Sep 30, 2009

Ajumma's at Emart

I don't think it matters how many times I spell the word Ajumma, I never spell it the same way twice nor do I know the correct spelling.

Last night Kaisa, a girl I work with, and I went to Emart. Emart is like our walmart, 3 floors of heaven. We were grocery shopping. Of course with the greatest grocery etiquette every Korean looked in our buggie. Two ajummas stopped us and began to speak with us. When I say speak, I mean we had a conversation with our minimal korean and their minimal english. Basically they looked in our cart and were nodding their heads saying ahh ahh. Then they said Canada, we said no meegook, (which is American) they thought this was impossible based on their expressions and tone of voice, motioning that we were way to short and skinny to be a Meegook. They said bap (rice) and made big tummy motions and tall lengthy motions. Basically we had to eat more rice to be tall and fat like Americans.
Then they walked around giggling and talking korean a mile a minute.
I thought it was great. Neither of us spoke each others language and yet, we had a full conversation. The power of presence!

Sep 29, 2009

Avalon/Reading Star Sports Day....hooorah!!




So I have a few minutes between class and since i'm about to blog about a work function i feel less guilty about utilizing company time and resources for my own personal use. Anyways, we had a work function of sorts this past weekend in the form of an outdoor sports event that pitted the 3 campuses against each other in a battle for bragging rights. The day started at 8am with us all meeting at Avalon to hop a bus to the Mokpo Maritime University which is about an hour and a half away. Breakfast was served on the bus and in true Korean style, it was Kimbop (gimbop?) which is something like sushi but it had a lil egg and ham in it to make it more breakfasty....but not really.


Once there we broke up into integrated teams with members of the other schools to perform "missions" for a prize. My team came in 7th while Nicoles got 2nd. Here's our team trying to complete one mission which was to have a photo taken while we were all in the air.....which was a failure here ;)





The initial event was the balloon pop which was nicely demonstrated by this dynamic duo which resulted in a a fairly easy win by the Bongsun Avalon team (my team).



After the balloon pop was the arm wrestling which was taken by Reading Star (Nicole's team) and featured some mighty strong women using brute force i'm not even sure they knew they had.
After the Arm wresting was the jump rope which was actually alot more difficult than most of the teams had anticipated. Something about getting 12 people to jump at the same time just wasn't happenin. Gumho Avalon took this one (Red Shirts). Here's a video of Bongsun Avalon coming up 4 jumps short but looking fanstastic doing so.
video
After the jump rope was much anticipated "tug-of-war" event that featured every member of each school going toe to toe in the ultimate test of strength between the schools. After Reading Star handled Gumho, it was our turn. Even with the Reading Star team being slightly worn from the previous battle, they proved too strong and determined and won this event leaving it all on the line for the 600 meter relay to determine the grand champion of the day.
The relay was actually run twice as the first run was deemed to be short by 200 meters somehow. The final race was a thriller if i do say so myself with the Bongsun team trailing the Gumho campus after the first 200 meters. I was the second leg so i did my best to give us a push and in the end it worked as we took the gold and the overall champions seat!!!

I should point out that I was graciously awarded the days MVP and did recieve a saweet cordless vacuum which might not seem that cool but when you have shedding animals in your crib like Olive and Nicole, its a gift from the good housekeeping gods.
The day finished off with a BBQ and a sleepy ride home but all in all it was a great day and a very cool way to bring the natives and the foreign teachers a bit closer. Needless to say, moral at my school has been bolstered but I think Reading Star was pretty stoked about the tug of war which made taking 2nd on the day not so bad.

Sep 27, 2009

Heart felt Reunions



North Korea, just the name ads a sour taste in many peoples mouths based on conflict and all that is rumored to go on there. I am sure it is a very nasty place with unfair politics and treatment of their citizens. I am not sure exactly why their leader is being so hospitable about this subject and has since 2007 when the first reunions began. I must share this story with you. Open your hearts to this fantastic and emotional story.

The Koreans who have been separated from their families for more than 50 years, all have entered a lottery system. The lucky ones chosen this time were bused to North Korea's Kumgang Mountain resort.

North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, unleashing three years of war. Many Koreans fled to the South, leaving wives, husbands, sons, and daughters behind.

The fighting was halted by a 1953 armistice but with no peace treaty, the two Koreas remain technically at war, amid decades of isolation and hostility.

The reunions getting underway are the 17th in a series organized by the Red Cross. They began after a historic 2000 inter-Korean summit thawed relations between the two sides. They have been on hold for two years amid tensions over North Korea's nuclear weapons development.

Many of the Koreans are not sure which family members they are meeting, which are still alive and which they will learn the fates of. 50 years is a long time. Many of the older generation attending the reunions are in their 80's. Some are meeting children they left as infants, brothers and a few are getting to see their spouses.

