Monday, August 27, 2012

Adventures in Seoul

Wow, it's been awhile since I've posted!  It's been a crazy few weeks with our extra Summer Immersion classes (and extra pay).  So this post is rather late...

Back on Saturday, August 11th, I headed up to Seoul with JD, Alexis, and Casey.  The four of us caught a 0700 bus and proceeded to sleep our way to Seoul, which is where we met MY.

JD had been to Seoul twice before, but both times he was unprepared for the insanity that is Seoul and had no tour guide, Alexis was with him one of those times and just as unprepared, and as for Casey...he'd never been to Seoul, even after ten months here in Korea.  Granted, he knows Busan better than I do and has been there more often..

So the weekend was going to be a big whirlwind of a trip as we made sure to hit up all the big tourist spots.  Unfortunately, this gave JD the opinion that all of Seoul is crazy and full of foreigners.  When I'm up there in a month and a half or so I'll have to invite him up and show him some of the less crazy areas.  The weather will be much better then too.

Once we met up with MY the five of us took the subway to Itaewon and went to get some Mexican food at that restaurant I went to a few months ago.  Once again it was really delicious, but I wasn't able to enjoy it as much as I should have since my throat was starting to get really sore.

Mexican food!
After eating we wandered down to What the Book and looked around some.

And then our adventures began in earnest.

We caught a bus up to Namsam Tower and played tourist.  JD and Alexis left a lock and Casey left one for Colleen.  MY and I were going to leave one, but couldn't find one we liked, so we decided we'd come back after I've moved to Seoul and leave one.
Casey, with Namsam Tower in his hand!
JD and Alexis being their typically silly selves, and yes, Alexis is borrowing my bag.
MY and me with Myeongdong behind us.
Jump Shot!
High Five!
Casey pretending to put his lock on before he ran off and hid it somewhere...
JD and Alexis actually putting their lock up.
We took a bus from Namsam Tower down to Myeongdong.  There we wandered around and just took in the craziness for awhile.  Eventually we found a little cafe and settled down for drinks and 빙수 (bing su).  It was one of the cafes that serves coffee and alcohol so Casey and JD got a martini and a wine cocktail (respectively), while the rest of us got tea or coffee.

Casey and JD with their afternoon cocktails.
Cake and cheesecake!  Yum!
Red Bean Bing Su
Green Tea Bing Su
Bananas and nuts.
Us being ridiculously silly.
We chilled there for about an hour and then headed back to the subway station.  We traveled up to Gyeongbokgung Palace.  I have almost no pictures from then since Casey got extremely camera happy and was taking artsy shots everywhere.  So I'm just stealing some of his.  We had a good time though it was very hot and humid.

This reminds me of something...but I can't think what.
We finally got Casey in a picture.
The guys.
The girls

Wondering if Timmy is still down there.
See that Colleen and Alexis?  They'll move palaces for us.
Eventually we got tired and decided that a nice drink was in order.

A nice drink served with lots, and lots, and lots of cats.

Yes, we went back to Giocat.

Alexis and JD went gaga over all the cats, just like my sister did.  Casey loved them, but was more reserved when it came to giving them attention.  MY and I just used some toys and watched them since we're both allergic and there were no hairless cats.  The male one was locked up for some reason and the female one (that made friends with me last time) was given to a different cat cafe.

That made me sad.

The coolest stumpy legged  cat.
Alexis getting love.
JD getting attention (not that he needs it)

Casey being rather dignified
It started getting late and we started getting hungry so we found a nice Korean Barbecue place and ate lots of meat while watching part of the Olympics and just having a good time.  My voice was almost gone by then, but it didn't hurt anymore.
Korean barbecue, so yummy!
After dinner we walked around and listened to some street musicians before going to one of the many Ho Bars in Hongdae.  There we proceed to order a Set that came with drinks and food.  Casey and I got camera happy and it was so noisy I really don't remember if we talked about anything, but I do remember us playing cards.

MY photobombing JD
Our Set.
After a couple hours we decided that a 찜질방 (jjimjilbang) sounded great.  We walked down to Happy Day and found that they were renovating the woman's area so they were only serving men.  Well, Alexis and I are clearly not men so we had to find somewhere else to stay.  

MY did some hunting on his phone and he eventually found one a subway stop north in Sinchon.  The subway was closed and we had too many people for one taxi, so we decided to walk.  This lead to more adventures since JD and Casey decided to 'baptize' each other...

