Thursday, July 30, 2009

Last Day of School

Today was the last day of summer camp, for Latanya anyways. I have two more weeks of camp when we return from vacation. Latanya is very excited to be finally done with school. It's going to be so nice to take a little break. For the final day of my summer camp we watched a movie, Shrek. So needless to say it was an easy day. The weekend is here and we are ready to due it up. On the schedule this weekend is going to a Wii room tonight with my coworkers Ben and Lydia. Saturday we will be taking it easy and Sunday we will be probably going into the city.
Since leaving our beloved baby with Courtney, aka our Wii console, we have been missing it quite a lot. So we were told about a place were you can rent out a room, kind of like a Noraebong and just play some Wii. We are so excited. We heard they have the essentials, Wii sports and Mario Kart. What else do you actually need? We will make sure to let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thank You

We just wanted to say a quick thank you for all who follow our blog. We love reading comments so please don't hesitate to write us a quick note. We do read them all. We are happy to let everyone back home know about our adventures. We also are glad to see some new faces to our followers list. It's great to know that people are getting something out of our posts. The count down to our vacation in Thailand is down to 3 and a half days. Whoa!!! Beaches here we come!!!

Dan N Tan

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Faculty Trip

So a couple of weeks ago my school had a faculty trip for 2 days and 1 night. On a Friday afternoon we all piled on to a chartered bus and made our way to Gangwa-do, which is an island off the West coast of Korea. As soon as the trip began, we were all given snack packs, just like mom used to make. It was full with all sorts of munchies and what not; chips, crackers, cookies, peanuts, and of course dry squid. Then we were all given a beer and were ready to party.
The bus ride took a few hours. We stopped at a museum of Gangwa-do. It was nice but seemed a little bias in it's historical references. The museum only seemed to mention a small victory over the French and a battle with the United States. Clearly they forgot to mention it being taken over, time and time again by the Chinese, Mongols and the Japanese. Oh, well I guess they did not want to bring up old stuff, right.
After some more driving and a ferry ride to the island we found ourselves at a restaurant for dinner. We had sushimi and more booze of course. I ate Sea Squirt. I have no idea what it actually is, maybe sea urchin like, it tasted horrible. It tasted literally like I was eating sea water in a chewy form, certainly not pleasant.
At this point in the night everyone was feeling good, especially my principal. Normally the principal will tell me that I am handsome, but that night he used the word gorgeous, all while his hand was placed on my knee. It was really funny.
After dinner we all got back on the bus. For some that was a more difficult task than one would think. My co-worker Ben had to fling one of the teachers, Mr. Han over his shoulder and onto the bus. It was like he was caring a sack of potatoes. We ended up babysitting Mr. Han for a good portion of the night. I told Mr. Han that I spoke German, so he decided to speak to me in mix of Korean, German and English, also known as Kordeutish. I could not understand a word he was saying.
Once on the bus we turned off all the lights and put on the strobe light and lasers. Then the Noraebong (Karaoke) started. That's right on the bus. The bus had a microphone hooked up and a cable that ran the length of the bus, and there was a huge flat screen at the front with the lyrics. Let's just say, party time. There was this Korean song called Champion. The music was, mind you this is no joke, was the theme song to Beverly Hills Cop. Do do do dododododo do do do dodododo do do do do. Wow!!!! I could not stop laughing, as well as singing.
We finally arrived at our lodgings. There was a BBQ area all set up. We continued the celebrations and ate some more and drank some more. Everyone was still having a grand ole time. People slowly started to retire to bed. Ben and I were still going though. We ended up in the principals room and watched a few of them play Go Stop. Go Stop is a Korean card game. We were watching for at least a half hour. I swear there is absolutely no logic to the game. My head was hurting trying to figure it out. After some Uno we all went to bed.
The next morning we woke up at 6:30am. We went for breakfast. We had a spicy crab soup. It was very good. After our meal we trekked up a giant hill to see a local Buddhist temple. It was really awesome. We looked around for awhile and then headed back down the hill. We all got back on the bus and headed for home.
It was a great trip. It was nice to bound with my co-workers. I like being able to see everyone outside of the workplace. Everyone was relaxed and just enjoyed themselves.
I posted all my pics up on facebook if you have not seen them yet.



