Happy Chuseok. Because the holiday falls on a Thursday this year it’s a five day weekend (it’s a 3 day holiday, the middle being the main day with the days before and after for travel and prep). This year I’m spending it with my Ethiopian man. First stop Haeundae Beach in Busan. Now sitting drinking wine and watching the waves.
I quite enjoy going bug hunting with my students (first grade) during their lunch time recess. Here are a few of our finds. One of the cicadas that make so much noise here in August:
What Koreans call Chinese Cicadas, though I’m not sure they are actually even related to cicadas. The underwings ante a bright red and their eyes are bright red and they are excellent jumpers and fliers:
Went on a field trip with my kindy kids to the 63 Building. We went to the aquarium and went up to the observatory. In one corner of the observatory floor, there is a part with a special mirrored floor which makes it look like you are looking straight down to the ground. A tad unsettling.
Had a bit of a problem a few weeks ago. Woke up with pain in both feet and couldn’t walk. After the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong they decided to just put half casts on both of my feet to immobilize them. :/ Since I could do nothing, I went to a friend’s place to hang out and watch the baby from the comfort of their lovely sofa.
(More info here.)
A couple weeks ago one of my friends went away for the weekend with her husband and baby. Their first weekend trip. I took care of her dog, Hopie, for her. She knows he is okay with me since I already took care of him a month when he was a puppy. He knows me well. ^^ We had a lot of fun laying around watching TV as well as walking in the park, both at night and in the day.
Tiger Jindos are cool looking dogs! And Hopie is such a sweet heart. :)
The Korean night is dominated by neon signs and bright glowing crosses. They are everywhere. Churches in Korea aren’t just in fancy church buildings, but within any building on any floor. Of course there has to be a cross on top of the building to show where it is.
This was actually a month ago, but I’m a bit behind in posting. Most of my photos are in my phone which hasn’t been letting me post anything.
:/ I’ll get to them.
I have been a bit lazy for a while now. I have all sorts of pictures to post but when ever i think of it I am either busy or have trouble uploading or with the Internet. I’ll have to get to it!
I think I have mentioned the socks in Korea before. They are so cute and fun!
The lips actually stick out. :)
My baby class is the Ginkgo class. They are Korean age 4 and so they turned western age 3 this year. Right now there are only three in the class. I love them!!! They are way too cute.
After our Friday fun activity class together I sat with them on the carpet and they proceeded to crawl all over me. ♥♥♥
One thing I absolutely love here in Korea in the fall is the color of the Ginkgo leaves-a bright yellow. It is too bad pictures dont always do justice to the beautiful colors. I am not usually a big fan of yellow but here i make an exception. I also love the red of the maples that are also everywhere but they will have to wait for another post.
My work consists of ‘teaching’ preschool and kindergarten kids, Korean ages 4 to 7 (translates to normal ages turning ages 3 to six this year). I love the kids so much. And of course, they all love ‘Laura Teacher’!!! :)The school moved a couple of months ago to a new building. Now, instead of having our own building of 3 floors plus the roof and a garden, we have a 4th and 6th floor plus the 8th floor roof. To take the kids between the 4th and 6th we have to use the elevators. The stairs are too dangerous for them. Here I’m in the elevator with one of my 5 yr old classes (actual age 3-4). I was trying to get my slippers in the picture but they were moving a little too much. ^^
That’s my lovely Lora’s face looking up at me in the elevator. ♥
Between classes, as well as later, when it’s time for the kids to take the buses home (there is a bit of a wait time, since only one bus can pull up outside at a time, and only one group of kids can go down the elevator at once), I often sit and hang out with the kids.
Kate (6 yr old class – just turned 5) is absolutely adorable. But once again…. it’s hard to take a picture of kids who move around so much!!
I love the kids shoes!!! These are Kate’s cute little koala shoes.
