March 24, 2009


Okay so next was supposed to be about Koh Pha Ngan but this just happened and it had to be communicated to everyone who knows my dad.

One of my students, whose name is Kang Yoon, made a Steve Wakeen joke today. Class was just about to start and he says to me, "Are you okay?". And I was like, "Yeah I'm okay, are you okay?". And he goes, "No! I'm Kang Yoon." Hahahaha oh man I was shocked! And then he realized how brilliant that was of him and I swear I've never seen him laugh that hard. I mean he was unbelievably pleased with himself. It makes sense, too. He's already playing with a language he hardly knows.

Anyway, I had to share because it was just so weird to have someone halfway across the world, who can barely speak English, make the same joke as good ol' Dad.

March 23, 2009

Thailand: BKK, Koh Samui

This will be the first of many posts (I hope) about our time in Thailand.


Pasty-white but stoked at BKK. It was in the middle of a January night and we were comfy in jeans and a tee. Pretty much awesome.

John and I landed at BKK at like 1:30 AM. Our original plan was to spend the night at a nearby hostel, but last minute we decided to just hang in the airport for a few hours and fly right down to Koh Samui, an island in the south of the country in the Gulf of Thailand.

Our flight left at 6 AM and landed at about 7 AM. We got an unfortunately expensive taxi (we actually didn't have any other option) to take us around to look at some places on the beach. Though we looked at a few places, our new home became the first one we saw: Central Bay Resort on Chaweng Beach.

We loved it there! It was cheap (maybe $25 bucks a night), right on the island's most beloved beach, and we liked the little restaurant it had. Here are some pics:

Our little bungalow! Clean and comfy, even without hot water (that's a real luxury here.)

See the prow of the ship, beached on the right? That's part of the restaurant. Chaweng Beach was unbelievably beautiful, and unlike most tropical beaches, it had great waves. We bodysurfed like it was our job.

A couple of my personal favorites:
Here I am, ruining John's vacation by making him take pictures with me. Fun!

Do you see the giant cheeseburger on these chips? That's because you are looking at Double Cheese Pork Burger flavored potato chips. haha!

We stayed at Chaweng for maybe three days and pretty much just relaxed all day on the beach. At night we walked down the little strip and were attacked by guys trying to sell John tailor-made suits. John was too nice to say no to them, so we ended up being engaged in conversation every time and actually got to know some of them - haha.

One of those nights as we were walking back from dinner we were offered a free drink at this hotel bar. The hotel was this ultra-modern, super expensive thing all done in black and red and white. It was called The Library and the bar was called The Page. They seated us on these huge cushions propped up against a little table on their deck (which was built right on the beach) and then gave us an unbelievably delicious cocktail which I kind of sucked down (and then ordered another). We had a little glass table in front of us with a tiny little candle on it so we could see the ocean better....they even gave us flashlights to be able to read the menu without destroying the ambience. It was probably a top 5 Thailand moment for us.

Up next: On Koh Pha Ngan with Alex and Tom

March 12, 2009

Number Jeopardy

This activity was so much fun that after the first class did it I brought my camera in to the second class to snap some photos of it.

Here's how it goes:
I split the class into two teams and distribute big pieces of paper with the numbers 0-9 (plus some duplicates just in case) to each team.

Then, I read questions which have numbers for answers. The first team to hold up the correct numbers in the right order gets a point!

Here's what it looks like:

......good times.

January 13, 2009


Okay everyone, I finally finished a bunch of posts I began a while ago, so they won't appear on the top. They'll appear in the order I started them. The new posts can be found easily by going to the blog archive located on the right. Click on the arrow next to 2008, and then on the arrow next to October to find the post named "Seoul". Next, open up November to find "Cheongju" and "I worked through most of October: the post-Silleuksa YES programs". "Christmas in Korealand" is the fourth new post, but it is right below this post, where it should be.

Also, I added a gadget that allows you to subscribe to my blog posts. Since I post so rarely, this is a great way to check if I've posted without having to visit the blog - you can just click on your bookmarks toolbar to see all the posts that are up.

