Saturday, November 22, 2014

Seoul Tower and Christmas Shopping at Express Bus Terminal

A friend's sister, Marina, was in town for work and we decided to meet up. She really wanted to see Seoul Tower so we met early on Saturday and taxied over from her hotel near the Express Bus Terminal. It was just a little rainy. Katie told me that it's not great to visit Seoul Tower on a rainy day, but Marina and I threw caution to the wind and went anyway. Take that, Katie!

We paid $8 for a round trip ticket to the top on a gondola

view from the gondola

This is Seoul Tower
We went to the ticket counter and the woman tried to talk us out of buying a ticket. She kept saying that you really couldn't see anything today. Marina really wanted to go up and, aparently, on a day like today when you tell them you don't care what they say, you're going anyway, you get a ticket for today and one that's good for any time in the next 6 months.
We went inside, and stepped into the elevator. As we were going up, we were told to look up. There's a tv screen on the ceiling of the elevator that shows scenes as if you're blasting up to the top.

 OK, Katie and ticket lady, you were right....this is the view from the top.
 Or was that the view? Look at this picture of me in front of Seoul tower on a clear night:
 After not seeing Seoul from the top of Seoul Tower, we taxied back to the Express Bus Terminal. A very long time ago, my friend Joslyn told me about the Christmas shopping at Express Bus Terminal. Why haven't I gone sooner?!
It's on the 3rd floor. One half of the floor is a flower market, the other half is as if a craft fair and a Michael's store had a baby on Christmas.

flower market
 It has Christmas trees and ornaments:

 And cute Christmas decorations

And it's cheap! And it wasn't crowded! And it's huge! What?!

Here's what to do if you want to go: If you're leaving from the Suji, Bundang area, your best bet is taking the subway (this is very ironic, but there is not a bus that goes form Dongcheun-dong or Miegum to the Express Bus Terminal). Take the Shin Bundang line. The tricky thing is finding it when you get there. That station is HUGE. There are 3 lines that all cross. Find an elevator and take it up to the 3rd floor. (When I went today, we entered the building at street level-I don't know if I could find an elevator at the subway level because it's packed with stores, so if you're hopelessly lost, go out side of the building and go through the door that's directly across from the Shinsegae).

Monday, November 17, 2014

Seoul Campus Game Night!

Jim went to Singapore for a professional development conference on Socratic Seminar and I was feeling like doing something equally fun. Since it was me and the three kids, I was feeling kind of stuck in the apartment. I thought I should bring the fun to us by hosting a party! The staff at Seoul Campus has been talking about having a game night for at least a year now, so I thought this would be a perfect theme for my party. 
Ruby helped me set up
I promised my guests that I would make grilled cheese and told them all to bring something to share. Side note, you know how I've been trying to order groceries online for as long as we've been here? Well my friend and I have a new system set up. I go on the HomePlus website, click what I want and then when I'm ready, she pays for it and I pay her back. The first time I ended up with a can of beans (which I ordered) and 8 avocados (I meant to order 2). Well this time I ended up the correct order, but also with one million bananas. I meant to order 2 small bunches. I think what happened is that I ordered 2 large bunches and that they were on sale for "2+1".

Who wants a banana smoothie? Banana bread? Banana pancakes?
In the playroom
 Soon the apartment was filled with people and tons of food. The kids had their own party all around us.
In the kitchen

Eloise was sleepy, so I put a movie on for her

but like a bunch of child-sized moths to a computer-sized flame,
all the kids came to watch the movie on my bed

With the kids out of the way, we played "Telestrations" aka "Telephone pictionary". It's a super fun game that involves pieces of paper and drawing and interpreting drawing. I'm not going to explain the whole thing, just know that we had fun with it.
and yes, that is our Christmas tree (which we do every year on Peppero Day)

Dora, Melynda, Tara, Pam
Billy, Tara, Victorya, Adam and Katie
Russell and Megan
Josh, Jeff and Justin (oh Movember...)
Jen and Kristina
Me, giving out bananas

Mer, me, Jeff
Megan and Mer cracking up and something funny I said

Hey, so the next day the party continued! A bunch of the people who were at the party slept over at the Greene's house and they hosted breakfast. I made cronuts for the brunch.
Brunch was like being in America-great breakfasty food like pancakes, bacon and smoothies, college football on the TV, kids running around, it was really nice.

What a great weekend. We'll do something similar for American Thanksgiving...wait for it, I have high expectations for Thanksgiving. Let the eating begin!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Lotte World Tower Mall

There's a spectacular new skyscraper being built in Seoul. I know this because I've watched it being built from my classroom window. In fact, we use it as a measure of the air quality-when we can't see the building, we know that we should stay inside. When it's finished, it will be 123 stories tall. Fun fact, once it's finished it will be the tallest building in all of Korea, finally beating out the Ryugyong hotel in North Korea. Wait, is wikipedia pulling my chain? That cannot be correct, the tallest building in Korea is in North Korea? Anyway, North Korea won't be #1 in building awesomeness for long:

You can't even see the top it's so tall!
So right at the entrance is the sparkly new Lotte World Mall. I went there because I heard it had "everything". Well it didn't have a Nars counter, just saying. It did have Hermes, Vivian Westwood and a whole bunch of other stores that were super fancy.
The view looking up in the middle of the mall
The kids were so excited to take these fancy stairs 
I think this guy actually fainted from the fanciness. 

The whole mall had interesting design elements and decor. This floor had a large section of the ceiling with these wire baskets and chains.

We walked and walked. My friend Sue told us that the kids would love the 4th floor. To get there from where we were, we had to go to the 5th floor bridge that connects the two parts of the mall, then go back down. On the bridge were lots of Pororos....

...and a view of the duck!

Overall, it's just kind of a fancy mall. Buuut look!

This is still a thing?!
The Lego store
Mac is everywhere, but look at the pretty ceiling-the whole
 cosmetic area had this ceiling of lights. It was really pretty.
We had dinner at On the Border. This is one of a few of this chain in Seoul. It's like being back in America though-bottomless chips and salsa and refills on your diet coke.

Here is the outside of the mall at night: it changes colors.
Overall, it's ok. I'm glad I got to see it before the whole thing comes crashing down. Sorry, there are some rumours (or actual news) floating around town about this building. Since starting construction on this there have been sinkholes developing around the neighborhood. This morning we had a chance to talk to a local architect, and he said the building is totally safe-the sinkholes are because of construction on subway line 9. And, hey, according to the International Business Times, "The Lotte Group has promised there is no danger". Even though it's safe, I can't see any reason to make a special trip there (except to go to the Hard Rock Cafe!).