Spenser's Birthday

The following pictures tell the story of Spenser's Birthday from roughly 10 pm until about 6:30 am. I always questions putting some of these pictures up but drinking is part of the culture. Bars and clubs stay open all night, not like in the States where they close at 2 am. Anyway, the following pictures do not do justice to the evening we had put in some way I hope you can get a sense of how great an evening it was for all involved.

(Dinner after work)

(After dinner we headed back to Spenser's place for a little. We did quite a few shots which, later in the night caught up with a few people. I believe we were toasting to the night Spenser was conceived - Thank You Spenser's Parents)

(We went to a little bar close to our apartment and had some more drinks. I put this picture up so you could see how No-Shave November was coming along - not great if you ask me.)

(Here, as you can tell by the picture, is when the alcohol started to kick in. Lots of stores have tanks with fish, squid, crabs, and other creatures of the sea. Somehow, I don't know how (but really I do), Spenser got the idea to grab a crab out of the tank.

(This was taken at about 3:30 in the morning I believe, hitting some baseballs in a batting cage. Way too much fun! Note for me - remember Spenser's fantastic hand eye coordination.)

(As seems the case when you are out that late at night, you meet some Korean people. Tonight we met Jade and Jason. They were great guys and actually ended up taking us to another bar to get more drinks.)

(Sadly, this is what happens after more drinks. Calvin is sleeping on the table and Spenser took a little power nap. Justin and I are holding strong in case you couldn't tell by the look on our faces. Also, Chelsea, the only woman in the previous pictures is doing well enough to take a photograph.)

(Guess who is back? After his power nap, Spenser wanted to go to the fortress and watch the sunrise. I couldn't explain my pose but I was ready to go.)

(Spenser and I at the top of the fortress. Fantastic shot. Mind you, it is now pushing 5:30 in the morning.)

(Spenser, myself, and Chelsea waiting for the sunrise. We never got to see because it got too cold but it would have been glorious.)

I wish I had pictures of the final event of the evening. As we were headed home at 6:30 or so we came across a group of exercisers working out around the base of the fortress. I stood in amazement and Spenser hopped right in. Next thing I know, I heard a Korean lady shout, "Come here!" in Korean of course. So we finished the night with a bit of exercise before catching the bus home. Thus concluded a night for the fellowship.


Pictures - Osan AFB Breakfast

(Justin and I as we board the subway to Osan, we are super excited about breakfast)

(Entrance to the Air Force Base)

(Inside Checkertails - a nice, homie, diner feeling)

(I am in the zone with a big smirk on my face ready to eat some delicious breakfast!)

(The first time I'd seen old George in over 6 months so I wanted to get a photo with him. I couldn't leave out his Korean counterpart but sadly, I don't know that guy's name.)

(Myself, Justin, and then Jen on the right. She is the one who knew the guy on base. Also, my WingWoman when we go out.)

(Me in complete awe in the store on the base. There were so many foods I forgot about from the States. It was seriously an overload.)

(As we were leaving)

(Once we got back to the apartment we split up the goodies. Justin is holding tight to his blue Gatorade. Thus concluded an amazing morning of breakfast at Osan AFB.)



I am always thankful when I come across good people and this Thursday was such an occasion. My friend and co-worker, Jen, who is Canadian and my Wing Woman when we go out, actually has a few friends at the U.S. Air Force Base close to where we live. Anyway, one of her friends invited us on base for breakfast. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! I cannot tell you the last time I had a breakfast that delicious - maybe six months now. We went to Checkertails. I had pancakes with blueberry fruit topping, blueberry syrup, two eggs, and sausage. I will still a bit hungry so I ordered another breakfast - eggs, toast, hash browns, and bacon. Like I said, to anyone in the States, this would be a joke but it was a great day, which I kept saying over and over again.

