Saturday, November 14, 2015

South Korea Day 5

South Korea Day 5

            Long overdue, but it still needs to be done, so here it is the next segment of my week long jaunt through Seoul.  Now last time I took the day long trip through the DMZ, which was a lot of fun if a bit crazy at times.  Day five was a bit more relaxing as I took a bike tour around the city, which just so happens to be my favorite way to see a city.  It was also a small group, with a brother sister pair from Texas.  Apparently her reason for traveling to Korea was very similar to my reason for visiting Japan (anime), popular Korean media, otherwise known as K-drama.

Seoul History Museum Part 2

            Now for the inside of the museum.  On my second trip through the Museum, I was actually given enough time to read the English translations, and take a few pictures.

Nongno- or a Korean crane from the Joseon Dynasty

Husband’s room

Wife’s Room

Changing Times in Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace

            While there are five palaces in Seoul this particular palace is the largest and the oldest built three years after the start of the Joseon Dynasty.  It served as the seat of power until the Japanese invasion in 1592, when it was burnt down.  The palace was not rebuilt after the invasion and the royal court moved to another palace, Changdeokgung.

            267 years later in 1867 the palace was rebuilt and reoccupied by the royal family.  Sadly this didn’t last very long as the royal family abandoned it for a smaller palace after the empress was assassinated by Japanese agents.  Now abandoned, the Japanese destroyed all but ten buildings.  The palace remained in this state until the Korean government began a still ongoing restoration in 1989.


Interior Gate

Throne Room

Living Room


Alright now for the rest of the Tour

            I would say the highlight of the day was the museum and palace tour.  Not to mention the guide was excellent, and more than willing to answer any and all questions.  The snacks were a nice touch to.  One more thing I really shouldn’t have waited until now to write more about that trip as I really didn’t write a whole lot of stuff down.

Down by the river

            If you don’t recognize this part then let me fill you in.  This is one of the roads that was used in the chase scene from Avengers 2 Age of Ultron.  So I had a blast when that part of the movie came up since I had been there before.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Houstai Park

Houstai Park

            Seeing as this is Mongolia, the time to get field trips in is in the beginning of the school year before the weather gets cold.  Ah field trips the love of students everywhere and potentially the bane of teachers depending on how much work you actually have to do to set it up.  So yeah that pretty much explains why I haven’t taken my classes on to many field trips.  Oh and the lack of places to take them to and the occasional block from administration.

            Anyway none of those were the case here in Mongolia as I worked with another teacher to arrange a trip to Houstai Park in the Mongolian countryside to see the wild horses of Mongolia.  Don’t worry it wasn’t all fun and games as the students had to do some site sampling to determine the biodiversity of the park.

Warning Science Content

            If you don’t know what site sampling is, here is the short hand version.  Yes I know that there are many ways to do it, but this is what I had my students do.

1- Mark off a 1 square meter area

2- Count up the number of different species of living things in the sampling site, and how many of each species are present.
3- Compare the results to a site sampling done at the school to determine which area has more biodiversity
            Hint- the more species there are the more biodiversity there is

            Not to worry I didn’t make it quite that easy for my little darlings, they had to take pictures, do sketches, record the local conditions, etc.  One more thing my ninth graders had to walk the sixth graders through the whole process.

Science content over

            The day got off to a bit of an auspicious start with snow, not completely uncommon for Mongolia at this time of year.  While this might have caused some pause for a school trip in the states not here in Mongolia and we were soon off to the races.

And finally the countryside

Arrival…… I think

            It seems getting to the park is not the same as it is in the States, because one you get there you’re not really there.

Time for some off-roading and cows

Woohoo buildings

            It only took about 2.5 hours to get to this point, but it’s not time for any hiking yet.  There was another 30min or so before the hiking started.  The students were very good sports about all of this, and didn’t give me any trouble at all.  I think it’s because they were just happy to have a day off from being in the classroom.

Ok time for some hiking, but sadly no horses.

Yes this is Mongolia and not Scotland

Something unexpected and interesting

            It’s a hike in the countryside, so it should be lots of pretty scenery animals and all the rest of nature.  This of course includes rocks.

            Um ok, that’s a little odd.  Rocks don’t just randomly end up in a circle like that.  Well I guess technically they can, it’s just one of those one is one billion things right.

