Monday, October 24, 2011

Who Doesn't Love Teenage Girls & Trickeye?!

Odd title indeed! Let me we were walking "downtown" in our neighborhood I stopped into the Korean equivalent of The Body Shop or other such store to get some face cleaner & just see what they had. While I was inside by myself I heard a bunch of laughing & squealing outside. I looked up to see the kids surrounded by a group of teenage girls all taking turns taking pictures with them with their cell phones. I saw Daric standing off to the side laughing & obviously enjoying the moment a bit too much! Akira wasn't sure what to make of the situation but Riley thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. The squealing I heard was the girls every time Riley said hi in Korean. They ate it up & kept asking him to speak in Korean again. If you notice his expression in the above picture you can tell he was totally playing up the situation. Oh Riley! The kids have only been mobbed that 1 time but they have had their pictures taken plenty on the trains & even at the museum by adults!

Speaking of the museum...a friend of ours, who is in Seoul at the base, found the Trickeye Museum on a 'Sights in Seoul' tourist-y type website. ( She told me about it & asked if the kids & I would like to go with her & her son. From the description & then my further research the place sounded like a lot of fun so we made plans to go. The Trickeye Museum is a museum with paintings painted straight onto the walls in a way that makes them look like they're either coming out of the wall at you or look like you are actually in them...depending on how you're angled to take your picture. That place was AWESOME!!!! We all had so much fun acting like goofs posing with the paintings & having our pictures taken. We had so much fun Daric was jealous & "forced" us to go again the next weekend. (Yes, the kids & I needed much coercing & prodding to get us back there!) We again had a great time, only made better that time by the addition of authentic Italian pizza for lunch & delicious tarts with drinking chocolate for dessert. Yes, drinking chocolate. The tart place basically melts the different kinds of chocolate down, pours it into a cup with cream or milk & serves it to you with a spoon since if you don't drink it fast enough it thickens up & then you need the spoon to eat the rest. Delicious!

There are a WHOLE lot more pictures, these were just some of the funniest. I think my next post will be solely the pictures from Trickeye Museum. I need to upload the ones with Daric so I can add them too! He had a good time posing for the pictures.

Aside from meeting a few more neighbors, American neighbors, things have been slowing down around here. The weather has finally started to change. It's colder now & the leaves are all those beautiful oranges, golds & reds. I'm happy we're surrounded by enough countryside to get to see that every day. Rumor has it we'll start having snow by November! "They" also say the worse monsoon season is the worse snow season is & since this year we had historic rains...well...historic snows possibly are in our future??? Love to all of you from all of us. I hope you enjoy reading about our adventures as much as we enjoy having them! Until the next adventure....

Google Translate...more like Google FAIL!!

So we have been here now, officially for 4 weeks! Time flies when you're having fun....& not understanding a word anyone is saying to you!! I need a phonetic Korean to English dictionary so I can figure out what "cheunmayo" means. The Koreans say that a LOT to Ezzio. I can only assume it's something positive since they hug him & kiss his cheeks after they say it. Or they're saying "watch the stupid American let me touch her kid even though I'm a complete stranger & could have some terrible disease I'd like to spread". It could go either way. 

Since we have been here we've managed to get lost in a 7 story building of fabric, anger the Koreans on the train as they keep repeating the same words over & over to us yet we still don't understand what they're trying to communicate since we don't speak Korean!, Daric had his hand held for a good 30 mins on the train while he was in uniform by an elder Korean gentleman as he spoke nothing but Korean to Daric but yelled 'KOREA' in English & the only expression Daric picked up was 'for the better' (the man gave Ezz money as he got off the train, quite the experience), the kids all have been mobbed by the Koreans, taking pictures & hugging them, the kids have managed to smile & nod apparently at the appropriate times while Koreans are talking to them on the train so they assume the kids speak Korean, Ezzi's baby babble apparently means something in Korean, he's managed to carry on conversations, we've gotten "lost" & have found underground malls & farmer's markets, we've bought a mink blanket (that was money well spent!), we've gotten a car & have managed to get lost driving & find a Korean dairy farm or something like it (there were only like 10 cows in the pen so they might have been for eating not milking), I've gotten sick from the "beef & leaf" (I will explain beef & leaf later), we've eaten Brazilian BBQ (which might have been better than actual bbq in Brazil!), found out we've had neighbors this entire time (who I'm sure haven't appreciated the kids rowdiness since we thought there was no one around us & we've let them run wild in the apartment), met a few other American families living in our apartment complex & semi bridged the gap between the kids & the Korean kids living here.

