Saturday, 25 February 2012

Vinyl Williams & Toro y Moi

It's Saturday night as I am writing this. My last Saturday in Korea. And I'm sitting at home in my pajamas. I didn't feel like going out. But in a good way. Last weekend was the perfect end to my year in Korea so I didn't want to go out again this weekend and ruin the great things I feel by having a mediocre night. Because most of my nights out here have been quite mediocre. But that's not what this blog post is about!!

I had tickets to see Toro y Moi again because I had such an amazing time when I saw them here this past summer. My friend Sean invited me to go along with him and the opening band Vinyl Williams on their tour of Busan and Daegu - two cities I hadn't had a chance to visit. Of course I said yes!!!

Katie and I
The show was pretty short but great. They played stuff of their EP which I was stoked to hear. Then, Katie, her boyfriend and I went to the afterparty at this really small bar called Strangefruit. I introduced myself to Nikita, who plays keyboard in Vinyl Williams and told her I was going with them to Busan and Daegu. We got along well right away and the rest of the night was a lot of fun.

Nikita and I

The next day I made my way to Seoul Station (every time I cross the river on the bus I try to really pay attention because I remind myself that it will be one of the last times I will be crossing the river, and I think it's really pretty). I met up with everyone: Nikita, Lionel, James, Billy and Ian (whose mom was traveling with them because he is only 17 years amazing!). We took the train to Busan which took about 3 hours. Korea is a tiny country! Nikita has this really beautiful crystal necklace. I really want one.

We got to Busan and they had to do sound check right away. I started getting to know the other band members better (they were sleeping on the train) and right away I knew they were the kind of people that I get along with really easily and well. They were all so excited to be in Korea and were really impressed with it. It was refreshing, especially for me, because I don't have the most positive outlook on this country. It was a pretty mellow show. They played really well. We hung around afterwards just talking and drinking (I think most of them can't legally drink in the States yet). I don't recall too many specific conversations (patterns/triangles/music/California/flea markets) but I know that I was getting great vibes from everyone the whole time. I was happy to meet people who have interesting things to say.

Not traveling light

Lionel wanted my sweater...I figured if he could pull it off he deserved it

The next day we walked to around the city a little bit. The beach was beautiful. I could only imagine how insanely packed it would be in the summer. Towel to towel. Then we hopped on a train to Daegu. We went to a bunch of thrift stores which I was so happy about!!! I found some great things. Thrift stores are rare in Korea. I've definitely been missing them. We ate some food then went to the venue. I took a bunch of pictures through prism glasses, I had a blast :)

Everything was $2

Okay I am obviously not a music critic. But, I've been to enough shows to be able to give my opinion on a live performance. But still, whenever I try to write it down I lose my words. If someone asks me about a show I've been to I can usually channel the feelings that I had during the performance when I start to talk about it. I know which bands were a lot of fun, really dancey, which were boring, which ones ignored the crowd, which ones sounded better live than recorded and so on. So let me try to explain why I enjoyed the Vinyl Williams performance so much, especially in Daegu.

They are all super passionate about their music and music in general. There is something that I really like about people who are passionate about something (except cars and most sports - haha - two things I can't relate to in the slightest). All of the members seemed to be hypnotized by the music they were making. They were so in tune with each other, maybe sending each other telepathic messages. They all took turns playing almost every instrument, rotating around the stage. The visuals were great, hundreds of colourful pictures overlapping and changing; washed out rainbows. There was a really strong energy in the room. Maybe it was because I was watching them through the prism glasses. Maybe it was because by the third time I saw them perform I really liked all of them as people. Either way, it was wonderful!

I didn't really sleep that last night, then I got on the 6:30am train to Seoul. Got to Seoul Station at 8:30am, then hopped in a taxi straight to work. It was an interesting Monday. But I didn't mind being tired. It was a very memorable experience. I was introduced to a lot of great new music this past weekend. So many new songs that will remind me of all the fun that was had. I am going to California in April so hopefully I will get to meet up with these guys again. And I really do hope that they continue to be successful at making music.

Also, I am leaving Korea this Thursday and I can't even believe it. Sometimes I get little bursts of joy and clarity (like in a dream when you know you're dreaming), where I actually comprehend that in a few days I will be in Canada; in Halifax with my best friend Natalie. It's all really surreal. I can't believe another year of my life has passed.  I say it really often but time flies!!!

I will probably write one final post from Halifax.


Sunday, 12 February 2012

Sunday Misadventures

I was so tired today from going out last night and all I wanted to do was relax when I got home from dinner but instead....

Okay I will start at the beginning. I lost my camera this morning on the bus. I called the tourist help line and the girl on the phone was super nice and helpful and called the bus company for me since I can't speak Korean and my camera had been found! Good karma, I was happy. I just had to go to the Suwon parking garage to get it.

So I got on the bus and the driver asked me where I was going. Umm 'last stop, parking, ummmmm'. I got really flustered. I looked to the back of the bus and saw some young guys who I figured would speak English. Luckily one did and was able to explain to the driver where I needed to go.

