The Surgery (Part 2)

•January 8, 2013 • Leave a Comment

So, after my boss and head teacher arrived, I was transfered to a new hospital. One that was a bit cheaper and a bit closer to my home. That was Saturday night. My leg was too broken for me to get out of bed. I had a splint and bandages, but it still didn’t hold me together well. If I lifted my leg, my foot would move unnaturally and I’d experience intense, yet very expected pain. I could feel the bones grinding and moving. I couldn’t even go to the rest room. I had a urinal bottle next to my bed, which is rather humiliating. I was in a room with three other patients, all of them unable to speak English. The nurses also couldn’t speak English. The time before my surgery went like this:

Saturday night: My boss brought me chicken to eat. Then sleep.

Sunday: 8am, Breakfast. I need my bed elevated so I can even reach my food. My boss came after to help me brush my teeth. Noon, Lunch. Later, visits from some friends and co-workers. 5pm Dinner.

Monday: Same schedule of food. Less visits. A lot of naps. A bit of Korean TV. Simple conversations with my roommates. My doctor visited and said that I would get a nail in my leg to help the bone heal.

It looked like this:

That's definitely not a nail.

Definitely not what I call a nail.

I asked if it would hurt. The doctor didn’t mess around. His response was that it would hurt much worse than the original break. But then I would be recovering.

Tuesday finally came, the day of my surgery. In the morning, a simplified breakfast. Just soup and a little rice. No lunch. My boss was concerned because no one was there to care for me. Usually people are working on Tuesdays around 2pm. I managed to convince Sue to come and help me after she finished work at 6pm.

And then it was time. Around 2pm, nurses transfered me to a wheelchair and took my into the operating room. Understandably, I was terrified. No one could communicate with me, no one was there to help me, and they were about to cut my leg open and shove a titanium rod in there.

When I got into the surgery room, an anesthesiologist was there.

“Alright, get on this table,” he said, “Then curl up like this,” He made a gesture like a person rolling up into a ball.

“What? Uh, ok,” So I curled up a little on the table.

“Like a shrimp. In a little ball,” He said.

“Uh, my leg is broken. Fetal position is a bit impossible,” I replied.

“Ignore your leg and the pain, it will only take a second,”

So I did it. I curled myself into a ball.

“You’ll feel a dull pain because I’m sticking a needle in your spine,”

“Dull pain?” I laughed. And then found out he wasn’t down playing it. It really was a dull pain.

“Huh? Foreigners have harder backs than Koreans,” He said.

Now, that last line made me panic a little. What does that mean? Did the needle not go through? Do I need more?

“How do you feel?” He asked as he got me straightened out on the table.

“Scared.” I said.

“Lift your left leg,” he said. I tried, but I couldn’t get it more than a cm off the table. “Good,” he said, “Still scared?”

“A little,”

Then he punched me in my right shin. You know, where my leg is completely broken. I felt nothing.

“That was fracture site,” he laughed, “Now how do you feel?”

“Oh, well. Fine. Let’s do this!”

During the surgery, I was awake. And freezing cold. My hands kept losing circulation. For the most part, I felt nothing. A curtain blocked the surgery from view for the most part. The surgeon spoke English, so I could talk to him a bit. The surgery sounded like they were building a shed around my leg. I just heard metal hitting metal. Power drills. Staple guns. Some kind of ratchet. At one point, the doctor stepped back and I could see a huge blood covered drill, which isn’t terrible comforting. For the first two hours or so, I felt nothing. And then, I found I could move my left foot a little. And then I began to regain feeling. So I told my surgeon.

“I’m almost finished. Can you hang in there?” he asked.

“Do it. I’ll survive,” I said. I gritted my teeth and held in there. I slowly started to gain dull sensation, but nothing serious. Afterward, I was transfered back to my bed and told not to lift my head. They stuck me on some morphine. There was mild pain in my leg, but nothing serious.

In my bed, I felt better. Now I could recover. Before, I was just wasting time. When I picked up my phone, I had a message from Sue. She said she’d be there by the time I woke up. I laughed, since I had never gone to sleep. An hour or so later, she appeared. It was nice to have someone to talk to. Slowly, the pain in my leg increased. At first, it was nothing serious, but by the time 8pm rolled around, it hurt much more than the original break. Just intense pain. Like someone was scraping the contents of my leg out with a scoop. Around 10pm, I was allowed to lift my head and finally drink water. Then I ate some rice porridge  which, at that time was the tastiest thing I had ever eaten. Afterward, I ended up having a horrible fever, so Sue got some ice from the nurses and helped cool me down a bit. She really helped out. After she left, my boss arrived to check on me. Then was a long painful night of attempting to sleep.

