Saturday, December 29, 2007

Changdeokgung Palace

On a cultural bend, we decided to visit the second-largest palace in Seoul, Changdeokgung Palace. It was built in 1405 as a secondary residence for the King, but became the primary palace from 1590 to 1896 when the primary palace, Gyeongbokgung, burned down.

Designated a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1997, Changdeokgung Palace can only be seen on a tour. Our Korean tour guide spoke understandable English, as she took us around the beautiful ancient buildings and the wild serene forest behind.

Taking photographs there was a wonderful experience. The palace is full of amazing colours. I hope you enjoy them:

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Portrait of Seoul

Merry Christmas viewers of Bond's Blog! As a gift, here are some new pictures from Korea:

(I apologize for posting pictures on Facebook. I thought everyone could view them there without having to sign up, but apparently you can't. So I will return to posting my photographs back on Bond's Blog as well! Thanks for the notes. Check back for more!)

Walking the Streets of Seoul with my camera.

The Cheonggyecheon Stream

Jongno Area - Old Downtown Seoul


Traditional Dresses for Korean Women

Seoul is surrounded by hills and crossed by highways.
Apartment buildings are everywhere.

Cave paintings on these apartments...

Typical Gas Station in Seoul (Where are the pumps?)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

Housewarming Party

Last night, Stephen and I had our housewarming party in our new place. Luckily, we do not have 50 rolls of toilet paper now.

Traditionally, a housewarming party in Korea is a stressful time for the host. They are expected to make lots and lots of food and provide drinks in a very formal atmosphere. In return, the guests bring gifts. Gifts such as dish soap, garbage bags and toilet paper... Any household necessity.

Our party was nothing of the sort. We provided snacks and beer/pop, while our guests brought food in a much more informal atmosphere! Two of our co-workers joined ten of Stephen's Korean friends in our large living room, and promptly sat down in a circle with the food in the center. This is a Korean-style Party.

While Steve and I were trying to figure out how to mix things up, Mr. Lee - our landlord - arrived, bearing more food! He stayed for a while and we all had a great time. Once he left, we moved the party down the street to a bar in Shinchon.

Overall, a successful blending of Korean and Western housewarming parties. And a successful kick-off to our social life in Seoul!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Today, there is a new President of South Korea.

His name is Lee Myung-bak, or Mr. Lee (as Korean family names are put first) and he used to be the Mayor of Seoul. As mayor, he helped "green-ify" Seoul by creating the Seoul Forest and reviving Cheonggyecheon, a stream passing though the downtown core. Mr. Lee is the conservative leader that 48.6% of Koreans want to fix their economy.

Yesterday, all Koreans had a day off from work so that they could vote. Over 60% of Koreans turned out to vote, which is the lowest in South Korean history. My classes also had the lowest turn out yet, as I was still working. Talking with those student who did show up, I found out much about Korean Politics.

Here are some interesting facts about politics in Korea:

-Did you know Korea has a President and a Prime Minister? Well, the President is the highest post one can achieve, while the Prime Minister is appointed by the President and assists him.

-There were 12 candidates for yesterday's election! Each candidate is given a number to campaign with: 1-12. Lee Myong-Bak was Number 2.

-The Number 8 candidate, Hun Kyoung-Young claimed to have an IQ of 430, promised to "transport" the UN Building to Seoul from New York, and would pay thousands of dollars (millions of won) to anyone who got married. Yeah. Mr. Huh also said he had the support of long-dead ex-president Park to marry Park Geun-Hye, an former female presidential nominee! Mr. Huh received 0.4% of the vote, which, amazingly, was higher than three other candidates...

-The official residence of the President of Korea is the Blue House. (Not to be confused with the White House!)

-Yesterday's election was marred by scandal, as Mr. Lee (the front-runner and eventual winner) was named in allegations of stock market fixing while he was head of the Hyondai Company.

End of KOREA FACTS! Ah, Politics....

