Saturday, October 22, 2005

Wedding #2

Yesterday the rain finally ended, and I headed out on my walk to the store. It was REALLY chilly and windy - I had to wear my leather jacket, and I wished I had brought my wool cap. Stocked up on a few items, although I realized last night at movie time that I forgot the popcorn. On several trips to the store recently, I noticed my favorite Korean singer Chaeyeon promoting automotive products:

Chaeyeon Selling Automotive Products Posted by Picasa

I don't know if that is a sign of increasing or decreasing popularity. In America, I would think that a celebrity who was selling auto cleaning products was declining in popularity, if not already out of circulation. But things may be different in Korea.

I need to watch the remaining DVDs in my collection, so last night I sat through the nearly 3 hours of "Saving Private Ryan". I don't know why I've waited so long to see it (probably I didn't have 3 free hours), but it was an excellent movie.

Today was CH and HS wedding day, and around noon-time my friend WJ came to get me. On the way to the wedding hall, we passed an inredible sight. There was an old man pushing a bicycle, with a tree about 8 feet (2-1/2 m) tall on the carrier! Wow. I took a photo, but he was already across the street by the time my camera powered up. I need a faster camera. The photo is a bit blurry, but you can see the tree.

Mobile Tree on a Bike Posted by Picasa

We arrived at the wedding hall, about 10 minutes or more early. However, it took about 15 minutes to get a parking space. Apparently the wedding hall doesn't have enough parking spaces. Initially I was surprised at this. But, I guess it should come as no surprise, since there are parking shortages everywhere. We arrived at the wedding room just in time to see the groom and bride walking down to the front of the room to being the wedding. I wish my camera was already warmed up, because I would have loved to photograph the ladies with swords who ushered them into the aisle. It was impressive. I also met CH's mother and brother for the first time.

CH+HS Wedding Day Posted by Picasa

We saw the whole western wedding ceremony, and stayed afterwards to watch the photo session. We participated in one photo with CH and his friends. Then we went to the dining hall, and ate an incredile Korean lunch. By that time, it was nearly 2pm and everyone was so hungry. This wedding dinner was a little different from the wedding 2 weeks ago - this one was a buffet style meal. The selection of dishes was great, and I ended up with some very delicious foods, some of which I had not eaten before. A few of them were REALLY spicy, too. Again, I continue to be amazed at the quantity of food that these thin Korean women can eat. At our table, were two wives of some of CH friends (I won't even give initials to avoid even the remote possibility of embarassment). They each returned to the buffet table for a second plate piled high with food, and one of them ate dessert, too. I am a big man, and eat a lot of food (just ask Mrs. Stumbler). But I could only eat about 1-1/2 plates of this food, while these small ladies packed away 2 full plates. I envy the metabolism of these Korean women....

Finally, we finished up and headed home. Ran into CH on the way out, fully dressed in Korean Hanbok:

The Stumbler and CH (in the Hanbok) Posted by Picasa

Finally, let me quote something I read on a website that I found hilarious. I was looking up the spelling of a Korean dish that I will eat tonight with my friend SC. I sometimes use this website as a rough guide to some popular Korean foods. This dish, budae-jjiggae has an interesting history, involving SPAM. I just loved this quote....

"To get the right taste of this dish, Spam sausage should be added."

Friday, October 21, 2005

Stumbling Summary

I have prepared a nice summary of our trip, highlighting the places we went each day, and including direct links to the corresponding blog entry. It was not easy to post on the blog, because it messed up the page display - the table was too wide. So I am simply providing a link to it - click here. I will make a link to it from the side-bar of the blog, too.


Today's story begins with some background on my Korean trash and recycling experiences, so bear with me. Conceptually, the trash is not much different from my city in America, with both trash collection and recycling programs. In Korea, they recycle paper, cardboard, plastic, styrofoam, glass jars and bottles, and aluminum and steel cans (some cities in America probably do take all these items, although my city only takes cans, plastic and paper). I typically save up until the bag(s) get full, and then I carry them to the basement recycling bins. Since I can't read the labels, I have to look inside each bin and figure out what goes where. Thankfully, I have never visited the bins just after they were emptied, or I would be in trouble! Trash is not too much different than America, except that in Seoul there are special trash bags you must purchase according to the "dong" you live in. My guess (unconfirmed) is that this is how the garbage collection is funded, because the bags are more expensive than I think they should be - I think I paid about US$7 for 20 bags (20 liter size).

