Saturday, June 30, 2007

Transformers Trailer

Best Movie of 2007! Go see it. Debuted in South Korea June 28. Opens in the States July 4.


What do you get when DreamWorks, Paramount and Michael Bay decide to make a movie? ...... The most explosive thrill ride, best of '07, blockbuster hit of the summer, movie!

Transformers was awesome! Definitely the best movie of 2007 in my book. If there is one thing that director Michael Bay knows how to do is make things blow up on film. The special effects were intense and amazing. They put together a star cast including Shia LeBeouf, Jon Voight, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, and a lot of fresh faces like Megan Fox, Anthony Anderson and Rachael Taylor.

Shia has really turned into a powerhouse actor. I really liked Holes and The Greatest Game and he is set to play Indiana Jones' son in next summer's release.
The director made a great choice and brought Peter Cullen, the original voice of Optimus Prime from the TV series, back to carry on the legacy.I have a feeling that the car companies are really behind this movie. They feature some amazing cars: Camaros, Hummers, Porsche, etc. I left the movie wanting to buy a car and hit the open road. The cars were sweet.I will be truly disappointed if this movie doesn't smash box office records. It is a must see summer movie. It has just the right mix of action, adventure, special effects, and humor with just a little dash of romance thrown in. I'll probably go see it again this week. It was that good!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sub Zero

My roommate and co-worker is headed back to America this coming Wednesday. As this was her last weekend, we went out to say farewell. We started at one of our old haunts which was a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Yongsan which specializes in salted fatty pork.
After dinner we found our way to Hongdae and went to the Sub Zero Ice Bar.
This might be the coolest place in Seoul. (No pun intended.) The bar is located in the basement of a parking garage. The entire bar is made of ice.
A 15,000W cover charge gets you coat, gloves and boot rental as well as one drink. I had a Black Korean. It was a little fruity for being a 'guys' drink. Peach tea and vodka.

Each drink came in our very own ice glass. The chairs were all made of ice but fortunately had an animal skin cover to keep your back side from getting too cold.Don't forget were also making a political statement. This is definitely a novelty place but it is completely worth the cover charge. We got lost the first time we looked for it so I'm providing the map for other to use. If you're in the Hongdae area, check it out!

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Today was the international release of the movie. I don't know why but I am really excited to go see it.

We weren't able to go to the movies today but we made plans to go on Saturday. Sorry to all those in the States who have to wait until July 4. LOL.

P.S. Anyone living abroad but still wanting to follow the Fox show 'So You Think You Can Dance', check out this link for clips. Anyone know where I can get full episodes?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I have been somewhat diligent in maintaining my training routine from the 5K run. I have managed to run at least twice a week usually in the evenings after it has cooled down a little from the heat of the day.

The trail is well used and no matter what time of the day or night, there are always a number of people walking, running or riding bikes. While running on the trail by the apartments I have made several observations that seem to hold true.

1. A kid riding a bike will steer away from you until you are within five feet, then he/she will steer directly toward you to try and clip you off at the knees.

2. Insects flying near the lamp posts will continue flying near the light until a jogger comes near at which point they will dive bomb the runner aiming for the nostrils and mouth.

3. Koreans enact laws that require people to walk on the left but then they refuse to follow that directive.

4. People using the trail seem more than happy to walk single file until they hear a jogger approaching from behind and then they insist on walking three abreast and blocking any chance of making it easy to pass.

5. Finally, humidity makes running, even running at night, almost unbearable. I think I'll move back to Montana where a day with high humidity is around 10%.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


The father of the Chinese teacher at school passed this morning. He was in a bad car accident in the beginning of May and has been in a coma ever since. She was able to go to China this afternoon to help take care of the arrangements.

As is Korean custom, we took up a collection at work to help her and her family out. We'll continue to keep her and her family in our prayers.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Rainy Season

No one came seem to agree. Does the rainy season start in June or July? Does it end in July or run through August.

Online sources say one thing but talk with Koreans and they'll tell you another. If the past several very humid days with rainy evenings and nights have been any indication, then the rainy season is well underway. Check out the weather around Korea here.