Friday, December 14, 2007

Photos: My First Two Weeks in Seoul!

It has almost been two weeks since I arrived in Seoul, which means it is high time to post some pictures. Click on the link below to see my photographs:

Photos: My first two weeks in Seoul

Enjoy them!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Settling In...

What a crazy week this has been!

Arriving in Korea, being shocked by culture, starting work, meeting co-workers, searching for an apartment, enjoying the nightlife, finding an apartment, getting a phone, and setting up the apartment. Whew!

Yes, we finally found an apartment and moved in on Tuesday! After a week of searching, we found a large, three-bedroom place on the second floor of a "house." Not an apartment or office tower, but a floor in a five story building, owned by our landlord - in this case, Mr. Lee.

Mr. Lee (or Mystery as we sometimes lovingly call him) is Korea, but he has lived in Vancouver for a few years, so he knows the city and speaks broken English. He is extremely nice and fun to talk to and has been very kind to us. Usually, apartments in Seoul do not come with any "options" (fridge, stove, furniture etc), but Mr. Lee has hooked us up with options at no extra cost. Fridge, gas range, TV, desk, 2 side tables, 4 plastic chairs and table, 2 plants, 2 single beds, and some plates, bowls, cups and cutlery!!! And 70 hangers. Every time we return home from work, something new has been added to our apartment. Today, it was the appearence of a washing machine in the bathroom! And this is the reason he is called Mystery...

So with heated floors, cable TV, and stolen internet from upstairs (thanks "Tom"), life is good. It got even better with the purchase of our new cell phones. It is by far the most advanced phone I have ever owned, and it is the cheapest phone I could buy. Camera, movies, mp3, internet, alarm, games, text AND you can talk on it! Amazing! I'll email my number about soon. If you don't get it, leave a reply.

Oh, the best part about the new house is that it is 10 minutes away from school. Perfect, so in my 3 hour breaks between classes, I can mosey on home and catch a nap or food. We live in the Sincheon Area of Seoul, between Sincheon and Idae Subway Stations.

Goodbye Love Hotel, Hello New House!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Housing in Soeul: a study in frustration

One of the most important things when starting up in a new country is to find shelter. Procuring housing in Seoul is an interesting and frustrating process.

Upon landing in Korea, our English Company has put Steve and I up in a hotel behind the school. This is of course a temporary situation, until we can find a place to live.

The hotel we are currently staying in (which we will have to start paying for as of Sunday, at $40 a night) is called a Love Hotel. There are many Love Hotels in the area behind the school. What is a Love Hotel, you ask? Take a guess. I'll just say that Koreans tend to live at home until they are married, but have girlfriends/boyfriends before that, and that there is a high percentage of cheating among marriages... So I think you can guess on the use of the Love Hotel.

Hilariously, each Love Hotel tries to outdo the next in tacky outside decor. Flashing neon signs, multi-coloured English and Koren words advertising the pleasing room, fake plastic plants and tube lights - still in a coil - stapled to the wall! "Come and stay at the Lexy Hotel!" Yes, very lexy...

Actually, staying at the Love Hotel is awesome. We both have our own rooms, complete with huge bed, super clean western-style washrooms, huge TVs (with cable), and a cleaning service every day! The TV even has three or four English channels, one of which being the American Military Broadcasting Network - intersplicing your favorite shows with inspirational military content. Last night, we caught Million Dollar Baby. Great movie.

Steve and I are looking for a two or three bedroom apartment close to the school (in Shincheon, an area of Seoul) or on Line 2 of the subway, which is close to the school. We also want it to be close to the fun area of Hongik (university area, clubs, pubs, jazz spots). Unfortunately, almost all the apartments in Seoul are one-bedrooms. That, or tiny dirty unfinished two-shoebox-sized-bedrooms.