The Fall (Part 1)

•January 3, 2013 • 2 Comments

Good morning! Long time no see. I got out of the habit of posting, but I had something happen to me recently that definitely needs sharing. I should return to the habit of posting frequently, but lets see how that goes. 

So this story starts early in December. To be precise, I think it was the 8th. I know it was a Saturday. Incheon suddenly decided that all foreigner English teachers needed to take a seminar once a year. Failure to attend could result in the school being closed, which is quite a pain, so naturally, my roommates and I went. It was actually a cool seminar….. If I had just arrived in Korea. I’ve been here something like 10 months. I don’t need much of an introduction to Korea and I don’t need to be sold on the idea of living here. Anyway, with that unpleasantness out of the way, now it was time for the weekend! 

So first, I called my friend Sue (English name) and invited her out for lunch. I had plans with her a few hours later, so I thought it would be nice to meet her earlier for lunch. Unfortunately, she was busy. So I left my apartment to go get lunch by myself. When I got up to the bus stop, my bus was just passing. I was going to run in the snow to try to catch it and often the bus won’t let you in anyway, so I thought, “Hell, I’ll just walk to the station. I’ve done that hundreds of times.” It was quite cold, but I thought it would be alright. 

So I walk, and I get about half way there. There is an outlet store roughly halfway between my apartment and the station. Usually, I stay on the side with the outlet and walk to the station, which is a not-very-scenic route next to a bus depot and and parking lot. I was in a good mood, so I thought I’d cross the street and walk next to the park. A change of pace! And lo, the traffic light just changed so I can cross! So I began to cross the street, and when I was a few paces from the other side, my foot slipped. Things get a bit blurry here. I remember that my right leg moved to the left, and I remember a sharp cracking sound. I don’t really remember hitting the ground, but I remember looking down and seeing my foot twist in an impossible angle. I remember crying out and dozens of hands grasping my body and pulling me to the curb. I fell. And my leg was broken. 

After that point, my memory was sharp. Sitting, leaning against a lamp post in the gray, mucky snow. I shouted in Korean for someone to call 119 (the 911 of Korea) and then calmly leaned against the rail. In the crowd, a foreigner stepped forward.

“Hey man, what happened?” He said.

“I fell. My leg is broken.” I said.

“Did a car hit you?” He said.

“I don’t think so. I think I just slipped and landed wrong,” I said, “Can you wait with me until the ambulance gets here? I don’t want to pass out.”

“Yeah, sure,” He said.

So we made small talk. We talked about the leg a little, but for obvious reasons I kind of wanted to steer away from that particular topic. At once point I tried to call the head teacher of my school, but couldn’t get through. I also called Sue, but also couldn’t get through. I ended up sending a text to Sue saying, “I’m sorry, but I will be late this evening. I broke my leg,” and to the head teacher “My leg is broken, please help me,”

Eventually, and ambulance drove right past on accident, and then came back around to pick me up. It took about five minutes for the paramedics to get my toes pointed the right way and to splint me leg up enough to travel. The foreigner and I parted ways, and I was now in an ambulance. The guy in the back had a series of questions for me and a look on his face that said I don’t speak English, how do I deal with this guy. So I told him I speak some Korean, and then answered all his questions. Then I gave him my Alien Registration Card so he could have my address. That was much easier than trying to recite the damn thing. 

When I got to the Emergency Room, I was still calm. I apologized to several cute nurses for my poor Korean, but they laughed and said not to apologize. Eventually, a doctor talked to me for a couple minutes about what happened. Then another doctor came up. 

“Hello, James. Do you know what is wrong with you?” The doctor asked in English.

“Yeah, my leg is broken,” I smirked.

“Woah there,” he said, “Let’s not jump to any conclusions. How do you know it is broken?”

“First, my toes aren’t supposed to point that way. Second, the look on the girl’s face when she lifted my pant’s leg,” I then laughed.

“Well, let’s not get ahead of the facts. We’ll x-ray you first,” He said. I laughed and shook my head. 

“Come on, you know it’s broken. We need an x-ray to see how bad it is. Give it to me straight,” I said. It seemed ludicrous that the doctor was doubting my leg was broken. 