Or just go straight the source, The Underground for five day forecasts. Thursday has a 100% chance of precipitation in the Inchon area. Can anyone really be that confident to guarentee 100% chance? Either way, I'll be sure to pack my umbrella.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

It's All Greek to Me

After church, we went to Itaewon for dinner. From Myeongdong, just hop on the green 0013 bus for a ten minute ride to Itaewon.

We decided on Santorini, a Greek restaurant just off the main drag. The menu was a little bit pricey but the food was really good. Itaewon never disappoints when it comes to food.

I also found a Superman shirt to buy. I have been wanting one so I can prove to my students that I am Superman.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Little Bit of Magic

Everybody likes a bit of magic, right? We'll we certainly do. After work Friday, we met in Hongdae to go to the Alexander Magic Bar.
Located in the basement of a nondescript building off the beaten track, this hole-in-the-wall made for an interesting evening. We walked in and were the only ones in the place. They ushered us to a table and commenced with the evening.
We had a show from two master magicians including slide of hand, card tricks and other illusions. It was a really good show. 20,000W each got us the two shows and all you can drink alcohol or soda. The show was really good and the service, top notch.After the magic bar, we spent some time in Hongdae and caught a street drum performance.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dictionary of Jack: Americanisms

The Lies We Tell

So, I've been trying to teach one of my elementary classes about writing letters. We have been reading a story about a little girl who moves to a new house and then writes letters to all her old friends.

At first I had the kids write a letter to their parents. That failed miserably. They weren't into it, they didn't pay attention and they didn't understand anything about writing letters.

In the story, the little girl moves to Chicago. I told the kids that my grandma lives in Chicago. They asked if my grandma knows the girl in the story. I said yes (lie #1).

I asked the kids if we should write a letter to the girl in the story so that my grandma could give it to her. (As if the girl is a real person, lie #2). The kids all got excited about the idea. They kept asking me over and over if my grandma would give the letters to the girl from the story. I unhesitatingly told them yes (lie#3).

Some of the letters were really cute. Take this example.
So Grandma, I am going to send you a package of letters from my Korean first graders. Could you find a little girl in the greater Chicago area to give them to? If the little girls name is Jan then at least it won't be a total lie and rather just a stretching of the truth. You can even show 'Jan' the picture of my class. Thanks Gram~!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Open House

Over the past six weeks I've been drilling my kids with repetitive oral questions, monotonous readings and 'man-I-hate-these' songs. All in preparation for today's open house.

Each of the kids' parents came into watch the presentation of their skills. Each student had to demonstrate their reading, conversation, listening and speaking skills.

After the kids did their half hour plus presentation, they were shooed away and I stayed and answered 45 minutes of questions from the parents. It is nice to have the parents so concerned about their child's education. The principal knows how important these events are and puts an almost undue amount of emphasis on them.

All went well though and it is nice to have the weight of that event off my shoulders. Other teachers have their open houses this week and next.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Become the Next Me

Teach English in South Korea! Yes, I think everyone should come to Korea to teach English. It is exciting, challenging and relatively well paying.

It would be the perfect 'just-out-of-college, don't-know-what-I'm-gonna-do-with-myself' job. Or the perfect 'having-a-mid-life-crisis-need-to-get-away' job. Or the perfect 'retirement-is-boring' job. I was referred to a good website that does an excellent job of outlining the pros and cons and gives a detailed account of what the experience is like an what you can expect.
Flying Cows Consulting lays out almost everything you could need to know in an appealing format. If I was starting out again...I would have appreciated this guide. They should be paying me to give this review but I do recommend the website. adventurous. Teach English in a foreign country. Try Korea.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Dr. Min

I woke up Monday morning with bloodshot eyes that were caked shut with gunk. I thought for sure I had some horrible eye infection and so promptly scheduled an appointment for that afternoon.

I tolerate a lot worse illnesses without ever going to the doctor but after my Lasik surgery, I don't take chances with my eyes. Previous experience told me that doctors and pharmacists have first rate English but receptionists are a different story. The receptionist actually called a translation service to get my information and symptoms.

I sat down in the chair and after three minutes, Dr. Min diagnosed me with 'extreme fatigue'. Apparently my eyes can't handle working 50+ hour weeks and then partying, dancing and clubbing for three nights in a row.