After breakfast we headed to the shopping mall which was actually like a shopping mall. The store blew my mind. It is amazing the simple things I have forgotten about since being in Korea such as Pop Tarts and Hot Pockets. There was so much food in the store that I haven't seen in such a long time. I guess it goes back to the old adage out of sight, out of mind. The gentleman who took us, Jesse, was a great guy. He ended up buying me some Sour Cream and Cheddar Chips. As stoked as I was about my chips, Justin, another co-worker was pumped that he could find light blue Gatorade. Like I said, the simple things you take for granted. The guys on base cannot accept money for anything they buy for people off base. Like I said, just a great guy. Sadly, he is leaving in a week, heading back to the States for the holidays, then headed to Italy. There is also a Chili's on the base and Jen said she might be able to get us back on again for a dinner at some point. In order to get on the base, you need to be signed on by military personnel.

Talk about reverse culture shock. At one point I said something along the lines of, "Look at all these foreigners." By foreigners, I was referring to my fellow Americans who, to me, are not really foreigners. But, it was just one of those things that baffled me, seeing that many Americans in one place at one time. Also, like I said, the food just blew me away and I had the biggest smile on my face and was super pumped before and after breakfast. Such small things as being able to order food exactly how you want it, eggs over easy. Impossible with my level of Korean. Most of the time I point at a picture and whatever comes out, I eat. There were signs in English that I could actually read. They had Thanksgiving advertisements all over the place. People were speaking English. Like I said, living in the States, these are things you don't think twice about; however, in Korea, it was a bit much. Currency with someone I recognize, a dollar bill with George Washington on it (I kept it. I actually paid in won and got two dollars in change). Overall, it was a fantastic day and perhaps I'll be able to get back to the base at some point in the near future. Spenser got some pictures so I'll try to get them up soon. Also, I should have my own camera here in the future.

Upcoming - new teacher arrives, Erik, Jen goes on vacation so I have to cover for her, Benjamin from the middle school goes on vacation so I have to cover for him, the semester ends December 10th so I have to wrap one up and prepare to start another one. Spenser's birthday is today so I am guessing tonight will get a bit wild, perhaps tomorrow as well. Either way, I am sure you will find out.


The Lantern Festival

Sunday was a planned Christmas shopping day. Spenser and I were supposed to meet up in Itaewon and do a bit of shopping before heading to Insadong. I got to Itaewon and tried a few times to get ahold of Spenser. I figured he had a rough night so I did my shopping and I figured he would give me a call when he got up. He ended up calling as I was close finishing up my shopping and we met up around 1:30 and grabbed some lunch.

After that, we headed to Insadong and finished off our Christmas shopping for the year. Now, I just need to make it to a post office in Korea and try to send the gifts home. After the shopping, we planned on going to the lantern festival, which we did. We killed some time and met up with a friend whom we met on the SHITY Hike from a few weekends ago.

The lantern festival was amazing. It was along a little tiny stream in Seoul. The stream is popular so I should know the name, but I do not. There were some beautiful lanterns/paintings, a boat that fired fire and had smoke coming out of a dragon's nose, as well as an array of cartoon characters and many other things.

After the festival, we looked for a place to eat and ended up finding a little restaurant down a side ally. We had a great time, good food, and drank one too many bottles of Makali. Nevertheless, as has always been the case, we had a great time! It seems like when I am with Spenser we do not really go looking to have a good time (ie bars), but it somehow ends up finding us. The ladies are the restaurant were fantastic and had a nice chuckle at our Korean. At the end of the night, the cook came out and waved her hands and shook her head to say no more. Spenser and I both asked for another bottle of Makali and the two ladies that were serving us came over and gave us another one. I got a hug with the one lady. The event doesn't sound that great, but it was just a great time.


(Me in Insadong)

(Before we got to the lantern festival guys were throwing people into the air using blankets. This is an action shot of me in the air.)

(The waterfall that starts the stream where the lantern festival was located)

(One of the designs)

(Some tigers)

(The ship as fire comes out. Remember, these are made out of paper and wires for the most part...)

(Tiger smoking a pipe and a bunny holding it)

(Traditional Korean Dress)

(Korean poles of some sort... If anybody knows anything, please feel free to share.)

