Travel Updates

WAHOO!!!
I just booked my flight to Japan for May 26 🙂  I have another good friend teaching there, so I’ll be able to spend some time with her and see her neck of the woods 😀
I got a really good deal on the flight too.
I have a 3-day weekend (oh dahhhhling…Looks like I’m off to Japan for this extended weekend…toodles!) and I kept toying with the idea of going because the flight can be pricey…and it was only 3 days.  Also, trying to find good flight times was also a hassle.  It seemed all the flights left here in the late evening and then the return flights left really early.  Complete opposite of what I’m looking for.

I’ve been keeping an eye on it though, and managed to find a good flight at a reasonable price ($200 cheaper than when I first saw it), so I jumped on it.  I feel better about it because the times are good and I got a good deal on the flight prices.  🙂

Back up plan was to go to the World DJ Festival (basically a giant rave–a huge concert where a bunch of DJs from around the world come together and put on a weekend-long concert/show) and then to see the Lantern Festival in Seoul that Sunday.
I still want to go to that, but I think this will be great too.  Anyway, there’s always next year for that other stuff if I still plan to stay an extra year.

DMZ…finally

Actually, this is the DMZ post.  heh.  Didn’t want that last one to be an obnoxiously long post.

I left Daejeon with some friends on the weekend of the 13th–very early Saturday morning.  We took the train to Seoul and met up for our 9am tour at the USO office.  We left a big bus with about 30-40 others in our group.
Blech.  I really don’t want to write out all of this.  Probably why I’ve been procrastinating.
Anyway, I went to the border between North and South Korea (and stood across the line for a few minutes!–I was in a UN building, so all was fine.)
Our tour guide was kind of terrible because she kept apologizing about her poor English and seemed shy and embarrassed.   Which, I’m usually a pretty understanding person, especially in a foreign country…but, why be a tour guide then?  If you’re shy and nervous and think your English is crap…why give a tour to 40 English speakers?  ESPECIALLY if we’re paying $80-90 a person.  How is that fair?  I went so I could learn more about the area (and to step into N. Korea), and she didn’t tell us any stories or anything (as with other guides) because she was too embarrassed.
It’s kind of a weird area because they have gift shops and such at the DMZ area…and it’s technically a war zone…weird.
However, I felt the tension more when we went to the JSA (Joint-Security Area) where you can actually see the line that divides the two sides and each country has soldiers guarding the border.  They also have you sign a waiver before you can go visit that portion (and not all tours go up this far.)
They also have rules that prevent you from taking pictures in certain directions or against making gestures or pointing when you’re out on the steps looking at N. Korea because apparently they can use that as propaganda.

Interesting tour and another thing off my list, but I REALLY wish that I had a better tour guide so I could have learned more.

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Pics Include:

*me at the DMZ building–there’s a historical museum and the entrance to The Third Tunnel (which we got to go in)
*me at the JSA (standing next to a S. Korean soldier–apparently the highest honor.  Best marks in school, military and a black belt in at least 3 forms of martial arts)
*me on the steps of the building facing N. Korea.  (Only could face cameras straight ahead).  So that building was actually in North Korea.

Homesickness Strikes Again

I finally have some time to write my entry on the DMZ, so that’s in this post and also more homesickness.  Blech.

As far as the homesickness thing, it definitely comes and goes.  It feels a bit like a plague or I guess…a bit like being in quicksand.  I know it’s happening, but I just feel like I’m suffocating and I can’t bring myself out of my funk.  I’m going to work on making working out more of a priority again..one, because I enjoy it and two, hopefully it will create more structure in my life and help keep the homesickness at bay.  Once the feeling hits, I don’t feel like doing much of anything.  I was in a complete fog yesterday at work and the thought “this culture is so stupid” kept crossing through my mind no matter what kind of thoughts I could think up to counter it.
It sort of takes over.
Yeah, the quicksand visual seems to represent it the best, IMO.
As far as Skyping people from back home to relieve it, that works to an extent, but then it can also backfire and make me miss home even more.
I’m having a good time, but there still is a really long adjustment period.

The thing is, I think most people here are stressed out because of the “work, work, work!” mentality, and the culture is a drinking culture. Drinking for fun and also going out with the bosses.  I’ve only really been a social drinker back home, and that’s not a habit I intend on picking up.  However, it could be really tempting if you’re not careful.  Stress + the fact that it’s so prevalent…
I just don’t want that for myself, so I need to rely on other means of coping.  I think the fact that I’m aware of this will help me though.  I know what I want out of this experience, and I tend to pretty good at (if I do say so myself) making things happen if I want them to.

Anyway, I’m feeling better (ish) today.  Ready for the weekend though.  I really wish I could have packed my mattress when I came over here though.  An extremely firm (ie: like the floor) mattress is the standard here.  People here often still sleep on the floor (hence the heated floors) or on a mat on the floor, so the mattresses tend to be pretty close to that.
And…if you’re a westerner…um.  It’s awful.  I need to look around for a good massage place.  Anyway, feeling better, but couldn’t get myself to fall asleep last night.  Went to bed at midnight and didn’t fall asleep til around 2:30am.  :-/  I watched the rest of ‘The Pursuit of Happyness” and felt tired enough to sleep, but the negative thoughts from the day were still rolling around in my head.

Oh, and I made a new desktop wallpaper for my computer, and that’s helping too. Anytime I look at it, I feel better.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”