Well, my first week of teaching has gone reasonably well, apart from the fact I’ve been sick the whole time. It started out as a cold, and I had to use a microphone for a couple of days so that the kids could hear my croaky voice, but over the weekend it seemed to almost transform into something else – headache, kind of blocked-up sinuses and a lot of coughing.
So this morning one of the Korean teachers at the school drove me to a doctor’s clinic in Pyeongtaek. He used the term ‘hospital’, but it wasn’t like a hospital in the West. There were a few receptionists behind what was essentially an open-air room filled with medical equipment and consultation seats – quite different to a New Zealand clinic where everyone is seen in private rooms.
After filling in a form the size of a credit card with details like my first name and either birthday or year of birth, I was immediately ushered into the main consultation area. The doctor was a short man in a white coat (doctors in NZ don’t typically wear white coats). He spoke some English which was good. He had a look in my ears and said there was a build up of earwax which needs to be cleansed, but that’s not the main problem. He then used some tweezer-like instruments to open my nostrils, squirted some spray up them and took a look.
I was told that the diagnosis was some sort of allergic reaction (to what, I don’t know). Apparently it’s quite common for new teachers to get it. Maybe it’s something to do with the fine dust, the major pollutant that plagues Korea and causes people to wear masks when the air is bad.
The doctor’s visit cost around ₩15,000 (NZ$19, just over what I used to pay to attend my low cost clinic in Dunedin) and the medicine was around ₩12,000 (NZ$15.50). Apparently when I get my Alien Registration Card and my health insurance kicks in, it’s much cheaper than that.
After work, I decided I wanted to visit a temple. Using Kakao Map (one of the two local equivalents to Google Maps), I found a couple of temples within walking distance. After crossing what is essentially a new development, complete with two roads, I couldn’t find one of the temples (which may have been demolished for the new development), but I did manage to find the other one.
The temple was still open and so I took my shoes off and made my way upstairs. The main hall had statues of Shaykamuni Buddha, Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva (Taeseji Bosal) and Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva (Kwan Se Eum Bosal or Guan Yin Pusa). There was also a statue off to the side of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, and on the left was a statue of a man who looked kind of familiar. I looked at the service book and discovered that this was a Cheontae temple, like Gwanmunsa in Seoul!
After some prayers and meditation, I began to make my way home. However, I needed to get more cash out and didn’t know how much was on my T Money card. From outside the temple I could have got several buses back, but I needed to find an ATM, which I did (it gave me the whole amount in ₩10,000 bills though, which was annoying). I tried the Kakao Taxi app several times, but to no avail (there is a Smart Call option but it wants a credit card for that). I eventually managed to get a bus home.
Sitting down with my phone, and my tablet open to the Papago translate app, I managed to order a box of fried chicken from the delivery app Yogiyo, which is all in Korean. The chicken was spicy but good. After eating I took the array of pills and a sachet of cough syrup that the doctor had given me.