Thursday, October 25, 2012

The China Dilemma

There is still such thing as prejudices towards Americans, I knew this already but this week has yet been another reminder for that fact.

Originally when I was looking to teach english in Asia, my goal was China. But I soon realized that Korea was safer and paid more, even though the contracts were longer. After accepting a job in Korea, I told myself that I was close to Japan and China; so I would be able to easily go to either country.

Well, this week my dreams of China were dashed. I went to a travel agency to apply for a Chinese visa, so I could start planning my trip with my sister at the end of my contract in five months. Well, the travel agent told me 'no, it is not possible.' Well actually he said '불가능 없음' but thankfully I had a friend there to translate. He explained that I had to have at least six months left on my Alien card in order to apply and even if I did get my visa it would only be good for about three months. So there wouldn't have been any way for my to visit China with my sister at the end of my contract. I had a small tantrum and I even learned that me being an American, if I applied to get a visa I would pay 160 dollars more for my visa than would a Canadian or Englishmen. Shenanigans!!!

Oh, I was fuming at that point. Smile and all, I was angry. So now the only way I'm getting to China is I would have to go to Hong Kong and apply there for a Chinese Visa, pay a ton of money and wait two or three days to get it. And that isn't even for sertain, either. This is just rumors and hear-say. The other option is to go with the original plan of going to teach in China. If that happened, I can only sign on to a six month contract, because I think I might kill some kids if I have to deal with any more. 

For a positive note, I got my camera back and it is as good as new and I didn't have to pay a dime. :)

This week we are having presentations at school. Which means easy days and this weekend there is a firework festival in Busan. So I will have pictures next week, none this week, sorry.

Funny story for the week. I was in the middle of a lesson when there was a huge explosion followed promptly by other smaller explosions. One of my students shouted the North was invading (as a joke) and I realized that it was fireworks. Sadly we were on the wrong side of the building, so we couldn't watch them but the explosions continued for about half the class. With that kind of distraction it was hard to do work. So we just had a class discussion on how good pizza was.
Turns out that the fireworks were for the Chrysanthemum festival going on. Why on earth would you want to celebrate that ugly little flower that I've only seen used in funerals, I have no idea.

Everyone have a great week, and Adventure is out there! 
Sometimes all we need is socks :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Lantern Festival in Jinju

Hello to all my family and friends,

So last weekend I went over to Jinju, where one of my friends live.  They were having a Lantern festival! I got to the city around sunset and this is what greeted me:

We had dinner and I got my own personal tour of Jinju, courtesy of my friend Jackie.
 After walking around the town a little bit, it finally got dark and they started lighting up the lanterns. So this is what the festival actually looked like: (left)

If you notice in the water there are smaller floating lanterns that you can send off yourself. They are supposed to symbolize your hopes and dreams. Very cool and fun idea.
Jackie and I met up with a couple more friends and then we hung out on the riverside for about an hour thinking there would be fireworks. Apparently there are none on the last day.
 So we went through a few tunnels that were made of lanterns. It gave off a really cool light and it was fun just to walk through. After the initial lantern tunnel (right) we came upon another lantern tunnel but this one was filled with handmade personalized lanterns.
 Aren't they cool! I took a lot of fun pictures here and then my camera gave out on me. It just stopped working and would only start again after I swore at it, beat it and removed the battery. Such a fickle machine.
 While we were walking around looking at all the lanterns. We saw a really cool dragon one and it also was moving and blowing smoke. So I removed my battery and started taking pictures again. And while I was taking pictures this little boy came up to the fence and started acting like he was defending us from the evil dragon. He was so cute and he posed and everything. Check out the brave knight: ------>

He even had a stick and everything :)

 We kept exploring the festival and crossed the river twice. That was fun because you got to walk on the equivalent of barrels. So the whole experience was quite whobbly. We finally got over to the castle grounds right after shooting off some hand fireworks. (Very fun, and all the Koreans watched us and laughed because we were crazy foreigners afraid of our own fireworks). Anyways there were some fun lanterns on the castle grounds and I even found some that represented the animals of the Chinese calendar.
 There was an area as well where you could write your hopes and dreams on a little piece of fabric and then glue it onto a lantern. We came right as they were closing down so we were really lucky that they allowed us to do one more. There were so many of these 'dream' papers on the large lanterns that some were hung like dreadlocks off the heads and any raised area. Pretty cool but that kinda made the lanterns unrecognizable. It was still fun.
We finished our exploration of the castle around 11:45pm and I was a little concerned about getting a bus because we ran into a couple of foreigners who told us good luck trying to get out of Jinju. It was the last night of the festival and everyone was there. I got to the terminal and when I first got to the counter the ticket person just waved me away. I tried to figure out what he was trying to tell me and as I was looking at the boards to find my city a drunk guy came up to 'help'. Well I said my city and he told me to follow him. He proceeded to yell at the ticket person, he grabbed my 10, 000 won mark and tried to get me a ticket. Well the ticket person came out and told me that there was a bus outside which took cash only, no ticket. The drunk guy was still yelling at the ticket man through the window and he still had my money. So while he was distracted I slipped the money from his grasp and shuffled away, as the drunk guy kept yelling obscenities. I found the right bus and was able to get home around one thirty in the morning. Kinda crazy but I'm happy nothing bad happened, like me getting utterly lost.

