Formerly known as "Cruzers in Korea"

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Favorite Things About Korea - Part II

Sunday, April 25, 2010 4
Although life out here in the Far East can be a little strange compared to hanging out in the good ol' US of A,  there are many, many things to like about being here in Korea.  I did a previous post on some of those things.  The first list included:

- my team at MSCO Korea
- bulgogi
- optional red traffic lights affectionately called "might lights" cause you "might" stop at them
- cheap taxi fares
- Asian pears
- clean subway
- police rarely give out traffic tickets
- kimchi
- coffee shakes
- paper lamps
- spicy octopus
- the many sights in Busan
- people respecting their elders

Here's a few more items to add to the list:

- Our church.  We go to the English service of Sooyoungro Antioch International Ministries (AIM).  Great people there and a very diverse crowd.  We recently attended a wedding of two of our friends that met from the church.  There were over 20 countries represented at their wedding reception.  Pretty cool.

The music is awesome at AIM.  The English service is in a brand new building in Suyeong.

I volunteer to do the Children's message near the beginning of the service.  I really enjoy doing that with the kids.  The things that come out of their mouths!

The Children's ministry started out with 5 kids.  Here I am doing the Children's message with 16 kids.  Now it's up to 40+.  Pretty cool.

- Nice toll booth workers.  They dress up, smile and actually give you a greeting.

- Samgyupsal.  This stuff is awesome!  You take this very tasty grilled pork, throw it in a lettuce leaf, add some sauce, garlic and kimchi and you've got the perfect bite of food in your mouth. There's something about that grilled kimchi.  Samgyupsal is kinda fatty but man is it tasty.  Even CJ, a very picky eater, likes this stuff.  That tells you something.

- Girls holding hands.  Here's a pic of Carol and Ms. Sin from the Korean American Busan Association (KABA) holding hands.  Sometimes when Carol is around some of my staff, they'll unknowingly hold Carol's hand.  I think it's very cute.  Ms. Sin is great, btw.  Although we can only speak a handful of words to each other, we still have a blast together.  She's a dancing machine too.

- Gotta love all the high heels.  Check these out:

High heels at a museum.

High heels at a temple.

High heels at another temple.

And high heels even on the beach.  I've even seen girls wearing high heels in the sand at Haeundae Beach.  That's what you call dedication to fashion.

- The kissing camera at sporting events.

Here's how the kissing camera works at basketball or baseball games.  When the kissing camera is on, the two random people they spotlight on the big screen TVs are supposed to kiss each other, whether they know each other or not.  Laughter from the crowd ensues.  Depending on the enthusiasm of the kiss, a restraining order might follow as well.

- Inexpensive car wash/wax.  Only 25,000 won (about $22 US)  to get your car washed, waxed and vacuumed at Homeplus, and that's for an SUV.  Excuse me, 24,000 won.  It costs an extra 1,000 won for them to shampoo Jake's car seat.  Can't beat it with a stick.

- Blazing fast internet.  South Korea used to be the most wired country in the world.  If I have my facts straight, Singapore is now #1.  Still, pretty smooth sailing on the internet.

- 24 hour McDonalds and home delivery.

I really shouldn't have this one on the list because we have yet to take advantage of Mickey D's after hours or called out for delivery.  

I gotta share this next thing with you cause it's so dang funny.  A little sad but pretty dang funny.  This is an actual Facebook update from a friend out here in Busan:  

"As if I didn't feel guilty enough ordering McDonald's, I find out that my order is over an hour late because the delivery boy had an accident with his scooter and was sent to the hospital.  Dang!  At least he is okay...and the food was hot."  I busted a lung over that one.  I do hope the delivery boy is okay though.  BTW, Koreans on scooters - not one of my favorite things.

- Dry cleaning is delivered to your house.  Nice.

- Cheerleaders at sporting events.

Cheerleaders at a Lotte Giants baseball game.

Cheering at a Sonic Boom basketball game.  Where are the blondes?

- Busan Foreign School.  A lot to like about the school.  CJ's been lamenting lately how there's no way his next school can hold a candle to BFS.

- Doenjang chigae.  Carol and I both love this spicy soup.  It's served piping hot with white rice on the side.  It's got tofu, veggies and sometimes, seafood in the soup.  The base is made of bean paste.  I'm really hoping Carol learns how to make this soup before we leave.

