Saturday, September 13, 2014

Holiday fun!

Wow, so much to write about! Lot’s has happened as we have begun school, had a 5 day holiday, and continue to settle into our lives here in Korea.

It’s now been 1 month since we began this adventure! A month ago we had no idea of the kind people we would meet, challenges we would go through, craziness we would endure, or joy that Korea would bring us. It's only been a month, homesickness has definitely set in at times and we are not quite "settled" into our new environment yet , but we really are enjoying our married life in our new home! We truly appreciate the prayers as we continue this adventure here!

We’ve taken many photos, experienced lots of new things, and even met new people! Here are some highlights!

New English Teacher Dinner: We were invited last Thursday to go to Korean BBQ with all the new and current teachers in Hwasun. Besides meeting Brad and Maranda, who live a few floors up from us, we had not met any other foreigners. Brad, Maranda, and I have been communicating through email for a few months as I was taking over Brad’s job and they were giving us great information before we got here. We all met and walked to the restaurant. It was in the basement of a building (we would have never found this place alone!) and again, was a traditional sit on the floor place. It was cool because the grill was in the middle of each of the table and a vent hung down over it. The food was great and it was really nice getting to talk to the other teachers! Some teacher have been here for 4 years, others are brand new! We had a lot of fun and are glad to know there are lots of others to relate with!

iHerb: Tyler and I were referred to this awesome website called iHerb as we were in need of some western groceries that we just couldn’t find here! This website is amazing! It is based out of California and ships 15lbs of groceries to Korea for only $4 in shipping! So that’s been fun! The other day our 1st box came filled with lots of goodies! Annies snack mix, real spaghetti sauce, salsa, and Tyler’s favorite cinnamon pita chips! This was an exciting day! We are still waiting on box #2 as it has my Bob’s red mill oatmeal, our garlic powder, and some strawberry jam!
Our fun food items! 
 New glasses!: Walking home the other day I noticed a new glasses store opened up and had huge sale signs and balloons everywhere. I’ve heard you can get prescription glasses here for pretty cheap and I wanted a new pair so Tyler and I decided to explore that on a Friday evening (after pizza dinner of course!). We were there just to look but we ended up both getting an quick eye exam to see what our prescriptions would be. We also both ended up finding pairs that worked (and happened to match each others, of course!) so we went for it! Along with our two pairs of glasses (for a total of $40!) they gave us 3 boxes of tissue, 30 eggs, and 1 antibacterial serving tray. Random right? In Korea, it is common to give out gifts during big sales, opening of new stores, or just as promotions. Though they are random gifts, they are all well used in our home! 

All of our gifts! And the glasses container... :) 

Tyler’s haircut!: You can see our video of the experience of getting Tyler’s haircut in Korea here!

Bus Rides: We’ve said before the bus rides are a little rough here. In the mornings (and sometimes evenings) they are very crowded, but that’s just part of it. It’s bumpy with lots of turns, and you go really fast. Tyler travels 45 minutes to his schools and I travel anywhere from 25-45 to certain schools as well. Put all that together and it’s a great mixture for motion sickness. This frequently happens to both of us. We haven’t figured out how to stop it yet and it’s not terrible (there have been no embarrassing situations!) but that’s definitely something different about living here!

E-mart and Shinsegae: On Saturday night we went to Gwangju for another fun trip to E-mart! This time, we decided to explore the U-Square and Shinsegae area first. U-Square is the giant bus terminal in Gwangju. It’s a great landmark because everyone knows where it is and it has a lot in it! Lot’s of shops, restaurants, and even a movie theater.  It’s also conveniently located next to E-mart, another great landmark! The Shinsegae shopping area is like a big mall with many floors of shopping. In the basement we found a food court with many different cuisines. On the other floors were name brand and non name brand cloths and what not. We explored a bit and then went down to E-mart. We ended up eating at the Popeyes in the E-mart food court. We are in somewhat of a “comparing and contrasting” stage in Korea. Which means we basically have to buy or try every type of food that is in the US and compare it to the Korean version. It also means we have to buy every type of Korean food just to try it out! It’s a mix of being adventurous and sticking with what we know. ;) After dinner we did our shopping and went to U Square (the bus station with lots of shops inside) and ended up eating Baskin Robins (see what I mean?). Our ice cream was good, but we were not very adventurous (Tyler had mint chocolate chip and I had cotton candy because sadly, there is no pink bubblegum here).  We then found the giant cinema that is on the top floor! It is really big and looks really nice! They periodically play English movies there (with Korean subtitles), so when Maze Runner comes out soon we will definitely post about that! J

Beautiful sunset! 

We had to try it! 

Interesting flavors....Veggie Fruit Sherbert and Apple mint. 

What is popping shower?