Casey's baptism.
Casey pointing out that JD's baptism wasn't nearly as wet.
JD begging Casey not to leave Korea.
We 'eventually' got to Sinchon Rest, which I wrote a review about here.

The next morning we were all tired, but we packed up our stuff and caught the subway to Jamsil where we at the most amazing noodle restaurant in Korea.  We ate our fill and were left very, very happy.
As you can see...
After that we just went to the DongSeoul Bus Terminal and sat in a cafe and chilled until it was time to take our bus.
Red Bean Bing Su
Fruit Bing Su
This cafe had free massage chairs.
Oh, and my voice was gone all day Sunday.  

We got back to Changwon at around 2100.  JD and Alexis caught a taxi home while Casey and I biked back.

It was a good adventure, but I was quite happy to be home and in my own bed.  

I was exhausted.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Hundred Posts

Wow, I can't believe it's now been over a year since I decided to come to Korea.  That was such a huge decision, yet I found it so easy to make.  Once I realized I really wanted to live and work overseas I made up my mind to do it.

Now I'm at that point again.  My current contract ends in a month and a half.  I plan to go back and visit Niceville for a couple weeks, then hop on a plane heading back to Korea.

I'll be back for at least two weeks, possibly more, depending on when my next job starts.

I'll be leaving here on Saturday, September 29th, and arriving in the USA on Saturday, September 29th.  I could be leaving again as early as Monday, October 15th.  There's a really awesome job a recruiter found that I might be able to interview for and the start date is that week.

Once I know when I'm coming back to Korea I'll let ya'll know.

I've come a long way from the girl I was a year ago, but I'm quite proud of that fact.  I'm eager to finish up my last month and a half here at CNS before visiting Niceville and getting started on another awesome year here in Korea.

Now, before I end this post, here are some cool statistics from this blog:
Pageviews on a graph


Pageviews on most popular pages

Pageviews by browser

Pageviews by operating system

Pageviews by country

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Turning 24

Surprisingly enough, my birthday actually started the night of the 3rd here in Korea.

I met up with MY when I got off work at 2030.  The two of us headed down to Lotte and bought things to make soup.  I just wanted to stay in and cook with him that evening since we were planning to go out on the 4th.

We buy our stuff at Lotte then go down to the parking garage and get in his car.  I return the cart while he pulls out so I can get in.  Once I get in he asks me to fix his wing mirror since it's folded against his car.  I reach out to fix it and then when I turn back to face him he's holding a big bouquet of roses.

The roses were fake because the ones he could find were all wilted in the heat wave, but his card had a really sweet message about our love never fading, just like the flowers.  I loved that.

After that we drove back to my place and MY suggested I shower before dinner since I looked pretty hot and tired.

This made me a little suspicious, but I grabbed my towel and some clothes and headed to the bathroom.  When I was in the shower I heard the fridge open and so I got really suspicious.

I was right to be suspicious.  When I entered my main room the light was off and he was sitting on the floor with a lit up birthday cake.  He was also singing 'Happy Birthday'.

It was so sweet!

I blew out the candles.
It was blueberry cake and totally awesome!
Then, as I was distracted he pulled out a present from behind his back.

It was one of the little jewelry boxes, like the one my dad gave me when I was a child.  Really, the only difference was that this one was purple and the other one was black.  I started tearing up.  The smell was so familiar, it brought back memories.
I love it!
We made dinner after that, some of the yummy (and healthy!) soup Casey made on Tuesday, but I made it less spicy.

The next morning I called my grandparents and opened the gift they sent with Elli.  Then I called Elli (a little late...) and talked to her and my dad.

After I was done talking MY and I ate some brunch then decided to go to a jjimjilbang.  I really love those places.

We wanted to go to the one by Casey's house, but it was closed for vacation until today, so we went to one downtown.  It was a rather small one, but very nice.  I showered and then chilled in the baths for awhile.   Eventually I rejoined MY in the mixed section and we sat in the ice room, then a dry sauna, then the ice room again.  We drank iced tea and just laid around chatting.  Eventually we tried these funny boxes that heat your lower half while keeping your upper half cool.  That was rather interesting.

Eventually we ran home, changed clothes for the evening, and went to chill in a PC bang until JD and Alexis (JD's girlfriend) got into town.

