Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year, 1st Weekend of 2015 in 천안 (2.-4.Jan.)

Let me start my 1st post of 2015 with a hearty "Happy New Year!" and sincere wishes of health and prosperity for each and everyone of you, your families, and your friends.

I mean it.

I just came back from a weekend in 천안 (Cheonan); the city that was my home in Korea for my 1st year in this country. Why? Seeing that as of today, I'll be leaving Korea for good in 2 months, I should start saying my "goodbyes" and try squeezing everyone in, before my time runs out. I've gone through this twice before. I know the last couple of weeks are hectic. So if I can spread out the last-minute chaos, then the end won't be so exhausting--or so I hope.

So yes, I'll be leaving for good, if that's the Lord's will. I've paid off my student loans and have no more debts. The Korean government is cutting down on foreign teachers/native-speakers in public schools (making _good_ jobs scarce), and I don't have the desire to stay in Korea permanently, so I'd say the decision has been made for me. The thing about Korea that makes me not want to stay is that I'll never be accepted. I can become a fluent in Korean, learn all the customs and mannerisms, even marry a Korean man whose parents adore me; but they will all see that I'm obviously not Asian--so definitely not Korean. I'll always be a 외국인, foreigner. No matter what. That makes me sad. I was accepted in Germanic Europe, but I can never be accepted here in Korea.
I'd love to visit Korea in the future, but that will be very difficult (main reasons being money, then time).

Anyway, I saw 6 different people. The 1st one broke my heart. I found out through a text back in November that one of my former students died. So I wanted to see if I could see his widow. I did and she explained what happened to me as best as she could. He died of a cardiac arrest. He was such a sweet man, a loving husband, and an excellent father. Please, pray for his widow and children as they continue on. Family members have pitched in to help, but please pray for them. May GOD be ever near that sweet family.

Then I was with a former-student who will emigrate to Germany through the student-route--or so the plan goes. I got to give him a taste of German--and what he's getting himself into. He's going to have a really rough time the 1st year (or two), but as long as he sticks to it, he'll be fine. Pray for him too, please.

We went to another former-student, Sooway, and his new PC Bang (internet cafe). After hanging out in his new establishment for a while, he invited us out for dinner: chicken!

Chili/spicy chicken at the top, and garlic chicken at the bottom.
All the side-dishes you see are free (typical of Korea. How I'll miss it!)

Not the most flattering picture, sorry guys.

After dinner, the Germany-bound one dropped me off at my hotel, "Top Hotel Cheonan,"

The receptionist area.
It begins on the 6th floor of a building and has rooms up to the 9th floor.

This tree just captured me.

My room's bathroom.

The glass dividing the shower area from the sink and toilet.

Ooooooo a body shower!
You bet I took advantage of this!

My bed.

The mirror, TV, computer, mini-fridge, complimentary toiletries and beverages . . . oh yeah, I love Korean hotels!

The view from my window.

The daily breakfast: toast and jam.

Oh, oranges! Ah, coffee too.

For more information on this hotel, click here.

Sabbath morning, it was a late brunch with 3 lovely ladies who were all my former-students. After the healthy meal, it was off to a cafe. We spent a really nice time just catching up.

These ladies make leaving Korea soooo hard!
If you see closely, the middle one is holding a Polaroid photo that was just taken of the four of us.

They had to go their separate ways. I had nothing to do, so one of them brought me to her home to spend some time with her, her husband, and her cute little daughter.

Said cute daughter.
It took a while for her to fall asleep. Afterwards, we were careful not to make noise, since she's sensitive to noise and can wake up at any moment.

Then it was to a bakery/cafe with one of the three (the daughter's mother joined us later). So, off I was again with the one at the cafe as she took me to her home. There, I saw her two sons (boy did they grow!) and a friend of the family. He downloaded "The Interview" on New Years' so he showed it to us. Wow, it was so funny and stupid, yet funny . . . yeah. You'll just have to see it for yourself if you really want to know.

Sunday morning, it was off to Costco for a few things, black bread at the Emart beside the bus platforms in Cheonan Bus Terminal, and lunch at Pho Mein just a block away. Seeing most were busy and it was a good idea to get home early, I took the direct bus from Cheonan to Wonju @ 13:55 (took about 1 hr. and 35 min.) instead of the planned 17:40 bus. I made it home a little after 16:00.

That was my weekend. It was really good to reconnect and I hope to see them all again one day.

Before I sign off, here's a little bit of a culture-shock for me:

These are two young men/teenagers. I doubt they are brothers. No one thinks anything of this in Korea. It would be the same if the one sitting upright was a mother and the one with his head on the guy's lap was the mother's 4-year-old child. No big deal. Serious bromance, but nothing strange.

What do you think?

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