Things have been moving fast out here, and they don't seem to be slowing down in the slightest. This whole mass updating thing is sadly becoming a trend that I hope to break. I haven't made a post since before Christmas, so I hope you're all ready for some overload.
We began intensives at Avalon two weeks ago, and needless to say, I've been extremely busy. This hasn't stopped me from enjoying myself though. I guess I'll just start at...
The morning of Christmas Eve, Matthew hosted a nice Christmas Brunch. We used this event to tie off the week long Secret Santa we'd been having the entire week. We all brought food, opened up presents, and got to see Matt dressed up like Santa Claus, forcing us all to sit on his lap while we were opening presents.
( Connor, preparing to serve us all mimosas )
( JC brought the chips and salsa )
( Erik was feeling extra-Christmasy )
( Santa )
( Calvin )
( Justin with his goodie bag )
( Merry Christmas to me )
( Matthew enjoying my gift )
( Justin made eggnog )
We also did a Secret Santa at work, but it was obvious who was given a gift from the Korean teachers, because they had no idea what to get us. To be far, we had no idea what to get them either. The woman that i bought a present for was somebody I didn't know. She received a very nice set of lotion from the Face Shop. I was given one of those neck pillows. It's actually pretty nice.
( Jen, Calvin & JC )
( Matt sporting Justin's fashionable gift )
( Justin & Lucy )
( Down towards my end of the office )
( Calvin & his ecoMug )
( Erik, thrilled to be working on Christmas Eve )
After work, we all went home to change, and decided that since we have no family in Korea, we'd do something we'd never done before: drink on Christmas. It was pretty nice. It got a little out of hand at times, but it was definitely a night to remember.
( Calvin, Amy & shirtless man )
( Some of Honey's flaming specials )
( JC & Katrina )
( Christmas caroling with Dylan and his uke )
( Honey, Calvin & Erik )
( JC making sure we're all ready for something )
( Erik blowing fire )
( Having a good time )
( The makguli table )
The very next day, we had a nice plan that was executed perfectly. We went down to Osan, where the airbase is, and had a really great Christmas dinner. It was at a Christian Hospitality House. It was just filled with foreigners celebrating Christmas in their home away from home. After eating, talking & playing music, we hopped a subway to go into Seoul and ice skate at City Hall. The other perk to this part of the plan was that I got to meet up with Ji-young (지영), who I hadn't seen since I moved away from Iowa. She was my neighbor when I was living in Iowa City. Iowa is having winter break, so I've been spending as much time as possible with her. Ice skating was great, and so were a few drinks afterwards. Of course, the drinks lasted longer than the last bus home, so we ended up sleeping in a DVD bang, and catching the 5:30 subway home.
( JC, Jen & Justin )
( Katrina, Chelsea & Jen )
( Erik )
( Myself and a guitar )
( The food )
( Chelsea & JC )
( City Hall Ice Rink )
( Seoul )
( another )
( Ji-sun 지선 and Calvin )
( 지선 )
( 지영 was amazed that I am no longer a vegetarian )
New Years Eve
I was the privileged foreign teacher that was given the honor of working an extra hour on New Years Eve. It was my favorite thing to do, but yeah, I ended up working until eleven pm that night. When I completed work, I headed home, where everybody was waiting for me. We had a few drinks and had a nice count down to the new year, then eventually moved on to Yeong-tong ( 영통 ). We hung around there, had some drinks, some galbi, and eventually called it a night. It was a good night out, but no where near as crazy as I thought it was going to be. Not for me, at least. Justin, Matthew & Calvin stayed out until 8am at the Norae-bang.
