Thursday, April 30, 2009


I am so excited I can barely breathe... (or maybe it's just the latest cold that I've come down with - geez, I feel like I'm ALWAYS sick with this teaching gig. I'm blaming the germy little kids who like to pick their noses, cough in my face... Don't even get me started.)

Anyway, after today, Mark and I get to begin our FOUR DAY WEEKEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Next Tuesday is Children's Day in Korea, so Poly is closed. Our director decided to give us off Monday off as well... but it's not thaaaat nice since we'll have to work the following Saturday. Ah well, we'll deal with that when we get there. Right now, I'm focusing on 4 days to enjoy the sunny weather. We are probably going to stick around Seoul and try and explore some new areas.

Tonight the foreign teachers are all going out for a send-off dinner. Our vice-director, Leo, announced this week that he will be leaving Poly. His mother is very sick, so he will stop working to take care of his daughters. We'll miss him.

And on a happier note, tomorrow we have one more wedding to attend... I'm sure there'll be a lot to blog about soon!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wedding Bells and Sunday Hoops

Kim: I am not quite sure what it is about this city, but our social calendar has been jam packed. This weekend, for instance, we went to a co-worker's wedding and to a final playoff game for the Korean professional basketball league.

First the wedding...

Our co-worker, Chloe's wedding finally arrived. (She's the one we threw the shower for here.) It was an elaborate affair, to say the least. I've heard that not every Korean wedding is like this, but Chloe is obviously marrying into some serious money as every aspect of the event was top notch. (The husband's family pays for the entire wedding in Korea. Oh and in case you're wondering, the wife's family has to give gifts to the husband's family and buy the couple a house or furnish a place for them.)

The wedding didn't start until 6, so a few of us decided to go to On the Border for some much craved (at least by me) margaritas, chips, salsa, and cheese dip. 

Here's a pic of the group. From left to right across the table from us are Billy (another Korean adoptee who has become good friends with Mark), Kerry (a Korean teacher who went out with us SangKwun's friends here), and Eunice (another Korean teacher).

Then we went to the reception, which was held at the Coex Intercontinental Hotel. The room was decorated beautifully with fresh flowers galore and an ice sculpture.

I thought I had been to a large wedding in the US, this one was rediculously gigantic. Chloe told me they sent out 1,200 invitations. Oh and get this... Koreans don't RSVP to weddings. They just send the invitations and hope for the best. Chloe told me that they had room for 450 people in the wedding banquet room and an additional 200 in the hotel's restaurant upstairs. So basically, if 200 people show up, they have to pay for 450 dinners. And if more than 650 show up, they have to turn people away at the door. Talk about chaos!

To give an idea of scope, we were pretty close to the middle and took this picture. Then if you turned around, there were the same number of people in the opposite direction.

We all sat at our dinner tables during the ceremony. Everything was in Korean, and the ceremony probably took about 45 minutes. One of the highlights for a lot of the Koreans was that a formerly popular Korean pop singer, Gummi, sang a song to the couple. In the US, Gummi would probably be comparable with Nick Lachey minus the reality TV show popularity. Lots of cell phone cameras appeared to document the event. I thought she was very good.

I know that some of you are very interested in wedding table settings, so here's a pic of how the table was decorated. Which brings us to dinner... it was a delicious 5 course meal, complete with red wine. We started with a phenomenal crab appetizer. Then they brought some soup, then steak, potato, and asparagus. And shortly after a caesar salad with real BACON! (Bacon is really hard to find here in Korea. And I didn't ever realize how much I'd miss it!) And then we had a noodle soup, then a delicious berry cream cheese. I almost had to be rolled out of there.

Afterwards, all the Poly teachers gathered together. I was joking with Kerry about how she always puts her hands around her face for pictures. And of course, I had to teach her the "Look at my cute face" pose. She loved it. :)

And one more fab five joke for any of you girls out there. Here's a fab five picture in reverse. 4 asian girls and one white girl...

From left to right are Robin (another Korean adoptee and Poly teacher), Rachel (Robin's good friend), Jade (a Poly teacher's girlfriend), and Anna (an English teacher at Poly). I've been hanging out with these girls a lot (particularly Robin and Anna).

This was the best picture of the night. I still can't stop laughing every time I look at it. Both Robin and Rachel are abnormally short (like under 5 feet) so of course we had to pair them up with Mark. Enough said.

Still in the mood for cute faces, Mark and I took this one.

Afterwards, a group of us went to Gangnam to the Monkey Bar. We learned several new Korean drinking games, which was fun. 

Here are Kerry and Sunny, two Korean teachers. Sunny is Mark's Korean co-teacher, and she absolutely ADORES him. (Duh!)

Today (Sunday), Kerry and Billy invited us to see Game 5 of the Korean professional basketball league championship series.  The teams playing were the Samsung Thunder (Seoul's team) and KCC (I am not sure what city they were from).  The Thunder were losing the best of 7 series 3-1.  But after a thrilling last second buzzer beater, it is now 3-2.  They inbounded the ball with 3.8 seconds left on the clock and the player bobbled the ball and then heaved it towards the basket.  It swished through the hoop and the fans went crazy.  It was one of the cooler experiences I have had at a sporting event.  

