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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Review of Zhan Qiao Pier in Qingdao, China

According to, Zhanqiao Pier is the symbol of Qingdao. Chinese people commonly just refer it as Zhanqiao.

"Hui Lan Ge", or Huilan Pavilion is at the sound end of the pier and is one of the Ten Scenics in Qingdao. It's a Chinese style octagon pavilion standing in contrast to the European buildings in the background. Some art exhibitions are often held there.

According to, Zhan Qiao was originally built in 1891 as a naval pier and the construction is as old as the city of Qingdao.

During the Qing Dynasty, the imperial envoy Li Hongzhang decided to make coastal Tsingtao (Jiao'ao) a defense base against naval attack and begin to improve Qingdao's existing fortifications. German naval officials observed and reported on this Chinese activity during a formal survey of Jiaozhou Bay in May 1897.

Subsequently, German troops seized and occupied the fortification. It thus resulted in a temporary pier, which was built at a length of 200 meters (656 feet) and a width of 10 meters (33 feet).

The pier was the original Zhan Bridge, which was in use during the following decades. China conceded the area to Germany the following year, and the Kiautschou Bay concession, as it became known, existed from 1898-1914. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, a modern deep water port was built in the Qingdao area; Consequently the bridge was abandoned. That's just a small tidbit of historical background.

Today, you can get a nice view from the pier of downtown Qingdao, especially on a less cloudy day than the day that I went there. You can even see the two hemispheres of the Qingdao Opera building (on your left in the picture below).

It also has become a famous scenic spot thanks to the renovation in recent years. It's 440 meters (1444-feet) long and 10 meters (33 feet) wide with giant granite supports. Lotus-shaped lamps provide illumination and decoration.

People even dig through mud to find shellfish and other kinds of fish (see picture below). People even go as far as to wearing wet suits and dive for all kinds of seafood.

A Tourist's Perspective: I happened to go there during the Mid-Autumn holiday, so it was crowded and very cloudy on that day. Therefore I was a bit underwhelmed by the pier. You can't do a lot there except read some history of the pier in Huilan Pavilion, but I got to take some cool shots of the surrounding area and made my way to the Catholic church which was about 10 minutes away on foot.

Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Teaching: Last Week's English Mistakes By Students

1. One mistake that students make 100% of the time is answering the question: "How was your day?" 100% of the time my students will say "tired." They should say "tiring" or "It was tiring." Even my high level students make this mistake and it drives me crazy because it happens ALL of the time.

2. I tell my Korean students that the one thing I love about living in Korea is that meat is ingrained in this culture. It's so ingrained that Koreans sometimes say "I like cow meat" or even funnier "I like to eat cow/pig." Of course I correct my students and tell them that they should use the terms "pork" or "beef" or else it sounds like they're eating an animal while it's alive. Therefore, I have to tell them that they need to refer to the meat as pork or beef.

3. Sometimes I ask the student how their weekend was. You'll hear Korean students often say "I was boring." Then I ask my student, "Are you a boring person?" or "Are you not interesting?" Then they correct themselves and tell me "I was bored." I love to hear them laugh when they realize that they don't want to be thought of as a boring person!

4. When low intermediate students talk about their experiences, they often get the expression "I have never ______" very well. For example, "I have never been to Jeju Island." However, when students think of the opposite way to say that, they often say "I have ever been to Jeju Island." Students should say "I have (I've) been to Jeju Island" instead.

5. In Korean "find" and "look for" are exactly the same. Sometimes even my wife gets this wrong. Sometimes I'll be searching for my phone and she'll ask me "What are you finding?" when she meant to say "What are you looking for?" In English, "looking for" something comes before "finding" it. In Korean, they go simultaneously. I had to look for a great wife. Fortunately enough, I found her in April 2014. ;)

Scott Worden (L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

September is the best month in Seoul

While living in Seoul, I often miss the weather in my hometown of Monterey Park (a suburb about 10 minutes east of downtown Los Angeles, California). The sun always shines (hence the drought problems Southern California has), winters are mild, and summers are very hot but dry. The four seasons are categorized as: very hot, warm, mild, and cool. This is no joke!

Seoul on the other hand is very different from Los Angeles and very similar to New York (although New York City has major extremes). Spring is fairly nice in Seoul, but it's too short. It lasts three weeks at most and some of those days are tainted with fine dust that either come from the Gobi Desert in China or coal refineries in Seoul.

Depending on where you're from, Winter can either be very mild for you in Seoul or it can be treacherous for people that come from warm weather climates such as myself. I find the wind to be bone chilling. My co-worker from Scotland finds it to be a lot nicer than in his home country. Canadians from Toronto or Winnipeg find Seoul winters a breeze, while Canadians from Vancouver have a hard time dealing with the cold.

