How long have we been here?!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Hello, hello!

Well as many of you know, fall is Soccer time! So Ajenai has joined the soccer team at school. She has never been on a soccer team before so she has been really excited to learn about the game.

She played a total of 4 soccer jamboree's...and she played 3 to 4 teams at each jamboree; so she had her fair share of running down field!

Time for a break!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Hello, hello!

Well, a jimjjilbang is s sort of spa that Koreans frequent. They are AWESOME! You pay about 5 bucks or less and you get access to all the facilities. They are coed but they have separate areas for men and women're naked. That's right, you have to be NAKED inside!

Ok, let me explain the process. So I LOVE spas and have been dying for the Korean experience so one night Ajenai and I decide to check one out.

We went to Dragon Hill Spa. Just walking into the place you feel relaxed! So I pay 9 grand (about $10) for both of us. The lady at the counter hands me 3 things...4 towels a little bit bigger than a wash cloth, a locker key, and lite green gym shorts with a matching top. Yes, you have to wear a uniform inside. At least it's not pink for girls and blue for boys like most places here ! (I kid you not!).

So we take off our shoes and go into an open area that is packed with lockers. This is where you take your street shoes off and place them in the locker. Then we go around the corner to the "Womens" elevator. The "Mens" elevator is down the way a little bit. In the elevator I casually mention to Ajenai, "oh you have to be naked once we're inside." The look on her face...priceless. She very nearly banged into the wall in a full scale panic! But I told her everyone will be naked so it won't be a big thing! yeah, right.

On the "womens" floor, there is a dressing area and a locker area and a counter selling everything from bra's to snickers bars. There are also size 2 naked Asian women as far as the eye could see! Shocker! Even though I expected it...still a shocker! We must have looked a little confused because this little old lady dressed in a french maid outfit (for real) came from behind the counter to help us.

She told us that the bathing areas are downstairs. And massage was down the hall, common areas (shared with men and women) were down a different staircase. So, Ajenai and I went to the dressing area and proceeded to disrobe. Women were walking all around, some had those itty bitty towels we got at the front counter draped over their breasts, as if it could help!

Ajenai surprised me. She was trying to hide herself while taking her clothes off but then she was fine. While I, on the other hand, wore a towel I brought with me, so it covered all the naughty bits! Our first step was the bathing area. So we went down stairs and they had several huge pools all at various temperatures. Started at ahhhhh, cold, then lukewarm and went to boiling. Ajenai couldn't handle the middle temp but I dove in. She got into a lukewarm pool with other kids. They had shallow and deep pools so you could soak just your legs or swim if you wanted to. Of course, everyone stared at us, I'm used to it by now. And they weren't unfriendly so, (shrug) what can you do? I also saw a mud relaxation room but I wasn't brave enough to try that one out, yet. There was an awesome outdoor pool too. Actually, 3 pools, one cool, warm, and hot. Set in this beautiful garden, really pretty.

In the back of the bathing area were these stone tables called the scrubbing area. And they were covered with naked women and these old ladies in black bras and panties (lace too. straight outta victoria's *wrinkled* secret!) were doing body scrubs. They had wet salt and sand and these huge rough looking mits. They were picking women up by the legs and tossing them around and scrubbing and scrubbing. Scared me way too much for me to even think of trying that! But the women looked nice and shiny pink afterwards!

I decided I absolutely had to get a massage. So I go back upstairs and ask the french maid how I arrange one. She took me down this hall and this tiny old woman, (like maybe 4 feet and 60 lbs!) was sitting cross legged on the floor. So I ask for a 10 minute foot massage. And I say many many times, feet and calf only, 10 minutes. And I point to the area and mimic massage motions. Both old ladies say ,yea, yea. Which is what Koreans ALWAYS say. And then the old lady holds up 4 fingers. Everything is so cheap here I'm like cool, I can afford 4 bucks! So I lay down on the sheet. And she starts squawking at me. So I get up. She puts another sheet down, then she puts a blanket on top of that, then she puts another sheet down and a pillow. Then she grabs me with her bony fingers and pushes me down too. I'm like, uh oh, don't know how good those nubs are gonna feel on my body!

