Wednesday, July 29, 2009

So much clearer now.

My Korean-American coworker Claire just translated the itinerary to me. Looks like its going to be a pretty regimented trip. Not a great deal of time to ourselves. Which is a pity as I was really looking forward to hooking up with Courtney and Co. on the island. Nick is always good for a laugh and Colleen certainly seems to be a cool cat.
Claire seems to share my concerns about being carted around for the whole weekend so the two of us might make a break for freedom. With her linguistic skills and my ability to lift heavy objects, nothing can stand in our way.
Having said all that, it will nice to be shown around Jeju. I know Court is a little concerned about finding her way around, as she will probably do the talking for Colleen and Nick. Plus everything is on the island is being paid for by work so I should probably quit complaining and enjoy the amazing opportunity I'm being presented with.

American Colonialism

So Courtney's friend, Colleen, from back home is here with us in the Land of the Morning Calm. She arrived last night and will be staying with us in my apartment. Courtney seems quite excited but is making sure that I don't feel as though they're taking over my apartment. At the moment I certainly don't and I don't see it becoming a problem for the week that Colleen will be with us. There's plenty of room for the three of us, especially since Court and I moved one of the beds downstairs a while back. This means that Colleen has the upstairs as her own, minus the space taken up with all my drying laundry!
I'm excited to have someone new here. It was great when my friend Nicky came for a weekend. Having people over to visit helps remind you about what is great about Korea, things I've started to take for granted. The food alone is worth coming here for, let alone Korea's rich history and vibrant modern cultural identity (this is expressed through K-Pop, Animal themed coffee shops and a serious passion for fashion).
There will be quite a crowd of us going to Jeju. Not only the whole OES workforce, but Courtney, Colleen and Nick will all be on the island this weekend. I still haven't managed to decipher the itinerary for the trip yet but I really hope it won't be a too rigidly structured trip. It would be great to hang out with Court and Co. rather than my work colleages, as nice as they are.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Return

With only a month or so left in Korea, Courtney and I are spending more and more of our conversations discussing what we think it'll be like to return home. I've been away for a year now, Courtney has been absent for two years.
We're both aware that there's a good chance there will be a bit of 'reverse culture shock' but we don't know how it'll hit us until we're back. The main issue will just be the amount of time that has passed. A lot can, and does, happen in a year. All my friends will have changed, I will have changed, but in what ways? I'm only back in the UK for a month, so I think I'll take Court's advice and treat my return as a visit to a foreign country, to not go there with expectations.
It's going to be amazing to see all my friends and family again. I can't wait to find out what's new and what's the same.
The only big change I'm aware of is that Woolworths has closed down, and my mum has now retired. I'm sure they're not the only things to have changed.

The Korean Experience

Came into work today and on my desk was a printout, all in Korean. I was informed that it's the intinary for the upcoming Jeju trip that my hagwon is very kindly taking me on.
My Korean is poor. I can read Korean slowly and I have a very limited vocabulary. Fortunately there tends to be a lot of 'Konglish', English words written in Korean, like 바비큐 - BBQ, 세미나 - seminar, and, of course, 이마트 - E-mart. Because no Korean outing would be complete without a trip to the supermarket.
Granted I've been in Korea for almost a year and I took Korean lessons for about 6 months, but my boss knows that I don't speak Korean. If it wasn't for my co-workers, I wouldn't have a clue as to what was going on. Not that know much more now. I now have the impression that we're taking an hour flight and spending three days shopping, have seminars and BBQs. Sounds alright to me.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Website Update

Finally got round to putting up some more of my earlier nature shots onto my photography website. Hope you like what you see.

Take my advice, I'm not using it...

So much for focusing on my time in Korea.
Been looking at the CELTA course that ECC does in Thailand. It's a tad annoying that after three years and ten grand it looks like I'm going to have to fork out another thousand pounds for another qualification. Normally the idea of paying for some sort of course wouldn't be much of an issue for me, except that I'm getting the qualification to do a job I'm already doing.
Except there are no mangoes growing in Korea...

