Monday, March 29, 2010


Greetings again!

Hope this finds you all doing well! This greeting marks the start of my 12th week in Korea! I'm celebrating, without much say so, with a fair dosage of ibuprofen, a handful of my madre's cure-all (garlic), and a fresh box of Kleenex. I know. I'll try to calm down a bit... but friends, it's a big week! Time to celebrate big! No time to waste!
(Though, for the second day in a row i was happy to walk to work without my jacket! Now that my friends is something worth celebrating over!)

Anyway, let me update you on something a little more exciting than my common cold.

Funny Story Update:

#1 In my middle school 3 class we have been learning about definitions and how people define ordinary words with personal meanings. Like mother and father. Love and happiness. Anyway, our essay tonight was on defining motherhood and traditional views on breadwinning and such things. Before we started i went through the new vocab list. Let's just say explaining "artificial insemination" to middle schoolers is pretty dang funny. And a hint awkward!

This Saturday i visited the Hongkik University, Hongdae area of Seoul. It was great! A very artsy, eclectic part of Seoul filled with many cafes, coffee shops and neat stores! Many second hand stops too...which aren't too common here. But, i am a fan of them! I walked into one and was met by a woman who spoke really great English. She thought I looked like an American actress, but couldn't remember who. ha!

I visited an art gallery and came across something that made my laugh out loud! You see, i'm kind of a large person. I'm ok with that. But when you rock 5'10" in a sea of people hoovering around an head shorter than you... you feel like a giant. And well, people look at you as such.

Yes Korea. Yes, i am! And you're short. OK!

Anyway, the architecture and design in this part of the city was great! A great mixture of modern, vintage, and oddball design. Just awesome. Thought i'd share some photos of the city!!

There are cute little cafes like this ALL over the place! Literally. I love it!

Then you have those a little more outlandish. Like a castle. I made my way around a corner and found this castle nestled between two very modern high-end clothing boutiques. Random. I guess it's home to a fancy restaurant. So maybe it's fitting.

But seriously, though! How do you compete with with a castle? A once small, modest cafe must take on a literary facelift of massive proportions to even compete! "We'll become a book! That's gotta work!"

A few blocks away i ran into some very peculiar sightings. A robot store front sporting the name "Vinyl". Drip Line Beverages. Yup. I don't know exactly what kind of drinks these are, and if i hadn't just enjoyed a latte i would have partaken. But, i shall be returning to investigate further!

Just when i thought i had seen everything. Korea, once again, has outdone itself! Some how i doubt Sanrio Surprise is qualified for the food industry, but what do i know? Hello Kitty! Welcome to the cafe craze!

Some interesting sights for you!

On a more serious note. A South Korean ship sank earlier this weekend. 43 sailors are still missing and investigations to determine the cause are still underway. Initially fingers pointed toward North Korea, however they are pretty sure it was not by missile attack. My prayers go out to the families who may have lost someone, join me. The sunken portion of the ship held the missing soldiers, but they estimated air supply would have run out by Monday night. The Korean Harold is covering the story closely... in English. So check it out!

Tis my long-winded update! Thanks again to all who follow... i hope you enjoy reading!

Until next time... Happy almost April!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

A New Face.

Plastic surgery is a sport in Korea. But, fear not followers, my boobs are still small and my nose is still intact. Though the wrinkle in my brow from naviagating website design might be worth a little botox action! (A class of mine, 6th grade boys, commented on the little wrinkles between my eyes when i smile. They called me Shrek.)

: ) Ruthless i tell you. Ruthless.

Anyway, my blog, as you have probably noticed is looking a little different these days! A little spiffed up! Simpler and cleaner. I think it's fitting and hopefully easier for my readers to navigate!

Let me know what you think! More pictures and videos to come!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Any coffee shop home to a VW Bus is worthy of mention in my book! Today I adventured to the Hongik University area looking for a local art and culture market. Well i found it! But, on the way stumbled across this awesome cafe.

After walking around for a few hours, acquainting myself with the area, I decided to give my dogs a rest and pick a coffee shop to sit at for a while. I spotted this one from across the street. My eye are bad these day and from that distance, I thought the sign read "My Oil" Coffee. Brilliant i thought!! Coffee. Oil. Fuel for the bod. Fuel for the car. Catchy! I was sold, so i illegally b-lined it across the street. Oh, it's a good thing I did!

This place was extraordinary. A vintage roadshow, filled with the smell of pulled espresso and sweets. I walked past two stuffed E.T. dolls sitting in an ol' RadioFlyer on my way in and was delightfully greeted with the bumper of a van. Not just any van, friends! A VW Van. Awesome.

Hunched inside was a lively barista making drinks for a cafe full of people. I made my way to the back of the cafe and found a corner seat at a bar counter. The detail of this place was impressive. Every inch decorated, haphazardly, but with intention. Down to the miniature house assembled in one of the counter cubbyholes at the bar I was sitting at. An eclectic antique store and modern art studio in one awesome space. After previewing my clipboard menu, I turned around to wave over some service. In doing so I noticed the prime hatchback table for two in the back of the bus. Complete with a Little Miss Sunshine poster.