So,now she makes sure I'm comfortable, and she covers me with the top sheet and uncovers my feet. Then she starts the most amazing massage ever! I'm totally loving it! She has the oil and everything is working wonderfully. I close my eyes and just relax. Then she tells me to turn over, so I think, maybe she's gonna do the back of the leg? So I turn over. She does do the back of my leg and also my back and shoulders. Then I turn over again and she does my arms and shoulders, head, stomach. By now, I realize that it is way past 10 minutes, but it feels too good to stop. I decided to pay the extra 4 bucks if that's what it amounts too.

While I'm laying there on my back, I hear the woman talking. I know she's not talking to me cause, of course, I don't speak Korean. So I pop open one eye and there is another naked lady standing there talking to her. I assume she is signing up for a massage next or something. The lady has a baby strapped to her back, which looked pretty funny naked but anyway. I close my eyes and they keep talking...and keep talking...and keep talking! I open my eyes again and the woman is STARING at me. Both eyes, wide open, taking me alllll in. The funny thing is, the baby on her back is STARING at me too!!! Her little head is listing to the side to see around her mom so she can stare! I was like, yeah, this is what a naked black lady looks like! Look while the lookings good!

After the massage, we got dressed in our "womans" outfit, and followed the signs to the common areas. In these areas, men and women are walking around in the little green shorts and tops; dark green for boys and lite green for girls. There were also a ton of kids running around in yellow. There were many many common rooms and they had the different saunas in them. My favorite was the kiln room. There were 3 different kilns, mild, medium, and hot. These are wooden ovens and the entrance to each was a tiny round door. They were really like pizza ovens or an actual kiln where you fire clay. Inside the floor was wooden slats and they had a red heat lamp as the only light. They also had desert rooms where you go inside and lay on some hot rocks (not fun!).

Ajenai's favorite room was the ice room. Yes there was an actual snowman inside the room. Even the floor was ice cold tiles. I could only stay a short time and I had to go back to the kiln! But Ajenai and this little boy were trying to see how long they could stay in without leaving. If I hadn't come to get her, I think she would still be in there!

Anyway, we stayed there several hours and all in all had a wonderful time! I'll do it again real soon!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

White Water Rafting!

Hello, hello!

A couple weeks ago we went white water rafting. It was great! The rapids were kinda tame but it was still fun. I couldn't bring my camera in the boat (thank God they stopped us cause it would have been a diaster!) but I have a few pics of the before and after.

My friend Rob arranged it through the USO, but I think they have trips every so often anyway. It was fun. We went over several rapids and then stopped where there was an overhanging cliff and I sandbar in the middle of the river. The guides helped us climb the cliff and Ajenai and I jumped off. Most of the group didn't jump (chickens!) but it was fun. It wasn't really that high, but getting to the spot was a pain in the butt. There was almost a sheer incline you had to climb to reach the short cliff. Our guide almost single handedly pulled me up! (strong guy, I know!:))

The sandbar in the middle of the lake was a nice spot to sit but it had a strong undercurrent surrounding it. We almost got swept away trying to swim back to shore!

Afterwards, we went to lunch in this Korean resturant. I know they were happy to see us coming cause the place was almost empty when we got there! There were 3 little old ladies cooking and serving. So you can imagine how long it took us to get our food! Some people got there food sooner than others, Ajenai and I being ones who were served first. So I offered my food to some folks, cause we all ordered the same thing anyway. My friend Rob said, "cool" but then he made the mistake of actually dipping his chopsticks into Ajenai's bowl! Big mistake. She gave him this look (see picture below!)

and said, "she offered HER food, not mine!" He said, "this is Korea man. Everybody shares!" And Ajenai said, "I'm American." Hey, I don't teach her this stuff!

Anyway, the trip was a blast and I'm sure I'll do it again soon. But I'll be sure that Ajenai brings her own food!

bye! a:*

Ajenai's School

Hello, hello!

