New Blog!

So as many of you may know, I am no longer in Korea. I am back at home in Montreal, but once again travelling. Not too far this time, just an hour and a half west of Montreal, in the lovely town of Saint Albert (famous for cheese curds). Here I have begun the adventure of farming, small scale sustainable organic farming to be more exact. You can read all about it on my new blog: http://www.livenlearnwsara.wordpress.com

I am posting this because I realize my new blog isn’t necessarily sending out emails to update you about new posts, but that many of you still get emails from this blog. Also I hear that some of you don’t have my new address. So there it is! Hope you enjoy!

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Haesindang Park and Hwanseongul Cave!

Ola!!!

So I am writing this on Lunar New Year Feb 10th! and have less than 2 weeks left in South Korea! So I am trying to squeeze in as much Korean as possible in my last couple of weeks.

Last weekend I went to the infamour Penis Park. But first, as I like to do things in chronological order, the weekend before! When I went to Gyeongbokgung Palace with Neci (a coworker). It was absolutely freezing, and we actually showed up too late to walk around within the Palace, but I have now seen quite a few Palaces, and was fine with taking a few pictures in front of it and heading off to supper.

The Palace:

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And it was freezing so then we headed to Itaewon to have dinner. We went to this little Thai place which I’ve been to once before with Syd, Charlie and Alex. Its really nice. And we shared two plates.

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Oh, I almost forgot, i also brought Neci to High Street Market, and on our way we passed by this Cookie place which has just opened up. Its called Bens Cookies! the Cookies are like 3$ a pop, but are huge and fresh out of the oven. You buy them and go th eplace is just big enough for the oven and the display window. They are absolutely delish!!!! We had a milk and praline one, which we split  before supper. And then we went back after supper to get our own, and i had a triple chocolate one! I wrote to Derek afterwards and apologized for cheating on him they were that good. Since then, I stopped by again on my way back from getting my cambodian visa and had a double chocolate one. It instantly made me feel like i was having the best day ever. I plan on trying each type before I leave. And i only have like 12 days left, so I gotta get a move on! hehe

And yes, now for the Penis Park! Jesus and I took a 4 hour bus ride to Samcheok. The bus actually made a stop at Donghae adn we got off, not sure if we were at our destination or not, to realize we weren’t and have to chase after the bus to keep it from leaving us 1 half hour from our actual destination. We got to Samcheok with just enough time to grab a decent motel right by the bus stop and catch the last 50 min bus ride to the Park. It was actually warmer in Samcheok than it was in Seoul, and Samcheok and the Penis Park are right along the ocean, so the air was fresh and beuatiful. We had a blast walking around the park, commenting on the statues and taking pictures. We also got to wander through the Folk Fishing Museum which explains the story of how th ePenis Park originated.

Story goes like this: a couple were about to be wed (both virgins obviously seeing as they werent married yet) but the bride drowned before they were married and therefore died without ever having seen a penis. Angry that she had never seen a penis before dieing, the waters became cursed and no one could catch fish. However, one day a man took a pee in the water, and finally having seen her first penis, the dead bride was appeased, and from that day forward there were abundant fish. Therefore, they have erected a park with a bunch of fish statues to please the dead bride and make sure there are fish in the village.

Needless to say, it makes for a very interesting park. I stopped at the souvenir shop on the way back and have a few funny gifts to bring home 🙂 And then we got directions on how to get to the bus stop where the bus was supposed to come pick us up. Now this is February, in a small, and from the looks of it, pretty poor fishing village. We waited around an hour, at a small bus stop in the cold, and as it got dark we prayed that the bus was actually going to pick us up. If not we would be knocking on a door hoping ot get a taxi home. Thankfully teh bus did show up, and the bus ride back was much faster and much more interesting as this bus driver was on a mission. It was one of the fastest buses I’ve been on in Korea, and the roads winded along the ocean.

When we got back home we were told to check out this Korean BBQ place around the corner from the motel, which turned out to be amazing. It was a small place, with only about 4 tables that seat 6 ppl, (no chairs tho, cuz this is Korea, and we sit on the floor). And it was filled with a bunch of locals. We got 3 servings of meat (apparently that was the minimum you could order) and a WHOLE bunch of sides. Your reg green onion salad, kimchi, salad and dressing, raw octopus salas, raw mussel salad, seaweed. I wish I had of taken a picture. I didnt touch teh raw mussels mind you seeing as the last two times I have had mussels I have been extremely sick. So Jesus had to eat them all. Then we wandered around looking for a place to have a drink, most things were closed unfortunately. But then we noticed a bar on the 2nd floor of a building. Went up, we were gonna head out after our first drink as it was only us and a table of 4 Korean men and the woman bar manager, but as we were leaving we fell in conversation with the locals, and from there, one beer turned into a whole bunch of beers and Sojus. And they kept feeding me strawberries and oranges. It was really a great time. Jesus and I both said as we were leaving that that is the kind of experience that you want when you visit a new area. In Seoul, it is a big city like any other, where people are busy working, shopping and running around from place to place ignoring each other. But Samcheok was much more homey, and it was probably the best of most “Korean” experience I’ve had here.

There are also two caves that you can visit in Samcheok, and seeing as we had travelled 4 hours to get there, we figured we might as well get in as much as possible. So we got up in the morning and headed to Hwanseongul Cave. Pretty cool. It was huge! But we both noticed that it may have been nice had it not been filled with metal staircasaes and bridges. I’m pretty sure people would be able to visit it on foot. It was just like at Seoraksan, you go hiking, expecting to be hiking in nature, and they cover most of the trails with metal staircases, I would assume to make it more accessible to a larger number of people by making the terrain easier to tackle. But it would be so much cooler if things like that, the trail and the cave were left alone in thier original state. But nonetheless, it was awesome. The whol weekend was fun.

And I spent my weekday mornings this week running back and forth to Cambodia embassy and Laos embassy to get my visas.

