Sunday, November 23, 2008

New Gwangju Stitch!

Here is my most recent embroidery. It's the view from the rooftop of my school building. We have our lunch room on the roof. Korea has an interesting skyline. Most buildings are no more than four stories except for these giant high-rise apartment buildings. They speckle the skyline, which makes them seem more overbearing than if all the buildings were that tall, like in New York City. Korea has really lost their eye for architecture in the name of rapid growth. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Matt is a bum / It's snowing in Gwangju!

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present evidence article number 1:
This is Mr. Raue sitting next to a very large heap of climbing equipment remaining from aforementioned climbing trip. Please note, that on this heap, is  a note. Also note, that he is just eating some nuts. 
This leads me to evidence article number 2: the note on the heap. 

The defendant has "gotten home" several times since this note was laid. The court of Ashley's blog finds Matt Raue guilty on the charges of being a bum. Mr. Raue is now subject to being called a "bum" for an indefinite period of time. 

In other news..... It snowed in Gwangju last night! It has hardly been that cold until this week. 

Monday, November 17, 2008

(Not) Climbing Trip

This weekend, Matt, our new friend and recent arrival to Korea- Shane, and I went to Seonusan Provincial Park to go climbing. Well, I didn't climb. I just tagged along to get outside and enjoy the end of fall while it's still not too cold and there are still a few colorful trees. Matt and I went to this park earlier this summer to try to find the climbing, but we failed to find it.  This time we found the cliffs and the other foreign climbers that Matt planned to meet online. He was really psyched to do some outdoor climbing. 
I spent most of the afternoon sitting on top of the rock that Matt and many other people were climbing. I ate my sandwich, worked on my embroidery, and even laid down and took a nap while sun was still warming the rock.  

We stayed overnight at the base of the park. Matt stayed in the park Sunday to climb more, but Shane and I headed back to Gwangju. But before we left, we decided to check out Gochangeupseong Fortress. It was just a short walk from the Gochang bus terminal. Gochang is the closest city to Seonusan Park. The inside of the fortress was full of your standard traditional Korean buildings, but the wall surrounding the fortress was pretty cool. This fortress was built mainly by women, but I haven't found out yet why. It is said that if a woman walks the wall three times during a leap month with a stone on her head her life will be prolonged and will probably go straight to heaven after death. I was going to walk it three  times, but I found out I need a stone and it needed to be a leap month once I got there. So we only went half-way around. 
Below is the wall with a view of the little city of Gochang, known for its bokbuncha, raspberry liquor, and watermelons. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Stitchin' on Paper

Here is a little experiment I did on some very grassy and fibrous paper I bought from a Korean  paper store. It's holds up to stitching better than I would have guessed. Maybe my next project will be on this paper. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pepero Day!

November 11th is Pepero Day! Peperos are cookie-like sticks dipped in chocolate. The Pepero company invented this holiday to sell more of their snack candies and it worked! School children all over Korea (and probably Japan, too) buy tons of Peperos and give them to their friends or in my case- to their teachers. Pepero Day is on November 11th because 11/11 resembles the silhouette of the stick-shaped snack.

 As an adult, this feels ridiculous and I think most adults feel this way, but the kids love it. Matt told some of his students last week that Pepero Day was invented by the company. A few of them realized that this was a ploy on children to make more money and were outraged. Matt may have started a tiny Pepero revolution, but it will take a lot more to take on this day- PEPERO DAY! On Monday night, I saw a girl buy about twenty boxes of Pepero at the little mart near my apartment. All day there were freezing convenience store workers standing outside trying to hawk more Peperos. I laughed at them wrapped in blankets selling these candies after work (Disclaimer- I didn't laugh at their misfortune, just laughing because it wasn't really that cold.) Below is a photo of my Pepero stash received from students. I have even given some away already. Matt said he ate all of his at school and doesn't want to eat any more Peperos.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekend of Not Boozing our Faces Off

Almost every weekend in October was one our friend's birthdays or my birthday or Halloween. We did a lot of boozing and we were all starting to feel it. So, this weekend everyone independently decided to sober up a bit and get outside. Matt, Kent, and I went to Wolchusan National Park for a hike. It's only about an hour and a half from Gwangju and very beautiful. It's a pretty rough hike, for me anyhow, it was pretty up and down. Parts were steep. My thighs are still sore two days later. It was about a six hour hike. However, there were sweet views around every corner and there is also a sweet suspension bridge. 

Koreans leave the cities in great numbers for hiking on the weekends. Well, middle aged adults do. Young Koreans are hardly interested in hiking for the most part. You are never alone on the mountain and everyone has better gear than you do. Anything short of head to toe breathable high performance gear from head to toe is pretty unacceptable. If you see anyone on the mountain with a sub-par gear ensemble, they are probably a foreigner. Despite their gear, they are rather friendly, or can be. One group of men sat us down on their rock and literally shoved food in my mouth as I sat down. They gave us cold beer and offered us a bunch of food and some soju. 
What is this crazy miguk girl doing on this mountain in cotton?!?!? That is not gear! Also, the sweet aforementioned suspension bridge. 

Hiker on top of the next peak.

Fall happening in a valley. 
The gingko trees turn bright yellow in fall (on the mountain anyway- I'm still waiting for this yellow on the gingkos in my neighborhood). 

This is Matt reading some of his poems at an open mic on Saturday night. 

Also, because we didn't booz hard, I got out of the apartment before noon on Sunday and caught the things I hadn't seen yet in the Gwangju Biennale that were scattered at different locations throughout town. I went to a little museum on Mudeung mountain, the Gwangju Museum of Art, and checked out the installations at Daein Market- a traditional fish market near downtown. I took advantage of the free shuttle the Biennale offered and saved a bunch in cab fare. It was a pretty cool thing to have in Gwangju. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Halloween in Korea

Halloween is a largely North American phenomenon. However, it is a greatly treasured N.A. phenomenon and foreigners in Korea are basically unwilling to give it up even though there's no Halloween in Korea. My friends and fellow foreign teachers around Gwangju wore our costumes to school on Friday and got the kids all excited about Halloween. Maybe in 10 or 15 years, so many foreign English teachers will have brought Halloween to Korean children that it will become popular. I think it would be a meaningful cultural exchange- Koreans probably need more zombies or "sexy ___(insert fun costume here)___". 

(Here are my Gwangju friends. From left to right: Leah- pregnant; Caitlin- Eve; Song- Bar Owner who like Foreigners; Kelly- Doll; Haewon- Pirate Girl; Steve- Pirate; Matt- My Man Martian; Stuart- in a borrowed Lee Myung Bak mask, but originally dressed as his gf, Leah; Justin- Adam(to match Eve); and me as Martian. )

We dressed up and went downtown in costume on both Friday and Saturday night. We mostly headed to the foreigner bars, but also wandered the streets, hung out at the Mini-Stop, and scared a few locals. Speakeasy, the most-popular foreigner bar, was packed! We packed in with other waygeuks in costume and enjoyed a band dressed as Ghostbusters. We drank too much and generally had too much fun. I think this coming weekend will be low-key for everyone. 
Oh this? This is some martian love. 

Cross fingers for Obama!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My new favorite song.

This is my new favorite song. It's by my friend, Stuart Beesely from Essex. It's called "Peanut Butter."