Amr Diab is my favorite Egyptian singer. I love every song of his that I have heard. He is 44 years old, with at least 22 albums, the first of which was released in 1983.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Friday, September 29, 2006
Thursday, September 28, 2006
The aquarium is quite nice, but it is just a small aquarium. No whales or dolphins or anything like that. Not even a sea lion! Their biggest exhibit is the huge shark tank, with 2 plexi tunnels going along/under it and windows on almost all sides. We watched the first group's pre dive training, done on a little ledge just over one of the tunnels. The training includes breathing, emptying water from the mask, clearing/de-pressurizing the ears, emptying the regulator (mouthpiece), and using the secondary regulator (a second one on the instructor, Michael's tank). While they were doing their training, one of the giant green sea turtles was hanging around, and ended up biting 3 of the guys on the ankle, one of them twice!!! They were laughing... We were laughing so hard. It looked so funny from below. They guys doing the training were supposed to be paying attention to Michael, but were also trying to keep a close eye on the turtle. Michael had to push the turtle away several times before it finally got the hint.
When they finished their turn in the tank, it was our turn. We got our suits on and then all of the gear. It is all SO heavy!!! One would think that the weight belt (~12 kg?) and the tank would keep you weighted to the bottom, but it does not. Even with all of that weight on, it felt like I was going to float away. Anyway, the training went without any problems. The turtle, thankfully, left us alone. After the bit of training it was time to descend into the tank. I had some trouble going down though, as my left ear would not pop, and was getting painful. I had to go back up before even reaching the bottom, to wait until the others were down before trying again. The second time down, it was okay. Michael said that he often has trouble and has to go up and down. It is such a cool feeling to be underwater walking around. It was not scary at all, even with the sharks and giant groupers swimming around us. After some photos (Michael had an underwater camera... and yes it is a very strange photo of me... I look a bit demented), we had a nice tour of the tank. All the while, people on the outside were waving and taking pictures. I think they were more interested in watching us than the fish and sharks that were in the tank. A bunch of waygooks (foreigners) in scuba gear... underwater! What a sight!!!
I wish we could have stayed down there longer. The time went by way too quickly.
Anyway... the sharks...
There are several kinds of sharks in the tank. The first link is pics of the actual ones in the tank. The biggest ones (and the most numerous) are the sand tiger sharks (also known as gray nurse sharks). They are very big and mean looking, but are fairly harmless. They are interesting in that they give birth to 2 babies, from 2 separate uterine chambers. It starts out with several eggs in each chamber, but the first to hatch, or the strongest in each, eats the others [more info]. Then there is the lemon shark [info]. There are 2 VERY COOL looking leopard sharks (also known as zebra sharks). When they are young, they have stripes, so although a leopard cannot change its spots, apparently, a zebra can change it stripes [more info]. There are a few white-tipped reef sharks, as well [info].
The other fish in the tank include 3 HUGE groupers [info]. We were told that the groupers (or one of them) ate several of the smaller sharks that were in the tank. We were told that one of the groupers, which just happens to be the biggest one, is quite stubborn, and if it is in your way, find another way, as it won't move. Apparently, in Australia, a giant grouper was caught, and when it was cut open, they found a human head. The green sea turtles, I've already mentioned. There are two of them in the tank. There are also dart fish, rays (the ones that haven't been eaten by the lemon shark), snappers, and plenty of other fish that I won't mention. There is a school of tuna swimming around, that were meant to be food for the lemon shark (it likes to have live fish to eat, not pre-killed) but are, obviously still there. The lemon shark decided to be picky and only wanted live rays and such, and so kept feasting on the other fish that were meant to be in the tank. As a result, they have a hard time keeping any rays or smaller sharks for people to see.
More photos; some of what is in the shark tank, some of creatures that are in other parts of the aquarium. And more photos of the shark tank fish (some of which I've used as links), and the other people diving that weekend.
The kindy school gave each of the teachers a gift set. In the gift set, there are:
*3 kinds of toothpaste: Original, Green Tea, and Multi-Vitamin.
*4 kinds of soap: Blue Chip anti-bacterial soap, Moisturizing Milk Bar, and Fruit Essence Soap in Peach and Apple.
