Saturday, October 31, 2009

PANIC for New Years Eve

As I glanced over at the calender on my desk yesterday, it dawned on me that October is over. It's O-V-E-R.

My next realization: It's time to wrap up 2009 and put it away in the archives. Which means that dreaded December 31 is almost upon us. I found myself in a semi-panic state.
  • Where will I be on December 31 2009?
  • What will I be doing?
  • Who will I be with?
The holiday season in Korea is nearly as bad (if not worse) than Valentines Day and is definitely not a good time of the year for singletons like myself to be alone. At least on Valentines Day, it's just one day, but the festive season in Korea starts from Christmas to New Year to Korean New Year in February! Families who live in different cities and provinces reunite and many travel to the countryside to visit grandparents. Those that remain in the city either hang out with their other half or just stay home and don't want to be out, because it's too cold (midst of winter). Personally speaking, if I wanted to go out, I don't really care about the weather condition. As long as I can get to my destination safely and be with the people I want to spend time with.

I remember my first holiday season in Korea. I was only here for about 4 months and my first foreign friend and lifeline at the time, Dimitri said we'd spend New Years Eve together. We weren't in the mood for 'house parties' or ushering in 2008 in a stuffy, sweaty, smoky club. I agreed. And was also relieved that I wouldn't be in my apartment - watching TV, on the internet or God forbid, sleeping while the rest of the people in my timezone welcomed in the new year.

The gang I brought in 2008 with in Hongdae

We met in Hongdae - an area in Seoul populated by university students and bars, pubs and clubs. Dimitri arrived there first. It took me nearly two hours to get to him because of the heavy traffic. I nearly contemplated turning back and just going home. Was it really worth the effort? But Dimitri was there already and I couldn't stand him up. We went to Burger King for a while and then met up with a couple of his friends and went to Ho Bar. We were lucky to get a table right next to the bar. Midnight seemed to be taking forever to come 'round. When the clock eventually struck 12, we all wished each other and hurried out to catch the subway home. Unfortunately, my subway line was closed and I had to take a cab home.
Last year this time, I made a few new friends - a teacher at my school and some of his friends he'd introduced me to. No one had plans for New Years Eve so we agreed to spend the evening together.

I flew to Singapore on Christmas Eve (alone) and from there I went to Malaysia.. back to Singapore and then to Korea just in time for New Years Eve. Spending Christmas alone wasn't as bad as I anticipated. There were families and couples everywhere and the Christmas vibe was infectious. But I didn't feel lonely at all. Of course, I'd met people during my journey and my iPod Touch kept me company.

Bringing in 2009 was an intimate evening - pizza, TV, chat, Wii

Back in Korea on New Years Eve, I heard that some of the guys I was going to spend the evening with had plans that had come up with their family. I thought I should have extended my holiday in Singapore and spent New Years there. But my friend, Yong-un called and suggested we go over to his friends place for the evening. His friend, Hong-il and his wife, Hye-jin were expecting a baby so they were going to be at home and invited us over. It was a nice evening...chilled and relaxed. We ate, talked and played a bit of Wii. It was definitely more intimate than my New Years Eve the previous year.

As I write this post - October 31 2009, there are exactly two months left till New Years Eve. Am I silly to be fretting over where I'll be? I've already thought of being somewhere else - out of the country - probably alone, but it'll be better than being here - alone. I know it sounds a bit strange, but for me it's better to be somewhere else alone, than at home...alone.

The same goes with the recent Korean Thanksgiving holiday (Chuseok) which was a month ago. Everyone I knew was going to spend it with their family. (I was actually invited to spend the week-end with my friend Hye-jin's family) I had no concrete plans and was probably going to be at home - alone. But at the last minute, I decided to go to Jeju Island and I had a fantastic time exploring, sight-seeing and taking photos. Some of the best holidays I've had have been the ones I've taken alone. Well, I guess I'll just have to wait a few more weeks to see what will crop up!

Do you have plans for New Years yet?

