Posted by: vicandric | February 19, 2011

Annyeong haseyo!!

Well, it’s been a long, long, LONG time since I’ve posted a blog. Shame on me.

The reason for this is simple: after working so hard I got tired of blogging BUT now I’m back in the UK, I have some spare time on my hands so I thought, why not finish the blog as well as offer some insight into my year in Korea.

So that’s what I’m going to do, but not today…

So I’ll leave you with this…..

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Posted by: vicandric | July 4, 2010

Bongeunsa Temple and my new baby

So, Rich and I  finally decided to get my new camera. We headed off to Namdaemun electronics market, which is at Hoehyeon subway station on the blue line (line 4). After trundling around trying to find some prices, I finally bartered down one camera shop guy and got my brand new camera. It’s a Canon EOS 550d. Here’s a stock photo:

Hooray! It’s got 18 mega pixels, can take videos in HD and lots of other things. All I need now is a big pervy birdwatching lens and I will be set!

So, we wondered round Namdaemun market and Myeong dong, which is a huge shopping district in Seoul. Obviously we took some pictures. Here’s the best of the rest:

I am very happy that these are better than my usual crappy photos. Woohoo! We wondered around for awhile and ate at a place called Kraze Burger. It is delicious!

Cheesy chill fries…mmmm!

That weekend, we also decided to go over to Bongeunsa Temple, which is a lovely Buddhist temple that is 1,200 years old. It’s located right near the COEX mall, but is slice of tranquility in busy Seoul. I took many, blurry photos, but here’s the best of them:

This is the area nearby the temple – just typical Seoul. Lots of people, lots of buildings.

Here’s Rich and I at the temple gate. The temple was really beautiful and ornate, and pretty much what you would expect of an temple in Asia.

There were lots of lanterns to celebrate Buddha’s birthday. We went with (left to right) Becca, Caroline and Katie.

Here’s Rich standing under all of the lanterns. I wish I could say I knew why they were there but I don’t so…

Rich is stunned by the amount of lanterns and by the amount of megapixels in which he has been captured.

This statue of Buddha was pretty huge. It was at the back of the temple and people were praying there. Very cool.

The temple made Rich very spiritual.

This was one of the lanterns they had on display. Unfortunately, we missed the main exhibition, but there were still a few remaining.

So, overall Bongeunsa Temple is pretty awesome, and so is my new camera! Hurrah!

Posted by: vicandric | June 12, 2010

The Coex Mall Aquarium

Rich and I, along with Paige and Forrest got some free tickets to go to an International Book Fair at the Coex Mall. To get to the Coex Mall, you need to get onto the green line on the Seoul subway (line 2) and get off at Samseong station. Take exit 5/6 and you are there.

The Coex Mall is huge. Lots of shops, alot of it is underground so we were pretty shocked at the end of the day when it was 8pm but felt like 3pm, because there is no natural light there. It is also very busy (it didn’t help that we went on a Saturday).  Here is what I mean:

We wondered over to the “International” book fair. It was OK. By “international”, it was more like foreign books translated into Korean, rather than books in English so there wasn’t too much to choose from. However, I did buy a small Korean bird books for 3000W (£1.50) as a nice souvenir. And yes, it’s all in Korean. As we were exiting the book fair, we stumbled upon an amusing situation:

We wondered round for awhile and looked at some shops but Rich really wanted to go to the aquarium that is in one end of the mall so we went over there. It’s really easy to find, just follow the signs in the mall.

It costs 15,500W (£7.50), which in reality, is really cheap and in typical Korean fashion, signs are badly spelled for added amusements. Also the name “aqaurium” is a bit farcical as they had prairie dogs, rabbits, chipmunks and so on….

Of course, I got many pictures so here goes:

Lion fish are very pretty. We also saw some pufferfish. I didn’t get a picture, but keen-eyed Rich took one of the sign about them:

Don’t we all?

As you walk through the aquarium you go to different zones. They had a really pretty mini building with lots of goldfish:

Thank God there was a sign saying we couldn’t cross the mini bridge:

We then entered a pretty weird area where there were fish mixed with regular household objects. Think I’m joking?

