A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: LiveLife

Chuseok (Thanksgiving)

Party at School

Chuseok, otherwise known as Thanksgiving, is basically the biggest and most important holiday in South Korea. Families get together to eat an enormous amount of food, not unlike the American-style Thanksgiving. They give thanks to their ancestors for the successful harvest. It is a three day holiday celebration.

The Friday before the holiday, and my week-long vacation, we had an all day party at the school. The children looked so darling in their traditional dress, which are called Hanboks.

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Amy

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Patty

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Andrew

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Edward

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Jason

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Robin

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Jane

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Aaron

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Peter, from my arts and crafts class

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Jane

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Amy

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Julie, our wonderful new assistant teacher

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Karen and her kinders

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Andrew and Jason

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My colorful kinders

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My coteacher Selina and Edward

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Kelly Teacher

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Shauna Teacher

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The Saturn class

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Thanksgiving Bulletin Board

Korean customs for this holiday are different, but yet quite the same. On the morning of Chuseok Day, Songpyeon, or Korean rice cakes, are made. We made these with the children at the school. It is the food that represents Chuseok. The rice cake can be prepared with rice that is kneaded into golf ball size. Then it can be filled with sesame seeds, red beans, beans, chestnuts, and many other ingredients. The children filled theirs with a lot of sugar. An old Korean saying says that whoever makes the most beautiful Songpyeon will meet a good-looking spouse. I suppose this is good motivation for singles to make the finest Songpyeon.

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Food is typically prepared and set out to give thanks to ancestors through a memorial service, Charye. Formally, this service is held twice a year, again on New Year's Day, to honor ancestors. After this service, families visit their ancestors' graves and do a ritual cleaning of any weeds, etc. that have grown over the burial site or mound. This is known as Seongmyo. This a duty, and to show respect and devotion for their family.

The students take this day very seriously, and are so proud to be wearing their Hanboks. After making Songpyeon, all the kinders gathered into the auditorium to learn and practice bowing.

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Little Alvin. He is just the cutest.

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No, he is not supposed to be playing with the drums. Haha.

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She was quite busy digging for gold.

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Emma and Ashley

LUNCHTIME!
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The whole Kindergarten crew

Here come the elementary students!
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Me with Ryan and Evan A.K.A. Mushroom. My most talkative kids in class.

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Evan representing Oshkosh!

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Julie, the sweetest girl. She sits next to me everyday in class.

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Lisa and Allie

Let the games begin!
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Tony has the biggest hands in the world.

By the way, I was always on the winning side. Was that just a lucky accident? I think not..

All the kids had a lot of fun, and I am sure they were glad to not have regular classes.

Posted by LiveLife 21:30 Archived in South Korea Tagged chuseok Comments (0)

BBQ and Hostess Bar

Anyang

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Our friend and coworker, Sara, wanted a last Friday night out to enjoy some Korean BBQ. We went to one of my favorite BBQ spots in downtown Anyang. It was a delightful meal complimented with some beer, and some Makali for me.

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After dinner it was still raining cats and dogs, so we went to a close by bar to drink some more wine and relax. It was a cozy little place. Come to find out, it was actually a hostess bar. This means that we could have went there, and paid some money to talk one on one with one of the girls/hostesses. There wasn't any need for me to have a date night with a girl I had to pay money to, but we did receive excellent service.

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Tony A.K.A. T-Spillz

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Sara and I

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Lucky us, we indulged in some chocolate and cheese on a heart-shaped plate

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Hana

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Posted by LiveLife 03:54 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

My Taiwan Vacation

Photo Compilation Video

  • Allow some time to viewing, for this video is a bit lengthy.

Posted by LiveLife 20:44 Archived in Taiwan Tagged living abroad Comments (0)

My Taiwan Vacation

From Korea to Taiwan

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I took my week-long summer vacation to Taiwan. I traveled with my 2 best friends Nick and Ashley, my friend Sara, and my boyfriend Derek (Dokyun). We flew into Taipei, Taiwan, which is the country's capital. It is a bustling city, with a variety of things to see and do.

