Friday, 25 December 2009
The traffic lights just outside my school. This particular intersection is the source of much frustration and confusion. I'm surprised no students have been run over yet.
I took the photo as I left school at about 4:45. it is winter, so by that time the sun is already very low and created a slight background colour which is helped along by the colour processing action I ran.
Thursday, 24 December 2009
“Teacher, I need money.”
“Oh? Why do you need money?”
“I want to buy clothes.”
“Hmm. (Curious) How much do you need?”
“이만 팔천 원! (28000 won)”
“Twenty eight thousand won?”
“Uuuuhm. Ten (makes an X in the air) two, (shows eight fingers) zero, zero, zero.”
“Yes. 2, 8, 0, 0, 0. 28000 won.”
“Let me see…here is 50 won.”
“Really?! Thank you teacher!”
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
A sign indicating the underground parking. Like signs all over the world, this one is pointing in the wrong direction, unless you are looking for the stairs that does to the underground parking, maybe then, if you look around a bit. Take care to avoid the waste food bins at which the sign is pointing.
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
Two of my students are competing in an English competition today. Unlike the previous years, my involvement has been limited to listening to then once, suggesting intonation changes, and then listening to them the next day. The whole thing has been handled by my co-teacher, who is going to Seoul National University of Education next year. The women is a machine. There is seemingly nothing she can’t do.
Here is the dialogue they will do as part of their “presentation”.
Hello, ladies and gentlemen.
We are Jang Da-Yeong and Jo Soo-Bin from Icheon Songjeong Middle School. We would like you ask you a couple of questions:
Have you ever shortened your skirts to make it look better?
Or have you ever bought expensive but good looking products?
Our dialogue today is related to these questions.
Soo-Bin: You look very gloomy today. Is everything all right?
Da-Yeong: I got scolded for my short skirt just a few minutes ago. What's up with you?
Soo-Bin: I'm just dying to get a limited edition watch, but I don't have enough money for it.
Da-Yeong: I heard that limited one is very expensive.
Soo-Bin: It is!
Da-Yeong: How much is it?
Soo-Bin: It's seven hundred thousand won and I'm only twenty thousand won short, and I have to hurry because there aren’t many watches left.
Da-Yeong: What!? Seven hundred thousand won? It costs too much! Why must you have it?
Soo-Bin: I don’t know. I guess the reason is about the same as you wanting to wear short skirts. I feel that watch will make me look special.
Da-Yeong: Maybe, but we can buy cheap watches in the markets, and there is little difference between those and the expensive watches.
Soo-Bin: Normal, cheap watches don't look cool! And my friends don't think they are great either! Tell me, what makes you want to wear a short skirt?
Da-Yeong: I feel longer skirts makes my legs look fat, and that make me feel embarrassed.
Soo-Bin: I don't get it. Why does it make you feel embarrassed? Isn't it just your own imagination? I think longer skirts make you look nicer and neater.
Da-Yeong: I don't agree. Something different, like a short skirt, earrings, colour contact lenses and make-up makes me stand out. None of those cost W 700 000. Why do you want to have expensive things?
Soo-Bin: I don't have the real reason. I just feel famous products (brand names) are cooler.
Da-Yeong: I think both of us are focusing on the superficial things too much.
Soo-Bin: Maybe you're right. I do stress looks most of the time.
Da-Yeong: I think we should improve our inner beauty.
Soo-Bin: You can say that again. Let's start doing meaningful things. Maybe we can read more, and try to help others. That will make us really beautiful and special people.
Monday, 21 December 2009
My apartment has heating, and it works pretty well. The heating is not everywhere though. Every apartment in our complex has something like an enclosed porch, and this is the part that is not heated. With no heating in there it gets pretty cold. At least the door between the porch and the main room is quite well insulated, so you rarely notice it. On my porch is my watching machine. This is the same washing machine that has never given me any problems. The time had come though.
Like most people in Korea I wash my clothes, and the time had come to do a bit of washing. I put my stuff in the machine, closed the door, set the cycle I needed and pressed the “Play” button. I went back in to the toasty main room and started my dinner. 8 minutes in to the cycle I heard the annoying sound of the machine telling me something is wrong.