Next, I was rolled into the x-ray room, which meant a lot of rotation of my leg. I knew then that I broke both bones in my calf. Tibia and fibula. My foot was an independent part of my body, no only attached as normal. I could still move my toes, but everything hurt like hell.

After that, I calmly laid on my table waiting for the doctor. My thought was that they would set my leg, I would have a cast and crutches and I’d be out of there. I also hoped I would get some painkillers. Finally, the doctor came back.

“It’s broken. Both tibia and fibula.” he said.

“Haha! I told you it was broken,” I laughed and grimaced slightly.

“You need surgery. Do you want it here or do you want to be transfered to another hospital,”

“Oh shit. Oh man that isn’t good at all,” I laughed and put my hand over my eyes, “Damn, you’re going to put metal in my leg aren’t you. I need my boss,”

“Well, we’ll give you a pain shot, then we’ll reduce you leg and get the bones lined up,” he said, “It will hurt a little,”

“Come on, it won’t hurt a little. It’ll be the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life, won’t it,” I laughed as they started to roll me into another room. I pulled out my phone and began frantically trying to get a hold of someone I worked with. A nurse gave me a shot.

Then the doctor lifted my leg and twisted the bones back into place. I cried out and gripped the side of the stretcher I was on. My muscles tightened.

“Relax, don’t tense up!” he said.

“How the hell do you do that?” I asked, laughing though my gritted teeth. And then I had my answer. I let out a breath, and my body lost all tension. I was relaxed. Perhaps it was the shot I got earlier. 

While they continued twisting my leg, my phone rang. It was my head teacher. She said she would be there as soon as she could. She asked me where I was. I handed the phone to the doctor. After getting my leg set, they rolled me behind a curtain to rest. Now I felt safer and I had a pain killer in my veins. I laid there for a minute or two, then blacked out. 

Suddenly, I woke up. And my head teacher, Sunny, came around the corner. 

“Oh my God, James, What happened?” She asked. And for the first time since the fall, I cracked. 

“I fell, Sunny,” I said quietly, “And now, I’ll be late for my date tonight,” 

I laughed, but now tears came out too. 

“I need surgery, Sunny, it is really bad,” now I wasn’t smiling, “I’ll have a scar and a metal plate like my father,”

And then I cried. Then I laughed a bit. 

“I can’t stop,” I said through the tears. 

“Don’t worry, it’ll be alright,” Sunny said.

Now then, sorry for the long stretch of text with no pictures. This is of course, not the end of the story, but the story is very long. Tomorrow or later tonight I will type up Part 2 of my epic, extremely painful adventure. 

Happy Things

•June 21, 2012 • Leave a Comment

While the last post was a bit heavy, this one will be pretty light and airy.

As….people….may know? Actually… let’s try that again. I go to Culcom, which is a language exchange cafe. I’ve been going there pretty regularly since I got my phone and I’ve made numerous friends there. I’ve also learned a fair amount of Korean and I haven’t paid anything for it, which is fantastic. Anyway, a week or so after starting there, the manager’s cat appeared. Nabi is her name. Now, I’m allergic to cats, so I was rather concerned with Nabi’s presence, but for some reason I have no reaction unless I pick up and play with Nabi, so she must have less dander than most cats or something.

Anyway, Nabi got pretty annoying the first few weeks I encountered her because she was in heat. Always wandering around making that weird, mournful cat sound that cats in heat normally make.

And then she stopped.

And then she started getting huge. Nabi became pregnant. Last week, it looked like a furry bowling ball had been taped to the poor animal. I was afraid she was going to explode before she managed to come to term. And then, this week….. Well…. This happened:

Image

Actually, eight of those happened. There is a huge pile of kittens now. Nabi looks deflated and wanders the cafe aimlessly when she isn’t feeding the kittens. Even though I’m allergic, I couldn’t help but pick one up and take pictures with it. They’re small and adorable. I was worried that the cats would grow up and there would be 9 cats wandering the cafe, making it impossible for me to study there with my allergies, but I’ve been told they’ll be sold/given away after they get a bit bigger and healthier.

For me, seeing these tiny kittens was a highlight of my day, but when I got to work and showed the photos, no one was really that impressed. Maybe you just have to see them in person.

I also got a fan from one of my co-teachers, Annie. Her mother hand-painted the design on it. Having the fan is pretty helpful since it has gotten so much hotter these days.

