Dinner and Suwon Fortress, again

Friday night, on Avalon, we were able to go out for a staff dinner. We went to Oma's and had a delicious meal. In the end it ended up costing everyone about $2 after the money we got from Avalon. We had a great time and a few drinks. It wasn't that late of a night and Spenser and I called it earlier than the rest of the crew, except for Jen that is. Also, Erik disappeared at some point in the evening. He said he was going to get some more alcohol and then we never saw him again.

Saturday was a relaxing day, PB & J at the fortress. I took a few pictures. After that we went to HomePlus for a bit of grocery shopping. Then, Katrina and I came back to my place and I made some delicious beef tacos, for me of course. We relaxed and watched a movie. Today, it has been raining most of the day so it has been a lazy day. I'm planning on joining the gym again tomorrow so I decided to take it easy this weekend and save some money. Monday is the last day of the semester, we have off Tuesday, and then Wednesday I begin my new classes. I am teaching the upper intermediate level, JA for a fourth term in a row and since our old head instructor left. Also, I will be teaching Little Nochiwon and GA, the second highest level.

This brings me to the work news. With my contract expiring in May, I expressed an interest in the Head Instructor position over the past month of so. Last Friday I accepted the contract and also agreed to renew for another year. So, as part of my new responsibility I will be running foreign teacher meetings, watching videos twice a semester, making sure all teachers are prepared for each new semester, training new teachers, and handling anything else that comes up regarding either the foreign teachers or myself. So, that is the latest and greatest on this side of the world. With the weather turning I am getting excited about the summer and staying another year! I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying life!

(Justin, cooking up a storm. I'm glad I was with someone who enjoyed cooking. I hate to cook and eat at the same time.)

(Spenser on the left and Calvin on the right, chowing down on some food.)

(Erik and Spenser)

(The Avalon Elementary Staff with Oma and her daughter. Jen is the only one not in the other pictures because she takes pictures like this, with her eyes closed.)

(Suwon Fortress. If you see the person laying in the grass half way up the left hand side of the picture, that's Katrina.)

(One of the watch Towers)

(Fun photograph of the same watchtower)

(A fun shot of me. That's it for the weekend. Nothing too exciting.)


War Memorial of Korea

On Saturday Matt and Dani came up from Daejeon for a visit. Since they were for a public school they had almost a month of and went home for a few weeks (at which time Matt proposed and Dani accepted). So, it had been quite some time since I have been able to see them. Saturday was a relaxing day. We met them at Suwon station and went for Indian for lunch. In the afternoon we played some Uno, the card game – yes, I know, very exciting! After that we went to a Korean bath house. I do miss being able to take a bath… We finished the day by having some Mexican and going to bed pretty early.

Sunday morning we woke up and headed into Seoul. We started off with a delicious breakfast at Butterfingers. I heard about it from Spenser and it was delicious. It was a bit pricey compared to an American breakfast (13,600 won for 2 slices of French toast, 2 eggs, 2 strips of bacon, sausage, and some fried potatoes) but well worth it. From what I understand a typical Korean breakfast is kimchi and rice. So, it’s quite difficult to find a good breakfast place.

After breakfast we headed to the War Memorial and spent quite a few hours there. If you are looking for something to do for free, I would recommend it. They have a great outdoor display as well as an indoor exhibition as well. We were there for at least 3 hours and still weren’t able to see everything. I’ll be back sometime in the near future.

After the War Memorial we headed to Itaewon and met up with Spenser for a bit. We ate some Subway, did a bit of shopping at the foreign food markets as well as at What the Book. We ended up back in Suwon around 8:30 and saw Matt and Dani on their way. That was this past weekend.

With the cold weather there really isn’t much new, at least as far as sightseeing. However, it has been beautiful lately so I am hoping to get back outside more on the weekends and begin to see more of Korea. If anybody has any suggestions or knows of any fantastic Cherry Blossom Festivals, please share. I am going to renew for a year and there is BIG news in the workplace, but I will save that for the next post. Nevertheless, I am planning on creating a list of “Things to Do” before leaving Korea, so if you have any ideas for that as well, I am open to any ideas. I hope everyone is doing well and loving life. ‘An Attitude of Gratitude’ goes a long way in life.

(My amazing breakfast - deeeelicious)

(I wish I would have grabbed an information packet - I believe this is called Brothers or something along that line)

(Katrina not happy about something but she does have a smile on her face)

(Another monument I forgot the name of, but was humbling. There are soldiers and civilians around the base. The actual memorial is in the background and that is only part of it. Also, if you look closely in the background you'll notice Namsan Tower.)

(Same monument with a closer view of the people)

(Same people as before around the base of the monument)

(I liked the city in the background)

(A loudspeaker that could transmit messages over 15 km. I believe it used to be located in or around the DMZ.)

(This side of the memorial had the names of Korean soldiers who passed away in the Korean War. There was also another section with a list of American soldiers who died and the state they were from.)

(This freaking blew my mind. If anybody remembers the Cheonan, the South Korean Warship that was sunk, well this is the torpedo that sunk it, on display. In America, I feel as though something like this would be classified for at least 10 years. Here, it is on display for the public to see along with an explanation.)

