Monday, December 24, 2012

And I quote...

“You're terrific as far as I am concerned.”
― E.B. White

And I quote...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Tale of Two Conquerors (or Namhae Island Pig Roast)

A group of about expats decided to get together on Namhae Island.  They also decided that they should get an entire pig, and hire some guys to cook it up for us, and I was invited.

Namhae Island is about an hour (by bus from Masan), and it technically connected to the mainland by a bridge, so there is no need to get on a boat to the island.

I was travelling with 2 other people from Masan to join the rest of the group, where we caught a Saturday morning bus.  The bus got us as far as Namhae's bus terminal, however the beach we were going to was on the other side of the island.  We grabbed a taxi, and about 15 minutes later were at our destination.

We were staying at a pension just off of the beach, and the pig was to be delivered about 4 p.m.  We were  pretty anxious to start smelling the sweet scent of roasting pig.

(click on pictures to enlarge)
the pension

chillin' in the little on-site convenience store 
waiting for someone to come so we can pay
it took like 15 minutes before someone showed up

After we'd been at the pension an hour or so, we were discussing the view from the front porch, especially this rock formation towards the side of the beach, and just off the road.

rock formation

We began to wonder if we would be able to get on top of it, to climb it.  We decide it not only can, but must be done.

True to my nature, I throw out a couple of inspirational sentences: "Friends, today is our destiny, we will conquer that rock, and stare down our fears.  We're going to live on, we're going to survive.  Today, we will become men."

Later, I would regret saying those words.  All of them.

However, at that moment, the pig arrived.  The pig weighed 56 kg (over 123 lbs.)  The delivery guys/ cookers/bringers of the pig needed assistance unloading things, and asked for some of the stronger people to come and help.  That get's you 2 giant men, and Lindsay, who is not large at all.  (see below pic)  Although, she probably has most of us beat in the strength department.

Just about the best scene ever!  
I'm pretty sure the rest of us were trying to look busy.  

(I believe) It turned out that they didn't wind up needing much lifting power anyway.  Good, because we had a rock to surmount.  A few of us set out towards the stones jutting up from the ocean.

Upon arriving at the rock, I realize that this is not going to be as easy as I had hoped.  I had made a terrible mistake.  Within moments of arriving at the base, my co-conquerors had flung themselves around the first large boulder to begin the climb.

I was unable to make the leap around the first boulder, as I was holding not only my camera, but a bottle of water.  Off I went to set down my water (clearly that was the issue), and when I turned around, I could not see anybody.  I could hear them though.

I tried to go around the boulder a second time (still holding my camera mind you) and I began to succumb to fear.  

You see, I have a horrible fear of falling.  And falling, as it were, is usually directly related to heights.  I'm not afraid of heights mind you, I'm just sort of a klutz, and am vehemitly opposed to plunging to my death (or ya know, a twisted ankle), so I get extra nervous in situations like this.

I tried to overcome this fear, but just down from the foothold there was about a 3-4 ft drop-off into water... water with ROCKS!  Some of them sharp and pointy.

I instead decided to putz about at the base, thinking my friends would not only not notice that I had seemed to vanish, but that they would also descend as fast as they seem to have scaled the rock.  I also took some pictures.

doesn't really look that high in the photo

 view out into the ocean

and another

a rock just to the side of the other one
inside that crevasse on the right was filled with candle wax
seems an odd place to light a candle, no?

At that moment, I felt pretty silly for my earlier speech when I couldn't even make it off the "ground."  Just then, my friend, Rachel showed up.

Turns out, she was afraid of climbing the rock too.

However, after several urgings and promises of ease, Rachel and I set off around the first boulder, and into our great journey.  If we helped each other, we knew we'd make it.

looking down into the water
(ok, so none of them look sharp, slippery then)

As it turned out, after the first big leap around the protruding boulder, it was a nearly flat walk around to the other side.

just past the boulder I struggled with so much

the "flat" walk around to the other side

Rachel and I giggled to ourselves, and yelled up to our friends who were STILL at the summit, we slowly made our way to the other side, and without much incident.

Then it got tough.... again.

All of a sudden, we were on top of rocks jutting out over the ocean, and what would be our (clearly inevitable) fall into the water got much steeper.

I did manage to snap this photo while dangerously hanging off the side of a cliff.
Pretty, huh? (and shockingly in focus)

We dangerously lept from rock to rock, and at last, mounted the summit.

 view from the top

look at us beaming with pride 

and peace and love

As we stood in victory, our friends became anxious, and not more than 3 minutes passed, when they began the decent down.  (Which they did with lightening speed.)

