I am still alive! I have been very busy these past few weeks. In Korea, it's currently monsoon season. It has been raining every day, and it's likely to continue to do so until around late August.
That hasn't kept me from being active, though. I've still been able to get out and do things, such as:
|Picture of us after the game!|
A few folks from the BSSK group decided to meet up for a kickball game! It was a gloomy Saturday, almost rainy, so not many people showed up, but it was still fun nonetheless.
We met up at a field near Janghanpyeong Station, line 5 and by exit 6. The neighborhood is full of middle aged Korean men lounging and hanging out. Why the strange location? Well, that field was free to rent. I could see why because it smelled of manure at times.
We played our game with a certified kickball ball, then ate lunch together.
|Making play-doh art with Mapo Gaon|
Last weekend, one of my friends invited me to join him at the place where he volunteers. The organization is called Mapo Gaon. He helps disabled children in a particular area in Seoul once a month. I agreed to join him.
Their job was to pick up local disabled children from their home and bring them to a space, where the children and their helpers do activities together for a few hours. I thought it was very interesting and it was nice to meet the children. I also got a chance to practice my (limited) Korean.
|At Yeouido Park|
Afterward, we had some drinks at an Outback Steakhouse and had some drinks at Yeouido Park. It's a nice setting at night time. Many folks sit on mats and have a night picnic.
As a first date with a new guy, we took a free salsa lesson at Club Turn in Suwon. It's in an alley next to the Lotteria in Namun. It's tucked away in the basement of a building.
It's a small club with a large mirror and a dark, cozy atmosphere. The music they played was decent, too.
|A spicy evening!|
Despite me having lived in Colombia for the better part of last year, I surprisingly had not danced that much while there. So, we enjoyed making fools out of ourselves last weekend, messing up the steps and screwing up the turns. It was all in good fun! I would like to become good at it one day, but I just don't get enough opporunities to practice.
That said, it was nice and I'd return just to dance to let off some steam.
Beginning Private Korean Lessons
A little over a week ago, I decided to try out taking private Korean lessons over skype. I've had language exchanges with people, but none of them really knew how to teach their language. So, sometimes I didn't get much out of the exchanges. I had met another African American girl who had spoken Korean pretty well. She told me that signing up for these lessons via the Talk To Me In Korean website was a good idea.
I had my second lesson with a friendly teacher just a few days ago. Going well so far! It's nice to get some real speaking practice on my level. The teacher also is able to slow down and explain words and grammar. After awhile I can write about how it goes overall.
Getting My Teeth Fixed
I had heard good things about Oaks Dental at Gangnam station.
I knew I needed a teeth cleaning, and I could feel a cavity developing on the same problem tooth. So, I went ahead a scheduled an appointment on a Saturday. The office was pretty nice, and the staff were friendly and easy to talk to.
Now, the Korean National Health Insurance doesn't cover dental, so that meant that I would have to pay full price for whatever I needed. They explained that they had some program, at least at the time, where they gave discounts to foreigners. So that routine teeth cleaning cost me 20,000 won. That's a spectacular price, obviously. They told me that the regular price was somewhere about 70,000-80,000 won.
Unfortunately, my poor cavity needed treatment. I had a problem that led me to get a root canal in Colombia (that ran me about US$250 for everything). After that was finished, they never offered to give me a crown, and I knew I'd need one eventually. That tooth was stuck to the next one, and food always got trapped there. Despite my best efforts, I ended up with another cavity, which got to another tooth.
Those call for more expensive procedures. Yesterday, I received my 420,000 won crown. The dentist was great, and the crown looks exactly like one of my own teeth. I was expecting a metal thing, but I was really impressed with the things they have nowadays. Next time, I need a ceramic onlay for another tooth. I won't at the price since it might give me a headache, haha. I do recognize that the prices are far better than what I would pay back in the USA.
Oaks Dental is located at Gangnam station, exit 12. You leave the exit, look left immediately, and it's located inside of "A" tower on the 7th floor. English speakers who want to make an appointment can call 010-3541-1465.
Smoking Some Hookah
I went on another date yesterday with the same guy. After heading to a Korean sauna (hehe, don't make fun of us) we decided we wanted to smoke some hookah.
|Me trying it for the first time at a different bar!|
One Google search later, and we found ourselves at Bedlam Hookah lounge. This little swanky place is located within the same building as Taco Bell, but downstairs in the basement. I had gone to Taco Bell numerous times and had never noticed the place was there. The door to Bedlam Hookah is right next to the stairwell to take you upstairs to the seating in the Taco Bell restaurant.
It has cozy couches, in semi-circles, which are perfect for a date or an otherwise reasonably intimate atmosphere. They offered small and large bongs, and a few flavors of sisha. When I was there, the flavors were Apple, Mint and Mango. The prices for the drinks and the hookah were cheap to medium range. Totally worth it for anyone hanging around Itaewon.
More stuff to come, including the annual Mud Festival, which is coming up!