A Travellerspoint blog

January 2006

Lunar New Year part deux

more from the land of the rising sun

Sunday morning I headed back to Kyoto, to a different district called Arashiyama, known mostly for its scenic qualities and temples. It's full of tourists, mostly Japanese, and my guidebook said it becomes quite full during cherry blossom season and fall when the leaves change. I mostly just wanted to see a bamboo forest, so I took a suggested walking tour that my guidebook recommended. Thank God for guidebooks.


A waterway near the train station.

Statues near the side of the road.

Bamboo forest! This was way more beautiful than the picture suggests. It was much cooler in it and the air was crisp and clean, a very nice break from the smog and pollution of the big cities in Japan and Korea.


A Shinto cemetery near Tenryu-ji, a temple.

More bamboo. You're actually being spared, I left out a lot of these pics as I have about 10 of just bamboo.

A house on the path.

Another cemetery.

I came upon Okochi Sanso, the house of an old Japanese silent-film actor. He built this house here because of its serene surroundings and kept beautiful gardens. It was 1000 yen ($10) to get in, but was well worth it for the views of Kyoto and the green tea and cake I received afterwards.

In the garden

The actor who lived here.

His actual living quarters.


The mountains behind the house.

And a view of Kyoto from the shrine he built. Again, you're being spared because I have about 5 of these.

After I left there, I continued on with mostly nothing much to see. It was very peaceful, with very few people and nature and temples surrounding me. Corny it sounds, but...it's true I guess.

A pottery store in the middle of nowhere.

A sign for yet another temple.

I doubled back and ate a lunch of...I don't know what the Japanese is, but it was buckwheat noodles with seaweed in broth with a side of tofu. It was so-so, not really my cup of tea. Although I did get tea with it so...I don't know. I spent about 6 hours in Arashiyama, walking and taking pictures. I finally headed back around 5 pm because it was getting late and dark and cold.
The train station.

I got back to Osaka around 6 and went back to Cassie and Giordan's apartment. It was decided that I would go look around Shinsaibashi and Amerika-mura (America village), which are both known mostly for shopping and people in outrageous fashion, and then we would meet for dinner.
One of the side streets.

A lantern/robot. I thought it was clever at least.

And a mural in Amerika-mura.

A fashion victim on the subway.

We ate at some restaurant and I ate some stuff which I have no idea what it was called but it did the trick. Again, we went to bed pretty early after I packed and then woke up early and headed to Shinsaibashi for some last-minute shopping and SUSHI! I don't know if you all know, but I have a love affair with sushi. Unfortunately, Cassie doesn't like it so Giordan and I went while she was at work.

The restaurant had the conveyor belt where you take what looks good and pay by the plate. So for about $10, I got full on delicious authentic Japanese sushi.
Then Giordan took me to the bus station and I went to the airport, my plane was on time, and in no time I was back in Korea. My friend Scott informed me that one of our teachers decided to just leave without telling anyone. But now we have a new teacher so everything's all good.

Sorry I wasn't more thorough, but...that was basically it! I got to see Gion and a bamboo forest, which was pretty much about all I wanted to see.
And now a final thought:
Japan was really great. The people were incredibly polite, the streets were very clean and the subway was quiet (no eating, drinking, or talking on the phone!) Everything was automated (ticket machines in the subway and train stations) and they drive on the left side of the road. People ride bikes EVERYWHERE...there are rows upon rows of bikes lining the street. However, everything was VERY expensive and my friend Cassie doesn't really get the same benefits as we do living in a cheap country. So, while Japan was a nice place to visit, I wouldn't want to live there. I think maybe Korea is the opposite: it's a nice place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit.

Posted by lrbergen 23:23 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

So some more

An addendum to my favorite kids.

I have a pic of Ron! And also some other kids from that class.


This pic is Ron, Billy and Peter (twins), and Luke. Look at those faces. SOOOO precious. I want to steal Ron. Wednesday is our last day in class together with these kids. I'll be somewhat sad but I won't have to wake up at 6 am anymore. S-Aweet!


Dennis and Shoen. Dennis the "red pen tea" boy. He looks kinda angry, but trust me. This kid has waaaaay too much energy and happiness at 8am. He has also become one of my favorites. Shoen is cool too, but a little quiet. And can you blame him? Craziness everywhere!


Jenny, Hanna, Joanne. I feel sorry for these girls. The boys are too crazy and while they can appreciate a good poopoo or penis joke, I think they're mostly like "what the..." most of the time.

