Adventures of a LuLu

Mischief and Mayhem in East Asia

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Location: Seoul, South Korea

Steer away from the beaten track and leave a trail for others to follow.


Blossom Trees

The following pictures were taken with Frank's all-singing, all-dancing thingamijig, at Eunpa Lake. You can't tell but the blossoms on these trees are pink.



With colourful flora in the background (above).



Here's me fiddling with Frank's thingamijig. Just to clarify, it's a phone-computer-camera-er...thingy. Gosh, my nose looks enormous...what's that in my hair??? Maybe a blossom petal. Any guesses, folks? (Winner receives a life-time's supply of festering spicy cabbage).

한국은 요즈음 날씨가 덥습니다.

This week and the end of last week the weather has been as hot as the summer in England...or at least that is how it feels given that what we know as spring weather in England lasted around 3 weeks, and the winter went on for months at sub-zero temperatures. Thus any warmth is going to be a shock to the system. Summer is definately coming, I can feel it in the's hard to believe that until the middle of September its going to get hotter. Well, it's all good preparation for my travels round the rest of East Asia.


Just come back from hagwon..the boss wants to offer me a second any time of my choosing.

That's now 3 possible job offers/opportunities here in Korea!!!


Shopping Frenzy

Saturday I went on a huge shopping spree:

  • I ordered a replacement digital camera on the internet
  • a pair of trainers to replace my current ones that have holes in them
  • a pair of trainers to go jogging in
  • a pair of jogging pants to go jogging in
  • A white tailored jacket, a pink handbag and two tops to look good in
  • Some beauty products for dry skin from The Face Shop.
  • I will buy mp3 player at a later date...

My health is appalling. I am ashamed. As a result the aim is to go jogging round the lake 3 times a week, on top of Gomdo, work, studying Korean and social life. This week I could hardly cope at gomdo, I was an embarrassment. I am determined not to let it happen again.

Now that I have found how cheap it is to send stuff by ship, anything I can't carry with me round the rest of East Asia I can easily send home.


Sunday I went for a walk round the lake...well that was the intention, but I spotted a hill in the distance that I had never seen before, so I scrabbled through the graves, thorns and bushes to get to its peak. There I saw a lone blossom tree amongst trees of another variety. This suprised me as the blossom trees are concentrated several kilometres away on the other side of the lake. I was rather annoyed that I couldnt take a photo due to lack of camera that is functional. It made think how the most beautiful things are often hidden and go unnoticed.

That afternoon I played badminton with KNC hagwon boss, and my skill at that game was much better that day due to practice. This time, I actually BEAT A KOREAN AT BADMINTON. (here's the catch: he's in his late 40's). I look forward to playing again against the American and Canadian fellas...I am confident that I will eat them for breakfast.

This week I attempted to by a replacement digital camera on the internet. To buy one here in Korea you need to be Korean citizen, so Frank ordered one for me, only to find that the one that I ordered is out of stock...yet it was still advertised on the internet. The blossoms have no mostly fallen off the trees, and I was desperate to take photos of what was remaining, so I borrowed a camera from Frank's university computer laboratory...all I need to do now is wait for Frank to download them and send them to me.

Last night Frank and I had a serious chat...about the idea of setting up an English Hagwon together. After he has finished his year in America, we will discuss it again and see how we both feel about it. If we decide to do it, it will be Winter 2006 when we set it up. Its just an idea that is bouncing around at the moment, it may never happen.


another website update

"Rob and Louise's Excellent Adventure" has been updated with photos and descriptions of our walk in the countryside. "Back to the Old Routine" likewise.

Moreover, after some jiggery-pockery, I have worked out how to add more links to my side bar...enjoy!!!


Moving Home

Today, in around 2o minutes I will be shifting all of my and the Boss' belongings to a new apartment. I am nervous...I am praying that my new apartment will be clean as opposed to the state I found my current apartment in. Eeeuughh. Frank helped me pack my things, which was very kind of him.

This week I started back at Gomdo after a period of illness. I have started sequence number 6. Even though this is working towards brown belt, I am still green as I missed my last test by entertaining my guest. I have seen some of the movements...cartwheels. Even as a child I couldn't manage these. I am not confident that I can go any further. Still, it is a skill that I did not have before I arriving here in Korea...not many people in England, let alone women in England can sword fight!!!

