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

Month: March 2012

Yeosu Expo 2012 Accomodations

One of the biggest problems that visitors to the Expo will face is finding a place to stay. Accomodations in Yeosu are limited, to say the least. The Organizing Committee for the Expo realize this. In an article on the Korea Times website, Kang Dong-suk, chairman of the Organizing Committee for Expo 2012 Yeosu, had this to say:

“We would like to attract as many foreign visitors as possible for the largest global event ever hosted by the coastal city of Yeosu, South Jeolla Province”, Kang said. “But the problem is that there aren’t enough lodging facilities in the city and its surrounding areas to accommodate a large number of non-Koreans. We have to come up with alternative measures to house foreign guests during the event”.

“We do not worry about Korean visitors because they will figure out where to stay. Churches in Yeosu told us that they will provide rooms for expo visitors for free. Many Yeosu residents have expressed willingness to offer visitors a place to stay”, the chairman said. “But our concern is where all the foreign tourists will stay”.

Kang said there are about 1,000 hotel rooms in Yeosu and the nearby areas, including the newly-constructed MVL hotel at the expo site that has 331 rooms.

“We will have no problem accommodating foreign government officials and other high-profile guests. But regular foreign tourists, particularly the Chinese, won’t find it easy to get a hotel room”, he said.

To ease the expected accommodation shortage, the chairman said the organizing committee has been in talks with travel agencies to have foreign guests sleep in Busan, Gwangju and other nearby larger cities, and bring them back and forth to the expo site.

He talks about the MVL Hotel at the Expo site, but none of its rooms will be available; they’ve all been reserved for heads of states and visiting dignitaries. It’s a beautiful hotel, and it’s described at the previous link as a “seven-star” hotel. You can visit the hotel website by clicking here.

The option to take a shuttle bus or boat from Busan seems to be on its way to becoming a reality. Dynamic Busan reports that:

Busan City has prepared a shuttle bus directly from six hotels in Busan to the expo site. To facilitate this, the city has made arrangements with the Lotte, Paradise, Nongshim, Commodore, Paragon and Toyoko-inn hotels. The packages that have been put together include expo tours and accommodation. The traveling time to Yeosu is about two hours, and guests can reserve their tickets at any of the aforementioned hotels’ websites.

Others can choose to travel by sea from Busan Port to Yeosu Port Passenger Terminal. This takes slightly longer but also affords magnificent views of Busan’s beautiful shoreline and is highly recommended for those who are not in a rush.

Busan’s representative cruise ship, PanStar Dream, will be plying this route. It will operate on six days: June 2, 9 and 23, July 14 and 28, and Aug. 11. While on board, tourists can enjoy various performances, a sauna and a cafe, as well as other luxury facilities. Reservations can be made via the PanStar website ( Each cruise will take about five hours to reach Yeosu. Meanwhile, those who wish to organize their own expo schedule can take an intercity bus.

The bus from Busan West Bus Terminal (Sasang District) reaches Yeosu in two hours and 30 minutes, making this the quickest way to reach Yeosu by intercity bus. Six buses leave the station each day and one-way tickets cost 18,100 won ($16). Busan East Bus Terminal (Nopo-dong) is also running buses to Yeosu, with 13 leaving daily at a cost of 19,600 won. The traveling time is three hours and 10 minutes.

Visitors can also stay in the nearby city of Suncheon, which is only a 20-minute bus ride to Yeosu, or they can grab accomodations in Gwangju, a large city that is about an hour and a half by bus from Yeosu.

Finding accomodations online can be quite frustrating. I’ve had a few readers of this blog ask if I knew of any sites that are in English or that allow online booking or that have English speakers manning the phone lines. Here are a couple of websites that might help.

Hostel World lists basic guest house and dorm-style facilities. You can do a search on Busan (many listings), Gwangju (very few) or Suncheon (one), and you can book online.

A good source is also located on the official 2012 Website. There’s an accomodation search page that lists options for English language service. I assume that by checking this option, you will be given a list of accomodations where you can talk to someone who speaks English. Give it a try–it looks like a great resource.

You can also try to reserve a room in the new HS Hotel, which is located right at the Expo site. I know of a lady who was able to phone there and book a room with an English-speaking receptionist. Rates, I’m afraid, are going to be quite pricey, over $200 a night, but it’s a nice hotel. Unfortunately, many businesses in Yeosu are raising their prices (unfairly, perhaps?) during the Expo. City buses, however, will be free throughout the duration of the Expo.

