Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday Afternoon in Suwon

The morning got off to a rough start with me mistakenly thinking I had a meeting in Seoul. After spending 3 entirely unnecessary hours on buses this morning, I encouraged Clark to get me out of the house to keep me from stewing in my self-directed anger for my morning's foolishness.

The weather was nice, so we decided to wander around our neighbourhood. We live in the northern part of Suwon, just a hop, skip, & a jump down the road from Hwaseong Fortress. This is our street.

A little further down is Haenggung (King Jeongjo's secondary palace).

Suwon (well, Korea really) is a strange place ~ a bizarre juxtaposition of the modern, the traditional, and the downright odd.

We got hungry and stopped to eat at one of my favourite restaurants.

And bought some ppeongtwigi (puffed rice snacks) from the ppeongtwigi man for dessert.

Then stopped by the park where all the ajosshi's hang out playing jangji and yutnori.

While I was busy taking these photographs, Clark was getting his foot run over by a character in a motorized wheelchair who was adamant about having the chance to shake my hand and kept shouting "Miss Korea! Miss Korea!" We fled the park soon thereafter.

It was a warm, sunny afternoon and despite my early morning fiasco the day turned out to be a lot of fun. Just ask Logan....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

COEX Baby Fair

Today we went to the COEX Baby Fair in Seoul. We arrived 30 minutes before the doors opened and were not at all surprised to encounter hundreds of parents, babies & strollers waiting in line (a line which stretched far far beyond the large pillar on the left side of the picture).  The banner is funny. It says: "see you again in August!" How very impatient and presumptuous of the organizers. Lest they forget we're all still waiting in line for February's exhibition.

It was our third baby fair (we were at both the COEX & KINTEX fairs last year) but our first time as models. That's right people, I said models! An expat mom we know, "Mommy Cha", is the distributor of Moby Wrap in Korea. We assisted her in advertising by carrying Logan around in a Moby Wrap while we perused the fair and shopped. Here are Clark and Logan getting suited up (Clark's getting lessons direct from the Moby queen herself, Sarah "Mommy" Cha^^)

Logan spent 4 hours in the Moby (even slept and ate while in it) and enjoyed himself immensely. We used to have a different sort of baby sling/carrier, but neither Logan nor we liked it very much; we find the Moby Wrap to be exceptionally more comfortable and convenient.

Logan's becoming quite a flirt, learning how to bat his long lashes at passersby. We were bombarded by quite a lot of inquisitive people. One pair of women actually asked Clark: "Is he a doll or a real baby?" Several other people recognized us from being on TV last week (>.<) And, of course, lots of people commented on or wanted to ask questions about the Moby Wrap.

The fair was really big and there was lots to see (over 150 vendors, I think) We did a lot of "eye shopping", as they say in Korea, but didn't really buy anything ~ unless you count one pack of food storage containers and a bath towel. What we were really after was a high chair, but the cheapest one we could find was over 300,000won, and some priced as high as 600,000! Silly me thought we could pick one up for under 150,000won. Craigslist, here I come (again)...

Though the prices weren't to my liking, this sign was.

It was a very long, but happy day at the baby fair. We were even lucky enough to be treated to lunch and given a free Moby Wrap ~ thanks Mommy Cha!^^

Monday, February 14, 2011


This weekend I went on a ladies weekend with three of the members of our "Olle" club (see my Christmas Party post for more background on the club). We drove to Gapyeong County 가평군 to do some touristy stuff and stayed over night at a small resort condo in nearby Cheongpyung 청평.

On Saturday we visited Petite France 쁘띠프랑스, Korea's "French culture village", which is modelled after a rural French Alps village and has been the setting for several Korean television shows.

The theme of the village is Antoine de Saint-Exupery's "The Little Prince". There are murals and character sculptures scattered throughout, as well as an indoor exhibit featuring various published versions of the book, original drawings and letters by the author, photos, and other memorabilia.

There's a variety of mildly entertaining things to see and do: we missed the marionette show, but were entertained by the coq gaulois (national symbol of France) exhibit, and played dress-up in the authentic 200 year-old French house that was, in fact, transported to Korea from France.

