Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ok, so my trip to Ulsan was good...not the big reunion I had hoped for, since many people were out of town again for the holiday, but still a worthwhile trip.
I stayed at my friend Helen's place, which is a lovely 2 bedroom apartment in Mugeo-dong (close to the university)...which meant I had a proper bed to sleep in and didn't have to spend three nights on her floor.
I arrived in Saturday morning at about 4am and met up with Helen and Nathan at Tombstone for a few drinks. Unfortunately, they had been there since 10pm and were in poor shape by the time I arrived. Needless to say they went home quite soon after my arrival, and I stayed for a few pints and got caught up with Jay and his brother Mark. (hey Kelly...Jay said you are working with his sister...small world).
Saturday we slept late and spent the afternoon relaxing at the sauna near Helen's place.
Then I met up with my friend Julie for a late lunch and a few beers.
After dinner we went down to Benchwarmers to meet up with Troy and a few others. Troy owns the bar, and has a funny tradition of getting me to gamble (well not just me...but lets just say he can always count on me to be apart of any game that involves betting money).
As it turns out, the game we played ended with me and my friend Julie contending for the championship...which was about 30,000won. Julie ended up winning the game, but agreed to buy everyone shots - since it was the most sportsman-like thing to do.
As it was a holiday, most of the bars were closing around 5am...early for Ulsan standards, so Julie and I decided to hit up a DVD room for some munchies and a movie.
Although to be honest, I fell asleep pretty early in the film, so I have little more then the photo below of Julie (she called it her porn shot) to prove I was there.
On Sunday, Helen, Nathan, Rachel, Peather (not sure of the spelling...he's Irish and let's just admit it..they have strange spellings...but it kind of sounds like Peter with a 'th') and I went to Busan. We strolled around Beomosa for a few hours and then went to grab something to eat.
Once again, most of the city was shut down, so we returned to Ulsan for the evening.
Got back into Yongin last night around 10:30 feeling extremely exhausted. My bus took about 6 hours - which wasn't too bad considering the traffic.
Now I'm broke and for the next couple of weeks plan to be as healthy as possible. Going to the gym tonight to try to sweat out the remnants of the weekend.
Enjoy the pics...also added a photo of me and my coworkers dressed in Hanboks last Thursday.

L-R: Whitney, Kate, Me, Bianca, Zac
Scully, Amanda, Helen, May, April

View of Beomosa

Helen and the Irish guy outside of Beomosa

Troy and me...I look really drunk, but to be fair it was about 4 in the morning


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Happy Lunar New Year!!! (a quickie update)

So I have joined the gym...over a week ago ...and have been working (or shall I say working out) again. My gym is quite big and offers the basic weight and cardio equipment found most places. It also offers Yoga, Pilates and an incredibly difficult dance aerobic class (which is somewhat reminiscent of a dance video) each day.
I have been going to Yoga each night, which for me at least, is a pretty new experience. Once upon a time...in my running days...I had done Bikrim Yoga, but this is a little different. It isn't too difficult, but I am realizing that my flexibility and balance aren't quite up to par. All the more reason to go each night.
I guess the goal for me is to get back into running regularly ...even if it's on a treadmill, and get my oversized rear down to a presentable size.
Anyways, there isn't too much else to blog about.
Today we are beginning our Lunar New Years celebrations at my school - complete with a mandu cooking class and some traditional Korean games for the kiddies (who will all be dressed in their cute little Hanboks - Korean traditional dress).
This weekend, we get the luxury of celebrating our second New Years in a month and enjoying 3-days off, so I am heading down to Ulsan. My mate Helen has agreed that I can crash at her new apartment. We will likely go for a night out in Busan, since ...well...it's been a while and it will be nice to get a proper taste of my ol' stomping grounds again.
There should be plenty of photos, so stay tuned!!!

seh heh bok mani bat uh seyo!!! (Happy New Year!!)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A little bit of Seoul

Friday night Javier, Whitney, Amanda, Katherine and I decided to go for galbi (Korean bbq) to celebrate Javier’s last weekend in Korea.
We ended up drinking with the owner of the restaurant, Cho (who is now our good friend...he invited us to his wedding). He is a pretty funny guy, and his English is very good. I have vague memories of meeting his mother, who dropped by the restaurant (no doubt to check on her son, who was surrounded by drunk female foreigners).  Looking through my pictures there was one where Cho had taken off his shirt...things were obviously getting pretty hot.

