Korea Pet Cafés

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A few months ago I watched Katy Perry’s part of me vid, and during her stay in Tokyo she stopped by a pet cafe. Basically where you can drink tea and play with animals. (I know I know, what can I say I find celebrity documentaries appealing kinda like I find candy appealing. No nutritional value but once in a while……:) My curiosity was aroused, and once we moved to Korea I sought out to find if these places were actually real, and sure enough, they are!

For 8,000 won you get a drink of choice (mine was the delicious sweet potato latte) and chance to play with pets to your hearts delight- without the obligation of actually taking care of the animals. Most of the cafés are either dog or cat cafes. The cats on the second floor, dogs on the third. At another cafe in town it is a glass doll and cat cafe, and Word on the street is in Seoul there is even a goat cafe!

The pet cafés are super weird. So the pets play with the people, there aren’t very many toys, and many of the animals seem really sad… Also it’s not exactly ‘sanitary’ in order to get the dogs to actually come to you, you have to sit on the floor, the same floor where they also use the toilet. The staff try and clean it up but there are defiantly places where it goes missed for a time.

I’m not quite sure why they have pet cafés. Someone mentioned that in done places/countries it’s not legal to have pets, and also buying pets and taking care of them is really expensive here. And also the average Korean works something like 50-60 hours a week- not exactly conducive to raising a pet.

Either way, it was a fun experience, for Trae and I, and our friends Brooke and Andy…atleast fun for brook and I, more of a labor of love by our men 🙂

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this (compliments of the daegu compass) is a map of where the cat dog cafe is located, incase you want to stop by yourself!

this (compliments of the daegu compass and sofarinkorea blog) is a map of where the cat dog cafe is located, incase you want to stop by yourself!

it is worth nothing that there is also a pub in town called the lucky dog, which is also a dog cafe. weird.

it is worth nothing that there is also a pub in town called the lucky dog, which is also a dog cafe. weird.

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Couch potato to marathon in 8 weeks

Here in korea I have been so thankful to have a awesome running trail right outside my house. Currently 10 weeks pregnant, I’m gearing up for my first (and possibly only) half marathon while living here. The race is in 4 weeks, and that is plenty of time to get these 5 mile legs to 13.1.

I love running…now. I’ve found it to be a great energy booster and stress reliever, but this was not always the case. So this post may be months late, but better late than never.

Growing up I hated running. I never thought of myself as athletic, and while I was never severely overweight or anything, I was never fit or in shape. In college I worked up to the point of 4 miles a few times, but honestly I felt successful if I could run 2 miles without stopping. The only issue was I for some crazy reason had it on my bucket list to run a marathon.

The change happened this past April. Trae and I were on our way home from India, and I was a pretty bad case of food poisoning. But it hit me. We were moving from the flatlands of Oklahoma in June, moving to the Mountains of South Korea, and then after that maybe we would have kids, so if I wanted to run this marathon (or even a 1/2) I needed to do it now, in 2 months, before moving. So I got my rear in gear, put on my old running shoes and ran 2 miles – stopping twice. Food poisoning and all. It was hard, but I needed to do it.

I tried to find an online 8 week training program, but the only ones I could find were for 16 weeks. No matter I just decided to keep running. I did however find a very inspiring post on a running forum about “couch potato to marathon in 2 1/2 months. I was encouraged and inspired.

The first 3 weeks were the hardest. Building up that initial muscle and endurance to comfortably run 5 miles was rough. Running is easy when it’s only the muscles that hurt. It is misery when it’s your lungs, head and side cramps.

After getting to 5 miles I started running 4-5 times a week. Running shorter runs in the week, and only longer run on the weekends. First it was 8 mi, then 13, then 16.5. With each week the shorter runs got longer also. After I ran my first 8 mile run I felt like maybe, just maybe I could ACTUALLY run a 1/2. My (completely amazing) friend bri was training for a full at the time so I confided my growing running confidante to her.

(Me) “Bri…. I actually think I can maybe do a full”
(Bri) “oh cool, you know I forgot that is really hard, I run one atleast once a week! You can do it!”

Once a week. She ran my life goal ONCE A WEEK! ok I had the motivation I needed to mentally switch to the full. The next week I ran my first 13 miles, and continued to run a 1/2 once a week until the marathon.

I signed up for a marathon in OKC, but it got canceled. I was determined though. I searched for a marathon within driving distance for that same weekend and June 2nd, after a week of moving a d eating nothing but coffee and pizza, we drove to 15 hours to Minniapolis MN. Trae has family there and the course looked easy, but not too easy.