( Erik, Connor & his lady )
( the boys )
( Matthew & friends )
( singing )
New Years Day
On New Years Day, I hung out with Ji-young and her friends. It was really fun. It was a day where we did many things, and we also didn't do many things. I met with Ji at World Cup Stadium, where we were going to see a movie. This didn't happen, because the only movie in English we could see was Tron, and we didn't want to see Tron, even though it was in 4D. After this fell through, we went to a little museum inside the World Cup Stadium It wasn't very cool, but going out into the stadium WAS. After this, we met up with So-young and decided it was a day for Lotte World, a big amusement park. We took a subway all the way out there, because So-young was convinced that there was a "pick 3" special we could take advantage of. There wasn't. We decided paying to go for 3 hours wouldn't be worth it. By this time, we had also met up with Yeon-hwi, and decided to go bowling. There was a very long wait, so we passed on bowling. Instead, we played arcade games for like an hour. This is one of my favorite things to do in Korea, so I had a blast. Then we decided to see a movie, but once again, we were too late. There were only four seat available for the only English movie (The Last Godfather). I don't know if you know this or not, but Korean theaters have assigned seating. You probably have already figured this out, but the four seats were not next to one another. This didn't happen, so we went to have a few drinks and called it a night. Although many things didn't work out, I still count it as a successful one.
( I didn't take any pictures other than this one in the World Cup Stadium )
Because of the lack of planning the week before, we planned for a Lotte World trip the following weekend. Sadly, Ji had to back out, so we used a replacement Ji, Ji-sun, and went anyways. Ji-sun, Calvin, Justin & I went out in the morning and spent the whole day there. This amusement park is half outside and half inside, so we were freezing half the time, and comfortable the other half of the time. It was a really nice way to spend a Saturday. We rode a lot of rides, waited in a lot of lines, and ate a lot of snacks. I sure do love snacks. I'd say that the highlight of the day was riding the Gyro Drop four times. It was the only ride without a huge line. You could basically ride the ride, then get off, wait five minutes, and ride it again. The lowlight (I don't know if that's even a thing) was waiting in line for over an hour to see a terrible 3D Haunted House thing. Just terrible. Other than that, this day was also a success.
( Jamsil subway station )
( First impressions )
( Justin & I )
( Magician )
( Ji-sun & Calvin waiting in one of the many lines )
( Gyro Drop )
( Atlantis )
( Castle )
( Rode it 4 times )
( Happy family )
( From the balloon ride )
The next day, I redeemed my rain check from Ji, and we were able to have a very nice cafe day. We met in Gwanghwamun and went to my favorite coffee shop in Seoul, Coffeest. After this, we took a long brisk walk down to Samcheong-dong. Regrettably, I took absolutely no photos of the walk. Samcheong-dong is a really nice street to stroll down. It has a good mix of old Korean architecture and modern. The streets were lined with cafes, restaurants & art galleries. I'll return when it's warmer and take a ridiculous number of photos to share. Ji and I came across a toy museum that she said she has passed many times and never entered. We figured that this would be the perfect time to do so. It was actually quite wonderful. I was impressed, and that's why you are about to see photos of so many toys. It was a nice way for me to let out my inner-nerd. Next, we had dinner at an Asian Fusion restaurant that only played Lady Gaga's Just Dance on repeat. It was pretty ridiculous. We just referred to it as the Lady Gaga restaurant for the rest of the day. After this, we met up with Justin, and Hee See (히수) for coffee and waffles. This was a nice time to chat. After, we went back to Gwanghwamun (by taxi this time) and spent quite a while exploring Kyobo bookstore (the largest in Korea). I actually ran into one of Amarisse's (and my) friend, Scott. It was a nice surprise; I never see that guy. Wow, I just used so many sets of parentheses. I don't know what got into me. Moving on. After we had exhausted the fun that can be had in a bookstore, we went to a small restaurant for snacks and beer Turns out, this restaurant was out of all the delicious snacks, so we just had beer.
( Alien (s) (3) )
( Star Wars )
( Han & a stormtrooper[or is it Han in the stormtrooper uniform: we'll never know!] )
( Lord of the Rings )
( Toy Story )
( Just seeing what it's like to be a Simpson )
( Ji wanted to see too )
( Huge Lego men )
( X-men )
( Smurfs )
Chelsea made her way out to Suwon for my birthday, so we figured it was time to pay her a visit in Boemgye. It was well worth it, and I do believe that it may become a regular spot for us. It's only a 30 minute bus ride away. We met up with her friend, her friend's friend, and her friend's friend's employee. We started with some beers, some games, and the Asian Cup soccer game. South Korea tied Australia. I know that sounds weird, but yep, Australia is a competitor in the Asian Cup. After some drinks, we went to a club. I usually don't enjoy clubs, but this one was good for the most part. I wouldn't be surprised if we returned here too. It's always nice when we get to meet up with Chelsea; it had been quite some time.
