Sunday, March 29, 2009

a potential future home

I went to one of the many palaces around Seoul this Saturday with some people from my school and others.  The palace was so interesting and taught me a lot about Seoul and Korea in general. The palace was originally built in the 1300s and then was destroyed by the Japanese in the 1500s. Then in the late 1800s the palace was rebuilt by the current king. Not sure why he needed the new palace, since he already had one, but he managed to almost bankrupt Korea buy bulding it. Unfortunately the palace did not last too long, it was destroyed again in the early 1900s when Japan once again invaded and turned it into some governmental building. It was notuntil 1997 that the palace was rebuilt for the 3rd time! So while the palace looks very old, it is really a replication of a replication. 

When we got there we walked around a bit before our guided tour. We were lucky enough to catch a changing of a guard which actually took about 20 minutes. I think it took so long because they showed the ceremony for morning, noon and night. I am not really sure though 
 because the english translation was not exactly 

After the changing we had a guided tour in english. Our tour guide was interesting to sayt he least. She would tell these jokes and then would laugh hysterically at herself. She would keep saying "Thank you" Thank you". She was also obsessed with the heating in the palace. She would keep telling us which rooms had floor heating and would say it again and again.

As we were walking through the palace, which is actually a bunch of small buildings and the king was carried from room to room, we stopped in front of the dinner hall. It was a really cool building in the middle of a lake. The building was open air and two stories. The second story was where the dinner actually took place. As we were looking at it, the tour guide all of a sudden said "here is where the big group (my group) has to take a picture" we tried to tell her no we were okay because there were about 20 other people on the tour but she refused to move, literally sat down, until our group took a picture.

 So we had to put all our pictures on a bench and 3 guys on the tour took all our pictures. I wish I could have gotten a picture of them taking the pictures because they just kept picking up the camera and snapping an used each one about 4 times. After that we decided to leave the tour because we were getting tired
 and there was one more stop....

Lisa and I decided to get in a line to dre
ss like the guards. It was so much fun to put on all the clothes and get to walk around a bit in the outfit. The best part about it all was that it was free!! I love free things! After that we headed back to a cool little area called Insadong to shop and eat. Overall it was a great day!

Friday, March 27, 2009

I will be the next korean Idol!

So I am continuing my rising as a Korean pop star. We learned a new dance this week in Hip Hop class and it is just as amazing as the other!

I am off to the palace today so I will have more about that later ^^

Monday, March 23, 2009

War Museum

On sunday morning I went to the Korean War Museum with Jon. This was probably one of the coolest museums I have ever been to. I have been to much more moving museums, like the Anne Frank House or the Holocaust Museum in DC but this one was just cool and fun yet very educational. First of all the place is MASSIVE! We were there for 3 hours and we really didnt see 1/4 of the stuff, about 1/2 through we were just kind of started walking by and not really reading. Fortunately for us, there were videos along the way so we just started watching those and ignoring the reading part :)

So one wing of the museum is the history of Korea when it comes to war. It started with the beginning of Korea (long time ago I dont remember details) up through current time. There was a lot on the Korean War which was fascinating. My grandfather fought in the war but I am ashamed to say I know very little about it or the causes. So it was great reading about the background and the fighting. The most interesting part was how ill-prepared S. Korea was for the war. They had no tanks or anti-tank weaponry (N. Korea had tons of both). Also, the day N. Korea attacked all the active soldiers were on leave helping harvest, Seoul was taken in less than 3 days. One of the exhibits we read showed how the main form of defense against the incoming army was BAMBOO STICKS!! Needless to say all very educational.

The second wing of the museum was my favorite part. It was 3 floors, each one dedicated to a different branch of the military. The best part was that this was very 
 hands on. They had a naval ship we got to walk through and
and climb all over. It even allowed you to try to steer with a simulation. Then there were TONS of old cars and tanks. All of them were fair game to climb in and sit down. Then when you went outside there were planes!! All of the machinery had been used by the Korean government which was also pretty cool. I had so much fun climbing around all this stuff like a little kid.

