Oh Christmas

Christmas this year was filled with lots of food, chatter, wine and laughter. I think I've become so Merry I started to rhyme. Haha. A small bar/restauraunt type of place was rented out. In reality, it was more of a shanty little shack with a few tables, a few stools and a great parking lot. Because the weather was so beautiful (think mid-50's and SUNNY), we ended up spending most of our time outside, huddled around tables of snacks and a bucket of fire. There was a gift exchange and I ended up with some Hawian acoustic guitar CD's, a ridiculously obnoxious rock CD, a conversation book, wet wipes and a key chain. I would have scored with a bottle of wine, 2 wine glasses and a wine stopper until Abbey snatched it away (I'm still bitter)...nah, all in all it was a fun filled night. I headed home around 7ish because I basically fell asleep on a chair, but I promised I'd be back out for round two. Well, as fate would have it, 10pm rolled around and I woke up bright eyed and ready to go. I headed back to the festivities to find that most others had left, but I stuck around with a few true Christmas troopers, Mr. Park (the bar owner) and his worker. Here are a few pictures that highlighted the afternoon/evening/night. As always, there are more at the yahoo photos link to the right.

The parking lot & bucket of fire.

Cheers Liz!!

Triangle of awesomeness
(yes, we're that cool)

Mr. Park (pronounced Pak) the owner of the rented space & myself


Me being awesome

Bohemian Rhapsody...need I say more. Noraybang (singing room) is so so so much fun...almost as fun as DJ's Lounge.

The awkward smile is still in full swing...

and yet again...

It's the last few hours of Christmas eve. My lovely dear friend Ben downloaded Nat'l Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, my favorite holiday movie EVER, so I was able to carry on my family's tradition while thinking of all of you at home. MISS YOU DEARLY. Merry Christmas.

Cheers to 2007!!!


Happy 1/2 Birthday to me!!!

Gone are the days when half birthdays were recognized. Well, today is my half birthday and I from now on I will proudly say I'm 24 and a half. Shazaaam.

So it's almost Christmas. I'm looking forward to a long weekend, a 3 day week next week followed by another long weekend. Wish I could have the entire week off, but oh well, can't have everything now can I.

In other recent events, I've been mildly annoyed with a few of my co-teachers. The head teacher actually quit and tomorrow is her last day. In some ways I'm sad she won't be around anymore, but at the same time she always takes my candy or food. I've never been the "fat kid" who selfishly eats in front of others w/o so much as offering, but when people just take take take and never reciprocate, I get annoyed. For example, one of my students gave me a candy and I left it in the classroom, which is my fault, but when she returned with my candy, she said, "oh is this your candy that you left in the classroom?" I said, "oh yeah, thanks". As I held out my hand, she quickly opened it and popped it in her mouth. I sat there giving her my evilest eye and she cackled at me. CACKLED!! Another time, I bought a box of cookies for my students. The cookies were pre-packaged within the box and whatever I didn't use that day I'd save for later. Well, she saw I had a bunch of cookies and requested half of my box for her class. I said no and she had a little fit. Get your own damn cookies!!!!!!!! Uff. Oh well, stupid things I guess. That aside, the other Korean teachers are pretty cool. I get along with 3 of them very very well, the 4th is nice but I hate eating with her. Koreans traditionally tend to eat with their mouths open and chomp on their food like an old cow. I think it's gross and rude, but it's part of the culture I suppose. It's nothing against her character, I just loose my appetite when I sit across from her...

Anyway, this is me complaining and being a baby. Perhaps my pouty outlook on life right now isn't properly portraying how much I've matured over the past 1/2 year (haha). Don't worry though, I will grace you with insight the next time I write.


Saturday Night Fever

Last Saturday, my good friends Dave & Abbey decided to host a Christmas party at their apartment. Most of us foreign teachers live in modest studio apartments where our bedroom acts as our living room, dining room & kitchen. For some reason, Dave & Abbs scored themselves a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 500 balconies, HUGE LIVING ROOM apartment for just the two of them. It was the perfect size for the amont of people who showed up. Apple made delicious Thai food, Ben brought his computer so we could play Christmas music, Kelsey & I busted out our latest dance moves and we officially broke the elevator...(they live on the 10th floor too).
Being at a house party was a great change from the restaurant/bar scene...although there are always great times to be had at one of the few places we frequent. It was just nice to spend time with people in a more intimate setting...it reminded me of home, hanging out at Benjiman or the Hamptons...Anyway, here are a few pictures highlighting the night...you can find more at the yahoo photos link to the right. I've added other pictures too, so feast your eyes and enjoy. MUA.