Went to a wedding today. Ash (Moroccan) and Nara (Korean). It was at a typical Korean wedding hall, though it was fancied up a bit being in Gangnam and all. The small Moroccan crowd in the audience livened it up a bit, as did Ash’s singing of a Korean pop song for his new bride. I couldn’t get a good pic from the wedding because I was a bit back with too many things in the way. After the dinner I went to the nearby casino (Lucky Seven at the COEX Intercontinental) with a group of old friends. Casinos are great if you have control. I lost 20,000 won (about $20) but then won it back plus 10,000. Yay. Had drinks while playing and chatting away. Then a free midnight snack meal – I had kimchi chigae (kimchi soup). Casino floors are always interesting. The landing on the stairs up gave me some ideas for glass painting (I wasn’t thinking of pictures at the time). This was the floor in the little dining area.
This is an old pic but I still wanted to share it. The last day of school before summer vacation it was time for the summer camp for my kindy kids. The 4 and 5 yr olds didn’t stay overnight (actual age 3 and 4) but the older kindy kids did (with their Korean teachers and I). We took big fancy tour buses to the resort. My branch’s bus was full so us foreign teachers had to take the bus from another branch. We were surprised to see that one of the small buses from our school dropped some of our kids off at that branch for the same reason, including two of my babies (just turned actual age 3), twin girls. One of them, the ‘younger’ one is my baby. She is sort of shy and is very clingy. She sat with me on the bus and her sister sat with another teacher from my branch. The girls are always immaculately dressed in brand names. For the summer camp day they were wearing pale pink shoes (the same except Jia’s are a half size bigger) white designer tights, pink dresses and fancy hats – Jiyoo with pink flowers and Jia with blue. Oh, and they also had cool sunglasses. LOVE ‘EM!!! Once we got settled into our seats, Jia’s hat went onto my lap and up went one foot. She made herself comfortable. To keep her entertained, I pulled out my I pod with some of the games and the photo apps. She had quite the time. I was likewise entertained. ^^
Oh. And the girls had Burberry bikinis for the pool time, Jiyoo in pink and Jia in blue. I work in Apgujeong. ^.~ (Apgujeong is more of a rich/upscale area in Seoul, and in all of Korea. It’s where you’ll find all of the designer name stores and super expensive car dealers.)
I think I should start taking more pictures!!! I’ve been getting lazy. :)
Went to Muuido earlier in the month but haven’t had a chance to upload any of the pics on here (it doesn’t always let me, for some reason when I do have time). I posted some pics here from Muuido last year, as well. Muuido is always so much fun!! I’ve been there several times in the past few years.
It was the first sunny weekend after a long stretch of rain (not just days, but weeks). Great time to head for the beach. ^^ I quite enjoyed being lazy on the beach, watching the seagulls waiting for snacks (and appreciating their footprints).
The first day we arrived fairly late in the afternoon and missed most of the sun of the day. We sat for a while watching the sun set and then headed to the beach restaurants for some samkyupsal (4 layer pork – similar cut to bacon, cut thicker and cooked on a grill on the table). Yum!! Every now and then little crabs would skitter past the table. Cute.
Then we made friends with 2 military families that were out. The kids had gone to bed so it was hanging out time for the parents. Once the tide was really out, they woke up the kids to take them hunting for the glowing sea cucumbers. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me at the time. The sea cucumbers there are a pale orange color during the day but look more white at night. When touched, they fluoresce a greenish blue color. So cool!!!
The swimming there isn’t the best, unless the tide is all the way in. Once the tide is out you have to walk, and walk, and walk, and walk forever, just to reach knee deep water that then goes on forever. Some still do it, of course. ^^ When it’s nice out you want to take a little dip, even if you are almost up to your ankles in mud in knee deep water. :D
Walking around the mud flats left when the tide is out can be a messy deal, but that is part of the fun. It’s always fun to all of a sudden find a soft spot and sink almost to your knees. Gets a bit hard to move, though, when it’s that deep.
Koreans pile out to dig for clams and other such things for their dinner. Kids just play in the mud. ^^ Missed mud festival this year? You can always make your own. ^.~
While out in the knee deep water, on the walk back I scooped up a little dragonfly that was floating on the water, looking like it was having some trouble. I carried it all the way back to the beach (it really is a long walk) and then sat with it for a while. It eventually flew away. Yay. I saved a dragonfly.
This year I was surprised to see so many tents. It was all Koreans camping out on the beach. Tents seem to be getting more and more popular here. There weren’t actually many foreigners out the whole weekend! I guess it might have to do with the fact that many were away for their summer vacation at that time.