It looked like Rachel and I were on our own for the decent down, but not before we enjoyed our triumph for a few minutes more.

  looking back toward the pension

We began our descent, but soon realized that going down was not going to be any easier.  (There was even a point we came quite close to butt scooting along.)

At the first big drop off, we came upon a Korean couple, who were going up where we were going down.  After watching us for an awkward few moments the girlfriend told her boyfriend to help us.  (I guess we weren't quite as graceful as we were picturing in our heads.)  The kind man loaned us his hand for a big jump down.

Next we were back on to the rocks that jutted out to one side, and I'd swear they had grown further apart in the few minutes we were relishing in our accomplishment.  We were suddenly questioning our motives to go to the top.  Had it all been necessary?  Were we taking the right "path"?  Would our friends deliver us some of the roasting pig if we just stayed on the rock indefinitely?  (I mean, at least we had a nice view)

Finally back on the flat-ish portion of the journey, we eventually found our way back to our start point.  (Don't ask me how, but we initially ended up ABOVE our start point.)  And then, once again, we were face to face with our old friend, the giant boulder.

I decided to go first, and by decided I mean, I wasn't paying attention and wound up in front of Rachel.  Curses.  At least if everything went wrong, she wouldn't be able to abandon me.

I stood teetering on the edge of our little foothold, trying to find a place for my fingers to grab.  Elevated above Rachel, and looking down at her and the water, all courage left me.  I was going to have to jump for it.  I braced myself for the final plunge, when Rachel said, "come on, it doesn't look that bad."  "YOU'RE NOT UP HERE!"  I replied in my calmest and most rational tone.  And then I did it.

I jumped.

And I survived, and was now back on "land."

I turned to find Rachel standing perched in the exact same spot where I had just been.  "Oh wow!  That jump is far.  I'm sorry I doubted you." she exclaimed.

I knew I couldn't leave her behind.  I reached out my hand, and Rachel took the final leap.  We agreed that we we're both too short for those sort of aerial lunges.

I grabbed my water bottle, and Rachel and I proudly marched back to the pension.  We felt victorous, we felt like we needed fanfare, or at the very least we felt like we needed some high-fives.

And as we approached, not a soul commented on our return.  The pig was done, and everyone was feasting on its smoky flavor.  Eh, at least there was pig!

sadly I did not get a shot of the untouched roasting pig
I was conquering a large-ish rock, yo!

We quickly grabbed plates, pig, and sides -- so enveloped in our conquest we hadn't realized how hungry we were.  We had met our destiny, and we had won, and our feast tasted a little bit better in the air of victory!

However, the night was still young, the rest was filled with cheery drink, campfire tales (and campfires), friends, conversations, music, and laughter. (Seriously, an awesome time, albeit a bit cold.)

The next day, united in our common interests we made the return journey home.

I was happy.
I was exhausted.

Hugs & Kisses,

Monday, December 10, 2012

And I quote...

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
― Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn

And I quote...

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I was teaching on Friday, and had gotten to my last class of the day, 4th period, just before lunch, when I began to lose control of the class.

It had started snowing...

And considering, my town is so far to the south of the peninsula, and so close to the water, we don't get a lot of snow.


lost control of my class

The kids couldn't stop looking at it.

And there was almost nothing on the ground...

trying so hard to play with such little snow

The next period was lunch, and the kids are allowed to go play outside after lunch, as they get an entire hour to eat, and it clearly doesn't take that long.  So, you guessed it, everyone went outside.  

after lunch

Well, almost everyone.  There were no teachers outside.  I went outside though.  

enjoying the snow

And it just kept snowing...

view from the gym looking back at the main building

And if the kids weren't outside, they wanted to be...

kids looking out the windows

And there wasn't a sad kid in sight...

yay snow!

that's a giant snowball he's holding

everyone be making snowballs

I don't think it has snowed so much in Masan since before these kids were born.  They were really experiencing the snow.  It was awe inspiring to watch their little faces light up.  

catching the snow on his tongue

But, while outside, I spent a lot of time warming up kids hands (there weren't a lot of kids with gloves or should I say dry gloves), and walking around, and actually PLAYING with them.  So, when I got back inside, I was cold and wet.