Finally! Ajenai attends the same school I work at! Being a teacher, it was bound to happen. And I'm so happy it did here in Korea. Of course, it's a little bit of an adjustment...for both of us. She is actually fine with the 24/7 thing. I'm a little tired though! Sometimes it's enough already! But, as a mom, I'm not supposed to admit that, right! LOL

Anyway, apparently, I work at a pretty expensive institution. Lots of students have their "drivers" drop and pick them up from school. And the majority of the students are Korean. Maybe 5, (including Ajenai) are not Korean.

So it's a bit of a cultural adjustment for her since she it hasn't been a month since she returned from America.

She's doing very well though. The teachers are keeping an eye out for her and they said that she is not shy. She has no problem going up to the other students and asking them to do something with her or talking to her. Their is also an Indian girl in the 6th grade who she has become fast friends with.

The school work is taking her sometime to get used, to because these kids don't play. The majority of their parents have purchased all the school books for them during the summer! So the kids come to school already having read a lot of their assignments! Not at all like America. Plus, most of them attend Academy after school. Similar to where I worked last year. These are special schools that teach all kinds of things, like, Korean, math, science, english, etc. So I am really trying to keep on top of Ajenai and her study skills, etc. Reminding her to write down every assignment and to speak to her teachers if she is confused on anything. Going over all of her homework before she turns it in, etc. It's hard being a teacher and a parent! As I'm sure other parents can testify too!

She asked me the other day if the all the students at the school were rich. I said most of them are. She said," no wonder they all have the best cell phones!" You know what kind, with flip screens and internet and you can watch t.v. and movies on them and stuff. I wish I had one like that! And poor Ajenai has her $49.99 english phone, with half the silver coating scrubbed off and complete with monster stickers attached to it! Hey, at least she has a cell phone!

This week the extra-curricular activities started so she is excited. She is in the soccer club, tennis club, and drama club. Hopefully, she keeps her grades together and can continue.

OK, that's it for now! I'll take pictures of my class and post them here soon!

a :*

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rooftop BBQ


My (military) friend had a bbq at his place a couple weeks ago. It was AWESOME. I put "military" friend because you can see (and taste) the difference between how the military live and us English teachers! He had ribs, (real bbq ribs y'all!), potato salad, a veggie platter (with olives!), LAYS potato chips (!!!!), and the piece de resistance...cheesecake! Real, live NEW YORK STYLE cheesecake! With strawberries on top!!! OMG that cake was gone in seconds, literally, seconds! The military folks were like, "what's wrong with y'all?" I said, "we LIVE in KOREA!" Not faux korea (which is what I call the base!) Anyway, there was more there than just the food but food is ALWAYS my focus!

We had fun and his roof is amazing. He can see almost all of downtown. We invited ourselves back for a night party to see the city lights!

I'm planning a trip to Busan, which is about 4 hours away from Seoul, this weekend (if I don't get deported first! Loooong story, maybe I'll share it next time!). I'll be sure and take lots of pictures to share!

a :*(kiss)

Friday, September 5, 2008

New Digs

all of us!me & LuJoia & KaylaFontaLu & Leslie
Hello everyone! I know it's been ages and a lot has happened!

First off, I moved! To a new "smaller" apartment. But I say it has more "character" and "charm" than the bigger place I had before! I had a little housewarming and I will attach the few pics we took. Doesn't really show you my place but you can see the size of it!

You know how you don't know how good something is until it's gone? My first apartment I didn't buy anything. Literally nothing. (ok, maybe a fork or two). But this one was completely empty. I mean EMPTY. I had to buy EVERYTHING. A fridge, washer, furniture, pots, sucked. And I dropped a bit of money on it as you can imagine. But luckily I got good deals on stuff. And right on the corner near my place is this great plant store. I went in and bought a bunch of stuff. The plan is to live in a jungle! So I'm buying plants often! When we went in, there was a little girl in there and I asked if she spoke english and she just started smiling and laughing and saying no. I said she should go to the park with Ajenai and the girls mother was agreeing (her english was very little, but we were working it out). Both girls were just standing there staring at each other! But eventually, Ajenai went to the park with the girl and she was like, "her english is fine!" So they hang out at the park down the street.

