Birthday Eats

First, thank you all for the wonderful birthday wishes. What better way to tell you about my birthday than to showcase all of the delicious food that I enjoyed yesterday?

My day was off to a great start when I didn’t even have to leave bed to enjoy coffee and breakfast. Alex’s first surprise of the day was breakfast in bed, complete with coffee (necessary) and delicious, cinnamon-y French toast (a nice weekday breakfast surprise). I’ve been petitioning to make coffee-in-bed a daily routine, but I’m not quite sure it will catch on.

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Next birthday treat was cake at work. This was both a nice gesture and a glimpse into Korean culture. My boss very nicely bought me a cake, and had all of the teachers sing me happy birthday before we went out to get the kids off the bus. Then, it was done. No one wished me a happy birthday, or anything of the sort (except my fellow foreigners). I didn’t care; it was more just an interesting thing to note. They actually thought that my real birthday was on Monday, and no one said anything to me then either. A work day is a work day, and a birthday isn’t much different. Anyway, here is the cake that I ate out of a Dixie cup with chopsticks, Korean style:

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It’s topped with macarons and is from a bakery called Paris Baguette…but let’s not go there.

Here, my birthday lunch:

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I was sooo full from lunch (I get curry and I get donkatsu, but never the two of them together), that I couldn’t even eat any of the usual afternoon snacks I get from my kids.

After work, Alex took me out to our favorite Indian restaurant for dinner:

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It was pouring rain all day and all night yesterday, but that didn’t stop us from dressing up, braving the elements and getting our fill of delicious curries (chicken badshahi and beef vindaloo), garlic naan and samosas:

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A perfect end to a wonderful birthday!

So, What’s the Deal?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people back home about the situation between North and South Korea right now. I’m no expert on the politics of the situation, but I can tell you what I’ve noticed about it since coming here.

First, the tension between the two Koreas seem to be far more present on the Western news than it is on Korean news. When I’ve had occasion to catch the news here, there has been far more coverage of baseball than of impending nuclear disaster (I think they have their priorities straight). 

I feel like South Koreans are much more used to, if not necessarily comfortable with, their crazy neighbor-to-the-north. If Canada suddenly started threatening war against the United States tomorrow, then yes, it would be all over the news worldwide. But if Canada was always crazy, and always threatening us and our allies, then it becomes a bit more normalized. 

Yes, South Korea and the US have started taking more precautions. Yes, the North is acting a little crazier than usual. It’s slightly unnerving, but South Koreans themselves don’t seem nearly as worried as the media would have us believe. Until they break coverage of Hyun-Jin Ryu, the star Korean pitcher that the Dodgers are about to sign, I’m not going to panic. 

(Note: I was going to mention that I have not heard any South Koreans discussing North Korea since coming here, but that seemed like an unfair statement because I also cannot understand 99.9% of Korean conversation. So I stuck to what I can observe on the news, which is accompanied with helpful moving pictures.)

My Week in Review

Several things have made this week pretty amazing:

1) The arrival of not one, but two care packages from my wonderful mother, filled with peanut butter, granola, chocolate and perhaps most excitingly, a mattress pad!! My freshly washed sheets are currently drying and I hope to be sleeping like a baby on my new bed by tonight. 

2) A field trip with school yesterday. We went to a science museum (where they decided to show a bunch of 5-and-6-year-olds a birthing video, for some reason? One girl looked like she was going to pass out), then took a walk to see the cherry blossoms by the beach. It made for a very pleasant, non-teaching morning/early afternoon (even if I was specifically assigned to Space Cadet 1 and Space Cadet 2, aka Brad and Phillip, to make sure neither wandered out into traffic while gazing at the pretty flowers). 

3) A visit from Rachel! The real reason this week was so awesome.

She arrived from Beijing last Saturday (and was from here on out known as “Tara’s friend from China”), and we headed down to the beach to celebrate Ashley and Rachel’s birthdays. It was a little chilly, but nice and relaxing.

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On Sunday, we had quite the busy day. We kicked things off with a trip to the other beach, Haeundae:

ImageThis is the large and touristy beach in Busan, and is where the aquarium is located. Which was our next stop:

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I love aquariums, and this one was no exception. My only complaint was that it was all underground, and I do enjoy when aquariums mix indoor and outdoor exhibits. But everything we saw was really cool. I especially enjoyed the terrifying-and-crazily colored eels, and the jellies.

Our next stop on Sunday was Shinsegae at Centum City, the largest department store in the world:

ImageTo say it is friggin’ huge is an understatement. It has 14 levels, not even including the couple below-ground levels. Each brand, instead of having its own section, has it’s own little store. They ranged from Chanel to H&M. There is also an enormous spa, a skating rink, a movie theatre and a movie/dinner theatre. It was impressive, but we mostly just went to have a quick look around.

Oh, and because it’s me and Rachel, you know that this week involved some good eats as well:

ImageOnigiri (rice balls) from the Japanese restaurant that we went to the other night

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A couple nights of Korean BBQ

ImageAnother trip to Spoonbread, which I knew Rachel would enjoy- salad, cranberry-walnut bread and grapefruit jam

ImageSausage corn crepe x2

ImageOur delicious (and complimentary) dessert of strawberries, fresh cream and some sort of vegan chocolate delight.

It was great having Rachel here, and was a good excuse to enjoy some new touristy activities and delicious meals out. And now I must sign off to start my Friday. Later!