Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One more for 2008

With 2008 rapidly drawing to a close, I thought it appropriate to fire off one more post for good measure. I've been celebrating the end of the year on and off, and packing up my things.

Heather, Anthony and I recently went out to the El Oro restaurant at Seongjeong beach. Seongjeong is a more secluded beach in Busan and tends to be more pleasant during the busy summer months. The food at El Oro was fairly good, although overpriced for what was on offer. The Kitchen at Dalmaji is still the best restaurant in Busan in my humble opinion.

But the view was nice. On the 12th of December, the moon was at it closest point to Earth since March '93. It reminded me of my first year at university, because I took an astronomy course as one of the optionals. We had pretty nice telescopes back then with computerised GPS systems and built-in motors. All you had to do was enter in a constellation or planet, and the telescope would swivel and find it by itself.
If you have a big enough live image of the moon from Earth, you can see that the edges are constantly shimmering. This is caused by gaseous turbulence in the Earth's atmosphere and is pretty interesting to observe.

Heather's family took us out to a traditional Korean dinner to celebrate our engagement. Ji-Ye was there of course. Up until this point, I've been spelling her name as Ji-Ae, but found out that it should be Ji-Ye.

I think her full time job is sitting around and being cute.

We had a set dinner with some Korean alcohol. One thing I hadn't had before were some little rice paper wraps that are similar to Vietnamese cold rolls. Quite good.

And here's her four month old younger sister, Ji-Woo. Ji-Woo is a very quiet baby, in stark contrast to her older sister who is usually bouncing off the walls.

Ji-Ye is learning how to write at her daycare centre. I wrote some English down for her, but unfortunately she hasn't quite grasped the idea that the pencil strokes form the words that you want to say.


Here's the video to show you what I mean. She'll be happily reciting sentences as she writes, but is just making random strokes on the paper. Earlier I did the same, and told her that my writing says "Ji-Ye is a frog."

At the end of this video she pretends to write "Cousin Lee is a monkey!"

For my final two weeks of working for CDI, I was sent off to Changwon City to fill in for two instructors who went to Canada to get married. Changwon is a small city approximately 45 minutes from Busan.

The city itself is quite nice and has an interesting story. It was built as a planned city, with Australia's Canberra as the inspiration. There's a large circular roadway in the centre of the city, just like in Canberra.
It was built up to serve as South Korea's emergency capital city, if North Korea was ever to take over Seoul. Some of the main roads like this one have been made much larger than necessary and very long. I was told that this was so that they could be used as military airplane runways if needed. Trippy stuff.

The building that CDI is in has a lot of other hagwons (cram schools) with it. I call this hallway Hagwon Alley. Pretty much every business on it is a private school for music, math or English.

Jef and Amanda hosted a christmas dinner and invited around 20 English teachers. I always like to take photos of the carnage and feel lucky that it wasn't held at my place.

We also went out for dinner with headquarters, which is where I've been working for the past few months. This is from a tent in Millak, where they have lots of fresh scallops to barbecue. You chop them up in the shell and dip them in soy or chilli sauce. Delicious.

And I've also been packing up to move. Lots of my stuff I'm leaving or giving away, so I've been trying to sort through everything. Sorting through stuff generally takes me a lot of time, because I'll always find something from 'way back when', and that will often distract me from the task at hand.
For example, I found an old loyalty card from a hairdresser, with only two stamps left on it. So I went off to get a haircut in the afternoon. One more stamp and I've earned myself a free haircut. Woohoo!

See that roll in front of my laptop? That's what Anthony made, after spending the morning walking around to find ingredients. I was enjoying a sleep-in today, when Anthony suddenly yelled "DANCE PARTY!" from the lounge room and played techno music. Then he came in and opened my curtains. That's the kind of thing that Anthony likes to do.

The roll was made with crusty bread and tasted good. I needed to get up anyway.

In Korea, it is quite common to collect large amounts of change. I think the monetary system is different to back home, because I always seem to have more than enough change lying around and not enough opportunities to use it. I decided to start collecting it a while back and this is how much I accumulated.

I took it down to the local bank where they have this rather cool gadget. You pour coins into the hole and it will sort them all out for you, spitting out the coins that are mangled or those from another country. Ten minutes later I had KRW124,870 converted (about AU$125). The lady and gentlemen in line behind me thought it was rather amusing.

I think it would be a fun challenge to build a machine like this in the garage. I'll save that for when I retire.

Speaking of money, Heather and I have started investing our savings in shares. Nothing too serious. We've bought stock in our school, as well as CDI Seoul and POSCO (Korean steel). Everything has climbed fairly well. We don't pretend to know anything about the stock market but the basics, so I guess they were lucky choices. We bought this stock when it was at the second low point on the graph, where I'm pointing, at KRW14,100 per share. So we're fairly happy about that and have sold KRW500,000 worth of it already. We also have half of our savings sitting in a long term deposit plan with Shinhan bank. If you've got money sitting around, maybe you should think about doing something with it?

I'm off to Seoul in 2 days and will keep you updated a little while after I arrive. These are interesting times.

Happy New Year!

6 comments:

InMySeoul said...

Good Luck in Seoul!
I can't wait to read updates from Seoul!

Heather has a 4 month old sister? Did I read that right? Wow! I thought I had a big age gap between me and my sister (9 years).

Lee Farrand said...

No, that's her niece!

I moved to Seoul a few hours ago, and am picking up a weak wireless signal. No major dramas yet.

Busanjin_CDI said...

wow so you've moved to Seoul eh? When is this gonna become Lee's BioTech blog? You always like to add interesting scientific little tidbits. Now in Vietnam I'm feeling a little gaseous turbulence myself.

Ron Garren said...

Cool Blog dude!

Foreigner Joy said...

Featured on a post in..
http://expatabundance.blogspot.com/

thanks

Lee Farrand said...

Thanks Joy!