Saturday, April 30, 2005

This is the street I live on and the building on the left is where I work. Posted by Hello

Reflexology: To Help Your Mind and Cause you PAIN!

On Friday night after work Rob and I decided once again to visit the Jimjillbong (aka The Bath House). We both decided that it was about time that we threw down some coin for a massage.

[For those who are new to the Bath House concept, they are interesting Korean hang out spots. Basically, you have about 8 different saunas, all at different temperatures with different "healthful" Rocks that do something good for you, Smelly stuff that smells good, different rock lined walls, ect. Anyway, they also have a PC room, slurpee machines, ping pong tables, DVD room, massage room, hair salon, nail place, restaurant, and, of course, the Baths, which also come in different temperatures, along with the multiple steam rooms.]

Anyway, Rob and I felt it was about time that we paid for a good massage. We work hard right...? So anyway, we decided that the first thing we were going to do was check out the massage room. We can sort of read Korean, but we're not really sure the meaning of most of the words that we can read, so we did what we usually do...point and smile. So we picked a massage off the list and the lady told us to come back in an hour and a half (she told us in Korean so we weren't exactly sure what she said). So we go to saunas and the shiatsu massage tables while we wait and just chill for a bit.

Finally an hour and a half passes and we go into the massage room. Rob and I are put onto tables next to each other and the women start doing their "prep work." Let me start by saying that this is a fully clothed massage, so don't be sketching out. Anyway, they start lubing up our legs with this oily good smelling stuff. We both have a cloth over our eyes so I couldn't fully see what she was doing or how Rob was reacting. Turns out after MUCH pain that we paid for reflexology and accuepressure massages. I'm a fan of reflexology cause it hurts a ton, but when it's finished it feels great, but seriously, this lady was digging DEEP! Honestly today I woke up with brusies on my shins from this woman digging her knuckles into me.

Ok, so here's the part that made me laugh a lot. Rob and I were next to each other right? And so about 10 minutes into the massage I hear giggling. I'm not even kidding you Rob was laughing like a little school girl. So finally I said, "Rob, what are you laughing at?" (keep in mind I still can't see him). He replies, "It tickles!" And I was like "Are you serious?" Man, it was great. The thing is, he just kept on laughing throughout the massage, which made me laugh. I was working really hard to stay relaxed, but everytime he laughed I laughed. The other thing I heard was his Korean massage lady say "Ouchie?" And he said "Yes, Ouchie!" He was hurting big time and squirming and giggling the entire hour that we had this massage. It was great for the most part. However, no Asian massage is complete without physical abuse. Nearing the end of our massage they start hitting you on the back. Yep, just hitting. Not sure what that does. It didn't hurt or anything, but it's more shocking I guess after you're all relaxed.

Anyway it was an interesting experience. I enjoyed it, although I think I'll pick another one from the list next time I go for it. Something a little less....painful.

Bath houses are awesome. However, the idea would never fly in Western culture. It just wouldn't. Westerners have too many self-image issues, where as the Koreans could really care less what you look like.

We ended up staying at the Bath house until about 2am, then came home and passed out. We totally slept in today though cause we're both feeling kinda sick. I've got a cold and I think Rob's getting it now too. We're both coughing like we've got the Black Lung. I guess that being around little germy kids all day doesn't help for staying healthy.

Maybe I need to eat more Kimchi.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

What a great picture. Please, click on this photo to see it in full size. Catch the "Danger Keep Off". Just a random picture at Olympic Park that makes me laugh. We spent a few hours on Saturday at the park just chillin and looking around. Posted by Hello

Olympic park. Home of the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Possibly the most green space I've seen yet...even though this picture clearly shows concrete. Note the "kimchi!" peace sign pose for picture. Posted by Hello

We took a ride on the tram that went around Olympic Park. It was us and a hundred little kids with their moms. We were crammed on there, no room. Posted by Hello

Thumbs up for Olympic Park! Posted by Hello

Monday, April 25, 2005

I found out my hair can be wavy!


Well, as the title states, I have wavy hair. What a realization! So I woke up Saturday morning and I was too lazy to do anything, so I had a quick shower and was in no mood to blowdry, let alone brush my hair. I looked in the mirror and thought "my hairs always kinda wavy after showers...but then I brush it...hmmmm I wonder...". Low and behold, with a little gel, it goes wavy! I had no idea...what a great solution to not wanting to brush your hair!!! So fast and easy.

