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Dec. 28th, 2008

Calendar - days are numbered

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So today, we went to Seoul Grand Park, which is actually a zoo. We spent the day wandering around, looking at animals. It was a really nice zoo, probably even prettier in the spring when everything's green and blooming. Anyway, that was pretty much it. We spent a lot of time at the zoo, so after that we came home and packed and now we're done! Fun in Korea. It's always interesting to go to foreign countries and seeing things like raccoons and beavers and geese in their zoo.

From now on I have a lot of time riding airplanes to look forward to, so now I think I should eat and sleep. Blah.

Dec. 27th, 2008

Calendar - days are numbered

Short but Sweet

So, we had a slightly short but fun day today. We started out by heading down to Insa-dong again, and this time managed to find the temple we were looking for the other day. It was alright. We also wandered Insa-dong a bit more, tried some new street-vendor food, and browsed other wares in order to finish our shopping. We also checked out Tapgol Park, the place where Korea read their declaration of independence from the Japanese, inciting anti-Japanese protest movements. There's a very ordinary-looking Asian gazebo-like structure in the center of the park to commemorate. There's also a seven-level pagoda built in the 1470s there. It was nice.

Our hostel has a cat, and it's sleeping on my bed. I may have to displace it soon, because I am thinking of sleeping now. Poor thing.

Dec. 26th, 2008

Calendar - days are numbered

Another Day, Another Korean palace

Actually, we didn't see any palaces today. We first went down to Seoullung, where we went to see the burial area of two former Korean kings and one queen. Tey're like big grassy mounds, and they have stone animals on top by where the royals' bodies are. In Korea, they believe that the spirit separates from the body on death (like most of us) and so while the bodies of former rulers are buried in various spots around Seoul, the spirits are enshrined in wood tablets that are put in their own room in small palaces in Jong-myo, which is where we went the day after we got here. So now we've seen the whole off at least three former rulers!

After that, we walked down to this area called the Coex center,w hich had a big convention center and exhibition hall on the ground level (think Rosemont), but underground had a huge mall/shopping center, which also had an aquarium and a ton of other things inside it. We didn't really buy anything, but it was fun to wander around and look at all the little stores and food places and people.

Across from the Coex mall, there's a Buddhist temple, which was really pretty. Also, they had the tallest Buddha in Korea there, and man was it tall. It's the Buddha Matireyah, who is supposed to be the Buddha praying for the future of mankind, according to our little brochure. It was pretty impressive. After that, we came back to our hotel area and wandered around checking out the night life a bit - I bought a new hat, because I lost my old one on a bus ): Then we went in this store that was apparently cclosing, and looked around for a bit. I got a pair of shoes that fit perfectly for 70% off. Wow.

Next, we went for dinner, making our first venture into a very Korean Korean restaurant, as opposed to the mainly American Korean restaurants that we had been visiting prior to this. I have no idea what it was called, but they have this big heated pan in front of you, and first they grease it all up with butter,then they toss in some vegetables and meat and fry them, and then when the meat is all cooked they toss in some rice and seasoning and whip it all up together into a big olld hot tasty food dish. And they do all this right in front of you, the heater is built in to your table. So it was fun to watch, even though I don't eat Asian food. Ashley said it was delicious.

Also, we mailed postcards this morning. Mom, Ana, Anne, Grandma, Pixie, Heather, Kelly, and Cassie, if you're reading this, watch your mailbox. It is unfortunately possible that the postcards will make it home after me, since we were unable to mail them sooner, but we tried our hardest =/

Dec. 25th, 2008

Toilet paper - miss me when I`m gone

Christmas in Korea

Day 3 of Korea exploration!

So we got up early to mail postcards, only to be reminded that it is in fact Christmas, and like America, Korean post offices are also closed. So that failed, We're going to try again tomorrow though.

