Monday, April 30, 2007


I am very disappointed now. One of the blogs that I read regularly is finished. The Sandmonkey has decided to stop, for his own safety. There have been too many problems in Egypt with the State Security and the bloggers. Here's his good-bye post:

Today is going to be the day that I've been dreading for quite sometime now. Today is the day I walk away from this blog. Done. Finished.
There are many reasons, each would take a post to list, and I just do not have the energy to list them. As anyone who has been reading this blog for the past month, I think it is apparent that things are not the same with me. There are reasons for that:
One of the chief reasons is the fact that there has been too much heat around me lately. I no longer believe that my anonymity is kept, especially with State Secuirty agents lurking around my street and asking questions about me since that day. I ignore that, the same way I ignored all the clicking noises that my phones started to exhibit all of a sudden, or the law suit filed by Judge Mourad on my friends, and instead grew bolder and more reckless at a time where everybody else started being more cautious. It took me a while to take note of the fear that has been gripping our little blogsphere and comprehend what it really means. The prospects for improvment, to put it slightly, look pretty grim. I was the model of caution, and believing in my invincipility by managing not to get arrested for the past 2 and a half years, I've grown reckless. Stupid Monkey. Stupid!
And speaking of the state of the egyptian blogsphere, it has been pretty depressing in its own right. One has to wonder at some point the futulity of being a keyboard warrior in a country where nothing seems to matter to its people anymore. At the same time, there has been those amongst us who have loved the fame and the attention, and are now becoming the egyptian blogsphere's equivelant of Paris Hilton: They are famous for being famous, peddling the same stories and not really presenting anything of value to the debate. And then there is the fact that we are entering the "Iconogrphy" phase : We are becoming Icons. Too much Media attention, too many american organizations claiming to champion our causes while they are cashing out in donation from people gullible enough to believe them, too much hype generated by us and others, so many of us tooting our own horns and even crying wolf at times has made Icons of us. We now have young bloggers who come up to many of us "Old Guard" and tell us how they are such great fans of ours, and how we are their role models and heroes and how they are starting to blog because of our "courageous example". And there are those of us who are buying into it, taking in undertsudies to placate our big heads, hooking up with groupies to feed our egos, acting as if we are the warriors for change we are made up to be and forgetting why we started blogging to begin with. It seems that we are entering a state of transformation, and we should either 1) evolve, take the next step whatever it is, 2) stay the way we are and risk becoming carricatures of ourselves or 3) quit. Not knowing what the next step is, and needing time and space to figure it out, I chose the only other option that made sense: I quit!
So here comes my apology to those of you who read me: I am sorry. I really can't continue to do this. You guys have been the best readers anyone could hope for, altough there are some of you who made me come close to shutting down the comments section many many times. I love you all for everything you have done for me, for all of the egyptian blogsphere. When I asked for your help, you gave us more than a helping hand. You cared. You gave a damn about a bunch of egyptians who had a dream to be free and stood by us in our houres of need. For that you are my heroes, and I can not possibly thank you enough.
May the day comes when I rant once again….
Love you all,
The Sandmonkey

And a news article that I found:

Egypt’s top blogger hangs up keyboard
One of Egypt’s most prominent political bloggers has decided to call it a day, citing harassment by security services as his main reason to quit. The Egypt-based blogger, known only as “Sandmonkey” - a derogatory term for people of Arab descent - posted his last entry on Saturday.
“One of the chief reasons (for quitting) is the fact that there has been too much heat around me lately,” he said. Sandmonkey - who describes himself as “extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian” — started posting two years ago and has since been one of the main animators of Egypt’s vibrant blogosphere.
The blog offered stinging commentary on the Islamisation of Egyptian society as well as virulent criticism of President Hosni Mubarak’s 26-year-old regime. Sandmonkey regularly reported on the arrests of political activists, police brutality and videos recently posted on the Internet of alleged vote-rigging in a referendum for constitutional amendments, which critics say curb civil liberties.
“I no longer believe that my anonymity is kept, especially with state security agents lurking around my street and asking questions about me, since that day,” he said, referring to anti-referendum protests last month in which he participated and several demonstrators were detained.
Egypt’s bloggers came to public attention during the political ferment surrounding elections in 2005 and have since been targeted by the regime, drawing international condemnation. In April, security forces detained blogger Abdel Moneim Mahmud for criticising the government’s human rights record.
In February, an Egyptian court sentenced blogger Abdel Karim Suleiman to four years in prison for insulting religion and defaming the president, a verdict condemned by rights groups as an attack on free speech. [7DAYS]

