Sunday, October 25, 2015

This Week's UFO: 물회

This past weekend, a fellow Couchsurfer was visiting Jeju from mainland Korea.  While I can't host anyone at my current housing, I agreed to meet up with this fellow traveller and together we explored some of the coastal roads near my house, culminating at a restaurant at Moseulpo Harbour (모슬포항).
A view of the harbour from the further pier.
While Moseulpo might not be the most exciting place in terms of night life and attractions, I have enjoyed the couple of restaurants and cafes that I have frequented over the last couple of months.  Saturday, with my new friend, I was determined to try something new.  There are so many fish restaurants along the harbour front and they were all pretty busy--always a good sign.  After walking down the line we picked one at random (I forgot to get a picture of the front of the restaurant! And I don't remember the Hangeul characters.), which lead to the following:

Fried fish and soup thing.
 This fried fish was delicious.  In my experience at Korean restaurants, I have learned that they bring food when it is ready.  So when you go with a group of people, dishes will come out at different times because they bring you your food when it is fresh.  This fish was so fresh it was still sizzling as it arrived at our table.
The main "event" + a couple side dishes.
This soup-like dish that you see is called 물회 in Korean (pronounced Mul Hweh).  I have looked for a translation to English and I can't find one.  At the time, all I knew was that it was something related to fish and that it was a cold soup.  You can't see from this picture but there are ice cubes in the soup.  It was a little bit spicy, but other than that it was delicious.  It wasn't until after I got back to school and was talking to some students that I learned that I ate raw fish soup.  No wonder it was a cold soup.  Ha.  All in all it was a fun, and unexpected food adventure and I would definitely order 물회 again.

That's all from me this time.  Missing all y'all back in the True North as well as those of you who are out all over the world.

Love and Hugs.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Field Trips. Sorta.

I think I have come to decide that one of the best parts of my job is field trips.  I suppose for some they can be a hassle what with all the organization and work that often has to go in pre-trip and the stress of getting places on time and without problem, but the outcome is always so worth it.  You get to go somewhere interesting, and you can connect with students on a different level than the everyday classroom relationship.

The field trips that I get to go on at Branksome Hall Asia are super cool.  The grade 11s and 12s that I work with are involved with different CAS activities for the International Baccalaureate program.  Every other Monday, I have the pleasure of taking six of my students to an after school care center where they teach little kids art and music.  Three of them teach art, two teach piano, and one teaches the violin.  There are maybe twenty children at the center, maybe a couple more, ranging from four or five to twelve-years-old, I think.

Honestly, each visit is crazy.  The center has two pianos with one in a separate room, so the music kids all divide and conquer.  Everyone else does art.  And it starts off well. But those young boys only like to sit still for so long and at about 30 to 45 minutes, we lose a few of them to the movement urge (which is often accompanied by the need to shout and play tag).  But amid all the crazy, it is still a lot of fun.  My students really show these kids that they care through their actions and each week the kids are excited to see them.  I also find it fun when the little ones try and talk to me. The really young ones prattle on in Korean while others try to use the few English words that they know.

The other field trips I get to go on are related to student well-being.  The students in residence are pretty much stuck at the school and they work incredibly hard all week.  I have taken girls to the library to study on Friday nights and early on weekend mornings.  Seriously.  Some of these girls never stop.  Because of that, we dons try and plan outings to give the girls a fun break away from the residence.

This past Sunday, students had the option to go Ziplining for a couple hours. Only three signed up (out of the 42), but we still went and had a blast. It was a long drive to the other side of Halla Mountain to get to to the venue, but the facilities were stunning and the staff was incredibly efficient.
View from the top of the first ziplining tower.
Along with ziplining, we had green tea ice cream in the cave café before heading back to the school.  The best part of the trip is hard to pick--the gentle banter between the students over music selection during the car ride, my one student's crazy yells with each ziplining run (she screamed a lot, but she did it!), simply getting to know more about what my students are interested in, or the trip in its entirety.  All I know for sure is that I would take students again in a heartbeat.

That's all for now.

Love and Hugs.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Post 10k reflection

It was a beautiful morning for a run!
This past weekend I completed my first 10k race. I have done a couple 5ks in the past year (one was for charity and the other was a free for all), but this was the first race where my time was recorded.  It's also my first race in another country, which is exciting in and of itself.

This race was incredibly challenging.  Sooooo hard.  I questioned at one point whether I would finish or not.  I also thought that I might faint from muscle fatigue. Luckily both of those thoughts were wrong.

I had a few goals going in:

  1. Finish.  Number one goal: finish the race. (I suppose it's a given that I can check that one off my list).
  2. Try and finish in an hour and a half. I've done 10k in about an hour before and thought I was giving myself lots of time for the added hills.
  3. Try and run/jog the whole way.
With hindsight, those goals are a tad naive.  I didn't know what I was getting myself into and when it came time to run, I was not fully prepared.  The main reason being was that I didn't know the course.  I signed up for the race without understanding what type of terrain I would be running.  There was a flat stretch through the woods, but then a large portion of the race was up a giant hill, down the other side, run another couple k, and then go up a taller hill and down again.  And when I say hill, I mean a ~400+ meter HILL.  The Korean word for these particular hills is 오름 (pronounced similar to oh-rem) which translates directly to rise, ascension or climb.  Climb.  Yes.  Very different from running.

