Tell Them (my Dad is great!)

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With father’s day on Sunday, and summer just about to start, I figured a good dad appreciation post and summer playlist would be a fun idea!

Also the fun contrast between serious dad talk and fun summer music will be enough to keep you interested.

Especially after last posts long Jurassic World Review-sorry i had to get that out.

Father’s day is on June 21-for those of you non americans, its a day to celebrate dad.  Mother’s day is in May.

This will be the first time I do no see my dad on father’s day.  And it will be his first time as a dad not to have me with him on father’s day-25 years…

We are setting up a skype date and I’ve sent him a card as well.  With my dad he doesn’t really ask for much so I always had to be creative when thinking of gifts for him.  I usually got him something Baltimore sports team related. We even went to a ball game one year.  But this Father’s day I wasn’t able to do much.

I don’t really like being able to be with my parents on holidays so I think that will make the bigger holidays later this year hard.

While my dad and I have a pretty good relationship to others, we still have that mutual, I’m going my thing and you’re doing your thing and about 50% of the time it’s the same thing.

Being the only female child, I was kind of raised as a tomboy.  I played competitive soccer and swam until my senior year of high school.  I have really lame teenage boy bathroom humor.

I guess I would say the main bonding point in our relationship would be sports.

We would always go as a family to Baltimore Indoor soccer games together, and I even went to the Ravens first game at M&T bank stadium back in 1996 ( I think). As I got older I found an interest in baseball and I think I might have even reawoken his interest in the O’s. Ever since 2005 my dad and I have really bonded over watching the O’s.  We even used to bet on whether or not the O’s would have a winnning season.  Let’s just say I lost that bet a lot up until recently.  Aside from the O’s I became interested in watching the Ravens games as well.  I even bought him tickets one year as a Christmas present.

Of course being the soccer fanatic he is, we would watch the world cup, and tape all the games we missed. During the olympics, we would sit as a family and watch whatever was on.

I never really thought of myself as a crazy sports person, but I guess I have my dad to thank for that. I even got my best friend into baseball (she is now a die hard O’s fan) and soccer (watching the world cup and taking her to a live game really did the trick).

I remember he used to have this job that would force him to be “on call”- he was almost never home and we even had to rearrange our vacation.  After he left that job he retired…which didn’t go well-he would be up until 3 am and sleep in until 930 am which is late for him.

Thank god he found a job at my old high school and continues to teach there today.

My dad and I don’t really have an “emotional” relationship and feelings are rarely talked about which isn’t a bad thing.  I’m not a super expressive person when dealing with my own feelings so it works.  I think I learned how to be a more reserved and mature person because he has always treated me as such.  Even when I was a kid, apparently he would let me dress myself (which is why I probably still suffer from being a fashion terroist to this day) because he wanted me to be independent.

To all father’s, and especially my own father, I wish you the happiest and healthiest father’s day, and am grateful that there is such a thing as  a father.

My Summer playlist!

So since it’s almost the summer solstice, I figured why share what’s on my summer playlist.  I think most of these will make sense, but I’m sure some might not….but let’s get started!

Touch My Body- SISTAR

despite one of the worst point dances I’ve ever seen ( as my friend D likes to ask-are they trying to shake something out of their asses?) i do love this song.  I love the bright colors and how beautiful does Hyorin look? It’s a fun catchy summer song-and the fact that it was released last summer certainly makes me think of summer.

I want crazy- Hunter Hayes

every summer playlist needs at least one western country song! This one might be a little old, but at my old job, we played a ton of country songs (being out in “rural” maryland)  and my co worker and I became obsessed with this song. Hunter Hayes has a really nice voice, and it’s a cute song.  Definitely a windows down summer drive.

R.ef- Farewell Formula

The very first time I heard this song was last summer.  I was working my shift at PETCO with my unnie J and she was missing summer so we played 90’s korean summer songs. This one popped up-she said it was a very popular song.  It definetly has a summer sound; almost a “Hot Hot Hot” sound.  Even though the vocals are uh…less than impressive it still gets you in the mood for summer!

*side note…if you are a Kpop fan you might recognize this song as VIXX’s last comeback Love Equation…which I think sounds better but doesn’t have the “summer” feel as the original.

Dale pa’lla, pa’ca-Mestizzo

For me this is the ultimate summer song!  My family and I used to vacation to the Carribbean almost every summer with the Resort Iberostar.  This was there “theme song” and every time I hear it, it brings back some of the most memorable moments.  It’s a fun upbeat song that makes you just want to lay out on the beach, have your pina colada and listen to the gentle waves lap up on the sand.  Paradise.

Thank God I’m a country boy- John Denver

Remember how some I said would seem a little strange? Well if you’ve ever been to Camden yards for a ball game you would know that every 7th inning stretch this song fills the stadium.  It’s the iconic O’s game song.  When I hear this song I think of those hot humid ball games where I suck down those amazing lemonades and eat my crab fries and enjoy the beautiful ballpark.  For me this is the perfect hot humid Baltimore summer evening.  It’ don’t get not better than this!

