31 07 2008

I’m taking my first trip within S. Korea this weekend, if you don’t count traversing Seoul by subway, that is! I’m headed to Busan by bus (you don’t want to know how long I tried to make that pun work…) for the Busan Rock Festival and Ultimate Tournament. I didn’t recognize a single band on the rock festival list, so you might say I’m going for the ultimate. I’m excited to kick off my 10 day break from teaching 5 year olds with a little exploration, exercise and debauchery.

Last weekend’s foray into the world of Seoultimate (oh yes, I continue to go there) lifted my spirits. I’m in godawful shape, but there is something about this humid air that makes my lungs hold on for a few hours of running, throwing and catching.

After 4 years, countless knee pain and threat of major injury, through the bad times and the good, I still love this sport. I love that you can go anywhere in the world and play a game of pickup and go to a tournament or two, and meet new friends who share your interest in ultimate at least, and probably a lot more.

Wish me luck ūüėČ

Disclaimer: No Koreans were harmed in the making of these puns. My boyfriend is undoubtably groaning in INTENSE PAIN…. mission accomplished.


Stroll through Seoul

27 07 2008

Asia Travel

27 07 2008

It’s funny where life takes us, sometimes. If I was asked a year ago where my next big travel adventure was going to be, I think Asia was one of the last places I might have mentioned. Perhaps parts of it, maybe India or Nepal. But moving to South Korea? Not even on the radar. I’m just finishing up my first week of living in Seoul and I couldn’t be happier. My only gripe is that the hagwon I’m working for failed to mention the 10 day break coming up just two weeks into my contract. Thanks for that.

So now, what to do with 10 days? Most of the other teachers are off to other countries, but airline tickets are mostly booked up by now. Not to mention I haven’t received my first paycheck yet, which is a bit of a necessity with a longer trip. Of course I will be using a few of those days to explore Seoul. I have only been to one other stop on the subway, so I do have a lot of ground to cover. My co-teacher has offered up her services as native-Seoulite to show me some sights.

I was doing a bit of research on the Korea Ultimate page as well, and it turns out there is a tournament in Busan over the break. If I can finagle my way onto a team, this break might just work out. As disappointing as it is to “waste” one of my 10 day breaks not going somewhere further away, a little exploration of this peninsula will be lovely.

As for other breaks, I do have many plans. And here *drumroll please* is my tentative Asia travel list…

-explore Tokyo

-climb Mt Fuji

-Visit Thailand, one day in Bangkok and out to the gorgeous tropical beaches for the rest

-Go surfing in Indonesia (Bali, perhaps?)

-Vietnam: Hanoi and Halong Bay, others?

-Hiking in Nepal

-Laos, sleeping in treehouses, ziplines through the jungle and hanging out with gibbons (thanks to one of my co-workers for this suggestion!)


That’s all for now, but I am open to suggestion on other destinations that can’t be missed in Asia. Thoughts?

First Impressions

22 07 2008

It’s almost 7pm Seoul time, and I am wrapping up my first full day in Korea. I woke up at the LIVELY hour of 4am because I was¬†nervous the hotel clerk didn’t understand my request for a wake up call, and won’t get to sleep for quite awhile yet. My first impression? This year will be phenomenal.

The other native-English teachers are funny and charismatic. The Korean teachers are eager to chat and share experiences. But the best part is the children. My class is full of the most adorable children you will ever set eyes on. Their grasp of English is far beyond what I was expecting. I still haven’t wrapped my head around the age system here, but apparently they are all around 4 or 5 years old, and already reading books in English similar to 6 year olds in the States. Only minorly impressive til you rememeber, right, this is their second language. And one of my students is Japanese, so this is actually her 3rd language (If you take her word for it, she speaks 4; apparently “American” is also a language). They are eager to know my age, where I’m from, my favorite flowers and colors and places and animals.¬† To be honest, I never expected to like them this much on the first day (especially jetlagged!)

After school one of the other native-English teachers took me to the bank and helped me exchange money, and then out to the favorite cheap food place. All of the teachers love this place, and call it Orange. Before you delight on the cute Asian restaurant names, know this: they call it that because of the color of the sign. Hilarious.

Tonight I have a conversation partner (private lesson! but shhh!) with a 20-something girl that one of the departing teachers usually worked with. I’m psyched to be earning a little extra spending cash (and on my first day!) because it is immediate money in the pocket and I don’t have to wait for my paycheck. Winner!

Tomorrow I move into my apartment and truly begin the “living in Seoul” experience. If it’s anything as pleasant as my first 24 hours, this year will be a breeze.

I have arrived

21 07 2008

The flight was fairly uneventful. What time I didn’t spend reading the ridiculously violent and sexually depraved book Naked Lunch (William S. Burroughs, totally screwed up) and studying Korean vocab, I spent sleeping. Upon arrival at the Incheon International Airport, I picked up my bags (side note: THEY DIDN’T LOSE MY BAGS! I have horrendous luck with this so woohoo Korean Air!) and made my way out of customs without a hitch.

My airport pick-up had a sign that read “Alicia” so I knew I was in the right place. Mr. Oh took my luggage rack and led me through the airport to his car, nearly hitting just about every person who got in his way, and even clipping some poor girl’s ankles with the heavy cart. I’m glad I was fairly tired, or else I might have laughed out loud when that happened, which I’m sure she would not have appreciated.¬† Between traffic and distance from the airport, it took about an hour to reach Seoul. At one point Mr. Oh slowed down rather abruptly, and then laughed when I asked if it was because of the speed camera. I guess speeding and not wanting to get caught is just one of those things that spans all cultures.

Now I am up too early from a night with a bed too hard, sipping tea that tastes mostly pleasant but also a little bit like dirt. Weird.

I need food, but first I need to switch money. From a short walk down the road last night I know there are no English signs, and the atm doesn’t display English, either. Alas, food will have to wait.

Training begins in 3 hours, so I am off to shower and attempt to look presentable in my wrinkled clothes. Wish me luck!

good things come in twos

16 07 2008

In tonight’s case, those two things were 2 bottles of wine, and 2 Tomb Raider movies with my good friend Brad. The following conversation occurred during the final scene of the first movie, where Lara Croft enters in a white sundress and straw hat:

Me: “Lara Croft, what are you doing?!?!”


Me: “I much prefer her with the black and the guns…”

Brad: “But with this outfit, she looks like she’d make me breakfast!”


And this is why I love my friends.


14 07 2008

Occasionally, we are forced to attend such events that remind us where we come from. Lucky for me, the mom’s side family reunion was last night, and I got to catch up with the¬†extended family from such distant reaches as¬†southern Illinois, Kansas and Oklahoma.

By 1 am enough beer had been consumed to lead to more interesting conversation than the standard catching up. My charmingly redneck grandfather successfully added some tension with his use of colorful and kinda sorta blatantly racist sayings around the fiance/baby daddy of my underage pregnant cousin. And did I mention the underage pregnant cousin? She announced that her baby is the size of a pencil eraser.

As if that weren’t entertaining enough, I got in a debate with my extremely religious cousin about gay rights in the wee hours of the morning. I need to learn to keep my mouth shut when I know I’m just going to end up angry and frustrated with the lack of decency and understanding with rights issues. My mother looked on, horrified and slightly amused, as we bellowed “ACTUALLY, THAT DOES OFFEND ME!!!” pretty much every other sentence.

Despite the occasional clash of opinion and awkward moments, overall the reunion was a rousing success. The family caught up and enjoyed food, games and the pleasure of each others company. I can only hope my family reunions of the future are full of a similarly entertaining cast of characters, if for no other reason than they give me something amusing to write about.