Sunday, November 21, 2010

Open Class

This past week was insanely busy. We had Open Class, video taping, International Food Day, birthday parties, New Teacher training, and several more smaller but just as tedious tasks to complete. A couple of coworkers are leaving so I had to spend a few hours helping create a new schedule and walking the new people through the routine. I will do more of this next week.

Im glad its the weekend, but am not ready to go back to school. School is draining lately, and I just try to make it through until the weekend so that I can rest and recover. I cant wait for Xmas to get out of Korea for  a bit and see Paris!! If anyone has been there and has suggestions for things to see and do, please let me know. I, of course, will do some of the big touristy things, but want to see lesser known attractions as well.

Friday, November 12, 2010

30th Birthday

Ive been pretty busy getting through my "thrisis", that is, the crisis of turning 30! Not only am I hitting this milestone, but Im doing it away from lifelong friends and my family. I had a great time having dinner with my new friends in Korea, but everyone back home was surely missed!

Mary and Jessica came up from Bundang for dinner, which I appreciate very much. They traveled nearly an hour to see me on a Wed night. My Korean teacher, Nammy, made it out as well as Se Min, and my corworkers, Zach, Ryun, and Kerry. My friends Anna and Kangmin also helped me celebrate at dinner. I couldnt have asked for a better time as all of my different groups of friends, coworkers, and classmates helped me celebrate this "dreadful" day!

On Sunday, Mary wanted to take me to a Folk Village and to Everland (a large theme park). I was supposed to arrive at 8:30am to meet her. That means that I need to wake up at 6:30am just to make sure Im on time! I get there before her, and we proceed to wait for over an hour for a bus that never comes! I also found out that her coupon to the folk village had expired, so we were only going to Everland. As it turned out, that was a great thing as we spent all day running around the park. We rode some rides that made me feel old since I never used to get motion sick as a youngster, and then bravely took on the T-Express that had a huge drop, straight down. I found out that Mary has a fear of heights as well, so I had to conquer my fears by myself at first.

Everland also has a Safari World where you can take a tour of many "wild" animals that are able to hop on top of the bus.  The bears wound up doing tricks and it was a great show. On our way out of the park, the cutest little 3 or 4 yr old girl kept staring at me. As always with Mary, she kept egging me on to speak in Korean with her and to play "Paper-Rock-Scissors". This wound up being very entertaining as this girl couldnt get enough of playing the game with me. Her parents were laughing too, and I think they enjoyed the free babysitter. I kept trying to lose, but somehow this girl was NOT good at it! She even kept throwing out "rock" behind her back without even looking at what I was throwing. It was hilarious!

Overall, I had a great day with Mary and look forward to another one of our adventures together. We always seem to have a great time and amuse/scare/annoy the people around us. You know Id have it no other way....

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sickness and baby's

Well, September is certainly predictable no matter what part of the world Im in. It never fails that the first week of Sept, I will get sick! Ive had a cough for a month, and just now starting to get over the bug.

However, I did have great news in September... On Sept 21st, my brother Joe and his wife Hallie gave birth to a beautiful little girl, Lenny Rene! Shes the first girl born into the family in forever, so you know she will be spoiled and well protected! Lord have mercy on the boy that tries to date her! haha

My laptop charger also went out last week, and I finally went to Yongsan Station and got it fixed. In the process, I had the guy install a Korean program on my computer that enables me to type in Hanguel! He also gave me a free set of stickers and spent 15 minutes applying them. He was pretty happy that a foreigner was willing to type in Korean, that he didnt charge me for anything. 승리!

Im busy trying to get everything ready for Paris at Christmas time, and hoping to go to Taiwan and Hong Kong for my birthday in November. Until then, its off to the Folk Village and Seoul Land before it gets too cold!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

DMZ

On Saturday, I went to the DMZ with my friend Mary.

