March 23rd, 2005

Pink fairy


Yesterday, we went out for dinner at a local Japanese restaurant. We'd been there before, and the food is very good. I usually order the Japanese curry on rice. Last night though I ordered the "curry tonkatsu" which is curry on top of breaded pork with rice on the side. YUMMY! But what was so memorable about our dinner was what Maya insisted on having. We usually get her a bowl of udon noodle soup and she and Nadia share it and pretty much finish the whole thing. But last night, while looking at the menu, Maya pointed at a dish and INSISTED on having that. It was "Unadon" - grilled eel. And we were reluctant to order it because we weren't sure she would actually eat it. But she was adament, even started to cry a little when we said no. So, Chris decided to forego what he actually wanted (which was sushi) and ordered the eel to share with Maya. One of our dishes came with some noodles, so there was a back up for the girls.

Well, they both devoured the eel! Of course, I wasn't surprised that Nadia ate it, but Maya really enjoyed it and the rice that came with it (plain rice with a little of the grilling sauce mixed in). And I have to admit, grilled eel is good! It is very tender and the sauce on top, which I think is "soya" sauce, was yummy too. I finished my "curry tonkatsu" (Nadia helped), Chris and I finished the plate of sushi that we also ordered, and the bowl of "unadon" on rice was completely emptied by all of us!

Oh and the week that we got here, we were at a noodle restaurant and in Maya's bowl of noodle soup, there was some squid. She tried it willingly. She picked it up with her fork and said, "what is this?" and Chris told her and then she said, "Oh, ok" and popped it into her mouth! She sat there for a minute chewing and then announced, "I like squid!" LOL

My children always have had issues with sleeping (like, they don't want to even when they are dead tired), but thank goodness that they are adventurous when it comes to trying new foods. We have always told Maya that she needs to eat at least two bites of a new food before she can tell us that she doesn't like it and we will totally listen to her then and not make her eat anymore of it. Well, it seems like it paid off!

I am so proud of Maya.
Korea - Morning Calm

COEX Aquarium

Today, I decided to get out of the apartment and make my first attempt at going somewhere that required me to actually talk to non-English speakers! So, where could we go that was relatively easy to get to by Taxi and that the kids would have a great time? COEX Aquarium, which is in the COEX Mall, a pretty big and well-known mall in Seoul. Pretty much every taxi driver in Seoul knows COEX Mall, so I was able to get a taxi and just say, "COEX", and the driver knew just where to go. The trick though was to communicate that I had to put the folded up stroller in the trunk, which wasn't a problem. I just pointed to the folded up stroller on the sidewalk and then pointed to the trunk and the driver nodded and then popped the trunk for me. And we were on our way! It cost about $4 to get from our apartment to COEX. The driver was very nice, as they usually are when they see the kids, and dropped me off in a relatively non-busy place so that I could take my time getting out of the taxi. He even said to me, "slowly", so that I would not stress too much to get out of his taxi. Guess the stressful look on my face crosses many cultures!

Once we got out of the cab, I had to figure out where we were exactly and how to get to the Aquarium. Thankfully, there was a huge information sign and map right where we got dropped off. And it was in English! Bless that taxi driver!! So, once I found the "You are here" sign and devised a path to follow, I popped Nadia into the stroller, the backpack into the basket underneath and off we went. We went into the main entrance and found ourselves in the COEX Convention hall. We had to go down one floor to the underground mall level. Then we were on familiar territory.

COEX Mall is HUGE. But it is only one part of the whole COEX system, which includes a convention hall, an airport terminal (where you can check in your baggage and take a shuttle to the Inchon airport, which is about an hour away), and a couple of large hotels. The mall itself is a maze of shops and restaurants - so far I've been there 3 or 4 times and each time we seem to see the same set of shops without even getting to the next section! So of course, we had to walk through the mall to get to the aquarium, which was on the far side of the mall. That was fine, because I had no time constaints, I had snacks, I had money for lunch and, most importantly, I had the stroller! Seriously, this is a big deal, but Seoul is not usually a stroller-friendly city. But today, we went into whatever shops we were interested in. Almost in every store, Maya wanted something, but I was able to talk her either into waiting to see what was in the next shop or to put the item back and if she really wanted it, we would get it on the way out. She was very good at listening, especially at the thought of what could be at the next store! So we made our way through the mall until we got to the aquarium.

That's when Nadia decided that it was time for a snack! It was 11am, so she was due, so went to the bathroom, did our business and washed up and then sat down for a good snack of strawberries. That hit the spot for all of us. Finally, it was time for the aquarium!

So, I chose COEX Aquarium because, 1. I could get there easily, 2. I've been to COEX Mall before, 3. I figured the Aquarium would keep the kids entertained. I was right on all three points. Check out the website, if you're interested:

What I liked about the aquarium was that all the exhibits were relatively low to the ground, so even Nadia could walk right up to the tanks and see the fish and sea animals. She got so excited when she saw all the "ish" and literally squealed with delight when we walked into the first exhibit. Actually, the very first tank we saw was filled with frogs, which totally thrilled Maya, but just seemed to whet Nadia's appetite for the next tank that had fish.

We went through the whole aquarium with Maya asking at EVERY tank or exhibit, "And what is that called, Mom?" I read a lot of signs and was extremely thankful that the signs were in Korean AND in English. The aquarium is set up as a "water journey". You follow the path marine life takes from the high mountains to the deep sea. So, you go from freshwater fish to the waters of the Inca Empire of Machu Pichu to the dark caves of the Andes Mountains, to the Amazon Rain Forest (the rain forest set up was VERY cool!) to where the rivers meet the seas, to the Seven Seas to the deep, deep seas. I'm not sure why they chose to make exhibits that follow the Incas and the Andes Mountains, but there you go.

The whole "tour" took almost 2 hours. Once we were done, we were, of course, deposited into the gift shop, where Maya looked around and looked around until she spotted what she NEEDED to have - a beanie baby eel! LOL Last night she was eating eel, and today she wanted a stuffed one. I gave in and got it for her, mainly cause I am stil so proud of her for wanting to try grilled eel. So, we got it and headed out to get lunch at, where else, McDonald's! Yup, there is a McD's in COEX Mall. Big surprise. Anyway, that was perfectly fine with me - I knew the kids would eat there and I could get something too. We had a very nice leisurely lunch. Afterwards, we headed back to catch a cab home. It was 1:30pm and just passing Nadia's usual time for her nap. I successfully got us a cab, and directed the cabby back to our apartment.

YAY! I managed to get us out and about without getting lost or myself hopelessly stressed out. Will wonders never cease??
Pink fairy

Pictures from our trip to COEX Aquarium

In the Shark's mouth! In the Shark's mouth!

March 23, 2005
In the shark tunnel In the shark tunnel

I don't know what they enjoyed more - the sharks and the manta rays or the moving sidewalk!!
March 23, 2005
Looking at the fish! Looking at the fish!

Maya and Nadia discovering the fish at COEX Aquarium.
March 23, 2005
Maya and the Green Moray Eel Maya and the Green Moray Eel

March 23, 2005
Electric Eel! Electric Eel!

March 23, 2005