Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Our Apartment

As requested by my family here's a video MY and I did of our new apartment.  Now that we've been here a month it's actually beginning to feel like home.

We're located on the east part of Seoul, about a 5-10 minute walk from Guui Station on Line #2, the circle line.  It's pretty convienent, especially since Lotte is about a 15 minute walk and there are lots of corner grocery stores around here too.  As well as lots of restaurants.  I'm about a 15-20 minute walk from work.

Well, here's the apartment!  Hope you enjoy!

Hope you enjoy!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Long Trip Back

Flying back to Korea I flew on United.  It was quite a bit different from Delta for several reasons, and I'll get into those later.

On Tuesday afternoon I flew from Niceville to Housten.  The flight was rather uneventful, but I was starving by the end of it and they served no snack, just drinks.

As soon as I got to Housten I took the tram to the right concourse, where I proceeded to follow my nose to a Subway.  I couldn't eat a foot long, but I ordered one anyway since I had a suspicion that the flight to San Francisco wouldn't have food either.  I ate half the sandwich and then found my gate and played on iPad until it was time to board.

I had been partially right about the flight to San Francisco.  There was food, but they charged extra for it.  And it wasn't worth what they were charging.  So about an hour out of San Francisco I ate the rest of my sandwich.

It was about 2100 or so when I landed and I went and grabbed my bags, then found the free taxi to my hotel.  I had a pleasant stay in the hotel.  I don't know what it is about hotels, but whenever I stay in one all by myself I actually feel like I'm a real adult.  Which is amusing, since you'd think leaving everything I know to get a job in a country halfway across the world would make me feel that more.

The next morning I woke early, grabbed some of the free breakfast, and headed back to the airport.  I dropped off my bag again and then passed through security and found my gate.

The flight was booked solid so they were offering to check carry on bags for free.  I checked mine since I didn't want to deal with finding a spot for it.

Once on the plane I found I was in the very last row between a young Korean man and an old Korean woman.  It turned out the woman and her husband were on the flight together and their seats had been separated.  So, remembering my first flight overseas when a nice young man switched with my grandmother so our seats would be together I offered to switch with him.  After a conversation using hand gestures and my baby Korean they understood me and I found myself pleasantly surprised to be sitting in an aisle seat next to a young Korean woman.

It was SO much better!

The flight was really long.  I couldn't really sleep, though I managed to doze a little.  There were no screens on the back of the seats so I had to watch whatever they put on.  Some were good, like 'Men in Black 3', others I'd seen before, like 'The Amazing Spiderman', and some were so boring I don't even remember the names...

I read some on my kindle and even watched a movie on my iPad.

It was a long flight.

When I arrived at Incheon I helped a couple young (18ish) army people that had no idea where to go.  I don't think they'd ever traveled internationally before.

Customs was easy to get through.  Though after I picked up my suitcase I got stopped for a random drug search and my bags were sniffed by a dog.

I was met by a taxi driver my school hired.  He drove me all the way across Seoul to my school.  Then I was taken to my apartment, since the girl I was replacing had already moved out.

I wasn't expecting that so I had no towels or anything.  Luckily MY came to my rescue when he got off work with towels and such.   It was so nice to shower again.

The next day, Friday, I got picked up by the school secretary, Young Teacher.  She took me to work where I spent the morning and afternoon following around the previous teacher.

Then, at 1600, I raced out of the school, sped walked to the subway, and rode it for an hour to the opposite side of Seoul.  Then I walked for 15-20 minutes to the immigration office where I proceeded to transfer my visa from CNS to Kid's College.  I also had to pick up stamped copies of the apostilled copies they had of my diploma and FBI background check.

Go figure.

The immigration office closed at 1800 and I left there just as it closed.  Then I walked the 15-20 minutes back to the subway, rode it for an hour and did my best not to fall asleep.

I completely skipped my apartment, though all I wanted was my bed, and got off at the East Seoul Bus Terminal.  I met MY and we grabbed some food before boarding the 2000 bus to Daegu.  I passed out as soon as the bus was moving.  Upon reaching Daegu we caught a taxi to his parents' house.  The taxi tried to cheat us by taking the long way and MY gave him hell.

Don't try and trick someone in their hometown.

That's why when I've ridden in a taxi by myself to somewhere new I keep my maps up on my phone.

