Thursday, April 25, 2013

Getting groceries delivered in Korea

Everyone has everything delivered.* This sounds like an over-generalization, but I assure you it is NOT. Just take my word for it. Let me give you some background information on grocery shopping in Korea.

The little neighborhood grocery: You can see pictures of our neighborhood grocery here. They have the basics: cereal, coke zero (diet coke is not sold in ROK), bread, milk, root vegetables, ground pork, shampoo. It's small, it has a limited selection, but it's convenient and they deliver-you go, shop and pay and they put all of your goods in a bag, then put that bag in a basket on the back of a motorbike and drop it off at your door. It's good, but they don't have beans and they only have small jars of peanut butter.

HomePlus: HomePlus has beans. HomePlus is a British store and they have a good selection of foreign foods (by the way, foreign in this case means American). Because it is so crowded, the only reasonable time to go to HomePlus is Sunday morning-and, in my opinion, Sunday morning is not a reasonable time to grocery shop.

Costco: The best place to get foreign foods is Costco. It's expensive but they have tortillas and Fruit by the Foot and Skippy peanut butter. However, you know how you complain about Costco on a Saturday? What you experience at Costco on a Saturday is what Seoul Costco is like when it's not very busy. I love Costco, and I can't stand going to the one here.

I have started to realized that I'm missing out on a huge benefit of living in Korea: buying groceries online and having them delivered. HomePlus has a great website. It's in Korean, but it has pictures. You go through, click what you want, choose your delivery time -delivery is only $3 by the way-and pay your money. Let me tell you about the hours and hours I put in to this. Telling myself the whole time that it would be worth it in the end (spoiler alert: it wasn't).

I'm going to give you the long story short through these pictures:
There's something about using a USB provided by the bank for online purchases.
I tried to find out at my bank. I never got a clear answer.
This is Huh Chul showing me how to shop online.

Hey HomePlus, I will give you money in exchange for groceries.

Huh Chul calls and finds out that because my bank information is in my
name and our phone is in Jim's name, they won't let me pay online. This is for
security purposes.

Huh Chul calls for backup

I don't even know what this is. Some sort of tease I think.
 I went back to work and was pretty sure the matter could be settled. I was wrong.

HomePlus could learn a lot from Amazon. Amazon LOVES to
 take money from me in exchange for goods. "1 click" shopping, anyone?

Chloe calls Huh Chul to get more information.

Two TAs try to help me. No dice
I was told that foreigners can't shop online at HomePlus. If you know something different, let me know.

So there's another site, ezshopkorea where you can shop online on this English website and orders over $250 have free delivery. This site has foods from Costco and a few from HomePlus. At first the prices seemed outrageous, but after shopping at Costco for 7 months, I finally see that I spend at least that much every time I go. If you haven't lived in Korea before, you may look at this website and think to yourself "$15 for a regular size container of Quaker oatmeal?! That's insane!" It is insane, but what can you do? Survive off of root vegetables?

Today, for the first time, we had groceries delivered to our door!
*I remembered this after I first published this post-HEY AMERICA! KING SOOPERS (Kroger) DELIVERS groceries for $10.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring in Seoul

On Saturday we went out for a picnic. Miller and Dora wanted to show us the Han River.

Here are Miller and Dora
The Han River is a huge river that cuts through Seoul.
This particular spot is called Yeouinaru (that's a LOT of vowels).
We got there late-the trip took a lot longer than I had expected, so Dora, Miller, Jamie, Rob, Greg and Amalia already had a great spot picked out.

August and Miller
Dora and Grace having a water fight

This was not the only group of people taking pictures of the Farleys
Miller and Dora brought squeaky hammers with bubbles inside.
I don't know that they thought these gifts would be used against them.

There were tons of people out on Saturday. The weather was perfect for hanging out by the river, and the cherry blossom trees are starting to bloom. The street was packed with vendors-hot dogs, rice things, cotton candy and bugs. At most markets, there are huge vats of sautéed bugs. And since I've dyed my hair black and gotten eyelash extensions, I figured this is what's next: eating bugs. This surprises me too considering I won't eat sushi, shrimp or lobster because I think they're disgusting, but here I'll eat a bug? 

Miller explained that these bugs are baby cicadas. They must be popular because these stalls are all over the place-we passed by at least 4 of them just walking along the street by the river- but Miller and Dora said they didn't like them.
I actually paid to do this. 2,000won (about $2)
This is how much $2 will get you.
snails on the left, bugs on the right

I don't know if the sarcasm shows in the caption. The bug (I only ate 1) was not very good. It wasn't terrible, though. The first bite was definitely gross-the insides squished out. But other than that, it tasted kind of like a potato. I won't be ordering any bugs again, but I guess I'm glad I tried it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I ain't scared: Brief interviews with South Koreans

As you know, we live close to the world's craziest country-North Korea! We've been hearing from a lot of you about what you're hearing on the news about North Korea and their hatred for all things South Korea. This has been interesting for us because nothing has changed here in Seoul. Everyone carries on with normal activities. There's plenty of traffic to prove it.