Apparently in my drunken state I agreed to go with my friends Salsa dancing Saturday night, so shortly after 8:00pm, Whitney and I caught a ride into Seoul to meet up with the gang. Being that Javier is from El Salvador, he loves to dance Salsa and was more then willing to give us a few lessons.
The salsa club was a little intimidating but after a while, the groove kind of gets to you (although to be honest a few shots did wonders too). By the end of the night we were all vowing to sign up for Salsa classes next week – hmmm, we’ll see about that one.  After the salsa club, we met up with my old coworker Jon for some more dancing a couple of other clubs.  Needless to say, today I didn’t do very much. I bought a new pair of running shoes since I am re-joining the gym this week (finally going to act on that New Year’s resolution)
Off to bed now, enjoy some of the photos from Friday night.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The past two weeks have been pretty good back in Korea.
Work is going well, and there has been a flux of new teachers, and therefore new friends - which of course means a couple of new people to share a pint with (never a bad thing).
I managed to catch a nasty cold my last day in Vietnam... (Thought it might be the bird flu, but now am pretty sure it was just a bad cold) but I am feeling better this week and have decided to get out a little more.
Tonight, Javier, Amanda, Katherine and I went for dinner and a movie...a little low key by most standards, but it was good to get out of the house and nice not to have a hangover for work in the morning.
We saw the movie "In her Shoes"...really good girly flick - and treated ourselves to Subway for dinner....ahhh the glories of Western food are not lost on me...just like home!
Anyways, this weekend, I am going to Seoul to meet with some friends and celebrate Javier's going away party. It should be good fun, although I am hoping I won't end up at a seedy salsa club (apparently Javier likes these sorts of things...then again maybe after a few drinks it won't be so bad). I will keep you posted.

We have a long weekend coming up at the end of the month and I am planning to get down to Ulsan again and catch up with some old friends. Believe it or not there are still a few from my old gang kicking around down there and I've decided it's time to pay them a visit.

Ok...off to bed...need my beauty rest!

Before I forget, today my school went snow sledding at a local park. It has been far too long since I have gone sledding and it was just as fun as I remember! The hill was a little small, but some of my coworkers and I got a chance to go down a bigger hill a couple of times. It was good for a laugh, since we were all too big for the sleds and ended up plowing into the sandbags at the bottom of the hill. My students had a great time and surprisingly no one got hurt, lost etc...This was a bit of a surprise to me. Below are some pics...enjoy and I will hopefully have some non-school photos shortly...I can imagine it looks a little lame - but hey they're a big part of my life these days.

My class as we arrived at the park to go snow sledding

Amanda taking her turn down the hill

A view of the kiddies having fun!

It was a short bus ride back to school, but these guys were all played out :)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I thought I would share a few photos of my students - we were very busy the entire month of December preparing for the holidays...so I am backtracking and adding them to my blog now.

This is me and my student Austin - such a cutie!

My student Joon ...being a little silly!

These are some of our seed students...they attend a pre-kinder class each day at my school and I teach some of them once a week....they were just about to perform their Christmas song.
(in Korean of course)

This is my class, Saturn class, performing our Christmas play. We worked really hard for 2 months on this play and they did amazing!!!
The play was about a Santa who had amnesia after falling off a chair while decorating the Christmas tree. Mrs. Claus, a doctor, 4 elves and 5 reindeer sing a variety of songs and dances to help in remember christmas (and his name...which he thinks is Steve). In the end, Santa recalls everything and Christmas is saved.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Adventures in Vietnam ...continued

