Saturday, June 19, 2010

World Cup Fever!

First, as I am sure you can tell, I spiffed up the blog just a bit.  It all started when I realized how out of date my little bio on the right side was.  Changing that led to a picture change for my bio.  Changing that lead to a new header picture (this time with a photo I took myself).  And then why not add some color?  The text box is also bigger now so that when I embed movies (as I will be doing today) you can see the whole video and it is not cut off on the right side.  I also figured out how to make the photos bigger.  EXCITING!

Now down to business.  "What business?" you might ask.  WORLD CUP BUSINESS!

Korea is, as I mentioned before, super freaking pumped to be playing in the World Cup right now.  I will once again assert, as I did in an argument with a drunk guy the other night, that Korea will never love soccer like, say, South America loves soccer.  But they are a passionate for any KOREAN who is doing well in an international sport.  I swear that it could be synchronized swimming or table tennis, if a Korean started to rock at it, madness would ensue.  And I am not saying that is a bad thing; in fact, it has been tons of fun to watch!

For weeks now my kids have been coming in to school with various World Cup related shirts.  The Korean team/fan group is called the Red Devils, or the Reds for short.  In an ad campaign that was clearly not run by a native English speaker, thousands upon thousands of shirts, bandanas, ect have been emblazoned with the logo "Shouting Korea: Be the Reds."  Uhh, ok.  I'm in.  I love me some soccer and I am absolutely adoring being in a country that gives a crap about what is happening on the field.

Here is an EatYourKimchi video showing the excitement about the World Cup that is washing over Seoul:

Since the weather was so obnoxious last weekend when we tried to go to COEX, I decided (like the monumental idiot that I am) that we should try going to City Hall.  This is a photo of the crowds that gathered in City Hall during the 2002 World Cup, which was co-hosted by South Korea and those bastards across the  "East Sea,"  Japan:
Crazy, right?

Dana had gone the night we attempted COEX and had left early because it was rainy and crowded, but I reasoned that we could handle it.  WRONG.  The game against Argentina was set to start at 8:30pm, so I got  to City Hall station around 7:30pm.  I commenced to stand in line for the bathroom for ALMOST A HALF AN HOUR.  It was absurd.  This was actually the SHORTER line:

Too many people!

Ayzia arrived and joined me in line, as did Dana.  By the time we got into the bathrooms they were (not surprisingly) pretty gross, but I did what I had to do and got out of there.  Some of the Korean girls were taking SO FREAKING LONG...I suspect that they were applying make-up in though there aren't reflective surfaces all over the place that they could use without tying up the bathroom.  We waited a few more minutes for people who were supposed to be meeting us, but at 8:00pm we decided to head out.  By that time, multiple exits were already closed and being blocked by police, because there were too many people outside near the exit.

We made our way to the other side of the station and went up the stairs and directly into UTTER MADNESS.  There were several large screens set up for the game, and thousands upon thousands of people were sitting in neat little rows on the ground with their red devil horns glowing.  There were literally more people than I have ever seen in one place.

A sea of devils.

So crowded!

We couldn't really see from that area, so we decided to follow a large group that was walking towards the screens on the right side of City Hall Plaza.  At the beginning it was okay.  Yes, it was hot and extremely humid, but people were moving and there was minimal pushing.  

Snapping a photo before stuff went crazy.

Then, fairly suddenly, it became a horrible, writhing, pushing mass that you could not escape.  Everyone behind us was pushing and pushing and you couldn't control where you were going or breathe at all.  I literally had to tip my head back and look at the sky to get a breath of fresh air.  We were covered with the sweat of strangers, which was beyond disgusting.  It was actually really terrifying.  I thought my purse was going to break as it was pulled and twisted by the crowds surging around me.  My camera was on and in my hand and I was concerned that the zoom mechanism would get broken as it got squeezed between me and someone else, but I couldn't even get to my pockets to put it away.  It was terrible.  One girl [who shall remain nameless] was squeezed so hard by the crowd that her front clasp bra came undone.  That is a lot of squeezing and pushing!

