The world is a wonderful, if very wacky, place to be.

Posts tagged ‘Seoul’

Dear Seoul

Dear Seoul,

Thank you for a wonderful five weeks.

I know that you are not really set up for the kosher traveler just yet, but I sincerely thank you by taking a step in the right direction by giving the Chabad house official status. This will allow them to buy a permanent center and serve the Jews in Seoul even better. On that front, I apologize for taking three percent of the current Jewish population of Seoul home with me, but I think that perhaps the blog has made you a little less impossibly far away to my readers, and maybe one or two will decide to come visit themselves and replenish the supply.

While I am thanking you, I must comment on how remarkably friendly you have been to my children. It is not easy to travel with children of all ages, and you embraced them all. You waited patiently for them to board the subway, you didn’t flinch when they entered ceramics stores, and you even smiled when the baby fussed (or worse) while riding on mass transit. It seems like you went out of your way to give my children happy memories, and I am grateful.

I know it’s not your fault that we all seemed to get sick; you have different bugs than we do back home. I do appreciate the wearing a mask in public when you are under the weather. It was surprising easy to get used to and really much more comfortable than going without. I doubt that Westerners will adopt this practice any time soon, and more’s the pity.

I also must thank you for unabashedly mentioning “the great wisdom of our ancestors” in your museums. In this modern world where ancient practices are seen as primitive and useless, I really appreciate meeting another culture that also values the ancient ways. May you continue to modernize while holding on to the best of who you are.

It’s time for the children and me to go home now, but we leave Cloud Man in your care. I would consider it a great blessing if it turns out that some day, we can return and visit you again.

I leave you with a blessing of my people; may you go from strength to strength.

Annyonghi kyeseyo and Shalom,

Raising Wings

On signage.

What do you think this sign means?
We saw it today all over the Samsung Children’s Museum.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I’m pretty sure that parts 2 and 3 roughly translate as, “don’t let your kid wipe his snot all over our equipment”.

It’s amazing what you can understand even when you don’t understand.

Bulgogi

In today’s post, we’re going to learn a new word.¬†Come on, say it with me:¬†“bulgogi” This is the Korean word for fish. Let’s dissect what it means:

Bul: water
Gogi: meat

And with our new found appreciation for how the Korean language views our undersea friends, let’s go to the Coex Aquarium.

This gentleman would like to have a word about Korean etymology.

The aquarium is fairly large. It took us two and half hours that felt like 25 minutes, and even then we were rushed through the penguin exhibit because they were closing. We did not get photos of penguins. We did, however, get photos of pretty much everything else. Including this.

The Tortoise and the Hairless: Aesop's story that didn't make the final edit.

The kids had a great time. They learned a little bit about the Han River ecosystem, they saw seahorses, which was very high on their to-do list, and we really enjoyed a particularly creative exhibit where common fixtures of Korean life were turned into fish tanks.

The sink,


 
the washing machine,


 
The vending machine.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pocari Sweat is a real soft drink brand here in Korea. I don’t know who or what a Pocari is, or why he or it sweats so much… or why this sweat is bottled and sold. There is a lot about Korean culture I don’t understand. I just roll with it.

We saw lots of unusual creatures.
 

 
Granted, we didn’t really need to leave home for that.


 
Even Sagitta was able to get up close and personal with the fish and animals in the exhibits.


 
We saw a tank full of piranhas, which were much shinier than I expected.


 
They look like carp in beaded evening wear. Nothing I would associate with skeletonization.

Volucris shook hands with a lawyer.


 
This guy lives with the Performing Sardines, and apart from the denizens of the shark tank in Coex. The shark tank that is the size of our apartment back home. I couldn’t get photos as the plexiglass was way too thick, but let’s just say that the sharks we saw were described by the kids as either “smaller than Volucris” or “bigger than Volucris”.

And you know what’s not far from the Coex Aquarium? We have to pass it on the way back to our place.

That’s right. The Bulgogi Brothers restaurant. Similar exhibits; very different display cases.

Tu B’Shvat

Six years ago today according to the Jewish calendar, Lyra was born on the bathing room floor. The next morning, we planted a tree with her placenta in our backyard.

You know, that sounds weird even to me.

At any rate, today we celebrated her sixth birthday.

We made balloon decorations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This came from a kit we bought at Linko-s, the office superstore. I think I might get a few to take home.

We baked a cake.

Candy decorations provided by Aunt Kira.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was not as easy as you think it was. I began with my favorite white cake recipe.

Only I didn’t have corn starch. Or baking soda. Or sour cream. No problem, I found potato starch and baking powder at Chabad, and substituted cream that I brought with me to make icing. I didn’t have vanilla, so I substituted chopped up candy bars. And then I baked it in the combination microwave/convection oven we have here.

It worked. It doesn’t look like much, but it tasted pretty good.

We gave tzedakkah… but first we had to make a tzadakkah box. (Go ahead, guess where our guests were from). And we played with glow sticks.

Snap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cloud Man brought out the cake,

"HaYom Yom Huledet..."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and Sagitta took my marshmallow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In honor of Tu B’shvat, our guests brought dates.

This was after we had a few.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We pretended they weren’t the Dole brand. Seoul isn’t well known for its dates.

And how was your Tu B’Shvat?

Six.

This is what six looks like:

Missing front tooth and all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lyra wore her hanbok to celebrate. She calls it her Korean Princess Dress.

The height of Korean fashion, circa 1450 CE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We invited some children we’ve befriended to a birthday party in our apartment. Moments before they arrived, so did housekeeping (yes, daily housekeeping. I can seriously get used to living like this).

Usually the housekeeping woman is very differential. She is friendly, but her preference is to act invisible. That is, until she saw Lyra in her hanbok. She got all excited, pulled out her cell phone (is this a good time to mention that her cell phone is light years more advanced than mine? Okay, so I’ve refused a new cell phone for years, but still. Koreans take their technology very seriously.) The housekeeping woman asked me if she could photograph Lyra! Of course I agreed. So if you frequent any Korean websites and you see a photo of Lyra dressed like this, now you know how it got there. What I’ve learned in the past week is this: show any interest or respect for Korean language or culture, and the people here adore you for it. “Kamsamnida” goes a long way, not just because you are saying thank you, but because you’ve bothered to learn the Korean word for it.

This is the same housekeeping woman who owns all our dishes, but that’s a different story.

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