Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's Official: Koreans Don't Understand Mittens on Strings

Dummy on the right doesn't get it

I noticed this a few weeks back; ajummas, young children, and stylish bitties wearing mittens on a string. Trouble is,  they were wearing them all wrong. In fact, none of them were wearing them right. They wear them outside their coat, thrown over their shoulders like a towel, or a weird necklace; just letting them hang alongside their scarves. This morning I saw four more times on the subway home. It's official: Koreans don't know how to wear mittens on strings.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the proper way to wear string mittens is to feed them through the arm holes of your jacket.
There are many pros: reduced chances of losing one mitten and rendering the pair useless, dropping a mitten on the floor/ground, the ease to which you can whip off your mitts when you don't want them on, discrete perma-mitts you never have to look for,  and not looking like a dummy with your mittens on the outside of your coat.
Cons? Awkward in the bathroom.

As in most places, but Korea especially, it would be quite rude for me to point out this mitten faux-pas to strangers on the subway. So two days ago I pounced when one of my students arrived in class with an outrageously long pair of mitten strings sitting on her shoulders outside her coat. Without a word, I took off her coat, fed the mittens through each arm hole, and helped her put the coat back on. I explained that this was the superior way to wear mittens on a string.

"Laura Teacher, it is perfect"

She tried them on, took them off, then tried them on, then whipped them off.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Skiing in Korea: Jisan Forest Ski Resort

On this past Sunday we decided to hit the slopes for a day of skiing. Friends who had been skiing in the past recommended we leave at the ungodly hour of 5:45 am to make sure we get there before it is too crowded. 
In order to get to the subway station we were meeting at I had to wake up at 5am.  We met at Jamsil Station at piled into the car for the 40 minute drive. 

As we started to approach the mountain, there were dozens of rental stores lining the road, packed full of equipment and gear. We stopped in one. I got my pick of pants and jacket. I chose to wear as much red as possible to highlight being a Canadian, obviously.
When we got to the hills it was 6:30am. The sun still hadn't come up but the hills were already pretty busy.
We skied for just over 3 hours. I alternated between giving Renee some beginner ski lessons on the baby hill and trying out some of the other hills.
By the time we were finished my toes were frozen and the hills were PACKED with people. An interesting mix of experts, who were too fast and wearing too many expensive pieces of equipment for the size of the resort, and beginners/people who thought they were good; going too fast and bailing hard all over the place or cutting you off.
We left and got some delicious Vietnamese food (added a new picture to my "Only in Korea" from the menu), then headed home. Overall, a great day!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Foot and Mouth Disease in Korea?!

Today when we were driving to go skiing ( I will post on this later) we were forced to drive through a spray when we got outside of Seoul.

I thought it was a bit strange that they were disinfecting each car driving through and looked it up only to discover that Korea is having a little bout of Foot and Mouth Disease! Who remembers when that was a big deal at home? When you got off an airplane you had to walk on top of a disinfecting mat. Ahhhh, memories.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lunar New Year 2011: TAIWAN

With a few weeks to go, a small group of us have thrown together a trip to Taiwan for February 2-6. Because it is a national holiday, my school is closed for the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of that week, and I am obviously taking that time and seeing something cool!

I see you, Taiwan!
The slogan for the week is "Let's Get Crazy". Taiwan isn't at the top of everyone's list of tourist destinations, nor is it considered especially beautiful, or cultural. But the four of us have decided to go anyways and we are going to make the most of it! Each person I am traveling with is an absolute character and I anticipate the antics to be quite hilarious.

We finally hunkered down to hammer out some of the plans for our quick 5-day trip, and we actually discovered that Taiwan has many things to offer. Once you escape the bustling industrious cityscapes of the West coast, the East coast is relatively untouched due to a regular and heavy typhoon season each summer. We have planned gorge hikes, temple visits, dips in salt water hot springs, beach tours, and hopefully some swimming.

This will be my first trip out of Korea to check out another Asian country. Finally! I am very excited.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Week in Canada

The week was WONDERFUL. Unfortunately I misplaced my camera and had to come back to Korea without it. So I will take images from google and use them to help illustrate all of the amazing things I did at home.
  • Family Christmas party in Ottawa
  • Family Christmas at home 
  • Skated on a homemade ice rink
  • Played with a big black lovable dog (there are no big dogs in Korea!)
  • Saw Harry Potter
  • Saw Black Swan
  • Went Skiing
  • Went to Joe Fresh
  • Hung out with friends
  • Ate bread with no sugar in it
  • Ate delicious yogurt
  • Went to Scallywags
  • Small New Years party with a great group of friends
  • Someone to take me back to the airport and see me off :)

Unfortunately with all the stuff I did I still wasn't able to see everyone that I wanted to see. It was busy, and it was relaxed. I couldn't have asked for much more!

I'll be Hoooooome for Christmas!

I took a few weeks off from the blog for the holidays and subsequent week of catch-up when I arrived back in Korea. But I'm back and ready to update!

On Christmas eve I few back to Canada with a plane full of other Canadian English teachers looking to get home for Christmas. I was already excited enough to be going home; running into a friend on the train to the airport, meeting new friends in line at the check in desk, and drinking with them while waiting to board the airplane just took my whole airport experience to a new level of fun.
Korean Santas can breakdance!

Everyone was in the festive spirit. Someone even hired break dancers dressed as Santa to perform (see picture)

The flight passed relatively quickly in my economy aisle seat. My original plan was to smile nicely to the check-in person and coyly ask for an upgrade to first class. Though that plan was foiled when I met a couple standing in front of me, wearing matching Christmas reindeer antlers giving out candy canes in the sole interest of impressing the check in counter lady.

Double double
When we touched down in Toronto, what was the first thing a good Canadian could have done to say hello to this great country? Visit Tim Hortons!

Once I got my luggage I arrived outside to see...nobody. Not to let this dampen my Christmas spirit I hiked over to the payphone and attempted to call Ryan, who was supposed to pick me up. Pay phones cost $0.50 now!? I had no Canadian money, so I turned on my Korean cell phone and discovered what happened.

Simple miscommunication. They were waiting at the wrong gate! 30 seconds later Ryan, Jenn, and Karen came running up the hall with a big sign.

Yup. It felt good to be home!
Not that any of us can read Korean, but apparently it means "welcome home"