Thursday, December 23, 2010

Weekend 42 of 52.

Kindergarten Christmas Program, Insadong Musical Instrument Market, Christmas Show at Cafe Ben James

I have deceptively few pictures from last weekend, but it's probably because everything we did was deceptively low-key. We went to see the Kindergarten Christmas Program at Dan's school on Saturday afternoon, after which we went to check out fortifications for our respective instruments (strings for Dan, reeds for me) at the Musical Instrument Market in Insadong. And then we played a Sunday Christmas show at Cafe Ben James right in Hongdae, and that was a lot of fun. I think Dan is working on a Merry Christmas Carol video from that.

My friend Bonnie is set to arrive in Korea tomorrow night, and then she will spend Christmas and New Year's with us. If it is not too cold, that could result in many interesting things.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Weekend 41 of 52.

Water Heater Repair, Hongdae

When we woke up Saturday morning, we found that our apartment was without power. We promptly ate up the perishables in our fridge (leftover chicken soup and taco meat), then Dan went to Dunkin Donuts to charge his phone and call someone at the school. When he got home, we found the breaker box right in the middle of our kitchen in front of our faces, flipped the switch, and had power again for about ten minutes. So Dan re-called someone from his school, and then his boss came out with an electrician and replaced the fuse. We had power again for about ten minutes. So Dan re-called his boss, who came back later in the evening with a different electrician who discovered that our water heater was overloading the circuit. He fixed the water heater, and all was well, and the day was over. But, it was kind of nice to be stuck inside for a day of lounging around, and now we can take consistently hot showers again.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Weekend 40 of 52.

Haneul Park, Nanjido, Christmas Decorating

Last week we conquered a mountain. This week, we conquered a trash heap. Haneul Park (also Sky Park) is part of the World Cup Park complex and is built on what was once a landfill. Dan's students promised that he would find trash if he dug in the ground. We didn't dig, though, and I think the only trash we did see was relatively new. We climbed a zigzagging staircase and further up an incline to get to a sea of tall waves of grass and one of my favorite views yet of the city. We had a really pleasant walk around the park, and we even got to see some fireworks at the end of a game played in World Cup Stadium.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Weekend 39 of 52.

Inwang Mountain (Inwangsan)

I am no great hiker. Even more am I no great mountain climber. Lo, Dan likes to do these things, and we got an email from another Dan at Justice for North Korea to go with a group of North Korean refugees, some South Koreans, and some foreigners to climb up Inwangsan. I had already promised my Dan that I would hike with him this weekend, so it was all very serendipitous.

So we huffed and we puffed our way up a mountain, and, yes, you will see that there are stairs carved out of rock, but that's still some serious solid inclining. We went out for barbecue after the altitudinal adventure, and we met the runner of this blog and chatted about the runner of this blog, both of which I read on the regular, and it was like there was no such thing as the fourth wall.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Weekend 38 of 52.

Hongdae Free Market, American Thanksgiving

I know I am late blogging the weekend (during which we laid low entirely in Hongdae, watching a friend perform at the Hongdae Free Market and meeting other new friends for coffee), but now I have bonus pictures from our American Thanksgiving dinner. Dan organized the celebration with the other English teachers at his school. We were able to purchase a turkey and ham dinner from the Dragon Hill Lodge. The meat was awesome and completely undoable otherwise, but the sides were lackluster and we didn't even get the advertised beans almondine (mixed vegetables instead) and gravy (raisin rum sauce instead). Luckily, our meal was supplemented with roll cake, lemon cake, nut cake, sweet potatoes, deviled soy sauce eggs, tomatoes, oranges, Tropicana Sparkling, Shany rolls, chocolate peanut butter pie, and the pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes also from the Dragon Hill Lodge.

The food was abundant, and it was so good to spend time with the teachers. We laughed a lot, and Dan said the day was one of his favorites in Korea so far (Thanksgiving coincided with Happy Day at the school, a day for students to shirk class responsibility and watch movies and play games and eat and sell snacks). And now AFN Korea is airing the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which I had given up seeing (but what's a Thanksgiving without various recording artists enthusiastically lip-synching to pre-recorded tracks?)! Thanks, Army!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Weekend 37 of 52.

Seoul Lantern Festival, Tapgol Park, Dongdaemun, Bangsan Baking Market

Before I bounce Dan's post down, I want to direct your attention to it. Living in South Korea has given us an unanticipated ache for the people of North Korea. We aren't sure how best to promote justice there, but we feel like the movie "North" is a step in the right direction. They need funding. You can donate as much or little as you like. They have 45 days to reach their goal of $6500, not a large amount for a movie, not a small amount for independent movie makers. You can donate by clicking here.

Now, on with frivolity. It seems like we end up in Dongdaemun every other weekend, right? But I have chocolate and knitting needs that only the Dongdaemun markets can satisfy. We made sure to supplement that activity with a trip to Tapgol Park, home of the Wongaksa Pagoda. The pagoda is 500 years old, 10 stories high, hewn of marble, and is considered one of Korea's national treasures.

On our way to the park, we decided to revisit the Seoul Lantern Festival in the daytime so we could actually get near some of the lanterns.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Will you help us help them?

I have two or three unfinished posts that have been sitting in draft mode for months, simply because I'm really bad at a) being consistent and b) following through. I am just as interested in sharing those posts with you, but this is time sensitive and a bit more important.

A general disdain for North Korea and its treatment of its people wasn't something we were without before we came to South Korea. Nearly everyone in the world has an idea of the goings-on in NK from bits of news, but I think it's fair to point out that most people aren't aware of the full gravity of the situation.

A small glimpse: during the mid 90's there was a great famine in the country. As many as 3 million people died of starvation due to an incompetent government that valued the ideals of communism more than its own people. This is something that most people in Western culture aren't fully aware of. It's sad to say, but that is only one of many issues the country has had.

With any tyrannical government comes immense fear of dissent. You can't really hold hands with an iron fist. Currently, there are anywhere from 5-7 political prison camps known as "gulags" that hold North Koreans who are seen as political offenders. You could be sent to one of these camps for saying something bad about "Dear Leader (Kim Jong Il)," being a Christian, crossing the wrong person, attempting to defect, or even watching a South Korean drama. These camps are not unlike the ones we saw in Nazi Germany. While there is debate whether NK citizens are used for science experimentation or are gassed in gas chambers, we do know that there are tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) of prisoners who have died from "a combination of exhaustion, disease, starvation, and arbitrary brutality."

This practice does not exclude children nor women.

Something has to be done. Obviously, our ability seems limited at first. To take down one of the longest-standing and deeply-corrupt governments in the world is no small feat. That's why most North Korean justice organizations are currently working on awareness as one of their top priorities.

Most Westerners have heard about Darfur but probably have no clue what the word gulag means. A small Japanese film group has taken it upon themselves to try to raise awareness through a popular format: animation.

Serenity and I really believe this is a legitimate way to turn people's eyes toward a situation that can no longer be ignored. From the group's kickstarter page:

A group of animators and human right activists from Japan have determined to produce an animation film to inform, inspire, and empower others to raise a voice against heinous human rights violations inside North Korea's notorious concentration camps, where over 200,000 "violators" are overworked, tortured, raped or publicly executed today.

Using the popular and accessible so-called "Anime" style, the film will graphically depict the survival of a young boy who grew up in the camp and escaped to a freer world.

The cost to get the project started isn't small. It will probably be very difficult to obtain, but it's necessary.

Please watch the informational video below to see if this is something you feel called to help with. If so, you can click through on the video and find out more details.

I'm not sure if this is too didactic, but we can't stay silent.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Weekend 36 of 52.

Cafe Rumi, Unhyeongung Palace, Insadong, Seoul Lantern Festival, Bosingak Bell Pavilion

We kick-started last weekend with mid-week fun at Cafe Rumi, a TV and Wii room, to celebrate Luke's birthday. We bowled, we boxed, we ice-skated, and we had bottomless soda and ice cream. A fine way to spend a Wednesday.

On Saturday we went to our third palace (1 here and here, 2 here). I have been surprised at the differences between the palaces. This one felt more casual and had mannequins set up to display the clothes and practices of the time. After the palace, we walked through Insadong. Dan and I got harassed by a drunk man alternately trying to give us things and get us to bow low and say we were thankful. But for real, he followed us the length of Insadong's main road, pressing a crappy mirror compact into Dan's chest, until a vendor told him to leave us alone. It was not awesome. At least we got some tasty street food. This time a stuffed and fried pancake called hodduk.

The Seoul Lantern Festival is on, so we tried to muscle our way down to Cheonggyecheon Stream to see the light show. It was completely packed, complete with police officers manning the stairs and a queue snaking around stream's wall. We abandoned that idea, peeked down from street level, and then moved on.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Weekend 35 of 52.

Myeongdong, Street Food, Makgeolli, Konkuk University

Nearly a week ago, we revisited Myeongdong to do some seasonal bolstering of our wardrobes. I infamously packed only two pairs of pants to move to a place without sizes because small fits all, but Myeongdong has some Western shops and some size variety. Also, we'd heard tell of some fancy heat-retaining shirts and tights. So that Dan wasn't completely bored all day, he tried out some new street food, including a giant cream puff, a giant ice cream cone, and a Korean hot pocket. Then we went over near Konkuk University for the first of Korrine's birthday celebrations, at which we drank makgeolli, traditional Korean rice wine, mixed with Chilsung Cider, traditional Korean 7 UP.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekend 34 of 52.

