Sunday, February 7, 2010

Up and running

I've officially made the switch from BlogSpot to WordPress.  Here is the link to the New Blog.  It's still pretty skeletal but its up.  The 6 people that read this, don't forget to change your bookmarks.


Monday, February 1, 2010

A Whole Bunch of Creepy....

Here is an article from the LA Times that ran on the 31st.  It's about an Anti-English group in Seoul that has gotten into some shady stuff.  Some of the highlights include:
  • "Then he follows them, often for weeks at a time, staking out their apartments, taking notes on their contacts and habits."
  • "members have spread rumors of a foreign English teacher crime wave. They have alleged that some teachers are knowingly spreading AIDS, speculation that has been reported in the Korean press."
Also in the news have been reports of a well known SAT instructor being abducted by a private institution and being forced to renew his contract to teach an SAT prep course.  Here is the article from the Korea Times.

One more bit of information in the Korea Times is an article about Korea predicting robots will be teaching English language classes and native language teachers no longer being needed here in the country.

Sounds like Korea is in good shape, putting the development and well being of the student first!  As long as they are sitting nicely and can regurgitate things from the workbook everything will be super!

On a positive note I'm at the halfway mark.  I've got 6 months left and then off to Europe.  Almost done mapping out countries and cities.  3 day weekend coming up next week, followed by our schools winter festival and kindergarten graduation.  February is going to fly by.  Also making the switch from Blogspot to WordPress in the next few days.  I'll keep things posted on here.

Listening to The Ting Tings Fruit Machine.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Korea Times Article

Here's an article from The Korea Times that touches on hiccups in the world of Korea with regards to site access for foreigners.  Found it dead on.

Expats Want Easier Access to Services

From: The Korea Times | Jan. 24, 2010
By: Kim Jae-won | Staff Reporter

Korea has an ambitious vision to become a globalized country as an IT power house and Asia's financial hub but it seems that it has a long way to go as "hidden" discrimination against foreign residents still exists in their daily lives.

More than 1.1 million foreigners are living here, but many of them cannot access various everyday services due to Korean-focused IT systems and language barriers.

A European ambassador, who declined to identify himself, said he often feels frustrated when he shops online.

"I tried to make reservations for the movie 'Avatar' last weekend. But I couldn't make them because I don't have a resident registration number or social security number. We have a foreigners' number, but it is nothing. It doesn't work at all," he told The Korea Times.

"There is another example. I tried to buy a Hi-Pass gadget on the Web site, but I couldn't because of the ID problem."

Hi-Pass is an automatic paying system on Korea's highways. If you charge the electronic gadget, you don't need to wait at the toll gate as the sensor checks it by itself.

Their frustration is not limited to the online world. They also suffer in the real world.

Joanna Encabo, 33, a Filipino who has lived here since 2004, still has a problem with banking due to a language barrier. Whenever she visits a bank, a Korean friend accompanies her for interpretation.

"Without the help of a Korean friend, it is still hard for foreigners to do banking. Recently, I got a credit card from a bank. But I think it would have been much more difficult if my friend had not helped me," the 33-year-old Quezon City native told The Korea Times.

Encabo is just one of the many foreign students and workers struggling with the banking system. Despite local lender's efforts to beef up expat banking services, most foreigners have little access to banking services due to language barriers and heavy-handed rules.

In a survey conducted by the YMCA from November to December, the association found that 72 percent, or 58 students, of the total 81 respondents had trouble using financial services here.

Listening to Discovery Orange Shirt.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Things have been quiet in the Rabbit Hole called Korea. I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I went to a pretty solid Green Day concert on Monday in Seoul that really helped to pick up the pace of the week. No matter how old Green Day actually is they know how to put on a solid rock show. It was a tad scary though watching Billie Joe command 15,000 people whenever he felt. The power one man has is a scary thing. Kind of like the president of the United States and his ability to send more and more troops into countries for no reason.

Work has been bumping along. We are preparing for graduation and our winter festival. The kids are super stressed out because they have to put on some strange dog and pony show so that the business or "school" as it is called can put on a happy face.

