9.28.2006

Fall Picnic

Yesterday we joined about 300 kindy kids and an army of teachers in taking our whole kindegarten out for a fall picnic to a local fisheries museum/park. It was a great break from teaching, a great chance to get outside and a great chance to have a little fun with our little tykes. Here are some of the pictures.

We were just with the kids from our English classes so we had about 50 kids with us. We all piled onto one of the waiting buses for a 45 min ride. On the way the Korean teachers entertained with games and chants and some singing which one of my boys went karaoke on with his lunch sausage....

Once there we toured the museum which was pretty cool, a fun aquarium with lots of fish and some small sharks. We had lunch and then had a bunch of photo shoots with the kids and some time to just hang with them which was great fun.

Nolana gets mobbed by excited youngsters...

Me and one of my favourite little girls...
Me and the kids chilling and watching the monster goldfish and carp in the pond.After a full day of running and playing in the sun the kids were tuckered for the ride back home. Nolana's highlight was when one of her girls, Sally, fell asleep in her arms. She informed me that it made her want to have a baby and as I am sure most of you know, it doesn't take much for her to want that.And it wasn't just the kids that were tuckered, two of the Korean teachers with us took a nap on the way back.We had a good time but came back pretty knackered. Fun to get out of class and just have fun. Good times.

9.23.2006

Life in the Big City

This weekend we are off to spend some quality time in Busan, the 2nd largest city in Korea at about 4.5 mil or so. We had spent a little time here but mostly in transit to other places. So we went to see some sites and enjoy ourselves. Mission accomplished.

Saturday afternoon we explored around an old temple called Beomosa. There was an art weekend or something going on so it was really busy and there were lots of art displays to enjoy including a neat one of pictures of monks from Myanmar. The temple itself is impressive.

Old and set into the mountains. Also there were these lantern all over the place so it gave it quite a festive atmosphere with all the people around.

In the late afternoon we enjoyed a soak in the largest bathhouse/hot springs in Korea. Spent some time soaking and reading, although there is something slightly funny about reading theology surrounded by hundreds of naked men. How many times can theology make you smile?

After we went to a micro brewery in the hotel and relaxed and had fun. I mean, pizza...good. Chicken... good. Beer... good. Micro brew beer... better. What's not to like? We enjoyed ourselves and then took the subway (amazing way to get around) closer to downtown and found a hotel.

We woke up and enjoyed breakfast at a little French style bakery on a small outside patio. A wonderfully relaxing way to start the day, enjoying the sun and a pastry.

Then we spent the morning/afternoon browsing and shopping in the main outdoor market. This is nothing like anything in Canada and is really astounding. It has everything from dried fish to pots, souveniers to rip off clothing, pottery to Jack Daniels, octopus to lingerie, piles of kimchi

to boiled pig heads.

It really is a cultural experience to walk through these markets, as the Lonely Planet boldly states, there is not a more Korean way to shop than in markets.

It was a great weekend of seeing sights, relaxing with a beautiful woman and getting some shopping in. Good times.

9.22.2006

So Pretty


Our sleep here in Korea has been tenuous at best. Restless nights due to heat, a new country and most importantly... our bed.

It is rock hard. We have tried to soften it somewhat by layering all the quilts we could find under us. It hasn't really helped. We also didn't have sheets. They don't use them here. So we had blankets under, blankets on top... just not comfortable.

So a co-worker offered to order us some from an online site and we said great, we don't care what they look like as long as they're sheets.

And we got these pretty sheets! I shall sleep well tonight.

On other news we are off to Busan tomorrow for a couple days to see some sights, soak in the bathhouse and drink some microbrew beer (so excited!). So hopefully some new cool pictures to post.

I was going to do a random musings on Korean culture but then the sheets came and really, how could I not share these beauties immediately. Korean musings another day.

Have a good weekend!

9.19.2006

Photoshopping in the Wannabe Aisle



So recently I got the program Photoshop. I happen to think that my wife and I take some decent pictures and I would love to be able to enhance them a bit and make them truly amazing. I'll be honest though, I am sure all of this self-engrandizement is merely that.

So I downloaded it and was completely overwhelmed. Layers. Marquee tools. Filters.

