Wednesday, March 26, 2008
So once again Matt the musical maestro has put on a talent show worthy of Korean Idol! A good sized crowed came along to watch the performances of many and varied musicians, and to get up and have a go themselves.
The night started out with a number or two from the organizer, Matt Amond.
Following him, were the very talented (and good looking) brother and sister team, Park Ji Sung & Park Ha Young on the piano.
Next up, it was the lovely Vanessa showing off her classical talent on the clarinet, which left the audience in awe.
Rebecca and her friend got up for some finger-plucking folksy type stuff and then Jim threw us a few classic rock tunes.
Next up it was my turn for some Radiohead, Femmes & U2.
Then Jens and his talented wife, Randi, got the crowed involved.
Noel crooned out some more tunes...
The owner of the music store downstairs gave us a few traditional Korean numbers on his squeeze box.
And then it was on to the Pre-CD release preview of the Jordan Emmans band.
Finally then night ended up with a Jam session, which kind of turned into the Jordan Emmans Band featuring Mr Matt Amond.
It was an amazing night of great music, good friends and fun times!
Monday, March 24, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
Catch up time
Ok, ok... so I haven't written in AGES....
Truth is, I really haven't been bothered. It's not that nothing has happened. Really, so much has happened that I honestly can't remember it all... but I just haven't felt like writing it down. So, I'll see if I can remember a bit of what happened and just add the photos later....
Waaaay back in January, I spend two weeks working at a teacher's training camp. Now for those few of you who don't know about this... it did not mean I was learning more about teaching. OH NO! I was the teacher! Can you believe it. What's even more bizarre is that I (with no formal training in teaching) have to teach Korean English teachers (with 4 years formal teacher training) how to teach English.
I've now done this kind of camp three times but this is the first time I was looking forward to it. It is also (apparently) the last camp I will have to do of this kind. During the camp, I was able to meet some great people and my team was by far the most fun to work with.
Flew to Sydney
Two days after the camp, I was on a plane bound for Sydney. Now usually when I fly home, I try to fly directly to Brisbane, as Sydney is a long detour. However this time I had a good reason to go down south. I wanted to check in on my friend Miji. She moved to Australia a few months ago but seemed to be having a bit of a hard time there.
I spent a great day with her and got to see the usual tourist sites in Sydney. Strangely enough, this was the first time I've been there (besides a quick trip when I was 3 that I don't remember). I've always been a bit down on Sydney, but I have to admit, it is a beautiful city to visit.. just make sure you bring lots of money!
After this great day, I caught a train up to Newcastle where I saw my Aunt, Uncle and cousin that I haven't seen for literally half my life time. It was great to be able to spend some time with them and catch up on all those years. It was especially good to bond with my cousin again, as we were fairly good friends when we were younger.
After this, it was back to Sydney again.
The time in Sydney was good but on the last night there, took a strange twist into bizarre land. I won't go into too much detail here, but it involved Miji's ex- some drugs and a lot of scary psychotic, paranoid behaviour. Suffice to say, I'm not likely to ever talk to her ex- again.
Went to Brisbane
From Sydney, I jumped on a plane and went up to Brisbane and on to Kingaroy. It was really nice just to spend time with the family and relax in a familiar atmosphere. I got to stay a night at each of my sisters' houses and hang out with my nephew's and niece. It's amazing how fast those kids are growing up!
Back to Sydney
Again I headed back down to Sydney for one more day of looking around and seeing the sights. I got to have lunch with Miji and then spent the day looking around the city again. Unfortunately I left my hat at friends back in Brisbane and so I got very sunburnt. Numerous times I've warned my friends about the dangers of the Australian sun and I had been so careful up till that last day... but at least I came back with a decent tan.
My original trip plans to Oz included a week stop-off in Thailand, but after such a hectic trip, and the strange night in Sydney, I really just wanted to get back home to give me time to relax before starting back at work.
Another incentive was that I'd made friends with one of the teachers at the winter camp, Ha Young and she was planning to head up to Seoul for a look around. I'd spent an evening chatting with her at a bar (for a short 5 or 6 hours) and had decided I liked this girl, but was fairly sure she just wanted to be friends. Either way, I thought it would be great spending some time exploring Seoul with someone as cool as her.
So I flew back to Seoul and spent an amazing few days there. The funny thing was, the more time I spent with this girl, the more it felt like one very long, very fun date. So on the last night there, I finally plucked up the courage to ask her out. After a pause that went on for ETERNITY, she said.....
I had to ask her three more times before she finally cracked and said ok.
Considering I'd planned basically nothing for the trip, it was probably the most romantic weekend I've ever had... and we weren't even dating at the time!
Week at school
So after an amazing month off, I finally had to go back to work... for all of one week. I didn't actually do anything during this week. Just sat around and played on the computer. But I had to be at work, so at work I was. Then they let me go play again for another couple of weeks.
It's by far the shortest term at school I've ever had.