The final thing outside the museum was several memorials. The largest, and most moving, was the Korean War memorial. It is HUGE, the pictures do not do it justice. Around the memorial shows the struggle of the people. The middle of the memorial is half a spear and half a tree. It had something to do with growth and strength of S. Korea. Then on either side the was a deep hole (can't think of a better word) that spiraled downward. All the edge of the wall was a pillar for each country that helped S. Korea.

There was another large memorial which was two brothers standing on a cracked dome. The brothers were fighting for different sides and met on the battlefield. The cracked dome represented the division of S. and N. Korea. It is interesting how no one here really talks about the bad in N. Korea but instead of the wish for the whole country to reunite. It reminds me a lot of the civil war.

Overall, great day!

A Day of Culture

As promised no ant talk for awhile....

So on Saturday afternoon I went to the ballet with my friends Kiwi, Laura and Jennifer. From the very start of the day I could tell it was going to be wonderful. The temperature was about 65F and even though I brought a light jacket I did not wear it the whole day. We started off with an Italian dinner on a patio. Which was about as quiet and peaceful as you can get in crazy busy Seoul. After that we caught a cab to the Opera house. 

The ballet was Cinderella and was put on by the Korean Ballet. The best part of the whole deal was that it was only $5!!! Though the seats were miles away from the stage it really did not matter because we could still see the stage! The ballet was also really cool. I thought it was 
 going to be a traditional ballet but it was actually very modern. The costumes were simple and almost harsh. While the dancers were good, the person who stole the show was the wicked step mother. She was probably the skinniest person I have ever seen and she had the longest legs ever. Even though she was so tiny she dance with some crazy energy, more than anyone else. 

After the ballet we all went to get coffee and split a couple pieces of chocolate cake. It was perfect ending to a perfect day!! 

Monday, March 16, 2009


so apple vinegar does not work. Does not work to the point this morning when I woke up there were about 20 ants sitting on the sponge I had used that had not been rinsed!!! So I have taken serious measures. I feel like the Allies in WWII, the Germans have taken most of Europe and there is little hope. But that my friends is when they came up with a little idea called D-Day....

So here is my plan......

I think the cinnamon works but the problem is that the ants are coming in form so many points. My kitchen is fairly old and all the caulk is falling off, leaving nice large holes for my tiny tiny friends. So my new plan is first (mom stop reading now please) to empty about a can of raid into the crevasses around my kitchen. Second I am going to recaulk the areas I have just bombed. THEN I am going to put a ring of cinnamon around the two points of main entry.

I have also rimmed my door to my room in cinnamon because they have found there way into here.

I hope my overreacting is making people laugh because honestly if I do not laugh about/share this I think it would really drive me nuts and I would actually be very upset and not just a little.

I will let you know how D-Day goes tomorrow! I also promise to actually post about Korea soon in the near future because I am doing things other than fighting a war with ants.

Just a preview:
St. Patty's day celebration
wonderful food
stories from my kids

Friday, March 13, 2009

ants 1 - siiri 0

there are more ants. They are now all over the kitchen walls.... i am feeling this is going to be best 2 out of 3. Round two starts tomorrow! Wish me lucks!

PS if anyone has any tips for getting rid of the smartest/dumbest/smallest ants in the world please pass it on!

UPDATE: I chose my weapon of choice: apple vinegar. I was going to use raid but I heard some concerns from people (mom) about unloading a can of it into my small apartment. I read about apple vinegar online and I actually found some in the grocery store! It says just a small bit at the "source"... I have washed my apartment in it. Lets hope it works!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Korean Pop Star

So I am starting to get a feeling a lot of these posts are going to be about the gym.... which I am okay with because at least that means I am working out :0)

So my class offers a hip hop class that I started taking. The first class was pretty good and then the second I took I really did not like so I thought I might not go anymore. The only sweat was a result of the spotlight shinning on me in the studio. But, not too surprising the dance teacher had other plans for me!  On Wednesday when I was lifting weights I was literally dragged away by the dance teacher to go up to the class.... secretly though I was happy she found me because my workout friend from the previous post had found me and was ready for another fun round of weights.

