Monday, May 31, 2010

McPhates invade Korea!

Two days and the McP parents will be here in Seoul!!! I can't wait! Ms. Han called today to say that she thought the DMZ tour I found was too expensive, so she offered to drive us!! Private tour of the DMZ with Ms. Han. Asa- she says she hasn't been in 20 years so we should do some research first. Maybe...

Before the parents come there is a lot to do! This past weekend was HBC festival, so needless to say, no cleaning, or much of anything productive went on. HBC fest is conprised of bands playing throughout the neighborhood. All of the restaurants run special promotions and participate. My fav place H (magkeolli bar) served sushi and cheaper magkeolli. Amazing. We listened to music and hung out in the sun all day, it was a lot better than the one they had in October where it rained the whole time. Sunday was spent at the pool. It was a little overcast but we got some good sun and ended up hangning out with the Shanghai softball team who was in town for a 24 hour tournament. Then I went with Sarah, Matt (Sarah's new love interest from Busan), Kristen and Adam (who are now hooking up since Busan as well!) to a movie screening. It was a Korean movie about 71 student soldiers who held off the Northern army for 11 hours by themselves in the Korean war. It was super depressing, but wonderful visually. It's called "71 Into the Fire" if you're interested.

Funniest part of last weekend. Rohan, Emily's friend from Ridge, NJ, came last Wednesday to visit for 2 weeks. He made it 3 days before bailing back to the US. He came over and confessed his love to Emily "I would die for you," and let's just say it was less than reciprocated. I guess his little heart was broken and so while Emily and i were out at HBC fest, he came back, packed and took off without saying a word. He mentioned to Emily earlier he was thinking about leaving early, but no one saw this coming. Ha too funny. Worked out for me because I was sick of the "she's so great, why doesnt she like me" schpiel :)

So yeah, 2 days and the festivities begin. Woohoo!

Monday, May 24, 2010

busan baby

For the three day-buddha's birthday-weekend a bunch of us head down to Busan. On the KTX speed train it's just over 2 hours. We arrive early, get a hotel, and hit the beach. It's absolutely gorgeous out, finally!! We laid out, played volleyball, and jetskied all day. These thong clad tan Korean men kept driving their jetskis up to the beach, picking people up for rides, then would dump you back at shore. And I mean dump. I had such a blast shooting around!

Saturday turned out to be totally miserable. it was cold and rainy, not the ideal weather for a weekend at the beach. We all made the best of it and went screen golfing. Screen golf is awesome! I can't believe that was my first time. We had 5 people playing in our room and the 9 hole course we played took us well over 5 hours. Professional golfers we are not!!! I didn't come in last (a close 3rd!) so I was happy. Sunday was again another cold miserable day. We kind of just poked around until we had to headout for our train.

We arrive at the train station in what we think is plenty of time to get on our "10:22" train. We dick around trying to find food and shop, then try to find the track. Hm no KTX trains listed, how strange. We ask the ticket woman and she informs us the last KTX train left 5 minutes ago at 10:05. Waiiiit. While looking at our train tickets we looked at Friday's arrival time of 10:22 and thought that was the leaving time. Ahhh shit. So we try to get another one. No more KTX tonight. Only the slow train. And it's full. Standing room only. Shit. SHit. Shit. The woman tries to charge us more money for this crap train and we say screw it and just get on anyway. There seriously were no seats. The four of us went to the last train car, ducked under the last rows of chairs and attempted to lay down and sleep for the next 6 hours. Finally at 3:30 am, we arrive back in Seoul.