I have also taken some more photos...the blossoms are out this week, late due to Gunsan being decidedly colder than the rest of Korea.

magnolia blossom tree

At the moment I have just one photo of the blossoms; I hope to take some more over the coming weeks.

Here are some more photos of my littlest students at Cheong T'ap:

First grade babies

These two are first grade, around 6 years old. At the moment we only have 2 first grade students, The little lad on the left wouldn't pose with a smile so in the end I gave up and just took the photo. He has no front teeth at the moment...makes it difficult to pronounce "F"!

studying hard

Studying hard...the desks and chairs are too tall for my first graders, they are so cute when they strain to read their alphabet books.

second grade

This is my only second grade class (one of the girls is absent). My hagwon has finally cottoned on to the trend of giving the students English names for English class. Named by myself, they are as follows: (boys, left to right) Harry, Teddy, Jason (Girls, left to right) Julia and Ginny. Teddy got into a big fight the day before the photo was taken, hence the big plasters all over his face.

Yesterday my two of my students gave me some paper-made gifts:

Paper presents

A pink flower at the top, 3 turtles in the middle, then two roses, and a bird at the bottom. The turtle on the right I made myself. My Korean colleagues pointed out to me that the art of paper-folding is NOT Japanese.

what's this?

이것은 무엇입니까? What's this??? It tastes like a melon...but what is it? Somebody help me out here!


Message to Lurkers

If you gonna read my site, please let yourself be known by posting a comment at the end of my blogs or in my guest book.

Ta Muchly.

The Management.

This week I have been mostly....

  • Teaching
  • being set up on a date by my colleague with a English bloke who works at the airport. Or at least, she has suggested it, she is yet to do it.
  • Studying Korean from a famous book written by Seoul National University.
  • Making up rude sentences in Korean (some swear words acquired this week due to my colleague feeling it necessary to teach me them, so that I don't make a pillock of myself in the saying English words that sound like korean swear words. There was an incident 2 weeks ago when she ran out of the classroom, had a laughing fit, and walked back in 10 minutes later, calm and composed).
  • Coughing until I throw up. Twice. Always good for the soul.
  • Emptying bottles of Soju (ok, just 1).
  • Then phoning my ex boyf at 2 in the morning (SKT)
  • Gate-crashing an ajumma's 70th birthday party in a big hall designed for such events. Well, not really. Frank sort of new the ajumma in question, and it was his father that was invited, but his father did not go, so Frank went instead, and brought me with him. But it felt like gate-crashing, as I am a foreigner, and I know how Koreans, especially the older generation feel about it.


Blue Flaming Penis

By popular request, here is the explanation of the Blue Flaming Penis. My apologies to those who may find the following offensive. This post is rated 15.

Everytime it is someones birthday at the Hospital this huge penis that is hanging from the ceiling (head pointing down) is soaked in beer. The owner then sets it alight and it goes up wwwwooooooooooossh in a screen of penis-shaped blue flames. While this is happening, beer is poured into the middle of the penis from the top, and the beer pours out of the bottom (out of the 'head')like jism and into the beer mug . The person whose birthday it is must drink from this mug.

Afterwards, when the flames have disappeared, the owner puts on a good a show by carefully cleaning the penis, rubbing it thoroughly all over until it is completely free of stickiness.

Afterall, the penis does need a good clean every now and then.


What is it with Koreans? Everytime they see a foreigner they have to talk about you as if you are not there, assuming that you don't understand a word they are saying.

I was sat in Ms Donuts, quietly revising some Korean when a group of Koreans around my age started asking the shop owner all about me. I turned round to face them, looked directly into their eyes and said : "hello" in Korean. They were flabbergasted. They then started to speak to me in English. "How old are you?" they asked. "비밀 이에요" (its a secret) I replied dryly, and carried on studying, while they fell about laughing. They then continued to talk about me, which I chose to ignore, but they quickly lost interest after that.

This is my rant of the day.


Back to the Old Routine

It feels strange posting this when I have only just started the previous one.

