Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Horizontal Holiday

Let’s just say it has been a rough week.
Saturday morning Korea lost against Switzerland (스위스) 2:0.
I didn’t manage to watch the game. As mentioned, it began at 4am local time and I opted to be fast asleep in bed as opposed to being inebriated in a bar somewhere (in retrospect it was a good choice).
So I spent the day going to the gym and then sun tanning on my roof, or shall I say ‘burning to a crisp’ on my roof. It was a nice day and I will be the first to admit I misjudged the power of the sun and the strength of my meager suntan lotion.
Being that my body was a not-so-pleasant shade of red and having the good sense to stay out of the sun, I had planned to visit a museum on Sunday. However, waking up late I chose to relax in bed a little later then usual. When I got out of bed I felt a bit strange...then during my shower, as I bent over to reach the shampoo I knew something was wrong. What the hell?
As it turns out I somehow (in all my relaxing glory of the morning – although more likely it had something to do with my workout on Saturday) managed to pull my back out of its standard place on my body. For the next few hours I laid on my bed in sheer agony.
The next morning I realized I couldn’t make it into work. After a visit from my manager and a Korean coworker (Koreans tend to make bigger deals out of this sort of thing), a few handfuls of muscle relaxers and then a ride from my director’s wife I made it to the acupuncturist. Although it helped a bit I was still somewhat crippled and spent the day horizontal.
Tuesday morning I decided I might just be well enough to get to work, however by the time I arrived I was severely bent over (like someone had hit me with a car) and my manager took me to a different doctor in the same building as our school. As the day before, the doctor spoke absolutely no English and my manager tried her best to translate what he was trying to say. There was some talk about discs and needing an MRI...I attempted to interject, telling them this happened years ago and all I really needed was some strong painkillers and lots of rest...but no one was listening.
My manager asked me if it was ok if the doctor gave me a needle...I asked what it was for...she kind of gave me a smile and said “it’s for the pain’.  I asked where he was going to give me the needle and she said “I think it goes in your back”....hmmm.
But, since I was in a lot of pain, I figured it was going to be quick and likely more helpful then I said ok.
Big mistake.
As it turns out, it wasn’t just 1 needle...but 5 needles into my back. I was in so much pain I could barely speak. With tears in my eyes I asked him to stop what he was one listened to the foreigner.
Just when I thought I couldn’t bare any more the “doctor” (note the quotations) began pushing on my back and then my stomach – saying something about having to move my diaphragm into place. I really have no idea what he was trying to accomplish other then pushing my insides straight through to the other side of my body.
I am sure everyone in the building heard my screams. Vowing never to return to that doctor, I left his office and made my way home to rest.
Today I am feeling better – especially after another visit to the gentle acupuncturist- but will likely be off work till Friday.
My coworkers have been really good...bringing me water and kimbap on demand (thanks Sue) and taking my classes. I on the other hand have been watching far too much TV, reading books and magazines , and as of today – have been practicing my Korean...figured I might as well make good use of my impromptu horizontal holiday.

I promise to be up and running in another day or so – please no worries (Mom...that means you!). After all, I have but 2 short months before my backpacking begins...will have to be in top shape for the trip!!

Will blog soon.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

And now game 3! 대한민국!!!

South Korea's Park Ji Sung celebrates his goal against France during the game)

Korea managed to tie the game against France the other day. The next match will be Saturday morning at 4am. Yes I am planning to be out somewhere to watch the game live on tv...nothing like cheering on my favorite soccer team with 40 million of my closest friends....Dae Han Min Guk! (대한민국!!!)

Photo from The Seoul Times
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 18, 2006

From market to mountain

The day was sunny and hot, so in the spirit of making the most of my day and getting my arse out of Jukjeon, I went into Seoul to do a little window shopping (except it was more like window-less shopping - but you get my point) and ended up trekking up Nam Mountain to visit one of Seoul's most famous landmarks - Seoul Tower.
My first stop was Namdaemun market...
Although it is officially closed on Sundays, there were still plenty of things to see and buy. Everything from Ginseng to turtles (I am assuming they are now someone's dinner) to clothes were on display.
Being that the day was hot, I chose to wander through the narrow streets for a couple of hours and then finish my market experience with a big slice of pineapple from a street vendor.... mmmm....Ajumma's sure know how to slice fruit....delicious!

