Sunday, January 27, 2013

Restaurant Street in Jukejong

Friday night Jim and I went out. We decided to do a classic date: dinner and a movie.
We decided to see a movie at the CVG movie theatre at the Sinsegae in Jukejong. We parked next door at emart. Guess what JUST OPENED at emart??? Payless! And guess what?! They have big, American sizes! I never thought we would be able to buy shoes in Korea. Most shoe stores here only go up to a size 8 in women's and a size 10 in men's.

 Jim bought a pair of shoes! I've never seen him this happy buying shoes.

After our success at Payless, we decided to find "restaurant street". We had heard of this from several people and looked it up on the internet. We had a general (and it turns out incorrect) idea of where it was. Since it was very cold, we decided to take a taxi from Emart. This place is adorable. For those of you who are familiar with Denver, it kind of reminded me of a mix between Market Street and Belmar. The restaurants and ascetics were very Market Street, but it's suburban like Belmar.

We got dinner at a pizza place that cooks the pizza in one of those wood-fire-brick ovens.

And, because I can't pass up dessert, we went to a place called My Home that has an amazing dessert menu. We almost ordered a brownie, but the cakes were in the case next to us, and they were too hard to pass up. We got a toffe nut cake/pie and a chocolate cake. The chocolate cake was good, but we both agreed that the toffee cake was amazing. 

This look says "Irish, you ate more than your share of the cake" 
The sugar that was served with the coffee was like rock candy
Once we had gotten there, we knew where we were and how to get back. It was close enough to walk back to the Emart and cut over to Sinsegae for our movie.

From what I've heard, the Korean government regulates how many foreign movies are in theaters at one time (and in this case "foreign" means "American") . I *think* it's something like 25% can be foreign and the rest are Korean films. Korean films are fine-some are good (The Host, anyone?) but they are in Korean. The American films here are just as they are at home but with added Korean subtitles. It's not always fun being at the mercy of the government's arty decisions. I have come up with my own theory that they pick the popular, but not at all good, American movies as to not overwhelm the competition for Korean films. Life of Pi was the exception. But Step Up 4? This is what you're letting in? I rest my case.

I know by this point you're wondering what movie we saw that would fit into this not-very-good-but-popular-American-movie category. We saw Jack Reacher. IN 4D! For a 4D movie the seats move around, the wind blows in your hair and you get poked in the back when someone gets punched. I'm not going to review the movie here, but it wasn't a good movie. It was, however, nice to go to an American movie.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I think I've mentioned it in passing, but here in Korea, McDonald's delivers. Outside of every McDonalds is at least 1 motorbike with a compartment on the back for food. These motorbikes are also, of course, red and yellow.

Every Monday we all work until 5:00 for professional development. This Monday some of us felt that coffee was necessary to get through the long day, but I didn't drive that day, so I couldn't run out to Starbucks. That's when I remembered that McDonalds delivers AND they have coffee (AND ice cream).

Since I don't speak Korean, I enlisted the help of our Korean business office to make the call for us.
Justin called. In the picture below, he's informing us that the minimum order for delivery is 7,000won (about $7).

About 15 minutes later our lattes and ice creams arrived. Here is the delivery guy-in his rain gear. It was raining on Monday.

Can you imagine what would happen if McDonald's delivered in the US? Why don't they? Maybe we'll open a franchise this summer and deliver....

Saturday, January 19, 2013

We didn't see this one coming

Saturday morning we spent some time Skyping with the Pennsylvania grandparents and getting the girls ready for Saturday sports and a birthday party. They were running around like usual and August tripped over a pillow. He fell and started crying very hard, he was difficult to console, which is unusual for him. The girls and I left as Jim put on some Bert and Ernie for August and elevated August's foot. 

Grace had a delightful time at Saturday sports:
We had fun at another "kids cafe" birthday party:

When we got home, August still wouldn't put any weight on his foot at all. There was no swelling, nothing strange looking, but he wasn't able to stand. After he took a nap, he still wouldn't walk on it, so we decided to take him to the emergency room. I called my boss to see how this sort of thing works on a Saturday. He recommended we go to the hospital in Bundang (near where we live) and he offered to have us drop off the girls and have his daughters babysit while we went in with August.

Here Jim was explaining what happened. The woman on the right was translating. I asked her a question later and she admitted that she was at the hospital as a patient but that she was a doctor as well.

waiting for the x-ray, eating dad's nose
They checked August, then he went in for his x-ray. Here are the x-rays. You can't see it on the picture, but there, on his left leg is a tiny fracture. 

The cast that he got is pretty substantial. 

These two guys kept saying "No pain. No pain" to August. 

