Monday, June 23, 2008

Time is flying by, which means Anderson's 27th birthday (on June 29th) is practically upon us. School is still going well - we've verbally negotiated a 4-month contract extension (still need to sign the actual paperwork), so that means we will be remaining in Korea through the end of February 2009. A few more months, particularly during the mild Korean winter, will definitely pass quickly, and the savings we can put away will enable us to have a lot more financial flexibility in regards to our future plans. Beyond relaxing in America for a good while we have a lot of good ideas, but we'll see how it goes whether we end of biking around America, traveling to Central/South America, teaching in SE Asia, or working on a cruise ship first. All good options, and no rush to experience them all!
The Spy Vs. Spy party is consuming much of our time, as is not getting assassinated (by a water fun) playing the Busan Assassin game itself. Our one attempt at killing our targets was unsuccessful, but perhaps more importantly we haven't died ourselves yet! We've gotten together a couple generous sponsors for our event, so we'll have around 50 total prizes to auction off, and recruiting people for the date auction is also going well. Still have a few more games to plan, more spy music to download, and some spy-themed DVD to put together - but with 5 days left until the party things are going rather well. Spent much of the weekend passing out business cards, over 400 have been given out and response on the street has been good - Busan doesn't exactly have an abundance of charity parties so we're hoping a lot of people turn out to help the orphans of Sung Ae Won Home for Children.
It's test week at school as well, so that means we'll have a rather easy day on Friday - though the kids will all hate it :-), and then the month of July will already be upon us!

Hope all's well wherever you dwell

Thursday, June 19, 2008

June is quickly scampering away...
Our friend Cindy came here for the first weekend of the month, which was quite fun. Her first night here was our coworker Nayoung's last night, so we had a fun late-night out in our local neighborhood. We also went to Gwangalli beach at night and hit up the amusement park there. The definite highlight was our Saturday shark dive at the local aquarium. Having never scuba dived it was a bit intimidating, but all the sharks weren't interested in silly waegookins in dive suits, so dangerous it definitely was not! We got to collect any shark teeth we found on the bottom, which was rather fun. We were more on display than the sharks in one sense, since all the Korean families spent time gawking at the crazy foreigners!
Let's see... school's been the same, although we did just informally agree on a contract extension with our boss, so although we still need to sign the paperwork we have already effectively agreed to remain in Korea for 4 more months, through the end of February '09. It's a mutually beneficial decision, as it helps us save up for our "FUTURE" - whatever zaniness that may entail - while also helping COREM out by having us finish the "official" kindergarten school year.
This past weekend we met up with Sunny and her boyfriend Sean. We explored some of central-western Korea, going to the town of Gongju. It's home to some ancient tombs, one of which held an undisturbed king & queen, completely intact with plenty of treasure - in one sense the Korean Tutankhamen. We also visited, during a touristic Saturday, a nice modern museum and an ancient fortress, before eating an amazing bulgogi (spicy cooked beef) dinner. We stayed at a nice lakeside hotel, and went to a spectacular rural temple, called Magoksa, on Sunday. To get to the temple you have to cross a bridge, which was particularly nice because here were hundreds of huge fish beneath eagerly waiting to be fed by temple-goers.
All the photos should be up on our Kodak site soon, it's currently being uncooperative so we can't upload the last batch.

We are also working on a benefit party for a charity: the Sung Ae Won Home for Children, located here in Busan. For a bit more information, check out Foreign FUN(d)Raisers - although that page is most definitely under construction! We are in charge of the closing party for a 10-day event called Busan Assassin. A bit of effort, but fun and for a good cause. We're having a Spy Vs. Spy theme, with people dressed either in black or white, and wearing sunglasses. Anderson will DJ, and there will be a raffle (if we can get enough sponsors in the next 10 days) or else a bachelor/bachelorette date auction. The party will also have the awards show for the actual event, and will raise a lot of money for charity!

That's about it from here, got to back to school shortly... we now work a split shift, so we have 4 classes in the morning, from 11:20 - 3:15, and then 4 more classes from 5:30 - 8:25, although our schedule does shift a bit each day, so Liz has an easy day on Friday, and Anderson has an easy Tuesday.

Hope all's well, our thoughts our with our soggy friends in Iowa :-)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Just spent a fun weekend hiking, after a great night our with our coworkers on Friday. We all ended up going out for chicken and beer after work, then switched to daenamu-tang-sul (a tasty bamboo beverage), before heading to The Basement where Anderson was DJing. A long crazy night, as evidenced by sombrero that Anderson came home with!
On Saturday we went to a temple about an hour away, called Seongnamsa, that Anderson is currently procrastinating writing an article about for The Korea Sun, the foreigner's magazine he writes for. It was a smaller temple, up in the Korean hills, near a "tall for Korea" mountain called Gajisan. We did some hiking but didn't have enough daylight to get the summit, but it was definitely a very peaceful and beautiful place. The temple itself is next to a small river, and has several nice Buddhist buildings. Unfortunately the Japanese essentially destroyed the whole temple in 1952, so everything has had to be rebuilt, but it definitely all looks very nice. It is actually under some renovations now, as new bridges are being built around the temple complex. We plan on going back to hike to the top of Gajisan, maybe in a couple of weeks if we're not too busy.
Today, Sunday, we went hiking with our co-teacher Blaise near the Beomeosa temple. We hiked the hills for around 3 hours, so our legs are definitely feeling good now. The Korean summer has arrived, so the days are warm, sunny, and long. Koreans love to exercise and hike, so the trails were busy but not packed, and we crazy North American men with no shirts on definitely attracted a bit of attention (all good - though some guys told Liz that she should join us!).
Our days of overtime work are now officially behind us, which is great, although we are now stuck teaching a split shift, where we will each teach 4-5 classes, then have a break for around 2 hours, before returning to teach for 4 classes. At least we'll be able to eat lunch at home now, rather than having to eat out everyday, and we can bike on the river as well, so it won't be too bad. In August we will probably have the chance to teach more overtime, since it will be summer intensive time for a month, but we'll take the respite from the long hours while we can get it!

That's that for now, need to grade a few tests...