Grease, Bukchon Hanok Village Walking Tour

On Saturday night, Dan and I dressed up for a proper date to Chungmuro to see the musical Grease. I'm a girl. I had a strange middle-school affinity for the Bee Gees. I like Grease. Dan agreed to see it with me because he likes me, and he likes Korea. We knew all the dialogue would be in Korean, obviously, but we thought maybe the songs would still be in English. We were a little bit right. Pretty much all of the song titles were sung in English as they came up in the lyrics, but that was then promptly exchanged for rapid-fire Korean. It went a little something like this*: Summer lovin' 핫 미 어 브라스트, summer lovin' 합엔드 소 바스트. Greased Lightnin' was probably the most entertaining song for the collective us, as it was sung with a very enthusiastic vibrato and an endearingly incorrect pronunciation.

Things of note:
-The girls were way better singers than the boys. Rizzo was by far the most talented in our cast.
-The boys are hard to tell apart from very far away (which is where we were sat). I couldn't tell Kenickie from Sonny from Doody. Danny was always easy to spot, though, since he spends most of his time being followed around by swooning girls cooing his name.
-You will not see the hand-jive, extol as they might its virtues and opine about its life-defining importance. That made me sad.
-The second half of the curtain call consists of the T-Birds ripping their shirts off and gyrating for the girls with floor seats. It was a bit weird.

So, we enjoyed all of it very much, but I am glad we did not attempt it sooner or with a less familiar show. Though we don't know much Korean, we could easily recognize what we did know, and that was fun for the full first half. The musical numbers were familiar and Koreans are pretty much experts at pantomime. We did start to feel the work of decoding near the middle of the dialogue-heavy second hour, but we pushed through and would reckon it worthwhile.

But then we accidentally ate pork belly for dinner, and that was significantly less pleasant.

Sunday afternoon found us in Bukchon, a traditional village area in Seoul, full of traditional craft and trade workshops and thousands of hanok, traditional homes. We walked through a brief museum at the Bukchon Traditional Culture Center and picked up a map. We really ended up just following all the other people into the hanok maze and spent several hours walking around being amazed. Because it was Sunday, many of the museums and shops were closed, so we hope to go back on a better day to see demonstrations and things like embroidery and knots and chicken art.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Weekend 33 of 52.

Seoul Grand Park: Seoul Zoo, Rose Garden, Seoul Land

This is the first time I am unequivocally not recommending one of our weekend things. If you are an adult, do not go to Seoul Land. If you are an adult with children, go to one of Korea's myriad other theme parks. I don't mean to be mean, but Seoul Land was just lame. It started out okay in the Tilt House, which was satisfyingly disorienting. We attempted a couple waits in a couple lines but kept giving up before getting to ride either of the roller coastery set ups. Mostly we wandered, marveling at the flurry of activity around us, yet with no real idea of anything to do. We had some doughnuts from Dunkin Donuts, we had some ice slushes, and then we went home.

But, that is not to say that we didn't enjoy the Seoul Zoo part of the Seoul Grand Park Complex. The zoo was very zoo-like. There was a dolphin show we regrettably skipped in order to make it to Seoul Land. Our favorite part was the sky lift. Our favorite part of the sky lift was having to let it hit and collapse our legs upon entrance and then having to do the reverse (jump up and run off) upon exit. Theirs was an inertia not to be halted. We also liked looking at the baby and toddler animals in the nursery.

So, Seoul Zoo is okay, but I preferred Children's Grand Park for its proximity to the animals and variety of activities. Otherwise, the citizens of Seoul should petition to have Seoul Land renamed to something like Seoulless Land (and that is how you accomplish a burn).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Weekend 32 of 52.

Seoul International Fireworks Festival

The Fourth of July in Korea was like the fifth of July in Korea. That is to say, it pretty much happened without our noticing. We made up for our patriotic neglect by watching fireworks in October (because what are fireworks but little explosive declarations of US independence?). We walked down to the river, set up a Chinese takeout picnic, and saw fireworks in the style of China, Canada, and Korea as part of the Seoul International Fireworks Festival.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Weekend 31 of 52.

Hongdae, Dangsan, Hangang Park

I'm not going to say that the rain ruined another weekend of plans (plans involving Seoul Grand Park and being outside and not being wet). I will instead type it. That is what's known as semantics. No, but I don't hate the rain, though it does inspire taking shelter and eating popcorn for dinner and taking pictures of neither of those activities.

Sunday was dry enough for a walk along the river. And that is pretty much all we did.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekend 30 of 52.

Ewha, Charlie Brown Cafe

Has there ever been a lazier week in Asia? Dan and I left the house almost exclusively to eat. It was Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving), and we had every day off but Monday. Korrine went to Taiwan. Other people went to various Korean islands. We slept past breakfast every morning, did a puzzle at a Starbucks, and met three friends for three dinners. It was too wonderful.

Our first dinner was Tuesday night in Gangnam for some Asian Fusion with Nikki, with whom we hope to attend a Korean performance of Grease. I can't wait to learn what hickeys from Korean Kenickies are like (like Hallmark cards when Kenickie's an American). Thursday night we went out for chicken and 24 hour pastries with Shin (from Cafe Soul Underground) and his American friend Paula. Our third dinner was last night in Gwacheon (outside of Seoul, so there!) where we had home-cooked Jjim Dalk/찜닭 (spicy soy sauce chicken) at the behest of our new friend Il Kwon and by the hand of his lovely wife So Yeong, who also prepared Bimbimbap and a variety of Chuseok fruits. Il Kwon even made us espresso drinks, providing me with one of my best Americanos in Korea.

Today we ventured out to see the area around Ewha Womans University [sic]. We drank sad sack coffee at the Charlie Brown Cafe. And then we welcomed Korrine back at our favorite local barbecue restaurant (because everyone has one of those).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Weekend 29 of 52.

Seoul Folk Flea Market, Seoul Global Center's Quarterly Foreign Flea Market

Seoul Global Center's Quarterly Foreign Flea Market, as its name declares, happens only 4 times a year. We've been in Seoul for two previous installments, having meant to attend each, and forgotten when the Saturdays finally rolled around. I was set to forget again and thought we should go out to Olympic Park, but Dan remembered because he is so smart.

The Foreign Flea Market is held in the parking lot of the Seoul Folk Flea Market complex. The foreign offerings ($8 for a tube of Quaker Oats, for example) were underwhelming, but the Folk Flea Market was pretty awesome. Dan tried to talk down some guitar hawkers, but each time to no avail. Korrine found, for fewer than $50, a hiking bag for her imminent trip to Taiwan. And we all sifted through a dozen sheets of lapel pins to find Seoul specific buttons.

We serendipitously timed our visit to the market to coincide with a weekly auction, at which we were the only non-Korean participants. The bid crier really appreciated Korrine's foreign enthusiasm and rewarded it with special attention and clever taunts. We got outbid on a classical guitar, then outbid again on a backpack. But we put in a 1000 won bid and won! a portrait of the president's deceased wife in traditional Korean garb. All right! And, even better, for participating, we got three 1000 won gift certificates to use at the flea market with which we purchased our pins. It was a really, really fun way to spend the afternoon, and we are ever thankful that such fortuitous cultural things have their way of happening to us.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mid-Week Things.

Noraebang, Bowling

Some weekdays occasion that we should do fun group activities. Sometimes we get together with the teachers and eat chicken galbi. Other times we go to Noraebangs (singing rooms) and have Scorpions sing-alongs. Still other times we head to basement bowling alleys to alternate strikes and spares, while trying to avoid the inevitable poodles and sour apples (hey bowling, your slang is so cheesy cakes). It's fun!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Weekend 28 of 52.

Hongdae Free Market, Seoul Wow Book Festival, "Smart Donuts" at Dunkin Donuts

Dan and I (as the Bell & the Hammer) got to play at the Afternoon Stage of the Hongdae Free Market. The Free Market is an artist run flea market where you can buy handicrafts and hear some music. It's held every Saturday at the Hongdae Playground. Saturday's weather forecast called for pretty much 100% chance of rain at all times, but it managed to lessen to just sprinkling for a couple afternoon hours. That made us glad.

On our way home from the Free Market, as the rain picked up, we walked through the Seoul Wow Book Festival.

On Sunday we had our second Korean hit of Taco Bell and ate some "Smart Donuts" (made with soy milk!) at Dunkin Donuts.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Weekend 27 of 52.

Hyehwa, Lock Museum, Kokdu Museum

We've been to Hyehwa once before to visit Cafe Mano for patbingsu and milkshakes. Yum. We went back again to visit Cafe Mano for milkshakes and tiramisu. But also so that we could go to the Lock Museum and the Kokdu Museum.

Locks are locks. No further explanation necessary, but I will say that the curators shyly spoke excellent English and gave us a quality book of Seoul Museum tourist info (as part of the "Infinitely Yours, Seoul" campaign, which I think is really cute).

Kokdu, though, are wooden figurines of angel-type beings that decorate funeral biers. They act as guides to and guardians of the deceased as they wander their way to heaven. The Kokdu stories reminded me of Dante's Inferno (which I only read for a college class, so don't think I'm too terribly smart or cultured). The funeral bier is also decorated with phoenix and dragon carvings. We learned of dragons, that they follow the path of the rain and are able to descend into the depths of the seas and then ascend to the heights of the heavens. As such, dragons are fantastic afterlife companions (and not at all the combatants that skewed Western lore would have you believe), fighting off foes and having all that inside information.

