Friday, May 6, 2011

I've breathed the mountain air, man. Of travel I've had my share, man. I've been everywhere.

Whew, where to start. As you know it has been a minute since my last entry. If I looked at it correct, it's almost 3am so I may not have, the last entry was right before I was heading to Hanam for the Hanam Open. What a great time, and essentially a going away party for my man Terryance. Thought I'd write in this entry some of what went down from then until my departure from the Land of the Morning Calm. Around the time of Tmoney's departure there were a lot of other people leaving as well, and I'm sorry as I can't remember most of them off the top of my head but look at my pics I really do miss Hannah Scott, even though we didn't meet until the end of our time in Korea, it was a lot of fun and I hope she's having a blast in Aussie land. We also had a going away party for my good friend Steph and it was a blast especially with it being an S theme. Jamie as Smoothie man and Braden as a Storm Trooper were great. Jeff and Britta as Soju was appropriate as well.

On the flip side of going away parties, there were also birthday parties and welcome backs. Beemish came back into our our lives and I was lucky to get to hang out with her and other at her welcome back party/Chrissy's Bday party. It was a great night of hanging out with friends that ended up with heading back to a friends apartment to find we had left all their belongings at the bar. Thankfully another friend picked up everything. We also had Tony's Birthday where I would eventually have my going away party. It was a lot of fun that of course ended up in Hongdae and another 6 o'clockish morning.

I was lucky enough to get to spend the glorious Holiday of St. Paddy's day in Korea this year. After work I headed into Seoul where I was meeting some great friends for a few green beers at a pub in Itaewon. However, Tom and I couldn't stay there too late b/c we had to hop the subway to Uijeongbu so we could go to Andrew's to watch the NCAA games. UK played at 1am and we had to bed ready. What a glorious day, as we watched bball games all day, called in sick to school ( I didn't have any classes on Fridays), somehow managed to drink all the beer and an entire bottle of Jamison (That's the holiday spirit) before 3pm. So, as any good bloke would do we hopped over across the street and picked up a few more maekju's. Later in the evening we headed up a little more North (not to the DMZ though) and had Soju cocktails with some Chingu's before heading to our friend Sandy's to crash: Tom and I total carnage; about 35 straight. Best part was that I had to get up two hours later to go to the dentist. Fun. After the dentist I hopped the subway a couple stops for the official St. Paddy's day party. Of course they didn't serve beer there. What kind of self respecting Irish were these people (Just kidding). I don't believe there was a store within 2 miles that had alcohol left once everyone found this out. We managed to have a blast and even made the news reel for the evening. Representing Korea and Ireland as best we could, lol. Afterwards we managed to find a couple cats with a free hug sign, so of course we obliged and helped their cause, for , I don't know, 45 minutes or so, give or take 20.

The following weekend, we jumped on the KTX to head south to Busan. Busan is a slower paced, smaller town compared to Seoul. It only has 4 millionish people. Like I said, small. I've rode the KTX twice and still amazed that the group I was with didn't get kicked off at some people, we're a bit loud. Had a great time in Busan with lots of UK bball watching, jumping in the cold ocean, drinking cold ones on the beach, tossing the frisbee, Beer pong (7 year champs were knocked off, congrats KOBE), and missing the train back to Seoul, again. Dang it. May I mention that this event that drew 17 heathens to Busan was for Adam Moran, or as we affectionately refer to him: A Dam Moran. It was to celebrate his bday. There was also some more beer bonging there as well, although not near as much as at the St. Paddy's day celebration (the official one), it made the news.

The last week at school was a good one as I pretty much just took the students outside and played basketball, soccer, took pics with them and chilled out. 5th graders started out when I got there being my least favorite class (then 4th graders) and ended up being some of my favorites. One of my fav students thanked me for taking the time to talk to him daily about Wrestling, or as we say in the south, Wrastlin'. The kicker was with my sixth grade class, who made me a makeshift cake of Choco pies (moon piesish), with pretzels sticking out as candles, surrounded by cheese puffs. What else do you need? The best part of it was their gift to me. It was a Frog coin bank. For those of you that know the story about the frog, I need not write anymore. And won't.

To finish off my Korea life in grand fashion I had a going away party. We had the dinner where Tony had his birthday party as they had lots of room and don't mind a bunch of crazy foreigners there. Plus for around 30 bones for all you can eat/drink, it's an ultimate pregame. Really loved my going away presents, which were a Korean flag (signed by all my friends) and a hard had (also signed). Following the dinner we all hopped in taxis and headed, shockingly, to Hongdae where would party at Zen Bar III. I had such a great time with all my friends and could never thank them enough. I feel so lucky to have so many wonderful friends for life. For the rest of my life I will be able to travel the world and have a friend in the area. Money can't buy that.

I had a few more days after the party before flying out, which was great. It allowed me to hang out with my Hanam people one last time, which is where everything started. I also had to get my pension papers filed and my money from school,etc. Finished my last night in style with a traditional Korean dinner, including massive amounts of Soju aka Devil, but contrary to Aunt B's dreams I made it to the airport 3.5 hours before my flight. Well, that's all for tonight. Next up: Beijing, Great Wall, Forbidden Palace, Dancing with Chinese girls, back in Amuuuuurica, etc.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Enjoying the present, pondering the future

So, this week is the first week that students are back, but it's not a normal week. I will never fully understand how the school schedule in Korea goes but I'm not too concerned as it benefits me more than otherwise. This week I've actually only taught one class, so I've pretty much had the week to do as I please and that has consisted of getting caught up on my TV shows (House, Big Bang Theory), FB, reading, etc. I believe next week is similar to this week but I'm not really sure. I believe the students will be here until Wednesday, where the 6th graders will graduate. Then I'll have two days of desk warming to finish off the week. This, I think, is followed by two weeks of more desk warming before we start the new school year. All I know is that I need to pick up some new books to bring with me to school to stay busy.

