Sunday, September 30, 2007
No rest for weary travelers. After five action packed days in Beijing it was time to return to the Korean tourist routine. We signed up for the Pine Mushroom Festival with Adventure Korea.
The website had advertised the the festival to include such events as horseback riding and bare handed trout fishing. No such luck. Not to put down the Korean sense of fun but the festival was kind of lame. The Rhubarb Festival in Ulm, Montana has nearly as many activities.
So what is a festival? Do we really need to celebrate things like pine mushrooms, rhubarb, chokecherries, or sweet peas? Many festivals are fun but it seems like we should have a better reason to get together and celebrate.
They did have a couple of interesting displays and activities. They had an old fashioned thresher which we could try out with freshly picked rice.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
Our own guide book was quite comical and describe the square saying "bicycles are against the law (but apparently tanks are okay)."
We were talked into taking a rickshaw ride the rest of the way to the Temple of Heaven.
Inside the grounds we stopped to listen to musician families enjoying the afternoon making music and then berating each other when they were off beat or off pitch.
The buildings had some beautiful tile work all in blue and green (as opposed to the royal buildings of yellow). On each tile was either a dragon (the emperor) or a phoenix (the empress).
It is a really nice park and a great place to spend a Sunday afternoon.
What mythical animal are you? Dragon or phoenix?
Thursday, September 27, 2007
We started at the north end and made our way south which is opposite of the common tour. It was much better that way because we didn't have to deal with the crowds of people as much.
Where do you run into big crowds?
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
We got to the airport last Saturday with plenty of time to spare (which is more than I can say about this morning's return trip...but more on that later). I don't think I have ever truly given a good sense of how much Koreans like to shop. On previous visits to the airport I was amazed at how packed the duty free stores were and more so, they had a duty free pick up counter.
Apparently, you can shop duty free online now. Know any friends going on an international trip? Shop online and have them pick up your items at the airport. This is definitely the thing to do as the pick up section of the store was packed.They had each person's items bagged and labeled on two stories of conveyor belts. Attendants on the top floor just dropped stuff down to the people below. Each item was in about four different bags and then after you picked up your purchases, they had to be checked and then re-bagged in another two bags. Seems like one of the middlemen could have been cut.Then, if you didn't get your fill at the airport stores you can buy stuff mid-flight. I wonder if the stewardesses (sorry, flight attendants) get commission from the sales. They were hawking that stuff pretty viciously.
Unfortunately, I didn't need any cigarettes, cosmetics or liquor so I refrained from purchasing.
What have you bought duty free? Ever purchased anything from those SkyMall magazines?
Friday, September 21, 2007
I was informed yesterday that my boss had paid my residents fee. At first I didn't know what they were talking about. Apparently Korea charges everybody living in the country a yearly fee. I thought that is what taxes were for (which I do pay). It is an interesting concept. Taxes aren't very high but they find other ways of collecting.
For example: Garbage collection services are free...but the mandatory regulation garbage bags are a dollar each.
After they gave me my receipt for my residents fee, I actually felt kinda special that they would splurge and spend $4 on their favorite teacher.
This will be my last post for several days because I'm off to Beijing. What weekend plans do you have?Happy Chuseok everyone!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Utilities are cheap here and as that is the only expense we pay for our living situation, I really don't mind. The total bills for our apartment are approximately the same as what I was paying for my utilities in rural Montana.
Phone and Internet runs about $35 which is mostly the Internet charge because we rarely use the phone. Gas is between $30 and $4o a month. The water/electricity/maintenance is rolled into one and that can vary from $175 to a whopping $310. Split three or four ways it really isn't bad.
All the bills are paid at the bank. I can walk up to the teller bills and money in hand and she'll file my payment and mark the account paid. It is a pretty slick system. Sometimes it is a little challenging finding time to make it to the bank but over all it is very easy and effective.I have to take my bills to two different banks but fortunately the banks are right across the street from each other and both are a block from the school. Despite my inability to read or speak Korean I can easily take care of the bills.
Are bills something you dread?
Monday, September 17, 2007
I am in the process of searching out that elusive perfect job again this year. Here are my desires in order of importance:
Is there such a job? Am I setting my sights too high? Let me know if you hear of any good positions that are open or that will open in the next couple of months.
