Monday, October 28, 2013

Pet Cafe - Gangnam - Seoul

Something different you can do in Seoul is try out a pet cafe. From my research there are some good and bad pet cafe's in Seoul, but Ellie House near Yeoksam Station is one of the better ones on the south side of the river. If you are on the north side of the river Bau House near Hapjeong station is supposed to be good also

Unlike a typical Korean cafe, it isn't jam packed full of seats and tables. There is a large open area in the middle for dogs to be dogs. It wasn't too busy when we arrived, but there were a couple of other people there relaxing with their dogs. 

We quickly made some new friends. 

These two were super jealous of each other. 

Initially these two were uninterested in our arrival.

But soon warmed up to us and said hello. 

Is it just me, or does this dog have abnormally long legs?

The menu at the cafe isn't huge but, as you would expect at a pet cafe, you can buy dog food. Prices are a little rich, but Gangnam is quite an upmarket area and they have forfeited a lot of their floor space to their 4 legged customers. 

They have a range of beverages including electrolyte replacement especially for dogs (the blue bottles on the bottom shelf). Just want a can of coke? That will be $7 thank you.

They also stock a huge variety of dog accessories. 


outfits of all shapes and sizes. 

and even aviation goggles. 

They also will give your mutt a makeover. 

Then take a photo

Which they then hang in the window. 

Overall, Ellie House pet cafe was a nice place to visit. It was interesting and certainly different to anything in Australia, but it is not a place I would make a habit of going to. I'm not a cafe person at the best of times, but the expensive beverages killed it for me. 

Virtual Store - Seolleung Station - Seoul

We had some time to kill in Seoul on Saturday in Gangman. Jihyeon was too embarrassed to dance Gangnam Style with me so we checked off the next time killing activity on my list of things to do. I had heard of a virtual store at Seolleung subway station so we got off the train and wandered around the station looking for, what I thought would be, a high tech store. We soon found it, but it wasn't what I was expecting. 

As you can see below, the virtual store is essentially an advertisement with QR codes you scan with your phone. I don't see how this is more convenient than normal online shopping, but it does make for an interesting way to advertise your products. The virtual store was wrapped around a couple of pillars in the underground walkway. I got a few weird looks from passerby's while I was posing for a photo, but no-one seemed to pay any attention to the technological marvel I was standing next to. 

To buy something:
   1) Download the smartphone app
   2) Find the item you want to buy. If you are lucky it will be available at the store. 
   3) Scan the QR code with the app
   4) Pay with your credit card
   5) Enter your shipping address
It's that easy!

They offer same day FREE delivery (if ordered before 1pm) and you can exchange the goods if you are unhappy. I wanted to order something just for the hell of it, but it was just too much of a pain in the ass. 

The two pillars the store was wrapped around.

and some of the things you can buy. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Work Experience Day

Friday was the work experience day for grade 3. I was lucky enough to be able to tag along with one of my co-teachers and her home class. We would be going to a training center for a couple of hours to learn how to cook. Not exactly what I would consider work experience, but who am I to complain. I get to cook some food and then eat it. I never got to do that when I did work experience in Australia. All I remember of my work experience was the mind-numbingly boring work. I talked to some of the students I went with and was surprised to hear the most many of them have ever cooked was instant noodles in a coup (just add hot water). When I was that age I was in scouts and knew how to cook just about anything over an open fire. I wasn't expecting them to have amazing survival skills in the wild, but many had never even fried an egg or fried up some onion in a pan before. 

I had two choices. I could either make bread, or seafood spaghetti with oysters and prawns. I didn't like the sound of seafood spaghetti, so I stuck with the bread. 

We started off by putting on some fashionable orange vests and watching the baker do a demo.

Then, very precisely breaking the big lump of dough into 50 gram lumps. 

We then had to wrap the dough around the sausage and use scissors to slice up the sausage and flatten it out on the baking tray. 

The love using scissors for everything in Korea. 

We then put some kind of mayonnaise and onion on top of our delicacies. 

And some tomato sauce. I suggested to the students they should write their name instead of doing the boring squiggle that was demonstrated. I was met with a "no, we were told to do it like this". To hell with the rules. I'm writing my name^^. I'm the teacher and I can do whatever I want. Mwahahahaha.

And into the oven they go. 

Mmmmm. Baking.

Waiting around for our bread to cook.

I went for a walk and found the other students that had decided to make spaghetti. 

And then, my bread was done. I shared a plate with a student. The two at the bottom are mine. 

I had two left left over, so the baker kindly put them in a plastic bag for me. Thanks~

I wish every day was different and interesting like this. Oh well. Back to teaching English on Monday :(.

Korean Middle School Sports Day

On Thursday last week was my schools sports day. It was pretty different from the sports days I had in Australia as I was growing up.

Sporting Houses. 
In Australia at my high school, we had 4 sporting houses (similar to the 4 houses of magic in Harry Potter). They were Pegasus (white), Orion (green), Antares (red) and Phoenix (blue). The whole school was split evenly across the 4 sporting houses. Students compete individually and gain places (1st, 2nd, 3rd) and earn points for their sporting house. In Korea it's completely different, each home group class is their own sporting house and all the sports/events are team based, meaning no individual is singled out as being better than the others.

Sporting Events
In Australia at my high school we played a lot of sport. My school would hold a total of 4 sporting carnivals each year. Two major carnivals (athletics and swimming) and two minor carnivals (cross country and triathlon). In addition to the 4 sports days, every Wednesday afternoon was dedicated to playing sport which could also earn points for our sporting house. Here in Korea, it is just the one sporting day and there is no afternoon sport. Only the normal PE classes and a couple of after school sporting teams. 

Sporting Uniforms
This one was really different. In Australia our sporting house uniforms were very simple. Just a coloured shirt (white, green, red or blue depending on our house) with a small badge sewed on the front. In Korea... well... just take a look at the pictures below. There were some very weird and interesting choices of attire. 

The day began with an assembly on the field...

and a speech from the principal. 

And then a brief warm up.

As I mentioned above, in Korea students compete in their home classes. These are the home class numbers for grade 1 where the students need to sit. 

The first game of the day, dodge-ball with some interesting rules. Only boys can tag girls out, and only girls can tag boys out. It means the boys can't just hog the ball and, quite amusingly, boys will hide behind the girls on their team when a girl is throwing the ball. 

Second game for the day was a jumping wave game where students have to jump over a stick. See the video below. 

Next up, I was commandeered to be a judge for the 3 legged race. After much pointing and waving I finally worked out where i was supposed to go and what I was meant to do. 

And here is my awesome head English teacher who explained what I needed to do. 

Next up, jump rope. Teams have to race through the skipping rope. At first 1 at a time, then 2 at a time, then 3 then 4 at a time. 

Next up was the relay race.

Then a game of soccer.

Some basketball.

and some kickball. For any Australians reading this, it is kind of like baseball but instead of a bat and a baseball you, as the name suggests, kick a ball and then run around the bases.

Then, there were the dance competitions. Some of the classes had been practicing a dance routine which they then performed to unbelievably loud distorted music that was painful to listen to.  My favourite part starts around 2:38.

One of the classes chose to do a creative poomsae wearing Taekwondo uniforms. 

The flowers are out in full bloom at my school and the bumble bees are hard at work. 

While the principal was giving his closing speech I heard my name and the whole school turned to look at me and started clapping. I wasn't sure what was going on. I didn't realise it, but my principal had been watching me all day and was apparently impressed by the interest and enthusiasm I showed. At the teacher dinner that night he shared his soju shot glass with me and said if I ever need anything all I need do is ask him.