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12 July 2004
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Korea Life Blog - Office-tel


All moved in and connected with DSL already. Julie's in the kitchen cooking dwen jang chigae and making pan chan (side dishes). While she's hard at work cooking I'll work hard posting pictures. A man's work is never finished.



Here's the outside of our building. As you can see, lots of big windows. We're way up near the top.



Ah, a peaceful day. A couple of middle school girls in uniforms walking by the ugly yet comical statue in front of our building. Anybody know what character that is? By the way, I think uniforms are a good idea in public schools. No worrying and stress about clothes and fashion. I remember those days. "Did I wear this Iron Maiden shirt yesterday or was it that one?"



Right across the street is the gigantic Hyundai Department store connected to a similar, gigantic Rodmanco Department store. Both have excellent food courts with every Korean food you could want. Also, there's a nice new CGV movie theater on the top floor of Rodmanco. What I like best about this area is that there's relatively few people. Every place you go here, whether it's these department stores or the shopping marts, or even the Outback Steakhouse and TGIF down the street, there seems to be more people were working there than shopping/buying. Julie seems to think everything around here is so new, perhaps the land was cheaper and businesses are banking on new apartments and the new subway line coming here in 2008 (for now the subway is just 2kms away though).



Here's the 24 hour Walmart. I like the Homeplus down the street better, but this is right across the street and nicer to shop at because there's no people. Home Plus seems to be monopolizing business. How does it feel, Walmart? In America Walmart is the largest private employer in the country and the biggest money maker too. Here so far, there just another face in the crowd. Anyone back home that's wondering - no it's not actually the same stuff being sold as back home in the Walmart. It's mostly like the other Korean shopping centers with just a few more American goods.



The building right next to ours features two busy English hagwons and a decent health club. Look, that's one of the Wonderlands that have such a bad reputation around Korea. That's the franchise I started off at on Geoje-do (pronounced Kawjay-doe in case you didn't know).



Here was the apartment after an hour of cleaning up. In Korea, and this is one thing I hate, YOU have to clean your new apartment. If someone moves out, they can leave a mess and you have to clean it. If you're the first tenant to move in, as we are here, you have to clean all the dirt and debris left by the construction team. Because we moved in so early we also had to clean all the left-over building materials too like nails and razors and other friendly items.



That's because the cleaning team was "busy". Check out part of the team hard at work in the next apartment over.



The ultimate in laziness - a fan that comes with a remote control. Not a bad price for the set, made in China of course, and sold at Walmart for about $20.



Here's a shot of the living room shortly after we finished cleaning. As you can see the window is huge. It goes up higher by another 1/3 behind the curtains which Julie convinced the manager to give us. They come down all the way, though they don't block the sunshine much. Quite the opposite of living in a cave at least.



They also threw in this nice modern looking table. Bonus! I was also surprised that the floor is made of real wood too. First time it hasn't been that fake sticker floor crap.



Here you can see the other side, the little stairway and mini-upstairs. Is that Julie folding my boxer shorts? The joys of living with a girl are starting already.



These pics are a little out of order, sorry. Anyway, here you can get an idea of the view outside at night. I'll get pics later of the view in the daytime. There are nice mountains way back in the distance. Basically it just overlooks the city but a nice area of it. It's hard to believe how cheap the rent is ($350/month) for living in such a cool area of Seoul. I wonder how much this apartment would be somewhere like in Manhattan.



Julie's temporarily decorated the stairway with the Totoro toys I bought her in Japan. Finally my plan paid off and they are now mine again!



Here's the mini-upstairs. It's basically just a place to sleep and thereby keep your bedding out of the living room. I think it would be a cool place for a cat to hang out. There's one over at Walmart that I had to refrain from buying. I don't like to support pet-shops. Especially the one here at Walmart. You should see these huge parakeets they keep in the smallest cages. Breaks your heart. Also, Julie says cats are a big responsibility and cat pee smells bad and blah blah blah....



