Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Laundry

Down here in the Rabbit Hole (Korea) dryers are not a standard appliance for people. For 2 months I have been washing my clothes and sheets and then hang drying them. Personally I feel clothes just don't feel the same without being dried. After the wash they don't retain their shape and they have a rough feel to them.

So to my delight I stumbled upon a cleaners right down the street from my apartment. A few days ago I dropped off some dry cleaning and noticed 3 super huge dryers in the back. The man explained to me in a combination of Korean and English that they will wash and dry items for a flat fee. It was a bit on the expensive side but it sounded amazing. So I dropped off a hobo bundle of clothes and sheets wrapped up in my comforter.

Today I went in to pick up my hobo bundle and it was no longer in a bundle. My comforter, sheets, and underwear were folded neatly. All of my shirts were hung on hangers. But most important everything had been dried.

There were about 12 hangers of stuff and a bag with my comforter and sheets in it. The owner of the store grabbed the hangers and shuffled me out of the store. She proceeded to lock her shop and help me carry everything right to my door step. This alone will being me back to Eco Cleaners often.

As we were walking down the street together I couldn't help but think of the scene in the movie Home Alone where Kevin is staying in a hotel and desk person brings up a pair of his dry cleaned underwear and he freaks out because someone might have seen them. Now I didn't freak out but it just reminded me of that scene.

The whole experience put a big smile on my face. Makes me think that humanity still really does exist.



Listening to Karen O and the Kids Heads Up.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Solid Weekend

This weekend I stayed in town but it was still awesome. Friday night I went out with a group of friends and hung for a bit at a place called Pub 210. It's a foreign hangout and the jukebox is actually a computer with youtube. About halfway through the evening Crystal and I commandeered the computer and played DJ for a bit. Pretty entertaining all around. After 210 I built a fort at home and was pretty impressed with my fort building skills.

Saturday afternoon we ventured out to Insadong and wandered there for a bit. There was a festival going on at the park, with tons of odd booths and things set up. The highlight of the afternoon was the free popcorn vendor that was situated just off the path. Popcorn and I have been good friends for sometime now, so the idea of popcorn for free was amazing.

Insadong

Today I found a poker game in Gangnam and played at a full table. The game was at a casino where only foreigners could enter. At the table were 7 Japanese players, 1 Indian player, a Vietnamese player, and myself. I played for about 3 hours and made enough cash to probably pay for my trip to Cambodia during winter holiday.


Overall I must say it was a solid weekend.


Listening to Discovery Osaka Loop Line.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Field Trip

I went on my first field trip with LCI today. Students and staff piled onto buses and we took a 5 minute drive to Bundang Central Park. The park was pretty awesome and there was tons of space for the kids to spazz out and move around. We played a variety of games that included a mixture of teachers and students. Overall it was pretty entertaining.

Once we finished playing the organized games the kids were aloud to run around and be children. I was super pleased that the school was putting on an event that let the kids actually be kids. At one point there were a group of 15 children chasing pigeons and having an awesome time doing it.

Somehow a chase game started with the kids chasing a teacher. As the teacher got tired they would yell out another teachers name and suddenly 45 kids would stop in their tracks and book it to the next teacher. This proved to be entertaining for about 10 minutes, but the kids really enjoyed it.

Central Park Field Trip
                     Crystal turning the children on me....

Central Park Field Trip

Central Park Field Trip
                             My class getting ready for tug of war.

Central Park Field Trip

Listening to The Airborne Toxic Event The Girls in Their Summer Dresses.

LCI Field Trip

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Busan and Haeundae Beach

Friday night we had a staff dinner, hosted by the school. The director Mr. Kim took everyone out for dinner at a Korean BBQ restaurant. There were about 25-30 people there and the plan afterwards was to rest up for a temple stay a few of us had planned. This plan took a very different turn in a matter of 5 minutes. Another group of coworkers were planning on heading to Busan which is a few hours south of Seoul.

We arrived at Seoul Station to purchase bus tickets for the 4 hour ride; we quickly came to realize that there were only 2 tickets left, but 5 of us who were going. We decided to split up and we would meet in Busan in the morning. Forrest and Olivia took the bus, while Jason, Crystal, and I tried to figure out a game plan to get to Busan. The final decision was to take the KTX, but it didn’t leave until 5:30 am on Saturday morning and it was 11:45 pm Friday. At most metropolitan bus/train depots late night patrons tend to be an interesting breed and Seoul Station did not disappoint. There were a variety of locals milling around the station but the three of us had the distinct pleasure of being the only foreigners until almost 4 am (we stuck out like a sore thumb).

When 5:30 am finally arrived the three of us boarded the train and set sail for clear skies, and warm weather. The train took a little less than 3 hours to travel 210 miles, but didn’t make much of an impression because I slept the ride there. We found a hotel in Haeundae , dropped off our bags, showered up and wandered down the street to the beach.

