Wednesday, January 20, 2010


It was my birthday on Monday, so we decided to celebrate it over the weekend, as I would be working on the day itself. So, on Sunday, we headed off to watch the Seoul Symphony perform at the Seoul Art Centre. We went to the Symphony a couple of times before, the first time round and thoroughly enjoyed it.
This time is was just Courtney and I. We went to an afternoon performance, so there were a lot of kids in the audience. After a not particularly pleasant journey on the cramped Seoul subway system we got to our seats and set about bitching about the loud mouthed teenagers in the audience, how they should all just shut up and sit down. Now many of you may think this to be fairly reasonable, however we were bitching and moaning before the orchestra had even taken to the stage! Still, its nice to vent.
The performance itself was great, right up to when people thought it would be okay to clap along to the William Tell Overture. Now there's a time and a place for audience participation. That wasn't one of them. You don't go to see Raphael's cartoons just to have random people colour them in. Plus they weren't particularly good at it. That might have been the worst part, them thinking that they could. Granted, its a well-known piece, but this is the symphony, not some K-Pop performance. It boils down to the fact that I didn't pay to listen to you clapping. I paid to listen to artists perform. You might be the best clapper there is. Well great, good for you, but that;s not what I was there for. They did go someway to redeeming themselves when, during the encore, the conductor called for there participation and they managed to follow basic instruction.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Techno Tundra

We had a bit of a rough entry into Korea. We managed to get to Bangkok airport in what was probably a record time, which turned out to be unnecessary as our flight was delayed by an hour. That wouldn’t have been a problem except that we had a connecting flight to catch in Beijing.
Despite our flight just being a transfer, we had to go through a ridiculous series of security checks. We got a little bit stressed with only about thirty minutes to catch our flight. Fortunately we managed to get onto the plane in time.
Damn Korea is cold. We’re in Incheon, Korea’s third largest city. Our school is in Songdo, a pretty new area of town. The metro station for our school is called “Bio Information Technology”. I’m pretty sure our new school is on ground-zero for a zombie outbreak. We’re teaching in Raccoon City. Fortunately, the stop before that could provide us with some cool ways to protect ourselves against the lumbering undead – Techno Park, which I hope with provide us with either futuristic ray-guns, or a horde of tripped out clubbers to distract the undead from us!
We were a little worried that the area our apartment in was a little isolated, thus dubbing it the ‘Techno Tundra’. However we’ve had time to wander around and check things out and they’re not as bad as we first thought. We’re within walking distance of a good sized town that has everything we need. Around our apartment complex are several islands of shops, including a couple of grocery stores and little restaurants. So things are looking up.

New Year's Eve

Some friends of ours, Jen and Kat, from Korea had spent some time down in Ko Samui before joining us in Bangkok to see the New Year in. We wondered around our little part of town taking in the sights. Jen and Kat got themselves a candle balloon and set that off over the river, took a while to work, but eventually went soaring off into the sky.
We met up with a friend of Jen’s who teaches in Bangkok and loves it there. It was nice to meet someone that loves the place! We spent the early part of the evening on Khao San Road. We went to a packed out bar that had a guy in the corner on a guitar, churning out tunes that we were all crooning along to.
To see in the New Year’s itself we decided, with half an hour to go, to high tail it down to the Grand Palace. We managed to get there with about ten minutes to spare. Unfortunately Jen had to find herself a bathroom. We managed to find some, but, predictably, the queues were not insubstantial. Still, we were in a good enough place to see the fireworks. However, with about five minutes to go, Courtney decided it would be a good time to find gum. Despite the fact that a) there weren’t any convenience stores nearby, b) it was 11:55 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and c) her sense of direction in Thailand wasn’t exactly tip-top (she got lost in Wat Pho). Needless to say she wasn’t around when the fireworks went off. I was more than a little worried that I was going to spend the rest of the night looking for her. Fortunately she came bounding round the corner a few minutes later. She was a little disappointed that we missed the fireworks but I was just glad that she was okay.
Not being the rock and rollers that Jen and Kat are, Court and I called it a night soon after that. It has since become a joke between us now that if we only have a few minutes before we have to go do something that one of us will suggest looking for gum!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ready to go!

Finally, after a month of waiting, we've got ourselves tickets out of Bangkok and into Incheon. I got my visa number on the 30th of December but the Korean embassy was shut on New Year's Eve so we weren't able to get the ball rolling on that until today. Courtney also managed to find out that she will be able to do the Japanese visa run which means that we get to travel to Korea together, the much preferred option.
We're just looking for ways to get Courtney to Japan now, as you can't enter Korea with a one-way ticket on a tourist visa.