So anyways I went up to the class and it was actually pretty decent and felt like a proper cardio workout. The only thing is that the entire time I felt like I was in a Korean pop video. At the end of the workout I asked her the name of the song and I found it on YouTube. Any dance move in that video we do! It looks super cute when the little tiny korean women are doing it, not so cute when the not petite western woman is doing it :) But I am going to keep going and maybe I have a shot of starting my own pop group!! 

If you want a laugh check out the video by clicking the hyper link below and just picture me doing it!

Monday, March 9, 2009

All Hours

As mentioned in an earlier post things in Seoul are opened all hours. It is not uncommon to be walking home at 3am and stop at the corner store to pick up food. Since things are open at all hours, it also means that people stay out WAY later then in most places. It has not been uncommon for me to be walking to the subway in the morning (8:15) and see people stumbling out of bars drunk, obviously just headed home/to the office from the night before. One day a girl was being dragged up my street by her friend at 8am. So seeing drunk people (always Koreans) on the street is not that odd. But this morning I experienced my favorite drunk moment yet.

I was walking down the busy road in Gangnam towards the subway station when I noticed 2 western guys walking towards me, one with just a t-shirt. Of course the spotted me out of the crowd since I was the only white person and they stopped me. The guy with the jacket pulled out a hotel key and asked me if I knew where the hotel was. Apparently they could not find their hotel which is not shocking since there are no street names and everything just kind of blends together. As I started to tell them I had never seen that hotel before but to go up the street to the Ritz to ask them, friend number two, jacketless boy, starts "talking". Talking is used loosely here since he was so drunk I think I got buzzed off his breath and it was fairly nonsensical. He started to explain to me how he had no jacket (obvious) and that he had lost it that night. He then went on to explain it was actually on eBay right now (I am not sure how he jumped to that but I am assuming he thought it was stolen and someone put it on ebay) and that I should go on ebay and look for it. If I did, then I could have a very nice NorthFace jacket of my own. He would have kept going if his friend hadnt grabbed him and started pulling him away. As I put back in my headphones I could faintly hear the other guy say "Dude, no one wants to hear that shit..." and I just had to laugh. I felt it was a nice start to a monday!

oh yea, I hope they found their hotel :)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Feel the Burn.. 130 times to be exact

For the last 5 months I was at home I had become very good about working out regularly so I decided not to ruin my trend when I got to Seoul. I joined a gym, Joy Fitness, the first week I was here. The gym is great because a bunch of people from my school workout there so it motivates you to actually go since they will be there. There are also classes that you can take, though they are in Korean I have been able to barrel my way through it and actually enjoy myself. One big difference between the gyms in Korea and in the states is the staff. On the gym floor there are about 4 to 5 trainers walking around. They are there to do anything from set up a program for you to turn on the treadmill for you. I have actually seen a girl walk to the bike with a trainer who turned it on for her. When the girl was done she stopped pedaling, calmly raised her hand and waited for the trainer to come and take her off!! 

Unfortunately they also feel a need to tell you when you aren't working out hard enough. My first experience with this was last week when I was walking on the treadmill before I went to go take the hiphop class. The guy came over and pointed at the screen, told me I was going too slow and promptly raised the speed. This was my first encounter with the trainers even though I had been to the gym at least a dozen time and decided that it was because I did not have my headphones in. I have made it point to wear the headphones when I am on the floor since because I just want to get through my workout and leave.