Ugh a beach weekend is exhausting!!! It's still raining back here in Seoul. This week I plan to lay low, save some money, and prepare for my parents to come!! I can't wait~

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

best new discovery

i just made a sweet potato (american style, not the sweet yummy korean ones!) and wanted something to dip it in. mix gochujong (spicy red sauce) with grain mustard= crazy delicious. in sweet potato heaven now...

alex you inspired me to post right now :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

HK and back

Hong Kong is an absolutely amazing city! I didn't know much about it, have too many expectations, just knew it was a big world hub that I should see. The second Emily and I stepped off the plane we could tell we were somewhere special. Fistly, you walk out of the airport to the tram which brings you, in only 30 minutes, directly downtown to Central. How easy is that!? We had no plans of a hotel; figured we would look around and see what area we wanted to stay in, so we dropped our bags at the Mandarin Oriental hotel (we'll stay there next time!!!) and went out. Just walking around the streets you get the feeling you're in a Western city. It felt like a small Manhattan. I want to move to Hong Kong! It's the first city I have visited in Asia where I really feel like i could live there; apparently there's anything any Westerner misses, although I wasn't there long enough to test this.

Anyway, we head out and stumbled upon Lan Kwai Fong. We had read (although we left the tour book on the plane, ha oops) that this is the fun going out area. Seeing as it was now after 4, it must be happy hour somewhere. Wait. It's happy hour everywhere!!! Ohhhh how I missed happy hour!! In Korea people don't go out until 11 pm. Anyway, we had some real beers and headed to the Bulldog, which in my opinion is the Wolfhound of HK. We were there no longer than 10 minutes when the old man next to me starts chatting me up telling me about the rules of rugby, which was on TV. Doesn't take long before he starts introducing us to all of the guys watching rugby; all in their 30s,most married, and ALL Aussies!!! Emily and I didn't meet one American or Canadian the entire trip. Only Aussies and Brits. Awesome.

We keep trying to leave after the next beer to go sightsee, but somehow everytime our beers are empty someone's offering to fill it back up. Who's going to turn that down? We ended up going out with this guy Grant and his buddies and when they catch wind that we're "backpacking" and don't have a place to stay, the offers come! They also insisted that we join them on the following day's Junk Tour.

After going out all night, we wake up at Grant's and get ready for the Junk Tour. From 10am-5:30pm you are on a Junk boat catered by Jasper's (a local restaurant). We step on the boat and are immediately offered a selection of beers. There are chips on the table, with get this, guacamole! Then they start walking around offering up quesadillas, curry chicken skewers, and greek lamb meatballs! We may not have eaten any Chine food, but we definitely had a global snack. We cruised for about an hour until we docked outside of this lovely beach. I don't picture Hong Kong and see beaches, but this place was beautiful. A lot like how I would picture Hawaii. We all strip fown to our bathingsuits and jump off the top deck of the boat. Immediately after you hit the water one of the Jasper crew memebers tosses you a waterbottle filled with Seabreeze. Asa!

After an afternoon of swimming, laughing, being pulled out to sea by the strong current, they serve a delicious lunch followed by dessert. Then when we head back in, I guess in an attempt to sober you up, they serve pizza. We had the perfect afternoon, and best of all walked away with great tans!

Upon leaving Emily and I were both really sad so we decided we would come bck in July...and then maybe move here!!! We realized we had spent an entire weekend drama free, so we only have good things to expect when we become roommies....

Flashforward 24 hours. I finish work on Monday and move into my new place!!!! This is apartment 3 in 8 months, nice-uh! But it's literally the floor below where i live now, with Emily and Dave who are super chill, and best yet, are my friends. I have 2 rooms here; one is a walk-in closet/storage space and directly across is my room. It'sbigger than my old room, just has very little furniture. If it ever stops raining I will go out and find a dresser! But the best part is that for the first time since I've been in Korea I have a queen sized bed!!!!! Finally! It's actually Susan's old bed, so it used to be my weekend bed before I moved to the hood. That seems so long ago now!

This Friday is Buddha's Birthay so no one has work. I was going to stay in Seoul, relax and unpack a bit, but Krissy bought me a KTX (speed train) ticket to Busan on Friday. They were about to sell out so she picked one up, how sweet! Busan is Korea's second largest city and sits on the South coast...yep that's right, another weekend at the beach. I could get used to this. After the beach, it's back to Seoul for a week and then my parents arrive!!! I can't wait. I have so many things planned for us to do, I just need to figure out where we should all go for the middle weekend they're here. I have time.

This is turning into a novel. Next time; peace.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

HK bound!

