Feeling Strangely Fine


31 Flavors of Awesome

Have I mentioned that Baskin Robbins is all the rage in Korea? They revere it so much that it is exclusively referred to as “Baskin Robbins 31” in order to maintain its honorable status. That was a load of bull, but they do always call it by the full name. Have I also mentioned that I can eat ice cream in Korea??? It’s amazing. Something to do with lactose-free milk or some fancy jazz. Although Cold Stone Creamery has officially arrived and taken over as top recipient of my hard earned ice cream cash, Baskin Robbins 31 has something that I have been meaning to try for ages, but just got around to actually trying last night.

Melted chocolate + ice cream balls + fruit + long fancy forks = …ice cream fondue!!

icecream fondue

This was as delicious as it looks, minus the cherry tomatoes. I read something once: “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.” Koreans definitely do not share our view of “wisdom” on this one. Tomatoes in chocolate? With ice cream? No, not okay.

Currently Loving: not making lunch for myself anymore! I’ve given in and started eating Korean school lunch everyday.

Currently Missing: Pita Pit…I can’t get it out of my head!

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Halloween – Opinions Welcome

What’s the deal with Halloween? Several of my friends have posted “Hooray for October! Halloween is coming!”-esque status updates on Facebook. I have never been a huge fan of this holiday. I mean, when I was a kid it was cool to get all the candy. But I was always so uncomfortable in my costumes. Where I’m from autumn is cold. So I was either freezing my ass off or in a constant state of itch caused by cheap fabric. Along came college and Halloween turned into slutty nurses and white trash faux band members who don’t know how to manage their alcohol intake. Post-college, Halloween seems to have turned into a night where people just want to be something they’re not, or escape to days gone by…possibly with more style and class on the alcohol front (or maybe not). So honestly, what’s the deal with Halloween?

Help me understand. What is it about this holiday that you all love so much? Not trying to be judgmental, I really want to know. Enlighten me.

Halloween costumesOkay, this parrot costume Alyson Hannigan donned for How I Met Your Mother rocks my socks, but how much would I have to shell out in order to wear this for one night? ONE night?? Photo Credit 

Currently Loving: The fantastic Korean BBQ restaurant that serves an insane amount of side dishes. Knowledge of this fantastic find thanks to Lisa and Micah!

Currently Missing: Home.


Philippines, I Heart You

I’ve only been home 6 days and the tan is fading. I think my skin repels brown. It’s alright though, at least my fear that years of zero fun in the sun have somehow disabled my skin’s ability to tan, is officially unfounded.

Our trip started on the island of Bohol. We spent three very quiet days in a small resort that we pretty much had to ourselves. We chose to stay outside of the “touristy” area of Bohol which I now regret. Non-touristy sounds nice, but on this island, you have everything or you have nothing. We had nothing. Not even a restaurant in the town (Valencia), so every meal was provided by the resort’s kitchen. But, it was a very relaxing beginning which is certainly what we needed.

bohol 1We took a tour to see the highlights of the island and although it was over-hyped and over-priced, we still managed to enjoy ourselves.

We visited the Chocolate Hills, which, since it was the rainy season, looked more like a mint chocolate variety.

The butterfly sanctuary was beautiful…but our guide kept making jokes about homosexual butterflies which was a tad awkward. bohol 2

We took a river cruise on the Loboc River, complete with a guitar player, ballad singer, and an on-board buffet.

My favorite part of the tour was visiting the Tarsier Sanctuary. These little guys are the smallest primates in the world and I got to hold one! They’re very spry little creatures.

After Bohol, we started the second leg of our trip to the remote island Malapascua.

Getting to Malapascua from Bohol required four modes of transportation: Ferry-Taxi-Bus-Pumpboat. Quite an exhausting day. But the week we spent on the island was more than worth it. This was my first time vacationing on a tropical island, AND my first time full on swimming in the ocean. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Malapascua is a tiny island north of mainland Cebu. (And by tiny, I mean miniscule. No roads, cars, banks, or doctors.) It’s a hot spot for scuba divers who want to see thresher sharks and manta rays. We didn’t scuba, but we snorkeled! No signs of sharks but we (Syd) did have a run-in with a jelly fish.malapascua 1

The trip was fantastic. We ate great food, I got massages right on the beach, and of course, we’re now tan. I know we got ripped off a few times, but confronting someone who has nothing when they overcharge you for a motorbike ride seemed too heartless. I can’t say the Philippines would be my first choice for my next tropical vacation because there are other places I would still like to see, but the trip was great nonetheless.

