samcheok part deux.1

samcheok part deux.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

just after arriving at the beach (after nearly a 12 hour drive) here we are, on the 21st of may. . . approximate time, 5:21.

samcheok part deux.2

samcheok part deux.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

we didn't get to the actual caves, but we saw this omni-max movie about the caves in this building, which i initially thought was a booger frosted cake building.

samcheok part deux.3

samcheok part deux.3, originally uploaded by ekissam.

the wishing monument. . . something we didn't catch last time.

samcheok part deux.4

samcheok part deux.4, originally uploaded by ekissam.

translation tah-eem cap-syool.

samcheok part deux.5

samcheok part deux.5, originally uploaded by ekissam.

nigel and holly check out the 'wishing gate.'

samcheok part deux.7

samcheok part deux.7, originally uploaded by ekissam.

yes, even on a gray day, the view of the water and surroundings is pretty beautiful.

samcheok part deux.8

samcheok part deux.8, originally uploaded by ekissam.

it's election time here in korea. and on every corner there are groups of these (mostly) women. some wave, some bow, some sing, some dance a little. . .
each candidate has a number and color assignment. not sure how that came about. . .but here in bright blue is team #1.
they were pretty annoying. . .small stump speeches going on right across the road from one another. . . theme music blaring. . . . cheering. . . samcheok wasn't quiet as sleepy a town as i remembered.

samcheok part deux.9

samcheok part deux.9, originally uploaded by ekissam.

hmmm, a new bar delicacy. hot plate plus eggs. . .

samcheok part deux.10

samcheok part deux.10, originally uploaded by ekissam.

dinner disaster. . . this is the chicken salad i ordered. nothing more than over cooked chicken tenders and lettuce doused in ketchup and mayo. blech.


something to thank god for. . .

some friends and i decided to head out to samcheok again for the long weekend. last time we checked out the penis park, and this time, we thought it might make for a nice getaway place. . . pretty scenery and all.

it was buddha’s birthday. . . so we had it set up. . . beach, badminton, beers, block (sunblock), bats (samcheok’s mascot is a bat because there are caves nearby), bangers (we brought some fireworks), and bubbles (also fun at the beach).

we understand the traffic here. don’t know if i’ve mentioned it, but it can be utterly ridiculous for all holidays. last trip to samcheok, a trip that should’ve taken 3.5 to 4 hours, took 6 to 7 hours both ways. we thought that was bad!

we decided to leave early in the morning. we were on the highway at about 6:30 am friday morning. we didn’t get into samcheok till nearly 5:30 pm. if you add the hour that holly drove to get the car and pick us up that makes for a grand total of 12 hours. and bizarrely, it felt like we were moving more often through the traffic this time. it really makes no sense to me.

well, we made due with music and madlibs.

anyway, we finally got in and immediately went to sit on the beach. . . dip our toes in and such. saturday we drove around to check out the beach areas we missed last time. we did actually play some badminton. . .ate some snacks, drank and relaxed for a bit. the weather wasn’t the greatest of cooperators. it was windy and cloudy. i didn’t mind the lack of sun too much. . . but it wasn’t as picturesque.

it was nice to see the area with green trees on the mountains. we hunted around for activities. . . found a cave you could take a monorail through- but it required reservations in advance. . . so we opted for the omnimax movie version of the caves. at some point the area will have bike rails that you can tour around on- that would be nice. . . . hmmmm- maybe another time.

our room had a tv that we envied for movie nights. . . when it got too chilly and rainy for fireworks and beach badminton, we settled for tv and some laughter filled cranium. - go ahead, you try to mime ‘washboard abs.’

we had a small scuff with another car and met possibly the nicest and most understanding korean couple. (kinda nice that car insurance is compulsory in korea). that killed an hour.

we saw a number of other foreigners, apparently most were vacationing as well. we had drinks with a couple from seoul who seemed real nice. in fact, all the foreigners we spotted were real nice. hand waves, smiles, ‘hellos’ all around- something we don’t have in the handeaup area much.

i had one of the worst chicken restaurant experiences. i ordered the chicken salad, which looked delicious on the menu. . . what i received was a plate full of cut up, over cooked chicken tenders on a bed of chopped up lettuce doused in mayo and ketchup. that’s it. no carrots. . . no peppers. . . . just ketchup and mayo. i only stomached about half of it. everyone else’s chicken sandwiches were just a hunk of chicken thigh deep fried and thrown between bread. made me really miss the chicken place back here.

sunday, we decided we needed to leave just as early, if we were gonna make it back at a decent hour. again, we left around 6:30. we were all tired and pretty much passed out, except for holly, who i can’t commend enough for taking on all the driving.

we left at 6:30 and arrived between 9:30 and 10 am. about the time it actually should take. the way traffic works around here, everyone that was vacationing and driving on friday should’ve also been driving back on sunday. the only thing we can attribute our amazing success to, is church. perhaps everyone vacationing still went to church and therefore didn’t start their travels until we were long gone.

