The Balding Anchovy: Preparing to Say Goodbye

“I love you more and more.”

“I love you more and more.”

“I love you more and more.”

He just kept saying that.

Not to me of course. But to another teacher. I think they were talking about something grammar related, but you never know.

 

I’m coming to the end of my year in Korea, which means I’ll have to say goodbye to the Balding Anchovy soon.

I go back and forth on how I’m going to do it. Part of me wants to choreograph a dance for him or memorize a dance from High School Musical. While another part wants to write a heartfelt letter and not sign my name.

Either way, I can’t decide if I should tell him about the existence of the Anchovy chronicles. How do you tell someone you have never talked to that you constantly write him because he’s such a mystery?

But either way, I know he “accidentally” called another teacher my name yesterday, so I like to think he’s going to miss me.

Our relationship has come a long way from him laughing at me at the Christmas party when I sang Journey. And what we have now is a beautiful and completely unspoken bond between us.

I should invite him and his wife over for Christmas one year.

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There are times in your life, when you just have to say, “Holy Sh*t, that’s a nice wall.” The first time I said this was 2014 when I built my first wall with Habitat for Humanity. The second time I said it was at the Great Wall of China this spring. Tony the Tiger agrees that it’s GRRREAT!

I was only there for one day, and it’s not really a relaxing walk on the wall. By the time I reached the end of the trek, I was cursing my legs for ever being born. Then an old Mongolian woman tried to sell me some Cola and said she does this hike every day. I truly felt ashamed of my earlier tears and actual crawling.

But I would do it again!

My friend and I decided to go to China for a three day vacation we got from our job as ESL teachers in South Korea. We were so close, so we figured why not. We only had time to go to the wall, then return home. This wasn’t a problem, because we both had the same general feeling about China—it’s a beautiful place, but we only care about the wall.

So we booked our flights and accommodation, we were ready to go. We just needed one more thing. We went through the annoying process of getting visa and, counting travel costs to and from the embassy in Korea, it cost us about $200. To get your visa for China, you need to have your flights and accommodation booked and paid for. But, unless you are some major criminal mastermind, you will be approved and get your visa in about a week.

Now, to go to China for less than 3 days, you don’t need to get a visa as an American. But, you have to fly into another country before heading back to wherever you are living. We didn’t have time for this, so we decided to go with the visa. It doesn’t expire for ten years, and you can go as much as you want. (I will be taking advantage of this to go to Shanghai Disneyland for my birthday this summer!)

We chose a hostel recommended by a friend of ours called 365 Inn in Beijing, which is located right next to the Forbidden City. The original plan was to go to the Forbidden City when we arrived at our hostel, considering we were so close. However, our airline had a different plan. Our flight was delayed by hours, getting us into Beijing after the Forbidden City closed. I will never travel with that airline again. (*Cough cough* Air China *cough*)

(To be fair, AirChina did give us food vouchers because we would have to be in the airport during lunch time, which to us meant spend it all on Dunkin’ Donuts. And we did. $14 worth of donuts is a lot of donuts.)

The Forbidden City closes pretty early so if you want to make that a part of your trip, look up the times first. I did, however, get to see the city from the outside and it is beautiful. Truly a missed opportunity. But luckily, I have 10 years to go back.

Our hostel was great, very clean. The staff spoke fluent English and Chinese so they are able to make any arrangements for you. They also offer a tour of the Great Wall. 365 Inn doesn’t do the tour themselves, but they are connected to a company that puts on the tour. There are two options: easy and hard, basically. We decided to do the hard one because we thought we were in shape. To my surprise, I was not. My friend had just completed a marathon, while I almost passed out because I had to run to catch the bus. The tour comes with a bus ride there and back, breakfast (which is just bread and juice, there is an option to opt out, and I recommend it if you are a person that needs real food; there are convenient stores and dumpling stands everywhere, also a McDonald’s nearby), and a delicious almost non-stop lunch.