We had a great time and got to see a lot of history and feel the tensions of the present. While we were gazing over into North Korea and looking at the flagpole, I noticed a large movement of vehicles moving from under a bridge towards the South. I alerted the soldier nearby and asked what the large movement was. He then called on to his commander and they scouted it out. He was quickly told that it was just the South Korean industrial workers returning from the 3 week stay in the North Korean industrial zone. He says the workers stay there for 3 weeks at a time and have to leave and come back together. There was over 100 cars coming back, all in a single filed line that stretched a mile. The soldier said it was a rare occurrence for any civilian to witness this. I guess we just had great timing!

We also walked the 3rd tunnel that the N. Koreans had built to invade Seoul. The tunnel was very tiny and wet. I had to bend nearly in half just to fit.

Overall, I had a great trip and enjoyed the company. Im looking forward to going back, this time through the USO tour.

Pictures will come late when my computer decides to read the disc!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Surgery

So Ive pretty much been out of commission the past week since my surgery on Aug 27th. Ive just been relaxing and trying to recover.

I just got the stitches out today and am very excited that I can finally wash my hair again! No matter how much you wash your body, if your hair is dirty and greasy, then you feel disgusting!

We started a new semester at school and now that the stress has subsided, Im looking forward to the new classes and enjoying the work.

I will be headed to the DMZ with my friend Mary on Saturday (with Adventure Korea) and cant wait! I wonder if President Carter or Clinton will come rescue me once I invade the North?!? I am excited about getting the North Korean stamp on my passport too... 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Update

There really hasnt been a lot going on that Ive needed to write about. Its been consistently rainy, hot, and humid. Its not unbearable and reminds me a lot of Missouri weather.

School is still going very well and Im looking forward to my schedule changing next week (more breaks!!). I recently purchased some new clothes and I guess they made me look too Korean. Ive been told by several people that my English is exceptional and asked me if Ive ever lived in America. They really thought I was Korean...! Always good for a laugh...

Well, tomorrow (Aug 27th) is the day I go in for my surgery. Its a little nerve racking having your first surgical procedure done in a foreign land. Its much cheaper though, so hopefully it turns out well and the scarring in minimal. I should only been down and out for a week though. Im trying to reward myself with the Iphone4 but have to sign a 2 year  contract. Thats not an issue, but trying to prove that Ill be in the country that long is tough. Oh well, could be a sign that I dont need it!

Wish me luck...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Perhentian Islands...

We arrived in the Perhentian Islands around 6pm Monday night. We got settled into the Kesuma Guest House in the middle of Long Beach. it only cost us 80 RM a night (about $25). It overlooked the beach and was a great location. Only problem, no electricity from 7am-7pm! It was a pretty remote area and I loved it!

Tuesday morning, we went snorkeling and were able to swim with black finned reef sharks, hawksbill and leatherback turtles, and many other exotic fish! It was a great time and was my first real time snorkelling. I got a nice sunburn that lasted the rest of the week. One time during the trip, the guide pointed to a spot and told us to swim there, where he will pick us up. Well, I swam there and no one else was around and no boat either! As it turned out, I swam about a mile too far!

That night, I played a game of volleyball with the locals. It was a great finish to an awesome day. Each day after, I just took in the serene environment and let all stress and worries float away! I then played volleyball at 5pm with others on the island until it got too dark to play. We then went into the water to cool off (although the water was warm) and get the sand off. Then, it was time for dinner and some drinks at the local watering hole. I met some great people on the island from Spain, Holland, and France. We had great conversations, photo sessions, sharing travel stories, and  just learning from the experiences that life has brought each of us. I had an unbelievable time and loved making new friends.

After leaving the islands on Friday night, we went back to Kuala Besut to catch a 9 hour bus to Kuala Lumpur. While walking around this rustic old Muslim town, I happened across a pick-up game of soccer. They noticed me watching and invited me to play. I declined and we stood around chatting about the sport for a short while. Pretty soon, I was putting on an impromptu soccer camp and helping the kids improve basic fundamentals of the game. They were very good for their ages (ranged from about 8-14) but you could tell they had never had any real coaching as they were naive to the nuances and strategies of the game. They were just adept at dribbling and trying to beat people one on one instead of working as a team.  I loved how willing to learn they were, and how receptive they were to a little coaching. It is a refreshing reminder as to why Ive enjoyed the coaching profession this long!

