This week saw several more social outings than usual. First of all, on Tuesday after language class, several of us went to dinner at a Thai restaurant. I was a little disappointed that there weren't more tofu options, but we did try an absolutely fantastic soup (the name of which I have already forgotten) that had a tremendous flavor - somehow both piercingly lemony and reassuringly creamy at the same time. There was also a mixed vegetable dish that was really tasty with a brown sauce that, to my wholly American tastes, seemed more like Chinese than Thai.
At the table were two Thais, Pong and Amorn; three Americans, me, Keegan, and Kristin (another surveyor); a Pole, Slavek; and a Russian, Boris. I love international gatherings like this, especially when I have a chance to show off my Polish (I'm actually still quite good at saying "I speak a little Polish, but I've forgotten a lot. I lived in Debica seven years ago."). We waited for a long time for our food, and during that time Amorn was cheerfully loud and overbearing, Boris and Slavek got into a heated argument about the economics of homebuilding in Russia and the U.S., Kristin, Keegan and I compared stories about previous Thai meals, and Pong watched us all in observant silence.
On Wednesday, many of us were reunited at a Korean restaurant so that we could send off Mr. Moon, a Korean surveyor who is moving to Busan to work as an engineer. Again, vegetarian offerings were sparing, so I had an odd dinner of cabbage soup, cold tofu with scallions and soy sauce, and cabbage salad with raspberry dressing. I really enjoyed meeting and talking to Mr. Moon, who was kind, interesting, and spoke very good English. The evening ended fairly early when all the foreigners began groaning more and more about their knees, backs, legs, etc. Only Mr. Moon could keep his place on the floor gracefully.
Friday was a holiday here (National Foundation Day) so Keegan had the day off. It was a beautiful day, so we went to the beach with John, Glenda, and John's mom and stepfather, who were here visiting from the states. We spent a lot of time peering at tiny sea life in rocky tidal pools (shrimp, slugs, snails, crabs, and tiny fish were abundant). Keegan had his mask and fins, and I tried on an extra mask and swam around to look for more underwater life. I didn't see a whole lot, but there was one bright yellow and gray fish and many sand colored bottom dwellers that were pretty hard to spot unless they moved. We also saw a sign that had been washed off the beach. I told Keegan that it made a good Korean test: if you can read the whole sign in Korean before running out of breath, you finally know the alphabet well enough! I really enjoyed swimming around, until we started getting stung by jellyfish. We didn't actually SEE any jellyfish, but Keegan said there were some huge ones further out and that possibly bits of stinging tentacle had floated in towards the shore and were nailing us all over. So we decided to cut short our swim. All in all, it was an enjoyable day, and the beach was much less crowded than earlier in the summer.
In the evening, Glenda, John and parents came over for pizza and a rousing game of Phase 10, which Keegan won. I really enjoyed having the apartment full of people. We welcome visitors here anytime! The plane ride is only about 20 hours.