There was no shortage of wood to be moved about as the ground floor walls were raised, and the lack of safety procedures was highlighted again with the puncturing of a compressed air line with a nailgun and the cutting of an electrical cable with a hand-held circular saw. I am currently staying away from the more dangerous power tools. The house owner, a high-rolling golf course magnate, comes to visit and check progress every so often (he wants to move in in December, which means a frantic work schedule) and usually brings food. One time it was two platters of meat products – they insisted I could eat the sausages, as the skins were filled with rice and noodles (really). On the home front, the general peace and quiet came to an abrupt halt one evening as I tried to go out onto the balcony to improve my mobile phone reception and set the burglar alarm (the first I’ve seen in Korea) off.
On Wednesday night I paid a flying visit to Yongin – exams at school meant that the (other) English tutor was coming, making my free night coincide with Amy’s. I arrived in time for Amy to whip up a fantastic bread pudding and some banana bread to take to the workers the following morning (which was much appreciated and eagerly wolfed down by all), and for us to make the interesting discovery that her huge new television doesn’t actually have stereo input from the DVD player (cutting out Homestar Runner’s part in the song Sensitive to Bees). Work on the site continued, with the upper floor taking shape at a rocketing pace – this meant a lot of carrying wooden planks and panelling as everything was put together, though the additional task of reinforcing the joists on the ground floor was given to me and the other junior worker. A couple of local dogs come sniffing round occasionally (possibly bored, possibly looking for food – I’ve made friends with the jindo puppy), as do curious local people (most likely bored – they just stand and watch us work, or poke around the interior if we’re on a break).
Friday saw the start of another action-packed weekend for me (the other workers tend to work Saturdays) with a recorder concert in Yongin City Hall followed by dinner at Amy’s. The concert hall was packed with kids as all the recorder players are teachers and their students had come to see them – the playlist was a mixture of classical and popular stuff on a range of recorders, with support from piano and guitar. Dinner turned out to be more delicious calzones, cocktails (one served island-style in a pineapple) and an incredible chocolate cheesecake (complete with tea lights, as Koreans tend to buy rather than bake cakes and the candles come free). We also vegged out in front of Rocky Balboa and The Man Who Cried (Korean title: Piano 2, which we can’t figure out), and headed into Seoul on Saturday for a round of mini-golf on the roof a department store. I managed to get two hole in ones (though par for every hole was only two), and completed the course on a worse-than-average 53 (Amy: 49). We had dinner in Itaewon with the Seoul Veggie Club – we’d predicted maybe twelve showing up, and managed to use up every chair and plate in the restaurant when twenty-three waltzed in (to the mild consternation of the owner).
Saturday, as some of you may know, was also my birthday, and I was suitably showered with delightful gifts (including a respectable shirt to add to my ever-expanding wardrobe, and a nifty Beatles songbook). The festivities carried over into Sunday, with Amy mixing up some gorgeous pancakes and Anne dropping by with a woolly hat (a similar style to Amy’s, which may signal the dreaded “couple style” – more on this in a later post) from her and Dan. We briefly met Sunny and his family (the children were thoroughly entertained by the local doves and the bunny), and Laura (Roger’s owner), who was back in Korea to pick up some supplies and came to Yongin to get some bunny cuddles before going on to Canada. I also raised the cooker onto a more level footing, demonstrating that there are few problems that can’t be solved by the correct application of cardboard.