Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cutting and Pasting

 As a kindergarten teacher, most think my job is all about coloring, cutting, and pasting.  WRONG!  It's all about studying, studying, stuyding!  After almost 16 months in Korea - we finally got to color, cut, and paste.  My instructions were to make paper aquariums with the kids.  I had to document this occasion:  Our first day of coloring, cutting, and pasting!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gyeongju 경주

 Gyeongju is known as the "Museum Without Walls."  It was the former capital of Korea during the Silla Dynasty dating back to 57 BC - around the time of Julius Ceasar.  Most of the things you see around Seoul are from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).  Gyeonju is about a 4 hours bus ride from Suwon - in the southeast part of South Korea.

In a previous post:  http://katieskoreanadventure.blogspot.com/2011/05/royal-tombs.html, you saw some royal tombs from the Joseon Dynasty.  I figured the tombs would be similar from the Silla Dynasty but they were much larger!

 These are some royal tombs...just in the middle of the city.  They are surrounded by a sidewalk, nothing else.  You could climb on them if you wanted.  Much different from the ones closer to Seoul.
 Group shot:)

 Girls Group Shot
 Boys Group Shot

 The smaller mound is for the queen
 All kids eventually go to Gyeongju for a class trip.
 Lunch.  Bibimbap and one of the best pajeons I've ever had.  Pajeon is like a Korean pancake.  This one is a seafood one filled with yummy squid!
 The Seokguram Grotto is a "must-see" in Gyeonju.  I thought it was really beautiful but not really all it was hyped up to be.

 Inside this building is a small cave wear an extremely beautiful Buddha carved from one huge stone.  It was probably the most beautiful Buddha I've seen in Korea.  Unfortunatly, we couldn't take any photos and there was someone monitoring it:(

 Many times when you visit a temple you see these roof tiles.  People can purchase/make a donation of a tile - write a wish or message on it - then, when roof repairs need to be done, they use these tiles.  I was happy to see one from Chile!
 This is the building with Buddha inside.

 Sad:(  These dogs are probably not going to the Human Society...they're probably going to be soup!

 Cheomseongdae - a famous observatory for astronomy - is the oldest in East Asia.  Built in the 7th century, it's even one of the oldest scientific installations in the world. 
 My favorite part of the trip was going into one of the royal tombs.  They excavated one of the tombs so you could see how it was built from the inside.  There was a large box in the middle of the tomb with the King's remains, his horse, and several important relics (this tomb included 11,500 artifacts!).  Above the large, wooden coffin, is an extremely huge pile of rocks covered in dirt.  It was really cool to see a cross-section of the royal tomb.
 No photos were allowed---but I quickly snapped this photo.  The King's remains have been removed and reburied-this is only a replica.  This is the large wooden box.  The King was in here with his horse and lots of important relics.
 We stayed at a great hostel in Gyeongju.  I wasn't sure what the third emergency was??

 They had a rooftop where people could go to listen to some music, have a few drinks, and meet new people.  We met some great people up there and had a great time.
 Good times:)
It was actually a friend's last trip before he heads home in a little over a week.  This is our group photo from the tent on the roof at the hostel.

Overall - Gyeongju was a great trip because of the great people who went.  It was a nice place to go to - but I don't think it was all it was hyped up to be.

Monday, May 23, 2011


 Korea is the home of taekwondo, one of the world's most popular martial art.  Since being in Korea, I've wanted to try it out.  Lots of my afterschool students come to class wearing their taekwondo uniforms and show me their moves once they upgrade to a higher-color belt.  I wanted to take classes; however, in my neighborhood I couldn't find a class for adult beginners.  Taekwondo classes are everyday and if it's not in my neighborhood, I'd doubt I'd go everyday.  So, I was stoked to see you could take a one-time, hour long class in Seoul on Saturdays.

Our Master was from Kukkiwon - the most well-known Mecca of Taekwondo, the headquarters of the World Taekwondo Federation.  Taekwondo Masters from all over the world come here for certification.  He was hilarious and made our class a lot of fun!
I tried to quote Rex-Kwon-Do from Napoleon Dynamite but no one seemed to know what I was talking about...dang...friends from home would understand..."BOW TO YOUR SENSEI!"

 The class was in a traditional, hanok village.  "Well attention!"

 Afterwards there was an amazing taekwondo performance.  The weather was terrible and it kept raining.  The performance was supposed to be cancelled, but because of the large crowd, they performed in the rain.  A few of the people slipped and didn't have a perfect performance because of the rain..but it was still awesome.

 I was sitting next to a kid from the Netherlands who was 9 and had been living in Korea for 2 years.  This girl was awesome, she could rotate her body in a complete circle while holding this pose.  I said to the boy (who has been taking tkd), "you need a girlfriend like that!"  And he said, "Well...I do need someone to help me with my flexibility!"
 These kids are in elementary school!
 They would jump on someone's chest to get to the high ones!  Jumping off and...
 Going for the break!  The photos are much better if you click on them to make them larger.
 This guy was blind-folded.  The other guy was holding an apple and a bell.  He would learn where to kick based on the ringing of the bell!
 Kicking the apple blind-folded!
 And kicking the other apple!

 They could jump so high!  Going for it...
 Got it!
 Getting closer....and he broke the board but I didn't get a third shot!  Again, it's much better if you click on the photo to make it larger.
 Master Park talking to the audience.
 The kick in the camoflague was the kid sitting next to me.  He went on stage and showed a round-house kick!
 Afterwards you could go up and take pics with the performers.  Master Park yelled to the audience, "Come on Katie, get up here, you are my student now!"  So I had to go!
Here's a short video.  I happened to take video at the "musical" time.  I didn't remember it being song-and-dance-ish until I rewatched this video.  You will see a few slips, but it was really rainy out and the stage was really slippery.  If you can't tell - there's one apple smashing in there--it may be hard to tell what it is if I don't tell you.

 Afterwards, a friend and I went to seek out the Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain.  We got there for about a minute before it was over.  I couldn't even take a photo!  I had no idea it didn't run all night.  We stopped at this great restaurant/cafe on the Han River that overlooks the river.  Apparently you aren't supposed to touch the handrail!
 Caramel Macchiato + cheesecake + beautiful views and good company = :)

 Pretty cool, restaurant!
 On the way home.  Sorry Sir, this is not a male bag...this is a purse!