All of the descriptions in the Standing Exhibit were translated proficiently into English. There is also a dynamic Special Exhibit that presents Kokdu in varying modern art genres. Transient as it is, this exhibit's explanations are only in Korean. When we went, it contained manual wheel animations (called phenakistoscope) and crank puppets (like this, but in real life). The museum is small and it is not free (W5000 per adult), but it was different from all the other museums we've been to, and we really enjoyed it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Weekend 26 of 52.

Rain, Dongdaemun Shopping Town, Bangsan Baking Market, Rain, Tri Nations Rugby game at Scrooge's in Itaewon, Seoul Station, Rain

It rained a lot this weekend. Before we knew it was going to rain every day, we had decided to go to Lotte World, the largest indoor amusement park, to celebrate our 26th weekend. Dan wisely discerned that maybe a lot of people would go to an indoor amusement park on a rainy summer day, so we opted for something less. I needed to make another trip to Bangsan Baking Market for powdered sugar and maybe some bran flour, and I wanted to check out Dongdaemun Shopping Town for knitting supplies, so we trudged around through the Dongdaemun markets. We were armed with little more than flip flops and umbrellas, but we managed. And I still walked away with some black rice powder (no bran) and a couple packs of yarn.

That was Saturday. Right as Sunday was starting (read: 12AM), we were at Scrooge's in Itaewon, getting ready to watch South Africa best Australia in a Tri Nations rugby match. After we'd slept it off, we went to Seoul Station to admit freely into the Seoul Museum of Art, which is free every fourth Sunday. Unfortunately, it was August's fifth Sunday. Instead of consuming art with our minds, we consumed some Bennigan's with our mouths and bellies. Then we had some affogato at a cafe across the street. Then back across the street to Lotte Mart (not World, alas) to buy a perch for our TV, which has sat on top of two cardboard boxes for the last six months.

Maybe not a very exciting weekend, but a practical one at least.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Weekend 25 of 52.

Itaewon, Taco Bell, What the Book?, Leeum Samsung Museum of Art

For me, a weekend starts on Friday night. Most Friday nights we just go out to dinner with Korrine. It is usually pretty ordinary, so I don't bring my camera. Last Friday night, though, we decided on Cafe Rumy for our after dinner coffee. We saw what looked like a regular cafe up on the seventh floor of a building in Hongdae. We elevatored up. When we slipped off our shoes and installed them in the provided reusable plastic bags, we knew it was not a regular cafe. We were given the choice of TV room or Wii room. We chose the Wii room and then proceeded to, for W9,000 each and in a room adorned with pillows and balloons, play video games, drink bottomless soda and coffee and tea, and eat free ice cream and complimentary waffles for the next two hours. It was the best. And we got an amazing view of Hongdae from the smoker's pavilion. And I didn't have my camera, but I do have my memories.

Saturday, also with Korrine, we decided we'd wander around Itaewon, since none of us have yet given it a proper walk-through. We ate lunch at Taco Bell. We tried to find Western sized shoes. We checked out some antiques. Then we broadened our horizons at the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art. Three galleries start at ancient celadon pottery and become progressively more modern until, before you know it, you're watching video of a Korean girl hatching out of an egg.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend 24 of 52.

Skypergories, Fringe Festival

We accomplished a pleasantly low-key weekend. It started with Skypergories (Skype + Scattergories) against our wonderful friends Lacy and Justin DiSabatino, and it ended with some (Korean) Independence Day (Korean-style) BBQ. We made a brief visit to Soul Underground on Saturday night for a concert in concert with Hongdae's Fringe Festival. Dan and I (as the Bell & the Hammer) get to participate in the festival next Saturday, and we are really excited about it. If you live in Korea, you should come (here's a map or you can contact us for directions). I think it starts around 7, and, if last night indicates future Fringe Festival precedent, first drink is free. That's good as gold. Right as rain. Sweet as sugar. Cool as cukes. Pleased as punch. Am I right?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Our Japanese Adventure: An Introduction

We had a great time in Japan and I tried to document most of it in video form. I put together a very small clip of the first leg of our trip: Seoul-->Busan-->Fukuoka to get myself motivated to compile the rest of my footage into a watchable form.



Weekend 23 of 52.

Cheonggyecheon Stream: Revisited, Doctor Fish: Revisited, Dongdaemun Market: Revisited, Gyeongbokgung Palace: Revisited, Insadong: Revisited, The National Folk Museum: Revisited, Seoul Tower: Revisited, The War Memorial: Revisited, Banpo Bridge, Coex Aquarium, DMZ Tour, Namsan Hanok Village

We had our first visitors! Dan's mom and her friend Sharon made the long journey from Ohio to Seoul. They championed jet lag and immense summer heat and trooped all around the city for 9 solid days of fairly intense sight seeing. It was great to see family, and we tried to give them a good and varied view of this little country we've come to love.

We revisited many of our favorite or quintessential spots, but we even tried out several things Dan and I haven't yet had the chance to do. We hit up the Coex Aquarium on a rainy Saturday, and it was completely packed, but we got to see a two-headed turtle, so still cool. We got over to the Banpo Bridge to watch the fountain/light show. Dan made sure to inform us that it is the largest bridge fountain in the world. We happened upon the Namsan Hanok Village after the Makgeolli concert we wanted to attend was sold out, so we instead got to see how the locals used to live. And we finally went on a tour of the DMZ, which left us longing for reunification.

Right this very moment Jean and Sharon are flying their way back home, and I'm afraid we may now have to ward off some latent homesickness.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Weekend 22 of 52: Japan.

Tokyo, Gundam Cafe, Yodobashi-Akiba, Harajuku, Yoyogi Park, Meiji Shrine, Tokyo DisneySea, Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Osaka, Osaka Castle, Universal Citywalk

We spent the bulk of our time in Japan in Tokyo, which is probably true of most tourists to Japan. We did some heavy video game browsing/shopping at Yodobashi-Akiba. We got to walk around Harajuku, keeping our eyes peeled for Harajuku girls. We had an evening stroll through nearby Yoyogi Park, culminating in a trip to the Meiji Shrine therein.

And the next day we went to Tokyo DisneySea. And it was the happiest place on earth, for sure. I think Dan read that it is considered maybe the best of the Disney parks, and I think I agree. The atmosphere was unreal. When we lived in central Florida, we were able to sort of frequent Disney World, which made it so strange for us to be at Disney in Tokyo. Everything felt familiar but new. Do you know what I mean?

The park is arranged around seven ports and is itself built on the coast. It was rainy and windy all day, and it was perfect. It broke the intense summer heat, and we got to see everybody's Mickey ponchos. We ducked into the shows to escape from the rain. They were total quality, you guys. Two had Cirque du Soleil style gymnastics and puppetry. We saw the "Under the Sea" show in which a harnessed Ariel swims and flips her way up to the ceiling. It was like seeing the Little Mermaid in real life. But for real. We loved it all. We were sad we hadn't opted to spend the next day at Tokyo Disneyland.

Then on to Kyoto where we saw the very famous Fushimi Inari Shrine. Osaka was our final destination. We checked out the Osaka Castle and meandered around Universal Japan's Citywalk.

Japan was hot and it was awesome. I will give this one piece of advice to America's newer generations, though, Japan does not yet favor the credit card. Do not plan on using it most places. It was a stress for us, and it should not be one for you. We brought cash, but we weren't able to bring enough (because things happen as they do), so we thought we could survive on Western restaurants or larger Japanese restaurants, saving cash for transportation. We never found a McDonald's that took credit cards. I must admit that we developed an appreciation for Starbucks with their proclivity for plastic payments, their soy milk, and their sweet, sweet air conditioning.

Weekend 21 of 52: Japan.

Beetle Ferry, Fukuoka, Tempura, Karaoke, Miyajima, Ryokan, Torii Gate at the Itsukushima Shrine, Buddhist temple at the foot of Misen, Manju, Hiroshima, Peace Memorial Park, Okonomiyaki, Pachinko, Shinkansen

All of Korea has been on summer break for the last couple of weeks. We spent ours in hot, hot Japan. Dan planned the whole trip, organizing transportation and housing, dealing with all the money, speaking Japanese, being awesome. Dan, as his name would have you recite, is the man.

We trained down to Busan so we could take the 3 hour Beetle Ferry, dodging dolphins and sea creatures with speed and precision, over to Fukuoka. I have a friend, Anson, from my high school days who is currently living in Fukuoka, and he let us sleep over for the night. Sleep we did, but not before Anson took us out for lunchtime tempura where we bought meal tickets out of a vending machine, then for karaoke where we did some Disney sing-alongs, and finally for some dinnertime sushi. It was great to see Anson, great to meet his roommate Danny and his friend Kengo, and even greater to participate in a house church gathering before we had to catch our Sunday train to Hiroshima.

Once in Hiroshima, we boated to Miyajima Island, where we stayed in a ryokan for the night. Ryokans are sort of like the Japanese version of a Bed and Breakfast. Our host was named Yoko, like Yoko Ono she said, and she was funny and kind and very welcoming. She encouraged us to go visit the Torii Gate both before and after nightfall, before so we could walk up to it, after so we could see it lighted up. The gate rests at the entrance of the Itsukushima Shrine, and it is not tethered, it is secured by its own weight. Depending on the level of the tide, it variably looks like it's standing or floating.