We got to his parents house sometime between 2300 and 0000.  I really don't know.  I really just remember washing and then passing out.  I woke up really early the next morning due to jet lag and MY's parents made MY get up, though I was happy to quietly read my kindle.  His mom was concerned that I needed something and since we couldn't communicate very well poor MY lost sleep....

After breakfast and some watching of Pixar shorts MY and I grabbed his car and headed down to Changwon.

We went downtown and met up with my replacement, Tiana, to give her the spare key I had for my apartment that I had forgotten about before.  Then we went over to JD's place.

We grabbed all of my stuff and loaded it in MY's car.  The three of us grabbed lunch together and had a good time talking.  We eventually said farewell though and headed back to Daegu.

We had a light dinner with his mom and sister and then continued on to Seoul.  I passed out pretty early on in the drive.  We made one stop to use the bathroom, except for then I was sound asleep as my body healed and recovered from the jet lag.

We unpacked the car and then he found a parking spot somewhere and we showered and slept.  Well, I went back to sleep.

The next morning he headed out to the goshiwon he'd been staying in and got all of his stuff while I stayed and unpacked my stuff.  Once we were all unpacked we headed to Lotte and E-Mart where we got hooks to go over the doors, a shoe rack, dishes, and other random things we needed.

Then he went and parked his car at his office while I finished setting things up and unpacking.  He came back and we grabbed some food and then passed out at about 1800.

We didn't wake up again until 0600 on Monday morning.

We both needed that.

Due to the traveling I have no idea how long it actually was between when I boarded the plane in Niceville and when I woke up on Monday morning, but I'm pretty sure it was one of the longest times of my life.

Especially since I was still trying to cough up my lung.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Whirlwind Visit

So, I last left off as I greeted my family at the airport in Niceville.

That was just the beginning of the shortest visit to my hometown I could possibly stomach.

We leave the airport and I go with my dad and sister to where Elli is housesitting.  She checks on the dogs before we meet back up at Apple Jack and Kay-Kay's house, which is where I would be staying.

I then proceeded to grab the most amazing shower in the world before throwing on nice clothes, grabbing some gifts, and then heading back out the door with my dad and sister.

Elli and I dropped Dad off at his place before we headed to our cousin's new house.  Liz and her husband, Josh, bought this house in the year I was away, so I'd never seen it, but I knew exactly where it was because I'd seen it by the water every time I drove to the base, so was an odd feeling to finally get to see it.

I was given a grand tour by Liz and her sisters Laura and Katherine (who also lives there as boarders).  It's a very nice house, they've done really well for themselves.  I did find it highly amusing that just their bathroom was the size of my apartment in Changwon.  For some reason I kept repeating that, probably because that was all my exhausted, jet-lagged, and ill body could focus on.

They had some friends over and we went out to their second building (a former workshop) to watch 'Cabin in the Woods'.  It's funny during the movie she served sodas, popcorn, and cookies.  I headed straight for the salty popcorn and got to eat a whole delicious bag by myself.  It's hard to find here, most popcorn is sweet.

Elli dropped me off at our grandparents' house at around midnight.  I couldn't sleep so I spent the next hour or so setting up my new laptop and iPad before finally crashing.

On Sunday I woke up around 1000 and ate a delicious breakfast of Kashi cereal.  I continued to work on my laptop until Apple Jack and I headed up to Winn-Dixie, where I proceeded to buy all sorts of goodies that I couldn't get in Korea.  I'm still sad that I bought french onion dip and cape cod potato chips and then never felt up to eating them....

Everything else I got to eat though, so that was good.

Then Apple Jack taught me how to drive with a stick shift....

Let's just say I now know how, but DEFINITELY prefer automatic.  I also have a PROFOUND respect for the fact that MY drives stick in Korea, where the traffic is CRAZY.

As Simon and Martina (aka eatyourkimchi) talk about here:

Sunday evening I went up to Crestview with Elli to her game night.  I was really looking forward to seeing my friend Michael, but he ended up having to do some last minute work at the museum, so he couldn't make it.

I still had a good time though with Elli's friends.  We ate cheap American pizza (which I spent the $15 dollars on since I felt sorry for all the poor college kids) and played Munchkin.

It was awesome.

On Monday I had a dentist appointment and tried to get my eyebrows done, but the shop was closed.  So instead I met up with Elli when she got out of class and we ate some good Southern barbecue.  It was so weird having no button on the table and having to leave a tip.