We headed up to Dongnimmun to go to the Seodaemun Prison, which is now a memorial to the Korean patriots who were imprisoned and tortured there under Japanese rule from the beginning of the 20th century until the end of WWII. It was pretty neat and a little creepy, but it was nice to not feel any cultural guilt at one of these memorial places. (Unlike Hiroshima!) Anyway, after that we headed down to Gyeongbokgung, the Palace of Shining Happiness, one of the best palaces in Seoul. There were little Korean guards outside, and on the hour they changed guards. While we weren't around at the right time to see that, every half hour they apparently march in a little circle, and we were around to see that, so I took a video I shall upload when I have a computer of my own. It was a really pretty place, and it had an attached Folk Museum, where we got to see a basic history of Korea and a display of some Korean folk crafts. It was pretty interesting too, and it had a little area where it taught you how to make Korean words with Hangul! Which is actually fairly easy looking. So now I know a small bit of Hangul. I shall perhaps study this more later. After that, we headed down to Insa-dong, and wandered around there looking for a Buddhist temple listed in the book. We didn't find it, but we found a cool area with interesting street vendors and shops, very similar to Namdeamun, and we had some fun looking around there. After that, we were freeeeeezing so we headed back to our home area and had dinner at - of all places - TGIFridays, which was pretty nice. So then we came home, because it was late and cold.

So I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays as much as we did! Merry Christmas!

Dec. 24th, 2008

Ramen - cheap and easy

(no subject)

So we're in Korea!!!! The last few weeks I have been really bus and haven't been able to write in here much. But I will try and update as much as possible while we're in Korea.

So yesterday, we arrived in Korea around 5pm, and took a bus to the area near our hostel. We got in, checked in, and went exploring the area around it. It is actually in a really amazing area. It is surrounded by all the cool stuff you can imagine - shopping areas, restaurants, regular stores, bus stops, and even a nearby subway station for convenient transportation. So we went out and saw the lights and had a blast.

Korea is kind of the in-between of Japan and China - like the two got together and had a baby, which then ripped off every American franchise ever. THere's even a Bennigan's here, and a TGI Fridays, and a Burger King, in addition to the standards like McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks, Baskin Robbins, Dunkin Donuts, etc. They even have some Japanese franchises, like Mister Donuts and Family Mart.

Today, we went out even more places. We walked to a nearby temple, Changdeokung, the Temple of Flourishing Gladness. It was pretty nice, big and old and stuff. We also visited connected Jong-myo shrine area, where the spirits of former emporers are housed. Every year they ave a huge cultural celebration there and do some rituals to receive their ancestors' spirits' blessings, which involves eating raw meat and is overseen by the King himself. Anyway, after that we took the subway down to Namdaemun Market, a big open-air street vendors' market down several streets. We shopped a bit, then went up to the next station, Myeongdong, to see the Myeondong Catholic Church, which is the biggest Catholic Church in Korea. It was very pretty, and they had things all done up for Christmas, so it was fun. After that we went up to Dongdaemun, another shopping district, which wasn't as good of a shopping area as Namdaemun, but still ok. And the night scenery was nicer. So we had fun. Then we walked all the way back to our hostel's area for dinner, then retired.

So yeah. BTW, postcards are going out tomorrow, so most of you should watch your mailboxes.

Nov. 13th, 2008

Camera - stealing souls

(no subject)


Ok, so this is basically just a picture spam of photos from Tokyo Disneyland. I had over 100, so there'll probably be another post soon. Anyway, enjoy.

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Nov. 9th, 2008

Umbrella - better than smiles

(no subject)

