Since I am a Canadian, a hockey player and happen to be in Korea during the Olympics I had to go and see the women’s hockey gold medal game. I mean it’s the kind of thing you don’t go to very often and that I might just go to once in my life.
And so a few months ago I slurged on the tickets, which then became a Chrismas/bday present from my parents (my parents are awesome!). Then a few weeks ago I bought my train tickets and made sure to arrive early and leave late just in case the game went late and to have time to walk around after the game. After an early wake up, I headed to the subeay and then made my way to the train station. At the platform there were a ton of foreigners I almost thought I was in Canada or the US, I hadn’t heard that much English since I was in Canada. After an uneventful 2hr train ride I arrived at Gangneung and I tried to find my way to the shuttle that would take me to the venue.
There were a bunch of signs everywhere to point us in the right direction and volunteers scattered here and there also that asked you where you were going if you seemed lost. I must have seemed lost since volunteers came up to me twice and then pointed me in the right direction. They spoke English well and were very nice. I managed to make my way to the venue and after going through security walked around a little to see what there was to see. There were a few things to see including the store but the lineups were ridiculous for everything so I just made my way to the arena about an hour early.
Once inside I had to figure out where my seat was I sat to a lovely Korean family who were also cheering for the Canadians YAY! As per usual the game was an sit on the edge of your seat throughout kind of game. It was a close game and very exciting to watch, I am not disappointed at all to have gone. I am a little disappointed that the Canadians lost though… But that’s OK we will have many other chances to face the US again and hopefully get our gold medal spot back.
So after not sleeping and sweating the night away we started our morning with another shower… And then hoped on the bus and dropped our bags back in a locker, had some Dunkin Doughnuts for breakfast and headed to our first stop for the day: Haedong Yonggung Temple. It’s a temple that’s on a cliff side and has some gorgeous views of the beach and ocean. It’s another popular spot and since it was the day after Lunar New Year there were many people there.
We had lunch and then we headed to Gamcheon culture village. I didn’t really have any interest in this particular place but my friend wanted to come here. Apparently it’s a really popular place though I’m not really sure why, I mean the houses are colourful but that’s about it.
Anyway we went there… We some time left before our train back to Soul so we decided to go to Busan tower which wasn’t too far from where we were or from where we needed to go to take the train. In the end it wasn’t much different than Seoul tower, and the view wasn’t that great either but it was ok.
We still had about an hour and a half before our train but that wasn’t enough time to do anything else so we headed to the train station and just sat in a cafe until it was time to take the train home. Unfortunately because it was right after Lunar New Year we only had seated tickets for about 40mins of the ride home and spent the rest of the ride standing so that sucked… I’ll remember that the next time I want to travel during a holiday and book early… Standing for 2 hours after spending 2 days walking wasn’t a great way to end the trip but I had fun nonetheless and got to see Busan. I might have to go again when it’s warmer it is a beach city after all 🙂
One of my classmates wanted to go to Busan after the end of the semester and asked me if I wanted to go. It would be during the Lunar New Year so I would also have time off from work, I hadn’t been to Busan yet and planned on going eventually so I said yes. If I didn’t go I probably would have ended up doing nothing for 4 days and then regretting not doing anything by the end of the time off… I did get 2 days to sleep in between the end of term and when we left for Busan, we left early in the morning on Feb 16 the actual day of Lunar New Year. Probably because it was the actual day the train wasn’t too crowded, we got to Busan in about 2 and a half hours (we took the KTX). It is the most expensive of the trains but also the fastest, there is another train that takes about 5 hours.
We arrived in Busan at around 10am and the first place on our list was the skywalk which is a 50mins bus ride from where we arrived. After putting our bags in a lockers at the station we went off to find our bus. The place is pretty easy to find as it is located on a cliff, is a rather popular attraction and is also the final stop on the bus that we took. There were other tourists on the bus as well who weren’t sure where to go and asked us, maybe because we were speaking in Korean, I don’t know. Oh I forgot to mention, my friend is Japanese and doesn’t speak English and I clearly don’t speak Japanese so we can only speak Korean together, so we got a good deal of speaking practice over two days 🙂 Anyway the sky walk was pretty nice, there are some apartment building located here and I would love to live here but it is probably ridiculously expensive…
Our next stop on our first day was Taejongdae Resort Park, it’s basically a forest path with a beach a few other attractions within including a beach and a lighthouse. Walking the 4+km path took about 2.5 hours if you take your time and take a bunch of pictures everywhere 😉 But there is also a little train (it’s not really a train, but it is shaped like one…) that drives around the path that costs about 3.50$ if you don’t want to walk.
After nearly 30,000 steps on day 1 it was time to call it quits for the day, it was also about 7 or8pm by the time we finished dinner and well we were pretty tired so we headed to the jimjilbang for the night. Jimjilbangs are Korean public bath houses, at the bigger ones you can also sleep there for super cheap. It was a holiday when we went so it was a bit more expensive than usual but still just 12,000KRW/person so about 15$ CAD. If your shy or don’t like the idea of being showering with other peopl than I wouldn’t recommend this for you but it’s definitely great for a budget traveler in Korea. It was my first time in one and the nudity wasn’t what bothered me but it was very noisy and the sleeping room was ridiculously hot. It must have been 35 degrees in that room, so I basically didn’t sleep… But it wasn’t expensive at least, day 2 coming up tomorrow.
I haven’t been posting a lot since the new year since I started working part time in January and have found that I basically have no free time on weekdays.