I love the teepee looking tent. It belonged to a Korean hippy family. ^^ They thought I was a hippy, too. :) They arrived the second day. We hung out with them later that night.
(Another long post…)
The other weekend we went down to Chungju lake and Danyang. We took a bus to Chungju and took a ferry boat to Janghoe (the lake was too low to get all the way to Danyang). This is a typical toilet in many places here. I got used to them very quickly my first year (the bar I used to go to only had this style so I had no choice).
When we took a bus to Danyang. We had to wait almost an hour for the bus, on the side of a road that is not very busy. Maybe 10 or so cars passed in that hour. Luckily there was a little shop with ice cream. :) Of course I had to play with a little inch worm I found. ^.~
On the way to Danyang, it started to pour. The roads turned into little rivers. The bus dropped us off outside an apartment building. With no hotel booked, we didn’t want to wander around outside in the downpoar looking for a place so we did what any normal person here would do – went into the little shop in the building, got a nice bottle of makkeolli (막걸리) and some snacks, then hunkered down on some old ripped sofas that were in the hallway of the building.
After the rain slowed a bit we headed out. We looked at two hotels and decided on the nicer, more expensive one (it was about $75 a night). It was so nice!!! Check out the phone!
The next day we headed for the caves. Caves are cool. :)
We went into two different caves. The first was the most extensive cave in Korea and is also one of the busiest. Bus tours sometimes stop there so there was a huge line all the way through. It took about an hour or so to get through. Beautiful but too busy. The ways were quite narrow in places, which I quite enjoyed. Most of the cave was fitted with metal stairs and walkways. Many of them were almost rusted out in places.
The second cave was much smaller but much more interesting and not as busy. The tunnels get quite small in places so you basically have to shuffle along in the squat position. Although I am a bit claustrophobic and my heart was racing a bit fast, I quite enjoyed it. :D
After the caves we headed back to Danyang to dangle our feed in the river. It was so hot out it was nice to find a little shady spot under the bridge with some nice big rocks to sit on and watch the water go by.
Ordering food in Korea is great (though you usually kinda have to be able to speak some Korean). I love ordering Korean food. It tastes so good and is so cheap. Plenty of food for two people (hot pot bibimbap (rice with vegetables etc), dwenjang chigae (bean paste soup that comes with a side of rice), fried mandu (dumplings) and side dishes of kimchi and other things) costs less than $15 and is delivered quickly and for free.
And then you put the dirty dishes outside your door and they’ll come back later and take them away. :)
(This picture was from a previous order that had regular bowl of bibimbap as well.)
(Here’s an apology for the fairly long post ^.~ )
I spent the week of May 27th to June 3rd in Mexico for a wonderful friend’s wedding. We were all at the Barcelo Maya Colonial resort near Playa del Carmen. All inclusive baby!!! What an amazing week!
The bricks just outside the Jaguar’s Discotheque where we spent several of the late evenings.
On the 30th we had a stag/stagette combined party on the Party Hopper tour – into Playa del Carmen to Carlos n Charlies, Senor Frogs, and then Coco Bongo.
Post party feet:
After a couple of hours sleep I then went solo on a day tour – swimming with whale sharks and snorkeling along an island reef. Again… AMAZING!
(It was surprisingly very difficult to take a picture of my feet with the flippers on in the water! I was trying to actually get some of the reef in the shot but I guess that didn’t quite work as planned.)
The following day was the wedding day. On the way to get my hair done at the salon I came across this adorable little guy.
Bridal party feet (bride and groom were off getting photos taken elsewhere).
My heels (far right) weren’t impressed by the sand. Many present had taken theirs off by this point and mine came off shortly after.
Beach weddings are beautiful and allow for some amazing photos.
The next day I went with a new friend on a tour to Chichen Itza (stopping at a cenote on the way).
HERE is a post about that day.
Once again – AMAZING!
Friday’s field trip was to a farm out in the countryside near Yeongin. It’s called Milk School and they do tours for schools and groups. It was fantastic! We took a proper bus to get there – much nicer than the little school shuttle buses.
