Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Double Feature

I think Saturday may have just been one of the longest days of my life (I think this is also my longest post...).

My day started at about 0645ish when I rolled out of bed, ate breakfast, and put on as many layers of clothing as I could while still looking nice.  I knew I'd end up getting kind of warm in the middle of the day, but that I'd appreciate the layers in the morning and then later, after the sun went down.

I left the house a little before 0800 and caught the bus down to the Changwon Bus Station.  After a little mixup and talk with Claire I caught the 0840 bus to Hongdae.  It stopped along the way on the other side of Changwon and Claire got on.  It only cost ₩5500.  That's about $5.

My Ticket!

We got off the bus at about 0940 and hurried over to this massive building where we met her friend, Ahn Hyun Jeong.    

We went inside the massive building and listened to this guy talk.
Claire found him handsome
Now, to fully enjoy this lecture you need these things:
High Tech Stuff
Well, I should say, you need them unless you're trilingual.  If you speak English, French, and Korean than you don't need them.

He started off talking in English with a few gratuitous Korean words thrown in.  Not surprisingly his few Korean words made the crowd cheer and clap.  He then moved into French for his lecture because his English is only middle or high school level, certainly not high enough to give a complex lecture in.  

I started off listening to a girl on my headset translate it into English but eventually stopped.  She may have known a lot of English vocabulary, but her pronunciation was almost impossible to understand, especially over the headset.  I read the speech (it was written in the booklet pictured above) and switched my headset over to the Korean translation since I find Korean soothing to listen to (yes, I'm weird, get over it).  It also felt nice to recognize the occasional word without having it distract me.

The question and answer time was interesting since most people asked questions in Korean, which he then had translated into French before answering in French.  Someone did ask a question in English, and then someone else asked one in French, but most were Korean.  

Oh, I forgot to say that this guy is a French author.  His name is Jean-Marie Gustave Le Cl├ęzio
Claire is a huge fan of him, which was why we were there.  
I found it rather interesting, but probably wouldn't have gone on my own.

After the lecture we went to go eat.  We ended up at an amazing (and cheap) little Gimbap restaurant.  Gimbap is amazing and one of my favorite foods here.  The combination of flavors and textures is something that just can't be found in anything else.  Though a sushi roll is rather similar in texture.

Here are some pictures of our food,
Our hot food, which was delicious

Most amazing gimbap I've had here yet.

Isn't it awesome?

Here's where they make it

And here are the rolls waiting to be sliced
While at lunch I was talking with An Hyun Jang.  I kept mis-saying her name or mis-remembering it.  Mainly because I'm just HORRIBLE at names.  Especially names that I'm not familiar with to begin with.  At one point she laughed when I mis-said it (for the zillionth time) and said that she really needs an English name.  I commented on the fact that she didn't have one already (For a Korean to speak English well and not have an English name is almost unheard of).  I asked her why and she said that she hadn't found one she liked.  

Me making small talk I said that her family name sounded like the name 'Anne'.  She liked that and before I knew it she decided that Anne would be here English name.  So, from now on she'll be referred to as Anne.

From there we went to a coffee shop and grabbed some coffee.  The shop was full of gratuitous English.

This sign there made me laugh:
Hey...where's the 'T'?
Oh!  There it is!
After grabbing coffee we walked over to this HUGE building that houses several artsy theaters.  It's in this building that they hold the Busan International Film Festival.  During the rest of the year they do shows and such, as well as showing classic movies.

For ₩3000 (about $2.50) we saw the Godfather.  On the big screen.  In really amazing seats, better than at the Rave.  That was really cool and I liked the movie a lot better this time, probably because I wasn't being forced to watch it and write a paper on it for school.

After the movie we took lots of pictures down in the lobby.  The theater was actually up on the third floor.  With all of the theaters taking up space on the second and third floor.  They were all stadium seats.

That light way up there is where you enter the theater.

That's the huge building where the theater is

The outdoor theater portion

Awesome Poster

Claire and Anne


Anne Pondering the Sunset

Claire taking funny pictures of herself
It was about 1630 now and we were planning to see another movie at 1900, so we wandered over to the largest department store in the world.

There's even an ice rink....epic

Wait....A Happy Sale?
Once we got inside we went up to the movie theater on the top floor and bought tickets to see Gone with the Wind at 1900.  Anne didn't buy a ticket since she was going to go home before then.  

