Thursday, May 31, 2012

Photo A Day: May 22-31

May 22 - I have been working on a project for my summer decorations in my classroom, and I finally finished it today. I wanted to make my summer theme to be the Olympics, so I made 65 flags. It took me a very long time, but I finally finished. Yay! 
May 23 - I love going to Starbucks. It reminds me of home! 
May 24 - Got a package from home. Thank you mommy! 
May 25 - I saw the new MIB movie. I liked it. 
May 26 - All packed for Jeju! 
May 27 - On a beautiful beach in Jeju with some good friends! 
May 28 - 멋지다! 
May 29 - What another fun day at the beach and sadly our last day on Jeju. 
May 30 - No more retainer for me, yay!!! 
May 31 - My feet are super swollen from getting sunburned. The top picture was from a couple days ago and the bottom is from today. I hope the swelling goes down soon.

Jeju-do Trip!

I have finally found my way to the beautiful Jeju Isalnd. A trip to Korea is not complete without going to Jeju, especially if I am going to be here for a year. I went with five of my co-teachers, three of which are Korean teachers and the other two are native teachers. We have all been planning this trip since March, so I am happy that we were able to finally go. One of the Korean teachers, planned the entire trip for us. She worked very hard for us so that we would have an awesome time and she succeeded. I appreciate her so much for how much work she put into it. She booked our plane tickets, she booked our hostel, she booked our tours, she did everything for us. Thank you so much Monica! <3

We left for Jeju on a Sunday because Monday was Buddha's Birthday, so we had the day off, and we also had Tuesday off because our boss wanted to give us a longer weekend. We went to the Gimpo Airport and arrived in Jeju around 12:30 pm. The flight from Seoul to Jeju is only about an hour. Not a very long flight at all.

View from the plane
This is what we experience as soon as we leave the airport
For out first day there, we didn't plan on doing a lot. We wanted to get to out hostel and then go to the beach. We were staying in a city called Seogwipo, which is located in the south. It is about an hour from the airport, which is located in the north. We checked into the hostel and then got a taxi to go to the beach. We went to Jungmun Beach. We chilled there for a while and then decided to explore the area a bit.

Jungmun Beach
 That night, I went to a norebang for the first. A nore means song and bang means room; it is where Koreans go for Karaoke. I have been in Korea for 10 months now and I have finally made my way to one. Not only did we go on the first night, we also went on the second night, too. It was really fun. I cannot sing on key whatsoever but it was fun to just dance around and sing. In norebangs, you rent a private room and it is about W10,000 for an hour. They have Korean, English and Japanese songs to choose from. The video below is my friend, Sandy, rapping away to a Korean song.

Our second day was packed with stuff to do. We hired a driver and car, through a tour program, that took us all over the island to the popular tourist destinations. It cost each of us W25,000, which is super cheap especially because he took us around for 10 hours and did a lot of driving. We first went to Hallasan; this is South Korea’s highest mountain at 1950 meters. We didn’t go to the very top, which has a crater lake, but we went as high as we could by car.  From the rest area we stopped at, it would’ve taken an additional 10 hours, round trip, to get to the top, which we didn’t have time for. We walked on the trail for a little bit, but it offered no views, only trees. 

We then headed to Saryeoni Forest, which was a short drive from the rest stop. In the forest, we were able to try on a pair of traditional Korean shoes and walk around in them. Without socks, the hay was poking my foot, so they were not that comfortable. 

Sandy and I walking around
Here are the shoes
We then headed to Sangumburi Crater. It is a green volcanic crater that is the second largest on the island. It is 350 meters in diameter and 100 meters deep. It is the crater of an extinct volcano. It exploded quickly and did not spew much lava, as opposed to the other two on the island. It has been designated as a Natural Monument 263.

The crater from the side

Our next stop was to Seongsan-ri (Fortress Mountain Village) , which contains another extinct volcano called Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak). The summit is 182 meters high and is shaped like a punch bowl. It rose from under the sea in a volcanic eruption over 100,000 years ago. The crater is 600 meters in diameter and 90 meters high. There are 99 sharp rocks surrounding the craters and makes it look like a gigantic crown. It is also a 20-30 min steep walk up to the top, which I did. It was tiring but it was worth it.

From the bottom
Made it to the top, the crater is behind us.
A view of the island from the top.
Our next stop was Seopjikoji. "Seopki" is the old name for the area, and "Koji" is Jeju dialect meanind a sudden bump on land. They also filmed a famous Korean drama here called "All In." There is a path that lead to a lighthouse. We strolled along the long path but we didn't wander all the way to the lighthouse. It was a really pretty area.

The church on the left is were they filmed and the white spec in the middle is the light house.
We headed to a late lunch after this to have some pork belly. The pork belly was made with the Jeju Black pig, which is a breed of domestic pig found on Jeju. This kind of pigs is said to have a unique taste distinct from other breeds of pigs. Pork belly is a boneless cut of fatty meat that comes from the belly of the pig. It was really good, a bit fatty but good.

The restaurant we ate lunch at
Cooking our meat
After we had lunch, we headed to Seongeup Folk Village where we were able to see the traditional Korean houses. We were able to learn how they used to live and how some people on the island still live. We also met a new friend, a Jeju Black Pig. It was kind of funny that we went there just after we ate one of his relatives.

