Sunday, July 22, 2012

Coex Mall & Aquarium Visit

We've been excited to get to the Coex Complex since we arrived and finally had the opportunity to see both the Mall and the Aquarium. The mall had the most Western selection of food and shopping we've seen thus far but this trip was all about the Aquarium - well once we filled up on 'On The Border's' chips and guacomole!

Our favorite part about the Coex Aquarium is it seems to have been built with little ones in mind. The exhibits are built at a low level, and all on one track so even a toddler can walk the Aquarium rather than ride in a stroller.

And even when the exhibits were taller than Cooper there were always ledges for them to stand on. This was the piranha tank - eerie how the eyes are all glowing here:

Each exhibit had a different personality and/or region depicted by the environment, fish and other animals (like monkeys and penguins). These albino fish were in the Amazon area along with monkeys, hanging vines and a humid environment:

Another interesting area is the infamous weird fishtanks including phone booths, magazine racks, vending machines, this fridge and washing machine:

And a toilet bowl:

This beautiful exhibit was open on the top - you could easily stick your hand (or body) in without a problem... well, except for the stingrays and sharks that lived in the exhibit. Uh... maybe not such a great idea!  

While daddy and Cooper checked out the penguin exhibit I hung out with this guy. He was so cool and interacted with everything I did - it's fascinating how smart these creatures are. 

Until next time, (which just happens to be this Wednesday) Coex Aquarium!   

Tips to those living here:
  • Purchase the annual pass - the cost is somewhere around 17000 for one adult ticket or 38000 for an annual pass. 

  • There are lockers to store items that you don't want to carry with you for 1000 (like all of those mall purchases).

  • They ask you to leave your strollers before you enter the exhibit so if you have a non-walker a baby carrier is recommended. 


Monday, July 16, 2012

It's a BOY!

Cooper's Going To Have a Little Brother! 
Big brother's already ready to show little brother how to throw a ball! More pics below!

I've said this before but it bears repeating: any adventure here in Korea doesn't start with the event itself - it begins on the road there. With that said here's how the gender reveal appointment went down:

When we arrived we found out that by their mistake the ultrasound wasn't scheduled and then they said they won't actually schedule until 19/20 weeks (even though during the last appt. they said between 16 and 20). We told them I would be out of the country at that time and they said then they would do the gender ultrasound at 24 weeks when I arrived back to Osan.

Then, they tried for an hour and a half to hear the heartbeat. After an hour Owen had to go back to work but me and Cooper stayed while they unsuccessfully tried 3 different dopplers. Their answer to that was well when you come back for your ultrasound at 24 weeks then we'll get the heartbeat then. Really? Um, no not going to work for me... 

Finally, after some convincing the doctor called down to radiology and had them see me for an ultrasound to just hear the heartbeat. 

{before you read this the baby is fine}
So, I headed down with Cooper. The tech was great but the first thing on the screen was a heartbeat scanner with no heartbeat - again. His face was grimmaced and I said where's the heartbeat? He said I'm just trying to get it to show me... so then I finally broke down and said "but is it there?" He assured me that it was and then quickly got it to show-up on screen. I cried the rest of the appointment. 

I made quick friends with the tech so I used that to my advantage and soon he was showing me body parts, measuring the baby, showing me the face and movement and finally said do you want to know the sex? I said YES! but can you write it on a piece of paper for me? He said that he would but then totally gave it away by said ..."but if you can tell the parts on the screen then you'll know." 'The parts' can only mean one thing so I said "is it a boy?" and he said yes! 

After such an emotional rollercoaster I decided to head straight to Baskin Robbins where not only did I splurge on Pralines 'N Cream but I got it in a chocolate dipped waffle cone. I guess it's salad for dinner!

I was so excited that Cooper was going to have a little brother but I wouldn't be able to tell anyone until I could talk to Owen and he was scheduled to be on a mission until 9pm. 

I sent a quick email to daddy telling him to call me and finally at 6:00pm he was able to get away for a few minutes, hear the extended version of the appointment and then after his go-ahead I was able to tell him we were having a baby boy!

The appointment didn't go as anticipated but at least we learned the gender, saw the baby and heard the heartbeat. This week we'll head to the Korean OB Clinic to get some picture print outs. 

Now to start putting together the nursery and picking out a boy's name! 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Happy Quilt: a fabric paradise

There are only a handful of stores, closeby anyway, that you learn about very quickly upon your arrival to Osan: Dream Depot, E-mart, HomePlus and Happy Quilt. 

I visited the first three within the first few weeks I was in town but it took a while to have a need to visit Happy Quilt. Owen, Cooper and finally drove the short 20 minutes to take a look around. 

Happy Quilt can make just about anything for you - curtains, pillows, bedspreads, etc. - at amazing prices and they have hundreds of choices like...

Anthropologie look-alikes:

I adore the middle roll of fabric - very Anthropologie. It actually reminds
me of the Finnia and Mantadia curtains I've been admiring for a while now. 

I think my Anthropology-loving friend Holly even has a shirt in this exact print.

Polka dots:

I love these pretty grown-up polka dots. They remind me of
my friend Jentry - sophisticated but stylish and girly.

Stripes & Script:

Paisley & Flowers:

I think of my friend Kriste everytime I see this paisley - or maybe
it's because she has 3 girls and this is nothing but girly!

And more:

These modern railroad tracks would be sweet in a little boy's train room.

Plus all the extras you need to DIY like this batting (with a side of Cooper):

So, yes they have hundreds of choices but I actually didn't find what I wanted* so my next trip will be to the Fabric Market in Seoul where they have 5 floors and literally thousands of fabric choices. 

