Ruby Ramblings

Places I Could Be – Thursday Thirteen
July 22, 2010, 4:59 pm
Filed under: Travel

I haven’t done one of these for a while, but there are at least thirteen places I’d like to work and live, and since I’ve been scouring Dave’s ESL Cafe for potential fall opportunities, I will share some with you. If anyone is looking for an international teaching position, feel free to use the links and apply away. 🙂

1. English Academy school in Diyarbakir, Turkey. Unless most jobs in Asia it requires a full teaching certificate from your home country.

2. Immediate opening in Ulan Bataar, Mongolia. Pay not listed, but it says it is “competitive.” Not competitive with Korea, I’m sure, but…

3. Kurdistan – Degree and TESOL, but full teaching cert not required.

4. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

5. Jakarta, Indonesia – 38 days vacation. Sure beats what I have now. 🙂

6. Cairo, Egypt

7. Abu Dhabi, Dubai. $5,500/month People are flocking for this one, even if you do have to wear a veil to work.

8. Taiwan, a country I am sure I will work in in the future.

9. Volunteer in Costa Rica

10. Organic farm and the first English language university in Honduras.

11. Moscow, Russia

12. Opportunities for unemployed math, science, business, and IT teachers from English speaking countries in Beijing, China.

13. And a job that I am actually applying for and hoping to get. I need a TESOL, and I’m fascinated by Manchuria. May be a good match. Harbin, China

There’s a whole wide world out there.

Moka Buddhist Museum, Yeoju
July 11, 2010, 5:13 am
Filed under: Buddhism, Korea, Travel

I thought I was leaving Korea for good in September, so I’ve been putting myself under some pressure to see the places in Korea that I hadn’t made it to yet. Moka Buddhist Museum in Yeoju is one of those places that I had circled in the guidebook before I ever came to Korea. After more than year, I finally made the bus trip down there with a new teacher at school who is actually interested in cultural things and not just drinking until they turn into a new form of Asian Cocktail.

My guidebook said Yeoju was forty minutes from Seoul Express Bus Terminal. After the actual two hours it took in the cluster of extraneous status symbol, I mean car, traffic, we finally made it to Yeoju by 2pm after leaving the house at 9am. As much as I love travelling around Korea, some days it’s hard to convince myself to leave the neighborhood knowing that even a simple trip to Seoul is going to take over an hour on either end. Why so many people insist on driving their own cars when the public transportation is arguably one of the best the entire world, I know, but refuse to understand.

Moka Museum is a really cool little place though. Well worth the visit. It’s a bit outside of town, the number 10 bus goes by it, or a taxi ride is about 10,000W.

The museum grounds are a statue park of different religions, mostly buddhist. It was a really gorgeous and relaxing place to be.

King Sejong, the creator of Hangul with his book.

The highlight is the actual museum, but of course, you can’t take pictures inside. I did sneak this one of the child of Samsara (the circle of living and dying with attachment) for my travel buddy.

And then there was this guy…..

Weekend Rambling
July 4, 2010, 2:55 pm
Filed under: Books, Buddhism, Good Food, Korea, Travel

With no concrete plans for a weekend in the fist time in ages, I set out to do what ruby does best. Pick a subway stop or two and explore. On Saturday, I barely made it out of the front door before the first adventure began. There is a particularly seedy looking building in our neighborhood that, although it appears to have a Buddhist temple on top, I was a little hesitant to explore. The building itself is one of the more ranshackle in our area. There is a billiards hall on the second floor, and on my walk home from work, it’s one of the places that always has particularly drunk men loitering around outside.

But since I was in exploring mode, camera in hand, daring wits about me, I decided to brave it past the filthy stairwell to see what it really is.

On the third floor is a beautiful shrine room. Even though part of the reason I came to back to Asia was to re-immerse myself in Buddhist culture, it doesn’t feel like part of everyday life here. Consumerism and an extreme materialism to the point of being disgusting has taken over, leaving the less than a third of the population that still even considers itself Buddhist on a shelf somewhere behind last years’ cellphones. There are still some great cultural holidays, and the occasional monk on the subway, but it doesn’t “feel” like a Buddhist country the way other places I’ve travelled do.

With no one around I did a few prostrations and sat for a few minutes, and then nosed around trying to find the rooftop shrine that I was pretty sure existed. On my way through the door to the rooftop I literally ran into a monk. He was at first shocked, and then pretty happy to see me. He even gave me a zucchini from their rooftop garden. I speak almost no Korean, and he speaks almost no English, but I did glean that he was in the Korean war from pictures he showed me and was quite happy to meet a young American.

We had tea together and a gorgeous little girl full of smiles came in. As far as I could tell, she said the monk is her uncle, and it seems like she almost lives at the temple. I got to thinking how different my life in Korea would be if I had become involved with these people earlier in the year.

The rest of my subway hopping weekend paled in comparison to hanging out with the monk and his niece. Even with such promising names as Imhak, Beagun, and Dong Incheon, it’s a little bit of a disappointment to get off at any subway station and just see more of the same. I know this is going to happen already, but still, there’s usually one little gem that was worth finding. The Mexican restaurant in Songnea for example, or the acupuncturist I want to try again when they are open in Imhak.

After a second day of rambling and going to the grocery store, I was on the final stretch home carrying a bag full of exotic cheeses from Home Plus, when a little tiny hand grabbed my arm. It was the girl from the temple. It appears what I’ve been looking for in Korea has been on my street all along.

June Reads
July 1, 2010, 3:13 pm
Filed under: Books


Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Kindle Version

Paper Towns
Paper Towns by John Green
Kindle Version

This might be my favorite of the month, and not just because the author has the same name as one of my favorite friends. Teen discomfort mixes with geography as a boy is taken on the ride of his life by the neighbor girl that he’s been in love with since elementary school. She takes advantage of his loyalty and drags him on a trip to get revenge on everyone she believes has ever crossed her from spray painting cars, leaving dead fish in dresser drawers, and shaving the football stars eyebrows off while he sleeps in his own house. The best thing about this book was the vivid geographical references to Florida, and the term “paper towns” fake places put on maps to trip up would be cartographic thieves.

Gods in Alabama
Kindle Version


Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet
Kindle Version

I made it through this 1,000 page monstrosity in record time. Once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. It’s not earth shattering, or mind blowing, but it is an intensely rendered, realistic world. And it’s getting turned into a mini-series.

Empire of the Ants

This was supposed to be the second book for the masters literature class I’m teaching, but the classes got cancelled due to exams. I read the book anyway. It was good, but would have been really difficult for the students. There was a lot of implied meaning. Although the book was really engaging, the ending was just plain bizarre. Then again, it is translated from French.

Bones of the Master

The year in recap