Monday, January 24, 2005

Wonderful Weekend

Sometimes it is important to take some down time. That time that is set aside for nothing but taking care of yourself - that is exactly what I have done this weekend. Relax Relax Relax.
Friday and Saturday I vegged in my apartment, reading and watching TV. I just finished reading The Da Vinci Code...Amazing book and I would recommend it to all of you.
Yesterday, I was invited to my friend Anna's sisters wedding. It was beautiful! I have posted many photos below so you can see.
I arrived at the wedding alone, not knowing anyone but Anna, however was welcomed with open arms by her family and friends. Being the only foreigner there, I was easily spotted and received many inquiring looks.
Since I had missed the ceremony at the last wedding, it was quite a different experience for me this time.
The wedding began with the two mothers walking down the aisle, followed by the Groom. When the Groom reached the alter a big puff of dried ice was released (let's just say it was quite original and VERY Korean). He then did some sort of 'push up thing' although I think it was meant to be a bow to each of the parents.
Following this, the dry ice now clearing, the bride walked down the not to the traditional Wedding March, but to some funky techno music and disco lights illuminating her descent...very interesting.
The rest of the ceremony was equally interesting. My friend Anna, the bride's sister, remained at the back of the church, talking with friends and family and on her cell phone, while the vows were read. Many of the guests seemed more interested in preparing the confetti and streamers that were to be thrown at the Bride and Groom after the ceremony ended then in actually hearing the ceremony. Once the Bride and Groom were officially married, they turned and bowed again to each of their parents and then a third time to the entire group assembled for their wedding. As they came back down the aisle, streamers and confetti being thrown at them the Groom 'whooped' three times (not sure the significance of this but it seemed to be part of the ceremony).
After the ceremony, the Bride and Groom returned for photos with their families and friends (which I was invited to join in). This time, I did not stay for the dinner, as my stomach has been still a little wary of Korean food since the whole gogi disaster a couple weeks ago.
Then last night I met up with James (the man who hired me for the private lessons), Gareth and the teacher I will be replacing, Helen, for dinner. We ate some sort of Korean soup...with lots of vegetables and boiled pork (which I didn't feel the desire to eat) over rice. It was delicious. James and I discussed me meeting the students some time later this week and Gareth and I caught up (as this is the first time we have had to meet since he got back).
Now Monday, I have to get ready to go to work. This week is testing for all my classes, which means not to much teaching but a ton of report cards to complete by weekend. Friday is Market day for our kids, where they get to cash in their stickers received for good work and buy candy and little books etc. They are all looking forward to it, as am I.
I will chat later in the week - hope all is well back home.
Love you
Ciao Colleen

Anna's sister and her new husband Posted by Hello

Bride and Groom bowing (part of the traditional Korean wedding ceremony) Posted by Hello

The Bride and Groom leaving the ceremony (People were throwing confetti and streamers) Posted by Hello

Anna's family Posted by Hello

Wedding party and friends (that's me in the back) Posted by Hello

The happy couple in their 'official' wedding photo Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

For you hungry Ulsan update

I have to admit, life in Ulsan is never dull.
On Thursday I got a call from the friends that Jo and I met in Seoul over New Years. They had some time off over the weekend and wanted to come to Ulsan for a visit. Mostly, the four of us just hung around the city - went to the movies and hung out with friends in the evenings.
You will see by the photos below there was a good time had by all.
This week has been a little crazy already - Gareth arrived back in town on Sunday and dropped by the school today for a quick visit. It is great to have him back in town and we hope to meet Friday night for dinner.
As well, I have been offered a position teaching adults privately ...which is a financial blessing to say the least.
So starting in February 1st I will be getting up early 3 days a week to teach my privates and then return to my school later in the morning to begin my regular classes. I am excited since this is not only going to give me more money, but a lot more experience with teaching.
My tummy is better and I am beginning to crave food again - although I plan to ride the diet wave as long as I can...I have had several people comment already at how much weight I have lost (whoohoo).
It is late - and I apologize that there isn't more to write about. ...but I have been getting complaints that I am not writing often enough ..I fear I have spoiled my readers in the past.
Goodnight you all

