Kindergarten Camp

For the past few weeks the kids have been counting down the days until camp.  Kitty, Santa and the other teachers were oblivious to what this camping was or what exactly it would entail.  We soon found out that it was a two day deal where all the kindergartners spent the night at the school with the co-teachers (thankfully we weren’t asked to pitch tents and stay over).  There were a lot of activities planned for the two days they would be at camp.  As usual the foreign teachers had little info on what was about to go on.  Lets just say it wasn’t the kind of camping that Santa and Kitty were use to; there weren’t any tents, sleeping bags, s’mores, camp fires, or ghost stories.  The first day was a lot of crafts, coloring and costumes.  To Santa and Kitty’s surprise, one of the crafts included painting a piece of china with our pictures on it.  Our faces were everywhere.

Time to decorate

Upon showing up to school on the morning of day two we were immediately whisked onto the colorful buses.  It appeared that some of the bus drivers overslept, because it got quite cozy on the buses.  So cozy that some of the passengers started to nod off.  It seemed that the co-teachers weren’t the only ones that didn’t get much sleep.  After a few rounds of 5 Little Monkeys and Twinkle Twinkle we arrived at our destination.  We spent the morning at an agricultural center.  We managed to keep everyone awake, including the teachers, and were back on the bus in time to for a quick nap before arriving at school for lunch.  Lets just say by the time camp came to a close everyone was ready to head home.  Now we know why this is a one time of year thing:)

Fully loaded

Mid morning nap

Agriculture Center

Cat nap on the way back to school

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Kimchi love

KIMCHI! If you don’t know what this is let Kitty and Santa enlighten you. Kimchi is the center of the Korean universe. Every dish served (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert) is almost always accompanied with a side of Kimchi, or made of Kimchi.

Wikipedia says “Kimchi, also spelled gimchi, kimchee, or kim chee, is a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. It is Korea’s national dish, and there are hundreds of varieties made with a main vegetable ingredient such as napa cabbage, radish, scallion, or cucumber.”

Kimchi is so loved that when anyone smiles for a photo they say “KIMCHEEE” instead of our version ” CHEESE”. Our Wednesday field trip was to Kimchi Land to educate the children on this spicy fermented vegetable they have been consuming since birth, Kitty and Santa learned some things as well. For an example, you can make ANYTHING out of Kimchi. Enjoy some photos of Korean culture!

Getting ready to make some Kimchi pancakes

This video showed the children how Kimchi is made. Here is a baby taking his first bite of Kimchi, don’t worry the hot chili taste will go away with a bottle of milk!

Heading back to the bus in a Michael Jackson style trench coat, we only travel in style in Korea.

TIIIIIMBER! Excursion day.

Every Wednesday Kitty and Santa set out on an excursion with our kindergarten classes. Field trips are something Kitty and Santa remember fondly from childhood. Going to the Zoo, roaring rapids at the water park, children’s museums, apple orchards, picking pumpkins and even over night camping trips to the local state park. When we found out that every Wednesday we were going to get to go on a mini adventure, we were more than ecstatic to hear the news.

Kitty and Santa saw on the schedule that our excursion day was set for a “Forest Experience”. hmm. This should be fun, maybe a little hiking or games in the woods. In the morning an announcement over the classroom intercom came on. DING. DONG. DING.”Attention teachers! Todays excursion will be to the something in korean farm. We will be letting the children use dangerous equipment like saws and hammers so please be sure to keep a safe watch over your classroom. Thanks!” DING. DONG. DING. Santa was positive the noise in her classroom made her hear that entire thing wrong so she walked next door to see what Kitty heard. “Saws and hammers?! They are 7 years old, but really only like 5 years old!”

——-> SIDE NOTE<——– In Korea, when you are born. Your 1 years old. On New Years day all Koreans turns a year older together. Therefore, on your actual birthday you do not celebrate turning older but just the day you were born. SOO, for an example, if you were born on December 25th you would be 1 years old but then on January 1st you would be 2 years old. So in our classes of 7 year olds most of them are 5 and most the of 5 year old classes are, well, really little. You get my point?

The kids piled on the brightly decorated school bus in their matching excursion jumpsuits. On bus rides to our destinations it is the English teachers job to keep the children entertained with singing into a microphone.  We are confident to say that with the set of vocals on Kitty and Santa we will not be signing up for any American Idol contests any time soon.

We arrived at the farm 20 minutes later and were greeted with boxes of saws and small thin white gloves to wear. We couldn’t figure out if these were intended for protection or to give the kids a little Michael Jackson flare and style.

Cute little Jack + stick = deadly weapon

The kids were loving this trip, it probably was the intense excitement of seeing some drama unfold in front of their very eyes. Kitty and Santa were on watch making sure no kids were running, jumping, or hitting others with saws.

Kids, this is a sharp saw.

Teacha Teacha! Look what I found!

Kitty and Santa were told that we would be having a picnic lunch and this was a first. At home when you pack a brown paper lunch it usually includes some type of easy make sandwich, a fruit and maybe a small snack. Today’s lunch was 1/2 a cup of white rice, some egg topped with…ketchup! MMmmM! Also serving a side of kim-chi (because there is never a meal in Korea, no matter how small, without kim-chi) and pickled radish. Eat up kids!