so, while i’m thankful that i no longer subscribe to god and church. . . i’m real thankful today that other people do.

i suddenly had a whole day that i didn’t plan on. it’s like christmas, and your present is a free do over day. i could clean, finish report cards, see a movie, write a blog, sleep a little more, read, listen to podcasts, spend the whole day watching tv. . . . so many options. and i actually accomplished a couple of them. :)

other than that. the first semester of year two is just finishing. . . report cards, new book, and finals fill my days.



buddha.bday.2010.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

this weekend was the lantern festival in seoul. i had a great time last year and was excited to see it again this year.

i'd seen a number of the activities and floats before. . . but the lantern festival doesn't disappoint.

tibetan monks working on a sand mandala.


buddha.bday.2010.3, originally uploaded by ekissam.

the before shot. (korean flag. . . made of lanterns.)


buddha.bday.2010.6, originally uploaded by ekissam.

this parade wouldn't be complete without a dragon that breathes fire.

ps- i won't be able to do a good enough job of showing the magnitude of this parade. it lasted over two and a half hours. so many floats, so many people, so many lanterns. but enjoy the pictures. :)


buddha.bday.2010.8, originally uploaded by ekissam.

sorry, a lot of the evening shots are blurry. . . guess i don't know how to do night shots with my camera, but even with the blur i think you can get a sense of the the people, the lanterns, and the festiveness.

women in flowing gowns. . . and the prettiest lanterns this year, in my opinion.


buddha.bday.2010.10, originally uploaded by ekissam.

people in street clothes. . . and lots of lanterns.


buddha.bday.2010.13, originally uploaded by ekissam.

monks and lanterns.


buddha.bday.2010.11, originally uploaded by ekissam.

dancing in a flower.


buddha.bday.2010.18, originally uploaded by ekissam.

the after shot.


buddha.bday.2010.23, originally uploaded by ekissam.

me, lanterns, a temple, and a big golden buddha.


buddha.bday.2010.24, originally uploaded by ekissam.

camille checking out the lanterns.


woncheon.ap.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

ryan and i made a small trek out to find this abandoned amusement park that i had heard of. i was told there was some construction going on. . . this place was like a small oasis in a desert of construction. so bizarre that it was still standing.


woncheon.ap.3, originally uploaded by ekissam.

the empty viking. . .


woncheon.ap.4, originally uploaded by ekissam.

i can't get over how little vandalism had been done. we only found one bonfire ring. . . and some of the stereo equipment was strewn about. . . but all the other damage seemed to be environmental and a lack of upkeep. no paint can wielding hoodlums. . . no ebay scavengers. . . . ?


woncheon.ap.8, originally uploaded by ekissam.

no drunken ride.


woncheon.ap.9, originally uploaded by ekissam.

would've liked to have spent more time, but we were losing sunlight.


woncheon.ap.10, originally uploaded by ekissam.

apartments in the distance. . . construction all around.


murky instincts. . . or how i became a strawberry blonde

recently i found myself at a hair salon. i was in need of a haircut- serious need. you see, when my hair starts to bug me, i reach for the scissors myself, and while it might tame me for a little while, it never does my hair much good. it continues to grow out in an annoying manner.

i mentioned that i wanted to go full out to swon- new style, a professional color. i’ve always colored it on my own and thought it would be neat to let someone else do it. . . maybe go hog wild and get some of these highlights i keep hearing about.

swon says she knows someone good. so she makes an appointment for me and another friend, hazel. when i see swon i think, man, she has a great cut, i’m glad to be checking out her hairstylist. then we actually get to the salon.

my other friend is seated and swon and i race out for some street food. everyone is starving. when we get back we meet the stylist doubled over in agony on the waiting area couch. she started cutting my other friend’s hair but had to stop because of the pain. it continued so swon decided to run her out to a hospital.

i let hazel know that she might as well relax for a while. in fact, we sat down and started in on the topokki. like i said, we were starving. when swon and the stylist got back, nearly an hour later, the stylist said she was feeling much better, but not well enough to continue. we all sat around and ate for a while.

we made appointments for the next day, even though it was an hour and a half commute.

they were cancelled. she was still not well, we were both a little glad to get to sleep in and hoped she would feel better next weekend.

we made appointments for the next weekend.