Walking around the village
Hello little friend
There are walking paths all around the island called Jeju Olle-gil that people can get sea views and enjoy a nice stroll. It has 24 routes that was aides by the recent "walking boom" in South Korea. Our driver took us to take route 6, which is near the city we were staying in. On this route we were able to view a famous site, called Oedolgae (Lonely Rock). It is 10 meters in circumference and 20 meters tall. It is a volcanic basalt pillar. It is said, in Korean legend, that a Korean general scared away Mongolian invaders by dressing the rock up to look like a giant soldier. This was also the last stop our driver took us to. So we headed back to the hostel after this.

Hanging out on the rocks
Walking down the path
Once we had gotten back to the hostel, we headed back out to a local tourist site, Cheonjiyeon Waterfalls. We decided we wanted to go there at night after seeing pictures of it during the day and the night. The waterfall is 22m high, 12m  wide, and 20m deep. It is designated as natural monument 27.

The waterfall
The next day, our last day, we wanted to relax a bit more after the long day before. Our flight was at 5:50 pm, so we had plenty of time to do something relaxing. We decided to head to the beach again. When we got there at around 11, it was very empty compared to the time before. We then realized it was Tuesday and not the holiday anymore. People are at work or school and are not on vacation. It was nice and relaxing. It was also very sunny out. 

The sand was really pretty and colorful
Sandy enjoying the water
We are about to leave the beach
The trip was very fun. I went with a good group of people. I loved Jeju and happy I was able to finally go there. I hope to go there again one day. More picture can be found on my Flickr account.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Photo A Day: May 15-21

May 15 - Today is teacher's day in Korea. Some of my students gave me little gifts. I love all my students. They're so cute. 
May 16 - A late teacher's day card. It's a picture of me and the student that drew it. So cute ^_^ 
May 17 - Wore my new rain boots to work. When I was walking to work there was a thunder storm and then an hour later, it was all sunny an bright. The storm left as fast as it came. 
May 18 - Sandy chillin' like a villain. 
May 19 - Had some Chinese food for the first time in a very long time. It was very good. I'm glad we found this place in our neighborhood. 
May 20 - Went to Seoul Zoo today... it was an absolutely gorgeous day out and in the 80's. I love seeing animals! 
May 21 - Two of my students were super excited to show me their new magazine filled with pictures of K-Pop boy bands. On the cover is a bang called Beast.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Teacher's Day!

This last week, it was Teacher's Day. Just like there was a Children's Day a couple weeks ago, there was a Parent's Day and a Teacher's Day. On Teacher's Day, some of my students brought me cute little gifts. They were so cute when they gave them to me. They were very shy, and became happy when I thanked them. I love all of my kids. They make me so happy!

One of my students had even opened up her piggy bank to buy me and another teacher, that shares the class with me, a present. She had only ₩5,000 and she spent ₩3,000 of that on our present. She made us a cute little card and bought instant coffee. She is so sweet.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Photo A Day: May 8-14

May 8 - I went to this local restaurant for this first time today with Alison Kathleen LaFave and Jihyeon Lee. The Korean translation for it is "Around the Corner" but we like to call it Ahjumma's Kitchen because the entire restaurant is one room with the kitchen to the side. It is different everything you go. There is no menu, she just serves you what she made for the day and its only W5,000 each. It's a traditional Korean meal for a low price. Jessica, be prepared for me to take you here. 
May 9 - We had a teacher's lunch today with all of the native and Korean teachers. We went to a buffet called VIPS. It's not pronounced V I P S but vips, weird. The buffet had mainly western style food. 
May 10 - Drinking an iced caramel macchiato in my new tumbler. 
May 11 - This is exactly how I felt today. I have been getting sick and the weather wasn't helping. 
May 12 - I was feeling a bit better and needed to get out for a bit, so I went to see the Dark Shadows movie. 
May 13 - I dyed my hair. I trusted the Korean hair dye, but only because there was a white person on the box. It turned out well. 
May 14 - Made some Rainbow in the Clouds cupcakes for my co-teachers. Tomorrow is teachers day, so I wanted to make something nice. I wasn't able to find rainbow colored candy, so this was going to have to do. Also it kept drooping, grr. It was also the first time I made cupcakes from scratch; I made the batter and the frosting.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Photo A Day: May 1-7

May 1 - A typical dinner for me. It is very filling. A tuna rice ball and a blueberry yogurt smoothie. 
May 2 - What a beautiful day it was today...and HOT! 
May 3 - I decorated my classroom for our Children's Day Party tomorrow! 
May 4 - All dressed up for Children's Day. I am Super K! 
May 5 - Happy Cinco de Mayo. Celebrating with some margaritas in Korea. 
May 6 - Went to the National Museum of Seoul today with Jihyeon Lee. We were only able to see about a 1/4 of the museum. It is the 6th largest museum in the world, so there is a ton of stuff to see. We mainly looked from the prehistory period to the beginning of the medieval period. 
May 7 - I made some beignets for my co-workers today. They were a hit and they were delicious.