January 29, 2011


It is official - I have been in Korea for 6 months. I am happy to say I still love it. My house is very much my home, and I still adore my students. Its been difficult at times, most of all when my family had a crisis and I was not able to go and be there for them. It is hard to be away when you're missing people, but its harder to be away when something like that happens. Nevertheless, I am trying to focus on the positives, the places I love, the great people I have met, the new cultural experiences.

Packages from home really, really make me happy. I'm blessed to receive them from a lot of wonderful people in my life. David sent me a Michigan T-shirt; Tom sent me a ring and an ornament. I've gotten candy and letters, cards and postcards. Its been amazing. I love writing letters and sending little packages, so its nice to have so many great pen pals in my life. Of course, no one can send a better package than my mother. She recently sent me one with a scrapbook to work on, a Cannon Rebel I bought myself for Christmas, lots of cotton socks, strawberry carmex, and lots of other things I've been missing.

Every morning the sun from my kitchen warms my living room ,and Trenton sits quietly on the rug. She rotates slowly throughout the hour or so I get ready for work. Its nice to see our two routines continue.

This is hanging in my bedroom. Stephanie made it for me and mailed it months ago. I love it.

My mom sent these to me, my cousins Kelly and Jade painted them for me. They are abstract, and have awesome colors.

I bought a T-shirt in Thailand that was awkwardly cut. So, I cut out the print - a map of Thailand with labels written in Thai - and then cut out a pillow case. I had to hand sew it, since I don't have a sewing machine, but I love the way it turned out. I even added a hidden velcro opening so I can fold it up small and bring it back when I leave Korea.

Another thing that reminds me of my trip, some amazing postcards I bought there. They feature Thai monks and buddhist sites. They are partly in black and white and have mostly yellows and oranges. I was going to mail them out to friends, but loved them too much (sorry guys!)

Twenty-two little paper cranes strung up above my door frame. I thought my apartment could use a little more color.

I love having so much free time here, its nice to be able to create things, to read, and so on, just for the sheer pleasure of it. Now I am planning on working on a scrap book of my time in Korea. Since its quite cold now I am spending less weeknights meeting friends downtown for dinner, etc, and more time at home. Its nice to have something productive to work on.

Tricia arrives tomorrow. Two weeks together. I can't wait.

January 17, 2011

A laid back weekend in Seoul?!

This weekend Laura and I decided to go up to Seoul for a winter festival. Once there, we soon learned that the festival was cancelled, but that was only listed on the Korean website (not the English one). All plans of ice fishing with our bare hands were quickly diminished. We made the best of the situation, and honestly, it was great to not have an agenda in Seoul.

M. Chat, French graffiti artist, tagged his famous Mister Cat all over Seoul. This is one in Hongdae by the hostel I stay at in Seoul.

To our pleasant surprise, a second Taco Bell had opened up in Seoul, and just happened to be right next to our hostel! Life was delicious.

Saturday we went to Deoksugung, a palace in downtown Seoul. Our goal was to see the Royal Changing of the Guards Ceremony, but it was cancelled due to cold weather.

We braved the cold long enough to check out the palace grounds and buildings.

It was really interesting seeing such an ancient palace set around a bustling city.

Then we went to a special exhibit at the National Museum of Contemporary Art. It was called Picasso and Modern Art, but was primarily expressionist works. It was a fantastic exhibit, and I would highly recommend anyone in Korea to check it out.

Next, we ventured out to the Seoul Museum of Art, which was hosting a Chagall exhibit, called Chagall : A Magician of Color. Of course the Chagall and Picasso exhibits both did not allow photography.

The museum was hosting a modern exhibit of work that was much more hands on and interactive.

It was an interesting and welcome change after a day full of well-known art.

On Sunday Laura and I went to a cafe called Cats Living. It is a cat cafe, which are actually fairly common in Korea. Neither of us had been to one before, so we stopped in for coffees. It was wonderful.

The basic idea is that you pay an admission to get in (about $7.50) and get a beverage for free. As far as I can tell they can't serve food for sanitation reasons.

You can play with the cats, they had about 30 all together. They were well socialized and friendly. The employees were wandering around, cleaning the cats eyes, giving some medication to others. They all seemed very well cared for.

A lot of cats in Korea have these flat ears and shorter tails. I'm not sure if its breed here or what, but they are quite cute.

There were a group of middle school girls that were pretty awesome too - they spoke some English and were extremely polite. They had bought cat treats - I don't know if she realized the chaos that would ensue from the excited cats, hah.

Last but not least, we wandered to Myungdong for some shopping before heading home to Daegu. It was nice to get away, to see some art - I feel like its been a lifetime since my days of going to gallery openings, the DIA, the GRAM, and local art shows on a weekly basis.

Now I am preparing for my sister, Tricia's, visit. She will arrive on the 30th, and stay for two weeks. I am already compiling lists of things I want her to see and experience during her trip. I can't wait to show off the place that has become my home.

January 6, 2011

Bangkok, Thailand

As promised, here is the video tour of our tree house resort in Khao Sok.

We left off on Corinne and I taking the night train back up to Bangkok. This is life in first class. We had a private sleeping room with bunk beds, they provided sealed sheets, blankets, and pillows. We even got room service! It was wonderful.

Tuk-tuks! These are the cheap mode of transportation throughout Bangkok. Taxis are easily available also, but for shorter distances these are ideal.

The first day in Bangkok Corinne and I went to the Royal Palace and Emerald Buddha. It is not made of emerald, or even jade. Actually the Buddha itself is rather small and unimpressive after the Tiger Cave Temple. It is a highly revered statue, its clothing is changed by the king or crown price three times a year, to ensure the Buddha is properly dressed for the season. You can see all three dressings if you click the link in "Emerald Buddha" above.

The reason is is worth the trip, however, is the beautiful temple around it and the Royal Palace which is connected. The architecture is amazing, and everything is incredibly ornate.

There is a huge series of these murals with gold detailing. They are constantly under repair, so the pictures look impeccable.

The left is the traditional Thai protector of the temple, and the right is the Thai protector of the palace. I like the contrast.

The following day we went to Wat Pho, or the Reclining Buddha. This temple was much less crowded than the Emerald Buddha, which made the experience a lot more intimate. The Buddha itself is 46 by 15 meters, so it is gigantic. This temple is considered the birthplace of Thai massage. It is also unique because it depicts Buddha entering nirvana.

Corinne and I in our traditional skirts. We haggled fantastic deals for them.

There are over one thousand Buddhas in the temple.

Several Buddhas had small gifts left on or around them.

The next day Tricia and Russ were here! So, we took a river taxi to Wat Saket, or the Golden Mount. It is a modern temple on a man-made hill that is supposed to have a beautiful view of Bangkok. We forgot that this was the first of the year, however, and it is Thai tradition to go to 5 temples in one day. It was insanely crowded, and we didn't make it up to the top.

We did get some pretty views, though, from the walk up.

This is the top of the Golden Mount itself.

This is Russ and Tricia sitting on Khao San Road, getting harassed by the street vendors. We got dinner and then I was off to the airport, flying home to Daegu.

It was a whirlwind trip, but I loved Thailand. I really want to go back again - maybe even move there next. Now I am anticipating seeing my sister, she is going to come to Korea at the very end of the month. Being in Korea again is a huge adjustment, I forgot how cold it is here! Now I have officially been here over five months, though, which is an accomplishment.