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!