Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wade Kids Academy Goes to the Movies

Yeah!!!! My kindergarten class got to go to the movies!!! Boooo the movie was in Korean so my co-worker Dustin and I got to sleep through a hour and a half Korean cartoon. This is Diego and I expressing how excited we are to be at the movies. His brother Silver is behind him. During the scary parts Diego held Silver's hand, soooo cute. I took this time to take a nap which Diego then told everyone about how he saw Jennie teacher sleeping during the movie.
This is David and though he doesn't show it he's excited to be out of the classroom. It's funny, because these kids get their pictures taken constantly I think they are sort of programed to poise in a certain way. It takes some coaxing to get a genuine smile out of them.

It is possible though!

Your Feet Will Get Wet at this Restaurant

While at Anyang Art Park we stumbled upon this restaurant where the novelty is that your table and chairs are in a pool of water. We had to this this out so we went in and ordered samgetang (a whole chicken stuffed with rice, ginseng, and dried fruit in soup form).

The water was so first, then it got a little chilly as the sun started to go down. 

Here I am, half emerging in the water. My purse even got its own stool too.

Anyang Art Park

Since I caved in and bought a Lonely Planet guide to Korea I decided to play tour guide for a day with Kwang. I always like to joke with him about how I can show him around his country. Anyang Art Park was a featured day tour in the guide and it just so happens to be fairly close to our apartment. Instead of a grassy sculpture park that I envisioned there was a small stream running down the mountain which had been designed with summer swimming in mind. A perfect escape from the heat and humidity of Seoul.
These kids were having the best time. 

There were all sorts of man made structures that built into the stream that created mini water falls and large wading pools. 

Kwang got into it as well. We had been walking around all day and the water felt so good. 

It was fun to see all of the families out. Most bring a mat to lay on and lunch, spending the day lounging near the water. It was one of the first senses of community that I've experienced while in Seoul.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Night Speed Skating

The park near our house as a large roller blading track. Roller blading is fairly popular here in Korea. In the summer professional speed skating teams practice outside using roller blades. I was able to capture a few pictures of what seemed to be team practice.
The speed at which they were flying around the corners was intense. I always forget how competitive the speed skating circuit is in Korea. I was sure not to mention Apolo Anton Ohno's name around this crowd.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Last Post from Vietnam: Jesus on the Hill

There's a pretty large Catholic population in Vietnam. Vung Tao hosts a large Jesus that you can walk up to and even climb to the top of its arms. We woke up and started out at 7:00am from our hotel in an attempt to beat the heat and humidity. We had no such luck as it was a hot and sticky walk back.
If you look closely you can see people along the Jesus's shoulders.
On the base of the Jesus there was a bronze relief of the Last Supper.
The trek up the hill wasn't too bad though yet again I found myself soaked with sweat in Vietnam. 
Alyssa was bold enough to climb up the Jesus. I wasn't dressed appropriately with a tank top and shorts on. Nor did I feel like taking the plunge with the sun rising.

Tsunami Warning

Both Alyssa and I agreed that 1,000 meters didn't seen that far from the shore.

Adventures on the Beach in Vung Tao

Here's the beach front in Vung Tao. It looks pretty busy, but it's just because no one lies on blanket at the beach. Instead you have to rent a beach chair for $2.50 for the whole day. It's worth it too because the sun is incredibly intense. Plus women with fruit and other delicious treats come along and stop at your chair.

A woman who looked like she was 75 years old came and sold us the most amazing fruit while we were at the beach. These are mangosteens. You have to cut them open with a knife and inside is the sweetest white custard fruit. They were delicious.
We went for a walk early one morning and the fishermen were getting ready to go out.

Taking the Hydro Foil To Vung Tau

We took this boat called a Hydro Foil to Vung Tau. It was about a hour and half boat ride along the river to the coast. They even gave us hand wipes and a bottle of water. One way it cost about $9, not a bad deal to escape the bustling city and find a beach paradise.

Electricity Lines in Ho Chi Minh City

This was a pretty amazing sight to see. This disorganized cluster of power lines lines most streets in Ho Chi Minh City. Can you imagine being the repair person who has to go and fix an outage. It looks like a next to impossible task.

