This weekend, I went to the Ewha Women's University and did some shopping in the area. I think I have a new favorite place to shop around! And the area is very woman friendly- as soon as you get off of the subway, the population seems to be ALL women! Ha ha!
The shopping streets are all pedestrian only alleys that twist and wind around. Unlike the entire rest of the city of Seoul, there are actually places for men to buy clothing too! Bet they sell alot to the boyfriends that come visit their girlfriends at the university.
Some of the shops are extremely tiny- about the size of my bedroom, or in some cases, the entire boutique is about the size of a hallway! Sheesh! Also, there is a fantastic San-X store and a specialty toy store that carries many Japanese import items. I love it!
I bought these blind boxed sushi sets from the San-X store. They are soo tiny and adorable and realistic looking. At the toy store that carried Japanese imports, I picked up a different food miniature blind box- Mickey Mouse Cafe foods! How cool is that?
And finally, I got an adorable jungle Hello Kitty set, where each tanned kitty is dressed as a warrior or cave man. On the bottom of the box was writing that said "for sale in Japan only." I love import items!
To releive stress and entertain myself a bit, I have purchased a new plastic figurine everyday over lunch break. It definitely amuses me! Makes me feel like a kid again:)
I am actually a bit embarassed to buy these little toys from the capsule machine outside of the bodega near my school. Yesterday, I was pumping my coins into the little slot when a mother and her child came behind me to buy the newest Pokemon capsule toy. I wonder are these little figures I buy considered adult toys? Or overly sexy and a bit vulgar? I felt sooo dirty! Sometimes it is a bit of a blessing in disguise that I can not speak Korean, so that I don't have to hear all of the aweful things that people probably say when they see me!
Bobby Lee cracks me up soo frickin' hardcore. I never appreciated his skits on MADtv when they originally ran, but now that I am here in Korea and know a bit about the culture I am hooked! I especially like the skits he did spoofing the insanely overdramatic Korean soap operas, like those I get to watch late nights on TV here when nothing else is on.
Anyway, Bobby Lee's Dragon Hunter video is sooo classic and insanely hilarious that I had to share:)
Lately, I have been fascinated by all the cute toys you can get out of the vending machines outside of some stores. My new favorite as of today are the super-sexy bubble girls! I did a bit of research on them when I got home and found out that most of the toys are produced by Bandai, the Japanese toy company that makes Tamagachi, the digital pocket pets that were popular when I was in middle school. These vending machines are called "Gashapon" in Japan.... I am not 100% sure what they are called here in Korea but I know they are common in the lobby area of Lotte Mart and E-Mart here in Suji.
"Gashapon are the nifty encapsuled toys and trinkets found just about anywhere in Japan. Gashapon machines are basically they are toy vending machines, randomly dispensing their wares when money is inserted and the handle is turned. Turn the handle--"gasha!"--and "pon!", out comes the toy!"
For more information about the phenomena: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gashapon
Here are my pictures of the girls in the bubbles I picked up today!
After my dentist appointment on Saturday morning, I thought "To hell with it!" And so I went ahead and hopped on the subway alone for an afternoon of exploring around the COEX mall. The mall is the largest shopping mall in Korea and is connected directly to the Samseong Station and above is the Korean World Trade Center and a huge convention center. The mall also contains a huge aquarium, the Kimchi Field Museum, and a huge 16-screen Multi-Plex Movie Theatre.
After riding a super crowded subway for 45 minutes standing up the whole way, my little sniffly nose had turned into a sneezing, coughing mess so I knew my day of fun was pretty limited. Luckily, the whole thing is indoors and underground so I didn't even have to bear any cold weather! Ha ha!
Most Koreans here wear face masks when they get sick to guard others from their illness. Since I was completely and obviously ill, I felt kind of bad and deserving of the dirty looks I would receive while blowing my nose or sneezing. Eh. I don't feel whole to blame for getting sick, seeing as most Koreans (including adults) never wash thier hands after going to the restrooms, spit all over the place, and insist on having every door and window in the building open, even though it is negative degrees outside. And I work with thier germy little kids. Should I be wholey to blame? I am going to go with NO!