Our plan to go to Beijing, China has been pushed back to October due to extreme humidity. We decided to change it up and go to Thailand even though it will be humid there we can at least go to the beach and or pool. The week we chose to go on vacay so did everyone in Korea and the flights out of Korea were extremely expensive. After weeks of searching for a good fare we stumbled upon one on Dan n Tan will be spending 6 days and 5 nights on Ko Samui and 1 day in Bangok we leave on 8/3 . I wanted to stay in a hotel because I want to spend my vacation time relaxing while on the other hand Dan wanted to stay in a bug motel also known as a beach bungalow (i'm sure beach bungalows are nice but it's not for me). We made a compromise if I booked a hotel then I would have to pack all of my clothes into a I booked the hotel and i'm trying to fit everything I own into the backpack unsucessfully though. We are really looking forward to the time off, we'll take lots of pics, and update the blog.


Monday, July 27, 2009

You know you are in Korea when....

You know you are in Korea when you're hiking a mountain and a 75 year old grandmother is passing you.

You know you are in Korea when you eat Kimchi with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and again for a snack.

You know you are in Korea when you are walking on the sidewalk with no one else around for a 10 meter radius and another 75 year grandmother crosschecks you with her purse, even though there is plenty of room to pass one another.

You know you are in Korea when the only good beer is imported.

You know you are in Korea when it's a Saturday or Sunday and construction on the floor above you starts promptly at 6am and does not end until 10pm.

You know you are in Korea when you go bowling and feel under dressed, they equip themselves with all the gear ever invented for bowling and then some, all decked out with terminator wrist guards.

You know you are in Korea when your co-teacher asks for a ridiculous amount of lesson plans, let's say 40 due in two days; oh, and with all your worksheets and activities printed out.

You know you are in Korea when you walk around the local E-Mart and you feel like an exhibit at the wild animal park with all the little children giddy and pointing.

You know you are in Korea when you say to a Korean, ya sure I like to play baseball, and they respond, oh really what's your career bating average?

You know you are in Korea when middle aged men walk down the street holding hands, yet the mass majority of the country is homophobic.

You know you are in Korea when you pour Soju into your beer.

You know you are in Korea when go to the gym to sign up and the manager tells you while laughing that you are a fat ass.

You know you are in Korea when octopus or squid is served at lunch every other day.

You know you are in Korea when you can have a nice cold beer outside the local 7/11.

You know you are in Korea when they pay you too much for such a laid back job.

You know you are in Korea when you are having the time of your life all while saving for the future and seeing the world.

You know you are in Korea when you have a great foreigner community where everyone gets along and hangs out together.

You know you are in Korea when you can walk the streets at night and feel completely safe.

You know you are in Korea when you actually start loving to eat dried squid; it's just like jerky.

You know you are in Korea when your students always seem to make you laugh, even if you may be having a rough day.

You know you are in Korea when everything is within walking distance, or a quick subway ride away.

You know you are in Korea when you walk down the street and random people like to practice their English with you.

You know you are in Korea when you can't get enough of the K-Pop music, that I thought I would not be able to listen to.

You know you are in Korea when you can have a great night with friends and hit up a Naraebong (Karaoke room) and sing your hearts out.

You know you are in Korea when they give you a little doorbell on your table at a restaurant and the server comes right over when you ring it.

You know you are in Korea when the owner of a new restaurant will pay for your whole meal, drinks and all.

You know you are in Korea when you appreciate every second with your wife and enjoy each wonderful new experience that comes our way. Korea has been good to us, is good to us and I can see that it will continue to be good to us, as we live the dream of being abroad in such a wonderful country like Korea.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The 4th