And on Friday, our owner bought us all gifts for Lunar New Year; a 100$ gift certificate fo reht Shinsegae department store and a permium wine collection set of 2, which is extremely nice of him (seeing as friends of ours who also work at a different Chungdahm branch recieved socks). So I went to Emart yesterday and got any last minuet things i need for travelling, liek a travel towel, water bottle, mini flashlight, toothbrush case, etc etc. I treated myself to a piece of Pizza from Emart which I ahve been wanting to try because everyone buys them. So I was curious to see if it was any good. And I was pleasantly impressed. Then I came home to go through all my stuff and figure out what I am sending home and what I am bringing with me. So at one point I was sitting in the middle of a heap of clothes. I made myself a home made soup (tomatoes, green onions, cucumbers, garlic, spinach, yam, green beans) and had two glasses of my gift wine. I also had a chocolate covered cinnabon for desert which I picked up form Shinsegae. 🙂

And i woke up this morning and did some cardio with my skipping rope and then went for lunch with Jun, a Korean coworker, who helped me a lot when I first got here, with the language and buying things off the interent. Unfortunately, we were going to go for Korean BBQ, but everything and I mean everything (that is not an American chain) was closed! We drove around here, Migeum and Ori and eventually had to settle for a cafe. So I had a chicken salad, with a cheesecake (which I have been craving for the past 2 wks).

And then he dropped me back off at home, and I have simply been putzing around. Packed one box to send home. Downloaded some music for my Ipod and will prolly go outside for a quick jog before I head into Suwon with a few others to hopefully have Indian food for supper. 🙂

Next weekend is Alex’s pre bday and going away party (Alex is the girl from England who I will be travelling with). And on the Sunday Neci and I are supposed to do a girls day, and get manis/pedis etc and go for supper probably. If I can I will write one last post before I leave. I am sending my computer home. But will def keep everyone updated while I am out and about 🙂

I miss you guys soo much, but am SOOO excited to travel again. As i typed that a huge smile spread across my face. Love you all!!! Big Hugs!!! xoxox

The New Year so far and the DMZ!

HELLLOOO Everyone!

I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get back on and write. I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last post. AND I can’t believe I have only 1 month left in Korea! I will be booking my flight to Japan and Bejing in the next couple of days.

So last time we spoke, X-mas had passed and we were just about to celebrate the New Year! We had New Years Day off so on New Years Eve we went over to Cafe Street to a cute little bar where you can request your own music. We had a few snacks, some drinks and a shot to bring in the New Year and celebrate Arnecia’s b-day (Jan 1st). But it wasn’t a late night, I came home and called my parents from the New Year. And I believe we all just took it easy on New Years Day. We got together and made pancakes in the afternoon. Yum 🙂

We worked the following Saturday seeing as we had the Tuesday off, and on the Sunday I went into Myeongdong to the Chinese Travel agency and applied for my Chinese Visa! Which I picked up the following Saturday!

That Saturday we also celebrated Charlies Birthday (which had been on the 7th) by going for dinner at this trendy pub/bar called “Prost”. I had a grilled chicken burger with camembert cheese and spicy cranberry sauce. It was delish! Then we headed to Abgujyeong to play some darts and bowl! Which I royally sucked at. But we had fun. Some of us headed home, and the rest of the gang had a great night at Noraebang and only made it home at 8 in the morning.

On the Monday, I went to the hospital to get som eof my vaccinations. I waited around for an hour to get my Hep A and B shots, which werent cheap let me tell you. But they referred me to the health center across the street for my typhoid vaccine. And of course when I got to the health center, they didn’t have it either so referred me to another health center nearby. By that time I had to go to work. So I went to that health center on the Wed, which turned out to be for kids, but there was no line up, the doctor spoke perfect english and was super nice (he even gave me a pen). And I spent barely anything on my Typhoid vaccine and tetanus+diptheria shot.  My arms however, hurt the entire week. I woke up one morning, and wanted to scream because I had been lying on my arm.

And duh duh duh, that Saturday (Saturday that just passed), Sydney, Jesus (Andrew), and I woke up at 630 in the morning to make it into Seoul for 8;30 to go on the DMZ trip!

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The border is less than an hour North of Seoul. We got to the first part of the trip at around 10:00. Watched a short informational video, which I had expected would explain the history between North and South Korea, but instead was more of a propaganda video if anything, selling the DMZ as this wonderful place. Anyways, from there we walked around inside and did get to learn about the history, as the walls were covered in facts, but got rushed through it so quick we didnt actually have time to read most of it. From there we walked down a steep tunnel for 5-10 min to enter the 3rd Infiltration tunnel. South Korea has currently found 4 tunnels that start in North Korea and all head in the direction of the Capital Seoul. North korea claims they are for mining coal, but there is only granite and so it is basically a lie. It was pretty cool, we had to wear helmets and crouch as we walked. Eventually we reached a part which was blocked by wires, and there was a passageway/door with a small hole/window that you coudl look through. Good thing we were wearing helmets because on the wlak back I hit my head pretty good.

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From there, we went to the Observatory (Dora Observatory), where you can normally get a good view of North Korea. Except the day we were there it was really hazy and foggy and you coudlnt really see anything. And then we went to the Dorasan Train Station, where the tracks run from Seoul to Pyongyang (the capital of North Korea). It had been reopened for a while to enable workers to get to a factory in North Korea, but was shut down in 2008 as tensions between the two sides rose. If ever it were to open again, it would connect South Korea to China/Mongolia and Russia by land.

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And from there we went to the most interesting part of the trip, the JSA (Joint Security Area), where the US army took over the rest of the tour. We entered the ROKs (Republic of Korea) Freedom house and watched an informational video which was much better than the last. Then we went outside to see Conference Row (a number of U.N. buildings (in blue) which house talks between the North and the South. ROK soldiers were all around them facing the North. And we were only probably about 70 meters away from the North Korean building Panmungak, where a North Korean soldier stood guard and occassionaly looked at us with binoculars (which I feel is just for show). Then we got to enter one of the Conference/houses/rooms, where we actually got to set foot in North Korea. The middle of the table marks the exact border, and so when you are on one side of the table you are in South Korea and when you are on the other side you are in North Korea.

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From there, the army took us around the area, to where the Ax murder incident took place in 1976. Two US soldiers were killed and a few US and South Korean soldiers were injured. There was a tree blocking the view of one US base to another and so after notifying North Korea, they went to cut it down. North Korean soldiers were present but things got out of hand, and the North Korean Soldiers attacked.

