Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas in Taipei, Taiwan!!!

During my winter vacation from school, I wanted to spend it wisely by traveling. I only have two weeks off during the school year, so I can't waste them. So I decided to go to Taipei, Taiwan. It's on my list of placed to go while I'm overseas. On this trip I traveled by myself and tour around. I was very nervous but Taipei is one of the safest cities in the world. So with that knowledge, I felt less nervous.

My flight left Seoul at 8:30am, so I needed to wake up very early to catch my flight. I took the subway to get to the next city north (Anyang) to catch the airport shuttle to Gimpo Airport. I also had a layover in Busan, so I was able to get into Taiwan at around noon. Taiwan is an hour ahead of Korea, so not much of a time difference.

I was very tired when I got to my hostel. The hostel I stayed at was called Homey Hostel and I have to say, it felt very homey. The two people who worked their, Josh and Kelly, were both very nice and friendly. They made me feel very welcomed and offered to help me if I had any concerns. I didn't want to sit around the hostel though. I decided to walk around and explore the area I lived in. The hostel had made a map for the guests of everything within a 20 min walking distance. There was a night market nearby, and when I walked through it they were getting set-up. Night markets normally open around 6pm. I walked all the way to Taipei 101, which was about 20 min way. It was so tall, its the 3rd tallest skyscraper in the world at 1,670.6 ft tall. Comparing that to the Space Needle in Seattle, it's over 1000 ft taller.

Taipei 101 from the base
I then went on a night tour that I arranged before I headed to Taiwan. We first were taken to a Mongolian BBQ dinner. The food was descent, it was very busy though. After we were done eating, we went to Huashi Street Night Market, also known as "Snake Alley." We weren't able to really explore the Market very much, we just kind of walked through it. But I was mainly just exploring, not really looking to purchase anything just yet. Right near the market is Longshan Temple. It is a Buddhist, Taoist, and Matsu temple built in 1738. It was night when we went, but it looked gorgeous. There were many people at the temple making offerings and praying to the deities. I felt somewhat awkward taking photos. After the temple, we then went to Taipei 101. Earlier, I did not go to the top, but this time I was going to. I heard that the city at night was a beautiful site to see from the top and it was. The city was lit up with so many colors. The only thing was the outside observatory was closed and so when I took photos, it was through the windows.

Longshan Temple
Night view from Taipei 101
When I got back to my hostel, I was very tired, but some of the other people staying at the hostel invited me to go out for a drink with them. I didn't want to waste my time in Taiwan, so I sucked it up and went with them. I am very happy I did. We went to a pub called Saint & Sinners. I was able to experience a Taiwan beer. Since this was Christmas Eve, when it got to midnight, the bar had a special for tequila shots to bring in Christmas Day. And this is when I had my first tequila shot, but it was very smooth going down. The only thing I tasted was the lime. Anyway, it was a fun night, the people I met were English teachers in Japan. Two of them originally came from Canada, one came from the states, and the other two from England. They were  also going to go to a restaurant/bar the next night for Christmas dinner and invited me along with them. They also invited me to join them the next day.

The next day, we first went to a local bakery for some delicious pastries for breakfast. We went to a bakery that had snowmen pastries, so what better place to have breakfast on Christmas morning. Afterwards, we all went to Tamsui. It is a city to the north of Taipei, and is a popular destinations for locals, especially on Sundays, which is when we went. We also got there just in time to watch the sunset, which is what the town is also popular for. It was beautiful. We also walked around the waterfront shops for gifts. I also tried a popular Taiwanese candy snack. There were strawberries and cherry tomatoes on a skewer, which was then covered with a hard candy. It was really good, even the candy covered tomato.

