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!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Biking, Uijeongbu, guy from Montana, and a new guy from Kentucky!

8-31 Ok, so it's the last day of the month and it's been a week or so since my last entry so I thought I'd update on the latest happening here in South Korea. We're back to normal here at school this week and so far I'd say it's been awesome as I've started trying a new way of teaching and it really seems to work, at least with the younger kids. I'm really working on being more animated to keep their attention during class b/c it's very easy for them to ..... wait, what was I writing about? Oh, it's easy for them to lose their attention in class. The Kindergarten teacher has also asked me to move my class which is going to give me 4 hours on Weds morning (hopefully) to work on lesson plans, etc which will be an awesome time, right in the middle of the week.
The weekend before last I visited a Costco in Seoul with a friend from my area and picked up a couple pillows which was really nice b/c I was still using the pillows from the little love seat and they are not very comfortable. I have noticed my sleeping has improved since. I also picked up a 55 pack box of oatmeal in an attempt to start eating breakfast every morning again. So far in the week and a half I've had it I've had breakfast once but I'm hoping to soon be doing so everyday. I also noticed at Costco that if you bought the Jager there it came with a free soccer ball. Great, like you need more opportunities to do silly things that could hurt you while drinking Jager! Also, I wondered while I was there if Koreans think that everything in America is like Costco: Giant tubs of peanut butter, 55 packs of oatmeal, etc. I wonder.
Random thought here but thought I'd mix to a little Black Stone Cherry for the rest of the afternoon. Had the need to listen to the first album again, especially "When the weight comes down". Anyway, after leaving costco I headed over to Itaewon to meet some friends at Coca Cabana (?) for dinner. It is an all you can eat Brazillian style eatery where you get steak, chicken, etc until you can't take anymore. It was an awesome time and the pineapple desert at the end was really, really good. After stuffing ourselves we headed over to Scrooge's pub to have a few drinks and wait for the South African/ New Zealand rugby game. I'll have to admit I never really knew much about rugby before coming to Korea but after hanging out with the South Africans and others I've really grown to love watching the sport. Scrooge's really is an interesting place, as it's in Itaewon, so there's almost all foreigners, and from all over the world. The South African game was on until about 3:30 am and I needed to stay in the area until 5:30 so I could get all the stuff I'd bought earlier in the day as they were in a locker at the subway station.

So, against my better judgement I went down the street to the Hamilton Hotel Jjinjilbang, which to say the least, doesn't have the best reputation! Jjinjilbang's are everywhere in Korea and are a bathhouse where you have several hot tubs varying in temps, along with saunas, and you can get a massage if you like. There are also sleeping areas you can stay in and are often a cheap place to stay at night. So, my friend (Chingu) Glendon and I went in and lounging in the hot tubs and this middle age gentleman gets in with us and starts talking to us. After a few minutes he counts our penises (1 penis, 2 penis, 3 penis) and I should have just left there. Yes, this Jjinjilbang is known as where the gay Koreans go, although Koreans will tell you there are none in Korea; I DISAGREE! After showering we walked up to the sleeping area and I'm not really sure I ever truly fell asleep as after watching people "perform" lewd acts I was too afraid I'd wake up with a surprise. After a while I decided it was time to leave and get my belongings at the subway. All I can say is that this was a once in a lifetime experience.
The next day I carried all of my crap from the day before onto the bus and headed home. On the way home my Friend, Andrew, invited me over to Uijeongbu to have some lunch, so I decided to head over that way. It was a great afternoon and evening and I got to meet some cool people in the area, including a girl that originally is from the same area of the world as I. Her family was from the Ohio County part of Kentucky, so it was nice to meet someone that knows that part of the country as most people have no idea what I'm talking about when discussing KY. After eating we heading over to Amusing World and man, it's awesome. For about $6 over two hours I played darts, ping pong, cards and they also have Wii Bangs, movie rooms, an arcade, food, beer, massagers, everything. I really had a great time at Amusing world and my new friends are pretty cool. We left there and headed over to the Halloween bar, where everything is decked out like it's Halloween. Don't really have a lot to write about it but I'd like to see what goes on there for Halloween!

So, I've definitely experienced a Monsoon season now, and I'd have to say, at least, here it's not been too crazy. However, I am ready for it to be over as it's rained pretty every day for the last month, including my hiking trip where I was flooded out of my tent and this past weekend's trip. This past weekend was another great weekend as it started out with me heading to Hanam to hang out with friends there. We started with a BBQ on the roof and I was introduced to a Braai-Broodjies( Hope that's right) which is a sandwich from South African (http://http//www.rainbowcooking.co.nz/recipes/braai-broodjies-barbecued-sandwiches). It was a very simple sandwich of brea, tomato, onions, seasoning, and cheese but man it's awesome. I'm going to have to start making it! After griling on the roof we headed over to old Hanam where I met another guy that goes by the name of Bo, which was quite interesting. It was a great time meeting him and several other people from the area. Later we went over to the Noraebang to do a little singing.
I had to leave the Noraebang around 5:30 am so I could catch a bus and the subway to go on another Adventure Korea trip. Even though I fell asleep on the subway I barely still made the bus and joined the other. We headed to Seonyudo Island where we would be enjoying beaches, bike riding, the ocean, and just relaxing. We took a boat over to the island and I was afraid that it was going to be a bad day as it started raining as soon as we got there. Lucky for us, nature had other intentions and the rain cleared up and we were presented with a gorgeous afternoon and evening. I explored the island and found an awesome spot by the pier where the ocean was crashing against the concrete and sending water shooting up the pier wall! One sad note from there was that the wind blew my lense cap into the water, to be lost for all eternity. Luckily they are not that expensive and I can pick one up when I get my camera cleaned soon.

