Video Logs

Posted by Jordan
Jordan's picture

My family has a long standing tradition of reading Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol aloud every year, sometime in December. It's quite a good tradition, so we decided to continue it... with Mathew, by fishlight. We ordered pizza, made some fresh-out-of-the-juicer apple cider, lit our fake fire (and some real candles), and had a very good time.

Visiting Chungju

26 Nov 2008
Posted by Jordan
Jordan's picture

This last weekend we decided to go visit Matthew Fisher in Chungju, instead of cleaning our apartment, or buying bookshelves for our apartment... or setting up picture frames in our apartment. Or crafting floral arrangements for our apartment. The trip started out a bit, well, painfully, as the stomach issues which I had been dealing with the night before (I'm not sure my system agrees with any amount of Soju, as both times I've had it I've felt ill the next day) cropped up as soon as we got on the bus, but all things ended well.

Chungju Visit

As you can see on the map we traveled northeast, traversing about half of the width of Korea, and roughly a third of the length. The bus trip took about 5 hours total, which included many stops and a short layover; a straight shot by car would probably be under two hours if you didn't hit traffic in the cities. We returned by train in about 4 hours, with two layovers. Both trips were about 18,000 Won a person, which, with the currency doing so poorly at the moment, translates into $12.50 USD.

Photos from our trip can be seen in the slide show below, or by visiting our flickr album.

We got in Saturday afternoon and spent the night at Matthew's, on our camping mats. Chungju is beautiful (nestled by mountains on all sides), so we had a nice walk around the place. One of the highlights of the trip was getting to play board games and drink gingerale with a couple of Matthew's expatriot friends (one of whom is of course named Matt); I had been on boardgame withdrawal for several weeks.

Anyway, here's a little video from our walk. The free exercise equipment appears to be a standard Korea lakeside feature.

First Trip To Seoul

11 Nov 2008
Posted by Jordan
Jordan's picture

This last Saturday we took a bus up to Seoul (about a three hour ride) to see Matthew,* and do a little electronics shopping (we weren't actually in the market for anything ourselves, but we thought we'd go ahead and tag along). Seoul is massive, teaming, and spreads over everything; about half of South Korea's 49-million inhabitants call Seoul their home, making it the second most populated metropolitan area in the world behind Tokyo (and equal to Tokyo in density--my previous home of Cairo, I'm pleased to say, is the most densely populated of the world's largest city areas).

The area of Seoul we visited, called Yongsan, is very famous for having... well, everything in the world there is to buy. To my understanding it is in fact the largest electronics market on planet earth (and sells everything else as well). About half way through the shopping we decided to ditch the rest of the party (American friends of Matthew's from his province of Chungbuk) and see Quantum of Solace with Matthew at a fancy cinema to celebrate the fact that the movie came to Korea before the US (which still won't see it for a couple more days).We then almost missed our bus back to Gunsan despite having over an hour to make it to the station.

In short we had a fun time, and learned how to navigate the city: on our next trip we plan to see more of the actual sites, and do some shopping for ourselves (we did buy an incredibly cool splattering pig, though, which you can check out in the video).

*Matthew, if you don't know, is my former college roommate of four years, and very good friend, who got us into this whole wonderful mess: he discovered Korea's need for English teachers first, and we proceeded to follow him over here (and are very glad we did). I would direct you to his blog, but he has stubornly taken it down for the moment.

Marisa Says: I am pleased to note that it doesn't get any denser than Hong Kong. Also it is the best James Bond movie I've ever seen (and I'm not just saying that because the story focuses on Bolivia).


Posted by Jordan
Jordan's picture

Fall Festival

I don't even know where to start describing my day of craziness. Okay, so yesterday I learn that Napo Middle School is having a festival today (Friday), and so there won't be any classes... so if I want I can stay at home. Stay home? Heck, here's a chance for me to experience the culture and demonstrate my school spirit at the same time. "No way!" I say. "I'm coming!" I don't know if it was a test, but I think I earned major points for not staying home. The festival basically went all day, and was a Spectacular Spectacular in its own right, considering there are only thirty-two students at this school--I think all but five of them are in one of the school's three bands. We had lunch, pizza break, plays, singing, elimination quiz games and more: Mr. Sam said that had they been a bigger school they would have rented out a venue.