After we were done exploring, we headed back into the city to get some Christmas dinner. We had made it to the bar, 10 min before they were done serving the dinner special, which was at 8pm. The dinner was very good. I didn't even think I was going to have anything special to eat for dinner anyways, so this was a good thing. They even served each course separately, so once we were done with one, they brought the next one. Our first course was a caesar salad with shrimp, smoked salmon and asparagus. Then we had our soup which was a crab pumpkin cream soup. It was very good, I liked it a lot. For the main course we had turkey and steak. I was happy I had turkey, especially because for Thanksgiving we had chicken instead. And then for dessert we had a Baileys cheese tart. The meal also came with a beer, but once we were all done with the beer we also ordered a cider. The meal overall was very good.

The next day we went to the National Palace Museum. It was interesting to explore the museum. Most of the artifacts at the museum were from China, but it was still fun to look at. We were there for a good amount of time. Afterwards, we went to the Hello Kitty Cafe. We wanted to eat dinner there but they were all booked for the day, and so we ended up just purchasing some sweets to go. It was very good. For dinner, we just ended up going to a cafe and had a light dinner. I had a roast beef sandwich, which ended up being really good.

Me in front of the museum
OMG Hello Kitty
After we got back to the hostel, we said out goodbyes, because they were leaving for the south early in the morning and I was flying back to Seoul as well. My trip was amazing. I enjoyed my time and met new friends. They invited me to visit them in Japan and I invited them to visit me in Korea. There was only one thing that I wanted to go but ended up not having time, but that is okay. I'll just have to go again. It was also crazy how many mopeds were in Taipei, they were like a gang. They were everywhere. There was probably more people driving mopeds around then there were cars, which is a lot.

If you want to look at more pictures, check out my Flickr account. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dinosaur Museum!

Haha, so the field trip for this month, we went to a dinosaur museum. It was interesting. All the little kiddies had a blast and that is all the counts. While we were at the museum, two of my friends from homes voices rang in my brain. They always make fun of me saying that as an archaeologist I dig up dinosaurs, which is not archaeology but paleontology. This is for you Tom and Jeff!

There was one dinosaur display that was kind of gruesome. It had two dinosaurs feeding off of a dead dinosaur. There was fake blood and guts. It was very interesting.

Yep, gruesome!
All of us!


So I successfully survived my first major holiday here in Korea. It was my first Thanksgiving away from my mom. It didn't really feel like thanksgiving during the first part of the day. I went to school in the morning and did my daily routine with the kids. A week before I made hand turkey's with my little kindergarten kids and had them decorated in the class room. But other than those hand turkey's, it did not feel like Thanksgiving.

Normally at home, I would wake up in the morning and my mom would have already started making our feast. I would prepare the candies yams and a vegetable dish that we always eat, and have them ready to go in the oven when the turkey is done.

The American teachers at my school and then one of the Korean teachers and the Chinese teacher decided to have our own little Thanksgiving dinner on the night of Thanksgiving. We each decided to bring a couple dishes to make a large feast. At the foreign food market in Itaewon, I purchase a couple boxes of Stove Top's turkey stuffing and when I made it, I added some mushrooms and celery. I also made some pumpkin pie and I attempted to make candied yams. They do not have cans of yams here but they do have Korean sweet potatoes, which I find to be sweeter than the sweet potatoes I have had in the states. I was also able to find marshmallows at Costco. It did not taste the same, but it was still very good.

Everyone brought lots of food and it was all very delicious. We did not have any turkey though. It is very hard to find turkey in Korea, so instead we had chicken. It was still very good. I was in a food coma by the end of the night.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNoWriMo Halfway Update!

Here are some of my stats! I am halfway there. It would be dumb to give up now. I am still fighting through, getting me daily required number of words per day!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pepero Day!

Well, today is Pepero Day, 11/11/11. You may be wondering, what is Pepero Day? Well, first thing, a Pepero is a long cookie that is dipped in chocolate. The South Korean company that makes them, Lotte, was inspired by the Japanese Pocky sticks in the 80's and so they made their own version of them.

Pepero Day is similar to Valentines Day. Pepero Day came about because the the Pepero sticks resemble 11/11, the date it is observed on. The day is usually celebrated by young people who exchange Pepero sticks with each other, very similar to Valentines Day.

