That time we were the only people at Anseong Farmland

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The last time we went to Anseong Farmland was for a birthday party. It was a Saturday at the beginning of September so it was pretty crowded. We had a great time and Clarissa has been asking to go back for two months. Today I decided the air was clean enough and it was still warm enough to go. I am so glad I did.

We went arrived on a Wednesday afternoon about 3pm. The website said that they were open every day from 10-6 so I figured we would be okay. There were only four cars in the parking lot so I was a little concerned that the place was closed. We walked up to the ticket counter and purchased a farm horse ticket (12,000 won for children and 17,000 for adults gets you general admission to Anseong Farmland plus a horse riding experience).

We walked over to where the horses were and realized that it was time for people to get horseback riding lessons. Either that or there was a school there on a field trip. We were willing to wait. A man came out and said, “Uh. We’re full right now.” I asked if we should come back later and he said, “Um. No. Come with me.” He proceeded to take Clarissa and I to a different barn where the ponies are kept. He took out a pony on a leash, showed Clarissa what to do, and let her walk around with the pony. Meanwhile there were at least 10 other kids with a Korean teacher having a class.

 

He then took us back to the barn and told us to wait while someone warmed up a different horse for Clarissa to ride. So we watched as a tall horse and a smaller horse warmed up and trotted around the arena. Then it was our turn. Clarissa went first. The trainer walked Clarissa around the circle five times. During her ride, Clarissa learned that her horse was actually also a five year old girl. She was thrilled. I had my five laps around the circle too but there aren’t great pictures from my ride.

During my ride the trainer asked where we traveled from. I am pretty sure that they assumed we were on a trip from America and not Americans who live in Pyeongtaek. I don’t know if everyone else will get the same experience. But we had a wonderful visit!

Our next objective was to feed some animals. Last time we were there on a Saturday so there were people selling animal feed everywhere we went. On a Wednesday afternoon we were the only ones walking around and that was not the case. We got to pet bunnies, but there was no one selling carrots today.

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Thankfully there was actually an attendant selling food with the farm animals. Usually, you pay 1,000 won for a small basket of food. He gave us a heaping bowl for the pigs and then when we asked for food for the sheep, he gave us 3 baskets for the price of one and said, “service” (that means free). Clarissa had a great time feeding sheep, goats, pigs, deer, and cows.

Then we went up the hill to see the donkeys. The man came out of his shack and gave us four carrots for free when he saw us looking at the donkeys. We walked around a bit and then saw the horses. So we went back to the man and I was prepared to pay for more carrots. Last time, we paid 1,000 won for two carrots. This time I gave him 1,000 won and he gave us 8 carrots!

On the way out, I noticed there were two houses for birds. In the first house, we went in and birds kept landing on me. At one point I had one on my head, one on either shoulder, and two on my arm. None would go near Clarissa. There was a machine to buy bird food, but you needed to have 500 won coins. So we only bought one container of food.

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Then we went to the other house. There was an attendant there cleaning. Clarissa wanted to look at the birds more closely. He said, “Do you want to feed them?” and proceeded to pour birdfeed in Clarissa’s hand. When the birds didn’t come, he put some in his hand, whistled, and brought her closer. They came to him and then he moved his hand next to hers and they started eating from her hand.

Clarissa and I had a wonderful afternoon. We were at Anseong Farmland about two hours. I highly recommend going on a weekday. There wasn’t a tractor ride though so if you want that you probably need to go on the weekend. But we so enjoyed having the place to ourselves. Clarissa loved our first trip but kept saying this was so much better.

Our first apple picking experience

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I don’t think they have apple picking where I grew up. I know they do a few hours away but we never went. Obviously, if I haven’t been, Clarissa yet to go apple picking either. So we were excited when the homeschool group decided to go apple picking together.

We went to Yesan Apple Wine (in Waze), about an hour away from Camp Humphreys. Waze made it pretty easy most of the way. The last mile or so, you just follow the big red apple signs.

If you make reservations, you can do an apple making experience at 2:00pm. They had a really great system in place. Everyone signs in and pays for the number of personal pies you are making (7,000 won each). Then there is a classroom set up. The teacher comes in and demonstrates all of the steps. Find your name on a table and follow the steps. The teacher walks around during the process to remind you things like to put the egg wash on your pie.

While you wait for everyone in your group to finish, there are sliced apples to eat. They were delicious. Sweet and juicy. Then, we went downstairs to tour the winery (in English). The process to make the wine takes three years. The brandy takes longer. They make a few different apple wines, blueberry wine, and apple brandy. The adults got a taste test at the end.

Next, we went outside to pick apples (5 for 10,000 won). We were instructed to pick a basket. Then our tour guide showed us “a good apple.” The apple should be red with no yellow on it if it is fully ripe. Clarissa had a great time picking the apples off the trees. She picked a few for me too and wants to go back again.

By the time we finished picking apples, our pies were ready. So we sat down to eat them. They don’t offer utensils though so we ate one almost like a big cookie and then brought the other one home for Tim.

The whole process was about 90 minutes. Our entire group enjoyed it. I highly recommend it for families. In the parking area there are also chickens to see. There is a “gift shop” near the entrance as well if you want to buy additional apples, apple wine, or apple jam.

Korean Folk Village take 2

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We did a family trip to the Korean Folk Village in Yongin when Clarissa was two. There was a homeschool field trip there last week and Clarissa and I decided to go since she didn’t remember the first trip. There were actually several things that we did this trip that we didn’t get to do the first time so I was happy about that.

