Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yeosu Aquarium

The Yeosu World Expo is over but it left behind a great little treat for anyone visiting the area, the aquarium!

The aquarium was once part of the Expo and required at least a two hour wait in line to get in. Now there is no line and all the wonderful sea creatures are still there. It's perfect for an afternoon out if you live in the area.

We spent about two hours at the aquarium, really took our time, and saw everything. We showed up at about lunch time so the first thing we did was head to the food court. The food looks a lot better than the plastic displays they have out front. The pizza looked terrible in the display was actually looked good on other people's tables. Plus, they have English menus--yay!

Then we just started wandering around. There are three main sections: the big animal section with belugas, otters, sea lions, etc., the rainforest room with lots of smaller fish, and the massive tank area complete with small sharks, turtles, and two gigantic sting rays.

In the big animal section, you can see the belugas and the sea lions from both underwater and above the water, so make sure you walk up the stairs to check them out from above. If we stood right up against the glass, the belugas would pop up and say hello! It was so awesome! They were super friendly and constantly playing with their toy and popping up to visit with us.

The rainforest room was pretty cool. The decor was awesome but the fish selection was a little meh. I liked the piranha circle tank the best. They are so pretty and sparkly!

The massive tank was very impressive. There are two entrances, one to walk into the tank through a glass tunnel and one to go see the tank from underwater. I think it's best to walk through the tunnel first and then go down and see the whole tank. The tunnel is really cool but you can see everything much better in the room.

I could stay all day watching the the fish swim. It's so magical and calming.  

Also, there are shows! There are three women who do tricks in the water to the music from The Little Mermaid. The program was all in Korean so we didn't know what was happening and were so happy we just happened to be there during one of the shows. I think they are everyday at 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30 but I'm not sure.

Here's part of the show:

Underwater Performance at the Yeosu Aquarium from destination exploration on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Korea Burn 2012

In early September, about 800 people migrated to one stretch of beach on South Korea's western shore to celebrate life, party, and burn the man.

The Camping

The People

 The Beach


 The spirit lives in Korea. <3

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Day in the Life

Hit snooze.

Hit snooze or maybe get up.

Definitely get up. I eat breakfast, peruse the internet, and get ready for work.

Walk or bike to work, or taxi if the weather is extreme or I'm extremely late.

The bell rings and I go collect my kindergarten (aka kindy) class, nine kids all about 4 years old called "The Smurfs." They are the highlight of my day and having them first makes it easier to go in to work every day.

They are so adorable, right??!

Class is over. Take them upstairs to wash their hands, drop them with the Korean kindergarten teacher, who they eat lunch with, and go get my lunch.

Every two months or so we eat lunch with a kindy class. I despise eating lunch with the kids. The food at our school isn't the greatest cafeteria food and I hate having to force kids to eat everything. They seriously eat way more rice than I do every day. All the other teachers don't seem to mind it too much.

Lunch ends and on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I have one class where I teach arts and crafts or science to a kindy class and then have a break. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I have a break for two class periods until 2:30pm when the older kids arrive.

All the kindy kids go home and elementary kids start showing up, running in and kicking off their shoes as fast as they can. I don't know why they're in such a hurry to go sit in class.

For the next five and a half hours, I teach 6 classes back to back. As my day goes on, my students get older and more advanced, which means my day gets better and better. I love being able to have actual conversations with my students.

I find it a bit odd, but I love the kindergarteners and the older kids. I don't really like the 8-9 year old kids who are beginners. Teaching that age/level combo takes a lot of energy and creativity to get them to understand everything. Slowly, they start to get it but it takes a while.

I'm FREE! Work is over and I walk or ride my bike home. Sometimes, I stop at the bakery to buy bread or the market to buy groceries for dinner.

On weekday nights, we don't really do much. We watch some TV shows, occasionally go for a walk or run, play on the internet, do housework, plan trips for the weekend, read, or I do craft projects. Mostly, it's just playing on the internet, reading, watching TV, and housework. We're pretty low key.