Ayzia started to freak out and wormed her way out of the crowd, towards the people sitting.  That was the last of her I saw that night.  At one point, people in the front started yelling and pushing everyone back, so we got swept back in the direction that we came from.  It was very easy to lose your footing and I was concerned someone was going to get trampled.  The crowd kind of separated and Dana got pushed to the left as I was pushed to the right.  All of a sudden, there was an opening right in front of me, that happened to be the steps down into the subway.  Of course, I tripped AGAIN.  I can literally say I have given blood and sweat in my support of the Korean team.  I stood on the steps, totally blocked from seeing the screen where the game was starting, and attempted to call Dana and Ayzia to figure out where they were.  I finally got a hold of Ayzia and found out that her purse had been open during the craziness and her camera was either stolen, or more likely, lost.  I feel terrible for her, because I know how pissed I would be about that.  She was understandably upset and decided to go home.  Dana and I finally met in the subway station and decided we needed to get the hell out of there and go to a bar where we could get something to eat and cool off while watching the end of the game.  We ended up going a few stops away to Sinchon where we met up with some of her friends at a chicken hof.  On the way we stopped to get some Baskin Robbins (best choice of the night) and met up with her Korean friend Sunny who had tried unsuccessfully to meet us at City Hall.  We arrived at the bar at half time, just after the only goal by Korea was scored (we actually saw that one playing on a TV at a Family Mart as we walked to the bar).  As those of you who care already know, Korea lost to Argentina 4:1...but to be fair, Korea is ranked #47 while Argentina is ranked #7.  Argentina really didn't play against Korea as much as around them.  The Argentinian team's ball handling and running were just leaps and bounds ahead of Korea, and without the superb performance of the Korean goalie, it could have been a lot worse than 4:1!

Smiling, even in the face of defeat!

After the game I jumped on one of the last trains and headed home to Gildong.  I didn't get to bed until almost one, so I was exhausted the next day.  At least Fridays aren't too crazy, just four classes of third graders.  I did have to do more work than a usual Friday because I was leading the class since Yeon Ah is on her honeymoon, but they were good so it wasn't bad at all.  Friday evening I came home, ate some dinner and vegged out watching TV for a while before meeting the Gangdong-gu Cru for the US vs. Slovenia game.  I had scouted a local bar called the 4*C Garten, and it turned out to be a GREAT place to watch the game.  I got there about 20 minutes before everyone else (unintentional, believe me...I hate sitting in a bar alone like a weirdo) and everyone arrived between 10:50pm and 11:30pm.  It was a decent game, except for the last goal that should have counted but didn't thanks to a call that was questionable at best (hate that ref!).  It would have been MAGICAL if we had come back from being down two at the half and won the game, but I will settle for a draw.  It was frustrating to watch the US goalie for the first half (stay in the freaking BOX you idiot) as he let two balls into the net with little resistance, but he stepped it up the second half, which was good.  Anyway, it was a super fun time yelling at the screen, drinking a "three story" beer, and generally hanging out with friends.
LOOK at that beer!  It is Crazytown, USA.

Frank and Melissa looking adorably patriotic.  
(Thanks to my mom for sending the box of Fourth of July decorations early!)

"Take a picture of how mad I will be if the US loses."
I think we should sic Shannon, the patriotism monster, on that goalie.
"Now take a picture of how excited I will be if they win!"

Team USA Cheering Squad: Gangdong Division
Top: Jamie, Frank, Julia, Charles
Bottom: Me, Shannon, Melissa, Chrissy, Justin

I got home around 1:00am and hit the sheets.  Today I've basically lounged around, done multiple loads of laundry, and caught up on recent TV.  Tomorrow afternoon I am going to a coffee meet up with some people in Seoul who know ASL, so that should be fun!  I really miss signing and when I come back to the US for good I am going to look into taking some classes again.

Below are some of the amazing, awesome, and hilarious videos that have been put together by various K-Pop groups to show their support for the Korean national team.  I so wish the US got even a fraction this excited. My favorite is Victory Korea...but they are all catchy!

Big Bang and Kim Yuna (yes, the figure skater): The Shouts of the Reds part 2 (with lyrics)
I hear this song ALL THE TIME!  It is creeping into my dreams...

Big Bang and Kim Yuna: The Shouts of the Reds part 2 (dance)
You'll all be quizzed on this dance when I get home.  (Ahem...Carl...ahem)

Super Junior: Victory Korea 
I would like to point out that with 13 members, Super Junior could more than field their own soccer team...

2AM: No. 1 (World Cup Song)
That is one adorable slow jam (that is, inexplicably, mostly in "English").  I can say that cause I "wanna do."

T-ara: We Are The One
Ole is almost exclusively spelled "Olleh" here, and it said whenever you win something or do something well, haha.

Kara: We're With You 
Though it lacks the obvious soccer imagery, it was written to show their support for the team, apparently.

