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.