It was a blast, the whole weekend. And good news, I went into a Sony shop and let them take my camera. Hopefully they will be able to fix it. Thankfully, I kept the receipt so they said that it will be free. Unless they can't fix it, but it will still be free. Well thats all for now.
Find your adventure, everyone!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Occasionally Boring... not this week

This last week was the BIFF or Busan International film festival. The only reason it is international is that it includes china or at least that is the only other nation I saw represented there. Granted, I only stayed for about half an hour.
Here is me with Alisa
Alisa, Hannah, Jinny, Me :)

 Oh Busan :)

I went with the girls from work and we stood around waiting to see a famous actress that I didn't know. And after we took a few quick shots of her, we left and just started taking pictures of ourselves next to posters. My camera is having a tantrum and decided to stop working again... so pictures are limited. (I am going to a sony place next week).

Anyways, after we experienced the full array of poster backgrounds and exhausted our options of posses we could do infront of them.... we did what the only real other activity you can do in Busan which was shopping.
We hit an underground mall. That was fun, I found a really cool backpack and earrings. I thought I had done well and was leaving with the girls when they all stopped and said that we had to stop at a particular shop. This just so happened to be an underwear store. Well, I'm supportive so I go in. I look at some possible bra and panty sets and one of the girls tell me that they can find my size in anything. Still supportive yet trying to dogde the awkwardness of telling anyone your size, I tell them I don't know my size. For everyone to know: DON'T tell a group of fashion fanatic girls that you don't know your size. They will find out for you, even to the point of taking out a measuring tape and measuring you in front of a bunch of strangers and everyone else outside the very large window of the shop. Then they will proceed to discuss your size in a language you can only guess at. Awkward but entertaining to say the least.

On Sunday I was asked to tag along with some friends to explore Goeje (port town). Despite my misgivings I went along. The evening was fun and I got to see the ocean for real and the above shot. It looked like a castle across the see but actually it was a boat construction site. Really cool!

Thats all this week, next weekend is conference. We are a week behind because the Koreans wait for the translation so I'll be watching that next sunday.

Oh funny story this last sunday:
I was walking up the steps to get to enter the church building and the Bishop was there to meet me. He pointed at me and said 'YOU!' His english isn't that spectacular but I'm supportive and so I patiently waited to find out the rest of his sentence. He continued '' I nodded thinking he was going to ask me about a time for something. ' need... single no' At this point I just started laughing and nodded and tried to reassure him that I was ...kinda... not; but I at least I smiled at his show of concern for my singleness. The whole situation just made me laugh and thankfully I was able to quickly escape to the chapel. Oh good times.

Welp that's all for this week...till next time

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chuseok and Bloody Cotton candy

Happy Chuseok everyone!

So Chuseok is the equivalent to Thanksgiving for Americans but it happens in the beginning of October as opposed to November. I got a few days off which was nice except for the fact that traveling was a living nightmare so I didn't even try it but I did have a little bit of an adventure.

I began the holiday with a few of my coworkers. We drove out to Busan, one of my coworkers has a car which makes for a nice ride, if you enjoy k-pop. We also left Masan at midnight. Still not sure if that was the best of ideas but there you go. Takes an hour to get to busan and by the time we got there all the bars were filled....darn ( -_-) So we walked around the beach for a while and enjoyed the lights that were on the bridge across the water way. Finally after about an hour a bar had room for us at.. the.. bar... weird, anyways I got a wonderful Pineapple Sunrise (non-alcohol) and my friends drank to their hearts content. While at this bar I was hit on by a number of Korean guys, most of them couldn't speak that much english and I was even grabbed off my bench and danced with a few of them. Well, they grabbed me off the bench, I stood there and they danced around me for a few seconds before I figured a way to escape and at the first chance I got I ran for it. Terrifying to say the least.

We left the bar around four in the morning and went to a ramien spot where I tried to pass out on the bench, unsuccessful. But it did encourage the others to think that we need a place to sleep for a bit. We tried to find a place but everything was too expensive, so we all got the bright idea to just sleep in the car. They left the music (k-pop) on the whole you can say I had a rough time sleeping. Around seven the driver was sober enough to drive home.
All in all, I really enjoyed the experience. It was fun to be out late and everything was exciting but I am not sure I would do it again, maybe.

The rest of Chuseuk, I was invited to a few dinners by families from the ward and that was really nice. I didn't feel like doing too much though, so I went out and bought a puzzle which I finished in about two days (I'm rounding up). Finally after not doing anything for two days I felt guilty enough to go out and search for adventure.
I called up a friend and she and I went to Busan together. We went to the aquarium and walked along the coastline. It was really nice to get out.
I think the best story from that trip was the bloody cotton candy. There was a small theme park next to beach in Busan and while we were checking it out we ran into a cotton candy maker. It was a fairly good price, and you guys know how much I like cotton candy! So we ordered two, the first one was mine and it was good. Then as the guy was making my friend's, he hurt himself pretty bad. but he kept making the candy! Well, I've got a video of it so you check it out:
well the video didn't work so I will post it on facebook later
Here is an after shot though :)

Crazy huh? Well we had a good laugh over it and it is a good thing my friend had such a good humor about it. I would have been a little more concerned. Yeah, icky.