The tickets were awesome.  We were very close to all of the action.  But these were clearly the worst seats in the house.  I would have demanded a refund.  

I have been to Cardinals, Rams, Blues and Billikens games but I have never been to a game quite like this.  The stadium was nothing special but the fans were CRAZY.  They did not stop cheering the entire game.  I had to shout when I was talking with Mark just so he could hear me.  It was great!!!  The absurd thing about it all was I didn't see a single person drinking alcohol.  These people were sober!  Below is a picture of the arena.  I think that there was standing room only left.  

Kerry got the tickets from her uncle.  Although she says that he is not a coach, only a manager, Mark seemed to think that he did most of the coaching.  Below is a picture of him.  He was pretty intense throughout the game.  

Our timeout/half time entertainers were really good.  They did the usual shooting shirts into the stands and handing out free food to lucky winners. 

Just another random picture.

Mark's favorite part of the game was these signs that they passed out to all of the Thunder fans.  These things were the main culprit behind all of the noise because they could be folded up like accordions and used to clap extremely loudly.  Once Mark got his he did not stop.  

Here is Kerry.  

After the game we invited Billy and her over to our apartment for dinner.  It ended up being a fun and relaxing Sunday afternoon.  Both Mark and I are excited to check out our first baseball game after experiencing the intense atmosphere of today's game.  

Monday, April 20, 2009

Just a Couple of Cute Pics

Last Friday, Poly went on a field trip to a museum.  I just wanted to show you guys a few pictures from the trip.  The last one is my favorite.  Absolutely squeezable!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Our Weekend Update

Kim and I had another busy but extremely entertaining weekend.  I realized after going through our pictures that we need to take more pictures.  I thought all we did was take pictures but I am always noticing things that we missed.  We'll continue to work on it.

Friday night we went out with a group of friends from school to celebrate our friend Kerry's birthday.  She is one of the korean teachers at our school and she has been very nice to both Kim and I.  Last week, she actually took the two of us out to dinner.  Kim and I got to enjoy some spicy BBQ chicken.  A group of about 15 went to a bar in Gangnam (located on the southeastern part of Line #2).  The bar was huge and was not as expensive as I thought it would be since Gangnam is considered to be one of the nicer areas of Seoul.  It was a fun night.

The next day, Kim went to Hongik University (it is pronounced Hong Dae and it is located on the northwestern part of Line#2) with two of our friends, Anna and Robin, work to get a haircut and do some shopping to find a dress to wear to a wedding next weekend.  Anna introduced Kim to a hair dresser that speaks perfect English so Kim was very happy this time around.

That night, Kim and I decided to go back to the Hongik University area for dinner and some drinks.  We chose a Spanish tapas restaurant that Kim saw earlier that day.  Though a bit pricey, it was really good.  We went with three side dishes (potatoes, shrimp and ham) and a cheesy seafood rice skillet.  The meal was delicious, especially the sangrias.  Below are a few pictures of the meal.

You can kind of see Kim's new haircut in this one.  As you can see in the picture, the restaurant was very nice and we had a seat right by the windows so Kim and I could people watch.

Here is the cheesy seafood skillet that we ordered.  No matter what meal you eat in Korea, it seems that they always serve it with pickles.  

After dinner we went across the street to an open air bar called Shooters.  It was a Western Bar so  Kim and I were able to order something besides soju or beer.  I would say half the crowd were foreigners.  Below are some pictures.

The bartenders put on quite the show.  This guy was juggling liquor bottles that we on fire.
This guy was saying something to Kim in Korean that we did not understand but he is just about to spit fire.  Unfortunately, we were not able to catch that in a picture.

After a few drinks at Shooters, Kim and I felt brave enough to belt out some toons at a nearby Noraebang (Karaoke Bar).  I forget our exact playlist but I am pretty sure that the Beatles, Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Journey and Eric Clapton all made an appearance that night.  We both know that we are bad singers but singing is a lot of fun when you know that no one can hear you.

On Sunday Kim and I used some tickets that we got from Sang Kwun's friends for an amusement park called Seoul Land.  The park itself was not that great.  I would compare it to Six Flags back in St. Louis.  But the surrounding location was beautiful.  Seoul Land is located within Seoul Grand Park which is a giant Zoo.  We did not have the time to tour the park but we will definitely be back.  Seoul Land was about a 20 minute walk from the entrance so we decided to take the Ski Lift instead.  The view was amazing.  
These are some shots at the park from a distance.

This is a picture of Kim that I took on the Viking.  I especially love the young boy in the back of the picture trying to act brave by throwing his hands in the air but he is obviously scared to death.

Feeling a little crazy, the two of us decided to do the Sky Drop.  They strapped us in a vest and pulled us up to about 75 or so feet in the air.  Then I had to pull the cord which put us into a free fall.  After that we swung back and forth about 4 or 5 times.  It was awesome.  
After the amusement park, we headed up north to Janghanpyeong to have dinner with Sang Kwun and Mr. Kim.  Once again, Kim was spoiled by her birth father with clothing from her factory.  I think she got about 3 or 4 sweaters and 2 jackets.  We headed out to dinner and then Sang Kwun drove us home.

