Travel Bug

September 23, 2009

Mrs Kim's bulgogi

The Korean Folk story we watched

Jung-Min and Mia at the Gyeongju lake

Breakfast- Korean style!

Jung-Min at the King's tomb

Jung-Min at the local markets

Jung-Min and Mia at the King's tomb

My Korean host family :)

Their apartment, and surrounding!

Gyeongbuk- Kolon Hotel

Bullet points are much easier...

Learning Korean-

a very slow far we can order food ( a small range), beer and drinks, I can tell my kids to 'shut up', and 'repeat', also social graces such as 'thank you', 'hello' etc have been mastered...I'll call it a work in progress (our newly acquired cellphones have English-Korean dictionarys, and vice verse).
Masters in Konglish.

Korean buses-

appear to be straight out of Bollywood movies...pic's to follow...One night in Gyeongju (this is while we were at the hotel orientation) our bus driver bowed to peer pressure and played club level (noise wise) K-pop, laser lights, and a colourful strobe...all while driving along a 100km highway! There's also frilly curtains, and embroidered or tasseled seat covers ala Martha Stewart.

Best bus driver (Ruth, you needed this guy for your 21st)
His party bus- complete with plasma tv, strobes and lasers.

Korean Homestay:

We arrived at the Kolon Hotel on Friday night, and were picked up by Korean families on Saturday. All 80 scholars from the Gyeongbuk province had a family each, and we stayed with them for Sat night! Jung-Min and her mother picked me up, revealling that apparently neither spoke a word of English, and took me to her fathers work. Mr Kim is a Korean traditional medicine practitioner, and spoke amazing English, Jung-Min also left the shyness behind and started to practice what she'd learnt on me...They showed me around his office, sat me in a deluxe massage chair, and left me...We waited for Mr Kim to finish work, and headed to a renown restaurant in Gyeongju for cold noodles- a Korean summer favourite...The texture of eating rice noodles with ice floating in the bowl is possibly not the best ever, also, Korean people eat huge lunches- something i'm (amazingly) struggling with!

After lunch Jung-Min, her mother and I headed back to their apartment- the first Korean home i'd seen since arriving- despite it being strange to imagine growing up without a backyard, pets etc, their home was huge (though not all are anywhere near that size) and pretty well set up! Stoked that afternoon naps were on the cards- Tamara (my kiwi roomate) and I had set a pretty standard routine while at Kyung Hee- the heat is a killer.

I later discovered that Jung-Min's brother (who was at school until 4pm on a Sat, and came home to do homework) had given up his bed for me, and was planning to sleep on the floor in the kids study (why not the super comfy couch, i don't know). That night the whole family (reluctant brother) took me to the Gyeongju lake for a swan boat ride, to watch a Korean folk performance, and back home for some hearty discussions over what country i prefer- Korea/NZ (a common question). Mrs Kim was an amazing cook, so i'm posting photos purely of what she fed me! The homestay experience was the best thing in this orientation so far, and the family is comming to visit Gaz and I in Chilgok!

September 22, 2009

Month 1- Seoul

Arriving in Korea:

Auckland to Seoul:

Gaz and I flew out on Aug 1st at some ungodly hour of the morning, with epic hangovers thanks to enthusiastic celebrations! The flight to Korea was 12 hours of straight pain, and we failed to get our moneys worth from the inflight alcohol. The TaLK crew were waiting at Incheon airport, and took us to our home for the month of Orientation- Kyung Hee University, Suwon.


learning how to 'survive', 'teach', and build 'desirable' relationships with co-teachers. Lectures (foolishly thought i'd left those behind)
were a failure in every way. Especially the amount of singing.

Example of 'popular' song:
"I can, I can, I can I can I can, I'm a can-do kid, yes I am"

Other lectures were entirely useless, but a little less painful- making paper fans, pottery class and a tae kwon do lesson- a month of childsplay. Evenings and weekends were devoted to sampling all the alcohol Korea had to offer, with a select group of non-Americans.

A bond was formed with a local bar (NOW BAR- Suwon), and the local FAMILY MART- essentially a dairy stocking alcohol, and providing tables and chairs on a piece of footpath Beer-around $3 for 1.5 ltr, soju (like vodka) for $1.50 for 700ml, wineade $2.50 for a can....

Far too much to catch up on to fill in the gaps, but I will borrow from Matt L's blog and share with you the utter stupidity from many an American's mouth:

On New Zealand...
“Ah New Zealand… that’s in Europe right?”
“Planes don’t fly to New Zealand do they?”

On the U.K...
“Manchester Utd –YEAH WOO! HI -5!!! – I don’t even like soccer”
After hearing a Scotsman finish talking to me – “Yo was that guy talking English?”

“Oh my God I can’t even listen to you, I feel like I’m in a Harry Potter movie”

Teacher: “You can get a native Korean to help you’ American: ‘Where do I find one of those?” Coming from a 5ft tall guy – “I grew up in K-Town, anyone came up and gave me shit I’d just have em man”
and the all time favourite- "I miss my gun...

After 3 weeks at the uni, multiple field trips- Nanta, Lotte World, Cooking classes (much too hung), school visits, shopping in Seoul, clubbing in Itaewon.... the group was split up into our provincial classes and headed off around Korea for another week's orientation (this time in hotels :) ).

Some pics...
Kyung Hee TaeKwonDo team at the TaLK Opening Ceremony

Downtown Suwon- ripe with love motels and DVD bangs