Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pricing Discrepancy, Much?


Approximately $60 USD
What's up with this?
Cost in US: $170.22 USD !
Not to be sold in USA or Canada? Why? Because people would freak out at the price discrepancy?

Stewart Calculus
My University used This Text
It's an International Text, but Wholly in English
What's going on here?
What's going on with US Textbook Prices?
Korean Price: Approx $45 USD , Less Considering Exchange Rate
US Price for US Students: $185 (Amazon)
Suggested Retail: $224.95

All right. So for those in college, (it is September after all, people are going back-to-school everywhere), here is a post for you.

I was at a big bookstore today, and was surprised by the cost of textbooks. Well, surprised that these American texts, in American format, using nearly the same materials, binding, and everything else, simply cost half, or less than half, the cost American students have to pay.

Now why is this?

Why shouldn't American students have access to AMERICAN books at prices struggling families an afford?

Consulate Trip Part II, Seoul, Dongdaemun

Seoul View: Traditional Meets the Modern Corporate
Again, Black and White Cars Only !?

Dongdaemun Shopping Area, 5th Floor: Beads and Components
There is an A, B, C building, all connected. More like Bead Universe
Thank-you for chaperoning me, Sweet Husband Max.

The Building has Two Floors of Fabric and Clothing Components Vendors
The Bead Floor had these Handbag Components

Cute Teddy Bears, Naked, Ready to be Dressed Up and Turned into Accessories

This Photo Just doesn't Reveal the Scale

Components Galore

These are for Shoes or Hair
But Let your Creativity Wild and you Could Work these into Anything

We got our visas today! After all that. I'm glad I don't have to go into the city again for a while. It's now only about one week away from us leaving.

Although I'm a bit confused because the visa is for one year, which means if I go before my job begins to settle in, then the year begins, and my visa expires before my contract does. So that's confusing.

I went back to Dongdaemun and got a loot of beads and beading supplies! They're so much cheaper than back home... all the components and everything. It's basically like a huge bead show except it happens all year round.

If you know anyone who is going to Korea who is also into designing fashion or accessories, the Dongdaemun shopping center is a good place to go. You can also see Korean traditional dress (Hanbok), Korean Bedding (Also very colorful and pretty), Korean spoons (including "silver spoons" which are really silver and cost just as much...), and pretty much anything you can imagine.

If you're a crafter, visiting this place should be on your short list of places to go in Seoul! But have something in mind of what you want, or plan more than one trip, because I have seen crafting goods that I never imagined in my wildest dreams.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kwestions About Korea~

There is not one car in this picture of a color other than black, white, or silver!

These are serious questions! I mean, if someone were considering research questions about Korea, they would be interesting places to start some research. Most of them are about modern culture.

1) Monotone Cars
Why are cars overwhelmingly white, black, silver, and a dark silver-blue?
Why? Also, considering the population size and that other countries have much smaller cars, why are the sizes so close to opulent U.S. sizes?

2) Children Sent Abroad
Many Koreans send their children abroad to go to school, full time. To the U.S.,
Phillipines, Canada, and a whole variety of English speaking nations. This is
especially prevalent in the current generation. I want to know what kind of effect that this has on the population now, and think it should be studied in the future since I don't know if the effects can be seen yet, but I'm not sure it is good for preserving traditional culture..

3) That Apartment Lyfe
Why do people, even in small cities and country town, largely live in HUGE apartment buildings averaging about 18 stories and at least 2 apartments per story?

4) Cell Phone Glued to the Head
People are so often on their cell phones. Even on the buses and trains. This is not unusual in my home country of the U.S. (although the frequency Koreans are involved with their phones seems much higher, not even factoring in the time spent on the phone in the bus), but I know in Japan it is considered a faux-pas to speak on the phone in the train, subway, or bus. Those who do speak in hushed tones and cover their mouths, speaking quietly.
I used to think my students were rude when they answered calls in the middle of our meetings, or came to our meetings speaking loudly on the telphone. This is par-for-the-course in Korea, and seems acceptable, although a youth should probably not do this behavior in front of an elder.

5) Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
How did Korea get so Christian compared to Japan? What is the historical reason that Christianity has such a stronghold in Korea compared to Japan?

My husband has suggested that it fits the business model of making connections (fellowship) And then this leads me to more questions about Japan- if Japanese people are not having fellowship at church or through religion, where does it occur? Max also argues the Korean war, but this confuses me considering that Japan was so strongly occupied by the US following WW2. And then he argues that there is the matter that Korea was so poor and undeveloped at the time of WW2 (Japan had been developing since Perry's arrival and it reopened to the world.)

This is also not to discount that there is still a strong force of Buddhism. In fact, a famous person on a television drama from a foreign country came to Korea to study the Buddhism. Around most temples, monks can be seen. I don't know why my brain found that fact to be related... but... anyway...

6) Koreans and Koncentration, Kwantity or Kwality?
Things are concentrated. Apartment Buildings? Concentrated in some areas. Restaurants? They have their own concentrated area. People also really seem to like huge quantities... if you go to a store there should be MIND BLOWING amounts of options. I was just looking for a small bead shop, and when I finally get to a place that sells Beads today... it has to be a whole Bazaar size! The sock vendors are not on every block (although there are SOME small shops) but cluster together all in the same spot! To every-place a thing, and to every thing a specific place.

