Posts Tagged Sanbon

Goodbye Sanbon

One year has come and gone.

I can’t believe how quickly time passes!  Time really does fly when you’re having fun.  :mrgreen:

The past week has been a whirlwind of emotions.  I’m thrilled to be that much closer to getting back home, sad to be leaving my Korea friends, will miss the yummy food, but super excited to be traveling for a while.   Other than friends and family nothing makes me more happy than seeing new places and experiencing different cultures.

Packing our belongings up has been a draining task.  I’m still not sure I have everything I need… and have probably forgotten something seriously important.  But, there’s no time to dwell.  The plane leaves in about 10 hours.

Thai food here I come!

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2009 Comes to an End

2009 will always be my “Year in Korea.”  What a ride…

As much as I miss home, leaving will be difficult.  We have less than a month left in Korea. This year has flown by at race car speed,  the world just a blur of light whizzing around me.  So many amazing memories, so many amazing sights, so many amazing people.  I am truly blessed.

This New Year, we’ll miss the the iconic Times Square ball of light and various over-the-top musical performances.

Instead, we’ll ring in the New Year Korean-style and watch (on television) the striking of the Boshingak Bell.  This massive bell is struck 33 times by 16 different people (the # of people changes from year to year).  The bell ringers are members of a diverse, ever-changing group comprised of celebrities, dignitaries and common citizens.  As in New York, the ceremony will include over-the-top performances by today’s “It” K-Pop bands.

The traditional ringing of the bell originated in the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910). In the early Joseon period, bells at Seoul’s four main entrances and four small entrances were rung every morning and evening to notify the opening and closing of the gates. The bells sounded 33 times in the morning to start the day and 28 times in the evening to announce the curfew.

I put together a slide show of my favorite 2009 memories:

Finally, I’d like to share a few of my New Year’s resolutions with you. Sharing them makes it hard to break them.
Resolutions:
  1. Write letters/ post cards more often
  2. Be more patient with myself
  3. Seek out more live music
  4. Teach my dad how to use a computer
  5. Continue painting
  6. ?????  taking suggestions…

I hope everyone has a wonderful new year! Goodbye ’00s, hello ’10s.

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Christmas in Korea

Christmas in Korea is like any other day.

E-mart, along with every other store and shop in Sanbon, remained open.  Unsurprisingly, Koreans celebrate holidays quite differently than we do in the States.  There is a large Christian population (along with the Buddhists), but people don’t go wild with store closings or gift-buying. In America, Christmas is a huge commercial holiday with families spending hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on gifts.

When talking to my students, very few of them had Christmas trees. Even fewer said that they will get presents. Christmas is not a gift-giving holiday in Korea.

I also wasn’t bombarded with Christmas songs non-stop since the day after Halloween.  When I did hear the random Christmas song, I was surprisingly happy to hear it. Sometimes I sang along.   Back home, I get soo sick of Christmas music, hearing all the remakes of the same stupid songs, over and over again.

I did buy a tree.  Albeit a small tacky tree, but perfect in every way.  :razz:

Our director at work gave all the teachers cakes.  Seth got a bigger and different cake than the rest of the office.   His had a huge cookie on top. Mine was a cheesecake.  In the few days before Christmas, all the store windows were lined with red, green and blue boxes of cakes.  Everyone we passed on the street seemed to be carrying a cake too.  Instead of giving presents, I suppose giving cakes is an appropriate way to celebrate Christmas.

Christmas lights make me happy, but finding them in Seoul was a rarity.  When we did see twinkling lights, they were beautiful and reminded me of home.  Sanbon had no decorations of any kind.  These two pictures are from Itaewon and around City Hall.  Areas where foreigners frequent were the only areas decorated with Christmas cheer.

Hanging out with some friends of mine.  Just thought it was a cute pic.  It was a Christmas Eve Eve get-together.  :mrgreen:

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Fun and Games

If you’re looking for good drinks, music upon request, darts, jenga and a fire show… I have the place for you.

R & C West

Tucked down a side street in Sanbon, on the second floor we find the most amazing bar.   It is not considered a Western Bar (meaning foreigners, not country western).  I enjoy hanging out in this place.

<– he’s really good

There is a fire show nightly.  This guy spits fire, twirls flaming bottles in the air and creates a cascade of fire on the bar.  Music blares and lights flash.

For bar patrons, there are also a bunch of silly little games.  My favorite is the Pirate in a barrel.  You punch in swords, one at a time, and eventually the pirate will jump out of the barrel.  Simple but soo fun.  Jenga, cards and some sort of dog biting game can also be found.  The dog game is similar to the pirate game in that you punch down teeth and eventually the dog bites you.

Cheap drinks are a bonus here.

It’s fun to let loose after a greuling week of teaching English.

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Fall Colors

Perfect weather in Korea doesn’t happen but only a few weeks in Fall.  The weather is wonderful and the scenery is even better.

Yellows, oranges, reds, purples, greens…. gorgeous.  It looked like pages from a storybook.

