October 30, 2009

Spent today with Monica and Elizabeth, we went to Insadong and shopped for a whle and then sat by the river, my favorite spot in seoul. Then we went to the tea house they went to yesterday with Kelly and I got to see the birds flying around, The tea I had was called double harmony and it wasnt very good but that's ok> We also went to the beautiful tea museum where elizabeth bought some citron tea to take home only five thousand won. Then we went to The traditional korean village and then up to seoul tower where we had a nice dinner and then went to the top of the tower and waited until the sun set and then saw all the nice lights at night. Had a really good day and now I'm back for some studying. Wrote all of this with my head down on my desk. I'm pretty talented.
PS for those who don't know which is pretty much everyone except Hank, at north seoul tower couples buy hearts and locks that they can write on and put them up on the fence for "love forever" stuff. When dad and I went up there he bought a heart and lock and wrote "seoulmates" on it with his and Mom's names and anniversary date. So when we got up there mom found the heart and it was pretty cool.

October 26, 2009

What happens when you "just wing it"
Plan A: Go to Jeju for the weekend
How plan A went was Caitlyn, Ilaria, Paola, Leigh, Lieke and I were going to fly to Jeju an island for the weekend. What we were told to do was get to the airport and buy tickets there because they were cheap and easy to get. This is a false statement for anyone who wants to go to Jeju.

Woke up Friday morning 3:55am, I was alright with it because I knew that even though I was waking up that early I wouldn't have to endure a painful workout. We got taxis, a miracle it seemed, and took them to Gimpo the taxis were less than $20 which was pretty awesome. (This is to the Gimpo airport not Inchon) and when my taxi arrived with Caitlyn and Ilaria we were dropped off at the departures gate. That was good except it was the international departures. rats. So we go outside and see the domestic departures terminal, it was off in the distance so we decided to walk. We started, then the sidewalk disappeared so we stayed on the side lane, it was pretty thick at first but then it got thinner and thinner until it was also gone. That was when we were on a busy ramp. Decided it was probably a bad idea for us to continue. Flagged down a taxi that took us maybe the 500m to the domestics terminal. he wasn't too happy but oh well! This was where we found Paola, Leigh and Lieke. Turns out every flight was booked.

Extremely depressed and tired we decide to go back to CJ sleep for a few more hours then regroup and decide what to do next.

A few hours later... We meet and Leigh and Lieke decide they want to go to Buson. Ilaria, Paola, Caitlyn and I decide to go "camping" in saraksan.

Plan B: We found the bus terminal and bus to take to Sokcho where we would then have to take a local bus to Saraksan's national park where our motel was.
We go to the bus terminal and buy tickets. Our bus was for 4pm since I hadn't checked the time in a while I was a little concerned. Caitlyn assured we we would have plenty of time until I looked up and saw a clock that read, literally, 3:59. EXTREMELY concerned. we were ushered magically by these officials to our bus that was just leaving, literally moving when we got to it and got on. Somewhat relaxed we took the bus for the 3 hour ride to Sokcho.

At Sokcho it was dark out so we couldn't see anything really. We knew it was a fishing town but we couldn't see the harbor or anything. We were trying to figure out what local bus would take us to Saraksan when a VERY VERY helpful nice man took us to our bus stop. We sat there for 25 minutes until our bus came. Got on, still didn't really know where we were supposed to get off. Lucky for us our bus driver overheard us talking and stopped at the International Youth Hostel. We got out and went into the hostel. Everything was dark outside but we could see the mountains and hear what we thought was a river. Inside we asked for a room, he took us to one and the girls we were with decided they wanted to check the next motel to see what their rooms were like. They came back happy and said we should stay there, when we went to the motel it was cool because there were 2 bathrooms, a queen sized bed and heated floors with a little kitchenette. Caitlyn and I wanted to do the traditional Korean sleeping on the floor which was nice and comfy because it was warm and we had nice bedding. That night we got pizza at a local place, the Italian girls (Ilaria and Paola) said it was better than pizza in France, which I thought was interesting. We went back to the hotel room after a nice dinner and went to sleep.

We woke up and the day was gorgeous! We walked down the street to the National Park (it was a long way down the street) and we got there and paid for some tickets.
At the National Park there was an abundance of ascetically pleasing features. This includes a huge Buddha, A temple, waterfalls and prayer caves. We hiked up this mountain and in the mountain there was a cave that was for buddhist praying. It was really cool and pretty far. After that we saw a bunch of friends from Korea University including: Luuk and his cousin Albert, Mi-ae, Bastian, Aneesa, Ana etc. That was fun and random. After the prayer cave we went on a cable car up to the top of the highest mountain where there was a Korean flag. The views were great, we could see the Buddha from there! that's how big he was. Then after the cable car ride we went to the waterfalls. At the waterfalls we were ambushed by a pack of chipmunks so we made friends and I fed some! No I don't have rabies. The park was fun because I had 2 conversations (me answering a question) In korea. They were both about where I was from but I was extremely EXTREMELY proud of myself.

After a long, 15+km of hiking we walked back to our motel packed and got on a bus back to Sokcho. This was a very VERY full bus. Thankfully it filtered out enough so by the end we all had seats. The bus driver kindly directed us to where our hotel was located (right by the bus terminal for Seoul, convenient I know.) We walked to our hotel to find it to be extremely sketchy but hilarious at the same time. The hallway had blue lights! it was terrifying. We also had to sleep in beds, sigh. After putting our stuff down we walked around Sokcho (once again in the dark) and found a raw fishmarket on the pier. There were also lights in the Ocean that Caitlyn read are used to attract squid. That was cool but if we hadn't known what the lights were that kept mysteriously appear I might have been extremely terrified. We walked down a long way and really didn't want to attempt communicating with the raw fish restaurants. We talked to some locals who were interested in talking in English. Also some kids jump roping who really liked saying "HI!" We finally found the restaurant that we had passed earlier and I told Caitlyn the writing on it meant "vegetarian friendly" (I had no idea but it was funny) and went in. The whole family was sitting in it and then immediately cleared out but happily when they found out we wanted to eat there. There was only one thing we could get and having the menu be in Korean and with my limited Korean knowledge we ended up getting it. Turned out to be this really good rice stuff and she also brought out a fish. The fish was fine, had fun eating it because you had to use chopsticks and take it straight from the spine. Overall a great dinner. The woman cooking kept coming in and showing us how to eat it.

