SAME SAME … but different

After the full moom party, we left Koh Phangan at 5 in the morning to begin the all day treck back across the country and down to the island of Koh Phi Phi.  It became the day of taking any and all forms of transportation.  We began in a taxi and were rushing to catch our ferry! The cab driver dropped us off about a quarter mile from the actual ferry so we took off running down the street towards the ferry! SOMEHOW in our run we all began running through wet cement! I looked down at alex and realized her feet had turned into cinderblocks! We escaped the cement with a few lost shoes and caught our ferry! We were all put underneath the ship for the 2 hour journey back to Surat Thani…. After barely sleeping on the last ship two nights ago and staying up all night at the Full Moon Party, I PASSED out on this ferry.  I didn’t wake up until the ferry was docking in Surat Thani and came to realize I had lost my sea legs and was extremely sea sick.. ugh… Thank god we would be taking a bus as our next form of transportation.  We were then hearded off the boat onto a bus of exhausted backpackers.  We took the two hour bus across Thailand back into Phuket.  There we were once again hearded onto a new ferry.  We were so exhausted and still covered in full moon paint so we were definetley a sight to see.  We decided this time to sit ontop of the ship to hopefully avoid the sea sickness.  We successfully avoided becoming sick, however, the two hour trip to Koh Phi Phi allowed us a lot of time to burn in the sun.  Falling asleep ontop of a boat allowed me to have some very interesting tan lines.  The sun didn’t penetrate our full moon paint so we all were covered with extremely intersting designs from head to toe.

defining our new slogan of "sleep when you can"

We arrived in Koh Phi Phi around 4 that afternoon and it was absolutely beautiful! Huge cliffs rising out of indigo and teal colored water was everything I had expected and more!

We arrived at our hostel and were very happy to find out that we had air conditioning AND… I hate to say it… TV with the Disney channel.  It had been so long since turning on a television with a remote and the channels being in English we were all so excited! WE had just arrived in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, but creature comforts that made us think of home REALLY got us excited…. it also kept us distracted from accomplishing what we really were in Thailand for.. but  oh well! It was really nice to sit around and watch watch Alvin and the Chipmunks the Squeakel.

Koh Phi Phi was one of the most amazing times I have ever had.  We spent the first night exploring the island and eating all the delicious street food.

NOM NOM

The second day on the Phi Phi was sadly Marissas last day in Thailand.  We all work for different districts in Seoul which means different schedules.  We had seen a sign for Tsunami village and Marissa, Stephanie and I decided to spend the day walking around the island while Alex and Lydia chose to lay on the beach.  We were really excited to see this village.  We had seen pictures of the island after the tsunami in 2004 and the pictures were scary.  Half of the island was completely destroyed while the other half was still a paradise.  We started the journey to the village and realized it was a little more than we had bargained for.  We were walking straight up hill and none of us were prepared for this journey.

the long adventure up the mountain

We didn’t really know what to expect from tsunami village so we didn’t know exactly what we were walking to find. We made it to the end of the road to find a water filtration plant and that was it….

end of the road... WHAT is THIS Tsunami village?

WHAT!?!?!?! so we didn’t find tsunami village, but since we were halfway up the mountain we decided to head to the top of the mountain to check out the view point.  The view point was so amazing! We were able to see the entire island! We had a mini photoshoot

so sad

bringing a little Korean flare to Thailand

 

 

 

 

 

and then had to head back down the island to meet Alex and Lydia for our most anticipated activity…. MAYA BAY CAMPING

a few games

 

 

