Thursday, November 30, 2006

New name?

We'll no longer be on the ROK soon. Which makes this blog's name a bit obsolete. So, any and all suggestions are welcome. Either email me or leave a suggestion in the comments.

On the road again...

How time flies! It's almost time for us to move from Seoul, South Korea to the East Coast of the U.S. Yes, that would be on the other side of the planet for you geography buffs. And, lucky us, we get to deal with the Holiday madness AND look for a new home all at the same time! Since we are moving into a hotel next week and flying shortly after that, I'm making my list now of the things we will and will not miss about being on the ROK.

We won't miss:

  • traffic and insane drivers who think traffic laws are just a suggestion to be ignored (seeing 5 lanes of traffic trying to fit in one painted lane is a prime example);
  • the itty, bitty, teeny, weeny apartment we had in Daejeon -- I think it was roughly 800 square feet, including the enclosed balconies, and only boasted a kitchenette to cook in ;
  • soju, a potent rice liquor, often featured at whay-shiks (a male-bonding extravaganza that Sam says he won't miss either);
  • monsoons, enough said;
  • smog, so bad you can't see the hills and mountains that completely surround Seoul; and
  • yellow dust, courtesy of China, that infiltrates everything every Spring (and Fall this year);
  • being 13-14 hours ahead of East Coast time (14-15 hours of Central) and trying to remember what time and day it is back home before calling.

We WILL miss:

  • Ms. Cho, our aujuma, who cleaned our house and helped out with the kids once a week;
  • Mr. Alex, the care giver at the daycare who usually watched L'il Sis on the occasions that she went;
  • AFN "commercials" -- they were mini-lessons on history, geography, military life, etc. While some could be a bit on the corny side, my kids don't really ask for much because they haven't been exposed to commercials for toys, etc.;
  • the ease of public transportation: cabs, buses, subways, even "bullet"-type trains for outside the city;
  • maintenance workers (and movers, etc.) who actually show up when they say they will;
  • really cheap entry fees to museums, palaces, and other attractions;
  • Korean foods such as bibimbap that will be hard to find in the States (Sam will also miss speaking Korean on an almost daily basis); and
  • all the wonderful U.S. and R.O.K. friends we've made in our two years here.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Happy Birthday, Marines!

We celebrated the 231st Marine Corps Birthday at the Seoul Hyatt this year. Included among the guests were the current Republic of Korea (ROK) Marine Commandant and 9 former ROK Marine Commandants. Our guest speaker was GEN B.B. Bell, the U.S. Army general who commands the American military forces, the U.N. forces, and the combined U.S.-ROK forces here in South Korea.

Although the U.S. Marines here are a small group, the Birthday Ball was a big event and the Marines did a great job organizing and hosting the Ball. We filled the ballroom at the Hyatt and had a great time. Unfortunately, the Marine in charge of the event placed a bottle of soju at each table. His wife (a good friend of mine) thought it would be a good idea, or at least very funny, to have her friends each do at least one shot of the stuff. It is horrible. A bit like trying to drink rubbing alcohol. I don't know how Stretch stood it last year. Despite that experience, we really had a great evening with our friends.

Usually, I get one token slow dance a year at the Birthday Ball. This year, Stretch actually danced quite a bit with me, even to faster music. And while my shoes started off comfortable enough, I eventually had to kick them off, along with many of the ladies on the dance floor. Then, after the taxi dropped us off outside the base, we had to walk about half to three-quarters of a mile to get home. Yes, in those shoes! Plus, I was trying to keep up with Stretch. You may have noticed in the picture that his legs are a little longer than mine (by about a mile!) He was sweet and tried to carry me part of the way, but that didn't really work.

All in all, it was a memorable Birthday Ball made more so by the company of good friends. We will definitely miss our many wonderful friends here when we leave the peninsula next month.

*Despite the picture, but I'm not really that short. I'm 5'4" but Stretch is 6'8".