Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bungee Jumping

Yup, just when I thought the weekend was over, we decided to bungee before we left. Neither Sung Hyun of myself had done it before, so both of us were shiting our pants beforehand. It was such an exhilaration standing on the top of the platform waiting for our big dive. I wanted to go first because I think if saw my bf go then I would be too freaked out. When I jumped, immediately my stomach rushed to my head and I lost my breath............it was the weirdest feeling because it felt so wrong and by body was in a state of complete SHOCK!!!!!!!!!! When I arrived at the bottom, some guy pulled me into the boat (since you jump over water) and that happened to be the only picture they got of me. For about 30 minutes after the jump both of us were just walking around in a daze because our adrenaline was working overtime. Wow, that was the icing on the cake to the most perfect weekend that I could ask for.

Would I do it again?????????? HELL YAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Look Ma, I did it!!!!!

There was more fun to be had.......

After we stuffed ourselves with some Korean lunch (infamous sticky white rice and a plethora of side dishes) we jumped on a scooter and headed for the water (those scooters are sooooo fun, I want to buy one so bad). Even if the water looked like SHIT, we were still determined to get wet.

The next few hours were spent getting wipped around behind a speed boat on a banana boat and some other crazy water rafty things. The best part was watching the Korean women. They are really stylish here and are always concerned about how they look. So after they finished their ride they would put their high heels on and whip out their make-up kits and fix themselves up. Well if any of you know me well enough then I certainly was not one of those girls.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Day two at NAMISUM

The first night of my excursion was pretty tame, but the next day certainly wasn't. We woke up at about 9am and took a 10 minuite ferry ride to the Island, which appeared to be quite popular among other Asians (we saw many Japanese, Chinese, and Malaysian people there............and of course I was the only white person). The weather was so beautiful -- not too hot, not too cold -- so we basically just strolled around for a couple of hours, stopping to take pictures here and there. Well truthfully Sung Hyun wanted to take a picture of us together like every 5 seconds (this is so Korean style), where as I was more interested in taking scenic pictures. It was so nice to see all the trees because in a big city like Seoul you often loose that sense of country.

I was really satisfied with my trip to Namisum up to this point and I thought that we would eat some lunch and head home...................boy was I wrong!!!!


Someone snap me out of this fantasy......................

My trip to Namisum Island is by far the the best thing that I have done since I have been in Korea. In total it boils down to one full day of action packed, adrenaline pumping crazyness. From the second we left till we arrived home the next day, I felt like I was in a different world. I got to fully experience Korean culture and people because I was totally surrounded by them -- and I loved every second of it.

The drive out there was exciting because we were cruising to some Korean tunes singing our hearts out. There were 5 of us total in the vehicle (4 adults and 1 baby). The baby was soooo cute and basically was an angel the whole time we were there because it never once cried. It was kinda bizzare to see it sitting in the back seat of the car not straped into a baby chair, but rather in its mothers arms (which is apparently not against the law in Korea).

When we arrived at Namisum we headed straight to the hotel (which was owned by someone my boyfriend knew, so we got a killer deal on a sweet pad -- bed and hot tub included.......yes you heard me, BED...............most Korean hotels do not come with a bed so we lucked out).

After we got settled in we had a BBQ (Korean style of course..................which means no table or chairs). Basically everyone was doing the Korean squat, which I am absolutely horrible at (as you can see in the picture). We sat around and drank beer and soju and ate some pork while we compared Korean culture and Canadian culture. I was the center of attention because I don't think many of these people had ever associated with a Westerner; overall they were extremely kind and very welcoming. It was a nice feeling.


Looking back I would have to say that this journey has been the BEST thing that I have choosen to do in my life thus far. Sometimes it is scary to make major changes and all too often people would rather stay in their comfort zone rather than make a diversion into the unknown. Life is about taking risks and although it has been really tough for me at times, I have also experienced some amazing things.............something that I could never have learned from a book. The memories that I have created over the past year will literally last me a lifetime. There are things that I have done here that I will never forget; there are people that I have met that will always hold a special place in my heart.

I would be lying if I told you that my life in Korea was close to perfect. In fact, it's far from that...............which is exactly the reason that I have enjoyed it so much. There were times when I would sit in my apartment and think (and cry) about how much I miss my friends and family.......... I pursued, pushed, and forced myself to literally SUCK IT UP. There was no one here to pick up the pieces when I fell apart.............I learned to rely on myself. I would often say "Jen this is only one year out of your life and you have made a commitment to this contract and people rely on you and expect you do fulfill your obligation, YOU CAN DO IT" -- who would have known it would turn out to be the BEST year of my life (I certainly didn't think so)??

So what is the point of this rambling. Well if any of you ever get the opportunity to do something like this I would strongly recommend it. If you are not so lucky, remember that there are always times in your life when you get to test your strength. When you are given that opportunity, TAKE IT!!!!! Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.