This section is for those who have never subscribed to an RSS Feed before:
To subscribe to the posts, look for 'subscribe to korea!' on the right. Click on "Posts" and then choose the last option (unless one of the others is more convenient for you). This will open up a new tab asking you how you want to subscribe to the posts. Just click on "subscribe now", again, unless another option suits you better. Next you will be provided with the same options you are presented when you create a bookmark, so put the bookmark wherever you want it! If you choose to put it in your toolbar, there will be a button on your toolbar similar to the "Most Visited" and "Latest Headlines" buttons that are standard on Mozilla Firefox. Just click the button to see a list of posts, from most recent at the top to least recent at the bottom.

Lastly, I thought you all should know that John and I finally watched the Godfather, parts I-III. Now we have moved on to watching all 24 Bond films in order. We just finished You Only Live Twice and are looking forward to On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Oh, plus this week I started tutoring two girls my age twice a week. They are the minister at my school's daughters and they're unbelievably sweet. We're all pretty excited about the deal. One of them will be working on her MFA shortly....she sculpts! I can't wait to get a picture of one of her sculptures on here. It's pretty cool.


January 3, 2009

Christmas in Korealand

I just want you all to know that Christmas was okay, even though I missed you all terribly. And I only got really really emotional once before Christmas when I was listening to Johnny Mathis like we always do, and once on Christmas after I opened the pearl necklace my dear mother gave me. But I had a great time with my friends that day and I made sure to have some Christmas cheer around, and open a present on Christmas Eve, and to be with my family at least in spirit/virtually over the internet. Here are some pictures of the Christmas cheer:

Here you can see from the left: The doggie Christmas card, the cute little snow man, a picture my friend Alex made me (it's got a pine tree on it), the cutest little North American mammals ornarments that nearly broke my heart when I opened them, and the light-up plastic pine branches reindeer I bought.

Our Charlie Brown Christmas tree, complete with presents and animal ornaments. The big green box was John's gift from me - a big, red, remote-control truck. Pretty cool. I also got him an indoor basketball hoop you hang on the wall.

Here's the whole gang, having a forest gathering on my desk. (Mom I took this photo for you. I know you miss the little buggers.) There's a Skunk and a Hedgehog and a Fox and a Bunny and a Squirrel and a Raccoon.

Lastly, here I am in my brand new sweatshirt! I got the Santa hat in a white elephant (Yankee swap) gift exchange with my buddies.

December 22, 2008

East vs. West

Okay, so John found this website that shows a series of images created by a decorated (so-to-speak) Chinese artist living in Germany. The images are little pictograms comparing Eastern and Western cultures, which I happened to find brilliantly insightful and just simply perfect. We e-mailed them to all our friends working here in Korea with us to give them a giggle.

You can check it out here.

Anyway, then I sat down and started reading some of the comments on the images. It was nuts. Some people said they were blatantly racist against Asians. Others said they thought the images made more fun of Westerners. But most people thought the same as John and I did (including one of the Koreans I work with). Those differences are so flippin true(mostly) and are the source of a lot of both our joys and frustrations living here. BUT THEEEEN there's this one guy who made an argument so outdated that he engaged every single person commenting on the site in an argument: that it is wrong to point out cultural differences and all stereotypes only lead to bad things. When people disagreed with him he flipped out and started swearing at them and used a whole lot of straw man arguments and non-sensical grammar. It was amazing. It was like watching a wet cat being backed into a corner by a bunch of hungry dobermans. But the point is the images - I think they make fun of both cultures equally and you guys might get some idea of what we're experiencing on a daily basis. So you should check them out.

November 30, 2008

I worked through most of October: the post-Silleuksa YES programs

The 4th Program (our second): Sports Day

From the left: Sue-bin Kim (now a friend of ours), Ms. Park, Me, Jihye (John's co-teacher)

This time at Yeoju English Stars we simply went to a local elementary school and played sports with the kids all day long. I thought it would be lame but I ended up having a ton of fun goofing around with the kids. Not to mention the excellent company - we were with a group of people who had become our friends and also some of our favorite Korean English teachers (including my co-teacher this time!) I'd say the highlight was listening to John and Billy commentate on the final event of the day, a "mission relay" race in which the groups raced each other around a giant "track" completing tasks at each station they encountered. At my station, I made little kids get dizzy and then carry a cup of water and dump it it in a bucket a few yards away. This was not my idea but I kind of wished it had been - the little kids looked like the drunken Korean men I see around all the time. Hahaha! But whenever I was waiting to instruct the kids, I was laughing, too: Billy is ridiculous! He got up on the mike and did not stop talking for the entire relay. Eventually John joined him and it got even funnier. They started asking each other questions like, "Billy, do you think the weather will play a factor in this race?" And Billy answered, "John, that is a great question. I wish I had thought of it. Maybe we can get someone down on the ground to answer that for us....Hey Mya! What's the weather like down there?" Haha....that was the most sense Billy made, I think. The rest was just actually ridiculousness. For example: "I don't know that you could call this a relay, John. It's more of a....a, um, I mean I guess it is a relay."