If you run across any other accomodation websites, please be kind enough to mention them in a comment to help other people who might read this blog. Also, if you find a good-looking hotel or guesthouse online, don’t be afraid to give them a call; many facilities have English speakers. Even if their abililties are low-level, it might be worth it to be patient about their language skills and try to book with them.

Good luck, and leave a comment, if you desire, to tell us about your experiences getting accomodations for the Expo.


March 2012 Yeosu Expo Photos

Lately I’ve been busier than expected with work, that unwelcome intrusion into my life; thus it’s been a while since I’ve posted, so, sorry about that. I and a couple of other teachers have been given a new course to teach, the Yeosu Tour Guide course, in which some of the citizens of Yeosu who are volunteering at the Expo want to improve their English speaking skills. Most of them are not bad English speakers, but we’ve been given the task of increasing their fluency. I’ve also spent many more hours than I had expected proofreading the paper that I mentioned in a previous post. We’ve also had a few teacher/admin meetings to endure, and, of course, daily living intrudes. Hopefully, I’ll be posting more often, especially now that the opening of the Expo nears.

I took a walk around the Expo site last Saturday and there have been some small, but interesting additions to the area. Work seems to be proceeding well at the site, and it appears that on May 12th, the opening day, everything will be good to go. Here, then, are a few photos of the progress.

Here are a few shots from the back entrance to the Expo from a bit higher vantage. The first is of the Big O, the centerpiece of the Expo, followed by a view of the hotel, which now sports its name on the upper floors, the MVL Hotel. I’ll write another post about the hotel soon.

The Big O and surrounding area

The Big O

The MVL Hotel

MVL Hotel

Here’s a shot of the Theme Pavilion taken from near the railway station.

Theme Pavilion

Theme Pavilion

I love how many of the buildings and their surroundings reflect the oceanic theme of the Expo. You can see how the Theme Pavilion mimics ocean waves, and other areas bring to mind the sailing ships of yore that made Yeosu a port of call.

The International Pavilion Entrance

Railway Station Entrance to the International Pavilion

Expo shelter areas

Expo Shelter Areas

One of the last venues to be constructed has been the Corporate Pavilion (I think–the map I have doesn’t quite match up with the area). Here is some front and back construction on the the building, which is located near the railway station, behind the Sky Tower.

Expo Corporate Pavilion

Rear of Expo Corporate Pavilion

Expo Corporate Pavilion

Work on the front side of the Corporate Pavilion

I finally managed to be in the right place at the right time to capture an image of the KTX “bullet” train at the Expo railway station. Here it is, waiting to zoom its way to Seoul and destinations in between.

KTX Bullet Train

KTX Bullet Train

As I walked down the road near the railway station, I couldn’t help notice my Favorite Expo Lady, gazing out to sea with her spyglass.

Lady with spyglass in front of apartments

Spyglass Lady

A shot from near, I believe, the Korea pavilion.

Korea pavilion sculpture

Korea Pavilion Sculpture

And another shot of the Big O.

The Big O at Expo 2012

The Big O and the Theme Pavilion at Expo 2012

Here’s a close up panorama shot of the area around the Big O showing the floating stage and the seating areas. Click on the thumbnail for a larger view. Discerning viewers may be able to make out the seam where I “stitched” a couple of photos together to make this shot. I used the Canon Photo Stitch software to do this and I was quite surprised that the result turned out so well, especially since I didn’t take the two photos with the intention of making a panorama shot. I took the shots from the side of the Jasan Park hill and zeroed in on the area at 200mm with my 55-250 Canon zoom lens.

Big O panorama photo

Big O Panorama

Finally, taken from the same Jasan Park area, an overview of the Expo site, a view that I always try to get when I’m in the area. If you want, you can go back through some of my older posts and check out the differences since construction began.

An overview of the 2012 Expo

Expo 2012 March 17 Overview

In my next post, hopefully coming tomorrow, I’ll comment on and try to offer some solutions to The Big Problem associated with the Expo (in my opinion) –accomodations in Yeosu. Stay tuned for that.

