Some say that he has two left hands, and his nose can tell when it will rain. All we know is that he's called DFM.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Episode 34: In Which Ants Eat Weight Gain Powder And DFM Becomes Bitter Towards China

My fever was gone today, and my voice was a tiny bit better, but my throat was still sore and my nose was still stuffed up and runny.

I got to my first class a bit early and was invited to have breakfast with the kids.  They were having a bowl of what looked like rice porridge in some sort of black sauce.  Whatever it was, it tasted better than it looked (because it looked awful).

Another cling-on.  This girl finished her breakfast early and then decided to lean on my knees and watch me eat every bit of mine.  Later she took my spoon and fed me too.

The class then worked on folded paper trees like one of my classes from last week had done.  However, this time the trees were to be folded in a rather complex origami-type way that, frankly, I'm impressed the children were able to do.

Many of the different classes are working on an ant theme.  Ants are called gaemi ("kay-me") in Korean and this girl is working on her assignment to cut out human faces and place them on gaemi bodies.  Some of the results were quite interesting, to say the least.

Some of the boys didn't quite follow the directions, but at least this little guy was creative.  Another boy just cut out one big head and placed it over all the ants.

This little girl had found herself a ring and I made the mistake of cutting out a hole for her finger.  Soon every girl was at my side with a ring that needed cutting and I even saw some ants get rings for heads.  A couple of girls had a fight over a ring and one of them ripped it up so the other couldn't have it (she already had a ring and the other girl didn't).

Another class was working on what kind of food ants like to eat.  This boy figured he had some North American ants and his ants  had a diet which consisted of only KFC and hamburgers.

But this little guy figured his ants needed something extra and decided to supplement his ants' diets with weight-gain powder.  It's good to know the Koreans are picking up only the best of what North America has to offer.

Speaking of diets, you didn't believe me when I said my fish still had their eyes, did you?  All joking aside, the lunch at this school is absolutely wonderful.  Every day the two amazing women in the cafeteria feed me something new and interesting.  I've been here almost two weeks now and I've never eaten the same meal twice.  As I've mentioned before, they keep tabs on me too, and make sure I'm eating enough.  If they think I haven't taken enough fish eyeballs, they'll be quick to pack some more on my tray.

It's not hard to find some good old-fashioned Western propaganda over in Korea.  The book the children were working on before, which taught them about Korea, also had a flip side in which the same information about Great Britain was presented.  To be fair, the book is called "Make Friends" and could be part of some cultural exchange.  Mostly the children are interested in finding pictures of the Canadian flag though.  Regardless, I'm pretty sure that some of the younger children actually think my name is "Canada."

After school I decided to go straight to climbing.  If I go home I've found it very difficult to leave again, plus it makes two extra trips which increase the strain on my "travel" budget quite quickly.

I've decided to train for climbing like the Koreans do: every day and systematically.  Nothing seems to be just for fun over here.  If you want to go swimming, you get a membership and have a coach and come at certain times.  If you want to play table tennis, you buy a paddle and join a team and get coaching and come at certain times on certain days.  I asked about Tae Kwon Do and was told the same thing.  Ace Climbing Center is a bit more relaxed in its approach to climbing, but I've definitely seen this cultural trend at other gyms where new comers all have a coach. 

It does follow the same pattern of really long endurance circuits posted up everwhere and very few short, boulder problems.  Up until now I've been ignoring the long circuits I find in the climbing gyms here because my forearm endurance is one of my weak points.  But, I put away my ego today and started work on the "sloper practice" circuit.  Each one of the moves in this route is quite difficult, and there are 22 of them linked back to back with only one spot for a bit of a rest (18 moves in).

I thought I had done well when I finished the route once, but Choi told me that I had to do it three times in a row without stopping, then rest for ten minutes, then do it three more times in a row without stopping, rest for ten minutes, and follow that with yet another three times in a row on the circuit.  He then methodically moved around the route three times to show me how it was done, giving little more than a light grunt on moves that had taken me a dozen attempts to do even once.  He easily finished the circuit three times, but tried to make me feel better about myself by saying "himdeulda," which means "tired" in English.  It was also nice because he knew it was one of the few Korean words I knew, but I wasn't really buying it.  Choi is a machine.

All the time I had been climbing my throat hadn't bothered me at all, but as soon as I left the building my throat started to sting.  I remembered how Conor had complained about his throat being sore because of the Yellow Dust, when we went out a few weeks ago, and I figured that must be what was causing my sore throat too.  Old Korean-man racist DFM has kicked in again and I've been cursing China for its rampant industrialization and large desert.

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