Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Construction in Korea

One thing I have noticed here is that they construct and renovate things at a blinding speed. Often I'll be downtown and realize that a store has completely disappeared and been replaced by a totally different one and I was there only 3 days ago! Right now we have some construction happening around the school. I haven't been able to get a clear, straight answer about what they are making exactly but apparently there is going to be a building of some kind and a parking lot. They haven't been working at this for very long, maybe a couple weeks, and already they have dug a massive hole, built a wall and poured a bunch of cement. I took a few pictures.
One of the workers started gesturing wildly when I was taking pictures and when I walked over there it turned out he could speak a little English.

Basically our conversation was as follows:
Man: Hello? Uhhhh... picture (makes a picture taking gesture.)... WHY? (arms thrown in the air in an extremely bewildered fashion.)
Me: (pointing to the school) English teacher, seonsangnim. (Korean word for teacher.)
Man: Ahhh... America?
Me: No, Canada.
Man: (smiling) Ahhh! Canada!
Me: Take picture so my mother can see. Oma. (Korean word for Mom.)
Man: Ahh, ahh! Okay. Baby teacher English, okay.
Me: It's okay? (He nods and smiles.) Okay, good bye!

It seems he thought I was out of my mind until he realized I taught kindergarten, then he knew I was out of my mind. Hehe. Either that or something is not up to code with the building and he was afraid I was here to document it and get them shut down.

Since I turned out to be just a Canadian kindergarten teacher my level of threat went down to 'Low'. Thank goodness since the army has been driving around all day and I definitely don't want to have to answer to them.

Anyway, we're no longer surrounded solely by monks, forests and rice fields, now we have a huge crater filled with concrete too!

Everything is under control...

Even though I have a ridiculous amount of work to do this week to prepare for the Open House and the end of the month stuff I have managed to stay on top of everything for once. For a chronic procrastinator this is a pretty big accomplishment! I doubt I'll be up half the night on Thursday trying to finish all the report cards since I only have to finish my kindergarten ones. This weekend was busy but good. We made a new friend on Saturday and I *didn't* take my camera with me for the first time ever and then we ended up going to a couple cool places so I was kicking myself. I took some pictures on my cell phone but I'm not entirely sure I know how to get them onto the computer and my manual is in Korean. Awesome. I'll have to try my luck later.

Sunday we wandered around Seoul Forest and I took a bazillion pictures but I'm still loading them to photobucket so that blog will have to wait a bit. Until then, here is a hilarious sticker/sign that I bought when we were in Suwon. The picture is blurry because my camera isn't great at close ups but hopefully you get the gist.

It says "geum yawn" or "no smoking" and it's a naked guy peeing into an ashtray. How hilarious is that? I have no idea what I'm going to do with it but I had to buy it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rainy Day

Today is Buddha's birthday which is a national holiday so we got our first non-weekend day off for the first time in almost 3 months. We toyed with the idea of going to Seoul or doing some other things but decided to just stay home and recharge. Turns out this is wise since they weren't kidding when they forecasted rain.

I tried to take some pictures of the massive downpour but it's tough to capture rain on film.

I hate the rain! I was bummed about the weather being so nasty on our day off but I got over it and caught up on some cleaning, laundry, blogging and such. Now the weekend will be wide open (and it's supposed to be sunny both days) for doing fun things! Yay!

Taco Time

Last night we finally managed to host the taco party (that was intended to kind of welcome our new teacher Janis)! Usually we don't have parties on Wednesday nights but since today we have a holiday it made sense. It was difficult to find a night when everyone was available but we did it! Actually Kelly had said she had other plans (she really seems to be busy these days) but she must have canceled them or rescheduled. Not many pictures were taken and it wasn't a huge deal but we had some good food and Janis and Kathy Teacher (our receptionist) got a chance to see our apartment. Here's a group picture and then one of Kelly and I.

A few humorous finds...

Just some more funny t-shirts and an interesting condom vending machine I discovered around Seoul/Suwon area. Enjoy!

Love is red perfume. Two affordable options- 500 won and 1,000 won (roughly 50 cent and $1). Although the cartoon guy that chose the 500 won condom looks a bit rough so perhaps this isn't the occasion to be thrifty.

Yeah, Time, thanks for being such a kind friend. I love being old.

Our Weekend in Suwon

Last weekend Matt and I ventured out to Suwon to visit our friends Eddie and Gisela. The big plan was to hang out and then go watch a soccer game at the World Cup Stadium and hang out some more. We'd never been to Suwon and expected it to be a lot like Gimpo. As it turns out, Suwon is way cooler than Gimpo and if we were living there we probably wouldn't be so stir crazy to get to Seoul all the time. Eddie and Gisela live in a great area that is filled with a lot of stores, coffee shops and restaurants. We had lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant and then walked around a bit before heading to the stadium to watch the game. None of us had ever seen a soccer game in Korea (and possibly never seen a live professional soccer game at all). It was definitely a fun experience and I wouldn't mind going again sometime, maybe to watch the Korean national team play.
When we first walked into the stadium there was a guy handing out small blue garbage bags. I thought it was kind of strange but I figured they just wanted you to gather your own trash or something. Once we entered the seating area we realized their true purpose- they were official cheering bags! Koreans sure love their soccer and the fans are tireless and enthusiastic. We took a short video during one of the chants (although this was later in the game when the fans were slightly less energetic) so you can get a feel of what it was like. I wish I'd known some of the chants and songs they sang so I could have joined in. My love of cheering is only second to my love of free stuff.

