Thursday, 16 September 2010

Second Birthday Away from England

23 years-old now and I'm starting to feel it.. It seems I can play computer games for only a couple of hours now before my eyes start to hurt and I can only eat half a birthday cake until minor belly flab begins to develop (and don't even mention the Paris Baguette egg tarts). Seriously though, if I wasn't with Sarah my birthday would've just passed me by. So here is an account of what my birthday this year was like (with pictures, of course):

On my birthday I had gifts from three students who are in my after school class, Han Sol, In Hye, and Hye Jin. They gave me a Hershey's white chocolate bar with cookie bits in it and a box of cookies! When I later thanked them - for the 3rd time because I was so grateful - they told me that they were expensive and they're glad I liked them :) The gifts were accompanied by these letters:

Not even born in 1985.. Think I should tell her? :P

They've got neater writing than me...

Next day (the 10th) I wander into work and see these letters on my desk from students:

Unfortunately, I have no idea who these students are.. I probably know them but everyone has the same name here and I've never heard of a 'Jina' :S I think they're all from class 1-7 (the hint is on the note..) which makes me feel a bit bad because I forgot to say anything in class today. It'd be a bit embarrassing for them though, seeing as they're Korean and all, if I just thanked them in the middle of a class... That's my excuse anyway.

Anyway, I came in from work and Sarah had set up a treasure hunt in my apartment! Probably the coolest thing anyone has ever done for me and so much effort went into it too. She had clues on the go, wrapped presents, cake... It was brilliant :)

It didn't stop there because my 'birthday weekend' was about to strike and Sarah had a few surprises in store for me.

First up was a nice Han River boat trip.. which would've been great if the Han wasn't flooded:

Those steps are supposed to lead to a path.. but instead they lead to the brown waters of the Han. 'I ain't swimmin' that'.

So with the Han river tour called off, Sarah, being the amazing girl that she is, had a backup plan which was a trip to the nearby 63 Building, Yeouido, to the world's highest art exhibit. These are some of the pictures I took of the view from the building (notice none of them are of the art.. It's not that the art wasn't good, a lot of it was brilliant, in fact, it's just I don't really like taking a picture of a picture or of art.. I think it's strange :/).

Traffic in Seoul and the flooded Han river.
Me and Sarah in front of a view of Seoul.

We couldn't stay there too long though because Sarah had another surprise for me. We took a longish subway ride to see 'JUMP', a comedy martial arts performance show that I've wanted to see since I saw posters for it about 4 months ago. Sarah remembered and it was a brilliant show :)

After the show we went to an underground massage place that Sarah knows (my 3rd massage in Korea and of my life so far - all since I've met Sarah... she's a massage fiend). Next day we went to Gwanghawmun Kyobo bookstore, had a curry and that was us :)

Again, if I wasn't with Sarah then I would've probably been sitting on my arse playing Starcraft II all weekend, which, although awesome, wouldn't have been ideal :P Thanks babe x

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Casper the Kitten

As requested, a blog about Sarah and I's cat, Casper.

A few things before we start. Casper is roughly 3 months old (I can't remember his exact birth date... Sarah knows. I'm not good with dates. Probably should have chose something other than History to study then really).
He is a boy ;) His testicles are starting to drop so, according to Sarah, we've got to get him neutered in the next few months otherwise he'll pee everywhere, marking his territory.
He likes to bite and scratch but he does it in a playful way and is rarely ever aggressive, if at all. I actually like it when he bites on my finger because his face is so serious when he does it and it cracks me up. His biting doesn't hurt me about 99% of the time but it hurts Sarah so we are conditioning him with a spray bottle. We're getting to the point that we only have to show him that we are wielding the spray bottle and he gets all submissive and bottles it.

This is Casper when we first got him about 5 weeks ago. Probably the cutest picture of him.

This is him wandering the apartment. You can see his litter tray in the background. I need to get one with a dome-like lid because he leaps in and out of this litter tray and gets litter everywhere :/ It's clogging up the vacuum cleaner.

Another cute picture of Casper looking all innocent.

This is Casper nowadays. As you can see he is getting larger now, which means he can jump higher... This is him eyeing up the amazing pancakes on my desk with a peach maple sauce that Sarah made. It was an amazing breakfast. No wonder Casper wanted a bit (he got none ;) ).