My goal was to run the marathon in under 5 hours. I hadn’t run over 16.5 miles before and I had no idea how I would feel. I heard about this “wall” people hit and I was terrified.

Day of the race I filed in with all the other runners.everyone talking about their past marathons. I decided to keep my headphones in. I wasn’t about to let these professionals know I was a poser runner in their camp.

I started at a 9:30 minute mile, fully intending to slow down later, but I never had to. The race was so run. The water stops and bathroom stops every 2 miles made it so easy. Mud I had only ever run alone. So many people made the race seem more like a game then a marathon.

I felt wonderful up until mile 21. Then I started getting tired. I tried to stay away from GU during training as it made my stomach cramp but I figured at mile 23 I would try some. That was a bad idea. Mile 24 was horrible. My stomach was cramping and I felt so horrible, but my 25 it passed, the sugar kicked in and I crossed that finish line at 26.2 mimes feeling line I could have kept going a few more miles!

My final time was 4:12. 48 minutes faster than I thought I could do it!

I’m my saying this to encourage you to screw the system and run run run. It does have it’s side effects going from zero to 26.2 so fast. I started wearing a knee brace at 4 weeks of training because of discomfort rapid muscle growth was causing, and I was very under prepared. It would have been a good idea to start eating right earlier and get better running shoes earlier. But it was possible, and it was SO fun.

If you’re considering running a race, I completely recommend it! Be warned it is a HUGE time commitment and will slowly take over your waking thoughts. You may become slightly addicted 😉

Stay tuned for my first ever pregnant, Korean 1/2 marathon Nov. 24th!

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Weekday routine

Now that we’ve been here a little bit, we’ve become much more at home here in Daegu. We understand the bus systems more, are comfortable in our jobs, have made a few more friends avid can (slowly) read Hangul (Korean)

Weekends are wonderful. I’ve always had jobs that include working part or all of the weekend, so having 2 1/2 days consistently free has been great! Weekdays are a bit of a routine, one the I know you are so anxious know that I am sharing it with you.

6:30 – I wake up and get ready for the day

6:50 – Trae wakes up, gets ready. The sun also starts peeping out over the mountains right into our room at this time which helps the waking up process. Winter is coming fast however and mr. Sun will be staying down later.

7:15 – Trae heads down to get coffee before the shuttle. Lucky him. Pregnant me. 😉

7:20 – I head down to the bus stop to catch our shuttle to work.

7:30 – shuttle departs for DGEV

8:00 – Arrive at DGEV, eat breakfast, prepare for that mornings lessons.

9:00 – 11:45 – first 3 pierods. usually all the same subject

11:45 – lunch break, and also a great time to prepare for the afternoon classes, work out, read or take a nap. Trae and I both consistently worked out during the first 2 weeks. Trae continues to do so. Lately I’ve had meetings during lunch, and also they’re (online blogs etc) not kidding when they talk about pregnancy fatigue. It’s weird how existed I get, even by lunch.

1:45 – 5:30 – last 4 periods. usually all 4 are the same classes, but different than the morning 3 classes.

5:30 – dinner. DGEV provides a cafeteria for teachers 3 meals a day. The feed in mostly Korean, but they include some bits of American food now and then. There is also the never failing salad bar or PB&j. The American food they do provide is really nice, especially since it’s so expensive to buy imported stuff here. A jar of JIFF peanut butter is like $9+, jelly is about the same.

6:10 – catch the shuttle back to the apartments. The return trip is always at least twice as long (1 hr as opposed to 30 min) as the morning due to traffic and a different route

7:10 – arrive home, maybe go for a run if we didn’t work out in the afternoon, make a snack, clean up our mornings mess. We tipically don’t go “out and about” on a week night because honestly by the time were home we are pretty tired, (ok like I said. I’m always soooooo tired I just want to sleep at 8pm lol) and 6:30 will come early the next morning. In the evenings we also try and skype or call family and friends from home. the time difference is a bit of a doozy (12 hours ahead of tulsa, 14 hours ahead of oregon, 8 hrs ahead of Niger).

Trae normally doesn’t let me sleep at 8, so we’ll try and watch a movie, read something, watch a show online (a feat in itself. Netflix and Hulu are “not available in this country”.

