Japan has bikes, I teach funny kids, Seoul saves dogs, new friends, and an upcoming vacation

First week in Korea = torpedo Kate.  I've been debating on whether to write one giant and chaotic post or to split my weeks adventures into several specific posts.  Laziness wins, so here goes one beast of an update:

I went to Fukuoka, Japan last week to get my visa on what's called a visa run.  It literally started out with a run.  My boss got the times for my ferry mixed up and we ran our faces off through the terminals.  What did I learn from this?  1) I hate running with a backpack and 2) my boss is incredibly fast and agile.  He didn't drop a ounce of his coffee during his sprints.

Fukuoka is super nice and I actually questioned whether I picked the wrong country.  So clean and friendly.  And they love bikes.  I've been talking about getting a bike while I'm here, but I keep hearing that Ulsan is not so bike friendly.  Fukouoka made me jealous and I'm pretty sure my current stance is: to hell with the nay-sayers! I'm bikin' it.

Fukuokan bike envy

After Japan, I came back to Ulsan and taught for three days.  I like it a lot here at Omni Learning Center.  I have really hit the jackpot with a rockin' boss.  The kids are also dang great and I'm particularly drawn to the older classes.  They have such advanced English language skills and it's fun to joke around with them.  I have a favorite class:

This past weekend I went to Seoul.  It was Memorial Day weekend here, so I took advantage to go and meet with some people at CARE (Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth).  I'd link their site, but it's in Korean.  Have I mentioned that while I'm here I'll be working as the South Korea National Liaison for the great Animal Rescue Corps?   Well, while I'm here I'll be working as the South Korea National Liaison for the great Animal Rescue Corps.  So, I've been emailing and talking on the phone with the people at CARE from the moment I arrived in Korea and needed to meet with them immediately.  They run an incredible organization here and I'm hoping ARC can partner up and do some good things with dog farming and puppy mills.  I think that with these two powers combined a real change can be made.

One of the members, Kenneth Lee, arranges protests in Insadong every Sunday to raise awareness and petition dog farming.  He has an incredible site, www.stopeatingdogs.com.  It should be enlightening for anyone who is unaware of the hell on earth that is the life for dogs here.  I dare anyone to watch the videos and sit back and just accept it.  I had lunch with the CARE members on Sunday and then headed over to the protest.  I was lucky enough to be able to help out for a few hours:

Believe it or not, people actually stop and argue, like this woman in the blue hat:

Stay tuned for many, many updates in this department.

While in Seoul, I was pretty insanely lucky to connect and crash with new friends.  The incredible Jason Mehl and Craig MackIntosh played super hosts and gave me the best introduction to Korea in the history of introductions to Korea.  A weekend with these two involves a lot of art all up in your face/climbing and bouldering chatter that sounds confusing yet awesome/foam dust/Korean lingo/giant City Hall enemas/fat kids with mullets/futile alphabet lessons/delicious vegetarian quests/accidental palace circling/canals and face plants/i be die/radiation allergies and so much more.  Click on their names, check out their sites, buy their stuff.  They melted my brain with their creativity.  This picture explains everything and nothing about them:

We also saw these things in Seoul together:


 faceplant on video =  sweet victory for Jason

a random and fantastic soundtrack

My boss and his wife went to Seoul this weekend as well, so we explored Itaewon and Myung Dong before heading back to Ulsan together last night:

I will survive very happily if I never have to visit either of these two places again.  I am loving Korea, but the cities and 'hot spots' like Itaewon and Myung Dong are all the same:  crowded, pushy, concrete, and smelly.  I seriously need some nature, ASAP, so I'm hiking Mt. Munsu this weekend.

What else is glorious?  We get a summer vacation off the first week in August.  Whatatata! Time to plan my first trip.  I'm thinking Jeju Island.  I need to find some people to join me in order to cut costs on accommodations, etc.  Or maybe it will turn out that I know someone with a tent and that's all we'd need...

Is anyone still reading? The end.


rachel said...

do you think I'll get the same vacation at the beginning of August? I would definitely go with you to Jeju Island!

Kate said...

Oooh, I hopey-hope so. I think it might be an Omni specific vacay, but it should be the first question you ask your school when you get here. I'll be waiting in anticipation for the answer with fingers crossed!

Jason Mehl said...

It was great hanging out with you this weekend. I'll be sure to let you know as soon as I edit the video of that kid falling in the river. :)

Anne and Andy said...

Fun fun! I'm so glad you're loving it. Well minus the smelly cities.

Pollyanna said...

So glad you'll be experiencing some nature, which will be all the more welcome after the cities. I highly recommend that route, as opposed to the nature-before-city tour of Utah/Nevada I did with your bro.

Though I'm proud to report we spent two days in Sin City without once gambling or even walking the strip. Whatever sins we committed (beyond watching entirely too much TV) will stay in Vegas.

Anonymous said...

So glad you're well sweets! Living vicariosly through your blog and photos!! Keep us posted and hugs!!
Aleigha :-)