Other then that things are going smoothly.

Listening to Radiohead Talk Show Host.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

DJ Lance and Yo Gabba Gabba

Back in the States is an amazing show called Yo Gabba Gabba.  It was created by the lead singer of the band The Aquabats and is like a super Sesame Street that features awesome bands.  Some of the bands they've had on the show included The Ting Tings, The Roots, The Shins and MGMT.

Now, I'm writing this post because during the last presidential election I went to a concert that was a fundraiser for one of the candidates that included The Bird and the Bee / The Lady Tigra / Willoughby / Electrocute / The Hard Place / Polyamorous Affair / Wolfkin / and  DJ Lance Rock.  I took a few pictures at the show that included DJ Lance as the house DJ for the evening, and everyday my Flickr page gets at least 25 hits on his pictures. 
For the show DJ Lance looks like this.

At his guest DJ spot he was dressed like a regular guy.

DJ Lance Rock

DJ Lance Rock

I just find it super interesting that daily 25 people are looking for DJ Lance.

Listening to Passion Pit Sleepyhead.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Has it already been 2 weeks....

It's already been two weeks since I've been back from vacation. The major thorn in my side right now is this super cold weather. Being from sunny Southern California (Los Angeles) wild winter weather is not in my blood. I usually enjoy the cold weather but this is just silly. The Monday back from vacation was only a half day because Seoul received record snow. Outside of my window it looked like this.....

Now most of it is beginning to melt away, but a lot of it is still hanging around because Korea is not equipped to handle snow.  I have see old ladies outside of their shops shoveling snow with dust pans.  I don't know if snow plows or shovels don't exist here but something is not right.

I finally found my way to a decent concert here in the non-existent world of quality music (except for K-Pop which makes my skin crawl) here in Korea.   Muse was in town for the first leg of their Asia tour.  I had seen them before and the second time around didn't disappoint.  Next up is Green Day.  They might be a bit past their prime but familiar music will help to soothe the soul.  They also put on a super entertaining concert.

On a different note my co-teacher asked me if I wanted to extend my contract.  I was a bit shocked because I still have 6 months on my original contract.  I don't know if this should be flattering that they want me to stick around or if they are just trying to cover their butts for the following months.  Either way Europe is calling at the end of my contract, so unless they make a super, amazing, wonderful and stupendous offer I am going to have to decline.

All is well here in the odd Rabbit Hole of Korea.  Working on a few things that should hopefully start to come together in the next few months.  I'll keep you posted on that as they come along.

Listening to Red Cortez Laughing Streetcar.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Wow! One of the best experiences in my life. The flight from Seoul to Siem Reap was all of 6 hours, which is similar to flying across the United States. We landed in Siem Reap around midnight because our flight had been delayed because there was a snow storm in Korea. I was really nice to be leaving a snow storm for tropical conditions for a week.

We had booked a guesthouse called Bou Savy Guesthouse, which was amazing. We paid $80 for 6 nights in Siem Reap. I can't say enough about how wonderful and amazing the staff was. Each morning we would wander down to the courtyard and enjoy breakfast which was included in the price of staying at Bou Savy.


During our stay we did a ton of things. The first day we visited the region of Angkor. Located in the region are the ruins of Angkor. There were several temples that had been constructed by the Khmer Empire that are stunning to look at. I can't even wrap my head around how these were even built. They were just stunning. The complex included over 20 temples with some of the more popular ones being Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Ta Prohm.




The next day we went to the Landmine Museum which was created by a man named Aki Ra. He personally disarmed the mines at the museum and had been collecting them to create a center like this one. It was really sad to see what kind of destruction humans had created. It was also very confusing to see the really short list of countries that have refused to sign a cease to create act and sitting at the top of the list was the US.


One the way back from the museum we stopped at a small butterfly garden that had been created. There was an area that had been netted off and a beautiful garden built. There were tons of butterflies cruising around and some awesome cabinets but that contained lots of cocoons. The villagers near the butterfly garden collect the cocoons and the garden purchases them from the villagers. It was a way the villagers could make money.




