Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas in Korea 2013 Pt.2


O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.
Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim

Christmas in Korea 2013 Pt.1

'Well, I've celebrated christmas in untraditional and unusual ways. I've worked on Christmas day and still had the best Christmases...until this one.

I woke up this morning to a gloomy and cold day (although thankful I had a heater). I didn't have lots of time so I got right into the shower and put the shampoo in my hair and the water went frigid. I clipped my soapy hair up, wrapped it in a towel and went to try to do the only thing I knew to do, heat the oil tank for more hot water. I turned it on and 45 minutes later realized I was heating the floor and not the water. Doh. So I switched the buttons to the other option and waited half an hour until there was 15 minutes left before I needed to leave for work. (Yes, I'm working this Christmas too).  When the water wasn't any hotter I pulled out the only two pots I have, filled them full of water and set them on my two burner stove to boil so I could at least rinse the shampoo out of my hair. Well, turns out the gas is out too. One burner started to light and then fizzled out into nothing. Sigh, this morning isn't going so well. There was nothing to do but stick my head under a freezing cold stream of water in the sink, wrap it in a scarf and walk out the door into the cold gloomy weather. 

Not feeling clean, warm, sexy, or pretty for that matter, I arrived at work with five minutes to get dressed and do all my stage makeup and prep for the Christmas show directly following. Arg. I'm lucky I've had lots of practice so I can move quickly through the routine.  My hair still wet and now super frizzy, I put in my Christmas bows and headed up to the stage for the first show of the day. 

I thought the show was going well considering I hadn't had a chance to warm up or even sit down and think for a second. But halfway through the show a hair on my bow broke. Normally this is no big deal. You break it off at the ends and just keep going. I can't do that though because if I drop a violin bow hair on the aquarium stage it will wash down into the water and the dolphins will eat it and die, or at least that's the premise.  So I played the rest of the show with this hair twisting and tying itself into knots with the other hairs on my bow. 

After that show it was a quick dress change and scurry upstairs to the lobby for the Christmas show. I play Jingle Bells and O Holy Night at the very end of the program. Since all the equipment for my electric violin is tied up in the other show arena and while we're upstairs performing a Christmas show the animal show is going on so the sound techs are still working there, I have to perform on a cheap acoustic. I'm not playing on my instrument because there is no one to drive me to and from work everyday when it's snowing and raining outside and I'm not willing to walk outside 20 minutes to work and back with my really expensive violin. So my boss has the really cheap one that when I opened it and tried to tune it for the first time the D string broke. I replaced it with a spare of mine and tried again the next day. The next day the E string broke. I replaced that string too. It takes nearly five minutes to tune the violin every show and it doesn't even stay in tune for one entire piece. 

Today I waited for Santa Claus and the dancing Santa clad girls to finish and then walked out with my sprightly version of Jingle Bells. Of course, with Santa Claus and the pretty girls there, people pay me no mind. In fact, people have nearly walked into me numerous times and walk in front of me while I'm crossing the lobby "stage" all the time. I stand next the the girls in front of the Christmas tree and there is a crowd of people taking pictures with Santa and the girls. I'm still playing... Then when Santa is out of gifts for the children and all the pictures have been taken with the girls, everyone leaves. I'm still playing... I finish playing to an empty lobby with no one to watch and listen (outside of Santa and the girls). Do I really sound that bad? Maybe, it's possible, but I doubt it. I'm even dressed in a sparkly and sexy blue dress and I have my eyes open and am ready to interact with anyone that comes by. Today this scenario played out yet again; an out of tune violin, and an uninterested public.

^~^~Check out my Christmas vlog, Christmas in Korea 2013 Pt.2 for one of the tunes.

But I made Christmas no bake cookies (since I don't have an oven). The nutella ones came out way too sweet, but the peanut butter and chocolate ones are great. I've distributed them around to everyone here trying to share some Christmas joy and hoping to gain some in return. 

I am happy to hear that tomorrow I get a day off. It wasn't expected so it's a nice surprise. I will spend the day visiting the doctor, baking more cookies for the girls, working out, cleaning my apartment and maybe making a few phone calls. So there won't be a touristy blog entry this week, but I will have some things to say regardless (I can see the smirks from here!).

The cookies all disappeared...thankfully, because that means I won't have to eat them all myself. After recording the video for the second blog post (vlog), I came home with a friend and had a good Insanity workout, a nice warm shower (finally I feel clean), and am nibbling on popcorn and drinking tea while finishing this blog.

