An extremely strenuous, but shorter (4 hour) hike up one of the most famous mountains in the region.
Maida put together an island hiking trip for a small group of us and it turned out to be magnificent.
My biggest teaching tool is my 30-sided dice. I use my dice every day. It doesn't leave my side. I don't let the kids roll it for fear of it being stolen. I get into teaching my lessons and interacting with the students so much that I don't often feel like using my limited brain power to remembering who I have called on for the day, or the week. So why not have fun and leave it to chance? The kids like it better, and I like it better. The kids know simple math, regardless of grade. They know that it's a 1/30 chance their number will be rolled, and that makes them feel safe and secure. A 3.33% chance is the definition of safety. It also makes them know that if their number comes up, there's no way in hell they can argue their way out of it. Your number? Your answer, don't even try to escape. Thanks to my 30-Sided dice, I never once have had to debate with the kids over fairness or unfairness of my selection of students to stand and give answers. I'd like to give a special shout out to Dungeons and Dragons for providing me with the opportunity to use such a special tool.
.. // 18:54 minute video of one of the most mysterious countries ever. .. // This video took me months for a reason. The reason? .. // No, it's not because it's good. .. // It's because I'm both so god damn busy and lazy at the same time. .. // How that works out, I don't know. But I can't believe I finished it. .. // Wow, thank the universe I am done. .. // Please, please share this with people you know that are interested in travel .. // Real-traveling, not National Geographic stuff. Er, wait; don't get me wrong... .. // I love Nat.Geo. But I'm a real person with no candy-coats. Recommended: Change setting to 1080p using the gear icon in the lower right corner. REPEAT: IMMEDIATELY CHANGE TO 1080p I can't wait to shoot at 4K. Please change to 1080p..
30 Days until I leave for Mongolia. You know what that means for my dumbass? It means the same thing as it did when I went to Cambodia... 30 days of intense, intense Mongolian (Russian/Cyrillic alphabet) language study to the point where I can be semi-fluent on a basic level once I hit the streets of the country. My 30 Days of Khmer was intense (http://imgur.com/a/Lv0bg) but this one is going to top that by a fairly large margin. I'll be learning both the traditional Uighur alphabet and the Cyrillic russian alphabet which will help me learn Russian later on. http://elearn.fiu.edu/e-dev/WorldExplorer/continents/asia/mongolia/mongolia_language.htm
I'm almost always doing something different than the norm is, or what other people are doing, and right now everyone in asia is planning their vacations to Thailand and Japan and Hong Kong. Those are all awesome places, but why would I want to go there and be another tourist, doing the exact same stuff as everyone else? I'm going to wait until non-tourist seasons for things like that, and in the meantime, here is the plan I have for Mongolia starting August 9 - August 18. Currently looking at this Hostel&Tour Group to help me out with a few things: http://www.sunpath-mongolia.com/tours/view/central-mongolia 1) Rent a motorcycle in the capital of Ulaanbataar and after a night or two of city life and partying, ride into the desert. 2) Meet up with a private family I've contacted and stay in their Ger (the tent things) for a night or two. They have confirmed the killing of a live goat for us to eat and have a real mongolian feast. 3) Rent a horse from that father and ride across 1/5 of the country to the west. 4) Once in the west, rent an eagle for the day. They are tame as long as you know how to handle animals and they are strapped down, with a leash (to give lee-way). 5) Head to the foothills of the really tall mountains and hang out with the rural locals that I find and hear are really, really friendly. 6) Find other travelers in this area to rent a large SUV to drive back across the flats to Ulaanbataar. 7) More partying and hostel life in Ulaanbataar before returning to my Asian Sanctuary. Here are pictures that will go along with my plan:
Wow. Wow wow wow. Where does time go in the land of the rising sun? I've done a million things, been a million places, and written a million things since I've been under the spell of 2014's amazingness, but to my friends and family, it has probably seemed as though I've been an idle ghost in an idle land. I haven't updated for quite a long time, which makes me feel both good and bad. It makes me feel bad because I always said I would keep up with my blog/journal before I got here. But it makes me feel good as the reason I haven't updated is because I've been so busy pushing my life forward; expanding my boundaries as a person, a student, and a teacher, to a degree that simply would not allow me to update this as often as I'd like. For whatever reason, I've always felt like my mentality is younger than my actual age, but now that I'm 30, I feel like my mind is finally catching up in certain ways. Definitely not in all ways, as my friends will all confirm that I'm still a slightly wild, hard-to-tame kid at heart. But I've come to many realizations