Apparently the company, Lotte, denies to having started this "Hallmark holiday," but they had noticed an increase in sales on 11/11 and decided to encourage the holiday by making gift boxes and other Pepero gifts. Lotte apparently also does 55% of their Pepero sales in November.

Pepero gift from my co-teacher. I like the "Fake" part!
My Pepero gifts from my students and co-teachers. Thanks!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Seoul Lantern Festival

Yesterday, I went to the Seoul Lantern Festival. I went with a friend that I met during my stay in Korea. She also knows Korean so that is a big help sometimes too. All the lanterns were very beautiful. It is located on the famous Cheonggyecheon Stream in downtown Seoul. The theme for the lanterns is 'Old Story of Seoul.' So a lot of the lanterns that were displayed represented activities or folklore from the history of Korea. There were also lanterns that were made by international artists as well as local artist.

A funny thing happened when we were at the festival. We wanted to get in line so that we can walk down next to the stream, as opposed to looking at them from above on the sides. We started walking next to the line wanting to find the end, but it kept going on and on, with no sign of the end. We decided to ask one of the security guards how long it will take to get through the line and he told us 3 hours. We were flabbergasted. We didn't have time to stand in line for 3 hours, plus the night was starting to get chilly.

So we decided to just walk around on the side of the stream from above. We really wanted to go down to the stream but 3 hours was too long. As we were walking, we walked probably half way (by the way this stream is very long) and then we noticed a rope tied to the trees next to the wall to look over down on the stream. We were wondering why there was a rope and then we started noticing ducking under the rope and getting in line. We were unsure of what they were doing so we did it too. We then peeked as far as we can over the wall to see if there were a set of stairs ahead of them that people were going down and it turned out we had gotten in a line to go down by the stream. The line was empty as we were walking by it, but all of a sudden the line filled up very fast. It took us only about 5 min to stand in line and head down the stairs. We were lucky from having to only stand in line for 5 min compared to the 3 hours.

Once we got to the bottom, the crowd at the bottom were walking in the direction to the beginning of the stream, so we decided to use one of the small bridged that crossed over the river so we can could continue in the direction we had come from. These lanterns went on forever. We had no idea when it would end, but eventually it did, and we crossed back over the river and go back towards the beginning. It was all very fun. I was excited we got to view them a little more up close.

We got some nice police officers to take out photo!
They were all so beautiful
There are some more photos on my flickr account, so be sure to check them out!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Survived my First Open House

Today, I had my first open house as an English teacher. The parents of my students came to the school and watched one of my classes with the kids. The entire week, I was pretty nervous for it. I wanted to do a good job so that that parents know that: a) there kids were learning English from me and b) that they enjoyed me as a teacher as well. During the week, we had practice open house where just my boss would watch me and I had to do that twice. I did well both times but I have also taught in front of her before too.

Last night, my nerves weren't really effecting me at all. Even when I woke up this morning and got to school. It wasn't until the parents came out of the classroom, where we held the open house, after watching the kids Chinese class that I started feeling nervous.

I then also had to wear a microphone, so that the parents can hear me, and I was being filmed. That just made me more nervous. One of the parents started talking to me. She knew a little bit of English, that I started relaxing a little bit. I think she felt how nervous I was, too. She even asked if I was nervous.

When the class time started, I walked in front of my kids, the parents on my right and the camera in front of me kind of off to the side, and greeted them as I normally do. I then just ignored everyone around me except my students. I taught the class like I normally do and it went well.

After my class, both of my bosses told me that I did very well especially for it being my first open house. The parents obviously knew it was my first open house and they told me that I did a great job. I was very happy that it was all over with and it went well.

I've heard that sometimes during the open houses the kids get really nervous and either not talk as much or not talk at all. For me, I sensed only one of my kids being really nervous. He still talked a lot but he didn't talk as much as he normally did but my for my other students, I felt they stepped it up a notch. They wanted to impress their parents so they made sure they were being heard.

