Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tissues to Uranus

Here's a few more images from stores here.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
A continuation of Apricots to Strainers.

Need a tissue?
Aunt Susie, this one made me think of you...probably because of that pooping piggy key chain you found so hilarious when we were all in Iowa.  The one you wanted to give to Kay-Kay to freak her out.
Scary manikins sporting the popular couples lingerie.
Need I say anything?

April Showers

So hints of what are to come this summer (the 'rainy' season here) are showing already.  We'll have about four to six days of hot sunshine and then we'll get slammed with a day of pure rain with a dash of cold.

We had one of those days on Saturday and it was bad, but no where like today.

For example, here's a couple of pictures of the stream by my house from last Sunday:
View to the east from the bridge.
View to the west from the bridge.
See how pretty and calm it is?

Now, take a look at today:

View to the east from the bridge.
View to the west from the bridge.
Also, for good measure, here's a little video from down by the middle school.  That's where I reach the 'stream'.

I'm really wanting my rainboots now.  Unfortunately, they won't be here for a month, since they're coming with my sister.

It looks like it will rain all day again (it's been raining since before I woke up at 9am), but tomorrow is supposed to be hot and sunny again.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Apricots to Strainers

Some more random things from stores here.  A continuation of this entry: Chicken to Tea.
The equivalent of about $140 for these gorgeous California Dried Apricots
Settlers of Catan - in Korean
Crazy Rubic Cubes - I'm sure these are in the US of A too
Some favorite games - in Korean.

Instructions - Korean, Game - English

The forks say - Cherries, with red skills.  Don't know what that means?  Neither do I.

In case a round strainer isn't good enough for you, you can get an adorable heart shaped one!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Flowers of Spring

So the season here in Korealand is spring.  And, as with most places in springtime, the flowers have been in full bloom.

The world has gone from shades of gray to a virtual rainbow almost overnight.  Everywhere you look there are roses, cherry blossoms, azaleas, daffodils, tulips, and assorted other flowers I don't know the name of.

On the weekend of April 7-8 MY and I went to one of the sister cities of Changwon, Jinhae, to see the Cherry Blossom Festival.

The thing is, we never actually made it to the festival, and we ended up going by ourselves, which wasn't the original plan.  Originally it was going to be us, Casey, Jessie, Jessie's husband, Claire, and Claire's boyfriend.  Things worked against this though since Claire got sick and then Jessie and her husband had to go to a family event.  Casey opted out since he didn't want to be a third wheel and had gone the week before with some people (I originally planned to go, but after being sick I knew I couldn't handle the 2h hike as part of that excursion).  We never actually made it to the festival because of traffic and the fact that it was on the opposite side of Jinhae.

MY and I ended up catching the 752 from Sangnam-do (downtown Changwon), after eating a delicious lunch at Cafe Lemon Table and getting my phone fixed after it took a little bath in the washing machine.  The bus was SUPER crowded, but MY and I managed to snag seats, even though there was barely enough room to stand.  I fell asleep, but woke up when I heard them announce our stop (good thing, too, since I hadn't told MY which stop was ours, oops...).

From the stop we walked about a mile or two down to some train tracks that are surrounded by cherry trees.  While there we took lots of pictures, ate cotton candy, and proceeded to act like little kids playing on the train tracks.  We weren't the only ones doing that, though.

So pretty....
Crowded, but beautiful
So pretty...
MY and me
Almost candid shot of me
MY in a last second pose
Classic shot
It was one of the most beautiful days I've seen here yet.

The next day I was walking back from the bus terminal (it was too pretty to ride a bike or bus) and I took the chance to take some more pictures of flowers.

I also took some pictures for a couple.  They were taking pictures under the cherry trees in front of the hospital.

That weekend was definitely the most beautiful one yet.

Something purple...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Grocery Stores Part 1

Now, I'd like to talk about something that I'm really familiar with in the US of A:

Grocery Stores

Here in Korealand we have three main ways to buy food to cook at home: a Mart, a Mom and Pop Shop, and a Convenience Store.

Convenience stores are small, some are chains and some are Mom and Pop.  These are basically the same as convenience stores in the US of A, minus the usually attached gas station.  You can buy a few essentials, but most of the food there is ready to eat or only in need of a microwave (which is almost always found in the store).  I have two of these within a block of my apartment.

Mom and Pop shops are sort of like what some of my older readers remember from their childhood.  They have a good variety of food, but not a huge selection.  Also, there's no bakery, deli, or fresh meat and seafood.   Casey has one behind his apartment (which took him almost 6 months to realize).

The main place to get your food here though is a Mart.  There are three main Marts here in Korealand:

Lotte Mart - Like Wal-Mart, they have their hands in EVERYTHING in Korealand.

E-Mart - Feels more like a US of A Wal-Mart, but they haven't really diversified like Lotte has.