So awesome. The design of places like this just inspires my creativity!

Anyway... Vanilla latte. Good book. Sweet. Though i could hardly read. My eyes were distracted and I couldn't help but people watch. But that's ok. I sat there. Sipped my latte. And it was wonderful!

All that to say. I'm a fan! And i hope i can find it again!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Further Investigation. Completed.

I am a convert-- an ice-cream-cone-on-a-snowy-day hater to a fond-frozen-food partaker!

It decided to snow today. Again! In massive, blanketing quantities. Is my excitement emanating?

More than once today i walked to the window and silently (most of the time) blasted the winter weather. Can it be spring already? Seriously. My digits are ready to see the sun! If i could have been anywhere in the world today it would have been sitting outside, on grass, under a warm sun with a nice book and no shoes. (With my family, my friends, some chips and salsa and an Irish Cream latte, of course! The food cravings are rather strange these days.) Not cooped up in a school dreading the walk home because forgot my umbrella and will have make the trek home head uncovered. (In secret revolt i wore my hood-less coat to work. I'll show them-- Snow. Schmo. Its a good thing i stopped short of the flats. That would have been bad.)

Anyway, then... it hit me. Operation Experimentation: Ice Cream Cone in the Snow. Tonight. An inspiration of sorts to get me through the rest of the night.

So. I made my stopped at the BR and bought a single scoop of Tart Fro Yo in a nice sugar cone.

And while i cannot fully describe the experience, i can say that it was pretty awesome! Thoughts of freezing body parts subsided, and for a brief 10 minutes i enjoyed my ice cream cone-- along with the the dumbfounded stares of the already fascinated Korean onlookers.

My ice cream was "frozen" when i got home. A little crunchier than when i first bought it. And well, my walk home was quite delightful.

So, there you have it. The final verdict: An ice cream cone on a snowy night is quiet enchanting! I retract my prior judgment. If my prayers for no more snow fail, i will be enjoying another one again soon!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My first bong.

Well actually my second. First was a Noraebong, or a Korean "singing room". Karaoke if you will! It was a hit! This was my second- a jimjilbong. Also know as a Korean bath house.

And in a sharing spirit I've decided to freely pass these incriminating pictures for my blog followers to see.
1. Because i think they are freakin' funny!
2. All must see these rockin' outfits. Gender specific and everything! Girls wear pink, of all horrendous shades. Even down to the Star Wars inspired head coverings. Boys wear blue. It's pretty simple. and AWESOME.

I kind of look giant like! haha...

Oh man! Korea... you just keep me on my toes.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

For the LOVE!

The 14th day of every month is special in Korea.
As if one holiday to commemorate love wasn't enough they have drawn out the festivities all year long.


So, today was White Day. What is that you ask? Well it's the male reciprocation or initiation of the love! You see, Valentine's Day is for the women in Korea. The ladies give the fellas chocolate and other trinkets ... and wait. Tis the woman's job right?

March 14th is when things really heat up. This is the day to man up. Guys either reciprocate the love in the giving of flowers and chocolate (or pitifully massive, stuffed fluffiness of bear), or initiate some love action in a similar way. Here's where I guess things could get pretty juicy. What if the receiving man wasn't interested? He snarfed the chocolates before realizing who gave them, only to rummage unsuccessfully through the trash to find name of the giving lady. What about her? Uh oh. No chocolate for her? No flowers? No massive zoo animals? Operation "Find Myself a Man" has failed. Miserably. I can imagine it would be a rather tearful day. Oh, and horribly embarrassing of course. The month spent waiting in hopeful jubilee quickly turns to a month of mourning.

But, fear not just yet friends. There is a special day for this poor maiden too.

You see, April 14th is for the loveless. The chocolate deprived. The flower failures. And the barren, alike. Their less than lush love lives are lost in loneliness among the luxury and laughs of those lousy love larks. They must, sadly, lay low in the days that follow. One month to be exact, and lament over their losses as love blooms (or looms) overhead.

April 14th comes as a ray of light in the darkness. The losers emerge. Link arms. Dress in black. And, of course, enjoy a steaming bowl of Jajangmyeon. The traditional black bean noodle soup, for losers. April 14th is Black Day. A day dedicated to the losers finally finding camaraderie, joining together in the richness, and meaning of the days motto, "No to couples, and yes to singles!"
It's quite epic i would imagine. Empowering. Liberating. Revitalizing.

I spent the night of March 14th alone. I washed my whites. Took a nap at 5pm as i watched The Holiday. I got up around 7 and made some delicious vegetable curry... for myself. I sat at my table listening to, i'll admit it, my "Always the Love Songs" Genius Mix on itunes, enjoying Chilsung Cider (Korean equivalent to ginger ale) in a wine glass. I think that might put me in the loser category for sure. Which, i think, presumes that i'll be joining the loser masses in a month to eat some soup.


