We are super exhausted and tomorrow is Thursday. Here is the breakdown of how we have spent our week so far:
Friday, Saturday & Sunday
We took it easy. I honestly can't remember what we did other than shop.
Friday night we went to Traveler's Bar and Grill for a farewell gathering for one of the most important people at KIS. He was important because he was the first face we saw when we landed in Korea and he was one of the key players in making our transition seamless. Keith Ki-Won Choi is leaving KIS to do I don't know what. He will be sorely missed but, we wish him luck.
Saturday, we went to E-mart to buy some groceries and other necessities! At E-mart I made a friend with Mr. O, the 64 year old English translator. He was a sweet man who was trying to be as helpful as possible. He talked my ear off while we shopped and I now know that he has a sister in New York and a son in Arizona. Amazing what you can learn in a few short conversations. Stacy was slightly annoyed because it was late and this poor guy wanted to chat (practice his English).
Sunday we went to another E-mart location searching for furniture. Here, we purchased some furniture for the apartment. The manager spoke some English and helped us with our order form. I haven't had to write our address in so long that I forgot it. I also forgot the paper the school gave us with our address written in Korean. I thought, "I'll call some friends and ask them to look up our address." They didn't answer. I'm searching through my wallet for something that has it when my visa falls out. I picked it up and was looking at it when Stacy and I noticed-- IT HAS OUR ADDRESS IN KOREAN! Thank you God for that little accident. :)
On to shopping for clothes. Since the weather is beginning to change, we knew Ethan needed some new winter clothes. Assuming clothes would be cheap here, we only brought summer clothes for Ethan. Bad idea. Never assume. Shopping for clothes at E-mart was not easy. I swear everything looked really girly, even what I thought were boy clothes. The whole skinny jean is in for both boys and girls and Ethan doesn't like them. Stacy and I found some long sleeve shirts and sweatshirts but no pants. We gave up and moved on to Lotte. It's easier to shop there because the attendants can look at him and know exactly what size he needs. We went to the Levi's section but Ethan thought the decoration on the jeans back pockets were hearts (they weren't). He said no to all 3 pairs he tried on and the ones the attendants showed him. They are very attentive. One section over we found a place called AskEnquired. We found a winter jacket that is "pimpin", some jeans, sweat pants, and sweatshirt, all purchased for the plump figure of 269,000 won. After feeling the pain of spending that much money on 4 items, we went home to shop online at Children's Place where we selected 18 items for $175 and $5 shipping. Decision made: take the other clothes back!
Stacy, not having been to Itaewon yet, decided we should make it a relaxing visit. The subway seemed like a good idea because we haven't really used it for long trips. It took 3 transfers and over an hour to get there. We did a lot of walking but didn't really enjoy it because Ethan wasn't minding too well. We walked up to the mosque near the top of the hill. It had great views of the area but I felt very uncomfortable considering we were there during prayer time, near the men's entrance and I was wearing shorts. I was given a skirt to wear to cover my legs. Stacy thought I looked silly in it. What a husband.
We walked around a bit more but didn't really get to look around the areas I was interested in. We'll have to go back another time when we get a babysitter for Ethan.
We ate lunch at Pancho's. Not the Pancho's we all know (buffet style where you raise the flag). This was a well decorated restaurant with an air of authenticity but the food was terrible.
We planned a visit to Gwanghwamun and invited the Katz family to join us. Instead of the subway, we took the bus which took like 30 minutes. Much more time efficient. :) It was a rainy day off and on for the first part of our trip. We went to the Seoul Museum of History which we thoroughly enjoyed minus the temperature inside (oven-like temps). We had originally planned to see the palaces nearby but the rain hindered that plan. Stopped off at the gift shop before leaving the museum to find something to eat.
When you are with another family and looking for something to eat, it can be difficult to agree on a place when one side is picky (mine). We split up and said good-bye. Normally there are places to eat everywhere but, on this rainy day I think we walked 3 blocks before we found one. It was an Italian eatery on the 2nd floor. The 2 things I wanted were cool air and good food. After peeking at the menu and drying off for a bit we decided it wasn't going to work. We braved the rain again to end up at Mr. Pizza which Ethan was cool with. I think from the moment we split with the Katz's, it rained like "cats and dogs".
It rained the whole rest of the day into the night...I mean RAINED. Check out the video that Steve Katz took while we were out.
The Day it Rained in Seoul (click here)
Today was officially Chusok! We started the day late but enjoyed it regardless. Ethan wore his hanbok. Stacy and I dressed up because you are supposed to.
We all rode the bus again into Seoul and went to Seoul Museum of History where they were having Chusok performances. There were so many places we wanted to go to but they are so spread out and it was so late in the afternoon by the time we arrived that chose to enjoy one place today. There were SO MANY people out in Seoul. There was a festival going on downtown that we passed by. The palaces were holding special performances. It was very refreshing witnessing Koreans and their culture. They didn't look down on us either for having Ethan wear a hanbok even though he wasn't Korean. They actually complimented us/him many different ways.
The Museum sponsored performances that were delightful to watch. We enjoyed one of the smaller palaces called Gyeonghuigung Palace. The stark contrast of European palaces and Korean palaces was completely eye opening. Having visited castles in England which are full of all kinds of ornate furniture, the Korean palaces seem bare and spacious. Beautifully decorated on the outside. Ethan loved exploring the palace and the museum. He lead us around asking for us to read everything. He was a great model in his outfit not only for me but for other visitors.
Afterwards, we visited a tent that had an ink imprinting wooden tablet that you could try. Ethan made his own with some mommy supervision.
We ended up at Outback Steakhouse for an expensive dinner. Stacy enjoyed some ribs. The menu was slightly different. Fried rice was one of the sides. Our dinner was served with kimchi, pickles, and radishes. I had forgotten what a good glass of ice cold tea tasted like and it was quite funny how odd it tasted to my tongue.
On the bus home, we met 2 American missionaries that we chatted with. It was good conversation and now we have new "friends" to call if we ever need help.
I had been eyeing this very beautiful vanity at a furniture store down the street. The first time we saw it we were told it cost 250,000 won. We went back to inquire again Sunday and were sent to another furniture store back towards our apartment who actually owns the piece. The owner of the store was very friendly and kind. She introduced herself to us as Catherina. She is from Vancouver but lives here most of the year as she owns this business. She absolutely loved Ethan. She spoke very good English and showed us around her store. Anytime Stacy asked how much something cost, she would say "oh, it is very expensive" and then she would tell him the price. Half way through the store we all realize that she is leaving off a zero, so my vanity which was $250 was really $2,500. WHOA! She's right, very expensive. We ended up exchanging phone numbers and she invited me for a cup of coffee some day soon at her home. She wanted someone to visit with as she is very lonely.
Oh, and we ride the city buses so much that the drivers know us. They wave at us as we are walking down the street. They wait an extra minute if they see us coming. Just the other day we were on the bus and weren't paying attention when the bus driver stopped and told us (in Korean) this is our stop. HA! Glad he was paying attention. :)
We have been making Korean acquaintances everywhere it seems like but, it just goes to show you how great Koreans are. From the lady stranger who gave me a ride back to school the first week to Mr. O at E-mart, they all want to help and make our stay in Korea wonderful because that's how they envision it should be.