Jun 30, 2010

up and out

The last 48 hours have been an emotional rollercoaster. Our apartment was packed up, the post office was visited, the bank, vaccinations, doctors, lesson plans, trainings...and goodbyes.

I am sitting here trying to figure out how to explain what we have felt, but honestly I can't figure out at all how to explain at this moment.
All I know is we have left Gwangju and many many friends behind. And the unknown is lying in front of us...
Until I can figure out how to explain my emotions, I will leave you with this picture, of our empty apartment.

Japan, here we come.

Jun 29, 2010

lovely people

These are wonderful people who live in our "dong" who have made Bongsun-dong our home this year. We made them a card with Korean translation to tell them just how special they are to us.

저희는 이제 미국으로 곧 돌아갑니다. 저희가 한국에 있는 동안 좋은 경험을 하게 도와주셔셔 감사합니다. 지난 1년은 저희에게 좋은 해였고 그리고 좋은 사람들을 만날 수 있어서 큰 행운이었습니다. 저희가 한국에 있었던 1년은 저희가 저희나라에 돌아가도 평생도록 기억에 남을 것입니다.

지난 1년 동안 저희에게 베푼 은혜에 감사드립니다.
니콜 & 아담

This is Adam's barber.
This is the security man at the post office, also the only man in the city, including police officers that we have seen hold a gun.

This is the sweet man who watches our bikes when we are at the gym and who sells us potatoes and onions
These are the bakers at Paris Bagette.

These are the sweet florists...husband and wife who we love.
My friend the dry cleaner
And of course the Imsil Pizza woman
We will miss you all!!!

Jun 27, 2010

Green Tea and World Cup Shouting

Yesterday was day two of Shawn and Daddio's stay here with us. After all of us waking up and trying to recover from night one we had some breakfast and took the bus downtown. There we walked the streets, looked at the people and things of Gwangju. Adam and Daddio spent a few minutes at Dunkin Donuts working on trying to order some ice coffee..see the video, it is quite funny.

dunkin donuts from Nicole Appel on Vimeo.

Then, we roamed the streets, saw the painted dogs and women in heels. The boys got their faces on animal key chains and then we went to the Korean style photobooth.

Then we headed to Mr. Pizza so the boys could experience pizza in Korea. After shopping we roamed around the city and went to a tradition tea shop and picked up some deh-ha-ming-gook tshirts and devil horns for the soccer game.

The boys and I went to Emart to pick up a few groceries and then hauled a cab to the world cup. Last night Korea made it to the top 16 and was playing against Uruguay. The world cup stadium here was filled to capacity with nearly 42,000 people.
We were decked out in gear and watched the game on the jumbo trawn. South Korea held possession most of the game and truly played incredibly. The just couldn't seem to execute their goals.

The one goal they did score you can see on video below and how the crowd here in Gwangju erupted in celebration. It was great to be a part of it! 

Fighting! from Nicole Appel on Vimeo.

Jun 26, 2010

night out with the pops and bro

Adam's father and brother have arrived and lucky for them their first night here...we celebrated Korean style.

Here are two videos of the night...the first is at the Tuna Restaurant and the second would be at the norebong...it was a night of soju, food, fun, friends and singing! The videos are a bit long...but they are so funny.


Tuna from Nicole Appel on Vimeo.

Jun 25, 2010

special people

We haven't blogged this week because we have been so busy preparing for our departure from Korea...which is quickly approaching.
This young man may look familiar to you...his name is Do Heung and a few months ago we went to his black belt testing. He and his family have become very special to me in my time here in Korea. He and his family have been through a lot this year and I have befriended his family and just tried to bring some happiness in their life.
Today I had to say goodbye. It is not forever, I told him about Skype and how he is always welcome to visit us wherever we are. He is 14 and so tall and has such a beautiful spirit. I wanted to share with you what his father wrote to me...if nothing more than to share the wisdom and advice he has given me.

To Nicole; Having to say goodbye to someone is always so much unwilling and sad, especially in case of being carved deeply in one's mind through time. Being a foreigner, I feel, you are one of a few true friends of mine that I've ever met. I and my family will miss you when and wherever you are! And, upon my experience, man and wife could be a reciprocal refuge where one could take a rest and gain the sympathy. So, always love each other and be happy with Adam until the last moment that God permits both of you to breathe! Warmest Regards, 
I truly hope he doesn't mind me sharing this with you. But, I believe that his advice is worthy for all to read. Also, this family has been such an important part of my experience here in Korea...
I will miss all of you so much, and I hope to see you again. Love, Nicole

Jun 21, 2010

Gwangju Getaway.....

This past weekend was our last solo weekend in the city of Gwangju as my broski and pops will be in town on friday for the farewell tour. As such, Nicole setup a surprise last minute night at the cities only 5 star hotel, the Ramada in Sangmu. We had actually had our Christmas party at the same spot in December. After a relaxing Saturday mornin (with the exception of the p90x workout)...Nicole simply said, "pack a shirt and your toothbrush" and off we went.

