Trip Across Korea Part 4


After dropping Kristen off at the bus terminal I headed north to Andong and decided to visit a traditional village (하회마을). I arrived about two hours  before the place was closing and so I strolled along  aimlessly looking at all the different houses.  I decided to buy some soju for the friend who lent me his car. Andong is known for its soju, so it was a nice gift.  That night I stayed in a jjimjilbang and decided to get up early to visit another traditional village in Andong, however it was closed when I got there. Realizing that I had nothing to do for three hours I decided I would just drive straight to Gangneung.

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Gangneung, Visiting My Second Hometown




Gyeongpo Beach

October happens to be a month that has a few extra holidays in it. Which one of those days turned out to be my new school’s birthday, so  I had the day off. I was thankful for this as it enabled me to go to Gangneung to see my old students. Logistically, my two schools are very far apart and I debated for a week or two, as to whether I should rent a car or not. I decided that I would leave it up to fate and boarded the bus to Gangneung that Wednesday night. When I arrived in Gangneung it was 8:30 P.M., and I was in luck all of the little rental car shops were open! I must have been blind during the year I lived there as I never noticed there were about 10 rental car shops in front of the bus terminal. I decided to go into the shop that looked like it had the door open. (I later learned it was just a piece of plastic off to the side of the door.

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A bug? A snake?! The mysterious sting ends at the hospital

Wednesday night at about 9 pm I went for a walk. As I was heading down the concrete path by the school something stung the side of my left foot. Immeadiately, I used my cell phone to check my foot and noticed a little blood, I looked for the culprit and found nothing. As soon as I put my left foot down again, I realized I could no longer stand on it….so I walked awkardly back home.

When I got inside I washed it and put ice on it to subside the swelling on half of my foot. After messaging a friend, I contacted my co-teacher who luckily had her boyfriends car. We drove to the emergency room at a small hospital in Donghae. The doctor’s didnt know what was wrong as the allergist wasn’t in. So they gave me a saline drip for 3hours and 2 shots of antihistamines one in the ass, how delightful. They said come back in the morning, especially if it gets worse.

I went home and did not sleep at all that night. Navigating the house by hopping on one foot or by crutches was not easy. Then there was the swelling which only went to my ankle but was now under my knee by the time I met my co-teacher to go back to the doctor’s. We went back to the hospital and they put a new brace on my leg and said I should go to the other hospital in Gangneung after getting a pain shot.

When we arrived in Gangneung, I was sent to the emergency room as the specialist was not in until monday. The doctor’s baffled by what was wrong with me took a blood test and x rays of me. I was laying on the cot in the hallway for a long time. My co-teacher said they had no idea what it was so they gave me pain medication and antihistamine shot. I was hooked up to a meal replacement iv. My co-teacher had to leave as someone had to teach english camp. { I was disappointed as today we were going to learn about the usa and make piñatas.} So another teacher would arrive around 3 to look after me.

The doctors were thankful  that I spoke some Korean and they came and took pictures of my foot. Poking and examining it, they told me there was nothing they could see and because I am young, I would be okay. However, I should not be on my foot at all. I need absolute rest for the next 3~4 days. Which means I should stay at a hospital because I live alone, I wouldn’t really rest. However, I couldn’t stay at their hospital because there was no room.

Finally, the department head arrived and took me back to the school. My principal told me that she asked all the elderly neighbors and they said, ” It could only be a snake.” Most of the teachers at my school share this same opinion that it was a snake though  don’t have any poison in my blood stream. So was it a snake? The verdict is still out, but I believe the elderly are right in this case.

I was escorted to a smaller hospital by a few teachers last night. I had to do another blood test and more x-rays. I was hooked up to another iv and given a leg brace as well. No one seems to know why my foot is the way it is. All I know is that it hurts to move and the bones hurt to touch.

My coteacher and her boyfriend brought me dinner and left afterwards, I was put in a room with a bunch of elderly women. I have realized it is a task to do anything with an iv and bum leg.

The ladies in the room have rotated a bit and their caregivers have been very kind to me. Getting me water, offering me corn, and one lady even washed my hair. We chit-chatted in Korean a bit.

The current diagnosis is unknown and I am here until monday when they do another round of blood tests. I’m hoping to be discharged then and on my way back home to teach my kids.

Walking on two feet would also be nice.


The leg comparison of swelling.

My regular hospital meals.

Off to Gangneung

Today I met up with a few other English teachers who are placed in Gangneung.  I am about 25 minutes away by bus. So this morning I set out early to leave and I asked to make sure I got on the right bus even though I knew it was the right bus. I like to double check these things. A middle-aged man befriended me and talked to me a bit on the bus and then before I knew it, I was at my stop, luckily I saw Home plus out of the corner of my eye. I arrived around 9:30 a.m. and I wasn’t supposed to meet up with anyone until 11:45 , so I grabbed a coffee and enjoyed the wifi. I decided to take an aimless walk and found a historical place in the center of the city and then I went to Daiso (A cheap store similar to the dollar tree kind of), and then off to Home plus I went.