We decided to pay for the full admission which includes the Folk Village and the Amusement Park as well. Full admission is 27,000 won (about $25) for adults and 20,000 won ($18) for children. If you plan to skip the rides, adults pay 18,000 won for admission to the folk village itself. Children pay only 13,000. There is parking available for 2,000 won per car or you can take public transportation available. I saw several buses that said they came from Suwon station or Incheon Airport.

We started our beautiful fall day at the amusement park. Clarissa really liked the boat ride and the train ride. She was too afraid to go on anything else but the teenagers we were with loved all of the rides available.

If you look at the boat ride, to your right is a World Folk Village Museum. Clarissa and I kind of stumbled upon it while we were looking for a bathroom. It was honestly one of the highlights of our trip. There were nine different buildings with 2-3 different countries inside. Each country showed clothes, weapons, jewelry, or housing for an indigenous people of that particular country. The signs were in Korean and English. There were longer descriptions in Korean as well but we learned plenty without being able to read the longer writings.

Clarissa and I had some great discussions about all of these countries. She recognized some of the names like United States, Japan, China, Peru, and Australia. Some were new to her: Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, and Iran. There were maps on the wall so we could see where each country was on the map. I think we have a lot of books to read now so we can continue learning about these places and cultures.

We met back up with our friends for some gelato and then headed to the Equestrian Feats show. It was great! The performers basically did gymnastics on horses. It was only about twenty minutes and our attention was focused the entire time.

After the show, Clarissa and I wondered a bit and saw some different types of houses you would find in Korea at different points in history. There were government buildings, mansions, and farm houses. There were several additional experiences that you could pay for like making a clay pot or woodworking, but they close earlier in the day so you need to do those first. Clarissa really enjoyed walking through the jail and seeing the governor’s house, sitting in the governor’s chair, and pretending to be a prisoner on trial.

I was surprised that five year old Clarissa was interested in all of the buildings and houses. She actually walked the whole day without complaining. She kept saying, “What’s that? Let’s go over there…”

The Folk Village is open 8 hours each day. You can easily spend the entire day there and not see everything. I recommend it for children and adults.

When can we go back to Awesome Farmland?

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In September, Clarissa was invited to ride horses at a birthday party at Anseong Farmland. I had been planning to take Clarissa there anyway, so we were really excited to go.

General admission to Anseong Farmland costs 10,000 won (about $10 USD). If you want to ride horses, it is an additional 8,000 won ($8 USD). That price pays for one 3-5 minute ride around the ring. They have riding helmets available and a staff person leads the horse around the ring.

Clarissa was a little nervous at first since she is generally afraid of heights and things that go fast. But with each lap, she seemed to relax a bit more. She was disappointed when she only got one turn. I think if we go back, I will have to pay for more than one turn…

General admission gives you access to the petting zoo. You can pay additional money at each station if you want to feed animals so bring won. One thousand won (about $1 USD) will pay for two carrots to feed rabbits, horses, or donkeys. You can also buy hay for goats, sheep, cows, and alpacas. They had food for pigs as well but they were performing when we were feeding animals so I don’t know what they eat.

There were plenty of animals to see, even if you were not feeding them.

There are several different buildings at Anseong Farmland. Some are restaurants and others are experiences. You can make pizza in the dairy experience. I should note that is Korean pizza, so some of the topics may be different than what some Americans are used to. But you can just add what you like.

There is also a building to do art. One of the restaurant buildings also has a mini trick eye museum.

The kids all enjoyed climbing and taking pictures with some statues. There was a playground on the grounds as well. Clarissa also enjoyed the carnival area. Most rides cost 3,000 won ($3 USD). Sometimes there was a discount if you paid for multiple rides at once. Clarissa’s favorite ride was the bumper boats that we did together. She also enjoyed “diving the train.”

Certain times of year they also have tractor rides but it was still considered summer when we went so we didn’t get to try that. Clarissa keeps asking when we will go back to “Awesome Farmland.” She can’t say it correctly and doesn’t hear the difference between Anseong and Awesome. I think we will try again now that the weather is cooler.

Last beach day of the summer

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We were invited to a beach day with some friends at the end of the summer. Korea’s official beach season is pretty short. It actually starts on Tim’s birthday (July 13) and ends on Clarissa’s birthday (August 20). Some beaches are open a little later, until the end of August, so we decided to go to Eurwangni Beach in Incheon.

Eurwangni Beach is about an hour and a half drive from Camp Humphreys. Tolls cost about 11,000 won each way ($11 USD). The beach itself is pretty small. The waves are very calm and it is shallow for a good part of the beach so it is a great beach to bring small children. The sand area is clean. There is a public bathroom, shower area, and free parking right next to the beach. There is also a small playground and a path to explore the rocks along one side of the beach. There are plenty of convenience stores and restaurants for when you get hungry.

We had a wonderful day playing in the water and exploring. The water was fairly warm. Clarissa started her own shell collection.

After dinner, we looked out to see the sunset over the water and noticed that the tide had gone WAY out. I have never seen the tide go out that dramatically before. It was really cool to be able to see all the little crabs and critters out in the wet sand. The sunset was beautiful to see.

Clarissa and I really enjoyed our day with friends. We both decided that we would like to live near the beach next. This is definitely our favorite beach in Korea!

 

Asan Insect Museum

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A few months ago, we drove to Asan with friends to check out the Insect Museum. We were very disappointed when we got there and found out it was closed for renovation. In June, we headed back for another try.

The girls were very excited to take pictures with the animal statues outside.