7) Time is money! Ppari Ppari! Quick quick!
Everything is so darn rushed! Getting on the bus- the bus jerks into motion throwing you down the aisle to your seat. Getting off feels like your tumbling down the stairs and onto the crusty streets. Where, oh where, did this sense of urgency come from? Cars rush through intersections (seemingly threatening the pedestrians, but this is just the viewpoint of a pedestrian), people rush through the subway. Maybe it's just because there is so much concentration from point A to Point B.

8) US Textbooks at a Fraction of the Cost
See my blog about Textbook Price Discrepancies.
Books are just slightly rearranged, made of the same materials, binding, thickness of hardcover- look-alikes. But they cost less than half of what American texts costs. I want to know why they are so cheap in Korea, and why there is such price gouging of US students. Is it that the books are of less demand? That Koreans are Unwilling to Pay so much? That they are produced in Korea or China, and are simply cheaper based on that? So many questions.

I can't think of anything else right now. So ponder away and feel free to send me answers, theories, rants, and raves! I'm waiting! These are just my observations, and are not authoritative answers about Korea. However, with some research and some sources with authority, they could be.

Japan Consulate Trip (Seoul) : Part I

Nice to Meet You Again, Ayako!

Some Truth in Advertising Today!

Experience a "New Type of Savory- WOW!"

Max ordered Semi-Nude

But Not Interested in Salad

He Kept his Eyes on his Prize: BEER

Today was one of those rough and tumble days spent on Korean mass transit. People say it's the most affordable in the world, but I'm not going to say that it is the most convenient or comfortable ;) Like a Shakespearean play, our day was full of ups and downs, twists and turns, and was very very tiring.

And this is just part 1. Max and I return to the crowds and smog tomorrow!

The consulate was pretty terrible. Unlike the sparkling ones back home (I think the Portland consulate was pretty nice? Or maybe I have only ever seen Consulate events and the Korean Consulate in Seattle, which is also nice. I had no trouble bringing my documents, but then it was Max's turn. Now, we're not applying for anything like a working visa for him, just family, and we have all our marriage documents. Somehow he mentioned that he will be doing some online classes, and suddenly the immigration officer got all hung up about how he had to have documentation about the online class.

Wait, I thought the point was to prove that we were married?


So we trekked from the Consulate through Insadong, crowds, smog that gave me hives, to a PC-bang where Max registered for fall classes, printed an enrollment letter, and printed his online schedule for the Fall term.

So, guys who are going with your sugar mommas to Japan: you should prove that you are doing something manly-like: working, studying, or being a "man." Just a word of wisdom. But it's bureaucracy. Although we probably would have been able to work it out somehow, it's just easier if you can prove right away exactly what you will be doing in Japan, and that we will have the visas worked out before we depart.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures at least. I feel so much better after the rant ^.^

It's a happy ending: the consulate got evidence that Max is a man, and is getting ready to be employed someday, and we will be able to pick up our visas tomorrow! :) The sad part is that I have to do all that mass transit, smog, and crowds again.

In happy news, I was able to see a student from my old school, who is more of a friend, and she came with us to Nangdaemun bazaar. And a bazaar it was. I'm going back again tomorrow. I will take photos... the bead floor was amazing! A single floor was as big as a warehouse, like those traveling bead shows that happen once a year in my hometown- except the bazaar happens everyday. Very awesome. Except, in the whole mess, I couldn't find any Japanese beads except maybe Tohos. I was wanting some Czech seed beads and Miyuki Delicas. They have plenty of crystals and fancy goods, though!

We wrapped it up with more subways, stairs, and a hamburger at KrazE Burger. Best burger I've had so far here, although it doesn't compare to a big wad of high quality beef from the supermarket fried in a pan. It came reasonably close though ^.^ I had the King Ring Burger.

I saw a big Teenie Weenie (the store I mentioned in a previous blog!) . It was just in passing, so I didn't get a picture.

And a bus numbered 420.

The end.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Major Cockatiel Scritches

This is a lovely video from Japan. This cockatiel is really bonded to its owner! A big thank-you to the pet owner who shared this video! The bird looks like it's really enjoying that! My birds aren't bonded enough to me to accept this kind of attention...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Small Surprises: Teenie Weenie

Teenie Weenie Does Couple's Looks

Teddy Bear's Have Frats and Teenie Weenies!

Max: after Noodles, Beer, and Copious Amounts of Korean Fried Chicken
He has become Frat Bear~!

Here is something I never saw before Korea (besides traditional culture), and that is the brand TEENIE WEENIE. I can't help but smile or crack up when I hear that name. So Max and I bought some Teenie Weenie goods from an outlet store.

The heat of autumn is here, and I sit in my chair with very sweaty legs.

Enjoy the photos of Max and I in YELLOW TEENIE WEENIE Merchandise. Love love love! Kinda looks like a frat-boy, but the whimsy and the random name make up for it.

