Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunshine Makes Me Smile :)

It's so nice that no matter how good or how bad of a day you might be having the sunshine always makes it better. Today was a great day in Korea! The sun was shinning, and we took full advantage of it and spent the day at the beach! This was the first true summer beach day we have had this year. It was great, and there was even a Sand Festival! There were many different sand castles, or I should probably say "sand sculptures" because the majority of them were not castles at all. The beach was more crowded than what you usually see back home, but I think this was mainly due to the fact that the sculptures were taking up all the room on the beach! Supposedly in August, the most popular beach in Korea has a tendency to draw a crowd of close to a million people. We will not be venturing out to take part in that chaos!

As soon as we arrived at the beach I bought a huge sombrero looking hat. This had absolutely nothing to do with thinking I would look cute in a hat that was 10x's the size of my head! It was very embarrassing because I felt like people were looking at me. Plus, it was so big and the area had so many visitors that when I was walking people would knock into it and jar my head :) I'm sure they were thinking, "Dumb and ridiculous looking foreigner!"Anyway, back to my point... I am sooooo WHITE right now that the reason I was wearing the hat was because I had this fear of being badly sun burnt! This probably seems crazy to those of you who know how easily I tan, but for some reason I've become much more reluctant about tanning since being away from the US. Maybe it's just because most Koreans do not want to be darker but lighter, and they all carry umbrellas around to shade themselves from the sun. OR, it could be that having just turned 24, I know that aging happens naturally. So, there's really no need for me to help it along! Whatever the reason is, I know it's better for my skin to be white even if it looks much better with a tan. I guess I'll wear the hat and look stupid for now. However, I'm sure as soon as I see all of you and your fresh summer bronzed skin, I may have a change of heart.
We searched for sea creatures on these rocks...Chris found a tiny crab!
Our entire day was very relaxing! I enjoyed every moment of being outside and under the sun. The transport back was not as enjoyable. However, it was humorous! See, we made it to the station just in time to buy a ticket and hop on the train, but all of the seats were sold out! We had to buy a standing ticket, but we were both so exhausted that we ended up sitting in the floor behind the last seat in our car. Yet AGAIN...we look like stupid foreign people!!!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wii


Tonight we went to a Wii Cafe with some friends! It was so much fun. I have to admit that the business concept is very clever. They sell you coffee and then put you in a room with as many Wii games as you can possibly imagine. Obviously, after consuming caffeine, people are not gonna want to quit playing. Here are a couple of pictures from the night!
I'm not sure if it's possible to look normal while playing Wii.. at least we don't! :)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Party Like It's Ya Birfday

As long as I can remember, May has been a month of celebrations. Not only is my birthday coming up next week, but my brother, Alan Craig's birthday is on the 20th. A.C. and myself are exactly one week short of being exactly 2 years apart. Alan's son, Cullen was born the day before his birthday on the 19th, and it doesn't stop there. It's always seemed that everyone I know has a birthday in May! I have 2 cousins with birthdays in May, Kelly and Dustin...Happy Birthday!!! Then, 2 of my best friends in the world also have birthdays in May, Lauren and Ashley. I've included some old pictures of some of my birthday buddies as a tribute to all the May birthdays. I know most of your big days have past, but here's to you guys...Love you and Happy Birthday!





My favorite birthday boys (this picture was taken around Christmas '07)




Greatest friends a girl could ask for, aka"La and Ash."

Lauren and I have been friends since before I can even remember. Our friendship was destined to be a forever thing. Our parents were great friends before our existence was ever imagined. The Mom's got pregnant around the same time, and then we were born 3 days apart. We've experienced so many steps of life together, and now, she even has a baby girl of her own. I can't imagine my life without La!

Ashley and I met one summer via Casey (Case, I love you too!!!). I was coming out of the Jay relationship and on my way back to UK, but I needed a roomie. She was coming out of the sorority house and also needed a roomie. I think we bonded as I applied sunless tanner to her nearly naked body before heading to the lake (this was the first time we ever met...haha). We aren't very shy. I'm so thankful that God brought Ash into my life at the exact time that I needed her most. We lived together from that semester until we both graduated!