Also, in strange Korean style, they just had a random phone box filled with water, with a scuba diver in, with fish:

I said there was prairie dogs:

He’s trying to climb the painted cactus in this one:

We then saw a freaking huge toad:

There were bats, some monkeys (yes I know, not fish) and some big turtles:

They had some huge sturgeons and some funky white fish that try to eat you when you put your fingers near the glass:


More hilarious konglish ensued when we reached the earthworms section:

We saw some sparkly, gold piranhas, which were pretty cool up close too:

There is also a creepy two-headed turtle that lives there. Seriously. And of course the English explanation is funny as hell too:

Rich was shocked by some of the big fish we saw:

There were also a collection of albino fish and turtles:

They had some otters and beavers but they were a little difficult to photograph. They also had an evil, wise-looking iguana:

They had two shark tanks, one big and one small. The small one was still good and you could look down over the water:

There was also a hilarious ray that looks like Rich:

At this point my camera battery promptly died and so I was unable to take photos. Damn.

Overall, the COEX aquarium is pretty awesome….so good it has taken me over 2 months to post this blog.

Posted by: vicandric | May 12, 2010

Korea in spring

If I am honest, Korea was pretty bleak and grey during the winter. Yeah, sure, the snow was nice and everything for a couple of days but then it was all slush and boredom.

However, now that spring has come, Korea really is a very beautiful country. For 3 or so weeks at the end of March/April, the cherry trees blossom, making anywhere with a cherry tree very pretty indeed. Here’s some pictures taken after Erica’s wedding:

Of course I also took some up-close, “arty-farty” shots:

And then a super  up-close shot, which we are now using as the header for our blog because it’s nice:

Here’s another picture which is typical of Korea – pretty things with lots of cars and buildings:

And here’s Rich looking smart but grumpy:

There are also lots of flowers and bushes with flowers all around Ansan. Here’s some more close-ups and so on:

There are some nice pink ones too:

Last weekend, even though I still have annoying bronchitis, we went for a picnic at the Lake Park. It was really warm and nice but I was a bit tired. Here’s some pictures:

The only minor flaw with Korea in springtime is the grass is still a little bit yellow but oh well. So, we had a nice picnic. I made a chicken pasta salad, with some regular lettucey salad and of course, Chic-choc cookies.

Rich was looking very cool at the picnic. Also, the park authorities have finally turned on the fountains and it was very pretty.

We then went to a less noisy area of the park and had a nice lie in the sun and then went home. Good times.

Posted by: vicandric | May 9, 2010

A Korean Wedding

A couple of weekends ago, we went to our co-teacher, Erica’s, wedding. We didn’t really know what to expect and boy, were we mildly suprised. Korean weddings are awesomely weird, and weirdly awesome. We went to a big building near Jungang station which was effectively the wedding chapel. However in reality it was more like another one of the medium sized buildings in that area and by looking at it, you couldn’t really tell that weddings went on there. Inside it was all very shiny with lots of flowers.

The way Korean weddings work are very fast. The bride and groom basically get an hour long ceremony and then everyone goes for a huge buffet afterward. Strangely, considering how obsessed some Koreans are with image, people don’t really dress up for weddings and there were some t-shirts and jeans to be seen. We went up to the area where the actual ceremony was taking place and waited around in the lobby for the other wedding to finish. When it did, we went to sit down and waited for our ceremony to begin while the other bunch of people left. Very bizzare.

The ceremony starts with the mother in laws going up to the front. They wear hanbok, which is tradition Korean ceremonial dress:

The groom, whose name is Hyun, then comes up, followed by the bride. There are some ladies who wear a hideous, shiny purple skirt-suit to help the bridge and groom all the time. They also hold up some swords for the bride and groom to go under – awesome!

Here’s some mid ceremony pictures of the bride and groom:

The ceremony then continues, all in Korean obviously, and then a guy sings. Yes it really is that random. The first song was “She” and the guy screwed up one of the lines, which was funny. He then sang a second song, which was an insane Korean rap song. I have never seen anything this funny. I got a video, here it is:

The bride and groom then cut the cake and left at a big cannon full of streamers went off – fun!

Then, large group photos were taken of both families:

After the photos, we then went upstairs for the buffet. There was absolutely loads of food and drink. Obviously we stuffed and drunk ourselves silly because it was free!