I felt so relieve that it was finally over. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and I was worrying over nothing. I feel much more confident as a teacher as well.

Until next time, which will probably be on Sunday. There is a lantern festival in Seoul that I'm going to. I am excited.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Hey everyone, I am taking a break from writing my novel for NaNoWriMo. You may ask, what is NaNoWriMo? Well it stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is a one month creative writing project in which you have to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days in any genre. Their slogan is quantity of quality. It could be the worst book ever but as long as you were able to write a story in 50,000 words or more, you are a winner. 

I have a couple friends who have participated in this event and I always wanted to but I never had the time with school and work. Now that I am here in Korea, I have time to to sit down and type. I posted the link at the bottom of the post to the website if you would like to learn more about the even. 

The basic concept of my book, is about a girl who travels to Korea to be an English teacher. It is slightly autobiographical in the characters history but I'm going to try and make her journey in Korea to be more exciting and more exaggerated.  

Anyway, I will keep you update on how I am doing with it. It is the end of Day 2 and I am on the right track.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dang Forest of Doekgogae

Today, I went to one of the 8 famous scenic spots of Gunpo. You can find the rest of the list under my "About Sanbon" page. It was a very long walk to get there. I basically made a very large circle around Gunpo as well. I am not sure how long the entire walk was, but on my walk there was a trail sign that told me how far of a walk it is to get to Dang Forest. I indicate that on the map with the yellow circles.

Map of my Journey
It was a gorgeous walk. All the leaves ranged from red, orange, yellow and combinations of all three of those colors. The first part of the walk was all up one of the smaller peaks of Surisan Mountain and then once I got to the first yellow circle on the map, it started evening out and down. I didn't want to walk back the same way I came, I wanted to explore a little bit more, so I walked to one of the subway stations, the walk to the stations probably took me about the same amount of time that it took me to get to the forest. 

Dang Forest
The next time I head up Surisan, I am going to go to Surisa Temple. The temple is in the top left part of the map. 

More pictures can be found on my flickr.

Halloween in Hongdae

So I have had my first experience with the nightlife in Seoul and what better time to begin when the bars and clubs are celebrating Halloween. In one of my previous post, I mentioned that Hongdae is an entertainment and clubbing area of Seoul. My co-teachers and I, got all dressed up in our costumes, I was had a flapper-esque costume and my other co-teachers wore a toga and the other was Lana Kane from Archer. When we first go to Hongdae, we went to a cute little cafe for some coffee. Then we were off to a club called, "GOGOS." We payed 5000 to get into the club and then we also got a free drink. That's a pretty good deal. That was the only drink I had for the night too! When we first got there, it was fun. It was crowded but we were still able to dance pretty easily.

There were some interesting characters out, and I don't just mean by their costumes. I was also very surprised by the number of Caucasians partying it up. There was this one Caucasian guy who was dressed up like an Ahjumma. He was also pretty drunk. I was also surprised by the number of both Asian and Caucasian males who were dressed up as females. My father was this guy who was dressed as Snow White. There were also some awkward moments in the night. This guy who had a scream mask kept point at us and trying to dance with us and making some very awkward gestures. There was this Korean guy who was dressed up as a doctor and he kept using his stethoscope on everyone to check their heartbeat and what not.

As the night went on though, it started get very, very crowded. To the point where you couldn't really even dance anymore. And then there were so many people smoking in the club that it was kind of making me sick. There were also a lot of people that were already wasted. We decided to end the night around then, just because the night started out good but then things kept happening that was making the night less fun. For example, a white guy dressed up like a Korean school girl stepped on my foot. No fun!

I then had my first taxi ride home at night. The streets were pretty empty once we got on the highway, and our driver got as fast as 140 kph (86 mph) in a 100 kph (62 mph) speed zone. Korean drivers are very crazy. I would not want to drive here. Overall, it was an okay first time out. Hopefully next time we go out it won't be as busy as it was and we will have more fun. I mean we did go out when they were having Halloween parties.