Events this week:

  • Rob left early Tuesday morning, which was strange, as I had only just got used to him being around. However, I adjusted to his absence quite quickly.
  • It is the end of the month, thus I had around 200 reports to write, even though the chances are the parents will not understand a word of what I write, it just makes my hagwon look good. My colleagues have a habit of giving me 50 or so reports to do, and expecting them the next day, despite me having no free periods in my timetable. I always have to do them at home, and it takes up a lot of my free time.
  • I have not done Gomdo at all this week, I have been far too tired from entertaining my guest and writing my reports
  • However, I managed to have a social life... Wednesday evening I joined KNC hagwon boss and his colleagues (from his High School) at an eating house, and watched the Korean football team qualify for the World Cup
  • Thursday I met with with Frank (as he likes to be called)/Chooyoung who took me out to dinner (not a date!!!).
  • Friday I met up with everybody at The Hospital, and yet again the Blue Flaming Penis was the highlight of the evening.
  • Today Frank and I went to Booyeo and went for a walk round a fortress and some tombs...yet more photos to add!!! Afterwards we went to his brother-in-laws birthday party at his sisters house, where there were 4 couples (family members) and associated kiddies, causing quite a riot. The parents accosted me as they wanted their children to try out their English with me...afterall, they don't spend their hard-earned cash on hagwon education for nothing. Following this we went onto shinae Wa-bar (and then back to The Hospital) to meet up with Foreigner friends.

Photos from Booyeo

Booyeo was the last capital of the Baekje kingdom, before the Chinese destroyed it once and for all (AD 660). Here Frank and I visited Mt Busosan and the Baekje Royal Maulsoleum Tombs.

During the time of Baekje, the Booyeo region was economically productive due to its low-lying hills and expansive plains. Being downstream of the Guemgang river alllowed exchanges with Chin and Japan.

During the Sabi period, Baekjue boosted the Kings power by promoting Buddhism (training the people spiritually) and improving the government system. The main religion at the time was Taoism, an amalgumation of Buddhism and local traditional beliefs

This is the presumed site of the Royal palace (Historic site no.428). During the Goryeo and Josoen Periods this was used as government offices. Frequent exchanges with China and absorbing Chinese culture allowed Baekje to experience the full blooming of its own culture. Despite efforts by the Baekje kings to intergrate ideas and expand terriority to strengthen national power, frequent wars with the Silla kingdom sapped away Baekje's strength, eventually bringing Baekje to its downfall.

The royal palace was situated south of Mt Busosan, and the capital had defensive walls surrounding it. The capital was divided into 5 Bu, and these each into 5 hang to facilitate administration.

The presumed site of the Royal Palace


Below is Samchungsa, a shrine built 50 years ago in memory of 3 loyal officals of Baekje: Seong Chung, Heung su, and Gye Baek. When the last king of Baekje (Uijawang) governed his kingdom so badly, Seong Chung frequently adviced the king in the vain attempt to change his ways. Angered by the advice, he threw Seong Chung in prison, where he refused to eat, and died there. Heung su desperately advised the king on military tactics, to keep the strategic point of Tanhyeon, when Silla-Tang's unifed miltary forces invaded the Baekje territory. When General Kim Yu-sin of Shilla comanded an army of 50,000 attacked at Hwangsanbeol Field, Gye Baek and his army of 5,000 fought heroically against them and died.



Frank outside a restoration of a hut used by the Baekje soldiers.


Below is Yeongilnu Pavilion, and is situated on the eastern peak of the "mountain". There used to be an observatory here to watch the sun rise from the Yeongcheongbong peak of Mt Gyeryonsan. Here the king and nobles would pray for the welfare of the country and its people. The pavillion itself used to be a gate of a local government office in the Joseon period, and was moved to this spot in 1964.


This hexagonal pavillion was built in 1929 in memory of the 3000 or so women who jumped from the cliff and into the Baengmagang river below. These women would rather preserved their chasity by committing suicide than fall to ruin at the hands on Chinese soldiers. Old records state that the name of the rock is "Tasaam" or "Rock of People who Fell to their Death". However it has been subsequently renamed to "Nakhwaam" or "Rock of Falling Flowers". The rock still looks red from the Baekje women.


The cliff and river where the women fell to their doom.


Frank standing where the women fell.


Later that day Frank and I made a short visit to the Baeje Royal tombs and associated museum.

These tombs of Neunsang-ri (Historic site no. 14) are located just outside the defensive walls of Sabi. These tombs have the largest mounds of stone chamber tombs built in the Sabi Period, and have protective stones to prevent the mud from sliding down. These tombs were either of the tunnel type (tomb no 2) or the flat type depending on the kind of ceiling. The flat type were further divided into a hexagonal cross section (tombs 3-7) or a rectangular cross section (tomb 1).