One good thing that has come to fruition this week is that I will now be staying in my current apartment until I leave. I was going to be moving at the end of this month but for several reasons I now will not, I think. I'm relieved at this so I don't have to pack up twice in the next seven weeks, that's nice. One sort of bad thing about the apartment is that my heat comes is the where I have to buy the oil from the tank and evidently the price has doubled for winter time. So, I paid more for a half tank of oil (233,000 W) this week than I did for a full tank several months ago. Well, what are you going to do, I do need hot water for showers. The good thing is that it's starting to get warmer, so I'm hoping I don't have to turn the heat on as much as I did in January. Fingers crossed!

Right now is a frustrating time as it's not quite close enough to start planning a going away party or coming home party. However, I'm pretty set on having an old fashion BBQ at home for my birthday; with all the fixins' as we'd say. It's also frustrating trying to figure out what I'm going to do next. I'm suppose to find out next week about the Outward Bound position and I'm still waiting to hear back from SAGA in Alaska. Both would be amazing opportunities. I've also started looking at other opportunities such as,, WWOOF, and Help X among others. I'm seriously looking into hiking the Appalachian Trail if I don't have a job by the time I get home. It would be an amazing opportunity and I'd be able to hike portions with friends which would be an added bonus. I'm not really worried about having something set up. There's plenty of opportunities out there and as long I find a way to continue traversing the world I'll be content.

This week, even though I've really done little was a bit tough to get back into the routine with not having students for so long and being on vacation basically the past three weeks. I really enjoyed the break and it was much needed. It was great fun spending a couple Tuesday's in Itaewon for wing night, especially the past with running into Dorian as he has gone home to South Africa. I was also able to spend two awesome weekends at Sungwoo Resort snow boarding with Andrew and other friends. I'm definitely hooked and can't wait to board again soon. I don't like to brag but I'm pretty awesome for someone that's only been twice. Watch out! I spent the majority of my vacation just hanging out with everyone, going to parties, and just enjoying life in general; although warmer weather would have been nicer!

I'm really going to have to stretch the budget this month as I really need to apply for my Chinese visa, which will run me 195,000 Won since I'm American. That in addition to dropping 1,000,000 Won to my dentist will make for an interesting month, but I always get by so I'm not too worried. Also in the next month I'm running two more 10 K's which I'm pretty excited about. The bad thing about my vacation is that I also took a vaca from working out and I could really tell yesterday while running. I'm not terribly out of shape as it's more I'm mentally out of shape. was able to get a couple workouts in this week. Hopefully I can get back on track in a few days as the next 10 K is only about two weeks away. When I leave Korea I can definitely say I left a foot print while here as i will have completed a 1/2 Marathon and four 10k's!

This weekend is setting up to be one exciting weekend. I'm heading to Hanam tonight to chill with the fellas and then we have the Hanam Open tomorrow evening in Cheonho. We're splitting into teams and basically having a pub crawl. We'll visit nine pubs where we'll all down a 500ml beer, then quickly move on to the next pub. How many gulps it takes to finish your drink is your strokes, and just like in golf, the lower the better. My glorious name for this event is Boo Weekly! After this crazy event, there's a going away party for another friend in Hongdae and I'm thinking about trying to make it to see Hannah off to Austrailia. Finally, to finish off the weekend, my basketball team is in the Championship game on Sunday. I really hope we win and bring home the title. It's been such a great experience playing with these guys, especially Aaron, he's a cool guy and the only other foreigner on the team.

Well, I'm going to check and see if the latest episode of Big Bang Theory has loaded. Will surely have interesting stories to upload soon! 'Til then, take care.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Merry New Years and Happy Christmas

Ok, so it's been a while since I last posted a blog. This does not mean that I don't have things to write about, it's just been a combination of being lazy and not being able to get logged in. I definitely have quite a bit to discuss, so this could be a fairly lenthy post, or I could get tired and stop half-way through, who knows. Thought I'd discuss Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, my 1/2 marathon, Coming home plans, my laundry room being used a pool, vacation ideas, Alaska, Appalachian Trail, jobs, China and New Year's resolutions.
Thanksgiving was another success this year. It was the second straight year of being away and I was lucky enough to be able to have the friends I have and was able to celebrate with three dinners. First, all of the Ildong crew met over at my apt and had a quite untraditional dinner but it was a great time and I was thankful to be able to share my apartment with others for the occasion, although it did mean that I had to clean the place. On that Friday I headed to Hanam for Thanksgiving with my crew there. The dinner was held at Rachel's apartment and it was a bit more traditional, with turkey, mashed potatoes, potato salad,etc. It was a great time and I always enjoy getting everyone together while eating, drinking, and sharing stories. I feel really blessed this year to have come across such good friends all over Korea. To finish off the night we hit up the Noraebang (private karaoke room) across the street in Tres Belle. To finish off the wonderful Thanksgiving holiday weekend, my buddy Andrew was hosting a Thanksgiving party at a local bar that was reserved just for us on Sunday. It ended up being an AWESOME time and there were so many people there! We had four hams, two trays of mashed potatoes, pie, gravy, biscuits, and other sides. I wasn't drinking after having some more dental work done and was the designated DJ for a time followed by watching Jono and Dorian build a pyramid out of Bud beer bottles.
During the month of November and the first couple weeks of December I was trying to train "hard" for my first ever half marathon. I really wanted to do well in this race and also chose to run this race for a very particular reason. The date of the race happened to fall on December 19th, which happens to be the date that I lost my best friend and mom in 2001. One of the things I've been trying to do the last few years is using the days that are often the hardest and plugging in positive moments to soften the blow. What better way also to honor her and how hard she fought during her last few months than to train and run a 1/2 marathon (21km/13.1mi) and run it in a respectable time. It also helps that it was a Team Dirt race and there were many of my friends to hang around with after the race. I have to admit that I was very pleased with my time of approx. 1hr and 53min as I was shooting for under 2 hours. I think mom would be proud of me for that accomplishment and I hope some time this year to run a full marathon as well. I would also like to say that running a 1/2 marathon is challenging and your body hurts like hell for days but it's totally worth it and an awesome experience!
After the race we sat around for a while and drank Makolri outside the small conveiniance store near the finish line of the race. Once done there we hopped on the subway to spread our Christmas spirit to all around on our way to Itaewon to have some Taco Bell for lunch. We greatly enjoyed our Taco Bell and then proceeded to head across the street to Wolf Hound's, a local Irish Pub which is a pretty cool place to hang out at times. We spent several hours at Wolf Hound's and later had dinner close by and I couldn't think of many better ways to make the day more enjoyable than the way Dec.19,2010 went. I truly thank everyone from that day.

