So when I took Sadie for her orthopedic check up a few weeks ago, I was stopped by all kinds of Koreans who wanted to coo at my daughter. I can't blame them. She's a cute kid. One lady, though, went on and on at my in Korean while I was in the bathroom trying to situate Sadie and the diaper bag in such a way that I could access what I needed so I could pee. I gave her the universal I'm-sorry-I-don't-speak-Korean-and-I-have-no-idea-what-you-are-saying-also-I-really-have-to-pee-but-I-don't-want-to-be-rude expression, but she kept right on talking and gesturing at me and Sadie. I have no idea what she said, but she had a lot to say.
Fast forward a couple weeks and I'm talking to some of the new parents here and they tell me that it is Korean custom to not leave the house for the first 100 days of the baby's life and it clicks that maybe the lady in the bathroom was giving me what for because I had left the house with my tiny, clearly younger than 100 days old, baby! I'll never know, but now I think I have an idea of what folks might be trying to tell me.
It's funny that in a place where they are so particular about the trash, there is so. much. PACKAGING! A candy bar will have the outer wrapper and then a little paper box inside the wrapper. Frozen foods will have the outer plastic bag with the cooking instructions and such, and then another clear plastic bag inside that.
|Some frozen fried rice I got at the convenience store down the street when our pantry was looking sparse and we didn't have a car yet. Seems simple enough. Should just have some fried rice inside, right?|
|Nope! A bag for the rice and ANOTHER bag for the sauce! And it's not like they had to be separated! The instructions were to open both bags and mix them together and then microwave the whole thing in the box.|
Some produce in this country is HUGE! We've discovered Asian pears which are soo yummy and juicy, but I picked them up initially because they are larger than softballs and I had to find out what they were like. The grapefruits and some of the oranges are also comically large. But then other things like potatoes or onions are really small! I can't figure it out.
|Sometimes there will be English on the labels. Sometimes they get it right.|
|I don't know if it is a momentary fad, but Korea seems to be obsessed with corn dogs! I've never seen so many varieties of corn dogs, and I'm American!|
The Grandfather Stones
Sort of like the unofficial (or maybe official?) mascots of the island are these stones carved sometime in the 1700s. There doesn't seem to be any agreement on where exactly they came from or what they represent, but replicas of them are all over the place. One theory is that they were placed outside city and home gates to give protection and bring fertility. Because Jeju is a big destination for honeymooning Koreans, the fertility bit has really stuck and you see replicas of these guys in gift shops every where.