Photo by Yeri

Thursday, October 27, 2011


It has been a very long day. Today was the Jamboree Day at school. Jamboree is basically a Halloween celebrations for all of the kiddies. What is pretty sweet about this day, is that not only were the kindergarten kids able to participate but also the kids in first through third grade. The day was very crazy. I got to work two hours earlier than normal (but luckily I was able to get off a half hour earlier), and then I got straight into my costume so that we can go and pick up the kids. I feel sorry for some of my co-teachers. With me working with both kindergarten and first through third, I work during the day but several of the other foreign teachers, the ones that work at night, had to also be there at 8:30 am. They also have to stay until the end of their shifts that range from 8 to 10pm.

We did a bunch of random games throughout the day. We did a ball toss game, a fishing game for prizes, and ball shooter game, and other random games, I don't really know how to describe them. We had gimbibap, which if you remember from my previous post, I love it! We also had a costume contest for the kids. There were a lot of kids that dressed up as the generic princess or super hero, so the other teachers and I made sure to choose the unique ones, especially the ones who made their own costumes. 

With my last class of the day, they were not able to participate in a large Jamboree Day event, and so we had a  fun day in the classroom. WE did some "pin the face on the pumpkin", and a ball toss game. The kids still had a great time, and that might of just been because we didn't have actual class time. Tomorrow I will be doing this similar thing with two of my classes that meet MWF rather than TR. I'm okay with that because it's Friday and the last part of my day will be much more relaxing. 

Now, I want to share with you some of the unique costumes these kids came up with. First, my costume. I found this really cute idea on this website called Pinterest. If you have never been on it, you should check it out. Anyways, I was a hot air balloon for my costume. I thought it would be super unique and the kids would enjoy it. 

Me as a hot air balloon!
The kid who won the costume contest for the kindergarten classes was dressed up as a squid-like creature. There was also a kid who dressed up as a praying mantis. There was a mini mouse, several spiderman's, a batman and superman. Lots of princesses, fairies, and wizards. They were all super cute. 

Edwin as a squid. Too cute
Plateo as a praying mantis
 I also want to post pictures of my classes all dressed up.

All of Kindergarten
I'll be posting the other two classes tomorrow night, so come back for those!

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Apartment

I just realized I have not posted pictures of my apartment yet. You would think that would've been one of the first couple posts, but no I did not post anything. My studio apartment is a very good size for only have one person living in it. I have a washing machine and a drying rack. I unfortunately do not have an oven. I love to back and it relaxes me. If I am unable to bake I would be very sad. I was able to purchase a microwave oven for about 35000, which is about $35. The shower was an interesting experience for me when I first got here. There is no shower curtain. So, basically the entire bathroom is the shower. I am not enjoying the hard wood floors. The floors get so dusty and I even take my shoes off when I walk in. I also don't need to carry keys around with me (which I lose frequently). To open the door I enter a pass-code to get in. Also with my doorbell, there is a camera when they ring it. So instead of looking through the peep hole I just look at the camera screen. There is a telephone next to the screen so that I am able to talk to the person as well. So that is my apartment! Here are some pictures.

View from the kitchen
View from the window
The bathroom

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Amusement Park

Today, the kindergarten classes went on a field trip to the amusement park. It took us about a half an hour to get there from Gunpo. It was one of the smaller amusement parks and when we first got there, there was no one else at the park. So we had the park to ourselves. The rides were not "super" exciting but the day was about the kids. They had a good time. We also went only on three rides, but again its about the kids.

So when we got there, me and the other English teacher were commenting on some of the ride/vendor names at the park.

"Nude Viking" Umm... first thing why are the vikings naked and second thing there are no vikings!