The process for finding a place is to have an interpreter join you at a Real Estate Agents, where they talk a lot in Korean and you wait, nodding when they gesture to you. Eventually, the Agent understands what you want and you follow them to the apartment. They open the door, show you around in Korea, while the translator (in our case today, one of our teaching friends) rattles off what she says. "This is a two bedroom. This is the bathroom. This is the floor..." and so on.

Three days ago, we found a great place on the fifth floor with three rooms. Steve and I both loved it, and compared to the other places we were shown, it was better that the rest. It even had a roof top patio! Unfortunately, today we found out that the landlord has a bad credit rating and our school will not pay the key money, meaning we can't live there. Ugh...

(Key money is one year's rent payed in a lump sum up front. That is how rent works here - pay once and that's it. Obviously, we can't afford that so the school pays the key money and we pay back the school.)

So that leaves us with out number two choice, another three bedroom (cheaper) in not as good a location. Hopefully, we can get that one...

I will update you with what happens and what house we get soon. Now, it is time for my first weekend here and sleeping and going out. Should be fun!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Seoul Life - Day 2

------48 hours since my arrival in Seoul.-------

In a word: Amazing.

My life:

5:45am - Walk up to one of my two alarm clocks (I cannot sleep in). Fall out of the bed in my hotel (called a "love hotel" because of the "love" that often occurs within) and stumble to the tiny but surprisingly western toilet. After getting ready, I walk up a floor, meet Steve, and leave the hotel.

6:15am - Walk across the back alley to the convenience store and purchase a rice roll and yogurt for breakfast. Walk 30 seconds to the back of the School.

6:25am - Enter the school and prepare for my first classes.

7:00am - First class. Level 2. 6 sleepy business people. I realize the hardest part of the job will be remembering names (Heoug Ji or Ji Heoug or Jeoug Hi or Hi Jeoung. or Jimmy...)

8:00am - Second class. Level 2. Younger group of 8 more awake Koreans.

9:00 am - Break until 11am, which is a level 1 class with one student for two hours. Quite a long class...

1pm - Big break. 6 hours to sleep, eat, explore. Yesterday, Steve and I walked from our home base of Shincheon to the Han River, 3 subway stops away.

6:45pm - Return to work for 7pm and 8pm class. More names I cannot remember. Quite tired now.

9pm - School is over and you have the option of SLEEP or go out. Last night, we went out and met Steve's friend GiSu at a Bar in Hongik called the Crazy Monkey. Food was amazing and a strange "happy birthday" song erupted (a different version of Happy Birthday, but in English).

1am - Return home by subway and fall into bed. Watch hilarious Korean TV for 1 sec before falling asleep.

Luckily, I had set my alarm clocks. And so the cycle continues....

The weekend is looking mighty tempting right about now!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Flight Tomorrow!

In 11 hours, I will be getting onto a large Air Canada plane, AC63, heading west across the largest ocean on Earth. 11.5 hours later, I'll have crossed the Pacific and landed at Incheon Airport in Seoul. From that point on, I do not know what I am doing....

I think we are being met by the school...
I think they are putting us up in a hotel for a few nights...
I think they buy us a dinner...
I think I don't really know what is happening tomorrow.

Things I am not looking forward to:
1. Kimchi.
2. Hit by cars. 100 times more pedestrian imparts than in Canada.
3. Learning to teach English ESL. That's not really true, I can't wait, I'm just nervous...
4. Really hot summers. So hot (apparently)...
5. Explosive land mines in easily missed signs on chain link fences...DMZish...
6. Umm...

Really though, I am looking forward to this year in Korea. I am also looking forward to a plane flight with movies and reading and plane food and everything! If you haven't noticed, I love flying!

See you in Korea!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

T-2 Days and Counting...

Welcome to the new and improved BOND's BLOG in KOREA!!!

Our story up until now:

Steve and I have been waiting patiently for the Korean Government to get back to us on the status of out Visa Application. Last week, they sent us our magic numbers and we trekked downtown the Korean Embassy. After handing over our passports (I hope they give them back!), they said we would get them back with our Visas on Friday.

