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.