*2 bottles of shampoo
*1 bottle of rince
*2 boxes of hair treatment samples.
My boss at LCC says she will talk to the boss at Wooil, as the set isn't exactly suitable for me. I don't really need 6 tubes of toothpaste (not to mention the fact that I only use Sensodyne due to having super sensitive gums), 6 bars of soap or more shampoo (I already have more than a year's supply of shampoo from a set that I got when I arrived here). It's a great set if you have a family to share it with. I think most of the gift sets are more for families rather than single people living alone. I'm not sure what I will get instead, or if I will just keep this gift set.
The lyrics seem pretty simple. The thing with the Dandelion class, though, is that at one point, while singing the song, one student got the bright idea of standing on his chair to be able to reach higher. They all love that I can touch the ceiling of their classroom, and try to reach as high as they possibly can. Then they all started jumping on their chairs for the end of the song, and then up onto the tables.
Clap your hands;
Touch your toes;
Turn around and put your finger on your nose.
Flap your arms;
Jump up high;
Wiggle your fingers and reach for the sky.
So now, they think it is the greatest song ever, because they are allowed to jump up onto the tables for it. The teachers keep a close eye on the students, but let them have their fun.
Today they started jumping on the tables for the 'Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed' song. Every time they jump up onto the tables, I worry that one is actually going to fall off and really bump his head.
The children also did a couple of little performances.
[Traditional Korean drums.][Sangmo- a hat with a twirly thingy attached to the top. The wearer moves his head in a certain way to make the ribbon move around the head and body.]
Professional sangmo performers have very long ribbons on their hats. It is very interesting to watch. Professional performers also do flips and such while twirling the ribbon. The kids had trouble even getting the ribbon to go around, but they had fun, although some of their hats would not stay on top of their heads.
Many of the parents were around to watch the games and performances, and of course, take pictures.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Once in Busan, I made my way to the hostel to meet my friends. We all then went for some much needed coffee. They hadn't slept much, either, although for different reasons. Most of them had started drinking on the train ride down there and hadn't stopped once they arrived. They were up until the wee hours of the morning, I think. Thank goodness for Starbucks. It was a nice walk to get there. After we had our fix, we headed for the subway.
Only some of the group were diving Saturday, so the rest of us that were there that morning went to see Beomunsa Temple. It was a very nice hike up to the temple, but my body is still feeling it. The temple was very busy due to Chusok coming up in a couple of weeks. There were lanterns hung up everywhere and craft tables for people to make mini lotus flowers and such. There were also displays of Korean art and photography. After wandering around for a while up there, we made our way back down and then went for a visit to sauna.
The sauna we went to claims to be the largest sauna in Asia. I had never really been to a sauna here before. I had only been to a jimjilbang, which is a co-ed sauna, where you are given a tshirt and shorts to wear. The other saunas are segregated. Basically public baths. Yianni was the only guy with us at the time, so he was on his own. The rest of us (only 4 at the time) had a great time jumping from bath to bath. It is like hot tubs all over the place of varying temperature, size, aroma or feature. We tried out the pepper aroma bath (looked kinda like tea, didn't smell like anything, comfortable hot), the jasmine bath (purplish water, no smell, warm but not hot), a salt bath (salty, very hot), a cold water bath next to the salt water bath (kinda icy cold, good for circulation?), a yellow mud bath, a few other baths inside as well as a couple of the open air baths (outside with shades all the way around): we tried the VERY HOT, and comfortable hot pools, but avoided the VERY cold one. We then had a nice scrub down. A body scrub, face massage and hair shampoo was I think 20000 won(? I forget). It was a bit strange at first, since you are completely naked. Not to mention the fact that the little old ladies that are doing the scrubbing were also naked. They are quite rough, too. They give you a good scrubbing to get all of the dead skin off. It rolls off, actually, in what some of my Korean friends refer to as skin noodles.
When we were finished at the sauna, we felt so relaxed. It would be nice to do that before going to bed.
We met up with the rest of the group, those that had gone diving that day and those that had arrived that day or were doing other things for the day. We all went to a nice little dwaeji kalbi (marinated pork) restaurant that overlooked Haeundae beach. Sorry... no pics of the meal.
We finished off our day down on beach doing some good old drinking.