I had a great vacation and cant wait until my next travel to a different country... Will it be Japan? China? Cambodia?? Only time will tell...

Back from Malaysia

From July 24th-Aug 1st, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Malaysia. Tess and I boarded the plane at the Seoul airport in Incheon Saturday afternoon. We arrived in Shanghai, China 3 hours later and was supposed to have a 1 hour layover. That turned into 3 hours with no explanations! The airport in Shanghai was insane to begin with. First, it was empty... Second, they had the most unusual immigration/customs check and was mostly pointless... Third, instead of allowing us to transfer to our next flight, they accidentally ushered us outside of the airport! We went back inside after a short while and waltzed right to the gate. We didnt have to check back through security, even though we had left the airport (so safe!).

We finally landed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia around midnight. We immediately got a taxi and tried to get to our hotel (Concorde). The driver took us to the wrong Concorde hotel and was not happy, even though we had given him an exact address! As it turns out, the hotel was literally right next to the Hard Rock Cafe, and just a 5 minute walk from the Petronas Twin Towers (formerly the tallest buildings in the world, not just the tallest twin towers). Upon arriving at the hotel, we decided to eat in the hotel lounge and within 5 minute, a large fight broke out in front of the hotel. As it turned out, it was biker night at the Hard Rock and tempers tend to rise with that much bike and testosterone. Little did we know we'd get dinner and entertainment!

The next morning, I went to Hard Rock to buy a friend from home a Hard Rock shirt (she collects them from all over the world) and sent my parents a post card. We then tried to go to the Petronas Towers but they wer out of tickets. Instead, we went to the KL Menara Towers (421 meters high) and rode the KL "Hop On, Hop Off" double decker bus and mapped out what we wanted to see. The next morning, we were to fly to the Perhentian Islands in the East...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Malaysia

Im getting ready to take my summer vacation with a week long trip to Malaysia. We will start off in Luala Lumpur and stay there for 2-3 days. Then, we will go island hopping in the east and see the beautiful beaches!! I cant wait and think its much needed relaxation time!

Ive been sick the past week so I havent done much. I went to 2 FC Seoul games in the rain (Wed and Sat nights) which probably led to my prolonged illness. I did make it to my Korean class on Saturday which was nice as its the last one until Aug 8th. I love learning Korean and try to make each class that I can.

Im having surgery in August on my head, so please keep me in your prayers that everything turns out as planned. Ive never had surgery, so even though they tell me its a minor surgery, Im still uneasy about it!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup

Sorry I havent written much here lately. With the World Cup starting on June 11th, I havent had time for anything but work and soccer! I barely even sleep anymore! Games here start at 8:30pm, then at 11pm, and the last game at 3:30am. I normally go to bed around 5:30am and wake up for school at 7:30am. Needless to say that the past few weeks have been rough!


Ive loved cheering on Korea at City Hall with over 80,000 other screaming, singing, chanting, and dancing Koreans. They all seem so shocked too that I know most of the songs and chants. I have felt like a movie star because everyone has been wanting a picture with me in my Korean Jersey, Taeguk (Korean flag) and red devil horns. 



It was also enjoyable going to watch the USA play, and seeing the bar turn into fans  of the Stars 'N Stripes because I was there. The places went crazy and started chanting "USA USA USA". I wish Americans had this passion for the sport, and their country. Im always amazed by their pride.


With both Korea and the USA losing 2-1 last night, my 2 favorite teams are now finished. Im so proud of the way both teams played and am already looking forward to the next World Cup in Brazil! I think I will start rooting for the German squad to win it all now.

Monday, May 31, 2010

CLS and Seoul Zoo

So this past week was awfully entertaining for me. Lots of relaxing during the week, and had an enjoyable week at school. Saturday, I had a free CLS (Conversational Learning Seoul) class in which I was able to learn a little more about what this volunteer organization does. Im starting out in the beginner class and cant wait until next Saturday when I can really begin learning more of the fundamentals of the Korean language!