We headed into the actual museum. It only cost 5,000 won (about $5) for Clarissa and I to get in. There were cups of food you could take to feeds the animals. We started with a room of models and diagrams.

Then there were a few different rooms with aquariums of fish, insects, and frogs.

Then there was a a room with small mammals and lizards. Clarissa enjoyed feeding the meerkat and watching the chipmunks run around.

Outside there were peacocks and geese. We also had the chance to feed rabbits and Guinea pigs.

There was one more room of bugs before we arrived at the butterfly room.

We packed lunch so we had a picnic at the playground after the museum. The girls had a great day. The Asan Insect Museum is definitely worth the trip (closed on Mondays).

The Great Wall… of Korea

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One thing on my bucket list when we found out we were moving to Korea was The Great Wall of China. It’s not a super easy trip to take with an active toddler so we haven’t made it there yet. There is a big fortress nearby so I wanted to see if Clarissa could do that before we took the time and money to go to China.

Camp Humphreys CYS took a field trip to Suwon Fortress on Saturday, June 9. For $10, we could take the bus and not have to worry about trains, buses, or parking.

The bus dropped us off near the palace. It wasn’t a large palace and the architecture looks a lot like Gyeongbokgung in Seoul. Clarissa really enjoyed it. She thought it was interesting to see how the castle looked for the king and queen. She also liked looking at their different rooms. The entrance fee was 1,500 won for adults and Clarissa was free.

Next, we headed to the entrance of the wall. We stopped for lunch at Burger King on the way. Clarissa had plenty of energy after lunch so she was ready to climb. She did really well on all of the steps. She enjoyed looking at the different monuments and seeing the city from the wall. She was especially excited to see a big bell because Tim has a small version of this in our apartment. You can get to the wall at several different spots and it costs 1,000 won for adults. Military and students receive a discount so they can pay 700 won.

There are toilets marked along the wall so you can stop if you need to. Several places also show where you can get off to buy snacks at convenience stores. Clarissa was excited that they had an archery class. But you have to be 7 years old to participate. It costs 2,000 won for 10 arrows. The class happens multiple times per day. It seemed like most of the day it was on the hour and at the half hour.

If you don’t want to hike the wall, you can also take a trolley or bike taxi from the palace. It will take you on a tour of the wall and the different sites along the fortress. I am not sure of price and I don’t know if any of the tour guides speak English. But if you just want to see things and not walk, you can pay for that instead.

After we finished the wall, we headed back to the palace area. There is a Cultural Foundation to the left that has an artsy street which reminds me of Insadong. We found some cute handmade jewelry. You can buy a personalized stamp with your name for $20. There are wood crafts that can be personalized as well.

We had a great day together. Clarissa did very well. She walked the whole wall (3.57 miles) with some breaks. I think she is ready for a China trip now. Though she said she doesn’t want to do it again! She said the Great Wall of Korea is good enough for her.

 

An Afternoon in Cheonan with Friends

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Last Friday, Clarissa went with our friends to Cheonan in the afternoon.

We started at Ebony and Ivory, a used English bookstore to buy books for our next Ladies Bible Study at church. It is a few doors down from the Shinsagae Mall in Cheonan that I blogged about last year, across the street from the Subway restaurant. Brooklyn English Used Books near Camp Humphreys gets their books from this store.

The bookstore was full of books, all of them in English. Clarissa and I started at the Disney table at the front of the store. Books were 10 for 1,000 won (a little less than a dollar).

More than half of the store was Children’s books. There was so much of everything. We found several Magic School Bus that we didn’t already have, Fancy Nancy, Berenstain Bears, Little Critter, Clifford, and Curious George. There was so much more! Clarissa found some books from my generation of My Little Pony. We found so many books to use for kindergarten this year.

There were adult books too. They had a science fiction section, complete with an entire table devoted to Star Wars. There were fiction and nonfiction books as well a comic and religious books as well. I’m sure anyone who walks in will find a pile of books to read.

The prices were great! I would have stayed for hours. But Clarissa and her friend got restless after about an hour so we left with what we had picked out already.

On the way home, we went to the wholesale market in Cheonan. They had one building for fruit, another for vegetables, and a third for seafood. We only went to the fruit building. They had several stalls of yummy fruit at good prices. It was an air conditioned building with a bathroom. Vendors took both won and credit card.

Mr Toilet House Field Trip

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A few months ago, someone posted pictures from what they called “the poop museum.” Clarissa saw the facebook pictures from their adventure and immediately wanted to go. Tim wasn’t super interested, so when our homeschool group planned a field trip there Clarissa and I planned to attend.

Mr Toilet is in Waze. The Waze directions can be confusing because the exit numbers are incorrect sometimes so our 45 minute trip turned into closer to 90 minutes. Thankfully we were riding with friends so the ride wasn’t miserable.

Mr Toilet House has two parts. On one side of the road is a giant building that looks like a toilet. The person who brought western toilets to Korea used to live there. It is a museum to the history of toilets now. It was actually closed for renovation when we visited.

Thankfully the outdoor sculptures were still available. It was interesting to see some of the old versions of toilets. Each sculpture had a wooden sign that was written in both Korean and English so that everyone could learn.

Across the street was a Culture Center. Behind the building were a few pretty toilets and urinals.

If you go upstairs to the fourth floor, you can look out and see the big toilet and giant poop sculpture.

