29 October, 2006

Halloween Party, October 27th

Since Fridays are a little bit more relaxed anyway, we chose to have our Halloween Party on Friday the 27th rather than disrupt classes in the middle of the week on the actual day. The kids came to school in all manners of dress--monsters, princesses, heros, and animals to name a few characters in attendance. I even wore a wig and bright red lipstick which really freaked the kids out. Liz wore the Korean red devil horns, and Marc made an imposing figure in a black cape and Scream mask. Esther decorated and darkened the lunchroom, and the kids put on a fashion show, strutting their stuff down the candle-lined 'runway'. We then managed to get all three groups of kids though 'tape the nose on the pumpkin' (run by me), 'eat a cookie off a string with no hands', and 'pass the lemon with your neck' games before lunchtime.

Princess 1 tries to make contact with the witch while Peter Pan keeps Spiderman 1 in check with his sword and Batman eyes Spiderman 2 hungrily.
The Princesses gossip in the back and Harry Potter surreptitiously puts Batman under a spell for plotting against Spiderman.
'You got me this time, Harry Potter, but just you wait!' says Batman, feigning innocence. And Spiderman figets obliviously.
Marcus, my favorite little monkey.
The crew minus one.

25 October, 2006

Haslla Art World, October 25th

Today we took our morning kinder kids on a field trip. We piled them all on a train and headed south along the coast to Jeongdongjin. It was a beautiful day--in great contrast to Monday and Tuesday--and the sea was gloriously white and frothy. We took some pictures at the famous beachside Jeongdongjin Station, then hopped into our vans which had met us and drove to Haslla Art World, an indoor and outdoor art center in the mountains that rise out of the sea. We had lunch on an outdoor balcony then toured the outdoor center on foot. I hope to go back as we didn't get to explore over half of what was there.

Brian, Lisa and Peter
Jinny, Sally, Alice and AbigailJohn and RayPenny and the seaPlatform at JeongdongjinIn front of Jeongdongjin StationHiking through the art parkGiant sundial and relaxation pavillionSculpturesMy kiddosPeter the tank

23 October, 2006

Unexpected Rain

I woke this morning to thrashing rain and wind howling with gale force through my building. My windows and doors whistled and rattled crazily as I got ready for work. Since I don't own an umbrella, I bundled myself in my hooded jacket and made the 45 second walk around the corner. In that amount of time, my snowboarding jacket was soaked through, my shoes were flooded, and my pants were plastered to my legs. Julian was handing out towels at the door.

Julian and Esther frantically ran around all morning answering the phones and patching up leaks in the windows. I was surprised that the power never went out, though it did flicker several times. By lunch time, it had not let up much, and Julian made the decision to cancel afternoon classes due to already low morning attendance and flooding throughout the city.

Sadly, my pictures don't really capture the terrific winds or rain.

20 October, 2006

Seoraksan, Daecheongbong, October 15th

Just north of Gangneung and west of Sokcho is Seoraksan which is one of the more famous national parks in Korea. It claims such fame in part, I believe, to the amazing colors in October. People flood the park by the coach-load, and hotels double their prices. It covers a large area, and there are many different hikes as well as hot springs. Morten got it in his head that we needed to climb the highest peak in the park (the third or fourth highest in South Korea), so we drove up early-ish on Sunday morning to scale 1708m (5603 ft) Mt. Seorak, or Daecheongbong. The 5km climb to the top was punctuated with rock stairs, metal stairs, wood stairs, and long lines of hikers, most of them coming down. The summit was so crowded that we had to stand in line to have our obligatory pictures with the obelisk. Morten had packed some tasty pasta salad for lunch, but I was so spent that I was only able to eat a few bites before my stomach revolted. I later explained delirious to Morten as being crazy from exhaustion, and he agreed that, yes, I had probably been delirious. The climb down was wonderfully solitary as most of the hikers had either already made the descent or were staying the night at the peak. We reached the car just as the last daylight was fading. Even though I couldn't walk for three days post-hike, I'm glad I did it, and we got some amazing photos.

19 October, 2006

Chuseok in Seoul, Day 3, October 5th

I took my time getting up on Thursday as well, then I met Liz and Judy again, this time to view a couple of the temples and palaces in the Insadong area. The buildings were beautiful, and I had a nice time just wandering around the gardens. We then met Aniva for a late lunch, following it with tea at one of the many cute little tea shops in Insadong. By that time, I'd about had it, and though I'd thought about staying another day, going home sounded pretty good. So I did.

Chuseok in Seoul, Day 2, October 4th

With an entire day of freedom ahead of me and no one to answer to, I took my time getting up and ready on Wednesday morning. My hotel was in Insadong, an area know for arts and crafts and great shopping, so I wandered around Insadong-gil for a few hours, letting myself get sucked in by the art--specifically the beautiful jewelry and bags.

I regrouped at my hotel after purchasing too many necklaces then headed to Dongdaemun Stadium to meet my friend Barkley. He led me through the insane flea market/thrift store type interior of the stadium to his favorite coat vendor where I picked up a day pack for a good price. After escaping the maze of merchandise, we walked up the hill along Old Seoul Wall to watch the sun set over the city. Despite the haze, the view was amazing.

I returned to my room once again to shower and get ready to meet Judy and Liz for a night in Itaewon. I wouldn't choose Itaewon as my favorite part of Seoul, but the places we went were very nice. We met a bunch of Judy's Australian friends at an Italian restaurant then went to The Embassy Bar for dancing. I enjoyed watching. And I'm pretty sure I met the Australian Ambassador to Korea.
Aloe for sale
Everything imaginable was for sale at Dongdaemun:Tools,ceramics and golf clubs,even used rice cookers and ski boots.Rooftop garden view from Old Seoul Wall.Out at night with Liz and Aniva.

Chuseok in Seoul, Day 1, October 3rd

I had all but Monday off during the first week of October for Chuseok which is Korean Thanksgiving. I haven't done much sight-seeing in Seoul though I've been there several times, so I thought I'd go see some stuff in Seoul for my holiday. Morten was picking up family at the airport, so we drove over together Tuesday afternoon. We hit Yongsan, the big electronics market, where Morten picked up a cool camera and I got a sleek and slim 80 gig external hard drive to supplement my ailing computer. Later we had steaks at the Outback, and I savored every bite of my potato with sour cream.

Traditional Manners Education Week, September 25-29

We had a week at the end of September to celebrate and educate the kids (and teachers!) about Korean traditions and manners. We all wore hanbok, and Esther taught male and female bowing rituals, traditional tea ceremony, and traditional games and wrestling. Our cook also helped us make glutinous rice balls filled with brown sugar and sesame seeds.