After a long day we were all tired and went back to the hotel to sleep.

Caitlyn and I woke up at 7:10 so we could walk to the beach in the morning and see what it actually looked like. The view was very nice. We went on a pavillion and looked out at the sea, saw another pier with fishermen on it, the lighthouse, lots of people hanging up fish to dry on things like stop signs, fences and just rope. We made it to the beach and I found BLUE SEAGLASS!!!!! it was really cool.

We took the 9:30 bus to Chonchan. We took a taxi to the Ethiopian coffee shop where I had some blended Ethiopian coffee. Very nice we had a good view to the rivers. After that we rented bikes (leaving our stuff in the man's car. haha we still have everything). We took the bikes to the ferry that took us to an Island where people could camp on. We rode around the island on a path enjoying the fall colors and mountains. We enjoyed a lunch outside and went back to return the bikes where there was a marathon going on. Very fun. After returning the bikes we rented a swan boat where I managed to understand we could have it for 40minutes if we paid 10,000 won. (another proud moment). The swan boats were fun but Ilaria and I had to pedal Caitlyn and Paola around after SO much walking around and biking. Needless to say I was pretty tired at the end of the day.

We got on a 5:10 bus to Seoul which took 3 hours!! (it's only supposed to be an hour and a half) but the traffic was terrible. We joked that we should have just taken the bikes home. We finally got to Seoul and had a nice Korean dinner. After that we took the subway back to Anam and walked the final stretch up the hill to CJ.

What a crazy weekend. Now it's back to classes!

Mom and Elizabeth come soon! :-)

October 22, 2009

Yesterday was... AWESOME!!!!!!!
Started out good then just got better.
Went to Insadong with Caitlyn. Studied at Coffee Bean for a while, had a great breakfast of a warm blueberry muffin and some coffee. Got done with my Political Systems of the world midterm practice essay so I could know what to write about when I had the test. Then we walked around the streets for a while, she bought a nice bowl and cup from a ceramics stall. We went to lunch at a really cute all vegetarian resturant. The food was really nice and good. The place that we ate was in a cute little knook area and they gave us some of the Solomans tea or something, tasted just like the tea that Dad ordered at the tea house in Insadong. Then for desert they gave us this cinamon tea that Janice told me the name of but I forgot. I had to leave after that and Caitlyn stayed, I had class.
Went to class then after class Janice texted me to see if I was still up for the Beyonce concert, um, OF COURSE.
So Janice and I headed out to the place where the concert was (ticketless at this point) and we got to the area with no problems. Amazing, I know. We got there, the concert was at the olympic gymnasium and asked where to buy some tickets, we were directed to a place that literally said "Happy Box" If that box hadn't made me extrodanarily happy I would have been pissed. but alas, they had tickets. STANDING TICKETS. Yes, they were expensive but so so so worth it. I bought a T-Shirt because yes, I did forget my camera. In all the excitement of seeing Beyonce I forgot my camera. I probably won't forgive myself anytime but I am so glad I bought the shirt. I'll probably wear it for the next 3 days. It even shows the show in Detroit that I missed. We got into the stadium and ended up 3 people away from the stage. The concert was supposed to start at 8:30 and a teen Korean pop group called f(x) was opening for her, but they never actually came on it was weird, at 8:45 Beyonce just came on the stage and started the most amazing thing I've ever seen. So crazy. I was stunned. Almost started crying, ok not really but I did scream like I was a 12 year old korean girl at a Big Bang concert. She was awesome. She even incorporated some Sarah McLauchlan and Alanis Morisette (Janice liked that, she's Canadian). During Single Ladies she started off by showing a lot of youtube videos of people doing the single ladies dance then she did it with her dancers. She showed Obama a few times, and she did a song for Michael Jackson. At the end she sang Happy Birthday too. The thing I was a little bummed about is that the venue was pretty small, and it wasn't even full! it was so weird see Beyonce in a small place that wasn't even full! I mean I haven't seen her in a large place but still. I'm glad though because I was very close to the stage, and also, I WAS IN KOREA.
So that was awesome.

And then I took my midterm this morning, I hope I did well!
Maybe going to Jeju tomorrow? Dunno... we'll see....

October 20, 2009

wow, today was cool because I didn't have midterms slept all the way to 9:30!! and felt like a bum. If there's anything I've learned from this trip it's that I still like to go to sleep early and wake up early when I have a normal schedule (this excludes summer).
Woke up and read a little then got ready for lunch with Elina. Went to get Indian food (im obsessed I know...) then went to check out a new small shop then got some rosemary tea! After that saw Caitlyn and Barbara at Tiger Plaza sitting outside so we relocated to starbucks and studied for a while then i walked to class with Mi-ae and got there pretty early so talked for a to Kurt the canadian boy who was doing the presentation for that class (we have to do presentations on the readings we had to read for that day-today was anti-american sentiment Ikenberry). So that was interesting also because a boy named Alex from Pittsburgh thought that he was presenting today so that was kind of an akward moment. Sucks for Alex especially since it's midterms week and usually people don't have class because their teachers aren't jerks. But I had lunch with Alex earlier that week and he said he didn't study for midterms anyway so I didn't feel that bad. After class met up with Caitlyn and Milda at another coffee shop and did more homework. Milda left after a while then Caitlyn and I decided to try a Chinese Resturant that we hadn't been to. Had no idea what we ordered but Caitlyn made it clear she didn't want any pork (one of the four dishes they were serving that day? dunno wasn't paying attention) but he brought us spicy noodles in this red soup with clams, octopus, crab leg things and other sea food. Looked more Korean than Chinese but Caitlyn loves sea food so she had a good time and I even ate some clams.
Later I decided to do laundry, accidentally dropped my phone which temporarily broke and was very stressful. but then... (best part of the day) Met up with JANICE and SHE AND I ARE GOING TO THE BEYONCE CONCERT TOMORROW!!!!! hopefully hopefully HOPEFULLY they will be selling tickets still !!!! :-) such high hopes. could be epic. so I CANNOT wait for tomorrow.
After meeting with Janice helped Caitlyn translate Korean names so she could email her organizational behaviors group. I'm awesome.