Pink... again

Thursday after my doctor's appointment, I went and got my hair done again.I think I've really gotten used to the pink streaks. I love it. :)

Saturday night

I've been in a bit of a slump lately and haven't really done anything other than sit around watching tv or sitting at my computer just looking around.
I did go out last night. My friend Jen (from Ireland) and I went to Itaewon. We started out with a Turkish kebab... sooooooooooo yummy. Next time I'll have to take a picture of the place. There are a couple of places to get them in Itaewon. One is right next to the Burger King, the other is on the street behind it. I prefer the one behind. Even if the kebabs weren't so good, many people would still go, as the man behind the counter is such a character. He never stops talking. So funny.
Then we went to the Wolfhound for some drinks. We sat at the bar as the place was packed, as usual. We were quite amused by one guy that started talking to us when he was at the bar to get some drinks. He started out by asking where we were from. I'm from Canada, Jen's from Ireland. He then went into a big long story about how his parents are from Ireland and he is Canadian. He then asked Jen how she's here. What?? What kind of question is that? She said she is here teaching English, as most of us are. He said, "Oh." And then he said he didn't know how Irish and English and such teach English as their accents are so strong that no one would understand them. What an idiot.
After the Wolfhound, we went to Brickx. I really like Brickx. Later on we went to Polly's. She had never been there and one of my Egyptian friends was there so we went. Jen got tired and decided to go to a sauna at around 3. I stayed to dance. I can dance all night. So much fun.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


And he's here. Aaron's wife just had a baby. They are living here in Korea. Aaron is Australian, and is, well, a giant. I met him in 2003, when I lived in Hwajeong (Goyang City). Then I worked with him for a bit in 2005. His wife, Merina (spelling?) is a petite Indonesian woman. They met several years ago in Indonesia when Aaron was living/working there, and go married in the fall of 2005. The last time I saw them was Christmas Eve. She was HUGE then. I can't imagine how big she got since then.
Anyway, I got a message on Wednesday, the 17th, announcing the birth of baby Tony. A big baby of 4 kg!

The shooting

I am sure that you've all heard about it. It is said to be the worst shooting in US history. The shooter was Korean.
During the 2 hour span of time between the first shootings, in the dorms, and last shootings, in the lecture building, the shooter, Cho Seung-Hui, made a video and sent it, as well as photos, to NBC. In the video he said, "You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today, but you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option, the decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off."
Here, everyone is talking about it. It is all over the news. And, Koreans are now worried about the possible reaction that the US might have against Korea.

South Korea's Collective Guilt
Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2007
By Jennifer Veale/Seoul
While Americans were grieving and trying to a make sense of Monday's massacre at Virginia Tech, on the other side of the Pacific, South Koreans were shaking their heads in disbelief that one of their own could unleash the worst massacre in U.S history.
Most Koreans don't regard Cho Seung-Hui as a "typical Korean" since he spent the bulk of his life immersed in American culture. Still, a collective sense of regret and guilt was palpable today due to the strong tendency of Koreans to perceive the tragedy in terms of Korean nationalism, in which the group trumps the individual. "It's a notion of collective responsibility," says Mike Breen, the author of The Koreans. When a Korean does something wonderful, the country rejoices, but when one of its own goes off the rails, like Cho Seung-Hui, there's a collective sense of shame and burden. So much so that South Korea's Ambassador to the U.S., Lee Tae Shik, pledged to fast for 32 days to show his sorrow today. "I can smell a collective sense of guilt," says Lim Jie-Hyun, a history professor at Hangyang University in Seoul. "There is confusion [in Korea] between individual responsibility and national responsibility."
In a country where untold numbers of citizens seem eager to travel, work and live in the United States, many Koreans were dumbfounded when they discovered this morning that the "Asian" campus killer was in fact a 23-year-old South Korean citizen. "I was shocked," says Hong, Sung Pyo, 65, a textile executive in Seoul. "We don't expect Koreans to shoot people, so we feel very ashamed and also worried." Most important, he adds, "we don't want Americans to think all Koreans are this way."
Nor did President Roh Moo Hyun, who sent at least three messages of condolence to the U.S. and gathered aides for an emergency meeting on Wednesday morning, once it became widely known on the peninsula that the shooter was a South Korean student who moved with his struggling parents to the U.S when he was eight years old. Roh reportedly called for the meeting to discuss measures to cope with any possible fallout from the massacre — inadvertently stoking fears that Koreans living and studying abroad could be in for a rough ride. "Koreans still remember the riots in L.A., so we are worried about some revenge against Koreans," says Kim Hye Jin, 29, a web designer in Seoul, referring to Korean-owned businesses that were looted during the 1992 violence. "We are really worried about the image of our country."
Some Koreans even raised the prospect Cho's rampage could possibly inflict damage on U.S-Korea relations, including the recently signed tentative free trade agreement between the two countries.
This kind of nationalistic response can have an opposite effect as well — when the roles are reversed. In 2002, when two U.S soldiers accidentally ran over two schoolgirls with a tank north of Seoul, anti-American sentiment was widespread in Korea. Some restaurants even hung signboards reading "No Americans" rather than "No Soldiers Allowed." For weeks, thousands of Koreans staged protests against American soldiers, while some Korean media even suggested that the girl's deaths could have been deliberate.