Summer used to have 15-20 days of rain in July and humidity throughout. Three years ago, there was a pretty big flood in Gangnam. However, the last two summers have had little rain but still a lot of humidity. Apparently this summer was the hottest summer in Seoul on record. There were many days when the average temperature was 33 degrees:

South Korea hit by abnormal heat wave

Koreans flocked to the movie theaters to escape the heat, because it was so intense:

Summer-time heat, blockbusters behind record number of moviegoers

I don't usually complain about the heat. Yet this summer had two months of constant humidity that it drove me crazy. I would have enjoyed being in Arizona last month and baked rather than sizzled with sweat!

But then it brings us to September in Seoul. This is by far the best month of the year to be in Seoul. Seoul Grand Park is very green and lush, the skies are sky blue and clear, and the temperature is perfect. Not every day in Seoul is like this but you'll get at least 10-15 nice days that are absolutely postcard worthy, which I'm definitely thankful for. You can get to Seoul Grand Park in Gwacheon on Line 4 (light blue line). My wife and I went there during the week between my morning and evening shifts last week and I got pictures like these:

And you know what they say right? A picture's worth a thousand words. Get here before it gets too cold in winter! You can get some nice shots of Gwacheon as you take the gondola to the entrance of the park. Enjoy the best month in Seoul the best way you can. Other suggestions to spend your September outside include: by the Han River at 8:00pm on a weekend watching the Banpo Bridge fountains, N Seoul Tower, strolling through Bukchon Village, drinking at a cafe in Samcheongdong, and taking pictures at Changdeok Palace (especially the Secret Garden located in the palace).

Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sermon: "Do You See What God Sees" by Pastor Andrew Gu (Mark 12:41-44)

This is Jesus's last story of his public ministry. This is one week before Jesus dies on the cross. Jesus is sitting in the Court of Women (the farthest women could go in the temple).

Background information: This is the same temple where Jesus cleared out the money changers. Why did Jesus get angry and clear out this people? They were selling pigeons to poor people (who couldn't afford to buy lambs) to take advantage of them. This was an injustice to people in the church and it infuriated Jesus.

Now let's get back to the text, we see various people coming to make offerings in the temple. People just came to the temple to drop off their offerings. There weren't bills back then. Only coins were used, so rich people might come in with bags of coins and people would give them a lot of respect. The more coins you had, the more noise it made and the more attention the person received.

How many of us are pre-occupied by being seen? When the focus is on us, there's a wrong motive behind it. When we are focused on ourselves, who's the audience? Definitely not God. The people that brought offerings were so focused on being seen, that they weren't focused on justice or ethics. Their focus was on staying rich and showing off. They might also have long lasting prayers, but it was also for show and not genuine. And despite what it looks like on the outside, they like to oppress the poor and widows. But the Lord wanted people to stop neglecting the poor and widows. Because the Israelites neglected those two groups, it caused the destruction of the Temple. God takes those issues seriously (See Exodus 22:22-24).

Everyone wants to be rich. Even pastors want to be rich. They want to be able to make a lot of money to help others. Then there are people that are rich and donate a lot of money just to get recognized. While the world looks at those that are bringing money to the temple, Jesus sees the widow who puts in everything she has while the others think she has nothing to offer. She comes in with her two light, copper coins. For her that was everything.

Jesus noticed her because everyone else's life should be transformed to be like that woman. Sometimes we neglect spending time with those who are just not "rationally worth spending time with". Typically we make judgements about others.

When Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman at the well, he didn't care about which region she was from and didn't care that she was a woman. She was considered a "nobody" in society based on those two factors. Jesus showed love toward her and she helped to spread the gospel. Jesus looks past all of the fancy packaging and facades. He sees our humility, faith, and brokenness and loves all of them.

In many ways, the poor was in a much better position than the rich that went to the temple. Jesus said that she contributed more. Being a poor widow helped her to become humble. There's nothing wrong with being rich but being rich can cause people to become puffed up and arrogant. Most of us live fairly comfortable lives and we all think to ourselves, "How much can we give and still be comfortable?" Yet the widow gave up everything and she knew that she had God, which was ultimately the most important.

Was her giving sacrificial or was she full of joy? She could have easily given one coin and kept the other. Yet we find in a lot of cases that it is the one with the least that is the most generous. Yes, her act was sacrificial but it was mainly out of an act of generosity. She wasn't looking for attention, because no one was going to notice her sacrifice.

How do we become free like the widow and have that kind of freedom in our lives? Be like the Macedonian church (2 Corinthians 8:8-9). Despite hardship after hardship, they still gave all they had for Jesus continuously.

We can give because Christ gave us everything. Because the Lord has been generous towards us, we can be generous towards others.

Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy