Monday 24 January 2011

A month already???

                      Hard to believe it has been a month since I first arrived here in ROK (Republic of Korea) time has flown so fast... yet feels like I've been here longer in another way because we have done so much and made so many friends and have really settled into a schedule. The weeks fly by (especially at the moment when so much of my teaching day is spent practicing for the talent show) and the weekends go by in a blink of my eye! This weekend was quiet but nice.
                  On Friday evening Sam, Kelly, Ron, Dee and I all went into Seoul and went to an Italian restaurant for dinner...YUM! It was so good, although I like most of the Korean food it was great to eat western style. After dinner we found a love motel (this one had a glass wall between the shower and the bedroom and quiet a few "interesting" paintings around the walls so it really lived up to its name!) and after we just went out for a few quiet drinks. Nothing too exciting as we wanted to be able to get up early the next morning for a little sightseeing before shopping and thats exactly what we did. Sam went off his own way because he wanted to go to some workshop thing so Ron, Kelly, Dee and me walked around a Buddhist temple for awhile. It was amazing. The carvings on the temple were so intricate and beautiful and inside were three huge gold statues of Buddha, (I couldn't take any photos of them though unfortunately).                  
                 After wandering around awe-struck for a while we decided that it was time for shopping!! Unfortunately pay day is not until this Tuesday though so our purchases were limited but we have spotted quiet a few things that I am fairly sure we will be going back for next weekend!! The little stalls are cheap and they have all the big brand shops like H&M and Forever 21 (I was so glad to get back into this shop, loved it so much in Chicago)! 
                            After shopping we met up with Sam and his friend Nick again and the six of us all went for an Indian. I had Chicken Tikka Missala (and although the chef accidentally made it extra spicy - they offered to re-make the dish but I was so hungry I ate it like that, I drank tonnes of water), it was delicious! To make up for the mistake the owner,(who spoke almost perfect English), gave us free naan breads and stuff so we were very impressed! I think we will definitely be going back there again because it was seriously cheap too, only 13,000 won each (about 8 euro) and we ate ALOT!!! After that we were running slightly late for our train so we got two taxis unfortunately Sam and Kelly made it in time but Ron, Dee and I missed the train so we had to take the subway the whole way home which takes about 30 mins longer (normally)! So we got on the subway all well and good but we were talking so much we missed our transfer stop and the three of us ended up only realising when the subway had looped back around and we were almost back where we started. We didnt know whether to laugh or cry but laughing won in the end so we got some beers and hopped on the subway again (this time making sure to pay attention to the stops we were at!).
                               On Sunday I slept in while Dee went off to work then got up and cleaned the apartment a little. Last night we headed over to Sam and Kelly's apartment to watch a few episodes of Misfits together and just chill. We are so lucky with the friends we have made they make Korea even better than it is.

Friday 21 January 2011

Where did the week go?

Another school week has just flown by!! Can't believe it's Friday already another week done and another weekend about to start!! This week went by in a flash, practice for our upcoming talent show (Sunday, February 13th - just incase anyone wants to attend!! :P) has taken over most of our class time so the days fly by. My class are singing lemon tree (by fools garden) and a chinese song, then we are doing the play of the ugly ducklng and the are also playing a traditional Korean musical instrument so we need a lot of time to practice!! All in all though I think the are going to be great!! (I might be slightly biased though)!! Tonight Dee and I are heading into Seoul and Sam and Kelly might be going to.. just a chilled night though of dinner and cinema because 1. we won't be paid til the 25th and 2. we have a busy schedule of partying lined up in the near future so we're gonna conserve energy! A nice dinner and a chilled night wont go astray though because we hope to get up early tomorrow morning for some shopping before we come back home here to Yongmun!! It should be grand and quiet (although knowing us we'll be like sure it'd be a waste to be in Seoul on a Friday night and not have a few drinks!! We'll see what happens!)

Monday 17 January 2011

Another Korean weekend!