A Google Translate told me the load was “unbalanced”. What? I had only a small load and to top it off everything was still dry. About that, why was everything still dry? It took me a few more tries to notice that the “Woosh, Woosh” of water pouring in to the machine was absent. I touched the pipes, the rock hard pipes and said out loud: “Frozen?”
Winter had really arrived over the last few ways with Two Thousand City going below minus 10 Celsius on more than one occasion. It was never a problem in the previous apartment, strange as it may seem, but here the water on the porch freezes. I asked around and apparently I am not the only one with that problem.
At first I tried pouring hot water on the pipes, but that was obviously not going to work. I then hit on the bright idea of heating up the room. I have a small electric heater that I used in my previous apartment. I turned that on full blast and pointed it at the pipes. Oh, I disconnected the pipes from the taps so that the water could run out when it melted. That worked a charm, except I needed more time to melt the water closer to the inside of the machine, so I waited.
After what I thought would be an acceptable time I re-connected everything, set the machine and pressed “Play”. Wahooo! I heard water rushing. Happy with the world again I went inside, the warm inside, to entertain myself with a book. I had just gotten in to what I was reading when I hear it. The Error Signal. “What now?!”
Of course it is not the first thing you notice, and the error message didn’t tell me what was going one, but eventually I saw that the drum in the machine was completely filled with water. Zenu have mercy! Like any decent machine will do, I had to wait to open the door. Problem was, this door was not opening. Even after unplugging the machine it was still locked.
I sat down and thought about it. After a short time pondering the situation, I realised that there had to be a drainage valve somewhere for just such an occasion. Of course, water in there was frozen as well. Seems my little heater was going to be needed again. I left the valve open, went inside, again, and watched a movie while I waited. After about 30 minutes I turned around to see the water rushing out of the machine. SUCCESS!
Everything went cool running after. I was able to wash my clothes, and not get enough sleep. My next mission is to try and AVOID the whole freezing thing. My first attempt involves this…
After washing I disconnect the pipes from the tap to drain that water. Then I open the drainage valve to drain everything inside the machine.
I have a few more things to wash today, so we will see what happens this evening.
Friday, 18 December 2009
반갑습니다(Bangabseumnida) is Korea for “It’s a pleasure to meet you”. It is actually only one of the way to say this, and this particular phrase literally translates to: “It is a pleasure to SEE you.”
This “Pleasure to see you” bit causes a lot of confusion with the students as they often say “It is a pleasure to meet you”, even after a few year of me teaching them. Until now I thought it was purely the way they were taught, but last night I looked at some lesson notes from KoreanClass101 and had two A-HA moments.
Apparently when Koreans haven’t seen each other for a while they will say this to each other. The first A-HA seem to suggest that the students say this to me in a way that implies that they missed me. Wrong usage, but how nice of them.
My second A-HA moment came as I was reading the notes and was reminded of the first time my ex-girlfriend came to visit me in Korea. We hugged and her first words were: “Hello. I’m please to meet you”. She immediately realised what she had said but all she could do was apologise and give an embarrassed laugh. At the time I did not understand how she could make such a mistake. She is not exactly a beginner, you see. It would seem that her Korean instincts took over at that point in time and the wrong translation passed her lips.
Interesting that I would realise this almost 3 years later.
Thursday, 17 December 2009
Monday, 30 November 2009
I’m trying to get to know a bit more about the Korean music scene, and no, I’m not trying to get to know my students better. I’m just trying to get to know what is out there in this Gug.
What I found over the last week is that there is much more to Korean music than Mista and the Brown Eyed Girls…
Sunday, 29 November 2009
I went to Holly’s Coffee to study. As I was getting to the end of my session I noticed a boy looking at me, making elaborate moves to attract my attention. I ignored him.
There weren’t that many people in the coffee shop to distract him, so I stayed the focus of his attention. He moved closer and talked softly, but just loud enough for me to hear, for me to notice. I ignored him.
He moved back to his initial position and looked at me again. I glanced up; he saw me, smiled and ran. “Oh, no! I made eye contact. I’m going to be the foreigner for entertainment.”