We picked them up from the bus terminal and then dropped Alexis' luggage off at JD's apartment.  Alexis is moving to Japan after her visit here, so she had a lot of luggage.

Then we swung by and picked Casey up before heading downtown to Outback.  There was a wait, so we sat outside at a FamilyMart playing BS until they called our name.  I got this awesome ribeye with gorgonzola cheese on it.  I have to thank Z for introducing me to that cheese.  It really is awesome.

Since MY and I had steaks we got soups (one mushroom and one pumpkin).  No one else had one so we put them in the center of the table with the bread and just ate them Korean style.  I would've felt so awkward eating food when no one else had any.  Seriously, Korea has changed the way I treat the dinner table.

JD got a cajun rice dish, while Alexis and Casey got pasta.  We all gave each other some of our food.  I had serious trouble using a fork to get pasta.  I found myself wishing for a pair of chopsticks.  Seriously, I think if I eat any pasta or noodles when I visit Niceville I'll stick to chopsticks.  I use a fork when I go out and eat chicken, and that's about it.  It's starting to feel foreign in my hand...

After eating we went to the foreigner 막걸리(makgeoli) bar.  We sat on some couches and played card games and scrabble while eating salty popcorn (a rarity here) and drinking coke and makgeoli.  It was really chill and we were the only people in the bar since lots of people are out of town on vacation right now.  

When we left there we walked down to a street vendor.  JD wasn't hungry, but Casey got toast and the rest of us got 오뎅 (fish cakes).

MY hadn't been drinking since he drove.  We drove over to the lake and showed Alexis and JD the foot massage area.  They thought it was insane.

When we left the lake we dropped everyone off at their respective houses.  Then MY filled up his gas tank, dropped me off at home, and headed back to Daegu.

I spent all of Sunday (which part of was still my birthday in the states) relaxing in my apartment and doing absolutely nothing.

It was glorious.

I did get invited to go out to dinner at 1930 but had already eaten and didn't really feel like getting out of my pajamas, so I turned it down.

It was a very nice end to a good week.  This weekend should be even more exciting since I'm going to Seoul with JD, Alexis, and Casey.  MY and I are going to show them around properly.  JD's been to Seoul, but never had a guide and had no clue what he was doing and Casey's never been to Seoul.

It should be fun.  I'll write about it next week.

That is, if I survive...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer Vacation: Part 3 Delightful Daegu Again

Sunday was spent entirely in my home.  It was hot as the hinges of hell outside and I had no desire to venture into the sweltering heat.  Seriously, the heat index was over 100 F.  Here's proof:
Though it was less humid than normal.
Around 1600ish I finally braved the heat and went to Lotte to buy some much needed supplies for what I planned to cook that evening.

I ended up making deviled eggs (with quail eggs), tuna fish salad, brownies (in the microwave!), and cheesy ranch mashed potatoes.  It took me about four hours because as I made the deviled eggs and tuna fish salad I was sitting at the little table in my room and watching movies on Netflix.

Around 2200 MY messaged me to say he was at the airport in Vietnam and that he'd be in Korea around 0530 and in Daegu at about 1030.

I told him I loved him and to be safe, then I went to bed, I had an early day the next day too.

I woke up at about 0630, packed up all the food in my cooler, grabbed my bag, and headed out the door after a quick bowl of cereal.  When I got to the bus stop I found out I'd missed my bus by about five minutes so I caught a taxi to the Masan Gosok Bus Terminal.  The taxi driver misunderstood me and went the wrong way at first so I had a higher fare...I was not amused, but was too eager to get to Daegu.

Normally when I go to Daegu I take a bus from the Changwon Bus Terminal, and it only goes to West Daegu Terminal.  The Masan Gosok Bus Terminal on the other hand goes to the East Daegu Terminal, which is the same one MY would be arriving at.

Now, I knew he'd be tired and I didn't want him to have to drive over and pick me up, also, I didn't want to wait the couple extra hours to see him.

So, I surprised him.

I reached the East Daegu Bus Terminal at a little before 1000.  He knew I was planning to take a bus from Changwon at 1010, so he messaged me with:
MY: hey
Me: hey
MY: at the bus terminal?
Me: no
MY: on a bus already?
Me: actually…
Me: change of plans…
MY: on a train
Me: uh….
Me: no…
MY: not coming?!!?
Me: actually…
Me: I’m at the East Daegu Terminal
MY: what?!?!
MY: really??!
Me: yes J
 It was quite beautiful.  He got there about twenty minutes later and we took a taxi to his parent's house.  There I chilled with his sister while he showered and changed.

