Sunday, March 28, 2010

It's Spring!!! Kind of...

Well hello all you fabulous blog followers. It is officially Spring, however the weather has been nothing of the sort. Latanya and I are ready for some warm weather ASAP!!! It has been less cold though. If that counts for anything. It is suppose to be in the 50's all week! Yeah!!! So hopefully not too much longer until we make it to the 60's and then the 70's and so on.
This weekend we celebrated our friend's birthday. Ben aka "grandpa" enjoyed a wonderful night out on Saturday. We went out for chicken galbi first. And then after dinner we bar hoped in Itaewon. It was a really nice night with a heck of a lot of foreigners. It was also a goodbye party for another friend also named Ben.
Latanya and I called it an early night after 2:00am. We got a cab back home with our neighbors Jess and Fran. Sunday was a nice relaxing day. We cleaned around the house, a sort of Spring cleaning and cooked. Latanya and I have discovered that I love to prep the food and she to cook it. It is becoming a nice routine. She made some delicious Tandoori Chicken and Dahl with rice. It was amazing (so spicy). Mmmmmm. Well that it for now, we hope everyone else is having some nice warm weather.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Last Friday night, Dan and I had date night in Gangnam at the Brazilian restaurant, Brazilia. This type of steakhouse offers continuous table side service of 3 cuts of meat, a gourmet salad, and the most authentic Brazilian side dishes you can get in Korea. Usually Brazilian restaurants give the thinnest slices of meats but we hit the steak jackpot. Our portions were very generous to say the least and we ate our money's worth all for 22,000 won ($19) each. Fun times heading into Seoul enjoying great food and my hubby's company.
On the bus to the restaurant Dan had an idea out of nowhere. We have lived in Korea for over a year now and he thought it was about time we did something we have been putting off. So we (I reluctantly) decided to go to a Jjimjilbang, a huge Korean-style sauna/spa. Thinking we might regret not going there for so long and the fear we might actually enjoy it. Many of our friends have been raving about the jjimjilbang. The main reason we haven't gone is to enjoy the spa you are required to be in your birthday suit. As a foreigner, Emart can be very a traumatizing experience with people pointing and staring. Going to a place where you're required to be naked is not my idea of fun.
So we arrived at the tree-lined walkway and entered the 7 story jjimjilbang. Paid/checked in for 12,000 won ($10) at the front desk. We were given a towel, T-shirt, shorts, and a locker key with a sensor to use as virtual cash in case you needed to purchase extra services. We walked through the lobby where you put your shoes in a locker followed by a path that leads you into a gender separated areas or the common area with a restaurant, snack bar, nail salon, spa, gym, and a enormous T.V. room. Dan and I said our good byes and picked a meeting time to catch the bus home. I changed into the provided clothes having no idea what to do. I wandered around to get a feel for the place trying to mimic everyone else. I headed fully clothed to the second floor where everyone was stark naked and ran into some foreigners. Our conversation went like this,"Hi my name is Latanya I'm not looking at your boobs but I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing." They laughed and said this must be your first time here. They told me this floor was the naked zone/sauna/spa area. I changed and went down stairs hiding behind my 2" x 2" towel and explored the grounds. There were various kinds of rooms: a traditional charcoal oven room, pine tree firewood sweat room, crystal light salt room, Hinoki forest bath room, yellow earth pyramid room, natural jade energy room, and an ice room. There was also a room for fertility, I literally ran in the other direction hoping I didn't inhale any fumes. You can soak in hot or cold tubs with natural ingredients such as green tea or ginseng. This is not just a place for beauty, it's a place where families go to relax and spend time together. Jjimjilbang's are open 24 hours a day and are thus used as overnight lodging as well. On the bus ride home we could barely keep our eyes opened we were too relaxed. Really glad we tried this and will definitely be back again.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

