Hello! Hope everyone who still reads this thing is doing well :)
So I'm just hanging out at home on this lovely Monday because...I don't have to work. For a month. Yep. No working for me for one whole month. My life is too easy, I know you're jealous.
Kelsey arrived last Sunday. I took a bus out to the airport to meet her and then we came back to my apartment. She was a bit jet lagged after such a long flight, so she pretty much crashed right away. Monday morning I helped her get to the subway and figure out where to go. I, unfortunately, had to work the entire time she was here, but we made the most of it. I was teaching "winter camp" for some students, but I only needed to be at school from 1-4 everyday.
Monday...oh Monday. Seoul received the most snow it has had in...forever I think. Apparently it was the most snow on record in over 100 years or something. I wasn't impressed but over a foot, maybe a foot and a half of snow fell on this snow-handicapped city. The subway broke. Schools shut down. People fell. Cars crashed. Everyone completely lost their shit and had no idea how to handle the snow. Of course, I hadn't expected it either, but growing up in Wisconsin I was more than equipped to handle it. Wish I could say the same for the other 25 million people in the Seoul metro area, but no. It really didn't seem like that much snow to me, but I suppose I've seen more. Korea on the other hand was in shock. I met up with Kelsey on Monday after school and showed her Cheonggye Plaza and stream and then we went out for a nice Korean meal :) Luckily all of the Christmas decorations are still up in Seoul so even though it was freezing, she still got to see how beautiful it was lit up.
Tuesday I went into Seoul with Kelsey in the morning and we visited the Seodamun prison. It was a prison built by the Japanese when they occupied Korea. Korean nationalists were imprisoned there and tortured. It was an incredibly sad place, made even sadder by the fact that with the exception of a few soldiers taking a tour, Kelsey and I were the only ones there and the place felt really desolate. I'd like to go back when the weather is nicer to see what its like. After the prison I went back to Yangju to work, and then met up with Kelsey at the movie theatre in Uijeongbu. We saw the movie Nine (good movie!) and then called it a night.
Wednesday we went to the Korean War Memorial and Museum. Surprisingly I hadn't visited here yet, so it was exciting to go. The museum was really well set up and incorporated some of Korea's older history as well as the more current Korean War. I couldn't stay here long though, because I had to rush out to go to work :(
UN Flags outside the war memorial (and Seoul Tower)
Sitting on an Air Force plane
Dog tags of soldiers who died during the Korean war (under the UN emblem)
Even at this point, 2 days after the massive snowfall, Korea still hadn't figured out how to deal with the snow, which had now frozen in the subzero temperatures. The subway was taking forever, traffic was still bad, and only a select few of the sidewalks had been shoveled. Alright, Korea. Figure it out.
Wednesday night I met up with Kelsey in Insadong. We found an adorable little teashop and then made dinner out of the yummy street vendors that I love so much. This particular one we came across immediately took a liking to me. Even with his limited English, he had somehow learned the phrase "I have a crush on you". LOL. I was like "who taught you that?". He had some trouble pronouncing Kelsey's name (Keshi?). Definitely had a good laugh with that one.
We wandered our way down to Gwanghwamun Square and then home.
Thursday Kelsey went to the DMZ with the USO tour (same one that I took with my friends a few months ago). I met up with her Thursday night at the Han River and we took a little boat tour of the Han at night. We ended up on a "live music" tour which was really just some guy singing karaoke with his guitar. Hm. Kelsey and I entertained ourselves by sharing a box of soju for the duration of the "tour".
The Han River
Friday morning we awoke bright and early to go to N Seoul Tower. We climbed up Namsan hill and then went up into the tower. I hadn't been there before, so it was really nice to see it finally. Like many things here...I find it best explained in pictures.
One of the walls outside the tower is entirely covered with locks that people have put up. They all have little messages on them proclaiming their love and are locked onto the railing. The messages are primarily in Korean, but languages from all over the world can be found here. Definitely one of the coolest parts of the tower. The windows in the observation area are really cool as well. There are labels on the walls telling you which direction you are facing, and then major cities with the distance in km of how far away that city is. The closest one to home is of course Chicago. Ya'll are 10,525 km away from me!
Seoul Tower observation deck
I've been there!
And now I've been here too!
Kelsey went to Suwon to check out the fortress Friday afternoon while I was at work. We met up in Hongdae where she gave me an incredibly thoughtful gift of handmade ceramic mugs as a thank you for hosting her. Thanks again Kelsey :)
So the latest K-Pop song is actually one that some of you in the states might know. Its by the Wondergirls and its called "Nobody". There's a Korean version too, but this is the version that's popular in the states. So many Koreans here are so proud that this group has had some success in the US. They actually were on So You Think You Can Dance a few months ago I think. Enjoy!
I'm leaving for Thailand on Saturday. We're going out to a hotel near the airport on Friday night so we can avoid being up super early in the morning Saturday. So I probably won't update until after I get back from Thailand which will be January 31st.
Super excited for this year. Looking back...this time last year, I had absolutely no idea that I would be living in Seoul. A year from now? Who knows where I will be. Exciting!
Check #3 on this article.
서울 (Seoul) 2010...its going to be a great year :)
"I am the one generation with the future in the palm of my hands. And I overcome the revolution for the people with a vision now listen to me. Generation 'I', coming alive. So open your eyes, and show the world what you see. Let it out, let it go. Live today for tomorrow." -- Richey Lam, "Generation I"