Here’s Rich and Alex having a good time. The view of Ansan from the dining room (which was on the top floor) was pretty good. Here’s a quick picture:

At the end, Erica and Hyun came over to say thanks and we got two nice pictures together:

We hung around at the buffet for a long while after the wedding was over. In fact we stayed so long that there was an incredibly awkward moment when the next bride and groom came over to say thank you and then realised that they didn’t know a bunch of westerners and walked off. Eek.

So all in all the wedding was good, if not a little impersonal and insane. That’s pretty much Korea all over though…

Posted by: vicandric | April 24, 2010

Everland! Where everyday is a holiday…

So, Rich and I, along with Forrest, Paige and Charis, decided to go to Everland, which is a theme park in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do. We set off from our apartment at about noon because Everland is open until 10pm. We went to Ansan bus terminal and getting the bus was pretty straight forward. We had to go to Yongin and then catch a connecting bus. The bus ticket was so cheap – 3,300W for an hour ride (that’s £1.50) and the bus system is convenient and fast.

As you can see, I’m one happy bus passenger. And so were Forrest and Paige:

Forrest and Paige have adapted well to being Korean, what with Paige doing the classic peace sign and Forrest being passed out on public transport. We arrived at Yongin, which doesn’t look as good as Ansan. We asked the nice lady at the bus station for “Everland-uh” and she told us to catch the 5800 bus from opposite the hotel. We got on and, in typical Korean fashion, the bus driver was a mentalist. We went round Yongin and arrived at Everland. It’s very theme park-esque, with lots of banners, flowers and nice trees. It’s also in the middle of the mountains, which was nice and scenic when you look beyond the theme park.

You can see the mountains that surround Everland in the distance. Rich was curious about the whole thing, as you can tell by this stunning picture:

We entered the park. It costs 37000W, which is around £19, which isn’t too bad considering the prices of some theme parks. We went in and the whole place is like Disney Land, which fantasy style buildings and such. It was probably the least Korean place I’ve been in Korea:

This last one is very Aladdin-esque. There was also a tulip festival on so the flowers were really nice in some areas of the park. Here’s the gang:

There was also an incredible tree that was decorated with lights and flowers. Here it is at day and at night:

Rich and I got a nice romantic photo by it too:

Ahh very cute. We then made our way to the “American Adventure” area, which according to Forrest, Paige and Charis, is nothing like the USA. They did have a 50’s style diner and some cool rides though. We went on the first one which had a double loop and double corkscrew. Forrest, Paige and I also went on this one (Rich and Charis wimped out):

It was pretty awesome but I think we all felt like we were going to die when it flips you upside down. From American Adventure we got a pretty good view of the T-Express which is Everland’s huge wooden rollercoaster:

It has a 77° slope and goes up to 104km/h and at one point you get 4.5G. It’s pretty awesome but more on that later.

So I discovered a new thing called churros. They are delicious Mexican sweet snacks covered in cinnamon and sugar. Not very healthy but very, very delicious. I am addicted and am currently trying to find a vendor in Ansan. Whilst eating my churro, we all headed down to “European Adventure” which was more like stereotypical alpine Germany to be honest. However, they did have all of the gardens and tulips down there, which were very beautiful:

We wondered around and found they had an aviary. Obviously I went crazy and we went in. They only have budgerigars, but you could feed them, so we did. Here’s a collection of the best pictures:



As you can tell, I enjoyed the bird section and taking pictures of them. They were very cute indeed. We also went to the “petting zoo”, where you couldn’t actually pet the animals, which was disappointing. However, they were still cute and furry, so of course I took some pictures:

I think I angered this Guinea Fowl.

Ah very cute.

Not as cute.

A blue-eyed goose.

Once we had finished not petting the animals, we decided it was time for the big one. We got in the queue and I think everyone was a little nervous. I got some cool shots of the structure of the rollercoaster:

Lots of wood! It was slightly unnerving when they all shook when a rollercoaster train went round the track.

The sun was a slight hinderence when taking the photos but you can see what a big, crazy, tangled mess it looks like when you’re in the queue though.