Bed time. Sweet dreams!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Beachin' on Jeju Island

Jeju Island has some great beaches to check out. A lot of the island is bordered by cliffs or rocky coastlines and not all beaches are equal in accessibility and beauty. It's good to ask the locals and look online to make sure you don't show up to a "beach" that's all rocks and no swimming.

Jungmun Beach, Jeju Island
The first beach we went to was Jungmun Beach on the southern part of the island. It's about 20 minutes west of Seogwipo proper and surrounded by all the big resorts. The water was beautiful and warm, with small waves.

The only disappointment was that we were only allowed to go out to about our waists, no deeper! There is a rope with buoys designating the "swimming" area. When we went under it and out into deep water to do some real swimming, the life guards got on a load speaker and yelled at us in Korean. It was kinda annoying since we've been in much more dangerous water while we all lived in San Diego and we had a life guard with us (Spencer's brother, Kyle), not that they knew that.

Michelle's Picture of Hamdeok Beach
Spencer's sisters, Katie and Ally, and our friend Michelle went to another beach on the northern part of the island called Hamdeok Beach. There weren't any swimming restrictions there but there were also practically zero waves so maybe that's why.

And then we all went to a drastically different kind of beach, called Soesokkak Beach. It had black sand and huge black rocks along the coast. There was a small swimming area where a river emptied into the ocean. The water from the river was cold and the water from the ocean was warm. It was fun to swim through the different temperatures! Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of it. Wah wah.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Typhoons in Korea

I never thought about facing a typhoon while living in Korea. I thought those things were for more tropical destinations or Southern US, but Korea? No.

So when we started hearing reports of Typhoon Bolaven coming our way I thought, "Oh, yeah. Sure. It'll probably be over by the time it gets to Korea." I was just expecting a little more rain than usual and maybe a little extra wind.

Then I looked at the satellite pictures. "Oh, shit."

photo from Nasa
August 27th, 2012
The storm was set to his us sometime tonight or tomorrow morning. First, our morning classes got cancelled but not even for sure. All the elementary school kids were telling us that school was cancelled the next day due to the typhoon. None of them looked too worried, but hey, they're kids.

Then as we were leaving our director told us, "We're probably not having morning classes, but if we call you then you'll have to come in. If we don't call you, just come in at 2pm." Yay! Morning off!! 

That night we spent listening to the wind howl outside and checking the storm's progress online. We didn't really know what to do other than stay inside. We would occasionally open the door to peek outside at the trees blowing in the crazy winds and then close it when the windows on our balcony rattled threateningly. We eventually went to bed at 2am since we might have had to work in the morning if it died down.

August 28th, 2012
It did not die down. We both got woken up at about 5:30am by loud crashing and howling winds. We got up to watch the trees, tweet, and check the satellite pictures. It was exciting and I had never been happier to live in a sturdy, concrete building.

We were up when the sky got brighter to signal the sun coming around our way. The wind was impressive. It wasn't so much raining as it was water flying through the air, sometimes completely horizontal. We were soon tired on so little sleep and went to back to sleep.

There was more of the same, gradually decreasing in strength. It was pretty much over by 3:00 or 4:00pm. We ended up not going in at 2:00pm and getting the whole day off.

That night we went for a walk around our neighborhood to check out the damage. There were a lot of green leaves strewn about, branches/twigs broken, and a few fallen trees, which had already been cut up and cleared off the side in neat stacks. People were already hard at work cleaning everything up!

August 29th, 2012
On my walk to work, I looked for signs of the typhoon that had raged just 24 hours before. There were piles of leaves, twigs, and branches everywhere and I saw a truck filled with such piles. Nothing was too bad. Anything that had fallen was in the process of getting picked up and carted away. The most significant thing I saw was the metal wall of the cardboard recycling place that had been bent (pictured below).

Of course, I talked about the typhoon in all my classes and the kids told stories of windows being broken in their apartments or their neighbors apartments. One of my student's extended family lives on an island west of Mokpo and had some terrible news. The roof of her grandmother's house had gotten blown off and her cousin's house was flooded waist deep with water and debris. We got off easy.

Two days later, what was left of Typhoon Temblin hit us. It was nothing more than wind and water. It had been downgraded to a tropical storm, and we weren't worried about it.