Review: Trick or Trompe at Seoul’s Trickeye Museum

Trickeye Museum in Seoul

Dance on the beach with the woman in the red dress in Jack Vettriano’s Singing Butler. Climb a tall bamboo with a panda bear. Ride a bicycle through the clouds. Or ride a unicorn through the blue waves.

This is just a sampling of the cheeky fun available at Seoul’s Trickeye Museum, a place where art and optical illusions come together for an interactive exploration into art and 3-D thrills.

It’s a very fun place for kids. Though ours (ages 2 and 5) were a bit young to understand the optical illusions, they loved the freedom of touching and interacting with all the exhibits, climbing up and around and becoming a hilarious part of each exhibit.

According to the museum, the name of the place comes from ‘Trick of the eye’ and refers to the traditional art technique Trompe-l’œil, which  turns two-dimensional paintings into three-dimensional images through the use of optical illusions.

The museum has cleverly placed paintings on the walls, floors and ceilings, creating 3-D scenes perfect for photos and laughs.

It also boasts an ice museum, a love museum (no kids allowed there), and a carnival street area just as you enter the museum.

We’re always looking for something different to do while in Seoul, and Trickeye was the perfect addition to our weekend in the city.

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Trick Eye Museum, Seoul seoul-fall-2016-34

See for yourself

What:Trickeye Museum, which also features a love museum, ice sculpture museum, and a carnival-style play area
Where: Hongdae #B2 Seogyo Plaza 20 Hongikro 3gil, Mapogu, Seoul / Tel) 02-3144-6300
How much: Tickets are W15,000 for adults and W12,000 for children under 18. Group discounts available.
Learn more: http://trickeye.com/seoul/en

 

I am Expat (And So Can You!)

By Lindsay Nash

“But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.” ― Bill Bryson, Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe

The American Dream has changed. It’s no longer owning your own house or staying in one job for the rest of your life. For millennials like me, it’s own less, experience more. An interesting article in Time Magazine says that millennials dream about travel and self employment–and staying far off the corporate ladder.

The article cites a poll that reports 38% of millennials say travel is part of the American Dream, well exceeding the 28% who name secure retirement.tandem

I have to agree. I held my first post-graduate job for three years before Whit and I left that world to explore the actual world. We haven’t looked back since. In the nearly decade that has followed, we’ve become comfortable American expatriates here in South Korea. We’ve traveled a good chunk of Asia, backpacking through India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Japan, and China. And took family vacations in Bali and the Philippines.

The world is our house. Experiences are our possessions. And adventures are our dreams.

Even when we started having children, we knew we wanted to share this lifestyle with our little ones. And, while most parents would scoff at the idea, we’ve thrived in this world outside of America. Here are 8 secrets to our success of living an expat lifestyle, and loving it.

8 Secrets to an expat life of success

1. Get a job.
Teach in KoreaLet’s get real. As romantic as it sounds to just wander the Earth on someone else’s dime with no responsibilities, in the long-run, it won’t pan out. Plus, you won’t truly experience a culture without immersing yourself in it. To have experiences (your new “possessions”) you need to be able to afford them. Start at Transitions Abroad for ideas on how you can make your expat life a reality. Teaching English is a wonderful way to first make the leap.

2. Manage expectations.reading KoreanIt won’t be glorious, or glamorous, all the time. There will be days you want to scream your head off because a cultural tick gets on your nerves. Or times you get frustrated because you just want to be able to hold a normal conversation with your neighbor without sounding like a buffoon. But realize this is normal. Keep going. Keep studying. Keep accepting what’s different.

3. Keep an open mind.
dc05b-dsc_0215One of the best things about living abroad is how your perceptions of the world and everyday life change. Quickly. It’s important to keep an open mind, and to continue to grow and change the way you view the world. Otherwise, you’ll be left behind, or you’ll be left angry at why people can’t see the world as you do.

