Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
The next morning we were all feeling the aftermath of such a crazy night, but we tried to pull it together. The Dorsey fam went to Seoul tower, and then we all went to a baseball game. It was my first one here in Korea, and it was pretty fun. They have convenience stores, Burger Kings, and KFCs inside the stadium – so you can get normal food at normal prices. There’s none of that $6 for a beer nonsense. We watched the Lotte Giants battle the LG Twins. The twins were HORRIBLE. I think there was a point where the score was 13-0. Finally in the bottom of the 9th the Twins scored 4 runs, so there was a little bit of redemption there, but clearly not enough. We were cheering for the Twins too since they’re from Seoul, and the Giants are from Busan (I think?). I love watching baseball, but the Twins were so bad it was a little hard to watch. Also, I’ve never seen so many people get hit by pitches in a game, even in little league games I don’t think its that bad! I’m pretty sure the Twins pitcher hit like 3 of the Giants in a row, and then walked another guy, causing them to walk in a run. Unreal. The game was still a lot of fun though, and I’m excited to go to more.
After the baseball game we went back to the hotel to meet up with John and Q. We went to a little Korean restaurant and then took the Dorsey fam to a noraebang. After the noraebang we took them to our favorite hookah bar. After we had figured out what we wanted, we asked Q to explain it all to the waitress assuming that she couldn’t speak English. After a few seconds of Q babbling away in Korean, the waitressed asked us a question in perfect English, and we all just burst out laughing. Turns out, she was from California. Oops. I’m so used to assuming that people don’t speak English so when they can speak it perfectly its always so funny
Sunday we walked around Myeongdong and explored the area around the hotel.
Sara's dad, me, Q, Reebs, Sara, Sara's bro, John - practicing for the World Cup
We found a little sticker photobooth and crammed all 8 of us into it to snap some totally ridiculous pictures. We then walked over to Insadong to check out the Lotus Lantern festival that was happening. The festival is sort of the kick-off to the celebration of Buddha’s Birthday (which we celebrate on May 21st this year). We got some food at a restaurant in Insadong and then went out to roam the streets. We tried “bundaegi” which is sort of a roasted silkworm larvae. I thought they were pretty gross, but I’ve eaten worse (scorpions and grasshoppers anyone?).
Having a very genuine reaction to the bundaegi (Q wasn't amused - he loves those things)
Me, Sara, and Reebs with our lotus lanterns in Bongeunsa Temple
There were tents set up in the street where we could make paper lotus lanterns. We went to Bongeunsa Temple where there were hundreds of paper lanterns set up. Just outside the temple on the street was a man holding some unknown critters. They looked cute enough, so we crept in a little closer to check it out. Before I knew it, he was holding the little creature out by its tail and threw it at me!! It was a flying squirrel!!!! It landed on my leg, and proceeded to crawl up my leg, up my body, and down my arm. The little kids started to swarm and I’m pretty sure I’m in about 300 random pictures. But aww the little guy was so scared and so adorable.
Showing off my new flying squirrel friend
Just a little baby! Look how cute he is :)
Once the excitement of the flying squirrel attack had subsided, we found out spots for the parade and watch the parade of lanterns, which goes from Dongdaemun Stadium to Bongeunsa Temple. We sat near the Jongno Tower - where we celebrated New Years a few months ago in the street. The parade ended around 9 and from there we called it a night. Here's some of the parade pics tho - complements of Mrs. D.
Allergy season is starting booooo. I’m starting to become sniffly mess. On the bright side – health care is cheap over here and I got lots of drugs from the pharmacy for about $4. Win.
The K-Pop song for this week is another Girls Generation song. Its called Run Devil Run. I've linked you to the version with the English subtitles so you know what its all about.
