More Oddities + A House Tour

Hello All,  we have collected a few more pictures to share with you in addition to a tour of our lovely Korean abode.  We had been putting off the tour until we got settled in and made it feel like home.  However, we’ve realized that it may take a while because Korea doesn’t exactly have many decor options that suit our style.  So, our DIY projects begin…we might post updates as they happen.

Disclaimer:  This video is basically our first video ever, so the transitions are a lower grade than that of Hollywood but they add some comic relief.  We rock, paper, scissored  for who had to be the tour guide and Ethan lost. 🙂  Sorry, the tour got a tad long.

Here is a link to the video on YouTube:  http://youtu.be/3_sWhlvCEWA

Well, one oddity we couldn’t really capture but we have encounter twice now happened at church.  We have visited a couple of churches and both times they have singled us out and asked us to come up to the front and introduce ourselves.  There’s no sneaking in for a trial visit, I guess.  We’ve also been asked to stay after for fellowship (not bad) which leads to asking for our phone number…on the FIRST visit.  🙂

^Typically, restaurants only give you miniature cups for water; usually, they are these little metal ones.  You are responsible for your own refills too!  Also, for anyone who watched our tour video, do you know what that green/grey sack of sand is in the top left corner?  ….the fire extinguisher

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^Working out and stretching at the top of a mountain.  Oh how Koreans love their outdoor exercise equipment.  These are in every park and there’s always someone using them, even in the rain.  It’s usually older people, guess it’s a good thing that they are staying active and limber, just kinda funny to see.

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^Some kind of foot massage/therapy path. We could only make it half way through before we wimped out and jumped off.  The further we went the more intense it got!

^Great exercise here.  Some people will do this for 5 minutes at a time.  I’m going to have to work up to that.

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^ A lot of times you will see trees tied together and to stakes.  It adds an interesting flare to the landscape.  We’ve heard it’s to keep them standing through typhoons.

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^Ethan’s student Kylie, she’s 8 years old and comes to our school 30 minutes early every day.  She is super cute but is always all up in whatever we’re doing to prepare for the day.  It seems that most Korean kids (in our school at least) don’t like their picture taken.  So, we just put out a camera and she’s outta there. In this pic, she is on her cell phone with her mom. Once she got out the door, we heard a thud; she tripped over another student, but don’t worry she and her phone were both ok 🙂

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^Korea is a small country….  so are the isles in Korean stores.  This supply store had so much stuff they had to set isles inside of isles.  Most  little shops are usually catawampus and there are no prices on anything!

^Ok, these are a little awkward.  We pass probably 5-8 shops with this type of display when browsing in the shopping district.  Young couples like to dress alike, same tennis shoes, same shirts, and I guess same underwear.  Go figure.  We haven’t quite caught on to this trend.  These were the most modest pairs we could find.

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^When I walked into this restroom, I had to go back out and make sure I went in the right one!  I guess women can use urinals too?!?

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^Yes, 16 apples for 89,000 won or about $79.50.  We passed on that “deal.”

^There are a few different “super centers,” if you will, and they are big.  Since space is limited, the stores have to be broken up in levels, so there are these escalator/walkways that carry you and your cart from level to level.  The wheels lock into the track while you stand back and enjoy the ride.  Also, the wheels swivel so your cart can go side to side, which is a nice feature when it’s empty but when it gets full it can get a little out of control.

The Oddities of Korea

Well,  these will probably be ongoing posts because while living in a foreign country you see, encounter, and have to live with things that seem a bit odd (to us the foreigner).  Here are just a few to get us started.

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This is a picture of the shoe shelves at school.  Everyone has indoor classroom shoes (crocs for most).  I bought a pair of different shoes like toms…I didn’t think crocs would compliment my outfits most days.  In people’s houses and some restaurants you must take off your shoes too.
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All schools, restaurants, and business have these water dispensers. Most you use a small paper envelope to drink out of.   Next to it is Korean instant coffee; that’s everywhere too, including our house.  Ethan was really excited to buy a box of 60.  Now, coffee is easier than ever…

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Almost all public bathrooms will just have a bar of soap and a public hand towel.  Apparently, Koreans don’t usually wash their hands.

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This is our bathroom at home.  You are supposed to wear bathroom shoes in the bathroom and they should only be worn in there.  Shh don’t tell, we sometimes wear them around the house too.  Oh and Ethan’s are 2 sizes too small; we need to look for a bigger size.

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If you haven’t heard, Koreans believe in something called “fan death.”  If you sleep in a room that is too small with the door closed and no windows open, you can die.  Therefore, all fans sold in Korea have timers on them.  Here is what wikipedia says on the topic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_death

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No dishwashers in most Korean households.  Even if they do have them, they usually don’t use them, which is crazy to me considering they use SO MANY dishes (remember that picture of the table with like 70+ dishes on it).

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They use these instead of closets.