The semester went by pretty fast and will be coming to an end on Tuesday. We had our finals this week and although I didn’t do as well as I would have liked on some of my exams I did better than expected on otjers and managed to make it out with a good average. Since I was repeating level 2 I am a little disapointed that I wasn’t able to do better but since I started working this semester I will consider that partof thr reason and will adjust for next semester.
Since I was repeating and already knew the grammar and vocabulary for the semester I don’t think I can work everyday and pass level 3. So I have spoken to my boss about changing my schedule since I won’t be able to maintain this schedule and pass level 3 next semester so starting in March I will only be working 3 days a week. Anyway we have nearly 3 weeks off this time around so I hope to find time to do some travelling at least around Korea if not anywhere else but my term break where I teach falls at the same time so I might get a chance to go somewhere else as well. After all travelling in Asia from Korea is quite cheap, and the cost of living is also cheap so it’s makes for some really cheap vacations. Plus I’d like to go somewhere warm, I’m tired of the cold…
So I managed to find a job teaching English, still waiting on confirmation from immigration but I have started working. You get a 2 months grace period while you wait for your background check since it takes a while to go through the whole process from Korea.
First you have to get your prints taken at the police station, and hope you are lucky enough to run into an officer who speaks English. I was very lucky and did actually run into an English speaking officer and he was very nice and helped me with the whole process. Then you have to find a Canadian company that will send your prints to the RCMP, that’s pretty easy if you go on the embassy’s website since they have a list of companies that have the service. Then you mail your prints, which is actually pretty fast and cheap from Canada to Korea. Once the company receives your prints they process them and send them electronically to the RCMP and they check to see if you have a criminal record. Basically they want to check if you have any sexual charges (at least that’s what I heard), last time this went pretty fast when I did it in Canada. Once the RCMP has your record back there are two options: they can send it to you directly or a third person in Canada or send it back to the company who can forward it to you internationally. I chose to have it sent to my brother since the company charged in US$ if I had it sent internationally and it ended up being really expensive. So now I’m waiting for my brother to get it so he can send it to me. Once I receive it we can go to immigration and I should be able to get confirmation on my working status.
But that’s actually not at all what I wanted to talk about, but the whole background check process was actually a pain in the butt. Anyway I started working on Jan 2, the problem is I work about 1 hour from where I live so the commute is killing me. Here is my schedule right now: 9-1 school, 5-6 travel 6-9:30 teach, 9:45-10:45 travel. I actually only recently realized that I can take the 5pm subway to get to work on time so I will be testing that out again this week, I can get to work at 5:55 which is a little last minute but at least it gives me more time to study between school and work, since before I had to take the 4pm subway. The line I take to go to work only has one train per hour so my options are limited, I could take another line but then I have to transfer twice and it takes over 1 hour so I don’t really want to use that option.
The teaching itself is not particularly difficult I don’t need to prepare anything and have everything I need in the books provided by the school, but keeping up with this schedule (even though it’s only been 2 weeks) is already killing me. I haven’t decided what I will do yet but I don’t think I will be able to maintain this when I go to level 3. Maybe I will have to put more effort into finding online work… I will have to give it some thought…
I had a super exciting new years eve… I moved. And even though I basically only have clothes and trinkets here it was a pain in the ass, and reminded me that moving sucks. I’m really not sure why I even forgot that really, but anyway, in case you all were wondering, it still sucks 😡 I didn’t really keep track of how much time it took but it took about 3 trips back and forth and I’d guess about 2-3 hours since I had to pack and unpack suitcases a few times. I ran in to a friend while I was moving so she gave me a hand after my second trip so that helped to go faster too.
The best and most awesome part of the new place of course is having my own bathroom, being able to shower and not having the shower pressure change multiple times is a wondrous thing. That and not having to wait for someone else to get ready in the morning or take a shower is also super awesome 😀 The only disadvantage being I have to clean the bathroom but all the advantages more than make up for that. The room is about the same size as my previous room so I haven’t lost out there either, and so far the food is OK. The lady who runs the place took new years day off so I don’t really know what the meals are like yet but there are always side dishes available and those were pretty good, plus there were fried eggs 🙂 (which we never had at my other place). Here are some pictures of my room, it’s a bit of a mess though…
In Korea Christmas doesn’t seem to be a really big thing, what I mean by that is at my school we only have Christmas day off. And actually even for New Years we only have 2 days, we do have 3 days off for Chinese New Years in February though (although that fall during vacation so who cares really…). Anyway as I was saying it doesn’t seem to big a really big deal here, which seems kind of odd to me since a lot of Koreans are Catholic I think. I haven’t really seen any house decorations, I’ve seen a little but not to the extent that you would see in Canada or the US.
It’s fine with me really I don’t really do Christmas anyway, and I actually hate Christmas music (except for I think 3 songs). Back in Canada since my parents have been going to Florida every winter for the last few years so we don’t have any family events or anything; although I did go see them at Christmas a few times in Florida. I’m pretty sure my brother feels the same as me about Christmas (extra time off, yay!) so we don’t usually do anything either but we did go ice climbing last year which was an interesting experience.
Now that I am in Korea I still don’t really care much about Christmas which is reflected in the fact that I didn’t even realize that it was in less than 5 days. Anyway some of the girls I live with were talking about poutine the other day, and specifically about one restaurant. There is only one restaurant on Korea that we know of that makes proper poutine (with curd cheese), there is no curd cheese in Korea so this restaurant actually makes it’s own cheese. I went there once with some classmates who also wanted to try poutine, and it was pretty good. So my plans for Christmas day are to go to Itaewon to eat some poutine with some of the girls I live with. My new years plans are equally weird since I will be moving on New Years eve… More on that later, and pictures after I move of course 🙂