Sunday, December 4, 2011

FINALLY, a new post :o)

Hey!  So sorry I haven't posted in a long time.  I've been trying to think of something new and interesting.  You're probably thinking...how is that possible, they are in KOREA.  Ha ha.  

A little update on us--

Our Thanksgiving was nice!  We had a quiet day, spent cooking (well Mike cooked it :p) and I was offering "moral support" LOL.  Since Koreans don't celebrate Thanksgiving, I actually ended up having to take the day off.  How crazy is that?!  Koreans celebrate a day called Chusoek (I wrote a post about it a while ago with that disgusting picture of their "rice cakes" they eat).  Anyways, we hope you all had an awesome Thanksgiving.  

The weather here really hasn't changed much at all.  It is still lingering around the 40's and upper 30's at night which is pretty strange for this time of year.  But I am sooo not complaining!  Running the heat is super expensive here...like around $500-$1,000/MONTH!  That is right...per month!  The Army gives us around $900 (Korean money W956,000) but we try to not use that much.  The reason it is so expensive?  Because we don't have ventilation in our houses, the heat comes from the floor, up.  Heating the floors is great but that is where the high expense comes from.  I think our most expensive heat bill last year was $560.  Yikes!!  No more pretty fall though..just a bunch of sticks now!

One of my favorite places to go here with friends or Mike whenever he has time is called, "Caffe Bene".  It is soooo good and it just a quaint little coffee/waffle place.  A very popular thing to snack on nowadays is a waffle.  No syrup though.  Blueberry sauce with yogurt or cream cheese. YUM.  In the back, Mike got some sort of bread with a candied type-fruit topping.  Very good too!



I figure I'd show a few pictures of Mike's work..vehicle :o)




Speaking of Mike, we are h-h-HOPING he is getting promoted to E5 by January.  WOO HOO for that.  So well deserved!  At the end of next year, the Army is making the new dress uniform mandatory.  They are switching from the 'greens' to the 'blues'.  I think these new uniforms are sharp.  He had them hand-made from a Korean tailor.  This is just the raw uniform, his medals and all that haven't been put on yet.  I will post that picture another time.





One thing I have never written about is how ridiculous (but smart) the Korean recycling works.  Because Korea has no natural resources, they have to be ultra resourceful in every way possible.  I mean...they even recycle WASTE. Ew.  Trash bag colors vary upon district of Korea you live in.  In our specific area, there are I believe 4 color trash bags.  A pink, blue, yellow, and miscellaneous color.  They each of a distinct use.  We don't recycle, ha!  We take our trash across the street on base.  It is so expensive, around $10 for 10 bags.  The way we go through trash, we'd spend like $400 a month!  But in the new high-rise where I walk the pups, this is what a recycle center looks like.




And last, but certainly not least, my absolute favorite view I have seen in Korea.  Never gets old!  Every time we cross this area, I look from both ways and think "how awesome is this?". There's nothing quite like it, you have the city, water, and mountains.  What more could you ask for?  




Have a great week, all :)  We love you!!!


--Mike & Britt--

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tour to the North Korea border...


HEH-LOOO!


So I found out today that Koreans believe that if you turn on the heat (inside house/car) that it makes you age faster.  Which brings me to my next point, they looove the heater.  So next time someone tells me that, I'm going to say "Man, that explains all your wrinkles" :P

Things in Korea are good, kind of strange actually.  It has reached a record high in the past 10 YEARS.  It is the end of November 4th today and it reached over 70!  This time last year it was like 40.  I'm telling you weather around the world is just completely out of whack.  Though, I am not complaining.  It just seems odd that the leaves completely changed colors and are now losing their leaves but the weather so does not reflect that.  Hmmm.

So I have been meaning to post this for a while now.  A few months ago Mike and his company escorted some new junior Congressman from the states to the DMZ (Demilitarized  Military Zone) between North & South Korea.  I still haven't gone (I know, I know, how "un-tourist" like of me.  But hey, I figure I have 2 more years!).  Any who, he got some great pictures.  A little fun fact is every man in Korea is required to serve a minimum of 2 years in Korea either right after high-school graduation, during college, or after college.  This is actually one of the stations that you can get.  NO THANKS.