Busan/Haeundae

The beach was pretty awesome. The water was super clear, which is very different than the water at home. It’s usually in your best interest to not go in the water in Los Angeles, but in Busan it was encouraged. We hung at the beach for a few hours; dug in the sand, napped, played with the local wildlife, and then went back to the hotel to wash up for the evening.

Busan/Haeundae

Busan/Haeundae

That evening we went to the local live fish market that had just about every kind of seafood item you could think of. The way the market worked was you picked the live creature from one of the many vendors, they would cook it, and then you get to eat it. This was definitely an experience.

Busan/Haeundae

Now my eating repertoire only includes one kind of fish and that is a goldfish cracker. Outside of that; seafood and I don’t mix. Forrest picked out the lucky creatures that would be moving upstairs with us for dinner and we went and found our table. A few minutes later a king crab, live octopus, clams, and more were laid upon the table. Inside my head was a toddler throwing a pretty intense tantrum, but on the outside I held my composure, and actually tried the crab.


video



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Thanks Crystal for the photo.



The next morning we went to the Busan aquarium before heading to the bus. There were a lot of awesome creatures. Overall it was a solid weekend.

Busan/Haeundae

Busan/Haeundae

Busan/Haeundae



Listening to Bright Eyes Lua.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Swap

Temple stay has been swapped with Busan. Traveling to the south of Korea to check out the last weekend of summer at the beach. Going with a few of my co-workers. Should be entertaining. Its the same beach as the movie Haeundae was filmed at.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Broke the 1,000 Marker

The Korean Rabbit Hole has finally hit 1,000 unique views. Pretty cool if you ask me. Starting to look at different places to go for my winter holiday. Any suggestions?

On a side note.... We were playing Hangman in my kinder class today, and two of the kids were trying to sabotage the game. Kai kept guess obscure letters like Z and X, so when he guessed the letter Q, I decided to write it on the board. His jaw dropped to the floor in amazement. His plan had backfired.... I started to laugh which resulted in the whole class having a pretty solid belly laugh. Kai proceeded to tell me "It was so funny that you wrote that, my eyes started to make a river." His eyes were watering because he was laughing so hard.

No matter how insane the day has been, little things like this make everything better.


Listening to Radiohead Talk Show Host.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Insadong and Downtown Seoul

A week or so ago I made my way out to Insadong which is near downtown Seoul. Insadong is an older outdoor shopping area that was packed with people. Wandering the streets, Insadong quickly become one of the top 5 places I've been to in Korea so far. There were tons of cool street vendors and lots of shops to venture into.

Insadong

The city was an interesting mix of young and old. The young aspect that stood out was an interesting artsy vibe. The architecture some of the buildings was super cool. There was one shopping center that had a variety of boutique style stores that catered to a young crowd. This area was highly populated with university students, couples, and foreigners. The walls of the building were littered with graffiti that seemed to be encouraged and added an interesting touch to things.

Insadong

Insadong

Insadong

Once we made our way back to the main street the vendors seemed to be in full effect. Now granted it was a Sunday afternoon, and prime shopping/selling time but it was a bit overwhelming to see all stuff for sale. There was everything from traditional Korean clothing to tea pots to hats to porcelain pigs. The hat guy reminded me of the book Caps for Sale. The only thing missing was the monkeys.

Insadong

Insadong

One of the things I really enjoyed about Insadong was that fact that you could wander down an alley and it seemed like a whole new world would appear. It was as if one had ventured down a rabbit hole and popped out somewhere else. The first place we popped out at; was in front of an awesome art gallery. The exhibit was a variety of 2D sculptures that appeared to be 3D. There were several sculptures of Korean pop stars and a variety of other worldwide figures.

Insadong

Insadong

Insadong

As we left the exhibit we found another alleyway to explore and popped out in front of a tea house. The place was amazing. The tea and food were delish as well as the building was visually cool. They had a variety of teas, some hot and some cold. I had this super yummy citrus tea. My friends David and Melissa ordered a different kind of fruit tea that I was totally keen on. I don't know what the snack food we ordered was, but it was really good. It was rice based and very light.

Insadong

After tea we made our way towards downtown Seoul. We walked about a block before running into some kind of dance festival. It was really entertaining and really packed. As we were watching an older Korean man pulled me aside and wanted to take a picture with me. It was pretty silly. The dance party went on for a bit and then people went their separate ways.

Insadong

Insadong

After the show we went a bit further down the street and wound up on Sejongno street. Sejongno is littered with different monuments and civic offices including the US embassy. Along Sejongno is a huge fountain area that surrounds a statue of Admiral Yi Sun-sin who is a naval hero in Korea. The statue and fountains we pretty elaborate.

Insadong

Insadong

Other than that things have been pretty quiet. I finally got a cell phone and found a gym down the street that I signed up for. We got a new teacher at work and have a staff BBQ on Friday. Hope the food isn't like the last meal I had that was sponsored by the school.

Saturday and Sunday a group of us are heading to Golgulsa Temple which should be interesting.

Things are swell in Wonderland.

Listening to Little Joy How To Hang A Warhol.

