Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Life In Seoul Continues... The June Edition

Saturday, June 6th: The newest addition to la famille Boire was born today. Welcome to the world my beautiful niece, Hayden Marie Boire! Can't wait to meet you, little one!

Saturday, June 13th: The idea of having a SLP picnic had been brought up and suddenly, we were told that we'd be going to play paintball. No one's really sure how this decision came to be made, but the decision was made and that was that. I admit, I wasn't all that excited. Meeting at 9:00 on a Saturday morning didn't make for enthusiastic participants, especially knowing this would be an all morning/afternoon ordeal. I was a tiny bit happier because Jane told me that I could bring AJ. I wanted to bring him along because I knew he'd have a blast, not to mention I wanted to be on his team... Who best to have on your team than someone with intense gun training! Bwahaha! We met up at school and were surprised to see a huge blue travel bus waiting for us. I was expecting a SLP bus, not something so cozy! The ride there was fairly quiet, mainly because several people who will remain unamed had been out drinking late the night before. Some may or may not have woken up still intoxicated... Haha! Let's just say those individuals were especially entertaining *cough*Laura*cough*. We traveled for about an hour and found ourselves in the middle of nowhere. It's always interesting leaving Seoul and seeing houses. Trust me when I say that houses are a rarity here... It's apartment living all the way. Anyways, we were given instructions, safety rules, everything we needed to know to have a safe and happy paintballing experience. Some of us were still slightly relunctant about playing, myself included. Not exactly a fan of guns, even the paintball kind. Well, let's just say that our attitudes changed pretty much the minute we started playing. It was so much fun! We ended up playing 3 rounds and it was one of the funnest things I've done in a while. First of all, I loved running around in the forest. I've missed that and it reminded me of being at the cottage. And it was just so funny watching people hiding, scrambling around trying to take out the opposing team. Here are some pictures that were taken during the games:

I'm totally in the zone, trying to stay unseen but take people out at the same time. Turns out that I have terrible aim. *pouts*

My partner-in-crime, Amanda, and I. We discovered that we're pretty good at hiding out and staying out of the line of fire. We were the only 2 survivors on our team in the first round and survived round 2 as well. Go us!

The best team around: Team Mean! From left to right: Jay, Amanda, AJ, Stephanie, Lindsday, Danny, Tara, Me, Dan

The whole crew (well, everyone who showed up, that is.).

After we finished paintballing, we hopped on the bus and headed for lunch. We spent a few hours at a galbi (grilled pork or beef) restaurant, eating and hanging out. And no, I didn't eat galbi. I picked at the veggies and had some bibimbap. After lunch AJ and I found a trail that brought us down by the river and we walked along the water until it was time to leave. Everyone was spent from events of the day, so it was a very quiet bus ride home. Pretty sure everyone went to bed early that night!

Friday, June 26th: On our third field trip of the year, we went to the Gyeonggi English Village:

"The Gyeonggi English Villages are places where people can use the English language in a variety of contexts as well as experience English-speaking cultures. All this can happen right here in Korea.There is now an alternative to traveling abroad for this type of experience. The English Village offers a similar environment that students, families, and teachers might experience in a foreign country, all right here in our own backyard." (http://www.english-village.or.kr/)

If we'd had lots of time to spend here, I'm sure it would have been a great. The buildings were beautiful and there was a lot to see, but you'd need several hours to actually enjoy it. We were there for may an hour and a half and I have to say I was pretty disappointed. All we did was quickly walk around and take a few pictures by a parked train:

We ate a quick lunch and then saw the last 30 minutes of the cheesiest English musical I've ever seen. Even the kids were less than impressed, which is saying a lot because I can normally make them laugh by doing practically nothing at all. The only good thing that came from the musical was the plot, which had to do with a little girl going into the Land of Monsters. The kids weren't even a tiny bit scared of the monsters in the show, so I asked them to show me their scariest monster faces. These were my favourites:

Jenny L's the smallest, silliest kid ever, but she's got one mean monster face!

Surprisingly, I feel that the girls were better at monster faces than the boys! Jinny and Juddy were pretty fantastic at it!

...With the exception of Joel, who blew all the other boys' monster faces out of the water. The fact that he used props to emphasize his ultimate monsterness automatically makes him fantastic! This kid takes being a monster seriously!

The kids all said that they really enjoyed the English Village, so while it was my least favourite field trip thus far, it's their opinion that matters. If they're happy, I'm happy!

