Friday, 15 November 2013


 Co-Teachers....I don't think anyone would argue the importance of co-teachers and how they influence your experience in Korea. I've met guys with amazing co-teachers that don't have much of an age gap. They hang out, and even go out in the evenings and partake in drinking some of Korea's finest. Then you hear about the the guys who have old-school battle axes that are about as helpful as a chocolate teapot. There really are a variety of co-teachers, as you would expect. I do believe though that a good co-teacher would influence you staying in Korea for maybe another year, whereas a bad co-teacher would certainly make you want to bail and head for the hills.

I would say I've had a little mix of co-teachers over the last 2 years, and I really started thinking about it when my 4th and 5th grade co-teacher (ct) went on maternity leave.

When I arrived at my last school I had 2 ct's. 4th and 5th. My 4th grade ct is a nice lady about my age that is really helpful and on the ball. She gives me enough freedom to do pretty much what I want to do, but at the same time keeping me in check if she thinks that my ideas are dogshit and I need to change my lesson plan. It works well for me....If I had to criticise her I'd just say she lacks the funny/goofy side of entertaining students that I like to use.

My 5th grade ct was well into her 50's/60's....hard to tell. She had a slight disability that didn't really slow her down too much. She was fierce most of the time, which I liked a lot, but she was old-school. Working with her was like talking to a brick to a brick wall. She was not interested in my input at all. Her style and mine was just not gonna mix at all. There was no way I could continue working with her when the semester ended. Fortunately, she was leaving for another school. I can say with 100% confidence say that I would not have stayed at that school if she had stayed there.

The new school year shakes things up a 4th grade ct turned into my 5th grade teacher, I picked up teaching 6th grade so had a brand new ct, and I also picked up 3rd grade and had a new ct for 3rd and 4th. What I enjoyed was the fact I got to sit on the interview process to help pick the new teacher. Although I question how much my weight my opinion carried. I was lucky because it was a fairly easy decision and we picked Young Eun. A lovely lady a little older than me, but I think I'd enjoy teaching with her because our styles are similar.

My 6th grade teacher Mia is also brilliant. 6th graders are a bit of a nightmare and it seems no matter how much effort you put into a lesson, it's hard to predict what will be the end result. I've slaved on lessons that I thought would be awesome. Activities tat get them moving around and a really good mix of fun and learning.....aaaannnnnddddd it tanks. I've also had lessons planned at the last minute with a crappy PowerPoint game thrown in at the end and they go batshit crazy for it. Once again I'm baffled by Korea. Mia rocks it out though and she likes to get involved and really does most of the prep work for me. Lovely.

So I start this new school year a complete winner....But now Young Eun has gone on maternity leave and I get a new replacement ct. And everything shifts again. The new ct is nice but the rapport isn't there and teaching styles are different.

I just can't stress the importance of a good co-teacher. I have been fairly lucky and I do appreciate everything they help me with. I'd say I landed bam smack in the middle of the good/bad ct scale. I've heard way worse stories from friends. Most of them leave or have switched schools.

Anyway, I love working where I am because the kids are really cool and 9/10 times I finish the day with a few of them coming up to me, smiles on their faces and seeing what I'm up to. Trying to get some sweets or Andrew Money or just a high five. A good way to end the day.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Another birthday in Korea.....A Team Style

 Another birthday in Korea

The big 31 has come and gone...can't believe it's been another year. I was hoping it would go a little better than last year.....and well I think it did.

We headed to Busan...home of sand, fish markets, film festivals, firework festivals, music festivals.........none of that was going on. In fact it was a quiet weekend upon reflection in terms of the number of people we saw.

A bunch of us booked a cool hostel right near the beach called Wow. Using that as our base we didn't do too much on the Saturday because the weather was terrible so we went to the pub. Fish and Chips and John Smiths and friendly banter made a lovely afternoon.

I had to go to the beach we gear up in our A Team T shirts for the first and probably last time...take a few beers and we hang out on the beach. It was almost like being back in Brighton. Well, except the the kilo of sand I had to take out of my bum.

Showered up we headed for a top notch Thai restaurant and my lovely chums had sneaked in a lovely cake.

Although this sounds really uneventful...It was really nice to be out of Daejeon and with good friends that's all I really wanted.

What happened after the restaurant will remain confidential....but I'll just say we ended up swimming in the sea at about 6am. Not the best idea for the end of October. I am just about recovering a nasty cold!!!

