An English teacher's blog about his travels and his digital art.

Month: May 2011

Semester Finals

No, I haven’t forgotten about posting or been too lazy to do so, but we’re beginning the final part of the spring semester, which means assessments and lots of paperwork. I’ll try to get something posted soon, but I’m making no guarantees. I’ve got lots of photos just begging to be put here, so I hope to get some up before I leave for Thailand and Laos on June 11th. Stay tuned.

Korean Prostitutes Protest

Uhmmm, I meant to say that Korean “sex workers” protest. Sorry for the “offensive” title of this post. ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t know how widespread this story is, but I found it interesting that it was reported by the Vientiane Times of Laos. Here’s a screen capture I made of the report; it’s a bit blurry, so click on it for a larger, clearer version.

Is this a big deal in Laos? Are many Laotians gasping and oohing and aahing over this story? I don’t know, but I do know that Korean NGO’s and the Korean government have a sizeable presence in Laos.

Anyway, how many times have you heard of “ladies of the night” protesting against police crackdowns on their “right to live?” (Which I assume means a right to make a living.) I wonder how their clients feel. Personally, I wish the ladies luck.

P.S. To address the concerns of those of you who are smirking and grinning knowingly, I want to honestly state that I absolutely do NOT make use of the services provided by these ladies. I am, however, a champion of the downtrodden, exploited workers of the world. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Field Trip Time

It’s that time of the semester again, when the Intensive English students and teachers go on a field trip to tour some of the attractions in Yeosu as part of the English course. We’ve had two of these events in the past, about which I’ve written here (in 2009) and here (in 2010). Both of the previous trips were taken in the fall, but because of the revamped Intensive program, we’re taking trips in both the spring and fall this year.

The fall trip should present no weather problems, but late May is starting to get close to the rainy season. It’s been rainy and misty all day today (Friday) and the forecast is calling for showers tomorrow, with heavier rainfall after 6 p.m. We should be finished with the trip by then, but KMA forecasts have proven to be wrong in the past. Hopefully, we won’t get soaked.

Of course, I’ll try to get some good photos and get them posted here in a timely fashion. ๐Ÿ™„ (Rolling eyes, looking at watch, waiting . . . waiting) More later–eventually.

Children’s Day, Turtle Ships

Before it gets to be too far past the fact, I’d better do a post on Children’s Day, which was on Thursday, May 5th. There’s really no equivalent holiday in the U.S., particularly since it’s an official national holiday, an off day for government workers (and English teachers ๐Ÿ™‚ ). That should tell you something about how most Koreans feel about their kids. That week was also the Turtle Ship Festival, which is held in conjunction with the holiday. The festival celebrates legendary Korean naval commander Admiral Yi Sun-shin, inventor of the turtle ship. I posted last year about Children’s Day and the Turtle Ship Festival.

It was a gorgeous day–warm, with brilliant sunshine and blue skies (no yellow dust blanketing the area). The festival area is located at the Jongpo Ocean Park Walkway, from where I’ve taken a number of photos, such as this one.

Last year’s festival was a bit on the small side, but this year’s was much, much larger, due to the upcoming 2012 Expo (May-Aug 2012), so one of my former advanced level English students informed me.

Naturally, there were kids with their parents everywhere you turned, playing games, having fun, enjoying the beautiful weather.

There were dozens of tents set up for food, cultural exhibits and local organizations, with a few surprises along the way.

Here’s a fellow demonstrating kitchen knives.

This guy was doing something with these hamsters (gerbils?); I’m not sure what, but they were rather indifferent to his efforts. They lay there, not moving, either tired or drugged. If the latter, the guy should be taken to the woodshed for mistreatment of animals.

Wanna buy a sword?

Small turtle ship replicas.

Korean junk food, with french fried sweet potatoes in the lower right corner.

This food vendor was pretty good at tossing and stretching his noodle dough.

You could also buy paintings depicting the defeat of the Japanese naval forces when they tried to invade Korea way back in the late 16th century.

And continuing to walk along, I ran into surprise #1–MontanaRon is shocked to see a Montana Native American!

Ok, not really. It was a Korean dressed in Native American garb, selling flutes. Pretty cool, though.

Just a few tents down from him, I stumbled onto surprise #2–schawarmas! A couple of Turkish fellows were selling lamb or chicken schawarmas (They had a couple of Turkish flags hanging in their tent, so I assume they’re from that country.)

Unfortunately, I had just eaten and wasn’t hungry at all. They were doing a booming business. It’s coincidental that a reader left a comment on the blog about schawarmas. (Alan, are you reading this?) And, while I’m at it, let me give a BIG SHOUT OUT to his website, which features tons of recipes for this fantastic mid-Eastern food. Check it out at I hope the Turkish guys are here to set up a schawarma restaurant–I’ll be one of their best customers. (Yeosu has very few options if you’re hungry for something other than Korean food.)

There were also a couple of stages set up for performances, but my timing was bad–nothing much going on in that respect, though this small group was hamming it up and playing music for the crowd. Check out the older Korean on the far right and the man kicking up his heels to the left of him.

This wasn’t too far from the new bridge, which still isn’t open.

Overall, it was a great afternoon out. I can hardly wait for the Expo next year when there will be dozens of international booths (along with their respective foods). Gotta go–gettin’ hungry for breakfast and gotta work soon. More later.

