Sunday, June 20, 2010

Goodbye Korea- With Love

Dearest Korea,

I'm flying out today. And leaving you. I'm not sure if I'll be back, but I have a feeling I just might. You have given me so much these last 8 years living in your lands. And I'm grateful--no, more than that. I'm changed and I know I'll never be the same.

I've been thinking a lot about these 8 years. 

The Snapshots
  • Chusok Moon
  • Jagged Peaks
  • Mud flats
  • Tiled roofs
  • Rice paper lanterns
  • Colorful palaces
  • Rice patties

The Moments
  • Hearing my child's first cries
  • Writing my first book
  • Standing on the DMZ line
  • My first belt test
  • My students' smiles

The Memories
  • Teaching at an amazing international school
  • Letting my boys grow up in an international setting
  • Watching World Cup Game in the throngs of thousands in downtown Seoul
  • Holidays with friends
  • Hiking to the top of Soeraksan
  • Building friends for life
  • Winning my first writing award
  • Hanging out in the backyard of F
  • Growing as a teacher in ways I never thought I would
Through all these experiences, you have shown me the heart of your people. I hope I can take away from all of this the same zest for life, the work ethnic, and the willingness to help others that I've learned here.

Annyonghi kaysayo.

With love,
Chin-ah (Christina)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What a Rush!

I've been doing some research over the past few months on the Korean Horn Bow for my latest WIP.
But I really wanted to get a clearer sense of how the bow worked and felt. So I dragged my family to downtown Seoul, Gwanghwamun to the Pavilion of Yellow Storks (Hwanghakjeong).

It's the most famous archery pavilion in Seoul and in this part of Korea.

There they gave us a lesson about the Korean horn bow.

Most bows can shoot an arrow between 50-100 meters, but the Korean Horn Bow can shoot as far as 145 meters.

The reason for this is its made up of 8 different materials all glued together by the croaker fish glue. No chemicals are put inside of this bow either. The outside of the bow is made up of a water buffalo horn, which creates the power within the bow.

It takes a master craftsman 1 year to make 50-100 bows, depending on their speed. This is a picture of an archer stringing his bow, which is very difficult. After the wood has been stretched, it must be put under heat.

The archer keeps his horn bow in a silk pouch called the kundae. After the archer takes the bow out, she ties the kundae around her waist where it holds five arrows.

We also got to see a demonstration of a group of people shooting their bows so far away that I could hardly see the target! And they were hitting the targets. Amazing.

I also got to try out the bow. The Master also gave my hubby and I a lesson.

You begin with, "Please forgive my archery". Then the Master says, "I wish you success".

To shoot this bow, you:
1. Use a thumb ring to draw back the string.
2. Raise the bow obligatory to the target
3. Focus your heart (this is a critical part of the culture)
4. Chest is wide open
5. Hands in line
6. Draw back the string past the shoulder
7. Aim slightly upwards
8. Allow the heart to guide the arm
9. And let go!

Wow. What a rush!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

96 Boxes

They're all gone. All 96 boxes! Now that doesn't seem like much I suppose when you think it's everything we're bringing back to the States. And realize that hubby and I came to Korea with only 4 suitcases and no kids. So, we have accumulated.

A couple of you asked some questions in the comments of my last post, so I thought I'd answer them here.

Choosing a Shipper
If you have more than a few boxes to take back with you, then instead of mailing them, you use a shipper. We contacted three different companies. They each came to our house and gave us an estimate. Then we choose the company that we liked the best. We ended up not taking the cheapest one but the company with the best recommendations and service within our price range. That ended up being Transpact (they have the tiger emblem as you can see on all of the boxes).

Getting Ready
Then we take a number of days to get ready for them because each box is quite expensive. In shipping, you don't pay for weight but size. So we had a HUGE moving sale, and gave and threw out loads and loads and LOADS of stuff. The tricky part here in Korea is that nearly everything that you throw out must be recycled. Like food (yucky food bucket!), paper, plastics, and metals. If it doesn't fit one of those categories you have to PAY to throw it away because you have to use a certain expensive garbage bag. It's a lot of work, but it really makes you not want to throw stuff away.

Moving Day
On moving day, the movers come and you tell them what stays and what goes. They box it all up nice and pretty and put it in a crate.

You can see in this picture that they use a lift to take boxes in or out of a house and load them into a truck. Pretty cool, huh?