After hanging out on the pier I hung out with our driver and guide in the ocean for a while before cleaning up and getting ready to watch the sunset. I didn't realize how absolutely gorgeous the sunset would be as you can see in the pictures I've posted on FB. I believe they are some of the best pics I've taken since I've been in Korea! An interesting note from the trip is that one of my roommates from the weekend was from Northeast Montana, so it really is a small world. In the morning we had the opportunity to see the sunrise but I could hear it raining and passed on that. I was going to pass on the morning hiking too b/c the rain was absolutely pouring but was talked into and was glad I was as it was a nice little hike, even though I'm not sure my shoes will ever be dry again. After hiking a couple peaks, Montana Mike and I headed with others to the beach to catch razor fish.

Razor fish area creature and is gooey in the middle and had a shell similar to the texture of your fingernail and it cylindrical in shape. To catch them you take a shovel and scoop away sand to reveal their holes. When you find them, you pour sand into them, which causes them to suffocate and search for water. As they come up you grab them by the shell and slowly pull them up. We didn't catch a great deal as we soon ran out of salt but they did wash them off and cook them; I tried one and they were not too bad. Afterwards, we packed up everything and headed back to Seoul. I really couldn't ask for much more than this past weekend as it had a little bit of everything: BBQ, new food, good friends, new friends, hiking, and biking. This weekend I'm planning on doing some hiking with a friend I met a few weeks ago on an Adventure Korea trip. We're hoping there's no rain and that we can get in a nice hike. Let's hope we do!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ipods,floods, back to school and Teddy Roosevelt

8-18 So, I'm back at school this week, albeit with no students, so it's still pretty much like vacation. I do have to get my lesson plans together for next week, but other than that it's free time still. I believe in my last post I was reading "Theodore Rex" which is about Teddy Roosevelt's time as president. I'm getting close to finishing the book (~80pgs) and I have to say it's been quite an interesting read and it's amazing how powerful this man was.
Last week was my second week of vacation and towards the middle of the week I decided to head over to On The Border, a mexican restaurant chain that is at the COEX at the Samseong station (Green Line #2) and had fajitas. While I spent too much I really enjoyed them a lot. Afterwards I wondered around the mall contemplating getting an Ipod touch. I brought dad's and Beth's old Ipod's over with me and they have been great, but the battery life of both are not great. After about 20 minutes of wondering around the Apple store I decided to go ahead and buy the 8 GB Ipod touch. I should have waited and got the 32 GB later on as I have already filled up my 8 GB but I do love it. I have even managed to put a few apps on it such a checkers, flashlight, chess (which I don't know how to play but will learn). I love that the Ipod touch has an external speaker, as it gives me the chances to listen to tunes while I'm doing things around the apt, etc.

Last Thursday night I met my friends Wally and Kourtney at one of the local BBQ places for dinner. I had been wanting to try this place out for a while and was excited to finally eat there. It definitely did not dissapoint as I ordered the sweet bbq chicken and will definitely be returning in the future. I might make it a special treat in about two weeks as a break from my race training. Yes, I'm going to be running a race in about 3 and 1/2 weeks and sadly I've been lax in my training during vacation time. I returned to the gym yesterday evening and got three miles in like I wanted, but the last mile was more walking than anything. I really want to train hard these next three plus weeks so I can run a decent race. I haven't ran a race since the Ice Breaker in Great Falls, MT last year. One thing that is certain that it will definitely be warmer during this 10K than that race was last April!
I'm quite excited at this opportunity, since for one I've only ever ran 5k's and for the fact that it's the "DMZ International Peace Race" so it's an amazing chance to run a race that is definitely a unique opportunity. I'm also going on the trip with a group on two tour buses so it will also be the chance to meet some more great people also living in Korea. Stay tuned for more blogs in which I'm sure there will be updates on how the training is going. One great thing is that during my several week hiatus from working I managed to not gain any weight (didn't lose any either, but that's ok)! I did a lot of walking around Seoul and with my trips so I believe it's from all that walking that I did not gain any weight. I'm hoping in my training the next three weeks to drop about 10 lbs which would drop me under the 230 lbs (104 kgish) mark.