Christmas time is always a special time for me and this was the first one I have ever spent away from my family. I honestly can say that I wasn't happy about spending it so far from home. However, I had a great time with my friends in Korea. We celebrated in Ildong at Veronica's place and I decided to make the little cocktail sausages in bbq sauce. Everyone enjoyed and I liked making them as it is such an easy recipe. We enjoyed the sausages, ham, mashed potatoes, pizza, salad, and of course Sarah's eggnog. For our Hanam Christmas party, we all agreed that we would do a gift exchange and a 20,000 Won limit. I drew Jamie, who is the new guy in Hanam and Braden's mate from back home. I didn't know what to pick up for him. So, on the way to Hanam I stopped at E-Mart which is similar to a Wal-Mart, in search of a gift. I ended up settling on a set of speakers as I knew he had a laptop. Much to my surprise when I checked out, the speakers were not 20,000 won and were actually double. Oh well, I knew Jamie was a music lover, so kept them. However, I did not do any fancy wrapping. Hey, I already spent double the limit, lol. Once I arrived in Hanam we opened presents and I received a 12 yr old bottle of Scotch from Britta, which was cool and enjoyed watching everyone else opening their gifts.

The next morning we all gathered at Tom and Julie's for Brunch. I could only stay about two hours as I needed to head to Uijeongbu later to meet up with my friends from the "Bu" as they call it. After enjoying some pizza and coke, I said goodbye to everyone and headed to the Bu. I got to the Bu around 4pm and met everyone at a Chingu's apartment and listened to some tunes, drank a bit, and just hung out and relaxed. Later we decided to head to amazing world, which is the appropriate name as this place is a kid's dream: Darts, ping pong, pool, computer room, movie room, wii room, food, etc. The best part is that you pay 3,000 Won an hour, so cheap. First though several of us decided to head to Andrew's where we played a little NBA Jam on Wii. That's right Mail Man, a little NBA JAM! So awesome. Once at Amazing we played a little pool for a while and did a little Noraebanging before heading to the pc room after Charlie texted me that Dad was online. Sadly the webcams were not working for the room. Luckily though they did still have headphones and microphones! So I was able to talk to dad, Mallory, Beth, Allison, and D to the J. It's funny, we ended up talking for a few hours and when I finally got off it was nearly 3am here and all of my friends had left, ha ha. I guess that they figured I had left. So, I just headed down the street for a couple of minutes to the 24 hr Burger King where I grabbed some grub and listened to tunes and read a bit while waiting for the subway to start up. The best part of the next day was getting home and opening my Christmas presents. That's right I actually received my presents over a week before and I did not open any of the presents.

So, when I got home that morning I instantly opened my gifts. I really love my new WKU watch, loved the beef jerky, hawaiian shirt, socks, Montana book, Titans water bottle, as well as everything else. I'm truly blessed to have such a wonderful family. I can't wait until Beth's gift comes in the mail soon. They alsos recently received the gifts I sent them for Christmas and I loved seeing the pic of D to the J in his shirt I bought him playing with the fan I made. I'm glad everyone like their gifts.

For New Years Eve, Glendon had came to visit the night before and we had a great night of playing card games betwee
n us and Wally at my place. So on NYE we headed to Seoul after I got off work and headed to Gangnam where we met Braden and headed to Wa Bar. Wa Bar is a bit pricey but it has beers from all over the world. I ended up drinking beers from 5 countries that night which is nice when you consider the quality, or lack thereof, of Korean beer. I even had a Honey Brown from the States, yum. Glendon and I ended up staying at the bar until New Year's and afterwards headed for Hangdae to meet the rest of the Hanam crew. Once there I grabbed a 4,000 Won pouch drink and we headed to Zen Bar III. While at Zen Bar we had a fantastic time and sang and danced until the early hours. After leaving the bar, Glendon and I headed to GoGo's and Club FF to meet up with a friend from Seoul. It actually took a while to find as I hadn't been there in a while, but we eventually found it. I found my friend and danced for a while before tiring out, grabbing some kabobs(sp?) and heading to Glendon's to crash.