Saturday, June 27th: Today was the day that I never thought would happen: Everland!!! We'd tried 2 times previously to go, but woke up on both those days to torential downpours. Needless to say, I pretty much did a dance of joy when I woke up that day and saw the sun shinning in the sky. AJ and I met up with Laura and Amanda at 8:30 that morning for an early start to the day. After a subway and bus ride, we finally arrived at our destination at around noon. Amanda and I were so happy that we skipped towards the Everland gates, dragging AJ along with us:
Once inside, we didn't delay in taking a group shot. Kimchi!!!
From then on, the fun just kept 'a comin!

We had some silly photo ops (I love AJ for not only dealing with my silliness, but encouraging it as well! He's such a good team player.)

Had our faces painted. This was long overdue for Amanda and I, who had wanted to get our faces painted together at the Cherry Blossom Festival in April. Sadly, we weren't able to find the face painting booth then, so when we saw the table upon entering Everland... BAM! We were all over it! Yes, we're both children at heart and proud of it!
We rode as many rides as we could find, including the ferris wheel, carousel, spinny rides, a flume ride, a roller coaster that scares me but causes me to giggle hysterically the entire time, a fun house, a laser ghost hunt, a room that appears to spin 360 degrees (that was messed up!) etc, etc, etc. Oh. We also upset some Koreans by showing them how you're REALLY supposed to ride the bumper cars. We couldn't believe it when we were waiting in line and saw them dodging each other, trying their best not to hit anyone. It looked more like go-karts than bumper cars. Isn't the point of bumper cars to BUMP into each other? So we made it our mission to hit as many people as possible during out alloted time. It was funny seeing all the shocked expression clearing saying "WHAT?! YOU HIT ME!?!" It was great!!! The poor locals never knew what hit them! We also went on a Jungle Safari in which we got to ride in a tiger bus, as seen below:

Just being inside that bus made me so happy! We got close up and personal with lions, tigers, bears, oh my! Also from a distance, some giraffes, zebras and an elephant. It was pretty amazing actually and not as depressing as I originally feared it might be. You know how some zoos are... they're standards are less than awesome and it's always sad seeing animals having to live like that. But these animals seemed well cared for and had lots of room to roam and stretch their legs.
Once it got dark, a parade of lights drove through the park. There were many floats, but this one was my favourite:

Isn't it beautiful! I wish my house could look like that. That'd be great. We spent this busy time hitting up a few more rides before the park closed down at 10:00pm. While AJ and Laura went on one last ride, Amanda and I visited the gift shops and treated ourselves to a few things. I bought myself a small stuffed white tiger and moose ears. They make me feel very Canadian. I also bought myself a panda shirt after the Jungle Safari. Amanda bought the same one, so we're happy to finally have couple shirts!
Speaking of couple shirts, I'm going to go off topic for a few minutes to explain to you the phenomenon that is couple shirts and outfits. In a display of their love for each other and as a symbol of their relationship, it is common for Korean couples to wear matching shirts. When I say matching, I mean the exact same shirt, just in different sizes. It's become an ongoing game to take pictures of as many couples we can see wearing couple shirts. On this specific day, I do believe we saw at least 10, but it could be more. I lost count after a while. This game started early on the day as we saw 2 couples in couple shirts as we were waiting for the bus to Everland. I also feel the need to point out that both sets were of the pink variety. I find it interesting to note that Korean men have no qualms about wearing pink, purple, or any of the so-called "girly" colours. Some couples take this trend to an extreme, not only wearing the same top, but the same bottom as well. Here is an example of quite possibly the best couple outfit I've seen since living in Korea:
Please note the matching shirts, shorts and shoes. Oh yeah... they're serious about this couple outfit business. Just yet another thing that makes Korea such a fantastic country to live in!
Anyways, we stayed at Everland until the park closed at 10pm, then made our way back to the bus, then back to the subway, then back home. It was about 12:30am by the time I walked into my apartment door and after a loooong shower to wash off the grime of the day, happily went to bed. I forgot to mention that it was a hot day, reaching the mid-30s, so I felt less than fresh. I'm so happy that I got to experience Everland a second time during my stay in Korea. I had a good time the first time I went during the weekend of Chuseok, but we spent most of that day at the zoo and I really wanted to go on some rides. I'm happy that it finally happened! And I couldn't have gone with a greater group of people. The 4 of us had a blast that day and were all fantastically random and silly. Too much fun!
July - to be continued...

