Thursday, April 24, 2008

BBQ and Softball in Yeongtong

So I've already talked about how great my Saturday in Everland was spent, but in all actuality, my Sunday was also pretty epic. A bunch of Now Bar people got together at a school in the area to make use of their sporting facilities. The plan was to celebrate our friend Andrew's birthday with a BBQ and a game of softball, but Andrew didn't even show up in the end. I still don't know what happened there! Anyway, though, the game went on and so did the BBQ and the Cass-ah drinking. It was totes fun.

My friend Veronica has a hedgehog! This one is not hers. But it belongs to her friends, who I met at the game. They had their two hedgehogs on an outing, and they were the cutest things I've ever seen. I kinda want one (...NO Janine, STOP).

Mich brought out his diggery doo. He's a pretty talented guy. Nova Scotian, too. Go fig.

To my delight my two yoga buddies showed up, too! I was so happy to see Grace and Rachel (I should note that Grace and I became friends while in Korea through my brother's girlfriend, who is good friend's with Grace's sister back in Canada...very random, eh?)

Ciara and Michelle taking a break from the festivities.

I'm saying "for God's sake, why don't you just SMILE at the damn camera?" all the while failing to do so myself. I'm such a hypocrite.

My pal Jeremy was purposely missing out on the ultimate frisbee game until people started taking off articles of clothing. Suddenly he was gone to play and we were all left looking puzzled.

Me and Patrick and Michelle and Kim were the only ones not playing ultimate frisbee by the end. I'm not coordinated at the best of times, but after two beers with a new pair of glasses and it being nighttime, I would have hindered the team rather than helped. Actually, I hindered my softball teamearlier in the day. And every sports team I've ever been on, for that matter.

The frisbee game was divided into the girls against the guys. This is the winning picture! I'd show you the guys' losing picture, but they had lost their pants by that time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Everland: The (2nd) Most Magical Place on Earth

Enjoying our day: Mich, Patrick, Ciara, Me, Kim, Paul and Molly (Kamal's taking the picture). We're all Now Bar homies.

I had planned on going to Seoul on Saturday, mostly because I haven't yet picked up some much needed birthday gifts for loved ones back in Canada and Insadong is really the only place you can buy any kind of gift. However, when Everland was suggested on Friday night at Now Bar I quickly changed my mind. My friends will forgive me.

That being said, I still wasn't overly excited. If you know me well, you know that I'm pretty anti-theme park. Maybe it was the incident with Yogi Bear at Canada's Wonderland when I was very small, maybe it's my extreme distate for the bastrdization of Disney culture, maybe it's a combination of the two, but I am normally just plain against theme parks. I have since come to the conclusion that as long as one does not plan their vacations around such places, they can be enjoyed and are actually a lot of fun. I need to get off my high horse either way.

We had a great time! A small-ish group of us piled on the 6000 bus from outside HomeEver and had a super busy day riding all the rides (minus the really scary ones for me and Kamal), eating theme park food, walking around taking pictures, watching the parade, and finally the fireworks (which were beyond amazing). We were pretty lucky, we always just "happened" to be in the right area at the right time and always just "happened" to have decent spots for viewing. I must say, although you won't see me planning a trip to Disneyworld anytime soon, I definitely might go back to Everland.

Outside the gates cutesy music was blaring from large speakers, promising all a magical time. I admit, I was totally digging it.

We had a map that we didn't really end up using very much. The park is pretty easy to get around, even if it is built on a mountain.

Mich let his inner child out for the day and couldn't resist some delicious ice cream. Paul joined in on the fun.

We were a little worried Ciara wouldn't be tall enough, but there you go. Who knew?

My favourite might have been the bumper cars. The 40 minute wait was definitely worth the two minutes of continuously slamming into my friends. Ok, so mostly I was the one getting slammed. But still.

One needs to remember that Everland is still Asia. Hence this picture-taking area: every colour of the rainbow, people who are apparently famous to the children dressed up in feather hats and chaos ensuing. We didn't stick around for very long...

This was just crazy. There's a woman who is painted white somewhere in this oversized novelty dress. Another thing I noticed about Everland that is totally Korean is the emphasis on whiteness. The Koreans who were playing characters were painted white, and there were several actual white people working as characters too. Why can't Koreans just be Koreans?

Note the wooden roller coaster in the background. I did not go on this, but nearly everyone else did. They said it was fun but I still have my doubts! There was an actual vertical drop of about 80 feet! So scary.

Instead, Kamal and I went to a cool 3-D movie where our seats moved and water splashed up on us, making it look as if we were part of the cartoon (which we couldn't understand since it was all in Korean, natch) and then moved onto a nice relaxing chair lift to the top of the hill (which only had another 40 minute wait).

Where the chair lift brought us: 50's Diner Rock and Roll street- I'm completely guessing that name. There were some freaky rides we didn't go on (well... some of us went on them) and then we made our way back down the hill only to see that we were just in time for the parade. Then we went to "Holland Town" where we had some dinner and watched the fireworks from our seat. I'll say it again, excellent day.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sorry for the lack of posting.

This pretty much sums up my life these days.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Suwon in the Springtime

When it's not raining, the weather in Suwon is absolutely beautiful these days. No cold wind, 20 plus degrees, gorgeous cherry blossoms and flowers are starting to bloom, and I just can't get enough of the outdoors. It's unfortunate that I still need to use a heater by my cubicle in the teacher's lounge at my school, which is located in the basement of the building. It's so freaking cold down here! Still! I've quite honestly been going outside to warm up, which is a first for this Cape Bretoner- especially in the month of April. We usually still have snow at home.