Something really interesting about this picture is if you see the guy that has his back to us, he is South Korean.  He has to stand exactly half way between the building in case the North Korean soldiers decide to shoot.   Crazy right?!  The 2 blue buildings are the UN buildings where meetings between the 2 divisions are conducted.  


This is the tunnel that could once go into North Korea but obviously you can't anymore.  It looks tall but you'd actually have to bend half way all the way down.  Which that position is about 90% of old Koreans because of them carrying rice on their backs back when Korea wasn't so well off.



One of the other really amusing things about his whole experience was if you look closely, same with the other picture, you can see NORTH Korean tourists taking a tour of the South Korea line.  To top it off, it was an elementary school field trip!!!  Mike said it was so awkward :o)


Such a beautiful country!  Just a shame that they can't be civil.  If you look closely, you'll see like a tall looking pole in the middle of the picture.  There is this guy that is offering like 10 million dollars (maybe more, I forgot) if you get a piece of the North Korean flag that is at the top of that pole.  THE TRICK IS, you take one step past the line & you are dead.  So, that doesn't make much sense lol!


This is called the "Bridge of no Return".  And...they mean literally no return :)  You will walk right into somewhere where...you aren't supposed to be.  Actually and interesting story.  A South Korean was trimming a tree & I guess got to close to the line of the North Koreans comfort so they bludgeoned him to death.  So sad :(  There is a small memorial there for him.

You actually can't bring children under the age of 12 I think to the DMZ tour because of fear that North Koreans will take a child running and gesturing motions the wrong way.  The tour is fun but very much composed and structured.  


I hope you all are staying safe & healthy in the states.  We love & miss you all!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall has arrived!





Hello everyone :o)


So, I think I can call this my first "official" fall season that I have seen the leaves change colors.  I had seen a few here & there but we weren't in NC long enough for me to see a true fall season.  Now I have seen all four season of Korea..& they are definitely four seasons alright!


Here are a few pictures that I was able to snap while driving & hiking..I'm going to try and get better ones soon.  Some of the trees, well most actually, are still in the process of changing so more pictures will come as they change.









The dogs & I have been hiking a lot lately after I get off of work since the weather has been so nice (for once).  They are loving it & I figure might as well get it all in before the ice and freezing cold comes!




My big, big boy!  If you're wondering where the little one is, since he has proven multiple times that he cannot listen..he gets leashed on the mountain.




Anxiously waiting for some food to drop.




They put these random exercise machines everywhere on the mountain trails.  This is Mike "attempting" to perform some ab workout.  Wasn't able to capture that he nearly flipped off :o)




This entire weekend they are having an air-show/air expo right across the street from our house at the ROK (Republic of Korea) Army base.  We are allowed to go on by military bus only but that way you can see the planes and what not.  Mike is up there, I stayed home.  I have seen and heard (sooo loud) them practicing for the past 2 weeks so I figure I will watch from our rooftop :o)!  


Anyways, got to run for now!  Got some cleaning up to do.  Love & miss you all!!!!!!


<3
Mike
&
Britt
<3




Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Almost 1 year!



Hello everyone :o)

I hope you all are doing WoNdErFuL!  Things on 'this side of the globe' are going well.  The season has made a strong shift from "raining every for 3 months" to "HELLO 30's in the morning and night time".  Fall has officially arrived & I am waiting for the leave change!  I've heard it is so pretty here so I am excited to witness my first "official" fall (because we all know Florida's leaves go to and from green &...dead LOL. 

This week Mike is gone in the field, about 2 hours down south.  He is doing NEO exercises/missions (kind of like preparations if NK would ever attack).  SO this week I have to myself and my two furry boys.   No cooking, cleaning...just working & having my girl time with my friends :o)  Much needed!  This picture is Shep enjoying the morning cool weather with Mike before he left!  