Good Luck-BEAST

This might be another one that seems a little odd.  But this song dominated 2014 summer.  I was introduced to this song and BEAST last summer so whenever I hear this song and think of the band, I remember running around Centennial Lake in the disgusting humidity with this song blaring loudly in my ears.  Other than being an over all amazing song, it’s a song that puts me in a very specific time and place-which happens to be a hot maryland summer.

Live Like We’re Dying-Kris Allen

This song transports me back to my college years.  Kris Allen got a lot of flack for winning American Idol over Adam Lambert (who yes I do agree has an incredible voice) but if you can get past that fact, the boy’s got a unique tone, a skilled musican and puts out good music.

I remember putting this song on while on the nice Air conditioned subway on my way to school in Philadelphia.  What I would give to go back to college.

Long Hot Summer-Girls Aloud

I think it’s pretty clear why this is a summer song.  Thank you amazing (now defunct ) British girl group for putting out some catchy pop songs.

Electric Shock- f(x)

Now this group does have “Hot Summer” but I discovered this group last summer while trying to study for my TESOL certificate interestingly enough.  I think it’s hook and catchy  chorus is a good “lets roll down the windows and blare music from our care stereo and watch as people look at us” song don’t you?

Without You- David Guetta and Usher

My best friend S hates this song…which is a shame because I love this song!! Sure Usher’s vocal runs get a little…uh…intense? But the chorus of this song is incredible and not to mention the fun summer party feeling of the music video.  I have no shame saying I love to put this song on and jump around like an idiot.

I’m Saying-Lee Hongki

Where would be without at least one OST theme song? Not only did ‘Heirs’ air (haha) last summer, but the show started off in L.A. giving it a summer beach feel combined with the fact that Kim Woo Bin went to Australia with Running man and they played this song several times while he was there.

I really like this song beyond a simple OST song- LHK sounds amazing! And I feel it could totally fit a fun beach trip.

Call Me Maybe- Carly Rae Jepsen

What summer playlist would be complete without this gem? I remember the very first time I heard it on the radio I knew it was going to be a hit!

Though less popular but perhaps more “summer” is her song with owl city “Good time” which also I would like to include:

Tell Them (do you recognize this ^^^) -BLOCK B

I would have to say hands down this is my favorite summer song. Not only does the MV make you long for those late summer days, but like with BEAST I really got into BLOCK B last summer.  My friend S and I even went to the D.C. showcase! Also like with Good Luck it puts me back at a very happy place.  I think of my hometown in Maryland in those late summer days, grilling outside for dinner, washing the car-everything that just made home home in the summer.

What Makes you Beautiful- One Direction

On what planet would this not be on everyone’s playlist? One of the ultimate summer songs that everyone knows! I could say a lot about this song-but simply watch the video.

There are a ton of other songs that could be used here, but for now, this is my summer playlist!

Next time on The Real Black and White Dog archives of Korea: wearing dresses in korea, Chess, VIXX Ken single comeback, BTOB comeback!

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Jurassic-antastic!

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So it’s very clear what one major point of this post will be……*ahem* ^^^^^^

So quick update I am finally back to school!!! It was a very lonely and boring week I had during the MERS school closures.  I couldn’t really go anywhere because  I didn’t have the funds (thank you dream concert) and as well I was still recovering from the minor loose ends of my very bad cold.

But on Monday schools reopened here in Pyeongtaek, and my cold ceased to exist (at least within this still trying to get in shape body) and I have finally resumed my gym activities after a long break.

I’m slowly getting back into it, trying to recover all the stamina I lost-over the past three days I have managed to finally reach the 30 minute mark again on a decent pace.  Being out for three weeks has really set me back but I’m trying to refocus and not lose motivation.

During this period I also realized how grateful I am for my school.  Even though sometimes I get really annoyed by the classes that talk non stop, or the day care class that loves to pull on my legs and arms, I am happy that  I have a set schudele and I am back on it.  Waking up at 10 am and going to be at 3am is not my style.

I also didn’t realize how much I really missed my kids.

Now moving on….so I think I promised….mosquito death, …..jurassic world review….and something else I don’t remember….ah yes! Why June is dragging on!!

So first mosquitos…..i react badly to their bites.  And since I don’t have an A/C unit (and haven’t felt the super urge yet to buy one) i leave my balcony windows open-which means that sometimes they fly in.

I hate killing things…even bugs….but these mosquitos have no mercy from me.  I usually use my house slipper because…hey it’s always with me, and its more substantial than a fly swatter so they die in one shot.

Once I finally buy my A/C unit I won’t have the need to have my balcony doors open as much so hopefully that will keep them away from me.

Now…..June…..

Oh June, why would you be so cruel! As previously stated March took forever, April sped up, and finally May blew by so fast! But June…

I think there might be a few combinations as to why it seems to be taking longer than I thought.