I wrapped myself in my blanket (yes, the blanket I keep at my desk, and sat right in front of the heater, trying to both dry off and warm up.


And the kids kept playing...

still going strong

And after all that the snow was pretty much gone by the time I got off of work only a few hours later, but it was fun while it lasted.

Stay warm everyone!

Hugs & Kisses,

Monday, December 3, 2012

Conversations with the VP

VP: my schools birthday was Friday, we had no school*
(maniacal laughter for about 2 minutes)
me: oh, what did you do? Something fun?
VP: I came to my school and looked around the school.
me: Oh, really. That!
VP: Yes.... all day.
me: OK, well did you do anything fun on Saturday or Sunday then?
VP: Oh, I forgot, I went to the dentist too.

*note I was at my other school that day, which did not have a day off

Saturday, December 1, 2012

I'll be home for Christmas!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I'll be home for Christmas!


I'm super excited, as I've been feeling a bit homesick lately.  Additionally, I have a nephew I've only ever seen on Skype.  I'm just elated with the thought of being able to spend Christmas with my family.  (I don't know if you guys remember last year, but Christmas itself was pretty miserable, and I'm not wanting to do that again.)

I'm planning on splitting my time between Dallas and Chicago.  I plan to be in Texas with my family (even my dad will be in town) for Christmas, and the few days before and after.  I'll have a trip within a trip and head to Chicago for about a week, before I head back to Dallas for a few days, and then eventually back to Korea.

Here is my itinerary:

  • Dec. 21 - Fly from Busan, Korea (with stops in Beijing and Seattle) to Dallas, Texas, and after a nice week with my family, I will...
  • Dec. 28 - Fly to Chicago, I have so many things planned for Chicago, including New Years Eve, and a fabulous birthday celebration, before I...
  • Jan. 7 - Fly to Dallas, and spend a few more days with my family, and get in some last minute shopping, and then...
  • Jan. 11 - Fly from Dallas to Seattle, and then Seattle to Beijing (where somewhere along the way I will cross the International Date Line, and lose most of the hours of my birthday), and then spend the night on a 15 hour layover (on my BIRTHDAY!!!), before I then...
  • Jan. 13 - Fly from Beijing to Busan, Korea, where I plan on sleeeeeeeeeping a lot, before I have to start teaching again the next day.

Hey, the tickets were cheap!  No, seriously... cheap!

I can barely contain myself, and just have a smile from ear to ear.  May the next few weeks fly swiftly and pleasantly.

Hugs & Kisses,

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sh*t my students say

me: What is something you look for when you go shopping?
5th grade boy: PANTIES!

Sh*t my students say

Monday, November 26, 2012

And I quote...

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”
― Anna Quindlen
How Reading Changed My Life

And I quote...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sh*t my students say

Me: how are you?
Favorite Student: very happy
Me: oh really, why?
Favorite Student: Because I know Liz Teacher.

Sh*t my students say

Monday, November 19, 2012

MNO: A Dream Bay Thanksgiving

Usually the Masan Expats try to get together once a month for dinner and drinks.  The organization usually falls into the hands of yours truly, which is one of the things I thrive on.  For our November Masan Night Out (MNO) we decided to have a little Thanksgiving party (timing it with the American Thanksgiving, sorry Canada!), hosted at All That Jazz in Dekkori, Masan.  We celebrated pot-luck style and had an amazing amount of food, including TURKEY (which is amazing for Korea), tons of delicious sides and desserts, and even jello shots (you're welcome Masan!)

We had a great time...I always love how close the expats are in our (not-so-) little town.

The spreads... yum!!!

More food... om nom nom!

Joe being... well... Joe!


some of the ladies

everyone filing nicely in line for their food

so much eating

yup... more food and eating

a toast for dinner

set up some eating table on the stage

Joe talking through the window into the poker room/library

the leftovers... we outdid ourselves

Danny & Bushey

jello-shots in the poker room

John, Lauren, and myself (Liz)

James, Ciara, and Craig

Lauren fits nicely through the window panes between the bar and poker room

And, as always, it wouldn't be a party without a little bit of Norebang.  Watch as the expats make a fool of ourselves with more than 20 people crammed into the karaoke room, singing Gangnam Style.

Oppa Gangnam Style!

You can click here to watch the video on YouTube.

The night was a great success, and even though it is amazingly hard to rally after eating so much food, leave it to the Masan-ites to come together for an amazing party.  Happy Birthday Dream Bay!

Love this corner of Korea!