October DMZ trip
A few years ago while working as a Creative at Apple, I got it in my head that I wanted to quit my job and get my masters in teaching. My plan was to secure my masters (check), get a job teaching somewhere, preferably abroad (check) and apply to become an Apple Distinguished Educator; thus rekindling my relationship with Apple in a different element. (check) After all it was wasn’t Apple I wanted to quit. I wanted to change my relationship with Apple and grow myself professionally, parallel to Apple.
Primarily it was adults that I taught software to at Apple but it was kids that I wanted to teach – somewhere within a K-12 environment. I also envisioned facilitating and working with staff and administration to innovate the technology teachers and students use in class on a day-to-day basis.
As soon as the ADE application for Southeast Asia was released, I went straight to work on it. It was comprised of a lengthy online application, four essay questions and a two minute video. I submitted my application by its due date and was told I’d find out some time in late January.
Much to my surprise I received an email late December when I was visiting my German host sister in Cologne. This email was my acceptance to the ADE Institute. I absolutely erupted with excitement and luckily I had already explained the whole ADE thing and my association with it to my host sister the day before – so she could immediately celebrate with me.
The best part other than being accepted? I got to go to an Apple training in Bali! The worst thing? This week of training fell RIGHT on my spring break. It was bittersweet, but I still remained insanely excited. This has been a back-story that I thought was completely necessary to bring you up to speed on this trips’ importance.
~ Bali ~
I departed from Incheon airport early in the morning of the 23rd of March and arrived in hot and humid Jakarta weather which I welcomed with open arms. Korea was very much still winter-ridden at this time so it was an appropriate and well timed escape. Acquiring my visa-on-arrival when I arrived in Jakarta led to some slight complications but I pushed through and was able to catch my next flight to Bali.
I had instructions to meet my transportation whom would be holding a sign saying so at the ‘Visa-on-arrival’ Kiosk. The problem was I already had said visa and because my flight was not international and I’d already gone through international customs in Jakarta, I was nowhere near said kiosk and couldn’t get to it after asking many-a-security agent. I walked out the exit door to what reminded me of a bull pin. It was a fenced-off area with crowds of people holding signs for people they were to meet or pick up. It was also dozens upon dozens of taxi drivers hollering at me and trying to catch my eye. My transportation holding a sign was nowhere to be found. It was quite intimidating standing there having a bunch of people hollering at me. I retreated back into the airport after only a few uncomfortable minutes searching the crowds. I decided I’d review my instructions and see if I missed something. All i could see was that I was to meet at the visa-on-arrival kiosk. This was disconcerting. I decided to go back against the flow of travel personnel exiting the airport to find another security agent and ask their advice.
The next agent I asked knew right where this kiosk was that I was searching for, though his brows lowered noting that I’d have to go back through security to get there. He looked left, then right and motioned for me to follow him over to a cement wall that divided us between the secure and insecure area. He revealed a small opening between two pillars that led right into the secure area and told me I should go through there, hang a right and all the way at the end of the secure area I would find the visa-on-arrival kiosk. Huzzah! I thanked the agent and squeezed me and my bags through the secret passageway and made my way down the long corridor to find my transportation.
All I found at the other end were more agents. They looked at me just as confused as I’m sure I looked. “Visa-on-arrival?” I asked. They looked at each other and shook their heads. One man spoke up in broken english as he pointed past the processing desks they were all sitting at. “Is over there. You can’t pass here.” One of the agents took my passport and flipped through it, verifying I indeed had my visa-on-arrival purchased and neatly stuck in the pages for safe keeping. He looked looked up at me a bit confused and concerned. Some indonesian was volleyed between the agents about my situation and finally he said “you have visa. You can go” as he pointed back the way I’d just come.
I tried to explain that I was looking for the visa-on-arrival only to find my transportation but I quickly realized my story was not being understood one bit. I just stopped mid sentence, turned around and walked back toward my secret passage way and out of security. Going through the passage way the opposite way I’d come there were two big signs on either side of the passage saying something to the effect of “STOP - DO NOT ENTER”. This passage and I were old friends though and I’d been given the go-ahead from a security agent before, so i didn’t slow my pace as I approached the passage and just went right on through.
When I arrived on the other side I noticed about five security agents scramble when they saw me appear from the passage. They quickly approached me with puzzled looks on their faces. I think the fact that a white tourist appeared through the passage was less threatening, especially with the confused look I’m sure I had on my face. I explained once more why I was there, what I was doing, where I was going etc. I was asked if I had my visa which I showed them that I definitely did have and they all laughed and motioned me out the corridor back to the bull pin :( I sighed and moped my way back to the crowd of hecklers and decided to give it one last look to see if my transportation guy was clearly holding his sign for me. I combed my way through counter clockwise through the people jammed up against the fence and finally walked out through a break in the fence just to see what I could find.