that's about it!
also, last night after hiking which was sweet and weird because it lead to an exercise place. like a legitimate outside gym, stationary bikes and all. anyway we passed by the market at the anam dormitory and the cranky store keeper was just in there HULA HOOPING by himself. so random. he wasn't even watching a tv he was just going at it. it was awesome.

October 19, 2009

finished my 2 exams today! Korean and Chinese Politics out of the way now all I have is Political Systems of the world which is actually just thinking of an example for the prisoner's dilemma game. any suggestions ;-)??? just kidding. kind of. I mean if you leave an idea it's not like I'm not going to look at it.

I'm trying to register for classes because my athletic date is october 30th. It's hard to get my advisor to help me when I'm in Dayton so you can imagine what it's like FROM KOREA. gr. that man has it out for me.

I refuse to give up!
and I also have a lot of time on my hands.

October 18, 2009

If I was home I'd be at the head of the charles :-( maybe one of the 3 things that I'll miss about being here in Korea (that along with Labor Day which already passed and thanksgiving)

Alas I'm here studying for midterms.
I'll just have to cheer my friends on from afar!

October 17, 2009

wow today could have been really bad, but of course it wasnt.
Went to myong dong to shop... i mean STUDY. And went to a starbucks and studied there for a long time then Caitlyn and I decided to relieve ourselves of some stress by going SHOPPING!!! I bought some really cool clothes. There's also this place called Aland which is like urban outfitters sort of but cooler and cheaper, the basement floor is a bunch of stuff people made like jewelry and headbands and then the first floor is clothes, the second floor is like furniture stuff and the highest floor is a "flea market" where the sell "vintage clothes" I bought some cute hair clips from the top floor, a headband from the bottom floor and a shirt from the first floor. Also went to forever21 and this other store called redwood. Very good day except I ALMOST lost my purse at Aland. Seriously hadn't been that scared in a long time sort of thought I was going to faint/throwup. But thankfully I was in Korea and no one steals things so someone had turned in my purse and nothing was stolen and it was GREAT and I hugged the guy at the store who got it for me.

Now I'm going to study some more! yay midterms. at least I can look great while I do them.

