Tuesday, October 31, 2006


On Sunday, I went rock climbing with the club at the Musecheon riverbed. The difference this time though was that I didn't go with any other foriegners so it was just me and the Koreans. I was a little nervous at first because my Korean is still so terrible but they welcomed me just fine. I learned a few new climbing related words and got on a couple great climbs. Its fun to be able to climb with these guys because they're so excited about climbing, their energy is infectious. They are also very strong climbers and love to share their climbing with others. Afterwards we went out to a great dinner of a sort of corned pig.

This is me with Sang Soo. He's the owner of the gym and club. He summited Everest this summer!

This is me climbing a climb called "April"

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Jeju Traditional Culture Tour

Ryan and I went on the Jeju Traditional Culture Tour that Michelle signed us up for. It was a completely free bus tour, put on by Jeju City for foreigners living in the city. It was an all day tour where took us to three different touristy places. There was one bus full of English speaking foreigners, consisting of a few American and Canadian teachers and a few families from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. And another bus full of Chinese students. Ryan and I made friends with a couple of grad students from Pakistan and hung out with them most of the time.

This is our tour guide, Sunni. Right now she's telling us the story of the famous Jeju Women Divers, the Haenyo. Her step-aunt is one!

This is Ryan and I with our new Pakistani friends at Ilchulland park

Here's Ryan grinding some millet.

Here's the a family from Bangladesh posing with the stone grandpas. These grandfather stone statues are literally everywhere throughout the island.

Here's another family posing in front of the trees. Ilchulland was pretty, but mostly just a tourist trap.

Inside of Ilchulland was Micheon Caves. The cave is a lava-tube and is something like 1.5km long. The public is allowed to go 360m or so in before being stopped by the red tape. Throughout there were these huge manmade pillars in the cave. Sunni said that they are there to provide stability to the cave. I hope it doesn't collapse! I have to admit that I did like the painting of the dragon on this one. This is Ryan and I posing with our tour guides.

Ryan and I both agreed that Ilchulland was the low point of the tour, but the ostriches made it worth the visit!

The next stop is a Jeju Traditional Folk Village. The first thing we did at the village was to make these things called "bing dduk." The dough is pretty much the same as a crepe, but you use sesame seed oil on the pan.

You then fill the crepe with a radish/green onion mix for a half decent though quite plain tasting treat.

I just thought I'd throw in this picture of some pigs. Jeju, apparently, is quite famous for its "black pork." I think I've had it though I'm not sure. Whatever I did have that day was really good though. I also like their little house.

After making the food, we had to work in the farm. Literally. Here we are digging for sweet potatoes.

After making the food, we learned how to make rope out of grass. They use these ropes to tie down the tops of their houses. I thought this was really cool. You hook this spinning contraption to the grass and while it twists, all these guys do is feed the grass into it.

Here's me walking away from the guy feeding grass into the rope. You eventually have two ends and then twist those two together. Voila, a rope in 30 seconds!

After we made the ropes, we played a little jump rope.

Then after jumping rope, we sat down and sang a few traditional songs and played some games.

After the folk village, we went to the stone grandfather park. This was a pretty nice park since it looked a little more natural and closer to what Jeju actually looks like. This was one of the more interesting sculptures.

This guy was pretty cute. The grandpa stones you see around Jeju City actually don't look like these guys. Apparently there's different statues for different areas of the island.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Language Class Hiking

I should supplement that last negative post about what cool stuff I did this weekend. I'm taking a Korean Language class at the local community college and the entire department went out on a hike up Halla Mountain. This was now my 3rd time up the mountain, so it seems like I'm becoming a pro! It was a great hike and quite a production. We had name tags and everything. We met at the college, took a tour bus to the mountain, and they gave us all a little kimbap for lunch along with some water. I don't have any copies of the picture we took with the whole group but here's some pictures that I took.

On the top of those cliffs is the crater. This trail doesn't go all the way to the top. It goes in between those two low hills (oreums) and finishes at a nice little Ramen Shack!

Ryan and I posing with our Korean Language Teacher

Some of the Language Students Posing at the marker at the top. Many of the students in the class are Chinese students studying Korean for a year.

