Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Korean Style

It's hard to believe that Christmas is here. The last 3 months have gone by so fast. It has been a whirl wind for us. We have been traveling almost every weekend and our trips have included a trip to Seoul, a trip to Busan to go to the aquarium and Haeundae beach, and a day trip to Gwangju where Anthony took me to see Disney's A Christmas Carol in 3D IMAX. We have had a lot of fun in the last few weeks all leading up to our first big trip since we got here. Next Wednesday we leave for Japan for seven days. Our first stop will be Tokyo for 3 days. While we are there we plan to see:

  • The Sumo museum
  • Sony HQ
  • Harajuku
  • The Imperial Palace Gardens
and tons of other things. It will also be a perfect place to visit during Christmas because we found a English Christmas day mass and we are going to go ice skating. Next we will go to Kyoto for three days. We have lots of things planned in Kyoto as well. I think we are equally looking forward to everything in Kyoto. It is the ancient capital city of Japan so there will be lots of pagodas and this if one of the last places in Japan that has Geisha Tea Houses. It will be an amazing trip. When we get back to Korea we will fly into Seoul where Anthony's parents will be. We are excited to spend New Years with them in Seoul. The big tradition in Seoul is to ring this huge bell 33 times. I think it is more like a gong. It should be interesting.
We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. It will be difficult not seeing everyone during the holidays!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Aparently Cold means Freezing

This weekend we were invited by Lahn, our co-worker, to hike one of the biggest mountains in South Jeollanam-do. It was a wonderful afternoon, we were a bit cold though. Aparently when you are told that it will be "cold" that could imply freezing. Being the native Texans that we are we decided to wear wind pants and pull overs instead of gloves, hats and thick coats. As you can see by the pictures we got to see snow! It was definately freezing when we got to the top of the mountain. The area we went to was about an hour and a half north of Yeosu so it was a nice get away and the scenery was beautiful. The hike was more of a walking trail near the peak so it took us about an 2 hours up and back to our parking area. There are small black bears that we fortunately/unfortunately didn't see up in the mountains. It would have been a neat experience to have seen one from far away, but with it as cold as it was I am sure that they were hibernating.
Time has really gone by fast. We can't believe that Thanksgiving is here. We are planning on having our own little Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday for lunch. I am making a pumpkin cheesecake and Anthony is in charge of the dinner portion. I think we are going to go with sea food since it is so easy to come by and it is easy to cook on a stove top. We are looking forward to it. Also, the Macy's Thanksgiving parade starts at 11:00pm here so we are going to try to watch some of it! We are blessed that it has been so easy to watch programs from home that make us feel comfortable and less far from home.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Top 10 in Two Months

Well into our first two months in Yeosu we definately have discovered our favorite places to go and things to see. So here ya go! In no specific order:

10. Virtual Golf- The ULTIMATE golfing experience!
9. Suncheon Bay- Wildlife preserve about 40 min from Yeosu
7. The park near our house- perfect place to go for a morning hike.
6. Hiking- It is beautiful here and we have found a new love for the outdoors
5. Mandu- Dumplings
4. Cooking seafood at home- So far we have done crab, mussels, clams, mackrel and mystery fish
3. Pageon- Korea veggie pancake you eat at the bar
2. Refrigerated cup holders in the table at the bar Long Life
1. Date night every Thursday- After work we try a new or favorite bar and just relax and talk :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Week 6

Things are going well in Yeosu. Today marks six weeks in Korea. We are finally feeling very settled in and are looking forward to the holidays. We got a package today from my parents with American spices. It has been great weather here because we have a genuine Fall season. The highs are in the low 70's and the lows are in the 50's every day. The other great thing is that it really doesn't rain here. So, most days it is sunny and cool.