So the fourth of July consisted of, lots of fun, BBQ, many beers, and some late night fireworks. A local restaurant called Jay's D n B, was having a 4th BBQ, all you can eat and drink for twenty bucks. Jay lived in Chicago for many years and speaks English fluently. His place is small but he makes some really good food, just like back home. I mean we were having chili dogs, chili burgers, chili fries, steak, potatoes, burritos and beer. What else could one ask for on such a wonderful Independence Day.
Latanya decided to start the celebrations with a morning breakfast with some of our neighbors and whoever else wanted to join. It was a pot-luck set up. We made the scrambled eggs and toast. Other people brought over some bacon, pastries, orange juice, and some other goodies. We of course added some Soju for a twist of a screwdriver. Latanya made sure to decorate really festive and all. She did a great job, red, white and blue all around. After breakfast we made our way over to Pyeongnae-dong, which is the district next to ours. It's nicknamed P-Dong, for short. We live in H-Dong or Hopyeong-Dong. I am trying to think of a better nickname but nothing has come yet.
We went over to a friends house where he had a nice set up on his rooftop, with tables and chairs. We had a drink or two and then made our way to Jay's. It was a foreigner retreat for sure. Jay started to cook after a little while and we all had a great time. We would trek from our friends place back to Jay's and back and forth again. We the sun went down we all ended up back on the rooftop, this time with a mass quantity of people. We all had bought some little fireworks and some sparklers. It was an awesome time. I feel we celebrated just fine, even though we were not at home. Though we are having the absolute time of our lives here, it's on the holidays when you miss being back home the most. We were definitely thinking of everyone and celebrating our nations birthday abroad.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Dan N Tan have been really busy as of late. I for one have been constantly stressing over the many lesson plans I had to write for summer school. Summer school has officially started. We only have about one more week until we leave for Thailand. We can't wait.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Temple Stay

