6.30.2006

I Mud You


Maybe we'll go to the 7th Annual Boryeong Mud Festival. It's July 15th - 21st and a group of ex-pats from Ulsan rent a bus and go down. Looks like fun and you can check it out here. http://www.mudfestival.or.kr/english/festival/festival1.php

Hold On!

Y'all get ready now, cause this adventure is ready to ride! So alot happened in the day since the last post. We thought we were leaving on the 5th but unfortunately Nolana didn't get onto my flight so we had the option of leaving the 4th or... the 4th. This posed a slight problem though. Our visas were going to be done on Thursday or Friday and then mailed to us. If they got done Friday the wouldn't arrive until Tuesday sometime because of the long weekend and the post not running. So.... we could leave the 4th but only if our visas got done. Adding to that, the 4th really wasn't ideal because Nolana's sister Ang and her dad couldn't be there to see us off Tuesday. So....

We woke up this morning and called the Korean consulate to check on our visas and found that they had been mailed yesterday and should arrive today. Should. So we had some last minute moving to do and we got a call from the travel agent saying we needed to see the itenerary and call her back to confirm... which we could not do until we knew for sure we had our visas. We did the moving and got back to check the mail and... they were there! We are the newest owners of a brand spanking new E2 Working Visa to the Republic of Korea.

So I checked the itenerary and it looks great (except for it being the 4th cause Ang and John still can't be there). We leave Victoria at 11:25 am ( a much later start than the other 2 iteneraries we saw), arrive in Seattle 55 minutes later. Then after a mere 2 hour layover we are off to Seoul which will take us 11 hours and have us arriving at 5:30pm on July 5th, local time. Then we have another 2 1/2 hours wait in Seoul airport (which is consistently ranked among the best in the world!) until we leave for Busan which will take us an hour and we arrive in Busan at 9:10pm. So compared to the last itenerary we leave 3 hours later and arrive the same time! Sweetness.

So that leaves us 3 remaining days here. Whoah.

6.29.2006

Bag People

All of our belongings are now dwelling in a 7x9 box except for what we are bringing with us to Korea. That is with us as we spend the last week here in Victoria with my parents. This evening and tomorrow we are cleaning the place and moving a few last things to Nolana's parents place and then on Saturday we will be officially homeless and living out of a bag. We will spend the next few days seeing friends and especially family and saying last goodbyes. Craziness. And then we're off!

We spoke with the travel agent yesterday and it seems we are now leaving on the 5th of July, though not everything was 100% confirmed because I was on the flight and Nolana was only on the waiting list! So that doesn't work. It sounded like if she didn't get bumped up to my flight then they would have to bump us to another, more expensive flight on the same day. At least that's what I understood (I had trouble deciphering her Korean accent). So today everything should be confirmed for sure and hopefully we'll know tomorrow. Hopefully. Ya know, we're pretty laid back about it all. We're packed and ready to go so I guess we're flexible and as long as we have some time with family before we go then we don't need much notice. I am just ready to get there now, enough waiting!!

6.26.2006

Hyundai



Just a quick post. The next of the scenic sights is... the industrial part of Ulsan. It is the night view of the Industrial complex as seen from Mt. Muryong. Ulsan is known as the home of Hyundai which is the largest exporter out of Korea. It has quite a large industrial section which hopefully we are no where near! In fact I know we're not really so its all good. In fact we are near the Great Park which you can see in the first picture. It is 500+ acres with a large water complex, rivers and lots of trails for walking. So that is sweet! Though I think the industrial park is all technoish and beautiful in its own way, worth a night time viewing.

6.25.2006

Megan's Back! (and we had a picnic)


Megs is back in Vic (she's the one with the crazy hair.... we had a wind machine to make her look so flyaway sexy) and so a bunch of us grabbed Sushi (Fujiya baby!) and headed doen to Gyro park for a picnic. It has been stinking warm the past couple days and it was a gorgeous day for a picnic in the park. And it is always a good day for sushi. I am pretty sure they have sushi in Korea but if, when I arrive, I find that they don't I might have to defect to Japan.