This past weekend I went on my third trip with Adventure Korea (http://www.adventurekorea.com/) and it was quite the experience. The trip was supposed to have us first going to an observation deck overlooking the DMZ. Sadly it was very foggy and we couldn't see a great deal, but it was still a great experience. It was amazing to see all the barbed wire and listen to how where the lines should be and how they've moved over time. On the other side down the mountain is a little town completely surrounded by mountains. The locals call it the punch bowl and it very much looks like one. Afterwards we moved over to the 4th infilitration tunnel dug by the North Koreans, it was discovered in the early 90's. We checked out the little museum there and took pictures around the outside of the tunnel. There are no photos allowed inside the tunnel .
You first entry a nicely cut, cool, tunnel that the South Koreans built to reach the tunnel where the North Korean tunnel is. Once you reach the NK tunnel you immediately notice how small it is, it would be very difficult for someone of my height to manuver through this tunnel. They have a roller coaster type ride that you get in and it takes you for a short ride through the tunnel. So, I was in the "drivers seat" and took a couple pics while on our ride. After looking at them quickly, they were poor pics and I deleted them. Who knows what would happen if I'd gotten good pics and posted them. I wonder if you can get it trouble for that? After checking out the tunnel we went over to the festival. Our first stop was a small island area where you can take boat rides and walk around. I decided to just walk around and not ride on the boats. I did meet a nice family there that had a big bowl of corn in which they had me place on my head. They were very nice and took a couple pics of me doing so. Later, as they were leaving they stopped and asked to take a picture with me. For a minute I felt like a celebrity and also wondered what they would tell there friends when they showed them the picture: "Look at him, he's huge"
Finally, we made it to the main part of the festival and it was very much like a county fair back home. It had a stage for music, a couple swimming pools, booths with all sorts of stuff lining the main walk, and at the end our tents for the evening. With my new friends we walked around and checked out the scene. There was a small area for hand fishing and we watched as a man caught a couple and almost lost one as his grocery bag ripped. Before dinner we decide to buy hand fans and I thought that this would be a great present for D to the J's first birthday. I know he won't be able to use it now but it would be cool hanging up in his room. After making my fan we headed over to the tent for dinner. It turned out to be a great dinner, with beef, kimchi, garlic, lettuce, etc.
Afterwards we headed over to the tent to watch the belly dancing and it was an experience I believe you can only understand if seen in person and can only see in Korea. During the belly dancing the rain started again and was raining hard. Once the dancing was finished we gathered some fire wood and built a fire in the rain and had marshmellows. After getting our share of rain, several of us sat and talked for a while under the pavilion near by. Around 1am we decided to go to bed and headed for our tents. I was careful getting in my tent as to not make a mess as it was still raining hard, so I carefully got in and positioned everything behind me so it wouldn't get wet. I was almost asleep when someone came by tellilng us we had to go as the rain had continued and was approaching our tents.
SO, I gathered all my belongings and the blankets and headed for shelter. I had mentioned to my friend before going to bed about how powerful the river looked and that was one of the concerns for moving as they were worried the river would break the banks and flood our campsite, the water was already right up to my tent. I helped go out to check and make sure everyone got into the shelter, which was a large room on a hard floor, but away from the rain. In the morning we got up, had a little breakfast, and checked out the area. The water had receded quite a bit and the river was still moving pretty fast, there was a mud slide and workers were working hard to get everything cleaned up. The sidewilk near our tents was still pretty much a small river.
We next headed to our hiking site, but was sadly informed that we would not be hiking as the river was too strong to cross for the hike. So, we walked around the area for a while checking out the area, and it was a very beautiful area at that. After walking for a bit I sat down with two of the people on the trip,a brother and sister from Oregon. We played rummy while waiting for our lunch of Bipimbap. After lunch we gathered and hopped on the bus to head back to Seoul. The organizer did say that they were going to try and do a day trip to where we were supposed to hike, and at a discount rate which I though was very nice as there's nothing they could have done about the weather.

After getting to Seoul I hopped on the subway and then the express bus back to Ildong to get ready to head back to school this week. I'm actually getting ready to check Adventure Korea's website to see if there's any upcoming trips I'd like to go on. I know of a couple I'd like to go on but they run around the same time I'll be running my race and also when I'll be in Jeju. I really want to hike Korea's highest mountains and will get the chance to hike the tallest during Chuseok (Korea's thanksgiving) in Sept! The 2nd highest is at Seroksan (sp?) and I want to go on the winter trip there and hike it.
Well, a couple of the 2nd graders have brought me a large plate for lunch and I'm going to chow on it and relax. Hope you've enjoyed this entry! Oh, if you read my blog and haven't signed up to follow it, please do, it would be nice to nice who's reading it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lotus Festival and more