We wandered down to the bookstore after buying the tickets, which is where I found pure awesomeness on the shelves.  These pictures are for Dad, Michael, and Elinore.  I'm sure some of these books look familiar....
Here you go Dad, Elinore, and Michael!

Here you go Dad, Michael, and Elinore!

Here you go Michael!
These were all, of course, in the foreign language section.  None of the books were alphabetized either, though they were usually grouped by author, but not always.  Poor Nicholas Sparks was all over the place.

After this Claire and I walked Anne back through the crowded maze of a store and down to the subway station underground. 

This is all underground...
I've never been to a country before that makes such good use of all of it's land.  From what I've seen of Busan so far I'd totally believe it if someone told me that you could get from one side of the city to the other walking without ever going above ground.

Claire and I then went and bought some egg tarts and cupcakes from the Food Hall (Which is just as amazing as Harrods in London) and then took an elevator (instead of the maze of escalators) back up to the top floor, where the movie theater was.

We got drinks and onion flavored popcorn and went on into the theater.  There we proceeded to watch Gone with the Wind on the big screen for four hours.  It was amazing and I'm so glad I got to experience that.

The movie finally got out at around 2300.

We quickly made our way downstairs, outside, and down a staircase in the sidewalk to the subway.  We got to the bus station and the bus to Changwon was waiting for us.  

While we bought our tickets we discovered that it was the last bus to Changwon that night.  We ended up boarding the bus as he was collecting the tickets - that was close.

Claire slept on the way back, I read on my phone since I knew if I slept I'd have real trouble getting home and then getting to sleep again.

Claire got off the bus at the stop before mine and I got off at Changwon Station where I proceeded to take a taxi home.  The city buses don't run past 2330 and it was much too cold (and dark) and I much too tired to take a bike or walk.  

I got home and messaged Claire to let her know I got home safely we then said goodnight and it was 0107.  

I was barely awake enough to remember to take my make-up off before I fell into bed and slept like the dead.

Sunday wasn't nearly as eventful.  I spent the morning lying in bed chatting with sister and watching Ouran.  Then I went and wandered around downtown for a couple hours, went to Lotte Mart for groceries, and then went home.  Where I watched some shows, played Diablo II, and made yummy ramyun.  

It was a great weekend.

Monday, November 28, 2011


There's something that's not very hard to notice upon your arrival in Korea.

What is it that's not hard to notice?

Why, their love of cute things!

Another blogger I follow - who's now back living in the states - called Korealand the 'Land of Cute' and I quite agree with her.  Like the little guy on my heater, there are just little characters everywhere.  I find it rather endearing since Koreans take so many things so seriously - work, fashion, school, family - that it's nice to see such a physical manifestation of the idea that they still know how to have fun.

In the US of A there aren't so many cute things, instead we spread our love of fun and beauty across everything, mixing it in with work and school like you mix sugar into your coffee.

Here in Korealand it's a little more divided.  Both ways work just fine, neither are wrong, it's just a different way of looking at the world and dealing with it.  I can see ways in which both are correct, so take it as you will.

Now, look at this, I start off this entry with a specific goal in mind and end up wandering into a cultural and philosophical discussion....I really need to work on that...

One of the cutest characters that is recognized worldwide is Hello Kitty.  She originated in Japan in 1974 on a  vinyl coin purse.  She first came to the US of A in 1976 and fluctuated in and out of popularity.  I remember her becoming very popular again when I was nearing the end of elementary school.  According to The Great Wiki that's when she truly became popular.

Now, the first time I saw something Hello Kitty over here in Korealand I took a picture for my cousin Rebecca, since she's a huge Hello Kitty fan.

This ended up starting a trend.

I've taken a picture of just about every Hello Kitty thing I've seen and this past weekend I hit the jackpot, so I finally decided to post about it.

Here are 'some' pictures....

So, this post is in honor of Rebecca and her love for Hello Kitty.  Though I don't think it can compare with the Korean love for this uberly cute, silly looking cartoon cat.

