Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ice Skating at Walker Hill

Jeong Mi and I went to Seoul yesterday to Walker Hill where they have an ice rink set up for the winter. We had perfect weather, albeit quite cold. But I guess that's good when you're ice skating.

It was Jeong Mi's first time on ice skates. Though I've skated quite a few times, I've never claimed to be any good. It's also been about 5 years since I've strapped ice skates on.

She really got the hang of it after about 30 minutes in the beginner's area. We had a really good time. It was a bit far, and took us about 3 1/2 hours to get there, but it was a great trip for my vacation. Next time, we're going to go to one of the rinks in Incheon. They even have one right up the road in my neighborhood.

But a first time on skates is a special occasion, so we had to go big.

Check out the video below or here at youtube. 

Check out all the pics here.

Walker Hill Ice Rink

Eye Surgery Success

As of today, I think it's safe to say my eye surgery was a success. Let's go through all the steps.

On Jan. 15, I went in for a free exam to see what surgery is right for me. They do a 2-hour, very thorough check on your eyes to figure out what you need. Just my luck that I needed the only one that would have any pain associated with it.

So a week later, on Jan. 18, Jeong Mi went with me to Kim Eye Clinic -- a block away from my house -- and I got surgery. The surgery itself really only last about 10 minutes, and maybe less. The doctor preps you and pops you under the computer/laser, and it goes to town.

There is some discomfort when it slices your eye open, but no actual pain. The strange burning smell when the laser is running is interesting, though.

After surgery, they sit you in a comfy recliner with an ice pack for 20 minutes. Then, it's time to head home.

The day of the surgery, my eyes were blurry, but felt fine. It was day two that the pain came. I woke up a bit uncomfortable, but generally okay. I went for a checkup, and the doctor warned that it would hurt for the next couple days.

Starting that evening, my eyes were so swollen that I couldn't open them. The pain wasn't terrible, but enough that even though my eyes were closed, I couldn't really sleep. Day three continued along that path until the evening, when everything started letting up.

On that Friday, I went back in and had the after-surgery protective soft lenses removed. My eyes went back to blurriness again, but the pain was gone by that point.

Even now, there are times when focus comes in and out a bit. My eyes seem to still be getting used to switching focus from near things to far things, sometimes throwing me out of whack. But things are coming in clearly, and they seem to be getting more stable.

It's weird to be without glasses or contacts. I have been using them since third grade. Waking up in the morning and seeing across the room is the nicest part. Just knowing that option is back in my life. Technology, huh?

The clinic I went to was recommended to me by Ridia, who also had her eyes done there. The cost was 1.4 million won, which is about $1,250. I think that's a pretty good price for the convenience of not needing help seeing.

The only issue for a foreigner is that they don't speak English there. It's a great place, but either speak Korean or take a Korean friend for help. Other than that, it's a nice place to get your eyes fixed.

They warned that somewhere down the line, I may need reading glasses or even a touch-up type surgery that's available. But by that point, I figure I'll have robot eyes anyway.

The video is conveniently posted below, or you can check it out here on youtube.

Check out all the fun pictures here.

Laser Eye Surgery in Korea

Monday, January 17, 2011

Eye Surgery Tomorrow!

My vacation has started and the relaxation has been wonderful so far. Even though I like my job and coworkers, being around kids every day can be pretty brutal.

So I have the next three weeks off. Instead of taking a trip somewhere, which was one of my main goals while living in Asia, I decided to get eye surgery instead. I figured I'm so used to the hospital system here, there's no reason not to.

The price is only 1.4 million won at the doctor's office in Yeonsu-dong. That works out to about $1,240. That's a pretty good deal to not need contacts or glasses. So I get this done, and the next time I travel will be monumentally better.

As soon as I'm able to use the computer, I'll post the results of the surgery. If you never see an update, that's a bad sign, huh?

Jeong Mi's birthday is tomorrow. It's also her day off. She's pretty great, so she's going to the doctor's office with me for the surgery. It's only a 10-minute operation and then another 90 minutes of rest at the office.

I bought her a cake and got her more photos for the photo album I got for her for Christmas. I'll take her somewhere special this weekend, when I'm feeling a little better.

Anyway, think good thoughts for me tomorrow, please. I could use them. SEE you later!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Move Deserves A Celebration

A very stressful week came to an end with a big payoff. This week, I moved from my adequate apartment with many broken appliances, to a very nice-sized apartment with solid windows and a heater and washing machine that actually work. It is awesome.

While I wanted to get a moving company, Jeong Mi's father insisted that he and Jeong Mi could move my stuff. As I expected, it was he and I who did all the moving. Though Jeong Mi and her mom did help organize and clean as the move took place.

Fortunately, it only took about 3 hours to move all my junk. As stressful as it was, it's so worth it to get into the new apartment. The fact that I don't have to wear a sweater and sit in front of a space heater the whole time I'm at home is payoff enough.

I bought her family dinner on the night of the move, but there's really very little I can do to actually repay them for all their generosity. But thanks goes out to them anyway.

And with any move, a housewarming party is clearly necessary. So on Friday night, all my very good friends came over and we celebrated with pizza, booze and beer pong. Popper and I even put the coveted beer pong trophy on the line in a four-team, double-elimination tournament. And as we are used to doing, we rolled through the tourney with three straight wins and a retention of the legendary trophy. Back-to-back champions, and it feels so good.