Little Baby Seo-jun

Last night, Friday October 30 2009 I met my friend Hye-jin in Juan. Her baby boy, Seo-jun is now 7-months old and is so cute! Don't you agree?! :-)

This Is It - MJ's Concert Documentary Movie

Image taken from

On Thursday, October 29 2009 I saw Michael Jackson's Concert Documentary Movie, This Is It.

Some of my friends in South Africa attended the premiere the previous morning in Johannesburg (at 3am!) and everyone raved about the movie urging the rest of us to see it as soon as possible.

The movie is just under two hours long and showcases footage from the MJ's rehearsals for his comeback concert which would have been in London. It features interview clips of various people involved with the concert included back-up dancers who were from all corners of the world.

MJ's music and dancing was so energetic and he didn't look unwell at all. His energy, passion and hard work was highly admirable, I think. The movie gave the audience an opportunity to see another side of him other than just entertainer on stage or sitting down for an interview. I think the movie also teaches us that we can't rely solely on talent. Hard work and dedication are what truly makes one reach the top of their game.

I felt various emotions during the movie.

Excitement ~ The movie is historical, as was MJ and to be part of it along with the rest of the world was pretty cool.

Awe ~ How ONE person had such an effect on people across the globe that even talking about him brings them to tears. Also, his absolute deep passion for what he did. In another documentary that I watched on TV, MJ said that he loved the stage and could easily sleep on it. It definitely shows.

Sadness ~ He went too soon. I kept thinking that. He went too soon.

The wide shots of the stage and sets were enormous compared to MJ's body. And yet, he commanded THAT much respect and attention from every single person who was there. As many people have described him before, MJ was a soft-spoken and humble soul. And again... I feel he went too soon.

This Is It is a must-see!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On the red carpet for 'This Is It' World Premiere on live stream

Image taken from Google Images

This morning for about 30 minutes before my first class, I was on the red carpet at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles for the World Premiere of Michael Jackson's "This Is It"

Of course - I was just at my desk in my office watching the premiere via live stream...oh! how I love this digital age :-) As stars arrived and were interviewed, the buzz and excitement intensified.

Meanwhile, in South Africa...around 2am, some of my South African friends were at the premiere at the Fourways Mall Ster Kinekor Theater. Judging by their messages and regular updates, the concert documentary was a definite not-to-be-missed. I'll be seeing it tomorrow evening. Will write more about it then. Anyone else seen it yet?

Here an Oink, There an Oink...

The school I teach at will be closed from Friday, October 30 to Wednesday, November 4 for what has been described as a "National Emergency"

There have been 29 confirmed cases of H1N1 at my school. Last night, my friend called me to tell me that the school she teaches at will also be closed for nearly a week as there were 100 confirmed cases of the virus. Many of the children at school are wearing masks, and their homeroom teachers have them wash their hands very often during the day.

Before you start thinking I'm lucky to have nearly a week off work, think again!

Teachers still have to go to work. Of course, there are no classes to teach... but we still have to be at school - either "lesson planning" or "gathering teaching materials". I don't really anticipate being 'bored' as such, as I have plenty to catch up on. Anyways... that's the latest from my side!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mr Right, Mr Wrong, Mr Blah Blah Blah

>Got this in an e-mail from my friend, Sean

Too many Mr Wrongs around
Never give up your freedom and happiness for a damned loser

LOOKING for Mr Right will bring you into contact with quite a number of losers. When it comes to dating, we all know how hard it is to know who the bad guys are.

It takes patience to find someone you can respect, whose heart is open to you and whom you can be with without going mad.

Don’t give up your freedom and happiness for these guys. They will always put you and your needs second – or last. Read on to see who these guys are and what you can do about them.

Mr I spend more time getting ready than you

Ego is one thing, vanity another. We know men need a mirror to shave, check their physique and have a last-minute look at their hair and that’s okay.

But if this Mr is always looking in the mirror he won’t have as much time for you – and apart from that, it’s just wrong.

Mr Don’t touch me I have issues

If he sleeps in his T-shirt and boxers with pyjama pants on and the covers wrapped around him because he likes to be cosy and feel secure, watch out!