Memorial for Soldiers killed in Ax Murder Incident

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We also saw the Bridge of No Return where POWs (prisoners of war) were returned/exchanged at the end of the Korean War. An dit is so called, because they had to choose which side they wanted to go to, and were never allows to return.

The Bridge of No Return

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We also saw the two peace villages (one in the south, one in the north).

“Both North and South Korea maintain peace villages in sight of each other’s side of the DMZ. In the South, Daeseong-dong is administered under the terms of the DMZ. Villagers are classed as Republic of Korea citizens, but are exempt from paying tax and other civic requirements such as military service.

In the North, Kijong-dong features a number of brightly painted, poured-concrete multi-story buildings and apartments with electric lighting. These features represented an unheard of level of luxury for rural Koreans, north or south, in the 1950s. The town was oriented so that the bright blue roofs and white sides of the buildings would be the most distinguishing features when viewed from the border. However, scrutiny with modern telescopic lenses reveals that the buildings are mere concrete shells lacking window glass or even interior rooms,[28][29] with the building lights turned on and off at set times and the empty sidewalks swept by a skeleton crew of caretakers in an effort to preserve the illusion of activity.[30]

Until 2004, massive loudspeakers mounted on several of the buildings continuously delivered DPRK propaganda broadcasts directed towards the south as well as propaganda radio broadcasts across the border” (Wikipedia)

And along most of the fields you can see what look like big snow covered hay barrels, but in fact they are bunkers for anyone who tries to defect from North Korea. Apparently, just 3 months ago, a North Korean managed to shoot two North Korean soldiers and escape into South Korean. Where he made it to a bunker, which have phones in them to call the US army for assistance to make it safely far enough way from the border, and go through the processes of becoming a South Korean resident.

I must say, I am really happy I went on the trip. I’m not really sure whether the DMZ should really even be open to tourists, but I’m glad I was able to visit it. The Korean War wasnt that long ago and altercations between the two sides have continued up until the present. I am going to buy a book to read up more on the topic. I am intrigued to know how North Koreans live, and what they learn and what their mind set is. I believe it is a completely differnet world. Cuba is communist, but they are not as shut off from the rest of the world as North Korea is.

It was definitely an experience. And one I will not forget. I wish I could write more, but must get going to work. I will add photos in a bit.

It’s friday! Intensives are over. I had a pizza party with my students on Wed it was fun. Tomorrow, I am going to go to gyeongbokgung palace and possibly the War Memorail Museum. And on Monday I will be applying for my Vietnamese Visa. And it will be the last week of Jan! Ah!

I am not rushing to leave, I plan to very much enjoy the last little bit of time I have in South korea, but am also very excited to continue journeying. Write back soon.

Love you all! xoxo

And to those Canadians who took part in the Korean War

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Myeong Dong, Dongdaemun, Itaewon, Gangnam AND Xmas Dinner

Hello Hello!

So last weekend was the weekend before xmas. After finding out that my work would be keeping me on until the end of the semester I felt much better, and had a great weekend.

I woke up early and made my way into MyeongDong, a large shopping district in Seoul, with stores such as: Zara, Mango, Puma, Adidas etc etc (your regular shopping center back home). I went in to find myself some pairs of leggings! I love leggings and only have one old, stretched out pair. Plus, with it being winter and knowing that I will be working intensives and will be at school a lot, I wanted some more clothes that I would be really comfy in. Plus I hadnt bought myself a single piece of clothing since Id been here. So i figured I would treat myself at xmas time. After hitting up 4 stores, and not being able to find any PLAIN leggings, that werent metallic, or didnt have designs on them, I finally wound up at mango, and thankfully they had plain, comfy leggings, so I got 4 (black, blue, grey and brown).

Then I figured I would hit up Dongdaemun, a clothing market nearby. I had heard it was huge, and boy is it ever. And its not only clothes, they’ve got everything. And there are multiple buildings with multiple stories. You can get blankets, material, accessories, almost anything. However, trying to find something nice is like looking for a needle in a haystack.  There were vendors on all sides, the rows were only 3 ft wide, there were a million people and you could walk for miles. It was too much for me, and I just dont have the patience to walk around all day shopping.

Outside of the market:

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The one good thing I found in Dongdaemun:

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I thought i’d snap a photo of the street food vendors:

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And the disco jump (some ride they have in suwon also, that makes  you sick and they literally try to get you thrown off) I refuse to go on:

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So I left, and headed to Itaewon. We were all meeting up at this Mexian resto for 4 in the afternoon. Its a trendy place and 4Pm was the only time we could get a reservation. It was definitely trendy, and so the food was expensive for the amount you got, but it was good. I had 3 shrimp tacos (teeny tiny) and ordered myself a starter of taquitos afterwards. I also began with a classic margarita, and then had a peach margarita to finish off.

We walked out at around 6, and the rest of the gang went to screen golf and had a few more drinks but I took off. I was pretty tired and wasnt in the mood to keep drinking. I was going to go straight home, but as I hadnt found any long shirts at Dongdaemun to go with my leggings, I decided to stop at Gangnam on the way back and check out their underground shops.

Now the large majority of these places do not have any changing rooms. So I had come prepared and worn a tank top under my shirt so I could try stuff on. The first place I went to let me, which was great, I bought the shirt I tried on.  But then I checked out a million other places, and none of them would let me try on any of the shirts, and I simply refuse to buy something without trying it on first. Finally, I just stopped asking if I could try it on, and just started pulling on shirts over my head. Good thing I did, because I found a shirt I liked, even though I got scolded for trying it on.

When I got back to Jukjeon I figured I would pick up my groceries while I was there, instead of heading back in the morning. I needed to get chocolates and candies for my kids for xmas week, and I also needed to get some stuff for our christmas supper on Sunday. When i got home, as tired as I was, I decided to make 2 batches of brownies, one for supper the next night, and one to bring into school on monday.

So sunday I got up and was able to go to the laundrymat, pick up a few things for secret santa gifts, wrap the gifts, make the chicken, take a shower, and put on my santa hat.

We had  a great dinner, with chicken, cranberry sauce, gravy, stuffing, 2 types of mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, broccoli, carrots, green beans, bread rolls and yorkshire puddings. And for dessert, we had brownies and christmas pudding, which we doused in brandy and lit on fire. It was a great night.