9:30-10:30 – Sweet sleep atlast. Thanks to being pregnant I pretty consistently wake to grab a snack, drink water and… You know at 2:30 and 4:30 am)

It’s truly a adventurous and amazing schedule, and I know it makes you want to pack your bags and leave for Korea right NOW. … And I think that’s a wonderful idea! Come join us!

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Pregnant in a Foreign Land.

We are thrilled to announce that we are pregnant, and expecting baby C to join us roughly May 28th. AHHHHH!!!!! 🙂

I know, surprise, surprise. We are so thankful that God has blessed us with this little one. It is truly amazing how fast a tiny human forms inside the womb. Currently we are 9 weeks along, and already baby C has arms and legs, eyes and the most beautiful sounding heartbeat. We originally had thought in a few years would be the “ideal” time to start having kids. Get in a little more adventure, then settle down, however we also want to have a decent number of children, and wanted to be young parents so we don’t have children into our older age. So while it was a bit of a surprise, it was quite welcome.

Baby Childs, Coming May 2014!

Baby Childs, Coming May 2014!

We found out in not the most romantic of places, maybe even one of the mostUnromantic. Less than 2 weeks after arriving in Korea we took a weekend with some friends to Busan to get some beach time in. We had some idea that we MAY be preggo, but thought travel and the stress of moving to a new job, in a new country, in a new continent, in a place where we don’t speak the language was more the case. ANYWAY, we decided to find a test and take it just to be safe (hey Korea has some bomb fish, and if I WASN”T pregnant, I was going to take advantage of that tuna). My friend Alyssa and I found a pharmacy and through several acts of charades we were able to purchase some pregnancy tests, and through several more charades figure out what 1 line and 2 lines meant. It was pretty comical.

preggo5We were staying in a hostel with a group of teachers from all over the world also taking advantage of the beach. They had come in from a long night of partying just about the time I woke up to use the restroom… I had (or at least thought I had) clear instructions that the test ONLY worked the first time you go in the morning. So 5 am I crawled down my bunk bed, find my way around sleeping party goers, stumble around in the dark hostel to find the restroom, take all 3 tests, and all 3 come back a solid positive. I couldn’t really believe it, but I rinsed the tests, stumbled back to my room, tip toed around till I found Traes cot, snuck in with him. It took a few seconds of poking to finally wake him up (ok it WAS only 5 am) and all I could say was “hey….. you awake…so…. I took the test…..” then the flood of emotions came. Trae held me and told me how excited he was, prayed a little, and I started sobbing – Big silent tears as to not wake anyone up. I wasn’t sad per say. I have always wanted to have a big family, have kids young, and be a mom. It was just a lot to take in all at one moment…. Remember what I mentioned above… that we were in a world of newness. New is awesome, but new also means I had no idea if there was even an English speaking hospital in our city, if I would have to cancel my contract, if I would be sent back to the US, if I was ready to be a mom. It was a lot to take in. I didn’t even know where to buy bread and milk, and I was going to be a mom! WOAH.

preggo2(On a side note, I suddenly feel such compassion for single moms. I felt such an overwhelming amount of emotion, excitement, fear, worry, hope, all at the same moment. I was so thankful for Trae, to be there to support, and later the family we told) It would be the most terrifying thing in the world to experience all that emotion with none of the support. I’m sure the events that led those young women to the place they at most likely don’t line up with the Bible, and I’m sure those women know that, but being pregnant is intense.. it makes we want to volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center or something. Anyway. Thank you single mothers, who have your babies, even though you may be publicly ridiculed, rather than abort privately and be publicly praised. You are brave. ANYWAY…..)

The heavy emotions only lasted a short while, then research began and excitement grew. We found the Hyosung women’s hospital, and it had wonderful reviews, and as soon as I went there I felt so much more at peace. Ms. Ku was amazing and spoke perfect English, the hospital was clean, and our insurance covered SO much. From there on, things just kept getting better and better. We found that having a baby in Korea is INCREDIBLY affordable. (With our insurance it should only come to about $1000) we also found that the government gives a $300 gift card for pregnancy expenses, we told our boss and they worked out the most amazing maternity leave plane I have ever heard of, and one by on, as we’ve told our friends and family, everyone has been beyond supportive. (and seriously, everyone should come to Korea to have babies. Once you get past the part that it’s all in Korean, it is wonderful)

I’m so thankful for the support of all of our families. We are far away from all of them, and I know the distance will be just as hard on them as it will be on us, but we are blessed to have you as family.

