Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chu-seok at WEL

This weekend is Chu-seok in Korea, their biggest holiday, apparently a little like Thanksgiving. Everybody goes home to gather with their families, prepare a traditional feast and play some crazy games. This week we had a special day to celebrate at WEL school. All the kids and most of the teachers dressed in their hanboks, which was quite amazing to see.

Grace with Lily and David, our youngest students

Olivia and Abigail

Raina taking the kids in some special dances
One of my Korean coworkers was very kind and gave me her hanbok to wear for part of the day, it was very pretty and floaty but surprisingly hot!
Me in hanbok with Erica

Sara and I in our borrowed hanboks

The WEL waegooks (foreigners), Byron, Sara, me and Carp

After making song-pyeon, traditional glutenous rice cakes filled with sesame (I loved making them, but not so much eating them), the kids had fun with a tournament of Korean sumo wrestling, where they wear scarves around their middles and hold on to each other and have to use all their force to push the other to the ground - very funny to watch.
Julie gets into some traditional Korean style sumo wrestling

Anne, Joey and Rosie watch on

After that the real fun began - a very Korean game where you hop around on one leg, holding the other, trying make the other contestant make their leg fall to the ground first
Olivia hopping along

Then it was outside for a photoshoot:
Venus class - finding the idea of looking and smiling at the
camera a very difficult task

Much better! William, Olivia, Abigail and Julie

David, Kevin and Joshua, our babies, with Sue

Lovely Janice teacher, who lent me her hanbok with her
son Kai (in my class) who was not thrilled at his photo taken
Was a lot of fun, really neat to see everyone so beautifully dressed and to get a little slice of Korean traditional culture.
MEANWHILE - for Chuseok, we're off to JAPAN! We leave tomorrow and are so excited to see Tokyo. So the next post will surely be of that!

My Jandals couldn't handle... the jandal

This past weekend we spent several hours of our lives - hours we'll never get back - on the Seoul subway system getting to the Korean Military Academy, in waaaay north Seoul - possibly technically not even seoul anymore - to watch the Suwon Stormers in an international rugby tournament. Was well worth the major trek there as it was beautiful sitting in the sun with lots of trees and the smell of autumn in the air watching the games. The event was sponsored by Jacob's Creek so it was kind of a treat to have almost decent wine, it's so scarce here.
Unfortunately my jandals did not appreciate the even quite as much and decided to cark it right there. Fortunately Aidan had some very snazzy sweaty rugby boots for me to wear all the way home through Seoul. I was one classy gal.

This is me selflessly carting some of Janine and Patrick's luggage around, as they were flying out to Ireland the following day.
We went to Santorini's in Itaewon for a final farewell dinner of delish chicken souvlaki, spanakopita and cheese filo pies, and amazing Coldstone Creamery icecream. Very sad to say goodbye to them both, but know will meet again in the not too distant future!

Casino Fatale

For a night a gang of Yeongtong-ites became (mostly) sophisticated French socialites during a murder mystery game for a friend Elaine's birthday party. My character was Countess Alice de Ville, a wealthy beautiful widow (who secretly killed her husband for his money) who was meant to spend the evening on the arm of a buisnessman (actually a secret agent) after being paid by Mr X, the man who helped her knock off ole hubby.
It was - as I expected - the most bizarre party I have ever - and I truly think WILL ever - been to. We arrived at Elaine's and Patricks and were quickly hustled into a secret room with Elaine, thehost, who gave us more information, pretend money etc, and then everyone sat quietly in a corner of the room absorbing the information, goals for the night etc.
I found the whole thing pretty unnerving at the start, as much as I loved drama at high school, this was like nothing else - walking around with people you spend so much time with in real life but suddenly introducing yourself as some strange person whose information you can't quite remember. It took a couple of glasses of wine before I could get into the swing of things.
Not so for my coworker Carp, who pretty much walked in the door in character and barely lost it all night. Meanwhile there was a lot of nervous giggling from me during much of it.
There was an auction and jewels and money were stolen and everyone had different secrets and reasons for being there, and it was quickly apparent to me that my character was rather secondary and there was no way I was going to achieve my "goals", so instead I spent most of the night in a state of confusion as to what I was supposed to do, who I was supposed to talk to and about what. About 15 minutes from the end I suddenly remembered but by then it was too late.
I was stabbed on the stairs once, brought back to life, attempted to throw a casino coupier off the balcony but was overthrown (decided by a game of rock scissors paper) and finally shot for no apparent reason in a brutal attack. Bizarre-o, a lot of fun, but a lot of work too!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Beached in Busan

