Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Seoul Grand Park Zoo

Here are some pictures from my trip to the Seoul Grand Park Zoo. It is the largest zoo in Korea and the10th largest zoo in the world.

Matt and Jiyeon riding the sky lift up to the zoo. I could have stayed on this all day! It was a nice view.   

A view of the lake and Seoul Land, which is an amusement park.  

Entering the zoo 


Now, we decided the racoons were hungry so we fed them cookies. The next pictures really creep me out (and I took them). So, proceed with caution.  

Now the baby monkeys are really adorable! Especially with their little toys.

Don't mind me, I'm just going to step on you while you are sleeping.  

They also had giant land turtles at the zoo. ha

Sunday, May 29, 2011

DMZ and North Korea

I entered into North Korea today. I took a tour of the DeMilitarized Zone with the USO, which is supposed to be the best tour to take. It allows all foreigners to go except Koreans. I think the reason being that we come ‘face to face’ with North Korean soldiers. We not only saw the DMZ, but also the JSA, which is the Joint Security Area. I met at Camp Kim, which is a US military base in Seoul with a friend, Jeremy. The bus then took us up north.

When we got to the JSA area were greeted by a member of the US army who checked our passports and then brought us to the briefing room. This is where another member of the US army gave a speech on the history of the DMZ line, where it runs, how it is marked, guarded, etc. We then headed to the Freedom building which is a meeting building for North and South Korea.

view from the steps of the Freedom Building

The UNCMAC building where talks between North and South Korea happen. This is when the tour guide said everyone on his left was standing in North Korea and everyone on his right was standing in South Korea. I was on his left.

My feet in North Korea.

Helping guard South Korea

We were then shown each lookout tower and got out at tower number 3. This is a location where we were surrounded by North Korea on 3 sides. Now, even though this whole area is heavily guarded by soldiers from so many different countries it is actually a really peaceful place. They take pride in the nature and beauty of the area. There are mountains, trees, rice patties and it is the home to a lot of wildlife.

A view of North Korea

Everyone fights over who has the bigger flag and flag pole. This North Korean flag weighs 300 pounds standing weight. They have to take it down in bad weather or it will be destroyed by it's own weight.
A view of North Korea and the bridge of no return
The bridge of no return. The name is literal.

We then got to walk through tunnel number 3. There are 4 known tunnels that the North Koreans built to invade South Korea. When South Korea found these tunnels the North Koreans first denied the tunnels saying that South Korea really built them. When it was proved impossible to have been done by the South Koreans, due to the direction the dynamite was positioned, the North Koreans painted coal on the sides saying they were mining for coal. The entire tunnel is made of granite. Fail again, North Korea. We then got to go to the observation tower that looks out into North Korea and lets you see the closest city.
At the observation tower.
Dorasan train station is the last station in South Korea. This isn't actually a used train station. It was just built in hopes that one day North and South Korea will be united and when that day comes they will have a station built to connect the two countries.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Namsan Tower, Seoul

The other day I walked into my classroom a little before 9am. Angelina and John are always the first ones there and they get there before me. I greeted them good morning when John looked at me in complete fear like a deer in headlights. John is really smart and picks things up really quickly. He understands that when the phone rings I don’t pick it up because the person on the other end is speaking Korean and I don’t speak Korean. A lot of the other kids insist on constantly telling me the phone is ringing as if I don’t hear it in the middle of the room. I said, “John, why do you look so scared?” He looked at me with his little face and eyes so wide and said, “speaking Korean.”

I think my face looked the same when I went to get my first Thai massage. Now, massage places are everywhere it’s just some are the places you want to go to and others you don't. Some give, let’s say, “happy endings.” So, for me it was just a matter of finding the right one. Pretty much all you have to do is look up at the buildings to find what you want here. That’s when I saw:
(tae guk ma-sa-ji). Sound it out and… success! I walked in and asked the girl for a massage. I expected her to have me make some kind of appointment, but she had me pay and said follow me. She showed me where I could change my clothes and had me put on this outfit that looked like scrubs with a t-shirt and shorts and then I went back out and waited. She offered me a drink and then after a few minutes introduced me to this little Korean lady. The other girl spoke some English so she told me if I needed anything to just yell for her and she would help me.

