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Back to normality

Last weekend was a five-day weekend – due to the ‘Chinese’ or Lunar New Year holiday in Korea. I didn’t do much. Our new colleague, Travis, had suggested going to Busan, but that didn’t happen. My taekwondo master said she’d call me over the weekend, but she didn’t.

However, on the Monday, having been reading Dreamer of Dune, the biography of Frank Herbert written by his son, I was feeling somewhat inspired and loaded and read the story I’d been working on last year. I’d stopped for a good few months at an important point in the narrative. On Monday, I wrote the scene and I now have only one further segment to write before it’s finished (the first draft, anway). I haven’t worked on it since then, but I hope to do some more work on it this weekend.

On Tuesday, Bo invited me to going hiking with him and we walked from Danggogae Station (last stop on the blue line and one stop away from my nearly local stop) to the top of Buramsan and then to Suraksan. It took us the better part of six hours. Afterwards we took a taxi to Nowon Station to try to meet Travis for pool, but we were late and he wasn’t there. Instead we went to a branch of Yong Udong (udong is a kind of thick noodle) and had fiercely spicy food that left us gasping for water.


My blistered toe had been getting progressively better and the hike didn’t prove to be a problem (although I got a bit of a cramp in my foot at one point, caused, I’m sure, by a week of limping). On Wednesday I went back to taekwondo with my toe protected by a pad of gauze and a wrapping of tape. It was largely fine, but I was a little nervous of putting too much stress on it.

When I asked my sabeomnim what she’d done over the holiday weekend she said she’d stayed at home – a frankly disappointing answer. I’d really like to see her outside taekwondo (not even necessarily on a romantic basis – although that would be preferable), but I’m not sure it’s a realistic proposition. Aside from the obstacles of personality, culture and language, she’s probably not allowed to.

On Friday I went to the hospital straight after work and had my blisters removed – not by the usual small pretty doctor, but by another quite attractive female doctor (this one a little taller). The ajumma doctor, in a change of procedure, came to the bed where I was being treated to look at my foot. She recommended another course of cryotherapy, which I refused (with all the skin that had just been cut away from my toe, I expected that treatment to be another bad one). So she told me to buy this stuff called Duofilm – a liquid that’s applied to warts to, presumably, kill them. And instead of giving me more pills for the fungal infection in my toenails she prescribed a kind of lacquer for it.

I went to taekwondo later that evening with my reduced-skin toe. The affected area was noticeably scooped in shape and was pink and raw-looking, but it didn’t hurt particularly. I got my master to bind it up for protection, though. I was the only person attending the class – so I had both masters all to myself.


Before we started, I asked I Sabeomnim where the other most regular student, Gui-heon (I think that’s her name), was. This girl turned up late, but didn’t take part. Towards the end of the class, Master Lee (I Sabeomnim and Master Lee are the same – one is more Anglicised than the other) said something about me to Gui-heon. When I asked what she’d said, she explained that she’d told Gui-heon I was looking for her. I protested and said I was only asking after her. Then she told me she was joking. Deadpan, I said, ‘Very funny. Ha ha ha.’ Which cracked her up.

A moment later I Sabeomnim looked towards the office where the other master and the taekwondo-jang’s wonjangnim were before stretching my legs for me: as we sat on the floor, she pulled me forward by the arms while pushing my legs apart with her feet. Then she sandwiched my feet between her thighs and pulled me off – sorry, forward again by the arms.

I hung around for a moment at the end of the class while I Sabeomnim was leaving with a couple of masters from the other dojang and Gui-heon. I asked her if she’d asked her friends if any of them wanted English lessons (something I’d asked her about a few weeks before). She said something about being very busy, and, in retrospect, I’m not sure if she’d picked up that I was asking about her friends rather than her.

I’ve been in Korea for nearly eight months this time around – two-thirds of my contract – and one of my goals – taking on some private classes – is still unachieved. It seems like asking Koreans for help finding private students is completely useless. I should try taking another tack.

I left taekwondo feeling a rather miserable. However, pizza for dinner, an episode of Red Dwarf (series VIII, episode 1) and masturbation cheered me up a bit. My Korean class this morning was also pretty positive, although writing this has brought me down a tad. Finally, I had a phone call from our senior teacher, Sunny, who said that I start work at 3pm on Monday – no more early starts. Yay.

Categories: Health & Exercise, Life
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