I feel so blessed to have the greatest group of friends and family! Happy Birthday to all my May Birthday people, and Happy Birthday to anyone I may have forgotten this month or any other time this year. I'm sure I have probably missed a lot of birthdays unintentionally. I should also add that the pic of the girls was taken on a cruise our senior year of college, as was this party picture. I thought this looked so fun that it had to be included in my "party post" :)

Don't you just love cruises??? :)

Rain over Ilsan















Last weekend, we planned to go to Ilsan beach with Andy and Jen to eat some fresh seafood. It ended up raining. So, it really wasn't the best beach day, but we decided to go anyway! I'm glad we did, but we're gonna have to go back sometime when the weather is nice. The seafood was wonderful. We went and picked out what we wanted from actual fish tanks, and they scoop the fish up, kill it and cook it right there! We picked 2 large fish, and we ate one round raw (sashimi style) and the other was fried. They were both really good, but you can't ask me to compare raw fish to fried, obviously the fried had much more taste! They were both really good, and as with any Korean meal, we got a ton of sides! The restaurant was seaside, and even though it was raining, we got to watch the waves roll in as we ate...big plus :) After eating, we trekked up a ton of stairs and made our way back into this national park. At the end of our long walk was a treasure that was well worth the walk. It was probably the coolest natural scene that I've been exposed to while in Korea. It was all of these rocks sitting on the water, and there were trails and a bridge built so that you could walk out onto the rocks that were in the water. It was really beautiful. Unfortunately, on the journey there I lost my camera battery. I wasn't able to get pictures on my camera. :( When I talk Chris into putting his pics on the computer, I'll do a recap from pictures he's taken over the last couple of months.

Friday, May 15, 2009

my apologies

I know, I know...I have completely neglected my blog for over a week now!!! Sorry... I will try to give you a quick run down of what has been going on in our lives over the past week or so.

Last weekend , we went to the movies to see Star Track. I was not very excited about going, but I actually ended up enjoying the movie! After the movie, we went out for coffee with this Korean couple that we met, Andy and Jen. They are so much fun, and they both speak great English. Then on Sunday, we went to Eonyang cave. We even got to take a little boat ride inside the cave! It was a lot of fun, but the best part about Eonyang was the scenery! The cave is up on a mountain, and all around you can see green!!! It was so nice and pretty, and the air was even fresh and clean! After the cave, we played pool, but I'm awful at pool. Anything that requires hand eye coordination is really just not my thing, this my explain my driving record :) Then we were introduced to a new Korean meal by our new Korean friends! I can't remember what the name of the meal was, but I do remember the repercussions of the meal! It was blowing and breathing as if I were a woman in labor (this was seriously the spiciest meal I've had in Korea) followed by awful stomach pains, which lasted all night long!!! On a side note, I do not understand why people so this to themselves! i enjoy spicy food for the most part, but when it is so hot that it really hurts....WHY? I've asked myself this the entire time I've been in this country, and it is still a mystery to me. I have students who by these hot snacks, and bring them into my class and then make ridiculous noises because of how spicy it is. I ask "Why do you eat it then?" And they always respond, "Delicious." I laugh and say "Whatever, but don't ask me if you can go get water!" I know it sounds harsh, but I usually give in when their faces start turning red and it looks like tears my follow! Such a mean teacher...MWAHAHAHA!!!

Let's see...what else have we been doing??? Oh, we watched a mountain burn! I know, that sounds awful, but it was actually entertaining. I hope no one got hurt! We spent about an hour up at the sky park on the 17th floor just watching huge clouds of smoke roll off of this mountain, and then they sent out the helicopters that drop water from the sky. I had never seen this in person, so it was actually really neat!

In other news, Teacher's Day was also this past week! It was such a good day because the students made us feel very appreciated. We got all kinds of goodies like: fresh bread from the bakery, flowers, lotion, body spray, hair clips and lots of really sweet notes. Not to mention, a parent bought this huge cake for all the teachers, which sat right beside my desk all day long! I managed to only eat 2 huge pieces! I don't know why the cake always sits beside my desk, but I'm not gonna lie...I kinda like it! All the other treats we get always sit at the other end of the teachers office and I always feel awkward if I want to get seconds because I feel like everyone notices. However, the cake (which I happen to prefer more than Korean rice dough cake) is always right beside me..what a great desk I got :) An interesting observation that I have made while teaching is that the students that bring me gifts are typically not the ones that I would expect gifts from. You see, since I have been teaching, I've had about 4 or 5 students who have brought me a number of gifts throughout the year. In most cases, these have been students that seem to cause more problems in my classes! I've decided that the parents realize that their child is a little bit on the difficult side, and thus, they feel the need to compensate with gifts!!! Listen to this note that I received from a parent on Teacher's Day and you tell me if you think I'm right.