October 16, 2009

Sorry to keep you all waiting so long, I shall continue with my China story.
This was the one day that we could share with the boys, once again we decide to let them make the plans. While they decided what they wanted to do Caitlyn and I ordered breakfast which pretty much just consisted of coffee and some fruit. While we were in the hostel’s restaurant we started talking to this group of people that we had been pretty familiar with seeing places. Found out they were from Toronto and teaching English in Korea. (these people didn’t fall into the stereotypical English speakers because they were from Canada). The only real reason why this is important is because we saw them earlier this week in the Hongik University area where Caitlyn gave them her phone number and they gave her theirs but not really because her phone doesn’t show the number of who’s calling so if they don’t call us we’ll probably never see them ever again but still it was cool that we saw them in Korea. Back to our plans,
The boys decided that they wanted to rent bikes and go to the Olympic parks. Would have been a good idea but I don’t know how many of you have been to Beijing but the streets there and the drivers are a little ummm… not the best place to ride a bike in traffic with no helmet. As they were talking to the travel agent (who like the other agent from the previous hostel had the hotts for Alex, quite amusing.) Caitlyn and I debated whether we really wanted to go. Our decision was made when the woman informed the boys that there were only 3 bikes available. PERFECT. Now Caitlyn and I were able to do something else until the lady started trying to get some workers from the hostel to let us borrow their bikes even after repeated no gestures from both Caitlyn and I (she really must have liked Alex) I finally verbally explained that we did not have any intentions of riding bikes to the Olympic parks. So we sent the boys on their way even though Alex just told us he hadn’t ridden a bike in three years. We were sure they were going to die, or at least something bad would happen to them. (we later found out that after just a few hundred meters dan’s pedal fell off and they had to go back. Too bad Caitlyn and I couldn’t have seen that… but we were too busy make plans to go to the Summer Palace!
First we decided to try and take the subway because the travel lady told us that it would be the easiest way, so we got directions and started walking to the subway station which turned out to be CLOSED. For no reason. There was no sign at all it was closed because it was –unclear. Phrase of the country. So we grabbed a cab fearing the worst. Cost about $8 each. Seriously and we were far away. The summer palace was really pretty and once again people swarmed us from pictures (what more could we expect?). Alright maybe they didn’t swarm but there were definitely some fans. We saw a huge Buddha and the lake and everything else and it was really cool and big. We also went to the shopping street which was under a bridge by the water and everything there was really cheap and right next to the river so it was really pretty. My favorite place there was the kite shop. It was so cool! They had all these great kites in different colors for really cheap. I think they were more for decoration though but she did have some string that you could have tied to the kite.
Our adventure back to the hostel started with sketchy, SKETCHY cab drivers who probably didn’t have a license. I know this mostly because they were telling us the fares before we got in the cab and also because one guy tried to drag me to his car, that was a white HONDA not even a freaking cab. Really creepy so one guy finally was like ok I’ll do it for it was 80 yaun. We told him to take us to Tiananmen Square because it was close to the hostel and even though his English was pretty good I didn’t feel like dealing with a language barrier. After we though he wasn’t even going to take us the whole way we finally realized where we were and got out. Caitlyn had been saying the whole time about how she wanted to ride on the hitch backs motorized from a bike motorcycle thing. We saw one, her one chance but she didn’t want to run after it so after a split decision I chased it down, seriously chased, and got him to stop. We pointed on the map to where to take us and he let us in. SO FUNNY. He was singing the whole time and I really thought I was going to die the way he was swerving in and out of traffic we should have been hit/hit things so many times. And I guess at one point I sort of elbowed him on accident and he was all “HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY.” Caitlyn took a video of the whole thing. It’s hilarious.
Got back to the Hostel. Now today was another important holiday for China, it was the mid autumn festival or something. But the most important thing to know is that they eat moon cakes. At the restaurant in the hotel the sign outside said free moon cakes and plate. We thought that it meant we got free moon cakes and a free dish so we went in and got a plate of spaghetti and ate the moon cake, pretty good. Glad I tried it. Was sort of dry in the middle don’t really know how to explain it because it was sort of a romantic atmosphere in the restaurant meaning that the only light we had was from candles so didn’t really see what I was eating. Then the boys came back from their adventure which by the way they said was great. Feeling a little bad about not letting the boys choose what we did that day we let them decide what they wanted for dinner. (we pretended we hadn’t eaten yet). Where do they take us? AN ALL YOU CAN EAT AMERICAN BUFFET. We immediately nixed that idea. Ended up eating in a restaurant inside a mall nearby which was alright, at least it was a Chinese restaurant. Then decided to check out the floats at Tiananmen Square now that it was dark out so we could see them lit up.
They were really pretty and I’m really glad we went but Caitlyn and I were tired. The boys also decided that they wanted to eat their moon cakes sitting in the middle of Tiananmen Square. We immediately walked away pretending not to know them because they were SITTING IN THE MIDDLE OF TIANANMEN SQUARE WHILE NO ONE ELSE WAS. Kind of annoying but whatevs nothing bad came from it. The floats were great and it was nice to just walk around but Caitlyn and I were tired so we decided to head back. The boys had an earlier flight than us so after making a wake up call we told them to knock on our door when they got back just in case.
As Caitlyn and I were settling into bed we hear the inevitable sound of someone coming into our room with a key. Looks like we had knew roommates…
A couple from the United Kingdom busts into the room freaking out while apologizing at the same time. They were frantically searching their bags and so we asked them if everything was OK. They explained to us that they had just been switched into our room after having their previous roommates who they said “judging by their accents were North American” had gone through their luggage moving things around packing up their stuff. Turns out that the North American (I’m sure they were from the United States but they had just said North to be polite) had booked the room just to themselves and had been upset that the hostel had put other people in it so they took the liberty to pack up the peoples things for them while they were gone. The lady from the front desk came to the room later as the woman was telling us how they are ski instructors and had been traveling in the off season for the past 6 months seeing most of southeast asia. Sounds like the dream life to me! Maybe I should take up skiing… anyway the lady came to the door and said that the girls wanted to apologize for going through their stuff the couple declined saying “that’s nice but we really don’t want to talk to them seeing as they’ve been through our stuff” which to me seemed like an appropriate response. The cheery on top was that they couldn’t take a hot shower so they went back to the desk to ask them to fix it, after the boy couldn’t fix it the front desk gave them a room upstairs that they could use to take a shower and Caitlyn and I were allowed to use but didn’t because we were in bed and had to wake up early for our flight. Finally we all went to bed.
Just in case anyone was worried the couple didn’t have anything stolen. Such a strange experience.

Ah! The final day of our China adventure. One started with a knock from Shaun to tell us they were leaving for their flight. And that was the last time I ever saw Shaun in China.
Caitlyn and I were thankfully awakened by a wakeup call that we had scheduled that they decided to do. Maybe they were bored but I’m just happy they made it. We got up and had breakfast waiting for the hostel shuttle to take us to the airport. Once a van came to the front we got in and handed him the receipt. THANKFULLY he realized that we weren’t supposed to be in his van seeing as that was the van going to the great wall. (how tragic would that have been?) and got into the real shuttle which was just a man hired from the hotel driving us to the airport. Don’t worry it wasn’t sketchy at all. And nothing bad happened
UNTIL we were driving on the highway and we started feeling some weird things and the car started moving weirdly. WE GOT A FLAT TIRE. By now nothing was surprising Caitlyn and I. In fact it was pretty hilarious that in fact as we were going to the airport on our way back to Korea that we got a flat tire. The man was apologizing profusely as he pulled to the side of an extremely busy highway. Caitlyn and I got out of the car and tried to help him but he was having none of it, which is pretty smart since the car wasn’t even really off the highway. So we did what anyone would have done. Taken pictures! (well just Caitlyn my camera had run out of batteries.)
Don’t worry. We made our flight and surprisingly there was absolutely no problems getting home. Which is scarier in itself I think. Making it back to CJ was a weird feeling but we were finally home!
And that was it, our trip to China! Now we can go back to the craziness of Korea.
Shaun, Alex and Dan all made it safely back too.
just got back from a hard day of studying, well it went more like woke up at noon had the best 13 hour rest of my life after a week of staying up late studying to... STUDY SOME MORE but I think I got a lot accomplished. before studying I put up some facebook photos of China, kind of funny since I don't have any of Korea up yet... then studied Chinese Politics pretty well. Got most of the example questions done except for the long essay which I think I can do pretty easily because I have good notes on that question. Then checked out a DVD room for the first time, you can rent a room and watch a dvd in it for 11,000 won, it was pretty sketchy actually probably wont be doing that again anytime but I watched Gran Torino which was pretty cool because it was like I was HOME!! especially the last part when he's driving down lakeshore. It was weird because then when I got back outside I was in Korea again. Movies/Movie theatres are weird like that.

Tomorrow Caitlyn and I are off to myong dong to studyyyyyy and maybe look in H&M :-)

October 15, 2009

Just had my first midterm test here!! went pretty well I think considering I studied hard core.