BEG, Rain, 4Minute, Brown Eyed Girls, etc: World Cup Song 2010
I couldn't find this with English subtitles, but it is FUN.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Writing Prompts, Weddings and World Cup Matches!

Whew, it has been quite a while since I last updated. Blame it on the fact that I went into hermit mode after Carl and Monica left and really didn't do ANYTHING for a week.

Last week I had my sixth graders complete a writing prompt about what they wanted to be when they grew up. I had my open class for renewal last Tuesday, which was a little stressful (strangers coming in to watch you teach and judge you) but it went swimmingly. In fact, the evaluators asked to have a copy of my materials so they could take them back to their schools, so that was pretty sweet. During the class I used a hilarious slideshow my dad made with pictures of Rusty's head attached to bodies representing various professions. The kids loved it. Then I had them write what they wanted to be when they got older and why. Below are some of the answers. Some I included because they are hilarious, others heartfelt.

When I get older I want to be weapon inventor because in my home I made many weapons. And I like make weapons. And I like weapons. (Terrifying. Remind me not to piss this kid off.)

Another kid wants to be a pro gamer and on his picture there is a word bubble from the gamer's mouth that says "nuclear runch dedected! wiggggg~ddddd~! ak! go go go! ak! fier!" (I am left wondering what a "nuclear runch" could be. Oh well, FIER!)

When I get older I want to be a fantasy story writer because I want to write my brain's fantasy world. (Haha, "my brain's fantasy world." Love it.)

When I get older I want to be a singer because I want to sing and I love song and I want give happy to people than I feel very happy I want singer very much!! I think this job is very hard but I love it than it's ok. I'm seriously!! I really want thank you ~ <3 When I get older I want to be a singer! (She is enthusiastic, I'll give her that!)

When I get older I want to be a scientist because I want to make time machine and I make flying machine and smart robot and I make happy life many people and make amazing animals. (The picture for amazing animals: Pikachu.)

When I get older I want to be I have no idea because I have no idea to have became get older. (Then there is a note on the side that says "Monday: Nicholas. Wednesday: Hermann." What? I hope this isn't a hit list and he's planning to team up with the weapons kid.)

When I get older I want to be scientist because I like scien and fossil fuel is harms-ful to earth, so I want to make more clean and usefull fuel. (Awesome.)

When I get older I want to be a doctor and a writer, because I want to help poor people and ill people for free, write about adventures, my thoughts by poems and all the stories I wanted to tell others. I also want to show people how to think in a different viewpoint. (This kid is great. So studious and nice to everyone.)

When I get older I want to be a computer programmer who specifically develops software-protecting programs because of a few reasons. First, I would like to prevent other's PCs from viruses and other bugs. I got a trojan horse virus in my PC, and it was pretty nasty. (I love the ending.)

When I get older I want to be a teacher because teacher is very safe job. And maybe I will be a teacher, I play in the playground with my students. (Quite a few kids said being a teacher was a "safe" job. I'm not sure if that means safe from violence, or safe from being fired, but either way that is kind of sad that sixth graders are already thinking about that.)

When I get older I want to be solider because I like shoot gun. And the solider king is give the big care, gun, long sword, and vere expensive house. The solider king is in the history. (Nearly certain this is from the same kid who chose "Panda King" as his English name...)

When I get older I want to be a diplomat because when I become a diplomat, I would tell other countries about Korea, so Korea would be very famous. Also, I want to solve Korea's economic problems. (Future leader for sure. She's fantastic.)

When I get older I want to be a food stylist because I like eating food and I like cooking food. (Picture: SpongeBob eating pizza and saying "Delicious!")

When I get older I want to be a pilot because I like pilots. I can go another country lot and I think pilot will have many holiday because when I ride airplane and arrived the airport I can rest many times. I have some interests about airplane. I like to ride it and I don't have acrophobia so I want to be a pilot. (10 points if you can spot the world that this student looked up on their cell phone dictionary.)

When I get older I want to be a baseball player because I want to be famous and I want to get honor to my coach. I want to receive money. Then everyone will know me. And also, I want to throw the ball quickly. (I think throwing the ball quickly probably comes first.)

When I get older I want to be a vet because I love animals. When I look a sick animal, it look like need to help. And I want take care of that animal. Some people think I like preety, beautiful, young and cute animal. But I love ugly and old animal. (I love ugly and old animals, too, haha.)

When I get older I want to be a police officer because I want to kill the crime and people's safety for gloval safety. (We certainly need someone out there killing the crime and increasing gloval safety.)