Currently Loving: Kristen is in Korea!!!!

Currently Missing: State fairs.


Konglish Lesson

Before leaving for Korea a year ago, I wondered how impossible it was going to be to go anywhere or do anything in this country without knowing the language. Turns out if you know how to play a mean game of charades or can say a general area in the city and the words for “left” and “right,” you’re pretty much golden. What I didn’t expect was the sublanguage in Korea: Konglish. Take an English word, Korean-ize it, and voila – Konglish! There are so many words in this country that are just adapted from English and given a phonetic Korean spelling (No R’s, Z’s, F’s, or Th’s though). It’s actually quite ridiculous that they haven’t created their own words for certain things, but it comes in handy for us foreigners – if you learn how to pronounce the Korean alphabet, you can often read menus and signs and decipher the meaning; “Hey they have prench-eu-prys!”

Here are a few of my favorites. When you see “eu,” think “uh.”

no-teu note
reo-si-a Russia
bi-di-o video
seu-po-cheu sports
a-pa-teu apartment
o-ren-ji orange
keo-pi coffee
te-ni-seu tennis
haen-deu-pon cellphone
(think handphone)
rah-di-o radio
tim team
so-pa sofa
seu-teu-re-seu stress
ju-seu juice
ka-deu card
taek-shi taxi
pi-ja pizza
haem-beu-geu hamburger
prench-eu-pry french fry
beu-lak-eu-reo-si-a black russian

Currently Loving: Summer vacation.

Currently Missing: Mild weather. I feel as if I’m melting the second I step outside.


JUMP to the DMZ

Long time no type. Sorry people, this girl’s been busy. My crazy busy-ness included an all expenses paid trip to Seoul this past weekend for the 2010 EPIK Reunion. EPIK stands for “English Program in Korea” and it is the organization that recruits and trains native English speakers to teach in public schools in Korea. Syd and I were two of ten people chosen from Daegu to attend the reunion. **Don’t read that as “we’re the best teachers in Daegu.” It was a ridiculous selection process and we were just lucky to be picked.

Anyway, this trip included a free night’s stay in a fairly nice hotel (the best part was the buffet dinner with unlimited crab legs), a viewing of the Korean stage performance “JUMP,” and a stop at the DMZ. 

Although the hotel room was nothing to spend words on, the view was rather nice:hotel view

By far, the highlight of the trip was the stage performance of JUMP. JUMP is basically a non-verbal sitcom with Tae Kwon Do, acrobatics, and “sword fighting” thrown in. The performance told the story of an eccentric “Kung Fu” family complete with an overbearing grandfather, a drunken uncle, and a high-kicking sister. It had the essential moments of slapstick comedy and hopeless romance. There was even a character who pulled a “Steve Urkel” (sans annoying laughter). If this character’s glasses were removed at any point, he morphed from a stumbling, shy, idiot to a strong, confident, martial arts master. If you get the chance to see JUMP, don’t pass it up. It was seriously amazing. We weren’t allowed to take photos or video, so here’s a little sample from YouTube:

JUMP Performance Highlights

Day two involved a lot of time on a bus and a fairly disappointing outcome. We visited the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel which is a military tunnel created by North Korea that connects North to South. After donning yellow helmets we were allowed to walk down the STEEP entrance and walk nearly all the way to the military line (anyone over 5’ 3” was ducking the entire time). It was A LOT of walking with an anticlimactic ending, but it was still cool to be in an underground tunnel walking toward North Korea. No cameras or belongings of any kind were allowed into the tunnel, so again, no pictures. But here’s one from the official website for Gyeonggi-do (the area of Korea where the tunnel is accessible).infiltration tunnel 

Our trip ended with a visit to the Dora Observatory. The observatory is a military building that seems to be more of a tourist attraction than anything else – although a very nice soldier informed me that extremely official things do happen there. Looking through binoculars for 500 won, we could “see” North Korea. And by “see” I mean see the fog shrouding North Korea. We had extremely poor visibility and pictures could only be taken behind a yellow line, so again, nothing to document our view of the reclusive nation. IMG_1753

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Look closely, those mountains and trees are North Korea!