My friend Martin and I  Posted by Hello

Jo and Troy playing a good 'ol game of foozball Posted by Hello

Our American's (L-R: Dave and Calvin) Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Yes Val....It was food poisoning

I have heard from reliable sources that some people have been uncertain as to the nature of my recent illness.
It was indeed food poisoning...likely from the pork meat I consumed at dinner last Saturday night.
My sources tell me of various other conclusions people are drawing..including , but not limited to: some sort of severe hangover (although an educated guess Val, it was still wrong), bird flu and the always popular SARS?
Yup...none of the above....simply some bad meat!
I have since recovered but had to return to the hospital the last 2 days for more IV since I was quite dehydrated...ahhh fun! The hospital was a different one then the first..this one was a private hospital and was very nice. The staff did their best to speak English to me and they had a TV with English movies on it. So I spent almost 5 hours at the hospital on Monday and 2 hours today getting more IV...fluids and stuff to make the crazy pain go away. I am now fully hydrated and home to rest for a few days. I have not eaten since a bad attempt Monday night (which went horribly awry) and have seem to lost the desire for any food (for the time being)....don't worry Mom I have been drinking lots of water and PowerAid.
I am looking forward to any weight loss that comes my way (although I wouldn't recommend the diet...the process is far too painful).
I did teach a full day of classes today...although Wednesdays is my game day with the kids so I use the word 'teaching' loosely. We mostly played Bingo and a few word games (Koreans have a hard time differentiating between R's and L' we played a few games to get the kids to practice using those sounds)....good fun.
I am off to rent some movies and 'veg' for the night.
Will blog when something more interesting happens.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Gross Gogi

I realized it has been a while since I blogged.
I managed to sort out the lost card thing and gain access to my funds in Canada again (however, not without some reminders of the lack of customer service that is our Western society) and I began my new work schedule, which is a lot busier then before, but still fun (remind me to revisit this comment after a few weeks).
Friday was Anna'a last day at work and so we all went out for a big dinner and lots of soju. Our table drank so much soju they gave us two containers of bamboo soju free. This soju tastes like apple juice (I can actually drink it without feeling like a homeless person who recently purchased a bottle of rubbing alcohol). Mr. Lee then decided we should all go to the Nori Bang, which by that time we all thought was a fabulous idea. For the next couple of hours my coworkers and I sang a collection of Korean, American and yes - even Canadian (Go Avril!) songs until our little soju soaked voices were raw.
After the Nori Bang - and lets just say the soju had worn thin by then - I went downtown to meet up with my friends Helen and Nathan for a drink at Mackenzie's. It was Helen's birthday on Friday and I had promised to buy her a shot of something. The evening ended a so many do...another bar or two later and a few more drinks....a good time had by all.
The next day, or shall I say evening, I was awaken by my friend Hope calling me to ask me to dinner with some of our friends. It was Gino's birthday on Thursday and a group of foreigners (hmm...what exactly do you call a group of foreigners..a flock..YES a flock of foreigners), a flock of foreigners were meeting for dinner and then continuing on to a pub crawl sponsored by the local foreigner newspaper, 'the Ulsan Pear'. I decided I could do with something to eat and got ready to meet my friends.
We had a great dinner...gogi and all the fix' seemed like a good time. Then everything went horribly wrong.
DISCLAIMER: Those with a weak stomach may wish to stop reading here and skip to the last line of the page.
After dinner we went back to Mackenzie's to begin the pub crawl. I began to feel 'ill'....shaky and just not right.
Considering I was out late the night before I simply ignored the signs and pushed on. After an hour I was still feeling very sick. My friends decided to go to a different bar and I followed..trying to be a trooper. However, as soon as we arrived at Tombstone I knew something was wrong. My friend Jo ran up to me and asked if I was ok - I felt like I was going to faint. What the heck was going on?
After a few green teas to get me on my feet I caught a taxi home. The next 12 + hours was spent slouched over my toilet..not a pretty sight...being more sick then I thought was humanly possible. On Sunday afternoon I called Andy and he told me to go to the hospital. I got in a taxi and after a feeble attempt and a desperate call to Andy to tell the taxi driver I needed to go to the hospital, I arrived at Ulsan Hospital.
Andy (and his 3 year old daughter) met me outside and he helped me get admitted. I was hooked up to an IV and given a ton of needles since I was pretty dehydrated at the time. Koreans are funny people who don't tend to be subtle when it comes to foreigners. On a good day I normally get stared at...being white, tall and single female I tend to expect the long glances from those walking past and the occasional remark "Weguk"..which means foreigner in Korean. But here I am lying in a hospital bed feeling like deaths door..I have been literally throwing up my guts for the last 12 hours and this Korean man can't stop staring at me. Although I can't be sure but I think even when I threw up in front of him he didn't blink.
After several hours hooked up to the IV and a visit from Anna (word travels fast) they told me to go home and rest. Anna drove me home and made sure I was safely in my apartment.
Today is Tuesday and I am still feeling quit sick. I tried to eat some mandu last night but lets just say it didn't sit well. Liquids are the diet of the day. I have vowed to everyone that I am never eating meat again, although right now any type of food makes me sick again.

