Friday, October 6, 2017

New little facets of our life


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.

 For how much Koreans love babies, they sure don't love modern parenting conveniences like changing tables in restrooms! This was the scene on the floor of Starbucks bathroom a few weeks ago while I was killing time between hospital appointments. I later found out from a local that Koreans have no shame about bodily functions, so they won't be surprised if I just change a diaper in the middle of a crowded room.

 While breastfeeding isn't exactly discouraged in Korea, it's not all that encouraged either. It's very odd where nursing rooms can be found here. For example, there were at least 3 breastfeeding rooms at DinoSaurLand and one in each of the larger grocery stores, but there wasn't one in the hospital! This was the scene in one of the stalls after the ultrasound appointment a few weeks ago. I don't think I would have been asked to leave or stop had I whipped out a boob in the waiting room, but I get the impression that Koreans are pretty conservative about breasts, so I figured I might as well find somewhere private.


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.

 Grocery stores always fascinate me:

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! 

We were in the habit in Australia of buying recycled toilet paper. Made me feel better about the thrice hourly trips to the bathroom I was making in the last few months of my pregnancy. Yeah, recycled toilet paper appears NOT to be a thing here! In fact the packaging is very proud to say that the toilet paper is made with "virgin pulp." And they all come in mondo packs! Nothing smaller than 30 rolls. 

The snack food game is strong here. Lots of fun new flavors, but somehow they all come out just tasting sweet. "Spicy barbecue" just tastes like candy flavored potatoes with a hint of spice. Same for the seafood flavored stuff. I was a little disappointed! 
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. 

Vicarously yours,

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