Boseong Tea Fields

It’s spring in Korea, which means cherry blossoms are on the trees, and the green tea fields are bright and beautiful. The most well known one in Korea is Boseong Tea Fields!

How to get there from Daegu

There are several direct buses to Boseong, but none of them go from Daegu. Darn.

You can get a direct bus to Boseong from Seoul, Gwangju, Mokpo, Busan, or Suncheon. I would recommend taking the bus to Mokpo, Gwangju, or Suncheon. Busan is also an option, but you’ll be backtracking. I took the bus from Gwangju, which is the route shown here.

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Courtesy Rome2Rio

route

Courtesy Rome2Rio

Go to Seodaegu Station, located at Manpyeon Station on Line 3. The bus terminal is right next to the station. From there, it’s a two and a half hour journey to Gwangju.

In Gwanju, you can buy tickets to Boseong Bus Terminal. From there, you will need to take the ‘Nokcha Bat'(녹차밧)  bus to the fields.  The other option is to take a taxi to the fields, but that will cost you a bit more. If you have a group of four or five people to split the fare with, it will cost the same as the bus.

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Waiting for the Nokcha Bat bus in the bright spring sunlight.

What to do

  • Hike the tea fields
  • Try the green tea ice cream and other green tea flavored foods
  • Have a pot of tea
  • Buy goodies for the folks back home

When you hop off the bus, you’ll immediately be greeted by a souvenir shop and cafe. There are four or five of these as you head up to the hills. The real reason to stop here is for the green tea ice cream! This was some of the best I’ve had in Korea, although Baskin Robbins is still a close second( psst…the best tea ice cream I’ve had was in Kyoto).

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We found Narnia.

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Diana found Fool’s Gold along the pathway of the tea fields. We’re rich, we’re rich!

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It’s a good hike up to the top of the fields, but it’s worth the view. You can see the ocean beyond the mountains, and the surrounding fields.

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Ajummas taking a break from picking tea leaves.

Green Tea Lunch

After our hike, we stopped by the gift shop for some quick browsing. The shop sells powdered green tea, loose leaf, tea bags, along with other tea related goodies. I wound up buying some powdered tea and some adorably illustrated magnets and postcards!

The gift shop also has a tea room attached, where you can sample a pot of tea and have some green tea ice cream. While we had already had a cone each, Diana and I split a soft serve and got a pot of tea.

The tea is very earthy, but I preferred the ice cream at the entrance. This sort was similar to the free frozen yogurt served at buffets. Not the best.

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Afterwards, we headed to ‘Heaven’ for some green tea samgyeopsal(pork belly). EVERYTHING is green tea flavored at the fields. Even the rice that accompanied the meal had green tea in it!

 

That last photo? That’s the fat drippings from green tea meat. Feast your eyes!

After the meal, it was time to head back to Gwangju, where we were staying for the night. If you are nearby on the west coast, this is an easy day trip; but for someone coming from the east, as Daegu is, I’d recommend staying in Gwangju. Eight hours combined on buses is not something I’d wish on anyone.

I hope you can make it to the tea fields if you’re in Korea. The views alone are worth the trip!

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Hong Kong Weekend

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Oh, Hong Kong. How do I love thee? Let me go into way too much detail about it.

The flight from Taipei to Hong Kong is around two and a half hours long. Except for a small delay due to the rain(this whole trip seems to be themed on rain and sleep deprivation!), it was uneventful. Uneventful is always my preferred method of travel by airplane. Excitement on a plane means screaming babies and turbulence.

The rain was coming down hard and the sun had set by the time I set foot in the airport. Again, carrying the one bag made my life so easy here. I skipped luggage and went straight for the transportation card counter. Hong Kong uses the Octopus card for transportation, as well as pay for goods at many shops.

I should have mentioned it earlier, but Taiwan has a similar card. You can pick one up from any convenience store or within the subway stations. The Octopus card at the airport has a $50 HKD deposit. You can return it when you leave Hong Kong for the deposit fee.

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We’re not in Kansas anymore. The old British influence is still felt in Hong Kong. Notice the spelling.