(Myself, Spenser, and the Statue of Liberty in the Background)

(Another display - amazing!)

(Some type of warrior, it almost looks Japanese to me)

(They had mini crabs as part of the service when we got our food)

("The Hug")

(The amount of Makali we had to drink - you can tell it was the right amount just by the look on Spenser's face!)

(Trying to make sure we got on the right subway. The lady in pink was fantastic. She actually turned around and told us when our stop came up. I think she could tell we had a little to drink and was a huge help! Thank you lady in pink!)


Life Update

Work is going great at the moment. Last week, the kids have Term Test on Monday and Tuesday, Newspaper Day on Wednesday, and Thursday and Friday was Event Day. Event Day was essentially Halloween for the kiddos. A few of mine dressed up in customes and I gave them some extra candy as well as a few stamps to get out of detention. This week, we have review day on Monday and Tuesday, and Wednesday is pay-day, always a good feeling.

This weekend lacked in any excitment. Saturday afternoon I did some writing (see below), had a pizza for dinner, and went to a Korean bath house (it is a bit akward since most of the Korean men stare at your junk - I guess they want to see what a foreigner is working with). It was a relaxing experience as it always is and I felt refreshed afterwards. Saturday night a few co-workers competed in the beer mile. You chug a beer, run a quarter of a mile, chug again, another quarter of a mile and so on and so forth until you finish a mile. The event was entertaining and a few of the boys lost their dinners afterwards. After that, Justin, a co-worker and beer miler (although he drank Makali which is fitting in Korea and I like the sound better - Makali Mile), went with me to HomePlus. I got a few gorceries for the week and that was all.

Sunday, I was planning on going to a wedding but didn't quite make it after we missed a bus and were going to be late. I decided if I was going to miss the ceremony it would be pointless in traveling the two and a half hours there and back again for lunch. So, I stayed at home, did some deep cleaning and got the apartment looking nice. I also did a few loads of laundry.

This month, thanks for a friend, Rob Melly, I have decided to embark on the November Novel Challenge. You are supposed to write 50,000 words in a month. Mine isn't exactly a Novel and it's not going to be 50,000 words. Nevertheless, my entire life, I've wanted to write a book. I am about 10,000 words in and feeling pretty good. I will admit, at this point, it is a little sloppy and will surely need some work. My goal is to hit around 25-30,000 words in a month. Essentially, all I do during the week is wake up, go the gym Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the rest of my time in the morning is spent writing. The weekends I usually try to write about 2,000 words a day so that takes up a lot of time as well.

Right now, my life is consumed with this novel and the idea of finishing it. I haven't felt this passionate or dedicated to anything in a long time and it feels good. I even decided to drop Facebook for the time being until the book is completed so there will be as few distractions as possible. Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well and loving life!


Best Weekend in Korea

This past weekend, by far, was my favorite weekend in Korea to date. I had a fantastic time with some great people and made some great memories. The highlight happened pretty early in the weekend as Spenser and I headed to Yeongsan in order to find me a camera. He also wanted to check out prices for a camera for himself. Anyway, we got off at one station and were looking for the transfer to Yeongsan. We were standing there, looking up at the signs and I must have mentioned Yeongsan because next thing I know, this little old Korean woman whacks me with a bag she's carrying and nods her head as if to tell me Yeongsan, this way. However, it took a moment for it to register and during my delay, she whacked me again. I got the message that time and we found the correct platform with her help.

Not a whole lot happening in Yeongsan. If you go camera shopping be prepared to bargain. There was a difference of about $50 for the same camera in the different shops. One guy got pissed at Spenser after he told him the same camera was cheaper at another shop. He told him to go to that shop. I went over to ask about a different camera and he pointed me in the same direction saying, "Cheaper," and pointing. Obviously, he wasn't too happy about something. After that, we went to an underground gaming market - nothing special. Then it was off to the main area, I-Park Mall. We shopped around a bit for cameras and to get some prices. Spenser found the best deal for the camera that he was looking for. I was going to buy one but thanks to Spenser's smart phone, I found out it didn't have image stabilization (those of you who know me know how much I shake), so that camera was out.