Meanwhile, our Korean School wants us to start work on Monday. As they are paying for our flights (yeah!), they decide when we fly. Yesterday, we received an email saying our flight will be on Saturday! So I have a final countdown - T-2 days!

So, we fly on Saturday, we arrive on Sunday their time, and we begin working on Monday in a job I have never done before. Illogical? Crazy? Scary? YES! Fun and Adventurous? Oh YES!!!

Things I am looking forward to:

1. My very own in-seat TV and movies! All my life I have wanted to sit in a plane seat and watch my very own movie while everyone looks over everyone's shoulders, checking what each other are watching. Bliss.

2. Traveling West across the Pacific Ocean. Never done it before and have always wanted to.

3. Standing still and experiencing thousands of people stream past me in the streets. To experience the feeling of loneliness amongst millions. A la Lost in Translations...

4. Life with Steve. Fun, crazy times with my friend - one story from his travels of past: he once tied 38 2-litter pop bottles together and sailed (sunk) down the Han River.

5. Delving into a new and exciting culture and experiencing Korean Life from within!

The next post will be on Friday: Last day in Vancouver, Visa in hand, deep in packing hell! I'll post the things I am nervous about then...

Until then, I'm experiencing Vancouver as much as I can. Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of Peter Bond: Traveling Teacher...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

BLUEBELL WOODS - a new film by Bond

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I have finished the final cut of BLUEBELL WOODS, my hour-long action/drama cop/killer film set in Birmingham, England! After a month of writing, a month of filming, and over three months and countless hours of editing, Albany Road Studios' second official film is ready to be released to the world!

Please take an hour and sit down. Watch my film, and let me know what you think! Comments will help my next project...

Therefore, on behalf of Albany Road Studios and Prehistoric Insanity Productions, please enjoy BLUEBELL WOODS:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

I hope you enjoyed BLUEBELL WOODS!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Trailer for Bluebell Woods - My New Film!

Confession time...

Some of you may know that I consider myself somewhat of an amateur filmmaker. All through my life, I've been dabbling in the motion picture arts - stop motion dinosaurs, high school book reports, crazy comedy skits, and epic sci-fi movies. And now action films.

While in England, I formed a production company called Albany Road Studios, under which I have made two films - the second I am about to release!

The time has come to announce the completion of my new film, Bluebell Woods. It is an action/drama cop/killer film with plenty of strong language and violence.

Below is the movie trailer for Bluebell Woods:

The final completed film is coming soon. Within a week or so, I'll 'release' (through YouTube) Bluebell Woods. I love writing, filming, and editing films! (Check out the Albany Road Studios blog here for my first film - Tony's Empire!)

Let me know what you think of the trailer for Bluebell Woods!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Contract Sent (aka Buracracy in it's most Glorious!)

After a weekend of organizing and solidifying plans for Korea, I have sent the signed contract back to the Seoul company by UPS courier.

Along with the contract (4 copies), I had to include:
-three copies of my transcript (sealed and stamped)
-six (six!?!) passport photos
-my up-to-date resume
-a copy of my passport
-my original BSc and BEd degrees (Yeah, the actual original expensive piece of paper qualifying me!)

Whew! So then the school gets this, OKs it, then sends it to the Korea Government, who hum and haw for 1-3 weeks. Eventually, they OK it and email us a code. We take this code to the Korean Embassy with out passport and then they stamp the baby with a work VISA!

Whole process should take 2-3 weeks, meaning I am now leaving sometime between the 19th and 30th of November. The school is paying for the flight over, so I'll keep you updated as to when that might be (cause I don't know either!)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

New Job!


After a month or so of searching, I have found a job teaching English in South Korea. The contract begins late November, with my first class on Dec 1st. I will be teaching adults (a skill I have no experience with) in the Sinchon area in Seoul.

