Friday, December 31, 2004

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Just got home from is about 4:00am and it is snowing!!!
Horrah! Winter has arrived.!
After a much needed hiatus from the bar scene, I thought tonight I would drop by my favorite pub, and see what's going on for New Years and have a pint or two (or as it turns out, several).
Since I have tomorrow off work, I figured it was ok to begin my New Year's celebration early.
As there was not too many people at the bar, we ended up playing a few exciting rounds of Jenga (yes...Jenga) which not surprisingly gets more difficult with each beer. me.
Anyways, I have managed to make friends with a couple of Irish teachers who have invited me to go to Seoul tomorrow with them to celebrate the New Year. As my plans were not definite here in Ulsan, I have decided to ditch my mates here and head north....ahhhhh Seoul!
We are catching the bus in the morning, so I apologize for the short beauty sleep beckons.
Nonetheless, I wanted to let everyone I left the bar tonight..or I should say, this morning...there was snow !!!! Not a lot..but it is still falling! It is beautiful!
Troy tried to tell me I was Canadian and shouldn't get too excited ( he whispered..'Jesus Colleen, you're Canadian...stop embarrassing us'..but it was too late).
I will try to take some photos in the morning if it is still on the ground (which is unlikely).
Hope you all have an amazing New Years, and I will write when I return from Seoul.
Love you all

Sunday, December 26, 2004

It is now Boxing day, Christmas has passed, I will admit mostly in a blur. But it was a great day.
Christmas Eve, I met up with my friends Helen and Nathan. She is a Brit, he is American (although I to not to judge..ha ha) and they work at the same school. We met for drinks at Benchwarmers and made our way to Tombstone where, lets just say, the drinking continued until the wee hours of the morning. Tombstone is another great bar here in Ulsan, one of the owners is a Canadian named Jeff who only wears shorts...even though the temperature is close to zero right now. Helen and I played pool against a couple of Brits - she cleared the table on her first round...then turns to me and whispers "I used to play for money" - no shit! It was pretty funny - the guys were impressed to say the least.
A group of Carolers came in to the pub - bursting through the door like in a movie and belting out Christmas songs for the next hour or so. It was fabulous!
After that, it was pretty much drinking as if it was going to be our last night on earth. You know you have had too much when someone suggests shots of zambooka and it sounds like a great idea (why didn't I think of that?).

Needless to say, I awoke with a massive headache and a not so massive memory of the night's events.
Dad called me at 8:00am my time - and I opened my gifts with him on the phone. It was great - a real father/daughter moment. After a long chat, I fell back to sleep immediately, until my phone rang again. This time it was Mom and my sister Christa. I had promised to call them , but was almost an hour late from the time I told them I would call. Thankfully they called - I was deep asleep (and still drunk...oh thankyou zambooka).
Again, I opened up more gifts on the phone. Got to talk to my sister's new boyfriend, Loren - who sounds pretty nice on the phone and even said Hello to my kitty Ginger.
After a quick shower I dragged my sorry butt to my friend Nicole and Hope's house for a Christmas Day breakfast. Eggs and Bacon ..mmm. I brought the Tim Horton's coffee (to everyone's delight). I know it is a little cliche but it felt like a 'commercial moment'...taste of home.
After breakfast, everyone was beginning to feel the heavy effects of their hangovers - we all agreed to take it easy and meet up for dinner at 6:00pm.

Dinner was fabulous - there was ore food then I have seen in a long time. All of it made just like Mom does..ha ha. We had Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, vegetables, chicken, ham, salads, and much more.We watched Ruldolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, The Grinch and Charlie Brown's Christmas on DVD - made everyone reminisce about childhood Christmas' at home.
Most people couldn't move after the dinner ended, sort of a Turkey comatose settled over everyone.
A few went for a walk to shake off the tiredness and prepare for a night of drinking.
We decided to go back to Nicole's and Hope's apartment and make homemade Bailey's. Fabulous idea!
I was still feeling like ass, so I slept on their floor while the Bailey's was prepared. We finished about midnight - I was ready to call it a day - as were most of the girls.
I caught a taxi home and slept for the next 12 hours. I guess I really needed it.