After washing up at Bou Savy our Tuk Tuk driver dropped us at Pub Street for dinner and drinks. I think every evening we were in Siem Reap we made our way to Pub Street. They had an amazing selection of cool restaurants that served a super variety of food. The food and drinks in Siem Reap were dirt cheap. Meals cost around $3-$7, while drinks were $0.50 for a draft beer and $3.00 for pitchers. It was awesome. Also near Pub Street was a delish ice cream shop called The Blue Pumpkin. The ice cream there rocked big time and the lounge upstairs was super cool.

The next day we had breakfast at the guesthouse and waited for our driver from Tara Boat Tours to pick us up to go to the Tonle Sap Lake. Located at the lake was a rural village that was literally floating in the water. It was a drastic change from the actual city life in Siem Reap. Our tour was about 3 hours and included a stop at a catfish/crocodile farm, playing with snakes, and lunch on the tour company's 81 year old boat. It was an awesome experience.





After the river tour the driver took us to Artisans d'Angkor. The facility teaches the villagers around the area different trades that allows them to make a living will learning a craft. It was a really cool place that had a lot of different crafts that were taught.

Following Artisans d'Angkor we made our way back to Pub Street for food, drinks and shopping at the Angkor Night Market. The market was just off the main strip and was created to give tourists a safe shopping environment during the night time. I was really impressed by the night market. There were tons of shops and had a sweet tropical bar right in the middle of it all.



The next day we slept in for a bit and then made our way to Butterflies Garden Resturant. This was a similar butterfly housing establishment but included a koi pond and a super delish restaurant. While we were waiting for our food there was a group of about 10 kids milling around the restaurant with cages full of butterflies. The establishment employees the kids to collect the butterflies and helps them to earn some money, rather then them begging on the streets. We just happened to be there on a Thursday which was butterfly release day. So in a matter of minutes there were tons of butterflies swarming the facility. It rocked big time. The food and atmosphere was super.




After lunch we made our way back to Artisans d'Angkor which offered a free tour of the silk farm on the other side of town. It was real interesting to see how they harvested the silk from the cocoons and the process to make different things out of silk.

We wandered back to our guesthouse to get ready for the new years festivities that would be happening throughout the city. When we arrived at the guesthouse the owners invited us to celebrate the new year with them and their families, so we washed up and made our way down. The staff had created a very elaborate dinner spread, equipped with tons of drinks. It had a great family feel to it. There were other guests and tons of family members wandering the facility. After dinner and a few drinks, we were off to Pub Street once again. Over the course of the week there had been great preparation happening to transform the area for the evening. When we arrived we had some more food and drinks and found a great little spot called the Giddy Gecko. It was a funky little hookah lounge. We ended up hanging there for the new years festivities. There was some great live music, cheap drinks, and awesome hookah. It was a wonderful way to usher in the new year. We called it quits around 1:30am and back to the guesthouse we went. When we arrived at Bou Savy the place was still celebrating. It was so cool walking in and seeing all these happy amazing people. I really can't say enough about the Bou Savy staff and facility.

On our last day in Cambodia we stopped at the children's hospital to donate blood. The hospital offers free child care for Cambodian citizens and they are in desperate need of blood. We were the first two people of 2010 to donate blood. After donating blood we went to the Angkor Museum and learned a lot about the history of Cambodia and the temples.

Overall it was an awesome trip. At some point in my life I will be making my way back there. I really didn't want to leave Siem Reap. The people there were just amazing and it was such a great diverse setting. It a world of difference from robotic life style of Korea. It was really nice to see different kinds of people and different kinds of things.

Next on the list of travel is probably Tokyo around March or April. Should be awesome. January is going to fly by. There is finally live music coming to Seoul. It's been 6 months since I have seen a live show and I have been going through withdrawals. We have Muse on the 7th and then Green Day on the 18th.





More pictures of Cambodia.

Listening to The Rifles For The Meantime.