63 Building

Maya and I were invited to go 63 Building in Seoul by our friend Jane and her kids.  As you can already guess, there are 63 stories.  It houses major financial companies as well as an aquarium, art gallery, wax museum, observation deck, shopping mall, IMAX theater, convention center, and banquet hall.  Jane had an extra ticket for the aquarium and observation deck on the 63rd floor.

The aquarium is called “Seaword.”  Seaworld doesn’t mean the same thing here as it does back home.  But the aquarium was pretty awesome.  We even got to catch a couple of shows where a person was in the tank playing the animals.  Maya had a great time with Andrew and Elise.

wpid-20140704_162600.jpg      wpid-20140704_162452.jpg wpid-20140704_153111.jpg

The tube is for the otters.  Pretty cool but Maya was a little scared.

wpid-20140704_153709.jpg      wpid-20140704_153813.jpg

It’s not an aquarium without “Nemo” and “Dory.”

wpid-20140704_153909.jpg

wpid-20140704_153918.jpg      wpid-20140704_154306.jpg      wpid-20140704_154503.jpg

wpid-20140704_155020.jpg      wpid-20140704_155025.jpg

The 63rd floor. There are no words to describe the view!  A clear day in Korea is pretty rare.

wpid-20140704_163003.jpg      wpid-20140704_163035.jpg wpid-20140704_163035.jpg      wpid-20140704_163103.jpg wpid-20140704_163146.jpg      wpid-20140704_163228.jpg wpid-20140704_163516.jpg      wpid-20140704_164253.jpg

Advertisements

The Home Stretch

I have been in a funk the last couple of weeks.  Maya got really sick last weekend and it sort of put things in perspective for me.  I realized how much of a “debbie downer” I was being.  Sitting at home with a very sick toddler was no fun and it made me realize how much I was missing out on by being at the apartment all day.  Even before Maya got sick, we wouldn’t do much during the week besides the playground or a kids cafe.  I felt like I was in a bit of a rut.  So I decided I was not going to sit and mope around the house anymore because no good comes out of that.  The time just goes by slower.  So in a brave attempt to venture out on my own with Maya, I decided to take her to Lotte World (the world’s largest indoor amusement park).  People may think that this isn’t a big deal, but in a foreign country where you have to take a 45 minute subway ride to get anywhere, it’s a huge deal to do this on my own.

Maya had a great time on the rides and watching the shows.  It was a great experience because unlike the first time we went with Damian on a weekend, it wasn’t crowded at all.  There were no lines and Maya could freely walk around without getting run over.  I definitely won’t hesitate to do more adventurous things with Maya in the future.

I wasn’t able to take a lot of pictures but here a few from our day:

wpid-20140703_095656.jpg wpid-20140703_112037.jpg 2014-07-03 11.20.11 wpid-20140703_113807.jpg wpid-20140703_114513.jpg wpid-20140703_114519.jpg

It’s So Much Harder…

Our stream of visitors have all gone and I’m going to admit that the past couple of months have been the best times I have had here.  I knew coming to Korea for a year would be hard but I didn’t realize it would be this hard.  In my mind, I had imagined making new friends and Maya having lots of play dates.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite happened that way.  While I have met lots of people, I’ve come to realize that making friends (especially in a foreign country) is not easy.

I have been invited places and most of the time I have to respectfully decline because of Maya’s schedule.  Most of the touristy things to do in Seoul are at least 45 minutes away.  And if anybody has ever experienced a long subway ride with a toddler you can feel my pain.  It’s nothing like riding in a car.  If she doesn’t get her afternoon nap, it’s over.  She will sometimes fall asleep if I happen to be out and about but she may get a 30 minute nap tops.  In the long run, it just doesn’t seem worth it unless Damian is with me to help.  It just seems like the people I meet have older children so therefore our schedules just don’t quite match up.  And the last thing I want to do is ruin their adventures by having a toddler around.

There are so many toddlers in our area.  When I take Maya to the playground she plays with them.  I sit on a bench and watch and smile.  I see all the other moms talking to each other and can’t help but be jealous.  I chose not to take any Korean classes, telling myself I was only going to be living here for 1 year.  Sometimes I think maybe this is all my fault since I chose not to learn Korean.  While other times I tell myself learning a new language is hard and whatever I did learn wouldn’t be enough to make friends.  I can barely make friends in English!

People say being a stay-at-home mom is a lonely job.  And I would have to agree.  I think you can multiply that by a hundred when you live in a different country.  Besides Damian, I have nobody I can rely on.  Sometimes all a mom needs is to talk to another mom and realize that she isn’t the only one going through a tough time with the “terrible 2″ stage.  The time difference doesn’t help either when I want to talk to friends and family back home.

I guess it’s true what they say,”You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”  I really didn’t appreciate the great life I had back in Austin.  Living in a different country has put a lot of things in perspective for me and when I move back at the end of the summer, I will not take anything for granted.

Bukhansan National Park

To celebrate Father’s Day, we took Damian to Bukhansan National Park located in the northern part of Seoul.  Bukhansan stands out since it’s a large national park inside a huge metropolitan area, and thus one of the most visited national parks in the world.  It’s supposed to be one of the best places to hike in Korea.

