Hike-Ho Hike-Ho

Once again the rain is coming down in Korea. Sadly, due to the cost of the warning messages I got all last year (see here for more), I did not have prior warning of this.  However, the weekend that was more than makes up for this positively Irish weather.

11214334_10205580114796503_3788995163751014237_nFriday saw us take a severely indulgent trip to the “Urban Camping Barbecue” in KyungSung (right next to Monk bar for those of you Busanites looking). This place serve everything the way you would if you were camping. That is if you were camping in a premium spot with easy access to water and refrigerated alcohol, of which we drank too much. Luckily we had Costco pizza and hotdogs to clear up any nasty hangover the following day.

The true highlight of the weekend though was certainly our 5 hour hike on Sunday. We met George and Ciera, an old friend we will miss as he’s headed home and a new friend we will miss just as much, at 10 and took the subway (line 1, orange) to Oncheongjang. From here we took the cable car up to the Geumjeong mountain (click here for Lonely Planet instructions).

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The End of the Rockstar Teacher

Rockstar Teacher (n): A teacher who strolls into class convinced of their own importance and full of righteousness. Can often be seen playing games and aiming to become a friend rather than educator. Most easily identified by a lack of preparedness and over-reliance on games in the classroom.

Over the past number of weeks I have felt like a great teacher. My classes like me; we laugh and joke and cover the required pages in the textbook and then joke around some more. This felt like I was doing my job to the letter. Instructing English lessons was no problem at all.

Slowly, I began to feel like the Gene Simmons of English language teaching. No, I didn’t have the face make-up and I shan’t comment on the over large tongue, but I did feel like a rockstar. It was wonderful. I could rock into class and do the work set out by the text book, high-five some kids, and we would rock through the lessons.

However, I began to notice that the kids haven’t actually learned anything for this rockstar teacher. Sure, our textbooks are full of worked examples, but the kids were not equipped with the skills they needed to reproduce this on their own. At first, like many other teachers, I thought it was the students being unwilling to understand although that didn’t feel like the right answer.

The truth is that I was unwilling to understand my students’ difficulties, and no amount of high fives of laughs could cover up something like that. So I have decided to change my methods. I still hope to be a “fun teacher”, and the high fives are here to stay, but the poor attitude of “bad students” is being laid to rest.

This is the end of the rockstar teacher.


Apologies for the long absence readers, but I’ve been very busy trying to assimilate and not get snowed under at work. Not to mention that I’ve been off skiing, and bowing, and helping friends move house over the past few weekends! More on the skiing later when I put together a picture album of the snaps J took.

The Culinary Cabaret

Good day readers, welcome to Monday, when the questions make no sense, and there’s not enough coffee in the world to wake you up! The worst thing about Mondays is not the fact that I have to wait 5 more days until the weekend, but rather that the weekend is over, almost as if it never happened! This is particularly grievous when you have had such a wonderful weekend as I had.

“Emmet, this post is tagged as ‘Food Glorious Food’ get to the food bit!” I hear you cry, well ok then enough waxing philosophical. Let’s begin.

Caffe Primo: The Best Brunch in Town.

Determined not to fall into the usual trap of waking up late and doing nothing, Jamie and I rose early on Saturday morning with the vain hope of completing a hike (a hope we have almost every weekend). However, stepping out into the cool air and flapping wind we settled for a walk on the beach and a massive brunch second breakfast.

Naturally, Caffe Primo (Korean website here) was our selection as we were already at the beach. The brunch menu here is excellent. There are so many options to choose from on the menu. Such as, Eggs Benedict, BLT, a full brunch, and many others I’ve not tried, but all of which look delicious. Even my picture below does not do the ‘Primo Brunch’ justice, it’s that good. Sadly, I didn’t manage to persuade J to delay wolfing into his BLT to snap a pic.

I opted for no mushrooms on mine as they are my Kryptonite... Ok that's a lie, I just hate them.

I opted for no mushrooms on mine as they are my Kryptonite… Ok that’s a lie, I just hate them.

Check out those fluffy eggs and crispy bacon. A veritable feast!