HomePlus - Owned by the UK company, Tesco.  They have a good variety of foreign and local goods.

Lotte Mart is one I go to the most since there's one located on B1 of City 7.  They carry everything you might find in a Wal-Mart.  From fresh baked bread to microwaves.  It's been really convenient to have one on my walk home from work.

E-Mart is downtown and a not too long bike ride away.  They're bigger than Lotte Mart and carry more things, they even have an okay organic section.  I went there several times when I first got here, but tend to avoid it now.

HomePlus is located a short bike ride away, right next to the Changwon Bus Terminal.  It's just as big as E-Mart and tends to have more foreign products (only place I've found Goldfish).  HomePlus is usually where I shop for things I can't find at Lotte Mart.  It's much closer to my house then E-Mart and the public transportation there and back is more convenient and less crowded than it is to E-Mart.

So, there's the low-down on grocery stores in Korealand.  I have more to say about the differences between Korean grocery stores and American grocery stores, but I'll save that for another post.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Visiting the Hospital

Now, don't freak out that I went to the hospital, that's just what people do here.  There are very few clinics and most of them are cost more than the hospital and sometimes aren't as good.  Most people go to the hospital when they need to see a doctor.

Now, last weekend (March 24-25) I was in Seoul.  Saturday night my stomach was rather unhappy with me, but I thought it was the Mexican food I had for lunch in Itaewon (which was really yummy, but still not as good as Old Mexico in Niceville), so I didn't think worry about it.

On Sunday I got a really bad headache on the bus ride back to Changwon, along with an upset stomach.  I figured the upset stomach was due to the headache, which was due to the bus (I get carsick every once in a while).

On Monday I felt fine in the morning and went off to work.  While at work my stomach and head rebelled and I was in pain to the point of almost tears several times.  Me, being stupid and stubborn when I get sick, did not tell anyone.  I just taught my classes and at the end of the day asked Jessie if I had a fever because I felt like I had one.  As soon as I got home I crashed and went to sleep.  I decided that if I still felt ill in the morning I would go to the hospital.

On Tuesday I woke up feeling okay.  I figured it was just a twenty-four bug and ate my breakfast and went off to work like normal.  Just the walk to work exhausted me though and I was running a fever, getting a headache, and feeling kind of loopy.  Claire and Jessie saw me and expressed concern, but I waved it off, saying I could still teach and that I'd go to the hospital after work.  Then Esther came in to tell Casey and me about a new student and when she sat down to talk she noticed that I didn't look well.

She asked if I was feeling okay.

I said that I didn't think so.

She asked if I had gone to the hospital.

When I said no she spoke in Korean to Jessie really fast, then delegated my schedule to my co-workers, before she and Donald whisked me off to the hospital.

There we went to one counter and got a number, then when they called us we paid the hospital bill.  A whopping 7, 600 (about $6).  Then we went up the slowest escalator in the world to another area where we were told the wait was an hour and a half.  Esther had to go back to CNS to meet with a parent, but she left me with Donald to keep me company.

I sat there for an hour and half in a daze of pain and made small talk with Donald about CNS, Korea, and the Philippines.  I really don't know what we talked about, I was out of it.

Finally my name was up and I got to see the doctor.  He spoke pretty good English and I told him my symptoms.  He felt around on my stomach like doctors in the US of A do all the time and then Esther showed up while he was explaining what he thought I had.

All my symptoms pointed to acute gastritis he said.  I ended up going to get a shot that cost 800 ($0.50) and a bunch of pills for five days.

We had to go down the street to the pharmacy where the medicine cost 4,500 ($4).  I got these little packets:

Three pills for lunchtime and four for breakfast and dinner.
One of the pills in each packet was a prescription strength Tylenol, which I didn't realize until the last day.

I then got taken back to work, where I packed up my laptop and went home.  I stopped by Lotte and bought bread and crackers.  After that I'm not quite sure how I got home.  As soon as I got home I messaged MY to say I was sick and at home, then I fell asleep for four hours.

Woke up for two hours, ate some bread, took some pills, replied to MY to let him know I was okay (he was in Indonesia all week for work and was worried about me), then I went to sleep again.

I spent most of the rest of the week eating jelly, toast, crackers, and cereal.

I did go back to work on Wednesday and did pretty well.  Probably not my best lessons, but I'm sure the students still learned something.

I actually went all week without drinking coffee.  So, for the first time in.....five years?  four years?  Whatever it is...I haven't had coffee in a week.

The result of this lack of coffee is the fact that I'm now getting sleepy at around 11pm, I'm in bed by midnight and awake by about 8am.

That's very weird to me, the night owl, but it's working, so I'll try and keep it going.

My stomach is feeling much better now, though I'm still being careful what I put into it.  I'm sure I'll be fully back to normal by the end of this weekend.

So, now that I'm over this illness I just need to hope that I make it through the Yellow Dust without getting sick again.