Whew... I think I'm officially caught up on the blog. I haven't been able to say that in awhile!
This is a good week for us, as it's the last week before Poly break. This is one week that we've both been looking forward to for awhile.
We will be heading to China for the break. On Saturday we'll fly to Beijing to see Emily and her family. We plan to visit the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City. In addition, we're both excited to sample the local fares. I'm told that peking duck and scorpians are "must-tastes"... we'll see just how adventurous I'm feeling. :)
After staying in Beijing for a couple days, we'll go to Quingdao. That's where my birth father's factory is located. We're told we have to sample the TsingTao beer. The brewery is located, oh-so-conveniently, right next to my birth father's factory so that shouldn't be too difficult.
Finally, we'll head to Guangzhou to see SangKwun's stores and home. I know it's a big city, but I don't very much about it. The one thing I DO know is that it's right across the river from Hong Kong. I imagine we'll get to visit there as well, since we're going to fly out of Hong Kong to Korea on Sunday.
Should be an exciting trip -- we'll take a ton of pictures and update the blog quickly when we return!
OH -- and we received some FANTASTIC news today from the director of our school. In the new semester (starting in September), our hours are going to be shortened. We will all have separate contract negotiations with her after the break to decide how or if we'll take a pay cut. I, personally, could care less about a pay cut if we're working less! Our current hours are Monday through Friday 9am-7:30. The new hours will be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 9am-6pm. Tuesdays and Fridays will remain 9am-7:30, but the last 40 minutes will be meeting with the management, so not teaching time like it is now. WooHoo!
Several weekends ago, Mark and I decided to explore Bukchon. I went there with Mark's Mom on my day off, but didn't get to fully explore. Plus, it was such a cool area that I wanted to check it out again with Mark.
I don't know a lot about the history of the area, so I pulled the following information from the Official Site of Korea Tourism. Normally I don't like to include too much history, as I'm not sure if anyone besides me is really interested... but this was just too interesting to pass up.
Bukchon Hanok Village was once a village of aristocrats long ago, and its luxury tile-roofed houses called giwas have been preserved since the Joseon Dynasty.
Located in the middle of Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, and Jongmyo, Bukchon Hanok Village boasts 600 years of history in the region. The preserved village sits between two large palaces in the traditional hanok regions where the eggplant-shaped streets show the 600-year-old beauty of the city. Now, the village operates as a place where visitors come to experience the ambiance of the Joseon Dynasty, offering a cultural center and hanok-style restaurants.
Wonseo-dong, Jae-dong, Gahoe-dong, and Insa-dong all lie to the north of Cheonggyecheon Stream and Jongno, thus being named Bukchon, meaning north village, an area popularly known at that time, as the residence of the royal family and high-ranking officials.
Just walking along the street, you see tons of buildings like this... amazing, isn't it?!?!
Mark and I just wandered around snapping pictures. Around lunchtime, we decided to stop into a little Italian pizzeria. We made a great choice, as this place was both charming and delicious.
Here's a shot of the inside and the guy cooking at the brick oven fireplace.
I just thought this was a good shot of some of the decorations.
Then, the menu was brought to us accordion style attached to two wooden blocks. Here's Mark checking it out. (And the pizzas were both in English and Korean. Yay!)
Here's a closer view.
We chose the prosciutto and mozzerella pizza. Mmmm... Prosciutto is hard to come by in Korea!
There was a little wood stand with a candle beneath the pizza to keep it warm... not sure how much it really helped, but it was a neat touch.
There are also a lot of art galleries in the Bukchon area. As we were walking, we saw the following bench/piece of artwork. I think it was called "Two Men Eating a Biscuit."
Later, we headed to a coffee shop for frozen drinks. Here I am standing in front of the place we chose. We wanted to sit on the little outside patio area, but it was too hot.
This is a view of the inside. Aren't the wooden beams cool looking?
Not only was it a coffee shop, but also a novelties and antique shop. Here I am checking it out.
We sat for awhile and read while we enjoyed our cool drinks.
And here's a final artsy picture Mark took of us in the display. Can you find us?
I think that afternoons like this are the main reasons we're enjoying Korea so much. It's such an amazing thing to trek out and explore areas that are hundreds and hundreds of years old!