This looks like it would hurt!!!!!Yes, he got his hand back.
National Geographic News

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


For the first time in my life, I am being called skinny.
On Monday, one of my students, Annie, came up to me and said, "Miss Laura, you are kinda skinny." Followed by, "My mom is a little bit fat." She just turned 5 years old (6 in Korean age). Usually, Koreans think that all foreigners are fat. I've had some very thin foreign friends complaining about their students calling them fat. Kids just say what they think, what they see. They don't sugar coat things. While I've been in Korea, I've always been told I have a small face, and the odd time I got some sort of reference to me being big.
I've always felt that being big boned is a curse. Since I was little I was generally referred to as being fat, even though it wasn't always so. My friends have often said I am not fat, but big.
Since last June, I've lost around 11 or 12 kg. I haven't tried to lose weight. I suppose the meds I'm on have something to do with it. Since I got sick and started taking anti-inflammatories and pain killers and such, I've lost a lot of my appetite. I do eat, but sometimes just plain forget to eat, as I don't often feel hungry. If I don't make myself eat, I forget. I eat way too much junk food, though. Choco pies and chocolates and sometimes chips. I'm not much of a cook. I guess I feel it is sort of a waste of time and energy to cook for only one person - in terms of time and the mess it makes. Not to mention the fact that everything is sold in large amounts, which is NOT good for one person. I am constantly having to throw food out. I hate it. It is so wasteful. As a result, I am often just eating things that take little or no effort. Cut up vegetables, peanut butter sandwiches, sometimes rice, etc. What ever.This is what losing 11 or so kg looks like. I bought these jeans in February last year, right before I came back to Korea. I set the belt at what I wore it at then. I have had to tighten it by 4 holes. I don't even undo the button or zipper on anything anymore. I don't need to. It is quite a problem really. Almost all of my clothes are so big on me that they look funny. And this is a bad country for that to happen in, as NOTHING fits. Korean clothes are small. The pants, if they do come in a big enough size, are always way too short (usually 30 inches long... I generally need 34 inches length). Shirts are too small in the chest area and long sleeves are about 3/4 length on me. Getting dressed is sometimes a chore as I get so stressed out about it. Almost everything in my closet now looks like crap on me.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

birthday parties at the kindy

Last Wednesday was Birthday Party day at work. All of the kids whose birthdays are in April sort of had a party. Basically, it is all for show. The school hires a photographer to come in every month for the occasion. We take the birthday kids downstairs and for a picture of each birthday kid with their teachers and the school owner. Then later on, we take them back down again, with their class and there is a picture of each birthday child with some of their friends, and then getting a birthday card, and then blowing out candles (they use one cake and just keep re-lighting the candles for each student). In all of the pictures, the kids stand behind a huge table of food (well, I think maybe the babies would stand infront, as the table is as with all of the stuff on top, the table is almost as tall as they are).Sarah's picture: Annie, Yong-Kyu, Sarah, Seung-Woo, Lisa, Chae-Yeon.Suk-Min's picture: Hyun-Sang, David, Suk-Min, Min-Young (Steve... but he doesn't know it), Seung-Woo, Yong-Kyu.Seung-Woo giving the birthday card to Suk-Min.
The food and cakes and such for that day are all brought in by the parents. It is up to the parents as to what they bring. There is usually so much food that every class gets some whether there is a birthday kid in it or not. Basically, it is a feast. There is so much food that there is tons left over and I think that all of the teachers have plenty to munch on for the rest of the day, (and the next). This month I have 2 birthday kids. Suk-Min's mom brought in pizza and chicken. Sarah's mom brought in rice cake and fruit.
Everyone ended up eating way too much. Yum.