As for Korea.... they are in mourning because their beloved soccer team was eliminated from the World Cup and thus no one is able to confirm when we are leaving. Maybe the 3rd, maybe the 4th or maybe even still the 6th. When they set aside their sackcloths and ashes and return to work Monday we might find out but really, let's not kid ourselves here. This is Korea. We are finding that last minute change is the norm and it's not really last minute until there is only a minute left. I guess that is what the term "last minute" really means...
Anyways, we'll know when we know and until then we are busy packing everything we own and saying bye to friends. And having picnics with Megan.

p.s. my neice is so cute! And it is her first birthday today so... Happy Birthday Brielle!

6.22.2006

Book Em Dano



So for those of you who can't read good but who want to learn how to other stuff good too (that's you Matty!) here's some pictures of this place I call home and will miss greatly. I love the ocean.

On to the reading.

No, our tickets are not booked... in fact things became a little less certain and potentially a little more harried today. Our visas came through yesterdat (at least the Korean side of things) and it happened a little quicker than they thought it would (they were thinking maybe Friday). So, depending on how quick things go on our side (we have to send our documents to the consulate in Vancouver today) they are hoping to move our flights up a bit... like maybe as soon as the 1st! As soon as Nolana found out she called me all stressed out! Me... meh, cool like a cucumber. lol. We have to be out of our place by the 30th anyway so all the work will be done. It's less time to relax but we're young and adaptable and mobile. Heck, the world is my oyster. Sauce please.

One of the things I am taking with me are some great reads that I am thuroughlly looking forward to. Since we will have a bit of down time no doubt (we can't be gallavanting all the time!) I bought some books and have patiently saved them for the trip. And I can't wait to break into them! I am hoping to keep my mind active and stimulated and to use the time for some personal study. So without further ado: my reading list for Korea.

The Cost of Discipleship - Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I have read excerpts but never managed to sit down and work my way through. I bought it a while ago and now am devoting myself to read it.

Ethics - Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I love this one. But it's been a while since I snuggled up and burrowed into this mind stretching work. I love how it makes me think about every concept and how once I get it I am enthralled with it. What we call a difficult but well rewarding book.

Can Man Live Without God? - Ravi Zacharias. I haven't read any of his books but he comes highly reccomended and what I have heard of his story is enticing. Hopefully more ideas to ponder.

Black Like Who?: Writing Black Canada. I know I am not black but I am fascinated by the stories of those who are. I have taken numerous classes and written numerous essays on Blacks in Canada and racism in Canada. If I take my Master's it would hopefully touch somewhat on this topic.

The Souls of Black Folks - W.E.B. DuBois. In my mind he is the king of North American post-colonial black theory. His main work but I have yet to read it. Shame on me.

Seven Theories of Religion. An old text that I never read (double shame on me!) that intrigues me. Not a relational text in any way but it's always of value to contemplate other's perspectives on what you hold dear.

Shake Hands with the Devil - Romeo Dallaire. The UN commander during the Rhawandan genocide. I heard him speak and I was captivated. It is about the failure of the global community to the crisis in Rhawanda. I think this is the book I am singularly most excited to read. If it is possible to be excited to read about genocide.

And the only novel in the group...

The Sorrow of War: A Story of North Vietnam. It's a novel written from the perspective of a Vietnamese person during the American War (Vietnamese War). Again, a new perspective on a familiar topic. Exciting!

And I am off to work on my list of things to do today.

6.19.2006

July 6th!


This is the 4th scenic sight of Ulsan, which is the pine forest at Daewangam. It overlooks the sea with over 15,000 pine trees and crazy rock formations. I saw a neat picture with the fog rolling in over the rocks but I couldn't get it on here. And they say it's always cool, even in the summer so maybe this will be a favourite haunt.

We got to see our itenerary today and it looks like we are for sure out of here July 6th! We have a totally crappy flight though. We leave Victoria at 8:40 am for Seattle. 50 minutes later we arrive to find ourselves stuck in Seattle until 2:25 pm when we depart for Seoul. We arrive in Seoul at 5:30 pm on the 7th of July after 11 hours of flying time. We then leave Seoul at 8:05 local time and arrive in Busan 9:10. That's like a 2 days of flying!! Really, it's the layover in Seattle that's a real killer. Oh well. It's free so I guess I shouldn't complain too much!

