Saturday, December 30, 2017

Update before the end of 2017

So I haven't shown any signs of life on my blog in over a month.

Let me change that now.

Since the earthquake, there have been a few eventful happenings . . .

1. I had plantar fasciitis (click on that name to find out what it is).
I like to walk and walk long distances. I enjoy dancing (nothing too crazy). As a teacher, I stand just about the entire length of the class period. I also have high arches. 
According to this website, I'm a prime candidate for this condition.

I went to a hospital and had treatment for 3 days a week for 6 weeks. The doctor told me I needed to walk and stand as less as possible. It was hard, but I did what I could. I did not travel at all during that time.

As far as the treatment, Mondays and Fridays were when I had a series of them (i.e., sonography, shockwave therapy, heat treatment, and something that seemed to target my muscles) on my right heel, where it hurt. Wednesdays were the days when I got my weekly shot--into my right heel. Not fun, but over with within seconds.

One of my treatments outside the clinic.

After my treatment period was over, I tried to be careful, just to not relapse.
Seriously, I was scared to death of having a relapse and have to go through more weeks of the treatments.
But then I tried walking back home from church one Sabbath. It's about 5 stops away from home--up and on a hill. I walked back. My heel didn't hurt. What a glorious moment.

Speaking of a glorious moment, that brings me to number two . . .

2. Masan Teachers' Chorus Concert

The concert's poster
We had all been practicing a lot for this event. We memorized 8 or 9 songs--only 1 in English. The others were naturally in Korean. We even learned the choreography for 4 of those songs.

That was a lot of fun.

I might write a post about that. I need to get some pictures to go with it first.

Christmas was nice but bad at the same time.
I visited a family I know in Seoul. They'll move to the States in Spring, so  I wanted to spend time with them before they left for good. The bad thing was that the micro-dust levels in Seoul were very high that weekend, and I got sick. But as soon as I left Seoul and returned here, I started getting better. I'd say I'm just about cured now.

I've been contributing a bit to Google Maps.
You know I like to explore restaurants and cafes, as well as places.
Here's a little of what I've shared so far on Google Maps.

That's basically it.

See you next year!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

My First Earthquake (15. Feb.)

Who knew I'd experience my first earthquake at the age of 31 in South Korea?

It was about 14:29 Korea time. I was at my desk in my classroom at my main school (해운초). On Wednesdays, classes end at 13:50. Most students were gone, and some were either playing or in their afterschool activities. My co-teacher and I were in the room together. She was doing her thing, and I was doing mine. Then, I felt it.

I knew the students are going to have a school festival this coming Friday and they were going to be practicing for it up until the day arrives. I thought many of the students were jumping because I felt vibrations from below. I even asked my co-teachers if the students were jumping. That was when it got stronger. That was also when I realized: The kids cannot make that! My co-teacher and I looked at each other, each knowing the other felt the earthquake. So we evacuated. Kids were evacuating too, so my co-teacher directed them to the exit, just as she did during the earthquake drill the week or two before.

That was interesting. I was laughing a bit, but out of shock. That's my reaction to when I'm shocked: I laugh.

The students at the school were all there on the playground. Some of the teachers were there too, talking with each other or checking on their students--or both. After about 5 - 10 minutes, we returned to the school building and continued as we were before the earthquake.

That's my boring story of my first earthquake.

At least I can now say I've experienced an earthquake.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Chuseok 2017, Day 6: Hong Kong and Macau--Sabbath, Macau Casinos/Hotels, and Departure (7. Oct.)

This is it. My final day in Hong Kong. I went on the Big Bus Tours to everywhere I could in Hong Kong--plus a few other places I went on my own. It was now the final day--and the Sabbath.
I looked up a few churches and ultimately decided on Hong Kong Adventist International Church in Kowloon.

This meant I packed up everything and checked out of my hostel. The idea was to leave the church to the ferry terminal in time to catch my 17:00 ferry back to Macau. I over-estimated the time I needed. It only took about 30 min. (+/-) to get there (the directions were clear, and I didn't get lost). I stayed for the Sabbath school lesson (given by Elder Warjri). It was one of the best Sabbath school lessons I've attended in a very long time.

Something that surprised me was to see that it was predominately Filipino. Nothing against Filipinos at all. They were all wonderful--I just thought there would be many more nationalities represented in an international church. Another thing that struck me was that it was predominately female. There must have been a minimum of 80 people there. I counted no more than 12 men (including boys). Whoa.
Potluck (lunch) was very fullfilling. Undoubtedly, that was the most I had eaten on my entire trip in one sitting. After lunch, 6 am socialized and practiced for the youth program in the afternoon.
Part of me was anxious about catching my ferry, and another part was wanted to escape the attention. So I left early, while everyone was practicing (aka while there were less to stop me).
Before I left, I took the following picture.

This sign (& 3 ladies) greeted me at the entrance.

One of the subway stations where I transferred lines. Don't be too rushed to admire art.

