Posts Tagged Ulsan
This Saturday just gone was the main event of this year’s annual Whale Festival in Ulsan, and it was a really excellent day. Of course in the preceding weeks all the buzz and the build-up had centred around the dragon boating tournament – especially as training sessions had started in earnest – and with 15 or so teams of 18 foreigners signed up, bragging rights were well and truly at stake. Each team was named after a different whale and the Narwhals – having had one semi-successful practise under a monsoon a week prior, and having been given just the one day to prepare suitable matching outfits in the style of a “post-apocalyptic, Mad Max, barbarian, viking, neon, glitter bandit” – assembled in dribs and drabs, collectively a hotchpotch mishmash mess, shortly before 9 in the morning. Someone suggestively pulled a couple of six-packs of lager from a rucksack, everyone eyed everyone else with silent, superficial “should-we-shouldn’t-we?” stares, then someone else cracked one open and our preparations began.
Yesterday was my 8-month Korea teaching contract anniversary; I’m two-thirds of the way through it and with just four months to go and plently still to see here I thought it would be a good idea to write a bucket list of sorts. I’ll include things I’ve already done, as the memories of them will bring a great big cheesy grin to my face as I write. If anyone can think of any more that would be fantastic!
We did it! We finally did it! After seven months and thirteen days in this country, Elizabeth and I managed to sufficiently muster enough energy and enthusiasm to experience Korea’s national past-time – hiking. It’s been on the agenda for a few months now – “oh, we’ll just wait for that really nice Sunday you occasionally get here and then go” – but as the weekends have rolled around other, less strenous activities have been preferred: drinking, lie-ins, making sure we’re up to date with whatever TV shows we’re watching. Until now. Read the rest of this entry »
Perhaps a strange first choice, but I love the Taehwagang, the river that meanders east down from the mountainous surroundings of the city and opens out into the East Sea. With it forming a direct route between my flat and Elizabeth’s (and coupled with her inability to do anything other than lie in bed after a day at work) I spend a lot of my time cycling up and down it, and so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to bask in lots of what it has to offer. The stretch I use most often is long and straight, and seen from above would resemble a set of coloured pencils: blue river; green walkway; red cycle path; brown grass and vegetation; and then grey road. My favourite thing about it is the people you see there. Read the rest of this entry »
Here I am once again – in a chair, at a desk, in front of a computer screen, lamenting the strictness of whichever section of my contract that stipulates I must stay at school for forty hours of every week, whether there are kids or other teachers here or not. The first lessons of the new term don’t begin until Monday, meaning the next few days will consist of crossword-solving, reading, watching sports highlights, and many, many hours on Sporcle. That doesn’t sound too bad, I bet you’re thinking. It’s not. It’s how I spend lots of my free time anyway. I’d just rather be doing it in bed, not at school; and in my boxers, not a shirt and tie. Being here also makes the prospect of the imminent holiday-free five months a lot more real, so to counter this I’m going to write about the one I’ve just had. Read the rest of this entry »
They say you’re more likely to achieve your goals if you tell people about them, and what better way to do that than post them on the Internet? Perhaps one of mine should be to improve my sense of timing as we’re already over 3% of the way through the year and most people have given up their resolutions by now – but I’m going to try to stick with the Korean theme of this blog and there’ll be no “become more organised” or “lose 3kg by the beginning of summer” here. Not that I need to anyway, seeing as though I’m still known as ‘Teacha Six-Pack’ by many of my students. Perhaps another should be “write blog more often”, but they also say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and so you regular readers out there (all three of you) should… well, have pretty fond hearts by now. Anyway, my goals. Here are three:
Over the last few weeks and months Elizabeth and I have heard about a number of “cultural” excursions that are run in and around Ulsan by the council. These being free, we decided to see what a couple of them were like. At Korean class we were handed information sheets in English, we received text messages in English confirming our registration, and these trips were generally said to be fairly foreigner-friendly – and with us being as into free stuff as we are, naturally our interest was piqued.
I’ve just been inspired by a truly excellent school dinner to write again about food in Korea. What’s that? What did I have? Well, for starters, the kimchi was pretty nice today, and for the first time in a while I wished I’d had more. I had one scrumptious side dish of seasoned spinach, carrtots and beansprouts (I don’t know if this is my imagination but there seem to be two kinds here that look identical, one bland and one delicious and today’s was the latter), and another of mini sausages in a sapid spicy sauce, which overflowed into my rice section. The soup tasted like Thai red curry, which might explain why I slurped it all down with0ut a word or even an upwards glance to my co-teachers.