On the second floor of the Culture Center is a playground of sorts for the kids. Clarissa and her friends had a great time going down the toilet slide. There were also a few games like putting a ball through the digestive system and watching it come out the other end. There were many displays about poop as well. Again, most of the displays were in Korean as well as English.

We were in and out in less than two hours. The kids had a great time! I think they would enjoy going back again. Admission is free. Like many museums in Korea, Mr Toilet House is closed on Mondays. They don’t sell food there but there is a drink machine outside the giant toilet so plan accordingly.

My first Korean wedding

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We have lived in Korea for three years. A few times I have heard things about Korean weddings, but I was never invited to one until recently.

We attend church off post. There is an American pastor for the English congregation and his brother in law is the pastor for the Korean congregation. The daughter of the Korean pastor got married (my pastor’s niece) and the entire church was invited.

Most Korean weddings take place in a wedding hall. It is a very efficient process. The bride typically rents her dress. The package includes hair, makeup, and pictures as well. The groom’s family usually pays for most of the wedding.

We arrived to the wedding hall about 40 minutes before the wedding was to begin. They put out the full parking lot sign a few cars behind us so everyone else had to park far away and create their own parking space (totally normal thing to do in Korea).

We parked on b4. Every floor we went up, the elevator became more crowded. Korean elevators can hold a lot of people. There is no such thing as personal space.

We arrived on the 5th floor where our wedding was to be. The first stop is the money envelope. There is a line for the bride and a line for the groom. The person in charge of your line will give you a white envelope. You can write a note and then put your money inside. If you are not super close to the bride or groom, you can give 30,000 won (about $30 USD). The closer you are to the person getting married, the more you give. If you get married at a later date, they are supposed to give the same amount to you.

After you turn in your envelope, the person in charge will give you a ticket for the buffet. You can choose to go to the buffet before or after the ceremony. This is your wedding gift. There are no registries for what the bride and groom want in their kitchen.

Next, the guests visit the bride and take a picture with her.

The parents of both the bride and groom will be in the lobby. You are supposed to greet them. The mothers will be wearing traditional hanbok.

During the wedding ceremony, the mothers walk in together, light a candle, bow, and go to their seats.

Next, the groom walks in followed by the father of the bride and the bride (in a Christian wedding otherwise the bride and groom may walk in together).

There are no bridesmaids, groomsmen, or flower girls. The people who work in the wedding hall make sure that the ceremony runs smoothly. They hold the bouquet when needed or fix the bride’s dress.

The bride and groom recited vows by reading them.

 

Next, the father of the bride spoke to the couple. He encouraged them to love and take care of each other. The father of the groom welcomed everyone to the wedding. Then was special music. The bride and groom stood together for two songs sung by different people.

At this point in the ceremony, sometime the groom has to do something special to prove his love. I heard stories today about push ups and running down the aisle. Our groom today only had to say “horray!” three times.

To end the ceremony, the bride and groom bowed, first to her parents, then to his parents, and finally to their wedding guests.

They then walked down the aisle to the end where they kissed and flower petals fell on them.

Pictures were at the end of the ceremony. First were pictures of the immediate family, followed by pictures of extended family, and finally friends. The bouquet toss is usually staged so that you know who is catching the bouquet.

With the official ceremony over, we headed upstairs to the buffet. We had to give our ticket as admission. There were guests from several weddings in the same buffet. There was so much food! Most of it was labeled in Korean and English.

Sometimes you don’t see the bride and groom after the ceremony. We were at the buffet long enough that they came out in their traditional hanbok.

I had a wonderful afternoon with my friends. The wedding ceremony didn’t seem that different from an American wedding. The venue was interesting because there were so many weddings happening at the same time.

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Airport limousine bus to Incheon

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One nice thing about living in Pyeongtaek is that we live closer to Seoul. It makes for a nice day trip. But the airport is actually in Incheon, not Seoul, which is at least a 2 hour drive.

On our vacation to Okinawa, we decided to try the airport limousine bus instead of messing with traffic, tolls, and airport parking. It was very easy.

We called a taxi to pick us up at about 730 and then waited at the bus stop. It is the same bus stop as the 20 bus by the main gate (in front of the Volvo dealer /Christine Realty).

The purple bus was right on time, 7:55 AM. The driver got off the bus to help us store our luggage. He asked if we were going all the way to Incheon because the bus makes several stops.

The cost is very reasonable. Adults pay 13,300 won (a little less than $13) and children pay 6,700 won so our family of 3 paid a little less than $30 to get from base to the airport which I think is great for a 2.5 hour trip. You can either pay with won (exact change) or your tmoney (subway) card.

The bus was a comfortable temperature. The seats recline. Each seat has a vent and a light. There is even space overhead to put your coat and bookbag.

On the way back, you actually buy a ticket. Once you clear customs in Incheon go straight and there is a sign that says airport limousine bus. There is even a desk for foreigners.

There are two options for your trip home. You can either take Anjeong-ri outside the main gate, or you can go to Pyeongtaek Station. The bus for Pyeongtaek Station comes more often and is the same price, 13,300 won for adults and 6,700 for children.

We chose to go to Pyeongtaek Station because the next bus was in about 50 minutes instead of the 2.5 hours we would need to wait for the bus to Anjeong-ri.

The bus from Incheon to Pyeongtaek took about 2 hours (1.5 if you are going to Songtan). The bus station was closed for the night when we arrived. After leaving the bus station, turn left (towards Daiso). In a couple of blocks you will arrive at AK Plaza /Pyeongtaek train station where there is always a line of taxis waiting.

