lotte.world.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

lotte world amusement park in seoul.

hazel gathered a group of us for an early morning trip into seoul. we spent most of the day there.

about half of the park was indoors and half is outdoors. all in all. . . a decent way to spend a saturday while avoiding the inevitability of writing progress reports.


lotte.world.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

didn't catch much of the shows happening on the stage.

we spent all our time moving from ride to ride and standing in lines.

we did catch some junior speed skating competitions on the rink below earlier in the day.


lotte.world.3, originally uploaded by ekissam.

another view from the 'balloon ride'


lotte.world.4, originally uploaded by ekissam.

the ride i didn't go on.

i'm not so much into the falling sensation, as i reiterated to myself on the pirate ship.

they had a great small coaster out on the island. looked a little easy, but the actual ride was surprisingly thrilling.


lotte.world.6, originally uploaded by ekissam.

lucia, kelly, and hazel pose on the bridge to magic island.


lotte.world.7, originally uploaded by ekissam.

as the sun starts to set, the lights turned on. "oooh, a sparkly"


evening.bonsai.sale, originally uploaded by ekissam.

caught this sidewalk bonsai sale on my way to quiz.


guinness.fairies, originally uploaded by ekissam.

last weekend we took our newest teacher out to see itaewon and give the rundown on where one might find things that one might miss from home. . . like cheese.

later into the evening we were sitting around in an irish bar when we were approached by the 'guinness girls', and this guy with the guinness hat. if we answered enough questions correctly, there would be some free guinness and guinness paraphernalia.

we won. now i have a guinness cell phone charm.


kimchi.time, originally uploaded by ekissam.

guess it's about kimchi making season. i've watched mountains of cabbages and radishes grow outside each grocery in town.


flu.precaution.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

field trip time again. science museum this time. and just for flu season, they had some special precautions set out. . . HUGE hand washing stations at nearly all building entrances.


flu.precaution.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

well, it is a science museum. i suppose the high tech equipment is apropos. . . wonder what body temperature would've gotten anyone kicked out?


tiny.octopus, originally uploaded by ekissam.

my anchovy container always has surprises for me.


ryan.bday.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

so i sorta hosted a dinner party, in my tiny place. it involved a continued washing of dishes in order to accommodate my guests, but all went well. i cooked pasta, sauce, and meatballs, and some friends added salad, beverages and pad thai. . . all was delicious. we realized there was a birthday to celebrate so we surprised our new teacher with a cake and ended the evening with apples to apples.



magic.day, originally uploaded by ekissam.

magical is not how i would describe it.

the more you know

(i was just reminded of this encounter last night)

did you know that a cab can become a place of imposed conversion?

did you know that the navigation screens in the cabs which sometimes double as tv’s are also sometimes dvd players?

did you know that a cab driver who is also a jehovah witness will sometimes carry a propaganda dvd ready to play for his customers should he suspect that their souls are in danger?

the ride from jungang has never taken so long. . . and i’ve never heard the word ‘jehovah’ so many times in one night.


day of deflation

aka. . . dawn of the unconscious.

(pics of most of this have already been posted- but i thought i’d try to fill in the gaps)

let’s start out two weeks ago or so. the monday before halloween was our halloween field trip for our students. a pretty good time over all. . . plus i got to wear my sweet baby seal costume.

following the halloween field trip, we learned that one of our kindy students had contracted h1n1. later that day the school decided to shut down for the morning/ kindergarten session for the remainder of the week.

wednesday all the teachers showed up at school for h1n1 testing, including the new teacher who had arrived around midnight the night before. quite the welcoming scene i would assume.

i think it was a good show for the school, to have all the teachers checked. the decision to close certainly wasn’t an easy one, and we’ll only know how it all pans out over time. the good news was that we all came back h1n1 negative. elementary classes continued as usual and we had a few mornings off, which was rather pleasant.

that saturday i skipped all halloween behavior in order to hang out with swon on her birthday. her family had wanted to throw a large dinner and include me. it’s a nice thought, and i haven’t had time to meet her other sister. it’s something i look forward to, but every time swon and i get together it’s a production. many of her friends, or many of my friends. . .or trying to get to a show on time. . . or trying to fit time in around her schedule. when i said that i thought i couldn’t handle the whole family thing she was relieved as well. all she wanted to do was hang out in our pj’s cooking and watching tv- as a change of pace. so that’s what we did saturday. her mom cooked and we had a cake. . . and i’ve discovered that although i want to compliment how delicious her cooking is. . . i need to hold back. any time i say i like something she runs to the fridge or range to get or prepare more to put in front of me. . . i simply cannot fit it all in. . . the laws of physics rule against it.