Buddha’s Birthday and Other Holidays

It’s kind of holiday “season” here in Yeosu. From May 5th through June 9th, there are four holidays, all of them on weekdays, so no work on those days. Unfortunately, we have to make up the classes that we miss because of those days off, a demand by the university that irks me to no end, as I’ve mentioned before. Some of the new teachers this semester said that it’s the first education institution that they’ve worked at in Korea that demands that holiday classes be made up. Our contracts state that we get all national and university holidays off, but that’s a bit of a half-truth if we have to do the classes at another time. It’s kind of like your boss telling you “No, you don’t have to work on Thanksgiving Day, but you have to come in on Sunday to make up for it.” Sheesh. Not much I can do about it though–grin and bear it.

May 5th was Children’s Day, today is the celebration of Buddha’s Birthday, and June 6th is Memorial Day. In addition, June 9th is the Founding Day of the university, so classes are also called off for that event. Buddha’s Birthday is celebrated on the 10th in many East Asian countries and it’s celebrated on the 17th in some others, to coincide with the full moon.

For the last two or three weeks, all of the temples here have been gaily decorated with colorful paper lanterns. If you didn’t know where the temples were located, you’d know their presence by the lanterns.

It’s been overcast and a bit rainy today, but between the sprinkles, I took a short walk down the road below the dormitories to a small temple, about 15 minutes away. I assumed there would be some events and ceremonies going on, and there were. Lots of people were present in the main temple–gentlemen dressed in suits and sporting flowers in their lapels, ladies wearing their finery and suited ushers showing people in. I would like to have shot some photos of the temple, but it would have been totally inappropriate for me to try to do so. Therefore, I contented myself with taking a few shots of the small grounds outside the temple.

There either was already or there was going to be a parade, and this dragon float looked ready to roll.

He had a friend to accompany him, in the form of this tiger.

Here’s a shot of the outside of the main temple, where the ceremony was being held. I could hear the chanting of the monks and the clanging of gongs, and I really wanted to go in. Not this time, though.

The paper lanterns are quite beautiful and I love the details on some of them. Here are four for your viewing pleasure.

I was also out and about on Children’s Day and got a number of photos of the Turtle Ship Festival that is always held at the same time. I’ll put some of those up in the next post. More later.

Another Yellow Dust Photo

I had about an hour until my next class, so I walked to a vantage point and took a photo of one of the downtown areas of Yeosu. Contrast it with the same view I took yesterday afternoon. Of course, the angle of the sunlight emphasizes the dust in this photo, but it’s still pretty bad.

Also, to give some perspective to the roundabout photo I posted yesterday, here’s a shot from a further distance.

OK, that’s probably it for the dust photos, unless it gets a whole lot worse. Hopefully, it’ll start to clear up as the day goes along.

Yellow Dust Update

The dust level this morning is about twice what it was yesterday, approaching the highest level alert stage of 800 ppm, according to the Korean Meteorological website. It’s about the worst I’ve seen it in Yeosu. Here’s an unretouched photo I just took from my office window. Below it is a photo I took a few weeks ago. (Yeosu University Spring Photos.) More later.

Royal Wedding

Oh, yeah, I forgot to ask. Did any of you watch the wedding on Friday? With an estimated viewing audience of two billion, I’m sure a few of you must have. I watched it for, let’s see, about 5 hours. Yeah, I watched the whole thing, including pre- and post-wedding coverage. I switched channels between CNN and BBC. The BBC channel here had a much crisper picture, so I spent most of the time watching it there.

I really enjoy the pomp and pageantry of these types of events, and the British monarchy does them better than any other institution in the world. I love the music, the clothing (how about those fascinator hats?), the tradition, the horse guards, and the celebratory atmosphere. The world doesn’t seem to have too many fairy tale stories these days, so this was, in my opinion, a feel-good event. Bravo, Great Britain. Fascinating. Hats off to ya. I just hope I live long enough to see a coronation.

Yellow Dust Season

Yes, it’s that time of year when the prevailing winds blow sand from the Gobi desert onto the Korean peninsula. “The yellow dust season runs from March to June, with the heaviest dust concentrations typically coming in late April and early May,” according to an article on the Stars and Stripes website. The article also states that experts are predicting a light dust season. Well, except for today.

The peninsula is in the middle of a dust alert for today and on into tomorrow morning, with the highest stage alert expected to be issued as dust clouds continue to be blown over the area. You can read this Yonhap News Agency report about the dust.

It’s been pretty hazy all day here in Yeosu, so, after jogging this morning and sucking in a lot of the dust (and being sandblasted by the high winds that have blown most of the day), I did a little walking around campus this afternoon to take a few photos.

Here’s a shot of Horangsan (san = mountain) from street level and one from a 5th floor outside stairway on one of the campus buildings.

Here’s a shot of Yeosu looking away from the sun, which makes quite a difference in the perceived clarity. It doesn’t look all that bad in this view.

Now here’s one looking in the direction of the sun. Looks pretty bad!

Finally, a view of the golf course.

And a few other shots. This is one of the many little court areas that are sprinkled around campus, places to sit and relax, shady and flowered.

There’s a roundabout on the main road that runs from one side of the campus to the other. In the middle of it is a large pine tree set in a colorful bed of azaleas.

Do you remember in the previous post that I mentioned a strange walkway below the dorms? Well, here it is. What is it used for? I’ve no idea, since I’ve never seen anyone using it. Hmmm, quite odd. That’s it for now, but I took quite a number of photos last weekend, which I’ll try to show you soon. More later.

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