Sunday, September 07, 2008

Last you heard from us we were just finished with our English Village experience. We've had an enjoyable few weeks, full of sporting events, some nice schedule changes at school, and unexpected guests. What what?

Sporting events first: Anderson & Blaise are continuing their undying support of Busan I'Park, the local soccer team. The games are under-attended (despite being held at a former World Cup Stadium), the team mediocre, and the style a tad sluggish.... BUT the games are quite fun, excellent seats are available even as the game starts, beer is cheap, and we have some awesome horns to blow in support of our local football heroes. The team also managed a magnificent come-from-behind victory; they were down 0-1 with less than ten minutes remaining, when our horn-blowing blew some sense and soccer skills into the team, resulting in two stylish goals before the final whistle and a fabulous 2-1 victory. Not to take personal credit, but clearly our yelling was heard :-)
We've also gone to a pair of Lotte Giants baseball games within the past week, both of which were not only victories but also a lot of fun. The Giants are doing really well this season, as they put a lot of men on base, have 2 sluggers (unusual for Korean baseball) and some decent pitchers. Korean baseball is rather different from American baseball, as the play is a bit sloppier, games are higher scoring, and the fans are much more devoted to having fun than to the technical sport. Every player has a theme song that is song whenever they are at bat, the teams has additional songs, plus things are chanted at different times (when the pitcher throws to first base, when a ball is hit out of play, etc). Korea has also just won the Olympic gold medal, so baseball fever is definitely here!
Teams are allowed two foreign players; one is Garcia, a former MLB journeyman who hits the ball very hard, and the other is a just-signed closer, Cortez, who formerly played for the Colorado Rockies amongst other MLB teams. The team's near the top of the league (only 8 teams here), but there is a lot of competition at the top between 3 teams, and with October (and season's end) coming soon, every game counts. The second game we went to was on a weeknight, which meant we got killer seats right near first base, as opposed to our outfield seats on our weekend game. Good times times two!

Schedule changes second: As anticipated we've had a complete afternoon schedule change (our kindergarten classes will never change while we are here), so we have all new classes now. New books, new students, a somewhat new break, and an earlier departure time are all exactly what we needed to get through our last six months here - the classes were definitely a tad, um, boring, having taught them for a few months too long in many cases. We get done now at 7:45, which is great because it means we can finish up at the gym, and then eat dinner, before 11 o'clock like we had been the past 2 months. Though technically we haven't gone to the gym this past week... because... of...

Unexpected guests third: While traveling we met a lot of people, and we've kept in touch with a decent number of them by email. Last week we received an email from Matt & Joylani, a married American couple whom we met when we were in Leh, Ladakh, India, with our cousin Reannon. We went on a long day tour with them to some amazing monasteries, including Alchi which was a highlight of our entire trip for its spectacular Buddhist paintings that are over 1000 years old. They are long-term travelers just like us, and have been out on the road for about a year now. We've kept in touch, but were surprised to hear that they would be coming to Korea so soon!
They were swinging through Korea for a little over a week en route to Japan, where Joylani's brother is living and teaching, and where Matt also has family members (he's half Japanese). So we've spent the past six days having a lot of fun with them, going to a baseball game, eating and drinking in authentic Korean style, going hiking and to Beomeosa, and showing them around our fair city when we're not at COREM teaching children. They've also done some additional touristing, taking in the local fish market and the Busan Tower. They've just left this evening, taking an overnight ferry to Fukuoka, so we've just returned from the ferry terminal. It was really great to have more visitors, our 5th while here in Korea (Luke, Rob, Cindy, A's parentals beforehand), and very nice to catchup with some people we met on the far side of Asia around a year ago. We even ended up trying some new restaurants in our neighborhood that were better than expected, besides taking them to all our local favorite eateries, going to an Anderson DJ gig, tackling the soju, daenamu tongsul, and maekju challenges, and even a few arcade games as well. An awesome and surprising week, definitely better than the regular teaching grind!

Thankfully we only have one more full week before Chuseok, a big Korean holiday (equivalent to Thanksgiving), when we have a four-day weekend. We haven't figured out what we are doing yet, as leaving the country was too expensive due to the high number of Koreans doing exactly that, but we'll definitely figure something fun out to entertain ourselves for 96 hours of no-school.

Anderson's now writing music articles for a website called Smells Like Music, he's got three articles posted so far. They are easily accessible from his Author Page. Hopefully you clicked there :-).

We are sorting out the last bit of our contract extension, which will last four additional months from November to to the end of February, so barring any last minute complications we should be signing that, and getting the Korean government to authorize it, within the next 2 weeks or so. We're getting a raise - SWEET - but beyond that everything else will remain the same.

Keep on keeping on