You would think that after such a massive meal in the middle of the day, we would choose a small dinner late in the evening. Especially given that we went to the ‘First Busan Foreigner Market’ and ate delicious muffins and other snacks here too. Alas, no, we continued the theme of food by following up with dinner in a French restaurant, Le Jardin.

Le Jardin

I know those of you who know me from back home will be amazed that I went to a French restaurant given that I have never been a massive fan of France. Not since I stayed there aged 8, a self-catering holiday in the rain. Perhaps, I’ve realized it’s time to let by-gones be by-gones and move on. I’m getting off topic, right, Le Jardin.

Walking to Le Jardin kind of feels like you’re walking away from anywhere that you might find a great place to eat, as it’s about 15 minutes from the KyungSung University subway station (exit 5, turn around and then take a right, keep walking until you see the university and pass a T-Mobile on the corner then take the next right, it looks like a blind alley). However, it’s worth the trip!

Upon entering, we were greeted by the smell of cooked garlic and the friendly staff in the semi-open kitchen. We were also met by a blast of heat, much needed and often absent in restaurants on these cold winter nights!

leJardin Chicken Tourte

I had the Chicken Tourte (above), which was deliciously creamy and so filling, without being overly greasy or too heavy. LeJardin

Jamie had… the above. I can’t remember the listed name, basically it was cheesy bacon, potato and onion… Google informs me that this dish is, in fact, called Tartiflette. Jamie was willing to share thank God, because this looked so mouth-watering. I think it was my favorite of the two, the potatoes were delicious, the cheese was good (a true rarity in Korea) and the whole dish was perfectly seasoned!

It is unsurprising that the food here is so good as the chef is French, which really surprised me when I saw him in the kitchen. It also adds credence to Lumiere’s assertion that in France “The dinner here is never second best!”.

Truly, the weekend was a triumph of food, or rather of our stomachs, as they took all the food we scoffed. On Sunday, the stomachs had their work cut out again as we had lunch in Costco on our monthly jaunt. Hot dogs, pizza slices and chicken bakes abounds, all washed down with unlimited soda. Sure, we may have gained almost a stone weight (14 pounds or 6kg), but it was delicious, and that’s what counts!

So You Want to Come to Korea? Part 2: Recruiter, Recruiter, Make Me a Match

So yesterday(ish) I wrote about the boatload of documents you need to get you application for a visa to come to Korea (see here). Today, I move onto the somewhat confusing topic of recruiters. Recruiters are one of the best ways to find a job in Korea, if you are not already in the country as they will know about many upcoming jobs and can often have a large catchment area of schools.

Trust me, at least once in your dealings with Korean recruiters you are going to feel like the man above. It can be frustrating and agonizing!

Firstly, what exactly are recruiters? 

Well, I’m glad you’ve asked, because this is a very important question and an even more important answer! In short they are companies that find candidates for schools. Key point here. They are businesses, who work for schools. Recruiters do not work for you, they work with you, but not for you never forget this.

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No Rubbing Eyes: The Story of Laser Eye Surgery in Korea

Recently, two of my close friends faced their fears and stared down the barrel of the laser gun, both literally and figuratively, in order to improve their eyesight. Needless to say I was eager to accompany them to the clinic to see what all the fuss is about, and to help them home after surgery of course.

So what is laser eye surgery like in Korea?

Their clinic definitely did not look like this…

Firstly, I must tell you that Jamie and Lindsay did part with that little bit extra cash for a pretty fancy clinic in one of the more affluent areas of town, so you can expect top notch treatment to be mentioned.

Now back to the matter at hand, the clinic. Located on the 14th floor of a rather swanky skyscraper, the clinic set the tone from the very moment we stepped off the elevator. As we walked through the sliding glass doors, we were greeted by a whole host of beautiful receptionists all of whom had decent English. Looking around in awe I wondered if we had happened upon a spa rather than the ophthalmologist’s, everywhere I looked were leather couches and iMacs for those waiting to be seen. Also there were so many smaller private waiting rooms, full of wonders yet to be discovered.

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The Weekend on Wednesday

Halfway there folks, it’s finally Wednesday! Although, that said, it’s also already Wednesday and it’s taken me until now to get myself in gear to post the pictures from last weekend’s adventure.

