Sunday, August 23, 2009

Insect Farm Field Trip

Last week our school took a field trip to a insect farm and I decided to take my camera along to take some photos.  The field trip days are always nice since we do not have to teach but most of them have been pretty boring for the kids.  The insect farm would not disappoint.  The only insects at the farm were caterpillars and beetles, but that was more than enough to fascinate the kids.  Below are some of my pictures from the day.

Some of the kids, like Charles, were not too pleased to be there.

We found this cool spider web with a gigantic yellow spider in the middle of it.  Some of the kids were scared of it, but as you can see in the picture below of Luke, many were not.  I actually had to stop most of the boys from trying to pick the spider up.

Candy was not one of those students.  

The farm had these huge beetles that they let the kids pick and play with.  

Each kid got to pick out a caterpillar to take home.

Randomly, they have a fenced in area that kids can run around in.  What are they running after?  Rabbits.  The men brought out these bags with rabbits in them.  The teachers all thought it was kind of cruel to the rabbits but the kids really enjoyed it.

Kristy was ecstatic after she caught one of the rabbits.

The place also had a few deer that the children were allowed to feed.

We ended the day by letting the kids have some fun on the playground.

Mark's 28th Birthday Party

K: To celebrate Mark's big 28th birthday, we threw a party at our apartment. We invited the foreign teachers and some of the Korean teachers. Since our apartments are really small, we don't have a lot of house parties so people were excited.

Here I am before the party. We prepared a veggie tray, a shrimp dip, a queso and beef dip, and Mark's famous pasta con broccoli. The food (especially the queso and pasta) was a huge hit and almost everything was gone by the end of the night.

We also tried to make jello shots. Jello is a scarce commodity in Korea, and the only stuff I could find was a Pakistani "jelly." It was definitely not the same and most of the shots didn't ever gellify. Luckily, one of the Korean teacher's boyfriend just got here from America and brought some jello packets with him, so he was able to bring some true jello shots.

Here's a shot of the Birthday Boy and me with Yuni and Chris.

Here are a bunch of the girls. We ended up having a good crowd with about 14 people.

Mark got a couple nice food treats. Chloe brought a tray of sashimi from Noryangin and the Korean teachers brought an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins.

Later we started playing some games... here are Ryan and Billy playing "Sociables."

Then the party really got started when our guests noticed Mark's 1 story beer bong contraption. He found a funnel and a garden hose at EMart and put it together from there. Notice it's tied to an umbrella on the second floor. The Korean guests had never tried one before, so Mark (ever the patient teacher) was happy to instruct them. 

Here's Ellen. She was nervous at first, but thought it was so much fun,  she did another one shortly after!

Here's Chris with Kerry pouring the beer. I think this shows how long it was.

It was a really fun night. Though we wished our friends back home were able to attend, our new friends here definitely made sure it was a birthday party Mark'll never forget.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ping Pong video

I forgot to mention that in Quing Dao, we visited a ping pong facility with SangKwun and Birth Father. I had been telling SangKwun I was good at ping pong, but he definitely put me to shame. But then... this 9 year old girl embarrassed him. They don't mess around with ping pong in China, there are actual ping pong lessons with hard core training. They make Forrest Gump look like an amateur!

Birth Father's Factory video

Here's a view of Birth Father's machines at work. It's really amazing that he was able to build these things himself -- they look complicated to me!

Peking Duck video

Here's a view of a guy cooking the Peking/Beijing duck. It's cool to see him hook them and roast them in the open flame oven!

Hong Kong skyline video

Here's a view of the Hong Kong skyline. It's just amazing how well they use their river real estate!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hong Kong

K: This is officially the final long China post. I have a couple videos to share, but those'll be quickie posts.

Ahhh Hong Kong, how can I even do it justice! Easily my favorite leg of the trip, there were so many things we experienced and saw in such a short amount of time. One afternoon/evening and one morning was not nearly enough time. There's no doubt about it, we'll be visiting this great city again... and for at least a week.

Hong Kong and China could not be more different. It was made all the more clear when we had to exchange our Chinese Yuans for Hong Kong dollars. 