This past weekend we went to Dolsan Island to have dinner with Lahns family friend Jason and his family. There were about 10 people and we grilled steak, chicken and sausage. It was a great meal and we had great company. Jason had a wonderful family. His daughter and her two sons were there. They were 1 and 2 years old and adorable. His wife and son as well. After we ate dinner we relaxed and sang Karaoke! I, unfortunately was the only one willing to sing more than one song. That didn't surprise Anthony too much. My song list was as follows: Sugar Pie Honey Bunch, Bohemian Rhapsody, I Shot the Sheriff, Brown Eyed Girl and last but not least (because they like this one the BEST) Kungfoo Fighting. I had a blast and so did my 2 year old singing partner.

Well into week six we are having a great time and enjoying getting to know people better. This weekend will be spent relaxing in Yeosu.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Naganupsong and Suncheon Bay

This weekend Anthony and I took a day trip with our co-worker Adam. He is our age and has been here since April. We decided to go to the folk village of Nagan and also Suncheon Bay. Nagan was our first stop and it is about 1.5 hours from Yeosu by bus. The village is a fortress from the 1800's where the magistrates for Jeollanam-do lived. There are still many people living there in their thached roof houses day to day. We walked around the village all afternoon looking at pottery, going into small homes, looking at gardens and animals, watching the village weaver, and walking on the fortress walls. It was a really cool experience and unlike anything else I have ever done. We watched the weaver for some time. It was a day where you didn't bother to look at your watch because it was so enjoyable where we were. We got some pottery from a lady that makes it all in her home and some woven shoes. We decided to head back to Suncheon to go to the bay around 3:30.
The bay was perfect at sunset. There was a pier that we walked across to get to the path to hike up to the observation deck. Beneath the pier were tiny wholes with crabs. They were all feeding since we were there in the evening and it was beautiful. We hiked up to the observation deck at sunset. The picture below is the view!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Another Event at the Sports Complex!

Today we are hosting another huge event at the sports complex. It's the third since we have been here! There are food vendors, people in traditional costume, and sports. Soccer, tug of war. tennis and other sports games are going on all day. There are special chants that the groups do while having certain events. They even have special cardboard giant visor covers that say Expo 2012. Anthony and I definately got a couple for souvinors. The weather has been beautiful this week and hopefully it will remain that way through the weekend because we are moving into our new building for work. Anthony and I are also hoping to take a day trip somewhere close by. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 12, 2009

This weekend we stayed in Yeosu to rest and explore our new home. We had a great weekend filled with watching College Football on our new monitor, eating fajitas and exploring Dolsan-do. On Sunday our co-worker Lahn took Anthony and I to Dolsan-do Island with her family. She has two sons who are 8 and 10 and her husband is incredibly nice and giving. They have helped Anthony and I a lot since we got here. The island was beautiful. We hiked up to a budhist hermatage with an amazing view and then ended up going on a hike to the top of the mountain. It was a really great experience. It took about 2 hours to finish the hike and we finished in a small sea village. We ate lunch and then headed to the beach. Anthony tried to teach Lahn's boys how to skip rocks and we just relaxed for a while. It was very cool outside and the water felt great! Lahn and I looked for shells while the boys played in the water! It was just a really nice day. They invited us to dinner that night and we walked in Yeosu-dong. Everything is really going great here. We are liking it more everyday. Tomorrow will be four weeks since we got here! It is crazy that time has gone by so fast already. We will keep updating as much as possible.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Seoul is AMAZING! Anthony and I spent the weekend in the Gangnam neighborhood in Seoul. We got there Friday and came back today and spent the entire time visiting museums, eating and exploring the city. It is by far the coolest city I have been to and definately the largest. Friday we visited the Korean War Memorial and Museum which was very interesting. The US presence in the war is apparent as we lost over 33,000 soldiers. We were able to go into fighter jets, cargo planes, and tanks. I have never seen missles in my life and it was really interesting.

