No, I haven't died or disappeared into the depths of a Korean rice paddy never to be seen again. I am still alive and well in Mokpo- just a little on the lazy side which is why I haven't mailed sooner. Fungus update is this- it is now various shades of red, blue, green and yellow with big patches of black dotted about. The mould on the wall next to my bed is now level with the head board, closely followed by the mould on the wall that has my bed against it where it is just popping over the top of my mattress. The ceiling is where the action really is- a small spot when the boss came to see it three weeks ago is now a circle 18 inches across with a perfectly round patch of black mould in the centre of it. I am almost obessively photographing it because I want to see how much it grows (and my camera has a date function now so I know exactly when the photos were taken as it is displayed in red in the corner of the photo) and I can't think of another way to show the boss how bad it is. Unfortunately, after two weeks of reassurring me that he is 'researching' a new house yesterday I was greeted with laughter when I asked him about it. I am trying my best to develop some kind of a cough as I think that will help me case but I can't seem to get sick. Any ideas on how to escape the house of mould would be greatly appreciated(!)
Obviously my clothes and everything in the place are still regularly covered in the stuff but I have been told that other people are suffering from the same problem (though not the creeping wall adornments- that is just me- lucky me!). This is not too much of a problem, just need to make sure that anything I want to wear has been washed sometime in the last week. When I first discovered the new patterns on my clothes I washed EVERYTHING but it has since grown back so I am letting it fester and trying to stop such thoughts as 'oh, I haven't worn my black t-shirt for a while I think that I will wear it today' as it inevitably leads to 'oh no, it is covered in mould, what a surprise'.
The main culprit in this new fashion design has to be the humidity which is incredible at the moment. You can see it hanging cloudy in the air, blurring views of the moon or sun and generally soaking everything in sight. I was in a phone box the yesterday (to phone the English speaking tourist info line to be told that the one person who speaks English wasnt there for the day- handy, the number is 1330 if you care to take your chance. But I found a better freephone number 080 757 2000 which was very helpful) and the sweat was just streaming off my body. And bear in mind that this is a phonebox without a door- just a few kids saying 'hi miguk' over and over but I don't think that they contributed to the heat at all.
Thank goodness for the air con at work. Though this often gets switched off between classes which I can understand since there is a whole FIVE minute break then and I can see why they wouldn't want to waste ALL that money keeping the rooms cold for FIVE minutes. So often the first couple of minutes of the class is spent running to the counter to find the remote to turn the air con on, getting back to the room to discover that it has been turned off at the switch, running back to the counter to switch the switch, coming back to the room only to find that I have turned the fan on by accident instead (all labelled in Korean you understand) and back to the counter to hit the right switch, back to the counter again to return the remote. All fun and games and shaves valuable minutes off the teaching time. I like the kids that do it for me! But last week something new was added to the air con routine when I spotted something fal out of the unit on the wall behind the kids' heads. I set the kids a task and went over to investigate- figuring that it was probably a candy wrapper or something. And imagine my shock when it turned out that the 'candy wrapper' had legs and wings and fur- it was a small but perfectly formed bat! I thought that I could handle a dead bat until it twitched its wings thereby indicating that it was in no way a dead bat. The girls came over and saw it and went crazy. They ran out of the room looking for help and told the woman at the counter the problem and she looked horrified at the thought that she might have to deal with it. But we found a passing man who picked it up by the wing and took I know not where. So I got to teach the girls lots of new English 'bat', 'the bat is IN the air conditioning', 'the bat is ON the floor', 'the bat is UNDER the table' etc.
But we were afforded some respite from the humidity at the weekend when we were hit with a typhoon (or typoon as it comes out with a Korean accent, there is no F sound in Korean so they make do with the next best thing. But it confuses them when I go to the copy machine and dont' bring any coffee with me- think about it!). I think that it was called Typhoon Rusa- love getting hit with weather conditions so bad that they name them! We were lucky in Mokpo really, it was VERY windy and VERY wet but it only lasted about 24 hours and then was gone and we returned to the humidity. Other parts of the country were not so lucky as I heard that around 200 people died that weekend. BBC World was predicting 12 inches of rainfall each over the weekend. I saw the photos- the tradition houses were hit worst as they are only one floor high and the water came up to the roofs. And there was a lot of photos of cars sitting up to the roof in water too. Really put into perspective me complaining that I couldn't wear the dress I had planned to wear that weekend. Or whinging about having to climb 12 storeys to get to my mate's apartment as the lift was out.
And I had planned to wear a dress as it was one of the teacher's 60th birthdays and so a surprise dinner had been planned at the Santa Maria restaurant near the water. The Santa Maria is a building in the shape of a large sailing ship (we have two of them here) and I got a bit of a shock when I went in to find that the floor was made of a glass and about six feet below the floor was a koi carp pool. Quite unnerving on arrival and throughout the meal I had to keep looking down. They turned the fountains on and the large fish seemed to love it. Though we all had the same thought- what if the floor collapses? I thought that the koi could nudge us to safety in the manner of dolphins but my mate reckoned that they might well be highly trained attack koi in which case we were doomed! Fun night though and interesting experience.