Archive for April, 2009

Ahhh, Memories of Home

Just like back home, there are pizza places all over.  Seth and I get a good laugh every time we see a Papa John’s.  He can’t seem to escape his former pizza delivery days. The pizza is similar to PJ back home, but not exactly.  They have sweet potato pizza, fish pizza, octopus pizza… and a few other kinds that I have no idea of  the ingredients.

Papa Johns delivery

Papa John's delivery

I found this today in E-mart… it’s a tiny pizza box with sticky notes.  Papo Joon’s…. still uses the Papa John’s slogan of “better ingredients, better pizza”.  This made me laugh, so I had to buy one.  It’s about 2 inches wide.   Soooo cute.

Papa Joons.... sooo funny.

Papo Joon's.... sooo funny.

Sticky Notes.... sooo funny

It’s a nice warm day today.  Hopefully the rain will stay away this weekend too.    :grin:

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Things always look better at night with lights shining bright. These are some shots of Busan Tower.   This tower soars up 120 meters high standing on a 69-meter high hilltop.  I think the tower looks soo much cooler at night.

Daytime Daytime
Night time

Night time

These are just some more shots of Busan. We are definitely going back. It was such a fun and beautiful place to visit.

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Taejongdae – Busan

After visiting the fabulous Fish Market, we decided to hop on a bus and go to Taejongdae.  It was on the southern most area of Busan.  The bus was jerky and made sudden stops quite frequently… I hate having motion sickness.  :evil: But… once there, it was amazing.  The area went in a giant 4 mile circle, up and down hills covered in gorgeous flowers.  There was a shuttle that you could ride, but the wait was insane, so we walked the entire way.  Very glad that we did…

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I Love Fish Markets

I am like a little kid in a candy store when it comes to open markets. Everything fascinates me and I could spend all day there. Nampo-dong had a giant fish market. It was down the street from our hotel, and very close to the subway stop. We got to see some weird fish, people gutting and hanging fish up to dry, and if I didn’t know any better I’d think there were no more fish left in the ocean after seeing the vast amount of fish in this place.

A giant group of French speaking tourists were walking around… it made me laugh because I understood more of their conversations than I did the other Koreans in the market.

We had lunch in the market too. Seth wanted to try a whole grilled fish. To my surprise, it was the best fish I have ever eaten.

Our lunch... and yes theres a fish head  :-)

Our lunch... and yes there's a fish head 🙂

It may look gross, but don’t let the appearance fool ya… that fish was tasty.  I don’t like that about much seafood either, but this really was good.  A very short woman was standing outside of this random fish booth (like about 100 other booths) and held up her hand and said that a grilled fish was only 5,000 Won. (obviously, she said this in Korean)  Seth grabbed my arm and we went inside.  I’m not sure of what the spices were on the outside of the fish, but it was just thrown on an open grill… that’s it.  Nothing fancy at all.

This was the aftermath:

Lunch was Yummy.

Lunch was Yummy.

The red stuff was hotsauce… in case you were wondering.

Now our next plan is to grill an entire fish at home… I think it can be done.

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Haeundae Aquarium on the Beach in Busan

Our first day in Busan we went to Haeundae Beach.  We both love aquariums and couldn’t resist checking this one out.  It was the weirdest… most amazing aquarium I’ve ever seen.

The shark tank was a bit scary. There were maybe 8 huge sharks that kept coming up to the glass… I was only a few inches away from Jaws!! Every time I turned around and one of those monsters was behind me, I jumped a bit. Some of the fish were the size of small cars… it was wild.

It amazes me how different the fish are on this side of the world.

The aquarium had a funny theme… they used fish to imitate famous works of art.

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Such a Fun Place to Stay

We decided to stay in the market district of Busan. The area was called Nampo-dong. The PIFF area was just down the street from our hotel, which is where the International Film Festival is held every year. We even saw Korean actor handprints on the road… similar to the Hollywood Stars.

I loved the hotel we found. The outside of the building said Hiltan Hotel… which was funny.  But the name above all the rooms said Venus Hotel.  So I am really not sure what the actual name of the hotel was, but it was fabulous.

In the mini-fridge we found complimentary juice boxes too. There was also free movie rentals… we ended up watching ‘Once Upon a Time in Mexico’. The best part, was the price… only 35,000 Won a night… which at today’s currency rate roughly equals $27. We stayed in a crappy Hostel in New York City for about that much a person… and we certainly didn’t receive free drinks.

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Haeundae Beach

We didn’t actually make it into the water, but we did enjoy the beautiful scenery.  Haeundae Beach is only one of the beaches in Busan.  At first, we thought we were looking at the North Pacific Ocean… but it’s not.  The ocean behind us is the Sea of Japan.

