Friday, May 6, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Enjoying the present, pondering the future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Merry New Years and Happy Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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