Gujeong Holiday (Lunar New Year) is one of the highly celebrated holidays in Korea. This year the Koreans here in Seoul begin preparations on 2/2, Wed with most all of the Korean businesses closing at noon. The city began to re-open on 2/5,Sat. and 2/6, Sun. More self-discovery this week. I suggest for those who are reading this to take a moment and recall a time that you were in an unfamiliar place where all things previously familiar take on the face of the unknown. For some it may present fear or terror and others it might present itself as a challenge to conquer and overcome. What emotions does this memory trigger for you? If fear and terror present itself, then I advise never to take on a journey such as this one without someone who is familiar with the culture, surroundings or processes.
01/31, Mon- I walked to the Yongsan base entering through gate 17, walked to the hospital and then caught a cab to the PX. I am continuing my journey to figure out how to refill a prescription from home. Seems like a complicated process. As everything is closing down this week, I will have to try again next week. My understanding now is that it requires a PCP on base to get an RX refilled. One would think that a military base with Americans would not be an unfamiliar place to be. I have to say, from my personal experience this also is an adventure from the vantage point being a civilian who has not been accustomed to military procedures, protocols nor lifestyles. I feel like a fish out of water swimming up river.
02/01, Tues.- Went out to find some adapters for 110 volt to 220 volt conversions. No luck finding anything. For those traveling to Korea this is something to bring with you. I am told the European adapters are 220 volt not the 110. The goal is to find converters 220 to 110, then we can use the plug pronged adapters for US appliances and plugs to Korean plugs. My highlight today was surprising Matt with homemade Enchilada's.
02/02, Wed- Matt was off work afternoon thru the weekend for the holiday. We went out and about.
02/03, Thurs.- Matt and I visited the Chosun Store on Yongsan base to see what items they carry. They receive shipments from Thailand, Japan, and other asian countries for resale. Unique items for sure. Will be purchasing some of the uniquie pieces at a later time. We also toured through the back streets of Itaweon and found a Korean grocery story front where we purchased some crackers and snacks. On our way out we saw a Korean mother and her two children. The kids were dressed in their hanbok's. I asked if I could take their photo which you see here. As elders we honored each child with 2000w. They giggled, bowed and thanked us in Korean. So cute....
02/04, Fri.-Matt and I took the subway across the Hangan River on a quest to find a bedroom set. We found rows of furniture stores. Most of them were closed for the holiday, so we ventured on as window shoppers. Matt found his dream armoire. It was a beautiful peace that was handpainted. Trying to communicate in Korean is so much fun. I pulled out my book and tried to communicate with the owner one word at a time. We discovered the price to be 75 million won. Matt thought this was an excellent deal as his conversion calculation revealed $7,500 american for this gorgeous piece. Later on we stopped to have a treat of ice cream, whipped cream on a waffle. As we were sitting there we discussed the conversion once again. OMG...we discovered the piece was $75,000 american dollars not $7,500. We laughed and were so happy we had not offered a credit card or deposit to purchase. Can you imagine....
02/05, Sat.- Our journey via subway began by us leaving Ichon station Line 4, getting off south at Isu Station which is also on Line 4. We walked on the streets between Sandang and Isu Stations. We found our bedroom set which includes a King bed, armoire and night stand. The armoire is 11 ft long and 7 feet tall. It is really gorgeous. Again our communications in Korean were nothing less than exciting and challenging. After we worked the initial deal even with bargaining in Korean we feel we got a great deal. Our cost came down to $2,800 for everything. At the end of our transaction we contacted Matt's sweet assistant, Ms. Bae. She helped to finalize everything for the delivery and confirm we got the best price. I really apreciate her help. They are delivering everything to us on Friday. This should be fun to watch as we are on the 23rd floor. Not sure how they will get this piece in. We followed this with lunch at an authentic Korean restaurant. This was my first experience with having a pan of hot wood coals brought out to cook our food on. I have added the video for this feast. It was tasty. Our trip was not yet over as I was seeking to find some English-Korean teaching materials. I am teaching at two businesses this Wednesday. I never realized how difficult it is to find a bookstore. Lesson number 2-map out the location of where to find the items you are seeking prior to leaving home. We got back on Line 4 heading north and got off at Dongdaemun station, walking towards Jonggak station. Along the way we found rows of pharmacy techicians, medical supplies and jewelry (beautiful bling...bling). I tried asking several along the way in Korean using my book as to where to find a bookstore. It seemed like I was not connecting. So we walked and walked. Finally we found Bandi n Lunis. Overwhelming for Matt and I as there were so many books to choose from. Found some great books, now I must put together my calendar curriculum for teaching. Our traveling journey today began near 11am and we arrived back home by 6:30pm. We are tired so I conclude this to be a great day filled with exercise.
02/06, Sun.- Day spent at home catching up. I found the laundry facilities downstairs so completed our laundry. Today I am feeling so much better, YIPPEE. Glad to begin feeling like I have some energy and life in me.
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