Oh and Sydney’s Toffee:

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Monday was chill, seeing as I only have class from 7-10. And we were going to watch xmas movies on xmas eve, but just got together and chilled. At 12, we toasted to xmas by opening a bottle of champagne. Some of the group had gone to costco on saturday and gotten a bunch of stuff for our supper and brunch.

We woke up xmas morning and made french toast and omelletes, and had a few mimosas. Then went into school early to do the gift exchange. And tuesday night I got to come home and skype with my family(ies).

My friend Sydney made a good point the other day. As much as I miss my family, and would have loved to be with them at xmas, I am very lucky to have so many people to miss. And I am lucky to have people here with whom I was able to celebrate the holidays with.

So, it was a very good xmas, and it has been a great week so far. We found out that we actually have New Years Day off, so we are trying to figure out what we want to do for New Years Eve. That does mean however, that we work on the Sat following, so I will have to postpone my trip to the DMZ.

This weekend, we are going to celebrate Arnecias bday. And the weekend after next (when we work), we will be celebrating Charlies b-day. I hope to go to the DMZ after that and then eventually the Penis Park.

Its crazy, before I know it, its going to be Feb and I will be packing for my trip south! Time flies!

So I hope everyone had a wonderful xmas and I wish everyone a very Happy New Year!!!

Hugs and Kisses! as always! xoxo

Oh and here is something I got from one of my students:

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Snowboarding in Pyeongchang!

Hello Everyone!

So last weekend, my coworkers and I got our butts out of bed at 6 in the morning! (not our usual).

“Why were we getting up so early?” you may ask. Well, because we were all super psyched to head to Pyeongchang (the same mountain that will be hosting the 2018 winter olympics) and snowboard/ski (there were actually many more skiers than boarders, I was an outcast).

The bus ride was 3 hours. We stopped at a rental shop at the hill to pick up our super sexy rental outfits (I had really wanted a one piece, but got a two piece with bright blue pants instead) and made it to the hill around 12ish. Oh yes, on the way, we almost killed some guy in a van, the bus came to a screeching halt. It was snowy at the time, and from what I’ve seen, Koreans don’t have winter tires. But no worries, the bus driver was able to avoid the van, and no one got hurt.

As much as we were psyched to go boarding, most of us knew not to expect too much from the hill, in terms of how much snow there would be, the trails, the village etc. Yes, it is the host of the winter olympics, but Korea definitely isnt the first place you think of when you decide you want to go boarding. I was actually surprised by the village they had at the bottom of the hill, seeing as I always expect something awesome like Tremblant and a lot of hills just dont compare, but I must say, Korea, you did pretty good. There was even a cabin at the top of the hill. But unfortunately, much to Sydney and mine’s dismay, there was no bar at the top of the hill, NOR at the bottom. Instead, there is a sign at the bottom of the hill that says “skiing/boarding after drinking is prohibited”! We were quite disappointed. However, after seeing how the Koreans ski/board, the sign makes a lot of sense. Never in my life have I been surrounded by so many people who didn’t know what they were doing. In comparison to them, I looked like a pro!

Sydney and I on the chairlift:

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Our ride on the Gondola:

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Me in my sexy outfit:

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And the hill:

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I had been scared that there would be a million people on the hills though, as there are always millions of people everywhere in Korea. I was scared it would be like Seoraksan, except this time a herd of sheep going down a mountain, not up it. But thankfully, there werent that many people on the hill. Which was good, seeing as you had to dodge all of those that were.

But we had a great time. For some it was their first time, some stayed for night skiing. But a few of us headed back to the resort  around 5. It was a 3 story building, with living room/kitchen and 2 large bedrooms on each floor. However, like most pensions in Korea that you stay at on trips, you sleep on the floor. In Seoraksan we had mats at least plus our blankets, but this weekend it was just you and your mat and the floor. After getting up so early, boarding and not eating great all day (plus I was still battling a cold), I got a headache after 1 glass of wine. I tried to push through, having 2 more glasses before I called it quits and hit the sack/floor. But that doesnt mean I fell asleep. No siree! Sleeping on the hard floor was horrendous. And as tired as I was, the noise from the 2 floors pretty much kept me up. Then Dan came into the room, and promptly fell asleep and started snoring. Then Suzanne barged into the room and gave us crap for being in bed so early. Then Charlie, Virls and Hannah came back from night skiing. Then Hannah and I couldnt sleep. Then Charlie came to bed, and we all woke up and chatted for a bit; it felt like a real slumber party. Then, when we had all finally fallen asleep, some crazy drunken Korean girl on the trip barged into the room and tried stealing covers from Hannah. This lead to, Dan getting so angry at her that he left the room to find a spot at the top of the stairs. The Korean girl finally stumbled out of our room as there was no room for her, only to somehow find Dan at the top of the stairs and start yelling at him. He managed to escape and made it back into our room, and we locked the door. By then it was 5 in the morning, and we managed to get a few more hours of shut eye before we all woke up around 9.

Quite a few people also got up in the morning to go boarding, so it was pretty quiet. They had made breakfast, but the eggs and veggies had been sitting out for quite awhile by then, so we took a walk to the dep. On the way back, we made friends with a cute little stray puppy outside. We called him Cheetos, because his mouth was orange from rummaging through the garbage. We found out later while waiting for the bus that he also had a brother. They were so cute. Hannah seriously wanted to bring him home with us. And, before heading home, we stopped in “town” and had lunch. Good ol Kimchi Jigae.

All in all, it was a really fun weekend!

And this past week, I was pretty busy because we had to write paragraph comments for each of our kids, I have about 50 this semester (as I see all 4 classes twice a week).

And last but not least, my boss told me at the end of this week that I should be staying till the end of the semester. I will be working intensives for a month in January also. This means i’ll be working in the morning also from 10-1 either 3 days a week, or 5. Which will provide me with some extra cash for my southeast asia adventures!

So, with this news, I am much happier now. Being in limbo and not knowing if they were going to send me home early or not had been driving me a little crazy. I was fine with whatever was going to happen, but once the idea of going home early got in my head, all I could think about was how nice it would be to be home for x-mas and the holidays. I must say, the past 2 weeks have been really tough. I dont think there wasnt a day where I didnt think about coming home. I was up and down constantly, debating whether I was really doing the right thing trying to tough it out, or whether the most important thing in being happy and being with family. I didn’t really think I’d give up, but keeping my head up and and staying has definitely been one of the hardest things I have had to do in awhile.

