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Friday, April 29, 2011

Making our(and your) electronics work!

I knew that when we came to Korea we would need plug adapters (like going to Europe), but surprisingly there's not much information on the adapters or (drum roll please) the power converters that are what you need for any high-wattage electronics. Like Computers, TV's, hair dryers, any sort of hair implement, for some reason my toothbrush charger. In other words, lots.

So here's what I hope is helpful information for any potential expats. First, here's one website that actually has some information.

Second, here's some helpful photos. (Pictures are always what I want when looking for information... reading is hard! j/j)

Here's an outlet in Korea.

And a Korean plug!
Like my chipping nail polish? Classy. ;)

Standard Adapter (Will work for small electronics... currently being used to charge our cell phones)

For bigger electronics (like I said above) you need a converter... I would bring power strips, lots of power strips.

Now, don't panic when you see these. They're actually for sale in your local HomePlus in Korea(well, at least in our local HomePlus), near the lightbulbs and other powerstrips, etc. You can count on finding them when you get here. However, be aware, they're not cheap. About $40 each.

Once again, make sure you bring all your power strips. The converters only have 2 outlets, like a normal wall outlet. I don't know if I'd plan on bringing your hairdryer, etc. It might be more of a pain then it's worth to have one of these in the bathroom when you could go to HomePlus and pick up a $20 Korean hairdryer. That's what I decided for our Iron anyway. Not worth hauling a converter around... 

Hope this helps anyone trying to find out information. Feel free to post questions if you have them! I'll try to get back to you within 24hours. :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jangan-Sa (Jangan Temple) Saturday 23rd

On Saturday we went to the very touristy Jangan-Sa. In contrast to Moonsoo-Sa the previous weekend, there was no mountain to climb up (though you could climb the one behind the temple if you felt adventurous), there was a huge parking lot, and lots of souvenirs available for purchase! There were people actually worshiping here too, and real monks chanting (which was piped out amongst the grounds). Our friend Doug came with us, too. (God, I really hope he reads this someday, haha!)

I tried to take a picture of the entire temple and failed, it was just too large, so here's some bits and pieces.

First, some temple history (Thank you multi-lingual tourist sign!):
This is the main building of Jangansa temple. The temple is said to have been founded by the great priest Wonhyo in 673, originally called Ssanggyesa, but renamed Jangansa after King Chungjang of Goryeo kingdom visited this temple. It was burnt down in 1592 by the Japanese and rebuilt in 1638, by the great priest Tae-ui. Daeungjeon was rebuilt in 1654 by three priests. Each side of the building has three bays with a tiled roof, a double eaves and a multi-cluster bracket structure. The building was recolored in 1975. It is a high and solid structure manifesting a majestic appearance as the main shrine of this temple.

Here's some folks taking a drink of the cool stream water. It looked really good, and I don't think you had to be "baptized" to take part. However, unlike the Blood of Christ, there is no alcohol in this water to sanitize the germs, so we didn't take part. (Happy Buddha!! I love him, he's so cute!)

This is a sneaky photo of the monks(!) chanting. I didn't know if it was respectful or appropriate, but I had too, they're just so cool!! No one glared. So either no one saw or no one cared. I didn't want to find out. :D

Blinging. (I can only hope that this is all real gold, cause that would be so super sweet)

We went on a walk behind the temple. Beyond this are hard core hiking trails, we stuck to the formal paths through the bamboo forest this time.

And when we were leaving, Shannon told me to take this picture. Good thing he did, it turned out great!

We were going to buy some souvenirs, but the ones we fell in love with were more money then we had on us, and they didn't take credit cards. We'll have to go back I guess. Oh darn!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gwangalli Eobang Festival, Sunday 24th

On Sunday, we went to the Gwangalli Eobang Festival, with one of Shannon's Korean Co-Workers, Mr. Kim and his family, Mrs. Kim, Emily and Paul. Emily and Paul are their little girl and boy and I'm pretty sure those aren't their real names, but that's what they told us to call them. Also, Doug came too. haha! I hope Doug reads this at some point.

We got down there about 2:30pm, just in time to catch this play/musical going on. Mr. Kim tried to explain to Shannon and I what was going on, but we were still lost. Cool Picture though.

