Read From the Beginning

Camping in the Rain

18 May 2009
Posted by Jordan
Jordan's picture

Friday was Teacher's Day here in Korea, so to celebrate we went camping with our friends--Matt and Mihye (England, Korea), Jim and Carol (New Zealand), Edwin and Laura (Canada), and Vicky (England). Actually, to say "camping" is probably a bit of a stretch, since we slept in cabins complete with toilets, showers, TV's and, um, our Wii, and had an ice cream (and beer) man located conveniently down the road; but hey, let's not split semantics ;). We had two cabins, with guys in one and girls in the other, and spent two nights.

Anyway, the weekend was a lot of fun. It rained the whole time, but that didn't stop us (slash Edwin) from playing around with making fires and roasting hot dogs under the nearby gazebo, or playing scrabble and bickering over the validity of "ick," or being slaughtered by the girls in Pictionary, or learning how to really play Charades from masters Matt and Marisa, or trading every bit of trivia (slash "what do you call a man with X on his head" jokes) we knew as we fell asleep in the Manly cabin.

Marisa, our grill, and our cabins:


At Edwin's campfire. Left to right: Me, Marisa, Carol (being blocked by Marisa), Mihye, Matt, Vicky, Laura, and Edwin (the next couple of photos are courtesy of Jim):


Learning the intricacies of "water, log, fire" from Matt. He doesn't realize that his log's about to be washed away by my double river action:


Getting demolished in a girls-vs-guys game of pictionary. Our mistake started at "how about best 2 out of 3" and ended with "best 5 out of 9?"


The setting, half an hour outside of Gunsan:


More pictures here.

Danoje Festival

31 May 2009
Posted by Jordan
Jordan's picture

This last week we went up to the far north-eastern province of Gangwon-do to take party in the largest and longest-held Korean cultural festival, Danoje. We spent the night and were taken on tour as part of the special week-long foreigner program (the festival itself is a month-long afair). 

Here's a little video of the experience (pictures will be up shortly):

Posted by Marisa
Marisa's picture

So last week we got to skip two days of school to go to Korea's largest festival.  The festival, as I understand it, centers around an ancient shamanistic tradition of celebrating 3 deities. We took part in welcoming the deity to the festival.  It comes in the form of a tree, where it lives, which the people cut down and parade through the city.  We were behind the tree, with out lanterns, dressed in our Korean hanboks.  And unlike most places I have been, the Koreans really love when foreigners take part in their culture (ie: wear their clothes, eat their food, celebrate their festivals) and everyone was very happy to see us and wanted to take our picture.  I posed for several during the parade.  It is nice to know that I will be in some random person's scrapbook of the festival.  Please enjoy these pictures of random people that we took:

Making Wishes

Jordan working on his wishes.



This lady wanted to take a picture with me, even though she didn't have a camera.


Take a Rest!

Jordan and Matt enjoying the time off from school, perhaps a little too much?

More pictures here.

Posted by Marisa
Marisa's picture

A few weeks ago, my country school had its Sports Day.  It was very thrilling and I got to go home early.

Posted by Marisa
Marisa's picture

So this weekend we celebrated my birthday by taking a trip to Jeonju, the capital city of our province which is about an hour bus ride away.  The main attraction was the TGIFriday's, but they also have some nice neighborhoods to walk around in.


For more pictures, click here.


19 Jun 2009
Posted by Jordan
Jordan's picture

So here's a little quiz: if Carmen Sandiego were to hide out by world's longest man-made dike, where would you find her? I'll give you a hint: she wouldn't be in the IJsselmeer, the Netherlands. Because the dike located there, the Afsluitdijk, is 500 meters short of the title.

The answer of course, is that Carmen would be sipping ice-cold Nesquik at our apartment in Gunsan. The Saemangeum Seawall, located just south of the city, was opened in 2006 and measures 33 kilometers in length. It's still under heavy construction at the moment, part of a government project to increase the arable land around Gunsan that is costing Korea nearly 7 trillion won (or $5.5 billion USD).

Anyway, Matthew came down for a visit this last weekend, and we determined that it was time to visit the landmark. You can see the pictures here.