Friday, September 22, 2006
I was having such a bad day. It started last night, really, with the ants. Then this morning... more ants. I ended up having to spray my bathroom really well before I left for work. The ants were coming in other cracks in the wall (not the ones that I had sprayed before). Did I mention I HATE ANTS???!!!
I was going to go to Emart to get some hay for Tokki, but I got busy here and didn't leave soon enough. I cleaned out Tokki's cage and got my bag ready to go. On my way to work... my mouth felt kinda strange. My teeth. Well, I somehow chipped my front tooth. Maybe from the plum that I had before I left? The inner corner of my tooth is now very sharp. It doesn't hurt at all, but it is making my whole mouth feel strange. It is not completely obvious, but it is visible. Argh. Just what I needed... a chipped tooth.
After work I took a taxi to Emart to get some hay, and once I was there, realized that it isn't hay that they have, but alfalfa... which is not so good for rabbits as it is too high in calories, and makes them fat. Well, Tokki will have to deal with eating alfalfa until next week when I can order some more online. There are no other places anywhere near here that have any sort of rabbit food.
I was in a huge rush to finish everything so that I could make it to the station on time. My ticket was for the 9pm train from Seoul to Busan. I left early enough so that I would have some time to get something to eat before I had to be on the train. I wandered around the station a bit and the went to catch my train with about 15 minutes to spare. Well.. I knew that my ticket was for Seoul station, but for some reason, I had it stuck in my head that I was leaving from Yongsan Station in Seoul, as, for some reason, I associate that station with the KTX (some KTX trains do leave from Yongsan station... just not the one that I was supposed to be on!!!). So there I was at Yongsan Station trying to catch a train that was going through Seoul Station. ARGH!!! Pure stupidity. The other trains heading for Busan tonight were completely sold out, so I now have a ticket for the 7am train. ARGH. I wasted several hours tonight, only to end up back where I started. And I now have to get up at around 4:30 in order to make the morning train.
AND... the KTX website says that the trains from Seoul to Busan do go through Yongsan station. The people there said it did not. If I find out it did stop in Yongsan, I will be soooooo angry. Not that I can change anything.
My friends were on that train. They got on before Seoul Station, though, as they live north west of Seoul.
My tooth is bothering me!!!
Thursday, September 21, 2006
I'll have to bomb my place next week. There are bug bombs that I can get at the pharmacy or the store or where ever. You put them in the middle of your home, or the room, or what ever, light it, and let it smoke the place while you're away for the day. I'll have to put Tokki out in my balcony area for that day, or take her to school with me.
I'll have to talk to my school about the problem. Maybe they will have to do the whole building, since the ants are in the walls. (I am on the 2nd floor of a 3 floor building.)
All I know is the ants have to go!!!!! I am getting the crawlies!!! I keep feeling like bugs are crawling on me.... but they aren't... at least not ever time I feel it. Even now, as I sit here, a little ant started walking up my arm.
They are driving me batty!!!!!!
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Korea’s Suicide Rate Highest in OECD in 2005
The number of suicides rose to an all-time high of 12,000 last year as more people took their own lives amid economic hardship, recording the highest suicide rate among the 30 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
According to the National Statistical Office (NSO) yesterday, suicide was the fourth-largest cause of death in the country for two years in a row...
"The fast pace of social change in the country and stagnant business conditions were main contributors to an increase in suicides last year,’’ an NSO official said.
He said suicides are also on the rise among senior citizens who had not fully prepared for old age and were not properly supported by their children.
What was more alarming is that suicide topped the causes of deaths last year for 20-and 30-somethings who were supposed to actively participate in economic activities.
About 21.8 people in their 30s out of 100,000 decided to take their own lives due mainly to the worsening economic conditions. ... [The Korea Times]
Sunday, September 17, 2006
When we finished at the mall, we picked up her sister and the three of us went to a baseball game at the Jamsil sports complex. It was the Doosan Bears vs the Kia Tigers. We cheered for the Tigers, as they are Jay and her sister's hometown team. The Tigers won. Yay!!! It was a good game to go see. The away team fans greatly outnumbered the home team fans. Not sure why that is.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
(IsraelNN.com) The alert level in Sinai was raised to its highest point by Egyptian security officials Thursday after explosives were stolen from a warehouse in the northern part of the peninsula.According to ZAKA, Egyptian officials believe the explosives may be used by terrorists to attack Israeli tourists in the area. Thousands of Israelis travel to Red Sea resort towns in Sinai for vacations.I worry about my friends that are working in Sharm.