We checked back in at our ryokan for our 8 course Japanese dinner, full of amazing fish and homemade sauces and tasty soups. We finished the night with a classy bath and a dip in the hot spring tub.

The next morning we had a traditional Japanese breakfast and then walked around the island some more. Dan walked up to the Buddhist temple at the foot of Mount Misen. I stayed back and hung out with the island's presumptuous population of wild deer. So bold are they that they sometimes eat guide maps and clothing. It's pretty hilarious.

After Miyajima, we went back to mainland Hiroshima. We spent the day at Peace Memorial Park. I don't know how to talk about the atomic bomb without complete incredulity. I don't know who made that call, and I don't know who didn't stop him, but I do know that it's got to be one of the greatest evils ever touted as simply an act of war. Of course the museum was horrifying. The temperature of the bomb pretty much melted all things, buildings, rocks, skin, internal organs. What the heat and explosion didn't kill, the radiation took care of. The worst of it all, of course, is that it happened again several days later. And it would have happened to the rest of Japan's cities had they not surrendered. I am firmly on the side opposing all nuclear things.

Well, Hiroshima is also known for their okonomiyaki, sometimes referred to as Japanese pizza. It's a cabbage, flour and egg base loaded with toppings and tastiness. We ate some of that, played some Pachinko, which I just did not get at all, and did some serious window shopping. Fun. Then we took the Shinkansen to Tokyo.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Weekend 20 of 52.

Soul Session at Cafe Soul Underground, Korean wedding noodles

This is Dan. We'll see how this goes.

School's out for Summer. Actually, it's out for the next few weeks. Summer camp is this week and then actual vacation time is the following two weeks. It's standard in Korea, and I genuinely feel for the kids. It seems like they should have more time off since they usually have 10-12 hour school days.

Regardless of how long break is, they were excited for it and this past weekend started a bit earlier than usual with a field trip to the War Memorial of Korea. That probably sounds familiar because Serenity, Korrine and I took a trip there during Weekend 9.

The 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War was on June 25th, so the War Memorial had new exhibits even just a couple months since I had been there. Nearly everything we did with the kids I hadn't seen before. We watched a movie talking about how the war started and progressed. Oh, it talked about it in Korean. I still got the gist of it, but one of my students came up to me after it finished and asked if I understood the meaning. I said, "not exactly," and he paused for a minute to find the words in English.

He finally responded with "The movie's meaning is: War is Hell."

It really stuck with me the rest of the day. This was a 9th grade boy who felt weary about the effects and images of war. I don't know if his American equivalent would have responded the same way. There are people alive in Seoul who still remember their city being taken over and having to run from their homes in hope of a time when they could return to the life they had worked hard to make. It's hard to imagine as an American.

We then stepped into a DMZ exhibit and were led by a Korean tour guide. The kids behaved well and the exhibit was extremely well done. I have video footage that I will compile soon (read as: who knows when). It ended with a photo exhibit of life in the DMZ, of which there isn't much. Obviously there are just soldiers living along the line that divides North and South Korea. It was a bit depressing because it soon became clear that the land in the DMZ area is probably some of the most beautiful land in Korea without a doubt. But it's divided by a half-century-old scar. God constantly reminds me that this is a country that needs our prayers. And yours too.

Friday, we played another show. I think this was our 5th show? 4th show? I don't know. Anyway, we've been playing the same cafe/venue every time and we've been incredibly blessed by the owner, Shin Hyun Yo. Shin has been so gracious to us and treated us better than we've ever been treated as musicians and the whole process has really been a confirmation that we should continue doing music for the time being in whatever capacity possible. We're so happy that that seems to be playing in a small cafe on the west side of Seoul for a few Koreans and a few expats every month or so.

We've also been writing lately. It feels awesome and I hope we can continue to be inspired by our new (temporary) home. We've been playing one of our new songs the past couple shows and I finally got a video of it up. It's called "A Place" and I feel like it's a good commentary, musically and lyrically, on where we're at right now as a couple.

Anyway, shows are fun. Music is fun. This weekend was fun but we didn't do much else. Serenity took some photos of our food from this weekend. I promise I'll write more often than every 2 months from now on.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Weekend 19 of 52.

Okonomiyaki, Gorilla in the Kitchen in Apgujeong, Dosan Park, Dr. Fish, Coex Mall, Kimchi Museum

We had a bit of a weekend away. We went out to Gangnam (almost an hour away) to pack into their busiest of subway lines and to see some of their sights.

I have been following the Seoul Photostream on Flickr where they mentioned the restaurant Gorilla in the Kitchen. Highbrow pasta and bread combined with gym culture and the opportunity for a health analysis and personal trainer. It was not cheap, but we shared, and it is nice to have pasta instead of rice sometimes. The restaurant was at the entrance of Dosan Park, so we walked through the park and let the trees ameliorate some of the heat of the day.

We finally got to do Dr. Fish! The only skincare fish we know of left in Seoul is at Restree in Gangnam. It was hilarious. It tickled on the soles, but there was some bite to it too. W2000 and a beverage purchase gets you fifteen minutes with the fish.

And then we were off to Coex Mall, which is a huge Western-style mall and exhibition center. Dan is a great lover of kimchi and so wanted to to visit the Kimchi Field Museum in the basement of Coex. It was all right. They did a good job making a museum out of a recipe, but there is not a whole ton to be said about vegetable pickling. We did learn about all of its health benefits, though, and that was informative. Chief among them: cancer fighting anti-oxidants, digestion aiding lactic acid, metabolism boosting red pepper paste.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Weekend 18 of 52.

Gyeonghuigung Palace, Seoul Museum of History, walk in Jongno, Subway Sandwiches

Nothing we intended to do worked out (isn't that the way?), but I think we liked that better. We wanted to go see a Taekwondo demonstration at Gyeonghuigung Palace. We found the palace, but we couldn't find the Taekwondo. Instead, we walked around the palace almost completely by ourselves. It's set back, sort of in the woods, and it was so green and so quiet, and we couldn't believe that we live in Korea. The Seoul Museum of History was just beyond the palace, so we paid our 70 cents each and walked through an exhibit on the Korean War, another exhibit borrowed from London, and a 1:1500 scale model of Seoul. On Friday night, we had gone to see the movie 71: Into the Fire, about the 71 volunteer student soldiers who fought alone to defend a school in Pohang during the Korean War, so the museum's exhibit on the war felt more immediate to us.

Sunday was our second try at Dr. Fish, and our second shut down. But this time, a clue! The cashier showed us a little English note explaining that they could no longer play Dr. Fish, but that the Restree Cafe in Gangnam still could. So, Gangnam it is. Korrine was with us for that, and we walked around Jongno for a bit before we ate dinner at Subway, the restaurant not the underground.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Seoul Shop Fronts.

A couple of years ago, I read about a website called Emily Webber began (and hasn't stopped) cataloging shop fronts around London. I really liked the idea and started following the site. Now that we live in Seoul and everything here is, not only amazing, but also in a state of constant flux, I thought it would be cool to start cataloging the shop fronts we pass in Seoul. I've put it at

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Weekend 17 of 52.

Nanta, Baseball Game: Doosan Bears vs. Kia Tigers

Nanta, like Fanta-Stick, is a live performance that incorporates drumming, humor, and various antics that are essentially Korean. Unlike Fanta-Stick, though, Nanta is about cooking and there are no ghosts. Four chefs have only an hour to create an extensive menu of wedding foods, and they are easily sidetracked by their own rhythmic knife skills, some flirting, and an in-group rivalry. There's lots of flamboyant vegetable chopping followed by clumsy cartoony clean up scenes that ultimately result in men stuck in trash cans or unfortunate backside broom accidents. There's even full audience participation, during which an ajumma on our left was called out for consistently clapping at the wrong time. It was all hilarious and confounding.

On Sunday, we went out to Jamsil for a baseball game. Korean baseball is very similar to American baseball, but Korean baseball fans are quite different. They all have inflatable thunder sticks used for corporate noisemaking and choreographed cheering. Each batter for the home team had an accompanying video package and theme song, and we joined in on the chanting for home runs ("Kim Hyun-Soo Home Run!"). Each successful hit or completed play was met with an explosion of acclamation. It made for a lot of excitement.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Weekend 16 of 52.

The 63 Building, including the 63 SeaWorld Aquarium, the Wax Museum, SkyArt, and Fanta-Stick

We spent our third weekend in a row on Yeouido Island, this time conquering the 63 Building. It was built in the 80s for the Olympics and was the tallest building in Asia at the time. By now it's not even South Korea's tallest building, but I bet it's the goldest. There are several great tourist activities inside the building, and World Cup season proffered us a sizable discount. We decided to do four of the five activities, foregoing an IMAX movie.

The SeaWorld Aquarium, probably intended to be confused with the theme park, was right next to the ticket booth, so we did that first. It might have been just the lesser crowd-density or the proximity to the animals, but we enjoyed this aquarium significantly more than we enjoyed the one in Busan. We saw the hugest turtle, the Tyrant of the aquarium. We mistook seals for funny looking manatees. There was synchronized swimming. And some fish nibbled on our fingers!