The bus ride was long and bumpy, making it a little difficult to sleep. But you can still get a couple of hours in. Did I mention the bus leaves at 6 a.m.? You will be tired. When we arrived they explained the route to us and gave us an English map. Navigating the wall is pretty easy; it’s a wall, so don’t be worried that the guide isn’t with you the entire hike.

This is the entrance we used. The hike was mostly the western part of the wall.

entrance

The hike was rough. I’m young. I do yoga. But I looked like a dying dog, mostly because I was crawling for the majority of the hike. My friend made sure to photograph the event, and that picture now has the most likes on my Facebook.

About halfway through the hike for me.

horizontal running

The hike features major inclines, many stairs of course, and steep drop offs. I’m constantly standing in the middle of the walkway. In my mind, if I get even close to the edge, the wind will knock me off. I did manage to get one picture of me sitting on the edge of the wall. This was accomplished by me crawling to the edge, and then sitting.

Can you tell all my muscles are flexed in the goal of not dying?

sitting

I was passed by many of the elderly and even children. It got so bad I swear I saw a pregnant woman pass me. Most of time I was thinking to myself, don’t go for the cool picture, just don’t die. Take tiny steps. Crawl when needed. Don’t be a hero. But I made pass the seven or eight small towers to get to the goal. It was truly amazing. The weather was also perfect, sunlit and windy.

I started the hike strong with just regular stairs. So you get a good warm up. At the top of the stairs, we were able to stop and take a breath, thank goodness. As I was already dying.

The key to getting through was taking a break at every tower, and there are a lot of towers. Another key, for me, was to not focus on balancing. I’m one of those people that when I see tiny stairs that I could easily fall off of, I will fall off of them just thinking about it.

View from the bottom of the stairs.

bottom of stairs

Along the walk, there were many sellers of Coke, souvenirs, and such. The key is to not look them in the eye. I looked one woman in the eye, and she followed us for a few minutes trying to sell us chopsticks and popsicles. I don’t know why she thought I needed chopsticks at this point, but I wish I bought some to use as tiny walking sticks later.

The best part (once you reach the bottom again), there’s beer, and other things, I guess. But definitely beer. It’s not great beer, but it’s cold. And that’s all beer needs to be, if you don’t agree with me, this is a travel article, not a beer review.

We got back to the hostel fairly early. Early enough to go to the Forbidden City, but our legs had different plans; so we decided to stay in and watch the Mindy Project. The next day we were heading back to Korea. This flight, thankfully, had no delay, and we made back early enough to take a nap before going to bed and back to work.

In the immortal words of Sean Spicer, “It’s a wall, not a fence.”

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For more information about the 365 Inn hostel or visa information, visit the links below.

http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/365-Inn/Beijing/16667?dateFrom=2017-06-20&dateTo=2017-06-23&number_of_guests=2

(For Americans) http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/hrsq/

(For Americans) https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/china.html

Shanghai Disney: The Sleeping Dragon

I recently went on a trip to Shanghai Disneyland with my co-worker. We went because it was my birthday, and what better way to celebrate your 23rd than by going to Disneyland.

We booked a fancy hotel and everything. The hotel was so fancy they had one of those mirrors attached to the wall that you can pull out. And a rain shower so you can feel like a streaker in the shower.

It was a great vacation.

Except, I’m sad to say, I pushed a few children.

But, let me just say that parents are teaching their children how to push in line and disrespect people. So, when one kid jumped over the barrier to cut the line, I “guided” him back to his family.

 

I did receive the greatest present of all time: I met Captain America. Well the character at Disneyland, I met. I like to think he will remember me because my friend and I  were the ONLY TWO WHITE PEOPLE AT DISNEYLAND. I hope he always remember me, too.