- Cherry blossoms.  Just gorgeous.  Wish they could stay longer.

Cherry blossoms with our building in the background.

- Spending time with the kids at the orphanage.  Those little ones are just a ball.

These pics are from a recent ice cream party we had with the kids.  That's Set Byul in the middle, the half Russian, half Korean girl.

- Movies are inexpensive and the concession stand prices are reasonable too.  You pick your seats when you purchase tickets.  This way, you don't have to stand in an extra line to grab a good seat for a popular movie like you do in the US.

- The overall innocence and cuteness of it all here in Korea.  Here's an example:

You can wear hats like this, no problem.

This guy was wearing this hat and his buddies weren't even laughing at him.  Very common.  Couples wearing matching outfits, girls holding hands in public, the popularity of cartoon t-shirts and Hello Kitty gear are other examples of the cuteness and innocence of Korea.

- When picking someone up from the airport, you can just park your car right in front of the terminal and just leave it there.  I'm sure it's illegal but no one messes with you.

- We can step out our front door and walk to the world's largest department store, visit the Museum of Modern Art with pieces from Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso and other masters, partake in a luxury spa, geek out at the Apple store, run to Haeundae Beach and APEC Nurimaru Park or grab McDonald's for the boys and Korean food for me and Carol right across the street.

Yeah, we're gonna miss Korea.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Basketball Game

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 0
Here's a 3 minute video from a family outing to see the local professional basketball team here in Busan - the Sonic Boom.  With a spirited crowd, a great kids play area, very affordable tickets and food, and of course cheerleaders, it made for a great outing.  I only wish we would've gone to more games.

Slurping down a bowl of spicy ramen noodles, one kid in a zombie-like trance while watching "Up," the other kid playing to his hearts' delight in a padded room (hope that's not a prequel for things to come), all while supporting the local team and hanging with good friends.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

BTW - cheerleaders - one of the greatest inventions of all time.  Enjoy the video.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sights in Seoul

Monday, April 12, 2010 0
You'll never know what you'll see in Seoul.  Yeah, there's the temples, parks, museums, DMZ and other famous sights.  I'm talking about the really cool stuff.  Like this:

Seoul is known to be an expensive city.  Here's something enjoyable for those on a budget:

And then for those that want to try non-traditional food, how about these delicacies:

Kimchi flavored chocolate

Seaweed flavored chocolate

And of course red pepper flavored chocolates.  Great for Valentine's Day.

There are all sorts of celebrities in Seoul too:

Even Wonder Woman likes "the pose."  This was at a cool toy museum in Insadong.

Enough silliness for now.  For those in Busan, enjoy the cherry blossoms and the great weather.


Taejongdae is another beautiful sight in Busan.  It's on the southernmost tip of Yeongdo, or Yeong Island.  Some westerners say "Yeongdo Island."  This is incorrect because "do" means "island."  You don't want to say "Yeong Island Island."  That would just be goofy goofy.

The place is named after King Taejong who used to frequent the island.  He ruled during the Silla kingdom.  I'm guessing he would've been a fan of Green Arrow and Robin Hood since he spent time practicing archery while on the island.

There's an amusement park nearby where you can amuse yourself.  The "John Wayne" restaurant is nearby too.  It's a really good Korean barbecue restaurant that we take our Navy Reserves to sometimes.  They'll even drive a bus out and pick up your group.  The view from the restaurant is really nice during the day.  At night, you're just staring at a bunch of lights.

Taejongdae is known for its fresh air, evergreen trees and beautiful seaside cliffs.  There's a small train/tram thing that takes visitors to the different spots such as the lighthouse.  I suggest foregoing the train and enjoy a brisk walk around the area.  Locals like to eat fresh raw seafood on the rocky shore.  I plan to do the live octopus thing, maybe even at Taejongdae.  Pray that I don't choke on a stray tentacle.

This is a very popular spot for both locals and tourists.  The red and blue sculpture is one of the most recognizable sights in Busan.  

The unofficial name for this place is "Suicide Cliff" or "Suicide Rock."  There are more fences and barriers in place now to help dissuade people from jumping.  There is a history of couples throwing themselves from these cliffs.

I think they have the exact same sign at the Grand Canyon.

The Ceej

Korean graffiti.  I think it says "Nobody, nobody but you."  Korean joke.

"Pull my finger."  That never gets old.

