school. Sit here and do nothing. As I’ve already quit I have nothing at school to do other than movies, web surfing and computer games. For a day or 2 its ok. For 2 weeks its awful. Especially as I have so much to be done at home. We have about 8 days left in Taebaek before we leave for good and our apartment is nowhere near clean. Its going to be a busy week.