Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chusok Break Starts Today!

This is another short week at school for me because we don't have school on Thursday, Friday or next monday because of Chusok (Korean Thanksgiving). It would sound like a great opportunity to take a trip somewhere but every korean I know has been telling me how incredibly epic the traffic jams are. So I am gonna stay a bit more local and just meet up with people around Gyeonngi Do. Anyway I did another awesome ride Monday after school on my mtb. I rode up a long single track climb that had a bunch of super steep hike a bike at the top and then I ended up finding an awesome fire road descent that is used to service a weather station on top of a mountain! I think what I will do next time is ride the climb up and then descend the single track! Every time I ride or hike I discover new trails or find more I need to come back and ride later. This weekend will also hopefully be a good opportunity for me to take some pictures of stuff. Also this week I started teaching my extra after school english program. I teach 2 extra 40 minute classes every MWF. 10 students each class, one for 3/4 grade and one for 5/6 grade. I am really excited about this because I will get to know some of the kids really well. I am teaching the classes by myself with out the help of my Korean co teacher so it should be a good learning experience and be fun.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Teacher training and passion ride

Wednesday through Friday I was at new teacher orientation. it was for all of the new foreign english teachers in Gyeonggi-Do which is the province I am living in. They paired us in groups based on our county so I got to meet a whole bunch of people who live relatively in my area. The county I live in Yongin-Si is the biggest county in Gyeonngi do and most of the group live at least a 30-45 minute bus ride away. But at least the busses here are less than a dollar per ride!
In other news I went for a 3.5 hour long bike ride today! I first went to Yongin city (about 10km away to look for a bike shop to buy some long stem road tubes. I went to 2 bike shops and with my limited korean skills found out that the shops in Yongin don't have long stem tubes so I bought a huge patch kit. Oh well thats what you get for having a really nice bike with deep dish carbon wheels loaned to you! So with my knew patch kit I ventured out onto unknown roads! It was great views the whole way with some nice climbs too. I went south of where I live and after one 2 mile climb and descent it was mostly smaller hills and flatter valley roads. I rode through a bunch of small towns and then road towards Icheon which is another city further east from Yangji. Overall a very nice ride. Really great roads with minimal traffic for the most part too. I didn't see a single other bike rider the whole time either! Tomorrow I plan to go ride to the north for a few hours in the morning and then meet some other teachers to look at a historic fortress nearby. Also friday after the teacher training i had a new korean friend take me shopping for ties and some dress shirts. All the ties here have sparkles on them! Also all of the shirts have short arms too! but I found some pretty nice ties and a shirt that fits pretty well too. Now i just need to learn to tie a tie!

Monday, September 21, 2009

busy busy busy! (new people, new places

I haven't posted for a while because I have been pretty busy meeting new people and hiking and what not! Which is a good thing! i am continuing to have a good time teaching and am getting ready to go to a 3 day new foreigner teacher orientation tomorrow should be fun and maybe I will meet some other new teachers who live close to me. My Korean skills are improving a bit here too I am learning a new word or 2 each day. The kids here can't speak much english so I get lots of practice with them because they come chat with me after school. 5 second graders have decided they really like coming to talk to me in korean which is good I guess because they are trying to teach me new words! I promise next week I will bring my camera to school to take some pictures. The weather has been great lately too. Last weekend I visited my friends from teh summer camp I worked at 2 years ago and we played soccer and went hiking. Also I got invited to go to a wedding in a month! That should be fun and interesting! it is the daughter of the camp director. I stayed at their house when I was in Korea last time. On sunday I met up with Tom hornyak in Seoul and he came out to Yangji to do some hiking with me. We got more than we bargained for. It was a great day and we just kept going thinking there would be a bus where ever we ended up but we ended in this tiny town and the bus only comes like every 2 or 3 hours on the weekends there!! so we walked about 5 more km to a slightly bigger (think otterbein or about 1000 people) town and waited another hour for a bus!!! Better try to plan the hikes a little bit more next time. We still had a great time though and got to see some really pretty country side. Also I met some language exchange friends that are my age and live sort of in my area so now I have some really new korean friends to hang out with! This weekend should be fun too i am meeting up with a bunch of my old exchange student friends from Seoul national univesity! I really need to get out on my bike for a good long ride too I think!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fun stuff!

I went for a sweet bike ride monday after school up the epic dirt road climb and then I did 2 different single track descents off the mountain. one of which ended up at Wawajeong Temple which has a huge statue of a buddha laying down. Then I rode back up a switch backy road climb and back to Yangji! Good ride and lots more descents I need to try! Today I had a pretty great day! After school some of the teachers went out and had beers then I met up with some other friends for dinner. Then a bunch of my kids were out side the school playing and they came up to me and wanted to talk. so we walked up to the temple on the far side of town at the base of the mountain park. It was really nice and I enjoyed getting to know them a little bit better. We spoke about half korean half english so it was good practice for me. I am really enjoying living in this small town. it is nice that everyone knows me and is friendly. Up for this weekend. I am going to Dokso where the summer camp I worked at was to meet up with some of my camp friends which should be great! We are gonna go for a hike saturday. Saturday evening is up in the air and on sunday I am gonna go for an epic hike and then meet a language exchange partner in the evening! Should be a good weekend! and hopefully I can explore a lot more of the trails near my house!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

hiking and good riding!