We met up with the girls and headed to our meet up point for camping! We were so excited! About 20 people were there from all over the world to spend one night out on the island where the movie ‘The Beach’ was filmed.  We took a  boat out to the island where we first made a stop to do some snorkeling! It was the best snorkeling I have ever done! Amazing fish and coral and doing cannon balls off the top of the boat! We arrived on the island and all went out to check out the bay.  We then looked at our campsite where they were setting up to start cooking us dinner.  We grabbed a coffee and went and watched the sunset from the bay.  Words can not describe how beautiful that bay is.  After the sun had set we headed back to our camp site for an amazing dinner.  They served my favorite dish.. PANANG CURRY and it was the most delicious curry I have ever tasted.  We sat around and played games and got to know everyone we would be spending the rest of the trip with.  We now had news friends from Ireland, Australia, Iran and Turkey.  The Thai people staying on the island with us were great! One referred to himself as Leonardo Dicaprio and kept feeding me amazing sweet potatoes he had made.  We stayed up most of the night and slept on the beach. We woke up the next morning to the most amazing view! Our breakfast had already been made so we sat on the beach and drank coffee as the sun rose.  We took a few group pictures and then it was time to leave and head back to Phi Phi.  On the way back to Phi Phi we stopped at one more spot to snorkel.  It was once again amazing and we even got to swim over to monkey beach.  There were three other people on monkey beach and when we swam up, a girl asked Stephanie if she was a Saulsbury?  It turns out that Stephanie and the girl had gone to high school together… what a small world!

We got back to Phi Phi and headed out to the beach to catch some rays.  Marissa and Alex had to leave later that day so we said our goodbyes 😦 and headed back to the hostel.  Lydia still had two more days on the island so we decided to really relax.  We spent out days getting Thai massages (AMAZING), oil massages (AMAZING) leg massages (AMAZING) and face massages(AMAZING). Each massage was an hour long and cost 200 baht ~ $6! I spent most of the next two days being rubbed down.  We even decided to get hair wraps like we were in elementary school again.

On Lydias last day we went banana boating and our driver was on a mission to kill us! It was extremely fun but of course I was sore afterwards so I spent the rest of that day in the Thai massage parlors.  Lydia left us and now we were down to two.  Stephanie and I still had another weekend in Thailand so we were now focused on accomplishing a few more cultural activities before leaving the island.

The next day we spent on the beach readingand drinking coconuts in the morning.

The afternoon was saved for something I was extremely excited about.. THAI BOXING.

Right down the road from our hostel was a Thai boxing ring and we were going for one on one lessons with a Thai boxing master.  We were very nervous and rightfully so.  My trainer whipped my butt right into shape.  If I put my fists down he would punch me right in the face! I spent and hour learning all the moves from punching, elbowing, kicking, and blocking and now it was time to fight Stephanie! …. Just kidding!… but we did joke around for a bit.  Afterwards, we once again treated ourselves to an oil massage and dinner on the beach.

The last day we woke up early and checked out of our hostel.  We had a delicious breakfast and decided to rent a kayak to kayak around the island before our ferry left in the afternoon.  We rented our kayak and thankfully were given a waterproof bag for our stuff.  We got into the kayak and immediately flipped it in front of everyone on the beach! SO embarassing! We tried again and successfully made it into the kayak and began our journey.  It was beautiful in the crystal clear water.  We kayaked into a bay and pulled our kayak ashore to do some snorkeling when we realized the beach was covered with monkeys!

We ran up to look at them and quickly ran faster away when we realized that these were NOT nice monkeys! oh well…the fish would be nicer! We grabbed our snorkel gear and headed for the ocean! While enjoying some bright colored coral I jumped at the sound of Stephanie screaming my name! I looked up and monkeys had completely sabotaged our kayak! They had opened our bag and were swinging our clothes around their heads while others had opened our bottled water and were drinking it like humans! I started running into shore like a complete idiot and realized a Japanese tourist boat was pulling into the bay watching us with compelte enjoyment! I tried to grab our things but the monkeys would hiss at us and charge! I finally was able to grab a paddle and swing them all off our kayak..

We decided after this incident to head back out in the kayak.  We went back to our beach and decided we had enough time for one more massage before catching our ferry! We relaxed a little more and then headed out to our ferry.  Saying goodbye to Phi Phi was so sad and I really hope I am lucky enough to be able to travel their again.  I miss all the wonderful people (and food) on that island.

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The adventure begins to Thailand!