When I get older I want to be a diplomatist because I don't want war. And I love Asia. I want happy Earth. Peace is Nice! I want peace! The end. (Excellent conclusion.)

When I get older I want to be a dejainer because I like dejain and it is funny. (Designer, in case you were wondering.)

When I get older I want to be a teacher because I want to make children smart. (If only it were that easy.)

When I get older I want to be oriental doctor because it's a good job and we can earn much money. We can help to sick people and we can get good feel when we help to sick people. It's easier than other doctors. (Hahaha, I laughed out loud when I read the part about it being easier than other doctors.)

When I get older I want to be a make-up artist because it's very fantastic job! I love that. I like make a many people's face. I think it's a funny! (We are all still working on the difference between something being fun and funny.)

When I get older I want to be an elementary school teacher and a writer because I want to be an elementary school teacher and earn money and teach children. But I think only doing teacher is so bored, so I want to be a writer, too- because writing some story is very fun. (It's true, sometimes my job is so bored.)

When I get older I want to be a scientist because I like to make and test how it work for example you have vinigeer you put pH paper to the vinigeer than the pH paper's color is change so you can know it is Acid or Basic. Also my favorite subject is science and math. (Can we tell what they just did in science class? Good old vinigeer.)

When I get older I want to be a teacher because teacher have many free times. And, teacher is safe job. And I like teach children. And go to house early. (Apparently I'm living the dream life! Who knew.)

When I get older I want to be a dentist because my parents want that. And I heard it is very good job. And I want to help my families's tooth. The tooth are very important. It should make much cleaner. So I want to be a dentist. But it is so hard. But I must to be a dentist! (Love the internal struggle. I must be a dentist. But it's so hard! But I must be a dentist!)

When I get older I want to be a cartoonis, sicantist because New Tom and Jerry and keeteerechkroske draw the make and animal sand plants study. (Usually I am pretty good at deciphering what the hell kids mean....but I don't have the SLIGHTEST clue what "keeteerechkroske" is.)

This weekend I finally got out of the house for a marathon of fun. My co-teacher Yeon Ah got married on Saturday. I had given her the wedding gifts I got for her, which had been kindly sent over by my mom, on Friday. We used the old "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" mantra as a guide line and she got a bunch of small gifts: something old was an old looking quill pen that you use to sign the guest book; something new was a picture frame that says "Our Wedding" (when Yeon Ah opened this she asked if she could put her own pictures in...for real); something borrowed is her wedding dress (since they rent them here); and something blue was a garter with a blue ribbon on it (try and explain garters to a room full of Korean women...something gets lost in the translation, especially when you get to the part about the groom removing it at the reception and tossing it at the single men, haha). There was also a little heart shaped whisk in there because Yeon Ah loves baking and cooking. She was overwhelmed and repeatedly thanked me. The other girls in the office joked that they wanted to get married now so they got gifts from me. Once again, my mom is awesome.

Yeon Ah told me to bring friends to the wedding (having foreigners at your wedding gives you bragging strange) so I told Brigid and Ayzia to meet me at 3:30pm at the metro station so we would have plenty of time to get to the wedding hall for the 4:00pm wedding. Through an obnoxious series of events including pouring rain, late buses, terrible traffic, and slow trains, they didn't end up arriving until about 3:55pm. We headed out in the POURING rain, sloshing through puddles in my peep-toes, to try and find the wedding hall. The map on the back of the invitation was...let's just say "not so detailed" so we were really confused. We asked one girl and she set us off in the right direction (showing off her excellent national elementary school curriculum English phrases). Then we stopped to ask another guy and it turned out he was a friend of the groom who was also lost. Thankfully he was able to call someone and figure out how to get there.

Almost all weddings in Korea are held in wedding halls instead of churches. Yeon Ah is Catholic, so it was held at a special Catholic wedding hall. We ended up arriving about 10 minutes late and were (in typical waegook fashion) confused about what the hell was going on. Then, coming down the stairs, I was spotted by the rest of my co-teachers who asked I had seen Yeon Ah yet. We said no and they pointed us upstairs and continued downstairs to eat. One MAJOR difference between Korean and American weddings is the progression of events. Basically you come in and walk up to a desk outside the wedding area. There you sign the guestbook, hand over your present (which is almost completely money), and get a meal ticket. Now the meal ticket is yours to use whenever you want. You can go immediately downstairs and eat during the ceremony if you want. It is conveniently projected on a big screen in the hall so you don't have to miss a second. We opted to sit through the whole ceremony, even though we didn't get any of it. The lighting was pretty terrible for photos without flash, so my pictures all came out blurry and annoying.

