Oct 30, 2009

friendly farewells......

When you make the decision to take a job overseas you know you are going to meet new people and gather a wealth of new experience. What you don't know is how quickly you will form some pretty special bonds with those on a similar adventure. You also might not think about how difficult it will be to see them leave as contracts come to an end and they move on to the next steps in their lives.

Last night we bid farewell to Co-worker's Jesse and Shane as they completed their last day teaching. The dynamics between the group are quite a bit different from what I ever experienced at home because although we all have different reasons for coming here, one fact remains, we are all living in South Korea and surviving everyday with the help and support of one another. Its all been about sharing stories about our weekly travels in this country to tips on where to get the best haircut without looking like vanilla ice or worse, a korean ;). We share some similar goals and learn to be inspired and inspire those around us everyday.

....sorry Rupsha ;)

As a new wave of teachers comes in you start the process over and find that every addition brings something new and special to the experience. Its been 5 months for us already and I know that the next 7 will be coming and going just as fast. And while I know that in that time we will again see some others come and go, its exciting to get to know all these incredibly unique individuals and take something away from each of them in our time here.

Best of everything to Shane and Jesse on the next great adventures in your lives.......

Oct 27, 2009

For the Love of Kimchi!!!! Tigers Win!!!!

So there are weekends when some cool stuff happens as you should already know being an avid reader of this momentous blog. ;) This past weekend however, was indeed special to us on a few levels and so I will share......

To begin, our Saturday started off (minus the smashing breakfast prepared by moi) with a trip to the very cool and supposedly very famous Kimchi Festival in Gwangju. The Festival took place alongside the world cup stadium and featured samplings of most any kind of Kimchi you could think of, along with some very cool exhibits on the history and culture of the fantastic Korean dish. Vendors lined the parking lots selling other edible selections that ranged from crazy fresh lookin meats to wafer cookies. Our friend Natalie almost got us tossed for stealing one but alas, the dumb looks on our faces once busted was our key to freedom yet again.Not nearly as many foreigners as I suspected but there were a few that seemed to be taking in the festivities with the locals. Here's a sampling of some Kimchi art that was displayed in one of the exhibit halls.

The highlight for us was most definitely our first ever Kimchi making experience which let us get our hands covered in pepper paste as we smeared the heavenly spread onto some pickled cabbage with veggies. It actually felt really good to be taking part in something that the locals have been doing for quite sometime and to gain a better understanding of the labor of love it is to prepare Kimchi.A nice little side note to that part of the festival was the interpreter who was with us during the Kimchi making process. This allowed us to fully understand the seminar given beforehand and really made the experience that much more educational.

thats our kimchi!

Ok enough of the nerdy stuff. So after the fest we marched it over to the World Cup to meet up with some folks who were gathering to bid some fellow co-workers goodbye in typical foreigner style, drinks, drinks and a bunch more drinks.The soccer game as usual was packed out and sounded like a golf match anytime did anything halfway decent but we've come to expect smaller crowds as the Gwangju Phoenix have fallen from grace quite quickly this season battling it out for 10th place in the division nowadays. The highlight however did come from our section as Nicole attempted to explain to the group how a lady at our gym was hula hooping while reading for one hour in our gym the other day. When her words weren't enough to paint the picture she stood up and innocently enough gyrated to simulate the movement...this was immediately caught by the camera man (which was probably because she has an ass and Korean dudes don't see much of that) and blasted up onto the jumbotron for the 100 or so people at the game to see. This was only made funnier moments later when some little Koreans felt compelled to mimic the interesting cheer technique a few moments later a few rows in front ;)

So the game sucked but that was ok because we were into a different game and sport all together being broadcast on one of the girl’s phones. The Kia Tigers, the local Gwangju professional baseball team was in the 5th inning of game 7 of the KBO Championship series being played in Seoul!

The score at that time was 5-1 in favor of the opposing SK Wyvern's (i think its a dragon...) so spirits were low but little by little they battled back and in the 7th inning tied it up 5-5!At this point we had been booted out of the stadium and asked to watch elsewhere so we found a convenient store that looked like it had been somewhat transformed into a sports bar to show the game on their massive 21 in television. We popped a squat at one of the tables outside, grabbed some beers and watched through the windows as the magic that only a Tiger could drum up ensued in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs.......

watch the video to feel the tingles in places you didn't know could tingle.......

here's a homemade vid I shot that’s far less clear but the audio gives you a taste for the excitement. (sorry for the sideways action)

This was Kia's first championship in 12 seasons and their 10th overall as a team which is tops in the KBO. It felt really cool to be living in a city that had a championship team come back to glory as its been made pretty apparent to me that even through their drought, the fans have always been behind their team 100%.