While I still think I did well, I did not achieve the full results I wanted.
  1. Check. I finished.
  2. Close.  I finished in 1h 33 minutes, which considering what happened with goal number 3, is really not bad.  And now it can serve me as my time to beat!
  3. Not even close.  I think I walked almost half the race.  At least 4k.  The moment we hit the first set of stairs for the first orem my legs were done.  I didn't have the strength to run up those inclines.
I learned a lot from the experience, and while it was really hard, I do not regret signing up.  It was a stunning day and the course itself was beautiful.  I ran with my phone (so that I could map my route), and even snagged a couple pictures along the way.  Plus, they gave us noodles at the end of the race which made it all the more worthwhile. 

I got to the top of the first orem and was in awe of the view.  So pretty!
Across the top of the first orem--you can see the runners running along the other side and down the back.
Mount Halla in the back left and the next Orem that we climbed in the back right.
Finished. La Fin.
Love and Hugs.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Canadian Thanksgiving

Is this weekend.

Back in Canada, my family will come together, as will most of my friends families, for a meal.  For my family, that generally means turkey and ham, a lot of mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables of carrots, turnips, peas, brussels sprouts, cauliflower (exact vegetables are subject to change..), and then pie or a crisp for dessert.  Mmm... I definitely am finding myself in pie withdrawal.  I haven't really come across appealing pie at any of the cafés or stores I have frequented.  I suppose I might miss the turkey, too, since it doesn't really exist here...

And of course I miss my family.  I wish I could join them around the table and hear about all the news that everyone has to share--so infrequent are the big gatherings that there is always a lot of catching up to do.

But I am neither there, nor are they here.  And honestly, I have had a sporadic attendance rate the last couple of years because of school or work as well.  The only big difference this year is that I am now in a different country. =P

Still, I am ever thankful.  Here are a few that make the list this year:

1. I am thankful for days that are still warm enough for shorts, but nights that are at last cool enough for sweaters.

2. I am thankful that, despite how the cafeteria food here is sometimes highly unappetizing, I am provided with both food and a roof over my head.

3. I am thankful for the chance to learn a new language, to explore a different culture and to grow as an individual.

4. I am thankful every time one of my students greets me by name with a smile, showing me that they are happy I am here.

5. I am thankful that I have a chance to meet and interact with such fantastic students.  They have their quirks and charms, and I appreciate them all.

6. I am thankful for new friends, new adventures, and lots of laughs along the way.

And let me return the question to you.  Stop. Think: What are you thankful for today?

Love and Hugs.
An Oarfish and Me at a museum last week.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Mount Halla & Photographs

Me, standing at the trail entrance.
At 1950 meters, Hallasan (한라산) is the tallest mountain in South Korea. It is a dormant volcano that is now a popular tourist attraction for hiking enthusiasts and other travellers.

The tour books and websites will tell you that it is a 9 hour round trip to the top of Mount Halla and back again.  This might be true depending on your walking speed and the current weather--it will most definitely take longer when there is snow on the mountain.  But on the whole, if you are an avid hiker or in good physical fitness, you can do it a lot faster.

This past Monday, it took me 2 and a half hours to climb to the summit of Hallasan.  This was followed by a 45 minute break at the summit to enjoy the view and have a picnic, and then another almost 3 hours back down the mountain.  In total, I was 6 hours on the volcano.

If you don't reach this point by 12:30,
you can't continue to the summit.
The trail is only accessible between certain hours, depending on the season, and the park workers refuse passage to those who reach the last check point too late in the day.

Sheltered by a rich forest of spindly-trunked trees and thick, verdant bush cover, the trail rose steadily up the mountain side for the first stretch.  Then, the last couple kilometers switches to a more rigorous stair climb with a mixture of stone steps and wooden stair cases.  By the time I reached the top, my legs were like red bean paste: all mush and shaking from the effort.

It was so worth it.

I made a new friend while climbing.  Here we are at the top.
Even though it was a pretty clear day, the distant ground looked shrouded in fog.
Back down the path.
Me and the sign.  Gotta pose with the sign.
This is the "summit." At this time of year, it's more dry, but in the spring, there is a small lake/pond here.
 And, some of the other highlights from my vacation week include the following images.  Today I am back to work.  To all my friends and family in the world, Love and Hugs. ;)

Olle Trail 14-1: I found some horses on one of my many hikes. No petting allowed.
Olle Trail 14-1: I love looking out over the farmlands.  They can be so colourful at times.
Olle Trail 9: Daepyeong (대평)
Olle Trail 9: Me and SanBangSan (산방산)
Olle Trail 9: Panorama of SBS and the sea.  So beautiful!

Things I've learned about France (or at least Normandy)

Well there we go, my second European country. In some ways, very similar to England (a lot of meat and potatoes, fancy churches, pay toilets...