Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mailing/Shipping Address

Nana and I have had several inquiries about sending letters and/or care packages here to Seoul. If you're interested in sending something to us, the best thing to do is to send it to the school--we can't get packages here at the apartment, and our mailboxes aren't really secure.

To reach us at the school:

Justin/ Nana
Asia-Pacific International School
820 Wolgye 2-dong
Nowon-gu, Seoul, 139-724
South Korea

As for postage, the USPS has a flat-rate international airmail box as well as flat-rate international air-mail envelopes. You can find basic rate info here.

As for contents, food is by far the most useful thing to us--when you have a mild pepper allergy like Nana does, it's really hard to keep a healthy diet when 80% of the local food is super-spicy. Some items that we use almost every day:

Manischewitz dry soup packets
Rice-R-Roni
macaroni and cheese
whole-grain pasta
energy bars (especially Powerbar Harvest)
instant oatmeal

(Remember, perishables and liquids are strictly verboten.)

Thanks so much, everyone, for being so interested in sending us stuff!

Friday, January 25, 2008

General Robert E. Kim

Teaching 5th Grade about the Second Continental Congress:

Me: So the resolution on independence couldn't be introduced by somebody from Massachusetts. It had to come from someone from another colony. And the man for the job, from the colony of Virginia, was Richard Henry Lee.

Student (sounding puzzled): Was he Korean?


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ski Trip: Vivaldi Park

As some of you may have heard (here or here), Nana and I went on a short ski trip with Dr. Kim this weekend, to Vivaldi Park, about an hour and a half east of Seoul. (Vivaldi Park is owned and operated by the same folks as Sol Beach, where we stayed on our East Coast tour.)

The first part of the adventure involved me DRIVING (gads!) Dr. Kim's car (double gads!) at night, while trying to follow both Dr. Kim's stealth Dodge pickup and our car's Korean GPS (kudos to Nana for figuring that contraption out). On the bright side, the trip did involve a long stop for a giant country-style Korean dinner: spicy stir-fried pork and big bowls of barley topped with tofu and assorted veggies.

So, Vivaldi Park. If we can take Vivaldi Park to be anything remotely representative, then skiing in Korea is so different from skiing in the States that it's hard to know where to start. First of all, Koreans ski (or board--honestly, the skier/boarder breakdown was about 50/50) like they hike, which is to say that they dress the part no matter how little actual skiing or hiking they plan to do. (Though this person in a cow suit would beg to differ--she's taken the apparent trend towards wearing cartoon-animal ski hats to a new and disturbing place.)

Also, night skiing seems to be more popular than day skiing (the techno-fetish?), and the vast majority of Korean skiers seem to stick to the beginner slopes, which also fits with the dress-the-part no-matter-what theme.

Anyway, take a look at this (shamefully low-quality video) of the hill: a writhing mass of humanity at the bottom, desolation on the more advanced slopes at the top.


video

The obsessive technojoy also spilled over into the lift system: below you can see Vivaldi Park's utterly unnecessary gondola, which serves the dual purpose of looking cool and helping drunk people get back down the hill without stepping into their skis, and below that the insane conveyor belts they had to help people get on the lifts.


video

Bonus: These crazy air-guns you could use to blow the snow out of your skis. . .


video

As for the skiing itself, it went pretty well. The place had a couple nice runs, and the mountain was nearly deserted for most of the morning. More importantly, the knee held up, and Nana made some pretty huge strides. She even managed somehow to pick up a flock of little Korean ducklings in a lift line, who then proceeded to follow her as she made her increasingly graceful S-curves down the slope.


video

(As evidenced by this clip, Koreans seem to ski like they drive: you can see several near-disasters, including a snowboarder careening in from the right.)

Anyway, overall, the trip was a huge success, dotted with important firsts: my first time driving in Korea, our first trip to a zzimzilbang (more on that later? maybe?), and Nana's first time having fun on skis. Here you can see me beaming with pride, and below, the celebratory hot chocolate I promised Nana if she got through the day.

Update

Apologies for the lack of posts this week, but it's been a doozy. The semester just ended on Friday, so grades are due, and we're getting a bunch of new students in on Monday. Add to that the fact that we were trying to get enough planned for this coming week so that we could go on a weekend ski trip (I'm working on the post) and there just wasn't time to write.

Just know that we survived the week AND the weekend, which was no small feat, considering that I DROVE (yes, I drove--eat my international driver's permit!) all the way to the mountains and back (with Korean GPS, no less).