Carol was freaking out when either of the boys gained any kind of speed while on the cliffs.  It is a long way down.

You knew it was coming - the pose!  Jake's almost got it.

Last but not least, here's CJ showing off his karate skills while on the cliffs.  If you're in Korea, you've gotta check out Taejongdae.  

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Children's Church Video

Sunday, April 11, 2010 0
Carol and I help run the the Children's Church at our church here in Busan.  We go to the English service of Sooyoungro Church - Antioch International Ministries, or AIM.  Here's the video I recently put together on the Children's Church.  We're making a bunch of significant changes to how the children's program will be run.  If you're interested in volunteering, we sure can use your help.  Don't worry about your experience level or Bible knowledge.  We'll help you out.  Enjoy the video.

Mean Dog

Carol and I have gotten to know the Chairman and Director of the Sung Ae Won Orphanage and their family over the last year and a half.  They are great people with incredibly big hearts.  We've also gotten to know their dog a little bit.  Unfortunately, the dog and I are still not very tight.  Check out this video:

Although this little guy tries to take a chunk out of my hide during visits, it hasn't dissuaded me from getting another dog at our next duty station.  The entire family is really looking forward to that.  This mean little dog - well, he's just protecting his turf.  I'll get him to warm up to me one day.  Maybe I'll do like Jack Nicholson and walk around with bacon in my pocket.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nice Shooting Tex!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 0
Took some of the MSCO Korea Team shooting a while back.  For some of them, it was their first time firing a weapon.  I'm a big fan of doing something you've never done before.  I'm also a big fan of not shooting each other so we did some safety and weapon familiarization training prior to this event.

Check out Carol packing!  That's hot.

Ms. Kang yelled a little bit on her first shot.  She definitely got more comfortable though.

Mr. Yun, otherwise known as the Natural.  He almost got a perfect score - 239 out of 240.  The thing was, it was his first time firing a weapon.  Amazing.

That's Mr. J on the left.  He's our Richard Gere.  Very cool man.  Nothing phases him.

I love doing team building events.  This day was a lot of fun and we left with all ten fingers.  Couldn't keep the snazzy glasses though.  I managed to earn my expert shooting qual on that day too.  That and a dollar will get me a cup of coffee.  Gotta run!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Korean Food

Sunday, April 4, 2010 1
I love the food here in Korea.  Gonna miss it a bunch.  Here's a sampling:

Bulgogi is one of my favorites.  It's basically Korean barbecue that's grilled right at the table on hot coals.  You can't pull this off in the US because of all the lawsuits from people getting burned in restaurants.  You take the grilled meat and wrap it up in a leaf.  You can put other things in the leaf too like veggies, garlic and sauce.  Very tasty.

Samgyupsal is similar to bulgogi.  It's pork rather than beef though.  This gets wrapped in a leaf too.  I love to grill the kim chi and put that in the leaf too.  It's like the perfect bite of food.

Not sure what you call this but they have these food stands all over the place.  You pick your food items and they deep fry the stuff for you.  They've got dumplings, veggies, squid, seafood, hard boiled eggs, etc.  If you can deep fry it, it's there.

Here's some Korean style fast food.  The sushi looking roll is called kimbap.  It's veggies and rice.  You can get it with ham, tuna and other stuff.  One of our favorites is the soup called doenjang chigae.  It's got soy bean paste, tofu, veggies and sometimes seafood in it.  Nice and spicy.  We also like the kimchi fried rice.

Spam is very popular here.  Makes a nice gift during the Korean holidays.

I ate a snail type thing not too long ago.

Squid is extremely popular here.  They even sell dried squid at the movie theater.  A lot of people eat squid and drink beer while singing karaoke at the many karaoke places.

So here are the ingredients to make kimchi.  Carol had a kimchi making lesson with a friend.

This is fried mondu.  They're basically dumplings.  There's several different types of mondu as well as different ways to prepare them.

Here's a mondu soup.  Hits the spot during a cold day.

For those that don't like to "go native," there's plenty of western style food in Busan.  On this one block in Haeundae Beach, you've got TGI Friday's, Bennigan's, Outback Steakhouse, Starbucks and an Indian restaurant.  Down the road are a couple of Italian places, some burger joints, a Turkish restaurant and even a Mexican place.  You can get practically every type of food in Busan.

Hungry yet?  One of my goals before I leave Korea is to eat a live octopus.  That one might call for video.
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