 They re-x-rayed his leg to make sure the cast was setting it in the right place.
I made them pose for the picture
The cast, as you can see, is large. We tried to get as much information as we could, but the doctor (nurse?) who attended to us had somewhat limited English. When I asked the doctor (nurse?) how long he had to wear the cast, he said "hmm, maybe 6 years." Of course he meant weeks. Medical language mix-ups are the most hilarious kind of mix-ups! As we talked, we learned it might be less (more like 3-4 weeks hopefully), we'll know more after our follow-up appointment on Wednesday.

We were back in the room where he got the cast put on waiting to be discharged and a girl came in. They put her on the same bed as August. She had a bead stuck up her nose. (They got it out).

After we moved back to the hall we found the person who had put on August's cast, we asked what we needed to do next, he replied "discharged!" and waived both his hands in the air. So we got our things together and started to leave, feeling slightly confused.  Then, while we were at the cashier paying we got a phone call and a different doctor asked us to come back for clearer discharge instructions.  She gave us the date and time for the follow up appointment, and then told us again that we could go...

Now, we have August in a big cast, he was calling it his "big heavy sock."  There's no way for him to walk for a little while.  He has limited interest in TV as it is, and already watched a lot today.  It is going to be a challenge to keep him occupied.  Fortunately this is probably his last visit to an emergency room, from now on he will be gentle and cautious in all his activities.

How people move in our neighborhood.

With everyone living in tall buildings moving can be a little tricky.  Back in November, on the day I was leaving for Singapore, I agreed to help friends move a dresser into their apartment. I thought it would be a 15 minute favor, but it stretched out as we got the thing hopelessly stuck in their entryway.  As the time for me to leave for the airport got closer and closer we were getting pretty desperate so I decided I would use my unusual strength.  I drove my shoulder into the dresser, thinking a few things could happen, the dresser might break, the wall might break, or it might somehow pop in.  Remarkably it did pop in and nothing broke. 

This difficult experience helped explain the way we see moving companies operate here. Instead of dealing with narrow hallways they just go in through the windows. Pretty frequently there will be cranes outside he apartments running things up to the outside windows. A few weeks ago I recorded this happening in a building next door. See below:

So, today people are moving into the place above us.  Irish wrote the other day about the renovations that were going on, and the group of people who came in to our bathroom. During nap time I heard loud noises outside the kids window, and when I pulled up the blinds I saw a crane just a couple of feet away.  Below is the crane, and Grace just barely awake:

Remarkably, Irish once saw a person riding one of these cranes up to a 16th floor apartment, waving to her as he went.  That seems unsafe.

Friday, January 18, 2013

How to pay your bills in Korea

There have been many bloggers before us who have shared this exact information. If you haven't moved to Korea, however, chances are you haven't read too many informational blogs about being an expat here. Thus, it is MY chance to show you how we pay our bills here.

It's all done at the bank or at certain ATMs. Since I can't read Korean, I always pay my bills at my bank, where the world's most friendly security guard works. I have been meaning to take a video of this for some time, but it's so quiet in the bank that I felt really self-conscience. Today I threw caution to the wind and videoed it.

Here's what you're going to see. This security guard knows me in that he knows I bank regularly at IBK and that I speak English. He is always very friendly and knows that I need his help navigating the Korean bill paying system. Anyway, he takes the bill and pushes the correct buttons in Korean on the ATM for the bill pay. All bills are submitted this way and money is atomically transferred from your bank account to the company collecting. You submit the side of the bill that says "OCR", the atm reads the bar code (I think) on the bill and adds it up for you. You can submit several bills at one time, in fact, but today I just had one (!).

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Who's at the door? (unrelated note: Beauty Box!)

We had just arrived home from school today when the doorbell rang. This rarely happens, as you can imagine. I figured it was religious zelots, but they were right out side the door (as opposed to being at the main door of the building 15 stories below) so I opened up. To my surprise there were 3 men, one with a bucket. They spoke Korean at me and smiled so I let them in, assuming they were here to fix something. They went straight to our back bathroom. We had just gotten home, so we followed them expecting to see a flood on the floor, but everything was fine. They used the bucket as a step stool to open up the ceiling. 

Here the guy is checking out the pipes.

They tried to explain what they were doing in very broken English-so broken that the only words I unerstood were "no water". I tried asking follow up questions like, "So the water is off in the bathroom?" Things were getting a little messy so I called our faculty support guy Kwancho! Kwancho talked to the guy and then explained to me that these guys just finished a bathroom renovation upstairs and they were here to make sure everything is in tip-top shape. I'm guessing that "no water" means that there's no leak. So in this case, "no water" is a good thing. 

Alright, not that you care, but I'm so excited about my subscription to a beauty box! I know you might be wondering what a beauty box is. A beauty box is a like a cheese-of-the-month-club but instead of cheese, it's beauty products. There's a variety of these subscriptions in the US, but in Korea there's only one: GlossyBox. This is my first time ordering something like this and it took so much work that I ended up paying our support guy, Reeon in cash and he put it on his card. Purchasing things on Korean sites is not easy when you are a foreigner.

