November 24, 2007

My Mount Mai

This past weekend we decided that it would be our last opportunity to escape into the country for a little exposure to the grandeurs of a Korean Autumn. Spying a keenly placed advertisement in the subway a few weeks before, Trevor knew where we must go. One of the most unique yet widely kept secrets of the Korean peninsula, Mai-san.

Mai Mountain, became a registered national treasure on October 31st, 2003 as Korean national treasure number 12. Raising high above the surrounding range, the "female" Maibong (673m) and the "Male" Miabong (667m) are distinctly Asian and the only 'couple' mountains in the world.

Over the millennium the mountain has been called by many names: Seoda-san, Yongchul-bong and Sokgeum-san. However, more recently it has been called, Mai-san because its two peaks are said to resemble the ears of a horse.

It also has other names influenced by its distinct shape within each season: Dottae-bong (spring-sail of a boat), Yonggak-bong (summer-Dragon's horn), Mai-bong (autumn-peak of horse ear) and Munpil-bong (winter-writing brush).

As luck would have it we arrived the night before a hard frost and were able to capture the maples in their full array.

Nate and Jessica Crew were as eager to accompany us on our adventure as we were to have their company. While Jess and I frolicked in the leaves, Nate and Trevor discussed more masculine issues like Fall fashion, handbags and weekend spa trips.

One Hundred and One Stone Pagodas

On the south side of Mount Mai, it is said that there were once over 120 pagodas, unfortunately only about 80 exist today. All of them built by one Buddhist monk over the last century, they tower tall over the valley below.

It is said that there is something very mysterious about these pagodas. No matter how violent the weather, even during storms, they somehow do not sway or fall. As we walked through the towering peaks we were constantly reminded by the frowns and the unwavering glares of the care taking monks to walk straight and be aware of our surroundings as to not 'accidentally' knock one of these ancient pagodas over. I don't know about Trevor but I felt like someone had spent a lot of time setting up hundreds of dominoes and right when they were about to set them over, someone stopped the fun. Cheonju-tap (Head Pagoda) sits at the top of the rise, just above the main temple.

November 23, 2007

Train Ride

Transportation in Korea is amazing. Flights and buses departing every twenty minutes, trains leaving on the hour, and the KTX, which travels at 300Km/hr, racing through the main artery of Korea, all delivering travelers to various cities peppered all over the peninsula.

A relaxing slow train was our choice of transportation for our weekend getaway.

We curled up in a comfortable seat beside the window and watched the world drift by as the engine drew us farther away from the sights and sounds of the city.

While the scenery was great, the weather was freakishly cold. While waiting for the train to return to Seoul we all found our different ways to keep warm. Nate cuddled with his cup of vending machine coffee, Trevor danced on the waiting benches, Jess ran around snapping pictures to preserve her memories and I stood cool as a cucumber wondering what I had gotten myself into.

November 20, 2007

A Lofty View

Around a month ago we were delighted to discover a quaint little park snaking along the top of the ridge behind our apartment. Standing in the grand pagoda at one end of the park boasts the scenery of the glowing banks of the Han River. In contrast, the patios and terraces located in the polar end of the park overlook the bustling downtown business center.

While none of us would deny our pleasure in our evening strolls, Kimchi is by far the most appreciative of the freedoms of this newly found space. Running to his heart content, he is more than pleased to be off his leash. Trevor and I, on the other hand, enjoy the breathtaking views of the city-nightlife.

November 16, 2007

Ducksu Sports Day

Yet another fun-filled day at Ducksu Middle School: Sport's Day. The grade 7 and 8 students were thrilled; no classes. The grade 9 students were exultant; senior year competition. But, most of all the teachers were elated; no marking, discipline or planning. Really, a win-win situation.

Miss. Kim and I proudly posing in our 3-4 homeroom shirts. As part of the senior's competition each class strives to create the most unique homeroom shirt. Our shirts brilliantly say, in all the collective grade nine wisdom,'ap' or 'front'. And, the back, which is equally as impressive reads, 'dwee' or 'back'.

Five grade 9 boys cuddle as they watch the grade 7 and 8's battle in tug-of-war. Notice the beautiful pink skirt worn by the smirking student in the middle. And, below three girls pretend to be shy as I snap a picture of them waiting for the parent/teacher race to begin.

November 14, 2007

Congratulations Troy and Sonja. We wish you the best!

November 9, 2007

Korean + English = Konglish

For those of you who have been following our adventures for the past year you should remember the unique topic of Konglish. And, for those of you who have better things to do than read our constant ramblings or who may have a short term memory, much like my own, here is a little refreshment.
  • Konglish is a mix between the Korean language (Hangul) and the English language, as the title suggests.
We may be slow at picking up Hangul but we have mastered the art of Konglish. Here are a few treats for those of you who enjoy the effects of merging cultures.

-This disater happened when my students decided that they wanted to make a class shirt. They wanted text on the back. Instead of asking me to proofread, they sent the draft off to the printers. Hence the result.-

-And my personal favorite. Call it as you may, but I find this notebook hilarious. Any casual conversation is not complete without, "I'm on my way to poo-poo. It's a sort of emergency situation!"-

November 3, 2007

Heung-In Elementary's Sports Day

The other week, my school's grade 5 and 6 students participated in a sports day. The day consisted of many simple group sports like jump rope, giant ball toss and everyone's favorite, soccer.

I, Trevor, would love to say that my student took first at the end of the day, or even that they placed in the top 3, but that would be a lie. In reality I think they were somewhere near the bottom of the barrel, like last place. None the less, I firmly believe that my student are super fun and not to mention, good looking. That must count for something, right?

November 2, 2007


Suraksan, not to be confused with Soraksan, (which we visited earlier this Fall) was a beautiful and somewhat unanticipated day hike. We set out to hike a well trodden trail in Northern Seoul one Sunday afternoon and after being turned away from the mountain (who knew that dogs were not allowed on mountains, go figure) we ended up on this alternative hike so close to our old home in Seoul.Along with Mike and Kris, and what felt like every Korean in Seoul, we rambled on up to the top for a great view, a delicious melon popsicle and the discovery that Buddhists first invented the monkey trio: see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, and speak-no-evil, who is, I'm sorry to say, missing in action.