Dear Amber,
This is Ji Won mother. I am happy you are teacher of my
daughter. I hope you know she is apple of my eye. You may sometimes
think she spoiled because of this. I hope for you rebuke
her when she is wrong~ I do not mind.
Have a happy teacher day,
Ji Won Mommy


Last, but not least...Chris got a bad haircut!!! So, I had to include a picture :) He decided to go to a different place than he normally goes, and he ended up being sorry that he did. She gave him the Korean cut, where it looks like she just cut a circle around his face. It's not awful, but it's not what I would call a good cut either...hahaha!

Take care and keep in touch,

~Am :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

cooking in Korea

Today was a market day. We always go and buy fresh vegetables and every now and then fish or chicken at the open markets. The market just so happened to fall on a Sunday this week, and we decided to spring for a new tasty seafood treat! Chris bought this LIVE octopus before I could tell him NO. I knew exactly what would happen, and I really didn't want to deal with the mess and the ordeal that would come with taking a living and moving octopus home. We got home and immediately googled how to prepare an octopus. What did people do when they didn't know what to do before there was google...this boggles my mind every time google saves me! It was a bit of a mess, but we did it.
Well, Chris has a tendency to be a sissy when it come to things of this matter. So, I was actually the one to hold and rip all of the insides out of the octopus, but wait...he wants me to mention that he did cut the eyeballs out. I might add that he did this WITH SCISSORS, after I searched and found them with my bare hands. I'm not really sure if killing and preparing octopus for dinner constitutes another notch in my "domesticated ability belt." Maybe this is just a reflection of my family's redneck nature and Kentucky upbringing! Either way, we ate a delicious octopus dinner tonight.

Have I mentioned that I've recently decided my ultimate goal in life may be to have my own cooking show? I think all of the cooking of new and different foods I've done while living in Korea has really taught me a lot. Hopefully, I will not be sucked back into boring meals after returning home, and I can continue to be an adventurous cook. Look out Rachel Ray, here I come! I know... I'm a dreamer :)


So, exactly how do you prepare octopus?


First, it starts out with a live octopus. This is a bit frightening, notice Chris using scissors and chopsticks to remove it from the bag!

Then you flip it's head inside out, this is where all of the organs are located. They must come out!!!

Next, you get rid of the eyeballs, and I went on and cut it's head off!

Then it's ready to boil.



After it boils, it should look like this:

Then you cut all the tentacles off, soak it in a marinade and fry or grill the meat. Unfortunately, I dont have a grill :(


ENJOY!!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Recap and Reality

First of all, I feel so much more content after coming back to Korea. It was so nice to be able to get away and do something different. It was also especially nice to be away from our school and the kids for a few days. The trip was truly refreshing, and that's what a vacation is suppose to be, right?

Upon arriving back in Korea, we are right at our 3 months to go mark! I think we are going to go on and talk to the director of our school in the next week or so about how he wants us to go about booking our flights home. We're not exactly sure what day will be our last day of teaching because our contract was suppose to be from Aug 11-Aug 10. However, there are 10 "vacation days" in our contract that have not all been used up, and we were told that whatever we did not use would just allow us to finish up that much earlier. Everything will depend on what our director tells us about the specific dates, but we are thinking that we should be back in the states no later than August 11th!