At this point, I still hadn’t fallen in love with Hong Kong. I mean, it’s an airport. There isn’t an airport in the world that can make you love a city. I was meeting a friend, Michelle, which made this trip very exciting! We were staying at the same hostel,so I caught the bus over to Homy Inn North Point. For anyone visiting Hong Kong, I cannot recommend this place enough! You can get a two bed shared room with a bathroom for a reasonable rate. The location is awesome, being close to the subway, trams, and many great sights in Hong Kong.

Once I had my Octopus card, it was time to catch the bus to North Point. The buses are double decker, but I stayed on the lower deck to have a better view and in case I had to dash at my stop. There’s also a monitor to watch for how many stops are left on the route.

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Typical Hong Kong bus. Source: wikipedia

The ride to North Point was my first awe inspiring moment in Hong Kong. While it was raining, just like Taiwan, Hong Kong suits the rain. Anyone who plays the game Bioshock will understand that my first views reminded me of Rapture. Being a fan of the game, I was very happy to see its real life replica.

When I arrived at the hostel, Michelle was there waiting. It was so nice to see an old friend! We met at the airport on our first day in Korea. I hadn’t seen her in six months, so it was a wonderful reunion!

After I had dropped off my bags, Michelle and I met up with her Chinese friend, Jackie. The three of us headed to a vegetarian Chinese restaurant, which was a first for me. Michelle had been the night before, and had only good things to say about the food.

My expectations based on the rave review held up! The soup was amazing, as were the coconut steamed buns, and the fritters, which managed to taste just like meat! All of this was finished off by pot after pot of green tea.

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Taiwan Travel Tip: Data in Taiwan

This is just a micro article while I continue my travels. Finding WiFi has been frustrating enough for me, that I figured someone else may go through the same thing.

Tip 1: Don’t get an EGG/WiFi device
This is a waste of money, and I couldn’t even get mine to work properly. It was around 6 USD a day, which was about 30 down the drain for the first week.
Instead, go to 7-11 and pick up a SIM card.
This made my life so much easier, and the staff at both locations where I purchased a card and recharged it were very helpful. It cost 350 TWD, which is about 10.50 USD at the moment.

Tip 2: Make sure you change the APN in your network settings.
This was a minor hastle, but it caused me a few hours of grief. Go under Settings>More Networks>Mobile Networks>Access Point Names. Select the name indicated on your SIM card’s information packet.

Boom. You’re done. Hope that helps!

Winter Vacation: Pohang

I am in the second half of my winter vacation, and it already feels like the whole thing has passed.  It’s been a very cramped past week, but in a good way.  A lot of the other teachers traveled outside of Korea for their winter vacation.  I chose not too for a number of reasons- plans fell through because of winter camp schedules, I’m not comfortable traveling by myself in another country, and I don’t want to be struggling with a second language for now.  Besides, there are many parts of Korea I have yet to see.  Until this past week, I had only seen three other Korean cites besides Daegu.  In fact, I had not left Daegu for two months. It made sense to explore while I had the time.

I began planning my adventure the day before it started.  I’d been waffling about where to do, and how to go about it, for a while.  I’d never traveled by myself before this.  I had no idea how to even book a hotel, or buy an intercity bus ticket.  There was a lot of research and a lot of nerves I had to get through before I actually did something.

For the hotel, I used agoda.com.  I highly recommend it.  All of the hotels and hostels I booked through there had me in there books, and the reviews of each hotel were pretty reliable.  There was a slight hiccup in Daejeon, but that had nothing to do with agoda.  We’ll get to that soon.

Pohang

For anyone planning to travel to Pohang from Daegu, it’s fairly easy.  Go to the North Daegu Intercity Bus Terminal.  It’s about a 90 minute journey.  Either watch the countryside roll past, or put in some ear buds.  It will go by quick.

I had a little difficulty in finding it, so I hope these maps help.  I wound up using my phone to find it, but it could be difficult if you don’t have a smart phone.  You can take bus 708 or 427 to get there.  

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There isn’t much around the bus stop, but you’ll know you’re in the right area when you cross the river bridge.  There are a lot of Vietnamese and Middle Eastern restaurants around the area.  