1. Being Sick/MERS-Being sick took a lot out of me and was spent laying on my couch.  I had zero energy, I went  no where, and the opening suffering part of the cold lingered for at least a week and a half.

That combined with the fact that school was closed for a week and half ….well  let’s just say the first two weeks of June were unpleasent. It was slow, and uneventful and I hated it.

2. Dream concert – W and I had amped up Dream concert and had so been looking forward to it for over a month.  It was the be all end all of a weekend! so when it was done…it was almost as if…what do we have to look forward to?

Even though we already bought our tickets for Chess it wouldn’t be for another 5ish weeks…a long time.  It was so far off I couldn’t really get too excited about it.  Now that it’s next weekend, I am starting to feel excited!

3. Peaking-maybe because of all the insanity that was May, and because it did go by so fast, May was the peaking point and now I’m back to how March felt.

Though this past week has gone by a lot faster than I though it would, and June is actually almost over, most of June felt like it would never end.  I’m hoping that means July and August pick up as well…especially with the impending heat coming.

and now finally…..my JURASSIC WORLD REVIEW!!!

There is so much I want to say and say it coherently without rambling…..but I’m not 100% sure that will happen.

So where to begin.  Well let me just preface this with the fact that I have seen and own all 3 previous JP movies, am obsessed with dinosaurs (I have a giant book at home that I asked my mom to buy me at Costco with a picture of a Spinosaurous on the front) and have been ever since on my first movies The Land Before time, have dino socks that I don’t want to wear for fear of getting them dirty, used to want to be a paleontologist……I could go on.

So this is not going to be your “oh the CGI was amazing” or “if you like good old action thriller dino movies” review.  We are going to delve a little bit deeper than that.

I think I’m going to have to break it down to get what I want to say out.

BTW; SPOILERS!!!!

1. A worthy sequel? – In the first Jurassic Park movie, we got a small glimpse of what the theme park would have looked liked before it was all destroyed. We saw merch, and food, and the ride itself.  In JW we were actually treated to a full on working park. It was not so different than an actual theme park we see today.

So as a part of the storyline, does it fit in?

I think JW is something that yes, while does feel a little different than the others,fits in with the original storyline.  It makes sense that yes, after the first failed park, and all it’s subsequent problems, that someone would try the idea again.  I mean isn’t that how our world works anyway? someone picks up a failed idea and continues to work and refine and “perfect it”?

But what is interesting about JW is that at sometimes, it feels as if the movie could stand alone, or at least be a sequel to the very first one and the first one alone.  Other than JPI it’s the only movie to take place back on Isla Nublar-the original island.

We see remnents of the old park when the kids find the original main lobby area, including all the original merch, the banner than dramatically fell as T-Rex roared at the end of the movie, and the SUVs as well.

In another scene, one of the tech workers is scolded for wearing an original JPI t shirt.

I read a quote stating “Jurassic World knows it’s not Jurassic Park and that’s why it works” and I fully agree with it.  You can almost say it’s NOT a sequel, because it feels like it could stand alone.  But at the same time it so beautifully weaves in the past movies (mainly JPI) that it does feel like a satisfying “sequel”.

2. Animals/Zoos/Taming-This one is going to be a doozy and the main hitting point of why I loved it so much.

With the recent events of “Blackfish” and now the Tsibili Zoo in GA, I think JW has the ability actually help the animal welfare cause.

Zoos- even though these animals were reconstructed in labs, they were in fact at one point in  time (like a long long long long time ago) wild animals. They never lived with humans or human threat.  Yet there they are, being things for people to look and gawk over.

There is one scene where we see baby dinos as “rides” for kids-no so different than the camel or elephant rides you see at zoos.

Zoo animals never leave the zoo-they are kept in their areas, and despite how much of an attempt to recreate their “wild”  envioriment, zoos typically fall short. They have never seen anything else outside their walls.

So it was no shocker that when the animals of the Georgia zoo were set loose by the floods, they did what came instinctually to them.  And sadly one man was mauled and killed.  These animals didn’t know better-they were wild animals and despite however ‘tame ‘ they might have been, set them loose for the first time in their lives, they are going to act what comes naturally for them.

In JW we see the main “villian” if you will of the movie early on.  She had been kept in an isolated pen her entire life, only having a “positive relationship” as Chris Pratt says with the crane that feeds her.  When she breaks out of her she is seeing the “real world” for the first time.  And like those tigers, she acts instinctually.

Bryce Howard’s character calls the dinos “assets” throughout the movie.  Using this term explains her complete detachement from these animals.  To her they are numbers on a chart, not living things with feelings and needs.  It isn’t until we see her watch an Apatasouraus (my spelling is atrocious) die in Chris Pratt’s arms, that we start to see her character change.  They are no longer “assets”.

Sadly, almost all of the large predators were killed by floods or shootings in the Georgia zoo.  In JW the Indominis Rex also is killed at the end (though by 3 different animals) but this was of course after many attempts to kill her.