Sunday in Gwangju!: On Sunday, our new friends Brad and Maranda invited us to attend their church in Gwangju. We took a bus and a taxi to get there. The church is located near the World Cup Stadium in Gwangju. It is called Wolgwang English Ministry. They use a Korean Christian church building and the English service is held on the 4th floor in a nice multipurpose room. The pastor is cool because he is a Korean, but he was born in Germany, so his main language is German, Korean and English. When he speaks English, he speaks with a German accent! It’s great! The people were very nice and welcoming! It was a mixture of foreigners and English speaking Koreans. The service and worship was all in English and the songs were very familiar (Hillsong United, Matt Redman…) . It was great to meet some other English teachers as well! The church was so kind, and gave us hand towels as welcome gifts! Those towels will be put to very good use! J We will be attending again this week!

The church building! 

After church Maranda and Brad took us downtown to eat lunch at their favorite restaurant. It’s a western restaurant that has as authentic western food as you can prolly get in Korea. It was great! We all had breakfast sandwiches (with real cheese!) and enjoyed lunch together! After, they showed us some little fun stores around the area and showed us how the busses run around the area. We are so hapy we found such kind, generous, and Christian friends to connect with here in Gwangju!

Downtown Gwangju! 

Our new friends, Brad and Maranda! 

Tyler and I explored a little more of downtown before flagging down a taxi. We were off to the Gwangju National Museum. Here is a video of our visit!

Cooking: One night some friends posted a recipe to make homemade flour tortillas. We haven’t found tortillas here yet, but we had meat and taco seasoning so we thought we could give that a try! They were super simple to make, only 4 ingredients, and they tasted pretty good! It was nice to have our traditional “taco night” again! Other meals we have made include chicken nuggets and rice, spicy noodle and pork soup, mandu (pot stickers), macaroni and cheese and hotdogs, and spaghetti! We have also made French toast and pancakes too (thank gosh they have decent syrup here!). We are still learning what and how to cook in our tiny kitchen that doesn’t have an oven, but so far we’re doing pretty good!


Val's favorite! 

Cooking in a tiny kitchen requires chairs to be used as counter space. :) 

Chuseok: Chuseok (Chew-Sock) is a three-day holiday similar to American Thanksgiving and Memorial Day all at once. During the holiday family members travel to be together. It is customary to go to the grandparents’ home, but it isn’t always the case. While together, families play games, make food together, and most importantly eat lots of food together! Rice cakes are a popular sweet to make and eat during this time. Several days leading up to Chuseok my school had rice cake available in the teacher’s office. There are different kinds, but the one I tried has red beans on the bottom and peas in the middle. It was very nice that they shared some with me, but it didn’t have much flavor and made me very thirsty. The other important part of the holiday is visiting ancestors’ graves to pay respect. On the second evening of Chuseok Val and I were enjoying birthday cake with our upstairs neighbors Brad and Miranda. While hanging out the city of Hwasun put on a firework show. We walked outside, but by the time they were in view the show was just ending.

We saw the very end of the show! 

Hiking Mudeungsan Mountain: On the final day of the holiday break Val and I went hiking! After riding the bus to Gwangju and taking a taxi to the start of the trail, we were ready to go. Hiking is very popular in Korea and one very unique part of hiking in Korea is that everyone dresses in special hiking clothes. Whether going out for a walk or a several mile hike, people wear their special hiking clothes, hiking boots, and their nice daypacks with hiking poles. The clothes are very bright and colorful, and here we are with our shorts and t-shirts…like we didn’t stick out enough. The hike was pretty much all up hill on the way to our destination. We stopped by a small temple with colorful statues. The hiking paths are well maintained and sometimes had woven carpet laid out. However most of it was uphill climbing up rocks or man made rock stairs. Along the way we had lunch. Val and I sat on a bench, but many Koreans sit on a big communal platform. Many people were interested in us and watched us eat during lunch. This wasn’t to be rude, they were just curious. The hike was definitely a good leg workout! Once we finally arrived, we had a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and the city of Gwangju in the distance. At the top, some friendly people took our photo! We also were asked to be in a photo with some other people! After we finished our hike we went to the shoe cleaning station…that’s right, they have a shoe cleaning station! There is a small pool of water and scrub brushes available for public use to clean off our boots. It was the first time I came back from a hike with cleaner boots than I started with. While at the cleaning station we met a nice man who is called the “tiger of the mountain.” They call him the tiger of the mountain because he goes hiking on Mudeungsan Mountain every day. He spoke pretty good English and told us how he likes the Portland Trail Blazers. After hiking we walked through the shopping area, which is 90% hiking stores with every piece of hiking gear you would ever need. We found the coolest little coffee shop that had some great looking (and tasting) desserts! The weather was perfect for our day outside and we can’t wait to go back and explore different trails!

Sweet honey bread! Very delicious! 

This week begins another full week of school as we continue to adjust to our schedules and classes. Prayers for patience, an open heart and mind, and energy would be greatly appreciated! Remember, you can subscribe to our youtube channel at! More videos to come 

1 comment:

  1. A: white chocolate and creme de menthe flavor with popping rock candy.

    Love your blog and all the pics and video. Thanks for sharing!