And if you ever feel down remember this................

The complexities of life, the hectic pace
of everyday living fondly called 'rat race'
can be overwhelming and hard to bare
without the support comfort and care
So start each new day with peace of mind
that when you are weary and caught in a bind
those close to your heart will guide you along
and help to distinquish the right from the wrong
And when your day is finally done
reflect on the moments of laughter and fun
for they will provide you with feelings of peace
your worries will fade, your tensions decrease

Friday, July 21, 2006

My Baby

Friday night I was picked up by my NAM JAH CHING GO (boyfriend) and we left Seoul to go eat dinner at a quiet little out-door restaurant in the woods. He drove me there and we listened to english dance/ rap songs on the way so it didn't even seem like I was in Korea. I told him that I was unable to extend my contract for 3 months longer (which I was trying to do but couldn't out of reasons I don't even want to get into). Anyways, he was pretty upset and told me that his 'heart ached'..................he's so adorable; I just wanna pack him in my suitcase and bring him back home (I know all of you would love him).

Anyways we had a nice dinner of Bipimbop (rice with veggies and hot sause) and some weird wheat flour soup (along with all the common side-dishes).

Today we are heading to Namisum (an island) with his friends to party it up and then go either waterskiing or bungee jumping............should be a blast!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Mud Festival

Yup, believe it or not I paid to go roll around in some mud. This past weekend I left Seoul and headed to the annual MUD FESTIVAL with my best bud Liz. It has been pouring rain here and this Saturday many of the roads in Seoul were shut down as a result; luckly I was out of town and missed out.

Okay so the day started with some military training. We got dressed up in some army gear and headed to the mud beach to do some jumping jacks and running etc...............now I can say that I have mud wrestled (hehe). I took my disposible camera but unfortunately it got covered with mud so I just chucked it out. After I got all washed up I headed to the beach to chill out in the sun for the rest of the afternoon. In the evening we got all dressed up for a night on the town. There had to be thousands of people there. We watched some live music and saw a spectacular fireworks display. We headed to bed early because we had such a long day. Poor Liz didn't sleep much because of my snoring...................sorry friend!!!!

The next day was a BLAST. We started with some beer for breakfast and I can honestly say that I have never been drunk in the afternoon until just then. We painted ourselves with some mud and participated in some of the local mud activities (mud slide, wrestling, obstacle course to name a few).

And yes it is legal to drink alcohol on the beach...........basically you can drink anywhere

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Count down to paradise

Well in just 20 short days I will be jumping on a plane heading to Thailand where I will be sitting on a beach drinking Mai Thais and eating delicious Thai food with my wonderful friend Liz.

We leave July 28th (my birthday) and head straight to Bangkok, but do not arrive till 12 pm. Liz assures me that we will be heading out on the town to do some drinking in celebration of my birthday, but I get the feeling we will be tired from the flight. The next day at 4 pm we are taking another flight to a remote island called Koh Samui. We will be staying here for about 7 days for some well deserved relaxation. Check out the pics don't they look amazing?????

After out stint in Koh Samui we are heading back to Bangkok to cash in on some shopping deals. We will stay there for 3 days and then arrive back in Seoul Monday morning at 8 am (and yes we have to work this day..............blughhhh).


Last night I treated my friend to some Thai food -- which we discovered later that he wasn't too fond of. It was so funny because he is so Korean style (which is what I love about him). For instance, he wanted to order a side dish of Kimchi (traditional korean food eaten at EVERY meal). He was so sad when he discovered that they didn't have any. Also, Koreans don't really have table manners (I too have picked up some bad manners since I have been here). For example, since they use chopsticks to eat noodles they have to slurp them up into their mouths. Well this was the case last night when Lee Sung Hyun used a fork, he still ate Korean style, slurping and all!!!!!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Now for some politics........

So for any of you who pay attention to International News then you may be familiar with the missiles that are being launched from North Korea. Now I know that if I was in Canada then I probably won't be concerned too much over this matter, but now that it is occuring right here in my territory it becomes more perturbing -- especially since I read about it everyday in the paper. To learn more, take a moment to watch a some clips on this issue.

Full of smiles everyday -- the joy of children

I guess it is about time I post some pictures of my students -- after all they consume most of my time here in Korea. The first picture is taken at our monthly birthday bash that we have for all of the students who celebrate birthdays within each month. Kevin (the kid in the green) celebrated his 7th birthday (5 years Western age). He never listens to me in class but he often makes me laugh. I remember the first day of kindie class he burst out during my lesson and said "teacher do you like monster spiders?" -- good kid (they all are)

The boy on the left (Jerry) has to be one of my best students. He is so full of energy that I am exhasted by the end of the day. Sean (the boy on the right) is the biggest baby ever. I can't imagine how he gets treated at home but I would suspect he always gets his way. Everyday he tells me "teacher, Tim me no friend" and then starts to cry...........I dunno 'bout him.