Needless to say, I am feeling better now, knowing that they are keeping me on. And i’m sure once the holidays are over, as much as I still miss everyone and would love to be with them, the yearning sensation to be home wont be as strong. I will definitely be home for xmas next year though. No way I am missing 2 xmases in a row. And i’m not really missing x-mas, we are actually going to do a x-mas supper tomorrow (sunday) night. And on xmas eve, we are going to have coco and watch xmas movies, and on xmas morning we are going to have a xmas brunch. And we are doing 2 gift exchanges. And I am going to wear my Santa hat as of tomorrow and throughout the week with my kids. And I got them all gifts. And I went xmas shopping today (for others and for myself :)). And, and, and haha.

Well, thats it for now. My second batch of brownies just finished. I am going to have some warm milk and watch some episodes of Friends. I have watched a full 3 seasons so far, and am now into the 4th! Hope to fall asleep earlyish. Hope to hit the laundrymat tomorrow, as well as pick up a few last xmasy things, work out at the gym, and cook the chicken for xmas dinner! I picked up cranberry sauce and stuffing today, and have gravy from home. Charlie and Alex (both from England) are making Yorkshire Puddings. Were also gonna have potatoes, carrots, green beans, rolls…and who knows what else. I will give you all the details about our x-mas dinner (and the day I had today, I was very productive today, went to Myeongdong and Dongdaemun) in a few days time.

I hope everyone is safe during the holidays. I miss you all! Have a very Merry Christmas! All my love! xoxo

Seoul Tower and Arcade Games

HELLO!!!!

So I had a pretty good week/weekend. Our classes were cancelled on Wednesday due to a “Snow Day”. The cars which normally race by at 80km/h were strutting along at 10. (I dont believe they have snow tires). It definitely put me in a christmasy mood. My coworkers and I hit up Lotte Mart for some baileys, sat around in our pjs playing card games and ordered pizza for supper. It was a very relax day.

SNOW DAY!!!

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But of course, because our classes were cancelled on Wednesday, we had to work Saturday morning. I was happy though because I had a few kids from my last semester in my class. I had actually bought Obama some Korean Obama socks one day when I was in Itaewon, and he happened to be in my class so I got to give them to him.

After class, I met up with a friend from training in Gangnam and we took a City tour bus. We got off at Namsan Seoul Tower just after dark and so got to see the city in a blaze of lights. It was cold but really nice. Then, we hit up Itaewon for supper and went to this Korean BBQ place, which I have noticed before and had wanted to try. Happy we did because it was delish. And on our way home, we got christmas muffins from Manuffin. Megan loves to eat just as much as I do and so weve decided that we need to hang out more.

SEOUL TOWER!!!

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Afterwards, I met up with Dan and Andrew at Shinsegae, they were waiting to see the movie Judge Dredge at 1225. I didnt stay for the movie, I was pretty tired, and apparently its a good thing i didn’t because it wasnt very good, they say. But I did grab a drink with them on Cafe street while they waited.

I woke up well rested and in a great mood on Sunday. Walked over to Lotte Mart and got my haircut. And i must say for 17$ they did a really good job. Then I did some groceries, and came home to make some banana bread (with chocolate chips) to bring to school today (last week I made brownies, next week Apple cake) and I also cleaned up my apartment cuz it had been quite awhile. Then showered and took off with Dan, Andrew and Sydney to Travellers Bar a few subway stops away to watch teh UFC fights. We had some food (some crappy poutine), some beers and some spanish coffees (which I paid for dearly later, coffe indigestion is always something I forget about after awhile). Played some pool and then hit up an arcade place, and had a great time. We got pretty competitive haha, and Sydney chipped the drumsticks. And on the way home picked up a desert, similar to a beaver tail at home but way cheaper.

I got up this morning, and had actually written this whole blog but I lost most of it when I changed the layout of the page. So here I am writing again. So I can tell you about my day. It was great! Beautiful, not too cold. Took it easy in the morning. Went to the gym in the afternoon and ran! which was nice because Ive been going to the workout classes but havent actually jogged in awhile. It was also payday today, whoopee. And I had a yummy stew/soup dinner at the cheap diner, and gave the two ladies that work there some of the banana bread that I was bringing with me to school. Mondays are nice this semester because I only work from 7-10, and its an easy, small class, with good kids, so its very chill.

Matt and marty both got back tonight from their adventures in southeast asia, Marty is leaving on wed to go home and Matt on Friday. So we will prolly go out for supper a few times this week, plus it is Jesus’s (Andrews) bday on the 13th. And I cant believe it is almost my Fathers bday too! Time flies.

I must say, I havent been ecstatic every single day Ive been here, but I have had a lot of good days. And today I really came to realize how lucky I am to be here, doing what I’m doing, and even luckier to be able to head off to Southeast Asia in a bit and travel around. As much as I miss you all, I am really happy to be where I am, and to be able to be doing what I’m doing.

This weekend we will be going to Pyeongchang, the mountain which will be hosting the 2018 winter olympics, it should be a blast. We head out early sat morning and stay overnight. I’m hoping the snow suits they rent out are 1pieces, haha. And going ot bring a bathing suit along in the hopes that there might be a spa somewhere. Finger crossed.

I hope everyone is doing well and is in a festive mood. Wishing I could be with everyone at this time of year, but happy to have a family here also to celebrate with. Although I may not physically be with you all, I am with you in spirit and think about you guys all the time. Lots of love xoxox

 

The past two weeks!

Ok, so I was going to do a post for last week/end and this week/end. But think I will just write one long.

So last week was the first week of the new semester. I dont have any of the same kids, which makes me sad, but my new kiddies look just as sweet. And if anything, I’m hoping (cross my fingers) I will have less troublemakers/slacker than the last semester.

And so, in order to remember the great kids I have taught, we took class photos at the end of the semester (and I gave them all chocolates and candies even though im not supposed to)

This is my IRE mon  class. They were super bright and great kids. Love them all! I had my camera on the wrong setting and so coudnt take a timed picture.

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And then this is my birdie class I had on Mon nights. Gotta love Victory, the one pointing a gun at my head. I had confiscated it earlier in class because they had been playing wiht it. Obviously a mistake to give it back, haha.

