I've done many of the normal things, such as regular martial arts training and teaching though. Some international visitors came to our martial arts gym (Russia, Netherlands, and America), so I tailored my teaching a bit to their needs. I also taught a private class on Taekwon-Do philosophy, which was quite interesting. Apart from my own normal training, I also attended two Tai Chi Chuan lessons--one Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan session, and one workshop on Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan.
My second cousin from Australia visited Japan and Korea. We had the opportunity to meet one afternoon, had Thai food and went to the National Museum of Korea. It was nice meeting a relative for the first time, and in Korea of all places.
I went on a short trip to with a Korean friend to his family's hometown Daecheon, and spent one day exploring the neighboring historic city Buyeo, which is the site of the capital Sabi of the Baekje Kingdom. Of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, most people are familiar with Goguryeo, since it was the largest, and Shilla because of its rich cultural heritage. However, Baekje was culturally actual one of the most influential little kingdoms in East Asia. The palace in Buyeo is probably the biggest I have seen in all of Korea, and the on site temple pagoda is the tallest I've seen in Korea so far. I enjoyed spending some time with my friend's family -- mostly farmers. It reminded me to a bit of my own past, having grown up on a farm.
One highlight for July was visiting the Weta Workshop Fantasy Exhibition currently displaying in Seoul. Weta Workshop is known for its special effects work in such notable fantasy films such as The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. There were some truly brilliant statues, including some characters from The Hobbit, as well as other fantasy and sci-fi characters and even a collection of mythological busts. I think I want to visit it again one more time before the exhibit comes to an end in the middle of August. Below is a random selection.
Last week, on the last day of July, I went to do my driving learner's test in Korea. It was a little tricky as although I could do the test in English, the textbook was in Korean, so I couldn't properly study for it. My score was around 85%, which is well above passing, but I was still slightly disappointed. I plan to go do play in some driving simulators which they have at many of Seoul's driving test centers, just to get used to driving on the right side of the road, and then hopefully before the end of August I want to try getting my Korean driver's license.
One reason I may have been less active in July was because I came down with a really bad cold. My fan broke, it July is terribly hot, so I used my air conditioner for a few hours one evening -- I usually don't. Well, the next day I had a terribly sore throat and other cold symptoms. It took me a couple of days to recover. At least it resulted in two good things. The first was that I dismantled my air conditioner and cleaned it out properly. I'm thinking that it was not merely the cold air that made me sick, but also dust and mold in the air conditioning unit. At least it is clean now, so that if I do feel the need to use it again, it will at least not be that much of a health hazard. The other thing I did was to go and by myself a new little fan. I'm very much in love with it.
And of course I did some Seoul exploring -- one nice discovery was the gorgeous view of downtown Seoul from the observation deck at the Seoul Mayor's old office.
My personal life has been quite -- how shall I put it? -- surreal. Strange drama with an ex and family members has made the past month one of the weirdest inter-relational experiences of my life. Relationship dynamics have shifted dramatically, so much so that I think my future visits to South Africa will be most unusual. What I found quite interesting is how modern technology has brought issues from multiple thousands of kilometers right into the palm of my hand here in Korea, via my mobile phone. We live in a world where time and space are increasingly less important...a family member's actions on one part of the world can affect you almost directly continents away. Indeed, fascinating.
Also, I made some new friends, enjoyed good food, and did other fun things.