In typical Korean student fashion, the grammar is wrong and it makes the sentence hilarious. Re-read it if you assumed it said “I want to die”.

Again the sun spoiled this photo a bit but you can still see how pant-poopingly tall the roller coaster was. I could get a picture of the main drop because it was too far away but I can say that as we were in the car going up the incline and we saw the drop, I think every single person thinks they are going to die. It looks like a vertical drop and it looks terrifying. However the problem is once you are up there, there’s no turning back, and I’m glad because this was probably the best roller coaster I’ve ever been on. Words can’t describe it, so if you’re ever in Korea, just go on it. We decided to go on it again, and it was just as good the second time. Hurrah! Here’s me after once I had conquered it!

And here’s some pictures so you can try and get a scale of how tall and steep it was!

And here’s the other part of it:

After our awesome experience, we went on a couple more small rides and had some food. It started to get dark and although the park was open til 10pm, it was getting pretty cold so we decided to head back. We went through the zoo section, which was nice. They had Bengal and Siberian tigers, and three polar bears, as well as a bunch of other animals we could see because it was dark and they had all gone to their beds/nests.

Pretty awesome. We decided to go back up the chairlift for a laugh, it was average at best.

We made it to the bus station but the lady couldn’t tell us which bus to get back to Yongin, how unhelpful. So we tried to fit 5 people into a taxi and of course, we picked the most mental taxi driver. He wanted extra money for 5 people and told us by shouting “MONEYYYY! MONEYYY!” Ultimately we agreed because it would save us money. The driver proceeded to ask our life stories and tell us that “My name is Tom, I am a student, I am a boy.” It was frickking hilarious to say the least. We made it abck to Yongin though and got the bus back to Ansan, which was pretty straight forward too. All in all, it was an awesome day and we are going to go back. Hurrah!!!

Posted by: vicandric | April 18, 2010

Eat my feet!

Firstly, I apologise for the severe lack of blogging recently, what with having horrible phelgmtastic colds gained from teaching young, snotty children and also just from having a lack of time in general so here’s the first of two things we’ve done recently.

We decided to check out a place called Dr Fish with Paige and Forrest, two of the other foreign teachers we work and live with. First we tried to find one in Jungang. As we were walking over there we spotted that one of the huge neon signs had been blown over in the previous night’s storm so we got a hilarious picture:

There’s Forrest pretending like he did it. Oh what a laugh. We also saw a gem of a sign:

Heh heh. So we tried to find one around the Jungang station area but to no avail. So we decided to head over to Gangnam on the subway to try and find it. Luckily we had some directions from a fellow blogger. You have to go to Gangnam station (on the green line) and leave out of exit 6. Head down the street, past the shops until you see this building:

So look for the BSX building and then go to the 2nd floor. Inside is a nice cafe and, hallelujah, Dr Fish! You have to buy a drink in there, but they have a big selection of coffees, teas and soft drinks and then to get your feet eaten you have to pay an extra 2000W – cheap! You can ask the staff, they are nice and recognise that most foreigners don’t go there to buy coffee. So we waited about 20 minutes and drank our coffee and then it was time to get in the fish tank!!

First, the nice attendant lady washes all the grime off your feet so as not to poison the fish (thats what I assume anyway!) Then you sit on the side of the fish tank, which is in the floor like this:

Then the nerve-wracking moment comes where you have to put your feet into the tank. Rich didn’t want to:

But he did and this was his reaction:

Check out the stress veins in his head!! Ahaha. Here’s some more pictures of the fish eating our dead skin:

These are Paige’s feet. The fish LOVED her. She must have had especially tasty dead skin…or something?

See? My foot has maybe one retarded fish on it, Paige’s has millions. However, this turned out to be OK because we were in there for 20 minutes and the sensation was quite weird, especially on the bottom of your feet.

Look at the fish at the top, baying for blood!

Here are the fish again, this time molesting Rich’s feet.

I do have more fish pictures, but unfortunately they are kinda blurry. After our feet were cleansed, we took a walk around Gangnam. It’s a nice area of Seoul, lots of shops, bars and restaurants. It was also very busy. Here’s a picture of one of the main roads through:

The area is really clean and the building are big and extra shiny:

There are also some really big buildings:

We walked around the area for awhile and then looked for somewhere to eat. There were lots of restaurants to choose from and even some Mexican ones, which you can find in Ansan. However, we settled for an irish themed pub because it had the holy grail: fish and chips. I would have taken some pictures but I was so overjoyed at the prospect of fish and chips that I forgot.

