Saturday, April 16, 2011

Vacation Confirmed

I just purchased a ticket to visit the States in about a month. I am having all sorts of different feelings right now. I'm definitely excited. I'm super stoked to see my family and friends, but I'm also a little nervous to see America. I think that it will seem quite strange; I've just become so very accustomed to the way things are done over here, in Korea. I think that hearing everybody speak in English will just jumble my brain a little. I don't have to deal with understanding people and thinking about their conversations in Korean. Meh. When it really comes down to it, I'm getting really jacked about this trip. I'll eat lots of pizza... GOOD pizza. See some music, hopefully. Spend a day or two in Iowa City. Pretty much do all of the things I used to love to do in Iowa.

Side note, I got a haircut yesterday. The lady cutting my hair had very little English, so she had one of the other stylists hanging with her. One was cutting, and the other was using a sponge to sweep off stray hairs on my face. They were working together to cut my hair and work out whatever possible phrases they could in English. The really liked my hair; they kept telling me the the chocolate brown color was beautiful and the wavy texture was great. All of this hair admiration led to a really long haircut; long enough that I had to leave before it was finished, in order to teach my class. I'm trying my best to make my half finished haircut look alright. I'll definitely go back on Monday to have it finished.

Photo on 2011-04-16 at 13.36 #2

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wedding & Pie

First things first.

Happy Birthday Kristen!
Today is my sister's birthday. She is seriously one of the best people I know in the entire world. I miss you, sis. I hope you have a good day. You deserve it. 
Love you!

Pie Quest

Chelsea, Amarisse & I periodically go on pie quests. We just decide that it has been far too long without consuming pie, so we go find pie and eat it. Today, we did exactly that. We met up around 10am at the Express Bus Terminal ( 고속터미널 ) in Seoul. We began the morning with coffee & tea, and naturally, we moved on to the main event, PIE. We paid Lazy Mama's Pie a visit, selected some delicious pie, and feasted on the ledge of a fountain. After we finished indulging ourselves, we explored the book store in the Sinsaegae Mall that is right there. It was a pretty great book store. We looked at video games, magazines, little metal puzzle games, stationary & much much more. After this part of my day was completed, I headed back to Suwon to prepare for the big event of the day.

( Lazy Mama's )

( My pie consumption )

( Chelsea )

( Amarisse )

Andy & Arum's Wedding!


When I arrived home from the pie quest, I was super rushed with far too many things to do. I give myself ridiculous goals in short periods of time. In the two hours I had to spare before needing to head towards the taxi stand with Justin, I really wanted to do make a wedding card, post a blog update, shower, drink coffee & eat food. I managed to complete all of the above except eating dinner, but after all was said and done, I was going to a wedding equipped with a buffet. Everything worked out just fine. We had no problem getting out to the wedding by simply showing the cab driver our invitation and saying Ingyedong. It only took about 15 minutes to get out there.

The wedding was actually quite beautiful. It was short and sweet. Andy's pal James actually officiated the wedding. Seeing as though they have been married for a few months already, they had no need for a real minister to perform the ceremony. It was nice that they had a friend running the show on their day. He has known them since the beginning of their relationship, so it really seemed right. The crowd at the wedding hall was relatively small, so it made the whole event seem a little more intimate. I really enjoyed this wedding.

( our centerpiece )

( Korean wedding buffets are fancy. )

( Andy awaiting his bride )

( prepping the flower twins )

( Arum and her mother )

( walking down the aisle to Miles Davis  playing Time After Time )

( having a laugh )

( the vows )

( the rings )

( James )

( Myself & Andy )

( a little out of place, but a kid holding a beer )

( Myself & Arum )

( Arum enjoying herself )

( Andy doing the same )

( Arum )

Andy & Arum,
I'm so incredibly happy for the two of you! You make perfect sense together. I wish for you both a long and happy life together. Thanks for including me on your special day.

A slightly milder weekend


As soon as we finished work on Friday, Erik & I came home and ate dinner. After satisfying our hunger we headed out for a little skate session.  Not five minutes after we started, we were confronted by a cop who tried to tell us in Korean that we should be skating at Manseok Park. I tried to explain to him that it had closed like 5 hours ago. He eventually walked down the street, so we skated over to an empty fountain that we have found quite nice to skate on. After a few beers, I was lucky enough to see Erik fall way too many times. He was having a rough session, but we really enjoyed ourselves. We even took a break after a couple hours to have a beer at Jurok. We had one, skated some more, then called it a night.

Itaewon & Noksapyeong ( 이태원 & 녹사평 )

The next day, we got a little bit of a late start, but by about 1pm Erik & I were on a bus headed for Seoul to do some skating and general hanging. We first headed into Itaewon to hunt for skate shoes. I ran into a problem that I never thought I'd face. My feet are too big for any of the skate shoes. It was a bummer, but eventually I swung by an ABC Mart and picked up some big, padded Vans. After my first failed attempt at shoe shopping, we met up with JC & Katrina who were book shopping at What the Book.

The group then hoofed it out to Noksapyeong to have dinner at Indigo. That places has the best Basil Chicken Mozzarella sandwich. So delicious. We actually ended up sitting there having a number of beers for quite some time. It was a really fun way to spend a Friday evening. Sori actually came to hang out too. Also, almost forgot to mention that Justin came out for a few beers too. It was a really good group. Before departing, we decided to try out a pizza place that we'd all seen and never tried, Pizzarium. The pizza was alright,  but not the best. I want to go back and try another one. After doing a bit of skating, eating & drinking, we headed out to Myeongdong and did some light shopping. That's where I found my shoes. I was actually in bed by 11pm yesterday. That's a first in a long time for me on a weekend.