There were a whole bunch of learning activities along the way. Some had really long lines. Like the Cotton Candy Line. I'm not sure if Cotton Candy is normally available or not, but it was free to try here so the line was epic. We didn't stand in it. We did find a tent where you could dress up like an ancient Korean Warrior. The kids wanted to dress up and they talked their dad into it too. Soon after, they talked Shannon into it! 
Mr. Kim, Emily and Paul. So fierce!!

Shannon posing with Paul! Somehow he doesn't look as authentic as Mr. Kim....

We continued down the beach. Mr. Kim, Doug, and Paul all tried shooting a bow, in what Shannon and I were sure were very unsafe circumstances. (Shooting in a tent, with people on either side, etc). Further down the beach were traditional Korean games. Including this sweet invention, which Doug was sure we were going to break our legs trying out. We all tried, it was a lot of fun, but none of us were as good as these random Korean girls.

The goal is to bounce your partner high in the air so when they come down they bounce you even higher. It's harder then it sounds, but a lot of fun!
Look how high she's being bounced!

Soon after, the Kim kids were getting tired, so the Kim's went home for the day. We were hungry and we were just a short subway ride away from TGIFridays, genuine american burgers, but we had never used the subway in Busan yet! We decided being courageous was the only way we would get TGIFridays so we sucked it up and walked to the Subway station. With some fumbling we figured out how to buy tickets and headed on down to the train.

As blurry as this photo is, I love it! Shannon's so happy!

We successfully made it to TGIFridays... but when I saw the uniforms, I thought we might have stumbled into a Hooters instead:
Maybe Cooters....
Trying to subtly take a photo of the shorty short skirts all the waitresses were wearing. Really short skirts.

Our genuine american burgers were delicious and actually tasted like an american cheeseburger! We headed back to the subway, we needed to get back to the festival in time for the fireworks and boats on the water. Along the way we walked through an open air market. When we got back on the subway, we spotted these gems.
The matching couple! Yes, they dressed that way on purpose!

Shannon told me how rude I was taking their picture and I pointed out that my picture had been taken several times today because I'm white and I hadn't been upset. Win! :D

We got back just in time for the fireworks show. Not many of my pictures turned out. I tried out all kinds of different setting, but this is really the best.
The boats are out on the water, dancing under the fireworks. But we can't see the full dance from where we are. It's still beautiful.

Weird little moments throughout the day:
  • Being Interviewed on the beach- not sure what for, school project maybe? They love interviewing americans if they can for some reason.
  • Being filmed watching handicapped people dance... while we were making some very politically incorrect jokes. Whoops!
  • A Korean girl and her boyfriend trying to secretly take pictures with me. I didn't even realize they were there until Shannon said "Would you like to take a picture with us?" They were very excited that we willingly took a photo with them. We surmised later that they might have thought I was someone famous... lol!
We went home soon after that. Overall, good Sunday!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Worst lunch ever - Korean "American"

I don't have a ton of time today, so here's a shorty about Saturday's lunch.

At HomePlus (grocery store/department store), there's a food court. It's fast, and usually pretty good. They have selections of Korean, Japanese, "American" and Mixed food. You can buy family meals for about 12,000W or individual meals about 6,000W.

Friday night we went out with friends and decided to Fear Factor it up. We had entrails and silkworms after we had drank quite a bit. So when I woke up with a massive hangover Saturday morning, Shannon asked what I wanted for lunch, I said "Something unbelievably normal, please". (I could still smell entrails)

We ordered the American Family Meal to share, figuring they might have ruined somethings. Turned out they ruined everything!

I was mostly guessing what they were trying to make, I can't confirm anything.

The best thing was the "Hot Dog", probably because I hadn't tasted mustard in a while, yum!

Everything else was inedible and tasted grosser then the entrails from the night before. Note how they couldn't resist putting fish into something!

Lesson learned? Don't eat Korean "American" food. After we gave up on this meal, we went and got ice cream to make up for lunch being so unsatisfying. The ice cream flavors weren't normal either, but I was able to find chocolate, that's all I needed. :D

Friday, April 22, 2011

For the first time

since moving to Korea, I am truly bored. Sure I could be productive. Practice my Korean, clean, play Rift or WoW. But I don't want to. I had plans today. Plans that involved walking through the tunnel system to the Bus stop and trying figure out the bus route, maybe walking down to Wollae, and if I can't do that, I don't want to do anything.

It's raining steadily right now and it's supposed to all weekend. It's even ruining our plans for this weekend. More on that in a minute. Since I'm bored and feeling grumpy about it, I wanted to complain some more about how much I hate my washer dryer.

