Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
To make the most of our Monday off, Mark and I decided to visit Everland, Korea's version of Disney World. Everland is actually located about 45 minutes south of Seoul. We were able to catch a bus a few subway stops away from us. For a mere $2/person, it took us directly to the theme park.
Monday turned out to be the perfect day to visit since it wasn't crowded at all. We heard horror stories of 2 hour lines during the weekends, so we were happy to avoid those. For most of the rides, we could walk right up and board.
Here's the entrance of the park.
It is Halloween Festival right now, so the entire park was decorated with a Halloween theme.
Each area had a separate theme. From Aesop's Village (for Kids) to Europe, to the Wild Wild West. Here's Mark in front of Alpine Village.
Here I am in front of the Amersterdam/Belgium area.
We went on several rides, including an Amazon water ride. For the St. Louisans, it was almost exactly like Thunder River at Six Flags. But obviously, Koreans don't like to get wet because the ride had built in tarps to prevent us from getting soaked. Guess the Tidal Wave wouldn't be much of a hit here. :)
Next, we went on a Safari. It was basically a bus with big windows driving through an area with wild animals roaming free. It was pretty cool. Here are a couple shots of the busses.
Here's a picture of a bear gnawing on a stick. Yes, they were really this close. I like this picture because it reminds me of Riley (our dog) chewing on his kong.
The driver fed the bears, so they would just hang out on the road waiting for us to arrive.
Here's a tiger obviously eyeing his lunch.
A lion snoozing on a rock right next to us.
Overall, it was a great day. In addition to the things we highlighted here, we saw a sea lion show, road some fun rides, went in a 3D show, and visited a haunted house. What a great way to spend an unexpected day off!
On Saturday night, Mark and I decided to check out a comedy club in Itaewon. There were English speaking comics from the United States and Australia. The evening was beautiful, and the comedy club was actually on the roof of the bar, so we could enjoy the night air. The comics were hilarious -- telling jokes about everything from Koreans to political figures. It was a really cool night and there was a packed house. We'll definitely be going back there for the next event!
Anna, one of our co-worker's, contract expired, so she's heading back to Canada -- at least temporarily. To send her off, the foreign staff went to Noryangjin Fish Market. We went all out and got two massive king crabs, fresh scallops, prawns, wriggling octopus tentacles, and sashimi. Mmmmm....
Check out the size of this bad boy! And we had TWO of them!
Here he is bright red and cooked!
Two weekends ago, we went bike riding with SangKwun, Emily, and a couple of SangKwun's friends in Yeoido Park. We could rent these old school bicycles for only $3 for the entire afternoon. Then, after riding around (and trying to avoid hitting small children on the bike path), we plopped down on the grass for a picnic. We got out our drinks and Mark commented that we needed some Two-Two Fried Chicken. So SangKwun's friend whipped out his cell phone and had chicken delivered right to the middle of the park! Talk about phenomenal service! :)
Friday, September 25, 2009
The dreaded H1N1 virus has hit our Poly School. Two students have been diagnosed so far. They were a second grader and a 6 year old (Mark and I don't teach either of them). From what we hear, they both got meds and are recovering. But the Koreans are in a panic, so the school is shutting down for a week. I'm not complaining, a week of work to explore the city and prepare for my parents' arrival in Korea sounds fantastic to me. But should I wear this school-supplied mask all week? :)
Sunday, September 6, 2009
K: I have one more thing I can check off of my "Bucket List." (Not that I'm planning to kick that bucket anytime soon.)
This past weekend, we headed an hour and a half out of the Seoul on a white water rafting trip. Mark found a package deal to go to Naerincheon. The 72 won included the bus ride to the town, rafting, and a pension (a.k.a. small hotel room) for a night. With the help of some of our Korean co-workers, we were able to book it.
We headed out bright and early (7:30 a.m.) on Saturday morning. As we got further out of Seoul, we began to see more tree-covered mountains. This is the area we rafted, so the river we were on cut right through the middle of a bunch of these mountains. Unfortunately, I was unable to bring my camera on the raft, so these pictures of the scenery from the bus are as good as it gets.
This picture is especially terrifying. See that red crane in the middle? That was a bungee jumping lift. They bring you to the top of it and you jump down. Below you there is no mat to catch you if it breaks, just a big pile of rocks. All of decided to pass on that.
After a quick lunch, we got suited up to hit the river. They're very cautious here in Korea. We were all equipped with a life jacket and a helmet. It was illegal to remove your helmet and there was a $300 fine if you're caught without it on the river. Here's Mark ready to hit the waves. It was a constant source of amusement how small the life jacket was on him.
Here's the group of us. Mark, Billy, me and our Korean co-teachers: Ellen, Kerry, and Yuni. You can tell Yuni was freaking out in the picture. She was extremely nervous about this experience since she doesn't know how to swim.
We actually had a trained guide take us through the rapids. After a quick training session, we were off! There were a few scary parts with quicker rapids and drops, but a lot of the ride was fairly calm and relaxing. The mountains were beautiful and I've never seen such clear water! I could see all the way to the bottom of the river. This actually came in quite handy at one point when Mark's wedding ring fell off. Since we could see all the way to the bottom, Ellen was able to spot his ring glistening next to a rock. Lucky him!
Some of the most fun parts were in the calmer parts where we could jump out of the raft and swim. We also made some slides and jump offs as the water was deeper in some parts.
Near the end of the trip there was a mini waterfall with freezing cold water from the mountain. Mark sat under it, but I was already shivering so I didn't.
Then we headed to our cabin. It was a big place with a lot of rooms. Our room was small, but served its purpose for the night. Below is the only picture we remembered to take of the place.
At the cabin, the couple that owned it BBQ'd us a meal of samgyipsal (pork). Then we sat around outside, drank, talked, and enjoyed the fresh air and stars.
K: Last weekend was Mark's birthday weekend so I planned a special weekend. On Friday night, we headed to Gagnam to a wine bar. The place was really nice and called "Sideways," like the movie. We chose a California blend and a cheese plate. Wine and (good) cheese are two things we've had to cut back on since coming to Korea, so it was a nice treat for us.
It was a nice night, so we sat out on the patio overlooking the little road. And as we were enjoying some nice conversation, our wine, and some appetizers, we noticed a shadow in front of us. Can you tell what this gentleman is doing? Yes, he's definitely peeing right there along the somewhat busy road. Public urination seems to be completely normal in this country. I've grown accustomed to seeing full grown men standing along crowded intersections taking care of business. Not one of my favorite things in this country, but I suppose it could be worse.
The next day, Mark and I had a full day. We got up early and went to breakfast. Then we went to Insadong to sightsee and enjoy the weather. Finally, I had gotten Mark tickets to see Jump for his birthday. It is billed as a comic martial arts performance. It is similar to Nanta (which we saw with Mark's parents) as there is audience participation and almost no speaking. Nanta revolved around some chefs preparing for a wedding, while Jump was about a crazy family who was very good at martial arts. We enjoyed the show, but thought Nanta was a better show. While the actors and actresses did some acrobatics, we were expecting better martial arts performances.
Here's Mark perfecting his martial arts moves before the show... Mark was actually a bit nervous that he'd be pulled up on stage, but was relieved when they picked on a Frenchman instead.