I can't say it was a very Merry Christmas but it could have certainly been a lot worse and for that reason, I am thankful this holiday  :)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cheonjeyeon Falls, Olle Trail 8 and the World Cup Stadium

This was an unexpected pleasure. I'd been informed that I was working straight through the holidays but I was given a day off at the last minute! I'm not complaining :)

Before the offer could be retracted I jumped on a bus for Jungmun in Seogwipo. The last time I'd been here I'd toured the famous Jungmun Beach as well as a chocolate museum. This time I was going to stay outside.

I had noticed a set of stairs leading off into the woods beside a large ravine so I hopped off the bus near the start of the stairs and began climbing. It's a good thing I don't mind stairs! I didn't realize it until I began that this was Olle Trail No.8. The island of Jeju has a bunch of walking trails called Olle Trails. These were started a few years ago to uncover the hidden trails that are not suitable for cars and use them to preserve some of the history of Jeju as well as to create a wonderful alternate tourist option. All the trails connect to each other so you can spend a long time walking the island. Most of these trails are too long for me to hike in one day so I haven't spent much time researching them beyond the historical factor, but I found the one trail by accident that was perfect for me :)

I enjoyed the "hike" in the woods, careful not to slip on the wooden "trail" covered in pine needles. There were several lookout points that gave expansive views of the city and island. Here is a video I took along the way.

Previously I'd seen three of the four waterfalls listed on the tourist map in Seogwipo (the overlying city that envelops Jungmun) and had heard that the biggest one, Cheonjeyeon, only really flowed after or during a big rain. Well, my day off is on Wednesday and the Tuesday prior it rained and poured the whole day and the whole night and Monday night as well so I was hoping for a spectacular waterfall.

It must not have rained as much as I felt like it did because when I caught my first glimpse of the first waterfall (there are three that make up Cheonjeyeon), well, there wasn't any water falling.

It was still a beautiful sight and I can easily picture the beauty of water cascading over the cliff of rock. I took my picture and hiked back up the several flights of stairs to continue on to the second waterfall.

This one was flowing and was surrounded by colorful trees refusing to succumb to the cold temperatures and drop their brightly hued leaves.

Most of the tourist were gathered at this location so I again took pictures and then hiked back up to continue on to the third waterfall. On the way there is the famous Seonimgyo bridge. This bridge has beautiful artwork depicting nymphs on the infrastructure.

Once across the bridge there is a random gazebo and an overlook of the second waterfall. The overlook is slightly out of the way and doesn't have good signage so I was happy to enjoy it for a moment myself before the family that followed me across the bridge decided to trail me to the lookout point. I then wandered up into the gazebo and was blown away by the spectacular colors displayed before me in the garden below.

Once I toured the courtyard area I then headed back across the bridge to the third waterfall. This waterfall was much smaller and felt more secluded than the previous two. When I arrived, there was a young couple taking silly pics. I offered to take their picture and then they took mine and they left, leaving me a brief few minutes of solitude. I sat down on a bench, leaned my head back against the railing and listened to the sounds of the water and the nature surrounding me. It was heavenly, until my head rest began jerking, alerting me that more tourist were descending the stairs.

I vacated the lookout point and wandered back up to the main courtyard area snapping a few more photos and then proceeding into town to catch a bus to my next destination, the World Cup Stadium.

I'd seen it in passing numerous times and finally decided to stop. It's not exactly what I expected. Yes, there is a big soccer field and lots of chairs, but there is also a movie theater, a spa and water park, a couple museums and businesses. Really? Is that normal for a retired sports stadium?

I didn't go to any of the side attractions, but I walked the circumference of the stadium on a nice walking/jogging track as the sun was setting. Then I boarded a bus for the long ride home.

It was a really enjoyable day and I am so glad I had the chance to get out and explore some more, but now it's back to work.

I will post a couple more entries over the holidays (non tourist related) so stay tuned! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

First snowfall in Seongsan, Dec. 2013

I'm not a vlogger, but this is as close as it comes I guess. Took a video of the snow...

sigh. I would so much rather be watching the video than taking it :)

When do I join back up on cruise ships again??