I was a little disappointed with the diagnosis. I thought for sure it was something much worse. She said I just needed rest. But, she did give me a prescription for some anti-inflammatories and eye drops. The pills were neatly packaged in dosage packages but lacked the consumer information that is found on every American medication packet.
At least getting more rest is one doctors order that I want to follow.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sister Mary Patrick

So, Friday our new teacher arrived. She is completely excited about everything which is hopefully a good sign that this one will stick around longer than two weeks.

She has been planning on coming here since February and has read almost every book ever written about Korea. We start to explain something and she gets all excited..."Ooo, I read about that!"

She reminds me of that perky nun from Sister Act (demeanor, personality and looks). "My mom always said you'll either grow up to be a nun or a stewardess...Coffee!?"

We celebrated her arrival on Friday night with dinner and norebong. What could possibly be more fitting for a first night than galbi and bad karaoke?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Marrakech Nights

We've been planning a night out on the town for awhile now. We started in Itaewon for dinner at Marrakech Nights. I have never been disappointed in a meal in Itaewon. Marrakech Nights is a Moroccan restaurant with some French flare.
The proprietor and his wife serve delicious food and provide a homey atmosphere. I had lamb with raisins and chickpeas seasoned with cinnamon. We started with baba ghanoush and potato fritters.
The ambiance was good and the food was amazing.
After Itaewon, we made our way to Hongdae and the Macondo Salsa Bar. Despite the incorrect directions on the website, we found it. (Take exit 4 from the subway station, not 5).
After getting out Latin groove on, we ended the night at TinPan.

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day Dad!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Golden Crown

On the way to the memorial yesterday, I saw a fruit stand selling yellow rind watermelons. As I have never seen this before, I had to do some research.

Golden Crown was bred for watermelon lovers and improved for earliness (about 70-80 days from sowing). It has good tolerance to powdery mildew, anthracnose, and viruses, which lengthens the life of the vines and increases potential yield. Four or more fruit per plant is very common. The golden-yellow rind signals that this juicy red watermelon is ready for harvest. The mature fruit is uniform, oblong, icebox-sized, weighing about 2.5kg, and with brilliant red flesh containing small seeds. Golden Crown is a delicious sweet watermelon with approximately 12% sugar content. A very thin but tough rind allows good shipping. Green spots may appear on the rind if grown under low light intensity or poor management after flowering.

Apparently there are also yellow fleshed watermelons. Clearly my watermelon palette has been limited all these years.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Remembrance Day

It has only been two days without Internet and yet it feels like I haven't blogged in ages. Is that the first sign of an addict? Sometimes blogging seems like a chore but other times it is fun and relaxing....I will continue to ponder this concept as I update you on Friday's field trip with the students.
Today (6.15) was another day to celebrate fallen war heroes is Korea. The school organized a field trip for the kindergarten class. It was about an hour bus ride to the memorial and we accidentally had a military escort the majority of the way. A convoy was moving through and they closed all of the side streets to let the mile long convoy stay together. We stayed in line with the convoy and bypassed all of the traffic lights.
Once we arrived we took the kids up a steep staircase to the monument. Each kid had to lay a flower at the base and then bow.

From a vantage point you could look across the mountains to North Korea. Afterwards we had lunch in a small wooded area next to the gift shop. I sometimes question our Korean helper teachers...after lunch many of the kids had to go to the bathroom. Instead of leading them to the toilet, the Korean helper teachers thought is was perfectly acceptable for the boys to drop trou and water the trees a mere ten feet from the picnic tables. It was rather comical seeing a row of kindergartner bums.

This just adds to the grocery list of Koreans I've seen naked in public. Babies peeing into bottles at public plays, people bathing outdoors along a public highway, drunken business men relieving themselves outside the bar, and the not-so-modest public toilets that have clear windows that look out on busy walkways. They do have public decency laws but that is one of those strange rules that isn't adhered to.

We made it back to school and then had a little time to relax before afternoon classes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Internet at the apartment is down! Call the Korean technician, asap!