I sat near him and we chatted for a bit. He was a first year student. He was so nervous and said 'oh my god' after every sentence he spoke. He told me it was an honor to help me and that he had never spoken to a foreigner before. He was really excited.  I was really happy he could help. He asked me for my phone number and I gave it to him. This caused him to miss his stop. But ending up saving me.

I got to the bus depot and there was a row of portables in front of me, one of which was the office. My camera was safe! Now to get home....I wasn't sure if I could get the bus from there or not...the drivers asked me where I was going. Suji, I said. Where in Suji? UHhhh. Okay, I know I've been here almost a year but I still don't know the name of my bus stop. Ugh, flustered again. So my new bus friend had called me in the meantime but I didn't answer so I figured I could call him back and he could help me.

The driver talked to him for a while and then told me to come inside the 'office'. I waited inside but not sure what for so I called my friend back. He said he would come and meet me and help me get home. So I waited for a while in a warm space until he came. He told me he was worried about me and he wanted to make sure I was alright. Haha, I must've seemed so helpless.

We figured out which bus to take, which is the bus I thought we could take after all...I just wasn't sure if the depot was an actual stop. We had to wait for 20 minutes and it was really cold. Then I realized I forgot my hat on the bus!! So my friend told the driver and we went back to the bus and got my hat!

Our bus finally came, we got on, he stayed on until my stop and then got off and went across the street to head back home. I was so lucky! Koreans can be so friendly and helpful.

But what a night...not something that should happen to me after almost a year of being here.

Thanks Yoon Jun Young
Goodnight buses!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Valentine's Day According to 11 Year Olds

I teach this speech class at Langcon and it's sometimes really enjoyable. The students can speak really well so I can actually have conversations with them and joke around. Also, the class is not taken too seriously by the students, my bosses or the parents.  I really like this because there is no pressure on me. I can be relaxed.

Every week they are given a new speech topic and have to write a short essay about it and then I edit it and they present in front of the class. Today's topic didn't seem super exciting but three kids managed to make me laugh with their I photocopied them and took pictures to post on here. I hope they are legible. Enjoy!

Valentine's Day is about being with the one you really love: YOURSELF :)
He figured it out early on...girls are very crazy and stupid!
A very Korean Valentine's...a lot of meat, instant noodles, a jjimjilbang, PC room, arcade...the fun doesn't end 


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Happy Lunar New Year & Goodbye Sam!

Sam got back from Thailand last Tuesday and left for Paris this morning. Spending the week with her was perfect. She came to school with me on Friday and watched a bit of my class in the morning. It was a special day because of the Lunar New Year. All of the kids were wearing their traditional Korean clothes called Hanboks. They had to learn how to bow and then bow for our principal in exchange for socks. At home, the kids bow in front of their elders and receive money. Here are some cute pictures from that day. 

Jerry, Bosco and Sean
Hera, Grace, Annie and Jenny

We had Monday and Tuesday off work, because of the holiday . What an amazing and much needed break. Sam and I didn't do much but it was perfect. We took turns cooking, watched movies, and just talked (sitting on my heated floors) for hours and hours. I'm going to miss Sam so much. Not just because she is leaving Korea but because I don't know when we will live in the same city again.

That's the downside of having friends who also love to travel. (The upside of course being that you are likely to meet up somewhere in the world and you've always got a place to stay). But you never know when you will live in the same place. So there is this perpetual 'missing'. But as long as it's mutual and both friends put in the effort it's not that hard to keep in touch. (I have really come to appreciate and love Skype while living here).

Sam and I have become so close in the five months that she lived in Seoul. Out of all of my best friends, she knows what I've been going through the most right now. And she has helped me become so much happier and healthier. I know that we've both depended on each other a lot lately. And have also had some really fun times going out and great laughs staying in and doing nothing at all. Oh, and we've eaten plenty of amazing vegetarian food. So thanks Sam! I am so glad I could convince you to come to Korea for your study abroad! ^^

Oh, five weeks left!!

Sam and I - our first night out in Seoul

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Seoul Electronic Music Festival

Last night I went to the Seoul Electronic Music Festival (SEMF) with some friends from Suji. It was quite a trek to north Seoul, Ilsan I believe, and the venue was not the best...but I guess you're limited to where you can have a music festival in the winter. Anyway, it was a great show!!

First we saw a Korean band called Idiotape and they were a lot of fun! Really good energy, and the crowd was really into it. Koreans are all about jumping at shows. Then we danced to Crystal Castles who put on a great show! I was really happy because I had seen them before and the first time I saw them they were pretty disappointing. But I think that was because they played outside at a music festival and the sound quality was really poor.

Finally Justice, who I was really stoked to see! They were at Coachella in 2008 but they were the very last artist of the festival and we had absolutely no energy left and we had just watched Roger Waters preform and somehow we couldn't transition to electronic music after his set. Anyway, Justice put on an amazing show too! I haven't heard much of their new stuff, only one song, and I didn't like it. So I was glad to hear mostly old stuff.