4. Make friends.Friends in KoreaFriends sweeten any deal, and living abroad is no different. Whether you want to move abroad with your family or by yourself, it’s important to make connections as soon as possible in your new home. Having someone to talk to, go to, and listen to will be one of your major keys to success.

5. Take advantage of the situation.
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Live in Korea like I do? Learn Korean. Learn how to make kimchi. Live in France? Learn French. Drink wine. Eat cheese. Live in China? Visit the Great Wall. The possibilities are endless when you live in a strange land. Take full advantage. Explore often. Learn constantly.

6. Share it with others. 
cameraselfieStart a blog and write about your adventures. Or post your pictures on Instagram. Or tell people about it on Facebook. When you look at your experience in a positive light, and are constantly sharing it, it will be contagious. To you on bad days, and to others who dream of doing the same thing.

7. Get involved.
running clubOne of the best things (if not THE best) about being an expatriate is the expat community. Just think: A whole group of people who think a little bit like you and value the same experiences. I guarantee, you’ll make fast friends in these communities, as expats are always up for meeting other expats. It’s also easy to create groups in these communities, such as a running club, book clubs, dinner groups, girls nights, the list goes on and on.

8. Become a citizen of the world.
Finn at temple
I tell my children this all the time. You’re a citizen of the world. With this citizenship comes great responsibility. Respect religion, any kind. Respect dress codes, any kind. Respect customs, any kind. We are all humans on this Earth, and the only way we’ll survive is to be kind and respectful of one another. Period.

Explore Korea by bike… with KIDS!

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By Lindsay Nash

Thanksgiving usually means sitting around a table and stuffing yourself with turkey and all the fixings. In Korea, on their Thanksgiving known as Chuseok, most Koreans are doing the same. Well, if you substitute the turkey for songpyeon and the dry red wine for clear strong soju.

But we’re expats here in South Korea, and the same doesn’t necessarily apply to us. We don’t have any extended family obligations and have nothing on the agenda except a glorious long weekend begging for a family adventure. Sign us up.

We decided we could finally gamble with bringing along our almost-1-year-old on a biking/camping family adventure, along with our well-traveled and cycled 4-year-old. We got some friends and their families on board and we hopped on our bicycles and rode from our home in Gyeongsan to the traditional folk village in Andong, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Daegu to Andong bike paths

Cycling in Korea is picking up in popularity, especially with all the wonderful new dedicated bike paths criss-crossing the entire country as part of the Four Rivers Project. And, as you can see from Whit’s many blogs about it, we’ve jumped on the boat bike too.

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Interested in your own family bicycle adventure in Korea with kids? Here are a few tips:

    • Do your research. For starters, download this brochure about the paths and learn where you can access them. We’re lucky because we can leave our house and reach the bike paths in Daegu in less than an hour (cycling through some farmland and along rivers before we hop on the official path).
    • Get the gear. Your bike trip will only be as fun as your gear is reliable. In 2013, I biked from Daegu to Busan on a rather cheap 7-speed bike and I lagged behind the group most of the trip, though I worked nearly twice as hard. I recommend at least a 21-speed bike. Mountain bikes, touring bikes, and road bikes are all great for this trip. I personally ride a hybrid bike and it’s just perfect. It’s also important to have good gear like panniers to hold all your supplies that you’ll need.

 

  • Think about your young ones. What gear and supplies will they need? We typically use one trailer and one seat on the back of a bike and let our two kids switch between these two options, though they typically love to ride in the trailer most, where they can play with toys, read books, take naps, and easily munch on snacks.

    Camping with kids is our favorite. Nothing beats a childhood sunset.

    Camping with kids is our favorite. Nothing beats a childhood sunset.