So I just decided to play around with some of the features (though I found a site that does some video tutorials) and here are a few of the results which I thought were kinda cool. Whadaya think?

#1 - From our trip to Gyeongju. A pair of lotus flowers.

#2 - From our trip to the temple in the rain. A random stone structure.

#3 - My I'm-an-actress-look-alike-who-is-in-the-middle-of-a-photo-shoot sister. The picture really was amazing to start with.

9.15.2006

Delinquent

So sorry to my loyal readers (and I know you exist), I have been very deliquent in posting this week. Just a mundane week, no exciting trips or stories but what life in another country really is. Pretty ordinary. Pretty difficult. Pretty mundane. So instead of dwelling on all the negative (like that we're getting sick) I choose to dwell on all that is good. Here is my list of things that are good and that I appreciate:

- my wife, who is more beautiful than dreams and fulfills me like nothing else
- there is only 18 days until I am lying on the perfect beach in the Philippines
- we found real cheese for the first time in Korea( but have yet to open it)
- good music. It transports me to home, to the imaginary, to my own soul and to the soapbox
- a new country where I can test myself and see what I am made of
- vegging with my gorgeous wife, watching TV and eating ice cream
- smiles
- a great park to walk in, so close to our house
- iced cappucinos
- good people who love to help you out
- a good book that reasons with you rather than beating you with a dull idea (or object)
- hot showers (and baths but I don't get those here)
- the ability to travel
- hymns
- kids that adore you
- happy people
- not being in school for the first time in 19 years (though sometimes I miss it...until I think of studying)
- did I mention my amazing wife?
- good friends back home who still want to talk hockey, poker and girls with me
- this blog, because it's a great place for me to share our life here with so many great people
- playing word games with my wife
- Korean order-in food... so easy and cheap, Canada NEEDS this!

These are a few things I appreciate in my day to day life which consumes so much of my time here... because it's day to day. In Korea, in Canada, in the United Arab Emerites (should we move there next?!) you still go about your daily routine.

And I promise to be better about posting...

9.07.2006

Rugrats

Some people have been asking about school, seeing as that IS where we spend most of our time here. We celebrated our two month anniversary here (so we didn't celebrate it per say) and in that time we have grown, if nothing else, generally accustomed to school. We have grown to love some of the kids, dread some of the kids, dread some of the demands and in general accept it as a job. And enjoy it too, some days are great!

Here's a quick overview of our day and what we do (pretty much from my perspective and I know Nolana has a slightly different one because she has different classes).

We arrive at 9:30 for an hour of prep time where we write exams, make worksheets, prepare what we're going to do for the day, etc... At 10:30 we have two 40 min. classes of morning kindegarten. They are at quite a high level and it really is amazing to see what kids can learn when they start at a language young. They are 5-7 years old Korean age which could be anywhere from 4-6 or so real age. They know pretty darn good English for being so young and it being a 2nd language. They are generally good kids, though as most kindy kids do, they have aboundless energy. I have one class that is super smart and continually amaze me with what they know. I have fun with them. I have taught them to have thumb wars and they love playing rock, paper, scissors with me. My other class is a mixed batch but sometimes suprise me with how quickly they progress. A bunch of little girls in there adore me and follow me around giggling. And the boys make funny faces and are quite the group. We have a Korean assistant with us for these classes and we positively adore Bora and Moon, they are such a big help and great fun.

We have an hour lunch and then have one more class with the morning kindy group doing a "theme" class, where we work on a particular theme with them like hobbies or household objects. The hour from 2-3 is afternoon kindy for Nolana and Basic classes for me. Let me tell you, "Basic" and "Afternoon Kindergarten" is code language for "these kids don't know English and are the rowdiest bunch of malcontents you ever laid eyes on". We find these our most trying classes (for the most part). It is aggravated by the fact they don't know English and we don't know Korean and we have no Korean assistant to help bridge the gap.

From 3-6 we have four 40 min classes with Elementary classes. Kids from 8 to 12. Different schedule most every day. Some are great, some are trying. Usually a few classes a week are breaks for us which is nice, it can give us time to write tests, write evaluations, etc...