I really like this new neighborhood, even though it's all Korean all the time!I got kinda used to seeing other brown faces living in Itaewon (which is foreign town). But it's a cute neighborhood. We have our corner store, where the high school son speaks perfect english and his parents speak none! He is always playing games on the computer and I tell him to go outside with Ajenai! His parents and the local drunks who sit outside say hello every, single time we pass by! Cute so far, but I anticipate that getting old fast!

Ok, more later!

bye for now!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Nigerian Males...Smooth Operators

Hello, hello!

I think it is wonderful and interesting that Africans can be found living in every country around the world (in my experience anyway). A testament to African fortitude and determination and resourcefulness I believe, that we can survive anywhere!

Anyway, today I feel the need to speak about my experiences with the Nigerians here in Seoul.

I live in Itaewon, which is considered the international area of Seoul. Most foreigners are located here (the US military base is here) and there is a large African community here, mostly Nigerians.

And it is impossible for a girl to walk down the street without getting accosted! Sometimes it is funny, but (lots of times) not!

"Hello, my name is _ _ _ _ _, can I have your number?" is usually how the convo goes. From zero to phone number in 30 seconds flat! They shake your hand with one hand and have their cell phone in the other! And if you say no, (which, invariably I say!) "Oh sister, why,why? Do you not want to get to know me. I am just a man. Can I not get to know you. I just want to be your friend. Oh, please, would you like a friend. I want to get to know you. How am I to get to know you, sister, please, please. Why, are you afraid of me? Come on sister." And on, and on, and on! I can be standing in the street, turning down a guy for literally 20 minutes! What the hell! And while this prattle is going on, they are holding your hand and trying to pull you in their direction!

They also try to walk me home! I have to stop in the street so they don't accompany me to my door! I mean, a little attention is a nice thing but, come on! As beautiful as I am (insert your favorite picture of me in your mind here!), there is no way I am so hot you want to follow me home! Sheesh!

I'm gonna have to start taking taxi's home so I can arrive in one piece!

Well, the adventure continues!

see you!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Hello, hello!

I know it's been forever but there's nothing new under the sun!

Today I am writing to tell you about a Korean belief called. . . FAN DEATH. or in Korean fan death-a, you have to say the a at the end!

So it's summer and of course the heat is stifling here. I mean,well. . . stifling. So speaking with my students about using the fan to keep cool and they all say

"oh,teache-er you can no fan on when sleeping. You die! Very bad!"

That's right people. The Koreans believe that if you sleep, in a room, with all windows and doors closed, you will die. FAN DEATH-a.

Now, my students couldn't explain why this is, but they fully believe this to be true. They've seen the deaths on tv and in the newspaper, so it must be true!

I found some grown ups to ask, thinking, of course, they would blow it off and tell me the origin of the superstition. Guess what I found out? Not a superstition folks! Many, many adults told me FAN DEATH-a is TRUE!!!! If you sleep with the fan on, with all windows and doors closed, you will indeed die. FACT.

How can this possibly happen? Well, let me tell you. There are two schools of thought that I have heard on FAN DEATH-a. One is that leaving the fan on makes your body so cold, that eventually your heart stops and you die. Presumably from hypothermia.

Now, I looked up hypothermia and there are 3 stages to progress through until death. And this all takes longer than 24 hours if you are not submerged in water.

I tried to tell my Korean colleagues this amazing fact but, alas, to no avail. They say FAN DEATH-a is FACT and that's that.

The second way to die via FAN DEATH-a, and I believe this is a more common belief, is through lack of air. That's right, having the windows and doors closed does not allow fresh air into the room. The fan therefore circulates old, stale air and this, indeed, leads to death.

Hard to believe I know, but hey, facts are facts. And for those of you that have a heard time believing in FAN DEATH-a, I have attached a video that proves, this can happen. . . to you. So boys and girls, don't sleep with the fan on!

A note of advice from Korea!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Korean Acupuncture!

Hello, hello!

