Friday, January 16, 2009

Some odds and ends

I have a lot of odds and ends to post again. Lotsa pictures of things, stuff and other things.

First, I went to the stationary store today and bought some things for me and my nephew. A cute pencil box and some pens. Pens like these are usually $3 or $4 in the States, but here they are under $1. Stickers!!!! And a cat shaped 'sleep eye mask' for the plane. I giggled with glee.

This morning, when I left my aparment I found that it was snowing!

Of course, the kids loved it. It was so hard to get them all in a picture.

After lunch we played in the snow.

Lunch today was that weird, not-even-close-to-shrimp shrimp-shaped fried things. They taste good, but more like rice noodles than meat. We also had rice (of course) and soup and pasta salad and yogurt for dessert. Quite satisfying.

James had two bowls of soup. He is often a bottomless pit!

Laura was chatting me up at lunch.

This is Harry and I.

After work today (after my visit to the stationary store - my favorite consumer haunt) a hoard of us when to have dinner for Mark's birthday.

Jess and I at dinner.

We ate Sam Gyup Sal. Here is the meat on the grill and the fixings.

We also had green noodles that are made out of some kind of mountain plant. Not sure what I was eating but it tasted good.

It was a good day. Hard to believe I have less than a week left. Oh, Korea, how I will miss you!!!

Dr. Fish

Last night, Thursday, we went to the Dr. Fish Cafe to have our feet cleaned by little doctor fish. The place was very nice, comfortable, warm and fun.

First, you order a cup of coffee, or some other delectable warm drink from the coffee bar. I had a lovely Sweet Potatoe Latte which was not that sweet, warm and very deliscious!

You also get to have all the bread you can eat from their little 'self bar' which means, you go toast your own bread. They also had soju snacks (like peanuts or pretzels at an American bar that would be served with beer, etc.)

We sat and enjoyed our hot drinks and toast, etc. for a while. It was very relaxing and comfortable.

Then, it was time to go soak our feet. First you wash your feet in nice hot water and then you stick them in the tank.

It is a little intimidating, the 3 girls I was sitting with were shreiking and giggling and having a hard time. The idea never really bothered me, but then, I don't think I have a big fish phobia. I am fine swimming in lakes and the ocean. The fish nibbling you does kind of tickle but after a little while you get used to it.

These are the beauticians that work so hard to make our feet nice and clean and smooth.

We left about 9 pm. 3 hours of food and fun for about 9,200 won (roughly $6.25).
After we wandered the street outside for a little while, then I came home. It was a good, fun, cheap evening!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

some odds and ends

What to do when you get off the subway in Seoul (ok, not all that unlike what you do when you get off the subway other places, but the signs are interesting.)
#1 figure out which stop you just got off at:

#2 figure out which exit you want to take to get out of the subway station and onto the street (which is rather important as there are usually at least 4 and often 6 or 8 choices that will put you on different street corners from which the view might be dramatically different.)

#3 figure out where you are trying to go. (This is the point at which you wonder why you left your warm room to try to explore the streets in a city where it hasn't been above freezing in close to two weeks!)

Another thing I love about the subways. There are no exit signs. Instead all the signs say:

Other things I enjoy include the different vending machines, like these which are at the building where I teach:

Some close ups for you to examine:
Here is a funny thing - you can go buy a can of soda like the skinny ones you see in the pictures in the 7-11, familymart or other convenience stores for 800 or you can get one from the machine for 500. Sometimes there are machines right outside the convenience stores. It took me a little while to catch onto this, but I am smart to their sneaky ways now!

I keep forgetting to take pictures of my lunch until after I have started eating it! Oops. So here are yesterday's and today's lunches.

Yesterday's lunch was just strange. They do these weird protein meat things that aren't really anything distinguishable. (I would be worried about what they are serving us except soy products etc. are much cheaper than any exotic meat that I wouldn't want to eat. I had already eaten the salad which was good before I remembered to take the picture. The frenchfries are always cold, so I usually pass them off to the kids or toss 'em.
Today's lunch, however, was fantastic. The rice had that spicy red sauce on it which was HOT but sweetish and totally yummy. Another one of those cases where my mouth is burning but I just keep eating it because I enjoy it so much. But the soup....oh, let me tell you about the soup. Udon soup has a lovely light broth, slightly sweet, lotsa yummy thick noodles, various seafood (looked like imitation crab to me) and fried something (not sure what it was, but it tasted vegetable like) and it was SO good. I always struggle because about every 4th day we have a new dish that I think must be the best thing we have had in the cafeteria. (As you know, I often get to eat really yummy stuff outside the cafeteria) but I think that Udon might be my favorite - though the spicy stuff was really good too. My ramen hybrid steeping next to me no longer sounds so appealing.

On Friday night I bought this dress:

And on Saturday these super warm leg warmers which I love (flattering they may not be, but fuction over form in this weather, I say!)I wore them both to school today.

I often get little gifts from my kids. You know, elementary school kid gifts -- the odd piece of candy, the gonggi, things they make, etc.
Here are a few examples:

Notice the stickers, etc. I also got a small card (which is inside my nametag and I forgot to pull it out and take a picture of it.) But, I have to admit my favorite is the drawing that Julie gave me. She is quite talented.

(the artist is on the left.) I have three Julies in my MWF class. They labeled themselves Julie 1, Julie 2 and Julie 3. Julie 2 is my drawer.