We stayed at a cute hostel. The owners were very hospitable, and we met some interesting people to converse with. Derek, Sara, and I visited some of the night markets Taipei had to offer. It is definitely something to see. There was a plethera of seafood and fresh fruit. The fresh mango was amazing. We also ate a a great Thai restaurant named "Kiki." It was reasonably priced, and the food was tasty.

Before we departed Taipei to travel south, we went to the Taipei 101 Tower. It is an observatory tower as well as an exhitibition providing a cultural tour of Taiwan.

From Taipei we headed southeast via metro then bus to Hualien, Taiwan. We stayed at an out of the way hostel in this smaller feeling city. The main reason for this stop was to spend the next day visiting Taroko National Park. Taroko is on the outskirts of Hualien City, the townships of Ji-an and Sincheng. We left on a tour from the hostel. The bus could not accommodate our time schedule, so we were lucky enough to get our very own private taxi cab tour! The cab driver was not rookie to guiding tourists through the park. He knew all the sights worth seeing. We took a healthy hike on Suopodang Mountain. It was so refreshing and beautiful. We stopped at other notable sights such as Swallow Grotto, the Buluowan Recreation area where we enjoyed some Taiwanese cuisine at an outdoor restaurant, the Eternal Spring Shrine, and the Siangde Temple Trail. After a good hike, we reached Xiangde Temple on a plateau across the Liwu River. The temple is surrounded by mountains. Vehicles cannot reach this place, so it remains very peaceful. This is a Buddhist temple, completed in 1968. Many visitors come from all over the world to worship Buddha or practice moral teachings.

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The last stop was to an ocean park on the east coast in the Hualien area. We rested, and took in the satisfying ocean air and view before ending our tour. From there, we gathered up our luggage and headed to the train station. Next stop, Kaohsiung, located in the southwest region of Taiwan. We only stopped here, because the train does not travel any further south. From there, we took what looked to be a flinstone-style bus (very old and rickety), to Kenting, Taiwan. Kenting is located at the very southern tip of Taiwan. We stayed at The Surf Shack Bar and Grill Hostel. It was a great hostel with delightful food and the nicest, mot hospitable host. We learned that Kenting is pretty disconnected in terms of technology and the use any other form of money besides cash. This posed a bit of a problem, but we managed. We spent a lot of time walking the streets, checking out the markets, and of course a few different beaches.

The week ended, and we made the long trip using almost every different mode of transportation besides boat to arrive back in Korea. Before flying out of Taipei, we hit the Jade Market. Taiwan is known for their Jade, and much of the homemade jewlery that entails. Overall, it was a very nice vacation. Taiwan did "touch my heart."

Posted by LiveLife 20:38 Archived in Taiwan Tagged living abroad Comments (0)

Do I Look Like a Korean Bug?..

Trevor's Birthday Celebration, Anyang

rain 75 °F

Karen, Romo, and I went to Trevor and Patty's apt. in Anyang to celebrate Trevor's birthday. It was nice to socialize, and with basically all foreign teachers.

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Delicious homemade bean dip

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Romo and Karen

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Do I look like a bug?

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Posted by LiveLife 20:36 Archived in South Korea Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Water Gun Fight

Anyang Central Park

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We spent a fun-filled morning with the kinders at Anyang Central Park for a water gun fight in the sunshine. There was no point in trying to stay dry. The kids were ready for action with their giant water guns. We all got super soaked. It was a fun morning.

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Andrew, my homeroom kinder

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Little Alvin, so cute. He is only 3 years old.

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This is our director, Hera. Funniest sight ever with the big yellow bag over her head. She didn't want to take the chance of messing up her hair or makeup

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Tony was on a mission to win and soak all the kids

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My mini-me Amy

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My co-teacher Selina didn't stand a chance

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Holding a camera is what saved me from becoming a water fight victom

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Sunny is our assistant teacher

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The dry off area

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Sara somehow managed to stay pretty dry

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All the kids eventually moved to play in the big fountains

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Me with my homeroom students. I adore all of them

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All of the kinder students

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Posted by LiveLife 23:59 Archived in South Korea Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Kinder Fieldtrip to the Park

Bubbles, Relays, and Playground Fun

sunny 82 °F

We took the students on a mini morning fieldtrip to a park near the school. The kinders played with bubbles, took turns doing relay races, and also had some playground time. It was a nice break from the normal routine.