*Wish me luck on my ongoing quest for large horizontal chocolate striped fabric (for living room curtains) and yellow or gray zig zags (for the new baby's nursery). 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Yeosu World Expo 2012 Photo Diary

This post is a photo diary of our visit to the World Expo in Yeosu (pronounced yo - sue). If you're looking for the deets on travel, lodging and Expo info check out the logistics post here

When you arrive through Gate 3 one of the first sights you'll see is this magnificent 50,000 LED screen ceiling display. The scenes ranged from ocean waters to other cultural videos and were mesmerizing! Made us want to layout a picnic blanket and just gaze.
Our 14th floor hotel ocean view at The Ocean Hotel. Actually, the theme of this World's Fair is all about the ocean and how we can learn, utilize and save it. 
This is called the Big-O and it is the main landmark for the Expo and the backdrop for various shows on the open sea - including the nightly show that utilizes water, fireballs and lasers coming from the huge device. Note: The show also was truly Korean as it included a fairy with a coffin, Superman, a fat French man and a crazy man at a desk - no matter how hard we tried we couldn't deduct the storyline (reminds us of the Lotte World production we saw that included the cast of Wizard of Oz... and Pinnochio). 
Besides all of the main pavillions and displays there was also an impressive collection of street entertainment including this 4 story tall wooden puppet. The puppeteers on the backside could maneuver him to walk, sit, stand, and move all of his limbs and head. The puppet even had a new outfit on each day!
Another example of street entertainment were these terrific illusions. Yes, this is a real man seemingly floating in mid-air. Another illusion was of a man that looked as if he was floating high up on the support posts - his only contact was by hand.  If I wouldn't have (unfortunately) seen how they performed the illusions I still would be scratching my head!

The Expo includes several zones that include pavilions of every kind. We weren't able to go to every one but we were able to go to most. The only dissapointment was that we weren't able to go to the Robot Exhibit because of the 3 hour wait time. If you are unable or unwilling to wait in line as well here's a YouTube video we found documenting the exhibit. 
This one is the Hyundai pavilion. Inside was a large room with thousands of blocks that made up 3 sides of the walls. Each block could move independently and they were also screens. The show was made up of images being made from the blocks and a abstract video utilizing the screens and blocks along with music. It was like candy for your eyes - very intriguing.  (No photography allowed inside.)
The Lotte pavilion was a kid-friendly exhibit with a carefree atmosphere. Pictured is the "holding pen" area before the main show. All of the flowers opened and closed and there was a Korean show put on by actors on a little stage to the left. Cooper didn't care for the show or the moving flowers but he was into the balloon ride to come. 
At Lotte they had one of only a couple of "rides" that was pretty cool! The hot air balloon ride included a moving platform and a simulated burner (pictured above) and all worked in conjunction with the 360 degree display of different environments including the Expo, forests, oceans and more. Cooper looks so tired here because... he is - after 10 hours so far at the Expo we were trying to hold out for just a bit longer to catch the finale fireworks and water show!
The POSCO pavillion is definetely worth it for older kids. It was like a kid party with a colorful light show, acrobats coming down from the ceiling and tons of bubbles. It was kinda' Coopers worst nightmare - I had to back up with him all the way into the Exit until we were far enough away from the acrobats. 
The aquarium is one of the most sought after exhibits. Pictured here is one of the largest single aquarium windows we've ever seen. And inside this larger tank is another viewing area you can see in the middle here. The wait was typically 2-3 hours long  but  for some reason we were rushed all the way in front of the line right to the entrance. Could be the stroller, or the cute baby but we'll take a 30 second wait over 2 hours any day! For our non-stroller/cute baby toting friends they agreed that an hour was the longest you should wait. Also, once inside it was extremely packed with (literally) pushy Koreans at every turn.

Inside the main aquarium were fish of all kinds, small and large sharks and Giant Turtles. Pictured is one of the turtles on a turn only a foot or so from the glass. He was at least 3 times bigger than Cooper. 

At the aquarium was this fun little display. Cooper was so interested in the fish swimming around his head that  we couldn't get him to look at the camera once!

The Aqua Planet wasn't our favorite exhibit but the solar panel trees running the building were very cool indeed. 
Another Theme Pavilion right on the ocean. 
In addition to the dozens of pavilions and exhibits there were hidden pieces of art every where you turned - all with a common theme. This was a large waterfall wall between the international pavilion area and larger exhibits. 

Cooper's well-earned break at the waterpark. He played for an hour  straight and had the best time. We took a ton of Cooper pictures and so did every other Korean there - actually, a little unsetteling when you look up and there are 10 people video'ing your child. He is a Korean rockstar.
Here's one of him right after a stream just missed his face - ha! He loved every second!
We didn't anticipate to love or spend as much time at the International Pavilions but they were our favorite part. Each country had their own exhibit that included displays, videos, entertainment, interactive elements and even dance parties!  Some of the pavilions also had their own restaurants. It was also impressive that people from each country worked their own pavilions and almost all also spoke English - a nice change of pace! Most every exhibit did not allow photos or videos so we don't have a lot but we did sneak just a few. 

France was one of our favorite exhibit - several really interesting displays made for a cool experience. This is a shot of a large aquarium housing robot fish. Daddy and Cooper are on the other side where you can also see walls made of tiled mirrors.  

Russia's exhibit was one of Owen's favorite. This is a life-sized ship  and all around is an LED ocean. The entire exhibit was chilly and covered in faux ice - very well done Russia! Note if you go to this exhibit make sure you get to the front of the pack for the best view.

Thailand did a great job bringing people into their exhibit with an impressive entrance . The statues move and talk and every 15 minutes there is a traditional, live singing and dancing show. 

Cooper was a trooper - with a 12 hour and then 13 hour day, no crib, only Korean milk (which he doesn't like) and constant Korean oogling - he did great! 
Bye! Bye! Yeosu! Thanks for hosting a great World's Fair!