Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The basics

I know my apartment was "prepared" by some guys. They bought a bed, a new pillow, a quilt, and some Korean style bedding. There is a small table and four chairs, a small refrigerator, and a microwave oven. There is also a small television, and a wardrobe.

In the kitchen/laundry is a gas cooker, a sink, and a washing machine that I cannot use as (a) it is all in Korean and (b) there is no power socket available.

The "bathroom" - has a pedestal toilet, and a sink. Attached to the wall is a shower rose - no separate cubicle. So when you have a shower the whole room floods. (Shades of life in China, but we had a much bigger room to flood there!!!)

In the kitchen cupboard is one cup, two small plates, four bigger plates, two small bowls, two huge soup or salad bowls (not sure), a saucepan, a frying pan, a pair of scissors, a slicer, two forks, two spoons, and not much else.

When I arrived about midnight almost a week ago, I was glad I brought my own bath towel. They don't use "big" towels, but small squares of absorbent fabric to dry themselves, and they don't use sheets. (I brought my own!)

The boys are always going to get the rest of the stuff for me. I needed a mop to soak up the water all over the bathroom floor - there is no external window or fan,and without being mopped up the water sits all day. I had no tea towels, no mopper uppers, no nothing. The only thing I had was a big packet of toilet rolls!

One of the challenges of being a lone traveller in these circumstances is that you are on your own to sort out any issues. I've met other foreign teachers here, but our different work hours mean that we don't get time together. I've asked the guys some things, but either they think I'm a dumb blonde or just don't get it.

I have to work things out for myself. Bit by bit. Trial and error. Watching what others do and so forth.

I now have a tea towel (a Korean dishtowel is like a face washer). I bought a pack of three, and one is my facewasher. I did find face washers but in a huge pack that I thought was a bit silly to buy - I'd never use them all, so I compromised. I now have a mop but it's sucking up of water quality is not good - but at least I can hasten the drying process in the bathroom.

I'm washing by hand - as the promised power cord for the washing machine has not yet materialised. Where does one hang washing? There is supposed to be some rack or line in the kitchen, but in the end I bought a stainless steel monstrosity with many stainliness steel racks to hang the washing. I can open the huge kitchen windows to get my washing dried - but there is no sun here on this side of the apartment block.

I have got the TV working - the guys laughed as they thought all programs were in Korean, but I found the Discovery Channel, in English. I've mastered the strange microwave oven - which automatically turns on when you shut the door. I can get the gas going.

Now what do I do about rubbish? I'm supposed to be supplied with special bags and you leave the filled bags ready for the rubbish man at the corner of the street. I'm waiting on the bags. I have a week's rubbish in a plastic bag.

Bit by bit. I miss the support of other teachers the way we had in China.

I'll probably get the hang of it all in due course.

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