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Summer camp had ended and now it was time to leave for our  long awaited adventure to THAILAND! I have wanted to travel to Thailand for so long and was so happy that I had finally made it happen! I couldn’t wait to bargain shop, eat all the Pad Thai, see the amazing beaches and ride elephants! Marissa and Lydia had finished camp earlier than us, so they had traveled over the week before with Alex.  It was now time for Stephanie and I to make the journey over! We left our house before the sun came up on SaturdayAugust 13th and met up with our friends Jessica and Britt to take the hour long subway into the airport.  We thought we had plenty of time to catch our flight, but found out that EVERYONE was traveling this day.  We waited in extremely long lines and I of course was searched at security.  We ended up running Home Alone style through the airport to our gate and making it as people were boarding.  (We of course sat on the runway for over an hour before take off…) The flight was six hours into Kuala Lumpar and I slept most of the way over. 

When landing in Kuala Lumpar we said our good byes to Jessica and Britt who would be spending their vacation in Malaysia.  When entering the airport, Stephanie and I had strange smiles on our faces and we both looked at each other and shouted “THIS IS AWESOME!” We realized we hadn’t seen diversity in so long that we had fogotten what it was like to see people from other races and cultures! I had also forgotten that I was in a Muslim country and it was Ramadan, so I felt bad for wearing my short shorts while all the other women were wearing burkas.  oops.. not the first time I completely stand out in my surroundings. 

Stephanie and I LOVED the Kuala Lumpar airport.  Having food diversity was great! It was our first time away from fermented foods in months and my first Diet Coke in over 6 months! The small things are really what make me happy 🙂 Our flight over to Phuket was great! The flight was barely halfway full so Steph and I sprawled out.  It took less than two hours and we were in Thailand! I was SO excited watching the plane fly over the crystal blue waters and islands into the country. 

Walking off the plane, we met a girl named Elyse who is also a teacher in Korea.  She was traveling alone so we invited her to share our cab over to Surat Thani.  We made it through immigration (no Brokedown Palace moments) and stepping through the doors of immigration was crazy.  It reminded me a lot of Mexico.  People screaming at you, trying to take your bags, wanting you to take their cab etc.  It was a whirlwind.  We went to exchange our money and find a cab that would take us the four hours to Surat Thani.  (We needed to make it to the island of Koh Phangan by 9 AM Sunday so we had to take a cab) We exchanged our money with this woman and after the exchange and paying for the taxi.. I did the currency exchange in my head and realized I had been swindled our of  150,000 won ($150) and Steph had lost about 70,000.  URGHHH Oh well we learned our lesson quickly and wouldn’t let it happen again or ruin our time. 

We went outside, found our assigned taxi and hopped in.  We learned that the driver is on the right side and that they drive on the left side of the road.  This would freak me out for most of our vacation.  After gettting in the cab and setting off, it dawned on Steph and I that this man could be taking us just about anywhere! We were on a 4 hour journey in the dark to find a boat to take us to the island.   This could be a HUGE disaster.  As we set off in the cab, the sun was setting and it was one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen! Maybe that put me at ease because I became very calm with our situation while Stephanie panicked the whole way.  We were flying down the road and our driver was more inclined to use his horn instead of brakes so maybe I should’ve panicked more….

4 hours later we arrived in Surat Thani! Yay! Our cab driver dropped us off at the boat we needed to take the night trip over to Koh Phangan! YAY! The boat didn’t leave until 11 PM so we sat outside and had our first taste of Thai steet food and beer.  We then boarded the boat to find our accomodation.  We   had a place to sleep and there was something that resembled a bathroom so we were happy enough to have made it. 

We arrived in Koh Phangan at 430 in the morning and now had the task of finding Alex, Marissa and Lydia.  We were thrown onto the back of a truck and went flying down the road. The sun was coming up over the ocean as we cruised through the winding roads and it was beautiful.  The truck came to a sudden stop in a parking lot and we had no idea where the hotel was.  Thankfully, our driver was able to point us in the right direction. 

