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Start of Korea Round 2

SOUTH KOREA | Wednesday, 13 June 2007 | Views [1043]

Hi all,

Hope everything is well with you all. I'll try and keep it brief, but as it's a quarterly update (due to much procrastinating on my part), you may want to fetch yourself a cuppa, or just browse through the photos for the gist.

After a little shaky start to my second year, things have picked up and are flying by yet again. I got my self straight back into the work/play/hapkido/play routine which is keeping me out of mischief...or encouraging it depending on which way you look at it.

Within two weeks of being back, I had my next belt test in hapkido, for my red. Understandably, after only 4 classes’ worth of practice, I failed, but only on two moves. So after a re-test the following week, it was mine! Celebrating with an evening of red wine seemed fitting at the time. This weekend just gone (10th June), we attending a demonstration in
Masan, a small city along the coast. There were 10 of us from our hapkido school, all foreigners. As a team we performed a short routine of throws, twists, a kick and a short stick fight to finish – see the video above, I'm on the back row, facing the audience, in red. We even got interviewed for the local TV station and newspaper, and had our picture taken with the federation presidents! Thankfully all the hours of practice put in over the preceding weeks paid off, no visible mistakes on the day and a nice round of applause from everyone watching. It was mainly children showing off their skills on the day, including what seemed like hundreds of mini-ninjas armed with num-chucks, and doing dives and somersaults over their team-mates. It’s given us inspiration for the big tournament in late July – an international competition near Seoul with teams from all over the world participating, eek. A handful of us are aiming to go for our black belts in October too.

I’m trying to make the most of my second year here and have already been on a few side trips to different areas of the country. I went on one trip up the east coast for a 'crab' weekend (cue much innuendo and punnage). We went to Yeondeok, a town renowned for its snow crabs - bigger than a platter plate. After checking out the harbour fish market, we headed into the mountains to stay in a cabin and had a very relaxed evening sitting around a campfire, eating crabs and drinking beer. Followed by a Sunday morning breakfast of more crab, rice and kimchi, and a small hike up 2 peaks of 8 peak moutntain, true Korean style.

A guy from this trip also organised a camping trip a few weeks later on Geoje Island which was much fun. Sadly, I missed the original ferry as I slept in (big party on the Friday night...might explain why my 8am alarm didn't materialise), but I managed to meet some other stragglers for the next one. We had a fry up and g&ts in 'London' pub the minute we got off the ferry, and then went to meet the others at our campsite, a beach on the west coast. We successfully had a bonfire going for a couple of hours before it started continually raining. As a result, we ended up with 10 people tucked into a 5-man tent and the other 5 sitting under a tarpaulin attached outside for the earlier part of the evening…whilst also watching the tide edge closer and closer to the ground mats…luckily we had about a foot to spare.

A bunch of us went to see a baseball game a couple of weeks ago, so much fun for a Saturday afternoon. We also had some of my friend Emma’s university students with us. We spent the afternoon watching the Lotte Giants, the local team, win, drinking beer, eating chicken, waving shredded newspaper pompoms, wearing orange carrier bags on our heads, Mexican-waving and cheering, all in true Korean style. We rounded off the evening by hitting a couple of traditional bars, one for makolli (fermented from rice), and another for dongdongju (another deceptively strong rice drink). The former is served in little copper kettles, cold, and the latter is served in what can only be described as a big ceramic garden pot with a ladle to serve. They taste like nothing at all until you attempt to say something longer than 5 syllables or stand up after a while. We had fun trying to teach the students 'fuzzy duck' also, all in the name of intercultural exchange. There have been many other random, drunken nights out…soju on the street, Family Marts, boat cruises, gigs…I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Despite a small hiccup with my boss last month (academy directors are all money-grabbing whores, even if they say they’re not, all resolved now thankfully), work is going well. I’ve had some very amusing moments discussing who would win in a fight between George W. Bush and Bill Gates and the various talents of Pingu with my middle school students, as well as getting their opinions on NE Asian country relationships. I also started teaching at a kindergarten in the mornings last month, in addition to my normal job. They're tiny, only 3/4 years old, so cute! I spend a couple of hours a week getting overpaid for lots of writing, singing, colouring and general fun. A couple of the girls burst into tears whenever they saw me for the first couple of weeks. This was explained by a co-worker as them 'being scared of foreigners' (no sarcastic comments please!). They’re fine with me now and are enjoying the finer points of Incy Wincy Spider, Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, and the Hokey Cokey.

Looking forward…I’m off to Jeju Island this coming weekend with 15 others for a bit of beach/beer/bbq rest and relaxation. The following few weekends are taken up with helping my friend Dave, who’s visiting for a month, acclimatise to all things Korean, a trip to Seoul, a martial arts temple stay, a weekend-long mud festival, the international hapkido competition and a rock festival, phew. And I’m booked to go to Hong Kong in the last week of September, Korean Thanksgiving week (Chuseok), to meet Mum, Dad and Neil for a week. Only 3 months to go now...! 

Anyways, I hope everyone is well wherever you are. Have a cold pint, a good glass of wine, a gin with fresh lime, some Cadburys, a roast dinner, some strong cheese and a plate of fish and chips for me sometime soon. And email/write soon! You’ll find me at Yu Lim, 204 ho, 1724-11, Daeyeon-1-Dong, Namgu, Busan, Republic of Korea, 608-811.

Annyeonghi kyeseyo, Annie xx

Hapkido on youtube just in case you missed it at the top: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DX89o0TrF64

Tags: Party time

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