Riding a tuk-tuk in Bangkok

In addition to the many photos I took in Thailand, I also shot some short videos with my digital camera. I’ve posted one here, with plans to post some of the others if this one works. I don’t think it’ll stream, so I recommend you right click on the link below and save it to your hard drive, then play it from there. Give it a shot, then leave me a comment as to whether it worked or not.

Riding a tuk-tuk in Bangkok

I hope you enjoy — there’s audio, as well, so turn your speakers on.

concerns

I don’t know why I usually get depressed on Sundays, but I do.

Tonight I’m worried about my visa situation working out in a way that will allow me to stay and make money here for six or seven more months. There’s more to my unfortunate mood than that, but the visa is my most immediate concern, from where most of my other concerns spring. Things were going so well for a while, it would be unfortunate for my inability to get a visa to put an end to this momentum. I’ve been unable to get any concrete information on the internet, so tomorrow morning I’m going to call the Korean Embassy in Osaka and see what they say.

I did finally get the pictures from my trip to Thailand on here. I apologize in advance for the minimalist captions — they were done hurredly and in a foul mood. I shall try and expand on them when I’m blissfully happy and with more time on my hands. Anyway, click on the photo below, or down a bit and to your left.

fire_twirler.jpg

crusified

On a somewhat brighter note, my Jerusalem article got published in The Seoul Classified. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever written, made somewhat worse by the editing it received, but hey… I’m published in South Korea, and that’s pretty cool. You can read it here:

Fear and Love in Jerusalem

All misspellings were made without my consent — “bomings”? “crusified”? I cringe. I experience frustration. I get paid.

in comparison

Not a good day today, but when I got home I found out that Dan (roomate) sprained his leg getting on the subway — he is in big pain. So, things could be worse, but after I told him about my visa situation he said that a sprained ankle didn’t seem so bad in comparison.

As I said, Korean immigration refused to give me a work visa. The reasons for this are a bit sketchy — they cited the low student to teacher ratio (meaning the school doesn’t need another teacher), but it seems to me (and my co-workers) that it’s probably more than that. My director is going to call immigration next week to try and find out exactly why they refused, and what can be done to rectify this. In the meantime, she’s going to pay for me to fly to Japan and back to get another month-long tourist visa, which is more than I’d expected, and they’re going to continue to employ me (and pay me weekly) until they know for sure whether or not I’ll be able to get a new visa. So, on the positive side of things, the school is being very nice about the hassle I’m causing them, and is going out of their way to keep me on as a teacher. On the negative side of things, however, I may not be able to get another visa. In the meantime, I’m looking into other options once again.

visa

My school is having a problem getting me a new work visa. Apparently, immigration is telling them that they have too few students to have another teacher, or something like. I think that this might have something to do with my situation with my work visa, but if it does then I don’t understand why immigration wouldn’t just say so. It does seem like strange grounds for refusal, is the thing — I’ve never heard of a work visa being denied based on number of students. My school is still trying, and I think their next strategy will be to try and bribe the immigration officials.

Time is of the essence, is another thing — my tourist visa is up on March 30th, so I’ve got to either have a work visa or leave the country by then. If worse comes to worse, I could just leave and come back on a tourist visa again, but I doubt this is going to work for five months.

five months

Today is March 16th, which means that I’ve been abroad for five months now. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been gone for five years, so much has happened.

Many people think I’m British over here — both in accent and appearance. Not just over here, actually — people thought I was British in Israel and Thailand, too. Today I went to a job interview and this Korean woman who interviewed me practically insisted that I was British, and thus she couldn’t hire me because my accent was wrong. Then, she takes out this book and starts showing me other schools in the area that I could work at, and I got totally confused. I told her it was ok if she didn’t want to hire me, that she didn’t have to help me find other places to work. Then she started explaining the classes she needed teachers for, which further confused me considering she’d just told me that she couldn’t hire me because of my British accent. It was a very weird interview, and it ended with her telling me she’d call me if she needed me. I kinda hope she doesn’t, as the other foreigner who worked there didn’t seem too happy with the place — he almost seemed to be signaling to me that it was a bad school to work at, and that I should leave while I was still able.

I don't need five pairs of jeans here

I finally moved the rest of my stuff from Incheon to my new apartment here in Itaewon today, and while I was doing so I realized that I probably brought too much stuff to Korea. Definitely brought too much stuff to Korea, considering the size of my new bedroom. In response to this realization, I am putting more stuff aside to ship home and also threw several items of clothing away. My trip to Thailand taught me how to live simply, among other things, and I don’t need five pairs of jeans here.

I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster (I hate that metaphor, but am unable to come up with a better one. Suggestions are welcome.) since moving into my new place and trying to settle down into my temporal home here — stressed about everything. Eating is difficult, as I have yet to clean the dishes in the kitchen and have also yet to scope out some good and cheap Korean eats in this area. Korean eats might be difficult, actually, as I live in a very international neighborhood — lots of Americans, Canadians, Nigerians, Russians, Arabs… but still mostly Koreans — and the restaurants around here seem to cater to the international crowd. It’s kind of ironic, really — when I first arrived in Korea I was a bit afraid of Korean food, so was desperate for western food options (of which there are few in Incheon), now that I’m living in an area with a plethora of western food options, I find I am desperate for a decent Korean place to eat at. I’m confident that I’ll find one, with time, but tonight I ordered pizza again. I’m nutritionally neurotic, really, which makes me (at the very least) wish I could find some multivitamins to balance out my recently crappy diet. I think my difficulty eating has lead to much of this recent emotional melee, actually, as those of you who know me understand that I get markedly unpleasant when hungry. I’m also worried about money — I’ve got my part-time job, and they’re paying me weekly, but the other jobs I’m starting in April and I won’t get paid until after my first month. I think I might be economically neurotic, too. Neurotic in general, I’m willing to admit, which explains my affection for Woody Allen movies.

In the end, however, I realize that (for the most part) I am in a much better place than I was before. I have a living room now, and my American roomate (Dan) to talk to and network with. I’m not tied down to any particular school, and the money I’ll eventually be able to make will (hopefully) be much better. So, maybe I shouldn’t be as stressed as I am, but sometimes I just can’t help it.

Happy birthday, Mom!

Happy birthday, Mom! In Korean, “happy birthday” is “sengil chuka hamnida” — transliterated, of course. Birthday wishes also go out to Beth in Chicago and Alina in Slovenia, which sounds like the first line of a limerick — “Beth in Chicago and Alina in Slovenia…”

I was drinking coffee and eating an apple danish at a pastry shop this morning, and I noticed this white guy sitting near me was feverishly talking to himself. At first I thought he was talking to someone on a cell phone headset, but no, he was just talking to himself — arguing with himself — as he read the comics section of the newspaper. Strange, it was.

The won is losing value to the dollar due to the political situation here, and many people are saying that the bottom is going to drop out of the (already struggling) South Korean economy because of it. There’s also concern that North Korea may take advantage of the instability here in some way or another, which I doubt. I enjoy political chaos, as long as the exchange rate doesn’t go over 1200 won to the dollar.