Ron, me and Kelly in Focus bar.

Kelly and Dee singing their hearts out!
So Friday night we went out as planned. Headed into Yangpyeong (which is our closest big town - Yongmun where we live is small enough)! Between our crowd from the English village here and another group of foreigners living around Yangpyeong there was actually quiet a crowd of us!! Even though beer is so cheap here I am sick of it (I don't drink it at home ever but I had been drinking it here) anyway I decided enough is enough so no more beer for me and I drank soju for the night!! Seemed like a good idea at the time but soju is basically the same strength as vodka so even though it tastes lighter I probably shouldn't have drank so much! Now I don't mean I was a messy drunk thankfully I mean nobody else realised I was tipsy but I could feel it in my head! Anyway long story short I left the bar without my lovely new hat...(the black one with the bobble in some of my photos, sickened!!) Guess I'll just have to buy another! :( All in all it was a fun night though with lots of talking in the bar which evolved into lots of singing once we reached the noreabang!! Slept most of the day Saturday until Dee and I dragged ourselves outta bed and down to the town to get a bite to eat (they have a Paris baguette coffee shop for a nice western style sandwich) and a bit of grocery shopping!! On Sunday Dee headed off to work (its her last Sunday of work until July because winter camp is ending) and I slept on for a little while. Then got up and played the real little-housewife card by cleaning the apartment and doing the washing up and stuff!! Then last night when Dee got backed we just chilled and watched 'I am Legend' (with Will Smith) on TV both Dee and myself had seen it before so we weren't surprised by anything much in it except until the last 5 minutes when they used a completely alternative ending to the one that had been used in Irish cinemas when we saw it!! That was a twist we were not expecting... even the films are different here in Korea!! Altogether it was a fun but quiet weekend...

Friday 14 January 2011

A surprisingly successful skiing trip!

 So it's Friday already, wow this week went quick!! Was wrecked after the weekend but Dee and myself decided that having a gym 3 mins walk from our door left us very little reason to avoid it so Monday evening we geared up and headed to the gym!! Unfortunately we seemed to pick the busiest time but we hopped on the treadmills anyway and fast walked while everyone around ran at what seemed record breaking speeds!! Oh well, gotta begin someplace!! We weren't too put off though and managed to motivate ourselves to go again on Tuesday!! (Clap on the back for us!!) Wednesday in school I was covering for the 5 year old teacher who was out (really 4 year olds in non-Korean age)! That was fun, they are so cute.. sure they're only getting the hang of Korean not to mind English at that age!! So Wednesday night we decided we'd chill and had a proper relaxing night watching a good movie and all!! Thursday flew as well because I only had to teach until one and then went for my medical check-up which I need to pass in order to FULLY complete my visa!! Korean hospitals are strange like they took my blood at a little desk in the corridor where everyone else waiting could see, but it was all grand! Then Thursday night (last night) 14 of us (Korean and foreign teachers from the school) put on our warmest clothes and headed for the ski slopes!! We rented the ski and snow boards along the way first (so cheap 10,000 won for the lot - thats about 6 euro) and arrived at the ski resort soon after there we bought a ski lift ticket for 31,000 (about 20 euro) and we were on our way!! Skis are VERY difficult to walk in!! We hopped on the ski lift and all was grand 'til we got to the top and it was time to get off it. I didn't move fast enough hence the first fall of the night!! Laughed so hard... my first fall skiing was because I couldn't even get off the lift in time before the chair caught up with me and whacked me in the ass!! Second fall calm a minute after when half way down the hill (and seriously gaining speed) I realised I didn't know how to stop and falling on my ass was the best option before I hit someone!! But after that and a crash course in how to stop from one of the lads I am very happy to say I didn't fall whilst actually skiing for the rest of the night (the ski-lift got me again the second time but after that I mastered it!!) So all in all only three falls (2 of them not even whilst skiing) I am very happy with myself!! Towards the end I was actually going down the slope (okay a baby slope but it still counts) at alright speeds!! We arrived back at 12 last night (the ski resort is open 24 hours) and literally fell into bed!! I didn't expect to like it (or be able to stay upright) so all in all I think skiing definitely gets the thumbs up from me!! Today in school I got to mind the 5 year old class again..but because I wasn't prepared today (as I was only told this morning when I arrived I'd be teaching them) myself and the co-teacher decided a colouring day would be best!! I was happy out with that!! Gotta head back now and get ready for a night out... it just never stops here..and so far I really like it like that!!  