I have a mild case of carpal tunnel and sometimes I use acupuncture to treat it. I decided to go to an acupuncturist here, in Korea. There is an international clinic near where I live in Itaewon and there is an acupuncturist there. So I traveled over there to check it out.

When I went into the suite, it appeared small but I thought I probably couldn't see the whole room from the doorway. There was noone there so I said "Annyong ha shimnikka". This man came from out of the bathroom and said hello. And it was pretty obvious that he was. . . blind. So I talked to him and he said he was the acupuncturist and it cost 20 grand ($20) for a 1 hour treatment. I said thank you maybe next time and left.

As I was walking down the hall, I thought, part of the reason I am here in Korea is for the experience. And if this man is a blind acupuncturist, he must have been in business for a long, long time. And it's not like I haven't had painful acupuncture before. So if it hurts I just won't go visit him again. So, what the heck, I may as well give it a try.

So I went back and told him I would love a treatment.

He says, right this way, and I realized the suite was as small as I initially thought. It is only one room and in the corner is a queen sized bed. Ooookkay. The bed had a bright yellow spread on it and he layed a matching yellow towel over a small pillow and then told me to lie down on my back. So I moved to the center of the bed. He asked where my pain was and I said my forearms and wrists and he said ok. He climbed to the end of the bed, got his little tray with his needles and cotton swabs and alcohol, then reached out his hand trying to find me! I finally grabbed his hand and said, "here I am!" He squatted on the bed on his haunches like a frog and prepared to insert the first needle. I cringed just like in the movie theater when the scary music starts to play. But, viola, I didn't feel a thing! So he placed a bunch of needles on my arm and shoulder. And then he moved down to my feet on the bed. . . and stayed there!

Now, as some of you may know, one of my best friends, Michelle, is an acupuncturist. She has a wonderful practice in Berkeley and I have been on her table many a time. At this point, I have got to do a comparison between Michelle's practice and the blind guys practice.

Michelle: beautiful room full of ambiance. There are soft colors and paintings on the wall and muted lighting.
Blind guy: one room studio full of clutter.

Michelle: nice massage table for you to lay on that has buckwheat pillows for your head.
Blind guy: queen size mattress with small lumpy towel covered pillow.

Michelle: soothing, calming instrumental music
Blind guy: korean talk show with lots of piped in laughter

Then, once Michelle puts the needles in, she covers your eyes with a small lavender pillow and leaves you for about 45 minutes to chill and fall into a restful sleep. My blind guy stayed, squatting like a frog, at the end of the mattress! I thought, if he stays there for 45 minutes I am going to scream! Luckily, he only left the needles in for about 20 minutes. Even though I hate conversation when I am receiving any kind of treatment, I decided I had better talk to him to take my mind off the awkward circumstances. I was trying to find out how long he had been an acupuncturist, but he would just say, "oh, long, long time!" and he asked me if I had ever heard of Korean acupuncture before because it was very, very famous.

Then, thankfully, he removed the needles and started the massage. Of course, at the word, MASSAGE, I pictured like a nice swedish rubbing motion or something similar. Of course that wasn't the case. He grabbed my shoulder and was like kneading so hard my whole body was shaking back and forth, back and forth. I thought, Oooookkkay. It didn't hurt, didn't feel good either! But, he was finally finished and I paid him and left.

Hey, I'm here for the experience and you can't get any better than a blind acupuncturist for a new experience!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jane & Ching-ching

Hello, this is Ajenai.

Jane is a friend of my moms and she has a two-year old son named Treasure. Jane is from Africa and she lives in a nice house across from a market. She lives near my street, up a huge flight of stone steps and to the left..

She is a nice woman and is very friendly. She goes to church on Sunday's and goes places with her son. She speaks English well and her son is a good boy for his age.

She makes food by hand like in Africa. She makes the dough then cooks it and sometimes she makes treats. She is a very nice woman.

At Jane's house I played with her son. We played with his toy instruments and he rode around in his toy car. We watched a little TV and then I read him a story. He put in his Barney DVD and he watched that. When it was over I helped Jane make an African treat called Ching-ching.