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And this is my bridge class (my fave class!). It was my most daunting class at first because I had 16 students in it, but they all came in with smiles, and they all liked to participate. There were about 6-8 boys, a few of whom caused some commotion but htye were good kids and I had a blast with them. I was missing quite a few of them on my last day unfortunately, but this is most of them.

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And my second fav class, my lil memory kids, I forgot to get a picture but hope ot get some photos with a few of them in the hallway and will post them in a week.

And then my other fav class, my Par class on friday nights. What a hoot they were. We were together form 7-10 on friday nights, so no one ever felt like working. And as much as they may have given me white hairs sometimes, did they ever make me laugh.

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And here is some more of my students artwork/CTP creations:

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And… I handed out a “Grade teacher Sara” at the end of the semester in order to get some feedback on how to improve my class, and here are some cute and funny responses:

That’s right, I’m 99% perfect (you see that Derek!)

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I dont know why these two are sideways, and cant rotate them, but I had to include them, notice that one of them says  Teacher Sara “done good” 🙂 haha

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So my last week was fun. And then the new teachers came in on Friday night. We took them out to Dino’s and then Hannah stayed with me because Marty wasnt out of his room yet.

(Dino’s, all you can eat Korean BBQ for 15,000 won)

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I went to Namdaemun Market (touristy market with food/clothing) on Saturday with  Sydney. Although we went after afternoon training, and showing the new guys Lotte Mart, so we didnt get there before dark. But it was nice, lots of touristy shops and food vendors lined down the middle. I forgot to take actualy photos, but did take a picture of our vegetarian omellette pancake and fried octopus dish, served with soup and of couse a bottle of Cass.

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Oh yes! I almost forgot. The friday before the last week of our 1st semester, I gave work my notice. My last day of work will be Feb 22nd 2013. I have enjoyed being here, and like my coworkers and the kids, but I dont love the company and or the place/lifestyle. I took this job becuase I knew I could up and leave when I wanted, I didnt want to be anywhere for a whole year. Of course, I had kept that option opened, if I loved it then great I would stay, but if not I would keep moving on. So thats what I am doing. Come Feb 22nd I will have been here for over 6 months, and am going to take all of my savings and hit up Thailand and the surrounding areas. Ill prolly stop in Japan and Hong Kong on the way there. And when I get there I will volunteer at an elephant park, get my scuba diving license and do some other touristy things, but most importantly I plan on working on organic farms through WWOOF. This way I will be staying with families, working outside everyday and learning how to provide for myself.

It was a scary decision. I knew it was what I wanted to do for awhile, but the responsible side of me was worried about how it would look on my CV, what they company would think, and  if I would have enough money saved up. But I realized that life is too short to do things or not do things simply out of fear. Now that I am out of school, I feel like I need to trust my gut and do what feels right. So I am super psyched! And cant wait to head out. And am also enjoying and appreciating korea much more now because I  know I only have so much time left.

So of course, i celebrated a bit too much the week after I told them, Matt and marty were leaving, the two newbies were here/coming and I felt so relieved after having finally given my notice.

Wed night, before Matt and Marty left, we went to this mexican place on cafe street, and had yummy food and margaritas (with coronas in them)

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And this past week/weekend I welcomed my new kids to class. We went out on friday night and I had two big macs at 4 in the morning because I am a horrible pig. haha. Then Craig and I took Hannah and Eric (the newbies) to Itaewon on Saturday. Eric got a guitar and we went for supper in Jongno with Sydney and Charlie. We all had an early night on Sat after friday nights fun. And sunday, chilled with Sydney, we took out stuff to the laundry. (I had to get my bed sheets cleaned, because they had black mold on them, from my wall, which has now been covered up with new wall paper, long story and gross photos i wont even share with you). And then we hit up a bar ot watch some sunday football and to find out that they are playing UFC next sunday also. So will prolly revisit them then.

And today, i woke up with a bit of a cold, it is pouring rain, and may snow tonight. I am going to have soem kimchi jigae for supper (i only have class from 7-10 on mondays). Kimchi Jigae is like a kimchi soup/stew, perfect for this kind of day. Made a trip to the post office this morning, and to the hospital to find out hwo much vaccines are going to be. So just taking it easy.

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Will write again soon! Lots of love xoxo

A night out and a relaxing Sunday

Hey All!

I didnt do anything touristy this weekend, just had some fun with the gang from Suji.

We are heading into week 13, the last week of my first semester. We will be meeting two new teachers on Friday night, as two of the “oldies” (Matt and Marty, who have been here for 1yr and 3 months) head off. They are actually going to take off Saturday morning together and voyage around Southeast Asia for about 3 weeks and then head home to their families in the States for Christmas. They are very excited. Matt will actually be coming back to teach again, but at a different school located in downtown Seoul. And Marty will be taking off on Jan 6th to bike across the States with the Young Philanthropists Organization  http://theyp.org/ on the Young and Wild Expedition 2013. It’s a great cause and you can find more information at http://theyp.org/young-wild-expedition-2013/. Marty will be participating as a leader/mentor. If you’d like, you can donate to the organization. If you do, please leave as a comment “for Martin Ethington”. This is not a plead for donations, but if anyone is interested and would like to support them, I’m sure it would be much appreciated.

So! seeing as they are both leaving, we went out last night in Seoul for one last round! We had supper at Petra Palace, a turkish/mediterranean restaurant which pleased both the carnivores of the group (Marty) and the vegetarians (Matt). I shared baba ganoush with Sydney and it was delish! I also had the Petra Chicken Special which was very good. Then we headed to our first bar where the night got pretty entertaining pretty fast. After moving us around 3 times, they finally settled us at a round table, which we managed to squish into.