2nd St. Patrick's Day in Korea

If you are all die hard Dan N Tan blog readers you will recall last year's St. Patrick's Day. It was one for the ages in its own special way. This year was much different and even more enjoyable. Last year it was Latanya and I setting on the floor with chopsticks, Guinness and a concoction of an attempt at corned beef and cabbage. This year we received some decorations from my mom and made the apartment look festive. I made sure to wear the bright green tie to work, thanks mom, it looked great. We had brought some corned beef from the U.S. and bought some more to help serve everyone. We decided to have our normal family dinner on that Wednesday, (St. Patrick's Day) so we just invited our closest friends that we normally have dinner with weekly, along with a new couple to the area. It was a pot luck situation as usual and everything was great. Latanya made corned beef and cabbage, and a salad. Jess and Fran made some potato pancakes and Jello, Krisela and Andrew made a meat pie, Ben and Lydia brought pizza (there was a mishap with their soup so pizza was plan B) and Titus brought beer. Though it seemed like a small guest list it was quite perfect. We had some Irish music playing in the background and all enjoyed each other's company. The food was so much better than last year and we really enjoyed spending the holiday with friends. I think I introduced St. Patrick's Day to Latanya about four years ago, and I think she has perfected her corned beef and cabbage. It was sooooo delicious.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Contract Two Year Two

Well it seems that we are off and running already into our second year here in Korea. We have been back for two weeks now. It has been relatively easy getting readjusted to our home away from home. Both Latanya and I have some new co-teachers and a new schedule for our classes. Last week it decided to snow and we were not too pleased to be back in the cold. It warmed up a little this week but the forecast predicts more snow soon perhaps. Latanya and I have made a new plan for grocery buying. We are trying to eat at home more. We stocked up on meats for the month at Costco as well as pasta, cereal, tortillas, Dodger Dogs etc. For all the veggies and fruits, we go to EMart on a weekly basis. It has worked out nicely thus far. Hopefully we will save on money and we can also try and eat a bit healthier. It was nice seeing our friends again when we came back. They were here to welcome us and eager to here how our trip home was. Latanya is currently taking event planning classes. I am almost done with my TEFL certificate (to get a pay raise). We are also eagerly trying to plan our summer vacation. I think we are leaning closer and closer to Bali, but India is not out of the question. That's it for now.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Christmas and New Year's Eve

To start our Christmas off right we had a white elephant gift exchange. There were about a dozen of us. We had a cap of 10,000 Won which is a little less than $10.00. I brought a bottle of Soju .80 cents wrapped with a 10,000 Won bill. I wrapped the present beautifully inside multiple boxes. It had to have been at least 7 or 8 boxes that needed to be opened. It was quited funny when our friend Stephan chose it. The present I ended up with was from our neighbor Jess. It was a bear cap, Kahlua and some other goodies. Latanya got some earmuffs, candy and other sorts. We all had some holiday cookies and a great little afternoon.
As far as a Latanya and Daniel Christmas tradition we baked cookies in the apartment and decorated. My mom sent us some decorations to help make the place look festive. We wore our Santa hats and had a jolly good time.
On Christmas Eve we went to the local ski resort, which is about a 5 minute drive away. We met some friends of ours, Curtis and Dong-He. I learned how to snowboard and Latanya refreshed her memory. It was so much fun. There were quite a few people on the slops but over all not way too crowded. I wasn't half bad. It took me awhile to get the whole standing up thing. But towards the end of the night I went down the medium slope only falling once.
The next day we opened our presents from home. We called our families and we were pleased to be able to talk to everyone. We were really sad at this point. It was really hard for both of us. We realized what Christmas really means to us. It's a time for family and by not being with our family it did not feel the same. Though it was nice to see everyone via Skype. If only next year my family can get the web cam going on their end. LOL. Towards dusk on Christmas day we experienced something never before in our lives. We had a white Christmas!!! It began to snow and we were so excited.
For New Year's Eve we got a hotel in Seoul. We stayed in the same hotel with a couple of couples. We did some pregame drinking in the room and then made our way to a festive area for the count down. The streets were pretty packed and everyone was out in full force. We hit up a couple of bars and had a few more drinks. Later we counted down inside another bar. It was way too cold to be out and about we decided.
After the mayhem of the count down a friend of ours decided to wander off. He had a little too much to drink. So the guys decided to make a search party for him. It was like find a miniature needle in a giant haystack. With all the people walking around it was near impossible. While we split up to look for him I decided to enjoy the moment a little more and bought a $1.00 firework. It was great. It was one you hold and lite it and it fires were you point it. It must have fired about a dozen times into the air, so worth the money.
After awhile the search stopped and we made our way back to the hotel and crashed out. Oh but before we left the bar the manager tried to make Latanya and I pay for drinks that some other person we did not know didn't pay for. We were adamant about not paying and after a good 20 minute debate the manager gave up and we left. (Side story) It turns out the person who did not pay for their drinks was a girl we were introduced to earlier. She just so happened to be from my hometown Yucaipa. Not only that but she graduated a year after me at YHS. What a small world, right?
We found out the next day our friend, who wandered off made it back safely. We don't know how he made it back but he came stumbling in really late. All in all it was a wonderful night out. It was definitely a memorable night to boot.