( JC & Katrina )

( half of my amazing sandwich )

( Erik )

( Justin )

( the decor in Indigo )

( Sori & Katrina )

( Pizza Menu )

( The choices )

( Justin, Katrina & JC )

( more pizza )

( Pizzarium )

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's finally hiking season again!

( Amarisse & myself at 400m )

Jagged Ridge Island Hike & Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

The weather is warming up, and that means one amazing thing. The outdoor activities are once again available. I haven't been hiking since November, and I didn't even realize how much I've been missing it. On Friday night, I got off work and gathered with some friendlies to head up to Apgujeong to catch a bus down to Tong-young (통영) with 80 other foreigners on a Discover Korea trip.

We cozied up on the bus for a five hour bus ride down south. When we arrived, we all continued sleeping for about an hour. Well, most people slept; it was far too damn hot on that bus for me to sleep. I just eagerly awaited the doors to open so that I could get off and stretch my legs. We were given about an hour and half to look around and watch the sunrise. As with many other places in Korea, this location was equipped with a statue of the legendary Admiral Yi Sun Shin. There was also a little part with a whole bunch of topiaries. Amarisse & I strolled down to check out the park and the sunrise. It was also at this point that Justin began his weekend habit of walking off in random directions to find awesome places to sit (photos will explain). I didn't realize it until I was out there watching it, but I don't think I'd seen a sunrise in ages.

( Waiting for the sunrise in the wrong location )

( One of Justin's spots )

( The Park )

( Admiral Yi Sun Shin )

( JC & Katrina )

( Amarisse, riding a swan topiary )

( Can you find Justin? )

( Sunrise )

After the sunrise was finished, we hopped back on the bus for a short drive out to another harbor, where we were to take a ferry out to Saryang-do (사량도). It was pretty neat; I'd never taken a ferry ride like that before. It was a forty minute ride, and the weather was beautiful. We stood outside and looked at all of the islands and fishing boats as we passed by. 

( the ferry )

Saryang-do (사량도)

Once we arrived on the island, we took a few extra minutes to stretch and let the masses get a head start on the mountain. We didn't want to deal with struggling through the huge crowd we came with. The hike was beautiful. Since it was on an island, every time we reached a peak or walked across a ridge, we could see amazing views of the ocean and the other islands on both sides. It was also nice that there were many choices. You could make this hike as easy or as difficult as you wanted. Every time you saw a big rock face to climb, it was always accompanied by a detour route that bypassed it. Justin & I usually took the tougher of the two. Even though they were more difficult, they were far from impossible. 

Before departing on the ferry, we found a little shop to buy some makgeolli. Little did we know, we were getting a giant bottle of homemade makgeolli. It was delicious, but a little chunky. Meh, it was a great way to celebrate every time we reached a high point. We took many makgeolli breaks and a couple whisky breaks on the big peaks. We probably stopped every thirty minutes to take photos, gaze at the scenery, and relax. I'm pretty sure we still managed to finish the hike an hour early. Not only was the hike awesome, but the weather was gorgeous. We were hiking in t-shirts. I hadn't been outside in a t-shirt since last year. AMAZING. I actually managed to get a sunburn on my neck. After we finished, ferried back to the mainland and bussed it to the pension. At the pension, we had a big meal and were all asleep before ten thirty. A day of hiking can really take a lot out of everyone.

( Pre-hike photo [thanks Chelsea])

( One of many makgeolli breaks )

( Chelsea )

( Group Photo on the mountain. [thanks Chelsea] )

( The ultimate Lord of the Rings ridge walk )

( Justin stacking rocks )

( JC stacking rocks )

( Amarisse stacking rocks )

( Another makgeolli break )

( JC & Katrina )

( The girls: Amarisse, Katrina & Chelseas )

The Boys
( The boys: JC, myself & Justin [thanks Chelsea] )

( JC enjoying yet another makgeolli break )

( My turn )

( gazing [thanks Chelsea] )

( The gang )

( hiking map )

( Thanks Amarisse for making me look more awesome than I really am )

Jinhae (진해) Cherry Blossom Festival

In the morning, we awoke to some ham, egg, and cheese sandwiches before we jumped back in the bus to start the day. We stopped off to see a life-size replica of one of Admiral Yi Sun Shin's turtle boats and have some coffee. After this, it was about a two hour bus ride out to Jinhae to see some cherry blossoms. I don't know if we were running late or what, but we only had two hours to indulge in the festivities. We were able to walk along a really pretty stream lined with cherry blossom trees, and after this, Justin and I took a mild hike up 365 steps to get a nice view of all of Jinhae. I had a few beers and enjoyed myself. Around 3 o'clock we were on the road again. We played Scrabble drinking game and watched Star Trek. Before we knew it, we were let off the bus on the side of the highway in Suwon, and we were home by nine. Good trip.

( Cherry Blossoms )

( Let's take a silly one, )

( a normal one )

( & a pensive one. )

( I'm on a bridge. )

( JC & Katrina )

Group Jinhae
( Group shot on a bridge [thanks Chelsea] )

( Topiaries in Jinhae )

( Jinhae )

( Jinhae )

( Justin under the blossoms )

Thanks for a good time, everyone.
( Group shot courtesy of Amarisse )