In the early evening I went to borrow a card table from Bob and Wanda's house.  They were super surprised and happy to see me, since I used to housesit for them.  They gave me a glass of good wine as I talked about Korea.

I spent the rest of the evening relaxing at my grandparents' since I was still super sick.  My stomach was better, but I had no appetite and I was coughing like a dying person.  Several times I coughed so bad I lost what little I'd been able to eat.

It was bad.

On Tuesday Apple Jack drove me up the college around lunchtime where we met Elli.  The three of us had lunch in the new student building they built since I graduated.  It was very nice.  Especially the lovely loaded salad dripping with ranch dressing.

Then Apple Jack headed home.  Elli and I were going to go out to Pensacola, but first we stopped by the Education Department and I stopped by Dr. Ketter's office.  She was so surprised to see me, it was lovely.  Unfortunately, I was having a bad coughing spell when I was in her office, so she thought I was dying...

After that Elli and I hopped in the car and headed for Pensacola.  She did her homework while I drove.  After a little over an hour and a stop for flowers later we were at Barrancas National Cemetery.

Elli had been there a few months before, but I hadn't been there sine the ceremony.

I have no words.

We headed back after that.  We were meeting up with our other grandfather in Navarre (Captain Bob) for dinner.  Partway through Gulf Breeze I was about to pass out at the wheel, so I pulled over and Elinore did the driving.

We met up with Captain Bob and had a lovely Mexican meal.  It was delicious.  I think that was the first meal I've ever had with Captain Bob where I did more than 50% of the talking.  He just wanted to know about Korea.

Elli and I headed back to Niceville afterwards and she did all the driving while I dozed in the passenger seat.

When we got to Niceville she dropped me off at Dad's and then went to check on the dogs she was housesitting.  I had a lovely time just hanging out with my dad as he showed me Skyrim.  He drove me back to Apple Jack and Kay-Kay's a bit later.

I couldn't sleep again so I messed around on my computer and then ended up buying Skyrim since it was 70% off on Steam.  That game is a big part of the reason why this blog has gone so long without getting updated.  Since during my 'me time' I've been playing that instead of writing....

On Wednesday I woke really, really late and felt extremely terrible.  I ended up calling the doctor's and made an appointment for Thursday morning.  Then I installed Age of Empires III (AOE3) on my new computer before heading over to my dad's.

Not from that game, but just an example.
Michael came over and we played a game of AOE3 to relieve our old college days.  It's funny, those games of AOE3 are what ultimately led to Elli's game nights.

Dad showed up with Mexican a bit later and Elli came out to join us as we ate.  Then Elli, Michael, and I played Harry Potter Lego 5-7 on the xbox.  It was a really nice evening.  Michael had work the next day though so it was rather short.

I think Elli drove me home later, but I don't really remember.

On Thursday I went to the doctor where he loaded me up on antibiotics, cough medicine for the daytime, and tussionex for nighttime.

I was supposed to meet Laura for a coffee, but she had a doctor's appointment, so we rescheduled for Friday.

That evening Kay-Kay was hosting Bunko, so I got to see all of those ladies again.  It was really nice, especially since I won my money back.

On Friday I don't exactly remember what I did during the day.  I don't think it was much.  I was supposed to meet Laura in the evening and talk and hang out, but our old high school friend, Mike, was having his birthday party.  So she chose to go to that with her fiancee.  She invited me along, but it was in a smoky bar and I was still trying to cough up a lung.

Instead Elli came and picked me up and I spent the evening with Dad and Elli, then spent the night over there.

On Saturday morning I went back over to Liz's house.  We were going to have a tea party:

It was EXTREMELY delicious.  Laura deigned not to join us, choosing to eat her bowl of Count Chocula before going to pick up her twin Margret.  Margret and her husband Derrick were lucky enough to get leave for the one whole weekend I'd be back in the States.

After tea we played a game of Munchkin.  When Margret and Laura showed up they had Laura's fiancee, Nick with them.  Nick went to go nap and Laura and Margret joined us for another game of Munchkin.

We finished about 1800 when Elli and I took our leave.  We met up with our grandparents and dad.  Then the five of us headed across the bridge to Destin.  Where we had a delicious dinner at Olive Garden.  I couldn't get enough of their bread sticks.

