Monday, June 25, 2007


Saying Goodbye...

This past week has been full of goodbyes and "lasts":
- our last Korean BBQ
- our last time in Seoul
- our last trip to church
- our last post-church meal at Dos Tacos (the best Mexican food this side of the Pacific)
- our last class (for some of our classes...we still have to teach today)
- our last hang-out session with David and Jerra
You get the are some pictures of some of those "lasts":

The best part about icecream parties: when you hand the kids their icecream, the room falls silent and for the 5 minutes that they're eating their treat, there's no screaming! It's a beautiful thing.
This is Sam's essay-writing class...they threw a little surprise party for him :0)
This is my favourite class...we had a great party on Friday night, complete with pizza, pop, icecream and games!
Our last lunch at Dos Tacos...Korean style Mexican food is delicious!
Sam's last meal that includes a "fat dish". We didn't really eat this, but a Korean friend told us they actually serve a plate of pig fat with this meal...gross!


Our Last Weekend

As some of you know, this is our last full day in Korea. On June 26th, we'll be flying home to the great west! Since it was our last weekend here, we decided to go out in style and spend one last day sight-seeing in Seoul. We joined our partners-in-crime, David and Jerra, and headed to a beautiful palace. This palace is only accesible by tour, and we turned out to be quite the tour delinquents...we really wanted to get pictures and weren't in a rush, so we ended up WAY behind the tour group. Every time we got to a new spot, the lady was already finished her informational speal and was moving everyone off to the next site. Pretty funny! The palace highlight was the "Forbidden Gardens" (don't longer forbidden!), where we saw a beautiful pond that was full of lotus flower leaves and some blossoms. The blossoms weren't in full bloom, but the green leaves and occassional blossoms floating on the water was pretty cool to see!
After the palace, we headed over to the Han River. We wanted to go boating, but weren't able to find any reasonable places to do it. We found one dock owner that wanted to charge us $30 for a 5 minute boat ride...ummmm, NO! So, we contended ourselves with a nice walk along the river instead.
Our final destination was Seoul Tower...a space-needle/CN tower'ish structure on a small mountain in the middle of Seoul. We got to see the lights of the whole city one last time. It was really beautiful! Unfortunately, I accidentally left our camera on all day and the battery was drained by that time, so we have no pictures. You'll have to imagine it :0)
Here are some pictures from the earlier part of our day:

Sam and David with the main throne room in the distance. This was near the beginning of our tour, before we started to seriously lag behind.
Jerra and I in front of the throne room.
A pretty shot...I felt very artistic taking this.
Me with the lotus flower pond.
Sam and I outside of the concubine's quarters. No, I was not trying to seduce young Samuel ;0)
Our walk along the Han River.

Monday, June 11, 2007



This past Thursday was a holiday in Korea - the equivalent of Memorial (if you're Canadian)/Veteran's (if you're American) Day. Seeing as we had the day off, we decided the best way to spend it was hiking. We headed into Seoul, met up with David and Jerra, and...proceeded to wander the streets aimlessly for 20 minutes looking for our bus. We decided to ask someone where we should go, and chose a sporty looking man with white running shoes on. He was so nice - hummed and hawwed, asked store owners and finally led us to the correct bus stop. That's when he proceeded to tell us that he was going to come with us and be our guide that day (he probably figured that if our luck navigating the mountain corresponded to our luck navigating the bus system, we would be goners out there). And that's what he did. We found out that our new friend's English name was David, and get this - he hikes barefoot! He's been doing it for a year, and says it helps with blood circulation. Let me just say that this was not an easy, barefoot-able hike! The last 30 minutes of it was up a cliff face, where we had to pull ourselves up with a wire cable...he was still barefooted. Extremely hardcore!
Here are some pictures from our day:

A pretty guard post we came across.
You might want to click on this picture to make it bigger. Can you see the little black line that looks like a bunch of ants marching single file? Those are people! You're looking at the final part of the hike...up the cliff face to the top. I have never before had to wait in a line of people for my turn to reach the top!Sam on his way up the crazy rock part of this hike.
Sam and David...our fabulous guide (this guy even shared his food with us and taught us some history of the mountain).
Heading back down the scary rock face...extremely steep!
Enjoying a little snack on our way down. (Notice that David is still barefooted).
Sidenote: this is a fabulous new dessert we've discovered. It's called bing-su, and it's basically crushed ice with frozen yogurt and fruit on it. You mash it all up and then enjoy. It's so good and addictive. The traditional Korean stuff comes with red beans and rice cakes in it...also delicious, but the fruit is my favorite!

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Happy Birthday Sam!

