Mokpo Stories and Tips

Four Mondays to go...

Blue Monkey Photo, Mokpo, South Korea

Well i guess that the first thing thaat I should do is apologise for being such a slackarse at writing recently. I just haven't got into the habit of going to the PC bang in my new neighbourhood yet. I did try yesterday with the full intentions of fulfilling all of my emailing obilgations but the connection was so mind meltingly slow that by the time I had logged into my hotmail account my mind was a soggy mess. The PC at work is totally buggered too. Anyway, excuses over and onto the news.

Can you believe that I only have four Mondays left in Korea? I find it hard to get my head around that one myself. So hard in fact that Ih ave chosen to hide my head in the soju vat rather than face it. To that end I have been very busy at weekends of late. This weekend just gone is a prime example of what has become increasingly typical behaviour (though some would argue that I have always been like this).

Friday night was spent sitting in my house (house, room- it is all the same to me here) counting down the hours until Saturday morning when my weekend would really begin. Saturday saw me up early and standing at Mokpo Bus Terminal at 11am- very early by English teacher standards let me tell you! Once my friend, Rebecca, had arrived we got onthe bus to Gwangju (the big city about a 90 minute bus journey from the 'po) for (another) shopping trip. Four hours later we were on our way to Naju with the addition of two duffel coats, two friends and two bellies stuffed full of Burger King Whoppers. When I arrived in Korea last winter I was very taken with the duffel coats here and their myriad colours in particular and I determined that, come the next winter, I was buying me one of them coats. And I have been putting off the purchase and debating the expenditure ever since it got cold enough to wear mittens inthe classroom. though I don't have a lot of monye this month what with all the birthdays, saving and SOJU I managed to chase in all my loose change the other day to the tune of around 40 quid (and nearly pulled my arm out of the socket carrying it to the bank- think about 70,000 won in 100 won coins- that's a lot of coins).

I still wasn't convinced that I would be buying a jacket on this particular weekend but an hour after Rebecca had bought a fine red duffel coat it was possible to find me in Gwangju sporting a lovely green number and demanding to know if I looked like Paddington Bear. I think that I was swayed when the shop assistant did the toggles up for me and I was reminded of parental influences and so felt safe and warm. It is a lovely jacket and ever since I bought it, around 72 hours ago now, I have left the house an unusual amount of times just so that I can wear it. Given that I can't get my under floor heating to work I guess that I could have just worn it around the house but then complete stranger wouldn't get the chance to admire my Paddingtoness!

Anyway, back to the bus to Naju (where it was too hot to wear my new coat and so I had to console myself with just stroking it and asking my friends to tell me how beautiful it was- what is it about duffel coats that bring out the kid in us? Not helped byt the fact that I was also wearing mittens) on the way to a friend's birthday party. Rebecca had thoughtfully brought along a bag of tangerines for the journey. Tangerines have become one of my favourite things about winter in Korea. They come from the subtropical island of Jeju- about a five hour ferry ride from Mokpo on a good day and a six and a half hour ride from hell on a bad one. their abundance is rivalled only bu their cost as one of their cheif virtues. No wonder they hold a tangerine festival on jeju each year (according to touris literature that it is and entirely unwitnessed by me).

On arrival in Naju we went straight to the Birthday Girl's house and then onto the party. Things went fairly fast and soon me and Rebecca were donning our new coats and heading back out to buy more alcohol. Strangely enough I seem to remember that we came back with 12 bottles of soju, 4 of beer, 2 of lemonade, five plastic smiley candy-filled poos and one large broom a la Harry Potter. Things were starting to get dilly and so the arrival of two large creamy birthday cakes was bound to cause a stir. But it didn't take long to wash the cream off all of our faces and out of our hair and off the floor and walls and then the cream cake mayhem became another thing to file under 'Things to do with food after 20 bottles of soju and some tequila'. Sparks' 'Austin Powers speaking Korean' impressions were something that could only really be appreciaed by people who have lived here but will nonetheless remain engraved on my heart as one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

after the en-masse de-creaming and me writing my name on the boys' fridge with etheir Korean fridge magnets for about the fifieth time that night it was time to head onto the nori-bang. We had already sung more than one rousing chorus of 'Can't take my eyes offa you' before we realised that the chorus was pretty much all we knew. On consideration what we really needed was a TV screen with the words bouncing across it to help us out. And if some of those words could be in Konglish then mores the better.

We weren't disappointed and only finished up long after everyone's throats had given way and my suggestion of singing 'The Lonely Goatherd' had been vetoed for the sixth time. But the chaos was far from over as I realised that I had left my bag on the opposite side of town from where I was to be sleeping tha tnight. New duffel coat or not this was serious business and a mistake that I had plenty of time to regret as everyone traispsed around town with me. byt the time we got everything under one roof it was getting dangerously close to sunrise and therefore sleeping was no problem at all.

Sunday was one of my favourite kinds of days were I laze around feeling mildly guilty as other people cook my breakfast. The whole Naju crowd saw us off at the bus station and kept telling me that I should really just come back to Korea in the New Year. And given what a great weekend I had just had I have to admit that I am sorely tempted!

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