Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Big Reveal

We have a little less than three months left here and some of you may be wondering, where to next? Well, we finally have an answer for you. 

Since January, Cliff has been applying for teaching jobs in the western United States.  It's been a long three months filled with wondering what our future held, where we would be moving after this, and three months of interrupted sleep as he received calls from schools and participated in interviews at all hours of the night.  (yeah, it is really great that the 8 hours we sleep here match up perfectly with the 8 hours schools are open over there).

But, his hard work has proved worth it because after three years and way too many applications, Cliff has been offered a job teaching history at BASIS charter school in Phoenix, AZ. This is a huge blessing for us not only to know where we will be next year but for Cliff to finally  have the job  he has wanted and is so good at and for us to be able to move forward to the next steps of our adult lives.  

I am so proud of him and know he will do a great job.  We are also looking forward to moving to a new place, and seeing what it has in store.  Lucky for Cliff, whose dream was to live in Southern Utah close to the slot canyons, AZ is the next best place for canyons.  And we will already have a crew member or two there.  I also have some family we don't see very often over there.  

Now it's time for me to find a job (though I am really feeling bad for how hard I pushed Cliff now that I remember how much filling out applications sucks). 

In Which We Go to the Doctor

So, the title is a little misleading, but I do have some interesting observations on the Korean medical system in this post. However, its primary purpose is to post some cherry blossom pictures. Cherry blossoms are a pretty big deal here in Korea, and I had never realized how many of these trees there were in the city until they all started blooming. They're pretty unremarkable at all the other times of the year. However, for about two weeks in the spring they bloom in pink and white, and it's really beautiful. Yesterday it was raining, so we didn't do the walk we had originally planned on through the Halla Arboretum, but I plan on going up there in the next couple days to get some pictures, because it's pretty awesome. We did go on a trail nearby, though, and got some okay pictures. Here they are:


Here we had Nancy stand in just the right place so you couldn't see the people walking up the path.

Close-up. Some of them take a little longer to bloom than others.

Other flowers are also beautiful. I think this is a rose, but I'm not sure.

There are actually quite a few streets around here with the trees planted on both sides like this. It's like going through a tunnel of cherry blossoms.

To get a better picture of the tunnel effect, we went out in the middle of the street, which was more difficult than you would expect, because this street was altogether too busy. 

I really like how there's so much color every time we go outside. Unfortunately, from what I understand, it's a pretty short-lived time. The blossoms only stay pink for a few days, and don't stay on the trees for much more than two weeks. So, we knew we had to get out and take pictures before we missed it entirely, even if it wasn't the best of weather.

After that we headed down to a clinic to get some shots. Here in Korea there's a mosquito-borne disease called Japanese Encephalitis, and while I'm not entirely sure what it is, Nancy says that it like eats your brain or something, and it's not a super common disease, but a couple foreigners on the island have gotten it, and we're rather attached to our brains, so we decided to go and get vaccinated before the summer comes and we're covered with mosquitoes again. Anyway, this was our first real brush with the Korean medical system, and I have to say, I was pretty impressed. Korea runs on a form of socialized medicine, where everyone pays taxes and then it's super cheap to go to the doctor. Plus, they make going to the doctor really convenient. There are clinics and pharmacies (especially pharmacies) everywhere and you can just walk in. In the clinic we went to there were quite a few people in there, but we just went up to the desk, they put the information on our foreigner registration cards into the computer and then told us to wait. We only had to wait like fifteen minutes before we were seen by a doctor who basically sat us down and asked, "What's wrong with you?" We told him what we wanted and he put it into a computer and then told us to wait again. Then we waited like two minutes and got the shot. The whole shabang cost only 20 dollars each, for a shot that you have to drop like 500 dollars on back in the United States.

As I said before, I was impressed with how it all worked out. It was super efficient, and very affordable. I can't help but wonder if something like this might work back in the United States. I know people get all up in arms over socialized medicine, and I've been among them in the past. However, you can't deny that there are major problems with the American medical system, (which it could be argued that Obamacare has made worse, but that's a whole other can of worms that I won't get into) and this is so effective. Yes, they do pay higher taxes for it, here, but the taxes really don't seem extravagant. In fact, taxes, pension and health insurance only amounts to about ten percent of our paycheck. Granted, there are a lot of differences between South Korea and the United States, not the least of which being a much larger population, but it's something to think about. It's something I think they've got pretty well figured out here. I NEVER go to the doctor back home, unless I'm almost certain that it's something that's going to be permanently damaging. If it was this easy and cheap to go to the doctor back home, maybe I wouldn't have a permanently bent finger. Anyway, that's enough of my thoughts on health care.

