Date Night in 2 Takes

This past Saturday, Johnnie and I decided to head up to the Yongsan Station in Seoul to watch the latest Harry Potter movie in a 3D IMAX theater and to have a nice dinner out.  It was a nicely planned date night... in theory.  Unfortunately things didn't work out the way we planned.

Everything started out fine.  We walked to the train station, which is only a 10 minute stroll from our apartment, and we had already purchased train tickets ahead of time online. The website,, has an English version and is easy to use.  You purchase the tickets, print your receipt, and go to the train station.  At the ticket window, you simply exchange your receipt for the actual tickets.

We had a some extra time so we hit up the little coffee shop in the train station called See U Bean.

In case you didn't notice, these are stairs :)

FAIL #1 - we didn't get seats together on the train.  Not that it's a huge deal, but I much rather sit next to my hubby for the hour long ride than next to a snoring stranger.

FAIL #2 - This train was overly crowded.  Even if all the seats are sold, "standing room" tickets still always available.  We got our seats but it was awkward with so many people standing over us.  Especially when those people are either staring at you or have their butt in your face.

The Yongsan Station which is connected to the iPark Mall which is great because you don't even have to go outside to get to the theater.  The CVG Cinema was large and impressive.  There are electronic ticket machines and there is also a customer service counter.  One different thing about movie theaters in Korea is that you get assigned seat numbers.  We tried to purchase tickets via the ticket machine first but surprisingly, there was no English available on it.  Still, we managed to navigate to the correct movie and time only to find out there were no good seats left.

FAIL #3 - Watching an IMAX movie any movie from the front row is not comfortable or enjoyable so Harry Potter in 3D was not an option.

A non-3D version of Harry Potter was also playing so we decided to see that one.  We even got center "sweet box" seats!  This movie was playing a little later so we went to find a place to eat dinner.  It seemed that our date night was on the road to improvement.

There are dozens of restaurants in the iPark Mall.  All we had to do was chose one and hope for the best!  We picked a Korean restaurant that was crowded thinking it must have good food if there were that many people in it.

We were led to a table that already had the numerous little Korean side dishes waiting on it (umm, how long were these sitting out?) and given another odd side dish of small whole potatoes, over-cooked gummy corn-on-the-cob pieces, and hard-boiled quail eggs.  Johnnie got a beef dish that came out in cute little heart-shaped patties.  They only took a few minutes to cook in the hot skillet on our table.

I rolled with the seafood dumplings (technically an appetizer) because it was the only non-beef item on the menu.  They were fried vegetarian dumplings, similar to yaki mandu, and topped with seafood.  They were tasty but I'm sure they had way more calories than is healthy for one person to eat.

FAIL #5 - The Korean restaurant food was so-so and they didn't have any kind of meat other than beef.  I'll eat chicken, pork, and seafood but not beef.

While sitting at the restaurant we looked up the train schedule on my iPhone.  We were seeing a later movie so therefore we had to get a later train.  Unfortunately, the trains were no longer running by the time the movie let out.

FAIL #6 - We had to get a refund on our movie tickets so we could catch a train home.

We did, however, purchase great seats for the 3D Harry Potter movie for the next day.  So our date night turned into a two-hour trip to get a not-so-great dinner and buy movie tickets for another day.  

Date night: Take 1 - FAILED.

On Sunday we once again purchased tickets online and walked to the train station.  Because of scheduling, we had to take the express subway (instead of the train) and ended up standing for most of the ride.  But at least we stood together :)

We already had our movie tickets that we purchased the day before so we headed upstairs and hit the snack bar before going into the theater.  They had popcorn!  In fact, they had three types: salt, caramel, and cheesy onion.  We went with the normal salted popcorn and bottled water.

We passed through Star Trek type doors to enter the IMAX theater (awesome!), grabbed some 3D glasses, and found our seats.  We sat in the dead center of the row and it was stadium seating so there were no heads in our way.  An IMAX theater, 3D movie, and center row seats... it was perfect for watching the final Harry Potter movie :)

There were a lot of Korean commercials played before the movie and a few movie previews.  Johnnie and I were assuming that Harry Potter would be played in English but since we were in Korea, there could be a chance of it being dubbed over in Korean.  We decided to walk out if we had to read subtitles the whole time.

