Blossoms of a cherry

Trip Start Jun 29, 2006
Trip End Jun 26, 2007

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

April has gotten off to a nice start!

Last Friday was a special night - not only did I get to see Namgyu (who I probably haven't seen since November), but I gave my disco ball to Yes! and we got our Yes! t-shirts!! We also met some cool new Korean dudes (thanks to Brandon, as always). We had dinner with Kang, Fred, and Jeon - that's when Namgyu stopped by. Then all the Koreans left us, so the waeguks headed to Yes! and by the time we had sat down, Brandon had already scoped a table to guys to go meet. We joined their table and had some drinks before Melissa and Stephen went home around 3. Brandon and I stayed on, and when the group started to leave we convinced a few to stay out with us. We stayed out until 7 in the morning - it's always fun when I can ride the bus home! Most of the guys were from Busan but apparently they come out in Ulsan every weekend, so hopefully we'll hang out with them again. Saturday was nice and slow, but Melissa and I went out and about to HomePlus Tesco. My mission was to get a birthday gift for Stephen and I managed to succeed! That night we went to Yes! with Yuran, Yanghwa, Kang, John, Alex, and Tom. JP also came by and finally met Brandon. Melissa and I called it an early night and went home to plan for our Sunday outing.

With the onset of warmer weather, cherry blossoms are blooming all over Korea. Jinhae is famous for it's cherry blossom festival. It also happens to be home of a large Navy Academy so there are those festivities as well. Melissa and I decided to check it out since it's relatively close to Ulsan. We met at 8.30a Sunday and caught a direct bus to Jinhae (there's only one each way in the morning and evening). It was a long ride... over three hours but the blossoms were lovely and the rain stayed away. It was however, an unfortunate time to spend all day outside. Korea was experiencing "Yellow Dust" which is bad haze due to dust/sand/pollution blown across Asia from the Gobi desert (this is why a lot of Koreans wear masks). It was literally the worst day on record and I spent all day outside with no mask. It also made for bad long-distance views in Jinhae, but at least up close things were lovely. We walked around and around and at 6 we caught the bus back. It was quite full and we spent half the ride standing, but it was worth it. In Jinhae there was an overwhelming amount of kokoKorea-tastic people watching to be had. My favorite were the young men in their Navy uniforms and the high school kids out in force to help with pedestrian traffic. They had whistles and were doing hand movements and would bow and say thank you for coming when it was time to cross. So cute. Melissa and I arrived home almost exactly 12 hours after we left.

If that wasn't enough cherry blossom viewing for me, Monday night saw more! After classes, my director drove all the teachers (minus Mr. Lee who had to stay and teach) to Gyeoungju for a nighttime viewing of the blossoms. We had dinner, went for a lakeside walk, then went and ate/drank more before heading home. It was a late night and I was falling asleep in the van on the way home (which really means I was tired, because I hate sleeping on transportation). It was nice though.

Classes are going pretty well. My middle school class was recently cut to just three students and although devastated it gave me more one-on-one time with the kids left. Unfortunately today I found out that all of my students have been switched to the later class and I won't have them anymore! It seems like for both Stephen and me that our favorite classes always get changed. There are a few new students recently and a few students of mine that have stopped coming. Overall things are the same as usual. I don't have much time left - less than three months so I'm trying to really find that balance before I leave. Stephen's birthday and Easter are this weekend and I think we're planning on a day trip to Gyeoungju with some of our Korean friends so it should be nice!

As always, check out my flickr page for LOTS more photos.
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