Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Muju Ski Resort

I FINALLY got my snowboarding fix in. After hearing about all of my friends back at home going boarding (and being super jealous), I found a weekend I could actually make it to the Korean slopes. Thank god I decided to teach in a place that has mountains.

Saturday morning at about 8:30am, Shaun and I took a bus to Muju from Namwon. Almost 2 hours later we made it to Muju (thanks to the non-express bus... about 4 or 5 stops later). The free shuttle to the resort decided to pass us up, so ended up taking a taxi... which happen to be a lot more expensive than in other cities. As we got closer to the mountain, we saw the streets littered with rental shops. I'm not even sure if other businesses exist because all you could see for blocks were skis and snowboards. We stopped at the end of the row of ski shops and walked into the first store we found. The people working there were very friendly, spoke decent English, and even offered to drive us to our hotel. We rented everything we needed there: boards, boots, outfits, goggles. It turned out to be about 70,000 won each for two days worth of rentals. Insane right??
By the time we got our equipment, checked in, etc, it was about 1pm. Not as early as we had hoped to get on the mountain, but fortunately the slopes in Korea  are open until 2am!! Instead of purchasing a day lift ticket like back at home, the day is broken up into different sessions (and closes for 2 hours in the afternoon to plow the slopes): early morning, morning, afternoon, evening, night, late night. So, the amount depends on when you want to ski but is still relatively inexpensive compared to home. AND if you pay with your KB or NH bank cards, you get about 20% off of your ticket purchase.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Christmas Time in Daegu and Namwon

About three weeks before Christmas, the streets of Daegu started becoming decorated with lights, green and red decorations, and bad English xmas sayings.
The first Christmas tree I've ever bought for my own apartment.
All of the stockings I found at Home Plus had sayings.
I settled on the best one...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Christmas Time in Seoul

The weekend of December 3rd, I went on a trip to Seoul with Shaun. We both took the bus from our cities so it took about 3 1/2 to 4 hours for us to get there. Because we got there pretty late, we decided to have a calm night so we just checked out the surrounding area (Walker Hill). We walking around a casino near where we were staying. So, 1. I didn't really realize S.Korea had casinos and 2. I really didn't realize they were only for foreigners. There is apparently only one casino in all of South Korea that Koreans can gamble at. All of the rest are for foreigners only and IDs/passports are checked at the door. According to some article I read, casinos and gambling are generally looked down upon anyway due to Confucian beliefs, which the government supports (but the government also supports the tourism that casinos bring in from foreigners... very contradictory). And now the government owns 51% of the shares from the one casino Koreans can gamble at... seems silly to me.
Christmas at Walker Hill
Beautiful view of the river.
The next day we went to the COEX (an enormous mall) to eat lunch. We went to On the Border- who knew they had that in Korea??- to satisfy our Mexican food cravings. Unfortunately my enchilada had a very interesting taste to it, but it was nice to have some "Mexican" anyway. We then went to the Lotte World shopping mall. There was some weird Christmas marching band/parade thing on the ice skating rink. We watched it for a little and went to the shooting range. It was my first time EVER shooting a gun and I actually wasn't half bad (2 bulls-eyes out of 10!). We walked down the street and looked around Olympic Village. I was so sad that none of the ice skating rinks around Seoul were built yet, but Seoul is still WAY more Christmas-y than Daegu. We moved hotels for the second night and it was decked out... complete with a HUGE gingerbread house!
Giant gingerbread house.

Winter Desk Warming

Monday marked my first day of desk warming. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it is the time during winter or summer when the students are not at school, yet us English teachers are required to come to school anyway and, well, warm our desk. They decided to take the door off of my office (painting and putting on new doors eventually) so I have to sit in the main teacher office for awhile and can't do whatever I want, such as watch movies, sleep, etc. School doesn't start up until the end of February and I am already bored.... One of my coteachers gets to go home at 12 these days, but refers to it as "Daegu JoongAng Middle Jail" for me. This video describes it perfectly: "Hitler Has to Desk Warm"