Thursday, November 19, 2009

Central Park Y'All

Central Park runs right through the center of Dongtan and is one block from our house. It has a facility for every sport imaginable including turf soccer fields, multiple full size basketball courts, tennis, hiking trails, a skatepark and a rock climbing wall.

The closest thing I've seen to a skateboard before this would be the infamous ESS-Boards, which are two foot pads connected by a swivel body and ride on two wheels. But, besides the hoards of kids on rollerblades I have actually seen one other guy on a skateboard who was actually alright.

The park is really good considering. It has two fun minis connected with a spine, speed rollers, quarters and a 6 foot half pipe. Also, everything is set up so you can push around the whole park in one line (complete with guiding arrows). I really hope a facility like this will spark interest in skateboarding here. I have seen a bit in Seoul but not much beyond the city limits.

Right behind the skatepark is a really fun rock wall that is suited for all levels. One side is fairy simple but the other is around 3-4 stories and is all overhang. The holds are all pretty easy, and there are harness hooks all the ways along. Last weekend Selina and I did a full walk-about of the park and it took us about 3 hours. This should give you an idea of it's size in its state of near completion. Also, my students were shocked to hear about how New York City stole the name to use for their park.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saturday Morning

Anyone who has spent any time in Korea can attest that there is no luxury greater than a western style breakfast. Fermented spicy cabbage and rice can only cut it for so long until the western breakfast becomes a necessity. Therefore, our Saturday routine is to wake up late, brew an instant coffee, and start cooking the hash browns. This Saturday morning lasted until 4:30pm, exactly what we both needed after teaching Kindergarden all week. Since we were taking it easy we also decided to let the fish, Angel & James-Kim stretch their fins in the tub.

One of Life's Small Mysteries

We found this sign posted above a urinal at a small local bar. I would love to know;
1. How did it come about that they felt the need to post the sign?
2. And, why in English?
Just a small mystery that continues to typify the complicated rationale of Korea.

If You're Gonna Spew . . .

Halloween night was spent in Seoul complete with Soju, Westerner Bars, and 2am galbi. Selina and I went as Wayne and Garth, accompanied by Khalil who surprised us with the best Hulk Hogan outfit to set foot on the Asian peninsula. It began to feel like the old Korea I had come to love as we pounded cans of Cass on the Subway downtown with some of the locals. Khalil shared a sip of his last beer with the guy in the picture only to have him get off at the next stop, beer in hand. Once downtown, we entered a costume contest at "Beer'O Clock", Khalil for single costume and Selina and I for couples.

About half way through the night Selina and I received a tap on the shoulder, only to turn around to see the other Wayne and Garth that decided to enter the same couples contest. Unfortunately, the other girl dressed as Garth was an exact resemblance, crushing our hopes of taking home the cash prize.

So with us out of the game Khalil was our sole defender, and he was doing an amazing Holgan from atop the bar for the majority of the night. He was tied for first place with Squirrel Man (?) when the winner had to be decided with a beer chug. Ends up Squirrel Master was also a contender at the beer Olymics and devoured the beer faster than the speed of sound. Shortly after our defeat the DJ dropped "Bohemian Rhapsody." Chairs were shuffled and all four of us were ushered to the floor to reenact the car scene stylized with spew cups and head banging.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Poly' Ween

Halloween at our school was a spook-fest complete with 2 real magicians, 1 real dove-in-a-hat, 4 Snow Whites, 2 Batmans, 1 Ariel, Thomas The Train, Harry Potter and 8 Spidermans (one being Jason teacher). Selina and I were somewhat last minute having just landed in the country but managed to put together a beautiful fairy and a surprisingly stylish Frankenstein.

All morning there was a round robin of activities such as jack'o lantern carving, bobbing for candies, face painting, pin the tail on the cat (a more multi-dexterous version of the original donkey game), a magic show, fashion show and costume contest (one of which my class representative placed very highly, dressed as a pirate from the Johnny Depp Caribbean adventure films).

Halloween is relatively new to South Korea, but apparent that it will soon be conquered by the unyielding need to dress their children to perfection. Halloween is but an opportunity to act upon this need without restrain, ornamented by all the fairy tale characters that fill 20-something Westerners childhood memories. A beautiful balance of East and West.

Away We Go

Selina and I left Canada on a whim with about 4 weeks worth of planning, signed a year and a half long contract in Dongtan, South Korea to be Kindergarden teachers. I was in Korea previously in 2006, Gumi, Kyongsanbuk-do, teaching at a Hogwan and at LG Philips Displays as a private tutor for factory directors, but I never imagined returning as a Kindergarden teacher. Although, I am very excited to see Dongtan, a new "planned" city. Two years ago there were empty fields in the place of what is now one of the most "ubiquitous" and "cutting-edge" cities in the world. The entire city was constructed in what seems a flash and is incredible to the point of being unlike the Korea I came to know previously. It is pristine in the wake of what was once the raw Korea I had taken in a ferocious Soju head-lock. It is a whole new Republic and a whole new relationship. The shady Hogwan replaced by a high end private school, the under-the-table contract replaced by Health Care, and a pension. But I accept the new Korea with open arms, and am even more excited to experience it with the woman I love.