That being said, my three hour lunch breaks have been heavenly, and my coffee always tastes extra good when I drink it outside, soaking up the sun's rays and basking in the wonderfulness that is the end of the shortest winter I've ever experienced. My coffee buddies enjoy the warmth and sunshine as well. Here's Kerri and Charlene enjoying their caffeine.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hongdae Nights

April has always been a busy month for birthdays in Canada, and one can officially say the same about Korea. On Saturday night a good portion of the foreign teaching community in Suwon went out to Itaewon and then Hongdae for a night of frivolity and dancing to celebrate several birthdays which all happened to fall around the same time.

I haven't had much of a chance to really spend an evening in Hongdae, and until this past weekend thought that, for nightlife, the neighbourhood was kinda overrated- to be honest, I'm not really a dance club kind of girl and Hongdae is reknowed for it's countless bars and dance clubs. This being said, the clubs chosen for this particular evening were awesome- way better than Tin Pan, which is the only other club I've experienced and reminds me of the dirty bar in my university town that I never wanted to go to.

That being said, here are some of the many pictures taken that evening (evening, early morning, whatever).

Cass: The Sound of Vitality. This is the drink of choice for many in Korea, and was certainly the drink of choice for the bus ride into Seoul. Yes, in Korea you can drink on the bus.

Kim (birthday girl), Molly, and Ciara (other birthday girl) at Bar Nana in Itaewon.

Aidan, birthday boy, and Patrick. They love each other.

More love. Seriously, there were so many love pictures taken I had a hard time picking the good ones.

Genevieve's all like "check out my wicked awesome Dubai Terry Fox Run t-shirt that I found in Korea. " I'm all like "random."

J9, Stevo, and Kerbear at the Rocky Mountain Tavern (where nearly all of my university friends happened to be).

Making our way back to the Suwon group at Club FF.

And there it is, with its promise of rock and roll. It totes delivered on that promise.

The rest of the night is kind of a blur. I stopped drinking and increased dancing, not even stopping for pictures as you can tell.

I did stop for street food with Rosie though. You see these things soaking in soup at street kiosks all over Korea- it's fishcake kabob. At least that's my name for it. The soy sauce conveniently comes in a spray bottle, hence covering your desired area quite evenly. I enjoyed some mandhu (I'm so typical).

A shot of Hongdae at night. It's usually busier than this! After the street food we made our way to Club Ska and kept dancing til... ohh... 6 AM. Then we cabbed all the way back to Suwon. The end.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hiking Seonunsan

Last Sunday some friends and I got up at an ungodly hour and caught a bus to Jamsil in Seoul. Then we hopped on another bus full of Korean mountain climbers as well as a few foreigners. Our bus started the four hour long journey to Jeolla province, which is southwest of Gyeonggi province where we live. Why were we going there? Well, after countless Sundays being spent in front of the television, getting up only to make our way to the nearest Galbi establishment and promptly returning to the television we decided it was time to get some exercise.

I, for one, abhor the gym and really suck at sports- like, all sports- so for me, going hiking was the least boring and least embarassing way to get some serious exercise. We all decided to go with the Seoul Hiker's Group, which is mostly comprised of middle aged and retired Koreans- we were definitely the youngest in the group. There were about eight foreigners, and we all had a blast! Even if, at times, I didn't think I'd make it...

So I thought this was the highest point on the mountain, and was therefore really happy when we reached our first "peak". All downhill from here, right? Well... not so much.

Me wearing my "I made it to the top of the mountain and have energy to spare" smirk. Little did I know at this point that I still had 3.5 hours to go. I definitely wasn't smirking in the end!

The whole group of foreigners. Three Americans, two Canadians, two Irish, and one lonely Singaporean (is that the correct term...?).

This rock was pretty huge. I had to take a picture, I just had to.

Ok, everything on this mountain was completely dead and it was a really cold day, but these beautiful flowers were flourishing absolutely everywhere. I carried one for almost two hours until I fell down and all the petals fell off. It was a sad moment.

We finally reached our halfway point and what do the Koreans do? Break out the rice wine, that's what. I never drank alcohol on top of a mountain before. The Koreans acted like they did it all the time. They were actually pretty drunk on the bus ride home, while the foreigners (who were also the only ones under the age of 30) were dead sober. Something is wrong with this scenario!

Rosie, Patrick and Kim on the long descend back to the bus. At this point we still had another hour and a half of walking.

Right after I fell down. That was the only time I fell, though, and my pants didn't even get that muddy. I'm totes proud of myself.

This is Dr. Jun. He is absolute comic gold. At this point we were on a hill that was pretty much vertical, with no end in sight. I almost gave up.

Rosie and Patrick sprinted up the hill with no problem, but Kim and I took a little bit longer (with frequent breaks). This is our "I cannot go any further" picture.

But we did eventually make it to the top. Nice view!

Yet another group photo.

At the bottom of the mountain. All of a sudden birds are singing, a stream is trickling past, and beautiful houses are everywhere surrounded by tea plantations. This place was beyond beautiful; the pictures really don't do it justice.

Walking toward the town.

There was a Buddhist temple with this beautiful river flowing by. Pure heaven.

This is my contemplative picture. Just look at the mountain in the background. I climbed that! Me!

Of course we were ravenous at this point and dinner was already paid for by our club fees. No sooner had we sat down when the server brought us two bottles of soju and all of our side dishes. The kimchi was apparently "aged", and it was really delicious. The food in Jeolla, from what I could tell from this meal, seems a little less spicy with more seafood and mushrooms. Maybe it was just this restaurant, though.

The best meal after a really long hike. A clam and tofu stew, not unlike jiggae but a lot less spicy, served over rice and enjoyed with all the delicious sides. Making me hungry just typing about it!