The fish and chips were quite good, but the fish was breaded, not battered, so it was lacking authenticity. But something tells me it’s the closest thing we are going to get to it while we are in Korea. We’ll have to wait until we get home for that one.

So that was our day in Gangnam. However, no day in Korea would be complete without some hilarious Konglish to amuse us:

Dodo aesthetic clinic. Yeah……

Posted by: vicandric | March 20, 2010

Yellow dust

So we had heard about “yellow dust” from some of our co-teacher, but we didn’t really know what to expect. Until today.

Yellow dust is caused by sandstorms that occur in China and Mongolia. The dust is then carried on winds across to east Asia and sometimes it contains pollutants from factories in China. And it’s hit Korea today and it’s pretty gross. Safe to say, Rich and I will be staying in all evening because I’m not going out in the dust. Here’s some pictures we took from the apartments. The first one is “normal”, the rest are real and the colours haven’t been altered:

Ew ew ew.

Posted by: vicandric | March 20, 2010

Some birding we’ve done recently…

So Rich and I bought a bike a couple of weekends ago so now we have two!!! Rich’s is a silver mountain bike (although it is a fold up) and it was a complete steal at 40,000W, or £20. So we went for what turned out to be a long, long bike ride. We rode through the lake park and around the back to the river where we had been before. Rich got an awesome picture of an Oriental Turtle Dove…

We also saw a Grey Heron in the river. I managed to get a couple of blurry, super zoomed in pictures…when I get my SLR with giant lens though that will be a thing of the past (I hope)…

Shame about the blur. So we continued on and got a couple of new ticks. We saw a Black-faced Bunting which was a cute little bird. Then the exciting one, my first shrike. I saw it sitting on a dead tree in the reeds and stayed long enough for us to get an ID of a Bull-Headed Shrike (I did not take this photo):

Photo from http://www.birdskorea.org/Images/images2007/Bull-headed-Shrike-BH.jpg

I was pretty excited about it, having never seen one in the UK. I also spotted two Falcated Teal, which is a really nice bird. Shame they weren’t close enough to get a decent picture. Here’s a nice stock photo:

Photo from http://www.birding.in/images/Birds/falcated_duck.jpg

Really smart birds. We also saw two types of cormorant (Great Cormorant and Temminck’s Cormorant) which we saw close together for a nice comparison. We rode on along the river and saw an unknown bird of prey. If I had to guess, I would say Hen Harrier but I have seen those before, and it really didn’t look like it and it didn’t look anything like the birds in my bird book so who knows?

We then saw the director of our school out doing some exercise, which was a tad embarrassing. He did tell us though that the Sihwa Reed Wetland Park was just down the bike path. Hooray!! We rode on because we had been looking forward to going here.

We arrived and went to the visitor centre, which is really nice. They have lots of beautiful bird photos there. The park itself was a bit barren because of all the bad weather we’ve been having. The grass is all yellow and dead, as are the reeds. But we did manage to see a few birds. There were tons of Vinous-throated Parrotbills. We saw a couple of flocks of about 40-50 birds. We also saw a Great White Egret and more Black-headed Buntings. However, we had left it a bit late to see all the ducks. They have already left so we’ll have to wait for winter to come around again to see them. Here’s some pictures that Rich took:

That’s the visitor centre in the distance.

Barren.

Me in classic birdwatching pose.

You can see the handy walkways through the reeds, which in summer will be warbler paradise I bet.

That’s about it for the photos. I think when it’s a bit greener and warmer it will be really nice. However, we were so tired when we got back. We did about 8 miles and on my crappy bike that made me very tired. But it was worth it. We just need to wait for a decent warm day and go back now…

Posted by: vicandric | March 18, 2010

The other presentation…

Here are some pictures from the other presentation that took place in February. The kids are beyond cute. Except for one, he (yes he) is hilarious…

So that’s it for presentation!!!! So cute….

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