On Saturday we got up and had bagels and coffee at noon and then went to the Changdeokgang Palace. It was SO cool. My first experience with an Asian palace was a great one. Within the palace walls is a secret garden and many beautiful buildings. Next we went to Insadong which turns into a pedestrian ave on Saturday and Sunday. It was by far my favorite neighborhood because off of the main road are these little alley ways that have vines lining the restaurant fronts and little birds cherping and hopping around. We went to a place called the Old Tea House and had green tea and rice cakes while listening to calming music. There is a natural spring that runs through Seoul and it has been constructed with walking trails, waterfalls and murals for the people to enjoy. While walking along it you wouldn't guess you were in the second largest city in the world, but then you look up and see dozens of high rises surrounding you. That is the coolest part about Seoul is that there are so many things to do that make the city seem small. For dinner on Saturday night we had Outback and it was AMAZING. A bloomin onion, alice springs chicken and Anthony's huge steak made for a filling meal and one that we will not have for a long time. It was a good day.

On Sunday Anthony was able to watch some of the A&M game and then we went to the fish market. I have never seen so much live seafood in one place! There were probably 500 stalls set up with fish, crab, lobster, 5 types of shrimp, clams, and anything else you can think of from the sea. All live and ready to be taken home to cook. Next we went to the Korean National Museum and saw artifacts and historical pieces from Korean as well as China, Vietman, and Japan. We finished the day back in Insadong with Indian food, which is way to hot for me as I discovered. So we resorted to street vendor food. It was a great alternative. We finished our great trip to Seoul at Top Cloud for drinks. It is a lot like the Rainbow Room in NYC, but more modern. Looking out over Seoul was a sight to see. It is such an enormous place. The candle light and jazz band created a really enjoyable atmosphere and I am sure that we will be back on our next trip.

Seoul is a city that people need to experience. The friendly Korean culture, the melting pot of people, museums and the dozens of different neighborhoods shape the city into one that is unlike any other place. While there you can forget that you are in Korea at all because it is so functional for Westerners and you see English speakers everywhere. We give it two thumbs up!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Disabled Olympics

Last week we hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the Disabled Olympics here at the Jin nam Sports Complex. The entire campus was beautifully decorated with flowers, fruits and people dressed in traditional Korean clothes. I thought I would share some pictures and video. It was a really cool first week to be here because we were able to see what traditional festivities are like. The dresses are beautiful and there are several stores in town where you can get them custom made. We haven't decided yet if that will be a purchase yet, all that we do know is that they are about $80.00 US at E-mart for a little girls dress and E-mart is the equilavent to Wal-mart! So we are very curious to see how much a custom one is. We are taking our first road trip this weekend because we have a holiday for Chuseok or 추석. It is Korean Thanksgiving, but in a different since then the American Thanksgiving because it is a Thanksgiving to their ancestors. They visit the graves of loved ones and give presents. We plan to take the KTX, high speed train, from Busan to Seoul. We are so excited to see the city. It is supposed to be great! We plan to stay for 3 nights so we should have plenty of time to see the things that we are most excited about. We have heard that the city will be crazy for the holiday, but we think that should make for a great trip because they should have some special things going on for the weekend.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Almost 2 weeks

I am going to begin this one on a bit of a sad note, but not to worry it isn't about us and the end is upbeat. I guess I never really realized the extent of the control that North Korea has over its citizens. Yesterday was a chosen day for a select few citizens to come to South Korea to visit their families. For some it had been decades since they had seen their loved ones. It was incredibly sad to watch because the North Korean government allowed the visit, but waited for their designated time to swoop in and put the people back on the train back to North Korea. Some people were sobbing because the population of North Korea is aging and there is a high likelyhood that they may not see their loved ones again. You can read an article about it at South Korea has become such a world power and developed so much econimically that it is incredibly facinating to see what North Korea is like. They are night and day. One of the people that we work with has a father in law that was able to leave North Korea, but there are still a lot of families that are not as lucky.