Once there, I just went up to the counter and told the clerk “Pohang”.  I wish I had known the proper phrase to tell her, but I don’t.  That’s my fault.  I would have told her, “I want to see Pohang”, or “I want to go to Pohang”; but I think there is a much better phrase for it.  Anyway, this just shows that just saying the name or pointing and grunting at the sign could work if you have absolutely not Korean under your belt.  

Hands of Harmony

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Just a short bus ride from Pohang is the village of Homigot.  It’s mainly a fishing community.  I spent the morning wandering around the crab restaurants, and looking at the sea.  At the very edge of Homigot is the ‘Hands of Harmony’-a pair of statues.  It’s a pair of hands(as the name suggests).  One rises out of the sea, while it’s partner faces it on land.  It’s really very beautiful, but does not take long to visit.

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The Korean peninsula is supposedly shaped like a tiger.  Homigot and Pohang are the most eastern section of the land mass.  It’s that stubby little tail at the base.

There’s also a lighthouse museum by the Hands.  It’s a cute place to stop and get out of the wind and cold air.

Bogyeongsa Temple

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The temple is another bus ride away from Pohang-actually two, the way I made the trip.  It takes about 90 minutes from downtown.  It was a bit nerve racking for me, as I really wasn’t sure if I was on the right bus.  The first one dropped me off in the middle of a one horse town, if ever there was such a thing.  It was a long walk from Pohang, and nothing much as far as I could tell.  Fortunately, the second bus came before I could have a panic attack.  And it turned out, the second bus would have taken me all the way from downtown to the temple.  Go figure.

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There was also a long walk from where the bus dropped me off until I got to the temple.  This is the first building you will see at the bus stop.  If you see it, don’t panic!  You’re doing fine.

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Along with the temple, there is a long hike to reach the seven waterfalls of Bogyeongsa.  Totally worth it, although a little rocky.  Don’t be like me, and fall over small rocks because you’re looking through the lens of your camera.

Winter Camp

Christmas has rolled by, along with a crazy two weeks of winter camp. For the uninitiated, winter camp is a period during winter vacation when the kids and the native English teachers have to come back to school. For me, there was no period in between Christmas and winter camp. I had the day off for Christmas, and was back to work the next day. Actually, Christmas in Korea didn’t even feel like a holiday to me. Yes, I met up with friends, and had a good time; but it did not feel like an occasion separate from the general goings on in life. I wonder if in a short while it will hit me that I missed a Christmas celebration?

So back to winter camp. I taught the same 80 minute lesson twice a day, for nine days, at three different schools. That was a lot of jumping around for this waeguk! Fortunately, one of those schools was my own, so I knew where I was going a third of the time. Since the school I work at (along with the other two) is a Global School, we had to focus on global issues for our lessons. My lesson was focused on Infectious Disease…..for Korean third graders. Imagine having a room of third grade EFL students, whose language you only speak rudimentary, for eighty minutes without any other adults in the classroom. I simplified the subject matter a great deal in order to keep the kids attention.

Still, there were points during the lesson that were a real struggle to convey without the help of translation. One of my co teachers had helped me translate certain phrases in my powerpoint, such as bacteria, virus, fungi, and protozoa. The funny thing is, the Korean words for bacteria and virus are….wait for it…bacteria and virus! Yes! It’s in hangul, but it’s the same pronunciation. It’s kind of wonderful how many loan words are in our languages.

One thing that has become very obvious is that music is a universal constant in cultures. In between the lessons, I had the kids in my class for fifteen to twenty minutes for snack time. I played them some music videos to lighten things up. Oh boy do these kids love Frozen. Of course. Anyone who stepped off a plane in Korea could tell that Korean’s love Frozen. But more surprisingly(or maybe not), the kids love Pharrell Williams, “Happy”. They go crazy for it. I even caught one kid bouncing along to it, and joining in every time the word ‘happy’ popped up. See if this doesn’t put a smile on your face.