Expo 2012 U.S.A. Pavilion

USA Pavilion Ad

Photo From the USA Pavilion Organization

I’ve finally found some information about the United States pavilion at the 2012 Expo. There’s an article on the Korea IT Times that gives some details. Some snippets from the article are:

“The USA Pavilion will use the power of storytelling to bring to life the core values of innovation, partnership and hope that define the American spirit for millions of visitors,” said Andrew Snowhite, chief executive officer of USA Pavilion 2012.

A main attraction of stunning images, music and film will be projected in dazzling clarity across a 70-foot wide screen. Created around the simple yet impactful concept of “This is My Ocean,” individual voices and stories will unfold during the presentation to convey the diverse beauty of the American coastline and the many personal and profound types of connections Americans enjoy with the vast ocean. . .

A large screen composed entirely of water will amaze guests when they enter the USA Pavilion. This fluid and shifting surface is the perfect canvas to begin a unique journey that will take guests from the shorelines of America to the frontiers of deep ocean research . . .

There’s a lot more information on the the USA Pavilion Expo 2012 website, so check it out if you get a chance. I’ll be doing a photo walk tomorrow around the Expo site here in Korea, and I hope to have the latest construction photos up shortly thereafter.

Fire erupts at Yeosu Expo venue; no casualties reported

That is the headline from a Yonhap News Agency article.

An exhibition center at the site of the upcoming Yeosu Expo caught fire Wednesday, but no casualties were reported, police said.

The fire destroyed 500 square meters of a vegetation mat covering the roof of the three-story building under construction for completion at the end of this month, the police said.

The article also stated that it was probably caused by welding work, and Expo officials said there should be no disruptions in the Expo preparations.

If you read the article, you’ll see this image.

As you can see from the photo below, which I posted on Dec. 4, 2011, the area that caught fire is part of the International Pavilion, though I didn’t identify it as such. Following the photo is a map of the site, and you can make out the “troughs” in the pavilion roof. (#10 on the map)

International Pavilion

International Pavilion Roof

Expo 2012 Map

Expo 2012 Map

Let’s hope there are no other mishaps.

Hang in There

I’m still quite busy with work. Although the new semester’s class workload seems to have settled down, I was offered a project, which I’ve been working on the last several days. I’ve been proofreading a rather long paper written in English by a couple of Chinese students here at the university, a paper about three early-20th century Chinese and Korean writers. I finally finished that today, though I may have to make a few other revisions to it.

The next few days I’ll be working on meeting the new requirements for English teachers to keep their visas (or in applying for new visas). Before, U.S. citizens used to be able to get a notarized criminal background check (cbc) from our home states. The law was changed a while back, so that now we have to get an FBI national cbc. Even though I’ve not been back to the ‘States since I arrived in Yeosu, I still have to get the FBI check. This involves getting a set of fingerprints, which I can do here, and sending those in with an application form to the FBI. They then send it back, at which time someone (the teacher, friends, or relatives) have to hand carry it to a State Department or Justice Department entity to get it notarized. Quite a process and one which I can’t easily do. Luckily, there are a few businesses that will do all the legwork in the U.S.; I’ll be using one of those.

The whole process takes anywhere from 3 to 4 months, and, since I’ll need the paperwork by the middle of August, I’d better complete my end of the procedure this week. I also need to have my diplomas from the University of Montana notarized. Luckily, the U of M offers this service, so I have to contact them for that stage of the process.

I also have to prepare my IRS tax form and send that in soon. Whew! I’m still fairly busy. Although rain is in the forecast for this coming weekend, I’m going to try to get down to the Expo site and shoot some photos of the ongoing progress.

The upshot is “Hang in there” while waiting for more posts on the blog. I’ll get ’em going sooner or later.


Well, we’re still a few weeks short of the official beginning of Spring, but the weather lately has been Spring-like. So, despite the possibility that I’m jinxing things, I’ve changed the header photos that appear at the top of the blog. I’ve put up the spring and summer photos that I took here in Yeosu and in Morocco several years ago. Here’s hoping that the cold weather and frigid winds are finished for the season.

Also, regular readers of the blog have probably noticed that my previous relatively frenetic posting has reverted back to my habit of several days between posts. No, I haven’t gotten lazy! It’s just that the Spring semester has started and I’ve been quite busy of late. In addition, one of our new teachers had visa problems and he had to make a visa run to Japan for several days. Some of the other teachers, including yours truly, volunteered to cover his classes until he returns, so that’s added to the workload and lack of time. Hopefully, I’ll be posting more often beginning soon. So, please be patient and I’ll have more later.

