Sunday, April 30, 2006

Olympic Park, Seoul

I spent a couple of hours today wandering around Seoul's Olympic Park. It is a beautiful place to go to walk, bike, picnic, or just relax. I would have liked to have gone there a few weeks ago when the cherry blossoms were still in bloom. Oh well. There are still plenty of flowers to see.

The park is what used to be a fortress. Now it is basically just a hilly area with a moat around it.

The main entrance to the park is marked by the World Peace Gate.

Within the park, there is an archaeological site. It is now within a building to protect it. All you can really see are a bunch of post holes on a dirt floor. There were several dwellings in the area, some built on top of others (so they overlap) One of them has a visible hearth.
There were many birds in the park, mostly sparrows and magpies. I did see one ring-necked pheasant. I could be wrong, but I don't think they are native to Korea. I also saw two rabbits. The black one seemed to enjoy being a distance away from the people (some guy was trying to get close enough to take a pic with his handphone, and scared it away). They other one seemed fairly tame. You could go right up to it to take it's picture. It even jumped up onto a woman's legs when she was taking a pic of it with her phone. As I was leaving, it was getting handouts from a family that was sitting on the nearby benches. I guess that would be the reason for its behavior... tasty handouts.

In Korea, when they build an apartment building, they don't just build one; they build 50 or 100 or so, all at the same time. All around the city, there are sites where apartment buildings are going up. (Those are cranes that you can see in the distance.)


"The Dream Of Tea"


Just plain CUTE!!!
That is her little tunnel that she likes to chew on and run through.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

more about Egypt

Here is another great pic from Egypt (taken in November 2005)...
Ehab is washing lettuce.
That is a gamoosa (water buffalo) on the left... gotta love that expression.
If you don't remember (or never knew), Ehab is from a small village called Tabloha, sort of near Tanta (somewhere between Cairo and Alexandria). This is his uncle's little plot of land. Both tractors and more traditional methods are used in the fields.
An amusing little bit of info...
Ehab picked the lettuce from the little garden behind where the gamoosa are standing.
He then proceeded to rip off all of the green parts and throw them on the ground.
Then he washed the crunchy middle part for us to eat.
That is what they do in Egypt; they eat the middle part of the lettuce leaf (the part that a lot of people at home throw away), and throw away the nice green parts that we usually eat.

Here is Ehab with the two gamoosa, in front of the little animal shelter/barn (?). In Egypt, they use the gamoosa for meat and milk, as well as (I think) for farm work.

Congo (Angelina Jolie)

An interesting site. To do with the situation in the Congo, in the form of a journal by Angelina Jolie, and commentary by John Prendergast. Ripples of Genocide: Journey through Eastern Congo


Here is a cool website if you love eagles... it is a hidden camera aimed at an eagle's nest in BC. I guess the eggs are expected to hatch sometime this weekend!!!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

One of the first things a Korean kid learns is how to pose for a photo.
This is a standard pose for Koreans. :P
He is one of my many favorites... well, they are all my favorites!
He is in the youngest group at the school.
According to Korean age, he is 5 years old, which means he will be 4 sometime later this year.
Korean age:
When you are born, you are 1. After that, you add one year every New Year (Lunar New Year, generally). So, between the Lunar New Year and your birthday, it is a 2 year difference. Between your birthday and the following New Year, there is a one year difference. That means, if you are born in December, within a month or two, you are considered 2 years old.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

field trip

On the way in.
(that is only some of my kids... as far as you can see)

Today I had the morning off, because all of the kindy classes were going on a field trip to a zoo/park/garden. I think it is called Seoul Children's Grand Park. Well, I volunteered to go on the field trip. Who wouldn't??? :P Think... around 250 to 300 kids all dressed in the same little track suit and same little backpack... Throw in hundreds of other kids, all wearing their own matching outfits (every kindy school has their own colors/designs)... and you have A LOT of little kids!!! We had 4 full sized tour buses and two of the school buses (all with about 3 kids per seat). The classes split up a bit when we got there. Each class had two teachers to look after them and take them around. The youngest class also had two of the school bus drivers/swimming teachers/TaeKwonDo teachers to help. We walked around for a while, looking at the animals and the plants and taking some pictures. Then they sat down for a snack and started to head back to the buses, taking more pictures along the way. Lunch was ready for us back at the school.
I'll post a pic or two tomorrow... now I am tired and need sleep!!!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ever feel like this???