Coffee Shop Culture

I know, I know.  It’s been forever.  I owe you guys big time.  So let’s talk about Korean cafes.  There’s definitely a Korean cafe culture here.  image It seems like people come less for the coffee and more for the socializing.  This makes a lot of sense when you think about Korean housing situations.   Unless you’re married or live outside of your hometown, you most likely live witb your parents.  It’s not viewed negatively here (although I’ve met individuals who don’t enjoy it), but it can fet in the way of socializing.  Imagine trying to talk with your adult friends with your parents going about their business.  Also, some places are very cramped.  I live in a 250 square foot apartment, and I’ve seen families of four coming out of one apartment.  Cafes are a convenient solution. You can study or just hang out for hours, and not worry about your family getting in the way.  I suppose in North America cafes serve a similar purpose, but there’s a different vibe to it.  In North America, it’s more of a work or lunchtime chat sort of place.   In Korea, it’s a break from everything else.  I’m not sure how to define it.  Since coffeee often comes in second to atmosphere, its sometimes not brewed properly.  I know, I sound like such a coffee snob, but drip coffee really isn’t a thing here.  It’s an Americano or some type of Latte.  No 2,000₩ cup of joe.  image Here’s a menu from one of my favorite cafes in my neighborhood.

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And here is my crude translation for those interested.

They actually make a smooth cup of coffee and have Dutch coffee on the menu.  That’s drip coffee for Americans.  But you will also notice it’s pretty pricey.  It’s 3,000 for the basic Americano, and prices just go up from there.  Thus is not unusual.  In fact, this is pretty reasonable. Other coffee shops will charge 4,000 or 5,000₩ as a base rate.  Needless to say, I still spend a lot of time in Korean coffee shops.  The atmosphere is very cozy.  Most cafes have a very sophisticated or super cute style, and it’s just a nice place to talk. I hope that answers any questions you may have had.  If there’s any more, I’ll be happy to answer comments!

A Trip to the Doctors

Hello!  I’m back from the dead.  Well, not quite, but pretty close.  I was really ill for three weeks with bronchitis. This did not mean I was lying in bed watching Mad Men.  Oh no, I was at work every day.  Sick days don’t work the same here as they do back home.  If you’re ill, you still go to work.  I’m not even sure how sick you would have to be to warrant a day off, but you’d probably need to be on a gurney.  It’s all part of the culture, so I’m accepting it.

This also meant I had my first trip(s) to the doctor.  A few of the hospitals in Daegu offer English speaking clinics.  This is a huge benefit.  It can be very difficult to cross the language barrier when explaining symptoms.  The only problem is that their hours coincide with my work schedule.  The closest one I found is open from 8:30 to 5:30.  Yes, I only work till 4:30.  The problem is that the walk from work to the subway still takes around 40 minutes.  The first time I tried to leave immediately from work, I wound up reaching the International Office at Keimyung University Hospital at 5:20.  No bueno.

Next, I tried going to a clinic nearby my school.  This was very convenient.  Clinics are everywhere in Korea.  All I needed was my cell phone number and my ARC card.  There was no line, and I was seen by the doctor right away.  The only problem was again the language barrier.  The doctor was in his 70’s, so he hadn’t been been forced to take English in medical school.

I think most medical programs in Korea at least require students to memorize terminology and pharmaceutical names in English.  Really, it’s completely okay if they don’t speak English.  It’s Korea, and I should be making more progress with the language. Still, I am grateful for those doctors that have some English at their disposal.

Anyway, he took my temperature by popping the thermometer under my armpit.  Not sure if I’ve ever had that happen at the doctors before.  Then he checked my throat with a metal tongue depressor.  Okay, I’ll admit this weirded me out a bit.  My first thought was, “When did you clean this?”.  I’m so used to the disposable tongue depressors.  In fact, the thermometer didn’t have one of those disposable plastic covers which are so common back home.

The doctor then announced I had the common cold.  Which I know I didn’t.  I’ve been sick at least twice a year since I was born.  I know my body and how it acts.  I figured it didn’t matter though, as long as I could get my hands on some antibiotics.

