Korea, Machon

12 April 2004 – 12 July 2004 

After being forced to leave my Bucheon job and given 2 days notice to vacate my apartment, I was in a little bit of a situation.  Jobless and homeless.  But as good friends do, my mate Blain kindly opened up his apartment to me.

His apartment was located above his school in Machon Dong at the end of the subway line an hour and a half away.  Machon was a polar opposite to Bucheon. Located where Seoul met the countryside with views of hills and rice patty fields. There were no 12 lane roads, high-rises, chain stores or foreigners. Basically it was older, dirtier and poorer.

Sights of Machon Machon, where outskirts of Seoul meet the hills and rice patty fields.

Within a week I had found another job, teaching 4 days a week in the afternoon.  The school was different to what I had been use to, more like a zoo than a school with classes of 17 kids. It was in a rundown windowless building with squatter toilets, so there was nowhere to go and relax. The bosses kept to themselves, the fellow Korean teachers were friendly – it was a job.

As well as that job I had also randomly applied for an urgent position to teach a 17 year old kid business studies for a 3 week period. Due to the urgent need to fill the position, the pay was very good, so I applied and ended up getting the job (that University Degree came in handy).  The student had just been expelled from his Swiss boarding school, and was with his mother who was in Korea on business.

The students mother was Korean, Father German and they lived in Spain. So he spoke, German, Spanish and luckily for me English all fluently -makes you feel quite stupid when your still struggling to grasp your native tongue-.  The following 3 weeks in the mornings I would teach him and show him around Seoul while his mother worked, then I would go and teach my classes in the afternoon.  

Life was good at work, and even better in the apartment.  Blain and mines girlfriends had moved into his apartment.  Our girlfriends who were good friends had just finished University and were between jobs. They took great pleasure in cleaning the house, and cooking the meals awaiting our arrival home from work and we were not going to ruin their fun. We had plenty of trips away and lots of laughs, fond memories.

Weekend trip away - Banana boat. Trip away to the beach - Korean beach cheer

One night I got really sick, the sickest I have ever been. Blain and the girls took me to Machon hospital emergency room, which was a 3rd grade hospital. I lay on one of the two emergency room beds that had dried up blood splashes on the sheets.  I was jabbed in my bum (with a needle), in my arm, numerous times with needles and IV drips etc.  The doctor seemed to be having a great time practicing his high-school English on me. He diagnosed me with having a flu and sent me on my way after 4 hours of free English practice.  The next 4 days were hell, I couldn’t eat, drink or sleep.  I couldnt even hold down water, and I had the most intense migraine that not even a dump truck load of painkillers could cure.  If it wasn’t for my girlfriend I don’t know how I could of gotten through it.  Once I could finally move I went to an international clinic in Seoul, the Doc straight away told me that I had had Meningitis, and had been bloody lucky that it was viral and not the deadly bacterial strain.

Once recovered and back at school I got an email from the 17 year old business students father in Spain. He was offered me to go and teach his son in Spain for his high-school exams.  It was perfect timing as I had been looking to go to Spain to learn Spanish and Blains contract was coming to a close on his apartment and my girlfriend was going to Australia for school.  It was an opportunity too good to turn down, so it was off to Spain to start another chapter of the journey.


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