In the hotel the concierge gave us their room number so we marched up there to give them a pleasant wake up! We dropped off all our stuff.. BRUSHED OUR TEETH and since they were still sleeping we headed out to explore.  We went to the beach where people were still up partying.. we then found a restaraunt and had our first pad thai YUM!

We met up with the girls around 9 and headed off for a jungle trek! We started out zip lining through the tree tops! It was very different from anything I have ever done in America.  They were very much into letting us do it on our own! I went first and the instructor would tell me what to do and then want me to relay the message to everyone in our group.  Above the trees, I wasn’t very comfortable with everyones lives counting on my instructions but we all survived!

We then headed for an elephant ride! I was so excited because I LOVE elephants 🙂 We got to ride them around, feed them and have them pick us up with their trunks! We then stopped for lunch and ate more pad thai! We then traveled to another beach across the island for some snorkeling! We were then supposed to head to hike up to a waterfall but found out that we wouldn’t be back to hotel until 830 and we wanted to  get back to the foam party and to get ready for the FULL MOON PARTY so we left our tour gup and caught a ride in the back of a pickup across the island.  Quite interesting….

We got back to the hotel just in time for the foam party! Nothing is better than swimming around in the pool while they pumped foam at you! After surviving the party we all headed up to get ready for the full moon party.  You have to look good when its supposed to be the biggest party on Earth… and you have to be covered head to toe in body paint.  We spent hours painting ourselves and then it was time for buckets, fire and beach! The party was amazing! A huge party on the beach! At one point I’m doing the macarena through a crowd and then finding myself headed down a fire slide! The entire island is dedicated to this one party and it showed! We partied until  the sun came up and it was time to catch a cab to Koh Phi Phi! How we survived this party with out losing anyone is still a mystery but it was amazing!

YangGang Middle school summer camp!

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At the end of the semester, each native teacher is required to teacher a 3 week English summer camp.  I loved it! I taught 20 students by myself every day and was able to become really close with most of them.  Since I had no co-teacher, I was able to teacher whatever I felt like.  We spent the beginning of camp learning about superheros and about my favorite- BATMAN.  I then had them watch The Dark Knight.  They loved it and we spent time discussing the movie.  I taught about world food, travel, and music. I even had two special guests- Alex and Teddi Manno- all the way from the states to help me teach! They came for gym day and we spent the day running around playing freeze tag, what time is it mr. wolf, and making human knots.

On world food day, I treated my kids to making icecream in class.  Is was a great idea originally, but after carrying all the ingredients (3lbs of salt, 3 lbs of sugar, plastic bags, 6 gallons of milk, flavoring, cups) through one of the biggest rain storms Seoul has seen in years I was rethinking my plan.  I also learned that you can’t buy bagged ice like you can in the states.  The only ice I could find in stores were small bags for over 2 dollars a bag! I had to have the ice specially ordered and delivered to school which was a huge process getting through the language barrier! After all the hassel getting the ingredients to schoool , I was nervous it would be a disaster and the milk wouldn’t freeze into icecream.  However, it was a HUGE success! My students LOVED it! They were fascinated by how we were able to make ice cream in less than 10 minutes in a plastic bag and I was fascinated how they all pulled out their own set of chopsticks and ate all of their ice cream with them!

The end of camp was definetley the most fun.  I spent one day teaching my kids new games such as never have I ever and Apples to Apples.  I took my kids on a field trip to the movie theater to watch Transformers 3( how I regretted this when the movie started with a girl in her lingerie and I’m in a sea of middle school boys) and on a field trip to the Seoul museum.  I had money leftover from my budget from camp so Andre(the other teacher at my school) and I took them all to McDonald’s for a “cultural” lesson after the museum.  On the subway home my students invited me to a norebang (singing room).  I spent the rest of the day singing my heart out with my students to such hits as Avril Lavigne sk8r boi and Nsync Bye Bye Bye.  The last day of camp we had a pizza party and watched The Simpsons.  After camp ended my girls wouldn’t leave and told me how much they would miss me over break.  I had to literally pull them off me to escape to catch my flight to Thailand!