 
Tess was supposed to join me, but she was being lazy and canceled. I still went and had a blast. I met some nice people and all were very helpful. I took a Korean test to place me in a certain class, and while I felt good about my results, I am nowhere near the intermediate range!! During class, I ran into another former Missouri State Alum (Anna) and we had lunch at "The Tacos" in Gangnam. After lunch, I met up with Tess at Starbucks and we were wanting to go "hunting" for passed out Koreans. Remember, this is around 4pm and we knew we'd find them!! Instead of making that the primary target, we decided to go to the Seoul Zoo located at Seoul Grand Park. This place was incredible! They had a themed garden, them park (Seoul Land), lake, and the Seoul Zoo! It costs 3000 won (about $2.75) to get into the zoo.



We spent a lot of time at the monkeys (Tess's favorite) and then wandered towards the big cats (my favorite!). We spent about 5 hours there and didnt see half of what the zoo offered. It was HUGE! Around 8pm, we decided to head home and get dinner. We took this awesome sky lift that carried us over the zoo. It was peaceful, quiet, smooth, and provided many breathe taking views!



We arrived back near my house and ate at Outback Steakhouse. It was an odd experience but well worth the effort. The food was decent, but they treated us like movie stars and gave us gifts when we left and begged us to come back and see him (our server Conan). After dinner, we went back to Gangnam and went to Rainbow Bar. We met up with Anna and her friends and had a blast. Tess left around midnight, and Anna shortly there after. I stayed with her friends until about 5am when we decided to go to a Norabang and sing our hearts out. I finally crawled into bed around 7:30am. Successful evening!



Sunday, I woke up around 6pm and did a little walking around and shopping. I then came back home and watched a couple movies before passing out around midnight.



We have a field trip on Friday (June 4th) and then I will be going back to Gangnam for another CLS class. Im looking forward to sharpening my Korean skills and being able to conversate better with another language.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Buddha's Birthday in Busan

Last weekend was Buddha's birthday and we had Friday off of work. We decided to take the KTX (high speed train) to Busan on Thursday after work. We arrived in Busan around midnight and walked down the beach looking for our hotel. I was pretty proud of myself for being able to read the hotels and quickly finding our place! Once we unloaded our things, we took off down the beach looking for all the things the East Coast has to offer.

Friday morning, we woke up around 9am and got ready and headed to the beach. We found a nice spot to set up camp and grabbed a few beverages. We got a few games of frisbee in, some touch football, then finished it off with drinking games. We headed back to the hotel around 9pm and got quite a burn! Friday night we went out to Fuzzy Navel Tacos (FN Tacos) for dinner and had a great evening.

Saturday, the weather didnt cooperate as it rained, but we had lunch at TGI Fridays and then Tess and I went looking for a baseball game. We soon headed back towards our hotel and found a casino to stop at. After an hour of playing Roulette, I was up $50 and we decided to go back to FN Tacos and eat a nice dinner. After a few tacos, we went back to the casino where I quickly lost all my winnings. I decided to put $200 back on the Roulette table and was quickly down to $40... After a couple big wins, I was back even and put a new strategy into play... I slowly built my stack up to over $400. At this point, we had played for about 9 hours total and I was getting bored and decided to go big, or go home!! I started to make some $150 bets and broke even for a while. I then lost all $400 in the next 3 spins as 2 of them landed on Green "0"... Bad luck, but I loved every second of it and its what we would have spent at the bars, so no worries.

Sunday, we headed back to Seoul and tried to relax before the next work week set in. A great weekend was had by all and Im still nursing my sun burn!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Friendly

So not much has really been going on. Ive been reading a lot and trying to improve my Korean (which is not going as well as Id hope!). I did find a little time this week for some fun though as a group of us went to World Cup Stadium to watch Korea play Ecuador in a World Cup tune-up. We had great seats just behind the goal and it was crazy!! We got all kinds of free gifts and the excitement and national pride was amazing!

 I was wearing my new Park Ji Sung jersey that I had purchased earlier in the week. This was also a great time to break out the Korean flag that I bought in Itaewon for 5000 Won (roughly $4.25). I wore it around my neck like a cape. The Korean loved this and I got all kinds of comments and thumbs ups!