"Once in a while it really hits people that they don't have to experience the world in the way they have been told to." -- Alan Keightley
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Sunday, May 02, 2010
Team Dirt tent
Audrey, Chrissy, Q, me, and John post-race
So this was my very first race, EVER. And I did ok actually. I had signed up for the 10K, but as we found out later, the course had been measured incorrectly, and our 10K was actually 11K. My official time was 1:07:59, but had the race been the length it was supposed to be, its safe to assume it would’ve been less. So I’m not fast, but at least I didn’t come in last. Overall though, it was a really fun time. A few people from our team even placed in their respective races, so it was really fun to cheer for them on the podium. Every race, there is a self-imposed theme for how we should dress. This time around was Superheroes. As some of the only non-Koreans in the race, we stood out enough as it was, but the race photographers were loving our group and I’m sure a bunch of my friends’ pictures are already scattered around the internet and newspapers here. I sort of missed the superhero memo, but I wasn’t alone J
So, this is such a weird story. Where my school is, is pretty rural, and except for the teachers at the elementary and middle school near me, there are no other foreigners. The other day I was getting on the bus to go home after work, and this Korean girl turns around and asks me where I’m from. Now, I get asked that question a lot, and I can never gauge someone’s English from such a simple sentence. So I said “The U.S.”. She asked “Where?” and I said “Chicago” (let’s face it, no one has a clue what or where Wisconsin is). Homegirl busts out with a “Oh, I’m from Dayton, Ohio”. Um…excuse me WHAT?! Turns out, she’s on a break from UD because she’s been having some visa issues, and her family is from Yangju (the city where my school is). I was so surprised, and I told her…I was actually JUST in Ohio, and my parents are from Cleveland. She’s only been in the States for 5 years or so, and speaks English incredibly well considering she couldn’t speak it at all when she first moved there. We figured out that we had both arrived back in Korea at the exact same time a few weeks ago, although on different flights. How weird is that? The more I travel, the smaller this world gets…
Speaking of travel…I found this great article which sums up so well everything that I feel and believe about travel and why we do it. It makes you smarter (there’s proof!). It makes you more open minded. People who travel or have immersed themselves in a completely different culture tend to be more creative because they recognize that a single thing can have several different meanings. Its not just the physical distance from home that gives us a different perspective, although it does help to separate you from issues so that you can see what’s truly important to you. Its also the confusion of being somewhere unfamiliar that allows us to think outside the box. Click here to read the article. I admit, its kind of long. But I promise its worth your time. Hopefully reading this article will either help you understand me more, or it will inspire you to travel J
Here’s another story for you all. On my phone here, I tend to get lots of phone calls and text messages in Korean. Its really common for companies to send a text, rather than have a telemarketer call. Usually, when I answer the phone in English, and the person at the other end realizes that I won’t magically start speaking Korean, they give up, and we both hang up. Well, the other day at school, I received what I assumed was another phone call like the others I’ve gotten before. The person at the other end was being persistent, however, and continued to call back 3 or 4 more times. I was sitting in the office in school, and none of the other English teachers were around, but one of my students who speaks English relatively well was next to me. I asked her if she would please talk to whoever was on the phone and explain to them that I don’t speak Korean. So I had the phone to little Hyunhee and she starts babbling to the man on the phone. I hear a burst of laughter from the other teachers in the room. Apparently she (quite forcefully) asked the man to “NEVER CALL THIS PHONE NUMBER AGAIN”. Now…this wouldn’t be funny if it were just a stranger or a telemarketer. But who was on the other end of the phone? The POLICE. Yeah…the Korean police. Apparently there had been an emergency call made from my phone…which I know is not even possible because I checked my outgoing calls and there was no emergency number dialed, so it was obviously just a big misunderstanding. But ohhh I felt so bad, making my poor little student talk to the police. They didn’t believe her at first, and she had to keep repeating herself: “Really, I’m not lying, this is a foreigner’s phone and she doesn’t speak Korean, and NEVER CALL ME AGAIN.” By that time, my co-teacher had gotten into the room and was laughing at how adamant Hyunhee was being to the police. She told me that the police definitely won’t be calling me again because Hyunhee sent a very clear message. My bad.