These past 4 weeks have been quite the experience! I need to take some beginner Korean language classes so I can figure out this 'cheunmayo' word! So far that's my only frustration with the country, the language barrier. I appreciate the few Koreans who speak English trying to communicate with me & I try my hardest to connect the Korean words they're saying to their English counterpart but sometimes they speak so fast & I can't catch what they're saying. I've also noticed they don't pronounce every single sound in the word so 'cheunmayo' might actually be like 'cheungmapyo' or something, I don't know! I'm grateful 1 of the families we met are Korean, well the wife is Korean & the husband is a hybrid, half Korean, half white (I think) so they both speak Korean. It was so nice to have Loyd Brown (I know super traditional Korean name) with us at Baskin Robbins ordering for us all in Korean instead of our usual 'point & hope they see what we're pointing at' way of ordering. While our kids were playing at the playground in our complex the Korean kids came out & were practicing their English speaking to the kids but then they'd start getting excited & Korean would take over & then Loyd would whip out his Korean & the Korean kids would all stand there confused wondering if they really did hear Korean. It was actually hilarious to watch because the Korean kids would all stop dead in their tracks & look around with confused expressions & when they didn't hear Korean again they'd resume playing. I think Loyd was getting a kick out of it too. I noticed he'd throw out some Korean at random times & then chuckle as the kids did their 'deer in headlights' stare. I like Loyd. His wife, Sunny, has a pretty funny sense of humor too. They're good people as Daric would say. *Side note: yes, all the American families we have met are also soldiers in the Army so on more than 1 level we are not alone!

If you haven't already heard the news I am pregnant. I'm only about 10 weeks along so I've still got a long ways to go! Of course we're hoping for a girl, well let me rephrase that, I'm hoping for a girl, Daric has adopted the Korean view & is hoping for another boy. I think he likes the attention the kids get as much as they do! No matter what, boy or girl, we're going to love this baby as much as the other 3 & this will absolutely be the last child! I won't lie, I'll be a little heartbroken if I hear 'it's a boy' when we can find out what this little 1 is but I love the 3 little monsters so much, I won't be heartbroken for long. I've been feeling surprisingly good so far. Morning sickness has rarely reared it's ugly head & for those of you who know the pregnant version of me you know that's a miracle! I'm hoping that's a good sign! 

So since I've been feeling so well & not everything has been making me nauseous we've eaten out a few times at 'beef & leafs'. It's a Korean BBQ restaurant where the table has a deep metal bowl in the middle & a dryer hose looking thing hanging from the ceiling over the bowl. They bring out hot coals & dump them in the bowl then cover it with a metal grate so you can throw your meats & misc veggies on it & bbq right at your table. The dryer hose looking thing is the exhaust fan & sucks up the smoke as you grill. The soldiers have dubbed them 'beef & leaf' since you get a giant plate of beef & they bring out a basket of "leaves" instead of plates. You make like a lettuce wrap with the meat & kimchi. We've eaten at a few before but they've always been around places Americans would be, the 1 we ate at that made me sick was deep in Korean territory. They spoke not 1 single word of English, the menu was all in Korean, we sat on the floor at the table & removed our shoes before we stepped onto the platform where the tables were. It was fabulous! Now I'm not sure if I got sick because this was an 'authentico' beef & leaf or because I'm pregnant...I'll have to try another & see if the results are the same.

It is 10:30 am, Tuesday, September 27 as I write this entry. Ezzi's napping, the big kids are at school & I'm munching on chips & salsa since I seem to constantly have to be snacking all day to avoid the nausea. The joys of pregnancy! The weather in Korea is starting to turn, cold in the morning but still warm to hot in the afternoon. I'm looking forward to the change in season. I'm a little bummed I won't be able to really participate in our 1st winter, there's a ski resort not far from us & it's great for skiing, snowboarding & sledding. Daric said I could go sledding with Ezz & Riley while he & Akira go snowboarding. What a guy. I know we'll have fun though. 