The video is touching and so special. From what I have learned, no reporters were allowed to film inside, but here is a picture of 2 brothers meeting for the first time in 50 years.

Sep 22, 2009

Hello Byeonsan!

Welcome back earthlings to another exciting adventure featuring your two favorite meeguks. Today's tale brings us to the lovely area of Buan, Byeonsan and Gyeokpo where we set off for a weekend of serious hiking and camping along one of the countries only eastern locals to feature mountains and beach all in one. Super!

So we hopped out at 10:45 and headed out. Our transfer point in Buan to our next bus led us a rather interesting encounter with some mysteriously strange looking, yet happy older Korean woman who although were quite sure we knew nothing of what they spoke, continues to speak to us in Korean for a good portion or the ride to Byeonsan. The highlight of this one sided conversation was the part about Nicole's boobs. It seemed like a good ice breaker in the eyes of the women to compliment them. When a first attempt at equating them to eggs by repeating"egga" over and over failed, the obvious thing for the somewhat mexican-korean woman sitting next to us to do was take a handful of her own brand and squeeze in hopes that we would understand. I did, and I have been reliving the moment ever since unfortunately.
Here's a spy shot by Nicole of one of the women. (We just didn't know what might happen if they saw us take it so we did it on the sly)


So we arrived at Byeonsan with our sights set on first seeing the gorgeous waterfall that we had seen in our travel book. On the way we passed this lovely temple. The beauty of South Korea sometimes is the fact that this temple was in my mind absolutely brilliant yet it sat at the foot of a mountain completely alone and at peace. Just makes me think of how many things i've seen that way back home...ever.


So after about an hour hike we made it to the waterfall!!!.....or maybe we should call it a water trickle since thats a more accurate description of what we saw. Unfortunately during the early and mid summer months are the best times for viewing as the water levels are much greater. Oh well.



After a few short breaks to rest our pack holding backs we made it upwards to the peak that overlooked a fantastic view of the valley and beach below. While at the top we clapped for the other Koreans that were reaching the summit around the same time. I'm proud to say that we both made it to the top with way more crap strapped to us than any of them. Which may not exactly prove anything but i thought i'd mention it.


Once we made it to the bottom we visited the 400 year old Naesosa temple which was really incredible as well. Nicole even made a wish by balancing a small stone on the top of another small rock pile.


After some lunch we hopped a bus to Gyeokpo Beach to find a spot to setup camp for the night and rest our outrageously tired legs, shoulders, arms....well, everything. We made it to Gyeokpo around 6ish which reminded us of a Daytona Beach-esque type of town but with its own kinda cool every nonetheless. We walked along the beach for a bit in search of dry sand for a bit but would soon find out that there really wasn't any and with the sun going down and the buggies comin out we opted for the less rugid approach and grabbed a motel room for the night.
There was however, a beautiful sunset.

Not the prettiest place but the bed was all we needed to pass out on and so we did.

The next day we woke up and utilized some of our camping food and stove to prep breakfast before we headed out to hike the beach area.

The Chaeseokgang Seashore was by far one of the most interesting looking places i've ever seen on a shoreline. The krags and rocks looked like something you would find if you traveled to mars. We carefully hiked the length of it for about an hour and then grabbed a bus back to Buan to spend the rest of our day before catching the later bus back home.

Our highlight from Buan was probably our 2 hour chill session in front of the family mart sippin on some team and soda while we awaited our 4pm bus home. Here we are, chillen.



And so that about wraps up this one folks! A massively great weekend that we are glad to have shared with you all here. Hope you enjoyed. We'll send you out with a music video care of Nicoles showing the rest of our snazzy shots ;) See you soon and have a great week!


-adam and nicole
video

Sep 18, 2009

Goodbye Kimchi Festival


This year was to mark the 15th Annual Gwangju Kimchi Festival. The festival is all about kimchi - you can make it, dance with it, and even paint it. There are folk games and a hanbok fashion show, along with gayageum performances...BUT the Swine has taken over. I am bummed. It is the one HUGE nationwide festival that our city hosts and we will miss it. I am happy to report, or sad I guess to announce that festivals all over the country are being canceled left and right to keep a mass of people out of one area, just in case.
Here in Korea it is called the SI Flu. Korea is going nuts over it. Yesterday the news reported that there have now been 8 deaths in the country. They have also reported a total of 9,968 cases since May 2. People are wearing masks, our schools have signs all over about washing hands and the second a kid sneezes we send them home. We are also not allowed to turn on the air conditioners at our school for fear of the kids catching a chill..hence Swine.

I am sure countries all over the world are beginning to go into crazy mode with flu season approaching. Adam and I are drinking our vitamin C powder daily at work and working out to keep our immune systems up.