Technically, the last vacation was winter break, and this one would be spring break. Go figure!
This time round, I decided to head south for some warmth. On this “Hawaii of Korea” they had even more warmth planned than you would expect at this time of year. It was the Jeju-do Fire Festival where for about 4 days they had dances and games and the grand fanale was to be the burning off of a large hill.
So we spent a fun couple of days looking around this beautiful island. The weather was beautiful and the company was great! Then on the day of the big burning, Stu's famous weather phenomenon came again. Gale-force winds of about 60km's and it was a very lazy wind. There was no way it was going around you when it could cut right through you! After less than 10 minutes there, I'd had enough. We jumped back in our rented car and drove into town for some warmth and sustenance.
A while later, I found out from one of my friends that after hours of waiting there, they finally announced to the crowed that the burning off would be cancelled. Thousands of people had come down from every part of South Korea for this event and they were being turned back very disappointed. But to be fair, it would have been suicide (and possibly mass homicide) if they had lit that hill ablaze.
A few days later, I went up to Gwangju on Billie to meet Ha Young again. After a bit of smooth talking and a quick search around for a helmet, I'd got her all geared up for a ride on the back of the bike.
When ever I take someone on the bike for the first time, I always give them a safety drill first. So I told her the usual story about sitting there like a sack of potatoes and don't counter lean when I lean the bike over and to always hold on to me.... etc.
We got on the bike and I took it very steady and slowly through town. I was a little worried about the first part of the ride, as it went up over a mountain and had many sharp curves. I thought this might freak her out a little as I have to lean the bike over a bit to get around the corners and she seemed a bit concerned about this when I was giving her the safety instructions. She seemed to be doing well and after a while I asked her if she was OK and her reply... “Can we go FASTER around the corners?”.
I took that as a “Yes”.
In the end, I had to counter lean her as each time we hit a corner, she'd throw herself into it and I didn't have to do much at all. We ended up doing over 200km's and rode through some of the most beautiful country side I've seen in Korea.
A really amazing day.
Back at school
And now I'm back at school slaving away.
Well actually, the “slaving away” part might be a bit of an exaggeration.
All right all right, a gross exaggeration! I haven't actually taught a class since I've been back. To tell the truth, I've done nothing but play on the computer and do a bit of Korean study. I even got to take the day off on Tuesday (unbeknown to my school) and read and watch some videos.
Not bad for my first week back at school. If only I could be paid to be this “productive” every week!
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I've just joined a web group called Korea on the Rocks (KOTR). It's a site for rock climbing around South Korea, and last weekend there was this post:
"Quite possibly Korea's best kept secret, Maisan has incredible climbing at two stunning crags! With climbs rated from "5.fun" to 5.13, Maisan has something for everyone. It's a great place to practice leading, pump out your arms, or impress your friends on the tricky overhanging crux moves. If you haven't seen Maisan's unique conglomerate formations yet, you don't want to miss out!! And if you have been to Maisan, I know you're just sitting in breathless anticipation, counting down the hours until the weekend... "
How could we possibly ignore a sales pitch like that? So a few of us packed up Betty and headed for the next provence north of us, Jeollabukdo. We finally found the mountain, and began our day of fun climbs.
Everyone was amazed that we could still be doing climbs outdoors in December... and if you consider the fact that it was sub-zero temperatures and at times we literally couldn't feel our hands, others may think we were crazy! It is a very strange feeling being able to see your hand gripping a rock, but not actually be able to feel it. But despite this, and the rain on the second day, we had a great time.
Corey climbing in sub-zero temps in the rain = hardcore!
Dave on his way to the sky
The girl who put out the invitation, Lindsey, is a really cool chick who has only been climbing for about a year. She was going hard core on the first day and did 8 lead climbs without falling once!
Lindsey on her 6th(?) lead climb of the day.
Lindsey finishes another one!
Nicola, Jess and myself are all fairly new to the sport, but we were also giving the lead climbing a go.
Nicola & Jess... racing?
Nicola lead climbs her way up.
Sad to say, I didn't quite finish my lead climb, which made for an interesting climb for Terri later when, half way up, she realised she was not top rope-ing from the anchor after all. Instead of doing the easy thing, and coming back down to fix things, her husband decided to do some "engineering". They make a funny climbing team.
Brandon & Terri: Typical husband and wife day out?
Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of myself climbing, unless you count a shot of my leg. But I was able to complete a few climbs over the weekend. Strangely enough, I actually felt better on the second day, when it was raining and I couldn't feel my fingers or hands at all by the end of the climb!
Yes, that is my leg! The only pic of me over the weekend.
The rain started as mist on the second day and we were still able to get a climb or two in before it started becoming too uncomfortable. Instead of being upset by the weather, we took the opportunity to introduce one of our group to the wonderful Korean tradition of going to the Jinjilban (hot sauna).
Back row L to R: Corey, Sonia, James, Jessica, Brandon, Terri, Dave.
