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    Seoul Lantern Festival

    There are special events ALL the time in Seoul. We’ve had a couple busy weeks and the weather has been rainy off and on, but there was a clear night last night so we went to check out the Seoul Lantern Festival!

    The festival started November 5 and is on display until November 22 this year. The lanterns begin at Cheonggyecheon Plaza (청계광장) and go a little over a kilometer down to Supyogyo Bridge. You can see them illuminated from 5 to 11 pm. This is the seventh year Seoul has hosted the lantern festival and the theme is “Illuminated Seoul Tour.”

    These are so much more than paper lanterns! (They’re not paper… or there’s some sort of coating, anyways.) See for yourself:

     

    Rainbow Bridge

     

    Building lanterns

     

    Seoul lantern palace

     

    Child looking at lantern

     

    Can you believe the detail and dimensions of this one?

     

    Lantern detail

     

    Bukchon Hanok Village Sign

     

    Lanterns of Korean children

     

    Fish lanterns

     

    Some people paid to customize floating lanterns. I guess you make a wish and send it down the stream:

     

    Floating lanterns

     

    Floating lanterns pink and orange

     

    David at Seoul Lantern Festival

     

    Hanging lanterns under bridge

     

    Bridge, lanterns, and reflections

     

    Cheonggyecheon stream and lanterns

     

    There were several exit points along the way. We indulged in some street food:

     

    Street food vendor

     

    One of the treats we got was a pancake folded in this paper cup. I got a kick out of the writing on it. “Espresso of Street. When I walk on the street with my coffee, I feel so good and happy. Magical thing! It’s a cup of coffee.” Ha!

     

    Food vendor cup funny saying

     

    Leah under bridge

     

    Lantern man

     

    Animal lanterns

     

    And what lantern festival would be complete without… Mount Rushmore?

     

    Mount Rushmore lantern

     

    These photos weren’t even half of the displays! There were several Korean cartoon characters, a giant make-up display, illuminated bridges, and more. It’s definitely worth checking out! (Plus, it’s free!)

    For more information, check out these websites:
    visitkorea.or.kr
    visitseoul.net

    Which one was your favorite?

     

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    First Days in Seoul

    Here’s a glance at our first few days in Seoul. (We haven’t taken a lot of photos yet. Most of them have been of food.)

    We flew into Incheon Wednesday afternoon. It’s a beautiful, modern airport. Everything was efficient, clean, and quiet. People systematically got into lines and there was no pushing or shoving. Now, I’ve been told that’s not always the case on the street, but it made clearing customs and retrieving luggage easy. We did have a problem that delayed us a few minutes. The embassy put 25 years on David’s visa rather than 25 months. Officials had to change it in the system before they let us through.

    People from the school met us at arrivals. There was a big group of new teachers who were on our same flight. We kept our overnight bags, put stickers on the rest of our luggage to be delivered to our apartments, and went to Hotel Capital for the night. It was nice to not have to worry about getting unpacked right away.

     

    Incheon airport

     

    Luggage truck

     

    Thursday morning, we did paperwork at the hotel, then they took us to our apartment. We live in a nice two-bedroom apartment. (I’ll write more on that soon.) Three teachers showed us around that afternoon. We took a bus to a mall to shop at a department store called eMart for home supplies.

    Friday, David had his first day of new teacher orientation. He saw his classroom for the first time! This photo looks crowded, but there’s a ton of space behind and to the right of the desks:

     

    David's classroom

     

    David had Saturday off. Our friends we met in Turkey (who are Korean) were in country. They were so sweet to drive two hours to visit us! It was a joy to see familiar faces and spend time with them. We walked the Insadong area. We also stopped in front of Gyeongbokgung Palace and visited the (free!) museum of King Sejong, the man who invented the Korean alphabet.

     

    Gyeongbokgung guard

     

    King Sejong

     

    Touring with friends

     

    Sunday, we attended church Gangnam style (in the Gangnam area) at New Harvest. It was an encouragement to worship with other believers and to meet some new people.

    After church, we walked our neighborhood. Our streets are VERY hilly! We also braved the subway and bus system by ourselves. We made it back to eMart only to find it was closed. Several of the large chain stores are closed two Sundays a month to give mom and pop shops a chance. Fortunately, a store called Modern Home was open, so we were able to grab a few essentials like pillows and coffee mugs. We’re hoping to get to Ikea soon to finish furnishing our apartment.

     

    Neighborhood view

     

    Subway

     

    What We’ve Eaten

    No need to worry – we will NOT go hungry in this country.

    • We had our first meal at KKanbu Chicken. We ate some delicious chicken that came with pickled onions.
    • On Thursday, our tour guides took us out to Craftworks.
    • A Thai restaurant.
    • Another fried chicken place. We laughed at their menu. The land of Korea – where technology flows like milk and honey and discarded iPads are recycled into restaurant menus. (They put paper under the screen.)
    • Our friends treated us to our first Korean BBQ! You grill the meat yourself.
    • Patbingsu… Our friends also introduced us to shaved ice topped with red bean paste. It sounds weird, but it was good! The bean paste tasted a little bit like peanut butter. The texture of the ice was different than American snow cones. They also ordered a coffee style version that had granola and ice cream over it.
    • New York Brick Oven Pizza. Made delicious because there is pork in this country. Amen.
    • Boba (bubble) tea! We love the tapioca balls.
    • On The Border mexican. There are a lot of international restaurants in our district!

     

    Friend Korean chicken

     

    iPad menu

     

    Korean BBQ

     

    Patbingsu

     

    Bubble tea

     

    Other First Impressions

    • Holy humidity. Thank goodness for air conditioning and dehumidifiers. Granted, we moved to Korea during the rainy season. We looked it up, and apparently a normal humidity level is 40. Our dehumidifier read our rooms at 81!
    • There are a lot of churches.
    • Even more than churches, there are a ridiculous number of restaurants.
    • Groceries and home supplies are expensive. ($5 for a bottle of hand soap!?)
    • Clothing is super expensive. (A pair of mens pants at H&M in Turkey cost 30TL, which was about $11. Here, they are ₩50,000, which is around $43!)
    • Recycle all the things! Recycling is required and huge here. We could have upwards of 5 trash bags: paper, plastic, glass, food waste, and trash.

    I think I will explore some on my own today. Pray I don’t get lost!

     

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