I think that brings everyone up to speed on our adventures! I will try to update once a week since it seems we have at least 1 adventure during the week whether we want it or not! Good morning (afternoon or night depending on what time zone you're in!) Lots of love & hugs to you all from the Bishop clan! 안녕하세요
The view from our living room

The Land of the Morning Calm

Apparently this land is only calm in the morning! More on that to come....

We have arrived!! After much headache, and heartache, we are here! The flights weren't as bad as I was expecting. They were actually pretty decent. Akira & Ezzio slept the ENTIRE time, that includes layover time at the airports! Akira was passed out on the floor at Chicago O'Hare for the entire 5 hour layover. No jet lag for them though. We left Tuesday morning at 5:45 and landed in Seoul on Wednesday night at 9:30. Riley was so amped up thinking we were on our way to daddy he barely slept. Poor kid! He even got sick, twice!, as we were landing in Tokyo. The Asian girl next to him looked like she was going to be sick too! After that he was a rockstar again asking how much longer until we were in Korea with daddy. I stayed awake the whole time also so I'd be exhausted & sleep when we got in. I can't have jet lag slowing me down, I've got an entire country to explore! Needless to say we all crashed hard when we got to lodging. We're all a bunch of masochists & were up by 7 am ready to start the day. Daric took us on the train to show us the apartment. (The landlord was having issues with his insurance so for liability reasons we couldn't move in when we arrived. We had to stay in lodging on base for 4 days but the landlord said he's paying for it so that's nice.) We walked from the train station to our new home, which took about 20 mins & was a nice little walk, and hung out in the house for a little while. It felt like I was loitering in someone elses place though since all our stuff was at lodging. We walked around our neighborhood, Daric showed me the grocery store & chicken place across the street, think southern soul food type chicken. We walked back to the train station & headed for base to walk around & see what was there. It took a total of 30 mins to walk the ENTIRE base, front to back & side to side! It's a tiny base. That was basically day 1, we did some admin to get the kids & I registered on base out here but that was it.

Day 2 we finished our admin then headed to Camp Casey to register with the medical clinic. Camp Casey is gigantic compared with our little Camp Red Cloud but minuscule compared to Fort Leonard Wood. When we arrived, after taking the free shuttle bus from Red Cloud, there was a Labor Day festival taking place complete with fair type games & rides. The BEST part of the entire festival was the legit mariachi band wandering around playing music! If there would have been a taco truck I would have been in heaven. Daric thought the band was Koreans but as we got closer I told him no, they're Mexicans. Fantastic! We bought a giant, hand-painted fan & when I say giant I'm talking fully opened it's at least 4-5 feet wide & 3 1/2 feet tall. Ginormous! That was our day 2.