One funny experience these past couple weeks has been the recycling bins belonging to the neighboring apartment building. They are located almost opposite my bedroom window, and I like to sleep with the window open to get some fresh Seoul air as I sleep. Mrs. Stumber was amazed at how much noise is being made all night long. Many noises you would associate with the city, like cars and the occassional siren. However, there seemed to be an excessive amount of glass breakage going on. I finally decided that apartment must pay the guard to step outside to the bin every 15 minutes and break a few bottles. Mrs. Stumbler's theory is that apartment residents located directly above the recycling bins were just dropping their bottles out their windows into the bins all night long as they were drinking.

Now let me explain the wet garbage. In Korea, apparently a kitchen sink garbage disposal is unusual. Instead, we have been instructed to save all the normal "wet" kitchen garbage. Until last week, this garbage was kept in a small plastic bag located on the wall over the sink, the bag sits inside a small plastic holder with a suction cup to hold it on the wall. Even though we don't to this in my family at home in America, some people do it to save the wet garbage for garden compost, for example. Here is a photo of that bag:

Wet Garbage the Old Way Posted by Picasa

When it fills up, or smells too bad, you take it downstairs to the wet garbage bins. These are easy to identify by their smell - there is no need to understand the Korean words or to look inside. Before, I would just drop my bag into the bin. However, I think you're supposed to untie the bag, empty it into the bin, and throw away the bag separately. I haven't done that, because I want to minimize the exposure to that bad smell - if I get caught, I will just pretend to be a dumb American who doesn't know the rules.

Two weeks ago, all residents were issued one of these official wet garbage pails. Here it is:

Special Wet Garbage Pail Assembled Posted by Picasa

Dis-assembled Posted by Picasa

A clever idea, but there is one problem with it. Before, I could take the garbage with me on my way out. But with this thing, I have to bring it back upstairs to my apartment. I'm not sure it is an improvement. You will notice there is a flat plate with a handle, and a spigot on the bottom of the bucket. You can squeze the wet garbage by pressing down on the plate, and collect the juice for making health drinks.

Okay, finally I'll get on with today' story. It was raining in the morning, but it looked clearer at lunch time. I headed out to have the shrimp rice porridge for lunch. As I was preparing to leave, I said to myself, "let me just take one bag of the recycling down with me". Well, I should have listened to myself. I kept grabbing more bags, and soon my hands were full of 4 bags and one full box. At this point, I probably would have been safe, but, I decided to go ahead and get the wet garbage pail from the sink. I stuffed it into the already full box, and headed out. As I entered the hallway, and tried to close the door behind me, I dropped everything and the garbage pail spilled on the floor. Yuccccckkkkkk. I had to clean up the mess, oh what a bad smell.

I finally got everything put in the proper bins, returned the garbage pail to the apartment. Oh - one other bad thing, I have to wash out the pail, too. One more thing to wash. I went out to lunch, and decided to canel my trip to the store. It was raining too much for the walk. Maybe later this afternoon I will go if it clears up.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


This morning we woke up very early, the girls finished their last minute packing, and we ate a quick breakfast. My friend WJ came to pick us up and take everyone to Incheon Airport. We arrived ok, checked in without any problems, and I said goodbye to Mrs. Stumbler and the Young Stumbling Girls.

Saying Goodbyes at Incheon Airport Posted by Picasa

On the way out of the parking lot, we saw this unusual sight, apparently a movie scene was being filmed. Most interesting.

Filming Movie Scene Posted by Picasa

The rest of today will be some business meetings, and I will dig into all the spicy Korean foods I have been missing the past two weeks.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Last Day

Wednesday morning the Stumbling Family did some packing. We were a little worried that everything would fit into the suitcases, but so far so good.

Mrs. Stumbler Packing Posted by Picasa

We headed out to Insadong late in the morning for some last minute shopping. Mrs. Stumbler had some specific items she was looking for, so I thought it would be a quick trip. Unfortunately, probably 50% of the stores along Insadong street sell these items, so the shopping was not as efficient as I had hoped. But, we had a good time. Around lunch time we headed out in search of some western food. It took some time to find a suitable place, and I was drooling at the delicious Korean food places we were passing. Finally, we stumbled on a McDonalds, which made everyone happy. Afterwards, we enjoyed an ice cream cone for only W300 (30 cents).