Changdeokgung (Palace) was especially vibrant this Fall season.  I visited this palace in the summer with Seth’s parents, but it was a completely different visit this time.  I was in heaven.
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Norebangs are Too Much Fun

Picture this:  tiny room, comfy couch, 2 microphones, giant flat screen TV, swirling colored lights, tambourine, fun wigs and your friends.  Oh, and it’s BYOB!  That’s right, you can bring your own food and drink to these places.  It’s great.

My dear friend Stacey came to visit me in crazy Korea!  Of all the fabulous things we did together, I want to share our Norebang experience first.

If you’ve never been to Korea or maybe Los Angeles, then you probably don’t know what I’m talking about when I say ‘Norebang’.  And it’s pronounced more like Nory bahng.  Well, it’s very much like karaoke in the fact that you sing along to music with words on a tv screen.  However, Norebang is soo much more fun than plain old karaoke.

norebangTiff

There is a Norebang just about in every building, sometimes even two.  It is a place that people of all ages go to sing and have fun.  All of my students, whether they’re 5 or 17, tell me they go to Norebangs with their family and friends.  I really wish there was one back home.

Something funny to point out is that even though we were singing ‘Under the Boardwalk’ the video was a random Korean video.  It’s a video loop and it rarely ever matches up with the song type.   It’s funny when you’re singing a happy song and the video is of a girl that died and some dude is crying over her dead body, or singing a cheesy love song and some Korean guys are bouncing around dressed like The Beastie Boys.

All of the Norebangs have various themes.  My favorite one is called UFO and oddly it’s not space-themed.

<– hallway in UFO

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Laughing While Walking

So I was walking around Sanbon the other day.  It was a sunny gorgeous day and people were crowding the streets.

At one of the crosswalk areas some cars were parked along the roadside.  This giant black SUV-type of vehicle was parked with its nose sticking a few inches into the crosswalk area where the white lines are painted.

Well, there was this little old lady walking in front of me.  She was super tiny, short and a bit hunched over.  Head to toe baby pink outfit complete with matching hat and shoes.  When the light changed for us to walk she did a sort of shuffle/stumble and fell onto this black vehicle.

The lady somehow thought the car was moving.  It must have freaked her out because she started to hit the trunk and yell at the car.  Keep in mind, this is a parked car with no one in the front seat.  Fingers pointing, fists pounding, head shaking… this little lady kept giving it good to the SUV.

I couldn’t help but laugh.

Finally, the lady decided she had given her peace of mind and went on her way.

It’s the little things in life that keep me smiling… even if it is at the expense of a cute little old lady.

17/365 Toys: Smile

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Two Parks in Sanbon

Holy crap, I just discovered that Sanbon has 2 parks!  It’s on the other side of town and it’s fabulous.

Actually, I’ve never seen it in daylight.  One night I was walking home with friends.  We had been in the next town over.  My friend knew a shortcut through a park.  This park:

A shrubbery orchestra… how cute is this?

Tennis and basketball courts are surrounded by a car-less walkway.   It’s conveniently located between a giant apartment complex and an Elementary school.  So the children going to and from school never have to cross a busy street.  It’s great.

I shouldn’t be surprised that there is another park.  Sanbon is surrounded by mountains and trees.  I’m sure there are parks in about every direction I walk.

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Post Office

Turn left, walk 3 blocks.  That’s how easy it is, for me, to get to the Gunpo (Sanbon) post office.   Cheap postal services should cause me to mail more things back to the States, but with the ease of email and social networks I send very few correspondences through snail mail.

A buddy of mine requested a post card.  So, why not take a picture of it?

This card was one of 7 cards given to me by a buddhist monk.  This summer when I attended a ceremony, one of the monks gave me and my friend a pack of post cards.  Funny side note; shaved head, wearing traditional Buddhist robes, he handed us the envelopes full of post cards through the window of his SUV.  Some things, I will never understand.

The Gunpo post office.  At least the important part is in English.  :smile:

Walking through the turn style doorway you always see 15 other people, sometimes more.  Koreans usually don’t like to stand in line, they would rather “take a number”.  Just like American delis or DMV visits, you take a number and wait for your turn.

I love this.

People don’t push in line, they don’t cut in front of you, they don’t tell people to hurry up.  They accept their number and wait their turn.

Full of people, situated off to the side, is an area of self-service free packaging.  For public use are scissors, markers and tape, the good kind of tape that is meant to be used for shipping boxes.  Plus, there’s a giant table to lay your items on and organize your box.  It’s great.  This is when I am reminded why I love this country.

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Sanbon in Autumn

Leaves are just starting to change.

Cool winds blow most of the day.

Being outside is fantastic.

Just recently, creatures made of twig and grass have appeared in the park.  I never know what is going to pop up around town.  It’s quite the amusing yet aesthetically pleasing sight to see.

This will look cool in the snow.

Why not monkeys?

There are 3 flying in the park.

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