Today is boxing day - and I plan to do nothing! Bonnie and her sister were going to Daegu and invited me, however, I feel the need to rest my battered body and maybe rent a movie or two.
Christmas away from home wasn't as hard as I thought it might be. I think the key is to just go with the flow and not dwell on the things that you are missing, but think about all the fun it is to be with great friends on the holidays.
Thanks to the magic of internet, and cheap international phone cards I felt apart of my family's Christmas at home, and even managed to get a couple of calls from old friends back home.

I love you all. Merry Christmas
Love Colleen

My Christmas gifts!!!! Posted by Hello

Our Bailey's - we made enough for 10 large bottles. Posted by Hello

Hope - Girl's Bailey's night Christmas Day 2004 Posted by Hello

Just after dinner - Nicole, Gino, Dan, Troy (he own's the bar), Tammy and Melissa. Posted by Hello

Benchwarmers Bar- That is part of our Christmas Night feast. (Guy and Sharon behine the bar). Posted by Hello

Hope, Christmas Morning 2004 - too much Christmas Cheer the night before. Posted by Hello

Bonnie and me , Christmas Day morning 2004 - lets just say I may have still been drunk from the night before (terrible photo, but the only one of me on Chritmas Day that I have). Posted by Hello

Anj and Jason, Christmas Morning 2004 Posted by Hello

Bonnie and her sister Debbie, Christmas Morning 2004 Posted by Hello

The Christas Tree we made at Nicole' even has real lights (deluxe). Posted by Hello

Nathan and Helen - Christmas Eve 2004 Posted by Hello

Christmas Carolers at Tombstone Bar, Christmas Eve 2004 Posted by Hello

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve Joy

Today is Christmas Eve Day!
My day started as most Fridays do, teaching my Kindegardens. They are so amazing, I wish you could all meet them. Their energy fills me with joy. We sang carols and coloured photos - to their delight! Of course we still had to sing The Hokey Pokey..but it has become one of my favorites as the children love it, and squeal with joy when we sing it.
After class, I met my coworkers for a Korean buffet lunch at a fabulous restaurant. The food was amazing and they loved their gifts that I gave them. Although none of them had ever tried fudge before, they were excited to taste it - and it got good reviews by all.
The remainder of my day was spent watching movies with my students. They gave me plenty of Christmas cards - which were pretty funny to read. One little girl, Betty, gave me a card that said "Merry Christmas Collen, and have a Happy Now Year" funny!
Tonight when classes were finished my coworkers surprised me with a present and a wonderful card. They gave me a pair of beautiful gloves and some goodies for the shower. It is wonderful.
Tonight, I was originally planning to go to a Christmas Eve mass at a bilingual church with some friends. As Christmas is the only time of year I seem to feel encouraged to go to church. However, I have now decided to go meet up with a different group of friends for drinks (a little Christmas cheer), as I will be seeing all the others tomorrow for a Christmas Day breakfast at our friend Nicole's apartment.
I am excited to open the gifts my family sent me- but have promised to wait until the morning.
So I'm off to spread some Christmas joy, but want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and send my love.

Anna, Julie and myself Christmas Eve Day. Posted by Hello

Julie and me. Posted by Hello

Anna and Andy ...Andy treated us to Christmas Eve lunch. We went to a Korean buffet restaurant (very good). Posted by Hello

Here are my Kindegardens..we coloured pictures of Santa and Stockings today. They sang me "We wish you a Merry Christmas"...too cute. Posted by Hello

My Kindegardens..the little one hiding her face is Mindy (she is my favorite..sooo cute) Posted by Hello

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

"Oh Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree..." Posted by Hello

Some of my students: (L-R) Emily, Sandy, Amy, Diane, Kent, Martin. Ted, James, April and Bess...we just finished decorating the classroom.  Posted by Hello

Some of the art my Kindegarden's did (the Gingerbread men). Posted by Hello

More artwork by my Kindegardens...we are still working on learning all the words to "Ruldolph the red nosed reindeer"...but they get the mostly they pretend to sing along....mumbling the is really funny. Posted by Hello

Only 4 more days until Christmas!!!

I can't believe Christmas is in 4 days!!
Before I go any further...
I feel obligated to add a disclaimer : I have been cooking for the last several hours, and as my good friend Kelly will attest to, drinking goes hand in hand with cooking - so needless to say I have had a few (likely the reason behind this impromptu blog..and the, perhaps unnecessary, photos below).
My Christmas tunes are playing and I am 'getting in the spirit' (literally). Plans are set for the next several days to begin celebrating the and outside of school.