If you reach over in a restaurant to lovingly rub his sore shoulder and he pulls away and says, “Not in public”, be wary.

Intimacy is found in every aspect of a relationship, inside the bedroom and outside as well.

You deserve a man who has let go of his fears, his past failures and pain and feels comfortable with himself.

Mr Come on I wanna lay you

Have you ever had that wandering hand under your blouse on your second date when you were expecting only a goodnight kiss?

Or has he finally confessed that he is married, that he never wanted to do this before but he’s just so into you and, he’s so lonely?

What about the man who said, “Baby, you can’t keep me waiting very much longer” after just a few dates?”

How can we forget about the guy who wants to take you away before you even know his last name. This Mr wants one thing, and it isn’t a relationship.

My name is Tom, I am unemployed and I live with my parents

Which of these three don’t you get? Does emotionally crippled come to mind? These men are users and are incapable of looking after themselves. It can be this way at any age.

We want strong capable men who have been weaned. Run a mile!

Mr I love your bag ... where did you get it?

He is more interested in getting your look than getting you. He talks about how he notices other men looking at his ass and then asks you, in an oddly perky way, if that’s normal.

This Mr is an information gatherer because his secret dream is to look just like you and therefore he’s not to be trusted.

He is also somewhere on the scale between four and six – six being totally gay.

Mr Oops, I forgot my wallet

You meet for a drink at a restaurant . Somehow you find yourself talked into joining him for dinner and then he insists on ordering an extra special bottle of wine, an expensive meal and desert.

Get the picture? Damn! (Mr exclaims) I must have forgotten my wallet at my lawyer’s office . Will you cover this and I promise to write you a cheque or I can give you the cash the next time I see you?

Mr I’m not separated but I am almost divorced

I’m so over her he says, but she is still living in our house and I am paying the bills and I can’t just leave her on her own. She doesn’t have a job and nya, nya nya.

This Mr is still very emotionally involved with the woman he was, or still might be, in love with. This could leave you feeling more like a mistress than a girlfriend.

Mr Now you see him now you don’t

The date was fabulous. What a couple we were. We talked for hours with excitement and glee, and then he disappeared.

When he reappeared some time later the same thing happened. When he calls again and you reject him he just doesn’t get it.

Now you are a challenge (and these men just love a challenge) and the calls never stop.

This behaviour is one of the many signs of a commitment phobia.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The things kids say...

I taught 6th Graders all day today. We started a new chapter titled "That's too bad". They learnt other expressions like, "This is for you" and "Thank you very much"

When I asked what the meaning of "Thank you very much" was, I was told: "SUPER Thank You!" It's right, isn't it?! I told him that HE taught ME something - I kinda liked it!

Later in the day, after lunch ... I asked one of my favourite boys (English name: Thomas) how he was doing.

He said, "I'm rainbow happy!"
I thought I misheard him.
"Rainbow? Why?" I asked.
"My is everyday happy!" he said with a smile.

We can really learn from kids, eh?! :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009


As I write this post, there's a drilling sound coming into my apartment from the car shop on the corner. I'm only aware of it when it stops for a few seconds.

When it stops, I'm aware of what else I can hear. My TV is on upstairs and I can hear it very faintly. There's the ticking sound of my clock on the wall. And there's my Twitter notifications.

Right now I'm sitting downstairs in my apartment typing on my netbook. On my netbook, I use the Tweetdeck application which has a ringing notification sound. Upstairs is my notebook where I use Seesmic and the notification sound on their is a "ping".

There's too much noise!

Take the time to realize how much noise pollution surrounds us on a daily basis.

Working at an elementary school, I have to endure *a lot* of noise. Ringing of school bells, children running down the passage, children screaming, children fighting. One would think that being surrounded by children all day would surely have a positive effect on someone, but that's not always the case.

There are some days when I'm very sensitive to noise as it seems I am this evening.

Now all I hear is my clock ticking and sound of my typing. Although I'm sure I'll hear a car door slam or the revving of a motorbike outside my apartment window very soon...