Update: The technician came and said our wireless router was a piece of crap. A Saturday run to the Yongsan Electronics Market yielded us a new router and a quick install had us up and running.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Street Fair

So, on the way home we ran into a Korea street fair. It was taking up the entire parking lot between our apartment buildings. Food vendors and dollar store type booths littered the parking lot.
It was like Wonmart was brought to our doorstep. "Assa!(앗싸!)" Translation...Nice! or Sweet!
For more Korean slang, click here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Showing Off

Because I got a request, I think I'm justified in showing off the medal that I won from the race on Saturday.
So what if everybody 'won' one?I think the best souvenirs from foreign places are the unique ones that no one else will have. Only four other Americans have or will ever have one like this. It has got to be one of the best souvenirs from my year-long adventure!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Changing of the Guard

Stupid Tourist Sunday!
We went into Seoul early today and stopped at the Deoksugung Palace before going to church. They had a special changing of the guard presentation.
You can read about my previous adventures at the palace here.
After church we celebrated a friends birthday with dinner at a California Roll resturaunt. Happy birthday Candice!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

What Teachers Make by Taylor Mali

A tribute to everyone who teaches.

Habitat Marathon

We had an early morning to get to the race site which was northwest of Paju. It was a nice area and then they closed the roads for the race track. There were plenty of serious runners who turned up and then many that came to show their support for the cause.
This was Habitat for Humanity - Korea's first marathon. It was really well organized. Of course we did the 5K run. I felt really good after the run and now I have a nice souvenir medal to show for it.
After the race we cooled down with a complimentary snack waited for the shuttle bus to take us back to Daehwa.
In the evening we hosted a barbecue to celebrate. Hamburgers, watermelon, chips and all the fixings.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Like a Sore Thumb

We got some really nice brochures in the mail with the t-shirts the other day. The pamphlets were all in Hangul so I didn't even think to browse through.

One of our Korean helper teachers read through it for me. The majority of it was fine print absolving Habitat for Humanity from responsibility if anyone not fit enough tries to run the marathon. It gave details of where and when and a schedule of events.
The final three pages of the book were the names of the registered racers. Running the 5K were the names of 1344 Koreans and five Americans. Come race day someone is going to stick out.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Memorial Day

Today was Memorial Day in Korea and so we had the day off. Hallelujah! This whole month is kind of a memorial celebration because on the 15th we'll take the kindergartners to a cemetery to pay respects and then on the 25th they remember the day North and South went to war.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Getting Ready

Our t-shirts and race numbers arrived today. I am getting kind of excited for the run on Saturday. We are planning a BBQ afterwards to negate any good the exercise did us.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Asia's Crossroads

I'm going to Malaysia! I just logged off of Now with a sizable credit card bill to pay, I can look forward to my summer vacation.

We will leave on Aug. 1 and have four days of fun in the sun. Our return flight gets us in at 6am Monday morning Aug. 5. Hopefully four hours is enough to make it back home to shower, change and get ready for school. 'Work hard, play hard,' that's my motto.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

One Week Left

I only have one week of training left before the big 5K run. I met my cohorts in Yongsan this morning and we went running together on the river trail. Lots of people were out fishing the Han, rafting, running, bicycling.

I'm not going to set any land speed records but I feel good about where I am physically. Dare I say it??? It's so cliched... I'm probably in the best shape of my life! (That isn't saying much.)

Next Saturday we'll head to the race site and see how we do.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Secret Garden

Stupid Tourist Saturday!
We went to the Changdeokgung Palace (subway live #3 Anguk station) today which is open by guided tour only. The English tour was at 3:30 so we killed some time in Bukchon at a very expensive tea house. One pound bricks of tea went for a mere 300,000W. This palace was built in 1405 and was then restored in 1865. It held a building called the Blue House (named for the blue shingles) which was where the king dealt with affairs of state.
It had numerous buildings for the king, the queen, the concubines and other necessary buildings. I am starting to recognize the subtle differences in all the palaces.
On the back part of the palace grounds is the Huwon or Secret Garden. The gardens boasted over 100 species of trees and was the home of a 1,000 year old elm and a 500 year old juniper. Both of which have definitely seen better days.