The next evening I headed home and just wanted to sleep after having such a grand New Year's. But oh were there surprises for me onc
e I arrived home. I got home to my LL pointing at my apartment. So, I wondered what was up as I knew all the lights were off and the door was locked. I walked up to the apt and walked around for a minute trying to understand what was the problem until I walked into the back and there it was. The pipes had froze and there was water everywhere, but luckily it's a seperate room and the water was just in there. So, for the next hourish I helped my LL change the pipe and clean up the mess. The following morning, on Sunday, he woke me up at 8am, and while I couldn't understand him, I know he wanted me to use my phone to call someone. I'm pretty sure he wanted money, and I'm inclined to give him some for fixing the pipe etc. Problem is that my translator, aka, co teacher is in Peru for the next month, so if that's the case he'll have to wait. Sadly, my friend Sean (Also from KY) that lives about ten min from me had the same problem, so I wasn't alone. really was trying to keep the heat off as much as possible since it's so expensive. Guess it will be a tight budget in February,March ha ha!

This week and next week I'm virtually doing nothi
ng. Although I am teaching a class or two a day during these two weeks and although I was told this at the last minute I really enjoy working with the 1st graders and K Monsters. With all of this free time I'm trying to get my going home plans situated and I'm actually very bummed at the moment. I wanted to visit Charlie before heading home with us so close but I'm not sure I'll be able to do so financially after all. Right now my plan is to spend a week or so in Beijing and then fly home. I know it's going to be hard not getting to see him, but I'm hoping we can find a way and he can visit Korea before I go or come to Beijing and we can hike the Great Wall or something. We'll see I guess. I've also got two weeks of Vaca coming up and I'm planning that as well. Hopefully I'll be spending a few days skiing/snowboarding with some friends. I'm also thinking of heading back up to the DMZ and checking out the 3rd tunnel with the USO. We're also working on an ice fishing trip with the Hanam crew that sounds like a great time and Jamie is planning on coming to visit Ildong the last weekend of the month as well. I also want to hike Seroksan and check out some temples/museums in Seoul during my vacation.

I recently was also about to apply for the Alaska Conservation Corp, which my good friend Claire did this past summer. I really want this job and think it would be a great opportunity. I've always wanted to spend some time in Alaska and this would also be a great chance to pay more on my student loan as this experience would pay another 2500 on them! I'm trying to look around for other opportunities as well. One I'm seriously considering is hiking the Appalachian trail or AT. I'm not sure I'll have the appropriate funds but I'm really wanting to do the entire as very few have completed the entire trail, and I want to be one of those people. So, my next adventure is still very much up in the air but I know I'll find something and it will be awesome!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween Edition/ Korean Style

So, I'd like to start this entry by pointing out that I do not believe it is already November, I believe it's a giant conspiracy to confuse me; the conspirators even did a good making it feel like November outside this morning. Anyway, as everyone knows, this past weekend was Halloween and I was lucky enough to spend it here in Korea with some pretty cool people. I started off the weekend hanging with the crew in Hanam. I met Glendon, Andy, Braden, etc over at Bertus's apt where they were getting ready to play some poker. I should have joined them as I've been dying to play cards lately but I wasn't planning on staying out to long as I had the 10k to run at 9 in the am. I ended up staying later than desired before heading over to Glendon's to put my Halloween costume together!

After walking over to G's apt I start getting everything out to make my costumer, which is the cover of the Office Space movie in which a guy is completely covered in post it notes. The best part of the costume is that even if people don't know the movie (Shame on you), they still enjoy writing on the post it notes. Now the secret with this outfit if you truly want it to be a success is that you have to take the time and glue the post it notes on. I'm guessing you can also use super glue but I like using a hot glue gun. I had picked up a HGG and glue sticks on the way in to town and was set. However, after turning on the gun to get it heated up I realized I had purchased the wrong size glue sticks, they were way too large. I tried trimming them down and pushing them through the tube with no luck. After a bit I finally realized I could just cut the glue into small pieces and simply stick it on the post it note and apply the gun to it and get the desired effect. This ended up working to perfection, but it took much longer than if I'd bought the correct sticks/gun.

Glendon got home around the time I was finishing up the pants, around 4am, so much for going to bed early so I could get some rest for the race. After finishing the outfit, I sat around and chatted with G for a while and ended up not going to sleep until around 5:30 and needed to get up around 6:15 so I could catch the bus and hop on the subway and get all the way over to the World Cup Stadium where some Chingu's and I would be running a 10k at 9am. I had the same initial feeling when I woke up that I had when I ran the DMZ 10k, Holy Crap I should have slept more. I made my way over to the Stadium and ended up getting there in great time, about 8:15, more than enough time to get loose and chat with everyone. Many of my friends were running with their costumes on and it was quite hilarious. I don't think I could have run in mine if I wanted to and I really wanted to put in a good time.

Received a surprise before the race as well, as the hoodies we all ordered for our running team "Team Dirt" (Yes, I know, appropriate) had actually come in. Yes, I now have two coats for the winner, sweet! Ok, so after getting the hoodie and stretching we headed over to the start of the race. Now, I've not run a ton of races but I have run several now and most are the same: Mapped off fairly well, blocked off, etc. This race wasn't too hard to navigate but definitely interesting and there were people walking, biking, and driving where we were running. I nearly ran into a dump truck as I rounded the corner at the 5k mark. The first half of the race was not the most enjoyable as I was paying for bending over for several hours making my outfit, my back was killing me. Thankfully it subsided about half way through and I ended up finishing the race in a very respectable 53:23.