I helped cut the dough into little squares while Jane made more dough slices for me to cut. When the dough was in little squares, Jane put them in a pot of oil and fried them. I took another chunk of dough from the big piece of dough and flattened it out.

I folded it over and layed it out. Then I cut int into small slices and gave them to Jane to cut into little cubes. We made three batches and put the fried cubes into a bowl. We ate them hot. Jane made more batches of the Ching-ching treat while I played with Treasure again. At eight, Treasures dad came home and I left.

Ching-ching Recipe
Here is a recipe for an African treat called ching-ching. I learned how to make it at Jane's house. You can make it too!

You Need:

1. mix with hands
2. take out a chunk
3. roll out flat
4. cut into strips (toss out edges)
5. cut strips into small cubes
6. fry in oil till brown
7. enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Visit from America!!

Hello, hello!

My mom was here! and my sister, of course!

They stayed for almost 3 weeks and guess what? I wasn't even ready to kill them by the time they left! It was a really nice visit (even though I was kicked out of my own queen sized bed and had to sleep with the kid!).

The most important thing to check out when anyone goes to a foreign country is. . . the food, of course. So I had an entire menu of my favorite places to show my mom and sister. Thai food (Pattay, my favorite place!), italian food (Santorio), Mediterranean food (Petra), greek food (Istanbul, yum), baked goods (Paris Baguette!), Australian food (Outback Steakhouse), and even good old American food (Subway, Friday's, Bennigans, McDonald's, & Costco!).

After a few days my sister was like," Am I in Korea or where the hell are we? I want some Korean food!" Sorry, no can do. I've been in Korea over 200 days and guess what? Not a fan of the food! I couldn't even think of where to go let alone recommend a place to go. So, Mikaela set out on her own Korean Cuisine adventure. Once she found some things she liked she had to drag the rest of us (kicking and screaming!) along for the ride! And, it actually turned out not to be too terrible! A slide show of one of our adventures should be posted too.

We actually went to two different ones. The first was in Insadong. Mikaela found some place cause she said, "look, there's lots of Koreans in there. That's always a good sign!" Which is not a bad guidline I guess but it's pretty scary when you sit down and the menu has 6 items on it! I was like, where's the rest! And you could tell we were not happy at first! But then the food came and we each liked something so it was cool. Second place we went was a Korean BBQ. The lady brought dish after dish after dish out to the table until there was barely room for it all. Then she brought a bowl of water which she put on the grill and a bunch of leafy greens, which also went on the grill. Next she brought out the meat. We were sitting there staring with what must have been blank looks on our faces because she commenced to show us exactly how to eat the food! Once we got the idea of what went with what, it was actually quite tasty.

Anyway, I had a great time when they were here and was sorry to see them go. If anyone else wants to come visit. . . I have 2 bedrooms. I'm just saying! It would be nice!

Until Next Time!

a & a

Monday, April 14, 2008

Viewing Ne Yo Pictures

Hey, you know I'm new at this! If you click on the title of the below article, you can view my slideshow!


a & a

Pictures From Ne Yo Concert

Hello hello!

So, I have finally uploaded some new pictures. These were taken at the Ne Yo concert we went to last weekend.

Enjoy! And more to come. . .

ayanna & ajenai

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ne-Yo in Seoul

Greetings from Seoul!
Sunday I went to the Ne Yo concert. The name sounded familiar and I thought it would be fun, but, I could not name a Ne Yo song if held at gun point. Once there though I recognized 2 songs.
So, we wanted to party like we used to in our 20's (cause most of the folks who went with me ARE in their 20's!) so we got tickets for the floor. You can imagine the chaos. We were right at the stage, with bodies about 9 deep between me and 16 year old Ne Yo (that's about how old he looked!).

Now, you know Koreans have no sense of personal space on a normal basis, so trust me when I say I could barely breathe on the floor. I just kept the attitude that this was all in the spirit of fun.