Then we went to his friend SH's house, where I met SH's mother.  I was the first foreigner she'd ever met so she asked to take a picture with me.
She was super nice.
She was very nice and gave us lots of food, though the three of us were about to go to lunch.  Eventually we left her nice apartment to head back into the sweltering heat.

The three of us went to a traditional restaurant that she suggested to it.  There was no menu, they just brought out whatever they'd decided to cook.  Everything was fresh from the market.

I got to eat this little guy:
He was rather delicious, as long as I didn't focus on his face too much.
After MY finished making SH and me laugh by having it talk to me with his chopsticks.

There was so much food, but it was all delicious, I ate quite a bit...

When we were finished eating we went to the pool place and played pool for an hour.  I think my pool playing skill has deserted me, I did terribly.

After pool we went to check out a rocky mountain stream behind their old high school.  It was very nice there and not crowded at all.
The water was so nice and cool.
Eventually though the mosquitoes started coming out and we left.  We dropped SH off at his house and MY and I went back to his parent's house:

Where I was about to meet MY's mom.

The meeting ended up going really well.  Though she speaks less English than I speak Korean.  MY translated her questions.  Though he was very embarrassed when he had to translate my answer to the question: Why do you like Min Young?

Then his dad came home.  His dad was super shy and is not used to talking with foreigners.  He just said hello to me and then sat down and talked to MY.

He asked a few questions about me, but addressed them all to MY, not me.  He really was too nervous to even look at me.  At first I worried about this but MY and HG (MY's sister), assured me that was normal for him.

After a bit we had dinner.  It was served in the traditional Korean style with all of us having our own small bowl of rice and then sharing everything else on a small table about the size of a nightstand.  There were two different kinds of kimchi, this pickled garlic (so yummy!), bulgogi (flavored beef), tofu soup, and something else I forgot the name of.

All of it was delicious.  The kimchi was made my MY's aunt, she makes all the kimchi in their family.

After dinner his mom showed me baby pictures (and high school pictures).  MY was so cute as a baby!  He was also a super happy baby, though he refused to smile in his high school pictures.  He reminded me of some of my least favorite middle school boys...I suppose it's a Korean adolescent boy thing.

At their house everyone sleeps on the floor, so that's what I did.

The next morning I woke up after MY's dad had gone to work.  MY and I walked down to buy bread and then we ate tuna fish sandwiches and deviled eggs with his mom and sister.  We also had some delicious watermelon.

We played some cards and a traditional Korean game that MY and I did really poorly at in the beginning (we played on teams), but by the end we were winning all the time.

Then we had some lunch (leftovers from the night before, but with flavored rice) and talked some more.  MY and I left to head to Changwon at around 1500.

When we left his mom gave me food and some of her homemade prune juice (yummy!).  She also gave me a hug, which is virtually unheard of.  Apparently she really, really liked me.  I really liked her too, she reminded me of Kay-Kay, it was very comforting.  I've missed being around someone that treats me like that, though I don't want it all the time, I like being independent.

We got to Changwon around 1700 and got my phone to the shop since it was overheating and the screen was cracked.  We dropped it off and went back to my apartment to chill under the AC and eat a snack.

At around 1930 we went to pick up my phone and stopped by E-Mart so MY could buy a blackbox for his car.

We left there and got to Casey's house at a little after nine.  There we chilled with JD and Casey while we ate Casey's homemade soup and drank 막걸리(makgeoli).  We ended up playing some card games after eating.

We played Uno: Though JD won once, I won the other five times.
We played Quidditch: I beat JD
We played Set: I won

They got very annoyed at me very quickly.

We chatted for a couple hours and the party finally broke up at around 0200.  

As I fell asleep I said goodbye to my vacation.  Though my awesome week was far from over.

And, even now, on Friday night, it's still not over.

MY is on vacation until Sunday and my birthday is on Saturday.

I'm turning 24 and this is the first year in my twenties that I don't approach my birthday with the thought, "It's my birthday already?  But I haven't done anything..."  

Instead, I approach it with the thought, "Wow, what will this next year bring?"

So, hello 24, goodbye 23!  You were a year full of changes, both good and bad, but I'm glad I lived you.  You've made me a better, happier and much more independent person.