I know you all are probably curious about our trip, and like I said before, it was great! We had a few minor hold ups. Before we ever left Korea, I tried to take a produce knife on the plane. I put my laptop bag through the scanner, and a man looked at me and said in his broken English, "Do you have a knife in your bag?" I laughed and said, "No." He then pointed to the computer screen, where there was a big knife in my bag. It still had not clicked in my mind that I had really brought a knife, tucked away in the bottom of my bag, to the airport. So, I said, "That's not my bag!" He then pointed to the red bag which had made it's way in front of me and says, "Isn't that your bag?" Immediately, I turned to Chris with a fearful look on my face, and he says, "What's wrong?" I go, "There's a knife in my bag, the one I take to school to cut apples with." I was so sure that they were gonna pull me in a room and interrogate me about why I would be trying to sneak a knife onto an airplane, but instead they just threw it away....thank goodness! We finally made it onto the plane, and the weather was suppose to be bad! We were prepared for a bumpy ride, but it started out just as smooth as any other plane ride. We had a little snack on the plane. It was kimchi gimbap. I don't particularly like this Korean dish, but I opted to eat it because I was really hungry. We didn't know how long it would take to get to our hotel once we got to Japan, and I didn't want to starve. Trust me, that would have been a much better option then what was to come...if only I had of known. After we ate, Chris took a little cat nap for about 20 minutes, and then we ran into some turbulence. The plane ride was almost over, but the last 15-20 minutes got kinda rough. It wasn't bad but just took your stomach away. I've been on worse rides before, but for some reason I started feeling really queasy. Chris had his barf bag out just waiting for me to throw up. However, I managed to get through it without a horribly embarrassing incident. We then navigated through the city and to our hotel, which ended up taking a couple of hours because the airport is an hour and a half train ride outside of the city. I had a horrible headache the entire time, but it wasn't until I got in the hotel room and laid down that I realized how bad it really was. Once I laid down, I could not get back up. I slept for a good 3 hours before moving, and then it started... I was running back and forth to the bathroom vomiting all night long. It was awful! I just knew that I was gonna be sick and ruin our entire trip. Chris managed to find me some really overpriced headache medicine, and I sipped on carbonated water (yuck...I hate all things carbonated). After about 8 hours, I was ready to go. I still didn't feel great, but I felt good enough to start our adventures! Good grief, I have the worst luck ever. I still don't know what caused the sudden illness, but we just assumed that I was food poisoned on the plane. Let's just say that Korean food on an airplane mixed with a little turbulence makes a deadly combination!!!


We managed to see a whole lot while we were in Tokyo, thanks to a lot of planning ahead. We started out by visiting Odaiba (the picture from the previous post). This was probably my favorite part of the trip because it was absolutely beautiful. Odaiba is a man made island that sits in Tokyo Bay. The views of the famous Rainbow Bridge were perfect, and the weather was great. We spent most of our first day just walking around and enjoying the scenery. There was a replica of the Statue of Liberty, a great beach with a public picnic area behind the beach and so many really neat Star Track looking buildings. The trip involved a lot of transport because we wanted to see as many different areas as possible. We tried to be creative in our travel to make the transport time as fun as the rest of it. We ended up traveling by plane, boat, bus, water bus, subway, train, rope way and cable car. WHEW... No wonder we were exhausted at the end of each day! One day, we traveled 2 hours outside of the city (via the famous Bullet Train/Romance Car) to the mountainous village town, Hakone. Hakone is where most people go to see the best views of Mt. Fuji. It was such a quaint and sweet area of Japan, and we enjoyed the nature outside of the city. I forget how much I miss the beauty of the color green, which I don't see much in Korea. We visited the Tokyo Tower one evening, which looks very similar to the Eiffel in Paris. We also went up in a few of the sky scrapper observatories to see the city from the sky. We tried to eat moderately during the day because it's extremely expensive to eat out, and you get very small portions. However, at night we splurged and ate some really nice meals. Chris and I both love food, and we especially love sushi. So, we were not going to let money keep us from eating well in Japan. One night we ate in a sky restaurant on the 59th floor of the Sunshine City Building. This place was beautiful! I tried to snap a couple of pictures, but I honestly felt like it was a little tacky to be the typical tourist snapping pictures in such a beautiful place. I guess some times you just have to savor and enjoy the moment and not worry about capturing the photograph. Chris often tells me this!!! Anyway, we did take a lot of pictures. I thought the easiest way to share them would be to combined them into a slide show. I will warn you, it is close to 11 minutes long(it says 13 minutes but it's not really), and there's music...So, you may want to wait to watch it if you are in a hurry!


video