Earlier we tried to teach the kids how to play American football, with limited success. However, it did give me a chance to bond with one of my students (I think he was the only one from Daeshin in the program). His name is E Ju Ho, but we all know him as T.O., after the professional football player. The kid rocked at the game! He was so good! Now he signs all his papers T.O., which is kind of adorable.

We also had the opportunity to enact a devious plan to give our friend Rob a nickname we had concocted days earlier: Lob the Lobster! The best part about this nickname is that it works at least 2 ways. The first is making fun of the Koreans because they cannot say their r's unless they're supposed to be pronouncing an "l". The second is making fun of Rob because he dropped a game-winning touchdown pass despite having been a tight end on the Bills practice squad. Oh man it was too good: he now has a lobster claw hand gesture to go with his fancy new nickname.

The 1st Annual YES English Festival

Okay, the long and short of this is as follows:

Every single foreign teacher in Yeoju had to come up with an activity to do in a booth they would be given for this festival. The luckier of us 1) were given more than twenty minutes to figure out what we were going to do and 2) didn't have our brilliant ideas shut down by our co-teachers more than twice.

Then, they wanted a performance out of us. Since it was to be held in mid-October, we ordered a bunch of Halloween costumes and put on a fashion show and did some skits. I was a bunny rabbit, and John was Batman.

It ended up being a decent amount of fun, despite the fact that, due to co-teachers with a decidedly "can't do" attitude, my idea of finger-painting devolved into playing word games and John's idea to make slime eventually became a water balloon toss. And, I actually enjoyed hopping across the stage like a big goofball. When John's turn came around, he carried a South African he had just met across the stage. I kid you not, there was a resultant photo opp. with Batman after the show. Haha, ohhh John.

John and one of his pets having fun at his water balloon booth.

Alex and her co-teacher, Sojung.


Me as a bunny, before I made my bunny ears.

The legendary John as Batman. Oooh this lady made me mad. Who does she think she is? Hahaha.

Two of my pets. The first is the infamous T.O. (real name: E Ju Ho), a first grader, and the second is a third-grader, whose name I always forget.

It's the teacher's turn! I taught some other English teachers how to play Halli Galli, which was one of the games at my booth. The Korean sitting on the left is Gwak Juhwan who I've mentioned previously. He teaches at Daeshin High School and has been an invaluable friend to me at work. Next is Marcelle, the South African who teaches English at John's High School, and then on the right there is Wilber (yes, with an "-er") who teaches English at Daeshin High School. If you're wondering about the toilet paper, you should know that often Koreans will carry it around with them. That's because it's not uncommon to find a bathroom with no toilet paper at all, plus they use it instead of tissues.

...And one more for the road!:

The 5th Program: Gyeongbokgung

My group and me outside the throne room.

Gyeongbok Palace is the royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty and it's located right in the heart of Seoul; that is, if Seoul had a heart. There's no real downtown to Seoul. There are just different areas named after notable streets. (oh man, it occurs to me that this is pretty ironic considering Koreans don't use street names - they use landmarks) But the point is, it's this giant palace hanging out in the midst of a metropolis.

To be honest, this program was a bit of bust. We were all busy and tired when we very hurriedly planned it, and then it was raining and freezing cold on the actual day. But the palace was amazing, and I was working with a co-teacher who loves to take pictures so now I have some action shots of John and me teaching. Hooray!

Still in the middle of Seoul.

John, teaching away.

The gate.

The throne room.

The party house.

Outside the palace complex and next to the National Folk Museum of Korea. Cuties!
A screen displayed inside the museum. Beautiful, huh?

Jewelry for your hair.

Dragons and phoenixes....awesome.

Alex on the bus. Also awesome.

And now YES is over until next fall! It's too bad, really - we had fun and made extra money - but it's nice to have our weekends back.