Middle row L to R: Lindsey, Maggie, Nicola
It was a very fun weekend, with a great group of people! I hope to make it back here again... hopefully after the winter chill!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Hey everybody, it's the first sub 0 degree day of the year... I have a great idea! Lets have a BBQ.
But wait... even better, lets make it outside. Oh oh oh... even better... lets wait till the sun has gone down, and put it out on the oval where the wind can really make us feel alive!
Ooooooh and maybe we can play tennis as well. Oh, only 4 people can play tennis? Well that's ok, the others can watch while we play!
YEAH GREAT IDEA!!!!!!
And so the logic goes at my school.
Oh Korea, how I love thee.... but you still bemuse me.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I went on another roadtrip.
(Warning... a long blog followed by many purdy pics :)
This time we had 15 people come along, which meant having to hire two vans. The logistics of this one were much more difficult than the last trip. Originally I wanted to hire one mini-bus... the kind you see everywhere in Korea. All the schools use them to take the kids too and fro, so I thought it wouldn't be a problem finding one for hire. How wrong I was.
Every company that had one of these buses for hire, wanted me to hire the driver along with them. This is for a small bus. No more than 20 seats. An eighteen seater would have been perfect! I could have even scraped by with a 15 seater... but NO! If I want a bus, I have to hire the driver as well. This would mean also having to pay the driver, pay for his food and accommodation, struggle with the language barrier and also try to convince him that "Yes, I really do want to take this small back road with all the pretty trees and mountain scenery and not the super highway!".
In the end I found out my license wouldn't have covered anything over a 12 seater anyway. So this left me with the option of getting two smaller vans. Of course that means needing two drivers with appropriate licenses. As far as I knew, I was the only one in the group legally allowed to drive.
Thankfully a legendary guy by the name of Ian was able to organize a day off work to race over to Naju to get his Korean license. Great, so now we have two drivers... time to find a couple of mini-vans.
And once again the run around begins...
It seems this particular weekend is the one that the whole of Korea decided to hire vans to go see the Autumn Colours. (Did you know Korea has 4 seasons? You would think no other place in the world has by the way they proudly tell you... but I digress) Eventually my wonderful co-teacher found a company that had two mini-vans left and I organized for Ian and myself to pick them up from Gwangju the day before our departure.
So on Friday, I leave early from school and head over to Gwangju. Unfortunatelly I don't know exactly where this car hire place is. After quite a bit of messing around, we finally find it and get the two cars. Then we decided that since we were already in Gwangju, we should go have some dinner at the Outback Steakhouse. Then we had to drop my car off at Andrea's for the weekend. After visiting Andrea, we jumped in the cars and drove back down to Mokpo, where Ian then had to take his dog over to a friends place to look after for the weekend. He wasn't sure how to get there, so I came with him....
Finally I get into bed at about 1am the day before the trip.
Up again at 6am and I'm getting ready to meet everyone. Things actually went much more smoothly than I expected, with everyone arriving on time. We packed the cars and were away by a bit before 8am! Good going guys.
The rest of the trip went fairly well, except for the fact that my timing was badly off. I wanted to see sunset from a specific temple... but arrived there about a half an hour after the sun went down. Then the next day we arrived just in time to see the steam train I wanted to catch, pull out of the station. Appart from these minor things, we were able to see some beautiful scenery and it was nice just to be cruising around this lovely provence. Sometimes I forget just how beautiful Korea is, and it's on trips like this that I'm given a wonderful reminder.
Half way through the trip, we got a call to say Ian's dog had run away. Sadly his meant his wife, Amanda, had to do a quick trip back to Mokpo and missed the rest of the roadtrip. Thankfully she allowed Ian to continue on as second driver... and what a great job he did. There were times when I would think I had somehow lost him behind a slow car or at a traffic light, when he would suddenly come zooming up behind me again. I don't think I ever fully lost site of him in my rear vision mirror on the whole trip!
All in all, it was a great time that I hope to get to do again.
Here's some photos:
We would stop every few kilometers and everyone would pile out to take photos along the road. Safety second! Hahaha Lotsa fun.
We stopped at Daewonsa temple. It has a tibetan museum with these prayer drums outside.
One of the gates at Daewonsa
These giant beads were hung up in one of the Korean Maple trees. It must be about 20 meters long!
Some Buddhas lined up in the Autumn leaves.
Autumn leaves in a pond.
This super cute puppy lives at Daewonsa temple.
The leaves from a Ginko Tree.
A path at Daewonsa Temple.
Pedal power! A family having fun at the train museum.
This thing was weird. You hop in these little cages, and pedal to make it raise up using air-hydrolic pressure. Stop pedaling, and you go down. More fun than you'd imagine.
What's the best way of getting over the disapointment of missing the Steam train? Kiddie Dodgems!
This old fella (who was actually quite friendly, even though it doesn't look it in the photo) works at the historic village / film set weaving straw.