I was immediately approached by a taxi driver asking me where I needed to go. I told him I already had transportation arranged in a defeated voice. He was just about to start haggling with me on a price for the hour long trip out to my hotel when I noticed to my left was a man casually standing with a sign that said ADE hanging by his side. I couldn’t form words, I just started grunting and pointing. They man responded just as excited with a big smile and motioned for me to follow him. I’d found my ride! I waved to the taxi driver I had just met as I followed my newly found driver with a very triumphant gait.
The man brought me to where another white man was standing who was also an ADE. We waited for a few others to show up and then loaded up to make our hour long trip to the hotel. The traffic here reminded me very much of Thailand. It’s very crazy and disorganised traffic that seems to always work itself out. When we got to the hotel (resort, really) we were greeted by having flowers put above on of our ears and handed fresh juice. I finally made it and it was so relieving to be done with all the stresses of traveling. I could finally relax. I met my room mate for the week (from China) and we both ordered pizza room service because we hadn’t eaten dinner.
The next day was a free day until the registration that evening.
The conference was insanely inspiring and I was able to network with some amazing people from most of Southeast Asia, China, Australia, and New Zealand.
We were given breaks as well with great snacks to keep up our blood sugar
After being in conferences for 12 hours each day we really unwound by the pool, enjoyed the scenery and enjoyed some very tasty dinners.
The conference ended on Thursday and I didn’t have to be back in Korea until Sunday so Amy came to visit me for a couple days!
Jazz Night at the resort we stayed at
I brought back a bit of a stomach bug with me but other than that, I have nothing but great things to say about the ADE Institute and Bali. I feel so honoured to be grouped with the amazing people that are ADE’s. I would also like to go back to Bali again soon and spend more time exploring.
Amy and I took the KTX up to Seoul to partake in the St. Patricks Day festivities.
Amy had already done the research but we had quite the adventure finding the intercity bus that would take us on the hour long journey to Daedunsan.
The bus only went as far as the nearest rest stop though, so we had to walk along side the road for another half hour or so until we got to the trailhead area.
The weather was absolutely amazing. 74˚ but really windy. The visibility was also pretty great.
Part of the uniqueness of this hike is the many suspension bridges and suspension ladders that are part of the hike up.
This is what happens when you ask someone unfamiliar with your phone to take a picture of you. Oh well, we can always crop :)
Made it to the top!
Best list of rules, ever. Especially #4
We rode the gondola down to have the experience and view. It was definitely worth it.
I had the opportunity to be flown to Hong Kong for an Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS) training. The weather was very mild and I even had some opportunities to ride the MTR into the city center and explore. This was all after going through customs of course…
Breakfast at the hotel before training
Training at Discovery College, Hong Kong
The Discovery College Campus was amazing and built for a climate that typically had warm weather.
First excursion to downtown. Hong Kong Apple Store
The next night I went into town with an Aussie I met at training, Cam. We were instructed to check out a hole-in-the-wall Indian food restaurant that was supposed to be amazing. I think Cam and I will agree that it was.
After dinner we checked out the night markets where fake watches and laser pens could be bought at pennies on the dollar.
All in all, I had a very short but interesting time in Hong Kong. I look forward to returning again soon when I can spend more time seeing the sights around this amazing city.
Amy and I bought an all-inclusive (bus, rental, lift ticket) pass to a nearby ski resort called Muju. The weather was clear and cold, and the snow was fairly new, within the last 18 hours or so.
I had my expectations set very low so I was pleasantly surprised to see how big Muju actually was. It’s no Jackson Hole but I was pleased nonetheless.
Not my jacket. You can actually rent a full getup if you need to. I actually left my snowboard jacket in the states. I knew i would forget something important when packing for two years.
All in all, it was the single time I got up snowboarding this year but I’m glad I got to experience it in Korea.
My girlfriend Amy and I decided to go check out the South Eastern coastal city of Busan in Korea for our break from work. We landed some sweet hotel rooms (due to the off-season) and some great sunny weather (even though it was bitter cold).
I was hell-bent to find my way onto the roof of our hotel and was successful. It was quite cold but it was a great view from up there.
The next day we went on a really long hike from our beach (Hyundae Beach) to the neighbouring beach (Gwangan Beach).
I had the opportunity to go see a great band from the states called Beach House in a completely different environment and culture. They played most of the hits as well as many off their latest album, “Bloom”.
The next day, Ben and I went to the Anish Kapoor exhibit. I was thoroughly impressed and even bought one of his art books for the coffee table.