Copyrights? They don't really exist in Ho Chi Minh City

Alyssa and I made it back to Ho Chi Minh City in one piece after our bike trip. On our way to a restaurant we were walked past some women who were selling copies of The Lonely Planet. I didn't have one for Korea so I decided to ask how much. Then I realized these weren't normal guide books, but books that had been copied and then reproduced without the publisher's permission. After checking to make sure that it was a 2010 edition I bargained the woman down to about $6. This was a steal considering in Korean the same book costs about $25.

Here's sort of a bad shot of what these book peddlers carry around. They carry these tall stacks filled with an assortment of Lonely Planets from around the world along with popular novels. They are all photo copied versions. It's quite the entrepreneurial set-up.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Floating Market

Part of our bike tour included a tour of the floating market. We took a narrow little boat to the area that all of the boats convene. Not only can you get an idea of the boat we were on, but you can also check out "Kitty's" spandex bike outfit on day 2.

Here's a boat full of pineapples at the market.

This woman was pretty amazing. I don't think I would ever be able to master the paddling while standing skill this woman has down.

You can even buy lotto tickets at the floating market!

I thought that this was brilliant. Boats advertise the fruits and vegetables they have for sale by attaching their wares to a long mast that can be see from far away. This boat had a lot of variety while others focused mainly on one product.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The 2-Day Bike Trip through the Mekong Peninsula

Alyssa and I were a little worried that it was only going to be the two of us on our bike trip through the Mekong Peninsula. Luckily 2 British couples and British man living in Hong Kong joined us in this adventure. A man who liked to call himself "Kitty" picked us up at our hotel wearing spandex head to toe. We started to worry that perhaps this biking trip was going to be long and grueling.
The biking ended up not being that hard. The biggest problem we faced were the motor bikes that we perpetually encountered passing us from both directions. This along with a narrow path that often did not have rails along the small bridges we went over created a fair amount of swearing from my bike. This area of Vietnam has lots of waterways so we used bike ferries during our bike ride. The picture above is of the toll. Basically a woman stands and collects the tolls from passing by motor bikes and bicyclists. Pretty cool.
Here's Alyssa on the ferry. The humidity was pretty intense so we were dripping wet.  At the end of the day the bus met us with icy cold wet towels.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pictures from the Saigon River

During my trip we used the river twice as an exit from the city. It was a quicker way to get to other points around the southern part of Vietnam. Along the way I got to see how everyday life is away from the city.

Many parts of the country are prosperous and gaining wealth, but along the river a different story is taking place. 

Many people were living on boats. We saw lots of children come out and wave as we passed by. 

Sewing in the Tunnels

There were many large dug out rooms beneath the surface that linked to the tunnels. Often they served as meeting places or in this situation sewing rooms. Uniforms and shoes were made here. This sort of looks like one of my sewing machines. It was a singer!
 Shoes were made out of old tires. The straps were threaded through the soles. The ends of the straps were not trimmed. This caused the shoes to not leave footprints. I thought this was especially cleaver.
Here are some scraps from the shoe making process. Shoes are still being made for tourists who want the real experience.

Rice Wrappers

Part of the Cu Chi Tunnel tour included a section where we were shown how rice wrappers are made. Here batter is poured onto to griddle that looks very similar to how crepes are made.
Then the wrapper is transferred to a woven drying mat. The mat leaves a woven imprint onto the wrappers.

I guess this woman had been making wrappers all morning because a long row were drying outside. They have to dry for a quite a few days, which I thought was surprising. I bought some summer rolls on the side of the road in Ho Chi Minh city and they were quite delicious, filled with mint, pork, shrimp and lettuce. They also came with a spicy peanut hoisin dipping sauce.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bullets for Sale

What's that sound in the distance? Oh it's just the National Defense Sports Shooting Range, of course. I had the opportunity to fire some serious ammo, but alas I'm a wimp and really didn't feel like partaking in this ultra touristy war remnants activity.

I can't say it wasn't an affordable guilty pleasure with 19,000 dong to the dollar being the exchange rate.  Someone mentioned to me that some of these guns aren't manufactured any more. Hmmm, I'm still not a taker.

Deadly Traps

Also on display were a variety of deadly traps that were used in the war. Often poison was applied to the hooked spikes lining the traps. This one really made you watch where you were walking along the trail. 

Here the guide is demonstrating what would happen if you stepped on this trap. Yep, a spike right through your foot. Ouch!

It was explained to us that this was one was designed especially to get you where it counts, your knees, inner organs and the baby maker.