 

Disneyland in China is not helpful to foreigners at all. I know it is partially because of China’s rules, but it is also just the park being difficult. I made a quick tip list if you are planning a trip as well:

  1. DO NOT go during peak season. Too many people are there and you will spend more two hours in line for every ride.
  2. Get to the park two hours early or two hours late. In China, they check EVERYONE’S ID before going into the park so the line to get in is so slow you will consider dark things while waiting.
  3. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride is amazing so go on it. Also, Peter Pan’s flight will bring tears, do that one too.
  4. If you go when it is sunny, everyone will use a parasol that will poke you in the face multiple times. So wear a hat or a simple hairdo that won’t be messed up by umbrella stabbing.
  5. Get portable WiFi and a VPN. Disneyland’s WiFi is only available with a Chinese phone number. And you won’t be able to post anything to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, basically all social media, without a VPN.

I hope this helps you if you are planning a trip to Shanghai Disneyland.

“We’re doing Amy’s Birthday at 3”

It’s not my birthday. My birthday is soon, but because of a work vacation, I got to do the whole work birthday thing today. Here are a few things I learned about celebrating your birthday in the Korean workplace:

  1. Don’t talk about your birthday because then people won’t forget it.
  2. Your coworkers don’t know your name even though you know all of their names. So expect a pause after “Happy Birthday Dear —” until one of them is confident enough to say your name.
  3. You will have to cut your own cake. This is a simple skill, but you will forget how to hold a knife the second 10 Koreans are starring at you and waiting for cake. Especially if Paddington Bear and Korean Klark Kent just finished singing to you.
  4. You are cutting this cake to go into small cups and to be eaten with chopsticks, so cut small. If you don’t cut small, those 10 Koreans will laugh at your giant pieces of cake until you cut them smaller.
  5. You have to eat the cake. Even if you are lactose intolerant, and they buy you a cake covered in heavy creme. You have to take a piece and eat it. The peer pressure is just too much to handle. Peer pressure in another country is the most powerful kind.

I really hope I did all of these things. But in all the nerves about cutting a cake, I think I blacked out the entire experience. I don’t even know if I thanked anyone.

But the great news is, it’s not actually my birthday. So just a normal day is ruined.

If you’re a Cicada scream Yas!

If you were ever wondering the real sound of summer, it’s the sound of cicadas screaming YAS at the top of their lungs. Like this:

tenor

And if I were an artist, I would draw a real cicada doing this but you get the picture. If you are an artist, feel free to comment a cicada screaming yas so everyone can get the full visual. (I hope one of you 43 people is an artist.)

For those that don’t know what a cicada is, you obviously live in a place that doesn’t have them. Take that as a blessing. I’m not sure what these bugs do other than get together to scream at humans until we go deaf. But I’m sure they have an evolutionary purpose. Like the nipple of a man, there’s a reason, but not a good one.

 

So it’s summer, and you know what summer means…VACATION! But for children in South Korea, it means English grammar intensives. Still fun, but in a different way. And for the foreign teachers of my tiny school, it means we are blessed with Korean Klark Kent and the sweet Paddington Bear as guest teachers, and don’t forget that the Anchovy is still here. So for the past week, I’ve had to deal with my first Korean teacher looking at me. Let me tell you, I did not handle it.

Because it’s summer, and I’m a human, everyday when I get to work I have to immediately wipe the sweat off of me. I have to do this with tissues because Koreans have something against real paper towels.

So, I’m in the kitchen area, wiping the sweat with a tissue, when Korean Klark Kent walks in and just says “Hello.”

Excuse me sir, but that’s not how things work here. You are supposed to ignore me until I vent about it on my blog later.

I didn’t know what to do so I just walked away. I immediately walked out of the room. He hasn’t talked to me since. So at least I restored the natural order of things.

 

Because I flaked with Korean Klark Kent, I figured I could take a shot at the sweet Paddington bear. I thought he would respect the need to eat eight bite-sized candies throughout the workday. So I added him on Facebook.

After a day, I sent him a message. And by “sent him a message,” I don’t mean the type of message with actual words. I mean the kind of message that says something beyond the words.