The taxi from AK Plaza to somewhere near the Anjeong-ri gate of Camp Humphreys should cost about 10,000 won ($10).

Both busses were easy to use and comfortable. I think next time, we will see which bus fits our schedule better to decide if we will leave from Anjeong-ri or Pyeongtaek bus terminal.

Shopping near Pyeongtaek 

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One of Tim’s favorite places in Daegu was Shinsagae Mall. When we first moved to Pyeongtaek, he realized that there was a Shinsagae Mall in the nearby town of Cheonan so we decided to check it out. 

The parking was awful. People walked in front of the garage entrance and it was necessary to make a uturn at the light to get anywhere near it. There were nine floors in the garage but it was very full on a Saturday at noon. We ended up with one of the last spots on the roof. The mall was attached to the bus station and had an emart in the basement. The layout was confusing, not much was in English, and the elevators were hard to find. There also weren’t many stores that we were interested in. 

I did buy this bag from H&M. Couldn’t resist for 9,000 won (about $8). 

There was a Korean Subway restaurant across the street. Tim has wanted to go to a Korean Subway since the ones in Japan had interesting sandwiches. But the line was so long we couldn’t get in the door so we just left. 

Another weekend we decided to try First Village in Asan. First Village is an outlet mall about 15 minutes from Camp Humphreys. The parking was great. They had plenty of shoe stores and camping/outdoor type stores. The prices didn’t seem very discounted for what we were interested in. However, I did enjoy the store Ross by Asia. It did remind me of the Ross in the US in that there were lots of cheap, name brand clothes. They were just Asian and European brands. But I did manage to find a shirt, leggings, bathing suit cover up, and two pairs of shorts for 35,000 won (like $30).

There was a dressing room. It was a typical Korean style fitting room. Very small with the mirror on the outside of the fitting room. 

There was also a really cute area with French looking shops and restaurants. Clarissa was over it so we didn’t get a chance to explore and take pictures. 

We have been to the Lotte Mall in Suwon twice. The first time we drove and the second time we took the train. Either way is fine. The parking wasn’t bad there. 

There is a Lotte Mart, Lotte Mall, and Lotte Department store all in the same complex. The Lotte Mart is 3 stories and contains a Toys R Us with two different play places, a Daiso, and a Hi Mart. For our first visit, we dropped Clarissa off at the smaller play place (6,000 won per hour) and let her play while we bought her birthday presents at Toys R Us and explored the rest of Lotte Mart. 

After we picked her up, we played some of arcade games before heading to the mall part of the complex. 

The mall has 7 floors with stores, restaurants, and a movie theater. They do have a TGI Fridays if you are in the mood for American food. The Bandi and Lunis does have a small English section of books and movies. On the roof is a very nice playground. 

Next is Lotte Department store, which is like your typical Korean department store with a food court on B1, expensive stores with any kind of shopping you can imagine, and restaurants on the seventh floor, including Tim’s favorite curry place, Coco Ichibanya. There is a kid cafe on the seventh floor as well. The eighth floor roof was probably our favorite. It had some beautiful picnic areas, a city view, coin machines for children to ride, as well as a free train ride for the kids.  

There is a covered bridge walkway from the Lotte complex to AK Plaza Suwon (train station), or rather there will be when they remove the construction equipment. It was still quite easy to get from one to the other. There seems to be two different sides of the Plaza with the train station on one side and a mall on the other. There were several name brand clothing and shoe stores as well as cute stationary stores, restaurants, and a movie theater. I bought some cute things for homeschooling and our kitchen at a store called Butter. It reminded me of a small but upscale Daiso. Tim was excited that a Gundam store will open July 1. 

AK Plaza in Pyeongtaek is also attached to the train station and considered “downtown” near several stores and restaurants. The Plaza itself is similar to the one in Suwon with restaurants, a movie theater, clothes, and shoes. If you are in the mood for American food, there is an Outback. Tim’s favorite is a Japanese place called Teriyaki. 

Downtown, my favorite stores were Daiso and Artbox, which you can pretty much see from the bus stop in front of the train station. 

3/8 Market Tour  

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On Saturday, Danny from One Stop Realty  offered a tour of the 3/8 Market in Anjeong-ri. The market meets on days that have either a 3 or 8. I have been several times but didn’t recognize everything in the market.

We left shortly after 11 and headed to the market. The first stop was grains. Plain white rice is bad for your cholesterol. Often at a restaurant, your white rice will be mixed with a grain to make it healthier. The black one turns your rice purple and it is supposed to keep your hair black instead of turning gray.

Then we passed the river fishing nets. The rivers in Korea look wide, but most are only knee deep. This fishing tent collects smaller fish that would feed one person.

We learned two important words as we passed the stands that sold dried fruit, nuts, and other snacks. “Mott” (like the applesauce) means “taste.” So if you see something you are curious about, point to the food, say “Mott” and point to your mouth. The other word was “service” which means “free.” So when you pick out your food say “service?” and they may add something extra to your bag.

He explained about the various seafood. Apparently the small octopus are not babies. There are just small species of octopus. You tell the man which fish you want, and he will debone it for you.

Danny’s sister in law was on the tour as well and was very knowledgeable about herbs and spices. She explained about different herbs that could be used for to make medicinal teas. If anyone on the tour had a question she could not answer, she or Danny would just ask the stand owner and then translate the answer.

One of booths sold eggs. These eggs are the same color inside as outside. They are slow boiled all day at a jimjilbang (bathhouse). The rice cakes are made from the rice that sticks to the bottom of the rice cooker.