It was kind of nice visiting a place where one of the primary languages is English. Everywhere we looked, we saw English. What a change understanding and being understood by nearly everyone. I'd kind of forgotten what that felt like!

We checked into a Korean guest house that SangKwun found. It was a great deal! Only about $60/night right in the middle of the action. This was a view from our window.

In the morning, the guest house served a traditional Korean breakfast. While I'm not wild about grilled fish and kimchi when I first wake up, it was nice to have breakfast provided. Here we are waiting for it to be served.

After we dropped off our things, we decided to go shopping. When we visited, there were some huge sales so the stores were completely packed. There was even a roped off line (one person in, one person out) to Ralph Lauren. You'd think they were giving stuff away!

As we were heading to the mall, in the middle of the street, this guy ran out with a boom box and started up an impromptu dance to Michael Jackson's 'Beat It' broke out. People were randomly jumping in and everyone just seemed to know what to do. One of the most entertaining things I've EVER seen.

Here are Mark and SangKwun in front of Hong Kong's Times Square. You can see the sign in silver up on the building.

Here's a shot of one of the store signs at the mall. I've never seen malls like this - they contained every designer I've ever heard of, seen, or read about. Now I understand why Hong Kong is considered such a shopping mecca. There seemed to be a Gucci, Prada, Burberry, Chanel, D&G store everywhere I turned, including in the airport!

After we shopped our hearts (and wallets) out, we walked along the Hong Kong riverwalk. The skyline is incredible.

To one side, were these palm tree groupings to relax under.

And to the other side was the view of the river and the skyline. I love the fluorescent reflections on the water. I have a video of the skyline that I will post later. I think it does a better job showing how incredible the view is.

Later, we stopped by this Irish pub. They had these huge beers and beer pretzels! Also, the waitress spoke English, so it was fun getting to take charge with SangKwun and taking care of the ordering.

The Hong Kong subway system is very nice and has very British sayings such as, "Mind the gap." We saw this sign near the entrance -- perfect photo op, and good advice for Mark in general.

The next morning after a quick drink at Starbucks, we were off to the airport. Here we are riding in one of the double decker airport buses. I'm not sure about the rest of Asia, but Hong Kong and Seoul have these shuttle busses that take people to and from the airports for less than $10. There are various pickup points around the city and the buses normally come every 30 minutes. I don't know why we don't have these types of services available in the States!

It truly was an unforgettable, wonderful trip. Though I was kind of sad for my vacation to end, I was looking forward to getting back "home" to my familiar, daily routine. Isn't it kind of funny that I would ever consider an apartment in Seoul, Korea home?!?!?!

Chinese Food Experience

K: There's no way we could talk about our trip to China without describing the food and drinks we enjoyed. We felt so fortunate to be introduced to the the best, most delicious dishes by Emily. Below are some of the highlights.

To start with, while Chinese food contains more oil and doesn't seem as healthy as Korean food, Chinese food in America is nothing like the authentic thing. Real Chinese food isn't the crab rangoon, sweet and sour pork, orange chicken, and kung pao chicken we've come to love in America. And to be honest, I'm glad it isn't as the real thing was better!

One of the things I DIDN'T enjoy was the Chinese liquor that SangKwun loved to order. This stuff'll truly put hair on your chest. You pour it into teeny tiny shot glasses and burns in your mouth and all the way down to your stomach. I think it's like 49% alcohol. I tried to avoid it, but SangKwun pulled the "I'm the older brother, do what I say and take a shot" a few times on me so I would choke it down. Mark, on the other hand, had no problem.

Here's a shot of one of the bottles.

Here's another one. Emily is not a fan either.

One thing the alcohol is helpful for is to help foreigners build up the liquid courage to try dishes such as this one. Can you tell what it is? Yes, it's definitely duck heads. Can you see where the eyes and beak are?

Emily actually enjoys this dish. I was not brave enough, but Mark gave it a try. He ate the duck brains and tried the head, but as you can tell from the picture below, he wasn't a fan. He said it tasted like burnt rubber. No thanks!