So anyway, I did some things to cheer me up while there! I ate a really good hamburger at CRAZE BURGER. Sooo good! I had heard about the place online so I decided to go for it. The little restaurant was all filled up so I decided to get my order To-Go thinking that I could head up to the food court and eat it there. Well, I got to the food court and it was under construction so I had no other option besides eat the burger while sitting on a bench. Apparently Koreans don't eat on benches cause I was attracting lots of looks. Maybe the burger just looked delicious and they wanted one?
There are some really awesome stationary shops there that I was just going crazy over. Everything they carry is super cute and amazing and I had to resist buying the whole store out. I did, however, pick up a super sweet DIY Lego Calender. How cool is that? And, I found the Kinki Robot kiosk while there and picked up a Tokidoki Cactus Pup and a few more of the adorable zipper pulls that I love so much.
Did I mention the Hello Kitty Chuck Taylor style shoes that I picked up at the Sanrio store? Score!!! So perfectly adorable and only 13,000 won!
One of the cute zipper pull guys I got. Isn't he cute?!
The sweet box for my Tokidoki Cactus Pup. I swear, I am worse than a kid when it comes to toys!
The best stickers I think I have ever got! These little googly eyed guys can make pretty much anything adorable.
I had to use the cutest ones on my Nintendo DS. Adorable!
Um, I found this at a children's toy store and was thinking "WTF!?" Drug Freak?! Obviously the kid who is carrying this around has to be pretty clueless.
A cute card I picked up at one of the fantastic stationary shops at the COEX.
From Japan comes Smery and Friends, the nose plugging guy that closely resembles tofu.
The remainder of my weekend has been spent nursing my cold so that I can be capable of teaching come tomorrow morning. Uh!
I am at a complete loss of words. What else is there to say about cancer except for four letter words and tears? I am half way around the world but the impact of losing my friend is felt just as powerfully.
My friend Todd did not deserve to have cancer- he is the kind of guy the world needs more of- funny, caring, talented, and sweet. His spirit never gave in to the crushing fact that his cancer was spreading. He always felt hope that he would beat it. Above all, he was the kind of guy who still managed to have two chicks at once while receiving cancer treatment! Ha ha! I have to hand it to him that he never let things get dull and his wicked funny sense of humor always made my day.
I knew that day I saw him this summer would be the last. I knew that hug I gave him was it. I knew that very day that he would probably not be waiting for me when I came back from Korea in a years time. The cancer was in his brain and lungs at that point and he had scars all over the place where he had cancer removed. His face looked soo thin but I reassured him with tears in my eyes that everything was going to be alright and that he would make it through. I told him about a friend I know who made it through brain cancer. Hell, anything is possible. He thanked me for that encouragement. We hugged again and I found it very hard to walk away that day.
When the severity of situation comes to light as it did that day, you can not let it go any longer. It wakes you from your sleep and scares you for weeks. It gives you panic attacks over your own aches and pains and leads you to realize your own existence will someday cease to be. In these moments, you feel so alone with your mortality.
Todd was such a brave guy to keep fighting as he did. I think he definitely touched alot of people and will not be easily forgotten. All I can remember of him is good things and lots of laughs. I am still in disbelief that he is actually gone. Oh Todd, I wish you were still somewhere on this planet!
I had an amazing day yesterday hanging out with an old friend from college! I met my friend Jin at University of Iowa because we both worked at the Museum of Natural History together. Jin was from Korea and was soo quiet when she first started at the museum, but soon enough, she picked up soo much English skill that you couldn't shut her up! Gotta love the girl!
So anyway, when I came to Korea, I tried to look her up but had no luck. Thanks to Facebook, Jin found me! Yesterday, I met up with her in Seoul and had an excellent time catching up about ourselves, and talking about old museum buddies. Jin cooked me super yummy curry and made me hot tea. And guess what? Jin is married and pregnant with a little girl! After lunch, Jin was a bit tired so we watched "Get Smart" and waited for her husband to get home. He is such a super nice husband to her. He helps her all the time since she is having a difficult time with pregnancy. Mainly nausea. He even has to do all of the dishes because the smells make her sick! What a sweetheart!
