Historytown: Bamfing Like a Tourist

Greetings!

Today it was blazing hot once again, and I wanted to get to a lot of the sights in this splendidly historical city, so I did something really touristy and went on an all day bus tour. Worth it. Sayin’ it now, totally worth it. It cost probably about double what it would have cost me to do it solo, but god knows I would have gotten lost 28 times, so in the end it saved me time and frustration on a ridiculously sweltering day.

Now, the tour was totally in Korean, which was whatever because I was just going to use my guidebook and any English printed signs as my source of context; however, at our first destination of the day, the younger generation of Koreans proved themselves once again to be super baller and I met this couple in their 20s who had pretty awesome English and were really excited to have a days worth of practice. I managed to teach them words like lily pads and observatory, while they provided me with companionship as well as serving as an awesome translator for the ENTIRE 8 hour tour. Here they are: the guy’s name is Joon and the girl’s name (she was more shy and not as confident so she gave me her English name) is Julia.


The day was incredible. I saw a TON of Korean buildings, other structures, and artifacts, many of which were literally between 1,000-2,000 years old. Being able to experience that kind of history was absolutely incredible. It got me thinking about America a little bit, and got me all pissed off about imperialism (what doesn’t though) and how so much of our history pre-colonization was just shat all over and destroyed…its really sad. Anyway, I’ll get back to Korea.

I put on a bit of my ethnomusicologist hat today which got me all sorts of excited.

 

This is one of the ancient bells used in Korean Buddhist worship services, weighed almost 20,000 kg and resonates for over three minutes.

I also had the chance to listen to Buddhist monks chant which had me absolutely enthralled. I sat there for almost ten minutes and would have listened longer had my tour not been moving on. I was shocked and excited to hear polyphony happening as i thought these types of chants were only monophonic or heterophonic. There weren’t any pictures allowed, but I managed to get an audio recording; however, I’m not sure if that was ethical or not…I’m definitely not going to post it, and I might delete it from my own personal records out of guilt.

Lastly, here are just a few more pics from the rest of the day.

 

A pair of beautiful and super old pagodas.

 

 

Oldest pagoda in Korea, I believe lol.

 

 

 

This one is from a temple sans-monks where you were allowed to take pictures. The things hanging from the ceiling are lanterns where a person writes their dream and then prays for happiness. The things along the walls are tiny Buddhas with name cards to remember the dead.

 

 

Biggest tomb in all of Korea!

All right, well that is all for now. Good morning to America and good day to the rest of the world. It has been awesome to see my blog regularly getting readers from 4+ countries on any given day. 🙂

Miss you all!

eastmeetsweston

 

A Hot Mess in a More Literal Sense than Usual

Greetings!

Today I made the solo trek to Gyeoungju, which was the capitol of Korea for most of the first millenium Anno Domini, and a lot of the old, historic shit has survived so this tiny city is often referred to as “the museum without walls.” Not a bad claim to fame, I must say. #likeaboss

After getting up and going at a sincerely leisurely pace, making the hourish bus ride out here and getting a little confused (read lost) once arriving, I made it to my guest house, aka hostel, by midafternoon.

After checking in and whatnot, I thought an awesome idea would be to hike up a mountain in the 100 degree heat (or 38ish if you aren’t in the US). I clearly am great at making good life choices as I’m sure you all know by now. Anyway, despite turning into a sweaty mess, the hike was actually a pretty good time. It was nice to be all up in a wooded area and whatnot. Speaking of good decisions, I did the hike in my Converse shoes; I decided my tennis shoes were too clunky to pack in my travel bag. #priorities

Here are some pics from my hike!

Oh you know, just some tombs of some kings. nbd.

just a cute little pagoda at a temple I stopped by.

Beautiful Buddha statue hidden up on a pile of rocks up in the mountain.

The *sigh* responsible person inside me recognized the signs from my body and decided to turn around once I got to a hermitage about a little over a kilometer from the peak. I blame the BSA for my acute sense of outdoor responsible-ness. Here are some pretty flowers and paper lanterns decorating the hermitage area.

Lastly, sorry if my posts this week are going to be largely chronology based (i.e. I did this and that and this) as opposed to just non-linear observations that I usually prefer to write; however, being out and about and not at my home base I will probably be sticking to that kind of standard kinda thing. Hope you still enjoy it! Love hearing from you all in the comments section.

Miss you all!

eastmeetsweston

The Sun is Your Friend, I Promise!

Greetings!

Today I made a day trip to Busan (the 2nd biggest city in Korea, next to Seoul, of course) with my friend Emily. One of the most pleasant parts of the trip was that I really got to know a lot more about her. People are oftentimes the most exciting part of any adventure.

Well we headed out from Ulsan on a bus that was only about $5 and it took us about an hour to get there. #quicktrip

When we got there we enjoyed a wonderful walk along Haeundae Beach which was beautiful and INSANELY crowded. It was nice to get some sun, but many of the Koreans on the beach seemed to disagree with that sentiment. Koreans hate the sun. lol. They don’t want to tan at all! The beach was lined (and I mean LINED, see the pic below, it was crazy ridiculous) with umbrellas to shade them from the scary rays shooting down from the sky. Those who did venture from their umbrellas into the water often went in full clothing. I’m talking long-sleeved button down shirts, jeans, hoodies, anything…like regular ass clothes, just goin’ all up in the water. Oh Korea…lol.

After our enjoyment of the sun and water was complete we went to the Busan aquarium and enjoyed all of the wonderful sea life up close that spent their lives in the ocean that we had just vacated.