Overall it was another fun weekend.  It is finally starting to warm up here in Seoul so we will be probably be out sightseeing a lot more in the near future.  Next weekend we will be attending the wedding of Chloe, one of our co-workers at Poly.  We're kind of excited to be going to our first Korean wedding.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Random Pictures

Here are some random pictures from our camera that I wanted to share.

Last Friday, I introduced my class to Easter. Believe it or not, Koreans don't have an Easter Bunny and Easter is not the commercialized holiday it is in the US. Only Christian kids celebrate it as a religious holiday. So I explained the concept of the Easter Bunny to the kids and all of them decorated their own Easter eggs with crayons and stickers. And we had a little classroom Easter egg hunt. The munchkins had so much fun!

Here's little Brian with his egg. Notice his cute little basket next to him. My co-teacher Anne made each of the kids their own baskets. Don't you just want to pinch those cheeks?

Here's Andy with his egg attempting a peace sign. We had just finished reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" so Andy was convinced that there was a caterpillar in his egg and it would turn into a butterfly.

Here's Chloe with her egg and Anne in the background. Funny story about Chloe, she refuses to wear her Poly uniform anymore. Because it is black and white, so it's not "pretty" and she doesn't look like a princess. So she's been wearing pink outfits for about a week straight.

Here's Brian mid-Easter egg hunt... very confused about where his egg could possibly be.

And here's the gang holding their baskets after they found their eggs. We then launched into the song, "Here comes Peter Cottontail." It was a very fun day and I think they all like Easter now!

Complete subject change, but you know how I've been talking about how Korean franchises of American restaurants are so much nicer than the American restaurants? Here's a prime example... Mark and I went to Pizza Hut. First of all, Pizza Huts in Korea are really nice restaurants with salad buffets. And when we didn't finish our pizza, we got a doggy bag, and look what was brought back to us... a pizza box wrapped up with a pretty bow. I saw the waiter basically gift-wrapping our leftovers. And to think that he doesn't even work for tips!

Finally, the last group of random pictures are from two weekends ago. Emily's sister is in Korea for a year studying Korean. So, we hung out with the birth family. In this picture, from left to right, is Emily's sister's friend, Emily's sister, and Emily.

That night, birth Father expressed an interest in learning how to play the Wii, so we had a little impromptu family game night. It was really funny because BF was really getting into it!

Whew, I think I'm finally caught up with the pictures. We have a birthday party to go to this weekend and I have an appointment to get my hair cut (by someone who can speak English - thank goodness - NO MORE PERMS). So there will be more to share soon!

Busan Trip

We spent the weekend in Busan (on the southern part of South Korea) with some co-workers and friends of theirs. There were about 30 people who went on the trip, and since leaving America, we have not spent this much time with this many foreigners! Beaches, beer, and sun... what more could we want!

Friday night we took the late night bullet train down to Busan. When we got to Busan, we checked into our love motel (which was much nicer than we expected) and headed to the beach to shoot off some fireworks and drink some beer and soju. Unfortunately, the camera stayed in the love motel so we didn't get any pics of that night.

The next day I awoke nice and early to head to the fish market and the shopping district with the girls. Mark proceeded to spend the entire day on the beach with no sunscreen. By the end of the day he looked like a lobster!

Here are some pictures of the fish market. There were a ton of stalls like this where we could buy fresh seafood.

In addition, there were other random carts, like this apple cart all over the place. I love Korean apples, they're so big and taste sweeter than American apples for some reason.

The fish market backed up to this pier and the ocean. Talk about fresh seafood!

We went to a little restaurant by the fish market for some sushi, sashimi, and grilled fish. It was really good.

After that, we went to this huge shopping district with a bunch of little boutiques and well-known Western stores. I ended up buying a summery dress.

The shopping area had a bunch of food carts all over. Apparently, Busan is famous for its green onion pancakes, so of course, we had to try it. Here's the lady cooking them. She basically took some pancake batter, mixed it with green onions, and fried them on this cart. When we ordered one, she cut them up (for easy chopstick eating) and drizzled a soy sauce mixture on it. It was tasty, but a bit too greasy to eat a lot of.

Then we went to get strawberry smoothies from this lady. What she did shocked us... as she was pouring the strawberries into the blender, one fell on the ground. And as we were watching her, she picked it OFF THE GROUND and threw it into the blender. It was kind of funny because one of the girls with me was a germaphobe and was pretty grossed out by that. But the smoothies did end up being pretty good... Ah well, gotta eat a little dirt before we die, right?

There was this statue that said "Free Hugs." So of course, I had to take advantage. :)

We then rejoined Mark on the beach. Isn't the water and sand beautiful? We want to take another trip down here when it warms up a bit more.

For dinner we went to some small huts on the beach that sold soft shell crab, oysters, and shrimp. They pulled them right out of the aquarium and cooked them for us. Delicious!

This final shot is just to make all you Midwesterners jealous. It's gorgeous isn't it?!??!

So, that's a short summary of how we spent our Easter weekend. Hope you all enjoyed your Easters as much as we did!