Tokki... a trip to the vet

Well, I finally took my rabbit to the vet to get it checked out... It took a lot of searching to find a vet. There are vets everywhere in Korea, but they are all for dogs. Most people that have a pet in Korea, have some sort of small yappy dog. As a result, most of the vets only really treat dogs.

I think my mistake with Mangchi (the rabbit that I had last time, that died) was taking her to a vet that didn't really know much about treating rabbits. She had been sick for a little while and I took her to the vet. He gave her some pink medicine. What I have read on the Net says that a lot of vets that don't know rabbits will give them the same meds that they give to dogs, many of which (including a very common pink medicine) will kill rabbits.

Anyway, I did a bunch of searching and had a hard time finding anything. A friend of mine did some searching for me on the Net and found a vet that treats many kinds of animals, including rabbits. AKRIS is the name of the place. They have a big website (all in Korean, of course) with information and such. It is about a 30 minute ride on the subway or about a 20 minute taxi ride (not too bad... it only cost around 10000 won (~$12 CA). It is near YangJae Station. The place is open from 9am until 11pm, which makes it a bit more convenient. The vet spoke English, which was great, and seemed to know what she was talking about.

When I got Tokki (when I arrived in Korea), I was told that it was a male, and he was a dwarf rabbit. Well, Tokki is actually a she, and not much of a dwarf. The vet said Tokki is only a dwarf if she has some lion genes in her... she is bigger than a dwarf rabbit grows to be and she has an uncommon mane... and extra long hair in other places, on the hips, etc (kinda in patches). Funny.
Tokki got a couple of shots - VHD (to do with a viral causing diarrhea), and deworming. She also had her toenails clipped... they were SOOO long. The vet was surprised at how long they were. I am not sure when they were last trimmed, if ever. I tried to clip some of them, but Tokki didn't much like me touching her feet, so it was a bit of a losing battle on my front.
The visit to the vet, shots included, cost me 21000won (about $25 CA). I was expecting it to be much higher.
Conclusion: Tokki is a healthy little girl.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Korean countryside

Well, I had a pretty good weekend.
Saturday I went to Costco with my Korean friend, Jay. She was one of the Korean English teachers that I worked with the last time I was here. She has a membership for Costco. Yay!!! REAL cheese (as opposed to the processed cheese that is pretty much all you can find in Korea), Cheerios, Pizza Bagel Bites, seedless green grapes, etc... all things that are hard to find elsewhere in Korea.
Then we had a nice dinner at the Outback Steakhouse... they are everywhere in Korea.

Today I got up nice and early. I went on an Adventure Korea ( wilderness hiking trip with Dearbhla (from Ireland). It was a 2.5 hour bus ride to our destination. We went to Balgyosan (san is mountain in Korean) in Gangwon province and did a bit of mountain climbing (998m). There are two very beautiful waterfalls along the way. We basically followed the stream.
I can tell you... I am extremely unfit right now, after sitting around home for a few months doing nothing. I am hurting now... all of me. I guess everyone is to some extent. At least I wasn't the last one to the top. :)
On the way back down (after we passed all of the steeper parts) we did a wild ginseng search (fake ginseng plants hidden or "planted" for us to find) I spotted two of the 4 as soon as we stopped. I only claimed the first one because I didn't want to be selfish (there were only 4 to find and a whole group of us). For finding the fake one, I got a real wild ginseng... worth around $100!!! Yay. Then we headed to the bus to go to our BBQ location that was prepared for us... basically we stood around the tables, or bbq and picked at what ever there was with our chopsticks. We all wandered from table to bbq to other bbq, etc.
After eating, we made a little stone pagoda. Every stone you put on, you are supposed to make a wish.
Well, I am beat... I need to get a good sleep tonight if I am actually going be able to stand tomorrow.

