A Korean Wedding

A couple of weekends ago we had the chance to see a Korean wedding. It was a great experience and one of those things we can check off our list of things to see and do in Korea.

What it was like:

The ceremony: it was a beautiful room! It was at a Wedding Hall Centre where all they do is weddings. There is an area off the room where the ceremony will be where the bride sits for pictures with the guests before the wedding. They do not do the ‘hide-the-bride-till-the-walking-down-the-isle’ thing. The wedding is very casual. People were not dressed differently than they would normally be dressed and there was quite a lot of socially acceptable talking going on during the ceremony.

The dress: there were 3 or 4 dresses between the photos that were taken weeks before and the dress worn the day of. There was also Korean Hanbok they wore after the wedding. But I think the most important: besides the Hanbok, all the dresses were rental!! Why don’t we do this in Canada!! She was able to have different dresses at a very reasonable price (much, much, much cheaper than buying one dress).

The cake: it was big and white…. but, it was really frickin’ tall!! and they cut the cake from the very top to the very bottom which was cool. There was also a champagne tower which was a nice addition. Something different: both were equiped with fog machines.

Before

After

The food: after the ceremony you take the coupon you were given when you handed in your gift (the gift is normally money and this goes to the Brides Family in order to pay for the wedding, not to the couple) and head to the dinning room where there is a big delicious buffett. There were guests from the other weddings there as its a communal area and you ate before the couple came to the room.

The dancing: there was none. After you ate and the cake was cut (I didn’t see anyone touch the cake or champagne tower), you went home!

A different version of a similar tradition. Works for me!

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Job World: The Day in the Life of a Kinder Kid

Last month, on our monthly field trip day, we went to Job World (website is all Korean). Think of a big science centre but instead of seeing cool science experiments, kids can try out a career!

Our group ventured to the kids floor (their is a teen area as well) which was an immense room with a central  area that had a second floor but was otherwise a wide and tall warehouse.  Kids had the opportunity to try out a career at a: supermarket, auto service station, construction site, social welfare centre, restaurant, graffiti studio, hair salon, dressmaker’s shop, recording studio, performing arts school, magician’s school, dinosaur camp, bioengineering research instititue, robotics research institute, animation studio, interior design studio, operating room, nursery, dental clinic, and much, much more!

How it works: kids pick a career they want to try and step into a kids only space with staff who get them dressed up in the applicable costume/uniform and perform the best parts of the different jobs. They spend about 40 min per stop. Sandy and I want to share the experience of one of our students who had a rockin’ day!

1st Career: Firefighter

Job world fire station

They got to ride a tiny firetruck and then ‘put out’ a fire (a poster with lights behind it that they sprayed water at).IMG_20121115_095836

2nd Career: Korea Restaurant

They made some traditional snacks.

(sorry no pic)

3rd Career: Letter Carrier

Job World Post Office

He got to deliver a package to one of the near by ‘restaurants’ (I missed it! and like a parent, I was kicking myself for the rest of the day!)

4th Career: Astronaut

space man Jun

The cutest photo ever!

Do we have a centre like this in Canada? It was amazing!

Chuseok, T&S Style

So, last post I told you a little about what it is like around Chuseok. Now, I would like to share what WE got up to during the break

We went to Lotte World!

Oh, we had so much fun! I felt like a kid! I was practically running one way and then another saying, ‘we can do this and then we can do that, and this, then that, and OH we have to do this, too!!!!’.

It is, apparently, the largest indoor amusement park in the world (I think Galaxy Land in West Edmonton Mall is next) but there is a whole other section outside! It was great.

One major plus was that we went on Chuseok which meant that it was empty. Don’t get me wrong, it was still busy, but relatively speaking, it was dead! We also got a huge discount because of the foreigner special they have over Chuseok (I would assume so they can draw in their most likely customers during the holiday). Normally, you would pay about $80 (CAD) for the two of us, but we ended up getting in for $30 (CAD)!!

The theme was Halloween and so there were decorations everywhere.

There was also a parade with floats, actors, mascots and dancers. Their costumes all had lights, it was pretty cool as far as a parade goes.

We went on a lot of rides because the lines were really not that long. This was our favourite.

I loved it because 1. it was a roller-coaster… obviously my favourite. 2. something new for me was that it came to a stop halfway through the ride then started up another big hill and continued on with the excitement. It was great! It made it feel like two separate rides. The excitement/fear built again as you went up another hill! and yet somehow it didn’t slow down the experience, just gave you a pause for breath. Nicely done Lotte World.

Speaking of which, I should make a quick note about the name of the place. Lotte is a company that has their fingers in many things in Korea. There is the grocery/department store, a McDonald’s type chain called Lotteria, as well as sports teams and food manufacturers. A BIG conglomerate company in South Korea. Check out the ridiculousness of their reach here. Anyways, this is one of many of their projects.