Once we arrived it was already time for lunch. Mmmm. The kids moms send lunches with them that are always quite large and great for sharing with the teachers. :) Unfortunately it started to rain and the picnic table umbrellas didn’t quite cover all the kids. Also, the ground around them turned into little yellow rivers from the pollen.
No worries, though. The rain stopped around the time we finished eating lunch.
Then we were quite busy, making ice cream, feeding beef cattle, hand milking a cow, bottle feeding calves and a tractor pulled trailer tour of the grounds. The teacher of one of the 5 yr old (western age 3-4) classes was sick so I was in charge of that class. I would have had more pics for here (such as with a cow!) but was too busy taking pics of the kids to send home.
These were taken on 2 different days.
Magnolia petals on the stairs up the hill to a student’s home:
And now they’re gone.
I miss the giant magnolias already. They smelled so good!!!
In the student’s yard:
Not sure what they are.
And then going up the hill to the same student’s home a week later:
I’m posting this a little late but still wanted to share. For one Friday fun activity class at work (Easter Friday but it’s not a holiday here), I made these with my 4 yr old class (Korean age 4 meaning they’ll turn 3 this year).
I added colorful covered elastic to the back. The kids wore them around their wrists or upper arms and couldn’t stop moving them around to make the bells ring. :)
On the weekend I decided to enjoy the lovely spring weather and headed to the Hangang Yeouido Spring Flower Festival. After wandering the park and along the Han River park we walked all the way back to Yongsan to go to Emart. My legs were killing my by the time we got there but it was a wonderful walk. In some places it almost seems like it is snowing from all of the little pinkish white petals falling and blowing around. I love cherry blossoms! Petals collected in the gutters everywhere so even the streets looked nice.
Waiting for the bus in Apgujeong after work (from last Friday). The Korean writing (upside down fom this angle) says bu-seu (Konglish). You can see random cherry blossom petals all on the ground.
Walking a dog in Haebangchon is interesting and a lot of work. When it was snowy I was so glad I had a pair of good cheap hiking boots. Without them I’d have been sliding down hills on my backside every day. They still come in handy now as they are fairly comfortable and grip quite well.
Here are a bunch of pics that show one of the routes I often take the dog on.
This pic is from a week ago, before I moved to my new home (short version of a long story). I love the socks and slippers and such here.
One thing I like about living in Haebangchon is that Namsan Park is not so far away. A perfect place to walk the dog. :) We take a long walk up to the park, up and around the dirt paths around the mountain and then back down again.
Last time we went around and came out at the Hyatt. Then through Gyeonglidan and back up Haebangchon. Just down the hill from my home is a little pet friendly cafe called Latte King.
Mmmmm. Kahlua Latte. Mmmmm. Baileys Latte. All good.
Pets are allowed (inside and out). They also have a little donation box that goes towards feeding stray/homeless cats in the neighborhood.
Meet Runa. She’s an 8 month old (undersized) malamute. I rescued her from a bad situation and have decided to adopt her, that is, as long as I can teach her to go up and down my super steep stairs on her own – she is terrified of them and has to be carried up and down them (certainly not by me!) I hope she’ll learn. She’s such a sweetheart!
Went for a little walk through a little park in Apgujeong yesterday after work. I thought it’d be best to do it before the rest of the leaves fall. I love the look of fall. I love mixture of colors. I love the maples and the Ginkgo trees (bright yellow leaves in the fall).
I was a Flamenco dancer for Halloween. He was a matador. He chose his first and then I decided on mine to sort of complement his. They worked quite nicely. :) My boots were killing me by about half way through the night so I had to take them off. I wasn’t the only one with sore feet.
He wanted to rub my feet but as they’d been in the boots all evening I thought it wasn’t such a great idea. He said he didn’t care and did this to prove it.
This post is a little late but I finally managed to get the pic uploaded.
For our Canadian Thanksgiving (second Sunday&Monday in October) my friend Danielle and I put together a little dinner. It took some effort to scrounge up some of the parts (the turkey especially) but we managed. All of that for 4 people.
Turkey with gravy, ham, mashed potatoes, broccoli, corn, mushrooms, salad, bread (from an Arabic bakery in Itaewon - the best bread I’ve found here), and of course some wine.