So now, here we are, 9 weeks along with our first child. We plan on having him or her here, at Hyosung….Our very own little Korean baby. We came to Korea planning on having adventures, and we will. We’re currently planning our Christmas backpacking adventure through China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand – it’s going to be epic. But this is thus far the greatest adventure we have been on yet, and one that will be with us for the rest of our lives.

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(Oh p.s. morning sickness hasn’t been that bad, only a greater sensitivity to motion, and hunger. it puts me in a mild haze of nausea, but other than that and being exhausted all the time, I’m feeling pretty good. and 2) for those who were concerned about my baby, I have almost entirely cut our caffeine from my diet. I know, miracles do happen. This baby better know it’s loved!)

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(new) home sweet home.

Home sweet home. Korea has provided a lot of new experiences, the most drastic of which is living on the 10th floor of an apartment complex in a city of 4 million. It’s been fun adjusting to korea and city life. I honestly love it for this season. Subways and busses and taxis aren’t as bad as I thought they would be, and the city at night is seriously so beautiful with its neon lights and hustle and bustle….OK, hustle and bustle may be a bit of a reach. Koreans are very calm people, and never seem to be in a hurry. I always feel like I’m running walking the streets because i pass everyone so fast. sometimes i even pass bikers. lol.

Our rent is covered in our contracts as a work benefit, we just have to pay utilities, which aren’t too bad as long as the hot water heater is only on when in use, and the lights are off as much as possible. Our new home is small and sweet, with hints of maroon and pink here and there (not by my choice). The fridge is a little frustrating because it hardly is cool, and the freezer takes about a week to freeze anything, so we’ve had to buy more preserved foods or fresh foods we will eat asap.

the view from our front door and back balcony is wonderful. the balcony is more a screened in place to dry clothes, but it counts. we do have a small washer, but have to hang our clothes to dry. I’ve never been so appreciative for dryers before. they dry clothes so fast, and wrinkle free, and it only take 2 seconds to switch the laundry instead of 15 minutes!

along the river on both sides there is a walking/running and biking trail that extends miles and miles either direction, and it’s so assessable from our home. such a blessing to have something so close. every 3km or so there is some form of outdoor workout equipment, kiddy pool, stretching equipment etc. exercise is VERY importable to koreans, even if they do exercise in slow motion. running is not common, but everyone walks for a long time every day, stretches, bikes or does yoga or something. Daegu is so safe it’s almost weird. way past dark the trails are still packed with exercisers, and everyone raves about how safe it is. our neighbors often sleep with their doors and windows open, and they store their bikes or other misc items outside their doors unattended, and no one steals. I’ve even head of people losing their new smart-phones on the subways, and going back hours later and finding it because no one took it. Even the rowdy kids in class are super honest. it’s refreshing to be in a place where everyone feel so safe.

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rainy day fireworks from our balcony

rainy day fireworks from our balcony

theses sunrises are the best wake ups ever.

theses sunrises are the best wake ups ever.

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view from out our front door.

view from out our front door.

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shameless selfie to show off my new specs.

shameless selfie to show off my new specs.

candles are such a comfort, even when they are cheap "DAISO" cangles that dry super weird.

candles are such a comfort, even when they are cheap “DAISO” cangles that dry super weird.

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still pretty sparse, but it's home.

still pretty sparse, but it’s home.

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our mini closet for our sweet new home.

our mini closet for our sweet new home.

from our front door

from our front door

our "extra room"/closet. black and white because the blankets are peach and pink stripes and honestly not that pretty.

our “extra room”/closet. black and white because the blankets are peach and pink stripes and honestly not that pretty.

finally I have a gas stove! even if it is teeny tiny.

finally I have a gas stove! even if it is teeny tiny.

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morning haze. #bigcityprobs

morning haze. #bigcityprobs

 

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The Best Korean Bank Account You Don’t Have

Some of the facts are a bit dated, but great I do none the less!

Aaron Snowberger's Home Abroad

en_top_logoToday, the exchange rate for the Korean Won took one of the largest drops it’s had in over a month, bringing it from about 1356 Won down to 1278.25 (to $1 US). This also marks the lowest the exchange rate has been in almost 4 months (it was lower in early January, but only for a day or two). And the April monthly average for the Korean Won is the lowest it’s been since October of last year (2008). 

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Colorful Daegu

Tuesday morning finds me sill in bed, sipping a cup of tea, watching from my window my  city slowly wake up and begin its day that won’t end until late into the night. Even though it’s only Tuesday, not many surprises feel as wonderful as finding you have an unexpected day off.  I hardly know what to do with myself.. so instead I’m doing nothing but reading, journaling, and catching up of this past week in social media. 🙂 Now for a recap of this weekend in Daegu.