(as a turn of events, swon gave me a present for her birthday. she found this amazing book all about seoul. like a lonely planet, but even better. great pictures, descriptions and recommendations . seoul selection guides. the more i and my friends look through it, the better it gets and the more they want their own copy.)

side note* there was the possibility of swon and i meeting someone at the airport as well- but that was postponed. but i do want it known that i fully intended to wear the baby seal costume up to the arrival’s gate as long as security let me through.

note* the rule that it must always rain when i am hanging out with swon in seoul held up. her mom has never met me dry. i always walk into her house looking a little like a drowned rat dripping onto her floor.

swon had sunday off as well and i wanted to chip away at some of my site seeing list. we drove out to suwon to check out the fortress.

i let a couple of the newer teachers know i would be at the fortress and that i’ve heard it’s really nice to walk around. hazel also expressed interest in meeting up with swon to give her some happy birthday wishes.

with some delays and cell phone negotiating we all met up at the fortress and walked around a bit of the perimeter. it was kinda chilly, but the fall colors were pretty nice. i don’t think swon had been there before- always nice to have a tourist usher you around your own country :) she said she was thinking of bringing her mom around since it was so pretty.

the group of us headed to the palace area for a military reenactment type show where we planned to meet up with hazel as well. she was delayed because she felt she needed to bake a cake for swon! she cracks me up. but she did show up with some madeline cookies and a small cake for swon that was totally delicious.

we all had a warm lunch before walking through the palace a bit. i still had some of swon’s mom’s leftovers in my bag, so i got to share those as well.

sometime before the sun started to set we decided to head off before it got too chilly.

monday was a normal schedule again, which was hard a little harsh on the psyche after such a nice break.

the week sped by in anticipation for a visitor.

a few weeks prior i heard from an estranged friend from college. he said he’d be in china for a while and would like to jump over to korea for a few days and visit. at first i thought he’d be here for swon’s birthday, but it got delayed a week.

note* i realize there was a time in my life where we were all able to schedule things without cool communication devices. . . but i am far too much in favor of my gadgetry. korea doesn’t really makes things easier with their unique cell services. if anyone intends to visit me for any length of time, i will pressure you into renting a korean phone. it takes so much anxiety, guess work, and uncertainty out of the equation. which reminds me, what the f am i going to do for a phone while i’m state side?!

anyway. . .

brandt arrived thursday evening. i hadn’t been to the airport since i got here, and i kinda forgot how far away it was. so, i was later than i hoped and i didn’t anticipate losing so much time to bus travel that evening. we set to meet at the dunkin donuts. well, there were three that i walked by on two different floors. . . luckily i caught up with him trying to contend with an atm machine. he grabbed a snack and we set back to catch a bus to ansan.

i knew we’d be getting out a lot that weekend for meals, so we had a quick dinner at home before i dragged him off to hang out bar for quiz night. i also tried to give him ideas of what he could check out while i was at work the next day. i ended up handing him the book that swon gave me the weekend before and a t money pass for the train.

he ended up in insadong on friday. a good choice i think. he found some nice artwork and a vegetarian restaurant. . . i showed him some pictures of what the area looked like during buddha’s birthday for comparison and inspiration. while at work i was able to score a borrowed bike from a friend of a friend which would come in handy later.

friday night we joined my co-workers for a work dinner. one teacher leaving. . . another teacher starting. . . so we must celebrate. . . eat, drink, and noraebong. after dinner, the brighton teachers headed to a local bar for round two. i took brandt on a tour through ansan lake park. i was a little disappointed. none of the cool light up elements were lit, and none of the speed skaters were training. . . guess it was a little too chilly that evening. but a nice ride.