Ok, so I haven't been posting in a bit - I get a pass, I've been sick. Anyway! On Oct. 27th I went to Tokyo Disneyland with Eri and her two friends, Megumi and Ham-chan (she is very short so apparently they call her Ham-chan like a Hamster.) I was a little nervous at first because I was going to be with these girls who don't speak much English and I would have to use a lot of Japanese and I wasn't sure that they'd like me, but it turned out really fun! Tokyo Disneyland is a lot like regular Disneyland. There is also another Park, Disney Sea, which has more water themed rides, plus the tower of terror, because it was new and TDL was full up so they had to put it in Disney Sea. lol. Anyway.
To get to TDL I had to ride the train to Maihama, and it was CRAZY CROWDED. It was one of those where you maybe have enough room in the car to wiggle a pinky, if you're lucky. I managed to make it, and met up with Eri a few minutes later, and then her friend Megumi. Ham-chan was going to be a little late so we went in first.
We went in October to see the Halloween Celebration, and it was very Halloweeny! The whole park was decorated in Halloween themes, and they allowed you to wear costumes inside, so there were a lot of CRAZY GOOD cosplayers wandering around, along with your standard handful of EGLs.
We first went and got some breakfast. I had a cookie shaped like Mickey's glove, haha. Eri got a little muffin-like thing in the mouse-face shape, and I forgot what Megu had. Then we went and got on the Star tours ride, where they put you in a fake roller coaster and have you watch a video of things happening while they shake you around, making it feel like your on a real coaster. After that, we collected Ham-chan and watched a Disney Villians parade before heading off to ride some more things - Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, the Honey I Shrunk the kids 3D movie thing (called Microadventure in Japane) and finally Haunted Mansion. It was pretty cool because for Halloween the Haunted Mansion had been done up with Nightmare Before Christmas characters, and it was pretty cute. When we got out, though, it had started to rain, so we went inside and had dinner, then headed out and watched one last parade before heading out. So! I had fun didn't spend TOO much money, and made some new friends! I declare this a success.
I'll put up pictures later, but I have a toooooooooooon and they take FOREVER to load so not now.
Comments are love!


Nov. 3rd, 2008

Ice Cream - death of cookies

(no subject)

Ok, so over the last week I've done STUFF! Stuff is awesome. Most importantly out of said stuff is going to Tokyo Disneyland and Kanda's Halloween party! Tokyo Disneyland has a lot more photos and as such takes forevers to upload so for now all you get is Kanda's Halloween party.

So first, Ayano and I had to go out and get Halloween costumes for the party, since you had to have them. So the week before we went over to Don Quixote, a shop famous for having all kinds of odd stuff (think Spencers, but with a bigger variety?) where I got a witch costume and she got a Pumpkin costume.
I debate the merits of having pumpkins on my head.

The first part of the day was a Halloween lunch at the English language area, where all the English teachers had dressed up and so had some of the students. They had also done the lab up with all kinds of cool Halloween decorations and stuff. They had one of those "guess how many candies are in this jar" contests and there was free candy.
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After school, there was another party, the RSVP kind taking place at Ys Bar & Buffet. Ys is an all-you-can-eat/all-you-can-drink place, that includes an open bar that makes it a little expensive. But it was crazy fun! So many people were there, talking and laughing and eating. Ayano went, of course, and so did Eri and her friends, and most of the other exchange students were there too. There were also several other groups there, and at one point there were these three old guys in suits (called "salarymen," a term used to refer to your standard office worker drone) who were going by, and one guy stopped and looked at me and held out his hand to shake mine, I was like, "WTF?" but I shook it anyway, and he said "Sankyuu!" *Thank you and left. Hahaha, what? Ok then.
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Ok, so later on in the night after everyone had had a few drinks we decided to have this competition, yeah? For some reason the guy dressed as Thomas (Yuusuke) had brought along a bag of flour, so we took several plates and covered them in flour and hid a dessert cake in two of them. Then Thomas and this other kid named Yuuya, a boy dressed as a female nurse, had to run in and whichever one found a cake first won. And they had to get it out by sticking the faces in the flour. Did I mention they'd been drinking?
Anyway, here's a short video of it.

Ok, more on Tokyo Disneyland later then. Bye!

Oct. 21st, 2008

Fortune cookie - don`t look

(no subject)

So, I swore to myself that as my pictures get all backed up, I would make some sort of post this weekend - then my cat died, and I lost the motivation. But I haven't posted here in far too long, so I'm going to force myself to post something.

The weekend of Oct. 11th & 12th, Tokyo Games Show was held about 45 minutes walking distance from my apartment. Being me, of course I went. I got up at 6am each day, left around 7, and walked all 45 minutes there to stand in line until it opened. TGS is a giant video game trade show, where all the major video game publishers gather together and show off their upcoming titles, announce some new ones, and generally make a lot of video game fanatics drool. You can go watch trailers, look at their displays, pick up information, and if you have the patience, wait in line to play demos of not-yet-released games. I had a blast, and I am definitely going to come back again.