When searching for a lunch spot, we came across this ice cream and fruit store that was just opening. YS#4 got to meet an exceptionally tall Korean man, as seen in the photo below.

YS#4 Greets Very Tall Korean Posted by Picasa

After lunch, Mrs. Stumbler wanted to make just one more purchase, and then we headed home. On the walk back to the apartment, YS#3 wanted one of the waffles from the street vendor. I told her she could get one, but would have to make the purchase by herself. I would not help. She gave it a try, and was successful, as you can see.

YS#3 Makes a Purchase from the Street Vendor Posted by Picasa

We arrived back home, and the packing continued. Most difficult was how to fit all the new purchases into the suitcases, but Mrs. Stumbler is also an expert packer. It would appear everything fits well. Tonight we are eating a big salad and some fruits for dinner. Mrs. Stumbler will also prepare cheese nachos this evening as a snack.

Okay - today's Konglish alert comes from a toilet paper vending machine outside the bathroom at one of the subway stations. Mrs. Stumbler's keen eye found this one for me, which I promptly photographed while nearby Koreans were looking at me very strangely.

Konglish Alert Posted by Picasa

That's all. We need to sleep early tonight, because we leave for the airport at 7am in the morning.

Daebu Island

Tuesday we headed off for our adventure in the countryside with SC. Our plan was to go to Daebu Island, eat lunch, and drive around the country for awhile to see some farms and fishing places. Well, on leaving Seoul the traffic was bad, and it took longer to get there than we thought. We stopped briefly on the causeway to have a walk around, look at the fishing boats at low tide, and enjoy the fresh smells of the sea.

On the Road to Daebu-Do Posted by Picasa

Looking for Speeders Posted by Picasa

We arrived right at lunch time, and decided to eat first. Last time I went to Daebu Island, we ate shellfish. This time, since it was shrimp season, and the Stumbling Family likes shrimp better, we decided to have shrimp for lunch. Let me say this was the freshest shrimp meal that I and the Stumbling Family have ever eaten.

Fresh Shrimp for Lunch Posted by Picasa

Roasted over Fire on a Bed of Salt Posted by Picasa

YS#4 Enjoys her Seaweed Soup Posted by Picasa

Side Dish of Kalguksu (Handmade Noodle Soup) Posted by Picasa

Everyone, including the Stumbler who has seen almost all styles of Korean food, were a little surprised when the waiter brought a bucket of live shrimp to the table, fresh from the water. They were wiggling and jumping around - they did not want to be the lunch menu, I think. He threw them onto the pot, which was lined with a thick layer of salt, and they proceeded to roast. The live shrimp have a dark gray or green color, which quickly changes to the usual pink color when cooked. Although many Koreans eat them with the head and shells, we preferred to remove the head and peel them, western-style. But still, they were delicious. And as previously noted, VERY fresh.

Well, our plans for touring the Daebu Island country side were shot when we realized the time after we ate lunch - we had to arrive back in Seoul for a 4pm performance at the Chongdong Theatre. So, we drove back to Seoul, and arrived at the theatre in time to buy our tickets and have a cup of green tea before the show started. This is the second time I have seen the show, the first time was in 2002. I really love it, especially like the musical performances. I have been bothering my friend CH since 2002 to find me a CD or DVD of the show. I asked after the show, and they still don't have it available - maybe next year I was told. I guess I have been waiting since 2002, so what's another year. We weren't allowed to take photos in the theatre, so here's one I got from their website:

Chongdong Theatre - Fan Dance Photo from their Website Posted by Picasa

We were going to meet CH for dinner after the show, but it was over a little earlier than we planned. So we went to a tea shop next door and ordered a variety of different Korean teas. My tea was called the "Five Tastes" tea - it reportedly was a blend of all five tastes - Sweet, Bitter, Sour, Salty and Pungent. Mrs. Stumbler pointed out that the tongue only has FOUR tastes, not five. I searched on the internet, and found this link - apparently there is some disagreement over this topic. In the west, we say there are 4 tastes, and in China they say there are 5. Anyway, the tea was delicious, but I couldn't count all 5 tastes. Mrs. Stumbler says that eating so much spicy food in Korea has killed all my taste buds!