  • Plan your overnights. Will you camp or stay in motels along the route? We typically camp, since it’s much easier to camp wherever you feel like stopping along the route. The bike paths follow the rivers and it’s easy to pop up a tent wherever you please. We’ve had some pretty amazing spots. There are no rules about where to camp (unless you’re in a national park) so it’s free game. Hotels are nice too, but let’s be honest, in these small towns there won’t be many options other than love hotels. These are fine, but just be prepared to answer questions like, “Mommy, why is there a mirror on the ceiling?” and “Wow, look at that cool red night light!
  • Be flexible. Traveling with children in any setting requires a large amount of flexibility. Remember to go slow, stop often, and embrace your inner child. We stop at any playground we see, let the kids roll in rain puddles, let them have unusual amounts of lollipops and snacks, and stop to take pictures and hold any type of bug we find along the path.

 

 

Stop and catch a bug or two. But, then, release it. :)

Stop and catch a bug or two. But, then, release it. 🙂

  • Capture the moments. Bring your camera and snap up some shots of your adventure. These bike paths in Korea are the perfect backdrop to what will be some of your kid’s fondest memories of childhood.

Questions? Planning your own family trip? E-mail us. We’re happy to help.

7 Reasons why your family should travel in Asia

By Lindsay Nash

1. It’s kid-friendly! From its restaurants to shops to sacred temples and luxurious hotels, Asia wants to visit with your children. The it-takes-a-village-to-raise-a-child tenet reigns superior across the continent and your child will immediately be welcomed with open (and often outreached) arms. I can’t tell you how many times I looked at my young son and thought, ‘he’s going to get in trouble for that’ and then someone comes by with a smile, wink, or tussle of his hair.

2. It’s colorful. Kids love a bright and engaging place and Asia is just that. From colorful fruit for sale on street stands to women’s traditional saris in India, bright colors are everywhere, constantly begging for attention.

3. It’s hands-on. For better or worse, there’s not much in Asia that requires you to view from behind a rope or gate. Consider Angkor Wat, the thousands-year-old temple and city complex in Cambodia that is free for clamoring and roaming. It’s truly the ultimate fort for your children to discover (of course, with respect).

4. It’s educational. Why look at the picture of the Great Wall or Taj Mahal in a book? Take your children there and discover the magic of seeing these amazing places in person. Touch the walls, meet the people, and get a real feel for some of these world wonders.

5. It’s horizon-expanding. There is no greater lesson to learn than just how big the world is, and how different we can all live. But at the same time, we’ll all just people. It’s a lesson that’s easy to learn while traveling to a place very different than your own culture. You’ll meet new people who are very different, yet also the same as you.

6. It’s cultural. You can be blessed by elephants in India or attend a funeral parade in Bali. Eat kimchi in Korea or sit with monks in Thailand. Every experience will be a new one, and one that your children and family will remember for a lifetime.IMG_0611

7. It’s affordable. Your dollar will go a long way in most countries in Asia, especially in Southeast Asia. You can eat a tasty bowl of pho in Vietnam for about 20 cents. Or, in Korea, you can have a nice thick piece of grilled pork with tens of side dishes for about 10 bucks. And children often eat, visit or play for free at many hotels, parks, museums and other sites across Asia.

Pregnancy in Korea

Taegyo and toe sweat: This mother’s guide to learning Korean

As you may or may not know, we are now expecting baby No. 2 in our family–due to arrive in October.

Pregnancy in Korea as a foreigner is nothing new to me–in fact, as an American expat, I know more about prenatal, birthing, and postnatal health in Korea than I do in America. And, despite any bumps in the road with the first experience, I wouldn’t want to have my second child anywhere else but here, once again.

One thing I really love about Korea is their care for pregnant women. For these precious ten months, women are encouraged to turn their bodies into watchful, caring, healthy vessels for these coming additions.

And just as important as the mother’s health is the baby’s health. As I’ve written about before in the past, the Korean practice of “taegyo” is a common exercise.

Taegyo (태교) is a very interesting concept. It basically translates to “prenatal culture,” or the education of your baby while in the womb.

I did this plenty when Finn was in the womb. Reading books, trying to avoid violent or crude TV shows, etc.

This go around, I’m taking my first Korean language class since the one I took when I was pregnant with Finn four years ago. This time, though, it’s an intensive course offered by the local university. Three hours every night, Monday through Friday.