Once again my thanks goes out to all my friends. It was really great that they could all stop by. I've been fortunate to meet such good people, between Koreans and Westerners, here in Korea.

Winter camp is in full swing now at school. We had the sixth graders last week. This week will be the toughest as the first graders come through. Fortunately for me, this is my last week of work before a nice three-week long vacation. During that vacation, I plan on getting eye surgery, so hopefully by the end of next week, I'll be going sans contacts and glasses for the rest of my life.

It's been busy lately, but it's also been a lot of fun. If this month is any indicator of the new year, I think it's going to be a good one.

As always, go here to check out the great pics from the housewarming party.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Busiest Christmas and New Year's Ever

It was nice to have the entire week off between Christmas and New Year's. I had some big plans, but didn't know just how busy I would be.

First, Jeong Mi helped me make Christmas cookies. It is one of my mom's recipes, and one of my favorites. They're Christmas Wreath Cookies and they're corn-flakey and marshmallowy and awesome. We whipped up a few batches of those, and I gave them to my friends and co-workers as Christmas gifts. Homemade? Check. Tasty? Check. It's pretty much the perfect gift.

The celebrating began during the week at Hambak. We made Christmas cookies with our fifth-grade class, and gave stockings to our afternoon kids. It was a nice way to wind down the work week and prepare for the break.

The real started off on Christmas Eve at Go Bar, my new/old favorite place. Jeong Mi and I met Bryan, Geoff and Alex as well as a bunch of our other friends, including Chelsea, her boyfriend, Dorian and Andrew. We all had a really great time. I even got to introduce my new friend, Jingis, to the world. I think he had fun, too. You'll see him in a lot of the pictures.

On Christmas, I took Jeong Mi and her parents to a fance-shmancy restaurant on the top of the mountain next to Yeonsu-dong. I'd had a drink there once before and knew it was a little bit expensive, but it was a special occasion. We had a nice time during the meal, and I used the opportunity to ask Jeong Mi's parents for permission to propose to her. 

Thankfully, they were thrilled with the idea. I haven't proposed yet, but the first step is out of the way. So Christmas of 2010 marks a very special time in our lives.

On Sunday night, I stayed at Jeong Mi's place because we got up bright and early for our trip with her parents down to the south coast of the country. We drove on down to Busan. Jeong Mi had never been there before. This was my second time. 

When we first got there, we went on a boat ride around the coast of the city. Busan is the second largest city in South Korea and has the largest port. So it was a cool perspective to see it from a boat. 

Next, we tried a Busan-style hotcake. It was pretty good, but I prefer the ones up here in my neighborhood. We then headed over to one of Busan's many fish markets. It was absolutely terrible. I like fish sticks, and fish and chips style of fish. But I don't really like seafood. And this was just a tightly-packed kilometer of seafood. Just brutal. We even ate in one of the dirty little restaurants. Needless to say, I didn't eat too much there.

After that, we drove over to some of the beaches, where we got a view of a fairly recently finished bridge that connects one part of the city to another across what is now a bay-type inlet. It was really lit up beautifully, and the beach is nice during the winter without millions of sun umbrellas and even more millions of people.

After that, we went to another oyster place because the first place got her mom's order wrong. The grilled oysters are not too bad, but still not really my style. It was nice to sit with her family and hang out though.

A Korean trip wouldn't be compete without heading to a jimjilbang. So that's where we went. I wasn't super excited to shower and sauna naked with her dad, but when in Korea ... Jeong Mi and her mom got some special salt scrub, so I waited two hours while her dad dozed off in the sleeping area with a THOUSAND Koreans. When going to a public bath house becomes a weekend trip in America, that's the day I change my citizenship. Fortunately, when Jeong Mi finally finished, we went to a motel to stay, while her parents stayed at the jimjilbang.

The return trip was an entirely different path home. We went east first and curled up around that way. We went to a famous battle site where one of their admirals became the most famous Korean naval officer ever. It was a nice monument and park area. We also checked out a really windy fishing inlet with a windmill at the top of a small hill. We almost got almost blown off of that hill when a huge gust came in.

Then the snow came. Thanks to that and our pit stops, it took us about 12 hours to get home. When we finally got there, I was dead. But her parents wanted to get dinner, so we went to the local galbi place I liked. I went to bed and thought all was well.

Well, it wasn't. Whatever I ate there made me so sick that I couldn't even drink water the next day. While I didn't want to leave, Jeong Mi's dad took me to the hospital, where I spent the next two days recovering. I was probably ready to go after getting a shot and an IV, but they wouldn't let me go. So I was just stuck.

My roommates and the nurses and doctors were all very nice, but I still was just dying to get out of there.

I was released on Dec. 31. I had basically zero time to recover, but still met with my friends at Go Bar. Unfortunately, I couldn't drink. Jeong Mi and I only stayed a couple hours and left right after midnight.

I suppose that's not too bad. Winding down the week slowly and getting ready for two weeks of work. After that, it's vacation once again, when I get my eye surgery (hopefully).

As always check out all the pictures from Christmas here.

And check out the New Year's pics here.