And I completely forgot to mention Robert in the last one. Robert was my student last session in my favorite class and I completely forgot how COOL he is. His coolness is subtle. He still freaks out to me and gives me hi-fives in the hallway. We saw him walking home one time and were heckling him. "Robert...can we come over for dinner? Will your mom make us dinner? Please Robert! No? Ok, can you lend me obek won? ($.50)" He is really smart and just overall a really chilled-out, laid back kind of kid. But still really cool. I don't know where it came from, but one day he just started singing "Shut up, just shut up shut up" which was a popular song in the states. So, impressed, anytime I wanted a kid to be quiet, I would just say..."Robert" and point to him. He always piped in. And the kids always called him "Robot." But he took it in stride because he's so cool!
Robert is behind Daniel.

Ok that's all for now.

Posted by lrbergen 17:48 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)


I don't even know...

So how can you possibly get something funny out of the word "Pentagon?"


Of course.

Boo, that's all I have for today.
Plus my kids are obsessed with soju. Lushes-in-training!

Posted by lrbergen 17:55 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Han, dul, set!


I don't particularly enjoy grading essays or quizzes, but because of the language barrier, I can get some pretty great stuff.

We read a story about the origin of sandwiches, the rich Earl of Sandwich and all of that. So on the test, the last question was "Was the Earl of Sandwich rich or poor?" which seems very easy to you and me, but most of the kids looked at it and turned it in unanswered. The best answer I got: "sandwhich is eat a poor people." Meaning, I think, that poor people eat sandwiches? But still the visual of sandwiches eating poor people is quite funny.

And another:

My one class, the one with Jennifer (see favorite students) is convinced that I am in love with Scott, a fellow co-teacher, and that he is in love with me. I don't even remember where this all started, but every day that I come into class now, "Lyndsey loves Scott" and "Scott and Lyndsey are getting married!" is all over the board. "Miss Gacon!" is being yelled from every corner of the room (Scott's last name). Jennifer and another girl, Selin, went so far as to forge love letters to Scott in my name, bring in the wedding march CD, and make confetti to throw at Scott and I. The mix was made more complicated when I admitted to having a boyfriend and admitted that Scott has a girlfriend.
On Wednesday's reading test about Mars, Selin wrote a question number 6:
6. Does Lyndsey love Walid or Scott?
She love Walid and Scott both.
She love two mans.

And so, my sordid affair with two "mans" continues.

There's plenty more where that came from.

Posted by lrbergen 19:05 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)


You couldn't make this stuff up.

Yesterday one of our teachers, Chantale, informed us on the busride home that one of her students, a boy, always has his hands down his pants in every minute of every class. Hmm. A little disgusting I would say. But kids are kids and you can't really blame him, can you?

So then I told another teacher about it and he told me the following story:
Another different teacher was grading essays and one of HER students wrote about some operation that his friend was having and how he was scared because he was going to have it too. He didn't know the English name for it, but wrote it in Korean. Upon asking the Korean teachers what this mystery operation was, she encountered quizzical looks. So our counselor, Hye Won, took it upon herself to look it up on the internet. Apparently, both of the little boys were having circumcisions.

I kid you not.

So the first little boy in question was not "byung tae," he was merely inspecting to make sure everything was ok down there. Wouldn't you?!

Posted by lrbergen 03:09 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

And Another Real Quick-like


So as a teacher, I understand that we are not to choose favorites. It is horrendously unfair to the kids and can actually leave you in a bit of trouble with the parents if you show your favor in class and the other kids catch wind of it.

So now I'll announce my 5 top kids, since I know for a fact none of my students nor their parents will ever see this. HaHA!

- Tomas. Tomas was one of the coolest kids I've ever met. He was almost always quiet in class and pretty much never did his homework. So needless to say, he was not exactly prize student material. What made him so great was the fact that he couldn't help but grow on you as his excuses became more and more far-fetched. His knowledge of English cuss and slang words was quite impressive as well. One essay I received from him included the words: "f**k it!", "d**n this farmer"
and "son of a b****h! wake up!" Obscenities, I know, but I can't help it. I would tell the kids to take out whatever book we were going to work in next and he would utter "shet!" And no homework? "Oh teacher is so beautiful and so kind. And I broke my arm and hospital and ...no homework." Like everyday. He is unfortunately a 6th grader and has moved on to the middle school so I won't probably be seeing him ever again. I have my memories though.

