My second school, where I teach on Tuesdays, lets me leave after my last class ends at 3:10. Since it's closer to the bigger towns of Samcheok and Donghae, I usually head to one of those on Tuesday evenings for some combination of shopping, dinner and entertainment.
Yesterday I went to Samcheok to get my haircut, workout, relax at the bath house and do some grocery shopping. The haircut went well considering the language barrier, and at 10,000 won (~US$7) for the cut with a shampoo and scalp massage, it's quite a deal. (The place is called Hair Doctor and is up the stairs about five doors down from the Duncan Donuts [toward Home Plus] in downtown Samcheok.)
The workout went less well. I get stared at more at the gym than in most places in Korea, though I'm not sure why. Yesterday was no different, especially from a man wearing elastic waist and ankle zebra pants who appeared to be training a group of rather large Korean men. But whatever, I just crank up my iPod and do my thing... it's just part of being here.
But when I got on the treadmill, I noticed I was getting even more attention. After about five minutes, the zebra pants-ed man came up to me and made some gestures that I interpreted as he thought I was stepping two hard on the treadmill. At that point though, I was tired of being stared at and just wanted to do my workout, so I shrugged my shoulders and put my headphones back on. A few minutes later, another man stepped onto the treadmill next to mine, pointed at me, and said “very strong step.” I shrugged my shoulders in an attempt to communicate something like “Seriously? / What do you want me to do about it? / What's your problem?” But he continued to say things like “soft step,” so eventually I relented and started running on the balls of my feet, and asked him “Okay?” but even that didn't seem to satisfy him. So I put my headphones back on and kept running, but got off after 12 minutes because I didn't like the way I was being looked at and was having a hard time focusing on my running. I was not at all happy with that, but sometimes it's just too much to fight it.
So I thought I'd go swimming, as I usually do after I workout there, but when I asked the clerk if she had goggles I could use, she politely informed me that it would be an additional 5,000won to swim. Well, at least I saved that money each time I used the pool before I found that out. ;)
I had a nice soak with a monk (how often do you get to bathe with a monk?), a sauna and a lovely 30 minute chair massage (as in the chair was massaging me, not like I was in a chair getting a massage) for 4,000won in the jimjilbang.
Then I went to the department store, did my grocery shopping, and when I plopped my stuff down on the checkout counter, the person in front of me happened to be Kim Sun, my co-teacher. What a small world! Okay, small Korean town, but still.