Caitlyn is sick :-( but I'm glad it's the weekend we can relax,
literally we're watching cartoons tonight.

October 13, 2009

Today was a great fall day!

Woke up for Political systems of the world and the class was alright then went back to my room to do some homework, which was soothing for some reason today. Then I went to Korean class and got to go back to my room because my ROK-US relations class was cancelled (extra time for us to study for our midterm on thursday). Did some tasks I had to finish then met Caitlyn and Dan at starbucks before the International Festival meeting where every country makes a table to represent its self. I'm the sub representative for the US table. Weird to be surrounded by Americans even if it was just for a small period. there are about 11 of us working on the table. After the meeting we left to find it POURING rain and thunderstorming outside. That kind of sucked. oh also at the meeting they gave us free drinks and I took this green one just because I didn't know what it was, I took a swig and there was like JELLY stuff in it. Found out later that it was an Aloe Vera drink, so not only is it good for sunburns but also drinking? Kind of tasted like gross grape jelly. yeah so I didn't like that much. Caitlyn and I stopped for dinner and I had a roast beef sandwich which was good but the Cherry Coke I had with it tasted like cough syrup-YUCK. two bad drinks in one day.

Also got a package from Mrs Duncan!! :-)

I'm checking to see if I can get Beyonce tickets, everything is in Korean since the English selling tickets closed or something? They said I could get them at the door maybe so we'll see how that goes. hopefully awesome.

October 12, 2009

Well dad left today but this weekend was pretty crazy,
Saturday we went to this place that was called Ice Bar or ground sub zero or something and it was a bar where everything was made of ice and they give you jackets and gloves and you go and drink something out of an ice block and there was music playing. nice to say that I went there but probably wont go back.

Sunday was jam packed with seoul seeing
Started off with a "traditional korea village" where we walked around and played games, saw exhibits and enjoyed the nice weather. Then we went to north seoul tower where you can see all of seoul (the day wasn't that clear but it's still very impressive). After that we went to meyong dong which is where the shopping district is and we ate lunch there. THEN we went to insadong and browsed some more then we went to my favorite place in seoul, the river and walked to the beginning of the river up the street to watch a fountain show then we went to the korean palace museum (a smaller version of the forbidden city). After that I took him to the worst part of seoul, Itaewon where all of the foreigners go, gross. haha just kidding. sort of. FINALLY we had dinner with my korean buddy Hyungjung and we had barbeque. Lots of walking around and activity but Im pretty sure dad got a full seoul experience (minus tapoke from the street vendors, oh well.).

Today was alright, had class then went to Hongik University area with my friend Caitlyn to sit at a coffee shop and study in a different area for a while, didn't work to well teh people watching was too good. BUT something really cool that happened is that we saw some guys on the street that had stayed in the same hostel with us in China so that was really neat, we exchanged numbers and maybe we'll see them again (they are Canadians teaching english).

Now it's time for some homework, I have a midterm on thursday... yikes!

October 10, 2009

This has to be quick but I've had some great highlights this weekend!!
First off, for those who don't know, Hank came to visit me! we still have one full day left together so should be good.

Insadong yesterday we saw the NEW JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER!!! no joke, and I don't want to brag but I totally knew who he was just by seeing him. I'm impressed with myself,

ALSO today went to the DMZ. that's right people. Two very exciting things happend
A) I CAUGHT A FROG!! I caught a frog in the dmz. And I kissed it (no prince for me..)
B) was in NORTH KOREA. we were in a building and on one half it was in North Korea and the other half in South Korea.

pretty boss.
sorry I'll write more about china later but we're getting bbq now soooooo too bad for you.