8-10 Ok, so I wanted to start this entry by stating that I cannot believe that it's already Aug. 10th. The time is really starting to fly by and it's difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that I've already lived in Korea for over 4 months, or 1/3 of my contract is already up! I'm currently in the second week of my vacation and like last week I'm just kind of meandering around Seoul and my little village. Last week I spent a great deal of time walking around Seoul and checking out partts of town that I hadn't visited so far. My buddy Glendon and I went on a couple trips around town and while they were not entirely exciting they were a good time as we were able to relax and enjoy taking our time. We visited the prehistoric settlement and pondered how archiologists could identify pots, tools, etc while excavating. It seemed particulary difficult to do so to us.
I also visited Taco Bell in Itaewon, which is not particularly awesome, but it is nice everyonce in a while to go somewhere that gives me a little sense of the Western world. I also found the bookstore "What the Book", which is an English bookstore in Itaewon. I picked up a John Muir book, which is the collection of his writings from several of his books in one. I also picked up a book on South Korea to better understand this country and why things are the way they are. A couple days later while roaming around I stopped at YP Bookstore and picked up "A walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson. It is a book about walking the Appalachian Trail and I highly recommend this book as he is a hilarious writing and I plan to pick up some of his other books soon. I finished the book in two days as it reignited my desire to one day hike the entire AT myself. If I planned it out and stared shortly after going home next spring I would have more than enough time to hike the entire trail in 2011. If there were anyone that would seriously consider doing thus with me, I would have to seriously consider doing so.
This past weekend I finsihed Mr. Bryson's book while on another Adventure Korea (AK) trip that took us to the largest Lotus pond in the world in the Muan area and it was a very fascinating festival where we had rice, etc that was rolled into a lotus leaf and steamed and was rather delicious. While waiting for our rice to steam we made Onion Kimchi, which simply is onion slices, the red paste, and salt mixed together and then placed in a container which it ferments for several days. I look forwad to eating mine in a few days. Later we moved down the platforms to try two types of lotus tea, one was lotus leaf tea and I can't remember the name of the other, however, both were very delicious!
After sampling the tea we moved over to the portion of the festival where we were allowed to sit in a small covered boat and row around in a path through the lotus pond in which we bumped other boats continuously and noticed an abundent number of tadpoles coming to the top to eat. After leaving the festival we stopped for dinner before heading to our beach house for the evening. Our beach house was quite nice and had a small swimming pool and the beach was nice although the water was no where near the little beach as low tide was definitely in effect. We spent the night talking and having a great time swimming and throwing each other in the pool. I'd like to take a quick second to point out I was the only one not thrown into the pool!
The following morning we walked out to the beach to where the tide had come in considerably and we were going to be net fishing. With myself being one of the two biggest in the group, of course, I was selected to hold one of the two poles and would be heading the group out and then likewise on our march back to the shore hopefully with fish in tow. Sadly our first trip only merited five small fish, but we did decide to venture back out, this time though I only helped to hold the net up high to keep the fish from jumping over our net. This time we did at least snag a few fish large enough to keep. After finishing our host cut the fish up for us and we had fresh sushi right next to the house and it was delicious.
I have another AK trip this weekend in which I will be hiking and camping in the North East section of the country. There I will also get to see the 4th Infiltration tunnel at the DMZ and check out the observatory in which I'll get to look into North Korea. Hopefully I won't get captured while there, calm down Aunt B! Anyway, I'm going to get off here now and read some more of my current book Theodore Rex, in which I'm a little over half finished, and see how the ordeal in Panama comes out and see what happens with this Canal, lol. 'Til next time.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

7-31 So, it's been a little while since my last post, again, and with a little push (Thanks Jacki) I though I'd write one before I head to a concert tomorrow and thereafter won't have internet for a little while. So, I've bought a ticket to the Jisan Rock Festival in the Jisan Valley Resort area and I'm mainly going b/c I've really got into the band MUSE. If you're not listening to them, you really should, as they are a great band with some awesome tunes. So my buddy Terryance and myself have been jamming to MUSE and Third Eye Blind, of whom will also be there tomorrow as well. I believe I saw that Corin Bailey Ray(sp?) will also be there and I'm somewhat interested in seeing part of her show. It ended being quite the trouble in getting my ticket for the show however. I sent in my money and form on Weds and apparently they didn't get the memo. So, to make the story short I had to call them a few times and luckily they found my reservation and I'm set to go to the concert and rock out to some MUSE. One last note about the concert, I would have like to went today as well to see Mute Math, I've recently started listening to them and really like their stuff, particularly the song "Peculiar People".
In other news, the past two weeks I've been entertaining the kids at summer camp from 9-12 every morning. We mainly played games and cooked a lot. The first week on Thursday with 1-3 graders we cooked pizzas which turned out ok but afterwards I really though about what I had done. I was alone with twelve young children allowing them to cut peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc! Ah, probably not the best idea but no one was harmed and although the pizza wasn't perfect it was still pretty good. In the second week we had the 4-6 graders which turned out to be a pretty big challenge in that we have a 5th grader that is EXTREMELY ADHD and brings a lot of trouble on himself with other students but also gets picked on a little much. So, it made for quite the balancing act, especially seeing how I don't know the majority of what they are saying to each other!
To finish the week I let the students watch a movie and I had brought Monsters, Inc for them to watch, equiped with Korean subtitles and all. Of course it didn't go quite as planned as it did not work, nor did the Harry Potter's, etc in the room. So, I tried for a while to pull something off the internet. The boys wanted the Simpson's Movie and the girls wanted Harry Potter. Finally, I was able to find Monster's Inc online and got it to play. But, there was no Korean subtitles which made it difficult for the students but being an animated cartoon, it ended up being ok. That is until the computer shut down and I had to reload the movie again! In the end it worked out great but for a while it was quite stressful!
So, that leads to today, my first day of vacation! I don't have kids again until August 23rd! Like I stated earlier I will be attending the Jisan Rock Festival tomorrow to see MUSE. Next weekend I will be heading on another trip with Adventure Korea to the southwest coast to a private beach house for the weekend. I hope this trip is as much fun as the mud festival was, as it was pretty awesome. I should be able to finally get those pics up soon as my camera was acting up. Also in the next month or so is my other Adventure Korea trip where I will be checking out the 4th Tunnel dug by the North Koreans that was found in 1991 and is said to be able to transport 10,000 troops an hour if it had been used. I will get to look into North Korea as well as do some hiking and camping (in SOUTH KOREA Aunt B!). Early in Sept I will be running a 10K race up near the DMZ as well (DMZ International Peace Race) and I'm trying to get into decent shape for that as the races I've ran so far have only been 5K's and the last one was over a year ago when I ran the Ice Breaker in Great Falls, MT in April!
The final trip I will be taking this summer is during Chuseok, which is basically the Korean Thanksgiving. I will be boarding a plane and heading to Jeju Island which is a tropical Island south of mainland Korea. It should be a week of fun and sun and I can't wait. I've also booked a hostel for the week, so everything has been taken care of. I'm really excited and blessed to get to do all of these fun trips while I'm here in Korea.
I have been missing home quite a bit here in the past few weeks. I'm really looking forward to getting the next package from dad, especially so I can show up my Marine shirt he picked me up. It means so much to get these packages from home. Hopefully this week I'll get to mail some packages back home to as I want to get D the J a gift for his 1st birthday and I also want to send Allison a letter and coins and bills from over here as I know she said she is really looking forward to getting it. I've also picked up some books to pass the time the next two weeks. I recently read The Road, which is a sad but amazing book. I'm currently reading Theodore Rex, which is about Teddy Roosevelt's presidency and another awesome book. Today I purchased The Wilderness World of John Muir which is a collection of Muir's best writings from his other books. I really love Muir and his love for nature. John Muir played a major role in the formation of the National Parks and had a special relationship with Teddy Roosevelt. The other book I bought today is called The Koreans and it is a book about who Koreans are, what they want, and what the future holds. I've read about 20 pages in it today while riding the subway around Seoul and it's a very fascinating book and should help me gain a better understanding of this wonderful but sometimes confusing country.
Well, that's all that I can think to write today. It's about time to go bowl with some friends. Hopefully I can find a computer this week and write about some other things I've been doing but couldn't think about today. 'Til then. Oh, one last thing, if you want to know a little about Korea, check out this website, it's a guy that does cartoons about life for a foreigner sometimes here in Korea: http://roketship.tumblr.com/page/2