Whats nice about doing a weekend close to home is the travel time to your destination. In our case, about a 12 minute cab ride got us to the Ramada.

Nicole doesn't mess around with hotel rooms and so when we arrived at our 11th floor room and discovered that she booked a residential suite, I was not at all surprised. All the amenities we would need for a relaxing night away but most important, the massive pillows which for Nicole is a deal breaker everytime.

After a few minutes we ventured out into the Sangmu area which if you recall from our blog about my towel proposal, was the local we visited last Sunday. The city is a hub for business travelers coming to conventions at the Kim Daejon Convention Center down the road. The area is littered with tons of hotels, restaurants, bars and a few clubs.

To get out of the heat we did lunch at Gaiden Sushi which was a Japanese style conveyor belt sushi joint. Naturally, after our meal and knowing how many pillows awaited us back at the hotel, we made our way back to the hotel for a power nap. After a massive 3 hour power nap we chilled with some big screen tv watchin which included a pretty cool show for those of you interested, "The Colony" on Discovery.

Our dinner plans led us to the Outback Steakhouse next door for some steak as we were all about the pampering this trip. Quite full, we walked it off by cruisin around the very brightly lit downtown Sangmu area for a bit. Its a much different feel than our dong with all the big buildings and flashing neons in every direction.

We capped off the night watching Ghana and Australia's World Cup match and then passed out.

All in all, a very relaxed and recharging weekend before the world tour starting in less than 2 weeks.

Thanks for readin,

Jun 18, 2010

Sex and the City

For the last 5 months or so, I have been working weekly with my Korean friends (co-teachers) on improving their English and teaching strategies. Sometimes we meet at a coffee shop or the school and talk shop...practice speaking, but today we went to see a movie. I only have one more class left with them, so we decided to see Sex and the City 2 and we will talk about it next week. We met at the movie theatre this morning at 10 and bought our tickets (our boss gave us the OK to be a bit late in today) They got popcorn, I got coffee and in we went. At first, I had to crack a few jokes and yell...speak English we are in class!! But then, when the movie started they got most of the jokes that I did, which was impressive because usually the dirty humor goes over their heads or isn't translated.

I had a blast and immediately they wanted to talk to me about Gay, Marriage, Sex, Alcohol, New York, being Rich etc...and Jimmy made it clear that he will not allow his girlfriend to see the movie...i was like...cultural issue!..

I will let you know what happens when we meet next week!

Clockwise Left to Right...
Jimmy, Rebekah, Giana, Ethie, Sophia, Chris, Jessica and Sunny.

Turning 30

Well Ladies and Gentz...yesterday was my big 30 as most of you know. I have to say, the last two weeks were really rough. I was stressing more than ever about our end to Korea, the wedding, my big birthday and all that jazz...but as this week warmed up, all of it seemed to disappear.

My 30th, even though being away, had to have been one of the best birthday's ever. Ill get into the deep stuff after I tell you about my day.

I woke up and Adam gave me a card. I was a little shell shocked and kept my mouth shut...but inside was screaming, "that's it?" I had great Skype conversations with nicole, mom and dad and grandma and papa...as well as a phone call with brandon. Then, I said to Adam, let's go downtown, I want to buy myself shoes for my birthday (I all of a sudden have had a craving for shoes)  We stopped in at Starbucks then went to SOVO and I got myself two nice pairs. We had a good breakfast then I went to work.

Adam dropped me off at the elevator and was like Cya...and still in my head, I was like what the! At work, I share the same birthday with my boss and I happened to walk into a party the management was having for him, so they sang to me to. When I got back to the office and my desk, Adam had stayed late at work and done up my desk as a surprise. I was shocked. Not only was there a sign and bows and confetti...but a rockin Adidas shirt waiting for me.

About 15 minutes later, my email pinged and I received a picture of a huge bouquet of flowers that our local florist friends had made just for me...per Ad's request.

I was living on cloud 9. All my students were singing and wishing me a wonderful day. Then, my older kids had a surprise of their own. They made me a cake out of choco moon pies and candies....complete with Fanta to drink.

At school, we all gathered together to watch the very sad Korean soccer match.

Then headed to a great restaurant for some Galbi and Makalee! 16 of us went and celebrated...complete with an ice cream cake and a paris bagette cake. I was in heaven and so happy.

We got home and Maryanne and Frank sang and sang and counted...it was great.

I realized that last year on my birthday, I was flying home for Nicole's wedding. I had been in Korea a little over a month and was so happy to be going home to see my friends and family. Now, a complete year has past and when I look back I can't even begin to grasp everything that has happened this year.

I always thought at 30 "this is what my life will be like" and now that I am there...I don't think one single thing I thought would be...is. And my life is truly perfect. This year, my 30th year has included so many life changing events, so many memories, people, places and momentous occasions, I couldn't have asked for a better year.

Thank you all for being a part of it!