(this precious tank was too adorable for me not to take a picture)

We then enjoyed BURRITOS! Yes, just around the corner is a Q’doba or Chipotle in the US, but this was a big deal for us. I have never enjoyed a mediocre burrito more in my life. Posting a picture of my food sans Instagram filter, but you all can just deal with it.

To finish our day, we went to Shinsegae Department Store, which is the biggest department store in the world. This is not a dramatic, Weston thing. It is really the biggest, and it had every crazy expensive brand name one could think of which clearly petrified my poor boy soul, but we did find a newly opened H&M which I plan to raid in a month or so when I have a bit more cash on hand. So after 9 floors of expansive stores (bam, enjoy that rhyming) we were exhausted and took our bus back to our wonderful city, Ulsan.

Hope you are all having a great weekend! I am going to be doing a bit of travelling this upcoming week since we don’t have school, so, if I am adequately wired and not completely exhausted, there should be some fun adventure posts.

Miss you all!

eastmeetsweston

17 Again

Greetings!

I just got back a bit ago from a work dinner. People go out late here in Korea, especially when you work until almost 10. Work dinners consist of my three coteachers (all Korean) and I going somewhere to eat, and a lot of it is me just sitting there, nodding and smiling, because much of the conversation is happening in Korea, because it is clearly tiring and much more difficult for them to have their entire conversation in English, and they want to just kick back. I don’t blame them, but it makes for some awkward times for the foreign teacher involved (me).

Its pretty baller though because when you go out for a meal with my school, my director pays, and the recently post-university kid inside me always loves free food. My coteachers are damn nice, so they really do try to include me as often as possible (bless their hearts).

Around midnight as we were enjoying some ice cream (SO GOOD, I was devouring my tiny cup), when my boss turned to me, and, out of nowhere said “so something I was curious. Are you straight?”

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The above is my immediate response. It was a complete deer in the headlights response. I sat there staring for what was probably 10 seconds…it was rough. My thought was “SHIT…should I just pack my bags now?”

Seeing the look in my eyes and obviously noticing my lack of immediate response, my director said “is that rude?” and my other coteacher chimed in with “if you aren’t that is fine!”

At hearing that, I breathed a sigh of relief and my heart began to settle a bit. In retrospect, this is all a bit funny since I haven’t had to “come out” to anyone since I was 17. I have been broin’ out in my queerness with complete openness, however, I knew coming to Korea that they weren’t incredibly keen on the gays, so I was totally content on just keepin’ quiet about it. Whatever, not a big deal. Not something I would be cool with in the states, but when in Korea.

After processing this, I responded, telling them that yeah, I’m gay and I told them about Matt and whatnot, and they were completely cool. I apparently was not their first gay coteacher. Being a small school, they try to get to know their foreign teachers, be their friend and whatnot, so they had previous interaction with a “gay,” I guess they are pretty cool Koreans.

Another reason that I was so surprised by this question is that Koreans don’t understand the Western ideas of gay performance, so the “cues” that would be picked up in a heartbeat in the US would go completely over the heads of most Koreans. I have noticed this firsthand and have been told this by countless other foreigners.

So, relieved that that all went over well and I will not be fired/banished/flogged by my school. It was definitely interesting to get that momentary flashback to the 17-year old Weston that was petrified with each coming out experience. My coworkers even said they want me to be comfortable with them and be able to talk to them (how sweet!).

I am still up since we went to a coffee shop after midnight, and, as most of you know, Weston doesn’t regularly do coffee, hence the 4 am blog post.

Hope you enjoyed this little tale of my petrifying/surprisingly nice experience of an evening.

Miss you all!

In all my wonderful queerness,

eastmeetsweston

PACKAGE HAUL

I think haul videos are ridiculously stupid and entertaining at the same time (like many of my video enjoyments), so I made one because I got a package from my family today! Full of things that I loooove! I kept the video short, partially so that you didn’t have to watch me drool over food for a long time and partially so I could go have a night of pure indulging while I read a trashy book and watch me some youtube #goodlife

 

 

Just Call Me Sporty Spice

Greetings!

Yesterday, I went with some friends to my first soccer game!

It was in a pretty baller stadium that was apparently used previously for world cup events, so that’s super cool.

We all had a beer on the bus ride over, because that is perfectly acceptable here, which still freaks me out even though I know its ok.

I went with my three friends (from right to left) Nancy, Justin, and Jason. We were later joined by a guy named Brett who I surprisingly already knew from my Korean class, so that was a fun surprise.

Turns out soccer is SUPER COOL. Who knew. I surprisingly really enjoyed the game and would DEFINITELY love to go back. Here is my best attempt at an action shot. I’m not a photographer, so good thing you find me endearing anyway.

One of the funnier moments of the evening was my discovering of the following sign:

Yes…that is real. I have no idea what it means, and the Koreans probably don’t either, but it was there and it was awesome.

Anyway, back to the game! Ulsan Hyundai was victorious! YAY! (that’s our team, cheer!). Here is our team reigning supreme in the blue, and the opponents laying down in defeat, bwahaha.

 

On another subject, Mail News: I GOT TWO LETTERS IN ONE DAY! 1 from my parents and 1 from my Grandpa Nancy & Grandpa Howard. I was so pumped about getting two letters at once that I couldn’t wait to get home to read them and I opened them at my desk at school. That was a bad idea. Even though I was convinced I was feeling completely emotionally stable today (that was probably my first mistake lol), the moment I started reading the cards I started to tear up. Luckily I had gotten to school somewhat early so there weren’t a lot of people around and I was able to keep the emotional outburst to a minimum, but that lesson has definitely been learned. Save the love for when I am not at work; otherwise, it won’t pan out well.

 

 

(ilovemailsendmemaililoveit)

Miss you all!

eastmeetsweston