Tomorrow (June 3rd) is Sam's 27th birthday, so today I decided to surprise him with a trip to a water themepark called "Caribbean Bay".
We had a great time. The sun was out, the lines weren't too bad, and the slides were really fun! Also, we found out something new about Korea - at waterslide parks it's imperative that everybody wears a swimming cap. We had just made our way to our first slide, grabbed inner tubes, and were about to head up the stairs when a lifeguard blocked us, pointed at his head and said "cap". Our response: "huh?". After more gestures and a quick look around, we realized that every single person was wearing either a ball cap, a doo-rag (I'm sure I didn't spell that right), a towel, or a swimming cap on their head. We still have no idea why. We don't think it was to keep hair out of the water, because people didn't tuck their hair into the caps. We don't think it was for sun-stroke, because the water kept everybody cool. We don't think it was for fashion, because we all looked ridiculous. It's just one of those things that we've come to terms with never understanding. We had to run down to the nearest souvenir shop and buy two of the most fashionable swimming caps that we could find (see pictures below).
We had a great time in the wave pool...the waves were so powerful that there was an actual "danger zone" where noone was allowed to stand because that was where the wave crashed over. It was very fun! Extreme body surfing.
Another funny thing: everyone (not just kids...everyone) wore life jackets...everywhere. Even if they were sitting in a hot-tub, they wore a lifejacket. Even if they were only up to their knees in the wave pool, they wore a lifejacket. Even if they were going on a slide, where it would be absolutely impossible to drown unless someone knocked them out and held their face in the 1 inch of water that flowed down the tube...even then, they wore a lifejacket. Hmmm...
Anyways, enjoy the pictures of our funny, fun-filled day...

Sam enjoying his pre-waterpark breakfast of bacon, eggs, scones, fruit salad, orange juice, and green tea...we knew we'd need lots of energy for a day on the slides!
This is Sam outside of the entrance to Caribbean Bay.
The birthday boy in the lunch-line. We ordered burgers and fries from one of the snack shops.
Here we are in front of the wave-pool.
This was the Adventure Park. That huge skull in the background would fill with water and then tip over and dump galloons of water on whoever was standing below...very fun!
Sam with his ultra-hot swimming cap.
As you can see, I picked a cap that went with my outfit.

Friday, May 18, 2007


A Weekend at the Coast

This past weekend we headed over to the east coast for a little R & R. We went to Seokcho, which is a town at the base of Seorak mountain. We left EARLY on Saturday morning (we're talking 5 a.m. wake up call), and arrived at the coast by 12:30. Funny thing: most of the ride there was sunny, however once we got to Seokcho, found a hotel, and found a beach, we had about 15 minutes before hurricane weather rolled in and we were faced with blowing winds and drenching rains. Pretty funny, and we managed to enjoy the beach anyways.
We hiked Seoraksan on Sunday. It was a beautiful day, and the mountain was absolutely beautiful. I have never seen shades of green like we saw there. A lot of people were out, as hiking season is already full blown over here. The finale of the hike involved about 800 metal steps that were bolted into the side of a huge rock face...very cool, but a little scary, as the steps were pretty steep, and who knows how long ago they were bolted there. But, we managed to survive, and we've got the pictures to show for it. Enjoy!

This is a picture of what we saw out of our bus window for most of our trip over to the coast. It's planting season and the rice paddies have all been flooded.
Here we are on the beach: powdered sand, smiles on our faces, and dark clouds looming.
This body of water is known as the "Sea of Japan" to everyone in the world except Koreans. They call this water the "East Sea" because they don't think it's fair that it's named after Japan. I call it both.
Despite the chilly water temperature, the guys decided to take a dip. They are so tough!
This is what you have to do if you want to order pizza in Korea. Step 1: Make an elaborate drawing of exactly what you want. Step 2: Look up all the words in the Korean/English dictionary, and write them down too. Step 3: Find someone with a cellphone. Step 4: Show them this paper. Step 5: Let them call. Step 6: Wait for your pizza. It worked!
This is a pre-hike picture. Sam enjoying some energy food...chicken on a stick.
This statue was at the bottom of the mountain. We've found that most mountains here have a temple and a huge statue right before the trailhead.
I thought this dragon sort of looks like the one of "The Never-ending Story", so I made friends with it.
Some of the beautiful scenery. You can't see them, but this is the rock face that the stairs are bolted to.
Here we are getting closer and closer to the rock face. Sam posing as a friendly mountain man.

Starting up the stairs.
The views we had were amazing. Still hiking the stairs...quite the workout!
Here we are at the top.
Some of the rock formations were unreal. The one behind us just looked like slabs of rock that had been set against each other.
Here I am hanging on for dear life. This could have been a very bad accident!
(Note: the above picture is staged. No hikers were hurt in the production of this photograph)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Some Funny Signs...