Jun 15, 2010

devils, tigers and burgers...

Weekend review time and with the goings on Friday night, it was a slow-go for Nicole and I to struggle outta bed Saturday. The soju hangover kinda like a perma-haze that lasts for about a day if you happen to be uber lightweights like have no doubt become....or at least I have..

Jun 14, 2010

Babo Shirts

Last Christmas we purchased quite a few shirts from baboshirts.com. Based in Seoul, this Tshirt manufacturer has quite an array of tshirts stemming from I <3 ajumma's to Kai Bai Bo. They all run between $10-$20.00

For those of you who don't know, babo is the Korean word for crazy...it is one of those words that you just don't say. To be babo in Korea is almost as bad as being a serial killer :)
Take a look at their selection (I love the Pine Tree)


I have fallen in love with these pillows for our ringbearers and have ordered two. One with our December wedding date and one with the July one...perfect for Brayden and Bryce to carry down the isle.
You can find them on Etsy in the Giggle Room.
PS. I love to share all the goodies I am finding!!

Jun 13, 2010

for real

tonight, after watching a baseball game, having a beer and eating a burger, we walked through a park on the other side of town where we stumbled upon a laser water light show choreographed to music. adam handed me a towel to layout on the ground for us to sit on. when I unwound it, it had a message for me.

if you remember, adam and i came to the decision to get married together and so he never "asked" in a traditional manner. well, tonight, one month from our wedding date in thailand, he asked :)

its officially official in the great way where he got down on his knee and asked me with a toy ring (since I already had my real one on) of course I said yes and will keep this towel forever!


Friday night after work we joined in the weekly all you can eat sushi with everyone from work. For about $25.00 per person, we partook in at least 6 different cuts of tuna, side dishes a plenty and this time, the soju was rockin...Fliss, Julia, Molly, Dom, Jessica, Adam and I got to the restaurant at about 10:30 and ate and drank until about 2 am. We had a blast...I haven't laughed that hard in awhile...our group of friends here are truly one of a kind.
As you can see, Tuna and Soju makes me happy and Adam a madman. It is hard to begin to grasp the idea of having a whole 16 days left here. How on Earth do you say goodbye to people that have become such a great part of your day...and realizing the possibility of seeing most of them again is very slim. I can guarantee before we leave, another tuna night will ensue, that much I am sure...the goodbye part, I will think about another day.

Jun 12, 2010

go Korea!!


after sleeping the day away, thanks to my korean friends and soju, i have been watching Yuna Kim commercials...I know, exciting right. This one is great, Brian Orser her coach, even makes an appearance.


Jun 11, 2010

life in the north

a coworker shared these videos with us via BBC news.When you have a good half an hour, you should watch both of them. the first video shows what a news crew was able to film about life in the north. it is quite interesting what they allow, don't allow and share with her..it is mostly a scripted bunch of citizens who depict a flourishing nation.
then, click on the second link and hear first hand reactions from defectors and what life was really like for them in the north. 
now that we have spent a year here and seen the reactions of the south to the north, my opinions of what is going on are even more confused then before. i promise before we leave i will type something up, but i must figure out how to put it all into words.

you can form your own opinions

Jun 9, 2010

tea time....

This past weekend Nicole and I were invited for tea by our favorite shop owner Sunny. Sunny owns the "TYEN" boutique in Beonsun-dong which just celebrated its 1 year anniversary. 

Sunny's Apartment site high up in one of the many high rise apartment building scattered about our neighborhood. The apartment was absolutely gorgeous and one of those places that has so many interesting things to look at that you almost feel bad gawking at it all. Sunny and her family are avid music fans which was made quite obvious as we passed the several hundred CD's nicely displayed near the entryway. 

Sunny's husband is somewhat of a hobbyist and one of those hobbies we were told is collecting handmade teapots from around the world. He literally had hundreds and each one was as intricate and interesting as the next. He was nice enough to be our tea bartender for the evening and offered to us a selection of various Chinese teas that each had a distinct, yet not overpowering flavor. 

As you can see by the images, the tea was served on tree truck tables that were also a creation of Sunny's husband. Sunny explained that the trunks are well over a thousand years old and before her husband could sand and treat them, they were dried out for 5 years in one of the factories they currently own in China that produces gums and candies. 
Sunny's son's were both a little shy which was to be expected with 2 Americans strolling around their home. Both the boys have their own study area and were very polite hosts the whole night. 

Sunny allowed me to photo graph some of their home which she was very proud of and for good reason. The art, crystal, and marble walls were all quite impressive and a tribute to their hard work and success over the years. 

We explained to Sunny as we sipped tea and chatted about life in Korea that we will miss the intimacy that is created in the Asian style of sitting on floor mats around a table drinking tea and eating rice cakes. We also will miss the opportunities to talk with people like Sunny who are so gracious and friendly. It was a very nice night and we were honored to have been invited into such a lovely home with such nice people. Thanks again Sunny!!

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