This has been my Korean family for the last 2 years. This is the last full weekend we had together. I will miss them dearly. They have been the best/worst friends a guy could want out here. 

The aftermath!!!!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Taiwan - Good food, Good times

Holiday time....two weeks of no school, no kids, no sweaty classrooms, no kimchi, no mindboggling Korean logic.....we're off to Taiwan!!!

Hadn't heard too much about Taiwan before going there...I really wanted to go in February but I hurt my knee so couldn't managae it. I'm glad i waited and I'm glad I added an extra week to it as well.

Andrei and I headed off to Taiwan from Seoul on Saturday morning. After a hefty night out in Seoul on the Friday, Andrei joins me (fast asleep on a chair) at Incheon airport. Properly excited and ready to conquer we head off to Taipei.

Adnan has spent a week there already and Brian left the night before. Add on Mitch who now lives there, we know a few people in Taipei for our first day....We have booked a hostel right in the heart of Taipei. Perfect for exploring and perfect for nights out.

My first impression if Taiwan as we land and make our way to Taipei is not a particularly positive one. I wasn't sure what to expect, but architecturally it's an island that doesn't offer much. Until you get to Taipei of course. Home to the 101 building, once the tallest building in the world.

Taipei is an excellent city. Bustling streets and night markets, European and American shops, fancy cars, street vendors, cheap public transport and to boot the people are really friendly. It is so easy to base yourself there and day trip out and around the area. Andrei and I had a great little trip to the hot springs, made famous by the naturally smelly sulphur water. You can go in and wash your feet...I was shocked by how hot it was. The highlight though was a little Taiwanese girl grabbing me by the hand, chatting away to me in Chinese like I understood her, and leading me down to the water to stick my feet in. We had a little chuckle with her and she followed us for a little while, scampering around like she didn't have a care in the world. I got the impression though that she was really living on the bread line. It was extremely bittersweet. But a lovely experience nonetheless.

The first night out is always important in a new city....and we got told of a pink party. Wear something pink and you can get in for free and you can drink free for two hours. Didn't need an excuse really....a great time was had. It was a great introduction into how friendly Taiwanese people are. Really interested in meeting foreign people and happy to start up a conversation. There seems to be less of a self consciousness about Taiwanese people.

We spent five days in Taipei exploring what the city had to offer and eating a lot. I mean the food here is incredible. The night markets are amazing. After watching Fresh Off the Boat with Eddie Huang, I was determined to go to Shilin night market and eat some of the things he ate. I gained about 1kg in about 2 hours of eating some of the best food ever. I'd come back to Taiwan just for their street food. 

We went to this little picturesque town. Nestled in the hills East of Taipei...renowned for it views, tea and lanes busting at the seems with food, goods and tat.
It poured it down though, pretty much just as we arrived. It was actually pretty impressive to see this little place like this. I took some of my favourite holiday snaps here.......

A Canadian, an American and a Japanese guy all trying to be British...pinkies out chaps

After Taipei we head to Khaosiung city, Taiwan's second largest city. We'd made a friend in Taipei who said they would be our tour guide in Khaosiung because they were originally from there. You have to go through there to get to Kenting, our beach destination, so we though 'why not!'


We saw a little bit of the city...more night markets, some live music in a park but essentially there is no real need to go here. We had a good giggle, ate some good food and I got bitten by bed onward to Kenting.

Kenting, for those of you that don't know, is right at the bottom of Taiwan. It is popular in the Summer and dead in Winter. There is a lot of coastline and hard to chose a place to stay. Harder still because everything seemed booked up. We had to settle for a spot central to Kenting and right next to the night market, but not particularly close to a nice beach. As Andrei and I found out the next day, walking about 5Kms in the scorching heat til we found somewhere. But I quite liked our spot. After a day of just chilling out at the beach and watching the local wildlife.....we planned on renting mopeds and exploring the area for tomorrow. Brian planned to go looking forward to tomorrow...

Cue the tornado!!!

We wake up to grey clouds, a chilly breeze and what felt like Gods tears as the rain started to come down. "OK" we say...."what can you do in Kenting when it's raining....turns out, not so much unless you have transportation. Didn't really fancy driving around on a moped in the rain. We just hop on foot and continue to explore the area. 