Summer camp was so much fun and I have caught myself playing favorites to my campers at school now… need to work on that 🙂

Saturday trip to the DMZ

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At the beginning of August, my friends and I took the day trip up to the DMZ.  We met at camp Kim in Seoul and took an hour long bus ride up to the 3rd tunnel.  This tunnel was found in 1978 and is about 22 miles outside of Seoul.  It lies 240 ft below ground and is about one mile long and 6ft x 6ft.  We took the long walk down into the tunnel and were able to walk all the way into the third barricade.  The walk down was extremely fun.  We even saw someone we hadn’t seen in awhile! Who would have thought you could see an old friend in the 3rd tunnel of aggression?

We then toured the gift shop where they sold everything from North Korean wine and liquor to golf balls and DR. PEPPER! YUM!

Our next stop on the tour took us to a lookout over the propaganda city.  There is a line to keep you from taking pictures to close up so we decided to throw Jessica on Simons shoulders to get a better shot.  Immediately a ROK solider stopped us and deleted our photos.  He instructed no stunting, no human pyramids but jumping was ok.

After that we hopped back on the bus and headed up for a quick lunch.  We then were back on the bus and headed for camp Bonifas.  Camp Bonifas is named after one of the army officers who died during the Korean axe murders of 1976.  We were greeted at camp Bonifas by two US soldiers.  They briefed us on the tour and also made us sign our lives away in case North Korea decide to attack one of us. We hopped on a new bus and headed up to the Freedom house.  Here we were able to stand outside and look at North Korea and see North Korean soldiers.  It makes you a littler uneasy to see North Korean soldiers staring at you and to have your military tour guide tell you that they are taking ample amounts of photos of you.  We then headed into the house where the armistice  was signed in1952.  Inside this house there are 2 doors.  One leading back into South Korea and the other one leading into North Korea. A ROK soldier headed in first to make sure the North Korean’s door was locked and then he stood in front of it the whole time we were in the room.  Half the room belongs to North Korea and the other half belongs to South Korea so we were all able to actually stand within North Korean borders and take pictures with ROK soldiers.  However, they warned us not to get to close because these soldiers would punch you away if you got within 3 feet of them.  Thankfully, I was not hit.

After that we hopped back on the bus and headed along the DMZ line to get an even closer look at the propaganda city.  Here we stood outside along the border where three sides of us were surrounded by North Korean land.  (Another uneasy moment) It was extremely hot and sunny this day and we were all sweaty and complaining.  The soldier giving us the tour was sweating profusely and apologized because he was in full fatigues and a bulletproof vest.  We couldn’t complain any longer.  We looked over propaganda village and learned that North Korea flies a flag that weighs over 500 lbs in its village.  The village is deserted and all the houses are empty shells.  I don’t know who the North Koreans think they are fooling.. it is quite obvious the town is vacant.

We then said our thanks for being on the south side and headed down to the bridge of no return and to where the axe murders took place.  The axe murders took place in 1976 when two Army officers headed out to cut down a poplar tree.  They needed to cut down the tree because it had become overgrown and was blocking the view to the bridge of no return. While trying to cut down the tree they were attacked my North Korean soldiers. After the incident the US Army began operation Paul Bunyan to successfully cut down the tree. The task force consisted of 813 men: almost all of the men of the United States Army Support Group, of which the Joint Security Force was a part; a ROK reconnaissance company; a ROK Special Forces company which had infiltrated the river area by the bridge the night before; and members of a reinforced composite rifle company from the 9th Infantry Regiment. In addition to this force, every UNC force in the rest of South Korea was on battle alert. It also consisted of 20 helicopters an 7 cobra attack helicopters to cut down the tree. It is to this day the most expensive tree cutting operation in US military history.

We looked upon the stump of the poplar tree from our bus because it is considered to dangerous for us to get out and walk around and then headed to look at the bridge of no return.  We then headed back up to Bonifas and switched back to our tour bus.