( JC & Katrina at exit 2 )
( Katrina, JC & Justin )
( Chelsea & Katrina )
( Oh, JC & his face )
( Kristine )
( JC & the waiter who thought he knew JC )
(No Club photos )
Last night out with Ji
So, after spending a lot of time with Ji (윤지영), I'm really going to miss having her around to hang with. She will be leaving to go back to Iowa City tomorrow around eleven. Who knows when I'll see her again. That previous statement actually bummed me out a lot. Ji, I hope that everything works out exactly how you want it to in this life. You are truly an amazing person. I hope that our paths cross again sooner than either of us are expecting. I know that you probably don't read my blog, but if you do, you'll stumble across this message. I'll miss you, pal. I really will. With that said, I'll lay out the evening for you. We met up in Apgujeong (Apgu, if you're young and hip according to Ji). Also, one should not call Sinsa-dong, Sinsa-dong. If one is cool, one would refer to Sinsa-dong as Sinsa. Just so you know. Spreading my newfound knowledge all over the internet is fun. We had coffee and cupcakes on a street that is named after the Korean name for the trees that grow on the side of the road. Hmmmm. I really can't remember what they are called. Either way, post-coffee & cupcakes, we headed out to Gongdeok (공덕) to meet Ji's high school friends for some Jokbal (족발 / pig's feet). All of her friends were really great about making feel welcome with their old-time group of friends. We walked about 10 minutes in the freezing cold. It was the kind of cold that is basically unbearable for more than 10 minutes. After awhile, we ended up in these little narrow alley ways, where every vendor was selling jokbal. We sat inside some plastic sheeting and enjoyed a large portion of pig's feet and a few bottles of makguli. These girls were a lot of fun, and the best part was that they all loved makguli. Next, we moved onto a HOF that served really traditional homemade makguli out of a dinged up makguli kettle. We played drinking games, and they all schooled me. They are even better at Korean drinking games than JC. I would love to see that matchup, someday. After an hour or two there, we moved onto a norae-bang, where we all sang karaoke for a very long time. We sang till almost 11 o'clock. Well, I stopped at 11, because I had to catch a bus home, but the rest of the gang stayed for more makguli and more tunes. It was a night that I'll definitely remember for a long time. I love those memorable nights that won't be soon forgotten. Keep the good times coming.
( the group -me )
( I was given a lesson on a camera angle that would make me look really good )
( Ji & the kettle )
( Everybody thought that this was hilarious. I still don't really understand it. )
( posing )
( Trying out the angle. Not good, but that is the hat that I traded for that night. )
( Love Shot )
( Love Shot )
( 노래방 )
( 노래방 )
( 노래방 )
( 혜림 & 지영 )
Seoul Plaza - City Hall Ice Rink: Exit 6 City Hall Station, Lines 1 & 3, simply exit the station, and you will see the ice rink directly in front of you. I believe that it is open until mid February.
World Cup Stadium: Exits 1 & 2 World Cup Stadium Station, Line 6. Easy as that. The thing is huge; you can't miss it.
Lotte World: Exit 4 Jamsil Station, Line 2. Just goto that exit and follow the signs to the entrance.
Samcheong-dong Toy Museum: Exit 1 Anguk Station, Line 3. When you exit the station turn right. You will pass a really old wall after a couple minutes; keep walking. When you arrive at an even bigger wall (the one that surrounds Gwangbuk Palace), turn right. Follow this until the road forks and traffic begins to go left and right. Follow the right fork. Walk for 4-7 minutes on the right side of the road, and you will definitely see a sign on the right for a toy museum. Keep your eyes open though; this place is small.
Beomgye strip: Exit 2 Beomgye Station, Line 4.