This is a load of laundry. I put my foot next to it so you can see how big it is all mushed together.

This is what is in that load of laundry. 2 pairs of underwear (mine and shannons), 3 pairs of socks, 1 T-shirt, 1 tank top, and 1 pair of jeans.

Gah!!! Laundry is never done at this rate. Why? Because this isn't even a full day worth of clothes for us. Shannon usually changes when he gets home from work, and I wear something besides a tank top, that's a layer, not an outfit. Also this load does not include my pants, only Shannon's!

The washer/dryer can physically fit more, but this load is what will successfully wash and dry. Multiple pairs of pants are usually a bad idea unless one is not jeans or at least some lighter fabric.

One more thought, in response to my current favorite blog online, The Wanderlust Diary, maybe the reason Koreans write stories about washer dryers is because the laundry is never done!!!

Ok, I'm done ranting about the Washer Dryer, for now... back to how the rain is ruining our plans for the weekend.
Plans before the rain:
Go Hiking to another kick-a$$ temple
Go to the Gwangalli Eobang festival at Gwangalli beach. See the awesome dancing boat lights.

Since both of these are outside, that pretty much kills those plans. I'm not so upset about not going hiking, the temple will still be there next weekend. But it sucks that the festival will probably be rained out. We're currently going to try for Sunday afternoon/evening, hopefully the rain will be done by then.

Speaking of weekend plans, Shannon has a 6 day weekend coming up, we're debating about what we want to do... we think we should go to another country. Normally, Japan would be the obvious choice, but with everything going on over there I don't know how much they would welcome tourists. So we've nixed that choice, much to my dismay. :(     So, suggestions? Ideas?

A happy picture to end on... Lizzie likes the cubby holes as much as I do!
She likes to watch me getting ready in the morning. See her in my closet? lol. Perfect kitty perch. I took this picture in my vanity mirror across from our closets.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Love/Hate Relationship

As we discover more about Korea, there's more to love... and hate! This is stuff I love and hate about our apartment (or stuff in our apartment).

I love the great instant coffee packets they have here.
This little instant coffee packet has sugar and creamer in it. Just pour it in the bottom of your cup and pour hot water on top of it. Yum! I have never liked any instant coffee before and I really like this.

I hate not having a dishwasher. I didn't take a picture of not having a dishwasher cause it's not there!!!!! All these awesome appliances and conveniences and I have to wash my own dishes?! That sucks!!!

I Love the heated floors. Never have I wanted to be in my socks so much. I wasn't so sure about the very Asian tradition of taking your shoes off before you come in to any place, home, restaurant, etc. But I quickly got used to it and learned to wear shoes that slip off easily. If you go to a restaurant where it's required to take off your shoes (and then sit on the floor, they go hand in hand), the floor is typically padded and heated as well. Heaven.
Anyway, this is about in the apartment. When you turn on the floor heat, the apartment heats up really quickly. In fact, it's been chilly here for the last week (about 45F), I turn on the floor heat for a couple hours during the day, turn it off before Shannon gets home and he's complaining about how hot it is. If we ever redo floors in any room in our american house, I'm going to investigate floor heat. Love it!!

How low the counter-tops are. The come up to my thigh. Which means when I'm washing said dishes above, I get a crick in my back. A whole nation of short people are going to give me a bad back!
Not a great picture since I took it at home today, so no Shannon to help, but it gets the point across.

Even though our 3 bedroom apartment is a lot smaller then our house (duh!), I love how many cubby places there are to store things. For example, in the entryway, where it is expected that everyone will take off their shoes, there's a shoe closet. (A whole closet for my shoes you say? <3 ) With even some features that I haven't figured out yet... gotta ask our new Korean friends.

Our hard, uncomfortable sofa. You have to sit up straight or slide off and it's hard! No taking a nap on this couch. At least it's nice looking... Too bad it also shows all the cat hair...

Key code door locks. I was thinking that we needed one of these before we came to Korea, now I'm sure. With no way to lock yourself out of your house by accident, this is a modern convenience I would love to have at our house in the future.