Wedding hall.

After the ceremony I popped over and said a quick hello to Yeon Ah and her new husband before we headed down and partook in the amazing buffet dinner. So much delicious food! Yeon Ah and her husband changed and came down all dressed in traditional Korean hanboks (she wore a huge, beautiful white wedding gown for the ceremony). They looked adorable as they made their rounds and thanked everyone for coming. After we had eaten to our fill, we headed out to meet friends for the Korea vs. Greece World Cup Game!

As we left the wedding hall it was absolutely pouring. After almost sliding out of my peep-toe heels, I opted to jump under an awning and change into my Old Navy flip flops. Somehow it escaped my mind that they have absolutely no traction and when you combine them with slippery, soaking wet, marble stairs leading down into the metro station, you end up with Meaghan on her ass. It hurt a LOT, but I was able to pull it together to board the train and head over to COEX where they were having a big street cheering event. Due to the rain we thought it might be smart to walk around inside COEX (a HUUUUUGE mall) and see if there was a restaurant where we could camp out and stay dry. While we did find (and apply) some Korean soccer temporary tattoos and light up devil horns, none of the TVs were up to snuff (too small!) so we decided to try and go outside once MD Julia got there. She arrived and we checked out the area where the cheering was going on. was soaking wet, there was no where to stand, it was continuing to rain, etc. We figured we'd cut our losses and go meet up with the rest of the Gangdong-gu crew (cru?) at a bar near Shannon and Jamie's apartment. On our way back down into the metro I once again hydroplaned and fell. This time I really hurt myself, falling very hard on my left side. I also managed to take a big chunk out of my right arm, along with a long scratch, and two chunks out of my left hand where the umbrella I was holding cut up my finger and made me bleed all over. It was a MESS. It still hurts to roll over and stand up in the morning and sitting on hard surfaces does not make my ass bruise happy.

We made our way to the bar where we met up with Shannon, Jamie, Erich, Frank, Melissa, Chrissy, six people I didn't know, Laura, and a bunch of local fans. It was awesome to watch the game in a country that actually cares about the sport! People were so excited- there were three college kids who would randomly stand up on their chairs and lead everyone in cheers (DAE HAN MIN GOOK! being the most popular, which simply means the Republic of Korea). Everyone was out in full force with their red gear. Korea played very well and ended up beating Greece 2-0! It was awesome. Their goalie was especially on point and did a fantastic job keeping the ball outside the net.

Repping the Red Devils!


Cheering right after the game ended with Korea beating Greece 2-0!

After the Korea vs. Greece game, Laura and I headed up to Itaewon to find a place to stay up all night and watch the USA vs. England game that was airing at 3:30am Korean time. We bounced around to a couple of bars before stopping to get delicious, delicious kebabs for "dinner." While there I happened to run into three of the girls from the UK who had been on my Jeju Island trip back in April. Small world, that Itaewon. Eventually we found ourselves in Scrooge's Sports Bar where we talked a couple of strangers into sharing a table. Turns out that one of the strangers was a girl who was on my Jeollanamdo trip! What the heck are the chances? She was BEYOND drunk and provided a fair amount of hilarity before her group moved on to another bar. Favorite moment: when she overheard a guy with an accent and asked where he was from. He reported that he was Welsh and she asked who he was rooting for in the game later. He said England and she said/slurred "WAIT, so you're Welsh, but you're cheering for the BRITISH?" to which he had to respond with a mini-geography lesson explaining that he was, in fact, also British. It was pretty awesome. Laura and I settled in with a couple of beers and killed time until the game started.

Wooo!  Let's go USA!  
(As John Stewart said "It's just like the Revolutionary War all over again...only this time most of America doesn't give a shit how it turns out."  His coverage of the World Cup was hilaaaarious.)

The bar was pretty packed, with markedly more England fans than American. The bar across the street seemed to be the opposite; we would often hear their USA! USA! USA! chants wafting in through the open windows we were sitting in front of.

Bar across the street.

The game was good. I mean, don't get me wrong, England should have won, but it was fun to watch. Especially when the goalie let the ball slip through his fingers giving us the point that tied up the game. That was SWEET. Laura fell asleep during the game, though I'm not sure it got later and the alcohol kept flowing and it became clearer that England was not going to punish us as expected, the expletives started flying! 

