Monday, September 24, 2012

From America to Korea: Downtown Songtan

From America to Korea: A series detailing the adventure of traveling around Korea with Husband and my mother- and father-in-law!  Click here for part one.

A trip to Korea is incomplete without Bulgogi and banchan.  On Mike and Cindy's first full day in Korea, we dined at the local Bulgogi joint in downtown.  This restaurant is more on the modern, quick meal side of the spectrum, but you can also enjoy lovely traditional bulgogi meals, especially in the countryside.  Bulgogi, which means "fire meat," is grilled marinated meat prepared over a charcoal cooker at your table.  

We chose a beef sampler platter and smoked duck!  The banchan, or side dishes, were cabbage kimchi, cucumber kimchi, chapchae (glass noodles), red pepper paste lettuce "salad", bean sprouts, odeng (fish cake), and more!  The meal is also served with red pepper paste, garlic, lettuce leaves, and rice.  You put a small amount of a variety of the foods in a lettuce leaf to eat.

After lunch -maybe this was a mistake- we decided to visit the fish market.  It is, shall I say, aromatic?

I posted some similar pictures several months ago when I was seeing these things for the first time.  I am absolutely amazed at how it feels so close to normal now (I will revoke this statement when I show you our pictures of the raw fish market in Busan).  There is so much dried fish all over this country!  I have honestly not tried it yet -I don't think- but I'm sure I will soon.

I considered cropping this picture, but I think part what is so interesting about Korea is the way very different things coexist.  This person is selling some sort of vegetable on the ground right outside a women's clothing boutique, which also happens to be next door to an open air fish market...and this is completely normal.

Ready made side dishes and kimchis for sale!

I have never seen someone using one of the many random phone booths, but they are kind of fun to spot.

If the real JCPenney had any idea they had such a following in little ol' Songtan...

This is the legendary triangle of death.  It doesn't look like much right now.  Just wait until there is more traffic!  This three way intersection has two way traffic on each of its three sides.  There is just one measly stop sign (you can see it by the bus), and that is new since we've been here.  Buses use it to make u-turns.  Scooters and taxis and anybody who wants to passes you in it.  It is a total free for all.  Want to drive here at night?

Cindy was excited to see there are even Dollar Stores in Korea:)  Do you notice the sign next door on the right?  This is the home of the "Original Handmade Burger, Since 1982"!  Wow, I had no idea the hamburger was invented in Korea in 1982...

On our list of to-do's and to-buy's downtown was a stop at Mr. Lim's.  He is the tailor who makes a lot of the squadron gear for the pilots, and he is also really involved in community service with the base.  He is an Honorary Squadron Commander.  

Mike's birthday was in August, so we took him to have a shirt made by Mr. Lim for his gift.  I think he really enjoyed the experience!  Mr. Lim is a smooth talker, and had Mike set up with a fabric and custom fit in no time.  The shirt was ready in just one week!

Next up:  Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Sunday, September 23, 2012

From America to Korea: Our neighborhood

From America to Korea: A series detailing the adventure of traveling around Korea with Husband and my mother- and father-in-law! 

At the very tail end of August Husband's parents came to visit us.  We were thrilled they came to tour Korea and just hang out with us.  It's always nice to see some familiar faces on this side of the world, and their visit really helped to break up our tour in Korea.  Half way there; nine months to go!

We experienced so much while they were here!  I was jotting some notes about what to share about their visit.  I have eight more posts after this one!!  We took so many fantastic pictures!  Mike and Cindy had a thorough tour of the country so the pictures in these posts will give you a real impression of the vastness of Korea.

Their trip didn't start out great.  We had our first significant chance of a typhoon three days before they were scheduled to arrive in Seoul, and the second one the day they flew in!  We have had one or two typhoons since then though, all of which have been unimpressive.  We've had some wind and serious rain, but thankfully no damage.

(Left: No more Wonder Bread the day after the "typhoon"...Husband was devastated.  Right:  Charlie may not know why there are sleeping bags and pillows out -temporary beds for Husband and I-, but he's determined wherever they go he will follow!)