And I take full responsibility for the awful rhyme at the beginning. 
It was a sarcastic attempt at cheerful humor :-/

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Seopjikoji Walk

This a double up post because I didn't write anything about my day off last week,,,because I didn't get one. However, despite that fact, I managed to walk around the edge of the peninsula that Aqua Planet is on and take some pictures and pretend to be off for the day. It was actually a beautiful and sunny day and I had a lovely walk around the peninsula. Enjoy the pictures. And yes, even in December there are still flowers blooming :)

Ilchulbong behind flowers.

Rock Towers along the beach.

Stone silhouettes.

Lots of stairs (I think I counted 127) leading up to the lighthouse.

The other staircase that I took down.

The path from the lighthouse to the church.

Looking down at the bay beside the lighthouse.

The now famous lighthouse.

Flowers covering the hillside.

Modern day smoke signals!! This is a smoke tower, really.

A church famous for being used in a Korean movie I believe.

Just posing by more large rock towers.

The lighthouse over the sea of bright flowers :)

Then today when I actually did get a day off it rained and the wind howled and sometimes it even hailed on me as I walked to town and back. Most of the rest of the day I spent inside cleaning the apartment, writing this entry and watching Downton Abbey, but I went for one other long walk today just to get outside again (yes, I'm crazy I know) and was richly rewarded with a beautiful double rainbow over Ilchulbong. It was hard to capture on film but I think I got a good picture of the main rainbow and if you look for it you can see the second. I'm so glad I braved the weather twice today!!

The perfect rainbow over Ilchulbong.

Moss on the rocks in the flowing river.

Double rainbow! With a reflection in the water.

At the end of the rainbow and the end of the island.

It was so beauttiful!

What a productive and good day overall. Ended with an invite to pizza next door and a chance to practice my Korean with non English speakers. Tomorrow morning I finish my laundry and all will be in order once again :)

Korean pizza is quite different from American pizza. This particular variety had sweet potato in the crust. It was like a main course and dessert all in one pizza...was tasty actually.

Now back to another week of work.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Monkey Beach Night Club in Jungmun, Jeju-do

No, I didn't hop a ship to a monkey run island, I hopped a cab to a new club in Jungmun, South Korea. There is a successful one in Seoul so the owners decided to open one on Jeju.

What a crazy club! This club has pretty much everything; buckets of alcohol (given...but in a bucket?), table shuffleboard, darts, pool, foosball, basketball (super small hoop and only for a competition every night...but still), giant jumping rope (two guys stand on large boxes to swing this huge rope), giant water slide (for after you get hot jumping rope...), 4 stripper poles on a rather narrow bar plus one fenced dancing pole a little higher than the bar, Jenga tournaments, and who knows what else I haven't witnessed. This club definitely keeps you busy!

Last weekend the whole group of girls from the show here in Seongsan went on Saturday, the day after it opened. There was a fire dancer show and I played every game there except I decided it was a bad idea to jump rope at the same time I'm drinking alcohol. However, I did win a free bottle of vodka for my stellar basketball free throw skills!

This weekend we all went on Friday and enjoyed another fire show (the fire dancer is quite amazing really), played Jenga, I practiced pole tricks, played pool and darts and shuffleboard and drank copious amounts of liquor. You can imagine when your drink in a bucket; there's at least 6-8 shots or more in each. Whew...don't ask me how many buckets I drank. But I still managed to win another bottle of Whiskey this time with my awesome girl basketball shoots!

Now I have two big bottles of booze and I just need some friends to come over and help me drink them! The other girls won their own fair share of booze so I want some non work friends to come visit! Yes, I'm bribing you with alcohol, AND some homemade cookies :) Tis the season!

Check out the pics, I don't have any pics of me on the pole (everyone else was busy jump roping) but I do have some photo proof of the bruises I acquired as a result...

Panorama of the main area before the club opened. I'm standing by the pool table and darts area.

Amazing fire dancing!!!

Crummy picture of me with my winning shot and winning bottle of tequila!!!

My winnings from playing basketball!!

The WATER SLIDE. It's really a metal slide with a waterfall on it. I went down twice in jeans....which meant I had to dance them dry :)  Crazy club to have a rope wall to an indoor water slide, but it's lots of fun!


We won second place and a bottle of ??? because a certain girl (not me) didn't share :(

Everyone is gathered for some Jenga action.

From pole climbing..
More pole climbing...
This is on my inner thigh from "sitting" on the pole after I climbed it.

A couple tipsy girl jumping rope in dresses...always good for random entertainment.

I'll say I shared this with three other people since there are four straws in the bucket...

A terrible sound quality video I know, but shows a bit of the club. There is some line dancing going on in the main area.