So a few weeks ago I bought this hideous end table from the military "flea market".  It was $10 but my PLAN was to cover it with fabric that I bought from Dongdaemun.  Dongdaemun is kind of like "old Korea" but not really haha.  It has anything you can think of from lamps, buttons, fabric, curtains, ANYTHING.  It is kind of like an industrial market.  Anyways, it is a lot of fun & very cheap.  We made the mistake of driving there versus taking the subway.  This is the epicenter of Seoul, not fun!















I know this is random but you know those sand spurs back at home that get stuck in your socks sometimes?  WELL these are MASSIVE sand spurs.  They are seriously your worst nightmare, especially when I go hiking with the dogs!  






Alright, so NOW it is time to talk about some hilarious Korean myths that they will SWEAR by.

#1 )  Fan death.  
No, seriously, they believe that...I hope you are sitting down for this...that if you are sleeping in a room and leave the fan on overnight you will suffocate and die.  I AM NOT KIDDING.  You can actually google it and it will pop up.  Wikipedia has an accurate explanation of what the Koreans believe.  Apparently I should've died YEARS ago :P

#2 )  Dog meat cures cancer
This will probably come as a surprise to many of you but yes, Koreans eat dog, typically they are stray dogs (I know HOW disgusting) but it is super rare to find in "today's culture", definitely is an old-person thing here and I bet will be gone in the next generation.  Anyhow, they are convinced that it cures cancer and makes you feel "warm" inside.  They ALSO have cat bone in their medicines here.  Yep, for as smart as these people are they sure have some WEIRD beliefs.

I will have to think of more as time goes on.


AND LAST but not least, the Korean comic strips.  They are hilarious and I will only post a few today.  One of the funniest things about living here is that some places require you to estimate your toilet paper.  Yep, you read right.  They have the roll in the restaurant, you grab what you "need" and have at it.  



I STILL laugh when I see these :o)  Ohhh the humors of living here!  These are all so very true.  More to come next time!

Hope you all are having a good start to your week and have a great weekend!  Love to you all!!!

Mike & Britt



  




Thursday, September 15, 2011

O-so-se-yo!

O-so-se-yo means "Welcome" in Korean, something that I say A LOT through out my day working at the bank when Koreans come in to do banking.  Weird, it has kind of become habit now.


I am so sorry I haven't done a blog in a while now, things have been busy lately (which busy is always good!).  The biggest news is that we received our car & our household goods that we had in temporary storage in North Carolina.  But most of our other things still sit in long-term storage till we go to our next duty station.  We are sooo excited about having our own car here & now we don't have to fear breaking down in the 19th century-old Kia :o)  The car made it well except for 6 like little dents/dings on the hood.  It looks like something may have fell on it but they gave us $600 up front and then I guess going to pay the rest of it exceeds that.  It should be a relatively easy fix BUT such a hassle to do in Korea.  It certainly isn't severe so we might just wait until we get back to the states.


This past Monday was Korea's Chuseok.  Chuseok is kind of like our version of Thanksgiving.  Families get together but the difference is that they remember their ancestors & things like that.  ALSO, they don't eat turkey :)  They eat "ddeok" those rice cakes I posted a while ago but kind of a variety of them I guess.



One of the associates at the bank brought me ddeok & another brought me meat because I guess that is the "traditional" thing to give each other.  It seriously smelt SO bad I had to stick it in its own drawer in the fridge.  Every time I open the fridge at work I gag because their food smells like permeate through even plastic bags!  Fun.


So mainly I decided this post was going to be about Korean scenery.  I haven't posted pictures up in a while of it and it really is sooo pretty!  So here is a few.  My personal favorite is when we are driving over the bridges driving into the middle of Seoul.








I was so excited when I found out that I could start doing pottery again.  Upstairs on post has a place where you can paint and fire & what not for super cheap.  Here is the first thing I doodled around with, not fired yet so the colors aren't that ugly I promise.  



And this is the second thing I am working on.  I think going to do just 4 plates, 6 is getting boring lol!