Barnes & Noble's Double Screen E-Reader

After I bought my netbook, I've been wondering what's the next gadget/gizmo I'm going to get my hands on. And I've found it! Similar to Amazon's Kindle (Oprah's crazy about it), here is Barnes & Noble's Double Screen E-Reader.

"This is my husband" - Kim

Friday evening at the gym.
Feeling - Bleh.

I'd wanted to go out, but also wanted to work out. I opted for the latter. I'd just started on the treadmill when Kim called asking what I was doing that evening. She wanted to meet me. Did I feel like getting dressed up again and riding a stuffy bus on a Friday evening in traffic? No! But I figured that I'd better pull myself out of the slumpy feeling and meet her in Bucheon.

After all, Kim and I hadn't seen each other in about a month and we had loads to catch up on - ie: her new boyfriend and the proposal!

"Is it OK if I bring my boyfriend?" she asked.

In all honesty, I wanted to meet Kim first (alone) before meeting her new beau. But she suggested, "How about making another appointment for another day - just you and me?"

Well, when you're in love - I guess you really do want to shout it out from the rooftops. So, of course I said, "Yeah, that's OK!" We planned to meet at 7pm in front of Dunkin Donuts at Bucheon Station.

Dunkin Donuts is the general meeting spot for when I meet friends at Bucheon Station and I've had some pretty interesting encounters and experiences while waiting at a specific pillar right outside the coffee and donut shop. On this particular Friday evening, I had two girls walk past me, look at me, look at each other and back track to where I was. The older girl started talking to me in Korean as if she knew me. I asked her if she knew me (in Korean). She said she did, but my Korean isn't that good to understand what she said after that.

Kim finally arrived at 7:20pm.

Before me, stood a man in a black overcoat, dark hair and a nice open smile.
Kim held out her hands to him and said, "This is my husband!"

Say what?

Did she get married within 2 hours of our phone conversation when I was at the gym?

On the phone she asked if it would be OK if she brought her 'boyfriend'. And now, he's her 'husband?'

I looked at her with a confused look.
"When did this happen?" I asked.
All she said was, "This week."

He doesn't speak much English, and I tried making most of the conversation and questions directed at him as simple as possible. But he had to double-check my every question with Kim so that he answered me correctly (usually just a "Yes" or a "No!")

Anyway, we finally chose a place to go to, "Wara-Wara" - A Korean/Japanese bar.

The two of them sat across from me. Kim was positively glowing. And they do make quite a nice couple.

"Can you believe it?!" she asked me in her very dramatic manner.
"No, I actually can't!" I said honestly.

When he excused himself for a quick smoke break, she told me how her family were hesitant about the relationship at first. Also because, he's a few years younger than her.

"They told me he's going to hurt me," Kim said ...talking about her family. But they seem to have cooled off now.

I can't say too much about Kim's new beau because I couldn't really get to know him thanks to the infamous language barrier. But, my first impression was overall good. And the most important thing is that Kim is happy.

Sitting across from the newly-weds, I couldn't help, but think back to all the dinners Kim and I had talking about our pasts, our hopes and desires...our futures. We'd been co-workers for just a few months, but became very close at the beginning of 2008.

During one of our male-bashing convo's, she'd said "Men are beasts". This wasn't said light-heartedly. Kim's been hurt and betrayed more than once. But in the next breath, she'd said to me, "I really hope to meet a good man, and someone to be a father for my sons."

...and she has!

And of course, she said to me: "Now I really hope you can meet a good man, because you deserve it."

Kim tells me she's getting married

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you'd be familiar with my friend, Kim who found love - for the second time 'round - over the summer holiday.

She called me earlier this week.
"I have something to tell you"

My instinct already knew what she was going to say.

"I'm getting married."

...but to actually HEAR it was something else!

All I could say was "What?!"

She told me that she wasn't going to have a wedding, but that they were just going to be court married. They're both divorcees and Kim has 3 sons. So she felt that she didn't need a lavish wedding. Also, she was trying to keep it low-profiled. Being divorced in Korea is very rare and some people are still treated like an outcast.

"You sound very happy!" I told her.
"I am, but also I'm a little nervous," she confessed.