This is Ryan and I's hero. I don't know his name, but this guy is probably the best korean speaker in our class. He always knows the answers! One day we'll speak as well as him!

I brought a little treat to the top. Soju! (Korean Liquor) The last couple of times we hiked up, we noticed that everyone seemed to be drinking some, so I thought it might be fun to bring some. It turned out to be a good idea. Although it didn't make quite so much of a hit on the students as it did on the teachers! The teachers loved it. I also learned that everytime you offered them a shot, they made you take one too. Needless to say I felt a little buzzed at the top. The second bottle was given to me by some random people in a group next to us. (another example of people giving!)

This is our friend that helped us get signed up for the class. She's super nice and speaks English really well.

Sweet Work Schedule Ruined

I've been a bit busy this past week so I've been a little slow on getting the blog updated. My big news is that my sweet work schedule with afternoons off is no longer happening. I picked up another class that adds another 6 teaching hours a week, which puts me at my contract max. This means now, I'm working 4 full days a week and 2 half days which is not so nice. Oh well. Hopefully it won't last too long, but we'll see. Working 6 days a week is not really too much fun.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Top of the Mountain and Random Acts of Kindness

So here's a picture of me a the top of the mountain. Everyone was getting their picture taken with this dead tree, so I thought I'd go for it too. I think it says something along the lines of this being the top of Halla mountain.

Ryan and I were commenting on the way down from the summit about how extremely friendly some Koreans can be. For example, at the summit, one person from the seminary group just came over and gave me a candy bar. He said "Dan, a present for you, bye," then walked away. I just thought it was amazing that this one guy who I only talked with for about 5 minutes would just come out of the blue and give us a little gift then leave. I don't think I've ever seen a complete stranger do anything like that. The thing is that similar things like that happen all the time. People will fish in their pockets for anything they can give you. Ryan even had someone invite him to his house once and gave him a box of oranges when he left. Just completely random, unprovoked acts of kindness.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Hiking Halla Mountain

Ryan, Brad, and I went out for a bit of a walk today up Mt. Hallasan, this time we took a trail that goes up the east side of the mountain that reaches the summit. The views from the top were specacular. You could see into the crater, but the lake was dry. There was also a great panorama view of the island. There was no trail around the crater, but you could still see Seogwipo City to the south, Jeju City to the north, and ocean everywhere in between.

It was a fantastic hike even though I realized that I've been getting quite out of shape. It was 19Km round trip or about 12 miles. The hike is quite popular since Halla Mountain is the largest mountain in Korea and a "Must Do" for many Koreans. We met some great people along the way. Ryan and I were practicing our Korean on each other and on strangers. All the people were a joy to talk to. We met some people from all over. We even met a fellow from Japan, who surprised me when after I told him I was from Indianapolis by saying, "The Colts! Very good team!" We also spent quite a lot of time chatting with a very nice group of guys from a Seminary in Incheon.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Settling into a Routine and Learning the Language

Well, I have to say that I feel I've finally settled into a routine. Its a pretty nice feeling actually. I fear though that I'm running out of things to write about in the blog since many days are pretty much the same and probably not very interesting. I want to keep the blog interesting and fun for my family and friends who are reading. I think I've now reached the stage of living Korea where many things are no longer new and exciting. I feel that this is a good thing but it certainly doesn't make interesting reading for someone else. To be honest though, I'm starting to like the routine that I've been getting into.

I feel like my next big challenge, now that I'm comfortable with my job, is to learn to speak Korean. One of my primary reasons for coming here was to learn about the culture and I can't do this unless I learn the language. My biggest reason lately is that I feel like I'm starting to get more involved in the climbing club, but I can't communicate with them. They are all fantastic people and I really want to get to know them and speak with them, but I can't and it's very, very, very frustrating. So far, I've given learning Korean a half-hearted effort, learning a little bit here and there, like 90% of all the other foreigners here, but now I'm determined to break the norm and to put all of my free time and effort into it. I've been studying hard for the past couple weeks and it feels like its already coming along. Learning the language in general has been very frustrating for me primarily since my memory is so bad. I just can't remember any of the words! It's starting to come along, though slowly. Korean is tough at first since you have to learn a completly different type of alphabet, but at least there is an alphabet! The Chinese just use thousands of individual characters! I think the other tough thing is that the sounds are just completely different than English. The picture above is pretty much my view of most of my time, that computer program, my two books and my ever growing stack of flash cards. It's a slow process and I hope the reward is worth the time.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