I went back to Dad's that evening to spend the night.  We all ended up staying up until about midnight looking at old photos.

On Sunday, early in the morning, we headed over to Liz's again since she and Josh had been informed they were holding a family brunch.  It was so nice to see everyone.  Taking advantage of that fact that Margret, Derrick, and I were around lots of photos were taken:

L to R: Derrick, Nick, Josh, Dad, Uncle Jerry

L to R: Laura, Aunt Marcie, Uncle Jerry, Katherine, Liz, Margret

L to R: Katherine, Nick, Laura, Aunt Marcie, Uncle Jerry, Liz, Josh, Margret, Derrick
L to R: Me, Dad, Elli
After brunch Elli and I drove over to Fort Walton Beach where we were meeting Aunt Diana at Paneras for lunch.  Due to an interesting combination of laundry, a lost cellphone, and a cop she was over thirty minutes late.

Like with Grandpa, I did most of the talking since she wanted to know all about Korea.

Then we said goodbye and Elli and I went back to Dad's.  Michael came over and we played Harry Potter Lego, then Elli's friends came over.  Dad got us pizza and we played this crazy zombie game.  I find it highly amusing that I won the game just because I outlasted everyone after they'd killed all the zombies in the way.  I only had three zombie kills by the end of the game, everyone else had around ten or more...

Oh, and I used a card to make Rin unable to win when she was about to.

Then we moved to living area, where we sprawled across the floor, bean bag, and couch to play another game of Munchkin.  We all had a good time and kept screwing each other over, just as you should in a game of Munchkin.

That evening I went back over to Apple Jack and Kay-Kay's house.

On Monday I went with Apple Jack, Kay-Kay, and my dad to one of the Korean restaurants in town.  I found the kimchi to be tasteless and the bulgogi wasn't tasty, but they all liked it.  I guess American Korean food will just never be good for me now that I've had the real stuff.  Though it was funny reading 김 밥 (gimbap) as gimbob since it was translated very poorly.

Then Dad (who had the day off for Columbus Day) and I headed over to Destin where we sat on the beach, drank margaritas, and just talked.  It was so relaxing.

It's hard to look at these pictures right now since I'm currently wear fuzzy socks, fuzzy pants, and a sweatshirt since it's 41 F right now, and that's the HIGH for the day...

After the beach Dad and I went to Barnes and Nobles and Best Buy just to look around.  I didn't think of it at the time, but now I wish we'd gone to Destin Commons, too.  I never actually made it there, but, oh well.

After the stores we went went to a self-serve yogurt place and had some delicious frozen yogurt.  I loaded mine up with fruit.

We all had dinner at my grandparents that evening.  After a lovely dinner we watched a movie.  It's funny, I knew I had seen it, but Dad had no memory of watching all of it with me back when I was in high school.

I was almost crying as I said goodbye to my dad that night.  Same when I said goodbye to Elli, even though I knew I'd see her the next day.  That's truly the only hard thing about living here in Korea, I just don't get to see them.  Skype is nice, but it just isn't the same.

On Tuesday I had my last bowl of Kashi cereal.  Then for lunch I had root beer and some of Kay-Kay's Zuppa Tuscana soup as I sat on the back porch and listened to the birds at the bird feeder.

After lunch we loaded my bags into the car, swung by and picked up my sister, and then headed to the airport.  We checked my bag and then settled down to chat and wait for a little while.  Aunt Diana ended up coming.

It was nice to see her and we took some pictures.  Leaving this time was so much harder then it was the year before.

Back in 2011 it was 0530 and Kay-Kay and I were alone at the airport.  I was drowning in grief over my mother and just wanting to get away from Florida and all of the memories.  I had no idea what was waiting for me in Korea, but I was eager to find out.

This time it was about 1300 and I was with Kay-Kay, Apple Jack, Elli, and Aunt Diana.  I was still recovering from my illness and all I wanted was more time with my family.  It was really hard to leave.  I think that if I hadn't had MY to come back to it would have be nigh impossible.  I did what to come back to Korea, just not so quickly.

Well, a few minutes after these next pictures were taken I passed through security and prepared to take the first of three flights on my way back to Korea and MY.

L to R: Aunt Diana, Me

L to R: Kay-Kay, Elli, Me, Apple Jack