After our shots we went to one of our favorite restaurants, (but not my favorite, because that is, of course, Self Bar) Raj Mahal, an awesome Indian restaurant. They make the most fantastic curry I've ever had. Here's a picture of Nancy with our food:

The naan is also crazy good. 
So, that's the story for yesterday. It was pretty nice. Just another example of how this is a nice place to live. We've actually considered having a baby here, because it would be so cheap, but decided we'd manage alright back home, when it comes to that. Also, I'd like to point out that we only have three months left here! The time has seriously flown and we've been having a lot of fun. It's almost time for me to break out the list of things that I will and won't miss about Korea that I've been mentally compiling over the past nine months! At any rate, I'll leave you with this picture we took as we walked back to the bus stop from church today and make an end to this post.

I have to say, the suit is always a good look for me.
This is Captain Danger out.

UPDATE: Upon further research, it turns out that taxes are pretty comparable here to what they are in the US. That is likely due to the smaller infrastructure.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

In Which I Walk 12 Miles

So, yesterday Nancy had a relief society activity, so I decided to see what I could do. I hit Olle Trail number 15 and I pounded out all 19 kilometers of it in just 3 hours and 48 minutes. I'm going to go ahead and be pleased with myself. At any rate, it was a pretty good hike. This one is almost completely inland, as opposed to most of the others, which generally follow the coast. However, it was still fun. The first half was mostly farmland (cabbage and broccoli this time of year) but the second half was forest and hills with great views. Here are some pictures.

Starting at the coast.

My hair is getting long again.

A field of purple cabbages.

I think this is a water tower. They're usually painted like this.


Lots of farms have small plots set aside for family cemeteries. A lot of them are just mounds. Some of them are fancier than others.

The road is long, with many a winding turn.

Looking across the land. I think I climbed that hill by the end of the day, but I'm not sure.

Trail marker ribbons blowing in the wind.

Then there was a random temple seriously in the middle of nowhere (at least for Jeju) they saved space by putting the bell and the drum in the same tower.

Cabbage field with the ocean in the background.

Movin' down the trail.

Then there were these puppies that I took a picture of.

Then I went into this small patch of forest.

Then there was this nice view.

Then this tree was blooming. Apparently there's going to be a cherry blossom festival here on the island in a few weeks. It's finally spring!

Then there was this forest area that had the cool light and shadows thing going on.

Halfway done!

Then there was this awesome and very confident-looking dog.

Then there was a hill with this sweet view.

Then I followed this road up the hill.

Then I took this picture. I eventually climbed that hill, too.

Then I took this picture. It's looking inland, though it's hard to tell because it was so hazy.

Then I had a snack. I bought rice cakes for my snacks on this hike because Nancy doesn't like them that much. I think they're awesome, mostly the consistency. Also, I hope that the green stripe in this one wasn't green tea. That's one thing that I look forward to about going back home: No green tea flavored things. Here, everything that's green is suspect.

Then I saw this sign on this gas truck and realized what it meant and it made me happy. The first two syllable blocks say 위험 (wee-hum), which means danger, and the third one says 물(mool), which means water. That means that the signs on gas trucks say "Danger water!" This discovery makes me happy. Also, I think that danger water is like, the best name ever for gas.

Tree tunnel!

Another temple.

I took this picture of the temple. I could have gone further in to get a better picture, but by this point my feet were starting to hurt, as I'd already gone 10 miles. 

Then I took this picture from almost the top of a hill called Gonae-bong.

Then I got to the top and took some more pictures. The trail markers told me not to go all the way to the summit, but I told the trail markers to stuff it. I wasn't missing this.

Back at the ocean!

I still want one of these.
So, that's the hike. It was pretty great. I'll have more news soon. Until then, enjoy this post. This is Captain Danger out.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

In Which We Walk Through a Town

So we went hiking again today, though "hiking" is a bit of an exaggeration for today's outing. We went and hit part of Olle Trail 14, and it was almost entirely through towns and villages. It was on the coast, though, which we tend to like. At any rate, it was a pleasant walk and we enjoyed it. We didn't take very many pictures, but what we took, I will post.

Started out back at Hyeopjae. The tide was super far out. It's still really pretty, though!

Then there was this cool-looking rock thing.

I really like the sun's reflection on the water in this one.

Entrance to Hallim harbor. It's actually spelled Hanlim, but that's not how you pronounce it.

Hallim harbor.
So, that was that walk. I've been having fun with our hikes lately, because my tablet has GPS and I can record where we walk. Here's the track from this hike.

I think maps are fun. I did minor in geography, after all. The weird spike at the beginning is when the GPS freaked out a bit when I went inside the 7-11. At any rate, that's that. In other news, I think that my toe is mostly healed, and my blister is turning into a callus. Also, my novel has reached 36,000 words. I'm pretty proud of that, even though I'm pretty sure it's solid written crap. It's fun to write, still. I've been applying for jobs like a maniac as Nancy finds them for me like a maniac, and I have two interviews next week! The main problem with that is that the time for job interviews is in the middle of the night for us, so I've had one at 3:00 am, and the two I have next week will both be at 1:00 am. Good thing we don't have to go to work until 1:00 in the afternoon. At any rate, that's all I've got for this one. This is Captain Danger out.