A few seconds later he came back carrying two of those tiny plastic cones from the crackers you get here in Korea, the ones where you pull a sting at the bottom to have a spray of paper, along with a loud crack, happen to you. They were already used and he stood in his “talking spot”, banging them together to make soft plopping sounds. I knew we were past the point of no return, so I looked up at him.
He said something while extending his arms to show me the thing. I gestured him over to “see what it was”, and the last half hour of my studies were down the drain.
After showing them to me, and me pretending to be interested, he rushed of, stopping to wave at me, stopping to peek around the corner, and came right back with this little treat…
Believe it or not, he actually asked me if I was a foreigner. Seems he only saw me as someone to talk to and not as the “foreign entertainment”. That is him, peeking around the corner on one of his return trips to home base.
The Bored One himself.
Somehow we got on to the topic of my camera. He saw me change the lens for I can’t remember why, and was completely amazed by it. I showed him how to change a lens and let him hold the camera. A quick pointer on where to look and what button to press produced this shot, no cropped with colour processing.
I was just amazed that The Bored One managed to hold the camera up. The Sigma 30mm is a really heavy lens. I have held other prime lenses and few are as heavy for their sizes.
Saturday, 28 November 2009
“Oh, man, I like going on tours.”
“Yup, yup... I wonder what’s over there. I’m going.”
“OK. I’ll wait over here at the back of this line of this line of 100 people so that I can get my lunch 30 minutes from now. Maybe I will see or experience something that I came on this trip for right here, in this line, of 100 people, waiting for food.”
I would love to know what the story was with this book. It was a rather nice notebook with only the first few pages used. The notes were in English, on English, and I didn’t see any Korean translations of anything. The handwriting was neat and clear and the notes did not seem to have been done by a female.
Why would someone want to burn a book like this? Was it the note taker who did this? Was it a bored teenage boy who found someone’s lost book and thought that it would be better to destroy it than leave it where it can be seen? What it an accident that was just taken to far?
Friday, 27 November 2009
120 people walking, and most of them carrying cameras to take photographs of, well, whatever. I saw almost everyone in the group walk across the gravel and not one looked down to the new sound under their feet. Instead they spend their time posing for their own photos at another blue pool or another interesting rock.
After all these years and many hours of wondering, I still don’t get why people would want to have themselves in their own picture. Are they afraid someone will not believe that they were where they said they were? Does it matter if people believe you?
Is it because they really care so little for the view that they have to block it from the camera? There is the possibility that they are so obsessed with themselves that looking in the mirror is just not enough and now they have to make everyone else look at them a little too.
Maybe it is that they are just so programmed to “Take a picture of me here!” that they can’t even imagine beauty without their own faces spoiling it. I can understand you wanting a picture or two of yourself to give to family, what I don’t get is why you need to be in every picture on your camera.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Monday, 23 November 2009
Itaewon, in front of Dunkin Donuts, about 1pm, a Korean woman carrying pamphlets about what you need to do to have our sins forgiven and a white guy waiting for a friend…
Woman: (hands over a pamphlet) Do you believe in Jesus?
Woman. Oh… OK… Bye.
Seriously? If they guy did believe in Jesus, then why would you want to give him the pamphlet. More than likely he knows all this and you are wasting your paper.
If the guy does not believe in Jesus then surely the point of the whole exercise was to help him along in that direction? Instead you leave him with a pamphlet that tells him how to have his sins forgiven by someone that he does not believe in, and you are wasting your paper.
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
First, it only works in Internet Explorer, and when I open it in IE I see this? I can only imagine what the other languages might say.
Are they THAT proud that they can’t ask someone check the Naver Translate results? Don’t they have ANY English speaking friends at all? There are many Koreans who can do a much better job than this. I am sure all of our English teachers here would have given them perfect English within a few seconds.
As far as I understand it is supposed to help foreigners register with sites in Korea.
Thanks to Brian for letting me on to this one.
Thursday, 12 November 2009
it was the birthday of one of my adult students yesterday, so I sang her a few birthday songs. I started with “happy birthday to you”, flowed in to “생일축하 합니다” and ended it of with “Veels geluk liewe maatjie.”
