I went to bed early cos there was nothing to do.
Nothing on TV and the internet was mysteriously down and I have no friends here – but I’ve woken at 11:23 pm from a dull dream that inspired nothing but boredom and the desire to, wake.
So I turn to writing … but about what: my recent life has become the most boring existence on the planet.
I – the extreme global nomad – have become a universal banality where boiling water and awaiting a coffee hit is the best, I can get.
And while I can admit to never really having had many great dreams in my entire fuckin’ live, and only ever remembering the ones that were stupid, dull, scary, or fearful …
The last few weeks the dreams have been really f**** dull – like teaching kids English – class by class – minute by minute, or photocopying – page-by-page – and fuckin’ hell, they last forever maybe double-slow real time, forcing me awake in the middle of the night; grumpy – cos they are so fuckin’ damned dull that my sleeping system simply shuts down and snaps me sharp, awake, for hours …
So here I am: Bored by my dreams; dulled by my existence.
I’ve been living here 4 months now, and I wonder if – not, when – the excitement will brew or if in fact the water may never boil and that I’m facing a life of complete social emptiness living here in Gwangyang, South Korea.
My Philippines break has become a distant memory, which my credit card has only just recovered and which my crotch, now arches, for such a crazy release.
No sex, for me here – in fact, no friends and absolutely no conversation – beyond a few lines with the few Korean, basic-English-speaking teachers, all married with kids, that’s the end; I am alone.
Not that’s it’s the first time so alone or that I can’t deal with such an environment. Easy.
Except for the fact that I’ve got 8 more months of complete solitude, til I can hit the road again, cashed up, and free.
But meantime: I wait for that water to boil; that encounter to happen, an interest to ferment.
Gwangyang – meaning: sunshine – is a hilly, coastal, port city of around 140,000 and has good infrastructure – big, wide roads and new high-rise buildings but is really a quiet town awaiting a population boom. It’s claim to frame is Posco – the world’s biggest, high-tech steel production industry on a nearby island, but how eco-friendly it is I wouldn’t know – are those giant plumes steam or smoke? (Sometimes the air here can be shitty – but whether her it’s industrial-stink or more often the neighbors cooking fish – I rush to close the window, before I gag.)
My life here revolves around teaching at two public elementary schools. Both, okay.
But this work, like this life, is getting routine … I teach grades 3, 4, 5, 6, from ages 10 – 13.
The English program is via a government text book with CD animation story played on giant TVs, with listening, repeating, singing, but unfortunately it’s all too easy as city-Korean kids go to private academies outside of the public system, so 90% of the class has already learned what I teach which means I need to add something new to the lesson to make it fun, worthwhile.
Mostly high energy games and activities.
Within a teaching week of 22 different classes (at 40 minutes each) and each with 30 different students, after the mad-energy of kids (most hyper; crazy) I chill during my short breaks, and await the water to boil … the kids are fun.
But coffee is my friend.
This empty lifestyle aside, there’s no reason for me to complain.
The salary for the work is quite okay, the free furnished apartment, the free return flights, the contract completion bonus, the masses of holidays and school vacations, the tasty-Korean-school lunches, the super-internet speed, and all the out-of-class down-time means I slowly can get my travel / art projects, done; so, hey, it could be much worst.
So while I write this to escape yet another damned dull dream.
It’s also for those who can’t find anything on Google about life or teaching in Gwangyang; now, you know what to expect.
Bring your books, your hobbies, your strait-jacket, or maybe you will click with the few foreigners here (that I never encounter but there are some) and know that Korea is nice, gentle, scenic, and easy to travel for those weekend getaways.
And that Busan, big city shopping or partying, is only 2 hours away.
Tomorrow, I will venture out.
Maybe to the supermarket or maybe to the bus station for a trip to Yeosu – but where-ever I am, guaranteed to be greeted by the hearty, happy shouts of my students in the mellow streets of Gwangyang.
Existing in Korea – 2008