afterward we met up with everyone at the bar to finish up round two and find out if there would be a round three. the evening started to lose steam but there was a final push for round three. even though brandt’s visit was really short, i felt it was a moral imperative to get him into a noraebong room. we were both tired, but an hour of flashy lame disco lights and loud singing gave me a second wind.

i took a chance on our saturday schedule. go see something in and around seoul? get to something cultural? . . . or. . . participate in a scavenger hunt that a friend put together? i had planned on doing the hunt before i knew brandt would be here. . . so i just decided to go for it. besides, it included a lot of bike riding, which i thought he might appreciate.

sadly, the event didn’t have many participants show up- i felt bad for the guy that organized it- he put a lot of thought and work into the whole thing. . . not to mention that he let brandt borrow his bike!

on the other hand. . . we had a fantastic time. we were on a team of five, we were given a map and tasks to accomplish all over ansan to rack up points.

i think one of our biggest draw backs was that we didn’t have a korean speaker on our team. it’s difficult enough to approach a taxi driver to ask to sit in his seat to take a picture using mostly hand gestures. . . but try to mime a way to ask someone if you can give them a piggy back ride and take a picture- without seeming creepy.

the ride was great. i saw new places that i want to visit again. . . and the tasks were a lot of fun. (as you might have imagined from the pictures.)

the whole thing culminated at a bar where our scores were tallied. the winners had a score of 85. . . we had 82. . . pretty respectable.

we left the bar around 6. . . and our evening was not over.

i had planned on meeting with swon for dinner, and i thought it would be nice to get back to seonyudo island park again.

swon and ju-won picked us up and we found a great bibimbap place. . . a really nice dinner with some of the best dokpokki (sp?) i’ve had yet.

we drove over to seonyudo and walked around for a bit . . . chatting, joking, taking pictures. . . and par for the course. . . it rained.

we missed the last set of trains and got back to ansan by cab.

the next morning i went out to the airport to see brandt off. i was pretty exhausted. i accidently bought a bus ticket back to the wrong station in ansan. . . but it was only a longer cab ride to my apartment.

while passing out on the bus i was exceedingly annoyed by someone who was playing their music too loud for me to really fall asleep. took me about three minutes to realize the music i was annoyed by was in my own headphones, and i simply needed to turn down the volume. told you- i was tired.

brandt’s visit was completely unexpected, kinda surreal- haven’t seen him in over ten years. . . but really nice. like after seeing trevor, i’m feeling kinda out of sorts. i’m missing things that were once familiar to me. missing people. . . missing my old job. . . or my old jobs. . . i do question my decisions still. . . but at the same time, i really like that i’m here.

with all the recent excitement, i rested uneasily through sunday.

this past week hasn’t let up much. preparation for finals. . . some finals administered, some held off due to a high number of absences. thursday evening- a night out with hazel to see a dance show. friday- field trip to a science museum. friday night- a night of cooking, chatting, eating and apples to apples at my place. the drama of getting my boss to finally book flights for the holidays for me. . .

i’m still tired. so. . . nothing doing today. if i wanna be unconscious. . . i will. if i wanna watch lame tv. . . i will. but i’m not leaving the apartment (barring an emergency) or getting out of my pj’s. plus, i need to do some cleaning. . . and apparently, some blogging.

it would seem i’ve done enough blogging. . . time to clean a bit. . . or sleep.



ansan.scavenger.hunt.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

saturday was quite a bit of fun. i brought brandt along on a scavenger hunt set up throughout ansan by some friends. we were on a team of five: natalie, roland, vivienne, brandt, and myself. we biked all over ansan and took pictures of our assigned tasks.

here we are spelling out 'ansan' -ymca style- in front of city hall.


ansan.scavenger.hunt.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

a team member sitting with an adjuma (old woman) selling food on the street.


ansan.scavenger.hunt.3, originally uploaded by ekissam.

team members celebrating a goal mid field outside of wa stadium.


ansan.scavenger.hunt.4, originally uploaded by ekissam.

and here are the same team members running away to jump back over the fence before getting caught. :)


ansan.scavenger.hunt.5, originally uploaded by ekissam.

team members on outside work out equipment.


ansan.scavenger.hunt.6, originally uploaded by ekissam.

your team in a tree.


ansan.scavenger.hunt.9, originally uploaded by ekissam.

this was a two-fer. . .