Overall it was a really fun night!! Ah, what a lazy blog post. I am tired! But SEMF got me really excited about Coachella!! I CANNOT WAIT!!!!

P.S Six (and a half) weeks left in Korea!

Tristan and I

Laura and I
Bill, what an artist ;)
Oh hey Songjae!
Jenna and I

Monday, 2 January 2012

Why I Love the Gym

Mondays are obviously the worst day of the week, nobody likes to go back to work after the weekend. If you do, you are lucky. And the Monday after a week of vacation is even worse. Especially after New Years. I was super tired and grumpy all day. Also, I felt like I was starting to get sick. I was really terrible to my end of the day classes. I even got mad at a kid for laughing too much! I actually yelled, 'can you please tell me what's so funny right now?!"

Anyway, I was in a really bad mood. I didn't want to go to the gym. I was trying to decide if I can make it to yoga. I wanted to come home and nap but I knew that would make me groggy and leave me feeling worse overall. So I went to the gym. And I got sweaty and coughed a bunch and powered through my work out...and in the end I FELT GREAT. I left the gym in such an amazing mood. I felt refreshed psychically and mentally. I made it to yoga. The class was perfect. 

This isn't the first time something along these lines has happened. So I guess what I'm saying is that if you're feeling low in whatever way, you should get up and go exercise!! People have become so lazy. We are animals, we need to keep moving!!!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Salvaged Winter Break

I only have two weeks of vacation in the year - one in the summer and one in the winter. Sam and I had been planning our trip to the Philippines since the summer. We bought our plane tickets and booked our hostel far in advance.  We were soooo excited! It was meant to be a nice goodbye after the four months we spent together in Korea. So we went to the airport Friday night because our flight was at 7AM on Saturday. On the way there it started to snow pretty hard but we didn't mind because we were heading for white beaches!

Woke up in the morning and went to check in.  Got seats together, checked our bags, ready to go. Suddenly, the check in girl picks up my passport again, looks at it, sets it down, and runs down the conveyer belt after my bag. Strange. "I don't like when they do things to freak you out like that", said Sam. Foreshadowing.

She comes back and tells me, "Sorry, but I can't let you through. Your passport expires in four and a half months and you need at least six to get into the country." I was in shock! I had heard of this rule before but I thought if I had a return ticket, was going for a week, and had an alien registration card in Korea saying I have a full time job it wouldn't matter. Well I was obviously wrong! It felt like a bad dream. There was nothing I could do. I had to tell Sam to go through so she didn't miss her flight.

I waited for my bag, cried, called my mom, and was just generally frustrated and hated how helpless I felt. I may have caused a bit of a scene, sobbing to myself, lying on my pillow, sitting on the airport floor. Calling my mom only made it worse because it made me so homesick. "I don't want to be in this country anymore, I just want out!!" Haha, I really said things like this to my mom. Anyway, once I got my bag I pulled the case off my pillow, threw it at the wall and headed home, defeated.

I texted and called a couple of people, including Ann. Luckily Ann called me back and she told me that Stehpy was staying in Seoul all week and gave me her number. So I spent most of the week with her and three of her friends - Nick, Matt and Alec. Mat was visiting from the States, Nick teaches in Andong and Alec teaches in Seoul.

We went out drinking on the 24th and 25th. I was feeling really down those two days and I had a pretty miserable Christmas. I really missed my family and friends. But I tried to stay in good spirits. I learned how to play shuffleboard, that was pretty fun haha :) Then Nick invited me to Andong for two nights, so him, Stephy, Matt and I spent the 27th and 28th there. I didn't bring my camera for some strange reason! But it was a really cute traditional Korean town. We did a pretty grueling hike there, I thought I wasn't going to make it! We went to a temple, walked around, went out, went to a market... it was a really great trip!

On the 29th I just relaxed at home and went to yoga, then on the 30th I went to this amazing restaurant for lunch with a Korean friend of mine. It was temple food - all vegetarian. I loved it! Definitely some of the best food I've had here. Then Stephy and I went to Myeongdong to buy something to wear for New Years from Forever 21 (of course).  We found some awesome sequin shirts. 

New Years was so much fun!! I think the less you plan and expect, the better of a time you will have. I never have fun on New Years but this year was really great! We met up with some coworkers of mine, and a couple of other friends and went to this cool little club/bar called Obeg in Hongdae.  It was so much fun! We danced a lot, and drank and Ann and I checked out another bar as well. It was a great start to the new year, as cheesy as that sounds.

I am super exhausted today because we didn't sleep much, but worth it. I had a great winter vacation thanks to some awesome people. It's such a relief to meet people who remind me of my friends at home. It's nice to feel that people understand me. I Don't want to go to work tomorrow at all, but I think everyone feels that way. Two more months!!

The cookie-cutter apartments that make up the Korean landscape...on the way back from the airport
Luckily this didn't stick
I should be on a beach
New Year's dinner: Quiznos veggie sub with jalapenos and red wine
FOCUS (Matt and Ann)

We lost the subway race
Have we crossed the river yet?
At Obeg
Nick, Stephy, Ann and I
Photo Op
Bye Matt!