You'll notice I have my awesome headband on while Matt is modeling one of the complimentary cheer bags.

Have you ever wondered what the concession stand looks like at a World Cup stadium? Well wonder no longer! It's a bit ghetto, if you ask me, with all the cardboard boxes and empty/broken freezers. Most popular snack item? Ramen noodles.

It was the Suwon Samsung Bluewings against the Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i. Suwon seemed the stronger team since they were pretty aggressive and spent a lot of time in Ulsan's attack zone. However, any time they had a chance to make a shot they either kicked the hell out of the ball and totally missed the net or made really feeble shots directly at the goaltender. As a result, Ulsan ended up winning 2-1. Look at the poor dejected mascot.
After the game we walked around a bunch and looked at the statues and sculptures around the stadium. The rest of the night was fun and we had some dinner, some drinks, and tried to watch a movie (unfortunately the DVD wasn't cooperating). When we first arrived I thought that our apartment was pretty nice but theirs is even better! I suppose they are in a new apartment complex though and aren't working for a hogwan. Sunday morning we slept late and then went out for breakfast and had delicious fruit waffles at a coffee shop. Here they consider them to be dessert and finding a "western" breakfast is pretty difficult so this surely was a treat. They were massive so Matt and I shared one. Delicious!
Not long after breakfast Matt and I had to head home. The trip is a fairly long one, especially on Sunday when I suspect the trains/buses run less frequently than normal. Less people were traveling though so we were able to sit down and that was nice. Sometime we'll have to have Eddie and Gisela out here but it will probably be a fairly boring time since we totally live in the boonies compared to them. I guess there is always noraebang to fall back on though! For more pictures click here!

Field Trip to the Zoo Zoo

Last Wednesday we had another fun field trip planned and this time it was to the Zoo Zoo in Incheon (yes, that is actually the zoo's name and I unfortunately wasn't able to get a picture of the sign). Everyone was really excited to go and see the animals and I was interested to see what a Korean zoo was like and how it compares to the ones I've been to in Canada. It was an overcast day and there was a chance of rain and it actually did rain about halfway through our trip so we had to go home early. That was really disappointing but apparently they are considering having us go back again in June so we'll see.

I wasn't able to take a lot of pictures but I did take some and you can find the whole batch here. We saw the bird area and the reptile area before we had to leave and we got to get up close and personal with a baby orangutan! The zoo here seems a lot more hands on than any I've been to back home. I was brave and touched a snake, a crocodile and played a bit with the orangutan. Paige took a video of me with the orangutan but she isn't the greatest movie maker. Plus she's a chicken because at one point the orangutan started approaching her and she totally freaked out. It tried to steal my camera, was freakishly strong and pretty cute.

Lily and Will.
The famous orangutan.

Andy conquers a crocodile.
Back at school Janet and Lily become the teachers and help me review.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Long Awaited Teacher's Day Entry

Last Tuesday was Teacher's Day which meant that we were given many interesting and lovely gifts by the very generous children and their parents. It was quite the event and I took some pictures of the gifts that Matt and I were given. Some gifts were quite elaborate, like the MASSIVE flower arrangement that the Dragon kids gave Matt and Kelly (which stayed at the school).
Look at this thing! It's the biggest flower arrangement I've ever seen. It came with a brochure from the flower shop and apparently you can buy bouquets of 100 and even 365 roses for your sweetie! WHY? Crazy flower murderers! That's an entire forest of flowers you're sacrificing.

Anyway, we didn't just get live flowers- Matt got a mighty fine bouquet of balloon flowers too. Oh and one of my little boys gave me a box filled with homemade cookies (and a couple slices of pecan pie) that he made with his Mom. Awww! He wrote me a little letter too and somehow managed to misspell his name. Hehehe.

Here's a picture of all of the other gifts we got.
A breakdown of what is shown in the picture: more flowers, a perfume set, a notebook and folder, a plastic fan, 3 kinds of tea, fancy soap, a box of mud masks, a wallet/key holder, deodorant (although I wasn't given any specifically Joi did give me the ones she was given), a lotion and body wash set, Bobbi Brown lip gloss, dangly gold earrings, a Minnie Mouse hair tie, chocolate, honeyed ginseng, a phone charm, some gift certificates and many cards and notes. I wish it was Teacher's Day everyday!