It's a good thing i like black beans. I mean, how awful. End a month of morning with a horribly disgusting soup? That would be sad. (Maybe that's why i can't find any black beans at Emart. They're hording them for Black Day. Ah... things are starting to make sense.)

Anyway, I have one thing to say to you White Day- "You can keep your stinkin' bear. And you can keep your chocolates, too. I'm holding out for June 14th."

Sunday, March 7, 2010



I'll start this update off with some exciting news! I read my first sign in Korean today. Without needing to rack my brain of symbols and what not... i looked up and just read it. "Ah, Kimbap." Kimbap is the Korean version of sushi that i have become quite fond of. Now, the sign was horribly simple but be assured friends, the excitement was quite grand! I'm learning Korean... that's exciting, yea?!

I always struggle writing these updates because so much happens in a week. So i will start with last weekend. I am considering breaking up my updates into sections. I don't really like compartmentalizing my life, sometimes it's necessary--maybe next time. : )

Anyway, Monday was a holiday, Sam-Il-Jul (Independence of Japan Memorial Day), so we had the day off! For this three day weekend we planned a trip to Gangwon-do. Actually, we didn't have to do any of the planning. Two of our Korean friends, Kyeong Min and Chung Yun planned the whole trip for us! Which was such a blessing! And i tell you what, they know how to plan road trips! We spent our first night in Pyeongchung, the snowboard headquarters, in a condo that faced the slopes! It was beautiful! The next day we were headed to a little beach town north of Sokcho. Actually pretty close to the North Korean border (like 10km). On the way we made a few stops. First at Woljeongsa Temple where we enjoyed a fabulous lunch at a famous bibimbap place! (It's my favorite... and an AWESOME vegetarian option!)

After that we headed to a rockin' fish market. And when i say rockin' I mean i LOVED it. Maybe one of the coolest experiences thus far. It was real, traditional Korea. It was awesome! We bought fish for our planned sashimi feast later that night (which was AWESOME!).

We finished up that day with a stop at another temple, Naksansa where we enjoyed a beautiful view of the ocean from the rock cliffs and a cup of traditional tea.

The real fun came Monday when we woke up to snow. A lot of snow. Our estimated 7 hour drive home now threatened closer to 10/12 hours. Happy about the snow and horribly sad about the awful drive, we decided to leave early and cancel Monday's plans. We drove in bumper to bumper traffic from 12:30 to 7pm and decided it best to wait out the traffic. So, we stopped at a jimjilbang. What is that you ask? Well... let's just say i got real natural for a few hours and a host of Korean women got to know me real well. I'll just leave it at that. So... we re-clad ourselves around 10 and got back on the road. 3:30am we arrived home. 15 hours it took to get home, that's longer than it took me to fly to Korea. Long drive. However, it was an AWESOME weekend!

This week at work was insane. That's really the only thing I can say about that. Man, if you need to learn flexibility, or patience, move to Korea. Yea. I did also learn that one of my students is a computer hacker. In asking him what he would be doing this weekend, he answered, "Hacking into Japan". A little curious i questioned on. Yup. I guess there's some war between Japan and Korea to hack into computer systems and crash them or what not. It's horribly undercover and entirely illegal, and well... i guess a leisurely hobby for Korean youth. We had a 30 minute conversation about how one "hacks". Yea, that was a first!

On a more personal note, i have been in Korea for almost 2 months. And it still doesn't seem like that long. However, this week in the midst of work being crazy, it hit me just how far away I am from the people i love the most. And that is hard. When life gets hard for the people you love it's hard to be away. So hard. But in that, God has been so near. I cannot question his hand because on this end he is speaking to me so clearly. This week has been the topic of trust. In my quiet times of prayer and more directly at church this morning. His gentle voice has been asking me if i trust him. I don't find it coincidence that the two personal books I brought over with me are on the love of God and the call to trust him ruthlessly. Knowing the love of God and the character of Jesus prepares my heart to trust when things get rough. In light of what Jesus has done for me, in perfect love, will i trust that he actually wins? That he will actually save and make things new, and good for those who love him?
So good. And so hard.

On a lighter note... my taste buds are quickly accustoming themselves to spicy foods. I ordered a "spicy" option today for lunch (Which i'm pretty sure contained hot orange, tuna fish eggs.) and the server asked me if i was sure i wanted it because it was spicy. I said yes, and ate it with only mild discomfort. : ) Popi, i'll be joining you and Grandpa with the peppers anytime now!

Well, that is my update. Know that i am missing you guys! Until next time!

All my love!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Gunpo Champion

I live in Sanbon, a small part of Gunpo City in South Korea.

Well today i learned that Korean figure skater and Olympic gold medalist Yu-Na Kim, is a native of Gunpo City and attends Gunpo Suri High School.

That's where i live!!


(What if you were her English teacher?)