From there, we headed underground to the Wax Museum. Neither of us had been to a wax museum previously, so it was fun and photo-oppy. And then we shot up to the 60th floor for a foggy view of the city at the SkyArt art gallery.

We were meeting Korrine and friends for dinner and the evening show, Fanta-Stick, but we were done with all of our perusals a couple hours early, so we killed time at the resident coffee shop, Beans 'n Berries. Dan had patbingsu, a seasonal Korean dessert with ice cream and fruit and shaved ice. And then he had a sleep.

And then we saw Fanta-Stick, a show similar to Stomp, but with traditional Korean instruments, a ghost story, and, I learned later, the song scoring system used in Korean karaoke rooms (called Noraebangs). It was very entertaining, and someone from our group, Chris, went up on stage and drummed around and got a gift bag with wine. Korrine herself excelled at audience participation and gave a comforting hug to a morose character who paid her in lollipops. I thought they did a good job incorporating things I've noticed about modern Korean culture, including the constant spontaneous Paper, Rock, Scissors matches and the ever more pervasive throat clearing. Afterward Dan got to pose with the cast, and it is the most perfect picture of Dan's life.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bacon Doughnuts.

We ate doughnuts earlier this week. They had bacon sprinkles. It made the most sense. So far, I recommend this recipe for yeast doughnuts and this recipe for cake doughnuts.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Weekend 15 of 52.

Mario Party 8, Yoido Full Gospel Church, W18000 Sushi Buffet, Yeouido Park, Lemonways

This was our first bust of a weekend. Dan had to work almost all day Saturday, and our plans for Sunday fell through because our destination, a Doctor Fish Cafe in Hongdae, didn't exist anymore. Even still, we managed to play Mario Party 8 with Korrine and Dave, watch Korea take its first World Cup win (and hear the nationwide cheers from our open window), visit the largest (by member mass, not land mass) Protestant church in all the world, eat sushi from boats, and drink lemonaid from a street side cart.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Weekend 14 of 52.


We, with Korrine and Dave, spent the whole of our Saturday traveling to and enjoying Everland, a Kings Island style theme park. And we enjoyed it, but I can't think of any special anecdotes to share, so I will just share the pictures.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weekend 13 of 52.

VIPs Fresh Life Restaurant, Soul Underground, Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine, Seonyudo Park

Friday was Dan's and my fifth anniversary. We ate where you eat for those sorts of occasions: VIPs (pronounced, as far as we can tell, not as the acronym, but as a word) Fresh Life Restaurant. It's a steak and salad buffet restaurant, and Dan and I have both been grieving each meal since not spent there. Koreans do salad buffet right. Maybe it's because every meal comes with a mini buffet of banchan. There were dark leafy greens and red cabbage, quails eggs and sesame dressing, all kinds of noodle sides and fried rice, always a tidy miso soup bar, even pizza and pasta. Our favorite part of the buffet was the soft taco station with chopped chicken and guacamole. Such a good idea, everyone, go to VIPs. We accidentally missed the dessert bar, but we will never again make such an error.

After dinner, we went to the Lotte Cinema in Hongdae. We intended to see "Date Night", but this theater was only showing a handful of movies and that wasn't one of them. So I broke my no-cartoons-except-for-Pixar movie theater rule and we saw "How to Train Your Dragon" in 3D, and we enjoyed every bit of it.

Then we headed to Soul Underground for a nightcap, and we caught the end of a show and had a good chat with proprietor Shin about the Koreas and Korean politics. We always leave Soul Underground feeling more purposeful and un-alone here in Seoul.

Saturday we set out for a park at which to play my wooden anniversary gift to Dan: janggi, Korean chess. We walked through the Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine, a shrine to honor Catholic martyrs, and I didn't realize until online fact-checking after the fact that there is an entire museum we managed to miss. We settled ourselves under the bridge by the river, and Dan check-mated me, because I have never won a single game of chess (or checkers even) in my whole life.

We decided to check out Seonyudo Park, a domesticated island paradise in the middle of the Han river. We walked the bridge over and enjoyed a cool breeze and one of those "I can't believe that this is where we live" happy feelings. I am officially recommending Seonyudo Park to every person in Seoul. It's free, of course. There's a greenhouse with flowers and bumblebees, lotus ponds, strange industrial looking artifacts, a water play area (where Korean kids wear raincoats but never swimsuits), and lovers' picnics as far as the eye can see. It was such a peaceful, easy Saturday, and it's made this weekend one of our favorites so far.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Weekend 12 of 52.

Jagalchi Fish Market, Haeundae Beach, Busan Aquarium, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, Oryuk Islets

Friday was Buddha's Birthday. To celebrate, Dan, Korrine, Dave (Korrine's boyfriend, Canadian), and I spent a long weekend in Busan, south South Korea. To get there, we bought Korail KR Passes, which effectively functioned as a non-guarantee for standby/standing room only. On a holiday weekend during which every Korean is headed to Busan, I would recommend that you bypass the information desk, figure out when a train is leaving and then hop on early and establish your standing room dominance. When we asked for help in Seoul, they basically told us there was no way we'd get to Busan, that even standing room was booked out. But we got there, and it was not even hard. When we asked for help in Busan, they basically told us there was no way we'd get home, that even standing room was booked out. But we got here, and it was not even hard. Maybe it's a fire hazard thing? Each of us ended up with room to sit (on a luggage rack, on a fold down chair, on the floor) the whole way both ways.

When we got to Busan, the first thing we did was head to a bank for Dave to get cash. We had intended to eat lunch in Chinatown, right across from the station, but some suspiciously friendly English-speaking Koreans advised us to head down to Jagalchi Fish Market for more food options (they cited Vietnamese, Korean, and Western style food). Then they handed us some Watchtower Literature, so Jehovah's Witnesses. This would have been fine, but once we got to the Jagalchi Fish Market, we were greeted only by a plethora of fish restaurants. After walking through the market, none of us were in the mood for fish.

Hey, but then we found the tourist center, so we picked up a map and took an incredibly long, expensive taxi ride to Haeundae Beach. Haeundae Beach promised cosmopolitan dining opportunities, and we found a fancy burger place at which to dine outside in the perfect summer weather. Then we walked down to the water. Dave was the first in, but he's Canadian. Korrine went next and froze. It was the coldest water I have ever been in, and I've taken cold-water-only showers at summer camps. So cold that your body couldn't adjust, that your fingers tingled and your legs burned. That explains why only we and a couple kids even messed with it. Even still, one end of the beach was packed with fully dressed Koreans and sun-bathing foreigners.

Busan Aquarium is an underground aquarium right on Haeundae Beach, so we cleaned up and walked over. It was a fine aquarium. What was less fine was how I was unapologetically trampled by a toddler whose mother just laughed and moved on. I know I'm a big white person and there is a distinct language barrier, but I am familiar with the Korean expression of remorse, and giggling is not it. So that put me in a bad mood for the remainder of our aquarium perusal.

At least we got to eat chicken galbi for dinner at Yoogane, fast becoming one of my favorite Korean foods and restaurants. We also successfully haggled down a purse price in an underground shopping center. Dan and I are not haggling people, so it was quite a rush. We sealed the deal by having only so much cash on our person. The shopping center itself was my favorite so far.

Saturday morning, Dan and I tried out Papparoti's for breakfast. Dan had some roti buns, regular and chocolate, and I had an Americano and found some McVitie's Digestive biscuits at a gas station. Excellent. Then began our labored journey to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. It started when we missed the 181 bus because its bus stop had been ground up for construction. Then we watched as every other bus in the universe came ten times before ours even came back once. So, of course everyone at the bus stop was waiting for 181, and, because of Buddha, they were all riding it all the way out to the temple. And thus commenced a miserable forty minute bus ride, followed by a rainy, muddy trek up the hill to the temple, followed by a packed queue across the bridge to the temple. At least it was pretty and decorated with more paper lanterns.

For the commute home, we gave up and took a cab.

So then we thought we'd be smart and buy tickets for our cruise to the Oryuk Islets ahead of time (literally "five or six" islets, because, depending on the water level, they appear to be five, sometimes six rocks) and then get lunch. But when we got there, we couldn't communicate well enough to know if/when there was a cruise later than 3:30, so we bought tickets for 3:30, and amassed a pretty decent collection of convenience store food for our half hour meal time.

The cruise was my favorite activity. It wasn't overcrowded, and it was relaxing like a vacation should be, and the islets were very impressive. It was nice to see Busan from a distance, too, to get a feel for the scope of the city. After the cruise, it started (and probably still hasn't stopped) pouring. That limited our desire to round out our Busan weekend with much more than dinner, which was a hot pot style meat/noodle/vegetable soup in a wok and unlike anything else we've yet had in Korea (I meant to remember the name, but I've forgotten it), and dessert, hot chocolate and pastries.

I forgot to mention our hotel accommodations. We unwittingly stayed in a love motel, which is exactly what you're thinking it is. It was cheap and clean with a circle bed, a huge TV and fast internet, free orange juice and corn water (sick!), and a really, really nice shower.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Weekend 11 of 52.

Soul Underground Session at Cafe Soul Underground, Lotus Lantern Festival

On Friday night, Dan and I (as the Bell & the Hammer) got the chance to play a show at Cafe Soul Underground. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience, and I will blog about it over at our band's site and we'll be posting videos of it there as well. I am going to steal (with permission) some pictures from some of the teachers at school.