about myself in terms of what I'm good at, what I'm not good at, and where I should go from here. Although our brain chemistry changes an extreme amount every handful of years, there should come a point for most people when they can put their foot down and say, "THIS... this is who I am". I have definitely passed that point, and now that I know who I am to the core of my being, I can look forward and learn how to better myself and evolve with more education and experience than I was able to in my 20's. So anyway, what in the hell have I been doing in 2014? Everything, man... everything. I changed schools in February from Munseong Middle School to Dongshin Elementary School. This is a big deal. The change was major, and the change couldn't have been better. I am so grateful to have taught Middle School the first year here, because it really thrust me into an environment where I was forced to perform with no real aid. Being a person who was never a good public speaker, it was a bit strange and difficult at first but I feel like I rose to the occasion and delivered a year of strong teaching to the 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. I'm still friends with a few of them and talk to them on a regular basis. Now I'm at Elementary school, teaching grades 3 through 6, and I couldn't be happier with my situation. The environment is so much more happy and bright than it was at middle school. Korea schooling is tough and the higher-aged students in this country are often stressed, over-worked, under-slept, and agitated. That kind of worrisome behavior isn't present at all at Elementary school. Everybody is happy and the kids are excited to see me every single day I walk in. I can't describe the feeling I get when I see my favorite students in the hall and they run up to me and try as hard as they can to speak with the best English they possibly can, both curious about my responses and also looking for confirmation that they are speaking well. My boys are my rough-housing little maniacs that I can relate to with video games and comic books whenever I need to (because as a nerd for decades, I still know more than them about entertainment!), and my girls are little angels that truly light up my day with kindness and smiling faces. My school decided early on that I was proficient enough with the Korean language to not have a co-teacher (a Korean teacher that you teach the lesson with and who translates everything and often does most of the work), so I walk into a class of 30-35 kids and have to figure out how to calm them down and capture their attention for 40 minutes every single day. It's difficult, it can be stressful, but my public speaking and control skills have been improved so much thanks to teaching at middle school that I feel like I could take on any class thrown at me. Teaching by myself has definitely made me a more skilled person in multiple major aspects that will be beneficial in the workplace in the future. Outside of school, I have a lot on the table and I love it all. Korea is seriously, truly, unarguably... the shit. On Mondays: We play Futsal, which is Arena Soccer, at the city's Futsal field. It's 90% foreigners and 10% Koreans that have joined us or are friends of the field owner. Started by a South African guy named Jean, and now lead by my friend Candace, we have about 15 people coming out to play every week. I have found my true sports calling for the first time in about a decade through playing Soccer every week. And that calling? That calling is playing GOALIE. I love playing Goalie so much that I often daydream about the physics of split-second decisions involving a human and a ball. It's stupidly nerdy, I know. But I feel I understand the position and when we go to the field, I'm running at full sprint towards my home (the net) before anyone even takes the field. On Tuesdays: I'm one of the 5 to 7 foreigners that helps out and learns at the Gimcheon Science College 'Language Exchange'. About 20-25 Koreans and 5-7 foreigners attend this program led by Serena, a university professor friend, and we have conversations in our native tongues. It's good for learning about how to be more colloquial when speaking Korean in casual settings. Plus there are dozens of attractive Korean girls that never miss a class, so there really doesn't have to be any other incentive than that. But there is. The food. We get free food (Pizza, wraps, chicken, etc.) en masse every time we go thanks to Serena's amazing appropriation of funds. I'm extremely serious about my Korean studies this year... more-so in the last couple of months than ever before. I'm learning 20 words a day, every day, and instead of listening to music, I study and listen to Korean audio lessons. I plan to be near fluent as soon as humanely possible. I don't care that I'm 30 and have an age handicap for long-term memorization. I have this in my hands and I will succeed with a fiery. On Wednesdays: My FREE day! Oh my god, I need one of these. Well, actually, it's not a free day. I still go to work 8:30 - 4:30 per usual. But afterwards, I have no extracurricular things to do. Sometimes I go to the PC BANG with my best friend here, Alex, and his amazing girlfriend Clarissa. A PCBang is a place that is set up with the highest price computers in existence, huge