Image

Long Nights

•June 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Well, it sure has been a while. Sorry about the absence. After replacing the computer cable, I was usually busy with something which kept me from posting. I already explained that whole mess in another post, so I won’t bore you with the redundancy. 

About a week and a half ago I went to an international party with a couple friends. I’m not hugely interested in parties, but it sounded like a pretty cool idea initially. The whole thing started out not terribly promising… A long bus ride into Seoul, a 20,000W entry fee, and we sat at a table that filled up with a loud guy’s loud friends. But after being there for a while, things warmed up. The guy and his friends kind of conquered one end of the table, while me and one of my friends had the other half of the table, which was pretty much just me, him and a lot of Korean girls. 

It was one of the times that my arduous study of the Korean language was paying off. When I learned French and Spanish, they were able to grow by leaps and bounds. Every study session I knew more things than the time before. But with Korean, which sounds so unfamiliar and is something I’m constantly surrounded by, the growth is almost impossible for me to perceive. I struggle to remember new words and I’m constantly exposed to the language, so there is a continuous reminder of how much I don’t know. 

I introduced myself to the girls in Korean, and they were shocked and pleased that I had put forth the effort to learn the language. One of the girls spoke very little English, so she was kind of ignored, but she could communicate with me some and I was putting forth effort to communicate to her. A week earlier than this, I spoke exclusively in Korean for about 10 minutes, which I didn’t think I’d be able to do, and now I was communicating well enough to be slightly impressive. These two times were the rare instances that I felt any pride in my fledgling Korean skill.

Anyway, eventually the party ended and we went to another bar with a few of the people we met. Eventually, we ended up walking to Hongdae which was pretty close. I looked after the girl who spoke only a little English because she had been drinking a lot and her shoes were pretty low quality or quite old, so they were falling off her feet. She also kept dropping her phone, which I held on to in order to keep it safe. 

We ended up dancing for a while in a club, but I got kind of tired of the atmosphere and everything, so I stepped outside for some fresh air. Essentially, four of us stepped out at the same time. Me, a loud guy, Dean, and the girl that spoke very little English. I felt kind of low at this point. I don’t drink excessively, but for a couple weeks I had been out at bars and clubs with friends, and I really couldn’t see the point at the time. Anyone I met at these clubs or bars would end up a passing acquaintance and not much more. I ended up calling a friend of mine. I wanted to leave this group of strangers and end the night with a close friend. 

About the time he arrived, the night descended into chaos. 

Dean had left for some air first. I came out after him. I didn’t see the girl come out. I watched the loud guy go to a different club. He said he wanted to go to a place more to his taste. Around the time my older friend got there, the rest of the group came out of the club and found me sitting on the curb. They asked about the girl first. I didn’t know she left. I had no idea where she was. So they asked about Dean. I said he exited alone before I did. I said the loud guy went to a different club. So now, Dean and this girl were missing. Dean wasn’t answering his phone and the girl couldn’t answer hers since it was in the hands of her neighbor who was with us.

So our group fractures. We search the club again. We talk to the bouncer. We look around the nearby streets. I’m worried, but I realize if they aren’t in the club there is almost nothing we can do. That block had about 20 other bars and clubs, and I was pretty confident that Dean wasn’t dead. I just had to wait for him to call. As for the girl, I was more worried about her, but I knew she couldn’t have gone far without shoes. It meant either Dean found her and she was safe with him, or someone else found her and all we could do is call the police. 

My older friend said we should just leave since Dean would be fine and we didn’t know the girl. The Korean soldier in our group put on this valiant “lets scour every inch of the block” act. The girls were worried but said there was nothing we could do. I didn’t want to leave, but there was nothing I could do. At the same time, giving up was overly callous. I was torn between the opinions of my older friend and the soldier. The neighbor and the soldier went back into the bar again, and I suggested a compromise for the rest of us. We’d go to a place near by and eat something. We were close enough to see the club and we had contact with the rest of the group. We didn’t have to be miserable and we didn’t need to feel like we abandoned some poor girl.

In the end, we found Dean and the girl. They were in a park nearby. He found her after she went to get fresh air and he bought her some coffee. She got excited and wanted to watch a street performance, so they went to the park. He followed her to keep an eye on her. When he finally looked at his phone he found the missed calls from us and called me. On his way to meet me, he found the soldier and the neighbor. The soldier cussed him out and tore into him for what he did and then stormed off. Our group was now completely united, at least who was left. We helped the other girls get a cab home, and then I went with the lost girl and her neighbor since they live relatively close to me. Dean and my older friend decided to wander around a bit. 