Friday after getting done with school I was feeling pretty antsy and I wanted to get out and see some new mountains.  So I decided I was gonna walk until it was about dark in one direction and then come down the mountain where ever i was and take a bus home!  You can do that in korea because they have busses everwhere!!  So I went out on the local hiking loop and headed off towards another village.  I stopped at a buddhist temple then hiked up past some korean graves up another mountain.  The trail hadn't been used much recently but it was marked with yellow ribbons.  So I kept going and then realized I better get going down.  I ended up in a small village (actually in somones back yard and I had to walk through their garden of red peppers!  then I asked some old ladies where the bus stop was and sure enough 100 meters away was a bus stop.  I made it back to Yongin (which is the biggest city near Yangji) and then had to take another bus home >  The good thing about busses here though is if you transfer within 30 minutes the ride is free!!!! so it cost less than a dollar to get home!!!! Today I went into seoul to ride again and one of the guys (mark from england) is going to loan me his old cannondale CAAD 7 with 9 speed dura ace on it!!  I need to get a longer stem but otherwise it fits well!  This will give me a good reason to ride around Yongin looking for bike shops.  The ride today was great we took the train out of seoul and then rode in Yangpyeong and Gapyeong counties.  Lots of big climbs and a bit of rain too.  apparently you can put your bike on the busses here at least the big ones so I will bring the bike back to Yangji with me!  

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Autographs, badminton and epic rides

3 days of school have gone by so far and it is going great!! The kids are so crazy for me that some of them are even asking for my autograph on their english book!!! Pretty funny I think. Now that I know most of the kids and they know me anytime I walk or bike through town I see at least 5 kids that I know and they usually say hi to me and try to talk to me which is really nice! Today the vice principal asked me to play badminton with him. It was fun. I used to play intramural badminton back in middle school so I had to bring back some of the old skills! after playing with him for 30 minutes 4 6th grade boys came and wanted to play with me. so I got payed to play badminton for like 90 minutes today! what a great job!!! Also the food at the cafeteria is awesome and they let you get seconds of everything!!! Tomorrow I teach the 5th graders which will be fun.
Today after school I decided I would try to find some epic trails to hike but I wanted to do em on my bike to make it faster. So after 15 minutes of riding I was about midway one set of mountains when the super steep single track started. I knew the trail would lead back to town so I decided I wouldn't turn around. It was granny gear or hike a bike climbing for about 4km. Then the single track abruptly ended into a brand new 1 lane dirt road built for servicing huge powerlines that are on top of the mountain! This looked promising and was heading back towards town. Needless to say I had a huge grin on my face the whole way down was amazing view and nice twisty 1 lane gravel road with a few switchbacks and steep sections thrown in to keep me on my toes! It ended about 1 mile from town on a pretty big road that kind of sucks to ride on but the cars here give me plenty of room. Then I did the 5km road climb up to the town hiking trails which are just behind my house and rode down the single track back to town. Overall one of the most epic rides of the year and it only took an hour and 45 minutes! I can't wait to find out what i can ride with a whole saturday!!!! I will take pics next time too!


Monday, September 7, 2009

Korea week 1

Sorry for the lack of updates this past week. I arrived in Korea last Monday and got internet a few days ago but have yet to put much up here. I am alive and having a good time. First off I am living in a pretty awesome place. It is pretty much living up to my expectations. I have a one bed room apartment that is about the size of 2 dorm rooms put together. It is pretty nice. The riding here is great there are some trails that are mtb rideable right behind my house and the road riding is really excellent. To get out of town and onto good roads I need to go over one of 3 pretty decent size climbs. There is a really nice 5km climb right out of town to a big country club it is through the woods and the top ridge part has really great views of the surrounding mountains. I have been emailing with a group of foreigners that race/ride bikes here in the greater seoul area meaning within about a 1 hour bus ride of seoul which is a huge area! This weekend one of the riders invited me to borrow his spare Storck carbon road bike with campy record 11 on it so I could go for a ride with him and a few other guys!!!! I got on the bus to Seoul at 6:30 am and it took about 40 minutes! A quick and cheap taxi ride to his apartment and off we were with 2 other guys one who was an italian chef and a british guy who teaches law at a few universities in Seoul. We had to ride about 20 km on some crazy bike paths along the Han river in Seoul which is where everyone goes to ride. Man this post is getting long. Ok so it was a great ride through big mountains with some great climbing and great guys! I think I have found a club to race for here! The next day I took the bus and then a subway to Incheon which is on the ocean and rode with Stan and suzanne from missouri. We also went to pretty sweet circus/breakdance and other crazy stuff show which was great!! Also stan who just happens to be a dietetics major too cooked me some awesome food and took me to a western style restraunt to get a burger and fries! Overall great first week! Today was my first day of work at the school too! It was great and all of the kids here are so excited to meet me! Today had 4 classes of 4th graders and tomorrow we have the 6th graders. Also school lunch here is sweet! It is actually good food (if you like korean food) and they let you get seconds!!! I start Korean language class at Kyung Hee University in Suwon (a 30-40 minute bus ride tomorrow. So hopefully I will be able to really have some good conversations in Korean soon! It is definitely a big culture shock moving here but the biggest one for me is going from basically constant non stop social interaction of living at Purdue with a bunch of my friends in the same house to living in a 1 bedroom apartment! I think I will get used to it though.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Made it!

I made it to Korea safe and sound! The blog might be a little slow until I get internet at my apartment though. I am in a PC Bang (PC room) where they have computers you rent by the hour. I start working on Monday and right now i am just getting settled it and getting things like a phone, kitchen stuff, soap etc. There is a lot you need to get for a new apartment! The town Yangji is really cool so far. There are 2 ski hills that you can see from town and big mountains all around the town. Well my hour in the computer room is almost up! Stay tuned for more later.