So, we are blessed to be in South Korea and to be around such nice people. We were invited to a lunch today with some of the city officials that work with us at Jinnam. There were about 20 people in all at the lunch and we were introduced to everyone by our official Mr. Cho. Here, there is a traditional dish called Bibimbap, which is rice mixed with tons of veggies, meat, red pepper paste, and sesame oil. Most put a twist on their's in some way, but Anthony and I have kept it pretty basic! It is actually delicious! We sat on the floor, which is traditional here. Too bad the tables are a little too small for Anthony! I think they were made for very small and flexable Koreans. Anthony and I both need to work on sitting Indian style for an hour without our legs falling asleep. I'm sure there is a way to train. We were also treated to dinner for the fourth night by our co-workers, Lahn and Mr. Shin. We are definately eating well thats for sure! I have attached a video that is a view from our apartment window so you can see how beautiful the land is here. It has been awesome waking up and looking out my window at such a different picture than what I am used to.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Anthony and I decided to spend the afternoon on Saturday exploring a neighborhood in Yeosu City called Yosu-dong. We strolled there and took time to look in stores we hadn't been in and take in where we were. Walking quickly you can get there in about 10 minutes from our neighborhood, but it took us about 1 hour because we stopped to look around. As we were walking we found tons of garden stores, clothes stores that are SUPER cheap, and a really beautiful huge Catholic Church. We decided that it must be the main one in the city. There was a hill right behind the church with a beautiful statue. Then we got into the heart of the neighborhood. They are really trying to make it nice for the Expo. It is going to be the main neighborhood for all of the visitors to go. There is fashion, good restaurants including PIZZA, bars and clubs! We decided to just walk around aimlessly to find out more about the area. We ended up doing some shopping where I got a really cute top for only $8.00 US. It was great! Then we walked down the main pedestrian boulevard up to a rotunda where there were farmers wives lining the street, seen in the picture, selling everything that they grow in their garden. One thing that has been incredibly interesting here and I have to mention it here because of all of the very old women selling their produce, is that they have such bad osteoporosis. We have been shocked at how bad it is. I'm not sure what the reasoning is, but I'm sure it has to do with not getting enough calcium and manual labor! By the end of our trip to Yosu-dong we decided that if we ever moved into a bigger apartment that we definitely wanted to move to there. It is the nicer, cooler part of town and the night life is great!
Yesterday was Sunday and it poured all day! We were planning to go to Dolsan-do Island, but the weather definitely kept us from doing that. Instead we opted for an outing to E-Mart. It is Korea's Wal-mart equivalent. It was a CRAZY ZOO! The Korean Thanksgiving holiday is coming up this weekend and we should have known that rainy day+ Sunday+ Thanksgiving holiday= BAD day to go to E-Mart! It was so funny to see so many people in one place. I think the whole city of Yeosu was there. One thing that they have that is different from the states is prepackaged "presents" of every product you can think of. Lotions, liquor, red pepper paste, rice cake candies, etc. and they are like 90,000 won a piece! It is customary to give gifts for the holiday we found out later.

We really had a good weekend of just being in Yeosu and enjoying ourselves. We are becoming more familiar with the city and the neighborhoods and feeling more at home! We are also learning more of the language! Stay tuned.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Home and Work

This is our place! It is small, but it is definately becoming home. We are working on it still, trying to find a place for everything, but it is very comfortable! We have pictures of home everywhere!

This beautiful place is where to come to work everyday! It has been so nice just walking around and looking at the flowers and listening to the bugs and birds in the afternoon. As you can see it is very hilly. They really aren't so much mountains, but we have heard that there are some really cool places to hike around. Since we have been here our only day trip has been to Odong-do Island. It is a famous island because the entire island is a botanical garden. This weekend we plan to visit another island called Dolsando. It is supposed to have a temple that you can hike to and it has a beautiful view of the water! We'll see. Check back on Monday to see what we did for the weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

We are new residents of Yeosu, South Korea and LOVING IT! Anthony and I have taken an opportunity to live and teach in Yeosu which is the home of the 2012 Internation World Expo. It is a great time to be living here because the city is growing and changing all of the time. Over the next 2 years the city is building a huge new harbor across from Odong-do Island. The theme of the harbor will be Green Yeosu and everything pertains to keeping the land and ocean clean. We have had many new experiences since we have been here even though it has only been 8 days! We have explored Odong-do Island, eaten enough sushimi to last a life time, spent hours at the PC Bong, eaten moving squid tentacles, and spoken Korean! Who knows what the next year has in store for us! Stay tuned!