On day one of Mike and Cindy's Korea visit, we had a walking tour of our neighborhood (photo opportunities abound!).

Newly built home.  It took three times as long to resurface our road as it did to demolish the previous home and build this one.

Garlic, garlic everywhere.  

These are all on my normal walking route with the dog.  Each way you look offers a completely different view.  The top right picture is typical of the nicest homes I've seen in Korea (aside from fancy high-rise apartments).  I think this is a multi-family home.

The rice!  I was ecstatic the day I noticed the rice beginning to bud on the ends of the grasses.  While Mike and Cindy were here, we saw some of it start to yellow; nearing harvest.  Today Husband informed me he saw the harvest beginning!

Charlie, me, and Cindy walking the rice paddies.

Way out in a rice paddy, along this terraced hillside, the gently sloping mounds -Korean burial sites- are  a typical view.

Not a great picture...I must've been in a hurry.  This type of white guard dog is extremely common here.  This one is our neighbor, and she had the sweetest puppies (there were five or six -I'm not sure- they move too fast)!

Mike especially enjoyed the overhead view!  Our apartment is very close to base, and we have A-10 and F-16 "fly-overs" all day long.

Next up:  Downtown Songtan

Monday, September 17, 2012

Most people stay 29, but I'm skipping it

I was all set to take the picture with the candles in the cake, but forgot...that's life!

Hello there!  I'm back!  

On Sunday I celebrated 29 years of living.  I am grateful to have had this time to live, love, and learn.  What a 29 years it has been!  Husband, of course, has been reminding me that -because we are living in Korea- I am technically 30 years old.  And next year -when we are living in America again- I will turn 30 years old again.  I will have two 30th birthdays, skipping 29 entirely.  

Koreans calculate birthdays differently than Americans.  In Korea, you turn one the day you are born.  This essentially means Koreans who have been on earth for the same amount of time as you consider themselves to be one year older.  If you are 35, a Korean born on the same day and year is 36.  As Beth pointed out, they are counting the year they are living rather than the one they have completed.  I kind of like this. 

In other news, I have so much to share about our wonderful visit with Husband's parents.  We were so grateful to have time with them here, and had a blast showing them around Korea!  I spent last week recovering and getting caught up.  This week I will post the pictures, but I'm going to need the next few days to finish the captions.

Also, September has been gorgeous, truly breathtaking right from day one.  September has always been my favorite month, but not just because of my birthday.  I absolutely adore the transition from summer to fall.  This morning I sat staring out my open window until my coffee cup ran dry.  I breathed in the cool, crisp air, and let it cover me.  I sat still, cozy, and reflective with a silent mouth, but a heart rich in thought.  I let God whisper wisdom and encouragement deep into my heart.  It was simultaneously soothing and invigorating.  

September is slipping quickly though; already just 12 more days to savor.  Our November trip to Thailand is officially booked.  We have all of our gear, too, and the only thing left to purchase is travel insurance.  There are just a mere eight weeks remaining between now and then.  I need to make them really count, yet with an open hand grip on the sand, you know?

Step 1:  We have a lot of hiking, biking and kayaking on this trip, so I need to get back in shape!  Sign me up for running and TRX four times per week, and -um- for real this time, okay?

Step 2:  Keep working on finishing my two-year-old pre-school lesson plans, and post the original ideas to Joy Before You.  September plans are finished; now complete the remaining eight months over the next eight weeks.

Step 3:  Korean vocabulary and simple phrases are going great.  Now I need to learn to carry on a conversation!  While in Busan I was super proud of myself for ordering coffee in Korean.  {Sam Americano hago ooyoo jooseyo.}  But then the barista asked me a question and I was clueless.  (Lucily her English was impeccable.  She was just wanting to make sure I had time to wait for her to brew a new pot of coffee.)

Step 4:  It's time for the next phases of two ongoing projects:  teaching pre-school religious education at church (please pray for me and this sure-to-be-rambunctious group of 3 and 4 year olds starting the last Sunday in September!) and planning the Thunderbolt Feast.  Bring on the positive self talk!  

Four steps; I can do this.  How about you?  Do you have a plan for your fall?

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