Monday, June 29, 2009

Who's Bad

Unless you live under a rock, you have heard the news of the passing of Michael Jackson. If you do live under a rock, sorry for the shock....and sorry about your living quarters.

When I saw the headline flash across the screen of my computer I yelled to Brett, "Hey did you know Michael Jackson died??" "WHAT!!" was his surprised reaction. All day long we heard the same remarks from our students-"Teacha- Michael Jackson die!"

I had just recently reconnected with my love for Michael Jackson. It happened one day a couple of weeks ago, as I was working at my computer and was playing my song bank on "random" . My computer happened to pick a Michael Jackson song. I couldn't help it....I had to get up and important computer work had to wait. As I boogeyed my way around my living room, I was already mentally choosing what Michael Jackson song I would play next. It reminded me of when I used to listen to the Michael Jackson mix tape my aunt made for me when I was in highschool. I would dance around my bedroom singing "You know I'm bad, I'm bad, You know it!".

This weekend Melissa had the great idea of a Michael Jackson tribute at the noray-bang. After a few warm up beverages, we grabbed our mics and sang almost every Michael Jackson song on the list. There were even a couple of attempts at a moon walk (although apparently it is hard to moonwalk in flipflops).

Although our singing sometimes gave a new meaning to "you know I'm bad, I'm bad", we gave it our best try. It's the thought that counts, right? So go right now, put on your favourite Michael Jackson song, and have yourself a little dance. It will put a smile on your face! Promise!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Winter Downunder

I know the Canadians love these news reports from back in West OZ. Enjoy!

Perth shivers through chilly June night

24th June 2009, 15:45 WST

Perth shivered through its coldest day in four years yesterday when the temperature reached a chilly maximum of just 12.8C, rising just over 4C from the overnight minimum of 8C.

Bureau of Meteorology climate information officer John Relf said the last time Perth experienced such a chilly June day was in 1995, when on June 16 the temperature dropped to 12.1C.

However, the coldest June day on record in Perth occurred on June 26, 1956 when the mercury reached a maximum of 8.8C.

Monday, June 22, 2009


The thing about Korea is that just when you least expect it, something completely outrageous and surprising will happen right in front of you and you will be the only one who even gives it a second thought..

Like when you are standing in line at the local E-Mart grocery store and the lady in front of you takes out a plastic bottle, pulls down the front of her sons pants, holds the bottle in front of him and allows him to relieve himself while standing in the shopping cart....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A little Peace

When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it's time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: Either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.
— Edward Teller

At the end of February I decided to not renew my gym membership. It was expensive, and I was spending my time on the treadmill looking out the window, wishing I could be outside. I also was getting a bit tired of being stared at while sweating profusely.

I find it very amazing how sometimes things just work out the right way. My decision to quit the gym came at the perfect time. I had been experiencing a little slump. I was feeling low and could not pull my emotions up off the ground. I even grouched about quitting the gym and how I was sure this would not be good for my fitness level. But what was waiting for me was so much better.

I replaced my gym workouts with running outside and living room pilates. I had gone for a run in Korea a few times before, and had thought it was ok. But it was a little crowded on the sidewalks with all those people and scooters. So this time around, I decided to head off of the streets.

My first run took me around the back of the Daegu Stadium. The running path goes up on an incline until it is pretty much level with the top of the stadium. When I got to the top, my mood instantly brightened, and I realized that what I had been missing was SPACE! I could see for miles. There were beautiful mountains, smiling people, trees, and a great view of the inside of the stadium. I felt so happy I almost started crying. I still run that path a couple of times a week. Now that the weather is warmer, day care centres are bringing their kids to play on the grass around the stadium. So now, as I run, I have an audience of squealing toddlers. It's adorable.

My second running path is up a mountain. Yup, UP A MOUNTAIN. I have only been running this path for a couple of months, but I love it. This trail kicks my butt. I cannot run the whole way up. I have to stop frequently, and usually walk half of it. I climb over rocks and roots, while breathing so heavily that I think I will inhale all the bugs in the area. But I know the reward is coming.

When I get to the top, the view is amazing. There is a rock I sit on for a while and meditate while listening to nature. It is surely on my top ten best places in Korea, and it is simply a rock on a path most of the way up a mountain. But it is the spot where I feel most peaceful, where I can collect my thoughts and prepare for my day, where I can plan for my future or reflect on the past, and where I remind myself how lucky I am to be where I am. It is so easy to get caught up in the daily stress of work and life. It is so easy to wish time would pass so that I can get to a better day. But the time that I have spent on this rock has reminded me to breathe, and listen, and just be.