After the market, I decided to take a little walk around the neighborhood and caught a glimpse of Seoul Tower looming in the hills. For those of you 'not -in-the-know' Seoul Tower is set up in Namsan (Nam mountain) and surrounded by lush green forests that make up Namsan park.
There are buses and a cable car that take people to the top, but as I discovered, one can also walk to the top.
The tower initially looked pretty close, but after several sets of stairs and pathways - the tower still loomed in the distance one point I took a wrong turn and landed down by a street again...obviously not the right path.
The walk is actually pretty easy (once you get on the right path)...almost entirely paved and very safe...however I wasn't wearing the most comfortable of shoes and soon regretted my decision to walk up.
I eventually made it to the top - a few blisters to show for it - and once at the top walked around admiring the smoggy views of urban Seoul, sat on the observatory deck and enjoyed the fresh air (oops I mean smoggy air).
I didn't actually go into the Tower - I assumed the views likely weren't much better and not worth my money to take the lift to the top.
After listening to some live music (actually a South American band playing traditional music...what a treat) and lots of people watching, I took the cable car down to the bottom of the mountain. The ride was definitely worth the 5000won/one way fare (and even more worth the 6500won return feet reminded me of this just now).
Although it took maybe a little over a minute to descend, the views were great.
I have just over 2 months left in Korea before I take my (much-needed break) so I am trying to get out and see as much as I can over the next few weeks.
Enjoy the photos.
Tonight is game 2 of the World cup series for Korea ....but the game starts at 4am local time...believe it or not there will be crowds still watching the game. I am curious as to how many of my students will be sleepy tomorrow at school - likely many.
As for me - I need my beauty rest.
Sweet dreams and good luck to Korea!!!

Named for its nearby namesake of Namdaemun (Great South Gate) is one of Korea's largest wholesale markets. Namdaemun covers over 10 acres and is filled with over 1,000 shops, stalls, retailers, and street vendors. Here you can find just about everything including clothes, shoes, fabrics, tableware, flowers, vegetables, ginseng products, and much more...Unfortunately, it is "closed" on Sundays...but there was still a lot of the street vendors open. Posted by Picasa

Namdaemun gate....a quiet Sunday afternoon Posted by Picasa

When I first decided to walk to Seoul looked pretty close. But as I walked and walked (upstairs and down pathways) it became clear that the distance was deceiving. It turned out to be over an hour and a half before I got to the top....not exactly what my shabby sandals were expecting. Posted by Picasa

The view from Seoul Tower. It was a bit smoggy - so you can't really see the mountains ...but still worth the hike up to the top. Posted by Picasa

Here are some photos taken from the cable car that I took down Namsan. The ride was a little bumpy, but there were some great views and it beat the long walk down hill. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Winning is always so much fun!!

Koreans know how to watch a soccer game

We met up with some friends in Appujung to watch the game last night. When we first arrived it looked like nothing more then an outside café overloaded with tables and large TV the end of the night it turned into a large street party – complete with people letting off fireworks, an endless array of Korean soccer chants and several million soccer fans looking forward to the next match.
In case you aren’t following..... the game was fantastic!!! Korea beat Togo 2 to 1.

I have never seen people more excited over the first game of a series in my life...I can only hope that Korea continues it’s victory so that I have a chance to see how crazy things can actually get!

I have a ton of photos and because I didn’t get home until well after 3am – I am tired and at a loss for words.