 It was also cool to listen to how much louder the stadium got whenever Park Ji Sung touched the ball. Deafening!! Overall, great game and Korea pulled out a 2-0 victory! I cant wait for the World Cup to get started!!

In other news, I did get to go shopping in Itaewon and purchased a few gifts for my family back home. I loved how inexpensive everything was. I was able to peruse through lots of cool stuff that I know my family would like, and still not spend a ton. I do plan to go to Insadong sometime to hopefully get my mother something special as shes the coolest woman I know!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Family Week

This was a pretty good week. We had a field trip on Tues, Cinco de Mayo/Childrens Day on Wed, and then Parents Day on Saturday... This allowed the week to fly by and get me ready for my next payday that is set for Monday.

Tuesday we took the kids to a park and had a bunch of games set up for them. This included a relay race, tug of war, treasure hunt, and an "upside down paper game". The kids had fun, and it was certainly nice to get outside with the weather being so nice!!
 
Since Wednesday was Childrens Day, we had no school. This was perfect timing as we all wanted to go out and celebrate Cinco De Mayo. We would end up going to Panchos in Itaewon for a Mexican dinner, Coronas, and Margaritas!! After dinner, we went to Roofers in Itaewon and drank some tequila and more Corona on a roof of the bar. Great views, cold drinks, perfect weather, and amazing company made for a fantastic night!!

Friday night, we went back to Hongdae and tried to go to different places than normal but since Saturday was Seouls "World DJ Fest", not many people were out. That didnt stop us from being out until 5am though! You just have to love Korea and its nightlife!

Saturday, I decided to go back out to Itaewon while everyone else was at DJ Fest. I didnt feel like blowing 55,000 Won on music I didnt really care about. I am however upset that I missed out on a FREE Toby Keith concert on the base last week!! Anyways, back in Itaewon I was looking to buy a Korean flag and other touristy things that I could send back to my family. I wanted the flag to prepare for the upcoming ROK vs. Ecuador soccer friendly set for May 15th at World Cup Stadium. This flag will also get use during the World Cup. I found lots of things I want to buy and ship back to my family, but that will wait until after payday this week.

Today, I tried to go to Incheon to watch FC Seoul play Incheon United. I left at 1:30pm to get to the 3pm game. Needless to say, I now hate the Korean subway system as it refused to get me where I needed to go. I spent 3 hours on that blasted subway trying to get to Incheon and followed the directions to a "T". The subway just refused to follow its path that is listed on every map. It kept skipping the exit that I need to transfer to another line. I finally tucked my tail between my legs and limped home to catch the last 5 minutes of the game on tv... What a waste of a Sunday! At least it was beautiful outside.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, I may try to add some soon if I get time. I didnt take a lot this week though.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Prison and baseball

I had a fairly enjoyable week. At school, I had to suffer through 2 days of Open Classes and the remaining remnants of being sick. This weekend, I made it out to Seodaemun Prison and then to a Doosan Bears vs. Nexen Heros  baseball game.


Open Class at school means that the parents get to come into my classes and watch me teach their children. I like this form of accountability but it doesnt make it any less stressful. I made sure I had a powerpoint ready and was prepared with many jokes, The kids and their moms were laughing the whole time, which made me feel good. My director only had positive things to say about the class and said the parents loved it. 



I was finally feeling better on Wednesday which means that I was ready for a night with the boys on Thursday. Travis, Ryun, and I shared a great evening over a traditional Korean BBQ with the usual Soju and beer. We moved the party to our local GS25 and had a few drinks on the patio. After getting a little chilly, we decided to hit a Norabang and do our best Axl Rose impersonations. This meant that I had no voice at school on Friday, and Travis easily won the competition.



Saturday, I went with Mary to check out Seodaemun Prison. This was a prison that was used by the Japanese to "reeducate" and torture those Koreans that still fought against the Japanese Government and seeked Korean independence. This was a good experience and as always, thoroughly enjoyed the company.