I found an interesting article in the Korea Times to do with the beginnings of Korea's obsession with English: English in Korea
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Today I found out some GREAT news. I get October 4th off. October 3rd is a holiday in Korea. October 5-7 is a holiday in Korea (Chusok - Korean Thanksgiving... yes, it is a 3 day holiday). As it was, I would have worked on the Monday and the Wednesday. I had been trying to get the 4th off as well. My boss said it wasn't possible. But today, I guess things changed and my school will be closed that day. That means I have a 6 day vacation!
I am stuck in Korea for my 6 day vacation doing nothing. It is now basically too late to book any trips anywhere. Every single flight out of Korea and back again are fully booked. Almost every single train to anywhere else in Korea is sold out. What a waste of a good holiday. And after this one, I will only have my winter vacation and then one 3 day weekend in late winter/ early spring. If I had known before that I would have the extra long vacation now, I would have already booked a trip somewhere. Back to China (Xian) or to Vietnam maybe. But NO... Things just don't work out that way.
What really sucks is that because the entire country has the vacation (at least the 4 national holiday days), everyone is going places. Chusok is a bad time for being stuck here, as everything is closed.
once again... ARGH!!!!
Sorry... needed to vent.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Okay… so it’s a little late.
I ended up sleeping in fairly late again. I guess I was still exhausted from the previous day’s adventures.
I started my day by heading for the Longhua Temple (the oldest and largest monastery in Shanghai) and the Longhua Pagoda (originally built around 977, but reconstructed several times). There were not many people around when I went. Maybe because of the heat, or maybe because it is a bit out of the way. I don’t think it is on the standard tourist agenda. There is a very fancy, fairly new looking shopping complex across from it, but it seemed a bit empty.
The Pagoda is really cool, as is the fat laughing Buddha in front of it. The Buddha has little people all over it. Unfortunately, you can’t do anything but look at the pagoda and take pictures. I would have liked to have gone inside. Oh well.
The temple complex is beautiful. I am glad that I decided to go out of the way to see it. It is always nice to go to places that aren’t overrun with tourists, or any people, for that matter. Crowds are annoying when you are trying to take a good picture.After I spent some time wandering around taking everything in, I headed for the Flower, Bird, Fish and Insect Market. VERY interesting. The first thing I noticed was the strands of little woven basket like balls, containing crickets. Crickets from movies popped into my head: the cricket in Mulan, the cricket in The Last Emperor, etc. A lot of the shops were cricket related. Cricket cages, cricket food dishes and houses, etc. I bought some of the little dishes: some for me, some for gifts. They would be good for something, I suppose; a ring dish, maybe? I also bought a pottery cricket container. A guy said something about it being a cricket house. And showed me how the dishes would sit in it. I kept thinking… that is strange to put it in a solid container with a lid. I didn’t really think about it, though. Once back at the hotel, it came to me, that it is probably a tomb/casket type thing for the crickets after they die. Funny. Some of the dishes they were selling were quite intricately painted, and not so cheap. Others, you could tell were quickly done, and mass-produced. There were crickets being sold all over the market. I have a full set up for a pet cricket. Now all I need is the cricket. I would have bought a cricket there, but I figured they wouldn’t let me on the plane with one so I decided against it.
[One of the tables along the outside of the market. The hanging woven balls contain the crickets. You can see the round pottery cricket "houses" and other cricket accessories on the table.]
There were also lots of stands selling fish and birds. I also saw some selling rabbits and kittens. It made me sooooo sad, though, as they all looked very sick. I am pretty sure that there was even a dead one in one of the cages, with other kittens. They were all flopped down on the floors of the cages, not moving. Most of them, you could only see their chests rise and fall from breathing. It was soooooooooo hot in there. I kept thinking I wish I could buy them all and take them home. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option. The shops also sold cat toys and food. The dogs that were being sold at a few places in the market seemed to be in much better condition. They were in somewhat enclosed rooms, with fans blowing on their cages. They looked relatively healthy.