However, the good news is I did buy a new camera - it is a Sony DSC-V3 with 7.1 megapixels. It is awesome. I only have Korean instructions and I am waiting for the English ones to be sent so my use of the camera will be limited until then- but it is beautiful! Always a silver lining. the beginning has been a bit rough but I am hoping the rest of 2005 is less dramatic then the first week has been.
Ciao for now

Monday, January 03, 2005

A New Years to Remember

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
My friend Joanne and I left for Seoul Friday afternoon with plans to meet up with Martin, Damian and Orla when we arrived. Since it was New Years Eve the buses were booked up and we couldn't get out before 4pm. We arrived into Seoul just after 9:30pm and made our way to Iteawon to meet Martin and the others.
We had a quick bite to eat at a Mexican restaurant and made our way to one of the pubs in the area, called Geckos. By this time it was 11:30pm and we rushed to get some drinks to ring in the new year.
We ended up leaving the pub later to go clubbing and somewhere along the way I lost my purse.
All my money, my passport and alien card were gone!
Thank god for the kindness of friends - as Jo and Martin made sure I didn't go without food or drink.
Jo and I met a couple of nice American lads...(not GI's but still military) who let us crash in their hotel room for the weekend (they were staying at the Ritz Carleton.....nothing but good Christian fun..right Jo? ha ha).
The rest of the weekend was spent in various pubs/ restaurants while fruitlessly trying to contact my bank in Canada to get my cards cancelled. 'Miss Duggan, we need your credit card number to verify your account'... what the...? but I lost my credit card?? 'Sorry Miss Duggan, we can't help you' ...hmmm...nothing is easy here.
Sunday morning, I was planning to go to the police station to file my report - I had previously called the police but language barriers were too great and they asked me to come in to the station to file my report.
My cell phone rang and a Korean voice was on the other end...generally I hang up when this happens since I don't speak Korean and often it is just a wrong number...however, something in her tone made me wait...I told her I didn't speak Korean...she sighed heavily and slowly said my name and the word 'bag'. I quickly knew someone had found my purse. I ran to the lobby of the hotel and asked a front desk manager to speak to her in Korean. They arranged for my bag to be courriered to the hotel within the next hour and a half.
Truly, the gods must be smiling on me...what luck?
Although all of my money and my digital camera were gone, my passport and cards were still there - along with my house key (ahhh what a nightmare). Relieved to get most of my belongings back, we grabbed a starbucks (oh God bless America) and headed to a little Italian restaurant for some pasta and red wine to celebrate my good fortune.
After our late lunch our new found American friends had to leave to get back to north to their base and Jo and I had to catch our bus back to we said good bye and made our way to the bus station.
unfortunately, we realized we did not have enough money to take the bus home - so we trekked back to Itaewon to find Martin and gang to beg for more money from him (thanks again). By this time, the buses to Ulsan were sold out so we resorted to taking the bus to Busan then doubling back on a local bus to Ulsan.
Ahhhh the fun.
Anyways, Seoul was amazing...we are hoping to go back as soon as I can scrounge up some money. I wish I had pictures..the mountains were beautiful!
It was to say the least, a New Years to remember! I think it may be a forshadow of my year...the good luck just keeps on coming.
I hope everyone is well back home and you have a great 2005.