It just says so much about us humans-we put wild animals in a cage, out of the natural habitat and then when we expose them to what’s outside of captivity, we “punish” them for acting on their instincts.

which leads me to my next point

3. Taming vs. bonding.

Christ Pratt’s character is considered a “raptor tamer”.  But what he so clearly states is that these are not tame animals and he does not control them.  Even though it’s clear the raptors do listen and respond to him, it also becomes very apparent that he does not have control over them.

He does not “tame” the raptors because they are wild animals. He understands and respects that.  He doesn’t try to make them like dogs and he understands the danger they pose.

Though he calls himself the Alpha, and seems to have a special relationship with the beta, it is clear from Pratt’s opening sequence that he doesn’t 100% trust them, and they aren’t 100% willing to go after him. Pratt’s co worker, whose name I don’t believe we ever get, also understands these are wild animals, and while they need to be respected, they also aren’t tame.

On the flip side, the guy from Criminal Intent’s character (Vince d’ something or other) believes that Pratt has tamed them.  He wants to use them to help in combat.  He talks about bloodlines-only breeding those loyal and putting down the ones that are “rouges”.  He wants to breed them similar to dogs but forgets one simple thing-they aren’t tame.

In the ending scene, after the raptors join IR ( she is part raptor HELLO!) and surround Pratt and his friends, we see a pivotal moment between Pratt and Blue. Pratt mentions that he had raised her since she was born.  So what is thought to be control and taming is actually bonding and relationships.

She doesn’t attack him because of their relationship.  Respect and bonding is worth more than control.  Eventually Blue and her fellow raptors turn on the IR and all but Blue die (pretty horrible deaths).  After they defeat the IR (with the help of T-Rex and the mossalors (SP???) ) Blue looks at Pratt as if almost to respond to him.  But he shakes his head and she runs off without a thought.

I really loved how we got to see a nurture vs nature aspect. Even though Pratt had raised her and connected with her, she still chose to go with her kinds (IR) but when she was reunited with Pratt, saw how he treated her (he put his gun down and removed the camera Criminal Intent guy put on her head) she defended him against the IR.  It just goes to show that animals do create bonds with humans.

You could look at it with dogs and humans.  Though dogs are tame, you see them defend their humans all the time against other dogs, wolves, humans.  There is a bond there that goes beyond species.

There are other various themes and parallels-corporate greed, kids and technology, but what made me enjoy they film so much was how it did respect the past of JP1 and it’s tough on animal welfare.

Now that the super long review is done….that’s it.

Next time on the Real Black and White dog Archives: since summer and father’s day are right around the corner, I think a mini dad appreciation post and summer playlist would be appropriate!

It’s a Lotte World After All

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While not quite Disney World, Lotte world is a pretty awesome place. Especially if the lines aren’t that long due to MERS.

I went on a Friday because my school was closed like so many in Gyeonggi-do. I hadn’t planned on going to Seoul but since I had already been stuck in my apartment for the past week due to sickness I wanted to get out.  So I went with the friends I made at GIFLE.

We stayed in Hongdae but they wanted to go to Lotte World which is located in Jamsil.  So we took the metro all the way to Jamsil on Line 2.  It was about a 35 min ride.  But no transfers so it worked out well.

We had to wait for the others so we killed time by wandering around the mall part and even found a studio Ghibili store! I bought a Howl’s Moving caslte figure for S to put in her care package.

After wandering we went to find the park.  It is a little hard to find because when you come out of the Jamsil station instead of walking straight to the mall, you need to make a turn.  If you miss it, you will continue walking into the mall, the opposite direction of the park.  If you pass the studio ghibili store ( on your right hand side) you are going the wrong way.  Turn around and you will magically see signs pointing you in the right direction.

Because we had been going the wrong way we failed to see the obvious signs.

When we got to the park we paid our money.  Now there are two choices: one is just general admission but no rides while the other is 11$ more but you ride the rides.  If you aren’t a person who likes rides, or can only tolerate one or two rides, I would suggest you get general admission (and then use a friends ticket for the one ride you want to go on-yeah not totally legal but hey ) But if you are like me and want to ride everything in sight then it’s worth it to pay the extra.

You will enter on the second level.  The bottom floor is an ice rink. There isn’t much to do on the second level but if you go up  a level there are rides and entertainment.  We went on the Caroseoul, pirate ship, tea cups- most of my group wasn’t into rides.  I did however skip out on the haunted house because I am terrified of stuff like that.  We also managed to find Dippin Dots!!

The inside is nice but it wasn’t anything that great and I was regretting my decision to spend extra to ride rides….until we found that there is an outside part!

Going up to the next level you are able to reach the outside park.  I knew there was an outside part- I had seen in when Big Bang went to Lotte World.

There are more extreme rides like the Gyro Drop, Gyro Spin, roller coaster, swings etc.  It wasn’t huge but for being in the heart of a city it was decently sized.  Of course i ran around like an idiot because I love the extreme rides and hey who doesn’t like to run around like a kid at amusement parks?