Monday, July 12, 2010

Random Thoughts

7-13 Ok, so I don't have any great thoughts today. Felt today would be a good time to write another blog and I thought I'd just see what comes of it. It's the last week of regular school as we start summer camp next week for two weeks. It will consist of the students being here from 9-12 every day for two weeks and myself being here for my regular hours (8:30-4:30). It should be a pretty good time as we have some interesting activities such as having the kids build and Indian Tipi as we will be teaching about Native Americans! After the two weeks of camp, I don't have to be back at school for over two weeks! It's going to be nice to have some time off and I think during my time off I'm going to be doing some traveling throughout the country with a friend or two and just chill.

I've also booked three trips through adventure korea, which is a cool site, if you are in Korea you should definitely check it out: http://www.adventurekorea.com/. For the three trips I'm going on, they are:

This weekend(July 17/18th) I'm attending the 1st Mud Festival. Activities include Mud Wrestling( or Wraslin' for those of you also from the south), Mud sliding, a concert, fireworks, and much more.

The weekend of the 31st and 1st I'm planning on heading to a water park with some friends which should be a sweet time. On August 1st I'm planning on attending the Jisan Rock Festival so I can have the chance to see Muse for the first time. I've really started to dig their music and having the opportunity to see them while here is something I simply can't pass up. There's not much I enjoy more than live music.

The following weekend (Aug 7/8) I'm heading down to Jeollanam-do province to stay at a private beach house. On this trip I'll visit the Muan Lotus Festival, go swimming, fishing, take a boat ride, have a camp fire, visit a brewery, etc. It really looks like an amazing trip and I will get to meet some cool people along the way.

The 3rd trip I've booked through Adventure Korea is called a Camping and Wilderness Trekking trip. It will take me up and over to the Gangwon-Do province. During this trip I'll get to visit the 4th Infintration tunnel the South Korean's discovered back in 1990. While there we'll get to check out the Ulji observation tower and get a good look at North Korea as well! Next will be hitting up the summer festival, set up tents and camp, head to Achimgari Valley for some hiking, have some Bibimbop and head back.

In September I'm planning on running the DMZ International Peace race up near the DMZ (of course). I was going to try and run the 1/2 marathon but now I'm just going to try and run the 10K. I think I can live with running that far. I'm currently right at the 3 mile marker and getting up to the 6.2 mile marker in the next two months is a legit goal! I'm pretty stoked to actually run a race. I actually haven't ran one since I ran the Ice Breaker last April in Great Falls, while living in Montana.

I do have a tough decision right now as I still really want to visit Beijing, China while I'm over here this year. Right now I think I may try and go during Chuseok, which is the Korean Thanksgiving. I just need to get my EXPENSIVE visa and book my trip. Visiting the Great Wall and the Forbidden Temple would be such an awesome experience. Just have to decide when to go. If any wants to go either in September or during Winter Vacation just let me know on here or FB. Well, I think I've done enough ranting for today. I'm very pleased with the trips I've been able to book and I expect they will be awesome adventures as I continue to explore The Land of the Morning Calm!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Writing lesson plans for imaginary people to turn into people that can't read them

7-6 I've still yet to become completely comfortable with the fact that Koreans do so many things last minute. I do come from a large family where plans can change quickly but I grew up with parents that always preferred to have us inform them of projects, sleepovers, etc in advance. It didn't always go that way but it was the way we were taught. Now I'm living in South Korea where it is not that way. Most of the time the last minute switches or in my favor such as a cancelled class, last Tuesday's was not. I was informed that I had to have everything up until September to turn in and oh, they wanted them the next day!