Life In Seoul Continues... The May Edition

Tuesday, May 5th: Happy Children's Day!!! This was a happy day for one reason and one reason only: HOLIDAY!!! This was our first day off since the Lunar New Year in January and it was desperately needed. We were originally supposed to have the Monday off as well, which would have given us a 4-day weekend, but nope. Didn't happen and we had to go into work. Needless to say, no one was pleased and everyone was pretty bitter upon hearing this news. Anyways, a day off is a day off, right! I could (and kinda wanted to) spend the day in bed sleeping and being lazy, but instead woke up early and headed to Itaewon to do some shoe shopping with Meghan and Kelly. Fun! We spent the morning/early afternoon trying on shoes, looking at clothes and then eating Quiznos, followed by Coldstone for dessert. A trip to Itaewson isn't complete without a sub/ice cream combo! Which reminds me: Someone needs to open a Coldstone in Canada. Best ice cream EVER!!! Later that afternoon, Meghan and I took the nearly 2hrs trip to Uijeongbu to meet up with some army boys. Meg had a date and offered to meet him close to the base and since I'm always happy to spend time with AJ, I was quick to offer to make the trip with her. Meghan ended up meeting her date a bit later than intended, so she, AJ and I had dinner together which was great, because I love hanging out with my two favourite redheads! Once we were alone, AJ and I wandered around Uijeongbu then went to a DVDbang (DVD room). DVDbangs are one of those things that I so wish we had in Canada. They're all over the place and basically, you go in and pick a DVD from a huge selection. You then go into a private room with a sofa and watch the movie on a big screen complete with surround sound. So awesome! I've never had to pay more than W12,000 so it's cheaper than going to a theatre and definetly more comfortable. I met up with Meghan at around 10:30pm and we made the trip back home. I was in bed later than my bedtime, so I was once again tired the next day, but that's ok. It was a busy, but entertaining Children's Day!

Saturday, May 9th: On this lovely sunny day, a bunch of us headed to the Han River for the...

(3rd Seoul World DJ Festival)

Upon entering the festival grounds, we made our way to a painting booth. The paint was meant to be used on the wall, where people had written messages, drawn pictures, and so on. But as our group has never really been known for following the norm, we took liberties with how the paint should be used:

We definitely got dirty looks from the workers at the booth, not to mention strange looks from everyone else throughout the day, but it's not as if anyone tried to stop us! I personally think we looked fabulous! It was a great day. DJs from all over the world played so we had an eclectic variety of music to keep us entertained throughout the day. There were also booths setup throughout the park grounds, so I wandered to all of them with random friends. Amanda, Kelly and I made t-shirts for super cheap which was fun. Oh! And Meghan and I had our portraits done, but it wasn't very good. We both looked so angry in the picture which was annoying because we were laughing the entire time! I'm still a bit bitter about that because Jen and Tara had had their portrait done earlier in the day and there's was really good! *pouts* The day went by surprisingly fast and suddenly, it was nightime. Bring on the glow-in-the-dark accessories! Haha! By this time, everyone was getting pretty mellow after a day in the sun, so it would have been easy to head home. But Jamie being the fantastic woman that she is had the insight to bring jump ropes. I hadn't jumped rope in soooo long! It was great fun and had quite a crew, old friends and new, joining in on the action. Oh! Throughout the day, we kept being photographed by random photographers and journalists, which was kinda weird but fun all at the same time. I'm sure our pictures are in some Korean newspapers somewhere. Anyways, Jen (or was it Jamie... Can't remember!) was browsing DJ Fest's Facebook page and checking out the pictures from the event when she came across this picture that was posted as one of the album covers:

Yup, that's Tara and I in all our jump rope glory! We were very excited and felt like semi-celebrities! Haha! I'm very glad that I got to experience DJ Fest, especially knowing that I'd be missing Ottawa's Bluesfest this year. I need my yearly dose of music festivities!

Monday, May 11th: Happy 1st birthday to my beautiful niece, Abriele. I'm very sad to be missing your first birthday, but look forward to spending time with you once I get back to Canada! *kisses*

Thursday, May 21st: Happy 24th birthday Laura Teacher! Je t'aime!

Friday, May 22nd: In honour of Laura's birthday, Linsday hosted a potluck. The whole SLP crew made an appearance at one point in the night which is always fun. We're pretty good when it comes to birthdays and I find that everybody tries extra hard to attend whatever celebration might be going on. There was lots of yummy food and everybody stuffed their faces until we whined about how full we were. I'm not sure how long we stayed at Lindsay's, but eventually the group split up. Some were heading to Hongdae, but I followed the birthday girl and others to a nearby noraebang for some song therapy. Oh how I love noraebang! I haven't done it nearly enough times which I find silly because I absolutely love it. What's better than sitting in a room with your friends singing your hearts out?! Can't think of many things that top that. We should have been there for an hour but were given extra time which is always a bonus! Anyways, I had an excellent time celebrating Laura's birthday and hope that she too had a good Seoul-style birthday!