Well this new headphone plan did not work out as planned. On Friday I went to the gym after work. I did my mile on the treadmill and then went to do some quick weights before I had to meet up with people for dinner. As I finished a set of skull crushers a trainer walked up to me and started to tell me what I was doing was very "dangerous". I begrudgingly took out my headphones and let him explain to me what I should do instead. I said I understood and did another set of 10 the way he did them [COUNT: 20]. As I completed them he said "well this way is actually better" then showed me a new way and I did another set of 10 [COUNT: 30]. As I finished those up he started shaking his head and "no no too light here use these". so another set of 10 I do [COUNT:40]. Once again as I finish up "no no still too light" (really cannot see that on 1 not 10?) hands me another set of weights, 10 more [COUNT:50]. Okay at this point my arms are getting just a bit tired and I am thinking I am done. He smiles and says thats the perfect weight.... now I must do 4 more sets! 

I give him a little smile and say okay and start to put my earphones back in but wait... no... he's not done!! I also must work in skull crushers with the bar. I sit down do 10 [COUNT: 60]. Smile, start to walk away "you do this 5 times too".... great we must be done because at this point I am sure my arms will fall off.... nope! He has grabbed the 3kg weights and is doing kickbacks. So I do 10 more, each arm of kickbacks [COUNT: 70]. He smiles and tells me that I will only have to do 3 sets for each arm. He then goes through explaining the entire routine again and smiles "when you are done, you will have done 13 sets.. no breaks!

13 sets!!! that is 130 tricep exercises in a row! I dont even think Jillian makes the biggest loser people do that!  I tried to look for an escape but the guy was standing right next to me, unfortunately for my triceps it was a slow day, so I started the whole routine over again. I was pretty proud that I made it through twice [COUNT: 130] more but then when I almost dropped the 10kg weight on my head and I saw he was looking the other way I did what I do best.... I ran! literally. I dropped the weights and ran to the treadmill and jumped on. I turned up the music and I kept running till I saw the guy went into the office!

Needless to say my arms are killing me! and it has been 3 days. I am also a little nervous to go back to the gym tomorrow but thankfully it will be another muscle group on monday so we will see what he comes up for me then!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Darlings continued

Donjun is the top of his class last year but I have not seen him do anything brilliantly. I am excited though to see what he can do. Selly is really funny. She cried the first 10 minutes but ever since then she has been all smiles! Then there is Grace who is a sweet girl but she is a snitch as my kids from PSA would say. She comes up to me all the time telling me what other kids have done. Sometimes I notice that she does things and then comes and tells me the person really did it. She will be a challenge this year. Then there is Bin who is so cute I just want to huge him all day! finally there is William!! Also one of the cutest kids  I have seen!! So as you see, my kids are the cutest things EVER!!!

My Darling Students!!

First off not sure why this is blue or underlined like its a hyperlink but I am just going to go with it. Second, this format is all kinds of messed up but I am going to go for it anways. You can just scroll through the picks and just ignore the text if you want. so these first two boys are Tommy and Andrew. I am OBSESSED with Tommy's hair, he is going to be so cute when he is older! 

The girl at the top in the striped shirt is Rachel and she is probably going to be the prettiest girl ever! She is also super sweet. Above is Daniel C. who is quiet and pretty smart.

This is Daniel S. (yes there are two daniels and neither mom will let us change their names or shorten them. Daniel S. is also really sweet and so far has caused no problems.

This is Ashley on the right, like all my girls loves to draw and just really sweet. She loves to walk with me and hold my hand. Then that is Joe next to her. Not sure what to make of Joe. Sometimes he is really quiet and then sometimes he is crazy. I think he just needs a bit of structure and he will be okay.

Doeyoung is on the left. I heard all these horror stories before I got him but so far he has been really quiet. He is much slower then the other kids but I think he just needs a bit of extra help. he should be fine in the end. The boy on the right is Thomas who doesnt talk much but has sat next to me everyday at lunch and is just precious.

Emily is on the left and has been dressed so adorable the last two days!! (I can't believe I have had them for only 2 days!!) She is wearing like a ballet type tutu on the first day with her fake fur caplette. Today she wore a full skirt with an embroirded sweater. I just want to put her in a little box! Anita is on the right. Haven't gotten to know her too well yet but she also likes to just sit with you and hold your hand.

so that is half the kids.... i will try uploading the rest later!

