Monday, August 22, 2011

Taebaek / Busan

Almost a month since I've written on this, but a lots been happening.  I'm having a blast here in Korea now, seeing some great places and meeting some great people as well.  Teaching is going well.  I still make mistakes here and there, but I'll just chalk that up to the loose style of training I received.  (45 minutes of observing a class the first day was it!)  But the kids are pretty cool.  Today I mentioned to most of my classes that we will be ending the semester next week and they'd most likely be getting new teachers.  I was pleasantly surprised when most of (repeat MOST) of my students all booed my departure!  So as long as the kiddos are liking me I'm happy with the job I'm doing.  Oh and that they learn some English from me as well, of course...

So I went to Taebaek Mountain for a two day trip on my summer vacation at the end of July.  In the future for a long vacation like that I hope to do something much more adventurous, like leaving the country for somewhere.  I've heard Taiwan is amazing so I can put that on the to do list next to the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Hong Kong, etc etc.

But Taebaek was still a lot of fun, I went with a foreign travel group called Adventure Korea.  It's about 3 hours east of Seoul, not too far from Pyeongchang, where the 2018 Winter Olympics will be here in Korea.  It's a ski area, but we went to a cave that's the highest cave elevation wise in Korea.  I found the cave to be different whereas back home, everything in the cave would dedicated to preserving the cave.  Here, there was a steel walkway through the entire cave that you walked on, and many rooms had pools dug in with water fountains and colored lights giving little water shows all the time.

Later that night we went to a "Cool Cinema Festival".  It had been raining all day and threatening to rain again so there was not many people there for what was set up to be a huge production.  Maybe 600 hundred people there?? Anyways we had no idea but before the movie played was the opening ceremony with about 2 hours of different kpop bands playing.  Kpop is Korean pop music, and it kind of dominates Southeast Asia and especially Korea.  Girl and boy bands.  Let's just say the first 20 minutes was hilarious, the next hour and half of it was a little too much.  My kids all love this stuff, and I think Koreans of all ages will listen to it..I think at least.  The names of these bands were like siSTARS and Dalmation Doggy Dog....I'm not making that up...

warning: turn your volume way down before playing this...
video

So that made for an adventurous night.  After all that was a movie (Source Code).  The stage was set up at the bottom of a bunch of ski runs, during the winter its a big ski resort area.  Here's some pics of the whole night.



Our hotel on top of the ski slopes through the heavy fog.

Sistars hahaha....lots of lip synching


they love kpop! 


The next day was a bright and early wake up to hike Taebaek Mountain, about a 3 hour hike up and down.  The views were promised to be incredible...but guess what??  There was fog everywhere, and it rolled in just as we got to the top!!!

Luckily the fog broke a little at times...




In front one of the Cheonje-dan that's on the top of some of the peaks.    There altars for offering to heaven, and there were a number of Koreans saying prayers here.


We found this really cool temple area tucked into the moutain side.  Unfortunately none of these photos do justice just  to how cool this area was.  It was being remodeled, but there was a service going on in kind of make shift temple nearby, so hearing the service while peaking around was really cool.





But yea so the trip was fun and cool.  A great way to get out of the city and have some fresh air and nature around me again.  I went up to a nearby mall and department store called New Core, which gives a great view of my neighborhood...here's a panoramic view of my little slice of Bucheon, Korea:
                                                                                                                                                                              My School ^                 ^U-Plex Mall and Hyundai Department Store    ^YMCA          ^My home
Just follow those arrows up to the first building and you'll be able to tell.  A little park is in the foreground, just more of something other than concrete to walk through on my way over to anything by New Core. 
  Alrighty well these take way too long to write, but soon I'll tell about Busan and show some pictures, and put my video up of me bungee jumping and some of the things I saw that day while white water rafting.  Hope all is well back home, miss you all!