Look at the inside of the box!

Here's what came in my box this month! I only know what some of them are!
 Dark, dark, dark grey (some might interpret as black) nail polish. Lash Mallow mascara, Uriage water spritz (just fancy water spray for your face, I think). Something that I think is a toner and something else I think is a moisturizer. Isn't this a fun way to try Korean products? (By the way, if you try this in the states, you won't be getting Korean products).

Picture of one of the products from the website. I was interested in the "How to Use" bullet. It says: "Apply at the last stage of skin care, spread gently all over face, and make it absorbed"
I'm going to work on making this absorbed now. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mail call!

We got mail! 

This was an exciting day. Usually our mailbox is either empty, or has a bill like this in it:
This is a bill for about $3 I'm not sure what it's for, but I'll pay it anyway
Today TWO things came in the mail! First my new coat. From our previous posts, you know it's COLD here in Korea. I have a wool coat, but that doesn't do anything for this kind of cold. I need a serious coat. Basically I need a sleeping bag with some holes cut out for my arms and legs. I went to a local store called UniQlo, but the sleeves on their coats were so short on me. So I went online and guess who sells sleeping bags disguised as coats? LandsEnd. And they sell them in tall sizes! I ordered this last week and it arrived today! (The receipt says that the jacket was made in China and China's really close to Korea, which is why it must have gotten here in just a week).

Even better? A CHRISTMAS CARD FROM THE ALLENS! All the way from the USA! 
Thank you Kelly, Ross, Ben and Sam, that was awesome.

Monday, January 7, 2013

What to do in freezing cold Korea

 Some people are saying this is the coldest winter in Korea since 1986. I wasn't in Korea that year, but I think it's colder.
Well, my mom is still in town and she suggested that Jim and I go away for a night or two! Hooray! We decided all we needed was a trip to Seoul. We wanted to stay at a nice hotel, see a movie and get dinner out. Jim made a reservation at the Fraser Suites Hotel in Isadong (Seoul). When we got there, they let us know that they upgraded us. The hotel room was bigger than our apartment! 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen a living room, and American tv shows like Hawaii 5-0. Amazing!

The living room

schedule of the shuttle to Costco

2nd bedroom
the kitchen
 We took the subway to Myeondong for the movie. We saw Life of Pi. I highly recommend it. I liked it so much I want to see it again.

We got dinner at Saffron, a middle eastern restaurant and it was delicious!
Overall, the date was excellent. We slept in until 8:30 Saturday, eventually checked out then got my favorite soup in all of Korea at a restaurant in Insadong. We took the bus home. Success!

Sunday we got the kids out and went sledding. Jesse and August weren't so interested in sledding as much as they were interested in finding sticks.

After all of our fingers and toes were numb, we decided to get some hot chocolate. Jenn recommended we try the lego cafe near Ramiaen. This place is similar to the kid's cafe. It's $5 per hour per kid and they can play with all these different lego sets. 
 Oh, and they also have a train table....
And a play kitchen and doll house...

On our way to the Lego cafe, Jim called and let me know that the car wouldn't start again. Rather than having it jumped again, I called our faculty support guy, Kwancho. Kwancho answered his phone! On a Sunday! Even though I was the one calling! He arranged for us to get a new battery. Here's how it works in Korea: The battery guy comes to you. It makes so much sense. No tow needed.
He has a variety of batteries and all necessary tools in his van.

Now we have a new battery. Hopefully it was the battery that was the problem, because that would mean that the problem is solved. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Lotte World

The other day I happened to find the Lotte World Amusement Park. It's really close to my school. I figured that the best time to check it out would be during break when grandma is visiting.

Lotte World!

Really? This is the logo you're going with? It looks a little familiar.
 Our first stop was the carousel.

 We took a while to get our bearings and we ended up at this very strange Animal Theatre. The play was in Korean but the kids seemed entertained....

 Oh no! No old people? No drunk people? Grandma is out for sure then.

Soon we found some kiddie rides. The lines were shorter and so were the height requirements, so August could fully participate.

Here's a video of the fun (August and Ruby are on the left, Grace is all the way to the right)

We decided to wrap things up and get back to Suji. But then THIS HAPPENED:
 The darn car wouldn't start. This may have something to do with the key being stuck in the ignition. It may have something to do with us parking horizontally and someone moving our car and leaving the key in a more "on" position than where I left it. Who knows. I think this is finally the kick in the pants we need to take the car to the shop and get the key out of the ignition.

Since we're in Korea, and every place seems to be hospitible, it was easy to assemble a team of help. Seriously, I asked a security guard (who was not hard to find) and suddenly I had 3 people trying to help.
 First we tried jumping it, nothing. My team called our insurance and our insurance guy was there in like 20 minutes. He jumped it successfully!
I will leave you with this video. I like to call it "Cotton Candy Is Always A Good Idea"