Sunday, August 30, 2015
Eating has been a challenge here in Korea that has not gotten much easier even after 6 months. All the Korean restaurants seem to have very similar food. There are some things we really like and other things we avoid (octopus, I’m looking at you). Since we eat Korean food daily for lunch at school, we try to venture away from it for dinner. Finding Western food is not the easiest task and it’s also more expensive than the local cuisine. Sometimes it doesn’t come exactly how you’re used to. Want 1 slice of pizza? Tough luck! At most places, you have to buy the whole pie -Monster Pizza is an exception- and unfortunately, this has once led to consuming the whole pie in one sitting. Not my finest moment.
We found a Japanese restaurant and a Mexican-influenced restaurant near our local Home Plus and were itching to try both. Non- “Pasta, Pizza, Pilaf, Steak” places are hard to come by! We chose to go to the Japanese one tonight. As soon as I looked at the menu, I realized this restaurant is a chain (what isn’t?) and I went to the other location downtown a few months back. Oops. Anyway, now that I’ve been to Japan I was able to appreciate it much more! I ordered a don katsu curry udon soup dish and it was delicious! Some of my favorite parts of Japanese cuisine all rolled into one dish!
When we left, we faced a frustrating experience. We were trying to take a cab home, and for some reason, there aren’t many available taxi’s that drive through this area, even though it has a huge Home Plus. We had 2 taxis refuse to take us home. One literally shook his head at us when he was stopped at a light and wouldn’t let us get in. I could tell it wasn’t an “appointment only” cab, either. It’s really off-putting to be denied service likely because we are foreigners. This isn’t the first time and there’s more racial discrimination here than you may have thought (bars that don’t let in foreigners, schools not willing to hire people from certain English-speaking countries, etc.). This night just kind of sent me over the edge with it. I certainly commiserate with those at home, or anywhere in the world, who are misjudged or treated as second-class citizens just because of where they come from. People are people!!
Monday, August 31, 2015
Sometimes there are miscellaneous vendors on the sidewalks selling anything from popcorn to used toys. This guy comes around maybe once a week or so. He has a key truck – I think he duplicates keys and you can buy all sorts of keys. I don’t really know the specifics. This photo is him packing up his truck, ready to call it a day.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
(Wow, September already!)
Louis (left) took an extended summer vacation of about 2 months and I’m SO happy he’s back because he’s one of my favorites. Such a sweet boy. Here we are in Arts & Crafts making trains.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Kevin and I went to Shinae (downtown) for dinner and a sunglasses purchase. Since glasses are so inexpensive here and quick to produce, Kevin decided to get prescription sunglasses. He got to choose his frames, which were free, and then paid 50,000 KRW for the lens with the gradation of his choice. They will be ready next Monday for pick-up! That equates to less than $50 and less than a week for prescription sunglasses. I don’t have personal experience with this but Kevin tells me that’s unheard of back home.
After we sorted that, we returned to the first restaurant we ever ate at, Ashley Buffet. It is still just okay, but we were able to enjoy it more this time, even though it wasn’t my birthday (though as I’m writing this I realized it was actually my half birthday, so quite fitting indeed). Here’s a photo of Plate 1:
Toward the end of our meal, one of the waitresses came over to our table, and shyly, with her broken English, told us it was nice to meet us and we are a nice couple. Such a sweetheart! It’s also an interesting juxtaposition to the cab drivers who won’t pick us up. Obviously, everyone’s experience with or reaction to foreigners is different and the whole nation cannot be considered to have one POV on the matter. I just prefer this one.
We left Ashley’s in a nice mood and took the bus back to where we live. We got off right at this other eyeglass store we have walked by all the time and on a whim, decided to go in. Kevin got another pair of regular prescription eyeglasses in less than 10 minutes (like physically received them, same as with his first pair back in March or April). The frames were free, and the clerk reduced the price of the lens from 50,000 to 40,000 KRW. And he gave us free iced coffee. Such a pleasant experience that almost makes me want glasses.
Thursday, September 3, 2015
Happy with his purchase, Kevin wore his new eyeglasses to work today and his kids had a field day! He said in one of his classes they all wanted to try them on. The kids took turns putting them on, and the response was the same from everyone, ” Aww so cute, so cute!” This little girl, Bella, has completely stolen Kevin’s heart and she looks great in his glasses to boot!
We went to Chungdae for dinner, which is also the nightlife area at one of the local universities. Around the streets of Chungdae, you will find various arcades and claw games. There’s one set in particular that is pretty cheap and Kevin has won from it before! However, when you pay 5,000 KRW for 32 tries, I sure hope you win something! We watched these 2 girls struggle to get a mini sushi cat from one of the machines. Kevin wanted to try because his theory is that you will succeed after an X amount of failure. He put in his 5,000 won for 32 tries and…you’ll have to watch the video to find out what happened!
Friday, September 4, 2015
Like I mentioned on Monday’s blurb, there are often vendors selling random things on the street. Today, I found 2 ajummas selling their vegetables. I’ve never seen so many hot peppers in my life. You can barely even spot the ajummas in this photo. They are sitting on the floor to the left of the yellow-rimmed bollard (bollards are everywhere, otherwise cars would be on the sidewalk all the time). I like seeing sights like this because it’s so authentic to the culture. I wish I had the nerve to go up and ask them if I could take a proper photo, as opposed to capturing it from behind. If I were in the market for any of their goods, I’d surely buy from them!
Also, see that hand cart on the right? It’s still a very commonly used transportation tool here in Korea. Very surprising the first time I saw it in action. I witness an elderly person loading up and transporting cardboard boxes or foods or trash in those a few times a week, I’d say. I feel like it must be straining to their back and always feel kind of bad when I see it. =\
Well, that was this week in a nutshell. Tomorrow we are [finally/hopefully/fingers crossed] off to the DMZ! Our tour was canceled 2 weeks ago because of the rising tensions between North and South Korea. I liked the way my friend put it best. He said, “I’ve never known anyone personally affected by a dictator before.” Well – there ya have it! Hopefully we won’t be negatively affected a second time. Look forward to posting all about it! Stay tuned!