The most frustrating part about the situation was that I had to turn in lesson plans for people that I wouldn't actually be teaching the week I come back from vacation, and turning them in to people that couldn't read them. Anyway, all was completed and turned in, including my vacation sheet. In some ways this year reminds me of last year in Montana, in that I love the work, just not the paperwork it involves with the government. At least this year I don't have to turn in a time sheet stating what I was doing every hour of the day. In the end it's all worth it because I came to Korea to teach the students and that's what I focus on. So, if dealing with some of the paper work I'm not quite as fond of is what I have to do, BRING IT ON!

I'm also in the process of trying to plan some vacation time. I'm hoping in the next day or two to book a trip to China and send off for my visa. The only big problem with trying to head over to China is that it's about $150 for the visa and $50 to get it through a travel agency, so about $200 for the visa. The flight is about $300 bucks, so it's going to be around $500 which still isn't too bad. Hopefully by the end of the week I'll have everything in order including my hostel and I can enjoy the Great Wall early next month. I'm also looking at booking a trip up north to Mt. Taebaek where I would be doing some cave touring, hiking, and also a cool Cinema Festival. I'm also looking into booking a trip doing my vacation time to the DMZ, have been wanting to check it out since I arrived here. If I can pull off these three trips during my vacation time I'd be really pumped. I must admit that I am a little nervous about the China trip as I have to book my trip first and then get my visa. I have plenty of time but it still worries me a little.

I think this weekend I'm going to try and take it pretty easy. I was going to stay in Ildong, but I've been asked to dog sit in Hanam, so I'm going to do that for a friend. I think I'm going to take a book or two and just chill in Hanam for the weekend. If I book these trips that I've been wanting too my money will be a low. Well, think I'm going to check out the sites and look at booking a trip to the DMZ. 'Til next time beautiful people. Oh, one last thing, I went to an area in Seoul this past weekend and had an American breakfast. Now, it was a little expensive but it was definitely worth it. We had to wait 40 minutes as it was a popular place. The Restaurant is called Butterfingers and it's in Gangnam. That's my breakfast above!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wow, has it been 3 months?

6-28 Ok, so this is the first new material I've put together in some time. I feel bad for not writing more in the past months, but to borrow from another friend's blog, once I became acclimated with my surrounds I began to travel more and spend time with friends and spending less time writing in my apartment. I will also apologize as I'm writing today about my last two months and, like when I talk, I could skip all over the place.

The first thing I'd really like to talk is my boy Steve Davis. I'd like to thank him for suggesting coming to Korea to me late last year when I wasn't sure what my next adventure would be. Steve has now finished his time as an English teacher in Hanam and is now moving on to his next adventure. Through Steve I have been able to meet some awesome people that I now consider my friends. Steve and I also were lucky to get to go on some amazing hikes while we both were here. Recently we visited Bukhansan National Park and hiked to the top of Baedundae peak. It was a great hike in which we both looked as if we had jumped into a swimming pool from the humidity and the top was amazing as it was so foggy you couldn't see anything below you.

I'm so amazed at all the people I can already call really good friends in such a short period of time and very grateful for the chance to meet everyone at the training I attended last week. I look forward to hanging out with many of those people and the adventures we can go on here in Korea and in other countries. While in Korea I have been able to pick up an SLR Cannon 400d and other than the spot I can't seem to get off the lense have been very happy with it and I am looking forward to traveling around the world and using it. Hopefully, the trip with Braden, Roz, Glendon, etc comes through and we get to spend time in Vietnam, Thailand, etc in September and I get to take some amazing pics. We all really want to visit Vietnam so later in life we can say "Back when I was in 'Nam" (No disrespect the heroes that really were in Vietnam)

I am continually amazed that a good ol' boy from Kentucky gets the opportunity to spend time with great people going to bars until 7 am in Hangdae, watch rugby with friends from all over the world in Itaewon, get lost on the 112-1 and wake up lost across the river, play beer pong until 3am at training, stay up until 4:30am to watch the U.S. play in the world cup and watch as my English friend can't comprehend how I've never watched the World Cup, have a great family that sends me packages (including deoderant!!!!), getting to drink beer and bbq on a roof with people from 7 countries, watch Korea in the World Cup and watch their excitement when their team wins and their support for their country when the team loses, getting to see the beaches in Busan, staying at a love motel and sharing a round bed with two other guys and having Steve steal all the covers, and recovering with Pizza School on Sunday's before I get on the bus as I head back to Ildong.

Living in a small town like Ildong definitely has it's positives and it's negatives but on the whole it is a fantastic opportunity especially as I know many of my friends in the bigger schools do not get the opportunity to have many personal relationships with their students. I do. I have the honor of seeing my students everywhere I go here and I love seeing them in the supermarkets and hearing practice what we've worked on in class. I love getting hugs everyday and while the language barrier in very big here, I know as long as I do my best to show the kids love and constantly hug them, they will continue to work hard and learn.