When I last left you, I believe I was somewhere along the Mekong Delta ....a beautiful series of rivers and deltas that are in the heart of Vietnam. Mickey and I returned a day or two later to Ho Chi Minh City, where we enjoyed some shopping and mingling with our fellow expats.
HCMC has several great pubs and there is never a dull moment. Just sitting back and watching the hundreds of motorbikes pass each minute is enough to keep you thrilled for hours. Perhaps this is one of HCMC’s greatest attractions – the millions of people and tourists throughout the streets...there is nothing I have ever seen that compares.
To give you a little perspective....there are over 6 million people in HCMC alone, and over 80 million in the whole of Vietnam!!
A typical walk along a city street is not only sure to make you deaf (communication is accomplished strictly by using horns in Vietnam...beep, beep...beeeeeep!) but it will also make you appreciate the small things in life...like crossing a street (in most Vietnamese cities, motorists do not stop or even acknowledge traffic lights or, as it appears, traffic laws. Instead they swerve in and out of lanes, across medians and often down the wrong side of the street. The key as a pedestrian is to walk slowly and allow the hundreds of motorbikes swerve around you...at times, so close you can feel the heat of their engines. This is not for the faint of heart) In order to experience some more thrills (and perhaps gain a new perspective of this indescribable traffic) we spent a full day touring through the city on the back of motorbikes, driven by a wonderfully charming man named Thung and his good friend Cam (although to be honest I am not totally sure on the spelling of his friend’s name...please accept my apologies). They graciously drove us around for hours showing us temples, markets and rivers, stopping to tell us some little piece of history about each, or sometimes just for a cold drink. It was a fabulous way to see the city and get a feel for the locals. The thrill of being on the back of a speeding motorbike, weaving in and out of traffic is really incredible! I can honestly say it made me feel more alive then I had in a long time.
After our day around the city, we decided to enjoy New Years Eve in a little more low key fashion. Interestingly enough, I think this actually counts as my first sober New Years...but to be honest, we had been desperately hung over due to an impromptu binge the night before. Fair enough!
We spent the evening chatting over dinner, then went back to the hotel shortly before midnight...yep a little lame, just can’t do two nights out like I used to.
The upside of our quiet New Years is that we could spend our last day in Vietnam walking around the markets and enjoying what little time we had left in this fabulous city! That is exactly what we did.
Now I am home in Korea...after an incredibly long, scary flight (my flight was rerouted to Busan after several scary attempts to land in the worst fog I have ever seen. After a few hours and a reload of fuel, we took off again, this time to try several more scary attempts at landing – each that resulted in the pilot jolting the plane up towards the sky at the last minute... my life flashed before my eyes kind of moment – when we finally landed and I took a very long, grueling bus ride to work. I arrived 4 and a half hours late...but was pretty much just happy to be alive.....
Now with my laundry hanging and my brain a pile of mush I am going to retire to bed.

It was a great trip (minus the flight home) – and I have to admit that since I figured this time of year would be difficult, I wasn’t sad at all....an incredible feat given my record these past few months.
I am forever grateful to my good mate Mickey for helping me remember what life is all about! Thanks babe and I can’t wait for our next reunion!
And to the people of Vietnam – whom I met just a handful...thank you! Their smiling faces and warm words were a constant reminder for me to always enjoy life – no matter what struggles come my way.
Enjoy the photos below, I have a ton, but decided to share just my favorites...there are quite a few, so take your time.

Me and Thung, our guide around Ho Chi Minh City....number 1!!! Posted by Picasa

Mickey enjoying the ride around Ho chi Minh City Posted by Picasa

Mickey and me at a Chinese Temple, Ho Chi Ming City Posted by Picasa

Mickey and me relaxing in some hammiks at at cafe along the Mekong Delta Posted by Picasa

Woman crossing a narrow bridge, Mekong Delta Posted by Picasa

Woman washing a bowl, Mekong Delta Posted by Picasa

Rice paper drying in the sun , Mekong Delta Region Posted by Picasa

Woman selling bread at the floating market near Can Tho Posted by Picasa

Floating Market near Can Tho Posted by Picasa

We dropped by a crocodile farm...this croc was a little angry - he lunged at me and this is the shot I got as I jumped away...thankfully he was behind the cage. Posted by Picasa

Woman making incense sticks Posted by Picasa

Two brothers, on the road to Can Tho Posted by Picasa

Girl riding home from school, on the road to Can Tho Posted by Picasa

View of the Cambodian border a top a temple on Sam Mountain Posted by Picasa

A very funny lady who rowed me down the Mekong Delta, near Chau Doc Posted by Picasa

Man and Bicycle, Chau Doc - Mekong Delta River Region Posted by Picasa

Bird flu anyone??? We were told by several Vietnamese that chickens were illegal to sell or serve in restuarants, although I saw many at local markets for sale and saw it available on many restuarant menus....hmmmm. Posted by Picasa