12pm was our appointment time. we were there and seated. and seated. . . and seated. the walk-ins were taken care of, and we weren’t seen till almost 2pm.

i remember explaining to hazel that i’m really bad at knowing when to walk away. there we were, after a week of waiting- we were still waiting. i really wanted to trust in swon’s judgment, but there had been so many obstacles in getting to the actual cut and style. i’m pretty good at knowing when i’m pushing too hard for something, but the more i push, the more i want the end result i expected. i’m not willing to just walk away.

possibly, this is a talent i should learn. . . soon.

hazel’s cut from the week before needed some work. the cut turned out fine, but her dye job was too light for her liking. she ended up returning a couple of weeks later to get it darkened.

the one thing that made her laugh all day, when she was upset at the price ($180- a discount down from $250?!), upset at the color, upset at the wasted time. . . was my hair.

granted, the stylist said she hadn’t worked on westerner’s hair much. . . but i’m figuring. . . it’s just hair. the cut i got is pretty great. i’m a fan of it.

she asked me if she could chemically straighten my hair, then put a wave in it to control the curls. the idea sounded nice. . . but with coloring, and the time slipping by, and the idea of my hair falling out from chemical over-treatment. . . i skipped those steps. (i think my wallet was glad as well in retrospect.)

she said she wanted to lighten my hair. ok, i said. . . but not too light. something on the auburn scale.

then i smelled the bleach. ok, i’ve done that before as well. . .and maybe these will be some cool highlights.

the bleach is washed out and i have fun picture messaging a friend that i’m a temporary blonde. . . oh, if only i knew then. . . .

then another dye job. i’m told i needed it because the contrast between my color and the bleached areas was too great. DUH! i’m a dark brunette. . . you just dyed sections of my hair blonde.

the dye is rinsed out. . . then i’m styled. and from everything i can see. . . i am strawberry blonde.

i am stunned.

she assures me how beautiful it is, and how popular this look is with the foreigners right now. she has other customers tell me how great it looks.

like i said, i like the cut. . . but the color is a little beyond.

we pay. . . again, we are a little shocked at the price. we meet up with a third friend for lunch. . . and much laughter over my hair. we consider going back to make a fuss.

i understand wanting to make a fuss. . . but to me, what’s done is done.
i probably should’ve walked away when i thought about it.
besides, i don’t really want to go back to get my hair retouched by someone who has already disappointed me. is there going to be another gotten from arguing with her. . . especially since i really can’t argue in her language?

so, my hair is considerably lighter than i would’ve ever dared.

my students say things like, ‘erika teacher, you have gold hair.’. . . and ‘beethoven teacher,’ or ‘mozart teacher.’ this one took me longer to figure out, apparently, when someone has short kinda crazy curly hair, it’s known as a beethoven or mozart style. took me over a week to ask around since for the first week, with the accent and all, i thought they were calling me ‘batman teacher.’ i knew that one didn’t make much sense.

all in all. . . not terrible. wish it hadn’t cost so much in time and money. . . and the color will probably grow out awkwardly. . . but there are much worse things. at the very least it kept three of us giggling to tears for a whole afternoon.

now. . . where to do some training in reading one’s instincts and appropriate response behavior.



bamboo.fest.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

hazel, ryan, and i headed out to damyang for a bamboo festival on saturday.

the first stop was this area where the street was lined with meta sequoia trees.

it was nice to get past the group of 500 we arrived with so we could actually see the road beneath our feet.


bamboo.fest.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

lots of bikes and buggies to enjoy the street canopied by the trees.


bamboo.fest.3, originally uploaded by ekissam.

entering the bamboo park, we needed to stop and enjoy our street food. toppokki served up in a bamboo shoot.


bamboo.fest.4, originally uploaded by ekissam.

here you can write your wishes and tie them to this wire. . .


bamboo.fest.5, originally uploaded by ekissam.

a pretty area. . . and somewhere inside the park is a traditional village.


bamboo.fest.6, originally uploaded by ekissam.

since ryan and i were two of a very few foreigners around, ryan started playing a game known as, 'let's see how many strangers' photos i can get in.'

there were some people who actually asked for our picture. . . but people were taking shots everywhere, so it was easy for him to casually saunter into the background. . . and he didn't hold back from doing it to hazel's and my photos either.

here i am, enjoying my bamboo ice cream. . . and there is ryan. . . in the background.


bamboo.fest.7, originally uploaded by ekissam.

kinda nice to see that there are some cross cultural norms.


bamboo.fest.8, originally uploaded by ekissam.

not a bad view.


bamboo.fest.9, originally uploaded by ekissam.

in the traditional village we found a guy who would write family mottos in traditional calligraphy.

so, the family motto is 'prosequor alis'. . . or 'with wings, i pursue.' but that didn't translate so well. . . so i ended up with something meaning, 'from the higher mountain, i can see more.'

he also told me that this one is better, since i don't actually have wings. this one is more practical.

funny guy. . .


bamboo.fest.10, originally uploaded by ekissam.

while i waited for my family motto to dry, he painted a fan for me. on the back he wrote, 'crystal scent' which is what first came into his mind when i sat down in his room. he said each one is unique. . . then he wrote the exact same thing on hazel's fan, forgetting he wrote it on mine. funny guy. . .


bamboo.fest.11, originally uploaded by ekissam.

hazel and ryan deliberating over a translation for his motto.


bamboo.fest.12, originally uploaded by ekissam.

oh, and here i am with a panda playing soccer.