Summer Vacation: Part 2 Yeosu World Expo

Friday dawned hot and steamy.  I had a minor headache from the night before but that was gone after about an hour.

At about 1100 I went up to the hospital and made an appointment to get my eyes looked at since my allergies got so bad.  Then I relaxed at a cafe and read until my appointment at 1430.  He gave me some eye drops and an ointment and now they're almost back to normal.

After that I went and relaxed at my apartment until about 2030.  Then I headed downtown to Sangnam-do, where I met JD and Casey.  Casey invited some other people he knew, but none of them could make it.

So, once again, it was just the three of us.

We took JD to his first Korean BBQ where we ate delicious meat and drank Cass (best Korean beer, but not the best beer).
This awesome steak thing.
We were going to go to a club, but the cover was ridiculous, so we went to the Foreigner Bar, O'Brians, where I watched them play darts.
Casey won.
Then, at about midnight, we headed home and planned to meet up in the morning to head to Yeosu.

At 0745 I call Casey and see if we're still on for Yeosu, he hesitates, but does say yes.  So I finish getting ready and meet him at the bike station in front of CeCo at 0815.  Then the two of us bike to JD's house.  Where we proceed to catch a bus.

Somehow though, none of us actually looked up which buses take us from JD's house to the train terminal...


We ended up missing the 0915 train and took the 1010 bus instead from the Masan bus terminal.

We reached Yeosu at around 1300.  We just followed the crowds and ended up at the 2012 World Expo.

Follow the locals!
The Expo entrance!  It seriously reminded JD and me of Disney World.
Originally tickets for everyone were about   33,000.  Then we heard that they lowered it for foreigners down to   10,000, which is what we expected to pay, but, somehow, we only paid   3,000.  That was unexpected awesomeness.

I think Saturday was the hottest day yet of the summer, and, if not, it was the second hottest.  The sun was baking us so we quickly retreated under the huge building behind us.  The ceiling was a huge screen showing the ocean.  It was really epic.

This was also where all the international booths were.  We went to several countries.  Egypt's was seriously disappointing.  It was just some fake stones and random videos of Egypt on the wall with some things for sale.

The Angola one was rather cool, they gave us free hats, flags, and pins too.  We visited several other countries but quickly stopped as the lines got crazy and it got later.  During our visits we went to a shop and got some Korean food since all the non-Korean food was a little pricey and JD and Casey are both on a budget until their next paycheck.

We walked to a couple other areas, but didn't check out any other exhibits since the lines were unbelievable. For proof, here's the Samsung line:
Once it reached the building it started snaking closer together.
So, instead of waiting in an insanely long line in the nasty Florida style heat and humidity (Seriously, it was over 40 C and 100 F, at least in heat index), we went to play in the water:
JD is walking on water!  Sort of...
I gave up on walking on the rocks and decided to just chill.
Casey wanted to walk on water too!
But, he failed and got wet jeans in the process...

We walked around some more and just looked at everything, the place is beautiful, they really did a good job when they built it.
The O-Show
The giant clam JD and Casey disappeared into.
JD staring at people.
We were going to do one last exhibit, Japan, but the line was too long, even though we had a time ticket.  So instead we decided we'd gotten our money's worth and caught a bus back to Changwon.

On the first leg of the journey the three of us had the five person back seat to ourselves, but at the next stop there was one more person then there were seats.  A girl in heels carrying several bags.  JD got up and gave her his seat, then he settled himself on the floor.
He's taking it like a pro though.
After about an hour Casey switched with him since JD was sitting on the engine and felt like he was about to burn some important parts off.

Casey protected himself by putting his back to the engine.
The group of possibly college boys gave all of us candy.  Also, the Ahjussi sitting in the back with us called JD a gentleman.

Once we arrived back in Changwon our day was far from over.  We got toasted sandwiches at the bus terminal then ran by Homeplus and bought 막걸리(makgeoli) and strawberry juice.  

Then we went back to JD's house and drank the makgeoli and ate snacks we picked up at Family Mart while playing Uno.  Poor Casey only won once.
Uno and Strawberry Makgeoli!
Casey grabbing more 김 (seaweed)
Casey and I biked back to CeCo a couple of hours later and he walked me home.  I think that was one of my longest days in Korea, but it was also one of the most awesome.

Next up: Summer Vacation: Part 3 Delightful Daegu Again