Metro map just above one of the train doors.

Exits are marked with letters. This is Sheung Wan Station

Or if you want a better idea of where exactly you could be.
Since I did get to the ferry early and returned my On-Loan Octopus card (and got my balance refunded), I still had a little over an hour to kill. What could I do? Why not wander around one more time on Hong Kong's footbridges?

Sky100 from a footbridge near the ferry.

The map of the footbridge I was on.

Yet another panoramic view.

Indeed a concrete, world-class, global jungle.

The footbridge I was on and took the previous 4 pics from.

Sky100 towering above Victoria Harbor from the ferry terminal.

Last panoramic shot taken in Hong Kong.

In case any wondered about Hong Kong vending machines--and you can pay with your octopus card!

Yes, you can travel by helicopter. Don't know the prices, but I'm sure they are scarier than the ride.

Arrivals/Departures hall.

A little over an hour later, I returned to Macau. I remember hearing about how each hotel/casino has FREE shuttle buses taking passengers from the ferry(s), airport, and China border(s) directly to said hotels/casinos. I decided to try the one to The Venetian (the most massive casino/hotel in the world). They were right--and it was a nice ride, too.

Welcome to The Venetian.

On the 3rd floor, the Venetian Canals--in the shopping mall?!

WOW, they were not kidding!

360-degree view (sorry for the bad quality)

You really have to be there to appreciate it.

Real gondola rides up & down the canal.

The classiest McDonalds I've ever seen.

I felt way too poor even to be allowed in here.

How long did it take them to build this?

This would've been pointless to do alone. So I didn't do it.

Now I wonder how the real Venice is.

One of the reasons I returned--Egg tarts to take back to Korea!

Look at the floor! Doesn't it look 3-D?

Wow, 10th anniversary.

Okay, I'll stop adding captions. They are really pointless for me at this point. Just behold and enjoy my few snapshots of The Venetian--and others.

Now, I left The Venetian and entered another "city"--The Parisian.

This fountain lit up in different colors, and the water changed according to the music.

After the show was over.

They say this is 1/3 of the original size.

Studio City. It makes me think of New York City/Gotham City.

Basically at one end of the strip, looking back at where I started.

A thought came to my mind a few times as I was beholding this earthly glory to luxury, vanity, and wealth: "Wow, look at all this firewood"...

As a Christian, I know this world (including these hotels/casinos) will be destroyed. The trick is to not be attached to them. If you're clinging to GOD because you love HIM, because HE is the One Thing you need, your Costly Treasure, your Pearl of Great Price, then you can calmly see all this for what it is: worthless glorified firewood.

Shall we continue our tour of said worthless glorified firewood?

Studio City Entrance from inside. So golden.

Entrance to the casino in the foyer.

Shops along the "street."

Yeap, Manhatten.

Grand Central Station

After leaving Studio City, I waited at the bus stop right in front of it for the bus to the airport.
Why not take the free shuttle bus to the airport? Because the last one left at 22:30. It was past 23:00. I didn't want to go that early because my flight was at 2 am. I didn't need to arrive before midnight--plus I had a few coins I wanted to get rid of, and they were enough for the bus ride.
Bus 23 came (quite late). I got off at the "Airport Roundabout" (the bus stop name in Portuguese). No idea where the airport was. I even flagged down a taxi. He said it was straight ahead--as though I didn't need the taxi. Ok, fine. I'll walk to the airport.
I still wasn't sure I was on the right path. A young man was walking towards me, and I asked him where the airport was (in English). He answered (in pretty good English) that it was straight ahead, not far. He was right. It may have taken me 5 minutes to get there after asking this guy. Whew!

There was a very long line--all Koreans. Apparently, I was the only foreigner in the entire plane. Yeap, I felt back in Korea already.

I still had some time before boarding, so I went over to where there were empty benches without armrests--perfect for lying down across 3-4 seats. I closed my eyes, but couldn't sleep. I did take a few pics though . . .

So where do I throw away my cans and bottles?

From my bench, looking up at the signs.

Boarded the direct flight to Busan and left at 2 am Macau time. It arrived at Busan 3 hours later at 6am Busan time (Macau/Hong Kong is 1 hr behind Korea). I got the airport limousine bus back to Masan, then a city bus back home. It must have been almost 8 am when I walked into my apartment.
It was so good to be back--mostly because I could sleep on my bed (couldn't sleep on the plane and was seriously dozing off in both buses). I was so grateful to have all day Sunday and Monday to recover before returning to school on Tuesday.
It has been 10 days since I returned from my trip at the time I am typing this up. I still haven't fully recovered. Maybe I finally can once I publish this post.

As tiring as it was (flight there and flight back), with the few misadventures here and there (sprained ankle, Chinese traditional medicine doctor visit, nearing the border twice, etc.), I am so grateful and blessed for the opportunity I had to visit both Macau and Hong Kong. I would like to return, if possible.We'll see what happens.