That crate (see the picture- we actually have three crates) is trucked to the port and put on the boat. It floats its way to us and then gets on another truck. The interesting part is the most expensive part of the trip is the trucks, not the boat fees.

Anne- If you're doing a really big move, it's so nice to have them come and pack it all up and do everything for you but it is expensive. So I guess you have to pay for luxury. But I don't know how else we would get the stuff back to the States otherwise.

So there you have it. A little lesson on Moving Across Continents!

Oh and Nora- yes, I hope to be teaching. We'll see if I get a job! If I don't, I'll for once have a clean house and heaps of time to write. Wow. That would be a dream, wouldn't it?

The most important advice I have to give is be ready for them to come and then have fun with it. Take lots of pictures and order in yummy food.

Or you can be ninjas like my boys and be the protector of the shipment in case any bad guys come.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's Really Happening

The movers are here! Like in my house right now! After being up late last night doing last minute organizing of what will stay, what's going in suitcases and what's being shipped, now I get to sit here and relax. (Well, kind of)

I can't believe it's all happening. These last few weeks have been so busy with all the goodbye parties, us getting ready for the movers, packing up classrooms, and doing last minute shopping. It's all gone by in a whirl.

It's interesting how each of us are taking the move. Doug is stressed, I'm here blogging about the event, Caleb won't look at the truck and Luke is bouncy around thinking this is just so much FUN. I wonder how we'll deal with the transition in the next few months.

There's so much on my heart and mind about leaving, but I can't think about that right now. Soon, I think I'll write down some of my thoughts.

In the mean time, don't you like these pictures? Cool truck too!

They'll take this truck and put all our our boxes on a container and then they'll be shipped across the Pacific and the Panama Canal to Miami. Then by another truck, they'll take it up to Orlando. It should arrive at our house in a couple of months.

And isn't it cool how they build a box to fit the furniture?

The Winners!

For my moving contest, I have two winners!!!!!!!!

Mary Anne Scott for Pack A

Casey McCormick for Pack B

Congratulations girls!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Moving Contest

Yikes! Only 7 more days until we leave Korea. So much to do. Chaos reigns at my house. Tomorrow is the last day of school. And did I just say we're moving in 7 days?

Yeah. We are. I'm only slightly freaking out. Okay, that's a lie. I'm totally freaking. And crying. And excited to see my family (slight pause for a little jig).

In the midst of getting rid of a LOT of stuff, I'm also giving away a bunch of my books. But I thought you, my dear, wonderful, exceptional bloggers (should I call you DWEBs?), would like some of my MG and YA books.

So I'm giving away two big packs of books. Oh the fun! Nothing new, but totally great reads. And like my reading tastes, a very ecletic bunch.

I don't have much time so this contest is going to be a quickie. AND I'm only giving these stacks to my dear, wonderful, fabulous bloggers. (The DWEBs- yes, I drank too much coffee today) 

So I do hope you'll help me move and enter the contest.

PACK A- Holes, A Jigsaw Jones Myster, Cinderellis and the Glass Hill, Frindle, The School Story, Ralph S. Mouse

PACK B- The Elements of Style, Pure Dead Trouble, The Mysterious Benedict Society, Twilight, The Host

Hurry! Because contest ends Sunday, June 14th NOON (that's like the middle of the night for me).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Things We Do as Writers

Have you ever done something really odd or crazy because you had to know what it felt like so you could write about it?

Well, when I started writing my current WIP, I decided my main character needed to be a black belt in taekwondo. Not only for the book to progress the way I wanted it to, but also, because my MC's personality screamed she needed to be a girl that could kick your butt.

Problem was I had watched a lot of taekwondo, and there's a difference between watching and doing. So I enrolled in the Seoul International Taekwondo Academy. Just imagine me (the girl who's danced ballet her whole life and never has hit anyone) doing taekwondo. Yep. I'm a wuss.

But I got hooked! I loved it. You get to learn these cool routines called poomse and kick boards and yell really loud. And I met lots of great friends in my class (see the picture above). Turns out, I like it. So much that now I'm going to have to work my way up to being black belt or at least try.

I just had my last belt test and here's a video of me breaking a board for the test. (And I didn't land on my butt! I know, I was worried, too).

And yes! I got my orange belt!

So how about you? Any crazy stuff you've tried so you could be a better writer?