Mary wasnt feeling too well after the prison so I joined up with a few friends to go watch Nexen take on Doosan at Jamsil Stadium. I had enjoyed watching Doosan play, even though they have disappointed me lately. I believe I have made the tough choice to switch from being a Doosan supporter to that of Nexen. Not just because of the quality of play, but because of the outstanding work of the Nexen cheerleaders! While Doosans girls put out great effort and are aesthetically pleasing, they just cant hold a light to the quality of Nexens fine ladies. They put on one heck of a performance during the game and I look forward to watching more games and seeing these girls hard at work! It also helped that Nexen trounced Doosan 11-3.


During the early parts of the game, we witnessed an ajossi passing out at the game. These old guys were hitting the soju pretty hard. At about the 4th inning, one of the guy takes of and gets lost. He winds up passing out in the aisle of the next section over! Oh Korea, how I love thee...
 
After the game Thomas, Mary Anne, Julia and I went to Gangnam for some Galbi. We relaxed for a while before I finally wound up in Sinchon with Craig and Kristina. We went to Ipub and had a few drinks while watching Tottenham play Bolton in EPL soccer. After that, we headed to Hongdae and took in the sights. I was hoping for an early night, but wound up staying out until 7:30am. Hongdae always has a habit of sending you home when the sun is up. Great week and an evening more enjoyable weekend.

On Wed, May 5th, Im going to watch FC Seoul play Seongnam at World Cup Stadium. Seoul DJ Fest is on Saturday but I havent decided if Im gonna go or not yet.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sick

So this weekend was not at all what I expected. After school on Friday, I went with Craig, Kristina, Thomas, and Mary Anne to Yongsan Station to purchase our KTX train tickets to Busan for Buddhas Birthday May 20th-23rd. While at the station, I began to feel really drained, and a headache was coming on. My stomach began to churn and I could feel a fever starting. I tried to tough it out, but while we were looking for a place to eat, I had finally had enough and decided to take the bus home alone. I have been holed up in my apartment since then and have yet to leave. Ive been in a drug induced coma (Nyquil) and have slept away the weekend. I missed out on a co-workers birthday party Saturday night so Im saddened by missing a great time. I also didnt get to catch much of the NFL Draft because I was out cold. Anyone who knows me, knows that I never miss it! Ive seen the draft, every pick (Im a loser, I know!) since I was about 10-11 years old.

I am feeling a little bit better, but really need to eat and try to get a good nights sleep in because I have a busy day at work tomorrow. I knew Id be getting sick soon as my co-worker Travis had been out sick all week, and his desk is next to mine. He came in every morning to try and work, which was just enough time to spread the germs! ha. I dont actually think I have what he had (Thank goodness) as Im already feeling like Im rebounding. Anyways, here is hoping that I feel better and have a good week and actually have something to write about next weekend.  No pictures were taken this week, so Ill try to take many more this upcoming week.

Go Chiefs! I enjoyed reading about your picks and cant wait to watch that offense run!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Incheon

This was a pretty good week. I began Monday nice and relaxed from the past weekend hiking, and it allowed this week to fly by. I got a lot done, met some great people, and finished off the week with a great day in Incheon!



After school Monday, I went with my AC Mandy to What The Book, which is a bookstore in Itaewon. There, I found many books that I want to purchase but settled on one, "The Aquariums of Pyongyang" by Kang Chol-Hwan. It outlines the life of a young child in a North Korean Gulag. Great read thus far, and Im just past halfway through the book.



On Tuesday, I had an odd experience at school. I was teaching a class about long vowels and was writing some sample words on the board. When I turned around, one of my kindergartners (Anthony) had snuck up behind me. I didnt see him until after he punched me square in the junk. It about dropped me to my knees. He had the worst look of fear on his face as he saw my reaction. I dragged him into the hallway and chewed him out, all the while trying not to laugh and being impressed by his stealth skills and bravery to pull off such an act. As I was tearing into him and noticed the tears forming in his eyes, my Korean co-teacher was walking down the hall and asked what was the reason I had him in the hall. Once I told her, her reaction was priceless... She was in disbelief and yanked him down the hall, smacking him on the back of the head about 30 feet from me. Towards the end of the class, he came back into class. You could tell he got a beating and was crying intensely. He was still quivering as he apologized to me. I again tried my best not to laugh at what had occurred during that class... Bravo Anthony, bravo!