Insadong and Downtown Seoul

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Babies for Sale!!!!

Not really but this kid made me laugh. I was at E-Mart and hanging out in the basket was this guy. Made me smile.

Kid in a Basket
Kid in a Basket

Monday, September 7, 2009

Korea v. Australia

The past weekend was super entertaining. On Saturday all of the soccer world shut down for World Cup qualifying matches. South Korea and Australia have both already qualified so they scheduled a friendly match here in Seoul. We got to the stadium around 7pm for a 8pm match because we still needed tickets and didn't know what things would look like attendance wise. As we got off the subway there was a super fun party atmosphere already in effect. There was a ton of people at the World Cup Stadium but it was no where near capacity. We grabbed tickets in the general admission section (₩10,000/$8.10) and wandered through the crowed courtyard.

There were lots of festivities taking place before the match. This one had a high potential of being awesome but we opted for heading to the ticket booth rather then get in line for this...

Korea v. Australia

Free Hite beer before the game.


We made our way to the seats and settled in for the match. The Korean supporters section was out in full force. There was a solid sea of red just to our left that didn't let down the entire game. The first picture is before the match followed by one during the game.

Korea v. Australia
Korea v. Australia

The pride and joy of Korean soccer is Park Ji-Sung, who plays for Manchester United in England. He is also the captain of the Korean team. During the introductions the crowd erupted when his name was called. He played a large role in the Koreans to 3-1 victory over the Socceroos.

Korea v. Australia

Since I've been in Korea that has been a buzz everywhere about Swine Flu. Posted in the restroom at the stadium was a friendly reminder to was your hands to prevent Swine Flu. It made me laugh.

Korea v. Australia

South Korea v. Australia

Listening to fun.  At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)

It's been a whirlwind of a week....

The past has been the first week (while in Korea) where I've felt there is not enough time in the day to get everything I want to do done. Classes have been going very well. We started a new semester on Monday (8/31) and my Co-teacher rearranged my morning routine which totally threw off the kids. It feels that the kids and I seem to have figured each other out and we both are settling in to this new routine.

My morning K class is a super busy, high energy, needy, awesome, wonderful, brilliant group. Everyday we hit the floor running at 9:30am and there is not a lull in the day. I have been struggling with a couple things in the classroom and am trying to put together the puzzle to make things flow.

My first head slamming against the wall moment has to do with a student. Ian is my biggest challenge in the classroom. He was very attached to the previous teacher and has been having separation issues since I arrived. My Co-teacher has informed me that his family background is a bit bumpy which makes things hard for him on many levels. We are working on building a trust between us and it seems like there is progress everyday. He has responded really we to taking on roles in the classroom that gives him a bit of power and allows him to receive positive recognition from his peers.

The second thing I have been struggling with is the cultural and developmental expectations. The kindergarten classroom that I left in LA at The Oaks was a rare environment. The kids came first and there was a major attempt to reach each individual child's developmental needs. The curriculum was flexible and could be manipulated to flow with the student. It was ultimately a developmental learning space that one of my most inspirational teachers (Bean) created. Culturally and developmentally the classroom that I am in now seems like two different worlds. Our curriculum now is very traditionally structured and makes my skin crawl having to do this odd dance of actually doing the workbooks with the kids, and doing things that are developmentally appropriate for 6 year old kids. My first week in class one my own I made an honest attempt at running the show like they wanted me to. The only problem was at the end of the day both the kids and I were miserable. I've decided, with the kids help that if we get our work done in the end, then it doesn't matter how we get it done. If that means not sitting like drones and not going through the motions then so be it. Some people just learn better if the are laying upside down and working.

Here are some pictures of pizza day from about 2 weeks ago.







Phew.... Sorry about that. Just had to vent, and where better than on here.

Listening to The Maccabees Wall of Arms.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

FC Seoul

Saturday evening 7 of us made the journey to the World Cup Stadium in Seoul to watch FC Seoul host Ulsan. We got a late start but made it to the stadium at the end of the first half. The stadium itself was beautiful. It was built when Korea and Japan co-hosted the 2002 World Cup.

FC Seoul
FC Seoul

The stadium was about half full and we sat in the general admission section near the FC Seoul supporters. The supporters section was a sea of black and red and had an awesome amount of energy. They stuck around for the entirety of the game and showed their passion even when Ulsan took a 2-0 lead.

The game ended in a 2-0 loss for Seoul. Something that I found really cool was the team made a point of going to each section of the stadium and acknowledged the fans who were there.

Overall it was an entertaining adventure. We decided that next time we needed to find a bus that would take us out to the stadium because in the end we spent more time traveling then we actually did at the match.

FC Seoul
FC Seoul
purples
                                               Thanks Andy!

After the game there was an intense kawi bawi bo (rock, paper, scissors) match that took place. Loser had to lay down at the subway door before it opened. It was pretty silly.

FC Seoul


"Come on out. Oh, the weather outside is weather." Make's me laugh every time.