The beautiful host and myself...glowing, the heat must be pretty high...:)

Bill showing off his new nifty scarf.

Mark appears to be the funniest person Abbey's ever spoken to.

A great sing-along...I think the best rendition of 4 Non Blondes happened right here.



Sleigh bells Ring...are you listening...

As I walked to the bus stop today, this little jingle popped its way into my headc and I had to chuckle when I got to "walking in a winter wonderland" because my surroundings embody nothing that a winter wonderland defines ~ at least not to the standards I'm used to. For me, the Christmas season is generally filled with well, snow for starters, loads of Christmas Carols (to the point of annoyance), shopping, comfort foods and sweets, sledding, $1 ice skating, eggnog, hot cocoa, Christmas lights, snow angels, snow fights, snow forts and lots of red and green. As I strolled down the street y in my sweater and jeans, I looked up and saw rows of bare trees and the sun was shining brightly and warming my face. That's when it clicked, there's just so much sun and blue skies here! That's a big part of why it doesn't feel like Christmas here! I've certainly seen more sun this month than GR gets all winter!

Speaking of Christmas, this is my first time away for the holiday. I've always made it back a few days before and was able to enjoy the festivities with my family. It makes me a tiny bit sad, but I'm excited for the big dinner celebration and gift exchange here amongst the foreign group. It also helps that my brother won't be home so I'm not the only one missing out on the Koeman family traditions...which generally consist of a bunch of hard headed individuals bickering over stupid mundane things, my dad belting out Christmas carols with such good intentions and my brother or sister wrapping their gifts with loads of ductape in boxes much too large for their contents. That, or the massive consumption of food: stromboli, potatoes, green beans, cheesy potatoes, wine, punch, pie, cookies and bars, mmmmmmmmmmm. All is good though; the menu here is looking to be quite promising as well.

So yes. Even though Gimhae, or Korea in general, isn't as "Christmasy" as back home, I can feel myself getting pretty excited for the holiday. I'm sure the day will pass quickly and it's back to work on the 26th, but Steve & MeiLi (friends from home who are currently teaching in Japan) are coming the 29th to ring in the New Years...and those of you from the G-Rap know what that means...eggs, bacon, sausage rolls, toast and lots and lots of coffee....



Kids & the bathroom

Very full after a delicious lunch. Waiting around for my next class. I should be preparing but procrastination and laziness are overcoming me and I'm on the puter. Anyway, I went to wash my dishes and since we don't have a kitchen (our lunch room is a converted classroom) we use the sink in the only female bathroom on our floor. As I was washing, I noticed both stalls were occupied. The first student came out of her stall, startled to see me washing my dishes and hurried out. The 2nd student eventually followed, she at least said, "hello Kimberly Teacher" before departing. At that moment, a strange thought occurred to me, neither of the students flushed their toilets and neither of them washed their hands. I thought maybe they didn't want to disrupt my dish washing, but they didn't even glance at the sink or shift around uncertain of what to do next. Perhaps that's why many of us foreigners are always sick or on the brink of being sick. There's not much etiquette for covering one's mouth when coughing or sneezing and apparently, kids don't really find it necessary to wash their hands (or flush the toilets??). Perhaps this isn't a normal occurrence and these two girls were in a big hurry. Mulayo (I don't know).


Asahhhhhhhhh it's Friday.