As of this week I will have officially been in Korea for three months and I can already say it was the correct decision. The opportunity to work with children, meet new friends and travel around the world is such a wonderful opportunity that most never get to or take the chance to do. I'm very thankful for this opportunity and hope I can share the ups and downs with everyone the last 9 months that I'm here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


4-21 It's been a while since I've wrote in my journal. School was good last week but wasn't particularly worth writing about. Last week was a great week in that I received my travel reimbursement and my first paycheck! I also got my cable hooked up on Friday right before I hopped on the bus to head to Seoul. I decided to head to Seoul to hang out with Steve and make some new friends. I did good getting there except I didn't select the right exit so when I tried to get off I couldn't! So, I found a small arch intended for little kids to walk through and snuck through. Later that night we met a fw people at the Hof bar for a few drinks. On Saturday we got up, grabbed some lunch and I grabbed a bottle of H20 for our hike. We were hiking the same mountain that we did last time except we hiked the entire mountain this time. Once we finished the hike we headed bac to Steve's where we got ready to go out. We first walked down the street to meet up with a few people before heading to Hangdae, a big bar area and a hangout spot for a lot of foreigners. just on our bus ride there we had a guy from New Zealand, South US, NE US, Canada, Austrailia, and Texas. When we made it to Hangdae it was like I walked into a new world as there were young people and bars everywhere.
There was a chain of bars in Hangdae called "Ho Bar" and the best we could tell there were at least 10 of them! Our fist stop was a club called FF where we enjoyed live music and danced. After FF when wondered around and found some guys playing on the streets and enjoyed that for a while. Throughout the rest of the "night" we visited a few more bars, even venturing into one of the Ho Bars before grabbing a cab at roughly 6am. We finally got back to Steve's around 7am and crashed. I hadn't had a night like that in years, good times. On sunday we grabbed some pizza and then I headed back for Ildong. I was supposed to attend a training on Monday and after missing the first bus, because I wasn't standing in the right place, I caught the second. The first 40 minutes was rought as it was packed.

I was standing up and the bus was very herky jerky. I also wasn't sure I was going. Right near the end Bomi called and said I didn't have training now; thank goodness I was still on the bus! So, I rode the bus back and went to school for the remainder of the day. Yesterday was a crazy day as it was the first day I taught alone. It started out real crazy but got better throughout the day, but was a little nerve racking. I also handout out my first discipline as I made the girl that really likes me sit in the back of class for talking, and she didn't like it at all.
After school I stopped at the big grocery and picked up some steaks, chicken, fruit, etc. It was my largest grocery trip yet, to the tune of about 36,000 Won. After leaving the grocery I stopped at the dvd store and picked up American Gangster. For dinner I cooked a couple steaks with mushrooms, onions, and peppers. Today has been an easy day as all I have on Weds are a Kindergarten class in the am and after school class. starting in May I will also bee teaching English to a few of my students parents on weds as well.

I feel good

4-13 So, Monday's are one of two long days as I have five classes to teach. Today I decided to try and teach James Brown's "I feel Good" but the kids did not like it as much as I thought they would. I was a bit bummed but it was just a learning moment as to what the kids like and don't. Otherwise it was a good day. Bomi did tell me I need to greet the principal and Vice Principal in the mornings when I get to school. Of course I attempted to do so several times this morning and they were both late! Yesterday after work we went to the bank to take out my money for my cellphone deposit and $50 for spending. After dropping off the deposit I went home and grabbed a shower. I though about venturing out for dinner but was tired and just decided on a jam sandwich and later a bowl of cereal.
Not too long after showering I developed an awful headache and just laid down and rested. I also brough home the first Pirates movie and completed the trilogy! I then listened to some music for a while before crashing around 10pm. I woke up this morning around 4 and had some more cereal before sleeping some before heading to school. I headed out for school around 8am while lstening to Avett Brothers on dad's Ipod he let me borrow while I'm over here. Tuesday's are usually very busy too but the students had testing so I had no morning classes, and just two in the afternoon! In 5th grade music we learned the farmer and the dell and the kids seems to like it pretty well. I actually have to go back to yesterday for a moment as that is when I made my first student cry. In the 3rd grade class we had a competition between the boys and girls over vocabulary words. The boys ended up winning and the girls were very upset with one of them even crying. After class, the girl who speaks English the best gave us a note that said "I'm very sad". Needless to say I felt pretty small at that point but was also encouraged as they did care about doing well in class. So, back to today. Bomi gave the 6th grade class a music test. She had the studens that failed stay behind and practic and during this I noticed that a girl was crying. I mentioned this to Bomi and she said that the girl has no parents and lives with her grand parents. She said people in the rural areas will leave their kids and head to the bigger cities some times. This is truly sad and there are too many kids around the world that suffer in the classroom because they have no support system outside of the school. It's 4:30 now and I'm heading home. Think I'll grab some chicken, mushrooms, onions, and throw them into the skillet for dinner.