Well, for dinner CH joined us at one of my favorite fusion restaurants - in Italian place near Seodaemun Station. YS#3 was especially happy at the dinner last night. They were playing western music, and she was able to order lasagna, one of her favorites. We had an excellent meal, and headed home on the train.

Last night we watched the final movie IN MY DVD BOX SET of the Pink Panther series, "The Trail of the Pink Panther". Initially, something seemed strange about this movie - some of the scenes were repeats from earlier films. The first 20 minutes of the film was exceptionally funny, however. I was laughing so hard my stomach and jaw hurt - I had to stop the movie to take a short break. But after that, the movie went downhill. Also, I have seen these movies all in the past, and something was bothering me. I know about some funny scenes from these movies that we did not see during the past two weeks. I got tired of the movie, and went searching on the internet. Turns out this movie we were watching was made AFTER Peter Sellers had died, and was just archive footage of him, either repeats of old scenes or scenes that had been cut from old movies. Furthermore, I learned that my Pink Panther DVD Box Set actually OMITS one of the movies, due to some movie studio licensing issue ("The Return of the Pink Panther").

Today is the last day of the Stumbling Family's visit. We will go shopping at Insadong for some items Mrs. Stumbler wants to buy, then in the afternoon they will complete their packing. I am thinking I will take them to eat something spicy and Korea tonight - we'll see....

Konglish Alert. First, let me report on Monday's Konglish Alert, which I forgot to include in Monday's post. At the grocery store, there was a checkout counter with the following label (sorry I didn't photograph it): "Special Counter for the Disabled and Pregnant Lady." Is pregnancy a disability? Or do you have to be both pregnant AND disabled to use this counter? Konglish alert from yesterday comes from the bathroom, as seen in the below photo.

Daily Konglish Alert Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 17, 2005

Palace Day

Today, Monday, we left on a palace adventure. We began the day with SC going to the Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁). It was a beautiful day for an outdoor activity like this. We had initially planned to see a couple of castles, but after seeing this huge spectacular castle for a couple hours, we decided we'd seen enough for this trip. I noticed a small speck on some of my recent photos, so I tried to wipe off the lens today with my handkerchief. I made it MUCH worse, some of these photos may have a blurry spot. Mrs. Stumbler just cleaned it properly with some tissues, so hopefully tomorrows shots will be clearer.

A Beautiful Day at Gyeongbokgung Posted by Picasa

Spectacular Ceiling Details Posted by Picasa

Sundial - Solar Time 10:45, Clock Time 11:05 Posted by Picasa

The "Most Beautiful Chimney" of the Joseon Dynasty Posted by Picasa

Part of the Gyeongbokgung complex includes a nice Korean National Folklore Museum. Initially, I said to myself - "Oh no, not another Folk Museum". But this one was quite nice. I saw some new and interesting things, and had a good time. This one was busy with elementary school students, all of them carrying notebooks and clipboards. Mrs. Stumbler says the teacher gives them an assignment before arriving at the museum, and they have to answer questions as they tour the exhibits. She says this is necessary for this age group, to keep them "on the task". They seemed to be having a good time, and actually seemed to be enjoying themselves more than some of the high school students I saw wandering around in some other museum this trip.

The Stumbler - I'm a Tiger Posted by Picasa

YS#4 - She's a Dragon Posted by Picasa

After touring the Palace, the grounds, and the museum, we headed off for some western lunch (for some reason the Stumbling Family never votes for Korean meals....) We went to this Pizza Hut, and had some delicious barbecue chicken pizza on my favorite cheese crust.

Lunch At Pizza Hut Posted by Picasa

After lunch, SC suggested we visit the Seoul World Cup Stadium in Mapo-gu, which has a nice park. What he didn't tell us was that the park is located atop of a mountain at about 10,000 feet elevation, or 3000 meters for my Korea friends (well, that's a slight exaggeration). We headed up this super long, winding walking path. We made it to the "top", although not quite to the park itself, and decided to wimp out and head down the stairs. Many, many, many stairs.

SC and YS#4 on the Mountain Posted by Picasa

Seoul World Cup Stadium Posted by Picasa

Bridge Over the River Han Posted by Picasa

Down, Down, Down the Stairs Posted by Picasa

Tonight the movie was #4 in the series, "Revenge of the Pink Panther", and I made some special popcorn by mixing taco seasoning with the popcorn - delicious. Tomorrow we're off to Daebu-do for some seafood.