And then.....I have to come down off the mountain.

Today when I got to the bottom of my mountain, I saw a group of older ladies chatting. One of them yelled "annyong haseyo". When I replied with the same, they all giggled, just like the kids do. One lady came over and patted my thighs, indicating (in a happy, friendly way) that I am a bit plumpy in their culture. Getting used to that. She also scolded me for not wearing a sun visor...but she was scolding me in Korean so I just shrugged my shoulders and pretended to not understand. Her friend then joined in and told me (again in Korean) that I should be wearing pants to protect my legs from the twigs and branches when I go up a mountain. Again I shrugged my shoulders and replied with "I don't understand", in Korean.

THEN they handed me a pamphlet that had a drawing of a girl feeding a bear on the front. The ladies were Jehovah's Witnesses, and all I could get from the Korean pamphlet was that if you belong to their group, you will be able to feed wild bears by hand. Wow! The ladies patted me on the back, smiling, chattering away in Korean, and then they all laughed a very friendly laugh....although I didn't get the joke. I laughed at their laughing and decided to leave on this positive note. Again I got patted, and I think they would have hugged me and carried me away if I wasn't three times their size.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Vinyl GoGo a Big NoNo

Hey Gang!

Some of you may remember our photos of the alcoholic drinks served in bags? Well, we decided that Saturday night would be our Vinyl GoGo extravaganza. We went downtown and after a quick dinner, we excitedly wound our way through the confusing, crowded streets and found Vinyl GoGo. There was a small crowd of people standing at the take out window, perusing the drink menu and picking their drink of choice. We could not get over it. We were drinking on the street, along with some other strangers..and nobody cared....actually, the bartender asked if our drinks were strong enough and offered to make them stronger.

Four Vinyl GoGos later, we headed off to a noray bang (singing room) to sing/shout our favourite tunes. This is so much fun. We really think Canada should have this amazing form of entertainment. You sit in a big room with your friends and sing karaoke until you lose your voice. It's not only for foreigners falling over from too many GoGos, it's for everyone! Families go together. Children go with friends. Its a popular way to have fun and relieve stress. I know if we had them in Canada, I could convince some of my friends to go (right Shaun?).

After some dancing at a crowded club, we headed home at the early hour of 4AM. 5 hours later, Vinyl Go Go became filed under the NO NO part of my brain....never will we go go there again. But hey- it was fun before 9AM!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

4 Days in the Sun....NOT


Well....our 4 days of sweet freedom didn't turn out exactly the way we had hoped. Everything went smoothly at first. We (Matt, Mel, Cindy and Brett) made it to Busan, a city on the shore, on Friday after work. We got up early the next morning to catch our ferry to Geoje, the island we were to spend the next four days on. We successfully caught the 9am ferry....and then our adventure began. We arrived in Geoje and spent three hours walking around looking for a hotel. Turns out it is a busy place. After a taxi ride to a different city, the boys managed to secure some accommodation for us (something that was to be brought up repeatedly on the rest of the trip...yes boys, you did a great job).

After a half hour of rest and some seriously needed showers, we spent three glorious, wonderful, amazing hours on the beach enjoying the only glimps of the sun we would see for the next few days. The beach was deserted except for the four of us and a few other way-goo-gins (korean for "foreigners") who live there. We didn't get to swim, but the view was beautiful and the sun felt great. We spent the rest of our day relaxing with some drinks and wandering the streets. There is always something interesting to see in Korea.

The next day we booked a ferry to a nearby island known to be very impressive for it's flowers and plants. We didn't intend on going there, but it was the only ferry tour left, so we decided to just go anyway. We were a bit distressed when we realized that our ferry tickets didn't have seat numbers on them. You see, in Korea, you have to be ready to fight for your seat...and that is when you have an assigned seat. Without seat numbers, we knew we would never be able to sit together, and it would be lucky if one of us was not elbowed into the ocean by an aggressive ajuma (Korean for older lady). We were last on the boat (we were too scared to go before everyone else), and had to take the only seats left....but again we were the local celebrities. One man in particular took about two dozen photos of us (especially Matt and Mel).....I guess we must be supermodels.
The island was surprisingly beautiful. We could have easily spent all day there looking at the amazing scenery and beautiful flowers. We really didn't expect the island to be that wonderful . The weather gods completely ignored our sunshine dance and instead it was cloudy and cool, but we still felt lucky to be experiencing something so unique.

The weather really put an end to our plans of relaxing in the sun. Instead we watched a movie (Night at the Museum 2 is not good by the way) and spent some time wandering the streets. We ate at some interesting places, and shared some laughs over drinks and cards.