The nightlife in Kenting was a little interesting...we had made the journey down mid week. So there wasn't a huge amount going on....but even if there was there wasn't an abundance of options. Ibiza this was not. They had one bar/club. The name escapes me....but downstairs they had a cheap Spanish/Mediterranean looking setup and upstairs a small club. They had a cover which we though was strange even to et into the bar...but we went along got two 'free' beers. They provided some entertainment.....this included about 7 ladyboys from Thailand and the Philippines walking around the room grinding on men and getting them to give them tips....the fiscal kind not the anatomical kind. Although for the right price I'm sure this could also have been agreed upon. 
It was actually amusing to see this going was just so surreal. We decided then....back to Taipei....If there is gonna be a tornado, might as well hang out there. 

The last couple of days are spent in Taipei...a little bit of shopping, some more weating and eating and eating and a few nights out....

Taipei clubs are quite interesting. Not really sure how they make any money. They're open from 11-4am and if you look you will find that on any night at least one of them will have an all you can drink promotion. You pay between 500-800ntd (15-20000 won....8-12 quid) and all you can drink til 4am. Excellent. And because everything shuts down at 4am you can't really get on the same levels as you would in Korea. So you can grab a bite to eat, drink some water and wake up the next day not feeling too bad. 

I had an excellent time and can't wait to go back...I would strongly recommend everyone to visit. People say to just go for one week. Well I filled two weeks very easily and I still have more to see. A lovely country. 


Monday, 5 August 2013

Warning: View at your own risk. ;)

This is another little photo album made by Adnan for Andrew's birthday. It shows how much fun we've been having. 

It's crazy to think I've been here for 2 years. We all look so young in some of these pictures. 


Commeth the Summer...commeth the festivals!!

The amount of festivals that occur in Korea during the Summer months are unbelievable. There is always something going on somewhere. Music festivals, food festivals, sand festivals, firework festivals, flower festivals arts goes on. THE festival I wanted to go to this year was the Ansan Valley Music Festival. Moved from Jisan this year, I missed it last year because I went home, so no matter what I was gonna make it happen this year.

Being Korea, where rock music isn't particularly popular, the line up is a little mish mash. But headlining the three nights were The Cure, Skrillex and Nine Inch Nails.....acts also included: Stereophonics, the XX, Vampire Weekend, the Foals, Yellowcard, Fun., Coheed and  Cambria and a bunch of other Korean and Japanese acts. 

Punching out of work early because no one was there I trek up to Ansan from Daejeon which is a ballache and a half and took the best part of 4 hours. I make the journey with a couple of girls I know and we labour our way up there. 

We get there and it's not exactly Glastonbury, but the weather is great and the vibe is cool. Until we realise that the campsite we are gonna stay in is a car park and the ground is actually harder granite. but i'm sure my good friend Mr. Beer will help me sleep past that problem. 

One of the cool things about this festival is that it's cash free. You use your T-Money card. Which is the Korean equivalent of an Oyster Card. So no worries about losing cash....just don't lose your card. With my card fully charged and a beer in hand I wait for Andrei and Adnan to arrive. Andrei  brought a tent with him, but in true A Team fashion we find some shelter, drop everything off and then go off into the compound (which was a good 15 minute walk away).

The next three days consist of listening to music, drinking waaay too many beers, meeting the Mayor of Ansan, Andrei meeting Skrillex, Andrei being surrounded by 8 bouncers, taking Adnan to the hospital because his ankle ballooned to the size of a melon, torrential rain, MUD everywhere, kebabs, late night swimming, sunrises and sunsets.....and above all a really good time. Probably my favourite weekend in Korea. It's a shame that Andrew T couldn't make it. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Monday, 3 June 2013

Sun is shining...head to the beach.

There are some things that should never really be put into writing as a record of events. This weekend might be one of those occasions...

Adnan organised a pension in Nakseon. This is in the North East of Korea. Not too far from them crazy buggers firing rockets and pretending they have a clue what's going on.....anyway, I digress. 

Adnan organising things means another trip up to Chuncheon. This in itself not an issue, I just have memories of the last ride back from Min's Cabin. All in all about 40 people are probably attending so we've rented out a huge place and organised a bus to take us all there. The bus leaves Cgu town at 0930 Saturday morning. So it would be foolish to go out Friday night....mwahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa

The next thing I know we're getting ready to leave for the bus...sleep count 0.00. Oh dear. 3 hours on a bus to the beach isn't going to us with joy. But we rock and roll our way there. We've packed a few provisions and there's a Starbucks right by the bus so that should sort me out. ......sidenote. The girl that served me coffee is going to England and spending some time in Brighton. I very possibly gave ut some phone numbers of people in Brighton. Ooops. 