1- find a couch on the street and sit in it creatively

2- get a picture of your team hanging upside down


ansan.scavenger.hunt.11, originally uploaded by ekissam.

your team with the fake pandas.


ansan.scavenger.hunt.12, originally uploaded by ekissam.

a picture of your team with someone in uniform.


ansan.scavenger.hunt.13, originally uploaded by ekissam.

get a picture of one team member pushing another team member in a shopping cart.


ansan.scavenger.hunt.14, originally uploaded by ekissam.

pick the noses of the fat men statues.


ansan.scavenger.hunt.15, originally uploaded by ekissam.

make a human pyramid in front of the performance center.


ansan.scavenger.hunt.16, originally uploaded by ekissam.

a picture of your team jumping in front of the green man sculpture.


ansan.scavenger.hunt.17, originally uploaded by ekissam.

get a picture of your team pretending to hold up the gigantic egg.


ansan.scavenger.hunt.19, originally uploaded by ekissam.

get a picture of your team in a phone booth.


ansan.scavenger.hunt.20, originally uploaded by ekissam.

get a taxi driver to let you sit in the driver's seat.


ansan.scavenger.hunt.21, originally uploaded by ekissam.

get a street vendor to let you stir their food.

shortly after this we headed to the finish line bar to have a scores tallied.

we came in a respectable 2nd place. 83 points., originally uploaded by ekissam.

friday night started with a vietnamese work dinner for exiting and entering teachers. brandt came along and we then broke off for a bike ride., originally uploaded by ekissam.

after a ride through this park and ansan lake park we are off to noraebong!, originally uploaded by ekissam.

brandt had a good time with the challenge of shooting in the noraebong setting. the nicer pics in this set are his., originally uploaded by ekissam.

me and brandt., originally uploaded by ekissam.

ryan, double fisting the soju and mic., originally uploaded by ekissam.

hazel at noraebong., originally uploaded by ekissam.

camille and her balloon.


11.5.09, originally uploaded by ekissam.

brandt flew in thursday evening. i dragged him off to quiz in jungang where he met ozzy.



halloween.2009.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

you can see just a bit of the tail, but i think it's the pink chucks that really pull the ensemble together.


halloween.2009.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

i has a blu buket!



suwon.fortress.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

i pulled swon out for the day and dragged her to suwon fortress. we met up with a couple other teachers and walked around. later in the day, hazel joined us. she made swon some super yummy birthday cookies


suwon.fortress.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

we walked along half the wall before heading down for a military performance. sort of a chilly day, but when the sun peaked through it was really pretty.


suwon.fortress.3, originally uploaded by ekissam.

one of the gates along the fortress wall.


suwon.fortress.5, originally uploaded by ekissam.

i'm not sure if it's peak season or not, but the colors are pretty nice.


suwon.fortress.6, originally uploaded by ekissam.

i scoped a fun pedestrian road inside the walls that could make for interesting bob sledding come winter.


suwon.fortress.8, originally uploaded by ekissam.

there was a small performance at the palace inside the fortress.

the 'king' walked about to theme music. (he entered through some poorly executed fog.)


suwon.fortress.9, originally uploaded by ekissam.

an archery contest.


swon.bday.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

so, in many places people celebrate halloween on october 31st. i celebrate swon's birthday. we sat around in our pj's watching movies, and eating her mom's cooking. a nice low key night.


just.wednesday.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

after the excitement of the halloween party, we found out that one of our kindy students had h1n1. our school decided to close the kindy classes for three days. then all of us went in for testing.
i think it was a really good show, to make sure all the teachers are ok- since we still had elementary classes.
it must've been an interesting morning for the new teacher who arrived around midnight just before. but the day went on and on.