6.18.2006

Father's Day




I remember a time in high school when I thought my dad was a bad dad. Maybe not horrible because I mean he was still there and still took care of me but just not a great dad. I even remember saying that he was hurting my relationship with God because he was giving me a bad image of a father. I had many perceived problems with my dad.

Many times we treat God the same way as I treated my dad. We make up some imaginary slight so we can view God as a bad father. It gives validity to why we don't like God if we have some good reason. We can say he is a bad father but that is only in our heads. God is a great father who always loves us and always has our best interests in heart.

This is much like my father. I perceived many things that were simply not true. My father is a loving, caring man who always had my best interests at heart. This never changed, I can only realize it now though. Even when I was a jerk he still loved me and still made the attempt to be involved in my life. Much like God.

I now no longer think my father is a hinderance in my walk with God, in fact he is a wonderful God imitator. If God is a father like my own dad then I want to follow in their footsteps. My dad is a godly man who genuinely cares for others and honestly strives to follow God. This is not something I can say about alot of people but I am blessed to have a father who I can say this about. Thanks dad for being so loving, so gracious, so strong, so consistent, so stalwart and above all being a model whom I can strive to imitate. I love you.

And now I have a father-in-law who I am getting to know. He is a quiet warrior, a man who demands respect without having to say anything. That is also the kind of man I want to be. Happy Father's Day John!

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

6.17.2006

Say Uncle



Not only did I marry a beautiful woman who will one day bear our beautiful children... I married into being an uncle to a gorgeous little girl. My neice Brielle loves her uncle and, although I don't like to admit it, likes her aunty even more. I think that's because aunty takes so many pictures of her and it makes her feel like an actresss or a rock star and who doesn't want to feel like that. We have hundreds upon thousands of pictures of the little beauty from the 1st breaths on and when I said I was going to start a blog the very first thing Nolana said was "Does that mean I get to post pictures of Brielle?". She turns one next week and we love taking care of her when we get the chance. I try and restrain Nolana but she spoils the child rotten. She's one of the things we're going to miss the most (along with the rest of our families) because now she knows who we are but after coming back from a year away she will have changed so much and possibly forgotten who we are and how cool we are. Nah, what am I thinking... that's impossible!

We talked to the travel agent at the end of this past week and it looks like we are going to be flying out on the 6th of July which in fact is a little later than we expected. We are out of our place on the 30th of June so all the work has to be done by then and that leaves us a week to hang out with friends and family and each other. That will be awesome, a week to destress a bit and rejuvenate for the challenge ahead. God is taking care of us. We still have to see the itenerary and ok it but that looks like the plan. We'll let you know when we know more!

6.15.2006

Picture Taking Machine

This is our new picture machine for my wife Nolana who is the ultimate picture taking machine. It's the new LaCie Porsche 250 Gig external hard drive which we bought specifically to store her pictures. Now I like to take pictures but Nolana takes it to a new level. She will go away for a weekend and come back with 700+ pics. In a weekend. So now imagine a year in Korea. That's why we needed 250 gigs!! So tonight I have been transferring her old pics over to it.

That and setting up our new webcam. We're hoping to be able to keep in touch with our family and friends with it using Skype. Dad and I were exploring it tonight and it's pretty good. Free computer to computer and like 2 cents a minute skype to landline in Korea. Or until the end of the year it will be free Skype to landline in North America. Now that's what I call cheap phone. So if anyone has a webcam and would like to keep in touch with us let me know.

6.14.2006

Making a list and checking it twice


This is the 3rd scenic sight of Ulsan. It's the Gangdong Jujeon Black Pebbles Paved seashore. It supposedely has a memsmerizing view of the East Sea and the miles of beach are all round black pebbles which when you walk on it barefoot is comparable to a massage! It also says it's great for lovers so we will definitely have to check it out!

There's a neat little fact that I am sure most of you are aware of. My wife is obsessive compulsive and it quite attached to her lists as a way of organization. For example, I had a list of things that I had to do today and she has multiple lists for herself to organize her day. She keeps a list by her bed so when we are talking before sleep and she remembers something to be done it can go on the list. So we are making some good headway through our lists. Changing addreses, saying good-byes, buying clothes and other things we need. But I thought I would share one list with you. Our to bring list.

