Korea

I may as well blog about my time in Korea now seeing as I’m sitting at the Jakarta airport at 2:15am, having been here for more than 3 hours already.  I’m sitting here while Paul sleeps on a bench seat, waiting for our 6am flight to Singapore.  We both need to do a visa run.  I can’t exit and re-enter the country on my visa, so here we go again.  Fun times…

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In case you missed the info, I’ve been in Daejeon, Korea (about 2 hours from Seoul) for the last week at an international Christian teachers’ conference.  There were 16 of us from the school that went.

I’ve really enjoyed visiting a new country and getting a break from my less than easy life in Indonesia.  I’ve really enjoyed different weather, different food, some great speakers and getting to know some of my colleagues better.  This first photo is from the day we spent in Seoul.  I really liked Seoul!  Lots to do, great night markets, wonderful Korean food, and great theatre.  We saw a show at night called “Nanta”, which is quite similar to “Stomp” but set in a commercial kitchen.  It’s been all over the world and has won stacks of awards.  It’s well worth seeing if you ever get the chance!

Here are a couple of photos from the palace we went to in Seoul on Monday.  It’s an ancient palace right in the heart of Seoul.  It was really cool to see the old and new side by side.  I didn’t know a lot about Korean history, but 50 years ago it was pretty much burnt to the ground and has all been rebuilt since then.  Quite an amazing feat for 50 years!  It’s a very advanced country in lots of ways, and has the world’s best internet.  We’ve all been going a little crazy with the downloading!  Given the internet speeds we’re used to, this was incredible!

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I spent some time on Tuesday going to some cultural things in Daejeon.  After some morning shopping and a delicious French lunch, a few of us went to a science museum and saw a brilliant exhibition on the brain (I WISH I could take my Psych kids to it!!!).  We also went to a really interesting art gallery and wandered around Daejeon a little, particularly the expo bridge.  It was so nice to be able to go out and have things to do, particularly cultural things!  Such a nice change!  This photo is out the front of the science museum we went to.

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We headed out to dinner most nights, having a combination of Korean food (yummy, although difficult to order given our complete lack of Korean language) and western food (a lovely change).  I ate practically no rice the entire week!  Whoo!  I had a delicious Korean dumpling soup the first night.  Mmmm…  Here’s a photo.

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The rest of the time was mainly spent at the conference.  It was a pretty relentless schedule without much breathing room.  12 and 13 hour days.  There were some great things, but there were also some pretty average things (like at any conference I guess).  Dr John Dickson from Australia was one of the keynote speakers.  I was so excited that he was there!  I’m always a huge fan of his, and thankfully all my colleagues loved him too (I’d talked him up a fair bit…).  I got some good practical help from some of the workshops, and I got some philosophical things to think through.  A worthwhile experience.

It was surprising to me the lack of English that Koreans spoke.  I didn’t expect most people to be fluent or anything, but I did expect that a lot of people (particularly those working in large stores) would have at least some English.  I assume it’s taught in schools here.  It was really great to have a couple of Koreans hanging out with us for the first couple of days, otherwise I think we would have struggled a lot!  The first night a random Korean guy (who mercifully spoke English) had to help us order dinner because we couldn’t talk to the waitress!  Very confusing and funny for everyone 🙂

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It’s been a great experience seeing a new place and culture, and having a mental break from the daily slog of Indonesia.  I get back on Wednesday morning (after an overnight flight) and there are only 3 weeks left of school until the semester is all over!  The year is getting away from me.  It’s been such a huge year of change, challenges and rewards.  Now it’s 3am and all I want to do it get some sleep…  I can’t WAIT to finally get to a proper bed in Singapore, even if it will be late morning by the time I arrive.

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I have every confidence that this blog is rather disjointed and probably sounds like I’m half asleep, which I am.  Traveling is exhausting!  Also, the lack of sleep I’ve had over the last week is largely self inflicted so I don’t expect any pity 🙂

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