Monday, November 29, 2004

It is starting to look a lot like Christmas...

This was taken outside Lotte Department store in Ulsan.
It is not even the 1st of December and the Koreans are gearing up for the holidays.
Kinda makes me feel like being at home - the fake trees, the tacky decorations - ahhh consumerism at its best! Anyways, this week we will begin decorating our school for Christmas - although traditionally it is not a holiday in Korea, many people are beginning to celebrate Christmas (especially those with small children). Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 27, 2004

A celebration for every occasion

Although I am not American, last night I celebrated with a few of them.
Thanksgiving was officially Thursday, but my American friends Bonnie and Anjelie held a feast last night at their apartment.
What a holiday - Since turkeys are almost impossible to find in Korea, we ate chicken, duck (which was accidentally bought since it apparently looked like chicken), potatoes, candied yams, beans, something called cheesy corn (basically cheese melted on corn..but sooo good), stuffing, cranberry sauce (imported from the USA- thanks to Anj's sister) and of course gravy....mmmm.
The guests were mostly Canadians, with the exception of Irish Matt and a Kiwi called Miranda - who cooked the meat and potatoes in her oven, so lets say it was a multi-nation celebration.

Note: Most people in Korea do not have ovens...this makes cooking a Thanksgiving dinner challenging- so a big thanks goes out to Miranda and her oven for saving the day!

After dinner the serious drinking started...although we were slightly unprepared, a quick trip to the local store got us fully stocked on wine, beer and a deck of cards. It was then that a game called Kings (anyone familiar?) was played and lets just say I don't have a full memory of the rest of the night. However, I can assure you good times were had by all. Whoever invented the drinking game....I feel the pains of a love / hate relationship brewing.

Consequently, I was feeling miserable this morning when I awoke....attempted to do some Christmas shopping but had to bail due to a wine induced headache. As I had made plans to go out with my co-workers and some of their Korean friends for dinner, it was back to bed for this hungover Canadian.

My co-worker Anna, had invited me out, as it is her birthday on December 6th, some of her friends were celebrating with her this weekend. She invited me along to meet some of her friends and ex-coworkers for dinner and drinks. Her friends are mostly teachers and they spoke some English - which made all the difference (they also had a good time trying to teach me some Korean words- lets just say there is a lot of room for improvement in my Korean).
We went to a restaurant and ate gogi, drank soju and then continued the party at a bar for more food (Koreans love to eat), cake and of course more soju. Considering I had been sober for less then 12 hours I took it easy on the soju and switched to pop before things turned nasty.
When we sang "Happy Birthday" the bar supplied sparklers and played some Korean version of Happy Birthday - it was funny, everyone singing and clapping.
Everyone wanted to play a drinking game...of course it was in Korean. We each held a chopstick and tapped the table as everyone chanted..then we had to point at a person...eventually they followed the chopsticks and the last person to be pointed at has to drink a shot. It was fun - luckily I only had to drink twice.
I took plenty of photos so you can get an idea of what it was like.
I am home now, tired and in need of some R and R (gone are the days when I could do this sort of thing more then one night in a row).
Tomorrow the plan is try to go Christmas shopping again...the holidays are almost here!
Good night

Anna (middle), and friends Posted by Hello

One of the Kindegarden Teachers at my school, her fiance and myself (they invited me to their wedding next month..hoorray!) Posted by Hello

Anna's boyfriend and me - after way too much Soju Posted by Hello

Anna in her birthday hat Posted by Hello

We were singing "Happy Birthday!" Posted by Hello

Anna's Birthday Cake - Her actual birthday is December 6th...but we started the celebrations early Posted by Hello

Julie, one of the piano teachers at my school, and Anna's boyfriend Posted by Hello

Anna's friends at her birthday party Posted by Hello

Bonnie and Me at Thanksgiving Posted by Hello

Our American Thanksgiving Feast Posted by Hello

Monday, November 22, 2004

For the love of Ulsan

I woke up early Sunday morning with a plan....I was going to take a tour of Ulsan!
After a quick shower, I caught a taxi downtown to meet up with the tour bus for 10:00am.
Having made this decision late the night before (their website being my source of inspiration), I had not registered to be on the tour, however, as it was early Sunday morning, the tour was not full - and I was able to get a seat. Instructed to wear comfortable shoes and pack a lunch for myself, I settled in (camera and extra battery in my lap) and prepared to experience some of Ulsan's culture and maybe pick up an interesting fact here or there. Looking around, most people appeared to be Korean (I was one of 4 English speaking tourists - the other three were employees for the petrochemical plant..each here on business). I have to admit, I expected more foreigners...but I thought to myself..hey...maybe they want to practice their English.
Now let me stop here and explain my reasoning behind this...
As the website was in both English and Korean, I blindly assumed the tour would be the same. Nothing I had read on their website led me to believe otherwise....once naive (will she ever learn?) The bus began to pull away and our guide stood up, microphone in hand, and began his Korean. Patiently, I waited for the English translation, smiling and thinking to myself "this is so great". After several minutes, our guide was still speaking Korean as we moved along the Taewha River. Still not being able to speak Korean, I could pick out a few words such as "Ulsan" and "Taehwa"....hmmmm where the heck is the English?

Rule number 574 - Never assume that since the website is translated into English, that the actual tour will be also translated into English.

So for the next 6 hours, I travelled around Ulsan in a comfortable motorcoach, getting a chance to visit some of Ulsan's most spectacular sites and listening to our guide (who apparently from the laughter of the Korean speaking tourists, was pretty funny) only spoke Korean. At each site, there were signs posted that held a description of the site - both in English and Korean. As I was one of the English speaking tourists on the bus, I was directed to read these signs that were displayed at the various locations. I have to admit, my tour seemed lacking in comparison to the lengthy explanations and, at times, humorous discussions between our guide and the Korean tourists, but as I paid only 5,000won for the tour - no big complaints .
The photos below are of the different places we visited. As there are many, I have also included photos of the description of each site (this also saves me from rambling on too much).
My favorite two places were Jakgwae-cheon and the fossilized dinosaur footprints at Cheonjeon-Ri (so cool). I apologize for not having any interesting facts or 'tidbits' about the sites we visited - perhaps next time I will bring a Korean friend along for the translation.

From the little I have seen so far, Ulsan is an amazing city - it has some incredible scenery...and as the city offers 6 different tours throughout the city, there is plenty more to see.
Enjoy the pics...

Description of Seonbaui (Standing Rock) Posted by Hello

Seonbaui (Standing Rock) Posted by Hello

Description of my favorite site - Fossilized Dinosaur Footprints of Cheonjeon-Ri Posted by Hello

These are fossilized dinosaur footprints....I love Dinosaurs! Posted by Hello

Amazing Veiw in Ulju...thank you Mother Nature Posted by Hello

Description of Petroglyphs in Cheonjeon-Ri,Ulju Posted by Hello

Petroglyphs in Cheonjeon-Ri, Ulju Posted by Hello

Description of Eonyangeupseong Posted by Hello

Diagram of Eonyangeupseong Posted by Hello

Eonyangeupseong - Remains of a Fortress Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I liked these carvings....not sure what they are for..but I think there were some tombs behind it. Posted by Hello

Description of Jakgwae-cheon Posted by Hello

Cool writing on rocks at Jakgwae-chon Posted by Hello

Jakgwae-chon Posted by Hello