Luckily, the movie was in English!  The Koreans were the ones who had to read the subtitles (too bad for them).  Watching it in 3D was a-mazing!  There weren't many things that "came at us" at all, it was more of a sense of being "in" the scenes.  Especially since the screen was so large and we had prime seats!  I loved every second of the movie!  But then again, I'm a HUGE Harry Potter fan :)

After the movie we went off to randomly choose another restaurant to eat in.  After the Korean place the day before, we were in the mood for something completely different.  We found a place called Pasta Amigo!  Other than the odd name and the employees, there was nothing Korean about it.  They had good beer and they had chicken :)

This date night turned out like the first one was supposed to.  Great seats for the 3D movie, a good meal, and seats together for the train ride home.  Date night: Take 2... SUCCESS :)

"Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times,
if one only remembers to turn on the light."
~Albus Dumbledore

Happiness is New Running Shoes

I got new running shoes!  I put about 400 miles on the ASICS Gel-Nimbus 12 pair that I bought last summer so I upgraded to the Gel-Nimbus 13 this year.

Last year I got my running gait electronically analyzed at Road Runner Sports in Seattle and they recommended Superfeet Insoles in berry.  I was skeptical but decided to try them.  Turns out, they make a big difference in how my feet/legs/hips feel while running... enough to make me purchase a new pair this year.  There is a hard plastic form under the heel and arch providing light support and shock absorbing foam under the toes.  Just take out the insoles that came in the shoes (blue insole shown below) and slip the new ones in!  I love that the pink matches my shoes this year :)

I was never the athletic type growing up.  I wouldn't say I was really "a runner" until 2009 but there was a long road leading up to it.  Back in 2003 I ran my first half marathon.  In fact, it was my first road race ever.  The farthest I'd ever run before that point was 6 (grueling, huffing and puffing) miles.  I was not in shape and not prepared.  I wore the wrong shoes, the wrong clothes, and I knew nothing about hydration, energy or pacing while running.  Needless to say, the race was miserable.  I started out running as fast as I could, burnt out soon after that, and thought I was going to die by mile 3.  After a lot of run/walking, I did actually finish the race but I could barely walk for a week afterwards and I lost four toenails.  I stopped running after that.

Fast forward to 2007.  I decided to try running again but I did too much too quickly and got an injury that took months to heal.  Fast forward to 2009.  I finally started learning about fitness and nutrition, joined a gym, and started running again.  This time, armed with knowledge.  Luckily the climate I lived in was great for running almost year round and there were often local races to run in.  In 2010 I ran 16 races, including the Muddy Buddy and 2 half marathons.  I turned a friend onto running in February 2010 and we ran most of the races together, including a half marathon in September that same year.  I'm so proud of her for coming that far in about six months time and I love having a running buddy who runs at my pace!  Now that we live apart, we've decided to get together every year and run a half marathon in a different state.  This year will be Texas and we've got other friends joining us!

2010 Road Races (Dulce ran 3 of them!)

The Muddy Buddy in Atlanta, June 2010.  This was a 5 mile running/biking partner race that included obstacles to climb on/under/over along the way and ending with a crawl through a mud pit.  It was the coolest race I've ever done yet!  We were team "Short and Sweet" - I was Short :)

The Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon, September 2010.  I ran this with my running buddy and we did great!  The course is flat and the last couple miles are along the boardwalk.  The Rock N Roll Marathon Series races are a blast to run because there are bands and cheerleaders along the entire race course and a large concert the night of the race.

The Las Vegas Rock N Roll Half Marathon, December 2010.  Johnnie and I were in Vegas for a conference so we decided to run this together.  It was an awesome race running up and down the Vegas strip complete with many "Elvis" runners and a "run-through wedding" station!

I'm hooked.  I'm a runner for life.  I'm not a fast runner but I'm a strong runner.  It's great for getting and staying in shape but it also has a strong positive effect on my mental well-being.  I actually enjoy running  (now that I know what I'm doing) and finally get that "runner's high" which really is an addictive feeling!  My goal is to one day be winning first place in my age group at races simply because I'm the oldest one there still running :)

"In running, it doesn't matter if you come in first, middle, or last. 
The satisfaction comes from saying 'I finished the race'."
~Fred Lebow

Night on the Town

Although we live in a small town, there is always a good time to be had if you're with the right people :)

This particular evening began when I met a friend at a little spa to get pedicures.  I didn't catch the meaning of the name of the place until my friend pointed it out: "4ne1" = for any one.  How clever ;)  The pedicures were amazing.  We sat in large, plush, massaging chairs while our toes and feet got scrubbed, rubbed, trimmed, and painted.  The spa also offers a variety of other services including manicures, massages, facials, and waxing.  Something on their waxing menu wasn't quite right...  :)

4ne1 is upstairs above the Heavenly Bread bakery and cafe so the whole place smells delicious all the time!  The best part is that you can order food and drinks (even wine) to enjoy while you're getting pampered.  Pedis and wine... now that is heavenly :)

After the pedicures we did a little purse shopping and then met a group of gals for dinner at a thai restaurant.  The food is amazing (I rolled with the grilled marinated pork) and I love how this place always shapes their rice into a heart!