Posted by Marisa
Marisa's picture

So the week has come to a close.  I just watched the beginning of High School Musical for the sixth time.  Next week I'll get to watch the middle six times and then the end six times.  And then I might show it at my other school.  I guess it doesn't matter what country you're in, middle schoolers everywhere love it.  And why not?  There's singing, there's dancing and there's high school romance.  And I'm showing it to them during school.  What more could they want?

High School Musical

After watching some Wallace and Gromit the past couple of weeks, I'm settling into a nice routine out here in the country of basing all my lessons around movies.  Thanks to the fancy new English rooms, I can keep my students blissfully entertained while perhaps learning a little English.  But  now the questions becomes, what movie should I watch next?  What else will the Middle Schoolers love?  I'm trying to remember what movies I loved in Middle School.  What movies did you love?

Bus 58

29 Jun 2009
Posted by Marisa
Marisa's picture

This morning I needed to stop at the hospital to pick up the results of some tests I had for renewing my contract.  So I thought I would ride a new bus there.  I had noticed on my previous trips that bus 58 stopped outside the hospital.  So I got on, but soon realized that it was going the wrong direction, out towards the country.  Since at some point I needed to get to school this morning, I gestured to the bus driver that I wanted to go the other way and he gestured the way he was going.  So I got off and got on another bus which included a short walk to the hospital.  As I was walking, who should drive by and wave at me than bus #58, which I guess goes the other way to get to the hospital.  But then, after I finished my business and took a short taxi ride to school, who should wave to me as I got out of the cab than the driver of bus #58! He must think I am quite crazy to ever haven gotten off his bus in the first place...But at least I have one more Korean friend who will wave at me now whenever he sees me. 


Word just in while I was looking for a photo.  Tomorrow when I get to school I get to pose for a picture with the English teachers who were supposed to have started an English club (with me as their teacher), but didn't have time, but have to take the picture anyway.  I <3 Korea.

To Busan and Back

06 Aug 2009
Posted by Marisa
Marisa's picture

Jordan and I spent the last week traveling in and around Busan, Korea's second largest city (with a population of about three million).  We spent the first day visiting Jordan's old friend Ben in Ulsan, a town about an hour away from Busan (home to Hyundai) and his wife Na-Young and their son.  They were nice enough to show us around the city and take us to a temple out in the country.  We had a very enoyable day with them. 


In Busan highlights included pointing to things in the fish market I would not eat:


Watching the other tourists enthusiastially point at the things they wanted to eat:


We also went to famous Haeundae beach and swam with thousands of our friends. 


The big aquarium on the beach was also great, it was more impressive than our guide book led us to believe and some of the tanks had creative embellishments.


We also enjoyed lots of great shopping in the neighborhood around our hotel.


In the end I didn't want to leave Busan as it reminded me of Hong Kong with the large ships sailing in the distance, the lush, forested mountains coming down to meet the beach and the busy streets filled with people and market stalls.  Back home in the Dream Hub things are quiet and hot.  Jordan has finally gotten a video game to work after a month of trying, but hopefully he'll pull himself away to post video of the hip hop festival we saw one evening at the beach in the rain.  And I'll spend the next week or so working on a scrapbook of our trip.  You can see the rest of our pictures here

Hip Hop Nation

09 Aug 2009
Posted by Jordan
Jordan's picture

Korea is fairly new to the world hip hop scene. But when Koreans started b-boying they did it in typical Korean fashion: without reserve, determined to become the best. And now they are. The best. "Battle of the Year," a tournament often called the World Cup of break dancing, takes place annually in Germany. Out of the past seven years Korea has won four times. The other three years they were runner up. America, the mother of hip hop, has by contrast won the tournament twice in nineteen years.

This is all a lead in to say that while we were in Busan this last week we stumbled upon an international hip hop competition taken place on the beach. At one point it was raining pretty hard, so it was like seeing Step Up 2 live; the Koreans were ready with ponchos for everyone, so the show went on unfazed. One thing that  surprised me about the competition was the number of girls involved, including an all-female Korean crew, which I thought was great (hopefully their parents think the same). Here's a little highlights video:

Does anyone know where Croacia is? For the life of me I couldn't find it on the map...

For more about break dancing, hip-hop, and Korea's dominance, I would highly recommend the film Planet B-Boy.