Worst Blogger Ever/Season 2 Premiere

7 03 2009

Sorry for being one of the worst bloggers ever…

Let’s do one of those recap episodes. Since this is kind of like Season 2 now. I was back in Seattle for the break between semesters, and did some travelling and such in the US, went to Ohio, New York, and Canada (yes, I said it is in the US). Once those domestics adventures were overwith I took some bartending classes, and I am now a graduated bartender. I will also be getting my license once I turn 21, next month. That basically sums up my break, I then went back to Korea on February 22nd.

Korea is doing great this time around. It is colder than I expected, thats my only real complaint. I just really like it here. Well, that and I am burning through money right now meeting all these new people, to replace my friends from last semester. I suppose that is some sort of necessary evil or something though. I have been spending more time doing more Korea-related things though. Listening to more Korean music and watching more Korean TV/Movies.  My new roommate is pretty good about doing that sort of thing. I am also training under him to increase my tolerance for spiciness, since it is obviously not high enough yet… The main thing that still really hurts is Dakgalbi when we order it extra spicy, and thats on Korean standards so it can be somewhat painful, but so delcious.

Things here are good though overall. I am looking forward to a new semester, with new people. Meeting alot more people from the West Coast which is nice since it will be easier to stay in contact with them once this stint is over. I will try to be better about keeping up with posts and stuff. I will hopefully write something about some Korean rap that I have been listening to alot lately.





Not this again

23 10 2008

So an interesting thing happened to me the other day, for the third or fourth time. I was being evangelized by some Koreans. This has happened to me several times and, honestly, it is really annoying. They always come up to and act really friendly like they just want to talk. Then all of a sudden they starting asking you “Have you heard of Jesus Christ?”. The funny thing I personally find about this question is that, this far into the conversation they know I am from America, which is basically the most heavily Christian country in the world. Asking me if I know about Jesus Christ is kind of like asking me if I know who George Bush is. I probably knew who Jesus was before I could even speak, and I am in no way religious.

I try not to be rude to these guys as they do not mean any harm. If anything they think they are doing something nice, but they aren’t, so the other day I just told the guy that I was Jewish (which I’m not) as I thought that he would get it as I would have bee part of another religion. He goes on, however, about wanting to talk about Jesus. I find this all kind of strange, because not only does he not realize that America is a far more Christian country than Korea, but also that he either doesn’t realize what Judaism is or just doesn’t care. Although I very well could have discussed Jesus, since he was Jewish and all. Overall, this guy was so strange, much like how I see most Korean Christianity.

I really don’t think Koreans, quite get Christianity. Some believe that just by saying Jesus’ name that they can get into heaven, and this is 100% a ripoff from Pure Land Buddhism, where you chant the name of the Bodhisattva Amitabha to gain entrance into the ‘Western Paradise’ which heavily resembles Heaven. This amongst the rampant evangelism is pretty strange. It is essentially the same thing as door-to-door people in America, but you don’t have a door to close in these people’s faces as they are approaching you in a public area, and trick you into talking with them. I think if this happens much more then I am going to just give up on talking to Korean people in public, which is a shame, but this probably won’t happen anyways because that’d be stupid. Maybe I will just pretend to not speak English or something.





Osaka Osaka Ah-h-Ah!

13 10 2008

Japan is expensive. That’s pretty much all I got out of this trip to Osaka/Kyoto/Nara. The reason for this is that I did not do anything that I have not done there, other than be in Osaka city. I have only driven through it and been at the airport. Anyways, this is what I think about it…

So Friday we got to Japan and spent the night in Kyoto. We did the normal temple/shrine tour there, which I won’t go into as that isn’t what I would really consider the interesting stuff, as I have done it before. After all that we got to our ‘ryokan’, which is a traditional Japanese inn. The group went into Gion, the old part of the city, and saw some geisha women walking around there, it was cool. After a good amount of time walking around we finally found a bar. I was the only one that spoke Japanese in the group and I have never really gone drinking in Japan so it was a bit hard to navigate.

The place we finally found was a tiny place that held about 14 people and was run by a 20 year old girl and a 30ish guy. They were really friendly and talkative. It was a very cool small little bar that was pretty intimate. The food I got there with the beer was also extremely good. It was some wagyu beef with balsamic reduction sauce. Not typical bar food. After a drink there we walked back to the inn, where we went in the public bath they had. I always like those, they are very relaxing and all that. The yukata that you get to sleep in are also really comfy so it went well.

The next day we went to Osaka, where we walked around the Korean areas, which is pretty large. Osaka has by far the largest population of Koreans in Japan. They even have a semi-official ‘Korea Town’. By semi-official I mean the locals have declared themselves this. It was pretty interesting though to see all the Korean influence in the area, which is pretty huge. Lots of Kimchi and the like being sold in the streets. This was also the first time I really heard Korean being spoken in Japan, not just in the strictly Korean places either. I am not sure if this is due to the fact that I now know some Korean and can distinguish it or more that it is the area itself. Either way I heard some of it being spoken which was pretty cool. So after the Korean areas, I met up with a friend from highschool who is studying in Tokyo at Waseda University. She came back to the hotel with me while I checked in and then we went out to dinner.

