Monday, June 30, 2008

Embroidery, Moving Sushi, and other fun things

New Embroideries!
These pictures aren't very good, maybe I can scan them at work one day.

Here is the Hangul alphabet and their romanizations. I can read! The motif on the bottom is taken off one of the Korean temples we've visited.

This one has nothing to do with Korea, but I did it while I was here. It's from our trip the Cape Cod in April before we left. So many chickadees landed on our hands to eat sunflower seeds out of them.

There are many ginko trees on the streets in our neighborhood. This will be my next embroidery project.

Haha- for fun. This is Matt pretending to sleeping with what we joke is a "traditional Korean blanket". It's just a bamboo mat and I hung it on the wall.

Here is downtown on a rainy Saturday afternoon. One must never get wet when it rains, so one must always carry an umbrella in the rainy season. Umbrellas are bug business in Korea and a major accessory. The other week, Matt's boss wouldn't let him walk home in the rain because he didn't have an umbrella. He insisted that he ride one of their school buses home with the students!

This is Yangdong Market. It's huuuuge and where you can get anything, especially seafood, vegetables, shoes, bedding, and kitchen ware.

Here is a video from our new favorite restaurant in Korea- the all you can eat sushi conveyor belt place.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Korea continues....

Well... nothing too exciting to post about now and I don't have any new pictures, but I'm sure you are all just dying to hear from me. So, I bought myself a beer to drink in the PC bang and am updating (there is no open container law in Korea! You can drink anywhere, but you don't see a lot of people just drinking on the street).

I am rounding out my first month of teaching and getting into the swing of it. I now know almost all my students names and whether or not they are up to no good. I will be teaching the same classes next month, so not too much will change in my schedule. School has asked me to volunteer to do somethings that involve me being in school outside my working hours. I have politely declined.I am happy to do anything in my regular hours Monday-Friday, but since employment is trading time and skills for money, I don't think I should should give them extra time and skills for no money. Readingtown is a good place to work for, but if they can get you to do a little extra without paying you-they will.

Last weekend we did not do anything spectacular. On Saturday, we went downtown. It was rainy and we were kinda hungover so we went to a DVD bang. A DVD bang is place that you can go and watch a DVD in a private room with couches for less than the cost of a movie ticket. They are mostly frequented by young couples without any place to go that private, wink-make out-wink. However, Matt and I like them because you get your own room to watch a movie on a large screen with a reclining couch and you can bring in your own beer. It's the ultimate way to spend a hungover afternoon.

We also had our first norebang (karaoke room) experience. In Korea, if you want to karaoke, you don't have to do it in front of many strangers. You can rent a room for about $1 per person per hour with all your friends and sing away (also byob)! Matt has been dreading the norebang experience, but he actually loved it. I loved it too, but I knew I would. Norebang is an unavoidable aspect of Korean culture and he was going to have to face at one point or another. We spent two hours there on Saturday night. A co-worker of mine says that there are photos from that night that all include Matt singing loudly in the back. I don't know how I will get them, but I will, haha.

Ummm.... we also went to this sweet restaurant where for about $14 you can eat all the sushi you want. The best part is that the little plates move around a conveyor belt in front of your table. You just take what you want. Sushi is much cheaper here than at home. I eat it for dinner at work a couple times a week. There is good sushi in the "deli" department of big supermarkets. I love it. Sushi in Korean is chobap (조 밥).

Ps- I have learned the Hangul alphabet and can read Korean very slowly. Whether or not I know what I'm reading is another story.

Ashley Meadows in hangul is ㅐㅅ 리 멛 ㅗㅅ.
Beer is 맥 주 (maekju)
Thank you is 캄 서 함 니 다 (kamsa hamnida)
Norebang is 노 레 방.

That will be all for today's korean lesson.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Happy Father's Day Daddy!

Happy Belated Father's Day! Sorry for the late wishes, but their is no Father's Day in Korea, only Parent's Day. Here's to my great dad!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Seonunsan Provincial Park

Matt and I headed to Seonunsan Provincial Park on Sunday. It's about an hour and a half bus ride north from Gwangju. We were going because Matt had arranged to meet up with some other foreign climbers in the area for some climbing. I was basically along for the ride. Unfortunately, we never did find the climbers. Our directions to the rock weren't clear and the girl who Matt was meeting forgot her cell phone. Matt was bummer, but the day was not a total loss as the park was beautiful and we did a bit of hiking and temple-visiting.
Here we are on top of a "sick" rock. This was after climbing a serious metal staircase that got the better of my lungs and heart rate. The park is basically a valley that you walk up the middle of ans eventually head up the sides.
And... no outdoor experience would be complete without some serious gear. Although, this park had many more casual hikers than Mudeungsan. I think it is a city-folk thing to get all gear-ed up for a day hike.
The park has some sweet sights:

There was a sign saying that this tree was 600 years old, but I would think a 600 year old tree would be much larger. Shows what I know about Korean trees.

This is a 13 meter (about 40 ft) Buddha carved into the side of the cliff. Also, some gear-ites.
There is a large temple complex in the park. This is largest complex I've seen so far in Korea (out of only 2 or 3), but was cool none the less.

