Saturday, August 29, 2009

The way medication is prescribed and packaged here is fascinating to me.

First of all, most doctors only prescribe 2 or 3 days worth of medicine at a time. Supposedly this is because doctors want to check the patient's progress and adjust the dosage accordingly. This makes sense, but there's not likely to be much progress made at such short intervals. Especially after the first round or two of medication (for myself and the boys), I've always been told things are "slightly improved," and been given the same prescription. It takes several visits before the symptoms are "much improved" or any changes are made to the prescription. My cynical side hypothesizes that the doctors like to bill back as many office visits as possible to the national health care system. These frequent visits don't affect me (much) financially as the fees (I think co-pay would be a correct label) are very low (as are the medicine costs). However, as a mother of very young children, I find these frequent visits incredibly inconvenient. We've found that if you (read: Matthew) put a little pressure on the doctors, they'll prescribe medication for longer periods.

The medication below was prescribed by the ear, nose and throat specialist who treated Rowan and I for sinus and ear infections in July.

For adults, instead of being given various bottles of pills with instructions on each bottle, the medication is packaged together. You take the contents of one little packet all at once.

Here's my medication for two days. I was supposed to take the contents of one packet three times per day. [I didn't take the entire contents, though, because I am a horrible patient. My beloved pharmacist explained what each one was. I chose not to take some of them because either (a) I felt they were unnecessary or (b) they were not breastfeeding compatible.]

For children, the medication is a little more complicated. I had to mix four different ingredients (three liquids and a powdered antibiotic) together into a not-very-tasty cocktail, which was not fun to administer. The pharmacist labeled each bottle with the amount per dose (2 or 3 ccs three times per day). The pink liquid (an antipyretic) is labeled "fever" and the white is labeled "cool," as it needed to be kept in the refrigerator.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Maybe we're weird, but one of our favorite things about summer in Korea is the appearance of cicadas...except when they land on our balcony screens early in the morning. We don't have cicadas in our part of the U.S. and the most dominant species in the U.S. have very long life cycles, so they only appear every seven years or more. The Korean cicadas apparently employ a method of survival called "predator satiation," meaning that there are so damn many of them, some are bound to survive. And there are so damn many of them. And they're loud...at least the males are. They're the ones who make the crazy "whaa-whaa-whaaahaaahaaahaaahaaa...." noise. (Explanation of cicada song and sample sound recordings here.)

The Korean name for cicadas is 매미 (may-me), and the kids around our apartment complex hunt them with butterfly nets. Matthew picks them up with his bare hands to show them to Liam, which I think horrifies some of the kids. Seriously, Koreans of all ages are pretty skittish around bugs. (To the point of silliness. I had to "save" a college-age girl from a fuzzy caterpillar last summer, which her boyfriend was trying to beat off of her pant leg. Pregnant foreigner saves caterpillar. Classic.)

cicada blending in with tree:

and his not-so-bright cousin standing out on a rock at Mt. Seorak

the cicada I startled off a tree, which decided Matthew looked like a good spot to hang out...for several blocks:

me holding that same cicada after we got it off Matthew's shirt:

Dragonflies (draggy-plies in Liam-speak) are also abundant here in the summer. They're friendly little guys, very curious about human beings. Our friend J.E. tells a great rendition of her battle through a swarm of dragonflies at Mt. Seorak. It involves her covering her face to keep them out of her orifices.

Here's one lone dragonfly hanging out on a bridge at Mt. Seorak:

random weird bug on a tree near our apartment:

the white things are caterpillars:

There are a ton of different caterpillars here, ranging from flashy to brilliantly camouflaged. Matthew took his hands-on "after class" class on a "nature walk" (quotations used because it was down the sidewalk) one day to see a variety of insects (cicadas, caterpillars, etc.) that blend into their environs. He had randomly discovered at least three varieties of caterpillars skillfully blending into the sparse landscaping in front of a bedding shop.

The exception to the general queasiness about bugs here are boys and their beetles. Japanese rhinoceros beetles (AKA "fighting beetles") are sold in the pet department at E-Mart (and I'm sure other places, too). While we were out taking pictures of the cicadas one morning, we came across a boy and his pet beetle at the playground. He even posed his beetle so that I could take a better picture of it:

...but this picture gives a better perspective of the actual size of the beetle (it's perched on the boy's thumb) as it "meets" a cicada held by Matthew:

baekdamsa: third time's a charm

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Our first attempt to visit Baekdamsa, a temple on the other side of Mt. Seorak National Park, was last year during our summer vacation. We would have had to wait hours for a bus that really wouldn't have taken us very near the site at all, so we caught a bus to Gangneung instead.