After the game we cabbed it over to a local park for a early evening picnic of beer, wine, pizza and chicken wings. As is the life in this strange land, we were greeted by a courtyard full of jazzersizing women. Not the greatest shots but it gives you the idea. A few of us attempted to keep up but quickly found out that this was not our scene and quit for the booze.

Unfortunately I do not have any photos from "Soul Train", the local bar we finished up at but if the success of a night is built around the complete alcoholic anihilation of the honorees, then the night was indeed a flawless victory.

So, that our story and we're stickin to it. Keep readin and we'll keep livin!.....well, we'll live anyway but we like that you read ;)

Halloween at the hagwon (our school) is next!


Oct 25, 2009

Korean Food = Huge health benefits

I am trying to get into the habit of reading the korea times each morning and write a post about something i found interesting to keep the world updated with information they may not find in the new york times.

the latest article that i loved was about three food pastes that are hugely used here in korea and the health benefits they are proven to provide based on clinical studies. the patients at one of the pastes once a day, for 12 weeks.

so here they are:
◆ Doenjang- soybean paste

The Doenjang group showed significant shrinkage of visceral fat area in abdominal CT scans. In the subgroup taking real doenjang, the visceral fat area shrank by a whopping 856 sq. mm, 17 times more than the 50 sq. mm decrease in the fake doenjang subgroup.

Meanwhile, contrary to the popular belief that salt in doenjang can cause high blood pressure, taking the paste had little effect on blood pressure. Although soy beans contain plenty of isoflavone, which is known to reduce visceral fat, attachment to sugar ingredient obstructs its activity. But when soy beans are fermented, microorganisms separate sugar content from isoflavone, facilitating the activity. Also, peptide, the protein created from the fermentation process, prevents salt from raising blood pressure.

◆ Cheonggukjang- rich soybean paste

The Cheonggukjang group gained muscle. Their weight and fat mass remained almost the same before and after the experiment, while their lean body mass (LBM), the ratio of bone and muscle to weight, rose by 120 g. In contrast, the control group taking fake cheonggukjang saw their LBM go down 340 g.

As obese people have little muscle and thus low basal metabolic rates, they gain more weight than those who are not obese although they eat the same amount of food. Hence in order to lose weight, those obese need to increase the ratio of muscle as well as losing fat. Taking cheonggukjang helps build more muscle without weight gain.

◆ Gochujang- red pepper paste

The gochujang group displayed a prominent drop in triglycerides that causes high cholesterol. Capsaicin, the ingredient that gives the peppers their hot taste, decreases the level of triglycerides in blood and boosts fat burning in cells. Sweating while eating spicy food is due to this capsaicin. When fat is burned, energy is consumed, creating heat. Despite plenty of its beneficial effects, capsaicin can also hurt the gastric mucous membranes. But other ingredients in gochujang, such as starch syrup and glutinous rice flour, alleviate the harmful effect.

see! how awesome is that. i need to get my hands on some rich soybean paste to help my workouts!

Oct 23, 2009

Dad's Birthday Surprise

My class of super adorable 6 year olds really wanted to wish my Pop's a Happy 62nd Birthday, so at 3 pm our time, 2 am florida time, we got out my cell and woke up my dad. We put him on speaker and the little ones sang and loved it. It was so fun to hear...They kept asking, "Teacher, America cell phone?" I was like....no, Korea cell phone...to call America...



Gwangju raises em the brightest

Check out this article!!!

Students in bigger cities tend to score higher than their peers from smaller towns in college entrance exams. The Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation released data indicating this trend after analyzing the test results of high school students for the past five years.

Students in Gwangju had the highest scores while those in South Chungcheong Province scored the lowest.

This is the first time the test results were analyzed since the entrance exam was set up in 1993. The information could stir controversy over the government's efforts to standardize the quality of education throughout the country.

Gwangju rocks

Wonder Girl's Rock out with the Jonas Brothers

i wanted to share an article from the Korean times:

The Wonder Girls became the first Korean singers to enter the top 100 of the main Billboard chart.

The Wonder Girls, one of South Korea's top girl groups, has been active in the United States and recently became the first Korean singers to enter the top 100 of the main Billboard chart.

``Nobody,'' which was unveiled in the United States in June, ranked 76th on the October Billboard Hot 100. The song was written by Park Jin-young.

The Billboard Hot 100 is one of the two most important charts in the U.S., the world's largest music market, listing the top 100 songs regardless of genre, and is frequently used as the standard measure for ranking songs in the U.S.

The Wonder Girls, the five-member band, made its debut in the States in the summer, releasing an album in English and joining the Jonas Brothers on a concert tour.