They told me the Afrikaans song reminded them of a children’s birthday song. Rightly so, because it is a children’s song.
the song they say it reminded them of was:
왜 태어났니? 왜 태어났니?
얼굴도 못 생겼는데
Translation is something like this:
Why were you born? Why were you born?
Your face is so ugly.
Why were you born?
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Pepero are chocolate covered pretzel sticks make by the Korean company Lotte. As far as I can tell Lotte is the biggest producer of sweets in Korea and with a marketing strategy like this it is easy to see why.
As you can see from the sticks in front, they are long and straight, like the number one. Put them next to each other and you will get 1111, or rather 11/11.
Yes, that's right, 11th of November. Pepero Day. It isn't exactly a holiday, but it seems to be one sometimes. The whole day today we will see people walking around with Pepero in their hands. Some people even buy boxes pasted together in large hart shapes or arranged in Pepero Bouquets.
Basically, Lotte has pulled of a new Valentine’s Day based solely on THEIR product. WOW.
I found this nice photo and I’m posting it with stuckinseoul’s permition.
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
This fixing the broken photos from older post is really irritating.
I have to to go through each post, one post at a time, to see what is broken. Then I have to click on each broken image to open the Flickr page because that is where the URL for imbedding is located. Then I have to open the source code for each post, replace that URL with the new one from Flickr and finally save everything.
The bad thing is I’m still not sure what causes this. Hopefully I will figure this out in the next few days. At least you can still see the photo when you click on the broken image.
Monday, 09 November 2009
Someone asked me a question about the new Line 9 that I was unable to answer. I my search for an answer I found some other bits of information that I personally found interesting.
This tread has old maps, as well as a map of proposed lines and extension.
Also, this is the first privately owned line and it is not owned by a Korean company, but by a multi national French company names Veolia Transport.
Saturday, 07 November 2009
Friday, 06 November 2009
Oops. Something happened and I have no idea what. It seems I might have to go through the posts and reconnect all the photos.
I’m so not in the mood to do this. I really want to be doing other things. The good news however, is that you can still click on the image to link to the Flickr page containing the image.
Thursday, 05 November 2009
Wednesday, 04 November 2009
Tuesday, 03 November 2009
Monday, 02 November 2009
I admit that my earlier posts were very often critical of Korea, but as time goes on I’m getting less and less critical. I am not saying Korean is getting better though. Like every other country Korea is what it is and I am learning to understand it. I have never had any illusions about this process. Korea is not the problem. I am. No matter where I go in the world I will have to get used to the place and understand it, and the more I understand it the more likely I am to fall in love with it.
Having said that, I will still use my blog as a way of expressing my current experiences in and thoughts about the country, and as ever those thoughts will basically be from a White Boertjie slash Western perspective.
If anything offends you so much that you feel you need to come punch me in the face, feel free to leave a comment. I will respond and if I feel what you say is justified, I will try my best to correct the situation.
Sunday, 01 November 2009
It was the week before Halloween and I was thinking that it would be fun to carve pumpkins for the Extra English Class. Fun is relative, because it was MY first time to carve a pumpkin and as an added benefit I was going to photograph the results. It is quite possible that I enjoyed the whole event more than any of the students.
The Final products. I have a closet type area in my classroom that no one knew about. It is nice because it is pitch black inside when the door is closed. I found a piece of cloth, improvised to drape it, set up my camera on a tri-pod with a remote shutter release and started. I sommer took the chance to teach some of my students how to handle a camera.
With these two particular pumpkins you can see the Eastern Asian propensity to making everything look cute. It us Halloween! Not Power Puff Girls Day! Sheeeeeeez. ^.^
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Normally people are not allowed to do this, but since she was invited, a woman selling squid and octopus products came to visit us. Apparently the stuff is bought directly from the fishermen in order to give them a better price for their labor, but that is not what attracted my attention.
What DID attract my attention was something in the samples that she gave me. It was something I had never tasted before. It was something a bit thicker than my thumb and cut in to coins. It had a rather soft, smooth texture with a chewy rind and tasted a lot like octopus. I knew I liked it and immediately wanted to know what it was.