This is at the intersection at Samgakji Station (which I pass every day on my way work). It is huge. It is, I think, made of bamboo. I love it. I guess Yongsan means Dragon in Chinese. The area I live and work in is Yongsan-Gu.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Easter Eggs... cont'd

If you would like more information about the giant Pysanka/Easter egg in Vegreville, Canada, designed by Ron Resch, check out this site. It has all the information you would want to know on how he designed it, how it was put together, as well as more stats on the egg, and a whole bunch of pictures.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Aussie Shop

Today I went to Itaewon to go to What The Book? to get some more reading material. On the way I bumped into Stacey on the subway. She, too, was heading for the little book store. After getting out books, we went to The Aussie Shop, a little Australian diner in Itaewon. Stacey had read about it on the Net and wanted to go. She is from New Zealand and said she missed the Australian mince meat pies.We both had meat pies and chips (French Fries). The food was great (Check out the menu if you are interested) and it was a beautiful sunny day today, so we sat outside on the small patio and enjoy the weather. There are only half a dozen tables at the place, a couple inside and a few outside. I will definitely go back there. And I will suggest it to my friends here. I have a few Australian friends that would probably love it.
We talked to the owner for a bit. He is Australian and owns the shop 100%. It is not easy for a foreigner to open a business here due to legal issues and such. Foreigners that open businesses here usually have a Korean wife or friend as a partner, to open the business. He has been having some problems, as trademarks and such are not really respected here, and some Korean guy decided that The Aussie Shop was a great business idea, and opened his own Ozzie Shop somewhere down the street, stealing every idea right down to the color schemes and the menu items. The only thing he couldn't copy (so far) is the Australian beer, as the supplier is somewhat of a friend of Tony's, and decided to be loyal to the original Aussie Shop.
The Aussie Shop in the news:
Down Under Fare in Seoul
By John RedmondContributing Writer
Starting up your own business is not an easy task. It takes money, a good business plan, an original concept and lots of hard work. And that’s in your own country. My two favorite quotes on this subject are, "Think," an IBM slogan, but more to my way of thinking is, "Imagine" the Apple slogan.
Foreigners setting up businesses in other countries are usually burdened with a few extra (usually more than less) legalities, and Korea is no exception. The usual way most foreigners set up a business in this country is to get a Korean silent partner or family member (wife or husband), to register the business under a Korean name, and take it from there.
Until recently there were very few 100 percent foreign-owned businesses in Korea in the food, catering and entertainment industries. The Aussie Shop in Itaewon is a 100 percent foreign-owned business under the management of Tony Le Rhodes, the one-time drummer of the iconic Australian rock band the Choirboys.
Essentially The Aussie Shop is a dine-in or take-away style delicatessen specializing in genuine home-cooked traditional Australian food. Not the kind of food you would find on the menu of that American "outback style" steakhouse chain. Here the order of the day is Fish and Chips, Hamburgers (Australian style with egg, beetroot and pineapple), home- made meat pies (beef, lamb and chicken), sausage rolls, potato scallops, steak sandwiches or vegemite sandwiches, followed by lamingtons and rum balls, all washed down with VB (Victoria Bitter) or XXXX (Queensland spelling for beer).
For the full menu check out the website listed below.
Tony honed his culinary skills in the afternoons after school. While most kids his age were watching TV or getting up to mischief, he was helping out in his father’s fish and chip shop. Later in the evenings the family would help prepare their unique "family recipe" beer batter and tartar sauce. That tradition has stayed in the family as Tony still uses the family recipe (30 years and still going) in the beer batter and tartar sauces. The meat pies and sausage rolls are baked daily. Even the beetroot is home grown. I personally can vouch for the fish and chips. For what it’s worth, you’d be hard pressed to find anything better here in Korea, even when paying the price of an arm or a leg (as I have done).
The Aussie Shop also captures a real essence of Australian culture without resorting to stereotyping. An interesting feature is some of the items for sale. There are music DVDs from the likes of INXS, popular TV DVDs of shows like The Comedy Company, and the New Zealand animation series Footrot Flats. They also offer host of popular Australian TV commercials including the "Export Cola" ad (featuring Skyhooks) a "Coke" ad (featuring the Australian band "Sherbet" performing "Summer Love") and the award-winning Toyota "Bugger" ad.
Wines for sale include a selection from such vineyards as Jacobs Creek and Yellow Tail. More are on the way.
Later this month The Aussie Shop will expand the "shop" aspect of the business by opening up a full-fledged cafe/bistro next door. Renovations are underway. This new area will seat about 40 people "We’ll have full sports coverage of all games, especially Aussie games most people here don’t screen," Tony told me. "It’s going to be awesome," he said. Details will be on the website soon.
The Aussie Shop is open from Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. ‘till late (Friday and Saturday till 3:00 a.m.). To get there: Leave Itaewon subway station (line No.6) exit #1.
Walk down the main street until you get to a Pizza Hut on your right. Take the street that runs parallel to the main road but heads up a hill. The Aussie Shop is on the right at the top. For more information contact Tony at (02) 790-0793, or email
Website is

a little late... but...

