Thus Spake a Korean Kindergartener

One of my first days teaching kindergarteners English as a second language in Korea, I learned a really important lesson: five-year-olds are not as dumb as they look. We were building small boats out of a type of plasticine. We had a tub of water for them to try out their boats. One boy came to me and said, “Teacher, why no float?” 

 I looked at the wad of gummy material he had vaguely molded into a boat shape and said, “Uh, there’s too much crap on the bottom of your boat. You need to take that off as a start.” I was flustered as fifteen other children were shoving their creations in my face too and asking why their boats sucked. I tended to other boats and eventually the boy reappeared with his newly streamlined boat and showed it to me. 

 “Teacher,” he said, “Is so many craps?” 

 And thus began my illustrious English teaching career. 

Outhouse Dog

The outhouses along the trek to Everest Base Camp are basic but ingenious. There is no plumbing, rather, you enter a small shack with a hole cut in the wooden floor. There is a floor below yours where the deposits land. This lower deck has a door which opens so the whole thing can be mucked out at some point. These outhouses are usually constructed against a small hill so that both floors can be accessed, either for use, or for cleaning. It feels sanitary enough. You don’t touch anything and there is usually a bucket of water for those inclined to use water instead of toilet paper. You bring your own toilet paper if that is your deal. As far as squat toilets go, they’re fairly easy to use. 

 One morning, I needed to use one. It was the only facility available in the foreseeable future and using nature itself was not really possible as the trail was quite busy that morning, and there were few private options. I entered and noticed immediately while glancing through the hole down at the muck pile below, that there was a dog down there, happily sampling the goods. He looked up at me. 

 “Hey, get out of there,” I told him. He wagged his tail. 

 “Move,” I insisted, “or I will just go on you. I don’t have time for this.” He was completely unperturbed. I waved my hands at him, and tried sounded harsher. 

 “GET OUT.” I stamped the floor. He went back to searching out good bits, ignoring me. 

 “Okay then. This is not my fault,” I grumbled at him. Lucky for both of us, I just had to pee. When I was done, I looked back down to see his reaction. Apart from the drops across the back of his coat, he was completely unaffected by the events. He glanced back up at me and I shook my head in disgust at him. He wagged his tail and I left. 

 Later that day I told the story to an Irish guy I had met on the trail earlier, as we explored a 12thcentury Buddhist monastery.

 “Jayzus,” he said. “I want to party with THAT dog.”