Opening Day and Buddhist Drums

Great surprise, the local Korean ESPN station is showing the NY-Tampa Bay game in Tokyo. Giambi got things going with a 2-run homerun in the first. Since I’ve seen how much weight he’s shed, my thoughts have been that he will have a monster year. I can hardly wait for this season to get going. Just wish I could watch every game between the Yanks and the Red Sox. Despite what my brother Randy thinks, this will be a season of torment for the Sox, again.

This past Saturday I had a great opportunity to catch some Korean culture. A Korean friend of mine, Beaker, so named because some say he resembles the Muppet character, though I don’t see it, invited me to join him that evening to watch and hear some Korean music. We went to the City Hall auditorium and were treated to a world-class performance by a Buddhist group called Yadan. They were awesome. If you’ve ever seen the famous Japanese drum group playing those huge drums, then you have some idea of what these men and women were like. Great performance, with a variety of large, medium, and small Korean Drums. I suppose some of them may be particular to this group or to Buddhist performers, but I have no information to that effect. If someone knows, email me and tell me. There were also a couple of guys playing pots and pans! There were five pans of various sizes attached to a metal frame that they wore. The clacking sound they produced contrasted uniquely with the deep throbbing of the drums, which boomed throughout my body when they were into their heavy beats. Truly a unique performance, which, my friend told me, symbolized the Buddhist concepts of karma, enlightenment, and Nirvana.

I didn’t bring my camera because people are usually discouraged from taking pictures at events like these. I only noticed a few flashes during the performance. However, cameras were also not allowed at the performance of the opera Aida that I saw in Seoul’s large Jamsil Stadium back in September. There, hundreds, if not thousands, of cameras were flashing throughout the performance, despite the admonitions of the ushers.

Brown Belt!

Hmmm, just got my purple belt and now a brown one. Don’t really know why; it was a surprise. My taekwando master, Mr. Kim, said that he thought I earned the belt, but it doesn’t really seem like I did. I’ll take it, though. So, the next belts I have to earn are a blue and a red; then, with a lot of work, I assume, The Black Belt. Watch out, Jackie Chan! Hah!

I laid off taekwando all of last week because of a smashed big toenail on my right foot caused by a collision while I was playing soccer on the Sunday before with the other teachers. The toe under the nail became very black and blue, and I’m sure I’ll lose the nail, in time. Well, then I went out and played again this past Sunday and ripped the muscles at the top of my legs. Taekwando last night was very difficult, but I managed to get through the hour-long session. I think I’ll quit playing soccer and start doing some hiking in the surrounding hills on Sundays. The weather is becoming very pleasant and there are plenty of trails to follow.

Wednesday is my easy day at the uni–only two classes. Tomorrow is the busiest, with 7 hours of instruction. However, many of the students are going to Membership Training this week, meaning that some of my classes might be cancelled. I probably won’t know until I walk into the classroom and find that nobody is there. Membership Training, or MT, is, I’ve been told, a get-together among students of the same major. They head off to the mountains to do some bonding, some (very little) training in their major, and a whole lotta drinking. Not unusual here–drinking is considered a necessity in establishing social relationships and in business affairs. That may be changing, according to this article (dead link–removed by MontanaRon.)

It was once reported by the U.N. that Korea had the 2nd highest per capital alcohol consumption in the world, but that figure was amended due to some inaccuracies. See the article [link not available–MontanaRon].

Luckily, my drug of choice is caffeine. I’ve also begun to drink lots of tea, especially Korean green tea mixed with honey. Citron honey tea has also become a big favorite.

Rainfall and Utility Bills

Nice rain this morning, some of the first we’ve had this early spring season and much better than the deep snow of a few weeks back. We’ve had pleasant temperatures lately, running in the 60s and hitting 70 yesterday. This should help cut back the utility bill. Last month I paid about 135,000 Won for everything. Figuring about 1200 Won/dollar means I paid about $110. The breakdown is 55,000 for gas, 38,000 for phone, including the superfast broadband connection, 12,500 for electricity, and 29,000 for my share of the water, garbage, etc. Very reasonable. Last October, before getting the broadband hooked up, the total cost was 54,000 Won (and I had the air con. running a lot of the time that I was home).

Wednesday’s are almost like having the day off. I have one Adult Ed. class at 8 a.m. and one Freshman class at 10, then I’m done for the day. Of course, Tues. and Thurs. sort of make up for it with 7 hours of instruction each day. But I’m not griping.

Another Entry

Ok, after a few months of being lazy, I will attempt to keep this blog up to date. I hope to put observations, opinions, experiences, etc. of my time here in Andong, South Korea.

So, first, my apartment building is just behind one of the major hospitals in Andong. I was just taking out the trash when around the corner come 6 Koreans escorting their friend, who is wearing hospital pajamas and is carrying an I.V. drip bottle attached to the stand (and to his arm). I thought it might be a hospital break, “let’s get our friend out of here.” I watched them walk down the street a ways, and they entered one of the small restaurants nearby. Hmmm, so did they sneak him out or was it allowed? I see hospital patients in their pajamas wandering all around the area, but this is the first time I’ve seen anyone carrying their IV with them.

As far as the impeachment proceedings against Korean Pres. Roh, here in Andong, remote and small by Korean standards, I haven’t heard too many people talking about it. I’m sure there must be a lot of discussion, but I’ve only seen one small gathering, that last Saturday when I was downtown shopping. Seoul saw some very large demonstrations over the weekend, but all seems quiet right now. More developments to come later, I’m sure.

First Entry

Hello from Andong, South Korea. I’ve finally got my blog up and running, not to mention my web site. Hope everyone back home is doing well. I see that much of Montana is shivering in below-zero temperatures, nothing terribly unusual for this time of year. Great Falls is at -11, Glendive -7, and Missoula at 8 above. Here, I am relatively basking in 45 degree temps and sunshine. There is a small, windowed enclosure set off from my main room that houses the washing machine and drying rack. I’ve put one of my nice comfy chairs out there and I sit in the sun in the morning and read. I call the area my solarium. I’m currently reading a series of fantasy books by Terry Goodkind. I have 2 more to read and they are about 800 pages each, so I have enough reading material for now. I’ll have to buy the last two when I journey to Seoul next week.

That’s all for now. I just wanted to test this thing out. The blogging software was written by Greymatter and seems to suit my purpose just fine.

Just another ordinary English teacher eclectic expat blog about nothing in particular.