Finn is basically at an utter loss at what I could possibly be doing in this so-called class (“Do you go to gym school, too, and play with balls?”

I love it. It’s three hours where my brain dusts its cobwebs from the corners and hangs new words and rules like colorful flags and decorative pendants. The neurocircuitry of my brain is re-wiring, and it makes my body happy (just like exercise, food and general happiness). BTW, read this cool article on what happens in your brain when you’re learning, or practicing, something new.

I know all this learning and re-wiring is making baby happy too. It’s funny how we adults can get in a life rut, where we don’t challenge ourselves to be uncomfortable enough to actually learn something new. I’m just as guilty of it as you. But for these three hours a day, Monday through Friday, my toes sometimes sweat as I mumble my way through a response to my teacher about what I like to do in my free time, in Korean.

And I know this toe sweat is more than a result from the current stickiness of changma (장마), or rainy season. It’s pure, unadulterated, uncomfortable learning.


If you’re interested in learning some Korean, we highly recommend Talk to Me in Korean, a great online curriculum with free podcasts, videos and learning materials. And, of course, you should definitely check your local university or international center for actual Korean classes.

A gift box for you: Happy Chuseok!

Now in my fifth year in Korea, I’m starting to realize that I have assimilated somewhat into the culture. Things that were once very foreign to me now seem completely commonplace. Sometimes, I have to remind myself…wait a minute, I actually used to leave my shoes on INSIDE my house? Eww, how dirty! Or, why would I NOT eat kimchi with every meal? Or, telling Finn, who is now 2 and a half years old, that he’s going to be in trouble if he doesn’t say hello loudly in Korean and bow to any elder person who speaks to him.

Maybe that means it’s time to move on to somewhere else. A new place that challenges me every day. Who knows if I’ll ever do that. For now, it means Korea has become a part of me. She’s come in my life like the bullet train that crosses the country: fast and quiet, tenacious and proud, humble yet memorable.

This week is Chuseok in Korea, one of the two largest holidays in in the country (the other being Lunar New Year). It’s like our American Thanksgiving back home, minus the pilgrims and Indians, plus a different menu and with a thousand-year-old culture thrown in.

Also known as Hangawi (한가위), Chuseok was the day on which Koreans, an agrarian people throughout most of history, gave thanks to their ancestors for the year’s harvest, and shared their abundance with family and friends.

According to the Korean Tourism Organization, Han means “big” and gawi means “the ides of August/Autumn” (August 15th according to the lunar calendar is when the full harvest moon appears).

Although the exact origin of Chuseok is unclear, the tradition may be found at ancient religious practices that centered around the moon. The sun’s presence was considered routine, but the full moon that came once a month was considered a special and meaningful event. Therefore, harvest festivities took place on the day of the bright, full moon or August 15 on the lunar calendar system. This year, it falls on September 19.

Modern Chuseok looks a lot different than it used to, of course. One major part of the modern holiday is gift-giving. This season of gift-giving is much larger than their Christmas celebration, which is seen more of a “date day” in Korea. But during Chuseok season, you can’t go through a shopping center or large grocery chain without seeing the ubiquitous box sets of random gifts. Women dressed in traditional Korean hanbok help customers find the perfect gift box set: expensive boxes of beautifully arranged cans of spam, olive oil, shampoo, ginger roots, make-up, sesame-oils, you-name-it.

Oh how strange that used to be! Why would anyone want a box of spam? Spam? Seriously?

I can’t help but think this is completely normal now. Whit came home from the office on Friday with a beautiful box of some 20 oranges. “What a beautiful gift,” I exclaim, when he pedaled home on his bike, balancing the large box wrapped and tied in a pink scarf on his handlebars.  “Wow! That was so kind of your boss. He must have spent so much money!”

I even went so far as to think what the perfect Chuseok gift for me would be. Hmmm, I thought. A box of body lotions. Yes! Or maybe the box set of diverse tea bags. That would be really lovely! I do love tea!