Finally, I should mention that we stayed at Lotte Hotel World, a very snazzy hotel that normally we could never afford! But, again, there were ridiculous deals to be found on-line so we decided to give it a shot. Oh my was it nice. (Only the Four Seasons in Amman, Jordan tops this on my scales! But that’s a whole other story!) I was amazed by the interesting in-room options they provided:

In the drawer by the bed you will find a New Testament (pretty standard in Canada), The Teaching of Buddha (very cool to see), and The Sorrows of Young Werther (what the? what? they give you boring literature to read so you can fall asleep?) which includes a story of where the name Lotte comes from. Lastly, you can see a Pillow Menu. That’s right. You can choose from over 15 different types of pillows. All for your comfort.

For all your business needs! Need paper clips? a highlighter? a stapler? staples for your stapler? Lotte Hotel World has your needs covered!
What’s that? you need a phone while in town? Pick it up off the charger and you are ready to go. All incoming local calls are free.

All in all, we had a great time. It was fun to feel like a kid as well as to get some good relaxation in!

추석 Chuseok

Hi everyone!! We are still here! We have been very busy and so haven’t had time to post! But here is some interesting stuff from the beginning of the month.

The end of Sept. early Oct was Chuseok, THE most important holiday in Korea. People all flee the cities and go to visit their extended families back in the country side. Towns and cities are deserted!

The preparations for the holiday were quite impressive. Something like Christmas I guess but without the decorations. Everywhere you see gift packs! I understand that giving these gifts is more the rule than the exception. But don’t worry, there are a lot of options to choose from!

You can see that some of the staff are wearing traditional dresses

I think one of the best parts of Chuseok for us foreigners was getting to see some 한복 hanbok – traditional Korean clothing. There are entire stores dedicated to custom made hanbok but they also sold ‘cheap’ ($50-$120) hanbok for kids at the grocery/department stores.

THE best part chuseok was that we were honoured to have the chance to wear some of the clothing when a student’s mom and our co-worker’s husband leant us their hanbok.

Around Osan

Here are some quick hits from around Osan:

Here are some pictures of the beautiful Lily flower/coffee shop we go to.

It’s nice on a day when you have been inside for hours and hours and you can take a walk to the store and it smells deliciously of flowers and plants. Mmmm, I like when the inside smells like the outside!

Suspiciously, however, ALL the plants I buy from there die. And that’s like 4 plants! What’s up Lily? What IS up?

One day on our way to said coffee shop we saw these two friends.

A bird mid-flight. And. A praying mantis! And this is no regular mantis! The coolest thing ever was seeing him fight off this BIRD. He raised his arms and unfolded his wings and stood tall and stared that bird down. The bird kinda hopped from one side to another, a little confused at his desire to eat something that was fighting back, but the mantis turned with him. I think the bird was about to go for it when we walked a bit close and the bird took off. I was like, Yes! score one for the ‘little guys’ and then… he was squished by a car…. I feel a little responsible… sorry guy…

Lastly, a little while ago we took a walk down by the river and although it was grey, it was pretty. Nice and green. No valley with this river, though! It’s pretty flat!

On our way home we stopped in a park and noticed these lovely ladies.

I was impressed to see such bootylicious women considering how small and skinny most women are here. It’s great that these gals are in the park and perhaps they will get kids thinking that there are people that come of all shapes and sizes!

Well, I hope that gives you an idea of what we generally see walking around Osan.

Around Seoul: Dog and Cat Cafés

When you walk in all the dogs go nuts! They investigate and then go back to lying around or being pet.

On our way back to Osan from Hiroshima, we stopped in 홍대 Hongdae, an area in Seoul. They have a big university there so it has a very campus-y feel to it with lots of coffee shops (soooo many), and bars and little boutique style clothing stores. It reminded us a lot of the Strathcona/University area of Edmonton where we are from.

One reason we were attracted to the area: the animal cafes. Here you can visit a coffee shop where dogs and (in separate locations) cats lounge around. You can pet them, play with them, or simply exist in their presence; all of which Sandy and I needed.

Hairy legs AND nail polish? Who is that?

It’s tough not being able to have an animal when you want one and apparently this is the niche market that these cafés appeal to. If you do have a pet, you can bring them to the locations and have them socialize with other animals. I have even heard that there are some cafés that act as doggie daycares in that you leave your pet with them and they will take of it and there will be people to play and hang out with them, too.

Notice the shelves and cat walks (ha, literally) where the cats are free to roam and, if need be, get away from all the people.

The cafés we went to seemed to have animals owned by the place. They were all well taken care of with nice hair cuts and clean, brushed fur. My only concern was that the dogs seemed a little dehydrated as I didn’t see water dishes around and they all got very excited at my glass of water. Maybe they limit the water intake to limit the pee on the floor??

He was friendly and adorable. I want one!

Speaking of which, the dogs were somewhat trained to go poop and pee in one area off to the side but it wasn’t quite perfect. But, the staff kept the place clean with mops and while it did smell overwhelmingly like dog, it didn’t smell like a doggie bathroom. As for the cats, I can only assume that they had litter boxes out of sight.

