Seoul, Korea First Impressions

In India, I found myself saying, “Come on, India, it’s 2014, get with the picture!” In Seoul, I find myself saying, “Come on, US, it’s 2014, get with it!” It is lovely, clean, safe (except for their pesky neighbors to the north), and very technologically advanced. Our touch screen phone in our hotel controls all of the lights, the thermostat, and can tell the hotel to not disturb us. It also gives information about the hotel and surrounding areas. The lights for the bathroom are a touch panel as well, as are the buttons that indicate whether we would like our room cleaned or do not disturb. These buttons illuminate lights on the outside of the door so the maids can see when rooms need to be cleaned. Not that they actually have to walk down the hall to see, because they have a computer in their room that has a map of all the rooms that are occupied and which ones are ready to be cleaned and which ones are do not disturb. The elevators are slow but also cool. The toilets can be heated, can squirt you in many different patterns, and some even play music. I have not been adventurous in this area, though, and ours is unplugged so Landon doesn’t figure this out and give the bathroom a shower with toilet water.

Our hotel… it is very nice!
All of the things in our complex

View out our window. That is the airport

Ceiling outside the elevator

We are living at the Lotte City Hotel at the Gimpo airport. I thought this would be a bad thing, but it provides Landon with entertainment as he watches the planes take off, buses pull up to the terminal, and lots of cars. Our room is fairly small but it has a fridge and we brought a rice cooker with us so we are trying to occasionally make meals here. There is a wonderful machine down the hall that makes hot, cold and filtered water as well as ice, so we have noodle lunches sometimes. We have a nice breakfast buffet every morning included in the hotel. They have forks, knives and spoons (vs. metal chopsticks only) and meats and eggs and yummy potato wedges and waffles and breads and rice and kimchi and yummy green salad and seaweed soup and fermented squid and sauteed veggies and yogurt and juice and fruit and cereal. So lots of choices, but about half of them are not very appealing for breakfast. We can take an elevator down to a nice mall with many food options and a grocery store. They also have Gymboree and H&M. Austin is lucky we have to live out of suitcases or I would go shopping there more.

Water show

Also down the elevator and through the mall is a subway station with 3 lines. We have taken the airport line (it is faster) to get into the city most times, but there are other lines that go more south and east that we will be taking when we have other adventures. There is an awesome trip planner website for the subway that allows me to figure out what we need to do to get where we want to go, including where to switch stops and that sort of thing. It is indispensable. I don’t know what people did before internet.

Speaking of internet, it is very fast here. A far cry from the snail speeds in India. Every one has their phones out on the subway and many are playing games, chatting, or watching shows. All of the ladies dress very nice here. Short skirts are the norm, but many wear nylons and high heels and nice shirts just out and around. It is always best to have shoulders covered here, or at least just sleeveless tops (no spaghetti straps), because otherwise you are being immodest, and that is looked down upon. When greeting people you bow a little bigger than a head bob and everyone here is super friendly. Landon has had old ladies giving him candy left and right again, just like in India. What a ham!

Around the outside of the hotel/mall/cinema is a jogging track and garden with lots of statues and even a play area. Sadly the playground is closed right now and I think it is broken, so it will not be open for awhile. There is a pond with water feature that squirts water to music. It is fun walking out there  and there are many things for Landon to play with there.

Contemplating the world on the grounds of the hotel
Traditional Korean canopy thing

Church is good- our English branch is really big right now and is about half military and half “other”. Some girls are teaching English here, there are men who are business people who are living here for work. We have church in a 3 story building and it is all church building. The chapel and cultural hall are on the 3rd floor, then the classrooms are on the 2nd floor and the parking is first floor. Landon is in the Jr. nursery and had a great time even though he was super jet lagged when we took him. We seem to be the only ones living in a hotel though. A lovely girl from the ward invited Landon and I over for dinner (Austin was sleeping and preparing to go to work that night) and we had yummy German pancakes. She has two kids and her husband is military. They were at BYU at the same time we were! Sadly, they are leaving to go back to Utah and visit family for the duration of our time here, but it was so nice of them to offer to feed us on such short notice. This Saturday and Sunday, Elder Cook from the Quorum of the Twelve will be visiting the military district, which is super exciting!

There are many food options- not just Korean. We had pizza for lunch yesterday and chicken sandwiches for dinner. We are going to a Korean restaurant tonight though, a BBQ one where you cook your own meat over the fire. Exciting! Kimchi was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I had some radish kimchi and it was actually pretty good. Maybe someday I will be brave and try the cabbage stuff. I just don’t know…

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