This post seems to be the polar opposite of my previous post, in which we encountered large Korean Phalluses. Now you just met the Teenie Weenie Bear.

Haesin-DONG(Haesindang) Dong Park 해신당공원

The Exhibit in that Hut is the Only one to be "R" Rated

Max Riding Free Willy
More Family Fun than Disneyworld!

Check out that Beautiful View, Be Prepared to Meet Sea Roaches Though!

Shrine to the Unfulfilled Virgin

Haesindang Park

A few weeks ago I was swept out of bed and into the car for a voyage to Samcheok area in Korea. We stopped at a hot spring, a beached cruise ship theme resort atop a hill, and then, to my surprise, what appears to be a very popular park in Korea. Just type "Haesindang" into the google search or google image search for more information.

Anyway, Samcheok is in the Northeast of South Korea. Since my family drove there, I can't give any advice about how to get there or anything. I just want to put some photos of it here for my family and friends to enjoy.

There is a story behind all the dongs in the park. At the Dong Park there is also a museum about traditional village life by the East (Japan) Sea in Korea.

Legend has it that an engaged maiden was taken by her fiance to harvest seaweed. So she was left alone on a rock at low-tide, while he went back to work on the shore. Unfortunately, time brought with it a weather change with strong wind and surf, and she ended up drowning. I guess the Village People thought that some kind of Curse of the Unfulfilled Virgin would overtake their town. They then decided to erect penises to put at this rocky point where she drowned to appease her spirit. And the park remains to this day with a museum about village life, tons of penis sculptures, and a nice view of the the East Sea. Not your average western bed-time story for the kiddos, is it? I'm not sure that I would want to be harassed by so many phalluses in the afterlife, but I guess everyone has their own belief about what a deceased young lady would have liked to enjoy had she had a longer life.

Year of the Dragon Phallus

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Malia's Virtual Sketchbook: Open!

I have created a blog solely to share my art and art-related information on the interwebs.

It can be accessed at

I'm excited. I think it will be a fun space to track my progress. It's not like I'm having any formal training (beyond looking up technique-related information online) but I'll do my best and hopefully instict and inspiration will guide me at least partway.

Birds to Fashion: Gang Gang Cockatoo

Gang Gang Fountain by ~pixipatrin on deviantART

Inspired by the Gang Gang Fountain Video (See that blog for the movie! It shows the character of this charming cockatoo.) If I can stay motivated there will be more to come! I regret using the ink. I love pen sketches which are painted with watercolors, but failed to achieve the sketchy effect. And using a camera rather than a scanner for the image didn't help it, either. It's my first watercolor work on this scale, so I'll just view it as a learning experience. I miss prismacolor pencils and using thick acrylic. I really like to pile paint on the paper. Watercolor doesn't work in the same way. I'll get used to it!

The trees are red peppercorns and the berries are one of the Gang Gang's favorite foods.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Watercolor Techinques

Major Mitchell's Cockatoos in Love

Gang Gang Cockatoos, Sorry they only have one foot

I've been spending time with a younger charge (even though I was friends with the neighbor's granddaughter back in the home country, we played tennis from time to time), than I did during my days as a tutor to college students. Anyway, it's a nice chance to get to go back to basics and just have fun without pretenses! (As you become so inclined to do at the higher levels.)

We spend hours water-coloring together. It's fun and a stress relief, so I went and picked up a set of watercolors today. But I would like to learn some basic techniques to get me started ,as compared to other mediums I don't have a clue about watercolors. Hence the state of the paintings I've put in as small images in the blog. I'd like to stick with it (I need to stick to a lot of things these days...) I prefer acrylics, but since I don't have much experience with watercolor I figure I might as well try learning a few techniques, should I like it.

Anyway, I'm leaving a link to a fun WATERCOLOR TECHNIQUE WEBSITE
I will add more links if I pursue this interest in the future. (Thorough, Easy to Understand, Attractive Layout, and FREE!)

Friday, August 5, 2011

I think it's safe to announce that:


My job search is over! (for at least a year, but likely longer than that!)

After facing some setbacks with my school and some companies! (Including ones that I trekked all the way to Japan to see!) I was successfully hired after a skype interview at a small, informal, but very warm English school in the town were I lived for my first study abroad. My Certificate of Eligibility paperwork for a working visa has been submitted! So advice to all the hopefuls out there, dreams will come true, just be patient! (Moral of the story: try to interview in your home country, unless you really have the itch to travel, enjoy the travel but if you're not there for an extended time, don't expect anyone to hire you because you went to see them, but also don't be discouraged if a door slams shut in your face-the universe has something better in store.)

I really do dream of working in the countryside one day (the place where I'm going to is suburban/medium-large, but some areas of the town feel small), but I declined a job as an ALT in Nagano, just because the opportunity to be near friends and in a central area of Japan (Aichi) is too good to pass up.

And on the website I'd definitely recommend,, a similar small, warm, and personal eikaiwa school requested I contact them. Not that it's a job offer, but it made me happy all the same to be contacted.

I will be going back to Aichi-prefecture, sometime in September with work starting in Fall! After my long job search, it doesn't even feel real! But it is!