Sleepy time for Laura.

We left the bar around 5:30am, just as the rainy sky was lightening, and caught the first train home. I slept for a few hours, then woke up and did nothing around the apartment, and then went back to sleep for the night around 9:00pm. I lead an exceedingly exciting life!

Tomorrow night I have a Dasi Hamkke meeting, and Thursday night we are going to make attempt number two and street cheering for the Red Devils. Theoretically the US games should get easier (based on ranking), but the Korean games should get harder. Let's see how they match up against Argentina on Thursday! Friday night the US plays Slovenia and we are going to meet at a bar near our house to watch how it all plays out. I am excited! (And I'm not the only one, according to this hilarious article.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dramatic Island Adventure, Bumming Around Seoul, and Sad Goodbyes!

Since it has been more than a week (and a PACKED one at that) since I last updated, I've split this week into two entries.  Read about our adventure to Jeollanamdo by scrolling down or clicking here, then pick up back with this entry.

Monday morning I awoke early for work and paused a moment to hate Monica and Carl for getting to sleep in.  They spent the day exploring Namdaemun Market and we met for dinner at Outback in Jamsil.  Holy cheese fries and steak it was delicious.  Tuesday I went to work again and they were off (in the rain and gross weather) to Changdeokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine (which is closed on Tuesdays, DAMN YOU VISITKOREA.CO.KR!)  Tuesday night we met up in Itaewon because I had to (that sounds like it was forced, but it was a pleasure) have dinner with the Dasi Hamkke Girls.  All of us went to Pattaya, a fantastic Thai restaurant just off the main road in Itaewon, where Carl and Monica ate separately so the girls could talk business. Erica (one of our translators) went home to America to study for/take the LSATs, so it was a bittersweet meeting where we had to say goodbye to one of us.  After dinner we all went down to Bungalow, a fun bar where Carl and Monica joined us and we had a lively and very interesting discussion/debate about North Korea and the sinking of the Cheonan.  It was a very fun night, and I will never complain about the Korean government buying me dinner and drinks.

Wednesday dawned sunny and beautiful and I happened to have the day off because it was my school's "birthday" (aka, anniversary of being opened).  We decided to take advantage of the day and head out to one of my favorite Seoul escapes: Nami Island.  I've now done Namiseom in all three seasons that I've lived here: autumn (beautiful and cool), winter (icy and deadly), and spring (beautiful and warm).  As per usual we took the bus that leaves from Insadong at 9:30am, so we got there around 11:00am.  As the bus pulled into the parking lot we passed a huge group (I am talking 300+) of high schoolers walking through the parking lot in their uniforms.  In an attempt to not be caught up with all that craziness, we rushed to board the boat and stayed near the front, inside the closed cabin area (even though I am always an out-on-the-deck kind of girl).  About 40 of the high schoolers ended up on our boat, in addition to various families, groups of high schoolers not in uniform who appeared to have the day off, etc.  Now let me clearly state that the entire ride from the "mainland" over to Nami Island is, according to their literature and personal experience, five minutes long.  Ok.  So we were about 3 minutes into the ride when a woman from the back comes up and frantically says something to the Nami Island staff member who is standing right next to us.  It is, of course, in Korean, so we don't know what she said.  We looked toward the back of the boat where she was pointing, but we couldn't really see anything other than kids kind of surging towards the deck, in a way that I thought was indicative of a fight breaking out.  We looked in the water as the boat turned, but we didn't see anything.  We spent the last two minutes of our ride discussing what might have happened and when we got to the pier everyone got off the boat and stood around right on the shore, looking out at the water.  A group of about 6 small speedboats was dispatched and was clearly looking for something in the water.  We stood around debating what was going on for a while and watched a group of distraught non-uniformed high schoolers before Carl finally got out the phrase book and creepered (yup, made it a word) up to this group of high school boys.  In broken Korean, Carl said "" to which a Korean kid responded in perfect English "Yeah, a drowning."  Hahahaha, I love Korea.  We later learned from news stories that a sixteen year old girl had been heading over to the island to have a picnic lunch with her friends.  While on the ferry she either climbed up on or sat on the railing on the back of the boat to take a picture of the other girls she was with.  Something happened and she fell off the railing and into the water where she drowned.  Her body was not found for more than 4 hours.  Now there are a lot of crazy/suspicious/confusing things about this story.  For one, this is not some raging river, it is fairly calm.  Second, no one jumped in and no one threw a life preserver.  Are you kidding? I mean, I know she was mostly surrounded by kids who were probably caught up in the moment, but really, no one threw a LIFE RING?  I have no question in my mind that I would have jumped in after her had we been at the back of the boat.  We also looked in the water minutes if not seconds after she fell in and saw nothing.  She didn't struggle or float at all?  I mean, you'd think we would have at least seen her thrashing around in the water.  That is just survival instinct kicking in, right?  Anyway, it was quite sad.  And I guess the moral of the story is that you're safe travelling WITH me, but not AROUND me.  First a girl falls of a cliff and breaks her back, now a girl falls of a boat and drowns?  I'm bad luck to travelling strangers.