Friday, May 29th: Today I went on my 2nd field trip with my new batch of preschoolers. We headed to a farm in Il-San where the kids had a chance to pick vegetables, hang out in a grassy field, and take a tractor ride around the farm. Here are my kiddies showing off their prize cucumbers:

Cherry Class (aka Cherry Cats)

Banana Class (aka Banana Monkeys)

It was a fun-filled morning and the kids got to run around like little maniacs, something they always enjoy doing. I also got in a good workout chasing and being chased by kids from not only my class, but others classes as well. Amanda has a video on her Facebook page with me screaming and running around like a lunatic.. good times! Since I was sleepy by the time we left, I'd hoped they'd be sleepy on the trip back home and relax, but as always, I was wrong. Even after all this time, I'm still amazed by kids seemingly unlimited amounts of energy!

Friday, May 29th - Sunday, May 31st: This Friday night was spent heading to Busan for a beach-bound weekend. This was the opening weekend of the beaches in Busan, a nearby city by the sea, so we went to celebrate .

(2009 Haoundae Sand Festival)

We caught the train at 10:oopm-ish from Seoul Station and settled in for the 3 hour trip. I sat at a table with Meghan, Tara and Laura and we entertained ourselves by playing cards, drinking, and trying not to get kicked off by train personel who kept coming over asking us to quiet down. In our defense, we were being quiet! It's just that no one else was talking or they were asleep. What didn't help was that we kept having mad giggle fits in our attempts to be quiet which pretty much defeated the purpose. Anyways, the trip went by fairly quickly and without any real incident. Upon arriving in Busan, the group split up since we were staying in different places. I headed with Amanda, Meghan and Laura to a hotel in which a friend had reserved rooms for us. Our group chose not to go out that first night so once at the hotel, I settled in my room that I was sharing with Amanda and went to bed.

We slept in the next morning and after figuring out directions and getting ready in our beach-wear, the four of us headed for the beach. One slight problem: IT WAS FREEZING!!! It was overcast and windy, not an ideal day for lounging on the beach! We kept hoping it'd clear up, but the weather was still dreary once we got to the beach. We met up with the others and tried to sit on the beach, but gave up when we decided it was too cold. Instead of being beachbums, we wandered around and checked out the shops in the area. I ended up buying a bathing suit that I paid far too much for, but it's fabulous and worth every penny (or WON, in this case...)! We then went to eat which became a mission in itself. We had tried to go to a reknown Mexican restaurant, but it was a tiny takeout restaurant and the lineup was insane. We stood in line for a while, but we were a large group so we finally gave up. By this time, we were all craving Mexican food so we went to a restuaurant that we had seen by the beach. This place was originally a bar that they'd turned into a restaurant not too long earlier. It was easy to tell that they were ill-equiped for such a busy weekend because most of us waited for over an hour for food that never came. Sigh. We left after paying our drinks and headed back to the beach. Sand sculptures were being created so we decided to check them out:

After checking out the sculptures, Amanda, Meghan, Laura and I, the quartet that hadn't eaten since breakfast, went to TGIFridays and FINALLY ate. We spent more than we're used to spending in Korea, but it was worth it. YUM! There were plans to go out that night, but Amanda and Laura opted out. Once we got back to our hotel, I switched rooms with Laura and got dolled up with Meghan. We cabbed to Ellen's, Tara's friend whom she, Jen and Susie were staying with. We hung out at Ellen's for quite a while, listening to music and playing drinking games. We finally made our way to Foxy's, a fantastic club. SO MUCH FUN! It has several levels and each level played a different kind of music. It made for a great dance party and we spent many hours dancing our little hearts out.
Waking up on Sunday was slightly painful thanks to all the fun that was had the night before, but we once again made our way to the beach. The weather was much more cooperative that day and we stepped out of the hotel to sunshine and warm-weather. The entirety of that morning/afternoon was spent lounging on the beach. Amanda and I were crazy enough to go for a dip in the ocean (it was cold!), although not many were quick to follow in our footsteps. We left the beach and headed for the train at around 3:00pm and made it just in time to catch our 5:00pm train back to Seoul. Even with the crappy weather on Saturday, it was a great weekend and I'm glad that I got to visit Busan, a city I'd heard nothing but good things about. If I were ever to live in Korea again, I think I'd want to live there. It's a large city but has a chill small city feel to it. Plus the beaches are great, so it's totally my kind of place!

(Meghan, Me, Laura, Tara, Susie, Amanda, Jen)

June - to be continued...