Understandable. Kim's not had the best luck when it comes to relationships. Did I think Kim was rushing into this far too quickly? After all, she'd only met him in August (when I was in South Africa). That's two months. But who was I to say anything? I guess if it feels right, you've got to run with that feeling.

She wanted me to meet her fiance and we said we'd make a plan later on in the week. I could definitely "hear" her beaming over the phone! And I was anxious to see the man who'd succeeded at pulling at my friends heartstrings.

UPDATE: Hard Drive Drama

Crash Boom Bang (Part 1)

Crash Boom Bang (Part 2)

I couldn't have been happier to see Mr Kim (my IT guy) in my office on Thursday morning. He had news for me re: my external hard drive. Apparently, they needed more time to work on it. And if I want everything recovered - it's going to cost me. Of course, I didn't hesitate.

I can't recall every single folder that I had on there, but two of the most important are those name "Photos" and "Work" which has everything I've collected over the past 2+ years.

I figured I'd just have to live a slightly less-extravagant lifestyle for a couple of weeks. After all, just a few weeks ago, I'd been to Jeju Island and spent a bit more than I planned. With winter setting in, it's easier to save money because it's more convenient to stay at home. So now, all I do is wait.

Poor Mr Kim is such an angel. I told him that he's my No.1 Guy in all of Korea. He's never disappointed me and has always - ALWAYS - delivered. Whether I wanted a new notebook, netbook or camcorder, he's helped me ...and always with a smile on his face. I've said it before, if I were him, I'd probably have blocked my number by now!

NAMASTE: The Divinity in me salutes the Divinity within you

Pastor Eddie D. Smith Sr.
The Meaning of Namaste

It really does work!

It's been written & said that a healthy and happy lifestyle can be obtained
by doing the following:

Eat well

I've done all that this past week - and it felt *good*! For the first time in a while, I've been in bed by around 11pm, giving me approx 6.5 hours of sound sleep. In the morning, I felt fresh and ready to take on the day. I felt more positive and energetic in my classes, as opposed to feeling sluggish and irritable. I also made sure that I got to the gym every day. So, by eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep... you really will feel happier & healthier :)

VIDEO: Live Prawns for lunch

At a restaurant in Sorae Po-gu in Incheon on Wednesday, October 21 2009
Live prawns were brought to the table in a pot and
were cooked right before my eyes!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Live Prawns for Lunch

Today (Wednesday, October 21 2009) the 6th Grade teachers went out for lunch. We went to Sorae Po-gu ... a little port area in Incheon City.

This isn't an aquarium!! You choose your meal from here (very fresh, indeed)

Not a water feature - someone's lunch!

Prawns were brought to the table still kicking in the pot

This guy jumped off the table onto the floor near me.
Yes ~ I freaked out!

....soon they were in Little Prawn Heaven

...and Prawn Cremation

I ate the carrots sticks

Bet this lil' guy didn't know he'd end up like this today

Way too many eyes in this bucket!

I ate a bit of the noodles

With Jeong-mo (6th Grade teacher)

Many restaurants in Korea have aprons you can wear so that
you don't mess your clothes when eating!

Swimming happily - but will end up on someone's plate soon

Sunset - time to go home

Monday, October 19, 2009

H1N1 Frenzy at School

There were approximately 100 students absent from school today. And there were 3 (that I know of) confirmed cases of H1N1. One is a student in Grade 1, whose mother is a teacher at my school and the other two are Grade 6 students.

Apparently there were talks of the school closing for 2 days because of this... Will see what happens.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tei - Coffee Prince Show

My friend Joo-hyeon has fallen in love with a Korean Ballad singer, Tei. Last night (Saturday, October 17 2009) I went with her to his concert, "Coffee Prince Show"

It was in a theater and no photos were allowed (damn!) He was *SO* good, that I think I may have fallen in love with him as well! He was so interactive with the audience. He said that he wanted the show to feel like we were sitting in a coffee shop. He even had a table with 2 chairs set up as props. Definitely going to be buying his album this week!

