Monday, November 30, 2015

Seoraksan and Korean Public Bath Houses

Fall colors at Seoraksan mountain
There was a long weekend in October, so we took the opportunity to travel up north to South Korea's most famous mountain, Seoraksan. We caught a bus from Pohang to the city of Sokcho (about 6 hours north on the eastern coast) and spent the night in a jimjilbang (찜질방),which is a public bath house. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Korean Food Adventures



Before I knew anything about Korea, I knew it's food. I started eating Korean food in college, mainly because the suburb of Portland that I lived in then had Japanese and Korean stores and restaurants on every corner. Korean food is amazing and diverse - there are so many interesting dishes and flavors, which vary from region to region, and even though I'd been eating it for years before actually coming to Korea, I feel like I've barely scratched the surface.

For those who've never tried it, don't be intimated to do so: not all Korean food is spicy, though a lot of it is, and while some things are pretty exotic to foreigners, there are plenty of dishes that most westerners would enjoy if they tried them.

Here are some of the fun foods I've encountered since I've arrived:

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Chuseok and camping in Okgye Valley

Photo from here

In September we had a long weekend for the Korean Thanksgiving holiday, called Chuseok. Although it's actually a harvest festival, it reminded me of Obon in Japan, in that it's a day for remembering or praying to your ancestors. The two holidays have a few similarities, but in general Chuseok traditions are pretty different from Japanese Obon festivals. For Chuseok, Koreans go to visit their parents and grandparents, and children are supposed to bow to their elders. We even spent a morning at my school teaching the kids about the significance of Chuseok and how they should bow to their grandparents. The kids and some adults as well get all dressed up in traditional clothes called hanbok - you can see examples in the photo above.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Let the wild rumpus start!

Me (on the left) as a Wild Thing and a couple of terrifying dolls in the reception area of my school - keep in mind, I teach 2-7 year olds...

My school is really, really into celebrating Halloween and their philosophy when it comes to the holiday is to basically make the children cry as much as possible. It was seriously scary in there - the decorations were really creepy, there were cobwebs everywhere so that everyone taller than 4 feet had to run around hunch-backed all day, and they let me show The Nightmare Before Christmas to small children.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Anyeonghaseyo!

Hello from Korea!

These first two months in Korea have been so busy, I feel like the time has just flown by. It's hard to believe that I only left Chile at the beginning of September. But I've already settled into life here pretty well and I'm really enjoying living in Pohang.

Pohang is a small-ish coastal city about two hours north of Busan on the east coast. Life here is a lot more relaxed than in the bigger cities and the foreigner community is one of the friendliest that I've ever encountered. People here are so helpful, and there are a lot of great resources for newcomers like me, such as the Facebook groups Pohang Legends and Pohang Bazaar. Although I've only been here two months, I've already made a lot of friends and been able to do some traveling.