We aren't exactly sure why this man is being spanked by the police officer. Funny that the cop is wearing gloves, eh! We think it's either a poster to warn against drinking and driving (since the man's holding a bottle of something and there's a car in the background), or to prevent people from jumping the turn-styles to get on the subway (as it was set up right by the turn-styles). Either way, I do not want what is happening to him to happen to me, so I will always pay my 80 cents before riding the train, and I will never drink and drive!
I think a little something was lost in the translation of this dish name. Kimchi jigae (the dish shown in the picture) is really delicious, however un-appetizing the name may be!
I think they must have had a German lady help them with this translation work.


Coming Soon to a North American City Near You...

It's official...we're coming home! Our contract is up at the end of June, and we'll be flying home on June 26th. Hard to believe that a year has already almost come and gone...but it has, and so we're getting ready to move on to the next adventure.
Some things we're looking forward to about North America:
1. Seeing family and friends
2. Tim Hortons (notice this is second only to family and friends...I don't think Sam shares my obsession, but I miss anything and everything about my favourite coffee shop!)
3. Food (it would take too long to mention everything we're craving right now...things like steak, salt and vinegar chips, pie, vegetables -sounds funny, but vegetables are really expensive here, brownies, feta cheese, Doritos, salad, pitas, English get the picture)
4. Being able to understand the signs. Not just read them, but UNDERSTAND them!!
5. Driving
We have about 7 weeks left to pack as many Korean activities in as we can, and then we're off. We're looking forward to seeing everybody again soon.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Some Pictures from the Weekend

This weekend Sam and I re-visited some of the sites in Seoul that we have been to before. We went to a prison where the Japanese held many Korean freedom-fighters during their occupation in the earlier half of the 20th century. After we had toured around and left the facilities, an older Korean man walked up to us, told us a bit about the prison, and then thanked us for taking the time to visit such an important site. He was really happy that we wanted to learn about what had happened to the Korean people. I was pretty touched by that. We also hit up a palace in Seoul to check out the grounds with their newly acquired blossoms and greenery...very pretty! Here are a few pictures of things we saw...

Just in case some of you have forgotten where exactly we are, let this extremely over-sized flag serve as a friendly reminder...we're in Korea.
Here I am in one of the holding cells in Seodaemun Prison.
Sam and David, through the cell door.
Sam in front of the throne building at Gyeongbukgung Palace.
Sam took this cool artistic shot. This building is also on the palace grounds. As you can see, everything is green and flowering and beautiful!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Masks, Summits, and Industrial Staples

We went on an awesome hike this weekend in Bukhansan Park. You might remember that a few weeks ago we hiked in the same park. This place is huge...tons of trails and summits...a great playground for us!
This particular hike led us through the forest, along lantern lined paths (see picture below), and then to a final rocky and steep section which required use of the iron rails that were provided to pull yourself up (very fun!). The view from the top was amazing...a 360 degrees, top of the world feeling.
After our trek out, all four of us were STARVING, as we definitely did not pack enough food to energize the entire trip. We decided to stop at a little road-side restaurant (they have them leading up to all of the mountains here...very smart!) and grab a bite to eat. Sam saw one that served a chicken/potato/veggie soup with rice that we love, so we headed in and took our seat. This soup is cool because it cooks on a burner on the table in front of you. It smelled delicious, looked delicious, tasted delicious, so we heartily dug in. A few minutes later, David stopped chewing, got a weird look on his face, and pulled a large industrial staple out of his mouth. The prongs were not folded over...they stuck straight out like a little death trap. We have no idea how that thing got into our soup...craziness. Luckily he felt it before swallowing! After that, we were more cautious with each bite, but still enjoyed the delicious Korean cooking.
Here are a few pictures from the day:

This is on the subway. The spring season brings with it dust that blows over from the Gobi dessert in China/Mongolia. Supposedly horrible for the lungs. Saturday was a high risk day, so we had every intention of wearing our masks (like the locals), but it was just too hot for hiking!
Some of the trails were lined with these little we neared a temple or a hermitage. We're not sure why they're up, but they're everywhere, and definitely add a nice, festive feeling (we think it might be for Buddha's birthday, but don't quote us on that!).
This is nearing the end of our hike...right before the super steep part to the summit. The rock formations were unreal...looked like they had just been stacked into huge piles.
Here are the helpful rails...difficult to do with a heavy backpack on, but really fun!
A few from the peak in one direction.
Seoul is behind us, but again is a little hazy (we think because of the Gobi dessert dust)
Here's Sam with the view in another direction from the peak...that was the rock peak that was beside ours (we'll do that one next time ;0). Cool rocks, eh!
This picture was taken by a funny little drunk man. That's his finger in the top, left corner. It was hilarious because at first he was pointing the camera at himself and trying to look backwards through the view-place (can't think of the technical term). He was pretty shaky and wobbly and unsteady, and I was afraid he was going to drop the camera. But hey, the picture turned out pretty good anyways!
Most mountains have a temple at the bottom of them. This one was all decked out with the lanterns...very pretty colors!
Here's another one of the decorated temple buildings.

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