Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Suwon

안녕하세요 --> ahn nyeong ha seh yo --> Hi!

On Monday of this week, the school term ended, which meant that a two day term break followed. So the work week looks like this:

  • Monday: Class
  • Tuesday: No class
  • Wednesday: No class
  • Thursday: Class
  • Friday: Class, day ends at 11am
A bit random, especially considering that there's a four day weekend around the corner, but hey...a break is a break.

One of the teachers recommended that we go to Suwon on Tuesday. Considering that the weather had been pretty rainy earlier in the week, and also considering that Suwon was over an hour away by train, I felt less than enthused about going.

But boy, am I glad I went. Yes, it did take a while to get there, but I was able to eat a waffle with strawberry butter, so that made the wait worthwhile. Yes, they make and sell those as street food here.

Once we arrived at the station our destination was only a 4500 won (~$4.50) cab ride away. We started off at a palace called Hwaseong Haenggung. Though it cost a bit to get in an there wasn't a whole lot that was different from other palaces I've seen in Seoul, there were still some great scenes.









When we arrived at the palace, we noticed a large, golden Buddha statue. We decided that would be our next destination.
More lanterns for Buddha's Birthday!




This statue is about 20 feet tall. That's a big Buddha.


Then, we climbed stairs.

And then we climbed some more.
Next...oh my gosh.

THIS VIEW.
We had made it to the top of Hwaseong Fortress. The fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can walk along the fortress wall, which goes in a circle for 5 km or just over 3 miles. The sky and temperature were incredible (I thank the rain over the previous days for this), and the scenery was...oh man. I think this is my favorite place I've been to in Korea thus far.

WARNING: More pictures.



















Dragon train, anyone?



And THEN...my phone died, so I didn't get to take any more pictures. But a few of us finished the entire loop just in time to see the sunset! [Cue triumphant music.]

After that, we saw ANOTHER Buddhist temple and went to a noraebang (Korean karaoke) for a bit...THAT was awesome, because two members of the group were supposedly anti-karaoke. Well, as of Tuesday, those two are new men.

It was a long train ride back, but for Suwon, it was well worth it.

Next time, we'll have to take the illustrious restroom tour.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Term one, done and done

It's just past 11pm. I can't believe how quickly time flies. I've been teaching in Korea for two months now, which means that my first term is over.

Though there are a great many ways in which I hope to improve as a teacher over this next term, I have enjoyed teaching during this term. I've had the opportunity to meet some very gracious students.


These good people took me to lunch today at TGI Friday's (when in Seoul, eat American!) where we had a great time chatting. Some have lived abroad (or will soon live abroad), some are learning English for work, and some just want to communicate with foreigners. Good people. I hope I have a few of them in future classes!

For now, I'll enjoy listening to the rain fall outside of my window.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Going to festivals and scaring children

Hi friends!

Another action-packed week in Korea has come and gone. This past week was the last week of the school term. A school term lasts for two months...in other words, I've been working in Korea for two months. I can't believe that much time has passed! I have learned quite a bit during my first term. I've discovered areas where I seem to do alright in my job, but I'm also looking forward to having a fresh start in other areas.

In other news, cats fight outside my window every night. The noise is almost therapeutic. Almost.

In other other news, I went downtown yesterday to see Gyeongbokgung Palace, the Lotus Lantern Festival, and the Lantern Parade. I was feeling exhausted at first and considered cutting out early, but I'm glad I didn't.




Jars like these were (and still are, by some) used to store kimchi, wine, and naughty children herbs.




These faces.

We came to the front just in time to see the changing of the guard.


The Lotus Lantern Festival happens in anticipation of Buddha's Birthday. I like Buddha's Birthday, and it hasn't even happened yet.
These folks were getting ready to walk in the parade.

This awesomeness was outside Jogyesa Temple.


LANTERNS.


We then watched the parade, which was a neat experience. My camera phone was lackluster at catching the images of the parade, so you get videos instead.

First, we have some monks, male and female (the female monks may be called nuns, I'm not sure).

video

video

Next came the scouts:

video

Then came the dragon:

video

Loved it. Normally, the parade is very lively and loud, but out of respect for the Sewol incident, the tone was more mellow.

Also, I was able to visit my good friend Hee Chan this weekend. I met his wife and baby daughter, and I was able to enjoy an amazing meal with them. It was great to catch up with them. Their daughter, Joo Ha, would stare at me. If I looked back, she would become terrified and start crying...I guess it's going to take some time for her to get used to waygooks (foreigners) like me!

Look at those cute lil' cheeks, marked by the traumatized tears of a baby who's never seen a white person before!

Alright folks, time for me to hit they hay. 안녕히계세요 till next time!