It's been up and down so far, really. Some days the kids are great and learning so much and you love it. Then the next day some stupid administrative thing happens and you are frustrated all day. Or you have a bad class and it takes up all your energy for the rest of the day. Welcome to teaching I guess.

Finally, some pics from a recent field trip with our morning kindy kids. 6 teachers took 48 kindergarten kids out to a restaurant for lunch. Not sure who's brilliant idea that was. Here's some kids hamming it up in the bus en route.

It was a few kids birthday so we did a cake, a song and photo op with the whiteys. Seriously, we had to do photos and then they wanted us to wear these ridiculous hats. I was like, thanks but no thanks.

And to complete the brilliant idea, for lunch all the kids had spaghetti. We got them all ready and then 4 of us teachers left to eat in a seperate room (another good choice) and when we came back the kids had massacred the meal.Most of them looked like this. At least they enjoyed it.

So that's what we do for our daytime jobs. By night we are caped crusaders. In our dreams. Where we capture purse snatchers and the inane. Who both equally deserve it. Alright, I will stop. But really...

9.03.2006

The Last Days of Summer





Since it is supposedly one of the last weekends of summer (you couldn't tell by the heat says I - though I admit the evenings are much nicer now) we were convinced by 2 of our Korean teachers to join them at Jeongja beach, about 30 minutes away in the outskirts of Ulsan. One of the teacher's parents had a holiday condo out there (no lake cabins here) so we could stay there. Sounded alright to us so we were off!

We arrived around supper time and headed for the beach which was one of the 12 scenic sights of Ulsan, the black pebble beach. Kinda unglamorous really, just a few pebbles most of which aren't even black.

But there was some fun break coming in so we horsed around in there for a bit, bodysurfing the waves in. Tired ourselves out right good.For supper we were going to get treated to a real Korean delicacy.... raw fish! While I was rather stoked my beautiful wife was less than enthusiastic. First we go to go to the fish market to pick our dinner.Nolana had fun taking pictures of all the different types of fish and octupus, etc... It's pretty much a big barn filled with people all selling pretty much the same thing.

The teachers selected a couple delicacies that ended up on our table that night. First, fish.

Which they prepared right there in the market and sent off to the restaurant next door and ended up looking like this:

If it looks like alot of fish.... it is. About 2 kilos and 10 fish worth. You eat it plain, dipped in soya sauce and wasabi (like sashimi sans rice) or wrapped in a lettuce leaf with your choice of veggies and sauce, like Korean BBQ. I thought it was great and even Nolana thought it was ok with all the trappings.

The second delicacy was, well, sketchy.

It's a type of sea cucumber that looks alot more like something else. It is also said to be good for "men's stamina" (as many things in Korea claim to be). When sliced and diced it looks like this:I tried it (Nolana couldn't stomach the idea) and it really wasn't my cup of tea. A really strong, distinct taste. But hey, for "stamina" I can stomach anything!

On Sunday we cruised around and chilled at the beach for a bit more. Then in the afternoon hit the local bathouse. While our first bath house experience was overall positive this one was much smaller and less cool. Lots more staring and of the more intrusive kind. I left pretty quickly and read while I waited for the girls (working on the excellent Poisonwood Bible). Then we headed off for dinner. Crab!

Again, you select it out of the tank and it ends up on your plate. 'Bout as fresh as it gets. Super tasty.

So that was our weekend, a real seafood weekend now that I look back at it. But a good experience. It's sometimes nice to have a Korean to navigate for you, though they are always shocked when I speak my limited Korean or pipe in with a fact or idea I know, as if without them I would be lost. I wish my learning would speed its self up but I definitely can see myself adding new words, etc... weekly.

Hope your long weekend back home was awesome too!

9.01.2006

Relief

It has been a long, hard week here on the teaching/living front. Full of business, frustration and lots of tiredness. To be succint, one of the frustrations was not getting flights for our upcoming holidays in October due to business and people booking WAY ahead in Korea. So that would be 2 of three major holidays shot with no flights. Seemed like our dream to go away just was not to be.

But today, we got flights! In October we are off to the Phillipines for about 6 days. WOOHOO! Things are looking up and the horrendous week is a thing of the past. The weekend is here with good thoughts to think about.

Just a quick update with a new post to come soon.