So, it’s been a few days since my last blog…we’ve been having a lot of fun with Bethany here and keeping quite busy. Christmas day was quite fun, but the day afterward we were ready for some relaxation. We headed to Icheon to visit a jjimjilbang, or Korean bathhouse. The one we decided to check out was more fancy than a normal jjimjilbang; it had an indoor water park, full spa, and nice indoor playground for kids. We went thinking we’d only stay a few hours, but spent all day! It was so nice and relaxing. Most of the area is split by gender, so Bethany and I spa-ed for a while when Bryan and Zoe played in the pool. The spa had 8-9 different pools, from hot, medium, cold to fruit baths, mud baths, tea baths, and herbal baths. Even a baby bath and foot bath. Later, Bryan checked out the man-spa while the girls hung out and got our callous feet touched up by some Doctor Fish (these are real fish that eat off the dead skin of your feet – neato) We all met up in the unisex area for some smoothies and naptime on the heated floors of the theme rooms. It was fun. I’ll definitely be checking out our local jjimjilbang for weekly trips…I’m sure it won’t be as fancy with the pool, but will still be just as nice with lots of different bathing pools.
On saturday Bethany and I got up early to catch our train to Seoul for a morning of TempleLife at the Jogyesa temple. We donned Buddhist monk robes, learned the proper way to greet Buddha, other monks, bow, etc. We learned about Korean tea and rice cakes, did some meditation (the toughest part of which is not falling asleep – they will wake you with a slap to the neck muscle if you do), and then had some lunch in the monk cafeteria. Afteward we made lotus lanterns. The lotus is the Buddhist symbol – lotus grow out of muddy swamps teaching us that even the most beautiful thing can come from the most hideous…and this is how we should live our lives. It was a great program, and I hope Bryan and I can do a complete TempleStay weekend sometime. We spent the rest of the day visiting some cool palaces in Seoul. Bryan and Zoe met up with us to tour them. It was bitter cold, though, so not the best day, but still super-interesting. We warmed up with some bulgogi dinner on an ondol (heated) floor, and then trecked through some markets on our way to Dongdaemun. It was closed, though! I couldn’t believe it; there must’ve been a special reason as we discovered that even our landlady’s hair salon was also closed. I was really bummed about Dongdaemun, though, as it is the big fabric market and we were going to get some fabric so I could make Bethany some duvet covers. I felt really bad that it was closed…hopefully we’ll be able to at least visit on new years and maybe I can still get some fabric and mail her some covers.
Yesterday we went to the Korean folk village, which is a favorite. It was another cold day, but not so bitter as Saturday in Seoul. Bethany really enjoyed reading about all the cool village houses and the neat crafts. Especially neat was watching them pull silk thread from the silk worm pods and wind it onto a weft. It was so cool. I’m also so impressed with the under floor heating every time I see it. I love going there. Zoe did great in the backpack since it’s a lot of walking around. After that we headed into Suwon to check out the giant gold buddha and the Hwaseong fortress and Paldalmun gate. Then we went to the mini-fabric market and searched in vain for something to make duvet covers…the one fabric we found was too pricey. The selection just isn’t great compared to Dongdaemun. Another bummer. We ended the day at Lotteria – Korean McDonalds- where I had a shrimp burger.
Today Zoe went to ms. lee as usual and Bethany and I headed to the BX. She wanted to get some nice jeans since they are expensive in Germany. Afterward we both got haircuts at the salon in the BX mall. Mine got trimmed about 4 inches since Bethany said I looked “mangey”; I also got some layering in the front to potentially mask the burnt spikes that area starting to grow out of my hairline. We also got Zoe some sweatshirts…many of the ones she currently has have hoods which are just in the way. She also needed some lined pants; most of the pants I got for her in PA are too short now, and they just aren’t warm. We went off base for these since I can buy great lined and super-warm kid clothes for her for super-cheap. Korea is THE place for kid clothes! We visited the local markets to find Bethany some souv’s and Zoe some warm clothes. It started drizzling and then began to rain harder so we grabbed the car and headed for Emart and Lotte Mart. So, Bethany has checked out the two Korean big box stores and found them impressive. Zoe spent the time at Emart in the kid playground. It’s a playground where Emart employees watch your children while you shop; it’s $3/hour. Zoe loves it. I got called to come pick her up, though, which worried me…until I got there and she had peed through her diaper and completely soaked her pants! They just laughed and smiled about it. I’m glad we had just bought her some new sweatpants. =)
Tomorrow we’ve nothing on the agenda! That will be nice.