Summer Program

Its the start of the Summer Term at OES Kids. It means an earlier start, earlier finish, and, most importantly of all, a proper lunch.
This also means that I'm entering the final chapter of my time here in South Korea, just 15 teaching days left. I've had an amazing time here in the Land of the Morning Calm, but I need to remember that I'm not actually leaving for about a month yet, so I still have time to enjoy Korea and I should try and limit how 'checked out' I become.
Which will be difficult as the next destination will be Thailand...

Sunday, July 26, 2009


This was a brilliant little puppy Courtney and I stumbled across on our walk today. A little timid at first but very excitable.
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The Ajuma Burp

Old Korean women, known locally as Ajumas are a force unto their own right. Some are ancient, bent double from years of labour in the fields. Most are friendly enough, out in the countryside where I am a foreigner such as myself can be quite an interesting spectacle.
While walking around the rice fields with Courtney, we saw a pair of particularly wrinkly ajumas. They were muttering and laughing to each other, normal enough, until one let out an almighty burp. It was hilarious. Then her companion, not wanting to be out done, let rip an equally impressive oral report. Brilliant.


Not sure if it's a snowy egret, a little egret or a cattle egret. I do know that it just caught a fish however!
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After talking with Leslie last night I've decided to open a Twitter account. I'm not entirely sure what good it will do. I don't know a great deal about Twitter except that it's popular. So I'm fully jumping on the bandwagon and beginning to 'Tweet'. My main hope is that it'll help direct traffic toward here and my photography site. Since I've just started with it, I suppose I'll have to wait and see what kind of effect it'll have.

The secret Travel Bistro

This weekend Court and I went into to Seoul to sort out our VISA for visiting China.
We've booked our trip to China through a travel agent in Itaewon, Marco Polo, run by Marco Chang. He's a quiet looking fellow, with an unassuming office on the forth floor of a building with Burger King on the ground floor. He was sitting behind his desk in a floral Hawaiian shirt when we visited him.
He's certainly a man of many interests. Firstly, unlike many of the Koreans that I have encountered, he is interested in exploring the world outside of Korea. Secondly he is an avid saxophonist. He has Selmer Mark VI, which he has the serial number of memorised. He practices regularly. He favourtie tunes are Laura and Desperado.
Finally he is an entrepreneur.
Once we'd finished with the business of sorting out our VISA, he took on a conspiratorial tone, leaned in close and said, "I have a new business idea." In his tiny and office, the only one on the fourth floor, he looked left and right before putting a finger to his lips and saying, "But it's a secret."
Now sharing this with the world probably makes me a terrible person, but as the adage goes; any publicity is good publicity, so I see myself as doing him a favour spreading the word.
Marco Polo's new super secret business plan is to open a shop which, by day, is a travel agents, but by night, it transforms into a Jazz bistro where live music and good food awaits. Interesting idea. We then spent the next 30 minutes with Marco performing the role of advisers to the name of his new venture. Should it be called a Pub, a Tavern, a Restaurant or a Bistro? Bistro's fine. Next should it be Travel and Bistro, Travel & Bistro, Bistro and Travel or Bistro & Travel? Travel & Bistro. Should the '&' be big or small? Small. It was fun at first, but all the talk of food was making me hungry, so before he starting asking us to help him pick colours for the sign we made our excuses and had a kebab.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Went out into the rice fields again this morning. They're beginning to lose their brilliant emerald green as the shoots mature into a more yellow green, but they are still quite spectacular to look out upon.
I managed to stumble upon an egret that had just caught a small fish, which allowed me to grab a couple of shots of it before it took flight. Not bad for a morning walk.

Friday, July 24, 2009

My Blog

Along with my photography website:, this is another step I'm taking to increase my digital presence. We'll see how well this goes.