After standing around for a while we decided to head down into the interior of the island.  While walking, we would randomly hear a shriek and suddenly find ourselves face to face with a middle schooler who wanted to take a picture with us.  It was so random.  Throughout the day we were asked to take photos 8 times, on over 12 cameras.  One pair even pulled over their tandem bicycle, jumped off, took a picture with us, and then biked away.  Gotta love being celebrities simply for being WHITE in Korea.  We headed for the tri-way rental area, and picked up three tri-ways for an hour.  I love those things.  We zipped around the island (including through massive mud puddles) for an hour, having a good time.  

Monica looking cute and matching the lanterns.

We are (obviously) too cool for words.

Monica zipping off into the great unknown.

 Memorial on the island.


Scary ostriches that were after Carl.

Pond with rocks and pagoda.  I wonder if this is supposed to look like that place I visited last month.

Jindo dog that lives on the island.  It has grown so much since I was there in January!

Workers planting rice.

Bright green rice waiting to be separated and planted.

A couple enjoying the beautiful day.

Lovely views surrounding the island.

The ferry FINALLY came back for us.

Looking back toward the "mainland".  You can see a few of the rescue boats still out.

Rescue boat with diver.

After our ride was over we got some fantastic grilled chicken at a restaurant I had never been to on the island.  It was delicious.  We had a little longer to kill before we had to ferry back to get on the bus so we walked around for a bit, walking out to the very tip of the island before returning to the ferry.  When we got down to the pier we realized that the ferry schedule was running much slower because they were only running one instead of two (the other was taken out of commission after the girl fell).  We waited a long time and when the next ferry loaded we were   stopped just before boarding because there were too many people.  We waited again and just as we were boarding the next ferry my phone rang and I picked up only to find some guy talking to me in Korean.  Just as I was hanging up, Monica said "maybe it is the guy from the bus" since we were running late.  Oops.  Turned out that it was the guy, and he was just calling to make sure we were still coming.  Oh well.  We got back on the bus and had a super quick ride back to Seoul.  

Since it was such a beautiful day we decided that we might as well take advantage of it so we went up to the Seoul Namsan tower.  We killed a little time walking around looking at the love locks, and then we zipped up to the top observation area.  It was beautiful.  Definitely the clearest day I've been up there.  It is so overwhelming to me, seeing the city all spread out like that.  I live in an utterly gigantic metropolis. We stuck around for over an hour to watch the sunset (so worth it) and then took the cable car down (soooo Boys Over Flowers).  We walked for a bit attempting to find a subway station and ended up in Myeongdong where Monica got couple wear for her and Chris (hilarious) and we got some street food for dinner.  Finally we headed home around 10:00pm (no wonder I'm still sleep schedule got all out of whack for those two) where we grabbed some gimbab for dinner (Carl accidentally got cheejuh/cheese gimbab instead of chamchi/tuna, which was alright, but not nearly as delicious as chamchi) and went to bed.

City spread out around Mt. Namsan.

Love lock.

This city is HUGE!

Skyscrapers as far as you can see.

Love the shadow cast by the tower.

This view is a quick way to make yourself feel small.

Beautiful and overwhelming.

Sunset beginning.

Really beautiful, even though there was a lot more Asian dust in the direction of the sunset.

Sliding out from beneath the clouds.

Settling down into the mountains.

I imagine this is what a volcano looks like.

Goodnight Seoul!  Moon rise on the other side of the tower.

So pretty (taken from the parking lot at the base of the cable car).