The lady had left to market her products to the other teachers, so I peeked in to her bag to see if I could figure out what I was had sampled. What awaited me was one of the ugliest things I have seen in Korea so far (food wise, I mean.)
What I saw was what looked like the tentacles of a rather large octopus that had been mummified quite recently. Even thought I knew I would end up giving most of the stuff away, I also knew I HAD to get some for a photo and a blog post.
This is the result of my photographic efforts.
* A fellow teacher informed me that this it is called Mooneo (문어)
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Monday, 19 October 2009
Remember the Hapkido tournament that I competed in about three weeks ago? The photos for that are finally ready. Most of the Hapkido photos were not good because it was indoors and with the zoom lens we were not able to get a fast enough shutter speed to get good photos. Here we go…
It is not always obvious, bit Korean love sport. I don't agree with the way they support national teams, but their passion is undeniable.
This photo was from the Gyeonggi Sports For All Championships. Sports For All is a nationwide organization that covers a wide variety of sports. As far as I know they only compete nationally in single sports. Provincial meets is a all sports affair.
This is a photo from an over 50 year old men soccer match. These guys will quite literally run circles around any a high school student for an hour.
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Yesterday, as part of the beginner’s English lesson for adults they were doing the structure “How often do you…” or something of the sort. I don’t have the lesson with me as I write this so can’t be sure. The answer included the phrase “I always…”
In one of the practice phrase, “I always shiver when it is cold”, everyone started giggling. All I could get out of them was that this sounded like a bad word. After taking a minute to think about how this will be written in Korean I figured out that they were thinking of Shibal, with Korean not having a V sound and no R at the end of a syllable.
Shibal (시발) as I understand it, means “S***”, but is often more used as the equivalent of the English exclamation “F***!” No wonder they were giggling.
Note to self, NEVER use this word with the middle school students.
Friday, 16 October 2009
It is not that I was lazy, no. I just didn't have anything to say or post. I didn't go looking for photographs this week, but I am going for an expedition on Sunday.
What I have been doing was uploading Poladroid conversions to Flickr. Here are my upload of photos from South Africa. There are still a few to go, but I suspect my next photos on the blog will be will be of Hongdae in Seoul.
Monday, 12 October 2009
We went for teachers “training” again. In this particular case the training involved walking over a mountain at full pelt and then going for a 5pm dinner.
While on the mountain we were mercifully allowed to take a quick breather. Although I am quite fit and would normally cross the mountain in a near run, on this particular day I had a blocked nose and that was seriously impeding my activity level.
As we were standing around, a biker appeared around the bend on his say down the mountain. Taking your bike over a mountain that is filled with hikers is quite an impressive feat and the ladies from the first photograph decided to show their admiration with hoots and applause. As you can see from the delighted laugh, they cheered his tired mind right up.
Friday, 09 October 2009
I post dated this post with the wrong month. Sorry about that.
Every now and then I bring my camera to school so that I can walk around during breaks and see what I can get. Some days I am lucky and some days I’m not. This particular was a good day.
Koreans students are violent, I tell you. I am glad I didn’t grow up here because if girls start beating on me I start beating back, and that is just not gentlemanly for most people.
In this photo I actually wanted to focus on the boy, but they were moving and I ended up focusing on the girl. Now it looks like that was the better option anyway.
Oh, the victory/peace sign, part of that very special photo pose that many Asians, especially East of India, seem to be addicted to. This girl wanted to do the normal next to the face pose, but I was not having any of that. Twenty students giving me the same pose was going to get old quickly.
Sure, I was a gentleman and helped the female teachers move everything, but not before I shot a few photos
Thursday, 08 October 2009
Every now and then I bring my camera to school so that I can walk around during breaks and see what I can get. Some days I am lucky and some days I’m not. This particular was a good day.
See that in the background. I’m going to kill him!
If only they were a K-Pop Girl Group. They already have their pose down pat.
Korea’s national sport. Whenever you have a problem that has to be settled, whether it is who wins the game of skill that ended in a draw, or who gets the last piece of chocolate, you can solve it with Gai Bai Bo. I wish it was this simple in the West.