Day 3 was Saturday & we decided to be adventurous & head to a market in Seoul. It's called Dongdaemun market & it's apparently where you go to get cheap fabric & clothing. Dongdaemun means East gate & as we approached the area there is, sitting in the middle of the street, a giant gate. You could tell, back in the day when the cities were walled off from invaders, this was once an entryway. Absolutely beautiful & such an odd thing to see in the middle of all the hustle & bustle. We weren't entirely sure what we were looking for, I figured it would be a street market but we saw a tall building that said 'Dongdaemun Market' so we headed for that completely unaware what awaited us inside. That building was 7 stories of fabric, nothing but fabric as far as the eye could see. Vendors were crammed into any open space & their fabric was bulging out into the aisles. Daric commented the building was a giant fire hazard, he kind of had a point! We got kind of lost inside since every space looked the same, "haven't we passed this leopard print already?" I finally noticed signs directing you to the escalators & elevator. Even the signs were confusing, the arrows were misleading. The elevators had a stewardess in it, complete with 50's type uniform with matching hat, who pressed the buttons for you. We finally exited the rear of the building onto the real market. A stretch of street we couldn't see the end of with shops up & down each side & alleys snaking throughout lined with restaurants & street vendors. After our fabric fiasco we weren't up for walking the entire thing so we stopped at the food vendors. We got a spicy sweet & sour type chicken that came with potato wedges & rice shaped into what looked like a fingerling potato. That was incredible & CHEAP for a box crammed packed with chicken. We had chicken skewers, also amazing & cheap, spicy hot dogs sort of like a long bratwurst on a bun with a kimchi/coleslaw hybrid slathered all over, phenomenal! We had a spicy pork bun, she wasn't kidding when she said spicy, and topped it all off with what I can only describe as mini churros. 5 for 1,000 won can't beat that! (1,200 won is $1) As we headed back to the train station I noticed a coffee cart type thing that I'd seen around the train stations elsewhere. I stopped to see what people were getting since I can't read Korean. 1 girl got a smoothie so I asked for the same thing. The girl in the shack cut up the peaches right into the blender added a little ice & a splash of water then blended. You wouldn't think something so simple would be so stinking good but it was so fresh tasting, I'm drooling just thinking about it! Daric got a banana/kiwi smoothie which was surprisingly good, it had a tart little kick to it. That was how we ended day 3.

Day 4 we woke up & got a call from the realtor saying the insurance had been sorted out we could move in to the apartment...finally! We packed our bags & headed for home. Now it feels like home. We unpacked the suitcases, got settled in, & set up rooms as best we could with what we have. We went to our little grocery store to get toilet paper & drinks, they don't recommend drinking out of the faucet here, our landlord is going to install a water filter soon which will be nice. We decided we'd try to figure out the buses since we see them passing us walking from the train station & we noticed bus stops all around the apartment. We started walking & before we knew it we walked right into a bustling shopping center, right down the street! There's a mall, a German bakery, 2 Parisian bakeries, Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts, Baskin Robbins & a 7-11. We had Pizza Hut for dinner only it's very different from an American pizza hut. Our pizza was topped with bulgogi & bbq chicken. Quite possibly the best pizza I've ever had. The kids had orange ade to drink which was like fresh squeezed oj mixed with sprite. So good. I had a blueberry soda also super yummy. Our bill however was not super yummy! It was 58,000 won for 1 pizza & 5 drinks which is around $50. Yikes! That's going to be a once in a while treat. We got Dunkin Donuts for dessert & a few treats from the Parisian bakery. So, so good! Went home & showered & got ready for bed. That was day 4.

Day 5 was yesterday, Monday, Labor Day. Daric had to work unfortunately & the internet guy was coming to connect our internet & the guy was coming to hook up our washer & dryer so the kids & I were stuck in the house just about all day. The internet guy didn't speak a word of English so that was fun as I tried typing things on my iPad then using google translate so he could read what I wanted to communicate. Of course after he read it he'd bombard me with Korean so it was an extremely pointless venture. He couldn't hook up internet so it was a waste of a day. The guy who came for our washer & dryer at least spoke enough English we could communicate BUT he only connected the washer, he said the city has to connect our dryer. Then he called his company when he was done so they could tell me how much & the guy on the phone said it's $120 for both connections or 130,000 won. When they called earlier to tell me the tech was on his way they said $60 for both connections. AND he only connected the washer! Not both! Ugh!! This language barrier is getting annoying. So I waited around all day for my washing machine to get connected to the water supply & I'm out $120. Day 5 couldn't end soon enough!

This morning, Tuesday, September 6 is day 6. We woke up, had some of the pastries we got from the bakery then I decided to let Ezzio try out our jacuzzi tub only THERE IS NO HOT WATER!! The guy who hooked up the washer apparently messed with our gas so now we're waiting for someone from the building to come fix what he did. That $120 was well spent! Daric finally got home from work, he had 24 hour staff duty & brought home some groceries. Good man. Once our hot water works again we're going to decide what the day has in store for us. So that's how our day 6 is beginning. We're going to try & head to the electronics market soon & get a cheap camera so I can stop using my old cell for a camera & possibly get a laptop so then our internet can get turned on! Stay tuned for many more fun adventures from the Bishop clan in the Land of the Morning Calm.