Wednesday, September 17, 2014

See Ya, Butter-Bar

Aaron got promoted to a First Lieutenant from a Second Lieutenant.

Doesn't army rankings seem backward?  There's got to be a reason but I haven't found it yet.
Second Lieutenant (gold bar), aka Butter Bar
    > First Lieutenant (silver bar)
        > Captain (two silver bars)
            > Major (gold leaf)
                > Lieutenant Colonel (silver leaf)
                    > Colonel (silver bird), aka Full Bird...

I am getting ready to pin on Aaron's new ranking.
We did this in the middle of the battalion meeting.  And I don't know what I'm doing. Awkward.

Salute from his commander, Major Duryea.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Neighborhood

We are a one-car family.  And to be honest, I kinda like it.  Aaron and I get to talk a lot more and organize where we are going to be, what needs to get done, and how we are going to go about doing it.  It is a lot harder to take spontaneous trips to the store or the gym if you don't have access to a car.  So we get to walk and use public transportation and view all the cool things around us.

Thankfully there is a Korean market up the road a half mile that I can grab a grocery item if I need it (unless it is an American product, then I am outta luck).

Farmland everywhere.  Isn't it pretty?
There are even farms right up to the intersections of the streets.
Here is a farm in the middle of the city next to the bus stop.
Here are some adorable girls from church in Korean traditional clothing, Hanbok.
Aren't they cute?!  Especially for little white girls.
This technially isn't our neighborhood but it is the nearest big city, about 20 minutes away.  Pyeongtaek.  Always bustling and busy.  
This picture was taken from the top floor of the train station.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Korea's form of Disneyland, Everland, is just as magical.  Everland offers a 'foreigners discount' on Korean holidays, like Chuseok (Korea's Thanksgiving).  Aaron and I snagged the chance to go for 50% off tickets.  And we had a blast!

I think we will make it an annual Chuseok holiday tradition now!

My glasses broke on the train ride there.
Luckily I had a handy husband and a bobby pin!
Smile and say "kimchi"  We made it to Everland.
I am so happy right now!
The park is getting ready for Halloween 
that is why there are eyeballs hanging from the tree. 
We convinced Gabby (girl in the bottom left) to go on her first big-kid roller coaster.
She was terrified and came off the ride crying.  Eek - I felt bad.

The ride, T-Express, is "the world's second steepest wooden coaster.  It is also the world's ninth fastest, fourth tallest, and sixth longest wooden roller coaster" (according to wiki).  
And it is A-MA-ZING (according to Amy)!!
This sign is no joke.  I'm glad I stretched my neck before hand!
Was the 80 minute wait worth it for the T-Express?  Y-E-S!

Notes for next time:
- Don't bother bringing water bottles - there is no place to refill them.  Just buy more water here.
- Arrive early (park opens at 0900) because it gets busy busy after 1400 after everyone is done eating their delicious Chuseok dinner.  We arrived at the park at 1130 and left at 1630.
- Ride T-Express first and last and again in the middle.  This ride is hands-down-AMAZING!
- Closed-toed shoes not necessary but good walking shoes are.  Lots of hills.
- Small backpacks are fine to carry around.  Most rides have a place to set them down.  And this is Korea, no one steals anything (why can't the states be like that?).
- A small fan would be handy too.
- It takes 3hrs to get there by public transportation (even on Chuseok holiday) so plan accordingly.  We took a bus, a train, the subway, another train/tram, and shuttle to get to the park.
- Was the 25,000won worth it for five hours and four rides?  Yes.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Korea - Apartment 301

We have moved into our fancy apartment.  No more living like nomads for us.

I would have never imagined we would be living in a four bedroom/two bath apartment with just the two of us.  Pretty cool.  I was thinking our living would be minimal and we would be squished into a small Asian apartment but that is not the case.  We have a room for guests, and an office, and a nursery (what???  this is no announcement).

 The army gives us $1,600 for living as a 2LT with family.  And every apartment we looked at happened to have the rent rate of $1,600.  Imagine that.  Not a problem.

We are very happy with our abode.  And I will be very happy when our stuff arrives.

The army gives us some loaner furniture while we are here.

The fancy kitchen.  And the pretty red refridgerator.

"We have a residence!"  kiss.

And soon we will no longer be living in suitcases.

We have a big tub and fancy shower head.
Too bad there hot water doesn't last long enough to enjoy it!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Foodie Adventure

I definitely don't consider myself a "foodie" (definition: a person with a particular interest in food) but when you are living in a foreign country you've got to get used to eating weird stuff.

Here are some of our experiences so far...

This is a typical Korean meal.  We ordered the large dishes, ramyon and bibimbap and yaki mandu, and all the smaller dishes come with the meal.  These small dishes, called banchan, usually consists of kimchi and other items.  Kimchi is usually made of cabbage but can also be made of other fermented vegetables like radish and cucumber.  It is pretty good.  But if you don't like spicy stuff then watch out!  This kimchi will make your scalp start sweating.

But wait a second.... that is that silvery thing in the middle??
Yikes!!!  Miniature fish!!
The Korean lady sitting next to me says, "It is anchovies.  It is good for health."
Blah!  Thanks, but no thanks.

Another fun story....

When Aaron and I eat out we look for restaurants with pictures on the menu so all we have to do it point and grunt and the waitress gets what we ask for.  On this trip to Pyeongtaek we found a restaurant with pictures on the windows outside the restaurant but unfortunately there were only a few pictures on the extensive menu.  When the waitress arrived, Aaron pointed at the only picture that looked like edible food.  The waitress didn't speak any English, which is expected, but she did give a good pantomime of 'spicy' as she stuck out her tough and fanned it with her hand.  We gave the thumbs-up sign indicating that is what we wanted.

Several minutes went by the waitress brought two small plates and a pair of gloves.  Gloves?  What are those for?  Another few minutes went by and the banchan was delivered followed by a plate of chicken wings covered in spices.  One lick of the spicy covered wings made my tongue and mouth start watering.  It was so firey hot that I couldn't even take a bite.  So that is what the gloves are for!  They are for protection against the hottest wings of all time.  If you aren't armed correctly these wings will knock you right out of your seat!

Aaron was up for the challenge.  He slipped on his gloves, filled his glass with water and went to battle.  He would eat, eat, eat.  As the coach I fed him water, wiped away the spice from his burning lips and mouth, gave him some advise before the break was over.  Then he would eat, eat, eat.  Just like a boxing match.

Though Aaron was only an amateur in the spicy-wings arena, he put up a very good fight and finished every bite. 

Aaron says, "It was painful going in.  And it was painful coming out."  What a pooper trooper!

Monday, September 1, 2014

My Soul is in Seoul

Seoul has been good to us so far!

Incheon Airport.  Huge!

N. Seoul Tower

There is a large exibit of love locks at N Seoul Tower.
We were sure to show some love too.  Aaron is waiting for his kiss.

The changing of the guard at Gyeongbokgung Palace.
I love the drums and their fancy outfit/uniform/attire.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

This is where the king would sit

Quick!  Who am I?

In front of the Korean War Museum

Korean War Museum
Very cool museum.  One of the best I've seen.

Isn't he handsome?
Inside the Korean War Museum
Corn dogs?

Korean's love bottled water.