The market also had plenty of fruits and vegetables, desserts, as well as fresh homemade seaweed, tofu, side dishes, and noodles. Sometimes you pay a little more for the homemade items at the market than the store, but it is usually made fresh that morning or the day before.

After our tour, we went back to One Stop for lunch. The tour itself was free and then he served a traditional pork belly barbecue lunch for 10,000 won (less than $10). The food was delicious, though I forgot to take pictures.

Girls trip to Osan and Mother’s Day 

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One of the perks of Tim working at Camp Humphreys is that we are still in Korea. We are also close to Osan, which is where many of my Daegu friends like to go shopping. I was very excited that some of my friends came to Osan last weekend so I joined their fun. 

The girls went to Happy Quilt for a couple hours of fabric shopping. It is a massive warehouse full of cheap fabrics in Pyeongtaek. 

Then we met up at Chili’s for lunch. We were clearly craving Mexican food because we all ordered either nachos, quesadillas, or enchiladas. 

We stopped at the px for some things not available at the Daegu px. Then we headed to Songtan shopping area for some socks. 

There were many to choose from. You could choose 3 pairs for 5,000 won (less than $5). I found some for Clarissa, myself, and Tim (Star Wars). 

On our way to another fabric store, we walked past an antique store that the ladies wanted to check out. Mike’s auction house has a ton of cool Korean antiques. He goes to demolition sites and picks up things like traditional old doors and roof tiles and turns them into really cool furniture. He has an auction on the first and third Saturday of each month.

Mike is a really friendly guy. He is American so he speaks English. He has a truck and will deliver items to the Camp Humphreys area. 

My favorite was the roof tiles. His wife paints them. For $20 you can choose a tile and she will write something on it for you. We each chose one and will have our last name written in both English and Hangeul. 

Then we crossed the street, went under the train tracks, and to the main road to turn right and found the Stinky Knit (in Waze). It smelled a little like mothballs but there was cheap fabric everywhere. 

After I said goodbye to the girls, I went home to celebrate Mother’s Day with Tim and Clarissa. Clarissa made me a card with stickers. They also chose something for me in a local souvenir shop. 

Then we headed down the street to The Big Bite. They had delicious American food at good prices. Plus it is like a quarter mile walk from our apartment so Clarissa could ride her bike there. The waiting area outside was nice as well. I know we will go back. 

Market Day 

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One of the reasons we love our new apartment is the location. We can walk to base in about 10 minutes. I walk through Anjeong-ri “the ville” to get to base. There are several shops and restaurants. 

On days that end in either 3 or 8, there is a market day. Clarissa and I went to our first market day on Thursday after storytime. 

Along the Anjeong-ri shopping street, on the end away from the base, you will see tents set up the length of the side road. The stands sell fresh produce, snacks, clothes, handbags, live seafood, toys, and even birds. 

Clarissa was most excited about the live crabs and octopus. She kept trying to touch them. She thought that the birds were pretty but too loud. 

She was also very adamant about buying a watermelon. I told her that if she didn’t eat the watermelon, she would not be allowed to choose things on market day. 

She did eat her watermelon. I will definitely make market day part of our regular schedule. The produce is way cheaper and more fresh than the commissary because it is local. 

Beartree Park 

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About 10 years ago, the South Korean government decided that they wanted to move some of their governing activities further south. They decided to build a new city.

We drove from our new home at Camp Humphreys about a half hour on rural highways to get to Sejong to see Beartree Park

Admission for Clarissa was 8,000 won. Tim and I cost 13,000 won each to get in. We paid about $30 total. You are not allowed to bring food into the park. They will ask when you try to enter. 

The park was beautiful. It was made up of several different gardens. The path from place to place was stroller friendly. But several gardens had signs to park your stroller and not bring it on the garden path. 

Our first stop was the koi pond. Clarissa had a great time feeding the fish. You could buy food for 1,000 won. 

We visited several different gardens on the way to the food court. 

There was an actual restaurant in addition to the food court, but I don’t know what they serve there. There were four traditional options at the food court. We ordered some bibimbap and mandu and ate at a picnic table outside. It was tasty. I prefer my bibimbap with meat though. 

Next was a garden with some bear statues. Clarissa and I had fun pretending to play with the bears. 

Then was the main event. There were two different areas to feed the bears. You could pay 1,000 won for either a cup of cut carrots or a cup of pastry ball looking things. First, we saw the younger bears. Some of them were asleep. But some of them were pretty good at catching the food in their mouths. 

Then, we went to see the big bears. They were excellent at catching food in their mouths. 

Behind the bears was a small park with animal statues. 

There is an observatory but we could see plenty without bothering with that. The brochure said you could also feed deer and listed a petting zoo and a playground so we had other priorities. 

The brochure was misleading. There were deer in a fenced area. There may have been food available earlier in the day, but by 1pm when we were there, no one was selling food. It definitely wasn’t a petting zoo. There were animals that you might keep as pets. Corgis, Guinea pigs, rabbits, sheep, goats. But you weren’t allowed to touch them. There were also peacocks, ducks, and other birds in an unaccessible area. Both times we tried a “petting zoo” in Korea it was like that too. I think they just have a different definition of petting zoo. Clarissa enjoyed seeing the animals just the same. 

The brochure said you could take a walk with a baby bear. That definitely didn’t happen. There were baby bears in the petting zoo area but there was a big sign that said not to touch them. 

We passed more gardens on our way out. There wasn’t actually a playground. There was an area that looked like they might do shows. But nothing was happening at that time. 