This weekend was one of the most fun weekends here yet. We are becoming more and more comfortable and familiar with our surroundings, meeting more friends and becoming more a part of the world we find ourselves in, rather than confused bystanders.

20131013-210353.jpgThis was the weekend of festivals. Across the river there was some sort of teaching festival, full of miscellaneous booths, non-profits, food, dancing, music and games. We stopped by only for a short time, but thanks to the music even that was was maybe too long. Lets just say my ear has yet to learn to appreciate some Korean trot, to me it just sounds whiney and strained… which is a but of a laugh because the festival has had nonstop music playing all weekend and across the water it sounds as clear in our room as it did when we were there. The best part of having the festival so close is we had the most spectacular firework show right outside our 10th floor window Thursday night

rainy day fireworks

rainy day fireworks

Friday we only work a half day, and this half day was my Loves 22nd birthday! We celebrated by heading downtown and getting some PIZZA HUT! Koreans have pizza, and like pizza, but they also put the most peculiar topping on said pizza hut. sweet potato and corn being the most popular. Pizza hut is a little pricy here, but it is the only place in town that has the options of real, cheesy, sans corn pizza, and it was delicious and worth every penny (I mean every won.)

Great group to celebrate Trae with!

Great group to celebrate Trae with!

After pizza, just when everyone was about to burst we made the silly decision to attempt the “Disco Pang Pang” it was a terrible and hilarious idea (That I politely bowed out of….hey i wasn’t about to lose my amazing pizza dinner to some spiny thing) The disco pang pang is basically a large merry-go-round for adults, complete with hydraulics, strobe and disco lights, and PSY music. it was HILARIOUS to watch. If you’ve every in Korea it will be 4,000 ($4) well and somewhat miserably  spent.  After the disco merry-go-round we continued our american food streak and grabbed some ice-cream at Cold Stone, stopped by thursday party, said good bye to all our friends, and headed home. I felt so blessed that after only a few weeks here in Korea we had so many friends who came out to celebrate with us, even when i forgot to plan something till only days before the event. (#badwifepoints)

a horrible picture, but this is the disco pang pang

a horrible picture, but this is the disco pang pang

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One of the many missions. jump to pop the balloon. Trae won.

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the mot amazing street opera I have ever heard…. (and also the only street opera I’ve every heard)

Saturday was the “Running man scavenger hunt” a city wide hunt where you, with your team follow GPS coordinates on a “running man app”  and run miles all over the city to each location from 2:15 and ending at 5:30. Each team was allotted 100 points to begin with, and at every GPS pinpoint there are missions. At every missions we bet 10 or 20 points. if you win, you gain, if not, you hand over your points. The team to have the most points at the end wins the grand prize of 3,000,000 ($3000)  The scavenger hunt was all in Korean so we were thankful we had once Korean college student with our group.  The missions were anything from throwing darts, building structures with blocks, popping balloons, finding hiding people and deciphering riddles. I had to leave at 4 to make it to a Bible study i’ve recently started going to, but my team did AWESOME. every missions we bet 20 and won, we ran from location to location and (with help) deciphered the riddles, RAN to the last locations and arrived at 5:33PM. only 3 minutes too late, but late enough to be disqualified for the cash prize of $3000. It was a letdown, but a but of an adrenaline rush. 20131013-204610.jpg 20131013-204534.jpg 20131013-204456.jpg

On our way home we grabbed a bite to eat and watched about 20 minutes of the parade, then caught a taxi home, and i think i slept harder last night than I have in a long time.

Sunday we decided to take it chill. We went to church at grace international service, came home, lounged about for a few hours, then I headed downtown and Trae headed… to a mountain or somewhere. I’ve only gone out and about a few times on my own, but i really had been wanting a new pair of glasses, and in Korea i head they were really affordable. I may or may not have gotten lost getting to and from downtown (hey, it was the festival and all the roads were closed and all the buss stops changed, how was i supposed to know what to do) but I did manage to get some glasses, get home, sweep the floor, wash the dishes, and make dinner all before Trae even got home. I’m a woman, hear me roar.

on another note, glasses are SO affordable in Korea. I don’t speak korean very well, but when he told me for ALL (exam, frames and lenses) was 40,000- the dollar amount of $40 I couldn’t believe it. but it is true, and wonderful!20131013-204508.jpg

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