Our Vacation Home

Well, well, well, we are back for another year. We arrived safe and sound in the land of Morning Calm. We had an amazing vacation that lasted from Jan. 26th to Feb. 27th. For the first part of our trip we spent it relaxing at our parent's homes and eating as much food as we could. We stuffed our faces with home cooking and good old fast food. Besides family and friends we truly had missed the food from home the most. It was great to eat something not only familiar, but also delicious American food. Don't get me wrong Korea has many western chains and mostly good too, but they don't have many Mexican food restaurants, especially nothing to the equivalent to a Taco Fiesta or a Titos. We also got our fill of some sit down restaurants like Chili's, Outback, Black Angus, CPK, the Alcapolco etc. My most enjoyed meal had to have been the California Burrito from Taco Fiesta with three rolled Tacos with guacamole and cheese...mmmm!
So anyways, after a couple of days of relaxing with the parents, we had a birthday party for my grandma. It was a nice champagne brunch. It was great to see everyone especially our nieces. They have gotten so big.
The next week we saw some friends of ours and met their almost one year old. She is so adorable. On the weekend Latanya took a trip to San Fransisco with her sister to meet her friend Ayesha. They had a wonderful time catching up and visiting Ayesha's boyfriends family in San Jose. I pretty much watched HGTV all weekend. Oh how we missed House Hunter's International, our fav.
The next week we got in some shopping and ran some errands. It was great to go to Target. Just reading in Barnes and Noble was awesome too. At the end of the week we took a trip down to San Diego, first stop Taco Fiesta. We met my brother Michael and his girlfriend Michelle. She made us some good Indian food. We hung around our kegerator and had a great night catching up.
The next day we met up with my other brother Bill and our nieces, Madelyn and Cecelia. We all went to the San Diego Zoo. Latanya and I have never been to the San Diego Zoo before just the L.A. Zoo, and boy were we impressed. The girls showed us around. Madelyn is so smart, she was our little tour guide. After a long day at the Zoo my sister-in-law met us for dinner along with Michael and Michelle. After dinner the adults went back to Michael's place and we all played a little cards (The Double Dutch) for some good old laughs.
The next week we did some more going back and forth between parents. I went to Vegas with my two buddies. We did not win too big but fared well enough, gotta love the roulette.
The week after that we met my aunts in LA for dinner. I was really nice visiting with them. Later in the week we celebrated Latanya's sister Courtney's birthday. Latanya planned the whole thing with a Twilight the saga theme. It was fantastic. She really did a great job. After that it was time to go back to Korea. Our vacation was perfect. It was really long and we accomplished a lot. We miss everyone already. But we know that we are back in Korea for a reason and a specific goal. We want to save enough money to be able to buy a house and set up our future financially.