Friday, May 31, 2013

End of the Month Photo Post - January

January was a "cold" month. The beginning started with  the new year rolling in and ended with a great hike that really showed how out of shape I was in!
With the new year I decided that I needed to expand my horizons and try out a Korean spa, a jjimjilbang. It was an awesome experience. I came in sore and feeling crappy and I felt leaving relaxed and relieved. I recommend Dragon Hill Spa right next to Yongsan Station in Seoul, South Korea.
The after photo of going into the Spa.
A week or so after break, I decided to spend the money on a photo class so I could learn how to use my camera more. I took a walk near apartment in Suwon, and got some great shots of this wren flying along the creek by my apartment. The walk proved to me that paying around $200 for a photo class would be worth it because I have no idea how to use my camera and I really want to become a better photographer.

At the end of January, I went on a hiking trip with Seoul Hiking Group. We went to Manisan, which is on an island close the North and South Korea border. I went with Susan, Carly, and Belinda on a last minute decision to join on a Sunday morning hike. I was tired and cranky since sleeping seemed to fail me the night before. It wasn't too cold, but cold enough that I didn't really want to not wear jeans. The hike was a nice, challenging hour and half to one point and then another 2 hours after.

That kinda darker gray in the middle...that's North Korea.

You can kinda see it...kinda.

Pretty dead leave with frost.

Let's throw leaves into the air.

'cause it makes us look cool!

Me trying to not enjoy the view even though  I had a hard time keeping up.

From the peak. Gorgeous view really.

Group shot at the top, didn't work out too well.

Suzanne and her acrobatics.

More shots from the top.

Going back down saw this man carrying his probably 4 or 5 year girl UP THE MOUNTAIN LIKE THIS.

This is what the majority of the hike was like. Needed crampons for sure.
Once I arrived at the peak, I decided that there was no way in hell I was going to continue on and it as a good thing I decided that. I was not in the best of shape and I definitely was not up to small versions of rock climbing, even if ropes were used. I enjoyed a nice little nap on the bus as well as changing into my sweat shirt since I had sweat through my t-shirt during the hike.
After every one got back together from the hike, we went to one side of the island and had an amazing soup supper. Korea definitely has some of my favorite soups, due to their savory and spiciness. We also had a great ocean view from our restaurant. I'm a sucker for winter beaches, some people don't appreciate the look of snow and sand together, but it's nostalgic for me.

And again, another jumping photo that actually worked...though I do look like I have a rocket pack on.

The last weekend of January brought me to the Tim Burton exhibit at Seoul Museum of Art. The Tim Burton Exhibit was a great excursion for a Sunday morning...too bad it meant getting up at around 7:30 AM! I went with the people I did knitting club with, which was a great change of pace for me. A lot of my friends had already gone to the exhibit during earlier months, so this was my chance to go with people I knew from different activities. The exhibit showcased select artwork from Tim Burton's private collection of his own art from different movies, early inspiration as well as journals from his youth. It offered a nice  view into his mind and what his inspirations were for his movies. I really enjoyed the quotes that were placed through out the exhibit.
Even though I am not as well versed as others for his movies, I enjoyed looking at the costumes, story boards, and other inspirational artwork Burton as done over the years. It's all just morbidly whimsical. A strange combination of the two, but it fits. We were not allowed to take photographs while inside the exhibit but there were pieces we could take photos with outside. I enjoyed how the art museum had gates put up with Tim Burton's name in the expected typography that is famous from his movies. The entrance displays inside manifests the ideal of being swallowed into the mindset Tim Burton possesses in his creative process. I could continue on in this overly analytical rhetoric, but I will cease because I'm boring myself.
I enjoyed this art exhibit because I felt that it was an honest interpretation into the mindset of some one who lived in his own complete, little world. Which is appealing to any person who isn't afraid of their own mind.

January was a fun month that led me to decide to pursue more opportunities taking pictures and getting to learn more about my camera. Check out my February Photo post to see what I learned in lessons!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

End of the Month Photo Post - December

December for me was a very quiet month. With the holidays coming in, it is one of the saddest times for me since I miss my family and friends from back home the most during these times. I have though my best  New Years Eve story to date. Even though no pictures accompany the evening, it is surely a hilarious read as well as showcasing the generosity foreigners do run into some times in Korea.