After two days, Mat and Mel had to return to work. Brett and I went back to Busan for our last couple of days. We spent some time in the little shops off the main street. We found the best ceramics place (which also had the cutest dog on Earth) and took a million photographs of children chasing the pigeons at one of the main temples. Oh- and we also learned that when you go to sleep in a strange hotel, you should lock your door unless you want a 7am wake up call from a Korean man who is in the wrong hotel room. ( Mom, I swear we usually triple check out door locks.) Today we returned to Siji, and realized that we live in the best place we have visited in Korea. How lucky is that!

Friday, June 5, 2009

4 Days of Sweet Sweet Freedom!


Thank you to the two people who commented and answered our survey! We know our blogs are getting a bit few and far between, but we still love to hear from all of you! We check for comments often, even though we may not have time to actually write anything new. Whenever there is a new comment we always yell excitedly, "Hey there is a new comment!!!". So please send us some love! Even though we are having a great time over here, we miss all of you very much.

Our private school is on holidays for the next four days. We are heading out to Korea's second biggest island. We are hoping for a combination of sunshine, warm temperatures, and cool beer (well, beer for Brett....none for me thanks...ew. I'm a whisky girl). This four day break is coming at the perfect time as we were starting to feel a bit burnt out. Here is a picture of Brett looking stressed:

We will return on Wednesday with stories to tell and about 1000 photos to share! We wish you were here to come with us!

Completely off topic- I saw a girl this week who was wearing a shirt that said "UNHEALTHY" in big letters across the front! Being in Korea has taught me to never trust those shirts with Asian words on them, because if they are anything like the Korean shirts with English on them, then they are saying nasty or funny things about the people who are wearing them. We have seen some completely shocking things written on shirts here. One said something in graphic language about doing things to women for money. Another very shocking shirt was a picture of a teddy bear that said to do something very rude to the bear's backside. Oh my!

Monday, June 1, 2009

What's Goin' On Over There?

Hey there!

Well, lately we've been getting the question "What's going on over there?".

I think actually being here in Korea gives us an odd perspective on the situation. We are not exposed to any sensationalized news reports from CNN or BBC, unless we seek them out. We don't understand the Korean news. So, we simply rely on our Korean friends, co-workers and older students to give us the real info on what is going on. Of course we read the news and scan the internet, however, actually talking to Koreans seems to be the most reassuring way to go.

Last week, in the midst of North Korea's preparations for missile tests, and rumors of North Korea's plans for skirmishes with the South about their sea border, most South Koreans we spoke to felt no tension at all. When we spoke of the missiles, they would simply roll their eyes and reply with something about the "crazy north".

"Oh teacha- they just so crazy all the time."

You see, for South Koreans, this is all same ol' same ol'. They have heard the threats before. Korea appears to be the opposite of the US with their terrorism alerts and their sensationalistic reports. Instead, things are calm, reports state the facts, and the actions of Kim Jong Il are known but not given any special spotlight or exaggeration. Perhaps we should be more worried than we are. But so far, we are just making sure to keep informed. The only action Brett and I are taking is to register with our embassy so that if people need to be evacuated at some point, then we are on the list. But really, here in South Korea, nobody is talking about "crazy man" Kim Jong Il at all.

The main focus of the news last week was the death of one of the former presidents, Roh Moo-Hyun. After being accused of inappropriately taking money during his time as president, Roh decided to end his life. He went for a hike up a mountain and jumped off a cliff. The reaction to this was tremendous. Koreans were shocked. Roh suddenly became a hero, and the current president a criminal for beginning the investigation that led to Roh committing suicide. People packed the streets of Seoul to see his funeral and voice their anger at the events that lead to his death. Riot police were actually needed because of the angry protests.
Pictures by

I found this all to be strange. At the beginning of my time here in Korea I became aware that the suicide rate for children is high. It was also pointed out to me that the parents and school of the child who commits suicide are ashamed of that child, and try to keep the suicide a secret. The parents and school are shamed by the community for having a child who is not tough enough to handle life in Korea. The child is actually blamed! This disturbed me a great deal. So now, with this president (who may actually be corrupt) being turned into a hero for taking his own life....I couldn't help but question why the tiny children who also jump from cliffs or windows are not heroes? Why aren't people mad at the system that causes their deaths?

Anyway, I am never going to understand. As a foreigner, I know I don't know all the facts and I don't understand the history and culture behind everything. So all I can do is watch and observe...and vent in a blog online that is read by one person...maybe two.