Laos Friends

OK, one final post with photos from my vacation in Laos and Thailand back in December. I put up some children’s photos last time, so this one has a few photos of adults.

Most of these were taken around the New Year holiday, but the Lao people like to start celebrating several days before and continue for a few days after New Year’s Day. Here’s lunch at Nai’s house on Dec. 31st, eaten by about 7-8 family members and friends. Let’s see, what do we have here? Looks like the remains of some fish, deep-fried chicken feet, various greens, a veggie salad and, of course, Beer Lao.

Lunch at Nai's house in Laos

Lunch at Nai's House

While some of us were eating and talking (with me pretending to listen–I don’t speak or understand the Lao language, yet), other folks, including Nai, were playing cards. It looks like a Lao version of gin rummy, I guess, with small wagers included.

Laos card game

Afternoon card game

These are a few of Nai’s brother’s friends, who are working on a good-sized platter of semi-congealed cow blood soup. Various herbs are thrown into the soup, along with a couple of hands full of peanuts. Yummmm! Nai’s sister Nui is on the left.

Next are Nai’s brother Pui (Poo-ee), in the center, flanked on the right by cousin Mot (Maht) and on the left by another lovely cousin, whose name I’ve forgotten. Mot’s mother (one of Nai’s sisters) and father live and work in Thailand, but he was visiting the homestead for a few weeks. I mentioned to Nai that Mot didn’t appear too happy to be here, but Nai told me he wasn’t happy to be going back to Thailand (and to school) soon. The young lady asked me, through Nai, to find her a Western boyfriend. I told her I’d put her photo on the internet, so here it is.

Laos friends

Laos friends

The day before, on the 30th, Nai and I were in Vientiane visiting a Lao friend’s pub. While shooting pool, Nai introduced me to a friend of his from Nai’s village. He’s a policeman in Vientiane, I believe, and a very friendly fellow. Here he is, posing with Nai.

Nai with his friend

Nai and Friend

I really love this guy’s expressive face. To me, he looks like one of the characters in the early-60s hit TV comedy “Car 54, Where Are You?” Actor Joe E. Ross played my favorite character on the series, Officer Gunther Toody. Mr. Ross is on the right. On the left is Fred Gwynne as Officer Francis Muldoon. Gwynne was also famous for the Herman Munster character on “The Munsters.”

Car 54, Where Are You?

Fred Gwynne and Joe E. Ross

What do you think–resemblance or not? To help you decide, here’s another photo of Nai’s friend with me, an obligatory shot, I suppose. Nai took the photo, but he did such a lousy job. It makes me look too fat! Where’s my chin? I DO have a chin. (I must have had my head tucked into my neck on this one!)

Ron and Nai's friend

Ron and Nai's Friend

We also took a walk along the Chao Anouvong Park along the Mekong. One of the signature features of the park is a larger than life statue of King Anouvong, the last ruler of the Lan Xang (Million Elephants) Kingdom. The Vientiane Times of June 15, 2010 (by way of LaoVoices) states that:

“Since Chao Anouvong is remembered for reuniting the country, his statue will depict the strength of his leadership, and should be as close to lifelike as possible,” said Head of the Ministry of Information and Culture’s Fine Arts Department, Dr Bounthieng Siripaphanh.

The statue, which is costing about 5 billion kip to make, will stand about 8 metres high and 3 metres wide. The king will be represented holding a sword in his left hand while gesturing with his right.

One of the greatest achievements of Chao Anouvong’s reign was the construction of Vat Sisaket, Vientiane’s oldest standing temple today.

This Wikipedia article, however, is not so kind to the king:

Modern Lao nationalist movements, on the other hand, have turned Anouvong into a hero, even though his strategic and tactical mistakes combined with his hot temper led to the end of the kingdom of Lan Xang (Million Elephants) destruction of Vientiane, and a permanent division of the Lao people between the country of Laos and the Lao-speaking provinces of northeastern Thailand.

Hero or not, it’s still an impressive statue.

Chao Anouvong statue

King Anouvong Statue

That wraps up my vacation to Thailand and Laos, so we’ll be goodnight and adieu, until next time.

Photo of the Moon and Venus

The Moon and Venus at Dusk From Nai's House

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