All 12 of them hard at work cutting and pasting in their workbooks. Currently we are learning about different types of food. Last Friday we even had a pizza party!!!!!!!!!!!

They are a great bunch I will surely miss them when I am done -- ahhhhhhh less than 2 months from now :(

Thursday, July 06, 2006

SAY AHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So this is my korean friend Tae Jong (TJ for short). Actually I would not even really consider him a Korean because he is so Westernized. He just recently got back from the states where he studied for 4.5 years. Now he is working on some extra computer classes and teaching english on the side -- this guy knows more english slang than me. He is great to hang around with because he has a good sense of humour. Hey I even think he is single..............any offers ladies???
TJ close your mouth!!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Chung Gye Chun River

I met a really great person here in Korea who is willing to tour me around anywhere I wish. Today we met for coffee and just enjoyed the nice weather -- although it was a little humid for my liking. He was even nice enough to bring me TACO BELL from on the U.S. Military Base. After we went for a nice walk along the newly constructed river (which used to be a road); now it's a 5.8km-long, $360 million peice of urban watershed.

World Cup!!!

So I knew the world cup existed but since I am from Canada and all we care about is ice hockey (haha) I wasn't so sure how important soccer (or what they call Futball) was. Luckly, I was able to get the opportunity to watch a few games. What was even more exciting was watching the crowd errupt into a major frenzy. I even took some time out to learn the Korean chants so that I could partake in the fun............oh what a rush it was.

For starters i can't even begin to describe the amount of people packed on the street to watch the game (which didn't start until 4 am). The sea of red shirts, black heads and red devil horns stretched on for miles -- realistically speaking I think it was reported that there were over 500 000 people sitting on the streets in the area where I was located.
IT WAS INSANE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

DMZ (Demilitarized Zone)

This by far has been the most imposing thing that I have taken part in since I have been in Korea. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go on a tour with my mom to the DMZ -- the area of land separating North and South Korea. This tour was one of the best ways to understand the situation, the tension, and the reality of the North and South Korean division. The surreality of the situation at hand caught me off gaurd and it saddens me tremendously that two countries as one family are pointing guns at one another. As a result of this experience, my understanding of the recent history of Korea has taken on a new dimension.

The tour is guided by United Nations Command military personnel, taking us through several sites along the boarder between these two countries. At the start of the tour we had to sign waivers stating that Korea was not resposible for personal injury if a battle ensued. There was a specific dress code and we were not allowed to make any hand gestures or dramatic movements because they might be interpreted as a threat by the North Koreans. In our tour group we were with an older man that was pointing and waving his hand at the North Koreans as he was speaking. My mom was so freaked out she thought she would be shot at because of this; I couldn't help but laugh at her since, if any of you know my mom, she is very uptight to start with. The picture shown on the left is called the "Bridge of No Return" -- the only bridge connecting North and South Korea. Cross this line and don't ever expect to come back (just as the name states).

But it can't be all that bad in North Korea, right???? Well to anyone who is unfamiliar with the Korean War (1950-1953) you might think this. In all actuality however, this war (which has not officially ended) has changed the face of Korean society. I am not going to go into details about the war but if you wish to learn more than click here.

Life in North Korea is not pleasant. As a citizen living in a communist society under the direct rule of a single individual, personal rights that we as Canadians take for granted are forgotten. These Koreans are constantly bombarded and brainwashed with propoganda. Everything that enters into North Korea is filtered as a means to keep these individuals out of touch with reality. At certain times of the day they are forced to listen to broadcast information providing them with inaccurate information about what exists outside of their country. They are told that South Koreans are bad and want to wage war against them. By having the opportunity to participate in this tour I was able to somewhat comprehend the grim reality of this country.

In the above picture you are able to see the gigantic flag pole in the North Korean Propaganda Village. South Korea was the first to build its flag pole on their side, but shortly after the North Koreans counteracted with a much larger flag -- weighing in at over 500 pounds (dry flag).

Now the building directly in front in the above picture is located in North Korea. The two soilders that you are able to see are South Korean soilders and if you look carefully you will notice that they are positioned halfway behind the building; the purpose of this is to decrease the target contact space incase firing was to occur. How would you like that job????

One part of the tour that we were not able to take pictures of was an underground tunnel dug by the North Koreans in an attempt to invade South Korea. It was just recently discovered by chance and it was only a few miles short of Seoul (the major South Korean city -- where I live). The North Koreans tried to pass it off as an undiscovered coal tunnel dug during the war, which is why they painted it black. Who knows what state this country would have been in right now if that tunnel wasn't accidentally discovered?

Overall this is by far the most amazing thing that I have witnessed since my arrival in Korea. The tension and anxiety that I felt that day is something I will never forget. Simply by being there the seriousness of the situation was magnified ten fold -- fortifying the cruel reality of both North and South Korea.