On Friday night, our teaching crew went out for a couple drinks near our place. We wound up meeting about 10 other Foreign teachers outside of the GS25 and they talked us into going to Sillim to have drinks at Cocktails and Dreams which was next to Sexy Bar. Great conversation, flare bartending, cheap drinks, and great company made for one of my favorite nights out. I think I would up going to sleep at 7am.



Saturday, I woke up around 2pm and wanted to take it easy. That didnt happen. I wound up going to Gangnam at around 6pm for a galbi dinner, and stayed there for the nightcap. I wound up at Rainbow Bar (Not a gay bar, surprisingly). This place was a really chill, cozy place where they had a cool jazz band playing. We sat on the floor and smoked a strawberry Hookah while dipping our bare feet into a calm stream as it flowed by our table. It claimed to be a hippy bar, but it more resembled a mixture between a jazz bar and a traditional Korean establishment. I think this was my favorite place to go for a laid back night. After the bar, we headed to a Norabang and sang our hearts out. We got free icecream too! I think I got to bed by 2am, so it was a pretty easy going night.



On Sunday, Thomas, his girlfriend Mary Anne, and I went to Incheon for a BBQ, United soccer game, and finished off with a SK Wyverns baseball game. This was my ideal way to spend a Sunday! First off, we met some more great people at the BBQ and kicked a soccer ball around. Then we headed in and watched Incheon United dismantle a normally strong Pohang Steelers team 4-0!! Great game and decent atmosphere. The Wyverns baseball game was a blast too... I guess I just dont get Korean baseball though. In the bottom of the 1st inning, the first batter draws a walk on 4 pitches. The second batter then bunts him over... Why bunt in that situation?!? They would end up scoring 6 in the 1st, but could have added more if they didnt give up an out so early on. SK Wyverns wound up beating the Samsung Lions 12-1 in a very lopsided game. I did get to see my first Korean HR too, which was enjoyable.



I'll try to upload some pictures of the weekend in the upcoming days, so please check back and take a gander at them. For some reason my computer wont let me upload them now. I promise to get that done within a couple days! Off to bed I go, and cant wait for Wednesday where I will get to root on my Doosan Bears as they take on SK Wyvern. A couple of our new friends will be coming in from Incheon to root for SK, so it should be a fun night! GO BEARS!!!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pay Day!

We got paid on Friday, April 9th!! This is quite exciting for our crew and a huge relief that we finally made it to pay day... To celebrate being a millionaire (I make 2.4 Million Won), Travis and I decide to go to the Doosan Bears Vs. LG Twins baseball game at Jamsil. I then went on a hiking trip this weekend and had a blast!



First off, my boss Jason let me out of school 30 minutes early so that Travis and I could catch the subway in time to make game time. We didnt... There was a huge line for tickets and we finally got into the game mid way through the 1st inning. I bought tickets on the LG side (even though I said I wanted Doosan!) and we sat down and ate our KFC dinner. For 10,000 Won, we got 2 sandwhiches, 2 pieces of chicken, 2 cokes, and a towel (blue sky with heart clouds on it). It was delicious! We immediately noticed that the Doosan side was much more energetic and into the game than LG fans were. We decided right then to be Doosan Bears fans! We walked out to the main area and bought ourselves a Bears hat and white thundersticks. After blowing up the thundersticks, we wandered over to the Doosan side (in Korean baseball, there are sections where each teams fans sit, unlike America where everyone is mixed together). Korean baseball is one of the greatest experiences I could imagine having here. There is so much energy and excitement that we barely even watched the game. Instead, we joined the singing, dancing, and drinking that we hardly paid attention to the play. What we did watch though, was awful! I think there were 15 walks and 6 errors! The game did end in a 7-7 tie after they played 12 innings. I realized in the morning that I had broken my camera... time for a new purchase much sooner than I was expecting!