Monday was Taiiku no Hi, or Sports Day, which is apparently very big in Japan. Schools plan sporting events for weeks and then have big competitions. I was invited to East Makuhari Elementary School's event, along with my neighbors Katrina and Lillian, by the Diet's aide we had met before. (see below.) We went, and it was fun. They had three-legged races and things, and they had bought little lunches for us, consisting of crackers and stuff. I have no pictures from that but Nishikawa was supposed to drop some off sometime.

Now, an extended version of the story of how I met a member of the Diet, complete with pictures, mainly because I had already typed it up before my cat died so it sounds cheery.
A longer telling of the Solstice Festival story, Sept 17 2008Collapse )

Now, some random extra photos from the Solstice fest:
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So yeah... such a backlog, I'll try and post more later, at least get out of September. Unfortunately, September is when I did the most interesting stuff.
I also have a busy week coming up! Tomorrow I have a meeting with my tutor. Thursday, she and I are going out to buy a costume for the Tutor Halloween Party, and when I'm done with that, I have to head down to Ginza with a boy from my class to meet up with a couple Japanese girls from the same class to do some "field work" homework, which amounts to looking around department stores. Then on Saturday and Sunday, it's our school's School Festival. In Japan, once a year schools have a huge festival with all the different clubs and stuff getting together to show off. We get 3 days off of school for it. (Score!) Monday we should be going to Tokyo Disney World for the Halloween celebration. Then a lot of school, and then the Tutor Halloween Party! Busy busy busy. I'll try and remember to update but I promise nothing!


Oct. 6th, 2008

Ramen - cheap and easy

(no subject)

ok, so, I haven't had a lot of time lately. Long story short, I still have no internet. I don't have much time now, so we're going to do a quick bullet-time run down of the past couple weeks so that certain people will stop complaining. No pictures, no details, that'll come when I actually have time.

I have three classes a day, every day, except Wednesday, which is my day off. I'm taking a Proficieny prep course three times a week, a grammar course four times a week, a pop culture once a week, a computer class once a week, a kanji class once a week,  and a conversation class twice a week. That's it, unless i forgot something.

I have a cell phone that was expensive, but I can watch TV on it, so yeah. Go cell phone.

Sept. 16th? Wed-
Went into a random shrine festival on my way home from buying groceries. Met Akiko Yamanaka. Weird day.

Sept. 23  Tuesday-
Public holiday, no school. Met Pixie at the airport and brought her home with me. She went to sleep at like 6:30, lol.
Sep 24-
Wednesday, no school, so Nina and I brought Pixie to the Shinjuku/Harajuku area, where we later met up with Erik and Eri, had dinner, and then went home.
Sep 25-
Erik came down to Makuhari to visit us and Eri and Yuri met up with us, and then dinner.
Sep 26-
After school, Michiko brought us to Costco, which I now love. Then we went to Carrefour, which is essentially Wal-Mart, where Pixie got a new suitcase because she broke hers. Bad Pixie. Then we went out for karaoke!
Sep 27 -
I was originally told that the internet people were coming to install my internet on this day, but turns out that the day had been changed and no one passed the word on to me. So I sat at home all day for nothing. Pixie left for Kyoto around dinner and I was all alone.

More schoolings happen. They teach. I learn. Homerwork is done. Etc.

Oct 1 - The internet man came for real on this day, however, turns out that the installation disc is region-locked and so despite there BEING internet we can't USE it because we have no way to input our network passwords.  So still no internet at my apartment, technically.

Oct. 3-
The foreign students all took a big school-sponsered trip together to Hakone Mountain park, where we wandered around in the mountains, took a cruise, saw a museum, and tried not to look too happy about being let out of a day's worth of class to take humorous pictures.

Oct 6-
Today! I have class until 3pm. Then I have to go whine at Sugimoto to try and get him to get our internet fixed. Then, if I have time, I might go pick up my Alien Registration Card from the Chiba City Offices. Otherwise, probably just do some homework while my router blinks mockingly at me.

So there. A basic rundown of what has happened thus far. I have been very busy, and thus have not had much time. When I do get time, or perhaps internet in my apartment, I'll try and put up pictures and fill in a few of these entries with some more details. Until then, enjoy.

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