North Korea

Since the neighbors to the north decided to test out their first nuclear device, I thought I might give a little bit of my perspective on the situation. To be honest, the whole North Korean thing never really bothered me before. I just figured that they've just been doing their thing for the past 50 years or so and it would just continue that way while I'm here. I never really thought they would do something absolutely crazy like test a nuclear bomb and then threaten to use it! The other day when I heard about the test was the first time the whole North Korean situatation began to scare me a little. I wish I could tell you what the general feeling is here among the Koreans, but I still can't really communicate, read newspapers, etc. I get most of my news from American websites and the English version of the Korean newspaper, Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com) Also, the only people I've hung out with this week are the people from work. However, I think the general feeling here is to wait and see what the UN/USA reaction is. I just hope that nobody does anything rash. I'm really liking it here and I don't want a war to start.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Chuseok is Koran's "Thanksgiving Day" Here's the definition from the Wikipedia...

Chuseok, also sometimes spelt 'Chusok', is a major traditional holiday in Korea,
celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the year. It is a feast and
is also called Harvest Day, Harvest Moon Festival, or Hankawi (한가위,中秋节)(from
"han" = "great" and "kawi" = "middle", i.e. "a great day in the middle of the

Honestly, I don't really know much about it except that it's
one of the two biggest holidays in Korea and nearly everything shuts down that

My only real complaint about my job is that I don't get ANY
national holidays off. This really sucks when everyone else in the entire
country gets all week off. We did end up getting the actual Chuseok day off, but
we had to make up the classes on Sunday. So we took the Friday off and all went
as a happy working family down to the southern part of the island for a
mini-vacation. I am the only one who can drive a stick, so I drove everyone in
the bus to the Jungmun area, which is the fancy resorty area on the island.
First though we stopped at this place that you can see in the top picture. It is
an island that during the exceptionally low tides, you can walk to. Apparently
it was one of the only 9 islands in Korea that you can do this. I have to say
that it actually was pretty cool. Ryan and I had fun turning over rocks and
finding cool sea life. Michelle even found an Octopus! Afterwards we went to the
Jungmun beach and played in the waves. The waves were huge and Ryan and I had
just the best time getting completely pounded by them as people surfed on past!
Michelle treated us to an expensive, fancy buffet at the Jeju Grand Hotel in
Shin Jeju for the evening meal. It turned out to be a wonderful holiday.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

More Rock Climbing

Went out on Tuesday for a bit more rock climbing with the club. We went down to the southern part of the Island and climbed on one of the oreums called Dansan. It was a beautiful day and a great day to ride on the bike down there. The route we climbed was two pitches. We climbed the first pitch once, which was really quite easy as you can tell by the photo, had lunch, and then did the first and second pitch. All of this before I had to work that evening! The views from the top were incredible, you could see the sea and the big mountain, "Sanbangsan" in the background.

Today was Chuesok, Korea's Thanksgiving Day. I'll write more about it tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mt. Halla

I finally got out to climb "The Mountain." You see, Jeju-do is a pretty small island that is dominated in the center by a mountain, Hallasan, or Halla Mountain. I don't mean to confuse you by saying climb, because I didn't rock climb up it. "Climbing" is the Korean way of saying "Hiking."

I hiked with the rock climbing club. Yes, I've come to find out that not only am I a member of the climbing gym, but it's also a sort of club that does things together. We went out as a group and hiked up Halla Mountain this weekend. There are 4 trails or "courses" on the mountain. The two on the East Side lead to the top. We took one of the easier ones up the West Side to the "Three Oreums." What is an 'oreum' you might ask? Well, in the volcanic island of Jeju-do, these oreums are like mini-mountains or hills formed by some sort of volcanic "bubbling". I think there's about 300 of them scattered about the island. The ones we went to are the three highest.

It turned out to be a fantastic day with beautiful weather. It was very clear all day. I only put this picture up because it looked cool with that one cloud running across the ridge line. That was about the only cloud we saw all day. The people in the picture are about half of the group from the climbing club we hiked with.