That wasn’t the end of it though.  The nurse took me behind a curtain and indicated that I should pull down my skirt.  Oh boy.  I had heard about Korea often used shot to the butt. She gave me two in the hips, one for each side.  Slightly embarrassing,  but I wanted my drugs!  They could have shot it in my neck, and I would have been okay with it.

With a prescription in hand, I was sent of to the pharmacy.  Korean pharmacies, like the clinics, are everywhere.  Really, there’s at least two on every street I’ve walked along.  They didn’t speak English there, but I have enough Korean under my belt now to understand when to take my medication.  I also found out that they sell some other vaguely medical items that could come in handy.  They’ve got floss(which I didn’t think you could get in Korea), mouth wash, vitamins, and….bug spray.  I guess keeping the mosquitoes away is good for your health.

The major bonus of visiting a clinic versus a hospital is the cost.  The doctor’s visit cost around 4,000 Won, and the pills were about 3,000!  That’s around 7 dollars for everything.  Definitely the cheapest doctor’s visit of my life.  Thank goodness for the Korean healthcare system.

This would have been my only visit to a Korean doctor, except I didn’t get better.  After another two weeks of feeling like crap, I asked to leave early so that I could finally go to the English clinic.  I have some medical problems that I just can’t explain in Korean at the moment.

The International Clinic at Keimyung University Hospital is made up of a few really good English speakers that fill out the paperwork for you, and escort you around to the different departments.  This worked out perfectly.  I got the same treatment as the Korean patients, just with a bit of translation.

While at the clinic, I had an x-ray, and a visit to the family medicine physician.  The visit itself was 17,000 won, and the x-ray was about 5,000.  What?  Even though this was much more than the clinic, I got to use English speaking facilities. I was seen very quickly, and I got a prescription suited to my illness.  If I am sick again in Korea, I will definitely go back to Keimyung.

I’m feeling much better, so I can start posting more again.

Sincheon Stream and Seomun Market

We had a day off this Friday for Korea’s foundation day. Not the foundation of the modern state, but way back in the day-even before the Jeoson Dynasty. It was nice to have another break. Really, Korea is spoiling me. First, we had three days off for Chuseok, and now this! I shouldn’t get too used to it though. There are no National Holidays in November. I’m still okay with that. I have the weekends to go exploring.

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I tried to do one new thing every vacation day. On Friday, I took the subway down to the local stream. I’d never been to that part of town, so it was nice to just look at the local shops on the way. Since my area is more industrial, we have more construction and sign making shops- that sort of thing. By the stream, there were more restaurants and beauty shops.

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The stream has more wildlife than anywhere else I’ve visited so far. There are herons, egrets, ducks, flocks of pigeons, and giant koi in and around the stream. Pigeons may not seem like a big deal, but there are so few of them here! Just today, a flock of sparrows surprised me on my walk. Those were the first sparrows I’ve seen.

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It’s really popular with locals for biking and exercise. They have recreation equipment dotted along the walkway. You can play basketball, tennis, croquet(nope. Not kidding), or do some hula hooping. They have giant black hula hoops, and I saw some adjummas using them. Probably the most unusual installation was a path of black rocks embedded in the sidewalk. You are supposed to walk on them with your shoes off. I guess it’s soothing? Another older woman was using it, and she didn’t seem to be in pain.

I’m really happy with all of the exercise equipment that is available to the public in Korea. I used to see a lot of machines in Southern California, but it wasn’t in the best shape. Maybe it was more of a fad in the 80’s, because I remember seeing them in the early 90’s. There was some installations along the bike trail in New Mexico, but I very rarely saw them in use. The Korean machines seem to be pretty well cared for, and used frequently.

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The trail goes on for quite a ways. I’m not sure how far, but it took me an hour to get to one end. Actually, I was a little too stubborn. When I saw how close the mountain range was to the trail, I decided to walk till the end. Ha ha! Looks are deceiving. It was worth the spectacular view, but it was a long ways back.

I ventured off of the path in search of food at one point. My face was growing pinker by the minute, and my throat had dried up a while ago. I stopped at a cafe called Sleepless in Seattle. It’s a Korean chain. The kiwi yogurt smoothie was tasty and filling, which is what I really needed.