That aside, I had an interesting weekend. Not necessarily my favorite so far, but one that I will remember for a while yet. Friday I stayed up super late, we went for dinner with the foreign teachers from the other branch of my school. The school paid, it was pretty fun for that fact alone. I was out pretty late and didn't sleep much that night, so the whole day Saturday I was prety tired.

We ventured off to Olympic park where the 1988 Olympics were held in Seoul. Remember Ben Johnson and his roid usage? Yeah, that's where it all happened. Go Canada. We missed our subway stop so we went WAY out of our way to get there and ended up spending a lot of extra time chillin on the train. We had to make it fun, so Me, Matt, Jessica, and Rob decided to see if we could run as fast as we could on a crowded subway from the end car to the front car. We weaved in and out of the crowds and Matt almost knocked a girl right over, while Rob was busy knocking books out of the clutches of innocent bystanders. We made it back to front in 2 stops, our first record. We will try for personal bests at later dates. Who needs the '88 Olympics when you have new events that we can enter into Vancouver 2010.

After Olympic park we went by Matt's house for the first time. Rob had decided to stay the night, but since I was so tired from the previous night I wanted to go home and sleep in my own bed. I thought the subway stopped running at midnight, but I was informed by two males (..ahem...) that "oh no the subway will run one full length starting at twelve...why would it just stop where it is at 12?" Ok, I thought. So I went to the station by myself around 11. Just as I arrived I saw the subway that ran the full length pull away. I figured that another would come...and it did, but it was only a subway that ran half of the way home. So I figured maybe if I took it the one I wanted would be right behind it. Nope. No such luck. So there I am standing in Seoul at midnight, by myself and I don't know how to get home. So what did I do? Suck it up and figure it out? Nope, I certainly did not. I started crying. I cried for a while and then called Rob and all I managed to say was "I don't know how to get home". He's all like "Andrea, calm down..." Eventually I did, but you know that feeling when all you want to do is go to bed? Yeah, I had that. I just wanted to be home. I ended up taking a cab across the city, which cost me $25. I know, you're thinking...big deal. Understand this: that's SUPER expensive here. I could have got home on the subway for a little over a dollar. I paid 25. I wasn't happy. Eventually I got home after a full tour of the city at night and went to bed, but not after explaining the story to Kiki on the phone. I had to tell someone!

Sunday I went to a church called Onnuri English Ministry at Yanjae ( It was a LOT better than the last one I attended, even though they are affiliated. Thanks to those of you who have been praying that I'll find a church. I think I'll try to settle in there for now. I really enjoyed it. The pastor was awesome and stuck to scripture AND made it interesting. Who knew that was possible!?!?

Anyway, like I said. This wasn't my favorite weekend, but it was still fun in its own odd way. I did realize something though. I realize that I've been taking for granted the blessings that God has been giving me Christian friends. I've met quite a few friends who are believers and it's such an incredible blessing that I've formed friendships with them. Up until this weekend I had really taken it for granted, but I know now that God had his hand in it and he is continuing to allow me to meet more and more people. I met a couple of Trinity grads this weekend at church random is that???

Well, continue to pray that I will find an encouraging community to be surrounded with for the next ten months. I will continue to pray for you all.

Miss you!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

At Changdeokgung Palace, checking out some of the old palace structures on our own personal un-guided tour. Posted by Hello

Seoul at sunset. Posted by Hello

Stumbling Toward Adventure

Well, I had an exciting and tiring Saturday, but I'm here to tell you all about it. I also have a ton of pictures to show you below this posting. I hope you enjoy!.....

The day started off by Rob and I skipping Korean lessons. Neither of us wanted to go, it was such a beautiful day, plus we are really learning Korean all week at work. The Korean teachers are always so eagar to teach us new phrases and words. So anyway, we headed to Starbucks for a coffee and to plan a bit of our day. So, our day began around 10:30am.