My friend Steve Wade is joining me on this quest, and apparently (as he has lived in Seoul before) Sinchon is the best place to live. It is a young University area with cool bars and lots of fun things to do. Imagine a cross between Kits and the West End.

It pays well and is a large reputable private school. I have yet to officially sign the contract (they are sending it to me here), so specific details will come later. Keep an eye here for stories and tales of my immersion in Korean Culture!

On that note, I am putting the word out that anyone who wants to come and visit is welcomed with open arms. Are you passing from China to Japan? Or England to New Zealand? Or Canada to Mexico? Come on over!

Take care and I want to see you soon, once more before I go.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Well, Steve and I are in talks with a reputable company in Korea. I'm not going to mention the name here, just in case it falls through. We have been sent a sample contract that looks good. We like it and have are keen to sign.

It is teaching adults English in a cool area of Seoul called Shinchon, apparently a fun university local. Should be fun.

Check back here, as I am hoping things progress quickly and I will be able to plan the next month.

Watch this space!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween Party at Jenni's

I really thought I was going to miss Halloween this year. Again.

I really did! Last year, as you may recall, I was in England, where they do not celebrate the holiday - even in schools. This year, I was planning to have left Vancouver and be teaching in Korea at this time, missing Halloween again.

Happily, I am here! (As Halloween is one of my FAVORITE holidays!)

To celebrate the event, I was invited to Jenni Ferris' First Annual 29th Birthday/Halloween Party at her and her finance (Derek)'s house. Having planned not to be here, I did not have a Halloween costume. Haste was needed to find one!

I searched the house: thick black cloak, top hat, medical latex gloves, white shirt, black pants and shoes, wig, .... knives, ..... and a name tag reading "Jack Theripper" (aka Jack The Ripper).

Check out these photos from the night (taken by Kim Versteeg, Jen Echols, and Jenni):

Be weary...

Derek (the Beer Keg) and Jenni (the Ladybird)

My fist victims - Dave, Kim (Dr. McLusty) and Jack.
But who is Dave supposed to be?

Here's a hint...
No? He's Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget!

Ladybird, McLusty and Jen Echols (the One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater!)

Jack's next victims...

Jack, Cameron (Bob Marley) and LBird

Dancing to Ghostbusters and Thriller!

Playing with fire and sparklers

Happy Halloween, Blogshere! Have a safe and fun one!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

No job news yet...

Hello Blogworld,

No Korean job yet. Had a good interview with a reputable company in Seoul, but they don't have any open positions yet. The effort in trying to find work (hundreds of emails sent, websites searched, and phones interviewed... er.. phone interviews) is beginning to stain on me. I hope something picks up soon...

Work on my un-named film project is going very well though. More on this later...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Appolgies of the Absence

Life is in Limbo. Uncertainty floods the system. Reason for not updating blog: Life.

But the Blog is Back.

I am currently looking for a good job in Korea. Once this is obtained, the path will be clear. A flight can be booked, bags can be packed and goodbyes can be said. Until then, limbo.

I wish to continue uploading photos, but it takes forever on blogger (only 5 photos at a time!), so I have put them all onto facebook. Even if you are not a facebook member, no problem! Anyone can check out my Spain, Portugal, and New York photos. So here they are:

After Madrid and Lisbon below,

-Lagos, Portugal photos

-Seville, Spain photos

-Valencia, Spain photos

-La Tomatina, Brunol, Spain photos

-Barcelona, Spain photos

-London, England photos

-New York, New York photos

Please click on the links and enjoy! Facebook allows you to comment any photos you like, so let me know what tickles your fancy!

I am currently still in Vancouver, scouring the net for Korean English teaching jobs beginning in Dec 1. Once I find the job, then I will spend some time in Nov traveling Korea, Japan, China, or South East Asia.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Photo Gallery 2: Lisbon

Part 2: Lisbon

Meet up with Greg...

...and lock him out!