Thursday, January 29, 2009

I got Seoul.:.Part Deux.

Monday was most definitely more productive. We checked out of our motel and had donuts 'n' coffee for breakfast. After yet another subway ride we ended up at Gyeongbokgung Palace, where we left our bags in the subway lockers and headed into the Palace. There was a ton of people there, and lots going on. Gyeongbokgung served as the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty, with Mount Bugaksan to its rear and a city of skyscrapers facing it. It was built in 1395 by King Taejo and was a densely arranged labyrinth complex of 330 buildings. Now... there's some history for ya!!! It was beautiful and in such a crazy location, right on the outskirts of Seoul.

There was a ton of guys/guards in their Korean warrior outfits, we thought they didn't move like the guards at Buckingham Palace but we were sorely mistaken as one of them picked his nose.

[Shanes warrior face]

[Inside the Palace, the Korean throne, Ashley stuck her arm in too far to take a picture and set the alarm off... mwah ha ha ha!!]

[The view of the City from the front of the Palace]

[Two cute Koreans dressed in the warrior gear]

[Two cute foreigners guards! haha! We had a stick fight!]

The water that surrounded sections of the Palace was frozen over and the Koreans were all over it playing random little games. This was a spinning top (that Matt is playing with), you hit it with this stick n string combo to make it spin. The little kids were going crazy for them. Also, there were tiny sledges on ropes floating around the ice, the kids parents were dragging them around. We waited around to get our hands on one but they were like golddust.

[Mwah ha ha. Caught this kid Mid-Fall!]

[There was also a circle of animal statues which represented the year you were born, mine was the year of the Ox but I prefered the horse statue]

Then we headed into Insa-dong market, which was really sweet. I bought lots of little trinkets!! The boys headed somewhere to find a bathroom, so Ashley and Myself checked out some little shops and stalls. Then we witnessed a "bum fight"! There was one of those preacher guys with a huge Religious sign on his back, carrying a microphone and speaker. Out of nowhere this homeless guy comes up and starts kicking him and slapping him in the face. After about 30 seconds of abuse from the homeless guy, a random Korean guy intervened and pushed the bum away. Then this American bloke walking down the street minding his own business got a kick and slap from the bum, although he retaliated by kicking him back and then walked off. Ashley and Myself were in complete shock, it was pretty hilarious. The boys were real pissed they missed all the action! haha!

So one of my favourite parts of my trip to Seoul was this really cute 'Old Bird Tea Shop' which was down a tiny alley off Insa-dong Market. The tea was expensive enough, 6,000Won for a large cup. Although it was totally worth it as you were paying for the atmosphere and the tea was spot on. I had a sweet dew tea and our table came with little sweet treats which I can only describe as sweet spiderweb inside a crunchy sweet coating. Very random. Anyways why this place was so special is that when inside there are all these little song-birds that fly around and sing (no they don't poo on you, they have a special tree they poo on). They are pretty quiet too, so it's not a bunch of horrible noise. At first I was a little nervous like I was in a Hitchcock movie but after I relaxed and drank my tea it was such a nice atmosphere in there. We were up near the roof-tops so the Song Birds were flying by the window teasing the roof-top cats.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I got Seoul.:.Part 1

I don't even know where to begin. Seoul is a huge City with 12 million people, yes that's right... do you know how many people are in Ireland... 4Million in the WHOLE bloody country!!! We might be small in numbers but by hell we'll kick your arse. I'm also pretty sure the Seoul subway system is bigger than Manhattans. Luckily for us, it was Chinese New Year and the majority of the Seoul population headed to their families in the countryside. We all had a brilliant weekend. I feel like this could be a LONG READ because we did ALOT in Seoul. So I'll try condense the experience, without hindering it... of course.

Let me just start by saying... we did ALOT of Subway-ing. Which was a great change from our constant crazy taxi rides in Gwangju.

[Another awesome Korean warning sign]

The only set plan for the weekend was to go to the 'Killer Party of the Year' as advertised, on Saturday night. Oh and also the weekend was set around eating our fair share of GOOD food that is not on offer in Gwangju, this included Mexican, Indian and Thai. My belly was spoiled rotten this weekend. So Myself, Justin and Matt got the train on Saturday morning. The rest of the crew had a day off on Friday so were already there. We then hopped on the subway, headed for Hongik University Area, walked around forever, met everyone, ate some Burritos and finally Caitlin used her magical powers and found us a cheap and decent motel right down the road from the club. We made our rounds, checked out the area, ate Mexican again for dinner (why not?!) and then headed for 'Four Rooms', the club. One room had live bands but they were pretty lame, so we headed for the room 'Janes Groove', it had a lingerie show, a big-screen-wii, a dance floor and some crazy Korean DJ's playing Pop and Rock, my brother would have kicked their asses on the decks!!

[Waiting on the lingerie show]

Following the lingerie show, which was quite amusing. Jesse chatted up some girls by challenging them to wii boxing, how romantic, although it worked! Then I kicked Ashleys arse on Wii boxing, mwah ha ha *evil laugh* (We were both very sore the next day, we blame Wii boxing!) We eventually headed upstairs to the 'Owl Bus' room, my favourite of the Four Rooms, it was small, retro and the DJ was playing some breakbeats and funk. Most people in the room looked very "Kate Nash". (Elizi and anyone who knows Rayanne from FV will agree... she would have LIVED in the Owl Bus Room). I felt like I was back in Phoenix, Arizona.