Here are some videos and pictures from St. Patrick's Day (March 17th for those of you that don't know). I missed the parade but met up with my friends shortly after, where the post- parade festivities were going on (near HyeHwa station in Seoul).
Barry got run over by a little cartoon car!!!

Kieran dancing with the cartoon car (at this point, with Dairin inside).

Barry doing a 3D glasses obstacle course. The point is to follow the line without knocking over any bottles. Barry aced it. Others had a hard time.
We stuck around there for a while and then once we started to get hungry, we headed to the Wolfhound (an Irish bar) in Itaewon.

It was absolutely packed. We ended up standing at the top of the stairs as that was the only place left with any breathing room.Dairin and I.Some of the guys. The uniforms they have on are for their team - they are on the Lokomotiv Goyang football team. They were in the parade earlier in the day.
Later on, there was a rugby game on TV, so we went to Hollywoods to watch, as (I think) the only TV at the Wolfhound is small and downstairs. Hollywoods has a big screen set up for games and a couple of TVs.Dairin and some guy at Hollywoods... yes the beer is green.
More Videos.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Easter Eggs

The worlds largest Easter Eggs:

World's biggest Easter egg
A Belgian city has entered the Guinness book of records with the biggest Easter egg ever.
The Belgian chocolate producer Guylian made the chocolate egg with at least 50.000 bars on behalf of the city of St. Niklaas. The egg measured 8.32 metres high and beats the record of Kwazulu-Natal in South-Africa in 1996. That egg was 7.65 metres high. Twenty-six craftsman worked altogether 525 hours to build the egg. They needed 1950 kg of chocolates.
Alderman Urbain Vercauteren of the city of St.Niklaas said the egg wasn't meant to be eaten. He said: "After a week outside in all weather conditions, I don't think it would be very tasteful."

And a more permanent one (I have seen this one):
Vegreville, Canada is the site of the largest Easter egg in the world. The Easter egg or Ukranian 'Pysanka,' was constructed in 1975 to commemorate early Ukranian settlements in an area east of Edmonton.
The unique nature and complicated geometry of the egg shape made the design of the Pysanka a highly complex undertaking. Professor Ronald Resch, a computer scientist at the University of Utah, agreed to take on the design project.
Professor Resch was responsible for the entire Pysanka concept which required the development of new computer programs. The Pysanka is really an immense jig-saw puzzle containing 524 star patterns, 2,206 equilateral triangles, 3,512 visible facets, 6,978 nuts and bolts, and 177 internal struts.
World Recognition
As a result of Professor Resch's work and leadership, the Pysanka is recognized around the world as not only a unique artistic masterpiece but also an achievement of nine mathematical, architectural and engineering firsts. The design represents the first computer modeling of an egg.
Egg Width: 25.7 feet· (7.83m)
Egg Height: 18.3 feet· (5.58m)
Total Height: 31.6 feet·
Material: Aluminum skin· Turns like weathervane·
Weight: 5,000 pounds·
Star Patterns: 524·
Triangular Pieces: 2,206·
Visible Facets: 3,512·
Nuts and Bolts: 6,978·
Internal Struts: 177·
Man Hours: 12,000


all I can say is TGIF!!!!!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

getting better?

My throat is slowly getting better. Only now I also have a runny nose and a bit of a cough at times. So the doctor prescribed me some more medication, for that (for 3 days). They really over medicate here in Korea. I am also having trouble with my tooth - it started the same time as my throat. The doctor said it could be related, only it is not getting better, while my throat is.
I think I'll have to go to the dentist Friday and get my last wisdom tooth pulled. :
Not looking forward to it.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Japanese goldfish...

This is so strange. Great idea but very strange. I wonder if many fish end up dead trying to feed off of their 'surface'. I know our fish always splashed at the surface. Also, the water must get quite hot, with the oil heated that much. Must be very hardy fish. [I saw this video posted on And Far Away. I think everyone needs to see it!!!]

Sunday, April 01, 2007

candy hearts

Your Candy Heart Says "First Kiss"

You're a true romantic who brings an innocent hope to each new relationship.
You see the good in every person you date, and you relish each step of falling in love.

Your ideal Valentine's Day date: a romantic dinner your sweetie cooks for you

Your flirting style: friendly and sweet

What turns you off: cynics who don't believe in romance

Why you're hot: you always keep the romance alive