Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Gyeongbokgung Palace & Gangnam Style

The weekends are so much fun. We pick a few sties and go for it! WITH PAUL! Woohoo! Last weekend we went to Gyeongbokgung Palace. This was one of the sites I've been most excited to see, and it did not disappoint.

This was the main palace during the Joseon Dynasty (remember the tombs from before??). LOVED the grounds, I would definitely recommend it. The National Palace Museum is right next to it. The museum is free admission, really well done, and provides free strollers to use. This city is so baby friendly, but I'll probably talk about that more in a separate post...get excited.

I had to make that picture extra large so you could see Parker's expression...he was NOT happy. It looks like he's kicking me which gave Paul & I quite a chuckle.

On the way home we had a diaper situation...so Paul got creative in his carrying method. Ha ha ha

Sunday subway ride-- Parker LOVES looking out the windows.

The next few pictures are just from a stroll around Gangnam, our neighborhood. 

My Exploring Buddy

This post is dedicated to my miniature adventure buddy who goes everywhere with me! What would I do without him?? It's bittersweet for me to watch my baby grow up, but SO fun to watch his little personality come out.
The next few pictures are from Yongsan Family Park & Botanical Gardens, which are located right next to the National Museum of Korea (Ichon Station). It was very hot & humid, but the gardens were gorgeous.

Dragon Falls

The last Wednesday of every month here is "Culture Day" and various sites have free admission- it's awesome. So the last Wednesday in June Parker & I went to the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty. The man working at the visitor's center described it as "a nice king buried with his wife..their son, another nice king is also buried there." Sounds good to me! 

It's pretty cool because it's right in the middle of the city, but it's been preserved so nicely. It's almost this small mountain, with wooded trails to explore.

so many royal tombs so little time

Chillin out maxin out relaxin all cool

Parker was getting loved on by lots of elderly folk this day. A kind woman held and entertained him for quite some time while I ate my sack lunch- the best! It's amazing how you can connect with people even when you don't speak the same language. I've so enjoyed getting to know the people here.

I don't have great pictures from this day, but we stopped by Seorae Village, or Seoul's "Little France," where 40% of the French Expats live. You better believe I bought a baguette...it was AMAZING! 

One of the perks I didn't think about living overseas was having international chains from other countries available. (such as France- ooh la la) You can find a Paris Baguette or Paris Croissant store around every corner and it's going to be the death of me! 

And last but not least, here is my baby joining me at breakfast. Paul's work covers breakfast for one person per day here at our extended stay hotel...he is a gentleman and lets me have it most days (breakfast is provided for him at work too). The waiter lets Parker join too and we sit and enjoy our mornings together. 

I am so grateful for the chance to discover this beautiful city each day, and it's all the more fun with this sweet, energetic boy. 

Lotte Changes Over Here

We've had a lot of fun the past several days exploring new areas (which at this point includes every area aha). Yesterday Paul started work and we already miss hanging out with him. Here's the recap from last week:

I've been really impressed with the local public parks! Here is one just a short walk from our place. It has exercise equipment, a reading area with books you can read on the spot & return, a basketball court, benches, and more.

these boys!! melt my heart

poor sweaty baby! haha!
 There's a beautiful wooded trail that leads to the aforementioned park. Paul found it during a morning run and I'm so glad he did!

We went to Samsung D'Light, which is a 3-story display of all the upcoming technologies the company is working on. It's very interactive and I would recommend it for sure. 

More Korean food...I'm getting better with spice, but still nothing TOO fishy. YUM. The fried pumpkin (bottom left) was killer.

We went to another subway station I can't recall in search of a Home Plus store. The store was nowhere to be found, but the views were great that evening!

"Dad, when do I get to wear a backpack instead of be a backpack?"

walking around near our subway stop
We went to the Jamsil subway station on another day. It includes a bajillion different things, but in summary it's an indoor mall (Lotte Mall) combined with an indoor/outdoor theme park (Lotte World).

wiping drool from baby's face
Okay so we went to Lotte Mart, which is the grocery store at the bottom floor of this whole extravaganza. It was by far the largest grocery store I'd seen yet, and there was a good mix of both Korean and foreign foods.

You put a coin in to use the shopping cart, and then when you return it you get the coin back. And they are MAGNETIC so they go up this ramp by themselves. We were amazed. And so happy because we found Special K, salt, real butter (not corn margarine), and trail mix. Woo hoo!

magical grocery cart + magical sleeping baby

fountain inside the Jamsil subway station

"oh hey gerbil"
We trekked all of our groceries (Paul) and our sleeping baby (me) to Seok-chan Lake. Probably should've reversed the order -whoops!- but Paul was a champ.

And across from Seok-chon Lake is LOTTE ADVENTURE WORLD. We will definitely visit before the end of the summer...it's kind of an off-brand Disneyland! Very intriguing. Check out the castle. 

Disneyland Korea Lotte World 
I hope you all are having a great summer! Thank you for keeping in touch!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

I'm in Seoul but I'm Not a Soldier

Friends and family! Hello! I thought I would post some details of our adventure this summer.

As many of you know, business students go on internships between years 1 and 2. Paul was able to score a great job at Samsung for the next 2 months at headquarters here in Seoul, South Korea.

SO we are temporary expats living life here in a brand new city! With our 7 month old baby. 😳😁From what I understand, there are quite a few expats over here, many with the military (hence the title). Our church even has an English-speaking congregation we will be able to join this summer.

Neither of us speak Korean but we are trying to learn the letters/syllables so we aren't completely helpless. I had a kind friend in Philly go over the basics before we left. The language already makes so much sense to me- Who came up with English anyways?

We drove up to New York and flew out of JFK. We were on Asiana Airlines and let me tell you... I was impressed! And they aren't even paying me to say that (it would be a terrible advertising decision for them ha ha). They have a "Happy Mom" service that provides bassinets and allows you to cut the line at ticketing and immigration. Although the more I think about it the more I'm convinced it's also "Happy Everyone" service.. Who wants to be stuck in line with a crying baby??

The flight over was about 14 hours. Our baby is really good at staying awake, and managed to do so for 10 of the 14 hours! But... He was actually pretty happy most of the time so no complaints. He got lots of attention from adoring Korean women. The impression I've had so far is that most people here really like babies and are good with them too! Several women have already asked to hold him -- our waitress even held him the entire time we ate lunch at a nearby restaurant. This is so different than America.

And speaking of the food... Everything has been delicious so far. Granted I've stayed away from anything too fishy or spicy. I love the flavors- and who can complain about meat, rice, and veggies?? I'll have to get more adventurous soon.

The jet lag hasn't been too bad for me (one of the few advantages of being up several times a night with a baby- it's all the same anyways and you're used to unpredictable sleep patterns). Paul has felt it a little more, and Parker's schedule is a little wacky too. But we are figuring it out.

The city itself is beautiful! Lots of tall buildings, the vegetation is very green, and the humidity kind of reminds me of home. It is pretty hot though.

So far we have mostly stayed in the Gangham area (yes, as in "opum Gangham style") but we hope to explore more soon!

about to jet past all the "Non-Happy-Mom" passengers
ready to board the plane!
Parker looking at his friends on the plane
the bus ride from the airport into Seoul
Finally in Seoul after 23 hours
local convenience store
diapers are universal
delicious! bulgogi and spicy pork
he loves his little play mat they provided
Gangham, our neighborhood

first subway ride- looved the subway

Bongeunsa Temple

Folded-down Ergo... always in style

Aquarium display at Coex Mall

my little grocery helper