Until then, I guess I'll just keep filling out applications.
Did you find that perfect job?
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Hobo Teacher offers some excellent insight to the world of teaching. He says it best that in order to keep our sanity we often poke fun at the situations we are put in.
Blogger Play is a new feature on blogger that offers a slide shows of pictures being uploaded in real time. This is an interesting concept and serves well to demonstrate the diversity of the blogging community. It is easy to lose time just watching the pictures scroll through.
In other news: It was a lazy Saturday in Gimpo. Yoon Teacher called us to go to eat at our favorite duck restaurant. Back home to relax and digest our meal.
Do you eat duck?
Friday, September 14, 2007
Since there were only two English speakers we killed our vocal cords for an hour. It was a night of classic rock and pop from the 60s, 70s and 80s.
What is your favorite genre of music for karaoke?
Thursday, September 13, 2007
This movie looks ridiculous but funny. It is called Mr. Woodcock. Staring Sean William Scott and Billy Bob Thornton (two three name actors). I might have to go see it. There is a funny Montana reference in this clip. They probably used the only two funny lines of the movie in this clip and in the trailer. Said to the stewardess on an airplane, "Bring me a real bottle. I'm an alcoholic not a Barbie doll."
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
One the side of the beverage cup is the passage from Genesis 26:12-13:
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I came home to a street mall and carnival. I guess it was kind of like a block party with vendors, entertainment and food. They had cross dressing karaoke singers,
a huge food court with a spit of pork roast,and dozens of vendors for anything from shoes and cookware to bedding and artwork.My favorite was the rice cake machine. A dollop of batter, a lot of heat, and a lot of pressure and... viola! Rice cake. The machines shoots them out like a high powered air rifle. Good thing there is a screen to stop them from injuring people.
What was your last block party, bazaar or carnival like? What do you like most?
Monday, September 10, 2007
I tried to nip potentially disruptive situations in the bud before they got out of hand. Monday is a good day to do that for my class because most of the students are tired and sluggish from the weekend. On the weekends they usually don't have bedtimes (even my kindergartners). On Mondays the kids are sleepy and low key.
I always hated the idea of classroom management because it isn't really something you can be taught but it is something that has to be learned. Going through teacher training in college I always dreaded classroom management the most. I didn't want to be a teacher because of that. I love to teach students who want to learn. But, if they don't want to learn, I don't want them in my class.
My technique (if you can call it that) is based on expectations. I set very high expectations for myself and for the students in the class and I want them to live up to those expectations. All students consciously or unconsciously seemingly have a desire to please the authority figure. When the students don't meet my expectations, I show them how disappointed I am. So the next time they try to please me by acting appropriately or learning the material.
I am not sure it is the best technique but it works for me because I am not an authoritarian teacher and the soft spoken approach doesn't work because I lack the needed amount of empathy.
Time will tell if my efforts will improve my class' behavior.
What management techniques do you use for your class/home/office?
Sunday, September 09, 2007
I was unfortunately disappointed with the aquarium. It cost 12,000 Won ($12 US) to enter and it was pretty small. It did have some varieties of fish and other critters I've never seen before. We watched the sea lion show for a while and then headed to church.
The lectionary came from a book of the Bible that I have never heard of before...Philemon. It is a small book (one chapter) but in all of my years of church I don't think I've heard a sermon from it before. Sunday school was an awful long time ago and I don't remember the book of Philemon from that either.
When I took a semester in Missouri we would regularly look up Bible verses. To know if we had found it, the leader would say "Raise your hand if you've found it, say Bible study if you haven't."
I felt like saying 'Bible study!' aloud in the middle of service. The book is one of Paul's letters and I quite like the text.
What's your favorite book of the Bible? Why?
Saturday, September 08, 2007
We went to our favorite hole-in-the-wall sogum gui restaurant in Yongsan for dinner. Afterwards, we found a really cool street drum festival in Hongdae. Video here.
We then went to a jazz bar with live music. Video here. We also found some delicious crepes where you could point to any of thirty varieties displayed on the wall. We bar hopped our way to a place that served not only peanuts with your drink but also kim (seaweed) and fish oil. We ended the night but we don't say goodbye. We say, see you later. What do you say?