-24 sticks of deodarant (supposedly Koreans don't use it so you can't buy it)
-6 tubes of toothpaste (theirs doesn't have flouride)
-2 large packages of multi-vites
-2 large containers of who knows what (I think some other supplements)
-1 of every possible cold medicine
-enough antibiotics to save the known world
-anything else we might possibly need in a year

All this already takes up one very large suitcase. Nolana is an organizational machine and we are prepared for any eventuality - including a nuclear attack from North Korea! If it were me I would be coming over with my backpack and hoping for the best. Even though it's alot more hassle this way I am pretty glad (or I will be when traveller's diarreah hits) that I have someone to be organized for me.

6.12.2006

Signed, Sealed, Delivered - I'm Yours!


We signed on the dotted line and sent the documents on their way by overnight courier. Technically we still could be denied a visa but unless that happens we have just signed the next year of our lives away. And it was pretty exciting! Or at least it would be exciting if we weren't so tired. I think Nolana's brain is working double time and she is definitely not getting double the sleep. And I am then having to work twice as hard to make her happy and answer her questions and be a supportive husband as she goes into full organizational mode (you all know that mode!) and I am not getting twice as much sleep. Oh well. I think by the time we fly out we will sleep all 19 hours of the flight.

The picture is of the 2nd Scenic Sight of Ulsan. It is the sunrise at Ganjeolgot. There is an old light house there and a cemetery which I guess makes it kinda scenic and this is where they hold their festival to greet the New Year's sun each year. From the pic it looks pretty nice but I am sure getting up to see the sunrise is not as nice. But we'll be there!

6.10.2006

Comment Away

So I realized that I had it set that only registered users could post (thanks Ryan). Now all you wonderful people can post away!

Breaking (it) Down




This is Mt. Gaji. It is one of the 12 Scenic Sight of Ulsan, which I will share with you in 12 posts! It is supposed to be magnificent in four season (2 of which you see) and it is supposed to be the point where you can see the sunrise first in all of Korea. It is also said to give out grains of rice (according to legend). I guess we'll just have to go and see if all those claims are true!

We had a minor breakdown yesterday as the stress caught up to us and we got hit with how much still needs to be done in a short time. As for time frame: we send our visa documents out on Monday and we figure we could have our visas in hand for July 1st weekend or potentially sooner if things are speedy. So really, that's like 3 weeks today! Whoah. A week ago we didn't know where we were going and now we're packing to leave in 3 weeks.

A fine thought here from a fine fellow:

"The whole object to travel is not to set foot on foreign land, it is at last to set foot on your own country as a foreign land" - G.K. Chesterton

Indeed! It is all about mind space and perception. We are so caught up in our Canadian/North American mindset that we are often so ignorant to how the other 90% live. We are ignorant to how good we have it and how foreign Canada can be (like the Toyota commercial points out). I look forward to seeing new things and learning new ways of doing things. I look forward to thinking differently and seeing seemingly foreign things as normal. And then to come back and wonder at Canada and how great it is. But also to come back and critically apply my newly shaped mindset to view things as part of a bigger picture. I look forward to wondering and then comeing back and recapturing the wonder.

Which is kinda like what G.K. Chesterton suggests we do with Christianity and the Church (in another of his tomes). "We must invoke the most wild and soaring imagination" to see what the Christianity really is. We are so caught up in our tradition built boxes that we have lost the wonder of the message and how wild it is. I know when I think of Christianity I don't automatically think "Wild!" but when we percieve it as it is meant to be that should be exactly what comes to mind.

Anyhoo, thats that. Oh yeah, and I know you people are reading these posts so why not comment! I love to hear what you think and such. Speak up!

Peace, love and ladyfingers.

6.09.2006

Ulsan Bound!


We're going to Korea! We accepted the offer from the Sunflower Montessori School in Ulsan, South Korea and we will be arriving in the Land of Morning Calm early July... pretty much as soon as we can wade through the Visa process. So as soon as we found out Nolana went on a renewed packing rampage. Forget breakfast, forget kissing her husband... let's pack! Oh how I love my wife!

So you people out there in internet land know a bit about where we're headed... Ulsan is a port city of about 1.1 million people. We will be in the university area which is a newer area of town close to all the amenities we will need. It is also right close to the large park in town and about a 3 min. walk from the school. Our apartment is on the 3rd floor of this apartment building you see and it is 3 bedrooms! 3 bedrooms in Korea is practically palatial (I think. I've never been to Korea).