Buses in Korea can vary dramatically from spacious seating to shit holes mule pulled crappers. We organise a norebus...translation singing bus. After a night out that's the last thing you really want to get involved in.......unless you're like Andrei and myself and think that a we nip of soju's finest into a latte would grease the wheels and keep everything ticking over. Needless to say everyone had packed similar provisions, and when we had a wee stop our supplies were well and truly restocked. 
This was not only the longest three hour bus ride of my life, but by far the most insane, outrageous, song filled and fun bus ride of my entire life. 

We arrive, change into some beach gear and head to the sands....again packed with provisions for such an event; frisbee, bat and ball, juggling balls, towels, sunglasses and enough booze to sink a ship should we have gotten on one. 

They day consists of drinking games, ball games, drinking, swimming, wrestling, drinking catch, sand sculpting, some drinking and at one point i think there was a dog and a small Asian child involved. 

With good times being had by all, the Sun eventually had to ruin everybody's fun. Back to the pension....after resupplying, of course, we order 7000 giant pizzas to snack on and it's time to lay claim to a space on the floor to kip on later. 
Showering would have been my next priority, but sharing 2 showers between 50 (and having had a skinful) decided the sea had done this job for me. 

I had an extremely surreal moment when the pizzas arrived about 8pm and I was convinced it was 8am and found it strange that a pizza company would deliver so many pizzas this early in the morning. A chuckle was had by all and a beer put me straight back in the frame. 

The rest of the evening I can leave to the imagination of people in a remote countryside pension, we had a kareoke machine, pool table, hammocks, swings, cards, face paint, fireworks, random Koreans and of course drinking games. An excellent night was had by me, and I can only presume everyone else. But after being awake for about 45 hours, I'd had all I could take. 

We spent Sunday cleaning, hit the beach and then I had the same exact problem getting back to Daejeon!!! Took me another 8 hours to get back!!! Not really what you want on a day like that. Oh well. It was worth it.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Buddha's Birthday Bash

Time for the Fat Man's birthday.....long weekend time. WOOHOO

The Plan...head up to Chuncheon Thursday to stay in a cabin Friday and Saturday in Inje, Sunday...feel terrible and revel in weekend antics.

Love this time if year. The weather is turning pretty hot and all you wanna do is go outside. So where better to go than the countryside......This is Min's Cabin. The owner is the closest thing to a hippy a Korean can be. He's awesome and his job is basically to entertain people who come and stay. This includes white water rafting, drinking, cooking bbqs, drinking, table tennis, drinking, horse shoes, get the picture. Our first day he was awake for about 30 hours. Legend

Set in the mountains of Inje, the cabin is a really cool retreat from inner city struggles. We had a cool little room that could probably have slept 8. I use sleep in a lose term as it's traditional floor sleeping. Not my cup of tea. But we drank enough to get over that. 

We start the night in Chutown as pirates..cause pirates are cool. We maybe stayed out longer than planned....I blame Jenn

Start the night as pirates....of course
Hungover, (and in Adnan's case looking like the proverbial hipster) but full of a pretty good brunch we make our way. a sir
It was pretty busy and we had to sit in the middle of the bus. Not sure this is legal in England....but worries. (turned out we'd be doing a lot of improved seating in public transport that weekend)
T was in a pretty bad way....hehehe
But the sun was shining and we were finally on our way....
Not very happy
The bus to Inje wasn't much fun....I've never been more tempted to fart on someones head. 
 The weekend is spent chilling during the day...enjoying the surroundings. Streams, rivers, horse shoes, frisbee and sun bathing, card games and an interesting and competitive game of scatagories.
Another group of foreign teachers came with Andrei so there were about 20 people or so causing shenanigans.

The evenings were spent eating bbq and drinking games til the very early hours. Min runs on an honour system and everyone really just helps themselves and crazy cocktail concoctions. Min's awesome!!

Good times

Jenn came out with some crackin remarks this weekend...."i've had this birthmark
since I was born"

Safety First

It's Sunday and I'm hungover and I've just re read this post.

It's written so badly that I'm gonna stop now and just leave it as is......enjoy

Meeting new people
Being a pirate
Playing beer pong

"I drank all this????"

The worst journey home of my life.

It took 8 hours to get home.....we were uber tired. But an awesome weekend was had by all.