Wednesday, 07 October 2009
It’s midterm exams time and that means I get choose one day out of three to go home early. Because I’m sick and my nose is completely blocked, I’m not going to Hapkido, so it was perfect timing for me to go to Seoul to start implementing Project Idiot/Otto Proof © AND get back early.
Project Idiot/Otto Proof ©, in case you were wondering, is my plan to protect my photos from myself. It involves getting a new 1 Terabyte External Hard Disk Drive and a USB HUB so that I have space to connect my two external drives and still have space for an iPod or USB Thumb Drive and my mouse.
Why 1 Terabyte? Well, I’m already up to 130 gigabytes of photos and a large part of that is from my new camera with which I shoot in RAW. So, basically, although I have way to much space right now I’m planning ahead. By the time this drive is full there will be larger drives available at reasonable prices.
Currently I’m in the last phase of Project Idiot/Otto Proof ©. I subscribed to Backblaze, an online back-up service, and everything is being backed up. Once that is complete I will be set to go and hopefully protected from myself. However, as you can imagine, backing up 130 gig to an online service is going to take ages. I suspect it will take me a week for my initial backup. Whatever! As long as I get it done, right?
Now for the side story. I had bought my ticket for the express bus to Seoul and wanted a drink for the ride, so I bought something from a little shop. As I came out I was stopped in my tracks by a woman I don’t know. In a soft voice she asked me something in Korean and then just looked at me, waiting for an answer. I didn’t recognize any of the words so responded that I didn’t speak Korea. Her prompt answer to this was a playful rebuking punch on the chest.
Suspecting something was amiss, I looked at her and softly said “Why?!” and again came a weird response. She leaned in to give me what looked like a kiss. When I was obviously not going for it the kiss turned in to an attempted hug. Again…
I blocked the move, looked at her like she was crazy, turned, and walked away. I had moved only a few steps when I heard her running up behind me and felt a punch on the back of my shoulder.
WHAT THE F***?!
I turned and looked at her, wondering what the hell I should do, considering that she is obviously crazy. She just stood there, looking at me so, I turned and started walking again. I heard her coming again and I moved just quickly enough to sidestep another punch.
AAAAAAH! What is this woman’s problem?!
I eventually managed to get her to stop punching me by letting her pass me, because every time I turned my back on her she attempted a punch.
This had really been a frustrating/fun/weird few days of my life.
Tuesday, 06 October 2009
I messed up. I really messed up. I accidently deleted most of my photos from this weekend. Normally that would not be a problem, but the recycle bin likes to completely delete filed when you drop a large amount of stuff, especially said stuff includes large files.
This photo is one of the files I was able to recover. The original RAW file is gone now, so I had to use the colour JPEG to recreate the Mono, but at least I will have this photo.
I was also able to save a few other edited files for which I lost the RAW images and they just happen to be the other files that I was planning on uploading this week.
Tonight I am going to Yongsan to get an extra external hard drive. All photos will go directly on to that so that I will not have to copy and delete anything later. When I come back tonight I am also signing up for an online backup service. I’m not loosing another photo.
Anyway, back to the photo. It was taken from the top floor of my apartment building. Alas, I live on a lower floor so I don’t have this view. Initially I was going to delete this photo, but thought I would give it a go. After cropping it I was quite impressed and decided t continue. This was the result.
Monday, 05 October 2009
Sunday, 04 October 2009
One of the fun things about Chuseok is seeing the children dressed up in their little Hanbok. Adults don’t wear it very often, but that does not stop them from “punishing” their children, does it? I always say that if I ever have children, I will dress them is the silliest clothes I can until they start realizing what I’m doing. At least the Hanbok is pretty and traditional, er?
I saw this little girl at Express Bus Terminal in Seoul and could not resist the chance to snap a picture of her. I found the men in the background a little distracting and tried to blur them a little, but applying to strong a blur was creating a halo around the girl herself. At least I know I was not the only one appreciating the cuteness of the little girl in her pink top and navy blue skirt chasing the pigeons.
Saturday, 03 October 2009
Continuing my theme of the scarily empty Seoul.
These photos were taken in a Saturday after 10am. When, other than during Chuseok, will you see COEX mall or Seoul National University Station, an important subway transfer point, this empty?