As an aside:
Two months ago right now my plane was landing at Incheon International Airport. That's hard for me to believe.  In a way it feels like I've always been here, but then, every once in a while, it feels like I've just arrived.
I had a realization the other day, when I was walking home.  I thought "It's cold, I just want to get home!"
What's so amazing about that thought?  Well, it's because when I thought it I actually thought of my apartment as home.
For years whenever I said something like, "I'm going home," I merely meant wherever I was going to sleep that night.
It didn't matter if it was my mom's, dad's, grandparents, or wherever I was housesitting.  They were all 'home'.  I've always maintained that home is wherever I'm staying.  When I think about it I realize that I've thought this way ever since I moved to Iowa at the age of nine.  When we left the house in Navarre I stopped thinking of any particular place as home.  The closest would be my cousin's house in Shalimar.  They've been living there since before I was born, so I always knew it was there, no matter where I moved or what happened to my family.  For the past decade my grandparent's house has been like that too, but it still isn't the  same.
And...well...I know it's silly to think this about an apartment that is attached to my job, but my little apartment has become a home to me.

And I'm just fine with that.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bubbles, Ice Cream, Hills, and Concerts

Last Friday I originally planned to go home, relax, and not do anything.  Plans changed when Casey and I were about to leave work, Claire wanted us to go out and do something with her.

So, last minute, we decided to go downtown and get chicken and beer.

The chicken was awesome:

The awesome baked crunchy chicken.

Our bone bucket and the little bit of crunchy chicken left

The other awesome baked chicken, some sort of garlic sauce
All of the chicken was amazing, best chicken I've ever had I think.  Claire and I were quite impressed.

Though, I think the beer made a bigger impression on Casey:
3000 cc
After the chicken we wandered around and went to a shooting range.  The guns we used, instead of being rifles like in the US of A, were mock M-16s that shot pellets.  I actually did much better shooting them than I ever did with a real M-16.  It was pretty awesome.


After the shooting range we ended up over at the batting cages where Casey took a turn with the bat.

Beer + Baseball = Friday Night in Korealand
He also ended up hitting a ball where it hit and got stuck in the net.

This is Casey pointing at the ball from his perspective

This is him pointing at the ball from the camera's perspective
Sadly, the ball wasn't there anymore when we walked by on Sunday.  Either it fell down or someone did something amazing to go get it, because it was still there when we left the Noraebong later.

After the batting cages we ended up seeing a Korean couple blowing huge bubbles.  Claire and I thought it was neat - Casey was enthralled:
Watching the Bubble Making
Bubble Making Couple
Claire and I decided to spend our time hiding under an umbrella, staying warm, and taking pictures of each other while Casey tried to capture a bubble on his umbrella.

He Popped It
Yeah, we're the no-glove idiots

Eventually we ended up at an amazing Noraebong (singing room) where they gave us free ice cream.  It was awesome.  That's where my current profile picture on Facebook comes from.

Saturday I spent the morning talking and watching Ouran with my sister on Skype.  Then in the afternoon I decided to finally see what was in the park on the other side of City 7 and CECO.  Turns out it was a really big hill.  I ended up walking all over it and at various points in time I was completely alone in broad daylight, surrounded by nature, but just a short walk from my home and work.

It was totally awesome!
Walk up the Hill

The Semi-Secret path that lead to the Awesomeness

I Swear, Nothing is more Beautiful than Mountains

This sign cracked me up

Rustic Wooden Bridge?  Check

A Real Trail
I then wandered down through the neighborhood on the other side of the park, grabbed a bike from the bike station, and went to Homeplus.  I then dropped off my pants to be tailored and just wandered around until it started to get dark.

As the darkness fell I walked home, just making a short detour by Casey's to let him know when and where we were meeting Jesse and Claire the next day.

On Sunday evening Casey and I met Claire and Jesse (after some getting lost due to us not knowing where City Hall is).

We went to a Cultural Concert that was amazing.  They did some traditional dances that involved ribbons attached to hats that did extraordinary things while they danced.

There was also the full orchestra made up of traditional Korean instruments.  And, I never thought I'd ever say it, but I finally found another type of music that moves my soul as much as traditional Celtic music.

After the concert we went and grabbed Korean Chinese food and then went to chill at a Hof.

A Hof is a Korean bar.  Instead of sitting at a small table in the middle of a insanely noisy or creepily quiet bar you get a private little room that looks like this:
Gotta love Casey's expression
We were there for about two hours and then wandered home before eleven.  Where I proceeded to play on my computer for an hour or two and then went to bed, ready to start a new week.

And now?  It's the weekend again!

Have a great weekend folks!

Note:  Yes, Casey, Rose is my middle name, I'm not being pretentious.