Enjoying the fabulous day

Enjoying the fabulous day

Haeundae Beach

Haeundae Beach

The water was a gorgeous aqua blue color.  Basically it was your typical beach scene:  People on jet skis were riding up and down along the coast, footballs being passed, girls lounging on towels, kids building sand castles, seagulls stealing lunches from picnics…

There was No Smoking on the beach.

There was No Smoking on the beach.

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Welcome to Busan

We took a train to Busan this weekend. In Korea they have a fast train called the KTX. It is a magnetic train that traveled between 265 and 301 km per hour! (that’s about 187 mph) The normal train takes about 5 hours to get to Busan from Seoul… but the KTX makes the same trip in only 2.5 hours. Amazing.  Once in Busan, I loved it from the start.  These are some pictures from around the Busan Station:

What a gorgeous welcome sign.

What a gorgeous welcome sign.

I love lanterns

I love lanterns

Loved this dragon

Colorful dragon

Seth and I took a mini-holiday.  This was a well deserved, highly needed getaway.  It was also nice to see more of Korea.  Busan is on the South East coast of Korea.  The train ride provided views of farms and smaller towns all along the way.

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Getting a cell phone

Student: “Teacher, you have cellphone?” 

Me: “No.” 

Student’s mouth drops in a combination of shock, disbelief, and pity. Why such a reaction?  Am I really a luddicious primitive? An adult without a cell phone, my goodness, that’s like…a bird without wings, a car without an engine.  

Let me put myself in the rather small shoes of my inquisitive and concerned student. This student has grown up in Korea, a small country riding a big wave of technological success, a world leader in the manufacture of ships, computers, cars (some may argue otherwise, but I like Hyuandai), and cell phones. There’s a gadget for everything, even heated, glow-in-the-dark, music-playing toilet seats with bidet. (can’t find a picture right now).

Combine this with the fact that, according to the KCC, Korea’s FCC, 93% of Koreans have cellphones, and you have a perfectly reasonable expectation that every adult has a cellphone, and a younger adult like myself would have one that can do lots of fun stuff like pick up digital tv signals, play the latest MMORPG, display a GPS-enabled subway map, have an english-korean dictionary (all of which nicer korean cellphones do), and generally give the iPhone a legitimate run for its money. 

So, after two months here we decided we could benefit from a cell phone, mostly to keep up in touch with some of our teacher buddies. We compared carriers and decided on LG. Other carriers like SK and KT think that, because we’re foreigners, we’re irresponsible hoopleheads who hop from one country to the next without paying their bills and charge an approx. $200 deposit. While this isn’t an entirely unreasonable assumption, it’s a real pain in the ass. LG doesn’t, so they get our business. 

We set out last week with our alien registration cards (effectively a national ID), passports, bank books, and a pocketful of won. There are at least three cell phone shops on every street, and one LG shop on every block, so we went to the first one we saw. A clerk greeted me and I asked for ‘tul handi-pone PPS-uh juseyo.’ He shook his head and pointed down the street. (PPS means prepaid. Tul is two. You can figure out the rest)

We walked down the street to the next shop, but they shook their head and pointed back to the store we just came from. A started walking out the door when a guy in a suit said ‘Can I help you?’ 

This guy, never did catch his name, turned out to be a regional manager for all the LG stores in Gunpo and surrounding areas, spoke great English, and after we checked three more stores, we found success. They had them and, after clerk at the third store went to what I’m guessing was a dusty basement, past all the derelict tech and dusty skeletons, he returned with two old PPS phones.  They have cameras, pretty LCD displays, but that’s it. However, they cost $4 each, so I’m not complaining. 

After that we just had to sign some documents and write out our address (Anytime I write out our address in Korean, people laugh. I’m not sure why). 

Anyway, we left with two phones, no chargers, and about 200 minutes for something like $30 each (includes activiation). Future recharges will be around $10/month. Not bad, not bad.

How do I know these phones are old by Korean standards? I showed it off to my students. 

Me: “Hey ________, I finally got a cellphone.” 

Student: “Teacher, that’s old… like pyramids.”

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Time Capsule

Seoul Millennium Time Capsule

Seoul Millennium Time Capsule

600 items were placed inside this time capsule that are supposed to represent Seoul as a city.  It will be opened on Nov. 29, 2394.  That’s insane to even think about… but I’m sure that it will happen.  There was no mention of what is inside the capsule.  I’m really curious, but will be long gone by the time it’s opened.  The date picked to open the capsule is not random either, it will be the 1,000th year anniversary of Seoul.

It’s a rainy day and much cooler than yesterday.  If the weather is nice, this weekend we are wanting to go to Busan.  It’s on the south east coast, which is only a 2 1/2 hour train ride.  They have the super fast trains that run on some sort of magnetic track.  It’s called the KTX.  Otherwise it takes almost 5 hours to travel the same distance.


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