Milk & Cookies

4-12 As I sit here having some milk and cookies, I also have the bedroom window open and I can see a kid playing what seems to be hide and seek while hearing others playing at the school across the street. I can't help but wonder how the kids play in North Korea. I wonder if they have the same freedom to play as the kids I see do. I'm sure I mentioned it earlier but I only live about an hour or so from the DMZ, which is basically the divider between North and South Korea. I'm pretty happy that mammaw never found out that I would be living that close to the border. One thing that I do find myself missing here in my new country is grass. Because there are so many people in such a small space (the country has 50 million people in a space that size of Indiana) that they do not have the luxury of nice manicured lawns as many of us do back in the States. I thought of this a lot as I gazed recently at Easter pics from back home. I am taking a break to eat dinner and to put away most of the rest of my clothes that are currently hanging up.
I saw a few socks as they are a little damp and I really hate wet socks. I am dining on ramen hopefully for the last time, as I should , from now on, eat
better. I really don't mind ramen except for the sodium is equivalent to what you should eat in an entire day. To drink I think I'm going to have water as I want to get back to the 100 oz days. I do have the kool-aid but I think I'll wait christen it tomorrow. After eating I'm going to read more of Walden, which I am really starting to enjoy. I just received a call from Bomi inviting me to dinner which is cool and I'll guess I'll use my card and hope dad put a little in so I'll have enough to at least pay my insurance. Ok, so I went with Bomi to Matt's apartment where we had a great dinner of Kimchi cooked with a mix like a pancake, soup, and rice. Matt also gave me a book of Korea which is cool and also an Ipod charger which absolutely made my day, I feel like I'm whole again with my music.

Birthday Weekend

4-12 Ok, so I laid around until later morning again. When I finally decided to get up I started cleaning around the apartment. I organized all of the trash by the door to take out later. Taking out the trash is going to be a little weird as I am used to throwing it in a large trash bin. Here I just sit it across from my building and it get picked up. I also swept the apartment and had to use paper to sweep it into as I do not have a dust pan just yet. I ran my fist load of laundry which I still have hanging up, as I don't have a dryer. In addition I cleaned off my living room table, stored my dress shoes, dusted the tv, did the dished, shaved and showered. Afterwards I watched Dead Man's Chest, played Yahtzee, and read some Walden.
Around 2pm I headed out and was going to try my luck with the other dvd store near me. I had no luck there as it is Sunday and they were closed. I decide to moasy(?) over to Philmart with the few Won I had left. Once there I picked up bread, strawberry jam, milk, cereal, grape kool-aid and funnels so I don't make a mess with the kool-aid. Beth asked me if I'd found the Kool-Aid yet and that's what made me think of it. It's still got sugar but it still makes for a better alternative than soft drinks, plus it'll last longer. Once everything was home and put away I worked a couple puzzles. I sure hope I guess my travel money on Monday as I'm out of money. I want Bomi to help me get my cable on tomorrow and help me at the pc room, gym, and of course, the DVD store. I really have to get back in shape for sure. I'm also going to start working on a trip idea with Steve for the May break. I think I'm going to read a little bit. 'til next time.

Been a while Cont'd

4-11 Finally, we finished and I had my cell and one contact, Bomi. Afterwards, she dropped me off and said she'd be back in 30 minutes to take me up to the natural spring. I decided to grab a quick shower after a day of playing sports. the spring is up one of the mountains a bit and will be an excellent spot to run to as I get in better shape. Once back at the apartment I took a walk to the grocery and grabbed a beer and some sushi and enjoyed it on my roof while looking at the mountains in the backdrop. I actually didn't stay up there too long as I didn't have a proper chair and my back was killing me from basketball earlier. The back continued to be a source of pain throughout the night and it was difficult to move.
Now, it's my birthday, April 10th, what shall I do? I ended up laying around until about noon since I didn't sleep much last night with the back. When I did finally arise I showered and took a stroll to find some food. I settled on a place called BBQ Chicken and ordered what I though was a 3pc chicken meal, for 8,500 Won. Boy was I wrong, as I actually ordered the equivalent of the 10 pc meal and it was 16,000 Won. So, I picked up a drink and headed back to the apartment with my bucket of chicken. I watch the 3rd Pirates again and at my chicken, which was ok. Well, I ate part of it and save some for later. Afterwards I decided to go out and find something to do. I must admit it quite intimidating trying to gget into new things in a foreign country especially when you don't speak the language. I finally got up the nerves and checked out the dvd store. I picked out a couple movies and went to the checkout. Now, I assumed it was like home in that you create an account and you're good to go. So, I gave her my address card and then the fun began. I didn't think that the card was all in English and she couldn't read it. I also didn't think at the time to give her my ARC. I tried to call Bomi to translate but to no avail. Finally, I told the poor lady I'd be back. My first truly frustrating moment, and on my birthday. I was really frustrated at this point as I'm just not used to having no one to spend my birthday with.
So, I decided to walk up to the grocery store, where I ended up picking up some cookies and milk. When I arrived back at the apartment I enjoyed the milk and cookies, watched the 2nd Pirates movie, for the 4th time I belive. I actually fell asleep during the movie and was able to sleep better than Friday night as my back was feeling better. In looking at this weekend, I'm still settling in and getting acclimated to my surroundings. I'll get my travel reimbursement on Monday and hopefully get my 1st paycheck on Friday. If all goes well, I plan on seeing Steve next weekend and celebrating my bday again, in Seoul this time. I also play to get a few phone numbers this week so I can communicate with people a little better. Well, it's a little after 5am I think I'm going to sleep a little more.