After dinner, we hit up a local club for a kettle (or two).  When you order a kettle at this club, you are given a metal tea kettle, shot glasses, and 3 bottles of liquid:  Soju (a strong clear grain alcohol), Baccus-D (a redbull-type energy drink), and a bottle of lemon-lime soda.  You pour the liquids into the kettle, mix, and pour.  The mixture glows bright yellow under black lights and tastes like candy.  Yummy but potent stuff ;)


There were a few juicy girls in the club wearing insane heels!

A group of our guys joined us girls later that evening.  A few games of darts were played before we hit up another club with pool tables.  There are cheap cabs all over this town so everyone had a blast and got home safely.  It was a fun and memorable night out!

"Stay busy, get plenty of exercise, and don't drink
too much.  Then again, don't drink too little."
~Herman Smith-Johannsen

Korean Beachwear

Koreans tend to keep themselves covered up no matter the weather, but especially when it's sunny.  I often go running through town wearing shorts and a tank top (sweating buckets because of the heat and humidity) and I'll pass a Korean running in long pants, long sleeves, gloves, a hat, and a face mask.  I don't understand how they don't pass out from heat stroke!  When it's sunny, many Koreans wear extra clothing, large hats, and carry umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun's rays.

UPDATE:  The Las Angeles Times just published this great article, In South Korea, Beachgoers Stay Out of the Sun by John M. Glionna, which discusses the Koreans' apparent dislike for the sun.  He writes that Korea is a country "where tans are dismissed as the mark of laborers."  The article is a fun read if you have the time!

The day we went to Mallipo Beach was beautiful weather!  There was lots of sunshine, only a few clouds, a little wind, high humidity, and temperature highs in the 90's.  It was a hot day, especially on a beach with no shade.  My friend and I were only wearing swimsuits and sunglasses and we were sweating.  Keep this in mind as you look at the photos below.  What we saw Koreans wearing at the hot, humid, and sunny beach was "not quite right."

No one in this photo is wearing an actual swimsuit!

These girls went swimming fully clothed!

There were very few shirtless guys at this beach.  Even the guy on the jet ski is fully clothed.

The girl on the left actually has on a bikini... under her clothes.

Careful not to get any sun on your face...

Let's go for a romantic walk on the beach in the ocean.

Just chillin'... in the water... with our clothes on...

"There is no such thing as a weird human being.  It's just
that some people require more understanding than others."
~Tim Robbins

Mallipo Beach

Last week we finally got a break from the rainy monsoon weather we've been having.  A friend and I took advantage of the sunshine and blue skies and headed to a beach... with our dogs!

There is an area southeast of us, near the town of Taean, with numerous beaches along the jagged shoreline.  Earlier this month, I went to Yeonpo Beach which is in this area.  This time we headed to Mallipo Beach.  Mallipo Beach is much more built up as a public recreation area.  There are many convenience stores, beach supplies stores, and restaurants along the beach.  The beach is large and there were a lot of people of all ages there enjoying the sand and water.

The dogs had a great time running along the beach, rolling in the sand, chasing birds, and playing in the water.  This is the largest area Dulce has had to run around in since we've been in Korea.  She was in her glory and completely wiped out by the end of the day!

Soon after setting up our spot on the beach, two Koreans (life guards?) approached me and asked who these dogs belonged to.  Really?  I looked around.  There was no one else close to us and the dogs were at our side so who do you think these dogs belong to?  The woman, who spoke good English with a slight British accent, said "Well frankly speaking, dogs are not allowed here."  Frankly speaking?  The famous line from Gone With the Wind immediately came to mind as a possible retort but I all I said was "Okaaayy" and they walked away.  No one else said anything to us about the dogs for the rest of the day.  In fact, a lot of people seemed to enjoy watching them play and even stopped to pet them.

I snapped a photo of the life guards as they walked away.  If you're like me, you may be thinking "What are they wearing?"  It turns out (no surprise) that Korean beachwear is "not quite right" and tomorrow's post will be exclusively about just that :)

It was a hot day with few clouds so after a couple hours, we rented a large beach umbrella.

There was a large group of children that showed up in the afternoon.  It must have been a field trip or camp outing of some kind.  The kids all put on life jackets and warmed up with jumping jacks before heading to the water.  They spent time digging in the sand and playing in the water before ending with a raft ride.

Kids having fun on a floating bridge.  I love their swimming caps, goggles, and long sleeves!

We made some new friends.  These girls were excited to practice speaking English with us :)

Dulce found a friend too!  This little cutie followed Dulce around for a long while.

The road along the beach is lined with stores and restaurants.  All of the restaurants have workers who stand outside and try to wave in everyone passing by.

"Here comes the sun, do do do do
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right.  It's all right."
~The Beatles