Monday, April 10, 2006


I love the CIA World Factbook!!! (

Area: total:9,984,670 square km
land: 9,093,507 square km
water: 891,163 square km
Population: 33,098,932 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 17.6%
15-64 years: 69%
65 years and over: 13.3%
Population growth rate: 0.88%
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 80.22 years
male: 76.86 years
female: 83.74 years
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)
Labor force: 16.3 million
Unemployment rate: 6.8% (2005 est.)
Population below poverty line: 15.9 (note: there is no official poverty line in Canada)
Household income: lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 23.8%
Telephones - main lines in use: 20.61 million (2004)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 14, 984, 400 (2004)
Internet users: 20.9 million (2005)
Roadways: total: 1,408,900 km
paved: 497,342 km (including 16,906 km of expressways)
unpaved: 911,558 km (2002)

Area: total:98,480 square km
land: 98,190 square km
water: 290 square km
Population: 48,846,823 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 18.9%
15-64 years: 71.9%
65 years and over: 9.2%
Population growth rate: 0.42%
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.04 years
male: 73.61 years
female: 80.75 years
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.9%
male: 99.2%
female: 96.6% (2002)
Labor force: 23.53 million
Unemployment rate: 3.7%
Population below poverty line: 15% (2003 est.)
Household income: lowest 10%: 2.9%
highest 10%: 25% (2005 est.)
Telephones - main lines in use: 26, 595, 100 (2004)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 36, 586, 100 (2004)
Internet users: 33.9 million (2005)
Roadways: total: 97,252 km
paved: 74,641 km (including 2,778 km of expressways)
unpaved: 22,611 km (2003)

Area: total: 1,001,450 square km
land: 995, 450 square km
water: 6,000 square km
Population: 78,887,007 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 32.6%
15-64 years: 62.9%
65 years and over: 4.5% (2006 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.75%
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 71.29 years
male: 68.77 years
female: 73.93 years (2006 est.)
Literacy rate: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 57.7%
male: 68.3%
female: 46.9% (2003 est.)
Labor force: 21.34 million (2005 est.)
Unemployment rate: 10%
Population below poverty line: 20%
Household income: lowest 10%: 4.4%
highest 10%: 25% (1995)
Telephones - main lines in use: 10.4 million (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 14,045,134 (2005)
Internet users: 5 million (2005)
Roadways: total: 64,000 km
paved: 49,984 km
unpaved: 14,016 km (1999)

Friday, April 07, 2006

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tokki, my rabbit

(Tokki is just Korean for rabbit)
He is supposed to be a dwarf rabbit, but he isn't much of a dwarf.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


I was out Thursday night with the group for a bit of a going away party. We all went to Geckos (a pub/bar) in Itaewon for dinner and drinks and then headed to the Loft for Ladies' night... free drinks for the ladies. I guess they have ladies' night every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but they there is a cover charge on the weekend, and it is so busy that you have to stand in line most of the time, just to get the free drinks. On Thursday, though, it is not as busy and so I didn't have to stand in line at all. Just hanging out and dancing.
Friday night, after work, we all went out in Ilsan. We started out at a hof called the King of Pirates, where the beer mugs are made of ice, with a plastic liner. When you finish your drink and your glass is melting, you throw it at a target. If you hit the center, you win a prize (usually a free beer). Great fun!!! Actually allowed to throw your mug!
From there we went to Don't Go, a foreigner dance club that has been around for a while. More dancing and drinking. We were there until around 5 in the morning when we moved on to Katherine's apartment for some bacon and eggs. She had bought a bunch of bacon at Costco in Seoul. Yay!!! Bacon and eggs.
I then saw Anthony and Tom off at the bus stop. They left this morning for South-East Asia. They are going to travel around a bit together and then split off in their own directions.
I got home around 9 am or so... sooooooo tired.
Just another normal weekend in Korea.