October 8, 2009

We got our wakeup call at the appropriate time and excitedly started dressing. Our Chinese roommate asked us what time it was then got out of bed and went to the bathroom. I left to see if I could find some breakfast (which I never found) and never saw him again. Caitlyn came to the lobby to tell me that he told her to “tell your friend I give her my best” and he seriously peaced out of the room and we have no idea where he went because I didn’t see him leave the lobby and he left the room and it was also 5:45am I guess we’ll never know…
It was me and Caitlyn and another couple. The tour was supposed to leave at 6:20 but he rushed us out to the van at a little past 6 (good thing we were early) and then went to 4 other hostels. We were packed into this tiny tiny van, there was no leg room at all and some American girl teaching English was freaking out “im claustrophobic” blah blah. Caitlyn and I planned on putting up a Brittish front and asking her if she was American “you are slightly obese and have been complaining a lot”. So basically we found the reason why the American nationality is being tarnished around the world. Anyway, we stopped at some corner where this man gave everyone in the bus breakfast (well everyone except Caitlyn and I we think maybe because we were supposed to have gone a day earlier) and we met with another small van and a huge coach bus, of course the American girl starts flipping out wondering why she isn’t on the big bus. She even had the nerve to talk to one of the people in charge of our tour- this small Chinese girl- complaining about the space. She’s obviously never been on a rowing team. She didn’t switch and we got to ride with her for the entire 3 hour trip.
We stopped halfway and were able to get lunch (a banana some bread and water) we were in the country in China it was pretty sweet. There were a lot a lot of mountains and farms and stuff. I took some pictures.
When we got to the Great Wall we had to wait for the other van and bus to catch up and we saw a bunch of touristy stuff like hats and tee shirts and stuff. I also got to use a squatting toilet! Seriously it was a highlight. Our group was huge so when the tour guide was talking no one was paying attention and I couldn’t even hear him. Something about the cable cars or walking the whole way, of course we wanted to walk the whole way so we figured we’d just follow the crowd. We started making our way up to the wall and the steps were SO steep. It was pretty much like “is this seriously going to be it for the whole way? But the wall was sooooo awesome and vast and it was crazy just looking at it and being like “this is the great wall of china. Weird.”
We finally got to the great wall and there was a map we thought the tour guide had told us to go left so we turned left (the crowd had magically disappeared) and then started walking, we saw two people from our group so we felt pretty sure of ourselves. We started getting weary halfway to the first tower when NO ONE was following us. We took some pictures and turned around. Thankfully it was a good thing that we turned around or else we would have been lost on the great wall. Would have been a good story but thankfully one that I don’t have to tell.
The wall was amazing, we met a bunch of people on it like boys who graduated from Notre Dame, one who’s major was Mandarin so he was talking to all the Chinese people and the other one’s major was Poli Sci and Econ but he said he wanted to write and that he had two blogs going. The wall was so great and it was funny because at every tower there would be old women saying “beer, coke, water” I saw some people getting beers every once in a while but refrained. (by the way I’m wearing gap flip flops during this whole hike). We also saw this family of 2 small blonde kids and a mom and they were funny because the kids were just running up and down the wall and the mom wasn’t out of shape but they had a lot of energy. We kept leap frogging them because they would stop for water then run ahead. Eventually about halfway through the hike we noticed that the kids were being lead by an old Chinese woman with their mom trailing behind. THEN we hear the blonde kids start spitting mandarin like it’s their job to this woman. THE KIDS WERE FLUENT IN MANDARIN. Seriously they couldn’t have been older than 7. I turned to the boy from Notre Dame and asked him how he felt knowing that he spent his whole college degree on something the 7 year old could easily do. It was funny.
Also we met a boy from florida and his roommates who were studying in Hong Kong but mostly everyone was teaching English or traveling.
On the great wall I saw 4 lizards which I wanted to try and catch but was in the middle of a conversation each time I saw one and I didn’t want to look weird lunging toward something on the ground so I didn’t do it. We also so a lot of millipedes which I eventually picked up and Caitlyn and I put it on our hands and took pictures (facebooookkkkk). At the end of the 10k hike there was a zipline to a boat that would take us to our parking lot. OF COURSE we did it (after I took a picture of the Notre Dame boys shot gunning a beer which I’m not sure how I feel about but anyway…) The zipline was really cool. Caitlyn also took a video of that and it’s on facebook. I’m tagged in it so it should be kind of easy to find. Then we took a boat and that was nice, but it was a pretty short ride. A small van took us to the restaurant that we were eating at and we had a really really good meal with chicken something, fried noodles, rice, cucumber salad and some other stuff. I was completely stuffed by the time I was done so Caitlyn and I walked around for a bit waiting for the buses to leave and saw THE BIGGEST SPIDER EVER. It was huge. Black with green and it was so so so big. Caitlyn took a picture but didn’t put it up, the real thing was probably way more impressive.
The bus ride back was alright, took less time because of traffic (only 2 hours) we got back pretty tired even though we had slept most of the way and we went out to find some food. This time when we got food at a restaurant I ordered some chicken but wasn’t really that sure what it was so when it came, just fried chicken I was like “oh this will be fine” I took a bite and it was just fat cartilage grossness so I spit it out thinking it was bone then took another piece that was exactly the same, then another until I realized I had ordered FRIED chicken FAT. It was funny, so once I knew that it was supposed to be like that I ate most of it, there were also fried peanuts that were interesting but some of the pieces weren’t that bad, it was when the fat was hard that it was kind of gross.
On the way back to the hotel Alex suggested a short cut down some side road that we thought went through so we ducked in to a dark alley, and it didn’t go through it turned so we just kept following it as Caitlyn said, “when we die this is going to be one of those things when people read about it and say, ‘Why would they go down the dark side street in the first place??’” Don’t worry I didn’t die and nothing bad happened, it was just small houses with people running around celebrating their communism, we saw a table of 4 old guys gambling and a lot of cooking outside and talking, almost everyone was by a TV watching the celebrations in Tian’amen square pan out so that was pretty cool and then when we emerged on the other side I knew where we were! That was cool because I lead us straight to the hotel and I felt special. Then we went to sleep.
Still 2 more days left!

October 5, 2009

Holy Cow, what a weekend. Going to China with Caitlyn, Sean, Alex and Dan was one of the craziest I don’t even know what’s going on weekends ever. I guess the best way to do this would be to break it down into days so we’ll start on Wednesday. Also I should note that Caitlyn and I had thought about booking a night in Incheon which is the town right by the airport, it’s a fishing village so it’s right by the sea and has some beaches and a LOT of seafood. Like real seafood such as octopus and yeah I don’t even know… anyway.
Also, as a side note for those who are really busy/ just didn’t know before but this weekend was the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. On the news you may have seen tanks upon tanks and soldiers marching around everywhere. Seriously. It’s legit. also for anyone who was wondering they really do turn off facebook and blogs in China. ANYWAY.