One of the funniest events I did in December was Santacon, where probably around 500 foreigners got together and dressed up as Santa then got on the subway and sang Christmas carols as we made our way to Hondae. It was an incredibly fun evening!

At work the week before Christmas, we had a snow day. On said snow day, all the foreign teachers came into work in Christmas colors...unplanned. It was sad that we didn't plan it but still humorous that it happened. This picture was also put in our school's newsletter telling the kids Merry Christmas.
Scott, Mckenna, Me, and Tin.
The walk into work was magical.

On Christmas day a big group of us got together to go ice skating. It was nice having Christmas day off  so going into Seoul wasn't so bad...the only problem was that it was going to be one of the coldest days of the year! The plan was to go iceskating outside at one of the rinks that are setup all through Seoul. When we got there, the earliest time we could buy tickets was around 7pm. As a group it was decided there was no way in hell we were going to wait nearly 6 hours to ice skate and we ventured all the way to the other side of Seoul and went ice skating at Lotte World.
We met Santa on the way.

In line at Lotte World to get skates
This had firework display and everything.

Waiting to go on the rink.

Scott, Suzanne, Mckenna, Nick, and I
We got a photo op with the helmets which everyone was suppose to wear, but don't.

A group of girls came up to Suzanne and kinda followed her around.  They put the fake grass in our hair.

Suzanne whipping by on her skates.

The two girls who tailed Suzanne everywhere.

Dinner after skating.
After leaving for dinner I did one of my famous trips where I fell over nothing. Well, I tripped on the carpet they put in front of doors during winter to protect people from slipping. I obviously fell over them and proceeded to have both knees so bruised that it was a week before they turned a very dark purple. It was a hilarious fall that everyone at dinner witnessed and proceeded to laugh their asses off.

Before New Years, a coworker gave Mckenna and I tickets to go to the 63 building which is supposedly the tallest building in Seoul with an observatory deck. At the building they have a small aquarium as well as the observatory deck that also has an art gallery. Since it was our first Saturday of our winter vacation, I proceeded to drink myself silly into the night. After a somewhat hellish beginning of the term, I was ready to blow some steam. 
While at the 63 building, we didn't get to much of a view. It was cloudy and foggy surrounding the building. We had a great time looking at the aquarium and drinking on the observatory deck.
The View....nothing to see.

fun fish

Fish that eat off your dead skin.