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Any beer besides their native beer is super expensive.  Also, it is easier to buy single beers than six-packs.  14,700 won is about $14.70

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No dryers either, so you use drying racks.  Also, the top towel is a regular sized bath towel; however, Koreans don’t use that sized towel…they use the one below it.

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We always have to turn on our hot water before a shower.  It has become a joke cause we always forget until we are ready to jump in…then we have to wait.  Also, there are no furnaces you just have hot water pipes that heat the floors.  Piggy was gracious to make us labels for the buttons.  🙂

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Koreans have cold noodle soups in addition to hot noodles.  This is Naengmyeon it is fishy and spicy with radish garnishes and buckwheat noodles which are slightly chewy.  Notice the slushy ice in the broth.  I kinda liked it 🙂  I hear it grows on you.

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Whiskey or other kinds of alcohol besides their beloved Soju are not very common.  As you can see they can be quite expensive too!  Soju is a rice alcohol that may be most similar to vodka (or rubbing alcohol in my opinion).  More to come about Soju.
So, in addition to beef jerky they have squid jerky.  Cheaper too!

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Here is Mr. Soju.  A happy fellow.  Soju comes in a beer bottle and they drink it like beer even though it is 19.5% alcohol.  You can buy a bottle for about $1.20 where as the Budweiser next to it is $3.00.

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Eggs come in packages of 10.

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Back to our bathroom… notice, the sink is at my knee and we have no shower curtain.  It is rare that we have a tub most of the time the shower is just attached to the wall and there is a drain on the floor.  We have that too…just spray down the bathroom when it comes time to clean it.

This is a little crazy right… ice cream on a waffle (green tea and strawberry) and of course grape tomatoes to garnish!  I guess they use them on cakes too.

These little guys show up a lot in stews and other soups.  Quite chewy.

Koreans don’t have full size ovens.  They have toaster ovens.  Just convert celsius to farenheit and baking banana bread is no different.

We’ve started a Saturday morning coffee shop tradition.  However, our first Saturday we found out that coffee shops don’t open until at least 9:30 am.  However, the Korean restaurant down the street was open at 9:00 am.  I guess coffee isn’t necessarily a morning starter.  Coffee shops are busier in the evenings.  Also, if you thought Starbucks was expensive think again.  Our coffees and muffin were over $12.00.

Just a taste

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Just a few pictures from our last week… Hiking just on the edge of the city.  A momma kitty who lives in our yard with 3 of her kittens. We took a drive through rural Seosan. Getting my classroom set up. The kids really love our wedding pictures. 🙂

A Quick Trip to Seoul

Well, our wonderful boss “Piggy”  sent us off to Seoul on the bus to meet up with her sister.  She joined us late that night and gave us a pretty great tour.  We made it just fine to the bus terminal, then on the correct subway, made a transfer and  got off on the right stop.  That’s a lot of public transportation for us midwesterners!  Once we walked out of the subway it felt like we were in New York city…however there were a lot of Asians walking around.  Google maps doesn’t really speak Korean so we were having a hard time finding the department store we were supposed to meet Piggy’s sister at.  However, I found something on our map that looked like it fit the description we were looking for.  Miraculously, it was the right place.  After taking us out to dinner, Piggy’s sister, nieces, and great-nephew took us to see Seoul tower.

The next day we got up and walked with Piggy and her daughter Leah to Gyeongbokgung  Palace.  It’s crazy cause the city is just outside its gates.  There was the main palace then tons of gardens, ponds, and other quarters.

Later that night, we went out with Piggy’s whole family.  We first walked by the Blue House.  Our president lives in the White House but their’s lives in the Blue House.  Next, we strolled and browsed through this huge shopping district with all kinds of shops and street vendors.  Finally, we made our way to a Korean BBQ place.

There were tons of kids playing in these fountains. Cute!  Behind us at the end of this street, is the palace we toured earlier in the day.  This is Piggy!  🙂

In most typical Korean restaurants, you order a main dish for the whole table and then it comes with numerous side dishes.  Korean BBQ is pork that looks like bacon but it’s thicker.  You cook it on a grill in the middle of the table along with onions, garlic, kimchi and whatever other side dishes you want.  I counted at one time and there were over 70 dishes on the table.   Piggy’s sister was sitting across from me and took care of our grill.   Every time my personal food bowl got empty she would put more food from the grill in it.  Meal times are very social and sharing; reaching across the table is not rude.  Ha ha, after our BBQ, Piggy’s sister still wanted to get her favorite dish so we ordered a whole nother round of food (a sweet rice and stew).  Dessert was some kind of  cold, clear, sugary, fermented rice soup…it was tasty.   I will say, chopstick skills are very important!  After dinner, Piggy wanted to go to a singing room.  It is a place where there are lots of private karaoke rooms.  Koreans seem to love them…they are growing on us too.  🙂  The little guy even sang!  We all took cabs home then we headed back in Piggy’s car to Seosan the next morning.  We’ll definitely be taking a few more trips up there!