Here's one thing we actually did enjoy - the famous Peking/Beijing duck. The chef brought a full duck over and carved it table-side. He sliced it so thinly and it tasted so delicious in the sauce. SangKwun also taught us how to combine it with some veggies to make a little lettuce wrap. Later we will post a video of how Peking duck is cooked.

Our second day, SangKwun and Emily took us to a Taiwanese fast food joint called Yonghe King. They served all types of peanut milk, dumplings, and fried bread. We didn't eat much since we had already eaten breakfast, but it looked really good.

Later we visited a 100 year old dumpling restaurant. There's a good reason it's been in business so long! Here's one of the side dishes... various veggies topped with pork. Very tasty!

Here's a shot of the dumplings. We got 3 kinds: pork, seafood, and veggie. These are the veggies. They're orange because of the carrots.

We also went to three hot pot restaurants. Hot pot consists of pots of boiling broth. You add veggies, tofu, beef, seafood, and noodles. It cooks in there and you put you chop sticks in to retrieve whatever you like. They have something similar in Korea called Shabu Shabu.

The picture below is of one of the restaurants. This was a Taiwanese hot pot restaurant. The reddish broth is spicier.

This restaurant also had a bar where you could mix your own dipping sauce. I didn't really know what I was doing, but Emily was a good teacher.

One of our favorite meals of the trip was to a street called Donhaemun Street. It is a huge street with tons of restaurants and famous for seafood. Our hosts selected a restaurant that was famous for its mini lobsters. It must be a popular place, as we waited about an hour to get a table! Here's the front of the restaurant.

Here's a shot of our view while we waited. The restaurant was nice enough to provide sliced watermelon and sunflower seeds to hold us over until dinner. Because of the popularity of the street, it was definitely a great people watching spot.

The wait was well worth it! When we sat down, SangKwun and his friend ordered 150 little lobsters for the 5 of us. They also ordered TsingTao beer, which is China's famous beer, and quite good. Here's one tray of the lobsters. We had two more like this on the way.

Here are Emily and SangKwun demonstrating for us how it's done. We had to wear plastic gloves since the sauce is so spicy. We still got a little of the sauce on our fingers and taking our contacts out later that night was quite the task.

Here's Mark with one of the little guys!

We were only eating the tails, so basically what you do is crack the shell, pull the tail out, and peel it. It was pretty fun, and the lobster tail was absolutely delicious. We were all completely stuffed at the end of the meal.

When we visited Birth Father, he took us to another hot pot restaurant. In the front of the restaurant, we could select plates of whatever we wanted to cook. We got beef, tofu, potatoes, mushrooms, green onions, cabbage, and other things. To the left, in the covered glass bowl were live shrimp. We left the lid off a couple times and saw a couple shrimp leap out of the bowl.

This hot pot restaurant was different because everyone had their own individual hot pot instead of a shared bowl. It was kind of fun to pick out what we wanted to cook in our own pots.

In Guangzhou, SangKwun took us to a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant. It was so cool to see them cook right in front of you.

Here's one of the chefs in action.

The best part of this restaurant was the price! It was only $35/person for all the food you could eat and all the saki you could drink. I usually don't like sake, but really enjoyed the warm sake they served. 

As you can see from the menu below there was a huge variety of sushi, grilled seafood, grilled meat, fruit, and desert. The grilled scallops were a personal favorite. Mark especially enjoyed the grilled banana topped with ice cream for dessert.

In Hong Kong, we stayed in a Korean guest house. In the morning, they served a traditional Korean breakfast. Personally, I'm not quite up for kimchi and fish first thing in the morning, but the bowl of rice gives a nice kick-start to your day.

Going to China, I wasn't quite sure what to expect... I'd heard horror stories of finding bird beaks in your soup, mystery meats, and pickled chicks in mid-hatch. Fortunately, I didn't come across anything too far from the norm and was pleasantly surprised by nearly everything I tasted. (Though I will admit, I didn't try too many unusual things.) 

I have a feeling while I'll continue to enjoy my General Tso Chicken, I'm going to find myself craving some mini lobster tails and hot pot as well!