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Posted by LiveLife 02:00 Archived in South Korea Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Changgyeong Palace

Seoul, South Korea

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Changgyeong Palace was designed as a residence for elders of the royal family to live. Every palace compound has a stream purposely built inside of it. The stream is deamed necessary because it is said to create a harmony with the mountains behind the palace compound. The Changgyeong Palace stream is called Okcheon. Cherry, plum, and apricot trees blossom around the stream each spring.

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One of the most important ceremonies in Joseon was the king's marriage. The ceremony took place in the royal audience hall where 66 year old Yeongjo married 15 year old Queen Jeongsun in 1759.

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The hemispheric sundial was one of the most widely used astronomical devices. It was invented in 1434.

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Taesil are shrines where the royal family stored the placenta and umbilical cord of their children. The stone monument is inscribed with a story about the placenta.

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When we left the immediate grounds of the palace, we had to laugh the the police officer giving a ticket to a delivery guy on his bike.

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To end the day, we went to Itaewon to have some Indian food. The hummus there was the best I have ever had!

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Posted by LiveLife 05:20 Archived in South Korea Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Boryeong Mud Festival

Daecheon Beach

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I decided I was going to attend the Mud Festival in Boryeong, Korea before I even arrived in Korea. Mudfest offers many different activities, basically anything mud. They had mud wrestling, mudfights, mud-sliding, a mega mud pool, a mud training course, swimming in the huge mud tub, mud painting, fireworks, and of course mud massages.

I found out later that this festival attracts the largest number of foreigners compared to any other Korean festival. So needless to say, I met a lot of foreigners, mostly other teachers.

The first mudfest was in 1998 because of mud cosmetics, which was invented/established from beach mud gathered from the plain near the Daecheon swimming beach. Mud is said to be very beneficial for the human body. This use was promoted via Mudfest along with advertising sightseeing in Boryeong City. Deaecheon Beach is a shell-powdered beach, which I learned is only found in Eastern countries.

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CNN's coverage of the 2010 Mud Festival
http://www.cnngo.com/explorations/getting-dirty-south-koreas-boryeong-mud-festival-724062

My boyfriend, Derek, and I drove to Mudfest Saturday morning. We met up with Nick, Ashley, and some other friends living in Korea. The morning started out cloudy and rainy, but once we arrived, nothing but warm sunshine. The beach was amazing. So beautiful and refreshing. We walked the beach and explored all of the mud festivities.

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Nick and Ashley on the mudslide
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Cameras were everywhere! We felt like Britany Spears. Haha.
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There were a few concerts on the beach as well.
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After we got nice and muddy and took a swim in the sea to rinse off, we just socialized on the beach until sunset.

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As nightfall approached, I was feeling more than a little sandy, muddy, and unfresh. I couldn't wait to get to the hotel we were staying at off the beach to shower and eat. Too bad for me, there was a nice long line for the shower since 8 of us were sleeping in one hotel room. After our pizza and rest, we went to the top floor of the hotel to chat over some drinks. About 15 of us gathered in this private lounge. It was nice and cozy.

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After a few hours there, we ventured out to check out the city's club scene. The cover charges were quite pricey, but we danced and such until the bright hour of 7am the next day. We all woke up to housekeeping knocking on the door at 11am informing us it was check-out time. We all very slowly walked ourselves around the city until Derek and I decided it was time to drive home, back to Anyang.

What a mudtastic, beachy weekend!

Posted by LiveLife 08:27 Archived in South Korea Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Great People, Great Times

The WA and Happidus

My lovely Korean friend Ashley, A.K.A. Waldo, is moving to the Missouri to live and go to school. She wanted to get some of her closest friends together for a goodbye dinner and fun. We went to the WA bar/grill for dinner, and then onto our usual spot, "Happidus" for some pool, drinks, etc. I am sure going to miss her, but I know she will be loving her new adventures across ponds.

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Posted by LiveLife 19:52 Archived in South Korea Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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