Its midterm time in school, which means I have a lot of time to sit around at work and catch up on all of my American television. Friday we got out of school early and I went hiking with my teachers at Suraksan. The weather was a little crazy, going between rain and sunshine, but it was really warm so overall the climb to the top was really nice.
Sang-Jin and me at the top of Surak Mountain
Saturday morning I hopped on the subway bright and early for a nearly 2 hour trek to Suwon to Rebecca's apartment. We then met up with Q, John, and Sara in the Sinsa (신사) area of Seoul, which has endless restaurants, boutiques, wine bars, and cafes. Its definitely my favorite neighborhood in Seoul because of the diversity; plus there's an amazing little bakery with cupcakes that are sooooo yummy. We ate brunch at The Flying Pan, which has great paninis, omelettes, pancakes, french toast, and more. It was really nice to have a real brunch. Like I've said, in Korea they eat the same stuff for breakfast that they would eat for lunch or dinner, which I absolutely cannot stand. I need some cereal and eggs in the morning. After the Flying Pan we stopped at the bakery and then found a cute cafe/wine bar called the Alley Cafe. We sat and enjoyed a glass of wine before parting with the boys to enjoy our afternoon some more.
Sara, Reebs and I went to a little Italian restaurant called Sognare. It was still warm out so we sat outside in the back of the restaurant and enjoyed the last of the daylight before going back to Suwon.
Sunday we woke up and after breakfast hopped on the subway to Seoul Grand Park, which is only about a 30 minute subway ride from Rebecca's apartment. It was one of the warmest days of the season so far, and we were soaking up every bit of it. Seoul Grand Park is the overall area that contains Seoul Land Amusement Park, the Seoul Zoo, and several other smaller parks. We took a sky lift to the entrance of the zoo, and then another to the back of the zoo, so we could walk through the zoo and end at the front.
Seoul Grand Park
Seoul Zoo entrance
We were in all of our 4-year-old glory carrying around Hello Kitty balloons and drinking slushies.
We had a little picnic in the zoo and had a great time watching all the adorable fat little Asian babies. By far the strangest animals we saw were the raccoons. Yeah...there were raccoons at the zoo. What? They're not native to Asia and their cage was therefore surrounded by people exclaiming how "kyopta" or "cute" the raccoons were and trying to pet them. We had a hard time being understood when we all freaked out when kids tried putting their fingers through the bars to pet the raccoons that were reveling in all the attention they were getting. Those things are nasty and mean and definitely not meant to be petted by little children. Ew. Here's some pics from the zoo (the giraffes were my favorite!):
Sunset from the zoo
Tomorrow (Tuesday) I’m leaving for Jeju with Sara. Our flight leaves around 8:30 on Tuesday night, and its only about an hour flight down to Jeju. We’ll be coming back Sunday afternoon. Jeju is sort of the Hawaii of Korea (Busan is like Miami). Our initial plan was to rent a car, but I was not able to get to the US Embassy in Seoul to get my US license notorized which I need in order to get a Korean license. So we’re just going to have to rough it, taking buses and taxis. There are lots of hikes, waterfalls, and beaches. I’m really disappointed we couldn’t rent a car, but some crackhead came up with the Embassy hours that involve them only being open for FOUR hours per day (and only 2 hours on Wednesdays). Seriously? What. The. Hell. Their job is to serve US citizens who live in Korea, and they seriously are only open 4 hours per day? Let’s hope nothing major happens while I’m over here, but I’ll quite literally never make it into the Embassy with those hours.
Your K-Pop song for the week comes from B2ST (pronounced "beast" - remember 2 in Korean is "ee"). The song is called Shock, enjoy!
Happy belated Birthday Mom! And Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad :)
"We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything." -- Jonah Lehrer