At least Gargamel can really enjoy the upstairs. He looks pretty happy.



When Julie wasn't looking I added a few more decorations like these short, fat Star Wars wind-ups I bought a few years ago in Japan to the top of the post-modern looking air conditioner.



Also, while Julie was cleaning the floor (bless her heart), I took the time to get other important things done like setting up part of my smurf collection...I still can't believe I lugged these over from the states, had the bag searched by post 9-11 security thugs who thought for sure I was smuggling a bomb in Gargamel's castle. Oh well, at times like these I don't regret the hassle.



Here's the door camera/phone thing. When the bells rings you pick up the receiver and talk to whoever's there while looking at them on the screen. If it's someone you don't like, this one has a button that causes a siren to wail in the hallway. I didn't know what the button said in Korean and hit it by mistake today. The poor internet guy, looking like a criminal in the hallway. Sorry, I didn't mean to embarrass you.



Check out this door-lock. You lift it up and punch in your secret number and a voice in Korean says "문이열렸 습니다" (the door is open) as it unlocks. You can change the number any time you want, which means it's easy to lock your loved one out if you're angry at them. Behave, Julie.



You don't need one, but in case you forget your number you can use one of these odd looking keys. Apparently it reads the code from inside the locking device meaning you don't have to do anything to the key if you change the code. Monkey like easy.



Now for the kitchen. Julies loves it. It's nice, I agree. I like the washing machine. It's so quiet you can barely hear it even on spin cycle.



I had no idea what this was until Julie explained it to me. You know you're in Asian if you have one. You dump a bag of uncooked rice in it and then when it's time to fill your rice cooker, you press the button and out pops 150 grams worth. Nice. I used it today but forgot to replace the plastic dish so when I pushed the button 150 grams of rice spilled on the floor.



I took this shot last night after we picked up some dishes. Fortunately Julie and I have the same taste. We both like modern and simple designs.



The only thing I don't like about the kitchen is this new-age electric stove. It looks cool but it just doesn't work as well as a real gas stove. Apparently there's no gas line yet in this area of the city, that's how new it is, so they had to use these. The manager warned us it'll be expensive if we use it often. We're going to buy one of those portable gas ranges sometime soon.



The fridge on the other hand is totally nice and pretty spacious. Those three large drawer-shelves on the bottom make-up the freezer.



I like the little helpful pictures to let you know what goes where. Phew. They come in handy to a guy that's used to putting everything from chicken to peanut butter in the same place.



This flat shaped radio comes with the apartment too. We've been using it to listen to AFKN (American Forces Korea Network) which is actually pretty good.



We got this nice little computer stand for $50 at Home Plus. Julie kept asking how we could put it together without tools. I worked in a furniture store before and assured her the tools were included. She guffawed and said "This is Korea..." and assured me there were no tools.



So I bet her 5,000 won ($4.50) and well, there's the tools and there's my winnings. I felt a little bad taking it, but come on...I told her about my job at the furniture store.


There you have it, our new apartment as it is so far. I'll post some more pics later as we get more things like a sofa and a TV. There's no cable line hooked up in this area too, but according to the manager everyone will be getting Satellite TV at a huge discount starting next month. By the way, we've actually been surprised by how much we like NOT having a TV - at least for now. I've been doing crossword puzzles, reading books again, exercising, and writing. Once I get back to teaching, there will be even less time to waste in front of the tube so maybe we'll see how long we can go without one. I'm certain to miss watching movies though.

Be sure to keep coming by. Now that I'm all set up and living with my girlfriend there should be a lot of new things to share though mostly with those living abroad or those using a proxy. My blog is still blocked here, despite my heart wrenching letter to the Korea Herald. They didn't bother to include my e-mail address in the paper either so I didn't even get any feedback at all. If the block is permanent I may have to start up a new website. Does anyone know if I buy my own URL through Blogger if that will change the site address and thereby circumvent the block? Is anybody still reading the ridiculously long post? If so, thanks!

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