Monday, February 25, 2008

Garbage Guts' Birthday and my 100th Post!

I can't believe I've been here for over six months already. Time really does fly. Anyway, congratulations readers, it's my 100th post and for reading my blog you get... some pictures! What a surprise, I know. I'm a giver, not a reciever.

On Saturday we made our way to our old haunt in Itaewon, the basement club known as B1, to celebrate Lisa's (aka Garbage Guts- she eats everyone's leftovers) 24th birthday with lots of beer and hookah and debauchery! It was lovely. I think nearly everyone I know in Korea came, and we were still at the club (some of us still dancing) when they started closing around 5:30 AM. We blindly made our way to the Itaewon jjimjilbang and slept for two or three hours and then had to get up for some Maple Bear training in Pyeongchon- ugh.

Taking the subway after having soju and homemade dokbokkie (I'm proud to say I made it myself) is a lot of fun. It definitely makes the hour ride to Itaewon a little less tiresome. Friends help, too.

Bernard is in absolute heaven. You can just see the crazed look in his eyes, can't you?

Sam and I take good pictures together. It's been decided (but only by me and Sam).

Tristan be stealin' ma cosmopolitan. Thief.

Alan be hogging the shisha.

Hmm. How best to explain these guys. Well, I know the Korean guy is a DJ, and I know the other guy is a friend of his, but what the friend does is unknown. Perhaps even illegal? I can't remember specifics, but he was such a nice guy! The picture says it all.

Lisa and Enda taking a break from being seen.

Kerri did not. stop. dancing. all. night. Seriously. I don't know how anyone can dance for seven hours straight. I barely saw her all night!

Lisa and Samwise.


Guys. Talking about guy things. I think at this point I was shut off from the world!

Annnnd the next morning on our way to training. Yes, I had a wonderful and productive day, let me tell you.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

End of the Year

In Korea the school year ends at the end of February. No long summer vacation for these kids! Not that summer is the best time of year here; I have never experienced such humidity in my life. And the spiders are huge and scary and they fall on my head from the trees. And I scream and make a fool out of myself, but what else is new, right? I love Korea.

Anyway, the end of the year means I get a whole lot of new kidlets and grudgingly let my old ones move up into seven year old kindergarten. I will miss them so, so much. They're pretty much the most awesome kids ever.

Tiger and Ha Jin on the carpet. Is it just me or did they grow over the last six months?

What are you talking about. I have great control over my class! Dong Hyun, making his usual camera face; May, snarling; Lily and James: hiding.

These are my two silent boys. Seriously, they never talk or make noise. Really. I thought my strict enforcement of the "No Korean" rule in class would create a more peaceful environment, but really all the kids just yell "NO KOREAN!" at each other all day.

Nina really is quiet, though. What a sweetheart. And she has the same birthday as my Mom (Happy Birthday Mom...).

I had a pizza party with my ESL's. This is my lone boy, Andrew.

The girls chatted and bickered. Andrew ate pizza. I tried (and failed) to try to get the girls to chat in English.

Jenny is so cute. I will miss her.

Yena in the reading house. Being quiet. Hallelujah.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Night Out with the Boys

I've developed a nasty habit of posting pictures for a long time before posting any explanation for said photographs. Sorry! I have to do all of my blogging from school because, although I have a computer at my apartment, the hard drive is broken somehow. I need to see about getting it fixed. Please cross your fingers for me!

So on Saturday night Lisa and I went out with our new favourite Korean guys, Jack and Steve. Lisa met Jack at a Family Mart after barhopping in our neighbourhood one night and they planned to go for drinks together, then somehow I got thrown into the scenario as did Stevo. I'm glad though, because these are the first Korean guys that I've actually been able to get to know on a more personal level, and they're great!

This past Saturday we went to see the movie "Jumper", which was... well... I didn't hate it and frankly I'm surprised. After the movie we went to find a decent norabang place and we came across this "Multi Club" in Ingyedong- dance club and bar with private norabang rooms. The best thing about our room? The norabang screen had a live feed to the dancefloor, and since the club was empty Lisa and I took turns laughing at each other dancing on the screen. Here's Lisa, the red blob:

I got such a kick out of this thing.

The whole club had a very retro feel to it. We ordered dokbokkie and soju which, in my opinion, is, like, the best Korean culinary combination. Akin to wine and cheese, or guinness and fish n' chips.

Stevo is quite the singer! He surprised us all with his lovely vocals.

