Last weekend, when I should have updated my blog as now I’ve forgotten much of what transpired, was thoroughly pleasant and relaxing. Amy and I spent time in both Yongin and Seoul, cooking and hanging out, running the odd errand (mostly shopping for things for my apartment) and watching a few shows. I had some second-hand furniture delivered, bringing me closer to my (genuinely attainable) goal of having a fully-equipped domicile at reasonable cost and impressed myself by figuring out how to plumb my washing machine in.
Academically speaking, the week went by quickly and with few noteworthy events. My students gave and received various assessments, gasped in glee when I finished my classes early (I seem conditioned to give lectures of around an hour’s duration, and have difficulty adjusting to the 75-minute model) and mostly made efforts to absorb what I was trying to get across. As the weather got warmer, central heating was abandoned in favour of air conditioning and parasols came out to inhibit unfashionable suntans. If I ever give lectures outside (not unheard of), I’ll have to provide suitable shade or risk reckless endangerment charges.
The majority of my free time during the week was taken up with getting and using paint for and on my apartment. The rusty bedframe was wire-brushed and given two coats of enamel, and I tested out a particularly tasteful shade of off-white on one of the walls. The results so far look extremely promising, though the cheap brushes they make over here have an annoying tendency to lose bristles on every stroke. If all goes well, I’ll be able to transform my place in a matter of weeks and turn my attention to more knotty matters, like repairing the bike I pulled out of (the Korean equivalent of) a skip.
My Wednesday evening was largely taken up with a run around Namsan with Dan. Since coming back to Korea my running practice has been limited to a once-weekly 5 km or so on the gym treadmill – the pollution and congested streets here are excellent reasons not to just jog around like I could do in Britain. We took the subway out to the base of the mountain, and did a 7 km there-and-back on a purpose-built track about halfway up. It was dark and refreshingly cool, and we had good views of northern Seoul between the trees. I speculated about the wildlife in the forested slopes (Dan suggested feral cats), and was rewarded in the last kilometre or so by a tremendous rustling in the leaf cover. Seconds later a mustelid of some kind (probably a weasel or, from the bushy tail, marten or mink) rocketed out of the bushes and went across the path, half-heartedly followed by a dog who then went back to his/her owner. As the only wildlife I see on a regular basis is the odd pigeon, this was an event indeed.
The weekend turned out to be as relaxing as the previous one, partly due to the arrival of some previously-ordered DVDs. We went over to Hongdae for an orphanage benefit concert (featuring local expat bands covering Rolling Stones songs – we couldn’t figure out why), did some shopping around the Ewha area, ate out a lot (including the excellent Palestinian fare at Petra’s) and went running in Yongin (Dan and I chasing Amy on her bike). As Monday was a national holiday, I extended my stay out of the city and went out to the local flower festival with Amy. This proved to be hugely popular with every family in the province, and it took us over an hour to cover the ten kilometres or so out to the site (and back again). We finished the long weekend off with dinner at Sunny’s place, discovering the limitless possibilities of corn-foam modelling pieces.