When I got back to the subway, I made a stop in downtown. The craft store I have been trying to shop at for the past few weeks was finally open! I bought a pair sewing scissors and some yarn. The scissors were around 30,000 Won, which is around $30. Yes, it’s expensive, but I’m used to those kind of prices for sewing scissors back home. The yarn was about $9, which is super high compared to prices back home. It’s very good quality, but I probably won’t do much knitting or crocheting while I’m here.

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On Saturday, I visited Seomun Market for the first time. Seomun Market is one of the big reasons I chose Daegu over other Korean cities, and I was not dissapointed. It wasn’t too hard to reach from the subway station. It’s Sinam Station. Just go up exit 1, and keep walking down sock street. It’s not hard to tell you’re on the right path,because everyone is selling socks. In fact, I bought a cute pair with Scream on them.

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The market is a little overwhelming at first. There is so much to see. The food vendors are the first thing you spot from the entrance.

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People are selling dried fish, raw fish, fruits, rice, everything. I had to wander through a few of the buildings before I found the fabric vendors. I was in heaven. There is fabric everywhere. A faint chemical smell permeates the air, but it’s not overwhelming.

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Many of the fabric vendors specialize in hanbok, or traditional korean clothing. The silks they sell are fabulous, but a bit much for everyday wear. I settled on some red and white buffalo checkered fabric. I’m a little ashamed to say that I have no idea what kind of fabric it is. It feels like cotton blend, but I can’t say more than that. It costs 24,000 won. I was decently happy with the price until I got home and measured it. It’s four and a half yards! That is a really good deal. I can make two dresses out of that.

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The woman whom I bought the fabric from had an adjushi lead me over to the thread and zipper vendor afterwords. The spool of thread was 1,500 won, and the zipper was 500 won. Such a great price! I am going to be doing a lot of sewing this winter.

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I stopped at a small cafe in the market after that. There are several little fully designed cafes hidden in the market. They look a little jarring compared to the booths with food and other items. The royal milk tea was very good. I’ve struggled finding drinks that aren’t overly sweet here, and this one hit the spot. Just steamed milk and tea.

When I got back home, I bought some Twigum Mandu for dinner. Twigum Mandu is fried dumplings. I was totally unaware of this when I ordered it, but I don’t regret it. They may not be the healthiest, but it was a tasty one time treat.

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I went out again that day and got some Bungo Bbang. These are fish shaped waffles with red bean paste in them. Three of these bad boys were 1,000 won. They are so good. Really, I should stay as far away from them as possible, because they will disappear into mah belleh.

Reading this, I’m realizing how many fatty yet delicious foods I had. Oops. Yesterday wasn’t the healthiest day food-wise, but it’s okay. I can always be more active and food conscious today.

In fact, I’m going back to the stream to ride my bicycle. The weather is cooling down with the arrival of fall, and I don’t mean to waste it. This is my favorite time of year!

Orientation

I finally realized that I never posted about orientation! Psh, I’ve been having some major brain fuzzies since I got here. There’s just so much to think about right now. I’ve been in Daegu three weeks now, so it’s high time to talk about orientation.

When I first got to Incheon airport, I was in an odd state of mind. There was the bit of panic about being in a country where I do not speak the language. The jetlag was present. I had just spent about 13 hours on an airplane next to a screaming five year old. No fun. Overall, I was excited. I was in Korea! This is the first foreign country I’ve even been to, besides Canada.

Canada doesn’t count as much though, because I took a ferry from Washington to get there. Not exactly a strenuous journey. Plus, they speak English, so it’s not the same kind of upheaval.

Incheon airport is pretty nice. They have displays of a variety of traditional Korean crafts, and an internet cafe on the top floor. There’s also some pretty great duty free shopping, and eatery.

I had my very first kimbap triangle. The packaging confused me at first, but I’m an expert now. The trick is to pull the little tab on the wapper. The seaweed is separated from the rice to keep it from getting soggy. If you just unwrap the ends like I did, the seaweed will come away from the kimbap entirely.