We walked outside - snowboarding competition. We stayed for a while and watched a snowboarding competition, in Seoul, in the middle of Fall, in a mall complex. It was a good time. Next we headed to Namdaemun to check out some more camera prices for Spenser.

I grabbed a Makali (Korean rice wine) and we hit the streets. I saw a lady selling shirts and we asked how much. She replied 8,000 won in Korean. I need some new shirts. I stopped and picked out two. Then I tried to bargain with her and asked her if I got three, how much? I said 20,000 she said, "No, 24,000." I said, "22,000?" She said, "No, 24,000." I said, "23,000?" She said, "Ok. 23,000." So I bought three shirts, one was paid for by Spenser since he ruined a yellow one I had. (That is my loose translation of the event)

We continued to walk around after making our purchase and for some reason, a foreigner with Makali in his hand is a rarity. Several people looked at my puzzled, and asked, "Makali?" to which I replied in Korean, "Yes. Delicious." They seemed to love that even more. There were about five people that stopped us because I had Makali in my hand. I stared to watch people walking by, the would look at my face, look at the bottle in my hand, and then take another look at my face again just to make sure a foreigner was holding a bottle of Makali.

Spenser got hungry and this is where the fun began. We headed down one street we hadn't been down yet and he was just telling me about how he likes the vendors who want him to be there, the ones who shout at him. We walked down a bit and were about to turn around when I heard this old lady shout out. I was like, "There you go Spenser!" So we had a seat and ended up meeting two thirty something Korean guys and an older woman (who Spenser had quite the conversation with). One of the guys worked in Japan so I was speaking Japanese to him and then he was translating. Spenser was speaking Korean to this older woman. We were there for a few hours and had a blast. The gave us some pig's feet, river snake (eel), taught us how to drink Makali, and I was thoroughly intoxicated by the end of the evening.

However, the evening wasn't quite over. After that we met up with some other friends who were in Seoul. I'm not quite sure how but we found our way. One of the guys was sober so Spenser and I headed with him back to Sadang in order to catch the bus back to Suwon. We walked out of the exit and there was a huge line. Spenser proceeded to head to the back of the line while Justin (the other guy) and I stood there for a minute. I pretty much said the heck with this and headed towards the bus. People stopped getting on the bus but it still wasn't full so we hopped on, but not before Justin made one last effort to get Spenser, with no avail.

We are on the bus and Justin wants to go to Suwon Station and to another bar. I tried to explain that this bus went right by our apartment and before I knew, as is common to solve all problems in Korea, we were playing rock, scissor, paper to see if we were going to go to the bar. I'm not sure what happened and I believe I lost but next thing I knew, we were in a cab headed towards Suwon Station.

We went to meet a co-worker, played some darts, drank some more, and had a good time. We got into a bit of shenanigans (something to do with a math teacher, some girl who was 'solo,' according to her friends, licking salt that wasn't really salt off of some girl's hand, and talking to some girl who was going to break up with her boyfriend). Pay attention to the we in the previous sentence. In the end, nothing happened, thank goodness. I was able to see hooker ally, nothing happened there either and nothing was going to happen there. I think I ended up back in my apartment around 5:00 am. Justin left his phone at the bar and had to go back and get it. Overall, it was a fantastic evening.

Sunday, I relaxed, and went for a bike ride, which was amazing. The leaves are changing colors and it's not that cold yet so I had a fantastic ride.

(Snowboarding in Seoul)

(A closer shot of the snowboard ramp)

(Me as I prepare to enter Namdaemun)

(This is the toilet we were instructed to use by one of the Korean guys we were with - the toilet is in the lower right hand corner)

(Another shot of the market)

(The street vendor who cooked our food)

(The lady we met that Spenser had a 'connection' with)

(Ham - the guy who worked in Japan and I was able to speak some Japanese with)

(The guys who shared their food and helped us with our Makali drinking - pig's feet, river snake, and all kinds of good things)

(Spenser with his 'lady friend')