The roller coaster is actually pretty good.  It’s an indoor/outdoor combo.  I’m a roller coaster junkie-King da Ka anyone?   But i was decently pleased. My friend went to Everland yesterday so I will have to check that out sometime since it’s right here in Gyeonggi-do.

We stayed until about 9pm and then headed back to Hongdae. I hadn’t exerted so much engery for over a week so I was exhausted but the others wanted to go clubbing.  So I gathered myself and we managed to head out around 11.  But the person who was in charge of leading us didn’t know where she was going and the people we were supposed to meet were already drunk.  So we wandered for an hour around Hongdae.

Now I’m not saying a Seoulite but I’m pretty comfortable finding my way around on the subway and certain parts of the city and the people I usually go to Seoul with are also able to find there way around.

But this time, these new people didn’t know where to go and mostly just followed me around like lost puppies.  It was a little annoying and tiring but I guess I was the same way when I first got to Seoul.

When we wound up getting to the club we were supposed to get to  I already knew that I was already way too old for this kind of life.

We went first to Go Go’s 2.  Because I couldn’t find directions anywhere I will post them real quick. If you walk up the street that takes you up to Hongkik University-it’s right across from Exit 1 at Hongkik U. station-up that hill, make a right when you can’t go any further and keep walking down that road.  You will pass a side street that will take you to the playground-keep going- and then you will walk by a bunch of shops and bars people will be hanging around outside.  You will see a 7-11 on your right hand side and a starbucks across the street on your left hand side.  Turn right at that road and you will see a street lined with bars and clubs and both Go Go’s is right there.

Go Go’s 2-the best description is an adults version of a frat party.  I even saw a red solo cup.  I guess Korea doesn’t have frats and sororities so this is the best they can do.  Needless to say my 22 year old friends are just at the age where this is still super fun because they can legally drink.  However at 25 I am past that life and can’t really keep up any more.  I’m not a big drinker and never really have.

After leaving  Go Go’s 2 we went to Go Go’s 1 which is right down the street-it’s more of a bar and less of a club but just as crazy.

I won’t go into detail but there was a bunch of drama.  It was like being back in college again.  I had no interest.  We got back to our hostel around 4 where I promptly took a shower and then crashed.

The following day the two friends I stayed with in Hongdae and I wandered around Hongdae for a bit.  We had our breakfast at Travel Maker-right near Hongki U. station exit 3. Make a left when you come out of the exit and keep walking down the street. It will be on your left hand side.  It specializes in American breakfast so for all you expats you can get your fill of breakfast that we all miss.

Then due to the lack of sleep I suggested we go to Yeouido and relax by the river.  So we headed out-took the subway to Yeouinaru stop ( this stop is literally on the Han River, Yeouido stop is more towards the city part of the island) and relaxed by the river for about 4 hours.  It was a nice day and we managed to find shade.  You can buy mats and sit on them or bring your own.  Many people bring tents which I wish we had but it makes no sense me to buy one.  If i move to Seoul and have better access to Yeouido then it might be different.

It was one of my favorite parts of the weekend if not my favorite part.  Relaxing and just talking was much much needed.  The others didn’t wake up until 4pm so we wound up eating without them and made our way back to Hongdae.

They had planned on going on a bar crawl but I had no interest in it.  Eventually once we met up with everyone else we chose as a group to go to one of our friends birthday parties near the playground instead.

The playground in Hongdae is literally an outdoor playground where vendors sell drinks, and people do dance battles and music.  Follow the directions listed above to Go Go’s-take that side street instead of walking by it.

We wound up meeting with some of our other friends and then they all wanted to go to Go Go’s again which we did.  We wound up leaving around 3 am this time and I was starting to really feel it- I had been doing nothing but sleeping on my couch for the past week eating soup and crackers -so my energy level was already low combined with late night partying- I was done.

I realized that while I really did love this kind of life style and craved clubbing and bars, I have officially out grown it.  I don’t mind hanging out a a bar earlier in the evening before completely drunken idiots take over.

At 25 I’ve officially passed into “adulthood” and have no enjoyment for it anymore and I’m not sad about it.  But because my friends are in the age where it’s still exciting and fun and cool, that’s what they were all about that weekend.  And I didn’t really enjoy it.

The following day we wound up having to check out by 11 am.  We bought our tickets home, stored out luggage and then headed to Myeongdong for some much needed shopping. We had to store out luggage at Hoeyeon station-the Namdaemun Market one- because Seoul Station was full and Myeongdong station has so many exits it’s a nightmare.

It was a hot day and the two others were recovering from the previous night.  And once again I was leading them because they had no idea where we were.  I love to look around Myeongdong but their interest was low.  So I bought what I needed (and maybe a little more) and then we headed over to the Namsan cable car. I had to finish up S’s care package and needed some new music for myself as well.  There are two really great music/kpop stores in underground Myeongdong.  They are both located in the underground shopping of exit 6.  They have a ton of stuff so if that is what you’re looking for you will leave a happy camper.