We decided to try and find this palace called Changdeokgung, we hadn't really heard much about it, but we saw it on a map close to this other palace that we had planned on meeting our friend Matt at later in the day. We thought we might as well check it out. Turned out to be pretty cool, lotsa tourists and tour busses there. This place was a "guided tour only" area, and when we got there around 12:30 the next English tour wasn't until 1:30 and we didn't want to wait that long, so we hopped in with a Korean tour beginning at 12:45. The man at the ticket gate was telling me (in Korean) that it was a Korean tour and that I should wait for the English tour, to which I replied "Ne, Hanguk" (yes, korean), and he let me through. Rob and I wanted to ditch our tour, but there were security guards everywhere. At one point we started wandering off and this security guard said something in Korean about guided tours. Rob quickly replied "toilet" and pointed in the direction of the bathroom and the guy let us go. I thought it was a genius call by Rob cause the bathroom was on the opposite side of the palace yard, so we could basically have our own self-guided tour and just pretend that we were looking for the bathroom. Playing dumb often works wonders! Anyway, we wandered around for a while, it was beautiful, many gardens....trees and flowers aren't things we usually see in Seoul, so it was nice. After a little while, we took some pictures and decided to leave and grab some lunch.

As we were walking toward Insadong (traditional area of Seoul that I have mentioned before), we stumbled upon a re-enactment of a royal wedding. That was pretty cool to see, we stayed for about an hour and then decided to go and explore some more. Outside of this area were some cops, a couple of busses full of them, who were out patrolling near the Japanese Embassay. Apparently there are always demonstrators protesting something that the Japanese are trying to do (or not do).

From there we headed to see another palace called Gyeongbokgung Palace which was built in 1395 by the founder of the Joseon Dynasty(a dynasty which lasted about 500 years until the Japanese occupation in the early 1900's). This palace was the primary residence of the Royal family at the time. It resembled the first palace we visited in architecture quite a bit, the first palace being the secondary residence of the royal family. Anyway, just as we arrived at this palace we were able to see the changing of the guard. It was pretty cool. These Korean guys dressed up in traditional clothing marched around the first courtyard beating a drum and carrying flags.

After visiting this palace, we decided to see if we could get upto Seoul Tower, one of the highest points in the city to catch the view at sunset. So we caught a cab up the hill, stumbled across a 100K race, and walked upto the top. The actual tower was closed for security renovations, which was a little disappointing, but we could still see quite a bit. We ended up sitting at a rooftop restaurant and watching the sun set over the city and the lights of the nightlife come on. It was quite beautiful. The city is so big from up there, it's incredible.

Anyway, it was a long day and I was exhausted. We headed back into the main part of the city and took the subway home.

We got some great pictures. Feel free to check them out.

Night shot from Seoul Tower. We were there at suset. It was beautiful. Posted by Hello

The view of part of the city from Seoul Tower (yes, part of the city, it's huge!). Posted by Hello

Starbucks Coffee in Meyong-Dong. It's five stories high, the biggest one I've ever seen. Posted by Hello

Me, being a geek as usual, pretending to plan our day (well, actually looking up a map so we knew which direction to head...lonley planet's are great) at Starbucks in Meyong-Dong. Posted by Hello

The entrance of Changdeokgung Palace. Posted by Hello

This building is Injeongjeon Hall, the main hall at Changdeokgung Palace, where coronations and receptions of foreign envoys were held. Posted by Hello

One of the buildings at Changdeokgung palace. Posted by Hello

The riot squad was hangin out near the Japanese Embassy. Often there are demonstrators demanding something from the Japanese government, or just generally hating them. Posted by Hello

At the wedding re-enactment the dancers began, soon followed by the Empress to be. They seemed to float across the stage, quite beautiful. Posted by Hello

Messages being delivered at the ceremony Posted by Hello

The men delivering the message that the wedding will occur. Posted by Hello

Empress Meyongseong being lead in to begin the ceremony. Posted by Hello

The changing of the guard at Gyongbokgung Palace. Posted by Hello

The entrance of Gyongbokgung palace. It was interesting to see a very old palace amidst the newly constructed high rises typical of Seoul. Posted by Hello

Me being a geek at Gyeongbokgung Palace. Posted by Hello

One of the structures at Gyeongbokgung Palace, which also happens to be on the 10,000 won bill (ten bucks). Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 14, 2005

This is my school. Plus Academy. I live about a block away. It's on the 3rd and 4th floor of this building, which is right across the street from an elementary school. On the 2nd floor is Seum Academy (math academy) it has the green sign. Posted by Hello

This is Itaewon. It's the place where all the white people go. We don't like it all that much, although people generally know English there. We just go there to get stuff and then leave.... Posted by Hello