Just before we left we checked out the final room, which was the 'Psychedelic Zebra' room, there was a giant pillow fight in this tiny room. Ashley poked her little head in for a look and got hit smack bang square in the face with a sequent pillow, she didn't know whether to laugh or cry, it was hilarious!! In the wee hours of the morning, we left and headed for a tiny, closet sized nook bar called Vinyl, where we got cosy and drank cocktails out of plastic bags, kind of like giant Capri Suns.

[Then we left as I had eaten all the crisps provided on our table and was falling asleep]

On Sunday, it was the official Lunar New Year Holiday so there wasn't too much open. We managed to entertain ourselves anyway. We headed for 'On the Border' a Tex-Mex place. Yup MORE Mexican food, I was in my element!!! Loving it! We checked out some really random places which were closed on the back streets. We wanted to check out Dr. Fish but it was closed, it's a foot spa room. You put your grubby feet in a warm aquarium and little sucker fish eat the dead skin off your feet. How delightful eh?! I defo have to try this next time I'm in Seoul.

[An example of Dr. Fish]

[A good example of the Koreans terrible translation to English]

[Our donut friends @ Mr. Donut]

[Really sweet looking Brewery that was closed]

We decided to head to the Seoul National University and check out a William Blake Art Exhibition but we had yet another "Museum FAIL". It was closed! The boys lay in front of the doors in protest. We had a fair hike to get there and it was COLD this weekend. VERY COLD!!!

[Ashley consulting the map for our next destination]

After our 3rd Museum Fail since being in Korea, we hiked back to the subway and headed for a market, which was almost done for the night. We ran around a bit and then headed to the "foreigner area" of Seoul, Itaewon. Following a gorgeous Indian Buffet we found a Mexican joint called 'Amigos' where we threw back a few Margaritas and listened to 2 Mexican dudes, I'm pretty sure one of them was gay, sing Western songs. Day 2 in Seoul wasn't too productive but the 3rd day MORE than made up for it!

[I feel like this picture I found depicts perfectly how I feel in Korea, except for maybe Seoul, because the City is full of foreigners]

There will be a Seoul Part 2. ASAP!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Face-Masks & Animal Hats

So I'm officially here in Korea two months. I've overcome the dreadful culture shock, not too much about Asia can shock me anymore. Well... I am heading to Seoul this weekend so I may eat those words. I have seen alot of wierd shite here so far though, on par or maybe stranger than NYC. Shane & I spotted the "Seal people" downtown, I was gonna take a picture but Shane said it would be rude, so you'll just have to imagine them. I'm pretty sure they can't walk, instead of wheelchairs, they have a seal suit made out of grey rubber and they roll around on wheels horizontal on their bellies. Also they push a small money box, which is also on wheels infront of them, which has a Korean sign (obviously I can't read it), which probably says "... Seals need money too..". I know I know I'm going to hell.

So lets start with facemasks. They are my favourite. Koreans, both young and old like to wear "face-masks". They wear them if they're sick to keep their germs to themselves, which is very polite of them, haha. But they also wear them to protect themselves from everyone elses germs. Someone needs to explain how a thin piece of cotton can't possibly save you from the world of germs... and also inform them of how ridiculous they look.

[Here is a pic, for your viewing pleasure, of me wearing a face-mask I got free on a cereal box]

Another typical Korean 'winter' fashion is the Animal hat, which is also worn by both young and old people. They are literally hats of animals heads, well not 'real' animals, ah just look at the pictures.

[I'm pretty sure the cigarette is ruining his "look"]

[Even Shane wears them, I'm too cool for that sort of shananigans though]

A TON of kids wear these hats, they pull em off a bit better than adults or Shane.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tour of my English Academy

So here is a quick tour of where I work. My private school/Hagwon is called Avalon English in Gwangju. I work with mainly Elementary kids, but I also teach a few Middle School classes. I much prefer the little kids, they are hilarious and most of them aren't embarrassed to speak English. The Middle school kids are at that awkward age, so they tend to spend the whole class burning a whole through their desks with their eyes.

[Avalon English - June posing at the Front Desk]

[The Teachers Room]

[My Desk, your admiring my sweet screen saver aren't you? Each of the yellow folders represents a class or two.]

[This is an essay from one of my Elementary kids, she's one of my Faves, so cute]

[This is one of the classrooms, just imagine a full class of little kids and me behind that podium. haha!]

[Our staff restaurant/cafeteria is on the roof, this is the sweet view from the roof, that's Mudeung mountain, I shall conquer it in Spring time!!]

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Snowglobe Korea

The snow just keeps coming! It's cold and I think my face may fall off. It's pretty though.

But..... rrroll on Spring!!

[Caitlin & I... wrapped up...layers... Laaaayers!!]

[Snow Angels in the road @ 3am. Matt & I]

[Matt: "Quiiick... a caaar!"]

[Angels in the street]

["...lets make a ton of snowballs, put 'em in our freezers and have a snowball fight in May.."]

I skidded down my driveway sideways on a patch of ice yesterday... on my bike.

Sad Day :(