Our Washer/Dryer. With a very small barrel and that it takes about 4 hours to do a load of laundry, it means I feel like I'm constantly doing laundry to keep up. I can't imagine what people with kids do... it washes like 5 pieces of clothing at a time. Maybe it's just not made to handle our large american body clothing.   -.-    I actually tried washing 3 towels yesterday and it was too much for it. It refused to dry it, having an error until I finally took one towel out and then it would work. Grrrrr.....
I already can't wait to get back to my huge washer dryer. (That takes about 2 hours total to wash and dry) Ah someday.

And now I'll try to end on a
I love having a security camera that turns on automatically when someone rings our doorbell, or you can turn it on yourself. In a busy apartment, it makes me feel safe and sound. We need this when we get back so I can feel extra safe when Shannon's off on business trips. :)
Neat right? That's the hall outside our door. There are buttons to call the police and remotely bolt the door. Though if we called the police they wouldn't understand us..... Maybe just panicked yelling would get a cop to come to our door. :D

There are lots more things I can think of in both the Love and Hate categories, but they'll have to wait till another day!

Til next time!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Engrish - Part 1

The Koreans really like English. They put it on things purely for decoration. Similar to people in the US getting Tattoos with Japanese characters.

I really want everyone to think about that as you read this post. What does your favorite Japanese Character decoration really say? Are you sure it's what you think it is?

These were all from this weekend. Kyle S. pointed out the Mother's Finger cookies that I posted on Facebook (I didn't even notice that one, haha!)

From Lotteria (Korean McDonalds, except healthier).
It's hard to read, so here's what it says: "We made happiness for your wonderful life... have fun with lotteria"
At least it makes sense!

This is from our night out at Gwangalli... and no we didn't go in this club to see what it was like.

???? I think this was supposed to be a poem for a cafe. How many syllables is a Haiku supposed to have?

If you like cutting boards, you'll have very Happy Wood. Shannon spotted this one from a mile away. lol.

This book is supposed to teach English?? Not off to a good start, unless there's a language called Ehglish that I don't know about? And right next to it.... What's the difference? Except that on one, they spelled English correctly.

I had to take a picture of the hat first so you would know the context. This is at a flea market.

I think this says "American: Skateboarding is about enjoying yourself lance (maybe Lance, like a name?).
Mountaim enjoying and ind air at bolvin-out north toiego county kidney 2002"

Maybe they're talking about Sidney? If so, that's Australian. And what does skateboarding have to do with Mountains? Anyone ever heard of bolvin or toiego county?

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. In Korea's defense, most of their English use, while stilted, makes sense in context and is very very helpful. There's just enough of these around to be amusing.

I thought about having an Engrish post every day, but I can't guarantee them, so I'll just post them in parts as I get them. :D

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cheongdo Traditional Bull Fighting Festival

On Sunday morning, we drug ourselves out of bed bright and early to meet Andy and Wayne to drive to the Cheongdo Bull Fighting Festival.

This is not like the Spanish Bull Fights you've heard of. Instead two bulls are pitted against one another. And no bulls are killed.

So how did this tradition start? From Frommer's Events :
"Bullfighting in Korea is a 1000-year old tradition, with it's roots in the territorial fights that establish grazing rights between the bulls. The farmers were quick to see the benefits for themselves, should their bull emerge victorious, so they took to lending a hand.
It's not all about strength and aggression - these carefully trained bulls are awarded points, in much the same way as martial arts, for such recognized moves as pushing, head attack, neck attack, and more"
Using my brochure, which lists the different striking techniques, let me see if I can find pictures that example the 8 ways a bull can score.

Neck Striking. This is being done by the Champion on the left. Apparently this is a crazy hard technique everyone was going wild for. The Champion won, even though his competitor was bigger.

Horn Hanging. My brochure says: "It is an aggressive attacking technique to press or raise the other bull's horn" I don't know who's doing what here...

Horn Striking. Maybe?

Pushing. (Really cool to watch one bull push the other with his head!)

Head Striking.

Techniques we didn't see: Side Striking (Striking the belly)
Hanging and Striking- I don't think anyway, the translation on this technique is pretty vague.
Repeated Striking

It's over! The other Bull is running away!

From what I understand, the Bulls that participate in these competitions (professional and amateur) are like family. Pets even. The trainers showed no fear of them and would get right up in their faces to cheer them on in the fight. Sometimes a bull would pull back and look at its trainer for instruction. The trainer would shout commands and the bull would go back to fighting. 