Thursday Monica and Carl went hiking at Yongmasan and Achasan (two mountains in Seoul) while I worked, and Friday they were scheduled to go to the War Memorial and to take a taekwondo class at a palace downtown. They went to the War Memorial, but then when they arrived at the palace there was no one there to teach them taekwondo.  They called during the one half hour of the day I wasn't at my desk (I had to run over to the bank) so I had to rush back and call the International Taekwondo Federation and ask what the deal was.  The woman on the phone told me they had "forgotten to check the website" so they didn't know anyone had signed up.  Are you kidding?  Ugh.  Way to run a business.  Moral of the story, they didn't get to do taekwondo, which they had been really excited about, so that sucked.  Friday night we chilled in my apartment and did face masks (well, everyone but Carl), and Saturday I blissfully got to sleep in until 11:00am.  It was awesome.  We bummed around the apartment for a while before checking out a new restaurant that just opened by my apartment called Bunch.  The woman who owns it speaks great English and the interior is all decorated with Boston memorabilia from when she lived there.  It was tasty and cute.  

Classy with face masks.

After lunch we were off to the baseball game between the Doosan Bears (Seoul) and Samsung...Tigers? (Daegu).  It was a decent game, even though we lost, and Carl, Monica, Dana I, Brigid and I drank copious amounts of beer and ate a delicious pizza.  Cindy, my former co-teacher, was supposed to come, but due to a miscommunication we never met up. So that was sad.  After the game we headed down to Sincheon where Carl and Monica got to experience a luxury noraebang.  So fun.  I left with little voice. 

Sick of my sunset pictures yet?  This time at Jamsil Stadium.

Monica and I with our Doosan Bears thunder sticks.

Carl singing Ramstein.  Special.

Hahaha, so into it.

Sunday morning we woke up and headed out to Hongdae for brunch at Ding Dong (it ended up just being the three of us).  This was a fun little travel-themed restaurant that would have been perfect had we not been required to sit on the floor.  After breakfast we went one stop away to the Dog Cafe and had some fun there with the various pups.  When Carl started to get really allergyish we decided it was time to head out and we made our way back to Gildong.

Unassuming little Ding Dong.

Fun little tables with lots of pillows.

The rest of the restaurant/cafe.

Group pic before breakfast arrives.

Amazing french toast that both Monica and I ordered (and enjoyed).

Carl's "Ding Dong Breakfast"...which sounds like the punchline to a really bad knock knock joke.

Monica and a new pug friend.

Irish setters are so beautiful.  I want their hair to be my hair.  Is that weird?

He was like a mini Rover!  But so much fluffier.

When we were in Jeollanamdo I had asked Dana if she would take Monica to a jjimjilbang (Korean sauna) and she said she'd do it after brunch on Sunday.  However since they had gone out the night before and had so much fun none of them even MADE it to brunch, that obviously didn't happen.  I felt bad...but not bad enough to subject myself to the horrors of a that Korean dream went unfulfilled for Monica.  We went back to my apartment and watched Cabin Fever 2 (sooooo gory and no where near as good as the first one, but sequels rarely are) before going out to dinner with my landlord, Liz.  She took us to a restaurant down the street that I had never been to and it was amazing.  We had duck and pork and they were both fantastic.  It was a nice treat.

Carl, Me, Liz and Monica after an awesome meal.

After dinner we went back to my apartment and watched three episodes of the new TV show PastLife while Monica and Carl packed a bit.  I had to do some laundry so my clothes were ready for my open class today, so I did that while they packed and we all went to bed around midnight.  They woke up as I was getting ready Monday morning and we said our final goodbyes.  Then I was off to work and they crashed for another hour or so before fixing my drain (I hope!) and heading off to the airport.  They are both home, safe and sound, by now.  I miss them already!

My apartment seems huge without the luggage and air mattresses hanging around. I was fast asleep by 10pm in anticipation for my open class this morning.  It was the first time I've had to be observed here, and I must say it went swimmingly.  The observers even asked for the materials after class so that they could use them in their schools as well.  That was a nice ego boost.  I scored over 95%, and anything over an 80% means I don't have to re-interview, so that was nice.  I also found out that I have to have another open class next Wednesday (this time for teachers and parents from my school, which is slightly more stressful) but I'm not too worried since this one flew by.  I am also excited to have today off (Korean election day), partially because it has been nice just to relax, and partially because I cannot wait for this damn election to be over so I don't have to run the gauntlet of idiots on my way to work every morning.  They stand there, bowing and singing and cheering and playing music and talking through loudspeakers, and it is driving me CRAZY!  I cannot imagine a better way to convey this point, than with what has fast become one of my favorite Eat Your Kimchi videos:

 (If you can't see the full screen of the video, click here to go to the YouTube site.)

Love it.