Oh man, I am so behind on my blogging. I haven’t written a proper blog on my YAV work since Christmas, and believe me, I feel bad about it. I’m currently working on rectifying that. In the meantime, please accept this to tide you over.
“This” is a list of things that I really enjoy about Korea and Korean culture, things that have often caused me to ask, “Why hasn’t this caught on in America?”
1. Tteokbokki. A popular and cheap snack food that combines the soft squishy goodness of tteok (rice cake) with a kick of spicy flavor! (Actually, I could go on and on naming Korean foods I like that need to be more widely known in my home country. Tteokbokki gets special mention because I just think it is really delicious.)
2. Heated floors. In our YAV house, and in many other places around Korea, heating comes via hot water flowing through pipes under the floor. This is brilliant because a) the rising heat warms the house very efficiently, and b) I’m the sort whose feet are always cold. Seriously, we’ve been very toasty this winter. I think this system works better than what we have in our house in the U.S.
3. Mosquito-zapping tennis rackets. We’ve all had the experience of that pesky bug bothering us, the one we just can’t seem to swat. Well what if you had something with a nice large surface area – much larger than your traditional flyswatter – and it electrocuted your bugs so that you didn’t have to worry about whether they were properly squished? If you live in Korea, this doesn’t have to be just a pipe dream! I’d bring one home, but I don’t think they would allow it on the plane.
4. Combination Bible/hymnals. Why not cut down on the number of heavy books in your church? Place all your worship aides in one volume, like the Koreans do!
5. The jjimjilbang. When you’re all stressed out from working hard at your YAV placement, why not drop in at the jjimjilbang? For just a few dollars (seriously), you get up to 24 hours of access to the sauna-like facilities. The main focus is the hot rooms (the salt room, the soot room, the red soil room, etc.), which are available at varying temperature levels and degrees of humidity, all the way up the bulgama, or cooking pot, which is slightly cooler than sitting in boiling water. The idea is to get clean by sweating. There are also cold ice rooms to cool you down when the heat is a little too much to take; massage chairs; quiet rooms for resting; cafeterias to supply your food and drink needs; and often play rooms for children. You can also stay there cheaply overnight, if you don’t mind sleeping in the traditional Korean-style (i.e. on the floor).
6. Lobster crane games. Okay, so maybe this last one is just for kicks. There is one of these on my walk home from work. Yes, it is what it sounds like. You put in some coins and you try to use the crane to pick up a live lobster. I really don’t know what the person who made this was even thinking. I wish I had a better picture than this to show you, too.
That’s all for now, folks. And I swear, more is coming, including: an update on children’s center activities; info about our recent trips to Kwangju and the DMZ; and some reflections on my life as a volunteer. Until then!