Other things at this festival include lots and lots of food. Some home-made moccoli, which was so-so, lots of drinking. Some agricultural displays about traditional Korean farming. Some shows on a side stage, including a professional dance troupe, which Shannon and I thought were 15, turns out they're like 25.   >.<     They were dancing to american music, one piece which shouted C*ck several times. lol. Not family appropriate! Oh well, they probably don't teach Korean children the word C*ck in their English lessons... 

Another highlight was this extremely drunk old guy at the magic show.

See him? He's there far in the front. Telling the magician what he's doing wrong, dancing, and trying to incite the crowd into cheering. His poor wife keeps trying to call him back, he pays attention for about a minute then waves her away and goes back to hassling the poor magician.

The old guy got tired of the magician ignoring him and decided to take matters into his own hands by going up on stage. rofl!

This is a good example though of the filial piety, hierarchical culture in Korea. Up until this point everyone was politely ignoring the obviously trashed old guy and letting do what he wanted. After he was removed from stage, he went back to standing in front after a couple of minutes. Fortunately for the poor magician the show was almost over. No one had watched him. :( 

For anyone wondering, here's where we went to get to this festival:

Apparently, this valley has a reputation for trapping and holding heat. Because, when we left it was in the upper 40s, and it was easily in the 70's at Cheongdo. (Fahrenheit of course)

Update! I figured out how to upload our videos to YouTube (OMG Kim, welcome to the 21st century!), so here's the sweet video Shannon took of the first Bull Fight we saw. Good job Honey!@!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Moon-Soo-Sa (Moon-Soo Temple)

Saturday morning we woke up and the temperature had dropped about 10 degrees F. But we had decided the day before that we really wanted to go hiking to a temple. So we bundled up in sweatshirts and jeans instead of shorts and set out. Since it was so cold we decided we didn't want to hike all day. Shannon had spotted this temple on a map quite a ways away from us. We didn't know if tourists were allowed, we just hopped in the car and started driving. We left at 11am, stopped for lunch at Lotteria, which is a Korean burger joint, drove the long way around the coast, explored, got out and took pictures, and actually got to the mountain at about 2pm, after getting lost and getting stuck on a tollway!

We knew we were in the right place because of the lanterns at the road and the tour buses bringing old lady's to hike. Right now you're thinking "old lady's hike this? Must be a puss mountain." It's not, these old lady's are tough as nails and got there at like 7am to hike all day up that mountain and back down again. We were the puss's that drove most of the way up the mountain because we were starting at 2pm and we're out of shape!

Since we couldn't read the signs we had no idea how far away the temple was from the road, so we would drive a little ways, find a good place to park and get out and hike a little bit, realize we weren't even remotely close to the temple (no temple in sight, even from the top of hills), and hike back to the car and drive some more.

On one of those stops, we had hiked off the "road", and kept finding these mounds. We came across one with a marker and figured out they must be graves (confirmed with Andy, Korean friend, later).

After we got back into the car, we drove again, and we discovered that what we thought was the mountain, was actually a mountain next to the mountain and we hadn't started going up the big one yet.

Here's the beautiful little valley in-between the two mountains. 

We drove until we saw some signs and other cars, of the other people that were too puss to hike the entire mountain(s). At this point we still had a little hike until we started to see the temple lanterns, I was out of breath for sure!

I love the lanterns!

We got up to the temple and didn't stay for long, we saw a side trail and decided to hike up to see what we saw. What we saw was the top of the mountain, 599.8 meters above sea level.

The view from the top of the mountain. That huge looking city down there is Ulsan... not so huge compared to Seoul or Busan.

We started hiking back down, I looked and none of the pictures I have properly show how steep it was. You'll just have to take my word that I no longer thought the Koreans were silly for all having very expensive hiking sticks.

We saw this very small deer, which we're pretty sure is full grown (see the antlers) but he was very small. We didn't see any tusks which would have made him a Water Deer, but we could've missed them.

We kept coming across stacks of rocks. We're not entirely certain why, we're assuming it's a method of devotion or meditation, as it seems like it would take a lot of concentration. 

Coming back down the trail, I took this photo of the bell tower. I do have more pictures of the temple, though we didn't take a ton as it was obviously a place where people were worshiping we didn't want to be disrespectful.


We left at about 5pm and we got home at about 6pm, we took main highways this time. Three hours of hiking driving and picture taking later. It was a great experience and we're talking about trying another temple next weekend. One not quite so far away.

The top of the mountain in relation to the temple.

Temple in relation to our house.