screens, and top notch equipment. Many people of all ages go to these establishments to use technology in its most modern form, whether that be playing high-speed games, casually linking up with each other on an internet forum, or just hanging out drinking free coffee and tea. These PC Bangs are the main places I see my students outside of school, and they are surprised to see one of their teachers using a computer like an elite superstar (yes, I said that. I can't apologize for being this good at computers... in front of the keyboard is where my humbleness ends). On Thursdays: I hang out with the Gimcheon University professors as well as a few others (Alex and Clarissa just joined) and play Dungeons & Dragons, which is a social, dice-rolling, role-playing game. It's sort of a board game but there is no board; one of us has to draw the world every time. This is where I've become good friends with two of my current best friends here, Gerald and Tae-Hwa (태화). They've been married for a few years. Him, a long-time hardcore/punk-rock fan from Texas, and her, one of the most unique and caring Korean girls I've met since being here. These two are definitely life-long friends and that became apparent very quickly. I will post more about all of these people I'm talking about later because my friends mean a lot to me, and once someone is my close friend, they are never escaping, and will forever be forced to deal with my eccentric and sometimes unpredictable personality. On Fridays: Well, I usually don't have anything I have to do on Fridays, but 90% of the time, it happens that this is the start of whatever journey I'm going to be heading into during the weekend. Sometimes it means a 2-3 hour train ride to Busan, Seoul, or Daegu, and sometimes it means drinking shitty Korean beer at the fun little bars around our quaint town with the other foreigners. Shitty Korean beer is shitty, but at least you don't get very hungover from it. It's sort of like Coors Light, except it has really poor English slogans and quotes on the cans. My eternal favorite is the "Cass Fresh" slogan, which simply says: "The Sound of Vitality". What the hell? Seriously? Your slogan for a 4.3% alcoholic beverage is "the Sound of Vitality"? Are they talking about the sound that's made when a bum is dragging a huge bag full of empty cans behind them at 6 A.M. in an alleyway in Oakland? Why would you ever use the word "sound" on a slogan for a drink? Honestly, every time we drink Cass, I immediately start ripping on the slogan, and I'm sure anyone who hangs out with me knows how much I love to bring the topic of that slogan up. "Ok, we get it, it makes no sense, now shut up about it, dude." On Saturdays & Sundays: LOL! This one is for the 2nd update. I've traveled more of Korea than probably any native Korean I'm friends with. A lot of us are like that, though, so it's not like it's anything special. It's just that there are very few towns one can name in this country that I won't have some sort of gauge on in terms of location or what it's popular for. Koreans love to assign places with notes and facts of what the place is famous for. So for even the smallest towns, you'll hear things like "Namhae is famous for its black garlic", or "Yeongdeok is famous for its fresh crab". I went to Yeongdeok. That place was about the size of the soccer field we play on every week. Which does make it funny to me... but I do love the labels. It's a good way to remember specific regions, and honestly, when you drop some straight Korean culture or geographical knowledge on a native Korean, they will be so blown away and amazed that you actually know that little tidbit. In fact, I can't count how many times I've said "Annyeonghaseyo" (the word for Hello) to an elderly person or child, only to literally see their jaws drop and respond in their language "Oh my god you speak KOREAN!". The best part is when they think that because you said hello, you are fully fluent, and they'll start talking to you about Korean Neurosurgery Theories and Astrophysics of the 1920's at four hundred words per second in their extreme regional dialect of their language. And then you just respond with, "... Nay." and go buy more beer and kimchi. Well, I'm a fast typer but this update took a while to make because I'm doing a couple other things that I have to get done before I head to Daegu tonight for my friend Tom's birthday. And tomorrow I have to wake up at 4 AM or 5 AM for the World Cup games that I'll be watching with some friends at some-person-I-don't-know's house. But I do plan to update with more details on some of the specific weekends I've had here. Lots to talk about, and the camera will be back out soon for more videos. Been too busy to record the last few months. Hope everyone in America is doing well, and I miss all of you. There isn't a short period of time that goes by that I don't think about every single person in my life back home. I want to give a special shout out to the people I think about the most, in no order except for the first few: My Mom, my Dad, Christian & Alec, Palmer & Chad, Kyle & Shannon, Daniella, Dook, Lipho. And literally every one of the 1k or so people on my Facebook who I haven't deleted and have kept on there for a reason, and will look forward to sharing more memories with you all.