I stayed around for a bit after running the race and talked with those around but I had to head out shortly thereafter to head to Jongakk station for my dentist appointment. I hated to leave everyone as we were having pot luck at noon, but I knew I'd be back before too long and hopped on the subway. After my appointment I walked across the street and stopped in Subway. I've really been crazy subway here lately and I thought I had just ran a 10k and been to the dentist all before noon, let's do it. Plus with the festivities to follow I knew some bread in the stomach would not be a bad idea. Afterwards I jumped back on the subway and met back up with the crew in front of the stadium. They had already begun in the festivities and everyone now had on their costumes. We had a guy as a French Maid, my friend Andrew who is a big guy like me as a slutty high school girl, as well as a Wolf, John Lennon, Lobsters, Scream mask, a couple giraffes, a pirate, pippy longstockings, a turtle,twin fairies, and of course Post It Note. The looks of people, especially the Koreans, when i first put on my outfit was AWESOME, they didn't know what to think. I must point out now that Korea does not celebrate Halloween, so all of our costumes were especially intriguing to them.

It was a great time, as we sipped on Makeli, took shots of Soju, Soju cocktail, and drank a few beers. We had a great time hanging out with everyone in the area and of course were asked for a slew of pictures as people were shocked by our outfits; did I mention there were twin fairies (Males)! Towards the evening we packed up shop and headed for Hongdae, one of the big foreigner spots in Seoul. It was dinner time and we all definitely needed to grab some food before starting the night time activities. While heading to the restaurant, Pippy and I got lost and were standing in front of another establishment that simply has a clear plastic outside wall and everyone was staring at us, YES! Pippy was not a fan of this but I thought it was funny. Finally we found our party and chowed on some food before heading to GoGo's bar. GoGo's is a pretty cool bar and we had a great time and ran into lots of other characters and my outfit continued to get signed there as well.

After getting our feel of GoGo's we hopped outside and decided to stop at Zen Bar, which is one of my fav bars in Hongdae. It has a pretty good atmosphere and it has decent amount of room. The only thing that really stunk about Zen this night is that it ran out of beer! Around 4:30 it seems I was finished for the night, um, morning. As I walk outside I hear someone yelling my name and I turn around and it's my friend Roz. I'm glad I ran into her as the Subway didn't start for another hour so we just sat down and watched everyone as they slowly drug themselves out of the bars and like us waited around for the subway. Once the subway started we walked down to the station and I had a problem. I couldn't remember where I had left my stuff. Luckily it only took me a short time before I found it and was on the way home. I must have enjoyed myself the past almost 24 hours because I was suppose to go about 15 stops on the subway and apparently I fell asleep and had already went one full loop on the 2 line and was near where I had started, lol. Needless to say this revelation helped me stay awake and make sure I got off at my stop this time. Once I found my stop I made my way onto the express bus and Ildong.

I'd have to say this was a great Halloween. I'm very happy that I chose the costume I did as it was a huge hit and allowed me the opportunity to talk to people of all ages throughout the day and I enjoyed having little ones and older ones alike sign my outfit. All in all, it was an AWESOME halloween. I hope yours was just as great!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

This is certain to be a bunch of rambling.

Ok, so it's been a few weeks so I last wrote. I really just didn't feel like writing the past couple weeks but I do have some things to write about and I have free time this afternoon due to the 5/6 graders off on a three day excursion. So, let's see what all I've been doing the past few weeks and hopefully it's interesting!
I started running outside more recently as the weather has begun to get quite a bit cooler and it's made for some rather enjoyable runs. Sadly last week I was feeling under the weather and only ran one day and worked out at the gym one day. I'm really excited to get in my run today as I picked up the Nike + wristband and chip this weekend. I calibrated it yesterday a little with my ipod but today I'm going to calibrate the running part, where as yesterday was walking. I'm excited to track how far, fast, etc my run is and get started in uploading it to the Nike + website and really start tracking my progress. I know I don't need all of this technology but I really think it's going to help and inspire me to work harder, especially sharing my times online! I really want to work hard this next month as in that time I'll be hopefully running two 10k's and a half marathon.

In my last post I mentioned the Korean Thanksgiving was coming up (Chuseok). I spent Chuseok on the Island of Jeju which is south of the main peninsula and is a popular spot for honeymoons,etc. I stayed in Yeha Hostel which was only 5 min from the airport. It was a very nice hostel with free internet, free breakfast, rooms were nice, and the staff was very friendly. I really enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone traveling to Jeju. Since I went by myself I decided to mainly just chill out and enjoy the trip as much as possible. I slept in everyday and picked one area to visit and hopped on a bus (bus terminal was 3 mins from hostel) and spent the day there and came back. Two of the days I spent quite a bit of time at Hyeopjae Beach which was absolutely breath taking. I actually spent my last night there and watched the sunset. One of the main reasons I chose Jeju for Chuseok was b/c it has the tallest mountain in Korea at about 1,950 meters (~6,000ft). I was told that it takes anywhere from 7-9 hrs to hike it round trip so of course I decided that I could do quicker. It ended up being a fairly gradual hike and definitely not like a lot of the hikes in Korea which are fairly short but straight up.

I reached the summit in about 2:30 hrs and changed my soaked shirt and got into a dry one as it was a bit chilly at the top. At the top of the mountain I sat down and enjoyed some peanuts other snacks and drank some of my water and checked out all of the people along the platform. Yes, there were lots of people up there, as expected. I think I've mentioned it before but hiking is basically the national sport for Korea. It's always an enjoyable experience for me hiking b/c I look at them and laugh b/c even if it's a 30 min hike they have 1,000 dollars worth of gear on; they look at me funny b/c I have running shoes, basketball shorts, and a cut off t-shirt. It's a good time for all. It was a cloudy day at the top, as it seems to be quite often when I hike in Korea, however, after about 25 minutes of waiting the weather cleared for about a minute and we were blessed with the chance to see the crater inside the top of the mountain. It was quite the spectacle watching a nice size group of people charging towards the fence to take pictures, it made the entire hike for me. It ended up taking me as long to get down the mountain as up it, because there were so many people going up. So, I ended up hiking about 20k in about 5 hrs.