The Lotus Lantern Festival is an annual celebration of Buddha's birth. It is a three day street festival culminating in a lantern parade. We attended the closing parade on Sunday evening, and it was very much like Disney's Electric Light Parade, but with lantern floats, and that is now the third time I've described it as such. I guess some people aren't that impressed with it, but we really enjoyed ourselves. The lanterns everywhere were beautiful, and sometimes it's fun to feel the full force of Seoul's population. After the parade, Dan and I sought some quiet down by Cheonggyecheon Stream. We and all the other young couples of Seoul. It is a lover's respite after sunset, it seems. The stream is fast becoming one of our favorite features of this city.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Weekend 10 of 52.

Rugby League Game at Tony's Aussie Bar, Hiking in Gupabal, Namdaemun Market, Lotte World Shopping Center

Fridays, for us, are for foreign foods. Korrine found out that Tony's Aussie Bar in Itaewon was showing the Australia vs. New Zealand Rugby League game, so Dan and I had our first taste of Australian food and football. If America would have rugby, I would watch it. We also ate some pavlova, which is like a meringuey marshmallowy fruit pie thing. It was good.

Marius invited us to go hiking with him on Saturday morning, so we met at the subway at 8 and followed the hiking gear costumed Koreans all the way to Gupabal to find a mountain to climb. Of the two paths, we chose the steeper one that peaked instead of the longer, easier trail. Of our group of six, Dan and I were the only two who didn't go all the way up. We made it to a decent cliff and we sat and enjoyed the quiet view. Also, an especially concerned Korean man told Dan that his shoes were really inappropriate for mountain climbing, that he didn't think it was safe to continue. We didn't put much stock in that admonition, as we'd made it halfway there with no hiking gear at all, but Korrine said that getting to the peak involved rock and rope climbing, so I think that fellow was probably right.

After lunch on the Shinsegae Department Store food floor, Chinese dim sum and various desserts, we walked through Namdaemun Market. I think it is my favorite of the markets so far. It was mostly clothing and street food, and it was really fun for browsing. We found the only jar of dill pickles in all of Seoul, but we had to pass it up for lack of cash.

On Sunday, we were really looking forward to going to a baseball game. We took the green line for almost an hour only to find that the game had been sold out! We were so sad, but we decided we should at least do something in the area, so we walked around the Lotte World Shopping Center for a while, and I bought a jacket decorated with a patch of Florida and the words "Redneck Riviera" emblazoned over top. What? Amazing. It is too small, but I am from that Riviera, so I obviously had to have it for my life.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Children's Day.

It is interesting to celebrate another country's holidays. Today was Children's Day, so we went to Hangang Park for a picnic and some bike riding.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Weekend 9 of 52.

The War Memorial of Korea, The Story of King Sejong Exhibition Hall, Admiral Yi Sun-Shin Musuem, Insadong

On Friday night, we were invited to A Passover Celebration put on by Ms. Teresa's class. It was our second Passover this year, and we really enjoyed it. The students had reading parts throughout the Haggadah and we witnessed some fine circle dancing. Dinner was sushi, fried chicken, and pizza. Totally kosher.

Saturday we met up with Korrine to see the War Memorial of Korea. War vehicles of all kinds are set up outdoors and absorbed a lot of our time. Korrine only had the morning free, so we decided to skip a lot of the indoor exhibits instead of rushing through. We aim to return, though, because I really want to see the Korean War room.

After lunch, which is always serendipitously amazing when we three are together (beef porridge), Dan and I went on our own to try and find Insadong. I had read about it in a "24 Hours in Seoul" article I found online, and we keep trying (and failing) to find it based on my hazy recollection of the vague directions given in the article. I knew the directions said something about Gwangwhamun and turning left, so went to the Gwhanghwamun Plaza and found that the statue of King Sejong had a gateway to the underground in it! We walked down and found The Story of King Sejong Exhibition Hall and, just beyond it, the Admiral Yi Sun-Shin Musuem. It was really, really cool. Everything was interactive, with puzzles and video games and walk throughs. We even got interviewed for a young man's college project. I hope we passed.

After our brief educational experience, we set out again for Insadong. Dan hijacked some wifi from a coffee shop and found real directions. We made our way through a winding maze to a veritable hub of souvenir and art dealings. It was teeming with Westerners and proved one of those quintessential experiences. I noted to Dan how culture shocked we'd be if we'd tried that earlier on, that our first night in Seoul we were completely stunned by just a grocery/department store. How far we've come.

So then we went to Myeongdong for some chicken galbi, the spiciest dinner of my lifetime. It is nice to have the odd chicken respite in this red meat (or no meat) country.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's Funny You Said That...

Everyone has heard of, the website that compiles copious amounts of lost-in-translation phrases and words, by now. We saw a girl at the puppy cafe on Sunday with "That's a really hard!" in giant block letters across the front of her sweatshirt.

These are the kinds of typical mistakes that my kids (the Korean children I teach - I will henceforth refer to them as such) will make often. Articles (the, a, an) are undoubtedly the hardest thing for any person learning English as their second language. Korean has subject markers and the like, but the two behave quite differently.

When I first started teaching, there was a different "mistake" the kids made that always made me pause for a bit and question whether it was indeed a mistake or just a peculiarity of language difference. Let me provide an example.

Me enthusiastically asking a child: "Do you like pizza?"
Child: "No, I don't like pizza."
Me surprised by the response: "You don't like pizza??"
Child: "Yes."

Does this child actually like pizza? No. Well, not in Korea(n), at least. I think most native English speakers would agree that if the last statement was made by a child in America it would be "No." or "No, I don't like pizza." The child isn't confused. That is exactly what they would say in Korean. The Korean word for yes is ㄴㅔ (Neh). So the kids pretty much equate the word yes with neh. The nuance in the differences between the two words and how they each function in their respective languages is quite important, though.

Serenity recently learned from an excellent Korean language website that neh more or less means "I agree." or "That is correct." In the above example, we almost use yes and no just as a verbal affirmation of the understood sentence that follows: "No, I don't like pizza."/"Yes, I do like pizza." Let's annotate the above example:

Me enthusiastically asking a child: "Do you like pizza?"
Child: "No, I don't like pizza."
Me surprised by the response: "You don't like pizza??"
Child: "Yes, the statement that you just made is the correct one."

I find it fascinating every time and my urge to correct it is slowly subsiding because it isn't necessarily wrong. It's just a different way of processing language.

Yes, this means my posts are going to be the nerdy ones.


Monday, April 26, 2010


I added a sock to my collection. This one a personified salmon sushi roe sock.

Weekend 8 of 52.

Children's Grand Park, Seoul Forest, Loving Hut, PC Bang, Bau Haus Dog Cafe, Bistro Corner

This was a weekend for birthdays. My birthday was on Sunday, and Teresa's, a teacher, was on Saturday. Also on Saturday, an all day training seminar for some of the teachers, including my husband, so Teresa and I joined forces and went to Children's Grand Park and Seoul Forest together. I mentioned Children's Grand Park when Dan and I found it a weekend or two ago, but this time I had my camera and actually explored the park, which contains a zoo, a botanical garden, pony and camel rides, and an amusement park, all for no entrance fee. We thought it was pretty amazing. We tried to go to Seoul Forest afterward, because Teresa thought a friend had recommended it, but what she really had recommended was a foresty area along the Cheonggyecheon Stream. Seoul Forest, especially after Children's Grand Park, was not pleasant but not impressive.

For Teresa's birthday dinner, we were back at On the Border for Mexican food. This time with a whole group of people. We definitely had a fiesta, if you know what I mean.

Sunday was my birthday, and Dan and I went to the Loving Hut restaurant in Sinchon. Next door to that was a PC Bang, an arcade, where we played Street Fighter, and I excelled as Chun-Li like I always do. We ended up going over to Gwanghwamun to a bookstore and to try to find Insa-Dong. We did not make it to Insa-Dong, but we found ourselves down a pretty path between two stone walls, which would have been prettier if I'd had a better attitude, but sometimes you get sick of walking two full days in a row.

After a nap, we went to the Bau Haus Dog Cafe! And it was wonderful, and we are going to make every final Sunday Schnauzer Sunday (which totally works because there was a sleepy Schnauzer there). A dog cafe is a happy place where you can bring your dog to play with resident dogs and otherwise, where you should order one drink per person, where you should bask in the happy atmosphere. The best part about the dog cafe is that it is the shortest walk from our house. It was only three blocks away. We ended the weekend at Bistro Corner and ate ribs and fries and a cheeseburger.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Midnight Stitch for Cuppa Thursday.

This week, we decided we'd explore the street just beyond our main street. We walked back there last week, and it was chockablock with coffee shops and boutiques and generally cooler stuff than what is on our street. We decided on Midnight Stitch after Dan's first choice cafe with a rooftop patio didn't appear to be open.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Early in our Korean adventure, I decided I would be collecting socks. Sock vendors are everywhere and their wares are unique and silly. I will look back on Korea fondly anytime I wear any of these. My only sort of rule is that I want to try and buy a different brand each time. I'm sure I'll reach the limit of that, though, and I won't stop buying socks I want to own.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekend 7 of 52.