(You can also see my new laptop glistening just next to him :P Macbook Pro, innit).

Casper sitting on the towel that Sarah turned blue in the wash. I put the towel under his litter tray to hold some of the litter he tosses everywhere. It doesn't really do the job :/

Casper has really blue eyes, which is one of the reasons why we fell in love with him from the get go.

An 'I-Can-Has-Cheezburger'-esque picture. In fact, this picture cracked me up so much I went all keen and made an 'I-Can-Has-Cheezburger' pic of it :P

Oh yeahh..  I ate all ur chickenz

Keen eh?

Some info on getting a cat in Korea. Everywhere I've looked they are more expensive than dogs. With the litter tray, food, I think his first bout of injections, and some toys to start with it cost around 500,000 won, which is about $500 or 300 GBP. I put this down to the type of people in Korea who buy pets: women who want something cute and cuddly to carry in their handbag, which you cannot do with a cat so they are not in as much demand. It's not a sexist stereotype, I see it everyday (remember the fire alarm blog with the woman carrying her tiny dog in her arms?).
Also, bringing him into the EU will be a nightmare. And it's not bright and dandy when taking him to the U.S. either. South Korea isn't on the EU's 'listed' country list for being able to bring pets into the region. If he does enter the UK he will have to spend 6 months in quarantine, which we don't want to happen. So the plan is we take him to the U.S., where apparently he will only have to spend 3 months in quarantine, and then hold onto to him in America for 6 months from the time his blood is tested - we have to do this otherwise he cannot come to the UK without the 6 month quarantine as he hasn't spent enough time in a 'listed' country prior to entering the EU. Then we have to get him a Pet Passport, and proof that he has had the correct shots.
Imagine having this bureaucracy 100 or even 50 years ago... wouldn't have happened. It's a headache, but, as Sarah keeps saying, we don't have to worry about it for a year :D!

Didn't mean to end on a downer, but he's an awesome cat, not boring, very active (a bit too active at times) and he's loyal (he follows us around the apartment and runs to the door when we come in :) ). I think me and Sarah have done well :)


just made another one...

srsly give me pancake

Oh I almost forgot. Here are some videos I took of Casper. Yes, I get bored in my apartment a lot:

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Typhoon Kompasu

So Typhoon Kompasu (Japanese for 'compass' - basically 'compass' said in a Japanese accent) hit Korea Thursday morning. I had an afterschool class the previous day and I was asking the students when it will hit and they were all like 'oh, it's supposed to hit tomorrow afternoon'. They were wrong of course because we were woken up at 6 by the howling of winds and battering of rain on the window. We done well not to wake up sooner as all of my friends and co-workers seemed to get woken up at 4 or some other earlier time than us. The teacher who sits next to me in the office (don't know her name... apparently it takes more than 6 months to remember the names of people in Korea) had all the windows in her house smashed out by Kompasu. All the problems I experienced was having to dodge minor debris in the street and an unlit candle falling off the windowsill as the window was slightly open because Casper was starting to stink up the room (did you know cat's can fart? I didn't..). Well here are a couple of pictures of the debris in my 'hood:

This is at the bus stop I take to school everyday. This structure used to be a disused newspaper stand but it had been ripped from it's bolted position in the ground and blown into the road with the other debris.
A day later and some of the trees that had been damaged by Kompasu had been piled up by someone.

School started at 10:10 instead of the usual time of 8:40 because of the typhoon. I thought 'Great, that means I don't have to teach a couple of classes today'. Wishful thinking because rather than just cancel the class they just extended the school day... Imagine that in England? Finishing school and hour and a half later because the schedule had been changed. Wouldn't happen.

My mate Tony has some better pictures of our neighbourhood after the typhoon. I was kind of reading 'The Lost Symbol' on the bus that day and didn't think to take a look around and I missed a lot of the damage :/ Oh well, apparently there is another Typhoon coming next week so second time lucky :) - this is Tony's blog where you can see some more pictures.

And here is some information on Kompasu on various websites that I just found after googling 'Typhoon Kompasu':

Satellite image of Kompasu (same as the one at the start of the blog):

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