The girl was really happy we helped look after her and she got home fine. The next morning, I was predictably sick. I decided that I was done with nightlife for a while. Not in the same way that everyone says “I’m never drinking again” when they wake up sick. This past weekend I went out Friday night, but the rest of the weekend I wasn’t drinking or anything. On Sunday, I met with the Mannam Organization to do some volunteer work and to take some Korean lessons. I don’t want to waste my time here in Korea looking for people my group lost in clubs, nor do I really even want to spend that much time in clubs in the first place. 

Anyway, this post has dragged on long enough. I’ll be posting again later with something shorter and not as depressing. 

Death (but not mine)

•May 27, 2012 • 1 Comment

Well, there has been a notable absence of blog posts coming from me, but it isn’t because of me being too busy, or because I’m not doing interesting things. Something else occurred. Maybe a week and a half ago I was on my computer when I noticed something strange. I was plugged into a wall outlet, but my computer said it only had 3 hours of battery left. I thought that was a bit strange, so I checked the light on the magnetic charger that was plugged into the side of my machine. 

No light.

So I followed the cable. Surely it just came unplugged or something like that. No such luck. When I got to the square box on the charger, it had turned from white (although scratched and worn from years of use) into a faint grey color with black streaks. Apparently it burned up from the inside. I was glad it didn’t cause a fire or anything, but that also meant I only had three hours until my computer would go to sleep and then I would be without a machine until I could replace the cable. I quickly attempted to locate an Apple store in Korea. I didn’t have a lot of luck, but I found a few locations.

So that Friday at work I had no machine. Friday night I went on a bit of an adventure with some friends and got home really late. On Saturday I went looking for an Apple store, but couldn’t find it. On Sunday, I remained at my apartment to greet our new coworker who just arrived. Then from Monday until Thursday I had language exchange and work, meaning I had no time to go after the cable. And then on Friday I had to be at work real early for a business outing. It wasn’t until yesterday that I got a chance to go get a cable.

I decided it wasn’t worth it to attempt to find an Apple store. I enjoy going to Yongsan and visiting the I Park Mall there. There are about 5 floors of computer parts, a huge bookstore, plenty of food options, and plenty of clothing options including a really massive Uniqlo. I knew that with 5 floors of computer stores, there had to be at least one that sold a magsafe power adaptor. On the third floor I found a guy that sold Apple machines and asked him where I could find a charger. He pointed me to a store a little farther down that had all kinds of Apple accessories. I finally found the part I needed, although I was rather shocked by the price. I wasn’t ripped off, the guy sold it to me for the same price it is sold online at the apple store, but I still had to pay nearly a hundred dollars for the damn cable. 

I’ll be updating again soon with another article that is more interesting, but I wanted to at least put this up there. I know I have family that read this blog and my absence make make it seem like I’ve died. In this case, I haven’t, but my machine had for a bit. 

Let’s get back to the regularly scheduled programming. 

Things I’ve eaten

•May 12, 2012 • 1 Comment

Looking at my adventures that have occurred over the period of my absence, I thought two particular entries sounded fun to write. My first Korean hike, and a run down of things I’ve eaten. The post  about the hike will have to wait a bit. It will have more background information and stuff in it and less pictures, so I’ll write it a bit later. Besides, since I love cooking and I love eating things, writing about food sounds like fun.

Silkworm Pupa (번데기)

This is actually something I really wanted to eat shortly after I arrived. It is silkworm pupae boiled in water with some seasoning. In the United States, very few insects are eaten normally, so my chances to eat bugs are rather limited. Here in Korea, silkworm pupae can be purchased from street vendors (honestly, I’ve only seen them in Insadong so far) and are sometimes eaten as a snack. In my case, a friend and I went into a drinking establishment that also served food. Or possibly a restaurant that sold a lot of drink? Either way, these were set on the table.

Now, even if you can’t tell that they’re silkworm pupae, you can tell immediately that they’re bugs. There is no doubt about that. Many of the foreigners I’ve met in Korea haven’t eaten this yet. I’ve only met one person who had tried them. I had asked them how they taste and he had said, “exactly like you would expect a bug to taste.”  At the time, I hated that answer. So vague and unhelpful. But then I ate one. And that is exactly what I thought. I didn’t really have some preconception in my mind of what a bug tasted like, but while I was chewing this pupa, I thought, “What the hell did I expect? This is exactly what a bug should taste like.”  I think I might give them another try if they were set on my table again, but I wouldn’t seek them out. I didn’t particularly like eating them. I’ve talked to many of my Korean friends about them and I’ve found that girls generally don’t like them, and that older guys usually do. Again, that is kind of exactly what you expect.