The rest of the week I checked out a folk village which was pretty neat, hit up a few more beaches, checked out a crater which was probably, aside from the beach, the most beautiful area in my week in Jeju, visited the Mini land (weird), and very excitedly found a batting cage downtown. One of the coolest things I visited on the island was the area where I took the picture to the left. I ended up staying and watching the water crash into the shore for nearly an hour and a half. It was amazing watching the power of the water hitting the shore. The area is also famous for having these black volcanic rock there shaped in straight columns where the magma cooled. The whole island of Jeju is one big volcanic area. Mt.Hallasan is located right in the middle of the island and you can see volcanic rock everywhere on the island. I had not been to a batting cage in years and really enjoyed the atmosphere and people in the area. Overall, my Jeju experience was fantastic and I'm very I went. It was a nice week of doing something different.

So, I've been very luck to have gotten to meet people from all over the world, all over Korea. I really enjoy visiting my friends all around. Recently I really have loved meeting and hanging out with the people of a running group I'm in, called "Team Dirt" (I know, appropriate). Through this group we had a survivor like challenge called "The Heathen Challenge" which involved a variety of drinking games such as boat races and funneling. We had teams of 10 and my teams name was Better than Dong and our outfits were white, collared shirts with really short running shorts. It ended up being an absolute blast and I made even more friends from all over. I really enjoy hanging out with all of those guys. Oh, by the way, my team "Better than Dong" of course won the challenge!

A dumb thing I've recentlty did was completely shave my face. I did it two weeks ago and I was kind of liking it, but repeated it this past week and, not so much. So, it's back to beard time, which is good b/c it should start to get fairly cold soon. I also finally finished reading Theodore Rex, which I think I started a few months ago. I now just need to wrap up The Koreans by Michael Breen. I stopped into What the Book this past Sat as I was waiting for some friends and picked up "Travels with Charley" by Steinbeck and I've thaready finished about half of the book. I now know for a fact that I really want to travel my whole life. Yes, I want a base to call home, but I love traveling and the new experiences it brings. I really want to do an epic tour of the entire US, visiting National Parks, Landmarks, mom and pop restaurants, etc. I absolutely love it.

Well, I'm sure there are things I'have done the past few weeks that I've forgotten to include, maybe I can include them next time. I'm going to get off here and search for some running music. Can't wait to try out this Nike + watch!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

10K, Foreigners Day, DMZ, No sleep

9-15 So, I figured it's time for another entry, what the heck. I do have some interesting stories from this past week, so let's go. Last week was a pretty calm week again at school as usual. I'm starting to get the hang of this teaching stuff a little bit and it's quite cool. It really leaves open the possibility of staying a second year here in the ROK but that is by no ways a definitely. It simply goes in the endless list with my other ideas. During the middle of the week last week I had to be in Seoul and had a really cool Indian food dinner with Krystal and some Baskin Robbins ice cream on a perfect evening with NO RAIN. It really was a nice break during the middle of the week.

Let's start now with the weekend. As usually I hopped on the 5:20ish bus to Donseoul Bus Terminal and grabbed a few Z's on the ride. I hopped on the subway, the bus and ended up in Hanama with the rain pouring down. Now I don't really mind rain but after a while I get tired of it. Anyway, I ended up meeting a group of people at the chicken HOF. We sat and chilled and talked while munching on the peanuts and downing a few beers. A few people were heading to Itaewon and I had planned on going but decided not to since I had to be up fairly early in the am and didn't want to spend a lot of money on cabs. Later on we decided to hit up the Noraebang again and ended up staying for a quite a while and had a blast. The best part of the whole night was when our friend from New Zealand got back from Itaewon and passed out in the Noraebang. So, we had to follow man law and mess with him, which meant drawing and writing on his face. Honestly I'm not sure how he didn't wake up!

On Saturday I met Krystal around Noonish to check out the Seodaemun prison which is on the 3 line in Seoul. I had visited the prison back when I first got here but definitely didn't mind checking it out again. The rain had stopped and it was a nice early afternoon. It's a very surreal feeling to be in a building where so many people were beaten, killed, etc by the Japanese not that many years ago. It was a great experience to gain a better understanding why Koreans typically do not care for the Japanese. Next, we headed over to Myeong-Dong to look for some lunch and ended up grabbing some Bipimbap which at first doesn't look all that great but once you stir it up it's an awesome dish, I enjoy it everytime. while in the area I also needed a belt and after giving up b/c I'm a a little bigger than the average Korean we found one that fits in the subway.

After finding my belt we were off to the World Cup Stadium as it was foreigner's night at the FC Seoul game. For 10,000 Won we got a ticket, a beer, and a hot dog. We picked up our tickets and decided to roam around for a while. We first hit up the starbucks and grabbed a drink as we both needed a jolt. Afterwards we stopped at the Home Plus, a retail store, to see if they had any bug killler to help with Krystal's bed bug problem. After getting ourselves lost a time or two, it happens a lot, we find the stuff and decided to check out the activities outside. Our friend Jackie arrived shortly there after and we chilled outside the conveinience store and played some drinking games while waiting for the game to start.

The game ended up being a blast. I ran into a lot of people I know from all over Korea. Now, my plan was to attend the game, then head to Uijeongbu to stay with my buddy Andrew so I could get plenty of sleep in order to be ready for my first 10k in the morning. Well, in traditional me style, I was around friends and couldn't bring myself to leave. So, after the game I ran into my Chingu's from Hanam and everyone was headed to Itaewon, which is near the army base and where a lot of Foreigner's hang out. So, our group planned to meet up with Terryance, Andy and the rest of the Hanam crew there. So, we ventured over to Itaewon and ended up at Sam Ryan's which is a pretty cool bar and hung there for a while. when everyone headed up around 2 am I decided I would try and go the station that I needed to be at for our bus to the DMZ, simple enough right?

