Monsoon season does not just hit Southeast Asia in the summertime. July marked the end of a drought & the start of a constant downpour over here in Korea, too, with just a few random sunny days tossed in there all month. I assume that it will continue into August, even while I’m off gallivanting in Cambodia. Forced to stay inside & in Yeongwol almost all month, I got a lot of writing and chocolate-making done, and I look forward to more after my 22nd birthday, the aforementioned Cambodia trip, and a day in Chuncheon in August.
Days Danced: 2
Days Sick: 0
Highs & Lows & Scary Doctors— Oh My!
My boyfriend stayed with me during July to work at a local rafting business, so most of my weekends were spent resting at home, going to appointments and working on the site you’re reading right now! Highlights include: seeing the movie Okja in theatres, making my first batch of milk chocolate in Korea, and having Korean beef twice.
Lowlights were distracted days spent desk-warming, when an ajumma (older woman) pulled down my long skirt and embarrassed me on the train on the way home from an excruciatingly long day trip out of Seoul, and way too many annual doctor’s appointments. I seriously dread those appointments. I still think my mom should be coming in with me to deal with the insurance, much less it just being me trying to communicate in a very foreign tongue I’ve barely mattered the basics of.
From the moment I step in, I’m nervous. All the co-pays are coming from my wallet now, and boy is that cash some scary weight to lose. Ten months in, I went to a chiropractor for the first time in nearly a year, and he told me that I have a touch of scoliosis, for which he prescribed medication as well as twice weekly physical therapy. He was located in a city nearly an hour away, and back in the US my treatment was only every two months or so… needless to say I did the therapy then and filled the prescription, though I have noticed no improvement. Whether they are there to check on my teeth, back, lady parts, or an errant mole, I’m not looking forward to the check-up, and I have yet to meet anyone who thinks differently.
Another Independence Day Abroad
For the all-important Fourth of July celebration, I made cupcakes for my tiny travel school, and we decorated them & ate grilled pork belly to celebrate. Actually, I don’t really know why we had pork belly, but serendipity took over and I was very happy to take the meal as a celebration. So viva la France! No wait. Long live America! July started off strong, in fact, as that same weekend I both started & finished the creation of over five pounds of my house-made 60% Goat’s Milk Chocolate, with a third of it set aside for aging and the other two-thirds for consumption by myself and friends and students. They got their English Class Market, and I got crazy. Seem fair?
When a Visitor Shows You Your City
My friend Jillian came to visit me at the end of the month, and it may have in fact been two years since we last saw each other— meaning the last time she came to visit me, also at the end of July, when I was working in Ecuador. In fact, she’ll also be coming along on my vacation to Cambodia, as I pull her & my boyfriend’s hands towards several temples, restaurants, bicycles, and street food stalls. Most of my desk warming time, about two weeks, was spent planning the Cambodia trip in between working on a 3-week head start for class lesson planning! You can see where my head was this summer.
Jillian spent a couple of days in my small countryside town, but most of our visiting happened when I came into Seoul to show her around. Except she already had an idea of what she wanted to look at by bringing along notes of her itinerary from 2007. While we toured around Seoul for a couple weekends, Jillian made note of what was different from when she first visited ten years prior, checking off the stuff she had seen simply by noting what seemed familiar. She did her senior project in high school on learning Korean, and after graduating she came to Seoul for her first trip on a plane, much less abroad.
Now returning, her eye was on the various medicinal herbs growing all around Korea (way more than you’d expect), as well as trying to ascertain whether we contra dance in Korea (inconclusive). She is The Dancing Herbalist, after all. The Garden of Morning Calm in Gyeonggi-do was a treasure trove of native Korean species for her, and while I went around taking pictures of the amazing view until my phone died, most of her pictures have a flower or leaf in close focus. After just one day back at my desk, I’m ready to head back to the Garden, or better yet, to the plane that will take me to Cambodia!
Has a visiting friend ever shown you something new in your city?