            Again those look a little to organized, so being the inquisitive person that I am on occasion, I asked our guide.
            Oh that, it’s just the remains of a Buddhist Monastery that used to be here a couple hundred years ago.
            Well shit, it looks like the students get to learn a little history on a science field trip.

            In the end the students got to enjoy a day hiking in the countryside and I got to see some more of Mongolia at the same time.  Oh and their Biodiversity investigations went off without a hitch.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Back in Mongolia and back in action

Ok, I’m getting back to a more regular update schedule I swear

            Dang it’s been far too long since I’ve updated the blog.  Well it’s now my second year here in the currently chilly Mongolia.  Yes, it’s already getting cold.  You heard me right and I have broken out the sweatshirts, hat, and gloves.  I even got 2 inches of snow two weeks ago and this was after two rounds of flurries and hail each.

            Not cool you do realize that yesterday I had blue sky warm weather and sandy beaches.  However this is the price I pay for living and working in Mongolia.  At least the food is better here in Mongolia.

            My Jeju Island trip will be another post, so what else has been going on in Mongolia.  Well the year got off to a great start, at least until I got sick.  The flu decided to make its yearly rounds a bit early this year.  The turned out to be the least of my worries, as no sooner than I recover from the flu, do I come down with Chingis Khan’s Revenge.  Yup, I can’t win, now I don’t know if it was the water (there were some problems at the sewage treatment plants over the summer), or the school food (which some of us did get sick on last year).  Either way I ended up in the emergency room due to well, if you haven’t figured it out, the Mongolian version of Montezuma’s revenge.

            Long story short, 3 hours, 2 IV bags, and a physical by a doctor, and I am on my way.  Oh and the cost of all this, a whole 97.47$ American.  Shocking I know, at least to my American readers.  Sadly it didn’t do the trick and I went for antibiotics a week later and man do I love modern medicine.  Oh and the cost for 40 pills, wait for it, a whopping 75 cents.  I was happy to finally be healthy the cost savings were simply a bonus.  At least until I discovered my latest ding dong moment.

            So all the way back in 2011 I signed up for a healthcare discount card that costs 34$ a month.  Now here’s the thing, why would a discount card cost money.  Isn’t the whole point of having a discount card to save money not spend money?  The more important thing is that I never actually remembered signing up for the thing in the first place.  Argh….. You can do the math, but let’s just say it’s more than enough for me to go SCUBA diving in South East Asia for the week.  I’ve managed to discontinue the payments, so now I’m just hoping I’ll be able to get some of it back.

Picture Time

Last year

This year

            Hey what the heck happened to the road it’s….. It’s paved….. And we have sidewalks now….. Holy crap what happened over the summer.  Well the Auto Spa Zaisan should still be here right.

            Or not.  Well I have to say this is an improvement, a little slice of Americana has come to Zaisan.  The Pizza Hut is passable, but I’ve never really been a fan of Pizza Hut.  It also has the same problem as other Mongolian pizza places, they just can’t seem to do a decent peperoni.  I can’t say much about the KFC as it was the first time I’ve ever had it.  Who would have thought that I would have to come all the way to Mongolia to finally have KFC.

            I lost the picture from last year, but I came back to a heck of lot more construction than I expected.  The Mongolians sure build them fast, but the question everyone still has is where is all the money for this coming from.

            Well that’s about it for the basics, with more on the way.  I’ve got repeat excursions to Bodg Khan and Terelj, plus my Jeju Island trip that you can look forward to seeing.  Ah screw it I’ve got one more thing for you guys.

The Changing of the Guard

            No, I’m not talking about the famous changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.  Flying through Seoul is a bit faster than London.  In a generic term the changing of the guards is a ceremony that is performed when the soldiers change between shifts.  The most famous of these being Buckingham Palace.  However, it is performed at other locations around the world, one of which happens to be Mongolian parliament building.

            So why did it take me so long to stumble onto this little gem.  Honestly most of us here at the school have no idea, even the ones that have been here a long time.  Apparently it takes place every Saturday at noon, when the weather is nice.  (FYI- I that means during tourist season)  It might have been years ago, but I still remember the changing at the Guards at Buckingham Palace and the Mongolian one is nothing like it.  One you can get a lot closer to the action, two take pictures with the guards, and three it doesn’t take nearly as long.  A good thing since I was on my way to English club.  The club is simply a gather of Mongolians who meet with westerns to chat and practice their English.