He had some guest performers (who Joo-hyeon tells me are famous artists). We sat on the second floor, and some of Tei's famous friends were sitting just a few feet away from us. They came in quietly during the last hour of the show and left before it was completely over. Didn't bother me though, 'cause I didn't know who they were!

Acquire love by spreading love

On my way to work on Friday (October 16 2009) I bought cakes and pastries for the teachers at school. As I took the corner to my school I greeted this lady as I do almost every single day. I don't know where she lives, but I presume she's homeless. I sometimes see her digging through trash.

When she saw me and my parcels and cake box from the bakery she smiled and started clapping her hands. Perhaps she thought it was my birthday?

As I walked on a few steps, I turned around and went back to her. I gave something from my parcels that I'd bought for the 6th Grade teachers. They'd all probably had breakfast that morning and were going to have a wholesome lunch at 12pm. I didn't know what this lady was going to eat. And regardless of that, I wanted to give her something.

I don't think she understood why I was doing that - I had just said to her in Korean, "Here's a present for you!" She was happy. And that made me happy!

...Result? I had a good day teaching my 4th Graders :)

Diwali cake

Like last year, I took a cake for the teachers in celebration of Diwali. This is the 3rd Diwali that I'm in Korea (the first one we didn't celebrate because of my uncle's death).

Legend of Rainism Concert

One of Korea's top artists, Bi (pronounced 'bee' which translates into "Rain") held a concert to promote his new album, Legend of Rainism. So on Saturday, October 10 2009 I trekked to Seoul Olympic Stadium for the concert.

I've already been to a Korean concert before (Big Bang in June 2008) and was definitely impressed again. Bi has an amazing stage presence, awesome dancer too!

Show's about to start

New group, MBLAQ (M-Black) performed their new single "Yeah"

Rain did a short tribute to the late Michael Jackson

The crowd went crazy when it started "raining" on stage and Bi ripped his T-shirt off ;)
On Saturday, October 10 2009 my friend Joo-hyeon and I went to Aiins World in Bucheon. This was my 3rd visit to a theme park like this (of mini buildings and monuments) in a week!

Skyline - New York, USA
(Former) Twin Towers
and Empire State Building with King Kong at the top

Times Square - New York, USA

Great Temple of Abu Simbel - Lake Nasser, Egypt
Leaning Tower of Pisa - Italy

Taj Mahal - Agra, India

Autumn in Korea

Autumn/Fall in Korea is definitely my favourite season. It's sunny and warm - but the air is crisp! Also it's absolutely beautiful - the trees turn into magnificent colours - red, orange, yellow... Look at this:

Fantastic Studios

On Monday, October 5 2009 my friend Joo-hyeon and I went to Fantastic Studios in Bucheon. Weather was so lovely! It's a set used for films and TV drama's. I guess it would have meant a lot more to us if we watched the shows/films that were shot here. It felt a bit eerie walking through the 'streets' but cool, nonetheless!

We love having you here!

These very friendly & welcoming signs are everywhere on the island...

Friday morning view from my hotel

This was the view at 6am on Friday morning from my hotel room (Friday, October 2 2009)

Hotel Breakfasts in Korea

Hotels in Korea offer breakfasts like this - Korean food with some western dishes. There was cereal, juice, scrambled eggs... and then veggies, kimchi, tofu, seaweed and fruit.

Jin Air

I flew to and from Jeju on Jin Air for the first time.

The uniforms are really casual (jeans, t-shirt, sneakers & cap)

The boarding pass looks like a till slip!

At Jeju Airport

Jeju is best known for its tangerines (which are exported throughout the world). Many people take 2 boxes home after a trip to the island - one for their family & one for colleagues at work. This is at at the airport:

After arriving at the airport and checking in, I went to my gate and had about an hour till I had to board. I *love* that there's free wi-fi at the airports here in Korea :) I seemed to have been a child magnet that day. Crying and running kids all heading towards me. *Sigh!

Soingook Theme Park

Here are some photos from Soingook Theme Park. Loved it here! And was so happy for the clear blue skies :)

Tower Bridge - London

Sitting Buddha

Eiffel Tower - Paris, France

Buckingham Palace - UK