Monday 10 January 2011

A very fun few days...

Downtown Suwon!

Dee, Nick, Kelly and me in Seoul
Ok, so went to E-mart last Tuesday and bought a clothes rail so I have finally managed to unpack my suitcase and hang my clothes someplace!! Its so good to not be living outta a suitcase in my bedroom floor!! Didn't end up going snowboarding because one of the guys hurt his leg but I'm sure it'll happen soon!! Friday in school the kids took "graduation" photos so cute. They had little graduation caps and robes for the whole class and had a proper photographer in to take the photos as well. What I didn't realise was that I had to have an individual photo taken of me too.. thankfully I had dressed smart enough that day because I thought some parents might be there!! Then Friday afternoon I headed home and Dee felt much better(she had been sick on Thursday) so we decided we'd head to Suwon for the weekend after all!! Dee, myself, Sam, Kelly and Chris hopped on the train and we were off. Arrived in Suwon checked into a love motel (these are all over Korea and are basically cheap hotels that you can rent by the hour or for the night. I was expecting something dirty and dingy but for the equivalent of 15euro each Dee and I rented a room that would have been a very nice hotel room back home.. I was very impressed!) Headed to a local expat bar where we met Kelly and Sam's friend who is living and teaching in Suwon and from there the session started.. Soju smoothies are delicious!!!! They bring a smoothie maker filled with whatever fruit you want to your table add the soju and whizz it all together!! Yummy!! Dee went home at that stage because she wasn't drinking and the rest of us drank on!! At 5am we finally decided to call it a night and headed back to our motel!! Next morning while the boys went off for a hike the girls went shopping. We found a little market on the street with tonnes of stalls and wandered around very happily for a few hours. Back to the motel to get changed and then out for dinner (a street stall was our choice in the end so we tried a bit of everything, those little stalls are all over the place in Korea! (Poor Kelly didnt feel great so she decided to skip the night out.) I had a kebab of reconstituted fish bits (not as bad as it sounds..quite good actually) and the battered and deep friend shrimp, something like black pudding and of course deep fried octopus!! Also very yum!! Plenty soju and a few long island ice teas later we found ourselves in a club dancing away!! Met two Irish girls and chatted to them for a while then left the club Dee went back to the motel and Sam, Nick and myself needed to a noreabang!! At some time after five we finally went home another very fun night in Suwon behind us! Up next morning got the bus to Seoul for a little sightseeing then on the train back to Yongmun where we fell into our beds.. another very fun and memorable weekend in Korea!!

Tuesday 4 January 2011

The Ugly Duckling is FINALLY finished....