I said goodbye to the girls and walked down to the atm to grab some cash for the cab and nothing came out; so I tried another, and another, and another, nothing. Now, I knew I had plenty of money so that wasn't the issue but I was stuck in Itaewon with no cash for a cab and my phone was dying. Luckily the boys were still at Scrooges and I mct up with them and hung out for a bit, while also getting to charge my phone for a bit. Luckily Andy let me borrow 50,000 won for the cab and Glendon gave the guy directions to the station. So, I got in the cab and it wasn't a couple minutes that the guy was stopping and on the phone trying to figure out where to go. So, after a while I told him to just take me to Uijeongbu station b/c Andrew lives near the station. Ok, we're getting a few miles to the station and he decides to stop. I have to look at him and tell him "NO, Uijeongbu STATION" and then he finally gets it. Finally, I make it took Uijeongbu Station and it's around 4am so I decided to just wait about 30 min b/c I knew Andrew would be getting up.

I get ahold of Andrew and he hops in a cab and swings by to pick me up and we head to Jihang Station to wait for our bus. We are joined by several others while waiting for the bus including several South Africans that brought their Ninja outfits and were dressing up (It was a Ninja vs. Pirates theme). After grabbing some gimbap and a drink we boarded the bus and headed for Cheorwon to run our DMZ race. I did sleep a few minutes on the bus and when we arrived at the town I felt like there was no way possible that I was going to race. Luckily we arrived about an hour or so before the race so I had time to get loose, grab a powerade, get pumped up, which was that hard after seeing all the other racers and having my competitive spirit kick in!

I knew that my ipod didn't have much of a charge left in it but I hoped that if I picked one band and just left it I'd be ok. I ended up picking MUSE's live at Wembly set so as to seem like the people screaming for them were doing so for me. Luckily the ipod lasted the whole race. So, we're waiting to get started and I'm standing beside my buddy Andrew and the Ninja's, of course. They too never slept, are wearing ninja outfits, and have mixes of Soju Cocktails. Of course I have a nice drink for courage to make it through the race. The race starts and I get a great start and run pretty fast for the first km or two and then I decided instead of running fast and having to stop a bunch I'd set a medium pace and have my goal to be, simply running the entire race without stopping except at the water stands b/c they're a great place to get hurt .

It ended up being a great race as I ran the entire time, the ipod never stopped, the weather was ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL, and the mountains gorgeous. It felt a little like the scene in Forrest Gump when he's talking to Jenny when she's dying about all the places he ran and where it shows the lake with the sky reflecting off of it (Which happens to be Glacier National Park by the way). I even managed to finish under an hour an 55:56, which wasn't my original goal but not too shabby I think. Afterwards we chilled for a while and enjoyed North Korean beer which was actually quite delicious. Towards the end we took some pictures, played a little flip cup and walked around. On the bus ride back it was a party bus. We played drinking games with Soju and Makeli all the way back to the station. It was definitely an awesome day and weekend. I really enjoyed getting to hang out with so many of my friends from different groups also running into random people all weekend.

Well, I hope everyone enjoyed this entry. This weekend starts the Thanksgiving Holiday in Korea (Chuseok) and I'll be away from school all next week! I will be flying to the largest Island in Korea, Jeju, this weekend and will hike, sit on the beach, etc all next week. Can't wait to tell you about it. 'Til next time.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lazy Day

9-8 So, it's a lazy day for me here in the village of Ildong. Ok, so it's not really a village but it feels like it when compared to Seoul and I think's it's just cooler to tell people I live in a village. Ok, so let's see what's happened since my last post. This past week was a relatively easy week as several of my classes were cancelled for various reasons. This is not uncommon here in Korea as you could come into school and be told that a class for that day is cancelled (Cool) or that you'll have an extra class that day (not as cool) but it's not everyday that this happens. Wednesday's are going to be nice days for me to get things done now as I have the entire morning off to do as I please and on most weds it will be used to work on my lesson plans. I now only have an after school class and a parents class on weds as my Kindergarten class has been moved to Fridays.

Wednesday we had a going away party for Ben, an English teacher at a nearby school, in Idong at the Chinese restaurant. I also was able to meet the new English teacher at the Middle School next to my apartment, Sean Chandler. He hails from a little town, Bagdad, in my home state of Kentucky. So, it's nice to have a fellow Kentucky living right down the street. It also proves that it really is a small world. During the dinner, one of the topics was the Typhoon that was supposed to be moving in that evening; Really, a typhoon! So, after dinner I went home and awaited this storm. I woke up at 5am to no storm and thought, "Ok, there's not going to be any storm" and went back to sleep for a while. However, at around 7am I was awoken to strong winds and rain with things flying around a bit. So, I texted my co teacher to make sure I could get a ride to school. Once at school I kept reading on FB about the subway being shut down and other various stories. Although all of our students were here at school they cancelled classes until 10:30, thus another day of very few classes.

Friday, as usual, I headed into Hanam to hang out with the crew. Usually I hop on the first 112 on 30-3 bus I can but this week I wasn't feeling the sardine vibe that comes with these buses and was determined to wait for one with fewer persons on it. Luckily, I had to wait, oh, about 1 min as another pulled up; great start to the weekend. I met several friends at Masigo's around 9 and we had some drinks, etc before heading over to Noraebang to finish off the night/morning! Noraebang for those that don't know is a private Karaoke room that you rent by the hour. It's quite fun and especially late in the evening after hitting the bars.

