December 24, 2015
(Note: I haven't had time to sufficiently edit these posts, so you get them in raw format directly from my brain to the screen. Yikes.)
I was up at 4:45 and could not go back to sleep. I fell asleep a bit after 1, so if I do the math correctly, that equals not enough sleep. But what can you do when your body is totally awake?
The girls were up early too, so we went into the ‘loud’ hotel room. That’s how I’m differentiating the two. One is the quiet, calm oasis, the other is full of toys, food, and noise.
We spent the morning going through our things, unpacking, organizing photographs, and relaxing. Dusty slept in and says he felt pretty well adjusted to the time. I’m jealous - think it’ll be a couple of days for me.
Brie had to work, so Tyler came over this morning and we walked around town. We had breakfast at a place called Paris Baguette, which had all sorts of pastry items. My kind of heaven!
*photo of the inside of the restaurant
There were beautifully decorated cakes up front. I loved this one:
*photo of fancy decorated cake
And there were a ton more. Note the Star Wars themed cake on the left:
*pic of three shelves of cakes
We enjoyed some visit time and had a relaxing breakfast.
*pic of the kids at breakfast
If you ever wondered, despite their questionable name, sausage donuts are awesome. And not donuts at all.
Dusty forgot a belt, which was awesome because it meant I got to take him to my favorite big city clothing store:
*pic of UNIQLO
I discovered this store in San Francisco on a work trip and visited again in Boston. It was fun to go here in Seoul, too.
The rest of the morning was spent walking around, seeing the sights of nearby Gangnam Station, and getting oriented with the area. And by “getting oriented” I mean following Tyler around without any actual comprehension of where we’re at or where our hotel is located.
Here are some of the fun things we saw:
Here are two pictures of our hotel:
The lobby is all decorated for Christmas:
Check this out. You can have Burger King deliver in a scooter.
*photo of a burger king with little delivery scooters parked in front.
We have some colorful neighbors. Like this giant masked devil hung over the entrance to a bar:
And this panda holding a beer and some chicken or sausages or something:
The buildings are cool here. So many interesting architectural details:
*pic of a tall building that has a wavy exterior:
*pic of a building that looks like it has giant holes cut out of the sides:
This shop display was cool. It has hundreds of books displayed in the window. They're in Korean, but some of them have the same cover as their English counterpart, so it was fun to kind of pick out books we knew:
*pic of Jake and Vali in front of the book display:
Christmas decorations were everywhere. I'm looking forward to seeing more of them at night later this week.
*pic of a lobby of a building with large lighted Christmas tree:
*pic of a large Christmas wreath on a building:
We went down into the subway station to cross a busy street:
*pic of the subway entrance:
There are tons of shops and places to buy stuff down in the station. Vali can't wait to do some real shopping there:
Star Wars is everywhere here too. Storm Trooper photo op!
*pic of me, Jake, and Vali in front of some storm troopers:
We visited a bookstore, where Jake promptly blew a good chunk of his trip money. (That's my boy!)
*pic of Vali in the bookstore:
Dusty enjoyed showing Nati these enormous crabs that were kept in aquariums outside of a seafood restaurant:
One thing I’ve noticed about the people here is that they totally understand people like me who have an obsession with picture taking! Vali was taking a selfie with one of the storm troopers that I showed above and a man walking past gestured to her in a way that indicated that he was offering to take the pic for her. People walk all the way around you so as not to disturb a photo being taken, too. Love!!
We stopped at a grocery store to buy essentials but somehow walked out with beer, wine, and candy. Hmmm. Oh, and grapes. A lady followed us around to make sure we didn’t shoplift anything and at the checkout I got confused about the cash I had in my wallet and the clerk had to point to the bill I needed to give her. D’oh! I felt like a dork.
South Korean Won is the currency. One South Korean Won equals 0.000856 Dollars.
Yeah. That’s hard math. Basically, a 50,000 bill is $43. I’ve been rounding it up in my head to $50, which is easier to calculate in a shopping experience.
Still - all those zeroes! I’ll figure it out, eventually. Or maybe I’ll just deal with the international
transaction fees on my credit card.
transaction fees on my credit card.
Jake bought his college friends some fancy Korean ramen noodles which makes me laugh, because college students love ramen!
We took our groceries back to the hotel and hung out for a bit. Vali and Tyler decorated the hotel room with Christmas decorations to make it look homey and we had presents laid out for tomorrow.
*pics of Christmas decorations
Soon afterward, we popped in the first Lord of the Rings movie. It’s a family tradition to watch the whole series on Christmas break. Unfortunately, everyone except Tyler was passed out by twenty minutes into the movie. So we might have to watch it again.
So we napped.
It wouldn’t be a Reha vacation without having to call a plumber! We had issues with the toilet after Natalie of all people went in there. I know what you’re thinking… “Suurrrrreee! It was Nati who clogged up the toilet.” Honest! I woke from my nap to the sounds of someone working in the bathroom. The plunger didn’t work, so he had to go get a snake. Yikes. It appears to be functioning properly, however. I think I’ll use the bathroom in the “quiet” hotel room from now on.
We got bundled up to head out for dinner. Nati was tired and cold and started crying, so just a few streets away from our hotel, I decided it’d be better to head back to the hotel with her, make her some mac and cheese (they don’t have the radioactive orange Kraft mac n cheese that Nati lives on here, but we came prepared!) and let her go to sleep early, or at least have some downtime while the rest of the group goes out for dinner. It was a wise move, she’s much happier:
*pic of Nati with her mac and cheese.
I told the family to take pictures while they were out to dinner, and this is what they came back with:
*photo of a cheesy slice of Chicago style pizza.
One photo. Amateurs.
The rest of the evening was spent relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. The girls bought face masks to do together:
*pic of Brie and Vali with white cosmetic facial masks on.
We finished up the night watching Christmas Vacation. Tyler had never seen it, so I felt bad for him because the rest of us started cracking up before the funny scenes played.
Well, most of us watched it. Jake's still a bit under the weather:
*pic of Jake sleeping:
We went to bed at 11:30 or so, and at the time I’m writing this, it’s 3:30 a.m. on Christmas morning. I had no idea that jet lag would affect me like this. My internal clock is all kinds of messed up. Dusty and Jake are asleep in the bedroom and living room of this hotel room, so I’m holed up in the kitchen so that the light and sound of my laptop won’t bug them.
I can't believe today is Christmas! It feels so strange to be on the other side of the world for Christmas. Santa made a visit to the quiet hotel room while Brie, Tyler, and the girls slept in the loud hotel room. I wonder when they’ll all be over to see what Santa brought. I’m guessing it’ll be an early morning.
Plans for today include opening presents, coffee, some kind of mid day meal, coffee, a subway ride to Christmas mass, and probably some more coffee. The hotel rooms don’t have traditional drip coffee makers here, but they have this amazing electric kettle that heats up water in like a minute. (I need to remember to look for one of these back home.) Instead of ground coffee, they have little packets of instant coffee. I thought they’d be horrid - I’m not a fan of instant coffee - but they’re awesome! Thanks to the sugar and powdered 'cream' included. I even bought a big box to bring home. So I’m set on coffee. Hmmm… do you think there might be a correlation between my love of these things and the fact that I’m unable to sleep? :)
I’m so thankful that we are spending the holidays together this year. I miss our extended family, and the thought that this is our first Christmas without my dad is never far from my mind. But I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be at this second than here.
Merry Christmas to you all!