I get back from my classes, thinking that I would have a great night packing and lounging around. I stop by Caitlyn’s room on my way to my room and she says “you’re ready already!?” and I’m like huh? Then I realize that she had packed and was getting ready to go somewhere. Then I realized that when she said that Incheon was “booked” in a text message earlier that week she had meant that she had booked it not that Incheon was full. Lucky for everyone I’m good at changing my plans so I told her I’d be ready soon, went back to my room and packed then Caitlyn and I headed for the bus to take us to the Incheon airport where we would get a taxi to take us to the hotel (it was supposed to be about a 5-6 minute drive by taxi).
First we went to the bus but could not for the life of us figure out what bus we were supposed to get on (the bus system in seoul is straight up impossible) so after two phone calls to local Korean’s we finally find out what bus to get on (this is after I had gotten onto a bus asking if they were going to Incheon when they started driving away with me still on the bus and Caitlyn sitting at the corner, her direct words upon what she was thinking at the time are ‘well, there she goes.’ Honestly she didn’t even try to stop the bus she just watched it drive away but with my quick thinking and and mad Korean skillz I got the bus to stop sheer meters away and got out. Don’t worry it gets better.) While waiting for the bus we drew a lot of attention to ourselves a local man kept telling Caitlyn, who was sitting on her luggage, that if she kept eating the mixed nuts she was eating that she would break her luggage. She didn’t think that was funny but I did. Then another local boy informed us that we should cross the street and get the bus going in the other direction because it would be a lot faster. So we crossed the street and got on the bus to the airport. We get on and not much happens until we get to the airport and get off the bus. Then we are swarmed with taxi drivers trying to get us to get in their taxi. We had to get in the one taxi that was going to Incheon so we give him the address. Lucky for us he knew some English and we were excited to see Incheon and our hotel. So we’re driving, then we keep driving, then we’re still driving and Caitlyn and I are starting to get a little nervous. I call Dan one of the boys going to Korea with us because the boys booked a different time for their flight so we had to choose a meeting spot in China. He of course chose some supermarket which HELLO we don’t know where the heck it is and says that we should meet at 4pm our flight came in at 11ish so I didn’t care but there’s came in at 2 so I was a little nervous for their time constraints but didn’t give it much thought so we said we’d meet there at four.(we didn’t realize but their trip cost about $100 less than ours. Jerks). During the call Caitlyn kept poking me and so finally she told me that our taxi ride was taking way way way too long and usually the taxi drivers take a long time so that we can pay more but it was getting ridiculous so then we start sort of freaking out thinking maybe we are going to be in the next bim bim bop meal and the taxi driver is like ‘no no no no no you got off at Gimpo airport not Incheon airport’ so turns out Caitlyn and I got off at the wrong airport then it cost us a crap load of money to pay the taxi driver which was pretty funny because at least we didn’t die.
Our hotel was straight up awesome. We had a Jacuzzi bath and a sauna thing and a TV and two beds and wooden floors and it was amazing. The town was so cute. There were boat harbors everywhere and the sea looked like something from Maine. The beach wasn’t something you’d go swimming off but we went on it at night and collected some shells. We had a nice traditional Korean meal equipped with octopus tentacle things and such. It was very quaint. We ended our day but watching “Nick and Norah’s infinite playlist” a movie on the TV. And excited for our trip to China the next day!
*Moral of the day- pay attention to what bus stop you’re getting off at because it will cost you a lot of money if you don’t.

Woke up about a billion times because this DAMN ROOSTER kept crowing. I was determined to find this rooster and seek revenge. So after an early early wake up call I grabbed my camera and headed for the beach. (I had sometime before our shuttle left). I found that stupid rooster and I took a picture because seriously that rooster caused a lot of pain. The beach was stunning though. It was well worth it waking up early just to see it. We got into our shuttle and got to the airport where we found out that OUR FLIGHT HAD BEEN CANCELLED. No joke. And I never got an email or anything. But don’t worry. We talked to this girl at a desk who I’m pretty sure was an angel I put all of my faith completely in this girl. She got us on another flight that was scheduled to leave at 12:25 (The boy’s flight left at 12:50 and they thought it was very funny that we had gotten up so early when they got up later than us and still had to take the subway to the airport). We made it through security check with our trusty Chinese visas and went to our gate. We decided to get some food so we went to a japansese restaurant where I decided to try this rice drink? Bad choice. There were literally junks of rice floating around in it, looked like someone had eaten and backwashed in some water and then gave it to me (although I know that didn’t happen because I poured it from the can myself) so that was interesting. No one was on our flight it was pretty much deserted except this one group of traveling musicians who had dreads and a lot of tattoos and were all cool and stuff. Sort of I mean I don’t know they couldn’t have been that good because they were traveling in economy and they seemed just as nervous about going to China as us. Anyway. We get to China and breathe a sigh of relief we had finally made it!! I could now officially say that I had been to China. All of the excitement quickly vanished when NONE OF THE TAXI DRIVERS WOULD TAKE US TO OUR HOTEL. We found out that the street our hotel was on was blocked because of the military parade. Frustrated and very tired we had to figure out a way to call the hotel. We couldn’t use cash for the telephone you had to use some magical card that we couldn’t find until some man came up and made us buy one and then they lady at the desk (who is my arch nemesis) told us that we couldn’t come to the hostel we had to go to New Dragon hostel and wait there until the streets were open so they could come pick us up and she told us to find someone to write in Chinese the address to give to someone in a taxi. Of course I start running around the airport and NO ONE not even the official security guard helper whatever would come and help us so we were screwed on that note so we went back outside and one of the people directing the taxi’s told one where to go and he took us there. On the way to the hotel we saw a tank with soldiers!!! A real Chinese tank. Very exciting. By this time it was about 4:10 and I wanted to get to the supermarket as fast as we could (we had absolutely NO way of communicating because the phone’s didn’t work and we had no idea where they were) so we get to this supermarket at about 4:30 and wait scared that they had came and left. We waited for 30 minutes then gave up. Caitlyn and I really wanted to go to Tian’amen Square to watch the celebrations. So we went back to the hostel just to check to see if they were there. They weren’t so we started walking down the street, and who do we see but those three boys walking with their luggage. The sun was setting and our goal was to get to Tian’amen Square by the sun set so we could watch the flag ceremony (stupid us obviously this wasn’t going to happen but we were ignorant at the time so just go with it). We RUSHED them to the hostel so they could put their stuff down and they were discouraged to hear about having to wait until late to go to our hostel.
Together the five of us started to walk toward Tian’amen to find the streets blocked by authority figures. Literally could not even pretend like we were going there. So distressed that we couldn’t show our support for communism we bought some Chinese flags and waved them around for a little while, until we found a restaurant. Suddenly I realized I had really been craving duck. I mean I’d had it before but I don’t remember what it tasted like and some crispy duck sounded like exactly what I wanted. At this point we were sitting in front of a church that was lit up with a bunch of tourists everywhere when these two girls approach us and ask if they could take their picture with us. I was SO SO SO thrilled. I had heard that this happened but in real life having random people come up to you to take a picture with you is pretty much the most awesome thing ever. So I offer to take the picture with both of them in it then make them let me take a picture with my Camera. Then ANOTHER group of people (this time older) come over and ask for their pictures with us too. Feeling like celebrities we went into this restaurant thing and we got duck (Caitlyn got a salad because she’s a vegetarian). And some Chinese beer (yingsang or something?) I actually got a coke because I thought I would die of tiredness. The duck was good and the restaurant was nice the waitress was very good at English and we had a good experience. Then we made it back to the New Dragon hostel. While there we looked at their tourist stuff and saw that they had trips to hike 10k on the Great Wall. We were really excited and booked a trip for the 5 of us for tomorrow morning. The bus left at 6:20 so we knew that waking up would be rough but we scheduled it anyway just to make sure that we would be able to do it. Since the same owner for New Dragon was the owner for Forbidden City Hostel the bus was going to come and pick us up at Forbidden City in the morning. The New Dragon Hostel also had a bar in the basement and everyone who was waiting for the Forbidden City Hostel and so we got some drinks and then met some cool people which was fun, Caitlyn and I went to go buy some shampoo and soap. And a toothbrush for Dan who was brilliant and forgot one and when we went outside we could hear the fireworks from Tian’amen square which was really cool. When we came back we found that our spots had been filled with about 5 girls which was pretty funny so we went and sat somewhere else so as not to disturb the boy’s and whatever they were doing but I was exhausted anyway so I basically fell asleep on the couch until the van for the other hostel was came. We got into the van and made it to the hostel after a little hastle and making fun of some girls teaching English in China (from the United States, they were easy targets. Those English teachers are trouble.) Caitlyn and I finally got into our room and fell down to sleep.
The room was 2 bunk beds and we had it to ourselves so we both took a bottom bunk and had our stuff lying everywhere.
Right when we had gotten to sleep we hear the door open and a Chinese boy walked in with a huge suitcase. Completely dillusional with exhaustion I whisper (well it probably wasn’t much of a whisper) “Caitlyn, it’s a BOY!” and she’s says “Hey we reserved the top bunk for you” the boy was like “what?” then he started fooling around with the light switches. I have no idea what time this happened at but I had consumed absolutely no alcohol and I still had no idea what was going on. “Do you want me to turn off the light?” Said Caitlyn. “I’m Chinese.” Said the boy. “Ok, but do you want me to turn off the light?” “CHINA.”
And with that Caitlyn turned off the light and the boy climbed into the bed above mine and we all went to sleep.