From there we headed to a subway station built in the early 2000’s which is the last stop from Seoul into Pyongyang in North Korea.  The subway system is ready to be fully operational and is a symbol of hope that one day the two Koreas can be reunified.  If reunification could occur this subway system would connect South Korea all the way to Europe by rail.

The whole day was one of the most interesting experiences I have had in Seoul.  It really made me appreciate the fact that I am on the South side but also uneasy that I am living so close to the north.  For anyone traveling up to the DMZ, I highly recommend paying the extra money to take the USO tour into North Korea.

Do you know Namsan tower?

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Every Tuesday it has become a tradition of mine to hang out with my “after school club”.  This “club” consists of Stephanie(my friend from home), Simon (friend from England) Joe, (Ireland), Alex (Ireland), Jessica (San Diego) and myself.  We have been getting together most Tuesdays at different locations or having movie nights over at my apartment to help keep our sanity.  It is nice have a western group in a world where you can’t speak the language.

This Tuesday Jessica, Alex and Joe couldn’t make it so Simon, Stephanie and I decided to head to Namsan tower.  Namsan tower or Seoul tower is the highest spot in Seoul where you can see a 360 degree view of the whole city.  The tower is a very popular date destination among Koreans.  You can buy a lock and lock your love to the tower with a message or send a postcard to a love one from the highest spot in Seoul.  From that vantage point we realized how large of a city we live in and of course picked up a souvenir picture!

Teachers retreat to Nami island!

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At the end of July, I completed my first semester as a teacher! I can’t believe how fast time has flown by! The students finished classes on a Tuesday and the next Wednesday we headed for a teachers retreat to Nami island! (Now I know where my air conditioning budget went… GRRRR) I arrived to school to find two tour buses ready to take us two hours north east to Naminaru.  Before boarding the bus I received my snack rations of dried squid, candy, rice drinks and gum.  Half way into the trip we stopped at a Korean restaurant for a break.  We had a great meal of pajon (Korean pancakes.. filled with Kimchi of course) Ice noodles, and makolri.  Miae and Minji were shocked that I actually wanted to drink along with the men.. but who could turn down free delicious wine!??! I have been dying of sweat with no A/C all summer so I might as well make the best of it!

After lunch we continued our journey to Nami island.  We took the scenic route which consisted of many twists and turns.. however.. I realized Miae wasn’t enjoying the route when she took my snack rations and puked in them… (bright side.. gets me out of eating the dried squid!!)

We arrived at Nami island around 1 and had to take a quick ferry ride over to the actual island! It was beautiful and one of the three sunny days we had in July! Our first stop was a music hall where we listened to live traditional Korean music along with some Korean favorites of ABBA- Dancing queen, Time of my life and Billy Joel!

It was then time for the men to go drink and the women to stroll around and ride bikes! I convinced Andre that he needed to be a woman today because I couldn’t be stuck with all Koreans for the whole day! I needed someone to talk to! We all decided to go ride bikes! Jinhe and Miae took off first but when reaching the first hill panicked and sent the foreigners aka Andre and I down the hill first.  So typical to risk our lives and also for Korean women to be unreasonably scared.  Andre and I were loving it though! We zoomed all around Nami island and had to stop and wait many times for the others to catch up! Once I even noticed my slightly drunk vice-principal in the middle of the three seater bike having two of the gym teachers pedal her around the island.  Andre and I found this extremely funny.  We biked and walked around the island  a little longer and before we knew it, it was dinner time!