We had some ramen, which is amazing. Ramen in Japan is sooo far from any other type of Ramen, so don’t think that it is in any way bad. The beer that they served goes really well with it too so I enjoyed that meal quite a bit. After dinner, we walked around for a little bit, but she had to get going back to her boyfriend’s parent’s house and then go back to Tokyo early the next morning. I met back up with people from my group and we went in search of a bar again. It took an equally long time, but eventually we found a place. This was a much bigger bar that had real capacity. They had great chicken and beer again, so it was good. The staff was also really talkative and friendly so it was fun. Our waitress thought I was Australian. After that we went to a karaoke place, and we got a room there. I liked it more than the Korean Noraebang, as we were able to order food and drinks and stuff. Then we went to bed after that.

The next day was uneventful during the day, more temples and such. The night was fun though. We went to a very busy part of town, known as Namba, and we just walked around. It is a BIG shopping district with a river that cuts through it that is pretty cool. The people watching was amazing as there were all sorts of people there. Lots of bleached hair and mini skirts as examples. It was pretty cool there though, and kind of made Times Square unimpressive, and this isn’t even Tokyo so… We then continued the night with food, drinking, drinking in the hotel, and slapping eachother’s hands in a game known as ABCD, where basically everyone just gets slapped. It was great.

That about sums up my trip to Japan. The day after that we just did a few things, and went to the airport so I will leave it there. I didn’t really take many pictures so they might not be posted. I still need to upload and decide and such… so thats it.





Pusan/Busan… I dunno which spelling!

9 10 2008

Pusan is a fun, fun place, especially during PIFF. PIFF is the Pusan International Film Festival, and actually the largest film festival in all of Asia, so it’s actually a pretty big deal. But back to Pusan proper.

So I was in Pusan last weekend and we went down Friday morning. We stayed at the Gwangjang Tourist Hotel, across the street from the train station. It was a decent place that could fit seven to a room so it worked. Around the hotel is an… interesting place. A few streets down is ‘Texas Street’, which is where all the Russian and American sailors go to hang out… yea… We walked through there during the day without really realizing it and it was interesting. Lots of Russian ladies waiting outside buildings and such. There were also Filipinos ladies inviting us into their restaurants for cheeseburgers, in English. It was pretty weird and sketchy, but colorful I suppose.

After our adventure through Texas Street we moved onto Gwangan Beach, which is literally in the middle of the city. By the time we got there it was about 6PM, but that didn’t stop us from going for a quick swim. Despite the fact that it was late and October the water was actually really nice. We then went and got some really expensive sashimi stuff, which is cool in Korea as they eat it with chili paste instead of soy sauce like Japan, but I wouldn’t say it was worth as much as we paid. We then walked along the main drag which is parallel to a bridge that has basically a light show, see the pictures below, and it was a nice evening, even though I was sick by then. We finished the night with the cab going super fast through the streets of Pusan… like 100km/h… through a big city.

The next day (Saturday) a small group of us got up and went to the Jalgachi Fish Market, which is supposed to be the biggest one in Pusan (there are many others). It was a pretty cool open air fish market, that actually barely smelled of fish, so you know it was good. We walked around and saw all the many fish to eat, even a few sharks for sale… there was also alot of blood there… After that we stopped at one of the many eateries along the way and got ourselves our very own octopus to eat, killed especially for us! This made it expensive too! It was pretty good though, sadly it wasn’t the raw, living octopus we were after, but it was good none the less, once again with chili paste.

After the sea we went into the mountains, literally. We went across town and hiked up a mountain in search of what we heard was a really cool hidden Buddhist temple. It took a good two hours to get there from when we started hiking, but it was sooo worth it. We met some random 60 year old guy up there who showed us the way and provided us with gimbap (rolls of rice with veggies, like sushi but without fish) and soju (alcohol!). This moment made me realize why Korean people love hiking so much, it gives them an excuse to drink in a really nice location. Once we got to the temple I was also once again really impressed, there were carvings in the rock wall and it was pretty cool to see that sort of thing in person. We then got to hike all the way down and go to another temple, Beomeosa, which is big and commercialized and not as cool, but they were having a concert there and these Korean girls were singing “It’s Raining Men” and “Dancing Queen”… it was a bit weird.

After the temple runs we went back to the ocean to Haeundae Beach, which is the big popular one. There we had a boat tour of Pusan which was cool and colorful since it was by then night time. After that we just sat on the beach, drank, and played games. We did have a piggyback-ride race and I was champion so I am happy with that. Given I was the biggest and carrying one of the smallest girls. It was a fun night.

On Sunday we went to go see a PIFF movie which was interesting. The movie we say was ‘Decade of Love’ and was a Hong Kong movie. It wasn’t the best movie, but it was interesting. I don’t feel like explaining it so I won’t… maybe try google? After that we walked to this park next to Haeundae beach (yes, we were there again) which was really cool, and it almost seemed like a fantasy land or something. I didn’t quite feel like it was a real place… I don’t know. After that we had the wonderful experience of taking the KTX (Korean Express Train) back to Seoul where I was sad to be away from the ocean.