Anywho – back to being busy me. Philippines in three weeks! Can.not.wait!!

Currently Loving: Kimbap from a very good Kimbap stop.

Currently Missing: Friends! But they’ll be here soon!!


Musclevertising

Koreans really know how to get a girl’s attention. Walking by a downtown department store yesterday, I was greeted by these gentlemen…behind the window that usually showcases shoes. A new gym is opening soon. Great advertising technique.

boys1

boys2

Currently Loving: Shabu!

Currently Missing: Humidity free climates.


Rice Krispies and Koreans

What makes a Korean English student “gifted?” The ability to make Rice Krispie Treats, that’s what! Twice a week I have an afterschool gifted English class with my best 5th and 6th graders. Usually they’re pretty bored and have no desire to be in attendance (their parents force them). But this week we decided to have a cooking day and I chose to teach them how to make Rice Krispie Treats. Are you wondering, “What the heck does this have to do with English?” Well, not much, (they work hard, they deserved an easy day), but they had to read a recipe written entirely in English and listen to my instructions, which were obviously in English. Then I told them they couldn’t use Korean while they cooked…but that last part didn’t really pan out. Excitement took over and all English speaking ability was seemingly forgotten.

We have a woman at our school who takes pictures of EVERY event that’s out of the ordinary so I have a few shots of the mayhem. Unfortunately, she left before the cooking was actually done, so there are no pictures of their final product or their delighted faces. Oh well, I’m sure you can imagine. Just think of a 10 year old experiencing, for the FIRST time, the fabulousness that is a Rice Krispie Treat.

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I swear, we didn’t know this picture was being taken, the smiles weren’t choreographed!

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“Teacher…you want me to use a napkin to put butter in this pan? That’s weird teacher.”

 

Melting butter…who knew it could be so fun? IMG_4289

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Melting marshmallows. They were amazed by this. Easily entertained.IMG_4290

My co-teacher Namhee. She helped out so much, and she didn’t even know what she was doing! Wouldn’t have been able to pull this off without her!IMG_4297

The sticky ending. None of them wanted to touch the Rice Krispies with their fingers so getting it into the cooling pans was quite the challenge.IMG_4296

I’m afraid the students liked the activity so much that now they’ll only want to cook. Every Tuesday and Friday I’ll hear, “Cooking day Teacher? Cooking day?” Getting them excited about actual English learning might be an even bigger feat for me now…

And that’s all folks. One of my many “adventures” in Korea.

Currently Loving: A particular Pot Bing Su discovered in my local bakery. I usually don’t like this stuff, but you’re right Lisa, the Mochi balls make it!

Currently Missing: Hawaiian shaved ice. The simpler version of Pot Bing Su.


Cooking with S.

More? I think we should add more. Her name is Seon Gyeong, or Sun Gyung, or Seon Kyeong…we still haven’t gotten a definitive answer on the spelling so she has become simply “S.”

Remember the raw fish episode from a few weeks back? This is the culprit! I ate some grooooossss stuff because of this woman. It’s okay though. A life experience was worth it I suppose.

S is my friend Lisa’s co-teacher and she loves to cook. After the raw fish, and in a moment of tipsy revelry, she made plans to have the six of us (five of whom were perfect strangers) over to her tiny studio apartment for a homemade Korean dinner. One of the entrees she made happened to be one of my favorite Korean dishes, Palace Dukbokki. This is not your typical red sauce, spicy pepper-based dukbokki. Rather, it’s a mild, sweeter, dish with a soy-sauce base. And let me tell you, it’s delicious. After we all raved about its wonderfulness for an inordinate amount of time, S agreed to a dinner night at our apartment for a Palace Dukbokki cooking lesson. Needless to say, I was just a little excited.

At the appointed time, we all gathered, and the three girls were very eager students. The guys couldn’t have cared less.IMG_1706

palace dukbokki  Although S proclaimed “I am just amateur. Not recipe, just my feelings” many times, I still took notes and put together a pretty  good recipe. Everyone should try this!