And the hidden message was “I have nothing to say but talk to me” because I sent a wave.

I meant it like this:

v0ama

But it came out like this:

giphy

 

So I’ve given up on everything now. The Anchovy had his birthday though. He got an ice cream cake, it was so cute. He was so excited. I wanted to eat some to show my support of him getting older, but I’m lactose intolerant.

 

 

Before I go, I want to hear your thoughts on me moving to YouTube so comment!

Surviving the Heat

Do you know that feeling when you haven’t slept in weeks and you can’t keep your eyes open? Well, I feel that way all the time thanks to 100 degree weather plus 80% humidity. And no matter what I do, I never have energy, so yesterday I steered into the skid and ate pizza and break-sticks for lunch and dinner.

If you want to tip on how to survive the heat, start by not doing that. But here are some real tips for surviving the heat of Daefrica:

  1. Stay indoors if possible.
  2. Buy a fan for your house, office, and hand for when you are walking to the office.
  3. Drink water, obviously. This is a no brainer, but I recently had a friend suffer from severe dehydration. You know who you are friend. (She also refused to go to the hospital so don’t follow her example.)
  4. When looking for an apartment, make sure to get one with the Air Conditioning in the living room so the air actually gets to the entire apartment and not just one room. I’m talking to you, idiots that put my air conditioning facing a window in the back room.
  5. Take the subway everywhere, even if your “friends” say it’s close.
  6. Popsicles are your true friends. Buy a popsicle any time you pass a store, and you will be happy.
  7. When forced to walk places, stop in stores to “shop.” That way you can escape the heat and make the shop owner very nervous about the possibility of having to speak some English.
  8. Use the underground walkways as much as possible. These walkways are often temperature controlled, at least a little, and there’s usually a water fountain and bathroom for refreshing yourself. Swamp ass is a real problem out there.
  9. And finally, when you arrive home, immediately take off the clothes that are covered in sweat and get into a shower. That way, when you sweat all night, you’ll be forced to shower again. Showering is fun.

For more tips about surviving the heat, do your own research.

Beetle Babies: How bugs make you crazy

Sorry I haven’t posted, my 39 followers. I’ve let you down, and I apologize. You 39 people are important. I promise.

This is why I haven’t posted: I’m tired. Why am I tired? Well, I have bugs in my apartment. So it’s hard, because I’m living with bugs.

They are tiny brown beetles. I call them beetle babies. They got into my dry food, had to throw that out. They got into my bathroom, so I couldn’t shower. And they got into my bed, MY BED.

I woke up yesterday all happy and refreshed. The day is new. I opened my eyes and there was a bug crawling at my face. AT MY FACE. So yesterday was a horrible day.

But the worst part of all of this is the bug spray. I’ve been spraying so much bug spray, I’m losing my mind. For instance, I can’t stop watching Monk. Where did that come from? Bug spray, it came from the bug spray. Also, I’ve been watching Bet On It, the song from High School Musical when Zac Efron angry-dances on a golf course over and over. I quote the song in daily life now. Curse you Zac Efron and this Korean bug spray that is poisoning me.  

If you know what these bugs are, please help. They’re small brown beetles. I don’t think they bite, and they can fly, I think. Here’s a picture:

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Now for a work update:

My co-teacher closed a door on me today. Not on purpose, he honestly didn’t even notice I was in the room. Not the Anchovy, he could never be so cruel, my other co-teacher. I walked in the room, and I was standing right next to him. I even knocked before walking in. I talked to the students while I was in there. As I was walking out, he closed the door on me. The door even hit my body and bounced back at him. He continued to push it closed.

Normally, I would be offended by this, but as we all know, I am invisible to all Korean men.

 

Finally, it is the Anchovy’s birthday today. I don’t think I’ve never been so excited for a birthday of someone I have never spoken to before except maybe Mindy Kaling or J-Hope.