When I started writing this blog, I had it in mind to post at least once a month or whenever something interesting happened.  As you can see, I’ve neglected it for the better part of a year.  Aside from my own laziness, I was fairly unhappy in my situation during my first year in Korea and didn’t want this blog to become nothing more than a series of complaints.  Although my apartment crisis was finally resolved – I moved to a clean, renovated one-room apartment two weeks after I returned from vacation – I don’t think the people at my school ever really understood the problem nor did they forgive me for raising hell about it.  Two of my co-teachers would chronically flare up over petty issues and it seemed nothing more than goading in retaliation for my repeated protests over the apartment.  In one case, a co-teacher instructed me to submit some lesson plans I made to the principal.  Shortly after I did so, she confronted me in the teachers’ office, hysterical, saying I had bucked the chain of command and I should have given the lesson plans to her first.  It went downhill from there, and I began tallying a list of similarly outrageous incidents.

As I said, I was unhappy with my situation and therefore I had only negative things to say about Korea for a long time.  In August, however, I started a new contract and moved to Wonju, the largest city in Kangwon Do.  I’ve been here for six months now, and I have nothing but good things to say about my current school.  My social life improved considerably as there are around 50 expats here in Wonju and several friendly English-speaking Koreans that share the bar stools with us.  My co-teachers are wonderful.  They’re courteous, helpful, eager to improve their English, and they have left my lesson planning entirely up to me.  The key point here is that they don’t interfere.  At my first school, I had to submit 12 typed lesson plans each month to be reviewed by my co-teachers and the principal.  Not entirely unreasonable except for the fact that they kept asking me to change the lessons half-an-hour or less before class started.  Here in Wonju, I’m having a completely different experience than in Pyeongchang.  Now that life is good, I want to write again.

As I go, I will be recording events  in a less than chronological order because there is a lot of backtracking to be made and individual topics to relate.  A good place to start would be the Full Moon Party, where I left off.  We took a ferry over at dusk and arrived after nightfall.  A van drove us into town from the pier to the entrance fee booth.  Wristbands buckled on, we moved toward a line of carts selling all sorts of different alcohol buckets (as in a small plastic bucket you made sand castles with as a kid) and the skies erupted.  The pouring didn’t last long and there was immediate shelter on our left, but everyone began vocally and mentally knocking on wood about a rainout.  Mabs and I walked through narrow, twisting streets of what seemed like the remains of an old colonial town.  Today, of course, it’s all renovated bars and restaurants, every one of them packed to the brim.  We waited until we got to the beach to get buckets.

The beach at Hat Rin is a half-mile sickle that could be mistaken for a carnival.  Giant neon displays, one of them resembling a ferris wheel, spread along its palm tree edge.  A dancing stage sat alone in front of a laser-blasting DJ cockpit, disco ball shredding and refracting the light.  At the other end, revelers lined up to hop over a massive, flaming jump rope.  Carts selling buckets and beers were everywhere.  The end of the beach near the stage rose up to rocky cliffs on which was a multi-tiered bar called Mellow Mountain.  I’ll leave their wares to your imagination.  It was on Mellow Mountain that Mabs and I struck out on our separate ways.  I’d run into a Chilean girl and was having a chat about Santiago, this and that.  We were out on a long porch, the beach the lights and the ocean before us.  The clouds had finally emptied themselves after several squalls and the party’s namesake was now thankfully visible.

The chilena and I parted before too long so I went searching the upper decks of the bar.  I saw several people decorated with neon paint, some in tatoo designs, and a lone middle-aged couple who stuck out conspicuously among all the young backpackers.  At the very top, I ran into three guys from the boat: two Austrians and a Belgian, who set a full bucket down before me and said, “You were on the boat.”  The four of us went down to the disco stage where I stupidly shrugged off my rainbow sandals without even thinking where I’d left them.  The rest of the night was a bit of a whirlwind.  I noticed that many people were building something close to the stage and at midnight they lit it on fire.  It was a huge, flaming sign that said “Full Moon Party, Haad Rin, Ko Pan Ngan.”

I have to sign off here.  My office has been annexed for a teachers’ meeting.