After eating lunch with everyone I remembered the directions from the cafe we went to early that I wanted to go to a bookstore. The cafe shop owner told me to go straight. So that’s what I did by myself and I walked and thought that maybe I had walked too far. So I asked an older gentleman where the nearest bookstore was and he pointed behind me. He turned his bicycle around and walked back with me and then I saw the sign with flashing lights in english “bookstore”. {Insert dumbass moment here.} I laughed and said thank you. I was looking for a vocabulary book but I couldn’t find one. The lady in the store at first avoided me and muttered something. I don’t think she wanted to help, so after looking around a little confused I asked her where the TOPIK books were. She led me to the right section and I was able to pick up a grammar book and a test book. I can now start studying and figure out when I will be ready to take the test. I am thinking maybe July or October.

After my purchase I headed back to homeplus and found the others. I left and realized I had just missed my bus, that comes every hour and a half in the evening. So I waited for a bit at a coffee shop and came out again when it was time to get on. I feel exhausted today. However, I managed to muster through it all. Carrying shit with me all day was kind of annoying. It is times like this I wish I had a car and at the same time I realize maybe I will lose weight just from walking. Hah~!

I suppose I should give an update about my life too in the process of today’s adventure. So, my apartment is cute. I live above the gym teacher and his family on the second floor apartment. My gas range stove isn’t hooked up yet, need to ask about that.  I have a washer in my apartment, however, it isn’t hooked up and I don’t see the hookup hardware. My shower I have figured out how to turn on the boiler and get in, however, I think I can’t run the water for the whole shower. So it has to be a rinse, soap up, rinse, and get the fuck out shower. I have had two cold showers in less than 6-7 minutes. Starts out nice and warm and suddenly its cold. A little much for the winter. I have a heated floor, but I barely turn it on. I don’t know how long it takes to warm up but it is too long for me. I heard it is expensive as well. So, I have been using the heat fan that my neighbor gave me. I have had a debate with myself for the past 3 days on whether to get  a heavy comforter or not. They are expensive and I am cheap. So the combination is not in my favor. So I have resorted to the tactic of layering, fuzzy socks, two pairs of pajama pants and two sweatshirts. I sleep in that too. Call me crazy but my mother used to keep the heat in our house very low it was always  cold. Her solution but on some layers. So, since winter will be ending soon, I will just suck it up and layer.

On another note, I am also the type of person who does not like to bother others. With that being said I have been needing to do laundry. But my washer isn’t hooked up. So today I just decided  that fuck it, I would wash my clothes by hand in cold water.  And the solution seems to have worked rather well. Half of the clothing is drying and I still need to do the other half once the other clothes have dried. I will get around to the washer later it really isn’t really a priority on my list.

I met my co-teacher and she seems very nice, she is two years older than me and it is her first year teaching too. When we met for the first time she told me her English wasn’t very good, so I told her in Korean that I can speak a little Korean. Well that made her sigh with relief and then we went to meet the principal. Who she told that I can speak Korean. I did mention that I only understand probably half of what she was saying. Needless to say the whole meeting was in Korean and I was a bit lost. I will have to ask about details later as my co-teacher left on Thursday to go to Incheon and will be back at some point before school starts. I report to work on Monday at 8:30 a.m. Not sure what I will be doing, but it should be interesting to say the least. So in my co-teacher’s absence the special education teacher took me out to dinner on Thursday night and I ended up eating Cow-head soup. (Basically all the meat from the cow’s head.) The soup was good and I decided not to question the types of meat I saw in the soup. Sometimes it is better not to know. I did identify a piece of tongue though.  We went to my neighbor’s house and had a beer and ate fried chicken. The gym teacher’s wife told me to treat her like an older sister. Which was very nice of her. I went with the gym teacher’s family to E-mart on Friday to get some supplies that I needed. And fast-forward back to today and I went on my adventure.

I have realized a bicycle might be a worthy investment. I don’t mind walking but I am lazy. I want to go to the beach but I don’t know if I would make it there and back walking. I think it was a 10 minute ride by car so that would translate into maybe a little under a 2 hour walk.  Living in a rural area makes me think of how nice owning a car is. Yet, at the same time I am surprised that even small towns like this have public transportation.

2013-03-02 13.18.42 ( A lovely cow head at the market in Gangneung. Never have I seen so many shops selling Cow Head Soup (소머리국밥) I’m thinking it may be a regional thing.


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