So when the chick next to me kept bumping me in the face with her armpit, I thought, spirit of fun. When the 200lb. Korean boy behind me stepped on my foot more times than I could count, I thought, spirit of fun. When the army dude behind me screamed out Ne Yo's name as if he was being murdered, directly in my right ear, I thought, spirit of fun. When the blond girl behind me spilled her Chilsing Cider (sprite) down my back, I thought, spirit of fun. When the tall white dude behind me hit me in the head when he tried to throw his baseball hat on stage, I thought, spirit of fun. When the brunette on my right banged her elbow into my back, looked at me and said, let's push our way to the front! I said, HELL NO! GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME!!! Hey, spirit of fun only goes so far. :)

But it was fun. The funniest thing was being surround by all these Koreans who knew every word of every song Ne Yo sang. And they were not shy about yelling them out, either. Whether they had a good voice or not. Most, not. Sean Kingston opened for him. He was alright I guess, but we could have went to a club with a DJ and had the same experience.

Afterwards, we played the groupie thing. Hanging around the stage waiting for someone from the band to show up. Finally, the DJ came back on stage and my girl Kisha handed him her business card and said she was a friend of a friend and for Ne Yo to call her. I won't hold my breath. But, at least he took it!

Now, of course I could have gone to a Ne Yo concert in the US, but really, who would be on the floor with me? Exactly, so I count this as a Korea only experience!

It's interesting hanging out with a bunch of intercontinental late 20 year olds. They have a different concept of time and priorities. I vaguely remember thinking that way!

Until Next Time!

Ayanna & Ajenai

PS: My sister took my USB cord, so as soon as I get another one I'll add pictures!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Art of International Dining in Korea

So, I've told you in the past about the adventures of dining in Korea. Here's another story to add to the list!

A couple of weeks ago we went to eat Italian food at this little bistro called Angelo's. Now, when dealing with any other nationality of food in Korea, you're pretty much taking your chances on what you're actually going to get. Korea is such a homogenous country they really don't have a wide variety of nationalities here, hence, not the best for international fine dining.

My friend Rob had been to this restaurant before so about 6 of us head there. It is a cute little hole in the wall, one room restaurant. The kitchen ran the whole length of the restaurant and there were two people working, a brother and sister. She provides us with menu's that are hand written on construction paper and tied together with yarn. Cute, if Ajenai had made them, not so much for a restaurant. However, I'm still open minded and up for the adventure in Italian cuisine.

There's not much on the menu, but about 3 folks opt for a salmon and pasta dish and I order pasta with chicken. Pretty safe I think, who can mess with rigatoni, linguini, penne, or fusilli, etc? So we order and about 10 minutes go by with us sitting, no water, bread, nothing. Now, all 6 of us are starving. I don't know what it is about Seoul, but we tend to eat something when we wake up (about 12!) and then nothing until dinner, which usually turns out to be about 8pm by the time folks arrive and we decide what to eat, etc. I've told you that the kitchen is right there and we can see them preparing the food as well as they can see, and hear, us. My friend Sha is loudly complaining about how starving she is. The waitress/chef is eyeing us with trepidation to say the least. Finally, some bread arrives at our table. They give us 3 pieces of about 2 inch thick slices of french bread with olive oil and garlic on the top. Sha says, "I guess we're supposed to share?!" Well, we do and the bread is not bad.

Another couple of minutes go buy and the waitress/chef comes back to our table and says, "So sorry, no salmon, all gone." Now, this is a phenomenon I have found unique to Korea. Restaurants typically just run out of food! You order something, and they come back and say, "so sorry, out of meat!" Not just hole in the wall restaurants either but also like Friday's and Outback. One Vietnamese restaurant we went to was closed at 7pm cause they said they ran out of food, everything! Do these people not know how to order supplies?

So of course, all 3 folks who ordered salmon are totally put out. I'm wondering, how did the lady not know there was no salmon when they ordered? The fridge is barely 10 feet from our table. We order, you open the fridge, see no salmon, come back and say, "no salmon". Not wait about 20 minutes!

Anyway, they all order new meals and we're straight. For awhile. But we're still really starving. So my friend Denise finally gets the waitress/chef's attention and says, "can we have more bread?" And the lady says, "more bread?" and Denise says, "yeah, more bread." and the lady says, "Umm, wait, wait." Then she goes back to the kitchen, puts on her coat, and leaves the restaurant!