Korean Folk Village, Tourist activities at Seoul Tourist Information Center, Reattempt at Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival

Friday was Happy Day again at Dah-un Jin. This time, the school took the students to the Korean Folk Village in Suwon. Just so happens that was on our list. Just so happens they invited me along, too. It is, as it sounds, a traditional Korean village, set up to show what life used to be. The kids (and some teachers) got to pound rice cakes, which, after splinters from wooden mallets were removed and bean powder was applied, we ate. It was really pretty there. It's such a different kind of pretty than is Ohio, and it's always so strange to be in it in real life. It is nice still to be experiencing completely new things as a young adult.

On Saturday afternoon, we went with Korrine and some of her friends from Adventure Korea to do some low-key tourist activities at the Seoul Tourist Information Center. Koreans love photo ops, so we took some pictures with cardboard celebrities and dressed in Hanbok. We also picked up a bunch of brochures and an illustrated guide to eating Korean food. There was even a phone set up for making free three-minute international calls.

Saturday night we were invited to a Beer Tasting Bonanza hosted by Chris and Heather Jones, a couple from our church. I will mention first their friendly dog, Koree, who let us pet and play and scratch his chin. We had a dog once, so very very long ago. You may recall him as such:


What a sleepy little babe he was.

But now we are in Korea and Tater is in Cincinnati with his grandmom, and I will end this aside to say that we very much appreciated Koree's affection last night. We also appreciated the opportunity to taste and very skillfully, with our excessive knowledge and experience, grade a variety of beers. We looked up beer tasting criteria even and filled out score cards to describe things like mouthfeel and aroma. Dan and I are not drinkers, obviously, because we are total babies, but that almost made it nicer to be able to taste a few without the commitment to a full 12 ounces. We tried Beck's, New Castle, Guinness, Sam Adams, something German starting with a W, and Mike's Hard Cran-Lemonade. I get now why beer drinkers think Mike's Hard is grammar school, because after a sip or two of Guinness, the Ade seemed completely non-alcoholic (read: tasty). Heather also made food pairings for most of the beers. We had orange sweet potatoes for the first time in months (Korean sweet potatoes are white inside) and hamburgers and guacamole and other things. Yay for guacamole.

Today, Sunday, we went to a church that meets in the chapel of Yonsei University. This is the University at which we attended the Park Yong Ha concert, but this time we got to look around a bit. After that, we decided to right our ill-timed, ill-planned failure trip to Yeouido for the Cherry Blossom Festival. I'm glad we did, because it was blooming, bustling, and bawesome.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cafe grEAT for Cuppa Thursday.

Cuppa Thursday really is such a treat. It seems like coffee shops here in Hapjeong have been doing remodeling or maybe just Spring redecorating. First Byoung A Ri Kong and then Cafe grEAT closed for a couple of days. They used to have a little patch of grass out front that I admired, and, I think it was the next day, they paved over it. Sad, but practical. Cafe grEAT is probably the most modern style coffee shop we've visited, and it provided my new favorite Seoul iced Americano.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Weekend 6 of 52.

Taco Amigo, Bangsan Baking Market, attempt at Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival, National Assembly Building, Doota, Loving Hut Buffet, Children's Grand Park, Daiso

So this weekend marked our first South Korea fail. We wanted to go see cherry blossoms in Yeouido for their festival, but the cherry blossoms had not yet bloomed, and we didn't even end up finding the festival (we didn't go far enough toward the river). So we resorted to wandering around Yeouido, which was sort of peaceful and nice, but not what we had intended. Earlier that day, Dan and I had ventured to the Bangsan Baking Market in Dongdaemun, and we went back to Dongdaemun after our festival attempt in order to go to the mall, Doota, and buy some shoes and eat food court food.

Sunday, Dan and I commuted to the Achasan station, forty minutes away, to go eat at the Loving Hut Buffet. We got there around 5:30, and dinner didn't start until 6, so we walked across the street and found ourselves in Children's Grand Park, a huge park that includes a zoo, a botanical garden and an amusement park. We hit up the arcade in the amusement park and played Tetris and a thrilling timed game of air hockey (I won). I thought we were only going out for dinner, so I left my camera at home, but I think we will go back.

We ended our weekend at Daiso, a type of dollar store. Amazing. So amazing that we almost decided to live here forever on account of its ability to amaze us.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Weekend 5 of 52.

Myeongdong Cathedral, Myeongdong shopping

Korrine suggested visiting Myeongdong Cathedral to coincide with Passover/Easter. I'm glad she did, because I don't think we would otherwise have thought to do it, but it was obviously completely appropriate. Myeongdong Cathedral was Korea's first parish and is the religion's most prominent Korean symbol. The Cathedral was consecrated in 1898 and includes a crypt and cultural center. We went on the first Spring-like day of the year. Yay.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Board Game Bang in Sinchon.

Thursday night, which is usually reserved for Cuppa Thursday, some people from the school invited us out to a Board Game Bang (room) in Sinchon, land of the copious street foods and the Caribou Coffee. Basically what we did was rent an hour of board game time and space and the use of some clever props. There were seven of us, so our game choice was limited, and W3000 per person isn't much per person, but when it's seven people paying to play two card games, the total cost seems excessive. We ended up playing a type of slap jack game with fruit cards and several rounds of Pit. It is a fun atmosphere with various games going on at all times, and an employed gamesman stands watch to explain the rules and enhance game play. I would go back with just a couple people to play a game we couldn't just go out and buy for our combined fee.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekend 4 of 52.

Caribou Coffee, National Museum of Korea, Yongsan Family Park

Our fourth weekend in Seoul found us taking a bit of a break. We only planned one real Saturday activity, the National Museum of Korea. Even still, exploring a three story museum is a full day's walk. Yongsan Family Park was just beyond the museum, and we got in some good photo ops. On Friday night we found Thursday's elusive Caribou Coffee in Sinchon. Being inside was just like being in America. It didn't feel like Korea at all, so, good job Caribou, I guess. We also had our first sushi in Seoul. This evening we went to see a friend compete in a b-girl battle. It was fun and unlike anything we'd ever have done in the States.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Day in Photos.

Dan mentioned Happy Day with his video. He also snagged my camera to take some still pictures of the event. Pretty happy.

Cuppa Thursday.

We with our Australian friend Korrine invented Cuppa Thursday. Seoul, it seems, is the coffee capital of the universe, and, as part of our plan to conquer this capital, we sanctified Thursday night as the night for a cuppa (a cup of coffee). Last night we tried to find the Caribou Coffee in Sinchon. We failed, and we settled for a well-meaning but ill-coffeed cafe in the Hyundai Department Store called Cafe Vezzly.

Also, far as I can figure, these are our names in Hangul, spelled phonetically, not just transliterated: 단열 와 새래너티 (Dahnyuhl wa Sehrehnuhtee: Daniel and Serenity).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

This is my Friends Club Class!

This video is horrible because I was looking at my kids and not the camera (until the end), but this is how we typically start each class (this is the afterschool program, different than regular highschool during the day).

I also took footage of our first Happy Day at school (today). Happy Day is a day where the kids come and get to read comic books, watch movies, play boardgames, soccer, and eat lots of food. There is also a feats of strength-type session at the end of the day that I got roped into. Most importantly, no class! It's pretty fantastic.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekend 3 of 52.

Saint Patrick's Day Festival at Cheonggyecheon Stream, Subway Art Gallery, Dongdaemun Market, Dongdaemun Gate, Haechi of Seoul, Doota Shopping Center, Burger King

Saint Patrick provided us with a ready made Saturday. The Irish Association of Korea (yes, this exists) puts on a parade every year down at Cheonggyecheon Stream. Cheonggyecheon is actually an ancient stream (like 1300s ancient) where wives used to do their laundry. Eventually the stream got grubby and they slowly filled it in and covered it with a highway. In 2005, the stream was uncovered again to promote environmental friendliness and human interaction. And, even though it was freezing out, because the winter high temperature in Seoul only lasts for a quarter of a minute apparently, there were people gathered down at the stream.

Back down in the subway, we serendipitously (not my name, by the way) stumbled upon a small art gallery. There was a sketch exhibit chronicling the artist's time in Nepal. We almost bought his book, and then we didn't, and then we were sad about it.

Also in the subway randomly, a little gallery for Seoul's mascot, Haechi. Does your city have a cute mythical mascot? No, obviously not. Haechi is a little guy whose job is to keep watch over everyone in Seoul. We wound up at a gallery and gift shop space in his honor. Also, free lollipops.

We saw the Dongdaemun stop on the subway on our way down to Cheonggyecheon, so I told Dan that Dongdaemun Market was on our list and we should stop by after the festival. The market is basically a huge, huge flea market. It winds down city streets and even underground. There's also more conventional shopping in Dongdaemun. We ended up at an 8 story mall called Doota and had Burger King on its 7th floor and coffee down on the 5th. We didn't buy anything at all until we were headed back to the subway for home and we saw some chair cushions. We sit on hard wooden chairs for many hours every day, and we noticed that Dan's clever Korean co-workers all have seat cushions. We bought blue sporty ones that are embroidered with the exhortation to "Be Happy".

Before all that, on Friday night, we, with Korrine, found a local Korean Barbecue place. We ate (a lot) for only W5000 each. A young Korean couple at the table next to us helped us order. They saw our aimless gesticulating and took pity on us, as Koreans are wont to do.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Park Yong Ha and Korean BBQ.