The royal tombs face south with Neungmyoe Mountain as a background. The tombs on the front row are older, the middle one being the oldest. The second row is younger than the first row, and the third row is younger than the second row. The position of the tombs of the royal household by the road one has to pass to go to the capital from the east leads archeologist to believe that there is a reliance of its ancestors for Baekje's strength, status and security.

Unfortunately robberies left few relics in the tombs. The relics that have been excavated so far include gilt bronze crown ornaments and coffin ornaments. gold ornaments and thread, gold plated coffin nails and iron wedges. The fact that these materials are either gold or gilt bronze is decisive evidence that these tombs are indeed royal.

All 16 tombs can be divided into 3 groups: central, east and west (located on the east and west hills respectively). They were made my digging horizontally into the hill. During the Sabi period, Large jars made for daily use contain the cremated remains of Royal Baekje members and Buddhist monks(unlike earlier times, when jars were specifically made for this purpose). This method of burial ie tombs to house the jarred cremated remains is the Buddhist system of burial.

This guilt bronze Baekje incense burner was discovered in 1993 (National Treasure 287). The pedestal in the shape of a dragon, which holds up the main body of the burner (where the incense is burned) and its lid is deocrated with the legendary bonghwang bird. It is thought to have been used in Royal Household rituals. This incense burner is a fine example of the advanced metal casting technique and thus embodies the brillance of Baekje art, science and culture.


Just outside the museum there once stood a Baekje temple. After extensive archeological research, this is what the temple is believed to have looked like.


Below is Tonghach'ong, or rather a life-size mock of the original. The original was open to the public but the murials faded to almost invisablity, so now it is closed to the public to preserve them. The murials of the four directional deities (dragon, turtle, phoenix and tiger), lotus flowers and clouds, see below:


Lotus flower and clouds


The tiger murial:


The seven tombs described above.



Photos from the night out:

(A snap back to the reality of modern times)


Sandra (from Germany, on the right) and Dana (from Romania).


Frank on the left (looks exactly like my cousin Andrew), and Maria, the coolest university professor in the world.


Maria with kim stuck to her teeth a la toothless pirate, and Gary, looking every inch the Time Team archeoligist. His voice is so Time Team too, and I couldn't help but it turns it out he is a archeology professor, and he goes drinking with the Geophysicists from Time Team. No, he wasn't pulling my leg. He knew far too much about DNA forensics to be lying about it.


One of Sandra's German undergraduates.


Frank and another student, not sure which professor she belongs to.


Another student, who actually owns a hair salon, and will be cutting my hair first thing monday morning.

  • Tomorrow I promised KNC boss accompaniment in Wolmyeong Park, but I really don't up to it...I have a sore throat and have nearly lost my voice, which really isn't very helpful in the classroom. No doubt he has been calling me non-stop today to find my mobile phone battery dead (it gave up the ghost while I was walking around the fortress). I will have to phone him in the morning. Meanwhile Frank wants to take me to Sushi bar for lunch...far more relaxing.

But when can I find the time to do the things I SHOULD be doing, ie clean apartment, study, update blog etc??? I have procrastination down to a fine art.

At hagwon this week my Middle School students were relatively well-behaved. My arms-in-the-air technique is slowing taking effect. In one of my classes some of the boys at the back of the classroom started talking, and the next thing I knew arms shot in the air automatically "sorry teacher" without me breathing a word. I stood there and laughed. In my other classes I counted 1-2-3...and on '2' there was absolute hush in the classroom. (However, at one point they made it to '3', thus all arms were in the air again).

Also this week I asked my 5th grade students some difficult questions about the story they are currently studying. They answered my questions correctly everytime, with no need for translation. I was shocked. They did a better job than my middle school students; some of my middle school students don't understand "how are you", but unfortunately the Boss has designed the English department (just before I arrived) so that I am not to teach them anything except pronunciation. I am considering going against this with my Middle School students. Them not understanding "how are you" is ridiculous; I have been studying Korean for 2 months without a teacher, and my Korean conversation is far better than their English conversation, despite them having studied English for 4 or 5 years.

I despair at the standard of education at my hagwon; my students learn things by rote but don't get to practice real conversation. They don't know how to take a word from one sentence, another word from a different sentence, and put them together to make a new one. I have expressed my opinion to the Boss, but unfortunately he is too money-hungry to care.

Another 5 months and it will all be over, at this particular hagwon at least.

See later for todays photos and relevent information.