Having had a lazy Saturday going to the “pictures”, as they say in dear old Ireland, to see Gone Girl, we decided to use Sunday to visit the Children’s park for the first time, as we mistook the Citizen’s park for it last time (here’s the scoop on that).

Front Gate

“Reports show Rubik’s Cubes, Hello Kitty, Pooh Bear and Disney are among the best-selling toys. Which should we use in the statue ma’am?” “Yes!”

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Blasting the Blues Away

I know it’s been rather a blue two weeks here in Busan, and you have taken the brunt of it readers, but I have finally blown the homesickness away. Quite literally.

On Saturday evening, after a decidedly unusual meal of chicken soup, which arrived complete with chicken carcass in the bowl, to avoid confusion about the contents, I’m sure (but more on that another time), we headed to the Busan Fireworks Festival on Gwangalli beach. Naturally, with the firework display beginning at 9 we rocked up around 7. This was arguably our second mistake of the day, after the chicken soup.


Luckily my random photo-snapping resulted in some nice shots!

You see, by the time we arrived 80,000 other inhabitants of Busan, some having camped out all day, had also decided to turn out for the show. So, there we were amidst hundreds of others with similar intentions, debating whether to hike to higher ground to gain a better vantage or to face the reality that we should settle for a beach-side spot and learn our lesson for next year. Ultimately we opted for the latter.

Although our spot was less than ideal, the experience was definitely one of the best so far on my sojourn here in Korea. As you can see from the picture, we were right of center for the show, which gave us some giggles during the “Couples” theme segment when the heart-shaped fireworks looks more phallic than perhaps was intended.

I must admit though, that the atmosphere of the crowd was somewhat subdued, especially given that the population of Busan and it’s brother were there. One girl was even so good as to bring her cat to the festivities. How…kind…of her? Far be it from me to deprive a cat of enjoying nearly an hour of load explosions and flashing lights!

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Friday Feeling: Matchbox Living

Welcome readers to a new kind of post here: Friday Feeling. Every Friday I’ll post a video that encapsulates the mood of the day/week, accompanied by a short explanation of the choice. Hope you enjoy.

Today, I’m once again feeling ever so slightly sleepy thanks to my very considerate neighbors and their yappy puppy. The latter of which is locked into their boiler room in the evening, a pity it isn’t the former. Added to the yapping last night, was the argument of my maritally challenged neighbors on the same floor who have a weekly row when hubby stumbles home too full of soju and doesn’t remember the door code.

In the end though, I did get to sleep and slept well as my late working hours allow me time to sleep in. Just one more day before the movie marathon I have planned.

Here’s to the weekend folks!

Culture Shot: Sidewalk Sharpshooters

“Don’t mess with me boys”

Yes, you read that right, Korea has sharpshooters on every sidewalk. It’s one of the biggest adjustments I’ve had to make to living here, because it’s not a problem back home…well, at least not to the same extent.

No, I’m not talking about soldiers with sniper rifles on every corner, in case you hadn’t guessed; that was hyperbole. These guys and gals, let’s not forget the gals, have a much more appalling weapon of choice: phlegm.

As you walk down the street at any time of day or night you can hear the priming of a weapon, a throaty sound, guttural and hacking, like someone speaking Slavic with a sore throat, and you know it’s coming. You feel the fear bunch your shoulders and the unease tighten your stomach, desperately listening for the puwhtuh as the projectile flies from its barrel, so you can check for any casualties.

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Have You Seen My Baseball?

Baseball season may be over for the year, but as usual I was a late-comer to the game and only caught the last match of the season. However, the Major League Baseball is a big, BIG deal here. Both for natives and expats alike.

I guess I shouldn’t find this surprising given the huge American influence here and the penchant of other Asian nations for the National Pastime (albeit national in reference to the US). Given that I had previously gone to a baseball game in the States, GOOOOOO RAAAAYS, I thought I knew what I was in for. As with most things here in Korea though, I can honestly say I was not aware of quite what I was in for.


Stretch it out boys!

In fact, I may have been lured into going by the promises of fried chicken and some cool cool Pepsi (seeing as beer would have my insides upside-down, and probably my outsides down-side up) as my interest in 3 hours of rounders is negligible. Therefore, I had very little clue of what to expect.

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