We enjoyed our afternoon at Beartree Park. We may go back again before we leave. 

Everland

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Tim lived in Korea ten years ago, so he has seen several things. He said that the best amusement part to go to is Everland. He claimed that the zoo alone made it worth the trip, and he was correct!

Thursday morning we woke up and headed downstairs to the breakfast buffet in our hotel. There were several options available. Some Korean flavors as well as more traditional western breakfast items.

Waze said it was a 30 minute drive to Everland from the hotel. The subway was 43 minutes, so we decided we would rather take the train and not have to deal with traffic or parking.

While switching subway lines, we had to take an elevator. It was the slowest elevator ever. We got there with several people and there wasn’t enough room for us that round. There are six minutes between trains, and it seriously took us longer than six minutes to wait for this elevator. It was two steep flights of stairs and the escalator was blocked in the middle so the stroller couldn’t go through. So we waited…

There was a shuttle bus to take guests from the bus and subway terminal to the gates of Everland. Tim ordered tickets at a discount ahead of time. On the train we realized that we forgot to bring them with us. Thankfully, the email had a barcode so that was all we needed to get in.

We attracted quite an audience while applying our sunscreen. A young college group thought that Clarissa was the cutest thing ever! They wanted to take pictures with her, but she refused. Not that she was happy about the sunscreen either.

The zoo is pretty close to the main entrance of the park. The first animals we saw were the pandas. They have two pandas at Everland and they just arrived in April so they were pretty popular. The line wasn’t horribly long though.

The girl panda is about five weeks older than Clarissa and was actually born on Tim’s birthday July 13, 2013. The boy panda was a year older and also a July birthday. They were resting when we got there because it was already at least 85 degrees. At the gift shop area, Clarissa chose a stuffed panda whom she named “baby Po” like Kung Fu Panda. She held that panda all day!

Next we went to see the birds. There were several different species including penguins and flamingos. There was even an enclosed bird area where you could pay 1,000 won (less than $1) for bird food and feed the birds yourself. Tim decided to try that. The birds did come right up to him and Clarissa really enjoyed watching the birds eat from his hand.

A lot of the larger animals we saw were asleep for lunchtime. The lions, tigers, seals, and sea lions were all visible but sleeping. The polar bear was awake though.

Then we went to monkey world. There were so many different kinds of monkeys! Clarissa was very excited about them.

After leaving the monkeys, there was a crowd of teenagers around a man holding a small animal. We were allowed to pet the fennec fox. Clarissa was very happy about this as well.

Next we saw more foxes, wallabies, and kangaroos at Ranch world before heading to my favorite part of the day, the safari. The line was about twenty minutes long, but so worth it! We climbed into a vehicle that could drive on land and water (reminded me of the duck boats in Boston). We saw camels, zebras, hippos, elephants, rhinos, and more.

A giraffe came right up to our vehicle and the tour guide fed it leaves through the window!

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By this time we were getting hungry. We weren’t thrilled with the menu at the first restaurant. While we were looking at the outdoor menu, Clarissa took a few leaves off a bush. When I looked at her she was trying to give them to her stuffed panda. “I’m feeding baby Po.”

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We decided to finish the zoo and head to lunch. There was one more bird area and a petting zoo. But it wasn’t really a petting zoo… You could pay to feed an animal with a long spoon. But you weren’t allowed to touch any animals.

Then I saw that you could pay to ride a pony or a camel. I got excited for Clarissa. She said she would ride the pony. We paid 5,000 won for our ticket and waited in line. She was fine until I accidentally called it a horse. When it was her turn, I tried to put her on the pony and she flipped out. But we were all hungry and it was naptime so it didn’t happen. Maybe after lunch or earlier in the day would have been better… Next time.

For those who are interested, camel rides are 7,000 won. I rode a camel through the desert once. Not very comfortable. But for five minutes is probably fun.

We were all in much better moods after lunch. The amusement park part of Everland reminds me of Busch Gardens with the different sections of continent themed rides and restaurants.

Clarissa was too short for most rides. But she was tall enough to ride the Thomas train around the magical garden.

All day long refused to smile for pictures but demanded that I take her picture with Percy.

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After that we decided to head back towards the hotel for dinner and some playtime before bed.

Of course, she had to open the door herself!

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Finally, a real folk village!

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When we moved to South Korea last year, one thing on my bucket list was to see a traditional Korean folk village. We saw one last May in Seoul, but it didn’t impress me. It was hot so we didn’t stay long and it really reminded me of the palace we had seen the day before.

On the way home from our most recent trip to Seoul, we tried to see the folk village at Andong. That one seemed to be more of what I was looking for. But it started sleeting and we didn’t stay.

In March, we tried Jeonju. But that was more traditional buildings as businesses and not what I really wanted.

This time, I got exactly what I was looking for!

We left on Wednesday morning and arrived to the Folk Village about lunch time. We bought our tickets ahead of time through Seoul Pass to get a discount.

After looking at our restaurant choices, we decided to split a mungbean pancake and wild vegetable bibimbap. The pancake honestly reminded me of hashbrowns. The bibimbap was great as always.

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We then decided to get ice cream. Tim and I each got a cone. I planned to share with Clarissa. She wouldn’t have it. She ran back to the counter to get her own ice cream cone and refused to eat any of mine until I assured her that I was finished and it was now her ice cream. She was pleased to eat her ice cream after that. She had quite the audience while eating. Several Koreans asked to take her picture. Some Koreans even asked us to take their picture with Clarissa as well.

