Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Korean adventure....DONE

Said good bye to Kmom this morning.  Now I'm at the airport waiting to check in and come back to Canada.  Still have many FUN things to blog about but I wanted to spend the last day with mom so I'll have to post about those times when I get back to Canada.  Thanks everyone for your comments and readership.  I'm so thankful to log in and see so many wonderful people stop by daily and leave their mark.  That means a lot!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Korean Diary Day 16

Sung Hyun and I underestimated how long it would take to get to the bus terminal in Busan.  We arrived with 5 minutes to get to our platform.  We grabbed these mini tuna kimbabs for breakfast.


We ate them on the train on the way back.  About 30 minutes into our journey we stopped because there was some signal problem on the track.  We stopped for around 20 minutes which set our arrival time back.  The KTX staff told us if we arrived 20 minutes late at our final destination they would give us a 20% refund for the tickets.  We arrived 19 minutes late.
We arrived back home and I dropped off my bags so that I could meet this lovely lady for Indian food.  We tried to get Indian the previous week but it was closed. 

We were both starving since neither of us ate lunch.


Samosa

Good eats and even better chat.  I miss Amy and her positive outlook on life.  The biggest advice I always remember from her is she only focuses on what she can control.  So, for example, if she is frustrated about a situation involving another person she says to herself "what can I control and what is out of my control?"  This is great advice given that Korean work culture and Canadian/ American work culture is vastly different.

I use this advice all the time.  It prevents me from complaining and gets me taking action.

I rushed home because Sung Hyun told me that we were going on a family trip that night.  It was already 10 pm and we were supposed to leave the following day.  Plans are made and change suddenly in Korea.  It was something that I had to get used to when I lived here.  I still find it hard to jump up and go because someone tells me to.  I got home and Sung Hyun and mom had already packed.  Sung Hyun called his sister and told her we were ready.  We waited for them to pick us up.  She called back 10 minutes later and said they changed their mind and that we'd leave at 6 the following morning.  Koreans also change plans without consultation or explanation.  When Sung Hyun got off the phone with his sister I asked why they decided not to leave at night (since it was their idea in the first place) and he said he didn't know because he didn't ask. 

I'm used to this now and I try to roll with what's going on since it's usually out of my control.

Neither Sung Hyun and I could sleep.  We watched T.V. and played around on the computer until 2 am.  The following day we woke up at 6 to get ready to leave.  His sister didn't come until 9.  And even then it wasn't the sister that was originally supposed to pick us up.  Usually, I'd ask 'what's going on or why didn't you call us?' but I've learned over the years to just accept this as the way things work.

Observations of the Day:

1.  If I ride the subway and need to get out at a certain stop I cannot for the life of me remember what exit number to take.  I can however remember what direction to go in the subway to get me out the correct way.  I've never been good with remember numbers or street names but I can tell you to turn right at the top of the escalator, pass the bank and left at the pharmacy.

Lessons from a Korean mother-in-law (part 10)

This is a post, in a series, dedicated to a mother-in-law that I deeply love and dearly miss.  All posts in this series are true events that happened to me.
 
To see the other stories click HERE!
 
**************************

The scene:  A huge typhoon has work and school cancelled for the day.  This NEVER happens in Korea.  Signs are flying, power lines are blowing over and people are advised to stay indoor.  Oh yah, and a huge ship broke into two.

***

I'm in the main room watching T.V and I hear the door shut as mom leaves the house.  I chase after her out the door and into the apartment hallway "Mom, don't go out today!"

"I need to take out the garbage.  I'm fine, I'm fine

I pull mom inside and tell her that she can take the garbage out tomorrow.  "Take a rest," I say -- a common expression in Korea.

She sits down for 5 minutes before she gets restless. 

"Mom, don't go outside today it's dangerous," I say again in Korean.

"Uhhhhhh," she replies in recognition, not frustration.

Mom goes into the hallway and I ask her what she is doing.  "I'm going to sleep" she answers.  She's been sleeping in the hallway.  A few minutes later Sung Hyun gets up to go to the bathroom.  Mom's gone! 

She snuck out of the house to take out the garbage.  When she returns she opens the door ever so quietly thinking she tricked us.

"Mom, what did you do outside?" I call from the main room.  Silence. "Mom, I told you not to go out.  Mooooom.  Mooooom."

"Stop saying Mooooom.  Do you call me because you want to drink my milk" she shoots back.

Korean Diary Day 15

Our plan was to hang out at the beach and just chill.  But when we woke up to rain we knew that wasn't going to happen.  It was one of those lazy rainy days where you sit by the window and read a book.  Except our hotel didn't have a viewable window and I kind of hate reading.
 
We left our hotel at noon and set out to find breakfast.

 
Sung Hyun decided on a plan for the day

 
Beef and noodle soup for breakfast

 
First stop was the aquarium to give us a break from the rain




 
The jellyfish were my favourite


 
A quick stop at the coffee shop.  I kept going to coffee shops because I needed to check emails.  The time difference between Canada and Korea means there's a bigger delay in response time.  Also, I found out that none of the emails I sent to the Korean professor reached him.  Eeeeek! Running out of time......


 
Ordered an iced coffee for $5, geez that's more than our meals.  But I guess I didn't just order a coffee I also got a little laugh.  Did you know that Coffine Gurunaru (the coffee shop) "wants to be a tree and a ferry in a river just like a place to rest.  A good quality of coffee and the health benefits of wine will definitely make your body and your mind upgrade and even your pride in your life.  Please take a deserved break at Coffine Gurunaru.  Coffine Gurunaru is a resting place for you"
 
I guess I did kind of feel like a tree and a ferry in a river as I was upgrading my mind and body and pride.  They even sold wine by the glass at the same price as coffee.  Wow!
 