Good thing we are all good friends. We had a round of drinks and shots, and then…this tiny little korean man at a table near us bought us 3 pitchers! So Kind! And then….he bought us another 3 pitchers! Very Very kind! We thanked him like crazy. But were also a little curious as to why he was being so nice. Well, after he joined us at our table, we realized, and I would assume he was being so generous, simply because he was kind, but also because he was very drunk. Not long after joining us, he decided to wrip off his shirt and and flex his tiny little Korean body and muscles for the camera. And so our night began! haha

After the tiny Korean spilled what was left of the beer on the table, we decided to head out. Of course, on our way to the next bar I had to get a pogo from a street vendor. Between the 2nd bar and club I got toppoki (fried rice cakes in red hot sauce) off a street vendor and finished the night by getting a crispy potato taco from taco bell before we headed home in a taxi. My excuse: we walked and danced a lot, and you need food to soak up the alcohol. I also would have never gotten anything from taco Bell, except we stopped in so Charlie could get a drink and Dan got some food, and I knew that I’d be jealous of Dan if I didnt get myself something.

I had just woken up this morning, and was lying in bed around 11:30 when Arnecia rang my doorbell and suggested we go for brunch on Cafe Street. It was a beautiful day and so we walked over to Cafe Street and took a sit at Plate 607. We ordered a plate of pancakes, scrambled eggs w/ bacon and sausage and a plate of french toast (which is two french toasts with scrambled egg in between) with fruits on top and bacon+sausage. We shared the plates. They were absolutely delicious! Each plate also came with a green salad with a wonderful, light, fresh dressing.

And on our walk to cafe street, we noticed that a mural had been painted underneath the overpass along the bike path. So we decided to stop and take some photos.

On our walk back, we stopped in at E-mart and Lotte mart for some food (and I did some xmas shopping 🙂 ). And I also got my kids some candy and chocolate to give them seeing as it is our last week together. (We arent really allowed to give them anything, but I don’t care, a lot of my kids and their parents have gotten me stuff over the semester and my classes have all been really good, so they deserve it!). There are 2 or 3 classes/groups of kids that I would love to teach again next semester, and then there are 1 or 2 classes that well, lets just say, I wont cry if I dont get them again (or maybe I will haha).

I am actually going for a small training session this Tuesday to get trained for a new class (TOEFL, it is literally a class where all they do is prep for the TOEFL test, pretty boring, subbed for it once this semester) along with Andrew and Sydney and the other teachers.

I am excited for the new semester. It is a different track, so that means new books, new material. And apparently there is slightly less material to cover in this track and so there is a bit more time to have discussions with the students. I have learnt a lot over this past semester, and have actually been adapting as I go, instead of waiting to change things in the next semester. But I have a much better idea of how I want to break up my class, and what things I want to focus on etc. I’ve also set myself up a pretty awesome student management sheet in excel in order to keep better track of my students and their progress in order to help them improve more.

So, I think I will leave you now. I am going to make a batch of cookies. Recipe from http://carrotsncake.com/2009/02/banana-oatmeal-chip-cookies.html. I am now in love with this site (http://carrotsncake.com/). I made a batch the other day, and they were great, however they quickly disappeared. I wasnt the only one eating them I swear! I have to do 6 at a time in my toaster oven and I brought a bunch to someone as a gift.

So that is all. We will probably go out for supper on Friday night to welcome the newbies and say one last goodbye to those that are leaving. Saturday I have a meeting at work and will mostly just be decorating my new room (hopefully) and prepping for the 1st day of the new semester. So it’ll be another easy weekend but then after that I hope to visit DMZ, probably go snowboarding on the weekend of the 15th of December. And hopefully hit up a temple and the Penis park in January!

So have yourselves a very good week!

Cheers!

Sara

This Weekend: Lotte World and High Street Market!

And this weekend…I went to Lotte World (sort of like a mini disneyland/amusement park).

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Video of the inside of Lotte World: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAYBBk6Iwx8

It is half indoor and half outdoor. Apparently it is the largest indoor amusement park in the world (in the Guinness Book of records). The kids who won the CTP competition got to go. Arnecia’s kids won, but Craig and I went along with them. I figured going to such a site would be much funner with a bunch of googly eyed kids who were excited to be there. And it was pretty awesome. Plus it was decorated for x-mas. There is actually an indoor skating rink in the same area which I will have to go back to. Although, I have a bad feeling that you can only rent figure skates and not real ice skates…so don’t know how that will go, haha. Will have to take a video of me falling on my ass.

The skating rink:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUw9bp1eWFk

But of course like all tourist attractions in Korea, actually like nay place in Korea, be it an attraction or not, there were a ton of people there and the wait time for any ride was at least an hour. The kids finally decided on a ride, you know the one with the swings that turns in circles. I said I wasnt going to do any spinny rides, but figured this wouldnt be bad. Plus after waiting in line for atleast an hour I figured I might as well. Now I know for the future, the older I get, the less I enjoy amusement parks and the sicker they make me feel. As soon as it started to gain speed, I had to keep one eye open and one eye closed and try not to concentrate on the fact that I was spinning in circles. I tried to think of a happy place and am glad that we hadnt eaten anything yet because I might have vomited on the kids.

The puky ride: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt_X1uVvWS4

Afterwards, with my head spinning, we made our way to a korean restaurant because the kids were starving, but with soo many people, we ended up waiting over an hour to sit down at a table. The kids were really good about it though, and they were the ones who wanted to wait. They must be used to it here. So by the time we sat down, no one spoke, we just gobbled up our food. I ordered a beef and leek soup which was pretty decent and had a bunch of sides. Afterwards, I was ready to fall asleep, and we thought the kids seemed pretty mellow also. But it only took about 10 mins of walking for the food energy to kick in. Lotte World is of course filled with stands for candy, and cotton candy, and popcorn, and korean snacks. The kids got dipping dots and I bought one of the girls peanut butter roasted squid, which I had and I must say it was pretty good. It basically tastes like peanut butter as quid doesnt have much taste. It looked like french fries pretty much.

I actually snuck away from the group quick and went back outside to get these icecream and chocolate stuffed freshly made waffles. Which was very yummy :). I swear, thank God I go to the gym, because although I am lucky in terms of metabolism, I would be gaining weight very quickly here. The kids did a few more activities, such as rock climbing and the mirror maze. And before you knew it it was 5 oclock and we were leaving. I didnt go back to Suji right away though. I stopped in to High Street Market, a store in Itaewon, that carries goods that you cant find anywhere else from back home. I was only going becasue I wanted vanilla extract and oatmeal (which I hadnt been able to find at home plus, lotte mart, emart OR shinsegae). But of course, it was like walking into a candy store, and I left with over 100$ worth of stuff, but it was so worth it. I now have some aunt jemima maple syrup, some KD, some stove top stuffing and cranberry sauce (for xmas), some nutrigrain bars, poptarts, a fruit rollup 🙂 some instant oatmeal, real chocolate chips (for baking). And of course, they had a bin filled with wine on sale, so I took it as a sign that I was supposed to buy some. Oh yeah! they also had bacon!!! and Tortillas!!!