Samgyetang (삼계탕)

Despite how horrifying looking the picture of this one is, it is actually a pretty normal dish. Samgyetang is a chicken soup. It has a whole chicken in it, ginseng, garlic, some boiled egg yolks, and some other good stuff. The wood seen in the picture is a medicinal branch that is supposed to be very good for you. The place we ate at was recommended to us by Tiger. The chicken was house raised and everything was made from scratch. Before eating the soup, I was given a pill to prevent an allergic reaction. I’m not sure what part of the soup caused the reaction, but my friends explained that it did cause a reaction in some people and it would tear up your stomach.

The soup was really pretty good, but despite the fact that wood and bones were floating in it, it was more or less just a chicken soup. It wasn’t radically different from chicken soups I’ve eaten before, although it does contain many ingredients I’m not used to. Actually, the most shocking thing about this meal was the price. The restaurant we went to was pretty pricy. This was the second most expensive meal I’ve eaten in Korea.

Sea Squirt, or Ascidian (멍게)

Ascidians are very strange looking sea creatures, and one of the many things in the ocean I have not yet gotten to eat. They were on my list of things to eat here since I had seen them in fish marts and restaurant fish tanks and they aren’t an animal I’m used to seeing in the states. Like the silkworm pupae above, this one kind of fell into my lap. I was out drinking with two of my good friends when they ordered this. We actually tried to get a live octopus, but they were sold out.

Despite the bright color, the flesh has a texture not unlike a clam or oyster or some shell-based creature like that. The taste isn’t like that at all though. It has a mild, mollusk like flavor, but it is also sour tasting, almost ammonia-like. This sour attribute isn’t something shaken easily. The sea squirt came with a hot pepper sauce mixed with wasabi and a sesame oil mixed with salt. The flavor when mixed with the hot pepper sauce was fantastic, although with the sesame oil it didn’t mix as well. At the same place we got a sea cucumber that was still alive despite being chopped up. It had a mild flavor and a somewhat unpleasant texture, but it went well with the sesame oil and it also went well with my soju.

A Live Octopus

I have some video footage of this, but the footage didn’t come out very good because it was so dark where we were eating it. And I didn’t take any pictures. If you can’t imagine what it looks like, there is an abundance of footage on youtube. I plan to eat this again, so when I do I can upload some footage of my own. This dish was the number one thing I wanted to try in Korea. A live octopus has its tentacles cut off and they continue to move and dance around for quite a while. After a bit they had stopped moving, but the moment they were disturbed by my chopsticks, they went crazy again. I had heard that this dish was somewhat dangerous to eat because the octopus can grasp the inside of your throat and you can choke on it. This had me nervous about it since I had been drinking and didn’t expect a live octopus to arrive at the table. It just happened suddenly because my Korean friend ordered it while we were drinking together. But any fear of choking dissipated as soon as I started eating. The octopus came with two sauces, a red pepper sauce and sesame oil with salt, the same as the sea squirt, only minus the wasabi. If the tentacle was dipped in either sauce before being eaten, the octopus couldn’t grab hold of anything in my mouth. Additionally, most of the tentacles kind of gave up in my mouth. I could only faintly feel any movement after they got in there. I had one or two that were aggressive and I ate a piece without sauce to see how it would feel for it to grab in my mouth, but other than that, I can’t imagine someone choking unless they didn’t dip the octopus parts in sauce and then attempted to swallow the arm without chewing. I had expected it to be similar to eating raw octopus, only with the gimmick of movement, making it interesting to eat one time, but not worth eating regularly. But I actually thoroughly enjoyed eating it while drinking soju. I wouldn’t hesitate to eat it again.

Chicken Feet (닭발)

I went to eat chicken feet twice, but only ate them one time. The first was with a buddy of mine who told me chicken feet were popular with girls, so it was good to go to eat chicken feet if we wanted to meet girls. The other guy we were with got impatient and wanted to go to a bar instead, so we left the restaurant before we got in. Later, I was with a few friends of mine who are girls, and they took me to eat chicken feet (which seems to confirm my male friend’s statement).