I'm not sure how to phoentically sound out this word, but asahhhh means Oh yeah!!! and that's how I feel about it being Friday. The weeks have been flying by lately and I'm finding myself falling into a disgraceful rut. I was very good about going to bed at a decent time and waking up early, but lately I have been falling into old habits and staying up later, which inevitably means waking up later. Arg arg arg is how I feel about that, but oh well. My excuses hold relevance. My yoga class is finished so I recently joined a gym recommended by a friend. At $80/3months who could not sign up for such a deal!! Plus, there's a yoga class included in the price...unfortunately I work during it, but still...At any rate, I've been 2x. I'm already feeling great about it, I was extremely nervous to get on a tredmill again, but to my surprise I was still able to run for 30 minutes straight. I haven't ran for at least 2 months so I was proud of myself. After my cardio, I decided to give my arms a little work out and sat down at a weight machine. It was the type where you sit on a bench, secure your knees under a padded thingy and pull down on a bar. Easy enough right? Well apparently, my form was ALL wrong and I had to be shown the correct way to pull it down. Okay, well showing is one thing, what the trainer did to me is another...basically, he got on the bench behind me and gripped my shoulders as if his life depended on it (I kept thinking, "why why why are you doing this?? You're hurting me you're hurting me")...I guess I was using my shoulders too much...then with one foot planted heavily in the ground, he jammed his other knee directly into my upper back saying, "puff out your chest when you pull bar, yes, PUFF CHEST, PUFF CHEST". This went on for a good 10 minutes on one machine. Then, against my will, he dragged me to another machine quite similar to the first and the entire escapade was repeated. AWESOME. It must have been quite a site to the other Koreans...seeing a fellow Korean on a machine, being yelled at in English while pinned to a bench with a knee probing her back...the next day I was putting on lotion and my shoulder was soooooooooooo sore. I couldn't figure out why until i realized, that's the spot the trainer was holding on to so tight. Needless to say, I won't be using the weights at the gym ever again. When I left that night he mentioned something about my "next training session". No way..suckaaaaaaaaa...I'll buy my own weights and do so in the comfort of my home. Haha, yeah. So by the time I get home I'm not tired at all! Who wants to go to bed right after exerting so many energies?? That's a fair excuse right?? I guess I have only one, I can't think of any other reasons for my laziness except the obvious...I DON'T EVER WORK UNTIL 2:30 OR 3:25 OR 4:20 (yessssssss) so why should I feel guilty sleeping in until 10:30 or 11? I used to hate my schedule, but it's slowly, yes slowly, beginning to grow on me.

So yes, December is flying by. I'm trying to put together packages to send to mi familia, but people (ahem father, brother, brother-in-law) are all very tricky to puchase gifts for...hrm...until next time...........asaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, it's Friday night and I feel alright...


Pictures courtesy of the Documentarist...

Here are a few pictures that my friend has taken over the past few weeks. I haven't had a chance to upload pictures for a while. I'll do so soon...until then, enjoy these please!!
Abbs, Kim & Liz at wine and cheese night

Out for bbq...two brits, two canadians, 2 americans, 1 thai, 1 kiwi (can't see him though haha)

Liz & Me at dinner
(can you tell I got a hair cut?)

Square Garden

Ben & his gross shirt

The bathroom sign...hahahahahahaha
The women's was funny too...don't have a picture though.

A tequila slamma...doesn't look to tasty with the picture huh...

Thanks Liz!!


For Dave: How much do the dancing girls cost??

So a big nosed Grand Rapidsian is telling me I need to post more, so here goes...PS: Save the party until September 2007!!!!!

Last night, my funny friend Dave started talking about this strange Korean marketing concept that happens when a new eating establishment opens. It's custom to hire a "dancing entourage". This usually includes two or three scantly clad women with microphones, a stage, a booming sound system. These women then proceed to dance their fannies off to the outrageously loud beats while they coax people to come in and eat. I'm not sure how this all originated or how effective it actually is, but because one business somewhere in the whole of Korea did it, all others had to follow. This by the way is a general trend of Korea. For example, some time ago a few churches decided to post red neon crosses on top of their churches and now...well, If you look around at night you'll see hundreds of neon red crosses spattered throughout the darkness, literally, all over the country. That's an entirely different topic though. ANYWAY, the dancing girls...last night we were out and the question arose, "how much do you think the dancing girls cost?" This truly is a baffling concept...think about it...the equipment, the stage, the girls, the girls' outfits, feeding the girls, blah blah blah...people's guesses ranged from $100 - $1,000. There's really no way of knowing. Some of my friends suggested I try and apply for a part-time job...weekends and such, I mean, I am a pretty awesome dancer, and I really do love belly bearing tops, short skirts, weird knee high things and big (HUGE) platform white tennies...if I get hired I'll definitely post pictures. Needless to say, it was a pretty good night, minus creepy James showing up...but again, another story for another time.

In other news...not much else is up. There are so many things I should be writing about, the little details I've become accustomed too here: the fact that pedestrians have absolutely no right-of-way, that Koreans are crazy drivers, that school kids are milling around town at midnight because they've just finished at their last academy, that Mr. Pizza ~one of the nicer pizza chains in Korea~ has the slogan "Made for women" and have weekly or monthly "Women's Days", that I'm sitting in a dark room full of neon blue lights and about 20 loud and annoying Korean boys running around...the list goes on and on. I'll have to post a more coherent list sometime, but now I'm heading to the public sauna...

P.S. In the past I've always had people to share these things with. I don't have that security blanket this time, but that's why I try to post on this thing...Plus, I'm lucky to have met some really awesome people here to fill in the gaps...:)