I had never taken the cable car before.  It’s a bit of a hike to get there.  I’m not one for directions but I believe it’s exit 3.  Then you have to walk up a hill-pass Pacific hotel (which should be on your left hand side) and continue walking, up a set of stairs, and then turn right and you will see the cable car building. That’s the best I can do.

The cable car isn’t that bad-its around 8$ for a round trip. It’s a short ride, like 1 1/2 minutes to the top but it’s really fun. If you are afraid of heights then I suggest you stand towards the middle because there are windows all around.

Already having been to Namsan once I already did the lock, N tower, and saw the show but one of my friends had never been there so we did the tourist thing with her.  I love the Myeongdong/Namsan area so I was content to just relax and enjoy the scenery.

Our train left at 5 so we made our way back to Seoul station and left.

Needless to say I have officially had my first crazy club drunken (not me) weekend in Seoul. I would have to say that is enough for me.  I prefer to do my slow, concert , shopping weekends.

Speaking of shopping….this country is built on shopping…and its oh so hard not to fall into the trap…and I did…and now I’m officially a sport shopper.  It’s insane.  But I’m trying to be better at it…but dropping 104,000 W at the music store….yeah.

Next time on the Real Black and White Dog Archives of Korea: mosquitos meeting their death, why June seems so much slower than april and may, and hyping up for Jurassic World!!!

How to lose Interest in Pyeongtaek in 10 weeks

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Ok so I’ve been here closer to 15 weeks but then I would lose the relation to the iconic Kate Hudson and Matthew McCounahey movie that became “the”  RomCom of the the early 2000’s.

As mentioned previously, I thought I would be not having to use my paid vacation days this week and just leave early: 840-1130.  Well…something must have gotten lost in translation because other than the administration office I’m the only one here.  So I figured since I already made myself a portable cup of Earl Grey tea, put my face on, and dragged myself to school (yeah yeah It’s a 5 minute walk) I should at least get some stuff done.

So last time I mentioned debating between Seoul and Busan.

With GEPIK you have the option to resign with your school (if they offer-if they hate you….haha I guess ignore this) after a year, and gain a lot of perks-more vacation days, and a raise.

However, if you’re like me, and you want to leave you lost all of that.

I really do like my school. Despite the weird cancellation of classes and the sometimes boring afternoons, I am treated well, like my co workers, and have grown to really care about my students.  I don’t mind living close to school that much, and the neighborhood is very residential so I don’t really feel like I’m in the city.  Bijeon-dong was built with being a residential community in  mind.  But that does present a problem at time to people like myself who does not have a car or a family.

I have to take the bus to get to downton (DOWNTOWN OMG too much BBC) Pyeongtaek and then from there take the train or subway.

For someone who lived in Philadelphia for over 4 years, i cannot express the importance of Public transportaion.

The city itself isn’t bad, but Seoul and Busan both have an accessibility to so much more.

My initial plan, like so many, was to have a position in Seoul.  But then it switched to Suwon, which was why I chose Pyeongtaek.  It’s closeness to both Suwon and Seoul was part of it’s appeal as well as already having a stable friend already here.

But now living here for over 3 months, I’ve come to realize what things I really want.

So when my contract is up I want to move to Seoul or Busan.

But the question is: which one?

Busan

I’ve only been to Busan for a grand total of 2 days, and one of them was spent inside a concert hall/escaping from rain.

Pros:

The main appeal of Busan is to be closer to W.  I consider her my bff here in Korea and I miss having easy access (that sounds soooo wrong!)  to my friend.  I had been used to hanging out with my friends every day after work so now I find myself alone most of the weekdays.  I do like the alone time but sometimes it’s “too much” alone time.  I never thought I would say those words.

Another appeal of Busan is the city has a subway system.  When I was with W we traveled all over Busan with it.  Shopping was easy as well as getting to and from the HUGE train station which also houses a KTX line.

Although I hadn’t really been able to see much of Busan, the air felt cleaner, and it definetely gave off a different feel from all the cities up North.  From what I did see, it was very pretty and seemed like a really nice place to live.

Cons:

It’s that much further away from Seoul.  While yes there is a KTX train to Seoul, it’s expensive and isn’t as frequent and cheap as my train from Pyeongtaek. The only other choice is the bus for about 3 hours.

Summer gets very crowded.  With the Busan film festival and tourists, W told me the cities and beaches are filled with people.

Because Busan is the second largest city, the living quarters are much smaller.  W not only has a 1 room/studio but her kitchen is super narrow with two small windows and a typical “korean bathroom”.

I’ve learned that while my apartment is older (it has keys whereas everyone else has the super cool code locks-jealous!) it is much larger and I’m very lucky. Now having this large apartment and western bathroom, I’m not sure I’m going to want to downsize….especially now that I’ve had to buy things to “fill up” my empty space and walls.

Overall: While there are more pros, the cons do weight heavier.  I plan on visiting W in two weeks so we will see if I can get a better feel for Busan.