- Daniel. Daniel came late into my class after transferring from James' class. I was warned that Daniel was a little..."off." Daniel quickly became one of my favorites in the class that was by far my favorite. It was a lower-level class, which I love because I can act a crazy fool and the kids just eat it UP. First of all, Daniel has miniature bags under his eyes, constantly, making him look like a harried ajassi (read: Korean for middle-aged man) who spent too much time drinking soju the night before rather than sleeping. My fondest memories of Daniel are the constant dance-parties he had with himself. He would constantly stand up at inopportune times and dance around like a little penguin. He completed all of his work, but sat at his desk playing with his pencils and whispering in Korean to himself. One day I came in to start class and tried to move the podium, which was much heavier than usual, which I was suprised to find that the reason was that he shoved himself into a ball in the bottom and was hiding out. He is still at Avalon (my school) so I get to see him a lot, but unfortunately not in class everyday.
(Daniel is on the left in the yellow jersey)

- Jennifer. Jennifer is one of my new students in an upper-level class. I remember hearing about her from James and Scott, who shared a class with her last session. Now she's mine. She along with the other 4 girls in the class, are convinced that Scott and I are getting married. Everyday: "When are you and Scott getting married!" I made her a CD of Christmas songs because she loves the ones I played in class and everyday for a week told me how perfect it was. So then she brought me a gift of a box of rice cakes (dok). Not really my bag, but still the gesture was incredibly sweet. But this isn't the only reason I love her. Everyday she has something new and clever and subtly hilarious to say. And she even burned me! One day I was asking them a question and they're thinking so I start giving them hints and reading the sentence in the book so they'll finish and give me the right answer. Or whatever I just said. So Jennifer pipes in:
"Ohhh! Teacher! You can read?!" She is precious and precocious and I love her to death.
(Jennifer is on the very right)

- Ron. Ron is a new student to Avalon and I have him in my "Blossom" class every MWF. He is the youngest student in our school, a mere 2nd grader. And he is seriously about the cutest kid I have ever seen. And everyday he just babbles on in English and asks me questions all the time and is just so sweet I want to take him home with me. Pretty much the first kid that has made me want kids. James has him in his RI class (our lowest level) and agrees that he's a cool little kid. I expect more cuteness to come as our session drags on. No pics yet.

- David, Jun Hyung, Martin, Jack, Sammy, Steve. Not just one kid, I know, but as a group they made quite a comedy troupe. They are typical little boys who throw paper airplanes and shoot rubber bands at each other. They started off the semester pretty uncontrollable and drove me crazy. They just never shut up, which usually I don't mind, but it was all in Korean. Everyday they would mimic me, which I minded only for my lack of experience, but with one talking-to by the counselor of our school, Hye Won and they complete turned around. For awhile they were afraid to talk I think, but then they started up again, only including me in their little jokes, which I think may have been my problem the whole time. One day we're learning "nobody, everybody" and David starts cracking up. Not wanting to miss out on the joke I ask him why he's laughing so much. Apparently, "body" sounds like the word in Korean for pants, "bajee." So "no pants." It amazes me what these kids find funny. They called each other perverts all the time and taught me some Korean swear words. And Sammy, one day, was flipped off by a girl in class which I missed because I was reading along with the story we were reading. So Sammy yells "UHHH! Teacher!!! She f**ked me!" Needless to say I cracked up for about 5 minutes. And to this day, it is my favorite language barrier story. I still see all of these kids although I do not have any of them in class. And they're still cool as hell.

So there you have them, take them or leave them. I prefer to take them.

Posted by lrbergen 01:38 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)


Crazy Korean Children

sunny -8 °C

I love my kids.
My morning classes are "blossom," the lower level, younger kids doing a phonics book. Ridiculous. But i get these crazy awesome little kids that are so cool and funny and give me all this crazy energy for the morning.

Today we had to read about poem about "Lucky Gus," which is to help them with the short "u" sound.

So one little kid, Brent, who is a total little brat but in a whatever sort of way, is like "Oh gus! Hahahahahahaha" and so on. Then something in Korean, and everybody "Hahahahahahahaha". I don't know what's going on.

So he explains to me that "gus" is a slang word in Korean for "penis" (only not in so many words...more like pointing and "boys have"). So I laugh..ok haha. Funny.

Later, he yells "Teacher! Jennifer touch my gus! He is byung tae!"

So some explanation..."Jennifer" is the boy formerly known as "Shrek" who I was so terrified of. Now I get to see him everyday. Why he wants his name to be Jennifer I'll never ever know. He says it more like "Jennipa." Whatever, he's still a little turd but he respects me because of my tattoos.

And "byung tae" is Korean for "pervert." I think it's hilarious when the kids call each other pervert. I have no idea why.

So later we're doing short "e" sound and I'm trying to get them to think of some words and I get "red" and "pen," and another little boy, Dennis, who is about as crazy as they come yells "Teacher! Red pen tea! Red pen tea!" I have no idea what he's talking about...so he changes his pronunciation to "red panty! red panty!" I figured he had no idea what he was saying so I asked him if he knew what that was. "Yes, teacher! Clothes! Everyone has! Brent no panty!" Still not clear...so Dennis, where do you wear them? "Teacher! GUS!"

I love this class, it is one of my favorites. Little kids talking about "ddong" (read: korean for "poop"), panties, perverts, and penises. Maybe it's not funny to you, but at 8 am its pretty fecking hilarious.

Posted by lrbergen 01:21 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

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