29 March, 2006


So, about the sunrise. It all started with a quiet dinner with Liz on Saturday night. Marc bailed out on us at the last minute, so we had a lovely girls only dinner followed by some jasmine tea at Jazz Club. A group of guys came in to celebrate a birthday, and they sent a piece of cake over to our table. It was quite good, but Liz and I decided that whipped cream is not a good substitute for frosting. After that, we headed to Warehouse for dance party night (my favorite!), but I got out of the dancing by shooting some pool. I tried leaving several times in there, but Marc, who is the best motivator/leader/manipulator I've ever met, convinced me that the night would get better, that we'd go somewhere else with less dancing and better music. He kept his promise, taking us all to Uncle 29 where the owner lets us pick the music and cooks us specialty snack food. For those of you in Korea, our friend Bryce plays guitar and sings there every Monday night at 9:30. After awhile of sitting around and talking, Marc sensed that he was starting to lose some people and made a valiant effort to round up a group to go out to the beach. In spite of some really superb smooth talking, he ended up with only three loyal followers--me, Liz, and Bryce. And that is how I found myself sitting on the beach in the cold sand eating bananas and Pringles watching the sun rise on Sunday morning. 'We only live once,' Marc pointed out. After seeing the sun fill the sky with amazing colors, I had no regrets. An old woman selling instant coffee took our picture while we waited for the sun to break.

25 March, 2006

Ice Skating

On Wednesday morning, we packed all of our morning kinder kids into vans and schlepped them over to Gangneung Indoor Ice Rink. We got them skated and helmeted suprisingly quickly, and then some rink employees took over to help the kids have some organized chaos on ice. We (the teachers), were going to skate together, but Marc couldn't find skates that were big enough or sharp enough for his liking ('That's it, fate is telling me not to skate!'), and Liz cut her ankle (what?!) putting her skates on (that reminds me of the skiing story which I'll have to tell later). So I skated around by myself and laughed at the kids. But, hey, I got to try speed skates. We got them re-shoed, de-helmeted, in the vans, and back to school all in time for lunch. There's nothing like Korean efficiency.

The Second Haircut

Last Saturday morning Liz and I met Judy, an older Australian woman, for a trip to Vivid Hair Salon. The salon is on the other side of a small hill, so we had either had to walk down and through the tunnel, up around the end, or up and over. Judy suggested going over, saying it was very beautiful with some nice trails. This sounded good to me, but I deferred to Liz who is not in the best of shape. She gave the okay, so we charged up the hill. Judy and I got to talking, and as we started going down the other side, I realized we had lost Liz. I turned to see where she was and was met with the sight of her weaving drunkenly down the hill with a blank look on her face. 'Do you need to sit down?' I called. She grunted and instantaneously plopped straight-legged in the dirt. I thought we were going to lose her. Luckily, Judy had some water, and we were able to get her down the hill shortly. At Vivid Hair, I somehow communicated what I wanted--shorter in the back, longer in the front, no weird Korean bangs, a little bit of texture--and the guy went to work. An hour and a half and two shampoos later I had the do pictured here. And it was only about ten dollars.

23 March, 2006

Sleeping students

I couldn't resist sneaking this photo of Daniel sleeping during my 2:00 class last week. I snapped it through the window so the other kids wouldn't think I was being mean or making fun of him. I was actually a little concerned about why a seven year old was that tired. After trying multiple times to get him to concentrate on the workbook page we were doing (he struggles as it is), I gave up and let him sleep for the last thirty minutes of class. When I woke him to go home, he stood up, took a few weaving steps, fell against the wall, slid down, and went back to sleep. I carried him (still sleeping) to a chair in the arrival area where I left him. Today we combined our 5:00 classes for a movie. At 6:20 everyone cleared out, but I found two of my poor students remaining, zonked out on the floor, one sitting cross-legged with his head resting on the floor in front of him. The girl was so disoriented that she went back to my classroom and sat down saying she didn't need to ride the bus (which wasn't true).

White Day

February 14th is a day I have come to loathe and have even been known to openly boycott it. The only reason I haven't ignored it completely is that my mom gives me a lovely gift every year (I should start calling it Daughter's Day). This year, however, I discovered that all I've really needed is a little White Day counteraction. This is how it works: girls give boys candy on Valentine's Day, and boys give girls candy on White Day, March 14th. Last Tuesday morning when I walked into the staff room, I realized that they mean business. Julian breezed in long enough to fill me in--'This is from Peter, this is from Marcus, these are from Thomas...' The picture doesn't even touch on the entirety of my spoils. I tell you, there's nothing better for the old self esteem than getting candy from cute little Korean boys.

17 March, 2006

Second trip to Seoul

Where to start, where to start...