One of my bad habits while trying to speak Korean to Koreans is that if I don't understand what they said after 3 tries (of "what? again please?"), I say Gwen-chan-a-yo (괜찮아요) and nod my head, acting like I understood what they said. I do this in English too when I can't hear someone over loud noise after 3 tries, but that's different. 괜찮아요 means the equivalent of a few things, most notably "It's ok" and moreso for me around the city, "No problem". It means "It's all good, bro.", but without the bro, and more versatile. Sometimes this has me responding weirdly to basic questions. One of those just happened at the corner market near my house. The clerk dude is very talkative and knows now that I usually understand at least most of what he says, even though he has a really thick accent, probably from living in our Gyeongbuk Country region of Korea for his whole life. Today I totally botched listening to the words coming out of his mouth until, of course, 30 mins after I got home. I'm going to translate to English essentially how *he* heard our conversation: >>>>>>>>>>>>>> ( ::I put snacks and drinks on the counter to buy:: ) Clerk: Hello. Is that all? Me: Yes, thanks. Clerk: This rice snack comes with a free juice. Would you like the grape juice or the orange juice? Me: No problem. Clerk: Huh? Which juice? Me: It's all good, bro. Clerk: So do you like the orange or the grape juice better? Me: Yep. Yep yep yep (nay nay nay). No problem at all. Ok have a good night! Clerk: Yes? Huh? ( ::Exits store, smiling like Dumbo:: ) >>>>>>>>>>>>>> I should have realized his confused look meant I missed a critical bit of information, especially as he's standing there with two juice boxes in his hand as I leave. The sick thing is, I was walking home with my head up high thinking like "Awwww yeah bwoy, I understand a different language on a basic level, can't stop this!" Honestly next time I go in, I'm going to see if he remembers and walk in there without saying Hello and just yelp "ORANGE JUICE" and see what happens.
.. // Episode 09. .. // 16 minute video of my favorite vacation ever. .. // Actually, I lied right off the bat. Italy is still my favorite. .. // But you can't mess with south-east Asia. You'll get exploded. I love Cambodia. Recommended: Fullscreen this video & Change setting to 1080p using the Youtube gear icon in the lower right of the screen.
While I make my Cambodia video, check out this article BBC wrote about people who quit their jobs/careers and travel the world for a while. It always almost turns out positive: BBC TRAVEL.
It's the end of November and it's already snowed three times. This is a very early winter and my students all say it's going to be a cold one. All of my South African friends here are freaking out and I can't wait until the frost truly sets in so I can giggle under my breath at their pain and suffering. I've decided to renew my contract in Korea for another year, which was an immediate no-brainer choice, but I will not be at the same school. My current Middle School changes foreign teachers every year no matter what, and I think me going somewhere new is only for the best. I've applied to an Elementary School in the same city of Gimcheon, but if I do not get accepted there then I will be heading to the capital of Seoul to teach at a private school. I had two Thanksgivings here with two different groups of friends and I'm excited for December to happen as it will finally be time to rest from all the chaotic and crazy weekends I've been having here more often than not. I get three full weeks of vacation in the winter and I hope to be taking that in February. I wanted to go to Cambodia but might just save money for a huge Mongolia trip next summer. I also need to get back to America at some point to see friends and family. Have to run to class, more later...