a fast fab five (+ 16) to the finish.

5 days left of work. Count 'em. 1-2-3-4-5. It seems like I've been counting down to this week for awhile, but I must admit that it will be a bittersweet day when I finish work on Friday. I will be reallly sad to say goodbye to some of my kiddos and co-teachers...

Last weekend was a birthday/farewell party for a few friends here. A lot of people are leaving this fall and it's already begun. I don't particularly like goodbyes when I'm not the leaver, so I'm kind of glad to be the next one from our little community to go.

My apartment is in organized-shambles right now (do you like my usage of oxymoron's? Korea has taught me to be oh so clever) due to my inability to decide what to keep, what to toss and what to give away. Even though I'm not leaving for another 3 weeks, I have to be packed up and out of my apartment by Friday night/Saturday morning in order for the new teacher to move in, or for Scott to switch apartments.

After Friday, I will be on a 16 day whirlwind of holiday, travel and goodbyes. For those (Bill) who are interested, is a quick breakdown of my plans:
8/31: Last day of school
9/1-9/2: Daegu visiting Myung Mi and her family
9/3: Seoul
9/4-9/11: Hong Kong to visit Eric & So Hang, city lights, beach town(s), SHOPPING!!!
9/12: Gimhae/Busan
9/13-9/15: Pohang. Goodbyes to the orphanage (tear).
9/16: Flying home!!!!

Enjoy, mua!


Doing the Goeje

This past weekend was spent relaxing on the shores of Goeje Island, the 2nd largest of Korea. 4 of us took the ferry from Busan and made the hour trek, in which I felt mildly nauseous (I hate that I often suffer from motion sickness)...Upon our arrival, we were starving and were hoping to find a quick orange cafe (cheap food, quick service, virtually EVERYWHERE in Korea) but nothing but seafood restaurants lined the streets. I hate seafood, which again sucks, but we finally found something similar to an orange cafe and got a taxi to the beach. Charlotte, a native to the island, wanted to take us to a nice sandy beach, but because Goeje is somewhat known for pebble beaches our taxi driver felt it necessary to dismiss her directions and take us to the main pebble beach instead. After seeing the pebble beach in Busan, I didn't find it necessary to spend a day at another one - it kind of makes for uncomfortable sun bathing. Frustration crept over me as we stomped through the stones, but it was already approaching late afternoon so I was fine with just relaxing on tubes in the ocean.
Pebble beach and the infamous yellow tubes, yellow tubes dot the shorelines on most (if not every) beach in Korea.

That evening we took another taxi to two look out points. Again, our taxi driver kept suggesting other places in which he wanted to bring us, but Charlotte put her foot down and told him where to go (she's often quite shy). Anyway, we got to our destination and the scenery coupled with the time of day made for some beautiful sites. Goeje reminded me a little of the British Virgin Islands without the touristy glam, ritzy sailboats and huge cruise ships.

We spent the night in a minbak which was a big room with a bathroom and half kitchen for $60 (split four ways). It was like an attic room with no air conditioning and 3 windows (one which was literally 2 inches tall). It was a hot and semi-uncomfortable sleep but cheap enough. Sunday was sizzling and we went to the sandy beach we originally tried to go to. Because buses are so few and far between we decided to hitchhike. After the 2nd or 3rd vehicle to pass, a kind man with a van from Busan picked us up and brought us to the beach and saved us at least $20 had we taken a cab.

The beach was sandy, so I was happy, and we were all really really really hungry. Again, it was a search to find something cheap and non-seafood but we did and while Charlotte and I stayed there to eat, the boys went a little further to find some kimbap. We paid the worker/owner woman and she started chatting it up with Charlotte and myself...of course I just stood there and smiled and nodded my head and then realized they were talking about me and how I look Korean, but don't speak Korean (gasp) and how I was adopted and don't know my birthparents and yaddi yaddi ya. As we left she yelled for us to come back and she refunded us the money we paid for lunch. Apparently, her nephew was put up for adoption when he was a baby and she often wonders what ever happened to him. I guess the fact that I too was adopted, and back in Korea, struck something in her that made her feel compelled to buy us lunch. We said our many thank yous and went on our way feeling as though luck was on our side.

We relaxed all day and I got a tad burnt. We all got banged up in the most unsuspected ginormous wave that threw us under and scraped us on the seafloor, but it was a great day. The beach wasn't nearly as busy as in Busan so we were able to stretch out, play frisbee, and rest.


hubba hubba hot-totty

According to the BBC weather, it was a smoldering 38 degree Celsius day. That's exactly 100F. Grand Rapids is predicted to be 27/80. Plus humidity, which for both locations are 62% and 65% respectively.

You might ask me how one such as myself handles such extreme weather conditions? Well, the answer is simple...I go hiking. It was a pretty clear day, I'll give it that, but hiking was effing hot and I had sweat pouring down every inch of my body.

Here's a picture of Emma and I: hot, drenched & lovin' the heat

I heart Korea.