The group signed a management contract with the Jonas Group and Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency (CAA) was chosen as the band's agency in the U.S.

Meanwhile, the Wonder Girls made a surprise return Thursday to have a rest at home. The group consists of Sun, Yenny, Mimi, Sohee and Yubin.

Here is the full video, English Version

Oct 20, 2009

Exciting Grocery Shopping in Korea

The other night, Adam and I were at emart doing some shopping and we wanted to share with you some of the many interesting finds here at the grocery store...

first, we have packaged fruit, most fruit comes in boxes or containers. these grapes smell just like grape juice. they have pits and most Koreans suck out the inside and do not eat the skin.
Next, you can find bags of rice....there are actually a ton of different kinds...and you can guy different seeds (barely etc.) and they will mix it in the bag of seeds for you. Most bags are 20 lb bags I think.
Another staple in Korea is tofu, here is a picture of the many different kinds.
and then of course sea weed. it is used in soup, gimbap, side dishes etc.
A huge favorite, red pepper chili paste. this is used in just about every meal and in every dish.
Yup, an isle full of soy sauce
And, Adams personal favorite, the tuna fish isle. there are probably 10 different kinds of tuna. spicy red pepper tuna of course, tuna for kimchi, tuna with potatoes and corn, regular tuna, higher grade tuna, mustard tuna etc.
So, that there are just a few of the local buys...there are also fish cakes, tons of live and frozen fish, rice noodles (i dont like them) curry and isles and isles of ramen...emart is a fun way to spend an afternoon...oh and one more thing, look at the cute outfits that all of the sample girls wear!


Welcome back friends! This weekend, after a one day recovery session which was our Saturday thanks to an unusually alcoholic Friday, we shipped out to the Green Tea Fields of Boseong.

The bus trip lasted about an hour and a half through some lovely scenic parts of the country side before we arrived in Yulpo to catch the local whip to the tea fields. During our short wait we had the pleasure of chatting it up with one of the terminal staff who was very excited to speak with us about his knowledge of Florida. The underlying theme to everything he knew of the sunshine state was "dangerous". Yes, dangerous alligators, dangerous snakes, dangerous storms, and yes, dangerous Miami (even though our reasons differed from his which were based souly on the gators).

Anyways, on we went to the tea fields which led us past a Mexican restaurant of all things (i'll revisit that place with you all in a few). The ticket price to get in was a whopping 2,000 won (less than $2 for those of you nerds still doin the math) to get in. Once inside we hiked up a few dead end trails that were very steep which was in direct violation of Nicole's orders to follow the travel book which said to avoid such things and opt for the easier and more direct paths around the fields. I just figured if this chick could do it....why not?

So after getting our heart rates up for no reason we walked the path everyone else took and began to venture into the fields. A very interesting crop these tea plants are and extremely well manicured into rolling tube like bushes that wrap around like ginormous green spaghetti's. The vibrant green color of the field was something altogether amazing. The temp was cool and a little breezy which made it a perfect day for exploring.

After some casual walking and a climb to the top of the fields to catch a better view, we found a table near the shops to eat and try some great tea ice cream which we have actually had before but the novelty of trying it here was too much to pass up.

As a bonus, you also get to see what my face looks like through the center of a green tea ice cream swirl! lucky!!!! (creepy, yes.)

So we had seen about all the green tea we could handle so after picking up some of our own for the homestead, we made our way back to Yulpo and some Mexican!

Ah yes, the Mexican.....i thought in my head if there was a way to recreate this moment in a blog shortly after it happened and i'm pretty convinced there isn't but i'll try. So we get back to Yulpo which was where we saw the Mexican place on the way in. We didn'tknow exactly where it was but we figured it was worth looking for since we hadn't indulged in too much latin cuisine since arriving and how far could it be? So we asked what time the next bus was, found that we had more than enough to spare for a good walk and some tacos and so we went. And we walked......and walked......and walked (now cursing)......walking (deliriously taking photos into a mirror to mask the hunger)........

ok its not happening. The look on Nicole's face was quite depressing when the moment came that we finally gave up hope but after walking for what seemed like an hour we turned back and searched for ways to cope with the sorrow that can only come from the denial of a steak burrito in our stomach.

Ah yes, here we are, the bus stati........what....the......fu%$.

Yes, the Mexican place was right next to the same bus station we started from originally, and now, closed......

And so we boarded our bus, my own self worth in question and Nicole bewildered by our own dumb luck. But alas, its what makes this adventure so great....we have ups, we have down, and someday soon, we will again, have that burrito....oh yes.

Till next time,


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