Thursday, April 16, 2009

Culture differences

On the subway today (I had a meeting in a different location, so I took the subway instead of the bus), and I noticed something interesting.

On one of the cars on my way home, there were a few people sitting along one side.


(X = a person seated)

My preference is to sit as far away from anyone else I could get.


(A = me)

Several times now, I've noticed that Koreans tend to like to be together, whether they know each other or not. And I watched a person come on the car, look around, and pick a seat.


(K = random Korean person)

Right between two already seated people.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


We were in the mood for an American style breakfast the other day. You know, the really huge, greasy kind. So we went to a place in Itaewon that served breakfast.

French toast, bacon, sausage, and scrambled eggs.

Omelet with hash browns. The omelet was huge, but it was stuffed with mostly bell pepper, which I picked out. This made it somewhat more reasonable in size, but it was still huge. (Definitely American sized!)

After a breakfast like that, I needed to walk for a bit.

The fake tree that lights up at night at the Itaewon intersection.

Mural along the wall at Itaewon. The wall is now getting covered by vines now that spring has finally arrived.

Near Itaewon and Yongsan is the Korean War Memorial, which contains lots of planes, tanks, and other military equipment used over the years.

A B-52. My grandfather flew one of these in the Pacific during WWII.

Tanks. Lots and lots of tanks.

A submarine. The sign said 40 people could be accommodated inside of this. They must have been really small.

A drum near the courtyard at the War Memorial.

Cherry blossoms.

Magnolia tree.

This reminds me of the helicopter in M*A*S*H.
One of the memorials.

The plaque for the U.S. inside a memorial building.
Posted by Picasa

Seoul in April

A few weeks ago, we went wandering around the neighborhood again. We do this relatively frequently -- walk out the door and pick a direction and go. With the changing seasons, we see different things even if we've gone that direction before.

As the weather warmed up and spring arrived, these colorful lanterns appeared throughout downtown. They were strung up along the sidewalks and throughout Chyeonggyecheon.

Across the street from our apartment building there is this little parking garage.

A gate.

One of the palaces nearby. I can't remember which one it is and I don't have a map handy to look it up.

We've come across several wine stores in Korea. Wine is expensive because it has to be imported. I usually see European with some Australian, Californian, and South American wines. I don't think I've seen any South African wines.

This wine store is in an older style building with the traditional Korean style roof. It's right next to one of the palaces.

Another sightseeing place.

The view back down towards Jongno.

Traditional style roofs.


Sidewalk construction. April appears to be the opening of sidewalk construction and repair season. All over town the sidewalks are being torn up and the open areas are covered with these gray blankets. When it rains, they get muddy and soggy, and they squish when you walk over them.

Back of the palace shown previously.

Flags and lanterns.

The view up the street we just walked up. We essentially did a loop, going up this street and coming back down by the palace.
Posted by Picasa


View of a palace from our apartment, with green trees.

Tapgol Park from our apartment. See all the green!

Insadong with the colored lanterns strung along the street.

Jongno Tower.
Posted by Picasa

Dunkin Donuts: Breakfast of Champions!

On weekends, we occasionally head to one of the several Dunkin Donuts shops around our apartment for breakfast. We usually get them to go and bring them home in the handy little carrying box. Unfortunately, we ate them too quickly for me to get any good photos of them. The donuts here look like the ones in the States, but they taste a little bit different. In fact, I actually prefer these to the ones back home, they aren't as heavy and they don't sit in my stomach like a rock afterwards.

Here, the top row from left to right has a kind of cinnamon roll (I keep forgetting which one this is), a honey fritter (has a drizzle of icing and chocolate on top, but looks similar to an apple fritter), a cranberry scone, and 3 glazed donuts. Along the side at the bottom is a raspberry filled donut with powdered sugar and a cocoa glazed.

The cocoa glazed is like a chocolate glazed donut in the States, but it's a darker chocolate and isn't as sweet. I like these much more.

The raspberry filled donut I think is available for a limited time only. For the past month or so, they've had a whole section that's dedicated to berry donuts, like berry fritters, raspberry filled, blueberry filled, strawberry cake donuts, blueberry cake donuts.

Here, when you go in, you grab a tray and tongs, then walk along the cases and put what you want on the tray. Take it to the register, and they total it up and put the donuts in a box for you if you're taking them away. Dunkin Donuts also has a dark chocolate mousse that looks pretty good. And they have a variety of cakes available too. And they do sandwiches and other lunch like items. And they have a full coffee, tea, hot chocolate menu as well.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Modern medicine

The other day I needed to see a doctor to get a prescription renewed, so I headed over to Samsung Medical Center. A co-worker had been there and highly recommended it, so that's where I went. I definitely recommend the International Health Services at Samsung Medical Center.

Back in the States, my doctor still has paper files. Huge, thick, cumbersome paper files. And every time I go, the new nurse practitioner can't find what the old nurse practitioner had ordered. Here, the doctor had 3 monitors on his desk, with easy access to databases to look up medication and other stuff, plus my open file. As he asked me questions, he entered the information into my file. He ordered an endoscopy for me. He entered this into my file. I left the room. All the information he entered was available for the scheduler and nurse. They didn't have to wait for a piece of paper, they didn't have to wait for him to come back and confirm anything. It was all right there.

So last Friday I came back for my endoscopy (which is a painless procedure -- the only thing that hurt was the IV when they put it in my hand). I checked in with the International Health Services desk, then a volunteer came and escorted me to the appropriate part of the hospital. When I was done, I went back to the International Health Services office. All the information from the endoscopy was right there in my file, on the computer screen. I didn't have to wait for that doctor to mail my regular doctor a report, and then for my regular doctor to find the time to call me with the results, or send me the little postcard that says "Results Normal". It happened right there.

And the best part, the entire endoscopy cost me less than $300 USD.

Oh, and by the way, I'm fine.

Spring, glorious spring!

Spring is finally here! It went from needing a jacket and a sweater weather last weekend to short-sleeve weather, practically overnight. The cherry blossoms are out. Everything is blooming. My allergies are kicking in. And the management at the apartment building says that the time for air conditioning won't be until sometime in the next two weeks. I've even put away my chair heating pad!