Apr 23 2009

My First Excursion in Korea

Sitting at home board after a very exhausting start in Korea my co-worker/neighbor Robb invites me to join him and his girlfriend Nichole on an excursion; Robb and Nichole are both from Canada and are very excellent in character. They had plans to visit the Seodaemun Museum of Natural History in Seoul. Seoul is one hour north of Pyenogtaek City by train. We left the apartment at about 11:45am and headed to the bus stop to catch the bus to the train station. We got to the train station, purchased our tickets, had time to spare and went to grab a bit to eat. We went to Duncan Doughnuts for brunch. Nichole and Robb got doughnuts and coffee. I got a turkey ham, egg and cheese English muffin and a bottle of water. While having brunch I spot Shaun and his wife Liezelle and they come inside for a quick hello. Shaun and Liezelle are teachers at the same school as Robb and me, they are from South Africa.

After brunch we went to catch our train to Seoul. Once on the train I find my assigned seat and it just happens to be next to a young man that desired talking the whole trip. It was nice communicating with him about Korea, his job, my job and whatever we could muster up for conversation. He got off the train one stop before we did; he had a date with his girlfriend. We exchanged contact information and then he was gone.

Once in Seoul I was surprised with the influx of people. There were so many people of all races. I felt as if I was in New York City. I took it all in and moved forward through and with the crowd of people. Unsure of how to get to our planned destination we hailed a taxi. Nichole is such the resourceful person; she had the directions and the name of the museum written down in Korea so that the taxi driver would be able to get us there with ease. Once there we took a few photos and then paid our fees to enter; the facility is such a nice place in which you will be able to tell by the photos.

We enter the Central Hall to the skeletal remains of a large dinosaur. We moved through the museum with little ease considering the number of families with children in the museum. The children were very respectful towards the exhibits. There were many exhibits and we took many photos, well Robb and Nichole took many photos. Of all the exhibits my favorite was the Earth Environment Hall in which we view in 3D the Birth of the Earth. It was one of the most exciting events I have ever encountered. Growing up as a Christian in North Carolina, USA, it is a different experience to come face to face with the Theory of Evolution. We looked into the evolutionary history of life having been changed with the times from the earliest creatures to the living creatures. It took us through the trilobites of Paleozoic Era, the dinosaurs in the Mesozoic Era to the human creature in the Cenozoic Era. The exhibits also showed us various living creatures in our present day. Needless to say I was having a great time.

We walked around a bit more and decided it was time to move on to some serious shopping. We decided to extend our shopping trip to an import shop to seek some American products. We found the store and were back in the USA in an instant. Once in the store I found foods that I can’t get in Korea from the local grocer. I found Cheerios which is my favorite cereal, mainly because of the small amount of sugar. I found food seasoning that I could read in English and a few other items. Now this is when things got out of sorts. Upon reaching the counter the cashier starts to ring up the items and something told me to ask how much the products are before he finishes ringing them up. The Cheerios were priced at $8 and the other items were just as expensive. At that time I decided that I can live without these products for the moment and decided against all the items other than a basic salt and pepper combination pack.

We left that store ad went to Lotte Mart, www.lottemart.com, to continue shopping. I purchased pretty much what I needed from that store at a reasonable price. We left the store and went to Burger Kings to have a quick bit before taking the train back to Pyeongtaek City. We had our meal and caught the train. I fell asleep as soon as I got on the train and only awoke once we were right at our stop in Pyeongtaek. I woke up to Nichole walking towards me to wake me up. We exited the train with our packages in hand and headed home. It was a long day, but a really good day for my first outing in Korea. To top it off the weather was beautiful, about 75 °F degrees!!! Post Two.

Photos at the Museum were taken by Robert Hawley and Nichole Noftall.  The photo of Shaun and Liezelle was published by Shuan.

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Apr 20 2009

Hitting the ground running

Well I finally arrived in Korea, Pyeongtaek City (view on map) after a long flight. I was greeted with warm welcomes throughout the whole process. The beautiful young gentleman in Customs gave me all the added security I needed to get my time here started. Once out of baggage claims there was another nice gentleman waiting to assist me with my travel to the city. He purchased a bus ticket for me and I headed to Pyeongtaek. The bus ride was two hours long so I continued read “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers (read more on Wikipedia). The book is an absolute must read!!!

Arriving at the bus terminal I was supposed to be greeted by someone from the school in which I am to teach, yet found no one there to pick me up. I was approached by a cab driver who turned out to be really helpful. I told him that I was waiting for someone to pick me up. I showed him my pick up information to make sure I was at the right terminal. He took the information and called the contact phone numbers for the person designated to pick me up. He informed me that there was no answer and he would try back in a few minutes. He tried back yet still did not receive an answer. At this time he is ready to get back to work so he suggests that I wait and maybe someone would come to the terminal and pick me up. He said that there may have been a problem. He them shook my hand and off he went. At this time I am feeling a bit out of sorts from being in a new country with my travel agenda hindered ever so slightly. After about five minutes, the cab driver came back inside where I was standing and gave me his cell phone. The person from the school returned his call and he was nice enough to stop what he was doing to bring the phone to me. I am most gratefully to people like him.

After being picked up at the bus terminal I was taken by the school and then to the grocery store to pick up a few items in which the person that picked me up volunteered to pay for my items. After the store run I was off to the new apartment. The studio is about 400 square feet plus or minus a few feet; small but comfortable. Arriving at the apartment my neighbor/co-worker comes over for introductions. He stayed for a while assisting me in any way he could by telling me some things to expect while living in Korea.

Now this was on Wednesday April 15 at about 11pm when I finally got to my destination. After I unpacked and cleaned the place to my comfort I went to bed around 3:15am. I awoke at 6:15am to find that I was not tired. At this time I finished reading Redeeming Love while lying in bed. I must have lied in a bad position because I ended up with a kink in my neck on the right side. I tried to work it out with no luck.

I got up, showered and got dressed. About this time my neighbor, Robb, came over to walk to school with me. He calls himself my training wheels, for he helps me get from one point to another without getting too terribly lost. Once at school the children greeted me in the manner in which I was told they would. They called Obama teacher and swarmed me like a pack of bees. I smiled and accepted their affections and worked to settle in as quickly as possible, because within the hour I would be in a classroom with another teacher. The classes went well and the students were typical student with much energy and a great eagerness to learn. I assisted in teaching seven classes both Thursday and Friday, for Monday I will teach my seven classes alone. Wish me well!!! Post One

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