Canival? Is it supposed to be Carnival or something to do with dinosaurs. However you look at it, it is wrong.
We then went on three rides, they were small ones especially because the little kiddies are all small. They all had a great time and it was fun getting out and not be in class. 

It was a gorgeous fall day. It was very warm out, as well. After we went on the rides we had a picnic lunch in one of the open areas at the park. All the kids brought cute little lunches and the teachers were give some delicious kimbap (the Korean cook at our school makes really good kimbap). What is kimbap (pronounced gimbap)? It is basically a Korean "sushi" roll: "kim" is seaweed and "bap" is steamed white rice. There were an assortment of vegetables and eggs in the roll. I enjoy getting the kimbap, the once a month that we do get it. After eating lunch, the kids got to run around and burn off the energy they had. 

After the kids got to run around and we did bathroom breaks for the kids, we proceeded to have group photos. We did a photo with each of the three classes and then we had a huge group photo.

Lion, Tiger and Koala class with the English, Chinese and Korean teachers!
To quote one of the storybooks that we have for teaching English, "It was a very good day!" 

Also there are more photos on my Flickr account!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My First Experience at a Korean Clinic

So I have been getting sick over the past couple days. A lot of my students have been getting sick and they don't know how to cover their mouth when they cough. And then when I tell them to cover their mouths they do it at the end of their cough.

Well anyway, to get any medicine here in Korea, I first needed to go to the clinic and get a check up. The clinic ended up being in the same building I live in. I was able to get my check up okay.  The doctor spoke English and so we were able to communicate. And the entire check up was only ₩6,000 and the prescription I got was ₩2,200, which is about $7. 

Something funny that happened, even before I went to the clinic, was when my director were filling out my information for my health insurance, the health insurance company thought my name was Kemily. And so now on my health insurance information it has the Kemily in hangul (Korean writing). When I was at the clinic and even when I was getting my prescription, they kept calling me Kemily.

With the prescription they gave me, there were four different types of pills they gave me (I have no idea what any of them are). They also came in little packets for each time I need to take them, which I need to take four times a day. I survived my first trip to the clinic, though and it was super cheap.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Getting Traditional

Today, my friends mom, Minju, wanted to take me out to lunch for traditional Korean food. They had picked me up at the subway station and we proceeded to drive to the restaurant. The restaurant was in the countryside and also kind of in the mountains, so it took us a little bit of time to get there. The place was very busy, which I was told was normal. Then when we sat down, on the floor of course, we were immediately served a butt ton of side dishes. Our entire table was full! Towards the end of the meal, Minju's mother was apologizing for the selection that they brought. It wasn't her favorite. I personally thought that it was all good. I was trying a little bit of everything.

It's a little blurry
After we had lunch her mom then took us to a new cafe to get some dessert. We had some coffee and we had a waffle with some gelato on it. Korean's here love them some waffles. They will eat it all the time with ice cream, gelato, chocolate, and other stuff. It was the fanciest waffle I've have ever eaten before. It was really good too.

The day was a very goof one. Even though we were unable to hang out for a super long time, I was able to experience part of Korea by eating there traditional foods with good company. I am glad that I am able to meet a Korean family and experience Korea a little better. I feel this just goes back to my experience with Cultural anthropology. We have these terms, Emic and Etic. Emic is when you experience something first hand while etic is when you watch from the outside, never putting yourself in the situation. I am always striving to have as much of an emic experience as I can but sometimes, just because I am a foreigner, I will be an outsider. Anyway, that is all for now.

Minju and I at Cafe Mou

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hiking and Making Friends

I am sorry I have not updated recently. It has been a very busy month. This weekend it another long weekend for us. It is Korea's National Foundation Day on Monday, which celebrates the creation of Gojoseon (ancient Korea). So that means I have no school on Monday, YAY!

Anyway this post is not about the holiday, this is about my adventure I had today. So I have been wanting to go hiking for awhile now and Korea is full of places to go hiking, especially in my area. I have not been able to go because I was unsure of where any of the hiking trails were and also because it has been too hot to go hiking. Now that autumn has come, the weather is cooling off but we still have beautiful sunny days. Perfect for hiking.