The chocolate and the honeyed ginseng came from my old Brian and he was so sweet when he gave it to me. Imagine, Brian giving chocolate to anyone!?! He HAS to love me! I want you to look at this picture of the ginseng though and tell me that it doesn't remind you of a pack of cigarettes.

When I first opened the present I did a double take. I was like, okay the leather headband was one thing but cigarettes!? And I don't even smoke AND it's frowned upon for women to smoke here in general. It's the same size and shape as a cigarette box. Craziness. Chocolate and cigarettes, oh Brian, you've outdone yourself!

Another interesting gift that deserves to be highlighted is my Minnie Mouse hair tie. I've never seen anything like it before. I took a picture of it with the pack of gum to give you an idea of it's size.
It is very large and shiny and comes with it's own certificate of authenticity! This also lists what it is made of which includes sterling silver, brass (plating platinum), stainless steel and 14k gold. What?!? I think the mommies are trying to give me a makeover. Also, the Bobbi Brown lipgloss (which is a lovely gift and very high quality) is in the shade of tangerine. Hmm. I'll have to get all dolled up in all of my gifts and maybe wear a bunch of layers, some spandex leggings and some heels and then I'll really be Korean!


Look what I bought at Costco today! I am saved! Rainy season, here I come.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Disaster Strikes Unexpectedly!

Look what happened yesterday!
Noooooo!!! How will I live through the rainy season?

I know you are asking how did this happen? Well, I was on one of my major huge breaks when this adorable boy approached me.

Oh Daniel, you are so adorable and fun. If I wasn't betrothed to Charles you would be my boyfriend. Every time I see him he runs up and hugs me and wants to play. The kid LOVES to play! So he and Jun begged me to play with them and so we went down to the gym to play tag. We were running and being general idiots and my feet got a bit sweaty and then I slipped and it was all over. Good bye Crocs. I guess I should be impressed at how much I messed up the shoes. So now they are gone and in the trash and I need to think about finding some replacements. I wanted to get a pair in black anyway so now I just have to figure out where to get some. It's not supposed to start hardcore raining for another month or more so I have some time. Hmmm... Needless to say, tag was pretty much over (I played in bare feet for awhile) because then I had to call Matt and ask him to bring me more shoes so I didn't have to teach and walk home like that.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My painting!


I'm making a painting for a friend and I wanted to make this lady's toga a little yellow, but I just botched it and made it super ugly. Then I tried to touch things up with India ink, but I spilled the ink on the painting! Now my hands are all black and inky and I don't even want to look at my painting.
I'm going to go sulk now.


I was going to write a big blog about Teacher's Day and show pictures of all the interesting and lovely gifts we got but then Joi pointed out that probably more will be coming throughout the week. Therefore I will wait until later to post about it and you will all have to sit in suspense. There are some good ones too!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Crucial Update!

I am still rockin' my braided white leather headband. That is all.


Matt and I met up with Gisela today and we decided to bum around Dongdaemun. It was really sunny and warm unlike yesterday when it was rainy and miserable. I can't wait to bring Stephie and Alison here because there is so much to see and so many clothes, shoes, purses, socks, etc, etc, etc. No major purchases were made but we did find a fun t-shirt (it says "United and United" on it which I find very funny), Matt bought some fake glasses and Gisela found a few shirts and some jewelry. Just a few pictures.

This guy was dressed really crazy and when Matt went to take his picture he started posing and dancing around. Matt ended up carefully backing away as the man started thrusting his hips in Matt's general direction. Close call!


Can someone please explain this to me? Why are these trees on life support? There are so many trees around here and only these four are hooked up to IVs.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Seoul Magic Festival

Last Sunday we decided to venture really, really deep into Seoul. To an area/neighbourhood that we'd never been to before to see the Magic Festival. As it turns out, that neighbourhood really had nothing to do in it other than go to the open stage where the festival was held. This was unfortunate because it was more like a magic show than a real festival so we had to buy tickets and then wait around a few hours until the show started. We had some sushi, wandered around, Matt got a haircut and basically did nothing interesting at all.

The lobby was filled with some fun magic tricks that you could try out yourself. There were people making balloon animals and stuff too. It really seemed geared towards kids but that was okay. Most of the tricks in the lobby were pretty simple to figure out but there is one I still can't figure out.

Seriously, how do they do this one?

The magic show itself wasn't too bad and the language barrier wasn't a problem since the magicians didn't talk (one was even an American) and the host's banter was pretty easy to understand, even if it was in Korean. There were five magicians in total, 3 Korean, 1 American and 1 Japanese woman. We had a fun time but we both were feeling a bit blue and homesick that day and agreed that most of the time when we go out on these little day trips it's because they are interesting and we're having a great time experiencing Korea. Occasionally though, and this was the case for the Magic Festival, we go out and do stuff just to keep ourselves occupied so that we don't just sit around and wallow in missing our loved ones in Canada. You can see a few more pictures here but nothing too exciting since no pictures were allowed during the actual magic show.