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After having our fill, we started to wander through the folk village. It reminded me of Jamestown with the straw rooves and hanging corn. They had several different areas. There was a settlement for a farmer, a peasant, an upper class home, and even a government building. There was also a Buddhist Temple.

There were several performances to see as well. There was a horse show and a farmer dance show. The one I was most interested in was called a Bboy Fusion Dance. It was so cool! They did all kinds of flips and tricks to traditional Korean music. Clarissa enjoyed it as well. I started to think that it would be the coolest job ever. But then I realized that it was already 85 degrees in mid-May and would be getting much hotter. And, they do all of these awesome tricks in the dirt. That blew my mind. I wonder how much more they can really do? And they were already pretty awesome.

Then we continued on to see the mansion where they show traditional wedding ceremonies. On one of the signs it said that the groom was supposed to find a wild goose for the bride’s family during the ceremony! Apparently one of the mansions is also the location of a popular Korean drama set 100 years ago.

There was also a traditional marketplace set up, a scholar’s home, a Confucian school, and homes from various islands in Korea. The Folk Village also includes an amusement park, but we didn’t go there.

One our way out, we stopped at one of the shops. Clarissa picked a Lani bus that she could pull around. Tim chose a bookmark and a dragon shirt, and I chose a wooden calendar with traditional Korean background.

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Then we headed to our hotel, which ended up being an even better location than we thought! It was a block from the subway and nextdoor to a Lotte Mart, across the street from a Home Plus, and near Outback and Pizza Hut as well. They even had a free breakfast buffet in the morning.

Another Seoul Adventure

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Is it really the last week of May?

The house is mostly set up the way we want it.  Never found the screws for furniture.  We have since ordered some online though they have yet to arrive.

Clarissa had her first flu.  At least I think that is what it was.  She had a fever and was generally miserable for a couple of days.  But we got plenty of snuggles in.

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Tim was sick too, just not as long. Thankfully I stayed healthy. It seems like any time I try to wean her, she gets sick. I guess we will be nursing for a while!

We went to the last PWC of the semester. Clarissa didn’t cry when I dropped her off at the nursery for the first time since we moved to Korea! At the end, her teacher gave her the Elmo that I thought we lost at our first PWC two months ago (have we really been in Daegu that long?)!

This weekend we went back to Seoul. This time we stayed with friends instead of at a hotel. Clarissa loved playing with their dog!

On Saturday, we went to a folk village. It was neat to see the traditional houses but we didn’t stay long because they looked a lot like the palace we saw last month.

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Clarissa’s favorite part was the fish!

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We had lunch in Myeongdong, which has a lot of shopping. Then we headed back to the apartment for Clarissa’s nap. Tim and I were able to go on our first date since moving to South Korea. It was a pretty big deal since Clarissa’s only babysitters so far have been grandparents. But Tim has known these friends for ten years so this is the closest we get to family in Korea.

Clarissa had fun and we really enjoyed our time together. We went back to Coex mall to really explore since Clarissa was getting tired last time. Tim bought a Gundam model that he really wanted. We tried Vietnamese for dinner and it was delicious.

On Sunday, we headed to Seoul Forest. It wasn’t what we expected but there were some beautiful flowers.

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There was also an awesome playground for Clarissa.

We headed to ipark in Yongsan for lunch and explored an awesome toy store there. It was almost dinner by the time we got home so we ended up staying home for the rest of the evening. We did play in the playground at the apartment. Clarissa is really confident in climbing steps and going down the slide now.

On Monday we headed to Suwon to meet up with Minnie. She brought us to a Korean fusion restaurant. She said it had some western things but it seemed pretty Korean to me!

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They brought out two different courses of food. It was a communal meal where we all used chopsticks. There were several things we had never seen before and we would ask Minnie and she usually didn’t know the translation because it is not something you would find in America. We tried it all and really enjoyed it. We sampled a few flowers, roots, mushrooms, and even octopus. There was also pumpkin soup and pureed leek. Clarissa had some noodles but mostly stuck to rice.

We then headed to Hwaseong Fortress. We were going to take a train to see around it (Tim and I did the full three hour hike in 2012) but it was sold out. It was a national holiday, Buddah’s birthday.

We did get to see the city from a different angle on our walk.
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Driving around we saw a man walking backwards. Apparently it used to be very popular in Korea as they believed it was good for your feet.

Minnie then took us to a small petting zoo. Clarissa was excited about the rabbits and birds. Then she got to feed the goats.

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We went to a park at one gate (there are four) of the Fortress. Clarissa had a great time running around. Her favorite part was looking at bugs and playing with grass. Tim got some pictures of the Fortress from different angles.

Before we left, we walked down a street that reminded Tim of Insadong. There were food stands and craft shops. Tim and Clarissa bought some candy they were making on the street. They had samples to try. I didn’t care for it but they liked it so they bought some bear shaped candy. I tried some chocolate covered banana. It was different than I expected. At home, my mom would freeze or refrigerate the chocolate so it would harden. But it was 85 degrees outside so it was really fondue because I was able to dip it myself. Still tasted great.

I think we will go back to that area when Clarissa is older. They had several craft stands. The kids were making things out of beads and leather.
I thought it was hot in Seoul this weekend, but then we came home and it was 90. A few times this weekend we would tell a Korean that we lived in Daegu and they would tell us that it was very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter because of the bowl effect of the mountains. Before we moved here, I looked up the average temperature year round and it didn’t look much different from Virginia Beach. It will be interesting to see what the weather really is like.