I mentioned that we were going to a Korean hip hop concert. That was only partially true. Our friend Jeannie dances with some b-girls, and they, along with some b-boys, danced back up for Korean pop artist Park Yong Ha. I tried to find a good page with pictures, but I couldn't. He is a Korean drama actor (read: Soap Star), also a singer, and he is huge in Japan. Most of the women at the concert had traveled from Japan. So big is he in Japan that all of his songs are in Japanese and most of his dialogue with the audience was in Japanese, which was fun for Dan to try and decipher. Anyway, Yong Ha is meant to be pretty dreamy.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weekend 2 of 52.

Dos Tacos, the Seodaemun Prison, Independence Park

Since our second weekend in Seoul coincides with Dan's birthday, I asked him to pick our weekend thing. He picked the Seodaemun Prison in Hyeonjeo. Seodaemun Prison was built by the Japanese during their occupation of Korea. It was used to house resistance patriots and to hide their torture. We were given a guided tour by a thirteen year old Korean girl whose chosen English name was Hermione. She was extremely well spoken and very reverent. Having come to Korea by way of Dan's interest in Japan, neither of us knew much about Japan's oppression of Korea, but I am struck in these places by the need always to treat humans as humans, never as less. There is a link in the sidebar that goes into more detail about the prison.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pizza Hut at the Seoul World Cup Stadium.

Dan's birthday is Sunday, so we have been celebrating his life this week. Last night we went to Pizza Hut and to see Alice in Wonderland, both the hut and the theater are essentially contained in the World Cup Stadium.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Snowy Day in Hapjeong.

It snowed here in our fine Seoul neighborhood. Fat, wet drops of it on our way home from work yesterday. Hooray!

From the front window.

From the back.

Oh, I made cookies today. I used the wrong recipe for my purposes. I will choose better next time. Even still, for toaster oven cookies with no butter and several other ingredient substitutions, these are quite fair. Dan ran out and bought me a list of ingredients, and he said that two people asked him how they could help him and then found everything for him (going so far as to translate some of the words with a cell phone dictionary). Dan came home with everything, well, vanilla powder instead of extract, but good enough. We have been thinking up slogans for Korea. Here is what we have so far- Korea: It just makes sense. Korea: It's a good idea. Korea: Only in Itaewon. I would add to that list something clever about how people are nicer and kinder and more goodly here.

We dumpster dove this. Well, we saw it on the way home the other day, and Dan carried it back for me. Isn't it great? I keep wanting to say fancy about things here, but truly everything is just fancier here. I might paint it, though. So now all my knitting things are contained, and I've got Sosipater and his pals sitting up top.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Weekend 1 of 52.

Shabu-Shabu, Hongdae, Gyeongbokgung Palace, The National Folk Museum, Kyobo Book Store, Yongsan Electronics Market, Seoul Tower, Itaewon

We had our first weekend in Seoul, and it was packed full. On Saturday, we were on our feet from 11am til 11pm, and the brunt of that pedestrian time was walking not standing. Our feet were so sore by this evening that we couldn't even bear to go grocery shopping. I really want to try and bake cookies in my toaster oven. Someone online likened it to baking in an Easy Bake oven, so maybe I should scout out some Easy Bake recipes. I never had one of those, so I don't actually know how that works.

Anyhow, I might as well get on with the pictures as they are many and varied. Have we mentioned that we love it here? We do.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Our First Solo Dining Attempt.

Last night marked our first attempt at dining out without the aid of a Korean friend. It was definitely worth it. I say that as the one who stood by nodding while Dan said words. I do think he'd agree, though.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Morning Walk.

I remembered my camera on this morning's walk.

Oh, and I just wanted to confess that that day I mentioned listening to Jackson Browne and falling asleep, that's exactly what I ended up doing. I can't tell if it was self-fulfilling or if I just know myself so well.

So let's get on with this, because I have pronunciations to practice.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Out the Window.

Today was warm enough to have the windows open for a while, so I did have them open, and I took some pictures.

This is outside our bedroom window.

The pigeon on the right is one of the several pigeons that purr us to sleep at night. So far we don't mind it.

This is out the window in the extra room. On the right is a parking structure that Dan keeps calling a car ferris wheel. It's pretty intense, but we haven't seen or heard it doing anything yet.

We think this is some sort of power plant maybe?

Tomorrow I'm going to remember to bring my camera on my walk with Dan to the school. We might try to get coffee at a coffee shop across the street. It will be our first dining experience without the aid of a Korean. I expect we'll be pointing and nodding. I did learn vowels, consonants, and pronunciations today, though! I found what seem to be some really good Korean language programs online. We'll see. I spent the afternoon trying to read (but not understand) our cereal boxes.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Apartment Tour in Pictures.

Video forthcoming. I also have some pictures of our flight over.

We're Here!

We made it. We're in our apartment. We live in Hapjeong-Dong. The floors have heat in them. It's amazing. Dan starts tomorrow, which is completely crazy, but he will do well, I am sure of it. I am working on pictures, but it's our nighttime now, so I am going to go have that. I am failing at this jet lag thing. I can't force myself out of the 5 hour afternoon nap and the waking up for the day at 4:30 AM.

We're excited to be here. We've walked around our neighborhood a couple times. There's a Domino's here. Maybe we'll do that for Dan's birthday.


Sunday, February 21, 2010


It turns out that getting a Visa ranks pretty low on the list of fun things to do in life. Not fun, not easy, and pretty much never straightforward. As such, we have been rerouted to Chicago for Dan's interview with the Korean Consulate and the Visa fetching. We'll still be flying from Florida on Tuesday (at 6 in the morning, thanks sleepy parents!). Chicago's consulate doesn't promise Visas until 2-3 days after the interview, so we're not sure yet when we'll fly out to Seoul. Did either of us mention that school starts March 2?

We're excited to get to spend time in Chicago. We spent our honeymoon and first anniversary there.

One last thing about Visas that I refuse to do is pay $14 to some random clerk at Walgreen's for Passport photos, so we took them ourselves and then had to trick the Kodak machine at Walmart in order to print them:

I think we had to choose "Greeting cards", then "Other Holidays", then "Basic Plaid", and I still had to trim off 1/4" from each side. Total cost in dollars was 1.21, total cost in frustration, though, was incalculable, which was unfortunate but not insurmountable.


Also, spending all this time with my family has made me realize that often, as a conversational construct, we all repeat phrases in unusual voices. And I am okay with that.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The First Day of the Rest of Our Lives.

It starts today. Well, we found out today, at least. In truth it starts February 23. We received our Visa issuance confirmation numbers. Now we'll make an appointment for February 23 with the Korean Consulate in Atlanta (maybe we will go see the Coca-Cola Factory or Dan mentioned some rock thing?). They will make sure we are real humans and hopefully approve our Visas. When that happens, this will be the subsequent sequence of events:

2/24 - Pick up Visa from the Consulate
2/25 - Depart from Atlanta
2/26 - Arrive in Seoul (so we will effectively lose February 26, 2010 since we will arrive in
the future)
2/26-28 - Move in with host family
2/28 - Move into our rented apartment

It's going to be insane.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

One of Our Last Weekends Stateside

Courtesy of Flickr user MidweekpostAfter a couple days of travel (one quite strenuous and one a bit easier), we've arrived in Florida waiting to receive notice that our Visa applications have been processed. Once processed, we'll be spending a couple days in Atlanta to go through an interview with the Korean Consulate and hopefully leave Atlanta with our approved Visas in hand.

It was a long process drawn out over a short period of time and I'm really happy to see things starting to come together. We will hopefully be in South Korea mid-February and adjusting to our (for a time) new homeland.

Before that can happen, we have a little project that has been keeping us quite busy in the meantime.

Serenity and I have been writing music since 2004. I have been in all kinds of projects with varying degrees of success since high school, but never has one meant more to me than what we're doing right now: the Bell & the Hammer. It's become a crucial outlet for us to use the talents God has given us, and never have we taken it more seriously than in 2009. We played more shows than all the other years combined. We played in Florida, Kentucky, Indiana and all across Ohio. We spent a lot of time developing some great relationships with some equally great artists in Cincinnati. We have also finished something in this past year that we have ultimately failed to in previous years.

An album.

We have recorded so much in the past it's hard to keep track of. A few songs with a friend. Demoing all the songs in our apartment. We've never been able to capture our songs accurately until this project. Our debut album "To Set Things Right" is 12 songs, 51 minutes long, and the first recording we're really, truly proud of. We're so thankful that we were actually able to finish it, well, hopefully.

We just received the final masters yesterday, and we're in a race against time to get the album to out to those who've ordered it before we're in South Korea! I'm uploading the songs to get pressed as we speak, and it's our main concern during our Florida staycation.The album is going to have two sleeves, similar to a vinyl record. Serenity is (hopefully) putting them together herself in the next few days. It'll be an interesting adventure no matter what. To those that have ordered, don't worry, you'll definitely receive your album.

Just know it was hurriedly handcrafted by us a few days before it shows up.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Dan and I are moving to South Korea for a year to teach English to elementary school students (him) and sit around (me). We wanted to make sure that we do cool things there instead of just hanging out inside and playing video games (him) and knitting things for upcoming newborns (me). For that cause, we decided we would do at least one awesome South Korean thing every weekend. Here is where we will talk about those awesome things.