It's no All Star game, but we attended another Korean baseball game with some of our co-workers. We learned that sitting in the cheap seats is WAY better than the more expensive ones. For one, you just buy a ticket for a section and can sit wherever you want. And two, the crowds are rowdier.
Here are me and Kerry getting ready to cheer on the team...
Here's our co-worker, Chris intently watching the game. We were sitting in the outfield, but it was still close enough to the field to see everything very clearly.
These games are a lot of fun! I only wish baseball games back home were this cheap! :)
On our continuing quest to try out new restaurants, Mark and I decided to try the Smokey Saloon in Itaewon. It is known for it's fantastic burgers. So far, the best burger I've found in Korea was from TGI Friday's, so I was excited!
This place is tiny and there's always a huge line. But the smell wafting out was incredible, and we went at 2:30 on a Sunday, so the line was significantly shorter.
We decided to go all out with cheese sticks, fries, a 3 cheese burger for me, and a BBQ/bacon/smoked cheddar burger for Mark.
But we didn't go as wild as we could have... their signature burger is called "The Ambulance" and for good reason. It has egg, bacon, cheese, a burger, and hash browns on it. Mark wasn't feeling quite that ambitious! :)
Here's a final shot of Mark post-meal. Doesn't he look happy?
Actually, we were both pretty happy and agreed that we will be visiting the Smokey Saloon again. There was a sloppy joe sandwich on the menu that caught my eye... And maybe Mark will go for "The Ambulance" next time around!
A couple weeks ago Poly had a pajama day. Here are a few cute pictures.
This is me with my class...
We had a PJ fashion show (with Mark MC-ing). All the Korean teachers find him hysterical, and were greatly looking forward to the event. I must say, he didn't disappoint and got the kids excited about their moments in the spotlight. Then he got everyone pumped up for an all-school dance party.
Here's Mark's class. I don't think we've ever posted pics of them on this blog. He teaches kindergarten. Don't you love the little old man pajamas?!??!
This weekend Mark and I attended the Boryong Mud Festival. It's located on the east coast of the country... about a 3-4 hour drive from Seoul. Basically, this beach town dumps mud all over the place and people (mostly foreigners) come and play in it.
Below is a picture of what a lot of people look like (via Frommer's Events website). Unfortunately, I don't have any muddy pics of Mark or me as I didn't want to get my camera muddy. We didn't immerse ourselves in the mud quite like this, though...
"The mud from Boryeong apparently contains important minerals which reduce wrinkles and remove excess oils from the skin surface. Medically, mud baths are also supposed to improve the blood circulation and stimulate new skin growth."
Here we are at a grilled shellfish restaurant. We had live mussels, clams, scallops, and other shellfish grilled over an open flame. It was amazing.
Here's a lady who was working at the shellfish restaurant. Check out the hat! She didn't know where it was from, so Mark was more than happy to tell her about the Cardinals. :)
Later at night, there were flags representing a ton of countries hung up high. It looked so cool against the pitch black sky.
Here are me and Mark enjoying the cool night air and a few beers. Yep, that's a 711 behind us... they're all over the place here!
Here I am with a group of girls we came down with. The one in the middle is Jade, our co-worker's girlfriend. She organized the bus and hotel for everyone. She and her friends are Korean girls but speak exceptional English. They're a lot of fun!
Then, the coolest thing of the whole weekend happened. It started to rain gently right as the fireworks show started. Standing in the rain on the beach watching an awesome fireworks display is something I will never forget.
Near the end of the fireworks show, it started really pouring, so we went to a noraebang and sang a bunch of Korean and American pop songs. Then when we went back outside, there was a dance party on the beach.
The next day, it was very cold, windy, and rainy, so we didn't get to spend the day on the beach. Here are me and Mark in front of the beach.
We had a wonderful time and are both so glad that we were able to participate in this annual festival. I remember reading about this on other people's blogs... how cool that we are now able to check one more thing off of our "must do" list!
PS: When I uploaded these pictures, I noticed I had quite a few pictures that need to be posted on here. I plan on catching this blog up once and for all this week, so stay tuned...