A Korean Orphanage Visit

This past weekend, Johnnie and I went with a group of people from the base to volunteer at an orphanage simply to spend time interacting with the children.  We met with a group of older kids, mostly middle and high school aged with a couple young boys mixed in.  We spent time inside playing cards and board games, and we also spent time outside playing soccer and frisbee.  The children all seemed excited to have us visit and we really enjoyed our afternoon spent with them!

I was surprised to learn that not all of the children living at the orphanage are really orphans.  Many of them actually have living parents and relatives but are placed in the orphanage because their family can't afford or are unable to take care of them.  Others are there because they would bring "shame" to the family because of being born out of wedlock or having a disability or handicap.  Some children were abandoned completely while others get to see their families on special occasions.  There are some children who truly are orphans with no living family.

I found an interesting article titled "Korea + Adoption = Shame?" that was just written this past May.  According to the article, it costs nothing for a Korean couple to adopt a Korean orphan but few actually do it.  Koreans have such great pride in family lineage that it's out of the question for many to adopt a child from a different blood line.  Some of these kids have lived or will live their entire childhood in an orphanage.  I can't help but wonder what will become of them when they become too old to stay there and are sent out into the world.  Chances are they won't attend college and will work as laborers, struggling to find their place in a culture that views them as outcasts.  They have so much potential, it's a shame that they don't all have someone to help them realize it.

The younger children had fun passing around somebody's red camera.  Oh how I would love to see the pictures that these little ones made!  Next time I'll take an extra camera with me ;)

"While we try to teach children all about life,
children teach us what life is all about."
~Angela Schwindt

The New Happy Quilt

During my first month living in Korea, some friends took me to the amazing fabric store called "Happy Quilt" for the first time.  The blog post that I wrote about it (click here to read it) has had a steady stream of viewers searching for information about the store.  Last month, Happy Quilt relocated to a bigger and better location.  I stopped by a few days ago to take pictures for this new post and (not surprisingly) left with some fabrics that I fell in love with :)

I took photos on my way to the store to help anyone searching.  Directions are at the end of this post.

The new Happy Quilt is amazing!  It's much larger, brighter, and more organized than the old store.  The fabrics are much easier to browse through now and there is some organization as far as fabric prints.

There is still shelf upon shelf of precut packaged fabric.  This fabric is usually 2 yards in length.

There are hundreds of rolls of fabric that you can have cut to the length you need.

They had a selection of super soft (almost flannel-like) fabric that I never saw at the old store.

There is still a great selection of Vera prints - some quilted, some not.

There are rolls of fabric featuring American sports teams.

Dr. Seuss fabric!  How cute is this?!

There is such a huge selection, I'm sure you could find any print you want in this store.

There are bags made that you can buy, or you can order a custom bag with fabrics of your choice.

There is a small selection of sewing notions.

Batting and pillows

After spending time photographing the store and drooling over browsing the fabric selections, the old man working came walking toward me with a roll of designer purse fabric!  After I picked up my jaw, I asked him if he had other colors.  He led me into the locked storage building beside the store where there were mountains of fabric!  Let me repeat... I'm sure you could find any print you want in this store.  The old man showed me a stash of designer fabrics such as Coach, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci.  The fabrics were very thick and rich in color and texture.  I'm not about to make my own purses, but I did decide that we need some new pillows in our house ;)

How to get to the new Happy Quilt store:

You can either drive to Happy Quilt or you can take the subway line #1 to the Jije Station and then walk or take a taxi to Happy Quilt.  View the map at the bottom of this post to see the walking routes between the station and Happy Quilt.

You can click on the pictures below to see them larger.

I drove South on Route 1 (aka "little 1", not Expressway 1).  Just after you drive under these two highway overpasses, you will see Emart on your left and a long narrow bridge going over the train tracks to your right which you will turn onto and drive over.  There is a stoplight at the turn for the bridge.  If you are driving North on Route 1, Emart would be on your right and the bridge will be on your left before the highway overpasses.

This long bridge is next to the Jije Station.

As you come over the long bridge, you can see Happy Quilt ahead and to the left.  There are 3 large signs on the blue and gray buildings that say "HAPPY QUILT" so you can't miss it.

Just after the long bridge, there is a small bridge that goes over a stream.  Right after this small bridge, the road branches like this:

You'll make a 180 degree turn to the left.

Just around the corner you'll see the small Happy Quilt sign.  Turn right at that sign (directly behind the sign) and you'll drive down a little alley before seeing the glorious Happy Quilt buildings on your left.

This view is from the Happy Quilt side of the bridge looking back toward Route 1, giving you a perspective of where the bridge is in comparison to Emart and the Jije Station.

To see this location on a map, go to http://maps.google.com and copy/paste these coordinates: 37.020115,127.06462

It is possible to walk to Happy Quilt from Jije Station.  Happy Quilt is .5 mile (800 meters) from Jije Station if you exit from the back and walk on the roads through the field.  You can also exit from the front and take the sidewalk over the long bridge but that walk is slightly longer at .6 mile.  Click the image below to view it larger.

You may also like:
Yangjae Flower Market (an amazing source of flowers, ribbons, and gift wrapping supplies!)
Dongdaemun Fabric Market (a huge market in Seoul full of fabric and sewing notions of all kinds)

"Any day spent sewing, is a good day."
~Author Unknown

Yangjae Flower Market

Last week I went with a group of friends to the Yangjae Flower Market or "Flower City" near Seoul.  This flower market is the largest in the Seoul area.  The market opens at early at 4:00am.  The flower selling ends at 1:00pm but venders selling other things stay open later.  The earlier you go, the better the selection of fresh-cut flowers.  There are numerous buildings that include greenhouses and nurseries, retail stores, and an auction room.  You can buy live potted plants, flowers, trees, shrubs, bonsai trees, cacti, and herbs.  You can also buy large pots, soil, seeds, and gardening tools.

We spent most of our time in the two-story building on the property.  The bottom floor was full of thousands of fresh cut flowers but the top floor was packed with dried flowers, silk flowers, vases, baskets, ribbons, wrapping paper, fabric tissue paper, and decorative accessories.  This is a gift-wrapper's and wreath-maker's paradise!  I stocked up on spools of ribbon and gift wrapping supplies before moving out of Korea.

It's worth the trip even if you simply walk around, look at all the colors, and inhale the divinely sweet fragrance filling the air.  However, you most likely won't leave empty handed when you realize the flowers (even the roses) are only a few dollars per bunch!

Directions to the Flower Market at the end of this post.  To see a map of the location, copy/paste these coordinates ( 37.466185,127.040201 ) into Google Maps.

How to get there driving:  The flower market is just off of Expressway 1.  The exit is the one south of the Yangjae exit.  The best way to recognize it is that there are only three tall buildings off of that exit and they are next to the flower market: the Kia headquarters, the Hyundae headquarters, and the AT Center.

How to get there by subway:  There is a new subway line (DX Line) that will take you very close to the Flower Market.  Take the new red DX Line and get off at the Yangjae Citizen's Forest station.  Leave the station at Exit 4 and walk straight (about 0.2 miles / 0.3 kilometers) until you see the AT Flower City arch sign pictured below on your right.

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap
but by the seeds that you plant."
~Robert Louis Stevenson