Monday, April 25, 2011

New Blog

Hello loyal McCoKorea readers. We have left Korea for Mexico, so we have a new blog we really think you should follow:

Just a head's up: This new blog will have about 100% more posts about Mexico than the last one.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Vietnam Vacation

This holiday season, Chris and I set out on an 18 day trip to Vietnam with 4 great friends: Richard, Alyna, Meg and Adam. We made our way from Hanoi in northern Vietnam to Saigon in the south traveling by train, bus, boat, taxi and motorcycle. It was an amazing trip made even more special because we shared it with our friends. In one month when we all leave Korea, we will be going our separate ways in different parts of the US. Even though I'm sure we'll meet up again soon somewhere in the world, it was so nice to spend the holidays with them.
Here is a very abbreviated list of what we did over 2.5 weeks in Vietnam.
*See all our pictures on PICASA.

-visited the Hanoi Hilton and saw, among many other things, John McCain's flight suit he was wearing when he was captured
-spent Christmas eve on a Halong Bay house boat and woke up sleeping passengers by singing karaoke Christmas songs
- Sat on tiny plastic stools to eat delicious PHO on the street and didn't always get sick
- counted hundreds of "santa babies." Vietnamese people dress their babies and toddlers up in Santa outfits. This is a tradition the US needs to get behind because its freaking adorable.

- got a ton of tailored clothes made on the cheap (a suit, dress shirts, and wool coat for Chris and a dress and wool coat for me)
- celebrated New Years Eve on the beach and with BUCKETS. Some of you will understand this. Mom, thankfully you will not.
- ate a bahn mi (vietnamese sandwich) everyday. Sometimes twice a day.
- took a cooking class and were partly responsible for cooking some of the most delicious food ever eaten
- drank Vietnamese coffee like it was our jobs

- took an overnight bus which was so...cozy... that it necessitated the use of prescription sleeping pills. So I don't really remember much of that.
- met up with an awesome group of motorcycle drivers who took us on a 4 day tour south to Saigon
- stopped along the way at many different farms (peppercorn, starfruit, passionfruit, rubbertree, cocoa, silk worm)
- rode through the beautiful countryside and met some locals living in rural parts of Vietnam, just a few kilometers from Cambodia. And we might have given some of their kids belly-blows.

- sobered up with a gallery of Agent Orange victims at the War Remnants Museum
- walked around as best we could in a city of 5 million people and 3 million motorbikes
- said a sad, tearful goodbye to our magnificent motorcycle drivers. They not only showed us a unique side of Vietnam that we couldn't have accessed on our own, they were also a lot of fun and really kind. If anyone's thinking of doing a motorcycle tour in Vietnam--I highly recommend it!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

American Thanksgiving in Korea

Our first year in Korea (2008), we celebrated thanksgiving with Kimchi and squid pancakes. Last year, we were at my Aunt's house in Houston surrounded by family and homemade traditional eats. This year, our last in Korea, we weren't lucky enough to be home with family so we wanted to do Thanksgiving in Korea right--this time with a real turkey. We bought a pre-cooked 14 pound gobbler from the US Army base's restaurant for 50 bucks to share with 4 other friends. Everyone contributed several side dishes and we ended up with two tables overloaded with food that included two kinds of stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, green bean casserole, squash, cranberries, carrot curry soup and for dessert, cranberry ice and pumpkin ice cream. The party came to an end 14 hours later, but not before we enjoyed some traditional pre-dawn, post-karaoke turkey sandwiches. Here are some pictures of the epic celebration:

Chris arrives from Central Seoul with our guest of honor in a cardboard box and we all get a little emotional.

Chris posing with the turkey.

What a delicious spread! Great job guys! A round of applause for ourselves.

A framable picture if I ever saw one.

We paused eating to give Kicky some pets.

The gang!

The gang experiments with the camera's timer.

Meet Meg and Alyna. With our powers combined, we are....Alaureg. Love these girls.

Can you find Kicky? She can find you.

Next stop, karaoke. The men serenade us.

The ladies class up the joint.

Richard and Alyna show us how its done.

Laura, Chris and Adam have their thinking caps on searching for song titles.

This year I'm thankful for 14 hour Thanksgiving parties, friends and family back home who I miss this holiday season, and for my friends Richard, Alyna, Meg and Adam for making my last American Thanksgiving in Korea unforgettable.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Coco Family in Seoul

This post is so incredibly overdue, its embarrassing. But it is about a topic very deserving of a blog post, so it cannot be left out.

Over the Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holiday, my parents came to visit Korea for one week. We were so happy to have them and excited to show them what had become our home for the past 2 years. I am so proud of all of the new and strange things they ate, what good sports they were about all of the walking we had to do (even with a hurt foot), and how excited they were to experience a new culture.

Later in the week, by a wonderful coincidence, we were joined by my brother, Kevin. He was on his way home to New York after a vacation in Vietnam. Kevin has been to Seoul before so he was a great help to me showing our parents around. Plus, as much as the weather tried to get us down, we still managed to show Kev some new stuff he hadn't seen before.

I am so lucky to have had my whole family in Korea at the same time. I will always treasure the opportunity I had to share Korea with them.

Here is a picture story of some of the things we did:

We tried new and strange foods including kimchi and Korean style BBQ.

We sat on the floor while eating the strange food. We struggled at first, but eventually unlocked the secret of using chopsticks.

We saw a really funny non-verbal dance performance called Nanta.

We saw the changing of the guard at Gyeongbukgung Palace.

Inside Gyeongbukgung palace.

Chris and Mom at the palace.

Dad, Laura and Chris in front of the palace.

We saw (but passed on eating) some pigs feet at the market in front of our apartment.

We checked out the nice view from our apartment balcony.

We took a nap with the foster cat, Kicky.

We went to a baseball game to experience the unmatched Korean fan spirit.

We went to Bongeunsa Temple which is a Buddhist prayer sanctuary in the middle the city, surrounded by huge skyscrapers.

You can see the buildings in the background.

We played some badminton at a park near our home.

Then we got schooled by Mom in badminton.

Then our presence was graced with my brother, Kevin. We all went to eat Korean style ribs and had a great time!

We took advantage of us all being together by taking a billion family pictures.

The Coco family in Seoul.

We went to Joygesa temple on the actual day of Chuseok.

We got our meditation on.

We are a little washed out by the flash but happy and having a good time at Joygesa Temple.

We played some screen golf.

Then my whole family visited 2 of my third grade English classes. The kids had tons of questions like, "Kevin, what's your favorite coffee drink? Is it caramel macchiato?"

Here they are with my little angels.

A big "kamsamnida" to my parents and brother for their patience, love, and excellent company during their visit to Korea.