(Another image of the torpedo that tragically killed 46 South Korean sailors)

(Again, don't know the name, but it was a nice place to reflect.)

(Me crossing over the 38th parallel, at least in the museum)

(A 'turtle,' at least that's what I think it is called due to its protective roofing. The museum was not only about the Korean War but also a history of Korean Wars - quite interesting.)

(I really like this. There are two clocks on the monument on one on the ground in the right background. On the monument, one of the clocks is stopped at 4 am, the time North Korea invaded and started the Korean War. The second clock on the monument has been counting the time North Korea and South Korea have been separated. The clock on the ground will replace the clock that was started during the Korean War once Korea is re-united. Right now, it sits idle, waiting to be lifted in to place - very symbolic.)


Dear Korean Bus Drivers/Transit Workers:

Dear Korean Bus Drivers and Transit Workers:

As I am sure you are well aware the winter months are upon us and have been for quite some time. I probably should have expressed my concern a bit earlier. You provide a wonderful service and for that, I am very thankful. However, there is one little favor I would like to request.

Can you please turn your heat down? I literally dread riding on the buses in winter. For starters, like most people, I usually spend a fair amount of time walking to the bus stop and waiting for a bus to arrive. Therefore, I dress appropriately - a few layers, coat, hat, scarf, gloves, etc. - it is of course winter. I feel quite content with my attire until I step onto the bus.

Are you trying to make people sick? Why does it feel like I stepped into an oven as soon as I get on the bus? Then, I usually weigh my circumstances (length of bus ride, temperature on the bus, driver skill, window seat, my temperature, as well as a number of other factors) and then begin to undress. I am already sweating by the time I walk the 10 feet to the back and begin taking off my coat, hat, scarf, and gloves. Often times, I will need to take off another layer. Then, anywhere from 10-40 minutes later I usually begin gearing up to leave my tropical oasis and head back into the cold. I am sure you can see the dilemma - freezing, scorching, freezing. Do I dress for the weather or the bus? If I dressed for the bus I would have shorts on.

So please, I know you are trying to do me a favor, but please please please turn your heat down. I am already dressed for the cold - IT'S WINTER! Thank you very much for your time and consideration, as well as the wonderful service you provide.

Best wishes,


Sanjeong Lake

Thankfully, in Korea, they celebrate Lunar New Year (for more information see - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_New_Year). I got three days off of work and therefore a five day weekend. Not a lot, I know, but enough to recharge. Wednesday was just a rest and relaxation day and Katrina and I went for Indian food for lunch. Thursday and Friday night we spent at Sanjeong Lake, at a place called Full House Pension.

It was a great location and a unique little town to say the least. We took a bus to the Dong Seoul Bus Terminal and from there, another busy to Uncheon. I wish I had a picture of the Uncheon Bus Terminal but I sadly forgot to get one. After that it was about a $10 taxi ride to the lake.

The area around the lake was quite entertaining and there was a carnival atmosphere. There were bumper cars, a mini roller coaster, one of those rides that spins you around and around, several rides for children, as well as several carnival games (throw darts at balloons, shoot fake guns, archery, throw the balls into the tiny holes). Also, there were plenty of trails to go hiking, a place to go ice skating on the lake (my favorite), and a few restaurants and marts to buy the essentials. There was also a little sculpture park around Sanjeong Lake which was interesting. Overall, it was a great trip and a wonderful chance to get out of the city for a few days, get some fresh air, get outside a bit, and relax.

(Full House, the place we stayed. It was a bit on the expensive side but well worth it and cheaper than going somewhere.)

(Ours was the one right at the top of the steps on the right. As you can tell, Katrina was excited.)

(Inside - I really enjoyed the wood on the walls. You don't find that very often in Korea, at least in the apartments. Also, there was a little loft which was nice.)

(The kitchen area - better than in my apartment...)

(Sculpture coming out of Sanjeong Lake)

(Another interesting sculpture)

(One more, at night)

(Carousel in the Amusement Park section)

(Pirate ship and some other rides for kids. The lake is about a 2 minute walk past all of the rides.)

(Ice Fishing - Korean Style)

(Me on my skates. I loved skating on a lake/pond, haven't been able to do that in a while. The setting was amazing, without a doubt better than in Seoul, at least for me. And, the skates weren't too bad!)

(Katrina in action with her figure skates)

(Action photo of me)

(An awesome house/temple, I'm not quite sure, we saw walking around the lake)

(A nifty little tree - aKorean guy was more than happy to practice his English and take our picture.)

(One last view as we were walking around the lake)

(A silly photo of me eating some kim-chi jiggae. Katrina helped and ate the tofu. It was quite delicious and hit the spot late the first night.)

(Another hike we went on up the mountain instead of around Sanjeong Lake)

(Same hike, different photo)

All in all it was a fantastic little get away. I am feeling recharged and ready to take on the last few weeks of the semester. Then, it's only one more semester left until I re-sign. Also, I have a week long vacation I get to take yet so I'll probably head to Jeju when it gets a bit warmer out. I'll tell you one thing, winters suck in Korea, especially without my skates. In fact, most people I have talked to are not a big fan of winter in Korea. Maybe next year I'll have a better idea of what to do. Anyway, hope everyone is doing well and loving life!