Instead of taking the subway we took a bus into Seoul and transferred to another bus that took us straight to the park.  The park had several entrances so we just hiked the easiest trail based on where the bus left us.   _MG_3201      _MG_3202

The trail we took was very well developed.  In fact, the trail was wide and most of the climbing was on rock stairs that were built into the trail.  It followed a little mountain stream that flowed next to the trail.  People would stop along the way to rest and have picnics.  It was a really pleasent hike, At least that’s how it started…

_MG_3204     _MG_3213     _MG_3216

Maya actually really loves hiking but as you can imagine it takes a long time because she wants to do all the climbing.

_MG_3219       _MG_3222 _MG_3224       _MG_3228 _MG_3232

We came across some exercise equipment along the way.

_MG_3237

After what seemed like a thousand stairs, we made it to a Buddhist temple, but soon found out that the terrain became way too difficult for us to do with Maya.  So we had to turn back.  Before we left we had lunch at the temple, and rocked to the Buddhist chant they had blasting on a loop.

Even though we took the easier trail, with a toddler it turned out to be too hard.  So we weren’t able to get to the top, but we still had a good time and a great workout.

_MG_3253

 

It was a fun hike for all of us, and Maya is really going to miss Milo and “Dees” being here.

_MG_3255      _MG_3259

A Special Day

My brother Milo and his girlfriend, Dee, have been in Korea all week.  I have taken them to a palace, a secret garden, tourist shopping, and to all our favorite places to eat.  It is now Saturday and with Damian off for the weekend we decided to take them to Namsan Seoul Tower.  We went back in the fall but didn’t have a chance to take the cable car up the mountain.  We were newbies in the fall and accidentally ended up hiking up the entire mountain not knowing where the cable car was.  We were prepared this time!

Cable car ride:

_MG_3117      _MG_3118      _MG_3119 _MG_3121

You can get tickets for around $10 to go up to the top and see the view and eat, but the day had other more important plans!

_MG_3124

They had misters going which was very nice because although the temperature is only in the 80’s but the humidity is just awful.

_MG_3127

People from all over the world place “love locks” along the observation deck to represent eternal love.  These benches below are slanted so that you are forced to sit close.  And yes those “trees” behind us are made up of thousands of love locks.

_MG_3133       _MG_3136

Now it’s time for the big moment!  Maya had the ring box and when I told her to take it to Milo, she gave it to him as they were putting their lock on railing.  As you can see from the picture, Dee was very surprised.  It was awesome to be a part of such a special moment in their lives.  Of course, she said yes!!

_MG_3151      _MG_3154       _MG_3156

Maya couldn’t resist being in just about every single picture!

_MG_3157      _MG_3161

_MG_3163      _MG_3165

_MG_3175      _MG_3176 _MG_3180

After all the excitement, Maya quickly found the bubble machine.  She probably stood there for close to half an hour and could have been there all day.

Classic Maya scrunchy face.

_MG_3173     _MG_3181

After lunch, it was time to sit down for a traditional Korean martial arts performance.  One that we had seen and posted about before but Maya definitely had a lot more fun watching it this time around.

_MG_3185      _MG_3190

After a long day of proposals and bubbles, Maya was exhausted.  So much so that she didn’t even last through dinner.

_MG_3198

 

It was a great day and we wish Milo and Dee all the happiness in the world.

Maya’s Father’s Day Gift

Right across from our apartment there is a “Color Me Mine” ceramics shop.  I have been wanting to try it out and thought that painting Damian something for Father’s Day was the best reason.  Maya and I went on a day that Damian was at work and decided that a he would get the most use out of a mug since he loves coffee.  I’m not a creative person at all and I didn’t want to make it too girly looking.  I also can’t draw to save my life, so we ended up just doing stripes and wording that said “#1 Daddy, Love Maya.”  I knew Damian would love anything that Maya had her hands in.

IMG_0342IMG_0334 IMG_0336

 

I’m not sure if I have talked about Maya’s obsession with the movie “Frozen” but let’s just say if she sees anything from the movie she yells out the characters names and stares at them for like forever.  And that happened at this shop as well.

IMG_0335     IMG_0333

We had our colors picked out and we are ready to paint!

IMG_0337      IMG_0338

Maya helped paint and write out all the letters.  She had a great time.

IMG_0339      IMG_0341

One of the worker’s was nice enough to help us out.

IMG_0343      IMG_0344

Finished mug (before it placed in an oven for curing):

IMG_0346

The next week it was all ready to give to daddy for Father’s Day!

IMG_0347      IMG_0348

Hiking with Po-Po

There are many great places to hike in Korea and hiking is extremely popular all year round.  This particular mountain is just about 15 minutes away at Cheonggyesan Station. After getting off the subway, you have to walk up a steep hill just to get to the base of the mountain.  You kind of already want to turn back around.  It’s exhausting with a toddler!  Luckily Po-Po was with us.

I had only been here a couple of times back in the fall so I vaguely remember the path I took.  We decided to take a different way up and realized very quickly that it was very steep and noticed very few people were on this route.  We still kept on going (with many stops along the way) and got about 2/3 of the way up before calling it.  Although there were steps most the way they were very steep and carrying a toddler up them was difficult.  It was past lunch time and with just water and goldfish and Maya needing a nap, we knew it was time to go.  We still had a good time and got a great workout!

wpid-20140530_125723.jpg    wpid-20140530_125045.jpg     wpid-20140530_125253.jpg wpid-20140530_123432.jpg     wpid-20140530_115255.jpg     wpid-20140530_121356.jpg wpid-20140530_120848.jpg     wpid-20140530_115255.jpg