At the dog café, when you were ready to go you gave your bill to the golden retriever and it would bring it up to the front, put his big paws up on a half door and give it to the woman who worked the register! So cute!


Pass him the bill and he will bring it up to the front!

宮島Miyajima Island, Japan

Our last post about our trip to Japan is about our day trip to Miyajima Island. We took a 30 min train from Hiroshima southbound and then a 15 min ferry to the island. We were in for some surprises!

First: have you ever been to a national park in the Rockies? Ever wonder why some tourists are so bold when approaching animals (never approach animals!!). Well, this Island may give reason to why some people who live or have visited this island may do just that. These deer are tame.  Not just tame as in allow people to see them. They are like goats at a petting zoo!

They will approach YOU (and try and eat paper you are holding… they love paper). They are comfortable in crowds and you can even touch them!

There were more people there too before I could get my camera out.

Oh, god. What a bad idea! Sandy was pretty freaked out…

We visited a temple and some other sites while we were there

but that was not as memorable as this next part. (No pics for this part for the sake of your heebie-jeebie’s and for mine! There is a funny video (unrelated!) at the end, though!)

We went on a ‘nature walk’. First, this was a hike, not a pleasant walk. But that was nothing compared to the other surprise. We think this hike should be named “1000 Spider Obstacle Course”.  Seriously, the most spiders we have seen in our lives! And these are no small house spiders. They are ugly.

They hung from the trees and in the bushes and many, many were draped across the path. Now, we have to assume that this was not a popular hike and it had been taken back by the forest (of spiders) but I really think that there is a never ending line of spiders ready to take the place of the fallen like rows of teeth growing in one after another. *shiver*

Now, the smart person would have turned back. We did not. We persevered. It was stupid. The map led us to believe that the hike was short so we were always thinking, we are almost there we are almost there…. it was a 45-60 hike. Yikes. Sandy would take the webs down across the paths so we could sneak by, but no joke, we did crawl hands and knees under one that hung face high across the path and was HUUUGE. (After that, you definitely don’t go back!)

We arrived on the other side and were soaking wet with sweat. I could squeeze out my shirt and have water pouring out (same with the bun in my hair!).

*Sigh*

But it was all worth it! Because, the beach we arrived at had a park and campground and they had facilities in which we saw this:

and captured this.

So funny. It just kept unrolling and then even with Sandy and I there, he just wanted to get back to the TP.

Talk to you soon!

ps. you may notice that that video is on youtube! I will be adding vids from time to time so check out my channel!

Around… Hiroshima

From our time in Japan, here are a few items that are difficult-to-categorize (My first phrase of choice was ‘un-categorizable’ but apparently ‘that’s not a word’. Whatever spell check, whatever.)

First up: A beautiful park outside the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum:

With the biggest koi fish that we have ever seen:

These pics do not give them justice; I was a afraid of these things. (You may also notice a sneaky extra in that last photo).

Second and on the topic of nature:

I spoke of the only remaining building that was built pre 1945. Well, these are a few trees that also survived the blast.

Finally:

We don’t normally talk about alcohol on the blog but these were really different. It was typical draft beer but they really held back on any kind of foamy head. That is, until they brought the beer to this frozen drink machine and gave our drink a healthy dose of frozen head. That is an actual icecream-like swirl on that beer made with slushy-ish beer! (Ya, I said ‘slushy-ish’, spell check be damned!)

Talk to you later!

Hiroshima’s Memorial Park

Our main interest in visiting Hiroshima over any other city in Japan, was of course, its history. We were interested by this city’s historical importance and being so close we had to take up the opportunity. It was well worth it.Thousands of paper cranes can be found in the memorial park

The city has done a wonderful job memorializing the event of August 6, 1945 and all the people who were killed or otherwise affected by the first use of an atomic bomb. They have taken an area of town at the epicentre of the blast and created a park with numerous monuments to specific groups as well as museums and fountains. It was beautiful and moving.

Seeing the images of the city in the days after the bomb were very shocking. Even though I am sure that I had seen these images before in history class or when watching TLC with my family, they had a much more moving impact when you were standing in the city where it all occurred.

On top of that, it was impressive to look around and realise that this gorgeous city is brand new, as everything had to be completely rebuilt in the years following 1945. The ONLY building that remains from before the blast is the famous Atomic Dome (as seen above and below) or Genbaku Dome as it was called prior to the drop of the bomb.

We were both impressed by the entire feeling of the park and its museums. The memorial park and its museums never pushed a feeling of victimhood. Rather, it attempted to present a complete picture of what happened in the time leading up to and following the bombing. There was a lasting message about the importance of remembrance of what happened and what should never happen again in the future.

Relatedly, something that was really important to us since living in Korea was the recognition of those Korean folk who were affected by the blast. Impressively, there was explicit recognition of the Korean people that died that day who were in Hiroshima under coercion because of the colonial rule by Japan.

Hiroshima is now recognized as the “City of Peace” and actively pursues the end to all testing and use of nuclear weapons.

Looking for more info? You can click here or here or check out this very thorough Wikipedia page for more info on the park.