Seoul:

I spend almost every weekend in Seoul so I’ve gotten a decent grasp of the city.

Pros:

By now, I’m super familiar with it’s subway system.  I have yet to use the bus, but I hardly use my own buses. While the subway isn’t the easiest or most logical thing in the world, it does get you where you need to be while also having fabulous underground shopping.  It also has easy access to both Incheon and Gimpo.  I  find that I now can get around Seoul comfortably, especially the area around Seoul station.

Because Seoul is an international cosmopolitan city, it has that international appeal as well. While I don’t spend much time in the foreign districts like Itaewon, I can buy the international products I need-spices, random American brands-\.  Being in Seoul would make that slice of home I miss a little more accessable and not force me to drag it an hour south to get it home.

Also there is a more wide variety of food options.  Here in Pyeongtaek there are some international options, but nothing like Seoul.  Also things in Pyeongtaek definetly shutdown at a certain time, while I find that Seoul always has something open.

There isn’t really a park here in Pyeongtaek to relax-but Seoul has Yeouido and the Namsan area if you are looking for a “nature” retreat, or just wanting to sit outside and picnic.  Coming from a suburb area in Maryland, there was never a lack of wooded areas.  So while I enjoy the city I would like a place to retreat to.  Yeouido and Namsan are perfect. Many people bring tents  and food and drinks (IT’S LEGAL TO DRINK IN PUBLIC!) and make a day of it.

Going hand in hand with Namsan, there is just so much to see in Seoul.  The historical land marks live hand in hand with the modern city while the city is surrounded by mountains.  It’s really a city unlike any other and it’s why I fell in love with it.

Another large part is that it’s Seoul-major events seem to happen in two places-Seoul or Busan.  But all the concerts W and I have attended have been in Seoul.  It would make life easier to live in the city and not have to worry about making the trip up to Seoul, stay in a guesthouse, and then worry about getting a train home.

Cons:

Like with Busan, even more so I bet, the living quarters would be small.  I have a friend, J, who lives there now but her job is a “baller” job so I think her apartment is bigger than normal.  But as I mentioned above, I’m now accustomed to my “larger western” apartment.

The main appeal of Busan is a negative of Seoul.  While I wouldn’t be that much further away, and there would be the benefit of a KTX station, I wouldn’t be closer to W.  However I would have J and my Pyeongtaek friends come up to Seoul a lot. And with W making monthly trips to Seoul I guess it wouldn’t be too too bad.

Overall: It seems like I’m pretty biased towards Seoul….but I’m counting this as it’s close to where I live and I travel there so much. But I’ve been leaning towards Seoul ever since my first visit and fell in love.

I think with more travelling to Busan and spending a little more time here will help me make my decision…even if it seems that my mind is made up.

Now I did promise an ice cream review!

So Baskin Robbins is a decent chain back in the USA, but here in Korea it’s huge! And rightfully so.  The flavors here change and are innovative so it’s not just your average flavors.  Yes they have the iconic mint choc chip we all love but in Korea there is a flavor called Shooting Star….OMG

It’s “soda flavored” ice cream whatever that means.  It’s white and blue and red-i guess the blue and white are the soda flavors, and then there is a red “jelly” like strand in it as well. But the best part,,,,is the blue pop rocks.  Yes you heard right.  Blue pop rocks in ice cream.  It makes the entire flavor right there.  Now I love ice cream but I’ve never been one to buy “packed” take out ice cream because the grocery store was good enough for me.  However, now the Baskin Robbins guy knows me as the “english speaking customers”.  And when you buy take out ice cream, you get it in a really nice baskin robbins bag with dry ice to keep it cold.  Basically getting ice cream in Korea Baskin Robbins is the best.  Not to mention they give you these cute little spoons as well!

Wow this post ended up being longer, and a day that I don’t even have to be here….also the humor was lacking.  I apologize.

Next time on the Real Archives of Black and White dog of Korea: Lotte world review, learning that I have officially passed the age of clubbing in Hongdae, Namsan Cable Car fun, and trying to deal with my shopping addiction.

Long MERS Summer…

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I wish I was kidding.  Obviously it’s been a while since my last post for quite a few reasons.

While I did mention that I would be discussing the summer heat, my friend’s surgery and something else I can’t remember….things have changed….

As much of the world is now aware, South Korea, particularly Seoul and my city Pyeongtaek, is trying to contain MERS.

I’ve have seen so many people wearing face masks it’s like that scene from E.T. where Elliott’s house is trying to “contain” the alien

Now, I had gotten sick last Saturday, right as MERS hit ironically enough.  I knew it wasn’t MERS, I did however think it was the flu.  Turns out it was a bad cold and tonsilitis.  So basically it sucked.

I laid on my couch for about a week, eating soup and crackers, hot tea, and the popsicles I kept buying from the 7-11.  I think I became their best customer that week.