I think I used up all of my good luck for the year, because I was the last one standing in the elimination quiz game. And they had invited me to play as a joke. Because all the questions were in Korean, and I couldn't understand a word. I roughly calculated my odds of winning afterward to be about 1 in 1000 - 10,000. I'm not kidding. Anyway, I'll stop talking now; here's the highlight reel (sadly my battery ran out towards the end and I didn't capture the best show of the day: the school's most talented and flamboyant band):


So after the festival the school faculty invites me to join them for some Hosik: "food together," in the Korean tradition. The experience was simply amazing: all the food I've had here has been good, but the duck feast that we had at this traditional Korean restaurant blew everything else away.

Okay, first of all, traditional Korean restaurants work like this: every group of diners has their own individual room in the restaurant off of a main hall, with a sliding door; you leave your shoes at the sliding door (as you always do when entering any place of dining or habitation in Korea), and then proceed to sit cross-legged on a small cushion at a very low table. The way the food works is you've got many small dishes all around the table filled with things like garlic, fresh jalapenos, green onions, sprouts, hot sauce, soybean sauce, etc. The servers then bring in huge platters of duck, prepared in an incredibly delicious hot sauce with onions, mushrooms, and other vegetables. You put these platters over burners at the table, and cook them there while you snack on peanuts and talk.Once the duck cooks you proceed to take bits of it with your chopsticks and put them in a lettuce leaf with any combination of sides you desire: usually at least a huge chunk of garlic (they cut the cloves in half and expect you to eat them that way) and some jalapeno; roll up the lettuce leaf and pop it in your mouth: it's to die for. After the duck is finished, they bring rice out and mix it with what's left of the sauce from the duck, and you then eat that (also incredibly good).

I'm sick that my camera battery died, because I really can't do the meal justice with my description. The picture below is the closest thing I was able to find on the internet; it gives you some idea of how things work, but the dishes are a bit different, the table is much smaller (we were eating with 20 people at one long table), and you've got to imagine the huge cooking duck platters for yourself.

You also drink Soju during all of this (watered down vodka, remember?), and if you really like someone you give them your Soju glass to drink from (kind of like the peace pipe or something). Anyway, after I had proven once again that I really could eat ever spicy thing in Korea (they tested me incrementally throughout the meal), the top man at the table--the Napo principal--gave me his glass, so I figure I'm in... or something.

Karaoke Extreme

Hm... so I think this is the second time in one week of being in Korea that I've said "Karaoke Extreme." Well, you don't know Karaoke until you go with your boss and all your colleagues to a Korean "Singing Room." The Koreans like to sing. I mean, they really like to sing. Once again I am thoroughly bummed that I didn't have my camera; picture the scene below, but with 15 people in business suits (and they do this all the time). I have to say, though, singing "Dancing Queen" with all my coworkers dancing and clapping around me gave me a bigger high than I expected--I passed my final test of the day with flying colors.

Posted by Marisa
Marisa's picture

I was a little nervous the first time we spotted these giant crabs on the street. I was even more nervous when I noticed them in the school soup pot.

Inside Lotte Mart

03 Nov 2008
Posted by Jordan
Jordan's picture

I've been so busy lately that I haven't had time yet to write about my teaching experience; hopefully I'll be able to do that in the next couple of days. But in the meantime, here's a little video we took on Saturday exploring the delights of our city's largest shopping center:

Posted by Jordan
Jordan's picture

This isn't really our "view." Rather, it's what you see when you look out from our front door. Our view is really out the other side of our apartment, where we've got some nice green mountains to look at. But anyway...

Welcome To Home

25 Oct 2008
Posted by Jordan
Jordan's picture

Bus From the Airport

24 Oct 2008
Posted by Jordan
Jordan's picture