Thursday, December 30, 2010

T'was Just Before New Year....

I am in the last hour of work before my 9 day vacation starts and the school is pretty much deserted. I should just go home but am hanging on for just a little bit longer. It's 1:50 p.m. Less than 12 hours to go till 2011. My plan is a little vague as usual, but it will definitely include a late night in Seoul waiting for the trains to open back up early in the morning. I'm sure it'll consist of food at some point, then heading to Seoul Plaza, which is like a big open square in front of City Hall. There is skating there and probably food stalls and drink and thousands of people and a big countdown till the ball drops at 12. I am prepared for mayhem, and expect nothing less.

When things die down in Seoul Plaza we're moving to Hongdae, for night of dancing till dawn. I haven't been out dancing in Korea yet and although I am prepared for horrendous cheesy music, I am also really looking forward to it.

Strange Korean Fact: Delivery Food.
On countless occasions outside doors in my building and sometimes even outside stores in the streets are stacks of dirty dishes and even silverware. I had been totally perplexed as to what the deal was. This week, because the 1000 or so students have been off on holidays and the winter camp kids are only here in the morning, there are no school lunches made. I guess no one here packs a lunch so we have ordered everyday for lunch. Slowly the pieces fit together.

Delivery food arrives in ceramic soup bowls and glass plates with silverware (chopsticks and spoons, knives don't really fit into Korean cuisine), and the odd time a huge pot full of soup WITH a gas burner to keep it warm. Delivery food is such an art here. Koreans love their side dishes, banchan, so there are dozens of little tin dishes or big tupperwares of mushrooms, kimchi, fishy bits, veggies, pickled pieces and other unrecognizable things. Everything is consumed and as easy as 1-2-3 the dishes just sit outside and later in the afternoon the delivery dude (always on a motorcycle with huge bins tied to the back) comes back to collect his wares. Almost no waste. Great system.

Just to add to the fast food topic. I can't possibly go without explaining what is sitting on my desk as I type. It took me an hour to attack it and eventually figure out what it even was. After I ate my massive lunch (I think the teachers at my school have a secret plot to make me fat because food is ALWAYS appearing on my desk), a take out pop cup appeared. The straw was bent and crumpled and somewhat poking out of it, but it contained, at least on the top layer, small irregular shaped battered balls, with a thick red syrup drizzled on top. I picked it up and the bottom 3/4's was definitely liquid but the top was food, in a drink. (Picture the little yoghurt containers with a clear lid full of granola) But I wasn't sure what it all was? Gravy? Cola? Something sweet? Savory? I am soooo sad I dont have my camera today and will make it my mission to find this again somewhere. I eventually built up the nerve to sip it and it's coke, and on top is popcorn chicken with a spicy sauce. Weirdest combo ever.

Okay, it's just before 3. I've clocked my hours. I'm done, I'm out of here! Vacation I come!

Happy New Year to all and to all a good night!!!!!

P.S. One more thing I have to include. I got on an empty bus to school this morning. Two stops in the driver pulled over and in Korean and sign language said he'd be back in 5 minutes, he was just going to grab a coffee. I was early, no problem. Then he popped back on the bus and proceeded to gesture and ask if I wanted one too. Amazing. I love Korea. Oh ya, and I bought new ear muffs yesterday at the market for a dollar. It's like having 2 kittens curled up on my ears they are so warm.

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