So that is the news. We will be frantically packing and trying to remember everything that needs to get done before we go. Pray for us as we try and keep sane.

6.08.2006

Rain, Rain Go Away


So that's me and mine. I love pictures of us where I am clearly taller than Nolana. Cause there are a few where she is definitely looking taller than me. I think I shall hide all her shoes with heels.

Today was yucky and rainy and I felt even yuckier. Maybe it was something like post-grad depression. It's possible.

On the Korea front: We got a bunch of answers from the teacher who works there... and it really eased our mind on some things and the job in Ulsan is sounding really good. There are still a few things we need to ask and clarify but...

We also have the interview for the job in Changwon tonight, keeping our options open.... If they offer us something we can't pass up... well, we won't be able to pass it up. Seems like regardless we will be off sooner than planned and we're getting excited to get all this prep done and just get there!

6.07.2006

Convocation

So I am all gradded up now. I sat through an extraordinarily long 2 hours for my 1 minute of fame. I got to walk across the stage past the creepy lizard/totem man holding the mase and have a man who supposedly holds some importance tap me on the head with his hat and mumble something indecipherable to me.... to which I said thank-you and grinned like I had just won the lottery. Hey, it's done and hopefully it won't be the last time I get to do it. I will post some pics of my studly self and my drop-dead gorgeous wife when I can get them off of her camera.

On the Korea front... the phone interview with the people in Ulsan went well and they offered us the position and we are now perusing the contracts and asking lots of questions. We got an email address for a teacher who already works there and I am pretty sure that when she gets my email she will feel like I am interrogating her. Just want to make sure we don't jump at the first offer we get, no matter how good it looks. Kinda like a girl who wears lots of make-up, you gotta find out whats behind all that gook...

So that was last night and then this morning we got an email from the school in Changwon saying they are interested in interviewing us. So I let them know we are indeed interested and hopefully we'll do that interview soon. Changwon seems like a nice place from what I have researched. Smaller than Ulsan (only 600,000), newer and still not far from the major hub of Busan. And it's close to Nolana's friends who live in Masan. Who we hope to connect with if at least briefly. Hey Shawna (if you're reading this)... looking forward to meeting you and there's an email coming your way!

So that's hot off the press... I am hoping to have things nailed down by the end of the week but that might be a little optimistic. But if we do need to leave at the beginning of June, knowing sooner would be better than later. Check ya later.

6.06.2006

Job Interview


So we have sent 3 applications sent away, one to Naju City, one to Changwon and one to Ulsan. Which you can hopefully see on the map I posted with this... Changwon is the one that is just a blue dot. So ya know where we're thinking. And then this morning we got an email from the recruiter for the job in Ulsan. And we have an interview of some sort tonight (or tomorrow night, I am a little mixed up with all the time/day differences). It would be to start in the beginning of July and working with younger kids. Guess we'll see how it goes. I mean, how hard is it to teach 7 year olds english. Something tells me you don't get much further than some vocab (everyone say DOG now with me) and games/songs. And as you can see on the map (or can't) it is fairly close to Busan which is a large city (4 Mil) and the gateway for taking the ferry to Japan. Or to fly out. So that'c convenient.
Anyhoo, more on here when we know more.

The Beginnings

So this is the first ever post of what promises to be a scintillating blog. Full of adventure, juicy details, up to the minute facts and anything else any tabloid or news source might promise you. Except it will be about US! That's right, as most of you know, Nolana and I are off to Korea to teach English for a year. We don't know where yet or when exactly we leave... but that's part of the adventure! I promise to update this frequently because I know how much I appreciate those who do the same with the blogs I check. For the next month it will be full of preperations to go, how our mental state is with so much to do in such a short time and any other meanderings I feel like posting. It will keep all of you up to date on when and where as soon as we know and hopefully will help you all remember us when we're gone. But once we're in Korea, let me tell you, then the fun starts! We're planning to be adventursome and we want to share it with you. To tell you when we first tried dog soup or live octopus, to show you pics of Nolana getting sea sick or of majestic temples that we had to hike 4 hours to see. So that's that, take it or leave it (but please don't leave).