Sunday, November 25, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

My wonderful friend Catherine had my kids sing happy birthday to me. It was so touching. I miss them already. Thank you Catherine!! I miss you too! You made my Korean experience better just for being my friend. :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thailand x 3


This is part one in a three part series (at least on the part of Thomas, Leslie may add more) about our travels from Seoul, Korea to Cherryville, NC. Stop number one is Thailand.
I swore right after this happened that I would never tell anyone because I am amazingly embarrassed but oh well here goes anyway.

Leslie and I had said our good-byes to our students and friends, we were packed and ready to go. We showed up at the Air Singapore desk and the lady behind the counter asks to see our visa for India... I knew it was bad right away but I wasn't quite sure how bad, I've never been quite this stupid (in this particular area, at least) before. Because I didn't get us visas for India we couldn't get on the plane! Unless you have been in this type of situation there is really no way for me to tell you how uncomfortable it feels. After some research we found out it was going to take around a week to get a visa for India so we decided to scrap it altogether.

I went into an English speaking travel agency in Seoul and with desperation in my eyes looked across the desk and asked the woman to get us out of Korea. She said she could put us on a flight to Bangkok the next day for a really great price so, (even though we have already been there twice in the last year) we took it. She then got us a flight from Bangkok to Athens for the following week. The lady then proceeded to call the Korean travel agency we had bought our India tickets through and demanded our money back for us. I don't know how she did it but we are getting a full refund for those tickets with only a few minimal fees. I was so grateful I could have jumped over the desk and kissed her; that's not quite acceptable behavior in Korea though so I just bowed and thanked her in every language I know. The next day we were on our way to Thailand, again.

I am sure there is plenty more to do and see in Bangkok but on our previous visits we have really seen as much of it as we care to. So we bought two round trip tickets from Bangkok to an island called Koh Samui. If you have read the book or seen the movie The Beach, it is mentioned there. Unfortunately for us, we happened to be sitting on one of the world's greatest beaches during rainy season. From the Indian visa into the rainy season, our luck had not been so hot thus far. Anyway. We did our best to make the most of the situation. Koh Samui is used to having tourists so there is no shortage of tailors, street vendors, pharmacists, massauses, etc. selling any and everything you can possibly imagine. Leslie had a wool, winter coat custom made and yours truly, the t-shirt, sandal, jean wearing, future seminary student got two custom made suits. Those JCPenny wearing professors aren't going to know what to think. I can just hear them now "He looks like a vagabond bum in class one day and he rolls in like Armani the next" ha ha.

One of the fun things about all the rain is that the streets flooded. So I rented a scooter and went driving through it. As long as you keep the exhaust pipe out of the water it's all fun so thats what I did. There were even some off-roading muddy experiences that put a pretty decent size smile on my face. All in all out of about six days we had two nice ones, otherwise there isn't a lot to tell about Thailand on this trip. If you're reading this blog for the first time and want to know about our previous trips to this brilliant country there should be a link on the right hand side of the page were you can scroll through old posts and read about it there.

This concludes part one. To see pictures click on the link on the right called "Flickr Photos" and look at the album titled "Trip Home: Thailand." Stay tuned for post 2 of 3 concerning Athens, Greece.

PS. Thai food is still the best food in the world...well...Ethiopian is really good too...let me backtrack a little. Thai food is one of my favorite foods. Go to your local Thai restaurant and order chicken pad thai and a curry called Gang gari Gai (sp?). You'll thank me. Their stir fry dishes are really good too.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Korea



Before we get rolling on telling all the awesome things we've been up to for the last three weeks of travel, I would just like to do a quick summary of teaching in Korea.

We started a year contract at Global Kids International (GKI) on August 23rd 2006 and finished October 31st 2007. The fourteen months spent in Korea working at GKI were such an excellent experience for Leslie and myself. Our decision to go was based on a lot of thought and prayer and without a doubt - God was faithful. We had certain financial goals that we wanted to meet while in Korea such as paying off my student loans from undergrad at CIU; we quite easily accomplished that within six months. The other goal was to get a little practice living overseas and living in a different culture far from North Carolina. I can honestly say that we prevailed quite well. Certainly our small, moldy apartment was conducive to arguments and frustrations but we managed and I think we have come away a stronger couple who are now more equipped for the calling that God has laid on both of our hearts to serve Him wherever He chooses to call us.

Secondly we really enjoyed our time with our students and coworkers. In our first six months God blessed us both with fantastic kindergarten classes, where we fell in love with our students and throughly enjoyed being in the classroom with them and getting to know them. The last eight months, at least for me, were more of a challenge as I moved to teach a young class of five year olds. I managed though and I am fairly confident that they all learned a little and at least a couple of them had a really good time in the process (I'm sorry but all teachers have some kids they just like better than others). We both made some relationships with kids that we will remember and cherish for a very long time. Our elementary classes were always sort of the same each and everyday but it was really up to us as to how good a time we had. If we showed up creative and innovative then the day was good, if we showed up to get it over with then well...

The coworkers we had at GKI really helped make our experience a memorable one. There were three Canadians (Jack, Miriam and Catherine), one international (Kimberly) and our two Korean helpers Mary and Hera. When we first arrived they were all super helpful with our transition and throughout the year they turned into friends who we will keep in contact with for a very long time.

Overall I would highly recommend going and if you have any questions about it please feel free to ask either of us.

Coming up next are posts on Thailand, Athens and Amsterdam so stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We're back

I am sorry to say that we have not had the chance to upload pictures from our travels just yet. We did however have a great time in Thailand, Greece and Holland. Our last day teaching in Korea was October 31st, since then we have been traveling. Last night, November 21st, we arrived in Charlotte at 1:30am, about 25 hours after leaving our hotel in Amsterdam. It was a long day. I promise that within the week we will post our pictures and write some thoughts about our travels. Thank you for thinking of us and praying for us these past 15 months while we have been overseas. Don't forget to check back soon.