So, I first sat in this chair and the lady washed my feet then she took me back to this room that had 2 Korean style beds on the floor, which are really just mats. She asked me if I wanted it “strong or a little strong” I told her a little strong, luckily because OUCH! She started on my legs and at first I thought she was going to break them! She was able to get a few English words out and asked where I was from. That’s when she said, “why your body not like American, it like Korean?” I get that a lot here, I suppose for good reason.
Well, luckily the massage only started out really painful and then turned out to be really awesome. It was an hour and a half and she did a lot of stretching, massaging, pushing and pulling. She definitely didn’t get paid nearly enough for all the work she did. Well, my first Korean Thai massage was an overall success and I left feeling great!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Since last Sunday was Teacher’s Day, today all the teachers got to go to Everland. Everland is Korea’s version of Disney World. There are shops, rides, food, shows and some zoo animals. Unfortunately the weather was overcast all day, but luckily it wasn’t raining while we were there. Also, it wasn’t very crowded which was nice.
We took a bus to Everland, which is near Seoul, I believe. We met another group of kindergarten teachers and took the bus with them. I’m not really sure why since we immediately split up from them when we got there and we didn’t take the same bus home.

some of the teachers

the English teachers and 2 of the 5 year old teachers

"Sarah teacher, Korean tigers!" ---oh? haha

We went on some rides and then all had lunch together. Instead of the Micky Mouse and Minnie Mouse ears they sell everywhere in Disney world, Everland sells all different types of animal ears. The headmaster bought us each a pair of the ears of our choice so we wore them around like everyone else: young, old, men, women and children. J

most of the teachers with our ears

Everland has a ride similar to the "It's a Small World" ride at Disney World, minus the song that everyone loves so much! It's cool to see another country's take on each country in the world.


Now, the next two are from the USA.

So, apparently football players, cheerleaders and bull riders are all typical in America.

Oh, and the Statue of Liberty that Korea really likes.


We took the bus back to Incheon and had dinner together. Now, dinners with the headmaster are usually a dreaded event for most of the girls. The first time we all went out to dinner was when I saw what she does. She continues to pour people alcohol regardless of if they want some or not. Then she will make toasts and make the other teachers make toasts. Basically no one can ever have an empty glass, but you also can’t avoid not refilling your glass. The first time we all went out to dinner I thought I was so cleaver by politely declining her offer for more Soju or more beer while the other girls who didn’t want anymore would say ok and then when no one was looking dump their glass into their soup bowls or hide their glasses under the table. I thought this was ridiculous and they should just say no like I was. Then today I found out why. If the headmaster was ready for another toast and my glass was half full she would say, “Sarah Teacher, one shot, please.” Now, “one shot” in Korea means: “bottoms up, finish your drink.” Luckily the meal was so spicy I actually needed to drink this horrible tasting Korean beer! I was eating what the headmaster said was “medium spice”. When I saw my face in the bathroom it was bright red and my lips were on fire. Oh, and on top of that I ate octopus tonight…that might be the last time I sit next to the headmaster at dinner! Oh, how did the octopus taste, you ask? Like plastic flavored rubber J mmm mmm!

Seoul Milk Factory

On Monday all the 7 year old classes went to the Seoul Milk Factory. We got to take a tour of the factory and then watch a video on how milk is healthier than soda while we drank samples of strawberry milk. The video showed an evil man who was forcing kids to drink soda and then they were getting really fat. Then it showed them drinking Seoul Milk and they were suddenly healthy and skinny. It was quite the concept, but it was easy to understand, even in Korean.

A fish made out of milk cartons. They had a lot of cute artwork made out of milk cartons and yogurt wrappers.