The school from my classroom window

Ok so yesterday school went fine... except for me having to run outta the classroom with a coughing fit!! My co-teacher was like "Do you need to go home?", but, after stealing a carton of the strawberry soya milk they give to the kids as snacks, I was able to stop coughing and I return!! My co-teacher is so nice after lunch she arrived back with a hot drink she had made for me that helps with colds. Anyway after school Dee made me help correct her tests again (what a good friend am I?) then we met Kelly and Ron, two more of the foreign teachers, and headed out to the local village for a few quiet drinks and some chicken wings...NICE!! Stopped into a chemist as well and was very surprised and relieved when the chemist spoke a little English...broken English but enough to get his message across and understand me!! So for the equivalent of 2 euro I bought some tablets for my sore throat, took them last night and today and they seem to be helping alright!! English really is such a universal language, I mean if the role was reversed how often do you think a Korean could walk into a village pharmacy in Ireland and find someone who could speak to them?? Headed home then to watch a little CSI: Miami, (sometimes you'd forget you're in Korea) and an early night!! School so far today is going fine... I think I have FINALLY finished the script for the ugly duckling!!! Wow that took a long time... I dunno how many times I have had to change it already!! Make it shorter, make it longer, the kids need more lines, they wont remember all those lines, this kid needs less lines, all the kids must have equal parts....and so on!! Apparently the parents and very particular but they pay a lot of money for their kids to go here so I guess they have the right to be... but after sorting it into the separate easy scenes with a few lines introduction at the start I think it is finally sorted and ready to go!! As well as the play for the talent show we are singing the song "Lemon Tree" by Fool's garden... just try to picture 7 Korean kids singing that song so far its like a cats concert but we've got a month and a half of practice more so fingers crossed!! Was planning on making the trip to E-mart tonight but apparently the bus is booked out because only 7 people can go so I dunno now what the plan is for this evening!! We'll see sure.. I'm sure I'll find something to do!! I may be going snowboarding tomorrow evening as well but we'll see about that... ye know what my balance is like and I'd like to still be in one piece for this weekend for your trip away down South!! But things change here in a heartbeat so who knows...

Sunday 2 January 2011

What a start to 2011!!

So in the end in turns out 10 teachers from the school here ended up heading to Seoul on Friday night for New Years's eve. Had a few beers on the train there, then a bite to eat, then some very strong Long Island cocktails and the bar hopping started!! Let me tell you walking from one bar to another was no easy task though.. all the snow was compacted into a continuous sheet of ice on the footpaths you slid more than you walked. I only took a small fall thankfully other people (aka Dee now have purple bruises all over to show their falls)!!! Seoul is such a cool city went to the first bar packed with westeners and Dee and I were just chatting away when 2 lads offered to buy us drinks we said grand and sure 2 vodkas and cranberry were bought for us but by then we realised they were boring so we ditched the lads (and stupidly the drinks too) and went back to join our group!! Did the whole countdown thing talked to a few more people and headed to the next bar!In the end we settled in an underground club which looked like you were inside a giant sandcastle.. the drinks kept coming and everyone had a ball!! A big banner was pulled down and used as a skipping rope and everyone had a really good night... drinks are so cheap so I was quiet tipsy but in the good way, everyone was! Eventually we decided at around 5 that we should leave so some of us decided to just get the early morning train home while more said they were going to try and find a noreabang (kareoke room) and sleep there. Anyway long story short when I arrived home Dee had been home before me... anyway as I opened the door of our apartment a little Korean kid came running up to me and started saying "Teacher, my puppy" and pointing into our house... I had no idea what he was on about but he pushed past me into the apartment and when I followed him sure enough there was a little brown and white puppy walking around happy as larry under our table!! We are guessing he ran in when Dee arrived home and she was so tired she didnt even notice and went straight to bed so until I came back the puppy must have been wandering around in our apartment!! I laughed so hard!! A very random but very very fun New Years... hopefully a sign of the random fun and adventures 2011 will have in store. Yesterday New years day a few of us met in the evening after a days sleep for pizza.. Yum!! Then home and we watched James Bond because thankfully our movie channel is now working!! Woke up today and cleaned the apartment a little while Dee was at work then wrapped up with gloves and a scarf and went for a really nice walk. Wish my camera was working because the area here is so beautiful... snow covered mountains and forests everyplace walked for about an hour and a half!! Saw a little blue tractor on my walk which reminded me of Dad... although I've been thinking bout him all day anyway because today is his birthday. Thats all my news for now, so I'll finish by saying Happy Birthday Dad!! Hope you've a great one at home in Ireland, miss ye!! x