This photo was taken after the game ended (note
the happy faces)
(back row L-R: me, Kyle, Jay, Julie, Bona, Sam
front row L-R: Sue, Justin, Gary, Kevin)Posted by Picasa


The crowds cheer as Togo gets a red card....thanks Togo! Posted by Picasa

Even Myer the Moose came out to celebrate (nice horns Moose!!) Posted by Picasa

Everyone loves Korea Posted by Picasa

My new favorite Korean....Kyle....he claims he is kinda crazy, kinda funky and kinda kinda man! Posted by Picasa

Sue and Justin ....with that 'after-game-glow'...maybe it was all the beer Posted by Picasa

The street was lined with cars and motorbikes...everyone honking and screaming! Just after I took this photo I saw people try to tip over a taxi...Kaaarazie! Posted by Picasa

Bona, Gary and Kevin stocking up on supplies....Gary decided we should go 'slumming'...which is our new phrase for drinking in the streets Posted by Picasa

Just some of the crowds of people celebrating in Appujung after the big win against Togo Posted by Picasa

A car full of screaming soccer fans Posted by Picasa

Sue jumped on this car while it was still moving...(slowly) ...don't think they were too impressed to see a weaguk sprawled across their BMW...but Sue always enjoys raising a few eyebrows Posted by Picasa

Apparently one of these guys is a famous of the craziest things I saw last night in Appujung Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I'm on the bandwagon....Go Reds!!

Things are starting to get a little serious here in Korea....and by 'things' I mean the World Cup fever that has gripped the country.
Everywhere I look people are in t-shirts, red hats...I even saw a dog wearing a 'Go Reds' doggy-shirt.
The streets are practically lined with giant TV sets....that's right...outside convenience stores, in shopping centers and even outside of a chicken restaurant near my house. Koreans are literally glued to their TV sets. Everyone is anticipating the big game.

This coming Tuesday Korea plays its first game in the World Cup against Togo.
I am by no means a soccer fan....I know next to nothing about the game. But being that just about every Korean (and Weaguk living in Korea) will be in front of a television to watch the match, I plan to head into Seoul with some friends to watch the game on a bar in Appujung.

I have just bought my first soccer jersey to wear (yep...the red shirt is mandatory).
The game starts at 10pm and will likely end in a few million drunk Koreans (and Weaguks) stumbling home in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
The bad news is that I have parent-teacher interviews Wednesday having a hangover is not really an option for me.
But I plan to take lots of photos and hopefully have a few good (semi-sober) stories to tell.

Korean soccer fans Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hot and Colds

I have been a little off the radar (for an all-too boring reason) over the last week.
I am still sick with some cold/flu thing ...I blame a little kid at school who sneezed on me last week. Finally went to the doctor yesterday for some medicine...and feeling a bit better today.

Last Friday I went out with some friends (didn’t help the cold...ahhh Korean rice wine DOESN’T double as cold mistake). There are some photos below – basically the night started with me going to meet my friend Jon to talk about Thailand (he went last year and I am looking for advise on what to see/where to stay etc). We later met up with some of my coworkers for more drinks and then ended the night outside of a GS-25 (convenience store... open 24 hours and has tables outside at which many-a-drunk completes his/her night).

But since then I have been basically in bed or at school (passing my germy-germs around to the of life) and feeling like crap.
Being that the weather is so damn hot and getting humid – I have found little reason to go outside, except to buy water or the occasional bowl of chamchi-jigae. But I have renewed my love for air hell with saving electricity. Maybe when I am healthy and not breaking into a fevered-induced sweat every 10 minutes I can re-evaluate my environmental ethics...but for now - bring on the AC!!

Today is another national holiday (second one in 2 weeks) so I am home trying to fully recuperate before returning to work tomorrow.
Enjoy the photos – hope to have more interesting news next time I blog.

Jon, BoNa, Sue and Sam at the Wa Bar in Jukjeon. Everyone loves the Wa! Posted by Picasa

Justin, Gary and me at the WA Bar , Jukejeon Posted by Picasa

not sure what Justin and I were laughing at...but it appears we were laughing at me. Posted by Picasa

I think 5:30am is past someone's bed time.... Posted by Picasa

Jon and BoNa showing off some of the soccer stuff we have 'won' (and by 'won' I mean drank so much beer that we got it for free- good times) Posted by Picasa