One thing I forgot to mention earlier about the past week was the many dinners that I attended. I did mention Ben's farewell, but we also held one for our principal as he was transferring to another school. Then of course we had one for our new principal. Now, these dinners are a great time, but I must admit it's a little weird at times as I don't speak the language and can't really contribute too much to the conversation although I did manage to throw in some with the words I do know! Finally, we also had another dinner this Monday in honor of our new accounting person.

On Saturday, I met up with a Chingu that I met a few weeks ago on an Adventure Korea trip, to go hiking. We attempted to go hiking to start, but it didn't quite work as it was extremely hot. So, we decided to try and check out the prison I visited with young Steven soon after I arrived here. The problem with that idea though is that I couldn't remember exactly where it was at and didn't remember the name of the place, making it impossible to ask Korean's where it was. So, after a bit, Krystal's friend Mckenzie decided to head back to shower, etc to get ready to head to the soccer game we were going to later. Krystal and I decided to get some food after our afternoon of failure! We ended up finding an awesome all you can eat sushi/every you could ever want restaurant for 17,000 won! It was awesome, although we were a little under dressed. They had sushi, deserts, orange chicken, soups, etc and it was delicious. We've decided that we're going back soon to and dress a little nicer to atone for our attire this weekend.

After finishing our lunch, we headed over to Krystal's apartment to change our clothes and get ready to head over to the soccer game. After relaxing for a while we headed to the Olympic Soccer stadium and man is that thing big. We finally found our entrance and made our way to our seats. It really was a great atmosphere and we sat near some young Koreans that talked with us and shared their snacks. During the game we also noticed that this weekend is foreigners day which for 10,000 W you get a ticket, a hot dog, and a big beer! There's also a lot of activities before the game. So, we're planning on getting there early and making a day of it. After watch FC Seoul win the game we headed out to Itaewon to meet up with one of our chingu's Jacki. When we got to Itaewon I ran into Glendon, Terryance and the crew and found out our friend Dante was DJ'ing in the area tonight. They were going to his first performance but we needed to grab some grub and stopped at the Quizno's across the street. We decided to head over to Bedlam where Dante would be playing later. It's a nice little cozy bar, and we had a good time but being as tired as we were it didn't fit our needs for the night. So, after checking out Dante's act for a while we headed over to Sam Ryan's to meet up with Jacki.

Sam Ryan's is a nice bar and on Saturday's right now you can be sure that there will be Rugby on, and tonight it was South Africa and Austrailia, so I watched the game as we hung out. Like I mentioned before, we were exhausted from traveling around all day, so we cut out early (2:30) and headed back to Krystal's. I had to get up around 6 to head off to another Adventure Korea trip, so after getting to her place I tried to crash and get at least an hours sleep before the trip.

As for the trip, it was really nice and relaxing. As a nice surprise too, one of my friends from Hanam, Thom, was going on the trip as well with his girlfriend Julie. I really like both of them as they're fun people and nice to be around. I slept, as I usually do, on the bus while going to the ferry. The ferry ended up being nice as it was a gorgeous day and the scenery and mountains were pretty cool. After riding the ferry we headed over to check out the cave. Now, I was very interested in checking out the cave, b/c I wanted to see how it compared to Mammoth Cave, the largest mapped cave in the world, which sits, basically, in my backyard. I have to say it was a really cool cave with lots of stalagtites throughout the cave. It was cool listening to the young children checking out the cave. It was also nice to get away from the heat for a bit as it was HOT outside!

We next hopped on the bus to check out three rocks in the middle of the river, which were very beautiful and neat. There was also a lookout point up the hill a bit to get a better view of the rocks and the surrounding area. Just past the gazeebo there was a natural gate to what used to be, presumably, the entrance to a cave. We relaxed for a bit before getting on the bus to head back to Seoul. This past Sunday was a day many Koreans visit their dead relatives and tend to their graves, so the traffic getting back to Seoul was quite crazy and a lot longer than normal. We didn't arrive back in time for me to catch the express bus so I ended up going all the way up to the Uijeongbu (town where MASH was based) to catch the 138-5 back to Ildong. Now, there's probably a better way to get back, but as of now I don't know it. Anyway, I ended up arriving back in Ildong around 12:15 and pretty much went to sleep right away, school in the am!

This weekend is shaping up to be a nice one as well. Not sure what I'll do on Friday, but I'm sure I'll find something. On Saturday, I'm meet up with Krystal again and we're going to the Seodaemun Prison, for sure, and maybe hike the small mountain next to it to start. Then, as mentioned earlier we're heading to the Soccer stadium to enjoy the festivities before the game and then the game itself! After the game I'm heading up to Uijeongbu to crash with my buddy Andrew and going to try and get some sleep b/c I have to get up early on Sunday (4amish) to be on a bus to leave at 5am to head to the DMZ. I've signed up to run a 10K (6.2) so I need everyone to pray for me and hope that I don't collapse, etc, lol. Actually, I think I'll be fine, just not happy with my final time as I haven't trained quite as hard as I would have liked. Either way, it's going to be a unique opportunity, I mean, how many people do you know that have ran a race at the DMZ, so I feel really blessed for the opportunity, especially since it's a peace race.

Well, I'm about finished but I thought I'd throw one more note in here. I may talk about it again later, but I've been growing my beard and hair out again and can't but help this week, think about my grandmother sighing last year when I cut it off. She told me how much she really liked and enjoyed seeing it when I visited last Sept. Her, birthday would be the Thursday after tomorrow (Sept. 16). So, we'll finish a little humor and say Mammaw: This beard's for you!