 
Hopped on the bus to head to the temple on the rock






 
It was lovely but we got a little wet.
 
Next Sung Hyun wanted to check out the fish market.

 
Plug your nose!

 
Sung Hyun was on a mission to eat fish for dinner.  He wanted to walk until he found what he was looking for.  The thing is he never knew what he was looking for.  He said that it would jump out at him.  So we walked and walked through the streets filled with fish for a good 30 minutes and nothing jumped out at him. 
 
 
I was starving so we waited in this line to get a famous Korean snack.  Lines in Korea mean the food is good!

 
Yup, it was good!  Then we walked for another 30 minutes looking for fish to jump out at Sung Hyun.

 
He settled on some street food

 
Probably not the cleanest.

 
But still tasty nonetheless

 
Dinner #2 was at Outback where we shared a drink and heart attack on a plate:

 
Also knows as Aussie cheese fries. 
 
Next we went back to our hotel to shower up and walk around.  We stayed in a love motel which was $60 a night and was decent enough.  When we were looking for hotels we went to about 8 different places checking out their rooms.  The first hotel had an ocean view for $800 a night.  We passed on that one :)


 
And went for a way cooler every-colour-possible-wallpaper one.  We almost upgraded to a round bed, but we figured the $20 a night would be better spent elsewhere.

 
Sung Hyun got hungry after our walk so we went to a fish restaurant.

 
Yahhhhh, Sung Hyun finally got to eat the fish he wanted to eat all day long

 
I drank beer and smiled

 
I tried one piece and it wasn't too bad

 
Sung Hyun wasn't full so he ordered a plate of yuckiness.  I didn't try these mini penises that looked like earthworms.  This fishy dinner was over $75 (the three beer were $3 a pop).  At least Sung Hyun got to enjoy his fish!
 
Observations of the Day:
 
1.  In Korea it is acceptable/ tolerated if someone you know talks about fatness.  Today someone I knew called me fat.

Korean Diary Day 14

Sung Hyun and I decided that we needed to take a vacation.  I know technically we are on vacation already but it's been go go go since we've stepped down in Seoul.  AND sleeping on a floor next to mom isn't exactly ideal.  So we took a vacation within a vacation. 
 
Our mission was to relax, just the two of us.
 
Four hours of sleep and then we were up to take an early KTX train to Busan (south part of Korea). 
 
 
But first a quick subway ride to the train station.  Apparently we were not the only tired ones on the train.  This was the morning rush hour traffic dragging their butts to work.

 
I had to send a few emails to my supervisor in Canada and my possible supervisor in Korea.  I'm trying to arrange a study abroad period for my research since it involves with Koreans!  But there's a lot of paperwork, and forms and writing involved.  I'm hopeful I can pull the application together before it's due, which is one day after my arrival in Canada. 
 
 
The KTX train had free wifi 

 
The ride was just over two and a half hours.

 
This guy slept most of the way!
 

 
 We arrived to rain!
 
 
Coffee was in order

 
Then we found a hotel (I'll include those details in the post tomorrow) and walked around a bit

 
Lunch was in someones house.  Apparently that's where the overflow goes.  It felt strange to be sitting at the table in someones house right next to their kitchen.  But hey, this is Korea.  You've got to roll with the randomness.


 
Lunch for the two of us was $11 for mandu and noodles.  A little too fishy for my liking, but we're in a port city so that is to be expected.

 
While walking around the beach area I came across this building and thought it was deserving of a picture.
 
Then, we decided that because we were so sleepy that we'd rest up in our hotel first before we explored.  A little one hour sleep turned into 4.5 hours. 
 
Ooooops!

 
Dinner was samgyupsal and beer

 
I was a little weirded out by this huge hunk of pork

 
But this meal was one of the best I've ever had in Korea

 
Dinner for two. 
 
Next we set out for a walk.  We felt quite energized given that we slept the entire day away

 
First a walk on the beach

 
While we walked around Sung Hyun and I had an interesting discussion.  The beach area is piled high with skyscraper apartments that are worth millions of dollars.  We tried to guess what the occupants of the apartments did for a living.  No way in our lifetime would we be able to afford such a place........unless.....
 
"Hey Sung Hyun, what kind of job would we need to do to afford that apartment?" I asked.
 
"Some kind of business," he replied.
 
"Yah, I know that, but what kind of business?"
 
"Uhhhhh, Uhhhhh prostitution" he replied.
 
"Bah, I knew you were going to say that!"
 
"But then who can work for our company?" he thinks for a moment.  "Maybe our friends in Canada.  Yah.....Tanya, Jennifer, Nicole..." Sung Hyun starts listing off my friends.  "Yah Korean men, gonna like Western girls with a big booms".  Sung Hyun mixed up the 'b' in boobs.
 
"Haha, okay Sung Hyun, too far!  No really, what do you think we could do?"
 
After 20 minutes of brainstorming legitimate possibilities Sung Hyun says "I think prostitution is more easy".
 
Back to the drawing board.  Or perhaps we should just keep our jobs in Canada!

 
During our walk our mission was to get to that bridge.  We walked for over an hour and didn't get very far.  We took a taxi and it got us there in $4 (tip included!)

 
We escaped the rain and headed into a coffee shop. 

 
Where, you guessed it, we ordered shaved ice and nuts for $10 (okay, there's a little more in there than just that!)


 
Spent the rest of the evening drinking beer and chatting to some people at a bar just around the corner from our hotel.


 
Then we were in bed by 1 am.  I could have continued but Sung Hyun wanted to go to sleep!
 
Observations of the Day:
 
1.  Why does it always rain when we go on vacation?  This seems to be a reoccurring pattern.