The long shark, that was around 2 feet.
Now the story about New Years Eve.
There are no pictures of the night but what happened is probably one of those "I can't believe I was this stupid and so lucky at the same time."
I had spent the first couple days of my winter vacation feeling rather crappy due to over drinking my first Saturday. I had developed a cold by New Years Eve so I wasn't in too much of a party mood. When midnight struck, I knew I had an hour to get on the train so I wouldn't miss the last train home. Sadly, I got stopped by missing my transfer train by 1 measly minute. I had enough money on me to take a cab home so I wasn't too worried. When I left the train station though, it was in an obscure station where trying to find a taxi stand would take a ten minute walk. I found a convenient store and asked where one was and wondered on my way. After having fallen down the week before and several times Saturday night,  my knees and legs were pretty wobbly and bruised so I treaded carefully on the iced over street. As I made my way to the taxi stand which was still a bit aways, a car pulled up beside me with a Korean man and a woman.
At first, I was mildly concerned since most of the times I've ever had an adult Korean man or woman talk to me, it has been to scold or laugh at me. The woman asked me where I was going and when I said I was taking a taxi back to where I lived in Suwon, she promptly said "NO!"and told me to get in the car.
Yes, I know the age old rule of don't get into the car with strangers as a child. As an adult, female, and alone of a night where most of the world is drunk or on something, I should REALLY not get into a car with strangers. As I deliberated my options of pay $40 for a taxi or maybe half that for reimbursing some one nice to drive me back, I chose the idiotic decision and got into the car with the nice woman and man.
No one needs to chastise me, I already know the idiocy of my decision but I felt it was probably the safest of my two  or three options. Option 1 being taking a taxi to where my friends where for the night with a drunk taxi driver.  Option 2 taking a taxi  home with a possibly drunk taxi driver. Option 3 with the sober guy and maybe sober woman.
I got into the car, falling down on the ice several times and probably making them believe I was just another drunk foreigner. As they drove me to Suwon, which is about a 40 minute drive south of Seoul, I learned about who they were. The man driving the car is a pastor for the woman's church. They had been at an event where they were feeding the homeless in New Years Eve. The pastor was driving the woman back to her apartment in Seoul when he needed to buy some water and that's when he over heard me ask the attendant at the convenient store where a taxi stand was. The woman saw me leave and asked her pastor what I needed and when she found out I was going to a taxi stand, she knew it was her duty as a good Christian to make sure I got home safe. No matter where I lived.  I learned through the 2 and a half hour drive(NO ONE SHOULD EVER USE APPLE MAPS)  back to Suwon that the woman was known as the "Pink Lady" due to her wardrobe of mainly pink clothes( she was wearing a pink mink coat) and that she lived half the year in Korea and the other half in Sydney, Australia. Her husband lived and worked in Sydney full time which gave her dual-citizenship for Australia. I was confused by this, but she had her passport for both Korea and Australis with her, so I wasn't about to argue. Their daughter also lived and worked as an English teacher on the coast of Korea, near Busan, and was around my age. Her pastor was a bit younger than her, not married, but was a strong leader and knew little to no English.
After hearing her life story, she asked about mine.  Anne, which is her English name, asked about my family, how long I had been living in Korea, if I was married or single, gay or straight, what I was doing in Korea, how long I had been living in Korea, when I was leaving Korea, what I was going to do after I left Korea, etc. It was an enjoyable car ride and I learned a lot about Anne and her pastor, whose name I have forgotten.
It was an enjoyable ride back and I safely arrived home close to 4 AM. I tried to meet up  with Anne a while ago, but with my work schedule to just never worked up. Anne was super sweet and the fact her pastor spent nearly 3 hours making sure I got home safe was awesome. My New Year's was certainly
eventful and I was happy I got home safe and sound.

Monday, May 20, 2013

End of the Month Photo Post- November

Banpo Bridge and Seoul Lantern Festival, Bryan's going away, Alanna's going away, started taking Korean Lessons

November was a month of goodbyes as good friends started to leave South Korea. Before Bryan left us for a while, we did one more MonWon sleepover, this time it was in Suwon where Mckenna and I work. We started the evening off with some fabulous Indian food, spun the wheel at Sam Ryan's, and then moved to Mckenna's where we got our MONWON on :) !
ME, Bryan, Suzanne, Mckenna, Alex

Bryan and I at dinner!
We really are some fine people!

And of course, the obligatory Monwon shot of the night.

In November is also the Latern festival in Korea. I went with Tin and her friend Jasmine, who was visiting from Aussieland. We first went to Banpo Bridge which lights up at night for a spectacular show.

The Lantern Festival is two weeks longs and I went on the last Saturday of the period. I only walked a small portion of the stream that it lights up due to how crowded the whole area was! It was very congested and it was a bit difficult getting some nice shots of the lanterns. This is one of the events I apreciate in Korea because you get to see so many people really appreciating the event and what it means.

The end of the month brought saying goodbye to my friends Bryan, Alanna, and Lisa. Alanna and Lisa  were in my training group and I hung out with them a few times over the year we were all here together. Lisa came back in February but Alanna is back in the US enjoying her life there. I went to the Club Phantom in Gangnam with themafter dinner at Butterfingers, drinks at the Whiskey Weasel. We ended our night at Rainbow which is a hookah bar in Gangnam.

Me, Lisa, Alanna

November was a busy month for me! I started taking Korean lessons as a way to fill in my weekend so I would be more active and have more things to do. It was fun for me to take Korean, but sadly I spent the last weekend extremely sick so I never took the final.  I did attempt to take it again, but with spring coming in, I stopped after the third week. Korea in winter is cold, but having things to do on the weekend helps the time go by faster and taking the classes helped me be more studious and active during the week as well.