Sunday, December 31, 2006

Food, Train, and a Cave

The Valley Hike

Several of us took a weekend trip to a small coastal city called Donghei. Carmen's uncle Peter is teaching at a school there so we stayed at his apartment, and he gave us a tour of the area. His first suggestion was a hike. It was awesome. God did some amazing things with frozen water.

We stayed so long that we hiked back in the moonlight (I also had my sweet handy-dandy head lamp that I got with my giftcard at REI).

Mia and Carmen

Uncle Peter

Adah and Rebecca

Twin Waterfalls (they are frozen)

A view of the valley
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Dinner and a cramped leg

After our hike, we stopped at a sushi place. The food just kept coming. I ate some raw squid and octopus along with a number of other things I couldn't really identify. Thankfully, I'm pretty good with chopsticks, because that's all you get. I'm not sure I could ever go back to using a fork. Along with the meal, it is customary to have soju (it is a Korean alcohol made from rice). Soju really tastes like rubbing alcohol and is basically weak vodka. Drinking is a very popular thing here, and you regularly see businessmen carrying their buddies home at night. Oh, a point of interest... there is no such thing as "dutch treat" here. Koreans take turns paying for the whole meal.

Anyway, we stayed at the restaurant for many hours and eventually made our way back to Uncle Peter's apartment.

The beginning of the meal

Several courses later we finally had to tell the lady to stop bringing out food

The fish head soup was actually everyone's favorite part of the meal

The restaurant was located right near the beach
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People Motel

This was my room at "People Motel". When entering someone's home here in South Korea, you are expected to remove your shoes. You do this at many restaurants as well. It's not a big deal (as long as your feet aren't too smelly), because the floors are heated and it actually feels quite nice on the feet. I spent most of my time in this room sleeping, reading "Confessions" by Augustine, and watching Korean TV. They have two channels dedicated to the computer game StarCraft.

Here you see the showoiletink room (I just made that word up; it's not Korean). This room is your shower, toilet, and sink. When you take a shower, water gets everywhere. I would have appreciated this in college, because when you are ready to clean the bathroom, you simply hose down the whole room with the shower head. Oh yeah, the light in the showoiletink room went out while I was there. I am proud to say that I was able to communicate this to the woman at the front desk by bringing the lightbulb to her and shaking it by my head (you know, you can hear that rattleing sound when it's gone bad). She promptly got me a new bulb and seemed amazed when I put it into the socket all by myself. This bathroom setup is common to most Korean homes.

I think I might have died of starvation if Jean (the Korean manager at Ewha, my school) and her husband hadn't taken me out to have pizza. I had no money and no idea where anything was. They also took me shopping and got me some bannanas and orange juice.

I was a bit sad when I had to leave my comfy little room.
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Monday, December 25, 2006

What has transpired so far...

Ryan's story continued...

First of all, I am alive. I made it to South Korea without any trouble. The flights were long but smooth. So here's what I've got...

Day 1
1. packed frantically and ended up leaving a bag of crap at the burns' place.
2. pulled a back muscle moving my motorcycle (it is feeling better now).
3. sat beside a chinese guy named Lee who explained to me the book he was reading "the millionaire next door".
4. had a two hour layover in Tokyo. Sorted through the pictures on my laptop.
5. sat by a korean/irish girl named Adinah (hey Pat, do you have a sister I don't know about?)
6. a van driver named Huang met me at the Seoul airport... he was holding a sign with my name on it (he threw it away at the airport... so my name is now in the Korean trash system somewhere). Huang didn't speak much english but I learned he had three kids and he'd been driving for about 4 years.
7. passed a car that was completely on fire. i could feel the heat from it as we went by. Huang had never seen anything like it before and seemed very concerned.
8. met Steve the director of the hogwan (private school) that I'm working at.
9. he put me in a hotel and gave me a great peptalk. part of which included a warning to avoid two types of women... 1. the girl that pretends to like you just so she can practice her english. 2. the bored married woman who thinks it is safe to fool around with an american.
10. steve told me I'd be in the hotel for about a week until the teacher I am replacing finishes his contrat... then there will be some shuffling of apartments.

Day 2
1. met up with John, a guy from Alabama.
2. went to John's apartment and met Tim, the guy I am replacing.
3. John and Tim took me on a bus ride to see Seoul.

Things I saw while in Seoul...
1. two old men arguing over an open subway seat... "you take it." "no, you take it." "no, you take it." (They were speaking Korean, but I could tell that's how it was going.)
2. lots and lots and lots of shops. You can buy just about anything.
3. John and Tim took me out to eat at... dun dun dun... Outback Steakhouse.
4. i decided not to take any pictures... just wanted to soak it all in. I'll get some later.
5. John helped me figure out the bus and subway system.
6. coats with fur hoods are the style with the guys. mini skirts are in with the girls.
7. i will need to learn to read Korean if I plan to get around.
8. drivers are crazy. getting a motorcycle here would be suicide.
9. a nun on the subway who seemed to be deeply at peace.
10. there is no such thing as personal space. you just sort of push through people.
11. there are singing rooms, "dvd rooms", "massage places", and shops on the street that sell dvds.
12. the city reminded me of Portland and London, but more crowded, and I can't read anything or understand anything being said.
13. a beggar on his knees with his face on the ground and his hands stretched out in front of him.
14. tons of glowing red crosses. John said they are either churches or hospitals.

John and Tim helped me find my room, I was very tired.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Seattle Adventure

This tale will take a bit of telling and I'll need to do it later... it is about me... and Seattle... and the Korean Consulate... and neat friends that let you stay at their place on short notice... and a sweet motorcycle that passed me on the freeway... and I am leaving for South Korea tomorrow (friday the 22nd).
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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Not all Change Adds up to a Dollar

So plans change...

I spent several days at home visiting the fam, hanging out with the little sister, and reading books like "Blood and Honor" (an autobiography detailing a Christian man's boyhood in the Hitler Youth). All this to emotionally prepare myself for leaving the country.

I raced back to Newberg to begin my final packing. However, after reaching "home", I learned that the visa process was not moving as quickly as expected... so my flight has been changed to December 31 instead.

Wow... so it appears that I will be spending Christmas in the U.S. after all. It will be a quiet one with Chad and Charissa... Charissa already tells me that I have the traditional Christmas morning cinnamon twists to look forward to (I love cinnamon twists). It will be a unique Christmas for me.

Recently, I have found myself slightly anxious and stressed. I know worrying won't add any hours to my life, AND at times it's hard not to worry. Strangley, I look forward to difficult times... to test my faith... to stretch me... to change and grow me.

Something I read recently...
Ways to discern if an "impression" or "feeling" is from God.
1. Is it scriptural? (does it have Biblical support)
2. Is it right? ("the ends justifies the means" is not acceptable)
3. Is it realistic? (are you equipped?)
4. Is it providencial? (lucky or convenient, a heaven sent opportunity)

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Facts So Far

Location: Suwon City, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea
Class Level: Elementary
Class Size: 12
Class Length: Six 40 minute classes
Housing: Shared with other teacher
Orientation and Training: Yes
Curruiculum Provided: Yes
Expecting to do a lot of work: Yes
Departure Date: December 22, 2006
Duration of Stay: Approx. one year

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a bananna.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Life is like a vapor... here one moment and gone the next. So what am I doing with this time before eternity?

I am wandering. For now.

I am a boat traveling the river of life being pushed and pulled by the mysterious currents that only my Creator truly understands.

So now I find myself going to teach... and to learn. I find myself at a bend in the river called South Korea.

And this is how my story begins.