I then wandered around the corner to an antiques market; basically a long pedestrian street with little stands set up the entire length of it. They sold a wide range of things… jewelry, coins, boxes, knives, pictures, books, etc. I only bought a couple of things: a necklace pendant and a mahogany cricket cage. Not sure what I’ll do with the cage, but it is really cute. A lot of the things being sold were obviously not antiques, but were being sold as such. I guess some people believe what they are told, and will spend the money thinking they are getting the real thing.
I didn’t do much else that day. MONEY!!! I basically ran out of money. I had enough for dinner. I ended up just having the Shanghai Rice at the hotel. Something safe. Something cheap and tasty.
An early night.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Saturday, September 02, 2006
I've always read, though, that hedgehogs are extremely lactose intolerant, and can die from having dairy products.
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society has campaigned for years against the containers, saying hedgehogs had died while trying to eat leftover ice cream from discarded cups. Campaigners said the opening in the lid was large enough for hedgehogs to stick their heads in, but not to get them out again, and that animals not rescued by passers-by had died of starvation. [Yahoo Canada News]
Friday, September 01, 2006
I started teaching my classes the Hokey Pokey the other day. They all love it. They can't all sing along with it, yet, but they have all of the actions down. Head and Shoulders is very popular. They all love it... from the Korean 5 year olds to the Korean 7 year olds. It's a good way to fill any extra time I have to fill.
The Summer program ended this past Monday, so the regular schedule returned on Tuesday. No more 2 hour lunch break, and it's back to the 6:00 finishing time.
I teach one book a week, three books in a month (each age group has a different set of 3), meaning I always have a week to fill. Even in one week, a book isn't much, as there isn't much to the books... some pages have a sentence, some nothing but pictures. This week was one of the empty weeks, as I'm not starting the books until next week. Filler time. For the most part, though, the kids don't really care if you do the same songs every day, as long as they are fun songs. It wears a bit on me, though. I'm trying to introduce some more new songs, but I have to sort through the songs I have to find ones that aren't too complicated or too fast. it takes time.
I sometimes have problems with the Korean kindy teachers interrupting what I am doing. They are almost always in the room when I am teaching (there are 2 per class). Most of them speak little or no English. In some of the classes, the teachers do their own thing while I am in there, and only speak up when the students really aren't listening, or if they see a student really misbehaving. In other classes, the teachers follow along with what I am doing. A couple of the teachers that understand some English (at least, the English that I am teaching) interrupt what I am doing a lot of the time to explain things in Korean to the students, which often messes up what I am doing. Instead of the students trying to think of what I am saying and coming up with an answer to my questions, the teacher tells them in Korean what I am saying, or what I am asking. Sometimes, it does help, but more often than not, it is unnecessary. Also, one result is that some of the students in those classes are listening for what the Korean teacher explains, rather than what I am saying, or trying to teach. Some also try to help the students with the answers, but sometimes give the wrong answers. I've brought the interruptions up a few times, but as of yet, still no change.
Other times, when I am doing activity songs where I have the students standing up, I usually do a couple at a time, one after the other. Often times, the Korean teachers are only half paying attention to what I am doing, and so when I finish a song, they tell the students to sit down. I then have to tell them to stand up again, which confuses the students, as they have two teachers telling them to do different things. Today was really bad for that. It happened in about half of my classes.
The teachers in each class have their own way of doing things. Some of them are very strict, some are not. I like to do a lot of the activities the same in each of the classes, but it doesn't always work that way when the teachers deal with things in different ways. The kids just like to be kids, but some of the classes get yelled at if they are jumping around getting excited about games or songs or such, whether I am okay with it or not.
I guess I just have to deal with these things.
Then I read this:
A video clip of a young man playing his electric guitar has taken the world by storm. The man performs a fiendishly difficult rock version of Pachelbel's hackneyed “Canon” by Taiwanese guitarist Jerry C in the clip posted on the video sharing website YouTube (youtube.com) last October which has since been viewed 7.7 million times. Now the legend in his own bedroom has been identified as a 22-year-old Korean, Lim Jeong-hyun. ...