Oh, I cannot wait to take video of them doing their little performance of Calendar Girl by Neil Sedaka. We have motions and a little dance and everything. They are SO adorable.

And I forgot to mention that when I got up this morning I found that it had snowed just a little bit. It was already evaporating (so cold and dry here) but still, it was pretty.

And I am still infatuated with the magpies. This one was saying absolutely horrible things to me today as I passed it on my walk to school. I would have scolded it for the language it was using, but I was just too cold to do more than take its picture.

Ok, that is enough for now. I still have one more test to write before I can go to sleep, and I didn't sleep well last night! Sorry that it took a few days to post. I am sure to have a few more adventures before I leave!

I am preparing another post, but in case it doesn't get done tonight...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I'm on my way, I don't know where I'm going. I'm taking my time, but I don't know where.

It has been a busy weekend. Having 6 day work weeks really wipes you out! I have many little details about Fri, Sat. & today to share, so bear with me if I wander to and fro during this narration. (Scroll over pictures for captions.)

We had 'Halloween' for our special activity at school on Friday and Saturday. (Remember, I teach two different sets of classes, so it was not the same kids both days.) So from 2:30 to 4:00 (ish) in the afternoon the kids put on their costumes and went to different classroom for different activities in 15 minute increments. In my second hour class on Friday the kids wanted me to put on these silly glasses.

They got a good giggle out of it, and then we got back to class.
Here are a few pictures of the kids dressed in their costumes.

The days were fun, but exhausting. I also found another American product with a fun transliteration.

Original American Style Taste? What exactly is an American Style Taste? In this case it is Mountain Dew, I guess.

Saturday night Amanda and I went into the Myeong Dong market in Seoul. It was quite chilly, but we had alot of fun shopping. We took the 8100 bus straight in, got there about 6 - shopped and walked til 10ish and were home before 11.
There are many things to see there. This guy was selling potatoes fried in these weird spirals. They smelled good but he wanted 2,000 won for them. :-( Too expensive.

Some weird looking fish and octopus things:

The streets in Myeong Dong:

We ate fresh dimsun from a street vendor. Have I mentioned that eating from street vendors is one of my favorite things about traveling?

I like the fashion fads in Seoul this year. Largely inspired by the weather no doubt, but the girls still manage to look cute and feminine. Me, I look like a bundled up albino pimple, but at least I stay relatively warm.

At Myeong Dong I bought 4 pairs of earrings and a ring, and a little dress (which is a tad bit too small for me.) I spent around $15.00.

Sunday I went back into Seoul, this time by myself. I had thought that one of the girls was going in with me, but I ended up wandering the city alone and I had a great time. I am sufficiently tired now and am trying to get all this recorded before I zonk out for the night. I left Dankook about noon and arrived in Seoul at about 5 til 1. I jumped on the subway and road to Dongdaemun to walk along their market. I don't think I ever found the real market there, just some side and back streets.

The sandwich was yummy. They have a kind of ketchup-y stuff here that is sweetish. I like it on things like this (especially since I like ketchup on my eggs, etc.) It was 1,500 won and it made me warmer in the bitter coldness of the market.

So, I left Dongdaemun (well, really I was trying to find the real market but got turned around and headed the wrong way, which is easy to do around here since I don't read Korean and there is alot of construction. After about 15 very cold minutes I stumbled upon a fish market. I was in many different fish markets in s.e. asia so I am not at all a-feared of them, so I thought I would see what this one contained. (Sidenote: fish markets are MUCH more pleasant in this bitter cold than in the 100 degree tropical sun.)

(I paused for a moment in the midst of writing this to retrieve my laundry from the washingmachine and hang it to dry, and to run downstairs to the chinese restaurant and order some black beans and noodles for dinner. YUM! Most Korean restaurants do not have doggy bags, so since I wanted the food to go, I took down my ziploc plastic bowls and had them fill them up. Which worked quite nicely as they filled one with noodles and the other with sauce (giving me LOTS of sauce) so that I have extra sauce for rice tomorrow night. Life is sweet!)

When I emerged from the fish market it was bitterly cold and I was no longer on a main street so there were no big department stores etc. to duck into. I realized I HAD to get out of the cold soon. (My thighs were so cold I couldn't feel them anymore.) Within 10 minutes I reached a subway station so I went down to try to figure out where I was. I took the subway to Ichon (which was NOT what I thought it was) but ended up right at the National Museum of Korea. I took it as a sign from God. *smile*

The museum was free and very warm and comfortable. I am sure I would have gotten more out of it had I actually known anything about Korean history prior to the 20th century. The biggest problem with not knowing things is not knowing that you don't know until you realize that you don't know because you didn't know that you didn't know. Anyway, it was still very interesting. Here are a few pictures.

We weren't allowed to use a flash in the museum so the pictures of the artwork are a little dark. Hopefully though you will still see how relaxing it was.

Neat puzzles in the gift shop.

After the museum, I got back on the subway and went to Namdaemun market. I was getting really tired by this point, the cold wears me out, but the things there were still funny. I laughed outloud when I saw these boxers.

I bought some gifts from this store.

Someday I want to buy one of these.

Lots of wrapping paper:

Now we come to the most important part of today! Look what I found!!!!

Here are some of my kids playing Gonggi in class on Saturday.
From Korea

I got home safely tonight about 7.30 but I am wiped, so I am going to go to bed now.
Hope you all are well! *hugs*