October 29, 2012

More Korea

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 9:42 pm

Before I talk about our trip, I’d like to talk about how much it SUCKS to prep for a sub. By the way, did I tell you I’m a teacher? Yeah, a real legitimate instructor of children. I teach 1st grade in a French immersion class which means I never speak English and I’m constantly misunderstood. Anyway, we planned our trip before I was hired, which means I missed 6 days of school, which means the week before was equivalent to a real job where you work after 4 PM. It was the worst!! But seriously, I had parent-teacher conferences, and had to plan for six days of absence, which meant I put in 13 hour days and many hours on Saturdays… but in the end, I left to go to Korea, and the only thing I had to worry about were my constant nightmares of things going wrong in my class.

I prepped until I got kicked out on Friday night, and packed until 2 AM, and then left 2 hours later to catch a flight at 5:50.  24 hours later and 2 layovers at 4 hours each – we finally arrived in Seoul! Only to finally sleep in a horizontal position and wake up the next morning to go on a 4-day road trip to the other side of the country!

We first went to this island called Geoje. It doesn’t really matter the name, but my dad actually grew up here for a few years.  Did you know he was born in North Korea? Yeahhhh. Which means he had to hop on a cargo ship and escape to the South. This island was where his refuge camp was during the war.

There is now a POW memorial here.

I’m glad Koreans think it’s “Belgie”.

This is where my dad went to school! They’ve revamped the building, but it’s right where it used to be.

Pops in front of a windmill. (Self-explanatory I guess.)

We stayed in a cabin type place and the trees were so pretty!

The next day, we went to a temple.

My mom, her high school friend and chauffeur, and my dad.

Dad telling us something really important.

The next day, we went to Pusan, which is trapped by water and mountains, so the city is like a long, squiggly line.

We walked down a trail that got pretty close to the water. The wind was crazy!

My brother says these old ladies dive in the ocean and find food. What did I say about old people! They’re so useful!

Walking along rocks and stuff.

Cool wall on the way out.

My parents are on that rock!

Sculpture outside our hotel in Pusan.

Bridge in Pusan.

The next day we went to the historic city of Gyeungju, which was the capital city of the Shilla dynasty.  Basically lots of old stuff, museums, and tombs. It was really cool.

This first picture illustrates a myth that the king would sit at the higher end, let his cup go all the way around the circle, and somehow the cup would go back UPSTREAM to the king.

There were a million kids on field trips that day. They all pointed at Brandon and said, “Hello! Hello!” Brandon saw one in a Jazz hat and tried to take a picture, only to get yelled at and scolded by the teacher because they were in a hurry. Whoops.

Brandon really was quite novel for these kiddies.

Playing with some lights

Museum stuff. They say if you just dig in this city you’ll find stuff.  Pretty cool to think about people sitting around carving these things.

Shoes that were put on before the burial.

Love the color in this photo. These are hats!

Inside/outside a tomb.


More temples. This one was having construction done behind it, which explains that big modern while building in the background.

Old and new.

Golden boar.

Chinese lanterns! We walked up this mountain and then some more steps to see a giant Buddha that had been carved into the stone of the mountain. Brandon says it reminded him of something out of Indiana Jones.  Apparently the sunlight hits the Buddha on a certain day at a certain time, which then reflects onto the city to show a buried treasure… or something… We couldn’t take pictures of the Buddha, so I just got the lanterns.

People are short in Korea. Brandon’s head was constantly threatened.

This pictures show the genius of Koreans and their heat.  Even back in the day the heat was distributed through the floor. Same thing today. It was the best. Especially because we slept on the floor 9 out of the 10 nights we were there

And of course… KITTIES! They exist in Korea too! And they don’t eat them!

More from Seoul to come…


October 22, 2012

We’re in Seoul!

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 3:02 am

The good and the bad of Seoul. (I only have pictures from my iPhone right now. More pictures to come soon.)

Good: Seoul is extremely generous with their public bathrooms and their wi-fi.  While I’m here, I can’t help comparing my experience in the only other foreign country I really know, France. And let me tell you, I do NOT understand how Paris is the most visited city in the world with their public bathroom system. Self-cleaning? Don’t believe it. One that you pay for is worth it? Never is.  However, here in Seoul, people actually use toilets like real humans and courteously leave it without peeing on the floor. They also sometimes have this bar of soap stuck on a metal rod that everyone shares:


Bad: Well, you know how kimchi tastes REALLY good, but smells really bad? This whole country essentially smells like kimchi everywhere you go. Walking around town, people on the subway, you simply cannot escape it. And if it’s not kimchi, it smells like this:


What is this, you ask? Just a tank full of squid.

Good: Old people. I’m serious. The old people here are not crotchety folk that just yell at you for talking too loud. It’s amazing how many grandmas are doing manual labor pushing around gigantic carts of cardboard down the street, or selling bunnies in the subway.


They also recognize the importance of constant calisthenics.  Evidenced by this guy doing push ups on the tomb of a former king.


Bad: Silkworm larvae is something people PAY to eat. Fortunately for Brandon, the lady gave him a free sample! (However, another thing contributing to the terrible smells in this country.)


I’m going to end this now, but let me lump everything else into the good – SEOUL is AMAZING. I could live here and be TOTALLY HAPPY. The subway system is so easy and useful, everything is inexpensive, and these drinks alone would give me joy until the end of time. (There are concord grape fleshies that surprise you in these cans!)


I do wish I knew more Korean. I feel like I understand a lot more than I realized, and I could learn if I really applied myself. But who has that kind of time? And when is really the next time I’m going to need this language? I mean, besides communicating with all my relatives? So, maybe I will post again about our trip, maybe I won’t find the time. But in the meantime, here are more pictures from my phone from our trip so far.



These children! All dressed in the same sweats to go on a field trip.


We had a little get together with my mom’s side of the family in the mountains. My uncle built this rock thing and Brandon recognized the Chinese characters on the right that say “Stone”. Everyone was really impressed.



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