I also split some doughnuts with another girl. We got a banana strawberry one, and a glutinous rice one. Both were pretty tasty. The glutinous rice gives the doughnut a very chewy texture. I liked them both a lot, but I realized there were poppy seeds in the glutinous rice one! I only took two bites, and threw the rest away. I still had my physical in two days, and I did not want to take any chances.

After I had passed through immigrations(I’ll never believe I actually did that), I headed over to luggage claim. Because I had painted my bags, they were very easy to spot. So glad I did that. Incheon Airport provides complementary carts for your luggage. I really needed that with two bags weighing about 50 lbs each. I’m not that strong.

All of the EPIK teachers camped out around a couple of benches near the food court. We were an odd bunch, surrounded by all of the Koreans. I bet we looked pretty sweaty and nasty after everyone’s long flight. I’d had a chance to freshen up on the plane. Asiana Airlines provides free toothbrushes, toothpaste, and mouthwash. That had helped me feel much better, but my face still felt gross.

Because I had arrived early, I had to wait five hours for the first bus into Jeonju. The orientation was at a university in Jeonju, which was a three hour bus ride from Incheon. That first day involved a lot of travel.

I fell asleep at least twice on the bus. The plane wasn’t that comfortable to sleep on. For some reason, the bus lulled me into napping, even though I was trying to see as much as possible.

We took a break at a rest stop around the two hour mark. These are pretty common here, and there’s usually more to do here than at the gas stations back home. A few of us wandered around to where they had some giant squirrel statues, trying to shake off the lethargy.

After fifteen minutes, it was back on the bus. The last hour went pretty fast, and then we were off. Everyone lined up for room assignments. You were placed with whoever of the same sex was next to you in line. That worked out in my favor, because my roommate was one of the girls I had talked to on the bus. None of the awkwardness of being placed with someone you’ve never met.

You know, like that first day in college dorms, when you have no idea what kind of roommate you got.

We ran to dinner after that. The food was really good quality at orientation. And yes, every meal included kimchi. Why wouldn’t it?

I conked out at about 8 o’clock that night. The great thing about that was I had recuperated pretty well the next day. I still got up around 4 in the morning, but I didn’t feel tired the next day.

We had the opening ceremony after breakfast that day. There was an awesome Taikwondo demonstration, and a speaker about Korean culture. He was also a foreigner, so he had some good points for us newbies.

The second day, we had our physical. I was a little nervous about it, mainly because they had forbidden us from drinking anything the night before. I have rolling veins; and if I don’t drink anything about an hour before I have my blood drawn, it can get nasty. The phlebotomist was really good though. I watched him put the needle in, and I couldn’t feel a thing. I’m one of those weird people that can watch themselves getting their blood drawn. Even when he took the needle out, there was barely any pain.

Some people were so anxious, they had to be taken behind a curtain, and have someone rub their arm and talk to them while their blood was drawn. I guess that can really bother some people. Honestly, I ‘d rather get my blood drawn than go on a roller coaster. Everyone has their own quirks.

I was craving a glass of water and some real food by the time it was over, but they only had grape juice and pastries. Eh, anything is better than nothing. The pastry didn’t do much for my blood sugar though.

Now that we were a little settled, classes began. There were three or four classes every day. On top of that, we were expected to design and present a lesson. We were all so busy! The lectures were all great, but it was a lot to cram into one week.

There were classes on classroom maintenance, lesson planning, working with a co teacher, speech intonation, and a bunch of other topics. Everything was useful, and I’ve used some of the ideas already. Probably the one thing I’ve used the most are the different ways to gain the attention of the class. Some of the different methods are different claps, or turning off the lights. They’ve all been pretty effective.

We also had Korean lessons around 7 o’clock each night. These were really useful. I had learned Hangul and some basics before I got here, but it helped to hear a native speaker. I’m still having trouble with numbers. It’s not that I don’t know them. It’s just hard for me to translate in my head when someone tells me the price of an item. Hopefully, that improves with time.

At the end of the orientation, we presented the lesson we had worked on with our group. I had two other group members, and taught a class for third grade. We only had 15 minutes to cover a 40 minute lesson, so it was pretty crazy. I’m glad that’s over with. I put too much stress on myself with that project.