You can choose the quantity of pork and duk, and add any other veggies you’d like. IMG_1715

Recipe done

Currently Loving: Palace Dukbokki!

Currently Missing: Owning a Nalgene.


Just My Type

This guy made the front page of WordPress.com today and I liked his willingness to make a list that, to some, might be putting his non-gay manhood on the line. But, in my opinion, every straight man is totally allowed an “If I were gay” list. His choices were a bit obscure (aside from Ryan Reynolds – that man is just so nice to look at).

So, I started to think about who would make the top five on my “If I dug the ladies” list. Thus, I give you, in no particular order because I’m too indecisive, THE LIST.

Natalie Ponatalie-portman-20070806-295023rtman

Yes I know, sooo cliché right? Well I don’t care. She’s on my list she’s and gonna stay there. She of course hit the big time with Star Wars, but me being anti-Star Wars at the time (Sci-Fi? What’s that?), I saw her first in 1999-2000 in Anywhere But Here or Where the Heart Is. I can’t remember which one I saw first, but I liked her even if she did seem a bit childish. But I first LOVED her after Garden State, which remains, to this day, one of my favorite movies of all time. Now, she’s this gorgeous woman who looks good with flowing locks or a shaved head. Not many women can say that. I’d totally make out with her.

Jennifer Nettlesjennifer-nettles

If I could sing, I would want this woman’s voice. Granted, she often has to “rest” her voice and I’m sure she suffers from laryngitis at least a few times year, I don’t care. I still want to sound like her. I pretend that I do…in the shower when no one is home, or in my car with the windows up. I remember when she first hit the scene, the radio DJ said “Coming up next, Sugarland’s ‘Baby Girl’” and I thought, “Really? Sugarland?” But forgive me for the judgment, Jennifer. I love you, I really do.” She’s not bad to look at either, am I right? Or am I right?

 Maggie Gyllenhaaltn2_maggie_gyllenhaal_1

Do I really need to say more than just her name? Probably not, but I will anyway. I think the first time I saw her was back in 2002 in 40 Days and 40 Nights, but at that point she was one of those faces you see a second or third time and think “I’ve seen her before, I know her, who is she??” Then you watch Secretary and you NEVER forget… She is such a beautiful woman who has a great range and brings something special to the screen. From what I can tell, she seems willing to play almost any type of character. Did you see her last year in Away We Go? Hilarity. Perfection. Plus, if I liked her, and she liked me, I’d get to meet her brother…

Alexis Bledelalexis-bledel-crop

Beautiful. Simply Beautiful. I changed my mind, I can decide. She’s my number one. But I’m too lazy to change my blog format so I’ll keep her here. She may not exude sex appeal like Megan Fox or…I don’t know, some other girl like Megan Fox, but frankly, I think subtlety always wins. Did you know her first language is Spanish? How subtly sexy is that? Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on where her career takes, her, I will forever associate her with Rory Gilmore. And, in my opinion, the character is as fantastic as Alexis is beautiful so I suppose that’s alright.

Julia Stilesjulia-stiles

Think I’m crazy? Well look again, and look hard, because this girl is hot. She can do edgy, she can do girl-next-door, she can do glamour. She graduated from Columbia with a degree in English Literature. Cue swoon! AND she likes baseball. (Syd, she’s a Mets fan!) While I don’t have a favorite team, I enjoy watching the sport way more than any other, so we could most definitely hang out. I also learned today, thanks to IMDb, that she had a role in Ghostwriter! Remember that show? Man, the 90s were awesome. Anyway, I love her.

 

So, that’s it. The ladies I think are fabulous. How about you? Who’s on your same-sex crush list? Think I missed someone better than these? Doubtful!

Currently Loving: Korean melon. Don’t know what it’s called, but it’s yellow with white stripes and tastes like a cross between honeydew and cantaloupe!

Currently Missing: Hawaiian shaved ice.


Watch What I Do and Then Do the Same

My 3rd graders are studying a lesson in their textbook titled “Wash Your Hands.” In the lesson they learn to say and follow basic commands in English. Because most of my kids live in a wealthy neighborhood, they all attend English academies and the textbook lessons are usually far too easy. So for this lesson, my co-teacher and I decided to use a song to teach more advanced vocabulary. Here is the result – you might want to turn your volume down…