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!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring is here!

So the past couple of days have been enjoyable. Travis and I began having a few Cass Red's at the GS25 across the street from our apartment. I do believe this is where we will spend a lot of our days during the summer. After downing a few cold ones, we decided to head over to the batting cages across the street and take a few cuts. We soon realized that we werent very good... We decided to make it interesting by batting left handed and placing bets. The person who made contact (yes, foul balls count!) the least in 14 pitches had to buy the next round. I fouled off 9 of 14 pitches while Travis made contact once (and to add salt to the wound, the ball actually hit his thumb). We then watched as a Korean guy took some hacks after us. Lets just say that Trav and I looked better left handed than this guy swinging from his "strong" side.

After the batting cages, we decided to go up to the rook of our apartment and check out the scenery. This place is fairly open and we can easily grill out during the summer and be able to play some catch. Soon thereafter, we decided to go to Woodstock (which was far from our place). On the subway ride over, a girl was talking on her phone and I just happened to eavesdrop (Its easy to do since youre not used to hearing English). I heard her talking about Travis's girlfriend Jaime and one of her friends. She was complaining about them dancing and singing, acting like they were in a musical. We thought it was funny and decided the best form of retaliation was too poke the gorilla charm that she had on her backpack. This did the trick as she got upset and stormed off to another subway train. The night just got crazy from there...

The next day, Kristina and I decided to go eat lunch at our favorite place. $4 for a pork cutlet (duncass) and she gets her usual, a chicken stir fry dish. After lunch, we decided to go for a walk since it was beautiful outside. We saw a staircase leading up a mountain in the distance so we decided to see where it led. We went on a nice hike up the mountain and got a nice workout in. At the summit, there was a random workout area where you could do situps, pullups, and some machine where you could work your core. There was also 2 beams that reminded me of Olympic Gymnastics, so I decided to test out my routine that I have been practicing for years! It was a very enjoyable day and I look forward to many more hikes in the future.

I will add pictures of the hike later on.

Tonight after work, we went to the large GS25 and picked out some supplies to make dinner. I just got some bread and ham as I already had cheese back home. After dinner, Craig came over and gave me a free haircut. Im feeling much better now that Im not shaggy and love the fact that cleanup was easy since we were in the bathroom. The hair just washed right down the drain! Hopefully it doesnt end up clogging the drain and make me snake it out, but for now, its all good!

I look forward to tomorrow morning as its Opening Day for baseball season and Ill get to see the scores while Im at work. Itll help pass the time during my free periods at school.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Go FC Seoul!!

So its been a couple weeks since Ive updated my blog... sorry! Ive had quite a bit going on and am only a week from getting truly settled in (Payday!!!). I have done quite a bit and experienced a lot from the last time you heard from me.

Im finally through with my dental care. After getting 4 root canals, and having them check my tooth 14 times (each was a separate trip). The people working there were very nice and the dentist tried hard to speak English. I even got to practice my Korean on him and his Dental Assistants and they appreciated my efforts. I did get nervous one time though, as I asked him how he was... he responded with "Im tired". I should never have asked him why. He said he was up until 10am drinking soju and came straight to work. I then asked if I could reschedule my appointment for tomorrow! On my last trip to the dentist, the Dental Assistants were being very odd. They were always giggly with me and asking about my weekends, asking if they can be my 'Korean friend", and just flirting it up. This last day, they actually had tears and said they were sad they wouldnt see me again. Each gave me a heart shaped sucker (It was White Day after all). I thanked them and asked if this was their way of ensuring that I come back to see them again. I mean, what dentist office gives out candy?!?



Last weekend we went to the FC Seoul soccer game at World Cup Stadium. This was an incredible experience watching a game where National teams once played. The stadium was huge and very nice. As soon as we walked in, we found our seats and started watching the Ultra Section. This is where all the hardcore fans sat. They stood the entire game, singing and chanting the whole time. The atmosphere was awesome and it only made me want to go to a game in Europe that much more! FC Seoul ended up winning the game 1-0!!! The Brazilian Adilson played a fantastic game and made the final pass before the goal.


As we were leaving the game, some Koreans started asking me questions and then begged us for pictures with them. As respectful, gracious,  and polite Americans, it was our duty to oblige them.

We finally got our cell phones as well! I now feel like an actual human being being able to contact people. Its a cheap service here as it only costs $13 a month for service. Im used to a $150 phone bill back home. We got a nice, free phone too... not a crap one like youd get back in the States. It has a subway map, Korean/English dictionary, and even TV!! All incoming calls and texts are free too, no matter where in the world they came from. So if anyone wants to buy a cheap phone card, its easy to get a hold of me.



We also went to Costco last week to get some American groceries. I was craving some cheese and got a 2 pound block of Mild Cheddar and a 2 pound block of Jalepeno Pepperjack! Its delicious and is the perfectfix for my craving! It only cost me 20,000 Won as well, which is about $17-18. Im going to make another trip out there next week after payday!!



Next weekend we are taking a mini vacation and going to a Kingdom Festival outside of Seoul. There we will get to wear some ancient armor, and watch sword making. We may even get to try our hand at forging it ourselves! We will stay in a Korean family's home that night, then hit the fields on Sunday for some strawberry picking. It only costs 93,000 for the whole trip (train ticket, food, place to stay, and admittance to various activities). Its a cheap trip and Im excited to get out of the city for a weekend. We are also planning a trip to Incheon to watch an Incheon United (not as good as FC Seoul!) soccer match during the day, and the watching the Wyverns baseball game in the evening. We are also trying to find time to go to a Doosan Bears or LG Twins game in Seoul soon too...  It only costs about 6,000 Won for a ticket and you can bring your own food or alcohol into the games too!




Yellow dust season is here! It makes it even harder to breathe and leaves a nice yellow dust on the cars. Nothing to threatening, but you notice that youre out of breathe much sooner than usual. 




I think after payday Im going to be buying a new camera. My point ant click is ok, but Im interested in taking nicer pictures. One of my colleagues dabbles in photography and has taken some awesome shots from our apartment complex.




Im still honoring my goal of learning 1 Korean word per day! Im actually learning a couple per day, but figure Id forget some so I make sure to double up. This week, Ive learned how to say "Slow, how much, its too expensive, hot/spicy, enough, Im hungry, I miss you, I love you, beautiful, cute, hurry, lets go, and good!"... Hopefully soon I can start forming sentences rather than just saying one word and hoping my Charades can get me through. The coffee lady downstairs teaches me a word daily, and I teach her one word of English. Ive had other help learning Korean too (Thanks Daun, Kerry, Kirsten, Celina, and Emily). Koreans seem to love the effort Im giving and appreciate that Im willing to learn the language and culture. Im also almost finished learning to read, but still have a few letters left. Im loving sounding out the letters though on buildings when we walk. Its a fun game for me.



Ill try to update this more often, and will be able to once payday comes! Heck, I will even have more stories as Ill have more money to do things with! On to the batting cages!!!