Week 3-- kind of awesome

so I started the title with the post thinking of all the wonderful things that have happened in the last 6 days. First, I got all my furniture!! I have a fully woardrobe which hold all my clothes very nicely, a TV and a desk/table. I also finally got my washing machine!! I am not entirely sure how all the buttons work but I have done two loads of laundry and I am pretty sure it is all clean!! I also now have a stove and one of my friends from school went with me to the grocery store. She showed me all the wonderful stuff I would want to eat there! So far I have been able to eat at home a couple times! Of course my cook is a very loose term, really it is just boiling things that come premade but its still great! 

The second wonderful thing is my school/kids! I know there will be times that they will drive me nuts but for the m
ost part they are so great! I have 18 kids, 11 boys and 7 girls and they are 
SOOO smart. They all
 speak English great and very rarely do I have to remind them that they arent allowed to speak Korean. For this week we ha
ve the kids all day because the special classes have not started nor has IEP (intense English Program) so at the moment I have them all day long. But starting next week, I will only have them for about 2 hours a day, some day I only have them for 45 minutes!! The rest of the time I am just observing them and making sure they are behaving themselves. I am pretty sure I am being paid a whole bunch of money to babysit and I am really okay with that :) Oh I also have the cutest kids in the entire world! I will put all of their pictures below!

there was going to be a third wonderful thing and that was going to be NO MORE ANTS! I had not seen a single ant in 2 days. Unfortunately, I just went into my kitchen and there were about 20 ants in my sink because I had left my bowl with a little bit of pumpkin porridge (tastes much better than it sounds) sitting in the sink. So it seems the ants were just visiting someone else's kitchen the past few days and I must just keep everything insanely clean!

So yea, basically things are great! I am amazed how this has been my easiest move so far in my life. I have found a great group of people to hang out with at my school and everyone is so welcoming. I have gotten into a swing of things very quickly and have a nice routine down. Also, there is everything I could want right near me! A Smoothie after work, no problem there is a Smoothie King I pass everyday. Get a new book, great book store that will get you any english book you want. Need to get some awesome heels, Korea has got the corner on the market.  And really I can find any food that I need because if store doesnt carry it, Costco will!!! I know most people hate globalization but sometimes it just isnt so bad!! 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lost in Translation

On Saturday night I had my first experience with riding in cabs around Seoul. To say it was a difficult experience would be an understatement.  We started the night off in Gangnam at Carne Station which is all you can eat and drink. It was an okay experience but maybe because I was not drinking I did not get the full effect. Basically though there is just a huge buffet of raw meat that you pile on your plate. Then you go to your table where you have your little grill and make your food. The food was decent for thawed out frozen meat.
 Afterwards we decided to go to Hondea (not the correct spelling but too lazy to look it up). So Vehlow, Phil and myself jumped in a cab and told the driver where to go. About 15 minutes later he drops us off
 somewhere while he kept repeating what we had told him. When we got out we called someone from our group and they informed us we were about 20 minutes away. Later when we got back to the apartment we looked up where we were on the subway map and we were FAR east Seoul and we needed to go FAR west Seoul. Seoul is not a place you can just cut across in a couple minutes. So we got in a new cab and started to drive, and drive and drive. At some point we went under what seems like a 15 mile mountain, at least it seemed like it but it was probably just a couple minutes. Anyways we finally arrived though I am pretty sure we were taken for a bit of a ride, both times.

 After we got out of the cab we were looking for our group which basically would only tell us th
 the bar had no name and it was on the left. Finally we found the place, which was on the left mind you and entered the no name bar. We walked down to flights of stairs, walked through these curtains and we have entered a giant sandcastle!! It was one of the coolest bars I have been to. It was just really relaxed and had these cave like areas where you sat on the floor on pillows! In the end I had a really great time, even if it did take a whole bunch of time and money to get there!