To start, I posted another post that is before Latanya's hair post called Orientation. If you did not see it check it out yo.
So let's get started telling the wonderful story of our Temple Stay experience. I know many of you have been waiting for this one. To start off Tania, Latanya's and my friend, who we met at the orientation and who Latanya got her hair done with, invited us to go on a Temple Stay. The Temple Stay was organized by a foreigner travel company called Adventure Korea. The trip was for two days and one night, so a weekend basically. The Temple refers to a Buddhist temple, and the Stay is actually the act of staying over night, obvious right? We were really excited leading up the trip. Basically you get to spend your weekend living just like a Buddhist monk. Awesome, yeah!
We had to get up really early on Saturday to make the charter bus in Seoul. We woke up around six or so. It was earlier than a typical week day. So much for sleeping in. There were about 40 foreigners and one Korean on the tour. Of those forty or so, only six were men. The ratio was a little favored one way. I did not know whether to be happy about spending a weekend with that many women or sad. Oh yeah there was also a little boy on the trip with his mom. He was about 10 years old.
The bus ride took about three hours. It was not too bad. We stopped at a rest stop and were able to stretch our legs and get a bite to eat. We were originally supposed to go river trekking prior to our arrival, but unfortunately it was raining and the rocks were too slippery. So instead we went on a short walk/hike near the river. We soon arrived at the temple and were happy to be there. We met the head tour guide who only spoke Korean. Luckily he had a translator who assisted him.
As soon as we got up to the main hall we had to change into official Buddhist wardrobes. They were extremely large but very comfortable. It honestly could fit two and half of me. At this point we changed, put all our stuff in lockers and had a little free time to roam around the premises. Keep in mind that it was still raining. Actually at this point it began to pour. Boo! We grabbed a couple of ponchos and walked around. The grounds were spread out on a very very very steep mountain. Not hill, but mountain. We took a hike not a walk up the mountain to see the oldest temple they had there. It was beautiful. The hike on the other hand was not. It was not just the rain that made it miserable but the fact that it was sooooo humid, just sucked.
After our dreadful hike we made our way back for our welcome orientation. We were given our strict itinerary and instruction on how to do the proper bow. This bow was not your ordinary bow. It was intricate and difficult to perform. And every time you enter the building with the head monk you must do three bows before you sit down.
Here's the breakdown of how to do a proper Buddhist bow, at least at this temple anyways. First you must bow 45 degrees standing up when you first enter the room. And then once you get to your floor mat you must begin three actual bows. You must have your hands together in the typical praying position. From the standing up point you must drop to your knees, still with your hands together. After that you put your palms on the mat, shoulder width apart, followed by your elbows and forehead. At this point you have five body parts touching the mat and the ground, your head, hands, elbows, knees and feet. Once there you must cross your feet, one on top of the other, and then rotate your hands 180 degrees and lift them up to your ears and back down. After that you must extend up to the kneeling position with your hands in the praying position again. From there you must spring yourself up from the kneel to standing while keeping you hands together. After all that you must repeat it two more times just to sit down.
Wow, what a long explanation. It was really a task let me tell you. And in the orientation after our many practice we were told were going to have to do 108 bows in a row later that night. What!?!?!?! Yeah 108 bows. No way? Yes way. More on that later.
After orientation we were taken on a meditation walk. Keep in mind, yes it is still pouring. Usually the walk is performed bare foot. But they let us wear our shoes. I actually would have preferred no shoes, because they became extremely soaked during the walk. We were told to walk very slowly and try to feel with our feet and relax the mind. It was really awesome actually. It is amazing how much your mind thinks just walking. We had to control our thoughts and concentrate just on our feet. It was relaxing and a good way to release stress I think.
Once the meditation walk was done we had dinner, all veggies of course. We had to eat everything we had on our plates. They do not believe in wasting food or anything for that matter. We also had to wash our own dishes. I was laughing because Latanya will never wash a dish at home, but she had to here. To be honest, I was shocked to see it. The food was alright. Their Kimchi was almost like sauerkraut and did not taste very good, but whatever, it was to be expected.
We headed up to the bowing temple after dinner. It was like a death march. Sorry for the historical insensitivity, but it really was. We had all our belongings and were caring them up a giant mountain in the pouring rain, just to make it to the top where we knew what we were going to have to do. That's right, 108 bows.
We got into the temple and did our three warm ups. The head monk came in and we started it off. Every time he slaped his stick once we had to either go down for the bow or come up from it. He was leading the way and we were at his mercy. About five bows into it I stopped counting. If I were to count I would have been more frustrated. The 108 bows signify the 108 sufferings of mankind. And boy were we suffering alright. We made little dream pouches earlier in the day that we used for concentration. In the small dream pouch we wrote one main dream of ours for this year. It was actually really helpful for concentration. The way they were teaching us Buddhism was very broad, yet it was something we could take back to our normal everyday lives. For example, I am the center of the universe, I make my own choices and am responsible for everything that may or may not happen to me, the whole Karma thing you know. Also if you focus on your dreams and put effort into them as well as have good Karma, they will come true.
Anyways, while we were in deep with the 108 that's what I was focusing on. I was so proud of Latanya because she was right there with the majority of us bowing away. Side note (she hates to sweat). After we finished we were done for. We were so exhausted and ready for bed. It felt great to finish all 108 and keep up with the monk who had not even a bead of sweat on his body. I for one was drenched.
We then walked over to the sleeping quarters. All the ladies were piled into two rooms and the men shared one with so much space. We all had to sleep on the ground. We had blankets and pillows and were set to go. After everyone showered and everything it was about a little after 11pm or so. I fell almost right to sleep. I tossed and turned a little but over all slept well. I guess I was happy to have some space finally.
We were woken up at 4am. It was still dark obviously. Yeah 4 AM. It was not too bad waking up that early, but it definitely was not pleasant. After getting ready and brushing our teeth we headed over to the bowing temple where we did a 30 minute meditation with our legs crossed and backs straight. We watched the day begin. It was really beautiful hearing the birds chirp. It had stopped raining but it was still over cast, and yes extremely humid. It's like, I already sweat in a dry heat, but here I sweat profusely all the time, very uncomfortable, let me tell you.
After the morning meditation we had a traditional breakfast with the monk in the main hall on the ground. It was really nice. The food, were veggies again of coarse, but they were so delicious. There is a whole story about how you properly eat and place everything as well as clean, that is too long to explain now. I am trying not to make it too long of a post. I know I know too late, right?
After the wonderful breakfast, we had to march back up to the bowing temple again. It was there where we made a beaded necklace and/or bracelet. Guess how many beads there were?.......That's right 108. For every bead we had to do a bow. AGAIN!!! We did it and we did it strong. Our bodies were hurting so much from the night before, but we dug through and finished strong. Since this was during the day this time we were sweating even more than the night before. At least this time we did it at our own pace. I had a huge sweat mark where my head hit the mat. Gross right? Well it was. When we finished our beads, we got to put them on and the monk said we did a great job. We hung our dream pouch on the wall and made our way back down the hill. After lunch we changed back into civilian clothes and made our way back home.
Other little stories omitted and could be brought up for discussion another time were: the bell ringing, tea with the monk and story time, bugs in the sleeping quarters, wetness of everything especially socks and shoes, beautiful surrounding mountains, breakfast with the head monk, making Lotus Lanterns (which mine looked beautiful and LT's was, well not as beautiful, hehe) and last of course, Latanya's perspective, it is more than likely completely different than mine.
Over all I got a lot out of the weekend. It made me more positive and happy in general. I felt like I was able to dig deep inside myself and push myself physically through mental concentration. I recommend it at least once in your life. We had an experience and it was one hell of a way to spend a weekend.