Aug 25, 2009

Chapter Twelve: Seoulja Boys and Girls

With my halfway point officially in the rearview mirror, I still have so much to do and see in Seoul and in Korea. Many of my friends are leaving now; their contracts are up. It's weird seeing them leave, as they were the seasoned veterans I relied on both for advice and funny stories. And it's weirder thinking that I'm now where they were when I got here.

I am now the longest tenured teacher at my school--counting the Korean teachers, which is rare. (And a sign of how poorly our school is run.) We now have two teachers doing the work of three, and our boss thinks we are her servants, to the point of commanding us to spend time with her on weekends. It can be unpleasant. The best thing about the job, by far, is the kids. While they still can and do hit, lick, spit, and cry, seeing kids who 6 months ago didn't know their English names ask questions using complete sentences is pretty amazing.

I try to make English as fun as I can, so I have taught them a couple of things not in the course books. (I have spent the last week trying to make a video of this all compiled but Windows Movie Maker has crashed on me every time. So the following videos are raw and uncut, just the way my readers like it.)

The first is a line from Bill and Ted they are learning, the second is part of their Princess Bride education, and in the third they show off their ninja moves.

Aug 5, 2009

Chapter Eleven:: Konichiwa Bitches

Today's (slightly profane) entry is brought to you by that Swedish songstress Robyn.

Hit the gong-gong
Bring the sumos on
I'm 'a kick ass all the way to hongkong
Make the balls bounce like a game of ping-pong
I'm so very hot that when I rob your mansion
You ain't call the cops, you call the firestation

I recently had my first 5 day break in a while, maybe about year. I ended up in the Kyushu region of Japan with my girlfriend Rachel, who is from New Zealand. Japan wasn't my first choice. I was thinking of taking the night ferry to Russia, or hiking in rural China, or possibly camping in Taiwain. But once Rachel pointed out that she had studied Japanese for five years and had heard of a place with "lots of hiking and hot springs" then the choice became obvious. It is only an hour plane ride from Seoul as well, which is amazing since it's a whole 'nother world.

We spent most of our time in Fukuoka, a clean, sleepy city of 3 million. It was amazing how small and green it seemed to us, coming from Seoul. The people were amazingly friendly, with lots of smiles and even drivers would bow their heads to you as you crossed the street. The food was great as well, and there where many parks. I found a vegetarian restaurant and the convenience stores had veggie options--quite an improvement from Seoul where dinners quite often end up being Pringles and Coke. I could have spent a month in the city and not seen it all, but it's a great base for day trips too.

Within a few hours train ride was Mt. Aso (a large active volcano), Beppo (a hot spring loaded tourist town), Nagasaki and Hiroshima (both with acclaimed Peace museums) a Dutch-styled town, and countless beaches, islands, and ancient shrines. Due to a hot tip from a hostel-mate, we spent the equivalent of 70 bucks on a three day train pass, which paid for itself the first day. The volcano was closed (which we found out after we got there) but the train ride was still nice and overall things really couldn't have gone much better. I like Korea a lot, but Japan is an amazing place that compares favorably with anywhere I've ever been.

I've put together a montage with most of the pictures and many of the songs that were running through my head. (They're pretty obvious choices, though). I was hoping to keep this montage a little shorter, but this sort of seems the length it wants to be. It's still under a minute-and-a-half per day, so hopefully it's not too boring.