The kids ended up all surviving the trip. The Korean teachers thought it was such a success that they told us they are going to start bringing the children here more! YAY! Kitty and Santa went home shared a bottle of wine to release some anxiety.

Next week we are going to KIM-CHI LAND – a place full of different types of fermented cabbage in fiery hot chili sauces. A word of advise from our bosses “wear red, it might get messy.” Just goes to show that cultural differences are rather large and the children here in Korea are most definitely exposed to a different type of fun.

PEACE, LOVE & CULTURE SHOCK TO YOU ALL! – Santa & Kitty

Busan-ing Around

Kitty and Santa had a long weekend due to the Korean holiday, Chuseok, and decided to head south to enjoy some R&R on the beaches of Busan.

Chuseok is basically the Thanksgiving of Korea. Its the one time a year where people travel to their hometowns to meet family, eat and honor their ancestors with a ceremony at their grave. Kitty and Santa love pounding food on thanksgiving and were very interested in what types of food would be involved on this day. Our “supersize” Americaness came out as we drilled a new Korean friend on the bus about what he was going to eat with his family. We were surprised when he replied with ” A delicious apple, maybe a pear, rice, kimchi, meat and probably songpyeon.” The fat kids in us felt slightly disappointed with that response. Chuseok is the biggest holiday of the year, the only day in Korea when everyone has off work. It is literally Christmas with no presents. Santa was sad.

These cases of apples are given as gifts for the holiday. For $33.00 USD I guess we would be pretty excited to eat apples on thanksgiving. again, be thankful for your produce.

Songpyeon or Korean half moon rice cakes are a traditional Korean desert. Its basically rice dough with a little brown sugar or red beans in the middle, then boiled. Not that sweet and for being the only desert on the thanksgiving table. We were pretty shocked and knew we were going to be missing the madness at home this holiday season.

“Black Friday: because only in America, people will trample over others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they have.” – B.Repp FB quote. 

Hyundai Beach, across the street from our hostelHyundai Beach, across the street from our hostel

Traveling makes you question the world as well as test you on your basic smarts. Kitty and Santa are really good at confusing each other, getting lost in the world and in conversation. Santa:”Will the sun set on this beach?” Kitty: “What Ocean is this?” Santa: “Does it matter what Ocean it is? Dosent the sunset have something to do with a compass?” Kitty: “There are 5 oceans so I don’t think we will see a good sunset.” Santa: “Wait, so what ocean is this?” Both:”mmmmm.” Kitty: “Google it, Want to get ice cream?”

Surprise gift for Santa’s dad’s birthday! Happy birthday from Korea!

The buses in SK are brilliantly decorated. Riding in style. Our new Korean friend on the bus impressed us with his English skills. He told us about his wine hobby “I drink 200 bottles of wine in one year only. I take a break but in June I will start to drink wine again. My wine friends and I drink 8 or 9 bottles in one day. Then we have chicken and beer. It so fun.” We made sure to get his digits – Kitty and Santa are joining his wine club for sure.

First stop, Yongkung Temple.

 Just an FYI : Santa’s actually not posing with a swastika , but the symbol for Buddhist temples most often used in maps. And yes, we had to Googled that.

Kitty and Santa weren’t sure what was bothering these guys. We figured they were also probably confused about the symbol behind them, understandable mistake guys. Cheer up!

It was as amazing as this looks. Santa was giddy like a child, Kitty’s eyes were popping. Better than Disneyland but not Disney World.

“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky” – Buddha

Lunch never looked better.

Santa has been having troubles with the money system here. We pay in Korean Won and  for every $1,000 won is a little less $1.00 USD. Santa ran short of money on the trip and Kitty was nice enough to lend her a dollar…there is now an I.O.U. on the fridge stating that Santa owes Kitty $246,000.00 – now thats a real friend. While in Busan Santa kept confusing her dollars because of all the zeros. She was being baller at the bar one night but kept trying to pay for drinks with $1.00 and then going to tip and almost leaving $50.00. Kitty had to keep a sharp eye on money bags. She feared if Santa tried borrowing from the wrong person we would have guys showing up at our door next week to collect and break some bones.

Kitty got a little obsessed with searching for the perfect seashell. She kept picking up anything with a small hole in it “We could make this into a necklace!” Santa would take a look “Kit, I think thats an old baby shoe.”

Traditional Korean dogs. Totally normal.

Always up for a challenge. Kitty joined in the crowd all throwing coins into the Buddhist fountain. Anyone able to get their coin into his small pot he was holding was to receive good fortune and luck for life…Kitty: “Vegas gambling at a Buddhist temple. Makes sense but its worse because when you win luck for life you don’t even get a voucher to prove it.”

The trip was an awesome success. We hit up temples, beaches, bars, restaurants  shops, fish markets and met a bunch of new friends. As we got off the bus back in our home town we walked right up to the counter and purchased our bus ticket for Halloween weekend –  round 2 of BOOsan-ing around (ha, get it?)

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” -Henry Miller