Let me begin by referencing my February 19th blog--the story about my first trip to Seoul. I mentioned getting several email addresses but joked about no one getting mine and made it sound as though those poor saps would never hear from me again. Well, for some reason, I was inspired to write to one of the fellows (Chris, refer to the orange shirt), and we struck up a friendly correspondence.

When I got a notice from Niki at Park English about another party in Seoul, I wasn't immediately very interested but thought it might be fun to go if I could incorporate meeting up with Chris at some point. He was game, so I decided to go, as did Marc who was also recruited through Park English.

Marc and I headed out Saturday morning on a 10:45 express bus and got in just after 1:30. I was supposed to meet Chris at the #6 exit of the #7 subway line (which at the time of discussion seemed easy enough) between 1:30 and 2:00. Forty-five minutes, several maps, countless subway passages, and three information booths later, Marc and I were tramping up an obscure stairway--exit #6--and what do you know, Chris was there waiting. Marc headed off to do some of his own sight-seeing, and Chris and I jumped in a taxi so we could run what I thought would be a small errand to an Aveda salon. Wrong! The taxi driver had a hard time figuring out where I wanted to go, traffic was horrific, and when we finally got there, they didn't even have the products I wanted. Chris was more than cool about the whole thing and didn't even make too much fun of me for spending an exobitant amount of money on shampoo and lotion.

We wandered around Gangnam for a little bit then decided to check out Insadong-gil which required a ride on the very crowded subway (if you want to get to know someone very quickly, just try being smashed together in a moving subway car). Insadong was very happening, complete with bad live music, street food, and stores and vendors of every variety. We stumbled into a place with batting cages thinking it was a restaurant that had been recommended to us, and that turned out to be a highlight of the day. I swing like a girl, but after a lousy warm-up round, I managed to crack a few balls into the net.

After that, being quite ravenous, we did actually find a restaurant, and we enjoyed a delicious meal in a beautiful and peaceful setting--so peaceful, in fact, that it nearly put us to sleep. On the way out of the restaurant, we stopped to snap a photo of a cool old bike in front of an old building. If you look closely enough, you can see an eggshell under the seat. Chris stole my camera, claiming I hadn't framed the picture correctly. He was right, too. His picture (seen here) is much better than mine. We revived enough to do a little shopping (how could I resist all the cheap earrings?!) then hopped another subway to Hongdae where the Park English gathering was. It was a typical night out in Korea. I wasn't as into it as some of the people, but I had a good time anyway. Second trip to Seoul--as successful as the first!

16 March, 2006

Once again...

Sorry everyone, I just can't seem to fit everything that I want to into one night! But here's another pic from the archives. It might not be as good as the frog, but I think Rachel putting sand in Cathy's shoes is still pretty good.

14 March, 2006

My sadly neglected blog

I know it's been awhile since I've posted a really good blog, but I'm sorry to say that you'll have to wait at least one more day for a good post as I need to go to bed right now. I have several good stories which I promise to post in the next day or two. Here are pictures of a crazy psychedelic frog and Marcus in Miffy earmuffs to tide you over until then. Cheers.

05 March, 2006

Graduation and festival

Last Friday was graduation for kids who are eight and have been in our morning kinder program for two years. It was held in the school lunch/rec room durning school hours. Liz had one girl graduating, and Joseph had seven or so. Liz and I were told that our classes weren't invited to watch, but I asked if I could sneak out to catch a little bit of it. After the scissors incident, I was hesitant to leave my kids unattended, but I left Kevin in charge with an extra pile of worksheets, and they were just fine.

Picture: Esther, Joseph, Julian and the kids

Graduation Festival was on Monday. My class didn't participate since it was a beginner class, but Joseph and Liz had spent the previous month and a half teaching their classes choreographed songs and skits for the festival extravaganza. Julian rented a local community theater and costumes, and the parents came out in droves to see their little ones showcase their English skills. The kids were absolutely darling. The program included 'Do, Re, Mi', 'Hokey Tokey', 'Lion Hunt', 'Riverdance', and several others. As a final farewell, Joseph's class sang 'To Sir With Love' to him while he sat on the stage and cried. Pictures: Riverdance; Max and Mikayla rockin' the Hokey Tokey; recorder ensemble; me, Joseph, Liz, Joseph's girlfriend

After the festival, a group of the parents took us teachers (minus Joseph) out for Chinese food. The neurosurgeon that I've visited a couple of times was in attendance (THAT wasn't awkward), and he was called on to order. I think it was because of his social status, even though there were also an orthodontist and a Donald Trump type fellow at the table. Julian later commented that she didn't like the dishes he ordered--they were too heavy and rich and expensive and greedy. I didn't think it was too bad, but Liz and Marc and I all agreed that we could have lived without the sea cucumber.