I think I crawled into bed around 1:30am and that was rough as I had to be up by 6am at the latest to meet up with Tom and Mary Anne to go hiking. We went hiking at Gayasan National Park in Goryeong and saw the Haeinsa Temple. The bus ride took about 4 hours and most of us slept while our guide played The Good, Bad, and Weird on the tv. This was a Korean movie with subtitles. I decided I was too tired to read, so I slept a majority of the trip. We got to Mt. Gayasan and began our trek up Sanghwangbong which is the highest peak. Midway up, while taking a small break, I finally got to speak with a few other people on the trip. There was Simon (Australia) who loves rugby and politics as I soon found out. I also met Simon (England) who enjoyed talking about US-England in the upcoming World Cup. I then met Suzie (just visiting from Austria), Mary (Orange Co, CA), and Sonali (NY) as we resumed our hike. We enjoyed breathe-taking views, great conversations, and many laughs! Once we got to the peak, we rested for about 30 minutes, took pictures (even a group photo), and built up the energy to head back down the mountain.





Once back down the mountain, we headed out to take a look at Haeinsa Temple. It has a ton of history (Ill try to post more about it later) and I really enjoyed this site. I walked with Mary and Suzie to the temple and we had a blast. Suzie kept wanting to hold a Korean baby because she thought that they were cute. Mary decided it was my job to ask the Korean moms for their babies. I thought it was the worst idea ever but we shared a lot of laughs as we egged each other on. Mary is better at Korean than I am, so she began teaching me a few phrases to use (Mostly to get the babies). Later that night, I got to practice those phrases at the bonfire with our tour guide. Anyways, the temple was amazing and felt so peaceful even though there were a ton of people there. Many worshipers were walking through a labyrinth with a tablet on their heads. There was a Buddhist song playing and everyone was chanting with it. It was quite the experience. I even bought my parents a gift while I was there.



After looking at the temple, we headed to our accommodations for the night. We stayed in thisamazing small town where only 100 people live. It was the true essence of a community! We stayed in a real Korean house with the family sleeping in the next room. I shared a room with Simon (Australia) and Steve (Alabama) and all 3 of us slept on the heated floor. We had a BBQ that night and shared a few drinks. Our guides created a bonfire and we all shared stories and laughed the night away. Somehow Mary, Suzie, Sonali and I got separated from the pack and really enjoyed ourselves. We were talking to Suzie quite a bit about Austria and her experiences in the week shes been in Korea. Pretty soon, the tour guide (Byung Min) game over and we asked him to teach us some Korean campfire/drinking games. We had a blast just talking with each other from so many backgrounds and lifestyles and sharing what we have noticed in Korea. Mary and I tried out our Korean with Byung Min, and he loved the attention. Again, Mary's annunciation is much better than mine (I only learned these phrases earlier in the day, or the previous day). They both laughed at my attempts and helped me correct my speech. I love speaking Korean and learning how to communicate. I think we crawled into bed around 12:30am.



We were up at 7:30am to make breakfast at 8. After breakfast, we decided to try our luck at the stilts in the playground. We werent very good but it was a blast trying! We then had a long jump competition as we launched ourselves off the swings... needless to say I won! After the jump offs, we headed out to the Daegaya Kingdom Festival. This place was a blast and I felt like a little kid again. We dressed up in ancient Daegaya attire and took tons of pictures. I even got to wear armour and carry a sword. I felt like a movie star as well, because there were a ton of Koreans asking to take their picture with me. We put on several dramatic shows as I let some children slay me with swords as their parents took pictures. We even watched a re-enactment of a battle where we saw a ninja, and heard many odd screams and grunts. Odd show, but entertaining none-the-less! We decided to head over to the fire station exhibit and get some pictures doing CPR. As soon as I began trying, the lone female fire fighter made a comment that I was "her style". I didnt catch it but Mary, Suzie, and Sonali began laughing and told me what she said. I started laughing as she asked if she could take a picture with me. She said she was the hottest firefighter in the world (she was cute). Her English wasnt very strong so it made it all the more humorous that she knew these phrases!



After the festival, we went back to our homestay and picked strawberries. I have a large container of fresh strawberries and probably ate twice as many than I put in my jar. I do love strawberries! We then headed back to Seoul and arrived safely around 6pm. Its nice to be home but I sure had a great weekend and met some fantastic people!