This was a large tea hall in the temple complex. I would've liked to have had tea there if I could speak Korean better. I didn't know the deal and couldn't ask about it.

Also, a sweet cave.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Choose Your Own Adventure! (or a weekend in Wando)

This past weekend was Korean Memorial Day, so we had a three day weekend. Matt and I headed to the south coast to a group of islands called Wando. There are about 150 island in Wando, but most or small and unihabited. Above is Wando-eup, the main city on Wando Island. It's tiny compared to Gwangju- you can't get lost here. After getting off the bus, we began to look for a hotel and ran into two foreigners, who happened to be 2 of 5 foreigners in Wando. They had only been in town for three days, so couldn't recomend a hotel. We happened upon the Romance Hotel and for a low-cost of $30 got a room with private bath complete with a Battlestar Galactica bed- no corners!
It was a love hotel, but they are the cheapest and suited us just fine. That night we walked the wharf of Wando, ate, and drank beer on the wharf. No open container law in Korea! You can drink anywhere! On the street, on the bus, on ferries, on jetties! However, so can everyone else. This one inebriated gentleman took a particular interest on us while we drinking and playing chess on the wharf. First, he wanted our beers and we said "Aniyo!" (no!). Then he wanted to know if were American, we said we weren't just so he wouldn't talk to us anymore. He wandered away, vomited in the harbour and wandered off. We later went into the convientant store for more beer and he was there...drinking with someone else. He just kept yelling, "America, I love you!" America, I love you.
The next morning we set out in search of a ferry to another island. We found a ferry to Cheongsan-do. It wasn't listed in our guidebook the the information desk at the ferry terminal said there places to sleep and eat, so we went.
This seemed to be the picture to take on the ferry, every group was taking one, so did we, We are leaving Wan-do.
We just liked this guy, he was brooding, ignoring his wife, eating dried squid and wearing a straw hat.
This is actually leaving Cheongsan-do, but this is its harbour. We arrived and got off the ferry in search for a hotel and after choosing 1 of 2 options, we got a room-ondol style, which means no bed, you sleep on blankets on the floor. It was fun though.

After securing a room, we set out in search of a beach. We had a tourist map that was in Korean, but had pictures of beaches. We hailed a cab and pointed. The driver took us to where we pointed, but there was no beach! We communicated to him that we wanted to go to a beach and he brought us here:
It was not the busy beach that we were anticipating with all the people on the ferry. I don't know where they all went. After a cab ride around the island and arguing about the cab fare with driver- here we were. Not a whole lot happening, not even a place to get some drinks.
It was nice though. The water was suprisingly blue and we found a couple abalone shells. We weren't sure how we were going to get back to town, but as these two girls (high-school age maybe) were leaving in their car, we asked for a ride back to town. Well, we pointed to our map and they motioned for us to get in. We were very thankful for their generousity or else we would have been walking. They weren't even sketched out.

On our cab ride around the island, I saw more garlic than I've ever seen in my life and will probably never see that much again. It must have been a major export of the island and garlic harvesting season. These trucks are full of garlic and only a portion of the crop, I'm sure.
This is the ferry we rode to the island.
After eating in small restaurant (very small-one lady only, she even left to run errands while we were eating). We discovered there was actually not much to do on Cheongsan-do, which was fine by us. We walked out to a lighthouse on the harbour jetty and drank some beers. Then we watched some seriously boot-legged American movies in our hotel room. The boot-legger's PC desktop popped up in the middle of one movie. It was pretty lo-fi.
This boy was in the ferry terminal waiting room. I just liked his funny little striped out fit and dance. Also, he tried to steal Matt's book while he was buying our tickets.
Korean Island Hopping!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Mt. Mudueng

On Saturday, we went to Mt. Mudeung, which is "Gwangju's Mountain". You can take a bus there from just about any part of the city. It's a very popular weekend destination. One should not even think about going on this serious day hike without the proper gear.

You may have heard me affectionately make fun of Matt and his gear, or outdoor wear and equipment. Koreans love gear and you can find a gear shop on every corner. There are two or three within a five minute walk from our building. You or I might just put on hiking boots, shorts, and a t-shirt for an afternoon hike, but Koreans wear gear from head-to-toe. I didn't get any specifically good shots of the gear, but I will someday. They wear these high-tech, high-performance outfits to walk in the city. Before you consider having an outdoor or athletic thought- you should probably change into your gear.

Here is Matt and Kelly, but notice the ajumma in her gear. We were clearly ill-prepared for our trek.

However, the mountain is beatiful and was a great way to get outside on a Sat. afternoon. We went with some of our co-workers at Readingtown and Avalon. It was rather steep in my opinion, but I have only been a non-smoker for a couple of weeks now. The damage has been done.

On the mountain in Jeungsimsa Temple. It was originally built in the 14th or 15th century, but was burned during the Japanese occupation of the early 20th century. The Japanese destroyed most things Korean during that period. This temple was rebuilt during the 1970s and 80s.