Overall, it was a really fun weekend and I hope to go back to Pusan sometime, and I recommend that you go to Pusan as well. Here are some pictures:

Gwangan Beach at day/dusk

Gwangan Bridge at night

Jalgachi Fish Market

The hidden temple with some of the stone carvings, there were many more

Some of Haeundae Beach with Pusan in the background





Seoul FC Game

28 09 2008

So today I went to an FC Seoul Game at the World Cup Stadium, which is literally down the street from my apartment. They were playing the Chunnam Dragons, which I was told are supposed to be a pretty good team, but they did lose 3-0 so who knows. Either way it was pretty fun to go see a game. The goals were all pretty well done so I can’t complain. The cheering was enthusiastic, but were not ridiculous like they were at Yon-Ko Jeon. I was actually able to sit down the entire game, which was nice. I also had a really good sausage from a microwave which was amusing. The accompanying beer (Hite) was bad as usual.

After the game we went to the shopping mall in the stadium… yes there is a full shopping mall inside the stadium, not just next to it. Had some dinner, Kimchi Tonkassu, and all was well. On the way out some of my friends got jackets and then we got a soccer ball to play around with outside. Good ol’ fun in Seoul as always.





Epik High Concert & Han River Park

28 09 2008

Last night I went to an Epik High concert over in the Olympic Park area. It was quite fun and entertaining. Epik High is a Korean hip-hop/rap group. It was a good concert, with most of the artists that are featured in their songs actually being there to perform, and they even had a live band to perform alot of their music. It was an indoor venue and they even launched some fireworks indoors which was pretty cool. It is nice to see a band that isn’t a pop group at all. These guys are very legitimate in their music which is good always.

Before the concert some of us also went to a park on the Han River which was fun. We sat on the grass in amazing weather and had some food and just hung out. I also rented a tandem-bike which is pretty weird to ride since they are so long. It was also incredibly uncomfortable, and pretty old, but for $6 an hour to rent it, I suppose it wasn’t all that bad. It was a good day overall though so I am happy.

Here are two videos of Epik High’s music. The first is the song ‘Fan’ which I thought was the best performance, and the second song is called ‘One’, which is my favorite recorded song, so yea.





Orientation Trip!

2 09 2008

So there was a weekend orientation trip, where everyone in the CIEE program left Seoul for the weekend and went to the country. For those that lack an attention span here is a brief list of things that happened:

1. Sat in a bus for many hours

2. Made paper, in a traditional style

3. Laughed as people came back to the traditional hotel really drunk, and did ghetto norebang

4. Climbed a mountain

5. Did a lot of shopping in the Family Mart at weird hours of the night

6. Ate eggs at 1AM

7. Picked tea leaves

8. Sat on the bus for waaaay too long

For those of you that have the ability to concentrate and actually read I shall explain these items a bit more. So the first day basically encompassed going to a huge land reclamation project where they are making a wall to block the ocean which will give the Koreans land about five times the size of Manhattan, which they will then change into various things like farmland and a space center… It is kind of a useless project. We then drove on to another city, which I don’t remember the name of, and there we made traditional paper. I can’t think of anything more to describe that. After that was over a group of us went to a really ghetto norebang (or karaoke room), and when we returned to the traditional-style inn that we were staying at for the night there were many drunk people running about. It was a very amusing and fun night filled with talking.

The next day we woke up to discomfort as we had slept on the floor (though I was fine as I slept on about ten pillows). If my memory serves me right we then drove to a mountain that we then proceeded to hike up. This was a fairly annoying hike as much of the path was just small boulders which were not very easy to traverse. The view, however, was quite spectacular and the whole experience was well worth it. After that we went to a Buddhist temple where we had dinner and watched an evening prayer, which actually was quite cool to me. The monks were reciting the Heart Sutra, which I forget what exactly it is but it is important. I thought that was pretty interesting. After that we went to our hotel which was a modern facility, and conveniently had a convenience store in the basement. We went there quite late and bought some eggs to have at about 1AM. That was great.

The next day, which was the last day, we spent the morning at a tea plantation and traditional village, where we actually were able to pick some tea leaves and keep them. I currently have my tea sitting on the counter drying out before I roast it to make some black tea. I just hope it doesn’t suck. We then proceeded to spend about eight hours on the bus…. it was boring. Mostly people just took pictures of other people sleeping.

Overall, orientation was pretty good. Nothing super exciting, but it was cool to get out of Seoul and things some other sides of Korea that I do not think I would have necessarily seen. So I guess you could say that it was good. Here are the pictures:

This is just a toll gate, but I thought it was pretty cool.

This is that land reclamation project, it goes really far into the Yellow Sea as you can see.

This is a cool Hyundai sign.

These are some Kimchee pots at the traditional inn we stayed at.

The same Kimchee pots and the building we stayed in.

This is apparently the prefered method of growing squash in the countryside.

The Buddhist temple we stopped at to watch the monks at work.

Here is the traditional village, with some rice fields in the background.