Denise looks at us and says," she's going to buy some bread." I say, "no, that isn't what's happening. It's gotta be something else." 10 minutes later, the waitress/chef re-enters the restaurant carrying. . . a loaf of bread! Denise looks at me. Ok, ok, I was wrong. Then the waitress/chef brings over the bread. This time, we get no slices of garlic and olive oil on top, just a cut up slab of dry french bread thrown on a plate. Guess the waitress/chef is not that happy with us!

Finally, our food arrives. It's not looking bad and I'm getting excited for my rigatoni, linguini, penne, or fusilli,etc with chicken. Just so we're all on the same page here, when you see on a menu, pasta with chicken, what exactly comes to mind? You expect some form of pasta, (rigatoni, linguini, penne, or fusilli,etc) with sliced or shredded or cut pieces of chicken, hopefully chicken breasts, right? Apparently, not at Angelo's. My plate of dazzlingly red pasta is set in front of me, with chicken drummets strewn throughout the plate! Everybody looks at my plate and starts laughing. "Hey, that's pasta with chicken, right?" Not exactly what I imagined, but hey, it's Korea. And when in Korea, do as the Korean's do. So I ate my Italian spaghetti with chicken drummets without complaint!

Until next time!

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Hello, hello everyone!

Welcome to my blog! I'm so excited to invite the whole world along on my grandiose adventures, (even if they are only grand to me!).

Many of you have been joining me vicariously through my "Postcards from Korea", well this is just an expansion of that. My goals here are two fold, to really keep an accurate account of my daily adventures in Korea and to keep everyone at home entertained!

So feel free to check in every once in awhile and see what Ajenai and I get in to!

A Day in Insadong

A New Misadventure!

This Saturday was a Korean holiday, Indpendence Movement Day. I didn't know this until I was out in the street, but it provided a lovely opportunity for some cultural enrichment for me and the kid. We traveled with a friend to an area of Seoul called Insadong. It's like a huge shopping area for visitors. It's full of shops, and vendors, and food, and museums, and art gallery's, you get the picture.

The main street is closed to vehicles, so we got the opportunity to wade through a sea of living bodies as we explored the shops. Occassionally, we were with the flow and moved with the living sea, however, more often than not, we were going against the tide. When this happened, we got to seek refuge in one of the many shops lining the streets. There's a ton to see in Insadong and we tried to see it all.

The first thing we did was try out some traditional Korean activities that were part of the Independence Movement Day celebration. We drank citron tea and hot chocolate (Koreans eat with every event, just like black folks!) then we played a Korean stick toss game (I'm positive that is the traditional name!). Ajenai and I sucked, but my friend Keena got 2 sticks in the bucket! May not seem like much but she was the only one of about 30 people that could manage that!

Then we moved into this mall that is built around a central courtyard. It's kinda cool cause you walk up this ramp and it takes you in a spiral all the way to the 4th floor. I mean it's cool if you go with the flow of traffic. Sometimes we were swimming with the fishes on that score, but most of the time it was like a shark feeding frenzy and it was all we could do to duck and cover! Ajenai even pushed this guy cause she said she was tired of getting trampled!

Anyway, before I got side tracked, I was going to tell you that they had some men dressed in traditional Korean clothes and they were making this rice candy that is for sale everywhere in Seoul. The rice paste along with some green vegetable (didn't even wanta ask what it was exactly!) are placed in a wooden bowl and they are mixed together by pounding with a heavy wooden mallet. The man was picking folks from the audience to try and pound the stuff, so of course, I shoved Ajenai forward! She barely pounded the stuff once! And it took her 3 tries to lift the mallet. The audience clapped for her and everyone said how cute she was, and of course I agreed. Then we went into several shops in the mall. It was nice, they had hand made paper stores, clothing stores, and a gang of jewelry stores. The most interesting items were the korean foods (from yummy to icky, mostly icky) and I have attached a link with pictures so you can see everything in living color.

Until next time!