Andre was super excited because we were being served dokgalbi.  Dokgalbi is spicy chicken cooked in front of you with vegetables and rice! Apparently dokgalbi originated in Nami island so it was supposed to be some of the best! IT sure was! We feasted with our co-teachers and then realized that the principal and vice-principal were making their rounds to every teacher to take shots of soju.  (Drinking soju with coworkers is extremely common practice and considered a special way to bond) With over 60 employeers on the trip my principal and vice-principal were already hammered by the time they made it to me.  I took around 5 shots and gave them in return little sips (You pour their shots for them using two hands and they pour a shot for you while you hold your glass with two hands.. you then bow and say thank you for the offer ‘gahasamnida’ and then take your shot) Once again the women were shocked at how well I was able to handle soju and kept asking me if I needed to “take a rest”.  After taking many shots and having a delicious dinner, the women, Andre and I headed over for a coffee before it was time to head back to the ferry.  I sat and talked with my co-teacher Jin-he for a long time.  I was very sad because Jinhe will be moving in a week to Chapel Hill, NC… WHAT ARE THE CHANCES??!?? I talked with her about North Carolina.. what to do.. where to eat etc.  Her husband has received a job at Duke so she is moving her whole family over.. 2 girls 12 and 10 and one boy 6.  I wish them the best of luck and will miss Jinhe immensely!!!

After coffee it was time to head back to the ferry.  While walking back to the ferry I felt someone grab my arm.  It was my PRINCIPAL.  The poor man was still a little drunk from dinner but he just kept telling me “thank you, thank you” He speaks very little English and I speak very little Korean so our conversation was limited.  However, I did get out of the conversation that he was so happy that I came to Korea and is very happy with my work.  All the students love me and that he wishes he could be a better principal! My VP then came up from behind and wrapped her arms around me.  ONLY in Korea do you finish a teachers retreat this way.. We made it to the ferry.. took some group photos then headed back on the bus.

We watched the news on the way home where I saw scenes of the extreme heat in the USA and where the also announced the official end of monsoon season.  Someone should fire those meteorologists because the very next week, Korea would receive more rain than it has in a century…

The trip was SO much fun and I don’t even mind anymore not having A/C at my school! It was worth the two months of sweating! I have learned that the trip in the winter is an over night trip.. I just hope they don’t make the poor white foreigner go without heat all winter! AHHH

Thinking dirty thoughts… at the Boryeong mud festival!

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For the past 13 years, Boryeong South Korea has attracted visitors to its annual mud festival.  The festival got its start from the cosmetic industry.  In 1996, the cosmetic industry started using mud from the Boryeong mud flats since the mud is extremely mineral rich.  To promote their cosmetics industry they created a festival in 1998. The mud is brought in from the mud flats in trucks to Dacheon beach.

Since deciding to come to Korea, I have been anticipating this festival! It has been on the top of my list for things to do while in Korea!!

At the end of July my friends and I headed down to Dacheon beach to celebrate the mudfestival.  Boryeong is about 2 hours south of Seoul and we arrived late Friday night.  We new we would be staying in a pension (Korean motel).  For some reason, I was still expecting a bed and normal bathroom.  However, we are in Korea so our room for 7 was about 10 x12 with one blanket and pillow each and hardwood floors to sleep on.  Who needs sleep anyways? We are at the mudfest! Marissa’s younger brother had come along with us all the way from Florida! We stayed up a little to late with him that night talking to him about his plans for college (he will attend the University of Florida) in the fall and teaching him on what to expect and what to do!

The next morning we woke up early with high expectations of the mud fest! It was EVERYTHING that we had wanted and more! There were pits of mud to wrestle in, obstacle courses, mud slides, mud guns, MUD MUD MUD! Never have I wanted to get so dirty! We played all day long! Since it has been monsoon season we were expecting rain.. and we not shocked at all when it began to rain cats and dogs.. however, we were not expecting the sun to miraculously come out for the first in weeks! We were so happy!

We played all into the night! It was beautiful at the beach and the night ended with a fireworks show! The next day we were shocked to find that it was still sunny! Our friend Pex was in town for the festival so he took us for some traditional Korean food.  We had a delicious breakfast of Haejanguk (hangover soup.. oops mom.. to much soju) Haejanguk is made up of vegetables, spine of cow, cows blood and rice.  It is however very tasty! After breakfast we headed back out to he beach to cover ourselves once again in mud! We played all day a the beach in the mud pits and the ocean! The festival was fantastic! Sometimes there is nothing better than mud wrestling Koreans! I even made world news!

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