We hope everyone is doing well!  We miss all of you a TON & hope we can find a good time to make it home at some point during our 3 year tour here.  It is just a lot harder & expensive than we initially thought it would be.  Love you all!!!!!!!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Another day in...paradise :)


HELLOOO everyone!  I stumbled across this on my way to work today & thought I'd share.  Such an amazing flower :)



Things have been good & quiet around here lately.  The rain has FINALLY stopped, or at least decreased a lot.  It is about time, about 2 and a half months of straight rain was getting a tad old.  We actually had a typhoon (Pacific name for hurricane) hit last week.  It ended up turning at the last second and making landfall in North Korea.  We didn't get a whole lot from it, mainly just an awesome breeze!


Mike & I, along with his company finally went to a Korean baseball game.  Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking "they place baseball in Korea?".  And actually it is HUGE here, way more exciting than the states.  We saw the LG Twins play some team, which I forgot their name, but it was a lot of fun.  The stadium is located in downtown Seoul, called "Jamsil".  It is actually the Olympic Stadium.  




I think my favorite thing about the game was not the game but what food they SOLD at the game.  As 'Americans' we are used to nachos, hamburgers, beer (which they had plenty of that).  At a Korean baseball game...this is what you get.........



YEP, that is exactly what you're thinking it is.  Dried whole squids, dried squid tentacles, and pretty much...some more dried disgusting stuff.  And let me tell you, Koreans were picking this stuff up like crazy.   I am still amazed at the TOTAL differences in customs, food, clothing...everything.  Kids receive these as "treats" in their everyday lunch boxes when we are eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  SOOO strange.


Michael & I went out to dinner again with my coworkers at the bank.  We actually just were audited today & yesterday and I am SO relieved for it to be over.  They pick apart every single thing and try to find your mistakes.  Koreans have an extremely "anal" work ethic, which is great, but can be a bit much at times.  We received a 9 out of 10 so we won't be audited again till next year thankfully!  Oh yeah, and I am officially the ONLY American that works for the bank in the country of Korea (besides the woman in charge of all the branches).  So basically I'm like the superstar.  I think I deserve a raise or something...LOL





The man on the far left is out new associate (a transfer from a different bank), Mr. Park.  I looove him.   He is so funny & a great person to work next to.  He has been to more places in the states than I have.  Ha!  If you are wondering what we ate it was Samgipsal (Pork) with Dwenjang (Red bean paste/pepper paste), Bop (rice), that kind of thing.


Hope you all have a great weekend!!!  Love & miss you all!






Friday, July 29, 2011

Monsoon season at its worst!


Things in Korea have been well...even MORE wet!  This past week (if you didn't see it on CNN or anything) we received over 20 inches of rain in less than 2 days.  A record rainfall amount that has ever occurred (in 2 days) in Korea.  Korea has great drainage but since it was a chronic flash flood, naturally it couldn't keep up.

The picture below is actually of the Han River (major river running in the middle of Seoul) and it was so full that it ended up covering portions of the major highway, leaving it impossible to cross.




Seeing as Koreans can't stop their life for work, cars were driving & literally started to flood.  Crazy!!  I was the lucky duck that had to WALK to work in this.  My new Target rain boots came in handy.



There were a few mudslides at the mountains nearby and I think more than 40 something people have died.  It has been really sad but thankfully, we have sun today and everything is soaking up very quickly.



Other than that, things have been relatively quiet here.  I discovered (sort of) this new candy that you're going to think sounds awful BUT it is amazing.  It is..drumroll please..chocolate covered fried rice.  Now before you say "ewww" or "that's odd" it is kind of like a chocolate rice crispy treat.  The reason why I am telling you this is because of the container that it is in...see if you notice anything, strange.


Yep, "CRUNKY"...not "CRUCHY".  I was laughing so hard when I finally took the time to read the label!  Ohhh you Koreans :o)


Since on the days it isn't raining here, it is hot and humid.  Both Shep & Danny have discovered this creek that runs in this new high rise neighborhood nearby.  They love it and yes, BOTH, go swimming :)



video


Wish us luck as we stick out the rest of Monsoon season and pray for NO typhoons this year!  Hope you all are having a great weekend so far!!  We love you all & miss you!!!