We all went to Meungdong and ate at this delicious Japanese pancake restaurant. There, they mix up all of this sea food and veggies into a batter and cook it for you on the grill at your table. It is sooooo delicious! I have to try to remember where this place is so I can take someone else to this place someday. The great thing about having a pregnant friend is that you know you will never go hungry when hanging out with her! After dinner, she wanted Coldstone and I sure couldn't complain about that! Yum!
I also did a decent amount of shopping yesterday evening. Of course! What else would you do in Meungdong?!?! I went to the Onitsuka Tiger store and picked up the limited edition Tokidoki for Onitsuka Tiger shoes that I had been eying forever. I got the last pair and they were just my size- 7 1/2!!!!!!!! Hell yes! What amazing luck! And, the shoes came with a free plushie tiger guy:)
I also stopped in at American Apparel, as I was craving some comfortable clothing that actually fits! I made a wise choice and bought a new hoodie, as my old purple one is pretty ragged at this point. I bought the trendy Acid Washed California Zip Up Hoodie in purple, of course!
My last stop was the super awesome store "Aland." This store is several stories high and full of up scale trendy and cute men and women's clothing and flea market finds. I love it! They carry lots of Cheap Monday denim and overall, I would say the store reminds me more or less of an upscale Urban Outfitters. My eye was caught by an amazing but simple red leather purse. I toyed with the purse a bit and examined its features but decided to come back for it after I was finished looking. Big mistake!
When I went back for it, some girl was trying it on and examining it closely. She was with the purse forever and I was sure she was going to buy it. Finally, she set it down and walked away a bit so I snatched it up! I adore this purse and I think it was the perfect find- exactly the purse I have been searching for! I have been wanting the perfect red purse for ages now!
Lately, I have been working less hours which means I am far less stressed out and actually able to enjoy teaching my students. Having 12 preschoolers has actually been a bit of a blessing, as the class seems to be more structured now and the kids are all more social because they have more choices for friends. In general, I am feeling much more confident about teaching and generally have awesome days full of surprises!
Since cold season is upon us, I have been especially concerned with germs and trying to keep healthy. My sniffling, sneezing, booger-picking kids seem to be culprit #1 for sickness so I have been using hand sanitizer in class "Germ Blaster." Now, if only I could get the kids to wash their grimy hands once in a while!
So I devised a clever scheme to get the kids to use it sometimes too. The conversation goes as follows:
"Teacher, what's that?" "This? It is called Germ Blaster." "What are germs?" "Germs are bad things that can make you sick. Germ Blaster kills the bad germs." "Can I have some?" "No, no. I don't think so." "Pleaaaaaaase!" "It is only for the teacher." "Pleaaaaaaaaaaaaase!" "OK, I guess so. Here you go!"
And there you have it! I tricked the kids into using Germ Blaster, the anti-bacterial hand sanitizer that will save us all from sickness and chicken pox! One first grader named Ed cracks me up. He is all about the germ blaster and said he wanted to kill all the germs in the classroom. When I gave him some hand sanitizer, he rubbed it on his arm, legs, face, and HAIR just to be sure all the germs were dead! Ha, ha! Then, he started rubbing the chair and the walls too so he could kill all the germs in the whole world! Pure comedy!
I have fallen in love with the little stationary shops here that are about as big as a bedroom and crammed from head to toe with adorable pencils, erasers, stickers, candy, gifts, and toys. These little shops are sooo colorful, and since their target market is children, most of the items are super cheap- like $1 or $2. Here are some things I picked up the other night when I was in the mood for some cheap thrills.
Cross Stitch kit- 500 Won (50 cents)
Dress Up Fashion stickers 200 Won (20 cents)
Little Girl Cross Stitch Kit 500 Won (50 cents)
My Melody Chirstmas glittery stickers 1,000 Won ($1)
More My Melody Stickers.....
I really don't mind being the oldest shopper at these little stores! Too much fun!