I'm off to Goeje Island tomorrow, it's the 2nd largest of Korea and I'm hoping to catch some rays while relaxing rather than exerting. 10 days left of teaching!!!



Stoney pebbles and sweaty arms

Since I've gotten here I've had a hankering to go check out Taejongdae Park. It's on the far side of Yeongdo Island, just off of Busan, and it's main attraction is Pebble beach. Since Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, filled with blue skies and smoldering heat, Scott and I decided to go check it out.

The park proved to not as cool as I had hoped, but there were lots of stony cliffs which made for beautiful scenic views.

When we arrived at Pebble beach, we weren't sure if this was it. Smaller than imagined, it was set within a cove of stone walls and as the waves crashed, we were surprised at the roaring sound of the pebbles being carried under the water with the waves. These kids seemed contently entertained just throwing stones as far as their little arms allowed.

In our attempts to find Pebble beach, we stumbled upon this outdoor pool. It was filled with Korean families and young women taking pictures of themselves in their bikinis (girls taking pictures of themselves is quite common here). I didn't have my suit otherwise I would have been tempted to dip, although it didn't appear to be the cleanest of water...

A good day I suppose. A hot and sweaty day that probably would have been better spent laying out on the beach, but I am happy to have gone to Taejeongdae. One more thing marked off my list of to do's, see's and eat's....


I curse the nail gun man.

After enjoying a delicious meal of Dak Galbi I had nothing more to look forward to than relaxing while falling deeper into the world of wizarding (yes, Harry Potter). I successfully accomplished this and was turning off my light later than planned to get some shuteye for the next day. Around 3:30 I was abruptly awoken to the most irritatingly constant sound just outside my window. It was a "thump, thump, thump-thump" noise that echoed throughout the empty alleyway below. It stopped for a few minutes and then would continue. At this point I was frustrated because I had been woken from my beauty sleep and had to muster up enough energy to open the shade, to open the window, to see what the hell this noise was. It happened to be construction. A stupid little shop, a shop in which I've shopped, decided it should renovate from the hours of 3:30am-at least 5:08am, which was the last time I remember looking at my clock before dozing off again.

I ended up putting my headphones on and listening to some relaxing music to drown out the sound. Unfortunately, I just found myself lying there singing along with Ms. Cat Power in my head. I also get paranoid when I sleep with headphones b/c of the chord. Being the rolly-polly sleeper that I am, I have this fear that the chord will get wrapped round my neck and I will choke to death.

So, last night, as my internal voice was singing and the outside shop was nailing; while I WASN'T SLEEPING and my mind was thinking, I was sure I would choke to death and be extremely embarrassed for whoever found me because of yesterday's hideous (but oh so comfortable) underwear choice.

Thank God it's almost the weekend.


Summer Vacay 2007 wooo wooo!!

The past few days I haven't had to work b/c it's been our summer holiday. It also happens to have been filled with many emotions and experiences, lack of sleep and travel: The following are snippets and phrases. Enjoy...

-HAEUNDAE BEACHEY- (Korean's say beachey, not beach)
Charlotte (my former co-teacher and my closest Korean friend) and I decided to walk around the beach and have an Indian curry...there happened to be a Korean pop concert, which inevitably resulted in thousands of little girls screaming their guts out (or maybe their hearts) for whoever these pop stars were.


Goodbye to my dearest couple in Gimhae. Dave & Abbey have left for 6 months of travelling (luckies)...Will hopefully meet up again around "Vint Day" or at the cottage...:)

Two North Korean soldiers stand militantly in a taekwondo ready position, armed in uniform and with sunglasses...this stance and attire is meant to intimidate their North Korean counterparts. If you look closely, or click the picture to make it larger, you can see a North Korean guard on the steps of the North Korean building in the background. Their is also another NK soldier in the window with binoculars keeping watch over the South Korean happenings..

A South Korean solider stands guard. Behind him is a door, which on the opposite side, 2 North Korean soldiers do the same

Inside a building in Panmunjeom at the DMZ. The line down the center of the table (marked by the guard, flag and mini speakers) is where the demarcation zone lies. Technically, the right of that line is North Korea and to the left is South Korea.

Scott & I went to check out Seoul Tower. After paying $7 for the cable car just to get to the base of the tower, and realizing there was 0 visibility in which to see the city, we decided not to pay more money to go to the top...another time...

A subway station in Seoul had this picture in it...I'm assuming it interprets, "don't burn people, it's not nice and it will make them cry". I agree, and therefore felt this little cartoon's pain.

The busyness of Haeundae Beach (the largest and most popular in Korea) was overwhelming and exciting. The beach was covered with umbrellas and the shoreline was filled with yellow inner tubes and screaming Koreans. It's only water people....

Ajoomas (older women) riding on their tubes decked out in the usual garb including towels and visors on their heads....

Too much Korean for me.
Unfortunately this picture doesn't accurately capture the glistening shine of his tanning oil...

Overall a great summer vacation. Too bad it wasn't for a week...oh well, 9 more days until another holiday (Independence Day #2)....