My grocery bag from High Street Market

So I left very happy and came home to have a glass of wine with salad and a pizza from this new pizza place with a wood oven stove that recently opened up nearby. And for dessert I had a delicious piece of choclate cake which the mothers of the kids we had taken to Lotte World had bought for Arnecia, Craig and I.

My yummy pizza supper and delish choco cake!

So yes food, food, food. I just cant help it. It is what I remember the most. Oh, and I have been pigging out on Peppero’s all week. November 11th is Peppero Day. The kids/everyone, gives each other these chocolate covered biscuits sticks. So my a bunch of my lovely kids brought me in Peppero’s (whether its because they like me or they just want good grades, I don’t know, but either way it was much appreciated!). Even one of their moms brought me in some stuff, and even the Indian restaurant we went to tonight gave us some.

Pepero’s!!!

Today, I just took it easy. Tried to prep most of my classes for the next two weeks (the last of the semester and then a new one begins!! does time ever fly!) and did some grocery shopping. Then hit up Suwon with some of the gang for Indian!!! I had bought Chai tea last time I was there but forgot how to make it, so asked the guy again about it tonight. His directions werent very precise so did my best, but only had the smart idea to search for it online after having some trouble making it. Your supposed to smash a piece of ginger, throw it in a pot with some water and bring it to a boil. Then add sugar, then add milk, then add the tea, then STRAIN it. I just threw some milk and water into the microwave, added some sugar and added the tea thinking it was like instant coffee and would dissolve. No such luck, so had to pick out the tea with a spoon. But it was still really good, but next time I will do it the right way and it will be better 🙂

So, I realize that I havent been super great in terms of pictures. Been having some really good times and moments here but just never think to take out the camera. So sorry for that, I would like to share more of these moments with you guys and also have the pics for memories, but even if I dont get to show you the pics will do my best to relay the info/stories.

(the videos take a while to upload on youtube, so will repost them in a day or two in the blog, got some videos of lotte world etc)

Hope all is well with everyone!! And hope you all have a good week! Lots of love! xoxox

Last Weekend

Hey Everyone,

Sorry its been awhile sine my last post. Been pretty busy I guess. There were a few times where I had the time to write, but just wasnt in the mood. And I dont express myself as well as I normally would when I’m trying to force it. But now here I sit, in the mood and ready to tell you about my last two weeks.

So I made a friend at the gym, don’t know if I told you yet or not, her name is Sandy. She actually studied in New York for her undergraduate and speaks very good English. She is now back in Korea doing her MBA. We met at the gym on a wednesday night. She was very kind and approached me and offered to translate for me which proved to be very necessary during yoga!

So we shared a few wednesday night classes together, and kept saying that we should get together one night, after a class or something. So last Thursday, she came over to my place for supper. I made a swirly pasta in rose sauce with some added garlic stems and mushrooms, and thrown into my toaster oven under the broiler with some cheese. Along with some garlic bread and wine of course! We had a great  time chatting and as she is Buddhist, we might go to a Buddhist temple and do a “temple stay” some time in the future.

That saturday (so last sat), I can’t quite recall what I did. I think I just did some grocery shopping (started my hunt for vanilla extract and oatmeal to make cookies with), cleaned the apartment and prepped for some of my classes. I may have gone out for supper…I may have stayed in and cooked…I just don’t know. Needless to say I took it easy on the Saturday and did my errands becasue on the Sunday I was going to Chongju, to visit with Steven and Yeongju, the couple I had met before I left while they were vacationing in Canada. Steven has been teaching here for 8 years and has been able to lend lots of advice. It was a nice, realtively short (1hr1/2) bus ride down (Chongju, is directly south of where I am).

Steven was nice and picked me up at the bus station and we headed back to their apartment to pick up Yeongju and Aiden (cutie pie). They brought me to a traditional Korean market which was much much fun!!! That is the kind of stuff I really enjoy (no surprise that it involves being surrounded by food galore! haha). And I wish I had pictures to show you, but I had thought we were just going to the store so didnt bring it along. But there are two markets in Seoul (Dongdaemun and Namdaemun) which I will definitely go to and bring camera!

At the market, I picked up some side dishes such as kimchi cucumber, fried tofu in red sauce, garlic stems in red sauce, and radishes in red sauce (the red suaces vary slightly between each one). I also got to munch on some korean seaweed snack (good=mashita in korean), some rice cake desserts, some salty shrimp shred and some anchovy sidedishes/snacks (which reminded me that I dont like anchovies). Oh yes, and I had my first fried fish batter paste (which Steven really likes, and I politely agreed that it was great, but not my favorite).

Then we hit up downtown Chongju, which is very nice and I had my first fish past skewer stick (which I liked becasue it was covered in the red spicy sauce) and a pancake like snack which is very similar to a beavertail and just as good but only 50cents. Then, where else would we go in a Sara story but to the grocery store, haha. Yeongju had to pick up some stuff for supper, which she was going to teach me how to make. It is simply noodles (sweet potato noodles, similar to pasta noodles, but they go translucent) and you throw in fried/steamed mushrooms, onions, carrots, and spinach (and whatever else you may like including pork or chicken), tossed with sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds. It was very  good. They actually sent me home with a whole bunch and it lasted me a whole week (I ate it every day, haha). They were also so kind as to send me home with some rice cakes, sesame seeds, and a huge Asian pear which was delicious. (Oh yes, not only do Koreans eat rice, for breakfast, lunch adn supper, but they love it soo much they decided to turn it into a dessert as well!)

So that was last weekend for me! Here are some pics:

My supper with Sandy!!

Supper with Steven, Yeongju, and Aiden!

The rice cake desserts they sent me home with! And a large amount of our dinner!

Yeongju helped me pick this stuff up at Home Plus: 1) red sauce for Korean BBQ 2) Chili Pepper paste and 3) red sauce for noodles!