I'm not sure what's going on in this picture. Jack did some Big Bang (only the greatest Korean hip hop band since ever) and I was totes digging it. After norabang we went to a bar in our neighbourhood for, surprise surprise, more soju and some serious political discussion involving what their time in the army was like and me blurting out "Korean guys think white girls are easy, don't they?" Jack and Stevo have spent a lot of time in Canada, so obviously they know the "rumours" are not entirely true, but they sure took their time answering my querie! Their silence was confirmation enough.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Korean Commercials: How Indie Artists Make Money

I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but commercials in Korea play really excellent music. Actually, I have to add (sheepishly) that sometimes they even play artists I've forgotten about but never stopped loving, so I rush to the nearest computer to upload their songs to my MP3 player (no iPods for me, I'm clearly living in the dark ages). It doesn't seem that any Koreans actually listen to these artists; they're, for the most part, happily stuck in their world of Korean pop music. I don't really blame them, either. Korean pop is catchy. However, one cannot live on K-Pop alone, and for this reason I'm really happy the commercials play such great tunes. I have compiled a list of the most recent artists heard in the background of a Korean commercial:

1. Last night I was in bed with the TV on for some background noise, when all of a sudden I hear the unmistably mournful voice of Cat Power. She's from England, and although I wasn't a huge fan of her previous stuff, her last album The Greatest was really impressive and enjoyable (mostly due to the fact that I think she went on antidepressants). Anyway, I'm not even sure what was being advertised since the TV was on in the next room, but I know for sure it was a commercial for something. Nicely done! Oh, the song played was the "The Greatest" (same name as the album).

2. Peter, Bjorn and John: So, there's this new show being advertised. I think it's kind of a big deal in North America right now, but I've never heard of it. Gossip Girl? Anyway, it is being advertised on OnStyle (one of the (mainly) English channels in Korea) and "Young Folks" is constantly playing in the background. It's awesome! Keeps me whistling all day. These guys are based in Stockholm. I think they're dreamy, and their music is pretty awesome, so I'm always happy to hear the Gossip Girl commercial.

3. Possibly the most random song of all, there is a commerical for something electronic and futuristic, and in the background "Les Os" by The Unicorns! If you haven't heard of The Unicorns, that's because they're a really random band from Montreal. In fact, I only ever heard of them by accident through my friend Zack. They were an awesome band, but they only put out one album and then broke up. But that one album is pretty stellar! Very rock-ish and electronic, which amusing lyrics ("We're The Unicorns/We're more than horses/We're The Unicorns and we're people, too"). When I saw that commercial I pretty much jumped out of my seat.

4. Kings of Convenience- A great Canadian band, mostly playing acoustic and really, really melodic (not to mention, beautiful) songs. They're voices are soft and their lyrics are really simplistic. I just love them. Their song "Homesick" is played on what I believe to be a car commerical. I think. Anyway, this is an example of one of the bands I had forgotten about since moving to Korea. I am forever indebted to the company that put out this commercial.

5. Ok, this may not be a new, up and coming band. They're, in fact, really really old. I just grew up listening to them because they're one of my Dad's favourite bands and when "Mr. Blue Sky" started playing on a commercial one day I freaked out. Major flashback! The band is of course ELO (Electric Light Orchestra), and they don't really do anything anymore but seriously, they were pretty awesome during their prime.

Has anyone else discovered any awesome music while commercial cruising?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Busan at a Glance

I thought I'd just group all of the photos that don't really merit a post of their own together. I was only there for two-ish days, but I think I did pretty well as far as seeing and doing a lot. I went to the best jjimjilbang I have ever seen (jjimjilbangs being Korean mineral baths and saunas), hiked up a mountain to Beomeosa Temple (tomorrow's post), did the beach bum thing, wandered random streets, and walked downtown Busan (Seomyeon) at night, all the while taking random pictures of random things.

The view from my first hostel, which was located on the 13th floor of a high rise apartment building. I thought this was pretty freaky until...

I got to my second hostel the next day. This one was on the 29th floor. Yikes! PS: If you need a place to stay in Busan, stay here. It was the best hostel ever and the owner is young and hip. It's affordable, June (the owner) lives there and he lets you play his guitar and loiter around his nicely decorated living room, and it's so clean. I loved it. I'll be back for sure. But yeah. It's pretty high up. June was like "Janine, you should go to the rooftop and check out the helicopter pad!". Uh... no thanks.

2nd floor cafe across the road from the beach. Lovely view, but I couldn't stay outside for very long.

This woman made the best mandhu I've ever tasted. I mean, it was beyond delicious. She was laughing at me so hard for taking this picture, probably because she didn't think there was any reason to. But I thought she was so nice and photogenic!

Speaking of mandhu, there is an entire street devoted to little street food kiosks in Seomyeon (which is downtown Busan, where all the cool bars and clubs and restaurants are located).

I found a neat little cafe tucked in a side street near one of the city universities. Good coffee and surprsingly good music!

Street vendors in Seomyeon. I walked for a few hours and I still didn't get to see what everyone was selling. And this was on Thursday night, which was the main holiday for Lunar New Years. I was told nothing would be open!