We are heading to the mountains in the morning for a hiking/camping trip, so we will be sure to stay away from people :)

Sep 16, 2009

Sunday, Meeguks, Cars...Go!


Ok so its about 1am and Nicole can't stand when I tell her I'm gonna blog about stuff and I don't so i'm taking the initiative after a tall one at "Miller Time", yes, there is a sports bar here with that name because everything that isn't considered cool elsewhere finds a welcome home here in South Korea.

Ok so let's start with Sunday which was a pretty relaxed day to start but after a quick hike up the ridge by myself as Nicole power napped we decided to venture out on a bike ride to the west side to check out the scene on a very pretty afternoon.

Actually lets back it up because its important. There are certain times when pictures must be taken and unfortunately they come at the expense of Nicole pride and so i will share them as they really effect me in no way ;) Here are some shots from the weekend that Nicole would prefer i not share....and therefore I will because we all love to do things we're not supposed too!

This first series is something I call "midnight kung-fu" where Nicole is very asleep and seemingly engaging in some sort of martial arts as it seems......enjoy.


Next we catch Nicole highlighting the reasons why the Nintendo Wii has become such an effective tool for those of us who want a more "active" video game experience. Her trusty sidekick Olive obviously agrees.

Lastly, imagine if you caught your favorite celeb brushing his or her teeth while crouched down in the bathroom, it might look something like this no?

Alright so where was I? oh right, I hiked the ridge while nicole napped which was pretty sweet especially now that I own some kickin hikin shirts just like the other fellow Korean's so I proudly marched my way up the ridge seeking approval from the masses, which I think I received. Basically these shirts are made of light jersey material which actually keeps me from sweating so I bought 6 of them and made them my weekend uniform from here on out. Here's a few quick shots from the excursion.

After my return Nicole was rested enough for a biking trip to the west side where we tested out the new whip yet again and caught a glimpse of Mudeung Stadium (Home of the Kia Tigers Baseball Team), Jungoe Park, The Gwangju Art Center and the Biennale Exhibition Hall. The bulk of our journey takes us along the Gwangjucheon stream which we use as our guide to get home. Its a nice ride away from the roads where lots of locals walk, fish, bike and relax.




Now no trip would be complete without a dinner at a western franchise restaurant so weren't we in luck to find "outback steakhouse" on the way home! I love steak as much as the next guy but Nicole made me feel like we were about to eat at the Ritz she was so excited.

So that was our Sunday and as always we were pretty damn happy with our weekend..
(Not sure why this is blue now but I think its fun so i'm gonna keep it) Now, as a bonus i'm going to rant on something else since its been buggin me since we got here. Now I know that as a foreigner here its kinda cool in a way to get that "oh my god an American (or Canadian)" thing that the locals do and it feels kinda cool but I have an issue with something. This one goes out to all the foreigners that literally break their necks to avoid eye contact with any other foreigners as there is some ungodly fear of knowing that he or she speaks the same language and will want to talk to me! Listen, i don't need to be your friend, but for christ sakes, don't go out of your way to avoid us! I try and say hello to every foreigner I see which doesn't entail a convo, just a polite hello and i'm on my way. Its really odd how anyone who's not Korean seems very uneasy around those who they confront that are obviously not from around here. My honest thought is that people really begin to grow accustomed to the fact that they cannot fully communicate with those around them so why try when approached by one who can? Well, there in lies my issue. I think its crap so when you see these faces.....


Say Hello!!!!!






Ok, enough of that. One last though because we feel the need to tell you everything. Just because it came up in conversation the other day between Nicole and I, we want to share our latest car obsessions. While Nicole is currently excited about the latest super sub-compact Daewoo Matiz, i've got a fairly inappropriate sized crush on the 2009 British Drivers Car of the Year, the New Lotus Evora.

Here they are (not that you really care which is the beauty of a blog, you have no choice in the matter ;))


Ok, enough for now. I will leave you with a new Walt Whitman quote I discovered today that i think we should all burn into our minds because life is a gift, always. Thanks for reading and keeping up with us!

"To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle."
-- WALT WHITMAN


Sep 12, 2009

Shopping!

At least once a day think to myself..."While everyone is home sleeping, we are..."
Today, we went shopping!

Well, we were supposed to go camping in the mountains but didn't wake up in time to catch the bus, so we decided to go on a shopping spree...well Adam took me on a shopping spree.

Our first stop, the bikes store.
We traded mine in for a newer more rough and tough model, a Lespo Typhoon DX Dual Suspension, whatever all that means, all I know is I was whizzing around town and barely felt the rocky streets of Gwangju.

We rode downtown and hit the jean shop. For all of you who know me, you know I am a bit curvy and short which put a real damper on jean shopping in the states, but for some reason, here...second pair of jeans I tried on...BAM! they fit awesome.