Tonight I made homemade goodies for Anna, Julie and Andy. Fudge, chocolate covered banana chips and chocolate covered pistachios...mmm. Although I am not expecting gifts in return, I am going for lunch on Friday with then and want to give them a little something for the holidays. There will also be a bottle of Soju for Andy and some candles for the girls, to complete their packages.

As is the standard in Korea - it took me a few attempts to locate all the ingredients needed...but I found everything (surprisingly) and so far my goodies look pretty good. Without an oven I was limited to what I could unlike on Irving last year, there was no cookie factory.

Because I feel the need to here is a little Christmas song for you all...ahh Mel Torme

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yule-tide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.
Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.
They know that Santa's on his way
He's loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother's child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer really know how to fly.
And so I'm offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it's been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!
Love Colleen

MMM..fudge Posted by Hello

Christmas Goodies...mmm Posted by Hello

Christmas is but 4 days away Posted by Hello

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The Wedding

As mentioned previously, I had been invited to the wedding of a Korean teacher at my school.
Korean Weddings are a special sort of event. The weddings are most often held in Wedding Halls - which are large buildings containing several wedding rooms so that at any given time three or more weddings could be going on simultaneously.
Our wedding was on the third floor of one of Ulsan's largest Wedding Halls. It was beautiful inside, much like an old theatre - lots of ornate design on the ceilings and large mirrors. The place was packed- full of Korean families mingling around, waiting for their wedding to begin. Women and children in traditional Korean dresses. called Hanboks; myself dressed in a seemingly simple skirt and sweater by comparison.

My coworker, Anna had agreed to meet me at quarter past twelve, since she told me the wedding was scheduled to begin at 12:30pm. We arrived only to discover the wedding had been scheduled for 12:00. We had just missed the ceremony. The bride and groom had already begun their photo session with a photographer, who I can only describe as extremely enthusiastic and meticulous when it came to detail. The brides dress was adjusted several times and then re-adjusted several more times before each photo was taken. Only more amusing was the children darting in and out of the photographers view - one screaming and throwing his arms when his father tried to take him out of the way so the photo could be taken...ahhh reminds me why I don't have children.
After several photos, one of which included me - I am now immortalized in their wedding album - we made our way up several more flights of stairs..among hundreds of other a large dining room where a buffet lunch was served. Tons of food ( as usual with Koreans), beer and soju were available in unlimited quantities.

In a room of about 200 guests, I was the only foreigner - lets just say I didn't go unnoticed.
Unlike weddings I have been to back home, there are no speeches or dancing. Basically people watch the ceremony (which I am told consists of the bride walking down the aisle, meeting the groom, followed by the exchange of rings and a few bows to their individual parents), then they eat a lot of food and drink plenty of soju, then the bride and groom show up again dressed in traditional Korean clothing and do some sort of "bowing thing" again. Then everyone goes home.
No party after, no dancing. As Anna told me 'it isn't like the Wedding Singer'. Nonetheless, it was interesting to be a part of it. Too bad I missed the ceremony part - but I have been invited to two more weddings early next year, so there will be plenty of chances to make it up.

The concept of marriage is taken quite seriously here. It is interesting to note that the girls all agreed that if a women is not married by the time she is 30 she is too old and will likely never marry. One of Anna's friends expressed her concerns that her current boyfriend is a bit of an ass, however she doesn't want to breakup with him as she is worried she won't have enough time to meet someone else and get married before she turns 30. She told me after 30 women turn old and ugly...
what the hell is that damn ticking noise?
Kelly, maybe we should introduce your Grandma Christie to my Korean friends...I think they share the same view. Let's just hope they are terribly wrong.

Anyways, After the wedding, Anna and her friends invited me to a cafe to celebrate one of their friend's birthday. So the rest of the afternoon was spent sipping cappuccino and eating birthday cake (which I needed to drown my single sorrows).
But then again...I should be thankful...nobody around to leave the toilet seat up!!

After the wedding (Bride and groom are in traditional Korean clothes)
Left to Right: Holly, Anna, Woo-Jong, Sun-Mi, Myself, Yun-Hee, Young-hee, and Jong-Ju. Posted by Hello