Wednesday, January 26, 2011

And now, back to your regularly scheduled program

So I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. Yet.

This week is Level-Up test week and though that part is actually pretty easy on teachers, our student reports were due today and those are a pain in the tuckus. Basically they're just like report cards. The form is all set up in a word document and then we go through for each class adding our name, the class level and time, and the student's Korean name and English nickname. So lots of copy/pasting. Fun times. Then we highlight boxes to indicate how well they're performing in certain areas of class- Weak, Average or Strong- as well as boxes that indicate their levels of participation, attention, and behavior. At the bottom we add comments for each student. I had roughly sixty-five reports to fill out which actually isn't awful but it took me forever. I think I wrote way more comments than necessary but I'd rather overdo it my first time around just in case.

But now that those are over I can breathe easy. So far this week I've only taught one class since my Level 1 (EC and Memory classes) kids have been taking the Level-Up practice test. Then I'll be giving the actual test out tomorrow and Friday to four classes. We grade the students' writing and speaking portions but the listening and reading sections are graded via scantron so that's pretty sweet. And this is our nine day week since we're working Saturday and Sunday to make up for Lunar New Year so I'm more than happy to be taking it easy over the next few days.

This past Saturday I went to Lotte World with Heather and Jim, the two co-workers that I'll be heading to Taiwan with. Lotte is the big name in Korea. There's Lotte Department Store, Lotteria (essentially the Korean McDonald's), Lotte Confectionery, Lotte Mart (where I buy my groceries), Lotte Hotel, Lotte Capital Co, Ltd., and even a baseball team in Busan called the Lotte Giants.

So of course it would only follow that Lotte would have its own amusement park.
Lotte World is the world's largest indoor theme park and close to about two hours from Incheon by subway. So we took an express bus to Gangnam (note to self: it was the 6405) that took about fifty minutes and then jumped on the subway to Jamsil Station. There's a shopping area and ticket booth for Lotte World right within the station so you can't miss it. There was a line though so we bought tickets at an outdoor booth which wasn't busy at all because of the cold. Tickets were ₩26,000 which seemed reasonable.
To the left and right are Lotty and Lorry, Lotte's equivalent of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. I think they're raccoons.
We actually didn't get on too many rides since the lines were pretty long. We were supposed to meet up with Traci and a few other folks and when I talked to her later she said this one wasn't all that exciting anyway. 
The food court was packed. We hovered for a while and when one older Korean woman noticed me looking pitiful I played it up and when her family left she very nicely offered us her table. That didn't stop a family of four from scooching in next to us but oh well, we just needed somewhere to sit.
What is it with amusement parks relying on giant creepy faces to attract children? That clock is one tick away from driving a white van through suburban neighborhoods to hand out candy. 
This poor guy. Look at that uniform. What a cruel, badly mismatched world we live in sometimes.
After getting some food and looking around we headed outside to enjoy some of the attractions there while it was still sunny. 
The outdoor area is called Magic Island and this is the Magic Castle. And I'm sure they know that they aren't fooling anyone about where they got their inspiration from. 
Inside this candy house we went on a ride called Fantasy Dreams. You hopped aboard a choo-choo which then drove you through a giant clown mouth into a Care Bear nightmare of lollipops and instrument-playing bugs and ginormous jacks-in-the-box popping out in one area and a rat wizard and some kind of abnormally enlarged singing vegetables and a gluttonous dragon chilling at the end. It was the trippiest thing ever and basically what I imagine the inside of Wayne Coyne's head to look like. 
Nothing like an authentic Korean churro.
We wanted to ride the bumper cars which was a good idea except that it was a much longer wait than the thirty minutes promised. The problem was that there was only one worker operating the cars and every time people hopped out she had to go onto the track to clear up the jams so it took forever.
There were really fun though. All the groups of people in front of us were driving their cars cautiously and actually trying to avoid each other. We weren't having any of that though and luckily we got to drive around with a bunch of teenage boys who enjoyed smashing the cars as much as we did.
I swear this park had every headband/animal ear combination you could want. Red bows, red sparkly bows, red sparkly ears, leopard print ears, leopard print bows, black sparkly bows, black furry ears, white furry ears, snow leopard ears, and on and on forever. A good majority of the teenagers were wearing some variation, boys and girls alike.
We escaped back inside for a while and ended up going through the
Dun dun dunnn! Basically it was a lame haunted house. And by lame I mean I did scream once but something popped out at me. I'm not built for even slightly spooky okay? I'm the girl that had an improvised rope/broken hair elastic system rigged to the string that turned off my closet light so that I could shut it off while safe in bed and thus avoid having to walk across the floor in the dark. Yeah.

After wandering some more we decided to head downstairs to the ice rink for some skating. Technically the rink isn't part of Lotte World so you have to exit through a turnstile but we did have our hands stamped and kept our tickets handy just in case we wanted to go back in after.

Skate rental and the fee for about 30 minutes on the ice was something like ₩13,000 total. Not a great deal but I haven't skated since I was a kid and it looked fun. The rink is stupidly designed in that you put your skates on in one area and then have to walk down a flight of stairs and back up another flight of stairs to get to the ice. It was awkward as hell and everyone was death gripping the railings. 

They were cleaning the ice when we made it to the waiting area around the rink and it literally took them thirty minutes to finish it. I've never seen it take that long, it was crazy. And after thirty minutes my feet were already killing from having all my weight on the blades and I hadn't even done anything yet. 

When I finally did get out there it was slow going. I was always okay at roller skating when I was younger but ice skating is another thing. I did make it around a few times though and despite a few near misses managed to not wipe out, woo! Heather had never ice skated before but successfully did a full lap and Jim spent the time taking surprise pictures of us wearing our bright yellow helmets (with chin straps) as we struggled to remain vertical. May those pictures remain in the confines of a memory card. 

I grabbed a quick chicken sandwich from Lotteria since I hadn't eaten lunch and then we headed up and outside to a T.G.I. Friday's close by for drinks. Since we weren't sure which bus to take back we just took the subway and the ride wasn't bad. Back in Yeonsu we all did some grocery shopping then called it a night.

Sunday was my do nothing day and it was wonderful. I spent half the day sleeping and the other half snuggled in my squashy old man chair watching Storm of the Century. It was a snowy day after all and I'm missing out on all the crazy New England weather right now so it was an appropriate choice on several levels. 

Wednesdays are usually the nights I go out after work for food and drinks with everyone since a lot of us have the second class off but I enjoyed myself too much last Wednesday and really just wanted a quiet night tonight. And I'm saving my pennies anyway since this time next week I'll be in Taiwan! It's going to be something like thirty or forty degrees warmer than Incheon and I cannot wait for that weather. It's also going to be down-pouring like crazy since this time of year is especially rainy in Taipei but I'll take living under an umbrella for four days in exchange for any sort of increase in temperature. 

Sister Springtime I am most looking forward to your arrival. 

Movie Trivia of the Day: Empress Chung is a 2005 North and South Korean animated film directed by Nelson Shin. Most of the animation work was done in North Korea by the Chosun April 26th Children Film Studio, and the score was also recorded in the North by the Pyongyang Film and Broadcasting Orchestra. In a move unusual for the Korean film industry, the character voices were recorded in both the South and the North due to differences in dialect. For the definitive international release version, the South Korean dub is the one used. It was the first film to have been released simultaneously in both North and South Korea, on August 12, 2005. The film was featured at the 2004 Annecy International Animation Festival, and was also recognised with several awards in Korea. The story is an epic adventure based on a famous Korean folk tale about a daughter who sacrifices herself to restore her blind father's eyesight.

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