Before leaving, we stuffed ourselves with delicious crepes following an overpriced and truly horrible meal in the restaurant (eat before you go!).

In the evening, we hung out at the resort, feasting on Jeju style pork barbecue and playing 'Go Stop'.

Sunday (Heather's 31st birthday) started with a breakfast buffet and a trip (my 4th) to Nami Island 남이섬. It was, unfortunately, quite frigid, but we had fun nonetheless. Here we are; Soon-Ok, Heather, Me, & Marcie. It's fun walking around out in public together and watching/listening to people trying to figure out our dynamic.

My favourite part of the day was seeing the clay sculpture exhibit called "Mother's Happiness", though it caused me to miss Logan and want to head home sooner rather than later.

To see all of the pictures I took this weekend, click my Picasa Web Album on the main page.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Toy Awesomeness

Had Barney Stinson accompanied us to the  Suwon Toy Library 아이장난감도서관 today, he surely would have agreed that it is pure awesomeness.

The government runs this program for Korean and multicultural families with young children to borrow toys, books, and dvds. Clark and I signed up today along with another expat mom we know who's also married to a Korean. This is Casey and her almost 8 month-old girl, Ivy.

A friend of Casey's, Gisela, also met us there, but has to wait for a membership (must enter a lottery in March) because both her and her husband are foreign. Here's Gisela's little boy, Iggy, who seemed to be enjoying himself testing out lots of different toys.

We're on probation for the first three months so they can make sure we behave ourselves and abide by their rules. The rules are quite simple, really; we can use our library card to borrow up to two toys and three books at any given time (or one dvd may be sustituted for a book). The borrowing period is ten days, after which late fees are incurred with the fee being decided by the size/value of the toy as per a coloured sticker code.

The place is pretty amazing. Everything is barcoded and has labels telling you the product name, what age group it's appropriate for, & general instructions on how to use it. Then, when you go to the check out counter, they walk you through how to use the toys you're borrowing. Here's Clark at the checkout getting shown how to use the play gym we picked out today.

The most impressive thing is the cleanliness. See the woman in the room behind him? She cleans all of the toys as they're returned. And from what I could tell, she was doing a very thorough job of it.

I think it's pretty safe to say that from this day forward, we will never spend money on toys again!

Here's Bubby at home with a (figuratively speaking) new play gym.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Seollal 설날

Seollal 'Lunar New Year' marks the first day of the lunar calendar; however I've just learned from Wikipedia that the so-called Korean lunar calendar is, more accurately, a lunisolar calendar. While I don't really have much of an appreciation for what this means, what I can tell you is that it's a big holiday (Wed-Sun this year) ~ yay!

In the weeks leading up to Seollal, store shelves are stocked with a variety of gift giving 'classics' sold in the form of  'gift sets'. For reasons that I don't care to speculate on, SPAM is an especial favourite for givers and receivers alike (except this receiver). Clark and I have been given our fair share over the years; sometimes it's a SPAM/tuna combo, sometimes a SPAM/tuna/oil combo, and sometimes just SPAM SPAM and more SPAM.

The box says "For your Smile: SPAM contributes to your enjoyable moments through its distinct taste and quality". They certainly don't lie. I had a very enjoyable moment taking this picture and anyone who's ever eaten SPAM can surely attest to its "distinct taste and quality".

Like Christmas in Canada, Seollal is a time for Koreans to not only observe tradition, but also spend big bucks. A few cases in point:

10 apples for the bargain price of 107,000won ($95)

Or these dried  mushrooms for only 161,000won ($145)

This year, in lieu of SPAM we received (so far) a rice cake set and 5kg box of pork. Using Logan as my scapegoat, I was able to skip out on the traditional ancestral worship ceremony held every year at the home of Clark's eldest uncle. Clark is there right now though, so there's no telling what he'll come home with :P

*Edit* Clark and his father came back here late in the afternoon with lots of leftovers. Then we did sae-bae (show respect for elders by bowing in exchange for money) and now have lots of cash to blow at the upcoming baby fair.^^

Happy New Year (again)!!!!