Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Wondering Seoul

Yesterday Z and I woke up early and did some yoga in Karen and Brett’s living room. After a quick shower and some breakfast, we promptly fell back asleep on the couch just as Karen and Brett were waking up. Nice. Our internal clocks are still a bit on the fritz.

After dropping K and B off at their school for work we braved the Seoul subway by our lonesome and headed to Insadong, an area of Seoul, which is the art center of the city.

We walked around a bit and perused the various crafts. We tried to visit a Palace but as it turns out, it is closed on Tuesdays. We still were able to walk around in the courtyard however.

We left Insadong and returned to K and B’s school. K had scheduled time for her students to interview me and Z to practice their English skills. It was certainly a learning experience for us.

Korean parents insist on their children achieving high academic success because Korean culture dictates that economic success is directly correlated to how well one does in school. Thus, these kids – who are still elementary students – are studying 12 to 14 hours a day. After their regular school ends they are shuttled to various academies until very late at night. These academies include math academy, English academy, Japanese academy, science academy, etc. Many of them do no get home until after 11pm at night. They then study for a few more hours and then wake up very early to get a jump on studying for the next day.

When we described to them what our schedule was like when we were their age they were quite astonished and seemed a bit envious. One of the students commented “Korean children have no freedom.” Very cute. I should mention that their English was excellent.

After class (which ended at 10pm) B, K, Z and I – along with one of their friends from school – grabbed some food at a local Japanese restaurant and headed out for some bowling.

K and B have become formidable bowlers and put us to shame. K beat her personal best with a strong 146. Nice.

I did not score a 146, or anything near it. However I did manage a few strikes and I barely broke 100 with a whopping 103, which was pretty exciting.

Today the four of us grabbed lunch at a local spot near K and B's school. We also made a stop at the "Sock Guy" - a sock vendor who sells his merchandise out of the back of his truck. He has an adorable selection of colorful socks and they are only 50 cents each. Afterwards Z and I had planned to do some exploring around the city, however due to some stomach complications we spent much of the afternoon indoors. ugh.

We are not sure what the exact cause of our on-and-off recent illness is, but we suspect that our bodies are rebelling against the change of the number of hours of sleep we are getting combined with the drastic change in diet. It is hard to keep up our 10-12 hours of sleep per day and all-organic-all-the-time pattern when living the life of a world traveler. What can you do?


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