The bathroom of my home here sucks. It isn’t heated, the ceiling’s only about 1 inch taller than me, there is no sink, and there is no light. The door to the bathroom is just off my tiny hallway kitchen. The door has a window in it to let light from the kitchen into the bathroom. I have two pairs of shower shoes - one for actually showering in and one to keep dry for when the floor and other shoes are wet. The kitchen floor has heating in it but the living room and bathroom don’t so the heat will all pretty much disappear. The bedroom, which has a door just off the kitchen (behind where I’m standing on the left side) is heated and there is a window between the bedroom and the living room. Strange set up.
I’m not looking forward to the winter.
I love wandering around the streets to see what I can see. It seems that here in Korea there are always interesting or strange things everywhere. There are a few different buildings with mirrored outsides which make for some fun photos.
I love trying different cafes and restaurants I see everywhere. In Apgujeong there are so many to choose from.
We decided to stop for a pre-dinner drink and snack at De Chocolate Coffee. For a cafe named Chocolate the iced chocolate was very strange tasting, like imitation chocolate. The hot vanilla milk was great, though. The chocolate tart was okay but I think I would have preferred the chocolate mousse cake.
A month or two ago a new restaurant opened called Rabat (the writing outside is only in Korean so I didn’t really think of it until the Moroccan bf and I were wandering around and saw it that Rabat is the capital of Morocco.) We decided to check it out.
For the fall picnic my school took the kindys to Seoul’s Children’s Grand Park, a pathetic excuse for a zoo. The kids of course loved it but I felt so bad for the animals shut up in such small enclosures. First we set up our picnic area and then went for a walk around the zoo area. I had to laugh when the very first animal in the “Ferocious Animals” section was the elephant. In the birds section there is an upstairs rest area with windows overlooking the birds.
After seeing the animals it was time to eat. The teachers had kimbap rolls. The kids had what ever their parents packed; mostly different types of kimbap.
The kids were always offering me little bits of their food as I walked around. That could be great and it could also be not such a great idea since a lot of the things had misc. stuff in them such as fish eggs or what not.
<For some reason this thing doesn’t usually let me upload any pictures. This post is a little late.>
I love that when the weather is nice here, you can just sit outside a local Family Mart or 7-eleven and drink beer, coolers or soju or what ever else they have that suits your fancy.
Even Hopie was enjoying himself (and little bits of chips and such that were being fed to him under the table). ^.~
Two different coffees, two different days, two different seating locations, one Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Apgujeong, Seoul.
Both wonderful. :)
I had this past week off work (except for Monday) because of Chuseok, which is sort of like the Korean version of Chuseok. The main day was Wednesday but because it’s such an important holiday, to give Koreans time to travel home and back again and to prepare, the two days around it are included in the holiday. On Wednesday we decided to do something more Korean-ish so went to Namsangol Hanok Village, a little folk village at the base of Namsan in Seoul.
The village has some old style Korean homes: nobles, a carpenter, etc, that were moved there. There is also a park around it with a large time capsule, buried in 1994 to be opened in 2394, 400 years later. I love the little stream that goes through the park with all of its little waterfalls. :)
From there we headed into the Namsan park. Nam is south and san is mountain so basically Namsan is South Mountain. From even half way up you get a great view of Seoul.
While in Gyeongju we spent a day and went to the sea for a little swim. It wasn’t the nicest beach since it was all rocks, and the water was SO COLD! As soon as you get in your skin starts to tingle from the cold. Kinda nice in the super hot sticky weather of Korean summers.
The beach is also near the site of the Undersea Tomb of King Munmu of the Shilla. Apparently his wish when he died was to become a dragon to watch over the Shilla and this is how it’s done. His ashes were dumped or sunk in the rocks a little ways off the shore and a memorial was built for him on top.
The next day we were to head home but first we decided to go check out Bulguksa, one of the famous temples near the city. It is surrounded by little bridges and gardens. So beautiful!!!
The Gyeongju museum had some interesting things to see, including some fancy floor displays. Perfect for some pics. :)
Yes, there is an actual wagon under the floor.
While in Gyeongju we wandered around the many parks filled with tumuli (hill tombs) and other sites. It’s a beautiful city to visit.
[photos from July 29th]