6:20 am.
*knock knock knock*
“CLARE WHAT TIME IS IT!?” I look at the phone that my alarm had been set on and it says 7:30am. We hear Alex’s voice from outside the door, British accent and all “what you haven’t woken up yet!” We open the door to see Alex standing there laughing at us then we say “5 minutes!” and he walks away. While trying to figure out what the heck is going on we hear another voice “Excuse me, we cannot wait 5 minutes we have a tight schedule to keep you can come to the great wall tomorrow we are leaving”. And then they left.
Apparently tour guides are very strict about schedules to the Great Wall even though everything else in China, literally, is “unclear”.
Devestated, I tell Caitlyn, that we might as well go back to sleep, my plan B for basically anything, and then we sleep until 10am. Getting up we decide that missing the Great Wall tour was NOT going to ruin our day, we could do it tomorrow and today we were going to go to the Forbidden City (now called Palace Museum) and Tian’amen Square. Taking a nice warm shower was the highest on our list at the moment, that was until we turned on the water to find it FREEZING FREAKING COLD. Literally, not luke warm but CHILLED. Horrified but in desperate need of a shower I washed my hair and scrubbed myself. Coldest thing ever. While Caitlyn was in the shower I turned on the TV and found the news on an English channel, watching the news in English from China may have been one of the most interesting things ever. They were talking about the parade and how everything was on display, showing the leaders from the night before it Tian’amen. Very interesting. After the shower we head out, for real this time, on a Chinese adventure. So with new hopes we head off. Me with my map and we successfully make it there (they literally are 3 blocks away from our hostel). The Forbidden City was awesome. So so so, pretty. And once again, people were taking picture of me and Caitlyn, this woman literally had Caitlyn pick up her child and had us pose with her. So funny and SO awesome. People were taking pictures of us with their camera phones and other pictures and we would find that when we would look over and see people trying to take a picture of something we would move out of the way and the camera lens would follow us. That doesn’t happen in Korea so I’m pretty sure there is a huge inside secret that we are just missing out on, like they’ll plan to show their children these pictures of us when they become closer to super power status or something. Anyway, nothing like paparazzi to get your self esteem up.
We had lunch before going to Tian’amen Square at a small kind of dirty restaurant but the food was so good! I hate to say it but I for sure like Chinese food more than Korean food. Tian’amen Square was everything that I could have ever wanted it to be and more. Seeing that picture with my own eyes was pretty much the 2nd best thing that happened to me that trip. Dunno why but it was very exciting. We also saw the floats from the parade and could watch the parade on the TV with all the new and exciting military equipment that they had paraded around and such. Everything was SO crowded but so worth seeing. We thought about going to the temple of heaven so we tried to find it on our map but then gave up and went to a market where they were selling scorpions on sticks literally still alive and moving. Also sea horses and such things like trinkets and cards (I bought a set of Mao cards. Pretty cool). Wow. So then…
We got back to the room and waited for the boys (who were supposed to return by 7) and decided to get some food. This trip to get food was definitely not as successful as the night before. I accidently ordered fried chicken fat. It was pretty funny and I still ate a good amount of it. We shared plates and sean and dan ordered duck AGAIN. So that was fun. We walked around a food market for a while to find more speared insects, a lot of meat, and fruit and also, I kid you not “Sheep Penis” GAG. Speared also. Walked away from that one. The night ended with saying goodnight to our roommate and falling asleep (this time with a wake up call) until our trip to the great wall.

Kind of tired of typing now since I’m up to 3,300 words and on my 6th page on Microsoft word. I’ll write about Saturday, Sunday, Monday soon.
Great Wall-Summer Palace-highway experiences. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come!