It's been a pretty normal, calm week here in Seoul, except for this morning when I was awoken to a siren that went of for no less than 10 minutes followed by some Korean warning message. I thought perhaps we were being bombed, but my roommate didn't seem worried. So I suppose I should explain that I live right behind Yongsan base. It's the biggest US base in Korea (I think, maybe I'm making that up, it's certainly the biggest in Seoul) and I live behind the wall. From my (sweet!) roofdeck I can see into base and see the army trucks and whatnot. Anyway, I suppose this morning was just a drill because Courtney, my roommate, assured me if it were a real problem we would hear all of the army trucks driving off base. Whew!

SO anyway, quiet week here in Seoul. I'm still on the injured list and am 90% sure I will not be running in Jeju. I thought I was just sore from overtraining, but it's been over a week now and my hip is still killing me. Anytime I walk for more than 10 minutes it gets super still and I have to limp. My friends keep saying i should go to a doctor, but I can't imagine what he'll say except stay off it. Which brings up another topic. I asked my boss the other day when I would be getting my health insurance. He said soon soon. Then I get a call from him that evening saying my last school never cancelled my old insurance. Oh you mean the insurance I had to fight with them for 5 months to get, which eventually led to my quitting, is now causing me a problem from being insured at my new school!? But of course. Here it is 4 months after I quit and BITS is still giving me a headache! ah.

In good news, I'm going to HONG KONG tomorrow!!!! yey!! Emily needs to go on a visa run and I wanted someone to go with, so we're taking a weekend and going. We have a list of about 400 things we want to do, but a short 3 days to do it all. But it's supposed to be in the 80s and have awesome shopping. I can't wait.


Life plans post-Korea

I still have about a year here, but I've been weighing my options more and more recently. First I thought I would go home for a year or so, move to Napa, and get some sort of wine accredidation. From there I would move to Argentina (because their wine school would be in Spanish, which I don't speak!) and work on a vineyard. But now I'm thinking, skip the middle man. I think I will move straight to Australia, get some wine degree there WHILE working on a vineyard. It's super easy to get a one year working visa, and I'm already on this side of the world, so why not? Any thoughts??

If you don't hear from me in the next week or so you can find me in a Chinese prison :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

cinco de mayo

Sokcho was totally amazing! I just wandered around all day looking at the Yellow Sea and walking...I did a lot a lot of walking. I can't wait to go back when it's a bit warmer with a bigger group. The beaches look amazing.

This week was another whirlwind. Monday obviously turned into magkeolli Monday (it was raining!) then Tuesday, my long day, was the night before a holiday, so everyone went out. It turned into a 5 am night, and then Wednesday we were back at it again. It's a big holiday here; CHildren's Day. No one has work or school and I guess the idea is to do something with your kids. Most kids went to the movies, Everland, park, or something along those lines. The adults, however, use it as excuse to party! Not only was it Children's Day, but also Cinco De Mayo. After another failed attempt at brunch at La Vert (an hour wait for breakfast food!) we ran into Brad teacher and went over his roof to grill and chill. It was such a beautiful day and we had a great group of people just hanging out on the roof. Got through my 3 hours of work yesterday and now it's the weekend!!

This AM I got up early to take an hour 1/2 bus out to some outlets my coteacher told me about. I was walking up to the terminal to buy my ticket when my phone rings; Ms. Han. Yey! She's back!!! I haven't seen her in over a month, so I bailed on the shopping trip and agreed to meet her at 4:30. Instead of shopping for me, I went to Insadong, a traditional shopping village, and got Liz and Joe their wedding present. Check that off the to-do list! I also had some Yoga/Buddhist guy approach me and tell me I had good karma. Then he tried to get money from me...

Ugh but after walking all morning my hip is killing me again!! I feel like I'm 90. i haven't run since Tuesday to give it a break and it doesn't seem to be getting better. Perhaps I need a wheelchair. Or should just stop moving altogether. Ohh the agony and the race is only a month away. Congrats to Chetta, Maria, Ryan, Dave, Christina and crew for your endurance challenge!! I'm so proud of you guys, that seemed like quite the task. Miss you all and will be in touch soon :)