The best part of orientation happened after classes- exploring Jeonju! I didn’t get to see much, since I only traveled within walking distance. What I saw was great though. In the area around the college, there was a lot of restaurants and cafes. It was a little out of the city, so most of the buildings were rural. There was a lot of urban gardening, which made me very happy. People were growing onions in the tiny space by their apartments. Little fields were full of pepper plants, and squash. I loved seeing so much green right next to the city.

The city was so wonderful. I’ve been in LA and Chicago before, but Korea trumps the US in density. There are so many people, and so much shopping in one area. It’s all vertical, because of the scarcity of flat land. Most of Korea is mountainous, so they use whatever ground they can.

I went out a couple of times with my roommate and a few others. We saw the Lotte Mart, where the big Toys R’ Us was on the third floor. One time, we tried out a bar in the city. Most bars in Korea make you get food with your order, so we got an omelet. I’d never had eggs with beer before. The funniest thing was that we got Japanese beer instead of Korean beer. It was mighty tasty though.

Just walking around all of the streets and seeing what was there stood out as the most memorable thing. Window shopping and people watching were so much fun. There’s always a lot going on in a big city, and I love to fade into the background and watch it all take place.

A lot of the EPIK teachers were nervous that whole week, because we weren’t supposed to know which school we had been placed at. We spent five days learning to teach elementary to high school, when we had no idea what would be appropriate. It didn’t make much sense to me, but I got an email from the teacher I was replacing about four days into orientation. What a relief! I was so happy to be placed in elementary. I feel like that age group is much easier to design creative projects for- at least for me.

I’m very happy to be in my apartment now. No more living out of suitcases. The big reveal is still to come. When I first arrived, the apartment was pretty empty. I’ve been waiting till I have it decorated to show you all. Soon!

Etude House BB Cream

Oh, Korean make up, where have you been all of my life? I finally ran out of my American BB cream yesterday, and had to buy some more. I was pretty eager to try out Korean BB cream, because I’d heard so many great things about it.

EtudeHouseBag

I went to the local HomePlus to buy it. HomePlus is a large department store in Korea. There everywhere. You can buy groceries, furniture, electronics, and clothing. It’s almost like a Costco, but with smaller portion sizes.

The cosmetics area is divided by brand, with a different employee manning each section. For instance, I cannot buy my Skinfood with my Etude house items. You have to purchase make two separate purchases from two different counters.

I went to the Etude house area, because I’m familiar with the brand. And it’s cute. Yes, I make decisions based on design. I’m unashamed!

EtudeHouseBBCream

The woman working at the counter was hovering a bit. I think they are supposed to assist you, but the language barrier can be a little hard to cross. I tested out a couple of the sample colors till I found one the matched my skin pretty well. I was able to ask if they had the sample shade available, and she brought my BB Cream to the cute, pink counter. Everything Etude House is pink. Everything!

EtudeHouseSamples

The great thing about Korean cosmetics is that they always give you a bunch of free samples when you buy something. My purchase came with two samples each of ‘Milky You’ cleansing foam, and ‘True Art’ cleansing oil. There was also a little pack of collagen emulsion and lotion.

CollagenSamples

I lugged it all back home to try it out. It takes a lot less Korean BB Cream for full coverage than the American stuff. In fact, I was really impressed how well it worked. It doesn’t match perfectly when you put it on, but it oxidizes to match your skin tone.

My American BB cream has been slipping off my face ever since I arrived in Korea. All of this humidity and heat is making me sweat bullets. One of the first things I noticed about the Etude House BB cream is how well it stays on my face. It’s much drier than the American stuff, and I’m perfectly happy with that. It doesn’t dry out your skin, and you can barely feel it.

Reading the package, this stuff has ground pearls in it. I’ve got pearls on my face! I’m excited.

The samples were also great. I tried out both the foam and the oil. The foam was best to clean my entire face, but I really like the oil for the area around my eyes. Once I get payed, I may go on a cosmetics shopping spree.

I highly recommend this stuff if you can get your hands on it. I really wish they had this available in the states. I’m going to miss it when I get back home.