Last weekend a group of us headed down to the south eastern corner of Korea for some beaching in Busan. It was an amazing place, so beautiful, and yet still a huge city (like the entire population of NZ lives there, insane!)
A smaller group of us headed down on the train straight after work on Friday night, making the five-hour journey tollerable with lots and lots of beer.
We offended numerous Koreans by speaking louder than a whisper. It's a strange culture thing here that noone makes noise on public transport, no matter the time of day or type of transport. It's rather annoying when it's Friday night 7pm and you get sushed at for laughing at something. We had to move our festivities to the dining cart to calm the people down.
I was lucky enough to get a personalised Michael Jackson Name-That-Song trivia show from a big fan of MJ, provided a great deal of entertainment for a while.
Once we arrived we headed straight to Haeundae Beach, one of the most popular spots in the city, particularly with westerners. We found really cheap digs (about $8 each!) and went off for some soju cocktail, fruit platter and cassuh

How the fruit platter looked after I got my hands on it.
The woman who ran the hof was very impressed with my skills

The next day I headed off for breakfast with a few other Yeongtongites who'd arrived late Fri night and then it was straight down to the beach. It was beautiful. The beach gets super busy in the peak season, but by October I think Koreans just don't go to the beach anymore, so it was pretty quiet. Water was so clear, such a novelty, and there were some decent waves. The beach was actually closed to swimming except for a small area where we coincidentally happened to be swimming, but everyone was ignoring the messages anyway. They need to go to NZ if they're worried about swell, it was pretty tame.

Janine enjoying the sun and sand

This man is enjoying the sun, sand and himself, at this moment he's taking a photo of his amazing budgie smugglers

Incredible sand sculpture

Haeundae Beach

Sara and I catching some rays

Haeundae Beach

The whole day was spent alternating between the water, the sun, the umbrella and the GS to get beers, and was pretty joyful. More and more people kept turning up as the day progressed so by the end we had quite a posse.
That night we had some very tasty tacos at the horribly named Fuzzy Navel (ew), and also a disgusting margerita with about a TBSP of salt thrown in for good measure. I had to dilute mine down with lemonade (called cider here - still unexplained)... and then I diluted and drank Sara's too as she can't handle salt.
Next up was Thursdays Bar and some delicious wine (amazing for this country)... and eventually a few of us headed to a club but the music was terrible - the doof-doof kind - so we flagged that, got lost for a while thanks to my terrible sense of direction before finding a great bar on the 18th floor of a building where I could throw water out the window and watch people down below's reactions as they couldn't figure out whereit was coming from - sometimes I'm not such a nice person, but it was so enjoyable!

Sara and I
Sunday was rinse and repeat of Saturday, just as perfectly clear and blue and sunny, until we all headed back to the train station for the long - and much quieter - journey home.
Overall I really loved this place, I want to go back again for a better look around and am thinking if I do stay another year, it's very likely I'd want to head there - watch this space!

Bread packaging

Sara and I found these bizarre hilarious messages on bread from a bakery chain Paris Baguette. I am so curious as to how they came up with these, whether they had anyone around who spoke any English whatsoever or whether they used an online translation or randomly opened a dictionary and stabbed at words to use. Whichever way it's fantastic:

This soft goods the good materials in the body and a possibility of eating with the families together and fiber of these fibers, uses the fresh one materials with family brand where it is f-style and fresh, it uses fine, edo it is good and the mouth to be joyful to Paris newly the fortune well of the baguette's round it is a life style brand with fine

Ooooookay... But at least that one TRIED to use punctuation unlike this fella:

It kneads a dough with the boiling wter high temperature and maturing 56 a natural taste deeply and it saves with chewy it is soft there is the recording wall hun-dred which it will chew it does and a possibility of feeling simultaneously with the bread, the flavour taste there is a possibility of seeing and it is a bread

The best shirt in the world

This is my alltime fabourite Tshirt I found at a store in Yeongtong for 10,000 won (about $12)
It's title is "Useless Super Powers". This is just a photo montage of my fav pix on it. Some of the English is pretty bad and there are some pictures I'm really not sure what they're trying to say.