Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Travelogue #5: Let the Leaves Crunch Under Your Feet

October 30 2007

Maybe it's just the time of year, but I'm loving the walk to school each afternoon.

I love the crunch of leaves under my feet and I love how I can practically smell the mountains, even though they're miles away. Korean students in black vests zip around on their bicycles and I snap pictures, but I try to do so covertly. Last thing I want to be is "that guy," that tourist, that dude who's trampling through another place solely for his own product. Sure, I want to chronicle the day-to-day sights of my Bundang life, but I don't want to do so the point where I'm a watcher rather than a participant.

In the name of participation, I bought "odang" from a street vendor yesterday. This incident is noteworthy because it's the first time I've bought something without the help of my fellow teachers. I was solo. The vendor smiled as if she was my auntie, demonstratively pouring the soupsh liquid into a little paper cup and sticking an accordion-shaped dumpling, or at least it looked like a dumpling, into the liquid. With a peculiar mixture of cluelessness and confidence, I offered her a bill worth 10,000 won (roughly equivalent to $10). She gave me back change. Alot of change. Oops. Apparently the "odang" cost 500 won (50 cents). I overshot a bit.

I need to learn how to say numbers in Korean.

Anyway, "odang" tasted good, refreshing, hot. I'd like it on a cold day. But because I was stoked by its 50 cent price tag, I overdid it. I bought four cups. Only by the fourth did somebody tell me what I was eating- something to do with fish. Fish soup? Kind of exotic for me, but I'm learning as long as I don't know what I'm eating here, I'll try anything.

The odang vendor sets up her shop right next to our school, so I'll be seeing more of her.

And I won't lie. Despite this talk of participation, I wouldn't mind taking a picture of her.



Anonymous said...

Alex, you need to read some of Anthony Bourdain's books and you will get an idea of what strange food you are actually eating...or, maybe not. Bourdain always says the best foods are never in the fancy, upscale restaurants but rather the small family-owned restaurants or street vendors.

Your descriptive writing is still right on the mark; I almost felt like I was walking down the street with you.

I look forward to hearing about your students/classes and perhaps where you live. Bet it's not like that house in Germantown. ;~)


heyday said...

you know what? I had loved the walk to school every afternoon for 5 years. specially in fall.
I will miss it. enjoy the walk