Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rainy Days

The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.  -Genesis 7:12

It's starting to feel like ark-building times around Seoul. I think it's rained every day since I've been back from France, and from what I've gathered, I missed three weeks of showers while I was away. 

Generally speaking, I like rain. By nature, I'm never bored, and I've found countless ways to stay entertained while indoors. Plus, the rain provides an excuse for keeping a low profile while I continue to work on knocking out this llingering illness.

One of the coolest aspects of rain is that there's nothing humans can do to thwart its arrival or manage its duration. In my opinion, it's nice to live in a world where some things are outside of mankind's manipulation.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Shopping Cute

I've mentioned it before:  there seems to be no end to the cute things one can buy in Korea. Outside of Asia, I haven't experienced it at this magnitude. 

I'm particularly aware of the ubiquity of cuteness in Seoul having recently returned from Paris where I never used the word cute to describe anything there. 

Wonder if it's possible to overdose on cuteness? I think I purchase it in moderation, though a quick glance around my apartment and desk at work might indicate otherwise.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mr. + Mrs. Spud


I see a lot of stuffed characters around town, advertising for various products, shops, and restaurants. They come in all forms, and I usually glance at them but then keep on walking. However, upon seeing this sweet potato couple, I felt compelled to take out my camera. 

Korea is a place where even potatoes can be cute-ified. Look out, Mr. Potato Head.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Life in Plastic

Accidental or deliberate? Hard to tell.

My friend snapped this pic while walking through her neighborhood and to my delight, gave me permission to post it here. So now I've gotta ask:  is this woman in the photo making a fashion statement or is she blissfully unaware of the dry-cleaning bag hanging on her body?

Readers, I want to hear from you! Once the votes are in and tallied, I'll share the results...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Healthcare Happiness

Since Monday of last week, I've been battling a fierce illness which has rendered me pretty useless during my non-working hours. For over a week now, I've basically taught from 9:30am until 4:30pm and then rested in the evenings, plus all weekend. After finally concluding it was likely more than just the common cold, I woke up this morning eager to get to the bottom of things. 

Thanks to the miraculous finagling on the part of my brilliant TA, I was able to secure an appointment with a respiratory specialist after work this afternoon. The doctor spoke excellent English and after checking my vitals, diagnosed me with acute bronchitis. I learned a lot from our 15 minute visit. Apparently I've been walking around with a fever of 100F+ for the past week, and this nagging cough -which has only gotten worse with each day- is not an allergy issue. For my suffering, I was awarded the grand gold prize of an antibiotic -versus, say, a bronze in the form of an OTC. [For the medically-inclined readers:  yes, an antibiotic was warranted as the phlegm in this case indicated a bacteria infection.]

So why am I sharing this detailed account with you, my dear readers? I feel compelled to because it highlights one of my favorite things about living in Korea:  terrific health care at an unbelievably low price. Yes, I have health insurance which I pay into (less than $100/month), and yes, I receive a discount at the Konkuk hospital because I'm a faculty member. Still, the grand total for today's doctor visit (no charge) and a 5-day supply of antibiotics, cough syrup, and antihistamines (under $8) was less than the price of a movie ticket. Or 2 coffees at Starbucks. Or a MAC lipstick.

I wish I knew more about the healthcare system in Korea. And I really wish all of its amazing components could be miraculously transplanted into the United States' system.

my meds (note the rationed-out packaging)

Monday, July 25, 2011

French Press Hunt

I'm not reading too much into it, but my French press fell off the kitchen counter last night and smashed into a zillion pieces. (A fitting symbol, perhaps, to mark the conclusion of my photo-pictorial posts on France?) 

Since I rely on the press for my daily dose of coffee, I quickly scurried out to a nearby Starbucks to buy a replacement. I left the shop empty-handed, however, as I could not get my financially-prudent mind around the exorbitant price:  upwards of $65(!). This decision paid off as today while discussing the matter at work, a colleague suggested some alternative vendors who offered similar devices at a more reasonable price.

Which brings me to the picture above. After a fun but exhausting day teaching, I stopped by the shop of a local coffee chain, A Twosome Place, and was elated to find several French press models on display. I selected one, and as I was paying, an employee searched for a new, non-display pot, finally presenting me with the box in the photo. 

I've yet to open the box. The fact that it's gift-wrapped is endearing and somehow softens the blow of having to buy a replacement. 

(Press Hunt --> Present... get it?! These cold meds I've been taking are really affecting my imagination.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011



While staying in Avignon, I took a day trip to Aix-en-Provence.  Like Arles and Avignon, it too is rich in history, dating back to 123 BC when it was founded by a Roman consul. Aix is charming and lovely; no wonder Cezanne found great inspiration there.



Saturday, July 23, 2011


During my time in Provence, I took a day trip to Arles -a small town with Roman ruins and a close connection to the life of Vincent Van Gogh. While Van Gogh found inspiration there in the strong sunlight, I discovered other treats. Here are some snapshots to give you a glimpse.

Arles -an Overview 

Friday, July 22, 2011