It is very hot today in Mokpo so I am particularly glad that they seem to have found the on switch in the PC bang today- might find myself spending more time here as the summer progresses. But what of other summer past-times? Well, the World Cup is just a dim and distant memory here in Korea (obviously we are still all wearing our Be the Reds t-shirts but not on designated days and only because none of us had realised how well we suited that shade of red before!) though it is still possible to find the games repeated in the wee small hours on cable. Trying to fill my days without the help of a tournament calendar and thinking of small talk which doesn't rely on talk of Beckham and Owen and Ahn Jung-Hwan has all made this a trying time for me.
To be honest I have been bored! Yes, just when you thought that it was impossible for me to ever stop finding things to tell you all about about I stopped finding everything so interesting. But you will be glad to know that it only lasted about a week all in and I am once more full of the wonders of life in general and life in Korea in particular. Let me share my latest discovery with you and maybe you can tell me if this is a normal thing that happens everywhere which I have only just noticed. It is something that I first became suspicious of a few months ago when I was walking into the supermarket and could hear barking but could find no dog. I looked around until I realised that I was (yet again) becoming a bit of a spectacle and hurried my way inside to spend a pleasurable half hour or so telling all of the demonstration people that I wasn't American and sampling their wares. I didn't dwell on the whole dogless barking affair because, as I have doubtless told you before, most of the dogs here are of almost rodent stature and it is very easy to over look them. But the next time I went in I had a bag with me and went to put it in a locker (as you have to do, presumably to stop me filling it with suck delights as seaweed and dried fish once you actually enter the purchasing part of the store) and found that it was lined with newspaper. And the bottom seemed to be a tray that could be pulled out if necessary. On closer inspection I found the picture of a dog on the door and thereby completed the mystery- ratlike dogs are put in small lockers by the door while the owners go into to buy the weekly shop. I thought it was odd anyway.
In an effort to be rid of the enneui that has been caused by the lack of things to actively look forward to post-WC me and Rebecca headed to Gwangju for the night to see what it was like there without the soccer. Must have been good as we didn't leave the pub until 7 on Sunday morning and didn't make it back to Mokpo until 2pm. There are many more foreigners in Gwangju than Mokpo and we stood staring at them- worried that our country manners wouldn't be acceptable in the Big Smoke- eventually we relaxed and set to having a good time. Things were starting to look up for me and on the Wednesday after we had a National Holiday (god bless the Korean love of National Holidays- I guess that is what comes of having an annual vacation of around 2-3 days! And I am far more used to having a few weeks off each year) and a day of barbecue and volleyball. You can guess where I was- sat firmly under a tree reading one of the books that my wonderful little sister had sent me the day before. That evening we had a 'girlie night' that is we ploughed our way through four tubs of Haagan Daaz while watching Hugh Grant movies- grand!
By now I was beginning to feel like my usual not-bored self. I was also curiously worry-free having transferred enough money home to pay off my student loan at last! Yep, you can call me Debt-free Hels if you want! I phoned the Student Loan Company to tell them that I wanted to pay back my student loan and they asked me how much of it and I replied ALL OF IT. There was a strange silence at the end of the Scottish end of the phone- I guessed that they don't have many phonecalls like that and so were lighting fireworks or something to celebrate. The one small downside of no longer being in debt to a company based in Scotland is that I will no longer have an excuse to get my annual fix of that lovely Scottish accent. Ah well, guess that I can always ring them to see how they are!
The only fly in the ointment of my happiness now was arriving at school on the Monday after the heavy sesh in Gwangju to discover that whilst I had been enjoying myself indulging in the sins of the flesh (well, some people feel very strongly about dancing to the Prodigy) Beckham, my last remaining hermit crab, had been slowly dying in his tank at school. I was particularly upset about this as I had been reading up on hermit crabs on the Internet (yes, there are pages and pages of it and not all of the writers are introverted lunatics who talk about their hermit crabs as if they are family) and had found out lots of cool stuff that they like. Obviously the subsequent improvement to Beckham's living conditions had been too much for the poor crustacean to bear and, throwing off his shell, he had crawled (or rather sidled as that is what crabs are good at) into the corner of his tank and died. I was sad but the hardest thing was telling the students who had all become a little attached to him- I discovered that the best way was to draw a picture of the deceased on the board with a little halo. One class got very carried away and added wings and a harp to the picture and soon there was a whole host of angel crabs on the board.
I think that is all the news I can bear to give you right now- more later on this last weekend where we went a-visiting another time