We tried again last fall. We rented a car and stayed at "Happy Road" with J.E., but it was while the autumn leaves were changing colors and half of Korea seemed to have the same idea. Saturday, we couldn't even get near the shuttle bus parking lot. Sunday, the traffic was backed up onto the highway.

Since this week was our summer break, we avoided both of our prior mistakes by going on a weekday and renting a car, and actually made it to our destination.

After parking, we stopped to pick up some snacks and let Liam explore the river. Matthew ended up buying a bottle of beer (Hite, which tastes like shite, rather that Cass, which tastes like ass...), which we drank at one of the tables over looking the river,

while Liam played,

then Matthew joined him for old fashioned rock throwing.

Cars are not allowed on the road leading to the temple, and for good reason. Most of it is narrow and winding. I have never heard people applaud a bus driver's skills before, but then again, I haven't spent any time on Korean tour buses. We did pass a few people who had chosen to walk up or back, but most pay the W2,000 per adult (W1,000 per child) EACH WAY to take the bus. (So we paid roughly $10 for Matthew, Liam & I. Highway robbery.)

Liam and I (with Rowan sleeping in the Ergo) at the entrance.

Liam inspects the wishing candles. We had to convince him that he was not supposed to blow them out like birthday candles.

These are the tiles which people pay to write a message on: a prayer, a blessing, "KimTaeHoon wuz here," etc.

Liam's first attempt at flashing ubiquitous peace signs, or as J.E. calls them, "kimchi fingers." Isn't five better than two?

Liam getting water from the temple spring.

A peak inside the temple, while my child glows in an unearthly manner.

I love the roof details on Korean Buddhist buildings.

The unusually cool, wet summer has been good for the flora.

Overall, the temple was a disappointment, after all the hype. The most remarkable feature was the mostly-dry river bed. Koreans have this obsession with stacking rocks and this locale provides them with ample opportunity to do so. From our understanding, it's a Buddhist practice to illustrate the idea that everything is temporary; anything humans build will eventually fall down. Liam tries to help them learn that lesson, but we usually interfere.

Liam explores, while a family in the background builds together.

Liam puts into perspective the height of some of the stacks.

Finally, he finds something a little more his speed: throwing rocks into the river with "hyung" (older brother).

Rowan wakes up from his nap.

Matthew poses with an unwilling Liam.

A rock carved with hangul on the way back to the shuttle bus.

Since we were already running late to meet J.E. at Happy Road, we didn't even attempt the hike beyond the temple. Apparently, this is quite impressive, and might have made the trip more worthwhile. Instead we waited in line for too long, with a smug old man who seemed to be talking schmack about us, before riding the bus back to our car.

My advice: If you want to visit Baekdamsa, allow the better part of the day, bring decent beer, and do the hike up past the temple.

ten signs it's time to leave korea

Monday, August 3, 2009

10. every time you hear the phrase, "Waegookin imnida!" (It's a foreigner!), your middle finger starts itching.

9. you're tempted to tell people who want to take pictures of you or your children, "Poto, manwon" (photo, 10 bucks!) and those wanting to practice their English with you, while you're trying to watch your child, "Yeonga-lur, sahm-ship-boon, ee-man-o-cheon-won" (English, 30 minutes, 25 bucks.)

8. you hold your breath every time your toddler runs up to a group of "kids! kids!," waiting to see how they'll respond to the blond-haired, blue-eyed foreign "baby."

7. you teach your toddler the phrase "babo (foolish/stupid) kids," as a response to kids who run away or otherwise don't want to play with him.

6. you start to take offense at stupid things, like "egg-ee" (which applies to any child up to the age of 3, whereas "agg-ee" is more specifically an infant) being translated as "baby," or kids always saying, "c'mon, baby," which is a phrase from a popular k-pop song.

5. you're exhausted from running interference for your child every time you're in public.

4. you've begun to openly mock kimchi, which Koreans view as a wondrous cure-all.

3. you actually consider saying, "an-chua shiball imnida" (it's not f***ing cold) to women who insist your baby is under-dressed for a breezy day in the 70s.

2. you interpret the ear-nose-throat specialist's attempts at "enlarging your nasal passage" as blatant xenophobia.

1. some days you think if you hear one more child whine like a police siren, you're going to lose it.
Domestic Bliss in South Korea. Citrus Pink Blogger Theme Design By LawnyDesignz Powered by Blogger