The strange thing about chicken feet is that I can’t say a single thing about them that makes them sound delicious. Despite that, I really enjoyed eating them and I loved the taste. They’re a bit spicy. They have a strange, strange texture. They’re full of tiny, tiny bones. we were given gloves to wear while we ate them to keep our hands clean, and we had a plate to spit out the little bones. I imagine any reader would not think this sound all that appetizing, but to me it has some of the same appeal that buffalo wings had in the states. I was also told that girls liked chicken feet because they contain collagen and are good for the skin.

Pig’s Feet (족발)

Which brings me to this dish. Pig’s feet. They’re also collagen rich and very popular with girls here. Both chicken and pig’s feet strike me as a drinking food, especially since the American equivalents of buffalo wings and pickled pig’s feet are more or less drinking foods. Despite this, most of the Korean girls I know here love pig’s feet for the benefits it gives their skin. Chicken feet seem slightly less popular because of they are much spicier and full of bones.

Eating pig’s feet reminded me of eating a juicy roast. The meat was pretty fatty and chewy, but it was good. I ate this at one of Tiger’s friend’s restaurant. I liked the pig’s feet the best with green onion and a sweet sauce with it, although I didn’t take a picture of it. The owner of the restaurant was pretty generous and let me try a few dishes. If I can ever find his restaurant in Bucheon again, I’ll definitely go.

One of the things that makes me glad I chose to come to Korea instead of Japan, is that most of the cuisine is unknown to me. At least once a week I end up eating something completely new that I’ve never had before, and a lot of it is incredibly delicious.

An Explanation of Absence.

•May 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Well, as you noticed, I haven’t posted in a while. There are two basic reasons for this. I’ve been alternating between being “to busy to write” and “not in the mood to write”. For the most part, I’ve felt like I have less to say from the point of view of a travel blog these days. I haven’t quite been “seeing the sights” as much as I was when I first arrived.

That’s how I’ve felt, but it isn’t terribly accurate. Basically, while I used to be a stranger in a strange land, I’m now pretty comfortable. I’m learning Korean, slowly but steadily. I have a lot of friends (almost all of them are Korean) and some of them possess personalities like the groups I used to hang out with in the States. I spend time with friends a lot. Hiking, shopping, eating, studying, etc. It isn’t really the kind of stuff I can do a whole write up on is how I generally feel, as my life has more or less settled into a life. One not radically different from when I was in the States, but considerably less miserable.

But that may be because I’ve grown desensitized by my own adventurous nature. Since my last post, I went on my first Korean hike, I met an ex-gangster called “The King of the Night”, I’ve visited a booking club, eaten a live octopus, eaten a live sea cucumber, eaten a sea squirt, eaten chicken feet, eaten pigs feet, met another bar owner, met an opera singer, eaten silk worm cocoons or possibly larva, been to a noraebang a few time, learned to approach and flirt with girls who can’t speak my language, been in one of the hottest clubs in Seoul, eaten a hamburger from a guy on the street after being out until 6am while with a good friend of mine (this happened twice), eaten some kind of chicken soup that contained a house raised chicken that required me to take drugs before eating it to prevent an allergic reaction of some kind, and I also got a date with one of the most beautiful girls I think I have ever seen.

Looking back, I’ve been on some wild rides. I always have the intention to write, but I spend 11 hours a day doing school related stuff, Monday until Thursday (8 hours are at work, 3 hours are casual study and language exchange). Add in the time it takes to eat and shower and ride buses, I have almost no time to write on those days. On Friday, I usually sleep in, then workout for an hour before I go to work. That night I usually go out with friends. Then the weekend starts and becomes a non-stop roller coaster.

This weekend will probably be more relaxed. I either won’t go out Friday, or it will be an abbreviated night since I need to be in good condition on Saturday. I’m thinking Saturday I may go see a movie and then my date starts at 6pm. I should have time to tell the tale of one of my adventures either Friday morning or Saturday morning.

The only possible difficulty I foresee is a recent lethargy that has befallen me and my co-workers. I definitely don’t feel sick, but I have no appetite and I’m a bit worn out . I felt fantastic on Monday, but as the week continues I feel burnt out. I think it is either the changing season, or it is because I’m looking forward to the weekend so much. I usually look forward to the week as well since I enjoy my Korean studies and spending time with my study group so much, but this time I just can’t wait for Saturday….