Off to Timezone we went which is a cheap fun store where I picked up a second pair of jeans for 11,000 won and a new orange purse..but ladies and gentlemen...hold your breath...the purse is made by a company called...Damiano Italy!!! So, of course I just had to have it, (its Adam's last name, in case you didn't know)

Then we went to Skinfood where Adam did buy some tea tree wash for his face and I bought a fun peach mask which I am wearing now as I type this blog.

All in all, very productive and fun day! What are you doing while we are sleeping? :)

Sep 11, 2009

Thanks...umm Earth!




So we started our blog back in April of this year and we've got almost 3000 views allready! While this is pretty cool, I thought I would point out another interesting fact that I think is equally stellar. You might not have noticed but we have a little map on the very bottom of our page that details where our visitors come from. While most of our visitors are back home in the states, we've gotten people from all over the world checking out our adventure! If you click on the image above you can see all the countries that have visited us. This made us both feel extra cool today so I wanted to share. Check it out!
So if you all keep reading, we'll keep writing, I promise.
Have a great day!

Sep 9, 2009

The May 18 Democratic Uprising Memorial

Well not all of our posts can be so light-hearted and full of my boundless wit :), but we did want to share with you all some photos of our visit to the May 18th Memorial in Gwangju. The event that killed 154 civilians and wounded over 4000 more was a pivital date in Korean history. Below is a brief summary of the event with pictures of our visit.


The most tragic and disgraceful incident in modern Korean history took place in Gwangju in May 1980. During the uprising many citizens of Gwangju were killed by soldiers. It started with the December 12, 1979 coup by Chun Doo-hwan's military junta who occupied the Chonnam Provincial Hall with armed forces sent to Gwangju by the Martial Law Enforcement Headquarters. After the assassination of President Park Chung-hee, a group of politically minded soldiers undertook Operation Chungjung (Operation True Heart) to quell the uprising in Gwangju.

Subdued by brutal repression, the May 18 Democratic Uprising bore testimony to the immorality of the regime of the 5th Republic, a continuation of the autocratic Yushin Rule. It was a military dictatorship that unlawfully usurped power by force. The May 18 people's armed uprising was an act of self-defense against the violence used by an illegitimate authority.


Today it is acknowledged and recognized as an active demonstration of the civil society's right to resist. The spirit and ideals of May 18 are a noble heritage entrusted to us, to be elevated and celebrated. It is our responsibility to keep this history alive as a lesson for all humankind.


The memorial serves as a reminder to all Koreans and the rest of the world that injustice and dictatorship will never again return to this country thanks to the strength and courage of the people in Gwangju on May 18th, 1980.

Sep 7, 2009

Drama

For the last week, I have spent way too many hours sitting in front of the computer not able to do much else but watch the next part of this drama. Boys before Flowers is a 25 episode drama that aired in Korea a few months ago. It came recommended by some foreigners and I can't get enough of it. The show is based on 4 rich aristocrat boys who attend a private high school in Korea. A poor dry cleaners daughter happens to be in the right place at the right time and is given admission to the school. Geum Jan Di doesn't shut her mouth against the big wig F4 boys at the school and the drama develops with Love, Fights, and more drama than the OC, 90210 and Gossip Girls combined.
You too can go to www.mysoju.com and watch the show for yourself. Get ready to be introduced to Korean Drama! You won't regret i!

Sep 6, 2009

Korean Spirit


Yesterday Adam and I went downtown to catch a flick, G.I.Joe (so good) and picked up Olive her own Korean Hapkido Garb. She was even loving on Adam yesterday which shows just how good Korea is for her.

Sep 1, 2009

Diet in Korea (Adam's Food Choice)

Before bed last night, as I was so flipping exhausted and Adam just demanded on keeping me up and laughing, which was funny, but making me even more tired we discussed his food choice in a day, so I just thought I would share with you.

August 31, 2009
Breakfast
Egg with Onion and Green Pepper
1/2 Bagel
Oatmeal with cereal, milk, raisins and almonds
Snack
Protein Shake with Peanut Butter
Lunch
Tuna Fish
BBQ sauce
Bread
Cheese
Cucumbers
(all in sandwich form)
iced coffee
Dinner (at work)
pork fried pattie
Rice
Kimchi
Squash slices
bean sprout soup
green kimchi
Midnight Snack
cucumber kimchi
tofu
cooked in soy sauce
thousand island dressing ontop
PBJ on crackers
Chai tea

I know it may not seem to odd, but his mixtures are quite gross, in my opinion

anyway, now that I type it, I don't think you will all be that grossed out, I think I was just really tired that everything sounded disgusting.

Have a great Tuesday!

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