In order to make you feel better, I went to the source: actual South Koreans. Please enjoy this video I put together. (Sorry some people are nearly completely cut out of their own interview shot. I'm not very good at this yet).

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Eyelash extensions: like a weave for your eyelashes

What's that saying about Rome? Well, when in Korea, dye your hair black and get eyelash extensions. I'm not going to name any names, but there are plenty of teachers at KIS who have had these eyelash extensions. The eyelash extensions look so good, but still manage to look real.  I finally decided it was time for me to jump on this bandwagon and give it a shot. Marathon runner Katie Hobbs joined me too!

We followed the surprisingly accurate and easy directions of "it's in Jeongja behind the Quiznos" but the place was closed! We were told most businesses are "resting" on Sundays. We were so disappointed.
An eyelash menu
We called another teacher at KIS who told us about another place, Nail 6st, also in Jeongja. (If you've come across the blog looking for a place to do this in Bundang, directions are at the bottom of this entry.)

 Nail 6st didn't have any appointments until 6pm.  I called Jim and made a half assed offer to come home and take the kids to the playground for a few hours and then go back, but he told me I could just stay out! The whole afternoon! Until late!  Isn't that great? So Katie and I went to Lotte, then Starbucks, then dinner at La Vida Loca on Cafe Street in Jeonga

These chips and salsa were "service" (free).
This is the amount of chips provided.
 (and that's cheez-whiz next to it) but I'll take what I can get!
So here's what we did. At 6:00 we went in to Nail 6st and were taken to a back room. We laid down on the table and discussed how long we wanted our extensions to be. Katie specified she wanted stripper-length eyelashes and I requested not to end up looking like a drag queen. Then we got started. The first thing she did was tape my bottom lashes to my face. This wasn't really comfortable.

They have these strips with individual lashes (that's what's taped to my forehead). The piece of tape on the left of my eye has 2 blobs of black glue. She would take single lash, dip it in the glue and glue it to one of my lashes (I think-I'm not sure what's glued to what). They key to the whole thing is to lay still and DON'T OPEN YOUR EYES. 

Shhhh, Katie's sleeping
Keep your eyes closed Katie!
Here's a quick video. At the very beginning of the video you'll see her dip the eyelash into the glue, then she afixes it to Katie's eyelash.

Katie before

Katie after

me before (eye shadow, no mascara)

me after
I guess I'm glad I did it, but I don't think I'll do it again. It's $60 ($50 if you pay cash), afterwards you can't use an eyelash curler or mascara, and it lasts about a month. I have a feeling these are the exact same reasons most people love it. I'm pretty high maintenance and usually wear a lot of makeup. I think this procedure is more for someone doesn't really want to put makeup on in the morning but still wants to look fab, or just needs a little boost.

Nail 6st is on the North side of Jeongja. Start by finding Butterfingers Pancakes. Nail 6st is across from the GS25 that is across the street from Butterfingers. It sounds confusing to read it, but once you're there it makes sense. It's next door to a Dunkin Donuts, but that describes most places in Seoul.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Business as usual: Easter Edition

Recently, many of you have expressed concern with the craziness of our neighbors to the North (you know, the Canada of the Korean Peninsula, North Korea). I keep telling everyone it's business as usual here, and it really is. Here, I'll prove it. Sunday was Easter, and we celebrated it with Jim's parents and friends here in the ROK.

I'm not sure what the Korean traditions are around Easter. There are plenty of people here attending Christian churches, but there are NO PLASTIC EGGS sold here. Did you know that they don't even sell those plastic eggs in Australia? The Easter Bunny only brings chocolate eggs to Australian children.

Saturday night, Jim and I made a late night trip to HomePlus, which is a British grocery store chain. There were no plastic eggs or Easter baskets, but there were cute cleaning buckets and a variety of candy. We got the buckets, some candy and even found some grass-like paper stuffing in the party aisle. Sunday morning after Ruby woke up shouting "Happy Easter!" the kids had a quick Easter-basket hunt at home and later in the morning we went to the KIS staff kids Easter gathering. This was, like all of these KIS parties, planned so well. Each age group had their own area of the park so search for plastic, candy-filled eggs! That's right, someone brought a ton of these eggs over from the US and used them for this party. Every child was assigned a certain sticker and had to look for the eggs with their particular sticker. That way, each kid got about the same amount of candy. Brilliant, right? All the families brought a dish to share. It's amazing to me what people manage to make here when I seem to only find strange root vegetables in the grocery store (example: Fi brought homemade strawberry shortcake). Anyway, there was egg hunting, eating, hanging out and kids playing. Excellent Easter. (Did you see a missed opportunity for a pun there? You're welcome.)

This park is really close to our apartment

That's me. Did I mention I changed my hair? The color is "Korean Brown" 

2 fisted candy eating