I went hiking today up one of the peaks near by, which was 469 meters uphill. Towards the beginning of the trail there is a temple. When I got to the temple there was a monk who came down and greeted meet. He spoke a little bit of English and so we were able to communicate with each other a little bit. He asked where I was from and then he offered me some water from the fountain. He then looked at my palm to look at my lines and said "good". I'm assuming he was looking at my "life lines." He also asked if I was a christian. He was very nice.

Then just after I had left the temple, there were some adjoshi's (older men) taking a breaking and eating some apples. As I walked by one of the adjoshi's had an apple cut and on his knife and he offered it to me. I at first said no in Korean but he kept insisting. So I took the apple and thanked him and went on my way. On my journey up the mountain, even though it is a short distance, it was all uphill. It was pretty steep. There were sometimes makeshift steps and from where my foot stood on the ground, the step would be as tall as the top part of my shin (a little over a foot tall). But I was finally able to reach the the top. The view of the city was beautiful. And the leaves were already changing colors faster than they were in the city. When I was at the top, another adjoshi wanted to talk with my in English. He told me about how he has been to the US twice and some other stuff.


After making it to the top and then eating a sandwich, I headed down. Going down was easier than going up but it was really bad on my knees. I really enjoyed the hike, though. Next time I go hiking I'm gonna hike Taeeulbong Peak, which is 489 meters.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Walking the Neighborhood

I went on a walk in my neighborhood today. Was able to walk around and get more acquainted with it. I've been walking the same path to and from work and to and from the station and have not done much in the city other than that. So I wanted to go out and follow a path and then eventually end up back to my apartment building. I was able to make an odd circular shape and make it back to mu building. Here are some photos.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chuseok (Korean Thanksgivng)

This weekend is one of the big holidays for Koreans. It is a time when family members come together to share food and stories with each other and to give thanks to their ancestors for an abundant harvest. At my school they wanted the little kindergarten kids to learn some of the customs that go along with Chuseok. This includes all the children wearing their hanboks (traditional Korean clothes), and that includes me wearing one too!

We also learned the art of tea making and drinking. While making the tea we were told to have a clear mind, to meditate while we are making it. The tea itself didn't really taste like tea. It tasted like warm water with maybe a hint of some sort of flavor. I feel it needed to brew longer. They were having us brew it for only a minute.

Then on Friday, we learned a couple tradition Korean games, we learned a dance, and we learned how to make rice cakes.

For the games, we learned jegi chagi, which is basically a form of hacky sack. We also learned how to play paengi-chigi, which is a game where you spin a top and have to try and knock it over with a rope. Another game we learned is called tuho, which is where we throw an arrow into a large pot. We played another game (I don't remember what it was called) where we had a small basket on our head with a wooden block inside and we had to walk to the other side of the room and drop the block out of the basket on our head to try and knock down a block that is on the ground.

We also learned a Korean traditional dance called, Ganggangsullae. This is a Korean circle dance performed by women and children. In the dance we would hold hands and sing along with the music. We would also let go of each other hands and move our hands back and forth, in and out of the circle.

One last thing we learned was how to make Songpyeon. They are a traditional type of food eaten during Chuseok. Your first start by getting a small piece of rice cake and flattening it out to make a circle. You then stuff it with either red beans, raisins, sesame seeds, or chestnuts. We had the choice of raisins or red beans. Once you have placed the stuffing on the circular rice cake, you wrap it up to form a ball. While I was making my songpyeon, one of my Korean co-teachers made the comment to me that if I make a beautiful songpyeon I will meet a good-looking spouse (if single) or give birth to a beautiful daughter (if married). The rice cakes are then packaged with pine needles to add a fragrance to the rice cakes.

That is all for now. I'm gonna try and get to one of the palaces during the holiday because they put on some special events for the holiday.
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