I had no energy because I could only really eat soup, and I was just miserable.  The first night had to be the roughest.  I had a fever that kept climbing and no meds or way of getting them.  So I googled old school methods and used a wet washcloth on my forehead and fan the entire night.  It was hell.

Luckily my good friend E brought me meds, soup, cough drops, the next morning which took the edge off.

I’m lucky because she is able to get what she needs on base. As for others who are less lucky, I would suggest going to a clinic or a pharmacy.It’s quick, easy and cheap.

My co-teachers were concerned ( I think my school also was paranoid that I had MERS) and sent me home early two days in a row and then to an Ear Nose Throat clinic.  They were afraid that the nearby hospital might be infected.

The clinic: clean, fast, effiecent.

From the time I walked in to the time I left (including getting my perscription downstairs) maybe 15 minutes. They took my information, and I had to wait for a little, then I got called back to an intense looking room: one doctor and three nurses.  TV screens and all sorts of instruments…it was a little overwhelming.

I think they initially wanted to rule out MERS so I had my temperature taken as well.  Between my Korean and his English  learned it was a common cold and tonsiliis. As many know ,or don’t know, tonsilitis is no longer an immediate “remove the tonsils!” Just some antibiodics and antihistemine and I was on my way.  To pay I gave my health insurance card my school gave me, and it wound up being a whopping 4,900 Won.  WHAT? Anyone in the US knows it would be at least a 20$ co-pay.

Then downstairs for my pharmacy meds. Again, easy, cheap and our English/Korean mix I learned to take 3x a day.

So while I’m still feeling nasal congestion, coughing, muscus, and my voice is something no would be jealous of, overall I can now get through the day without needing a nap, or wanting to die! YAY!

Now as promised….

W’s surgery!

As for W’s surgery.  It was a success and she is back in full swing today.  Busan has yet to really feel the “fear” that we have up North so her school is still open.  She is nervous about going back which I understand but I think her students are going to be so excited to see her.

She was in the hospital for a few days-but she was on the same floor as the babies! So she was able to look at them and get mini baby fever…but the trade off? The heat on the floor was insane.  She mentioned that she would wake up with pools of sweat in her bed because her A/C wasn’t allowed to be above a certain temp, and her roommate complained about the cold.

On a positive note the nurses seemed to be very nice and overall I think she had a good experience.  Some friends came to visit and I think having her mom there was a big factor as well.  To entertain her I posted many a things to her facebook wall.

Her first few days were rough, a lot of sleeping and some walking but this past weekend she managed to make it out shopping.

With her recovering from surgery and me sick, we were two peas in a pod…just wishing we were closer so we could be “sick together”.

Heat

For the heat, well…it’s strange.  I live on the 9th floor with two large sliding glass doors. I have two fans.  No A/C. (what people here mostly call Air Con).  And so far I have yet to be uncomfortable.

That being said, in Korea if it is 86 degrees outside, in the shade will feel perfectly acceptable, and sometimes a little chilly if it’s early or late an there is a breeze.  However, if you are in the sun it will be the full 86 degrees and you will probably get sunburned as well.  The difference between the shade and the sun is amazing, even if it’s humid, which has started to creep.  I’m going to have to buy an A/C until soon, especially for July and August, but …..I need to get paid first and for right now, I’m perfectly comfortable.

Then again I also grew up in Maryland which as everyone knows is so ridiculously humid. So I’m thinking….can it be worse? I’ m going to regret saying that…

Now the MERS thing…my school wound up “closing” three days last week and the entire week this week per the GOV.  But teachers are still supposed to come to school.  I used sick days last week but this week I was unsure of what to do.

I was told by my co that I should come to school, use my paid vacation days and leave early.  But I didn’t want to use my paid vacation days-I have major plans for those days!

Turns out, my VP apparently likes me so I only need to use one paid vacation day because the principal is coming in that day.  So I got lucky.

However…and here is where MERS has started to mess with my life….

Because the school has been closed, we need to make up those days.  Summer vacation has been shortened a little and I think one “thanksgiving day”. Ok no big deal right?

It would be NBD is my parents visit wasn’t affected. Because we are ending school later, English camp is being pushed back later, which means it is pushed right into my parents visit.  And we are supposed to leave right for Busan.

So my co said we would talk to the principal next week-I’m hoping because I told my co and the VP about this trip over a month ago, they will let me off those three days, even if it is unpaid.

I’m not mad at the school because I understand – same thing happened with snow days or those rare hurricane years back home.  I would have not been too upset if I had made plans, but because my parents are already spending a lot of money and hotels are booked.  I hope this doesn’t drag on too much more because The whole point of my parents coming to Korea is to SEE ME!

I will be stressing about this until I can stress no more.

So I will be spending the rest of this weird week lesson planning,  researching vacations, posting a lot of random stuff, posting on the other page about actual real info.

So next time on the real black and white dog archives: when do i want to go to gangwon-do, debating between Busan and Seoul and home, shooting star ice cream, and whatever the else I think of while I’m sitting at my desk for 4 hours!