For now, we are enjoying our oranges. And if you live nearby, we’d love to share. We have enough to last us until the next Chuseok. But if you come over, don’t forget to take your shoes off at the door.

See our other blogs on Chuseok:
Lindsay- “Happy Chuseok”  2007
Lindsay- “Chuseok–A holiday for men, a vacation for children, a labor day for women”
2008
Whit “Celebrate Chuseok” 2011

The Expat Life

By Lindsay Nash

“Life might be difficult for a while, but I would tough it out because living in a foreign country is one of those things that everyone should try at least once. My understanding was that it completed a person, sanding down the rough provincial edges and transforming you into a citizen of the world.”

“What I found appealing in life abroad was the inevitable sense of helplessness it would inspire. Equally exciting would be the work involved in overcoming that helplessness. There would be a goal involved, and I liked having goals.”

–David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day

Finn and I always grab cookies after school at our neighborhood bakery.

Most days, at 12:30, I rush from daily lunch dates with Whit, to Finn’s preschool program to pick him up. I don’t have to go far–we have restaurants every 10 feet here in our neighborhood. And Finn’s school is just next to our high-rise. I rush to the door, ring the doorbell, and grab Finn’s shoes from the cubby just outside the door. He comes out with a big sneaky smile that brags about his day, dons his shoes, and then with his red backpack weighing down his shoulders, turns around and gives a full bow to his teacher.

Finn and one of his teachers at school

We’re out the door in a flash. He tells me what he had for lunch: rice, soup, seaweed. It’s always the same, but every day, I ask him. Sometimes he comes up with something different to tell me. We go to the bakery (again, about 20 steps down the road). Finn gets one cookie shaped like a pig, the other shaped like cow. Only two, I tell him. One. Two, he says, counting on his fingers. He gets to give the money to baker. He holds it out with the traditional Korean two hands, and then bows deeply after she gives him his loot.

Finn has adjusted wonderfully to his new life. He has a new best friend, Abigail (he calls her Dabi-dail, and I’m certain this is why she adores him), and they’re in class together at school. They play together in the afternoons after naps. Dabi-dail’s father is British, and his mother Chinese. Dabi-dail only speaks Mandarin, but seems to understand English. She and Finn are truly the best and closest of any two-year-olds I’ve ever known. It warms my heart.

 

Every Wednesday, we go to a Play Cafe, a wonderful place where moms sit and sip coffee, and toddlers run around to their hearts content. A train circles every hour, which they get to ride in, and there are enough toys to keep them busy for a lifetime. Last week, I took a video of Finn and Dabi-dail jumping on the trampoline there. “DO-YAK! DO-YAK!” they kept chanting to each other. I asked Jade, Dabi-dail’s mom, if it was Mandarin. Never heard it, she said. Later that night, I showed Whit the video. Wait a minute, he says, pulling out our trusty Korean dictionary.

“Doyak: Jump,” it states, plain as day. Finn and Abby are already speaking Korean, and Korean words that we don’t even know.

Whit is busy with his job. He teaches in the afternoons, and is usually home by dinner. He’s getting back into the swing of teaching and this week is already giving mid-terms. Wow, time is flying!

 

My new jogging stroller

 

Nice to see the husband in a tie again

Life as an expat is just as wonderful for me. There is something so special about an expat community, something I truly missed last year back at home. I haven’t been this busy with life and friends since my university days.

Every Tuesday evening I have yoga classes in my neighborhood. My new friend Shauna teaches them, and she’s truly an asset to our expat community. I’m learning to bend, stretch, and challenge myself in new ways, and it gives me an hour and a half of quiet meditation every Tuesday. I feel very lucky to have this quiet time to myself once a week.

I started a book club this month, and Monday night was our first meeting. I wasn’t sure who would show up–I only know a handful of people. But we had nearly 10 women, from all walks of life, to come and decide on our first book. Expats are interesting, like-minded people and conversation was easy and entertaining. I can already tell that these women are going to be some kind of special for me.

I work in the mornings until I pick Finn up from school, and any time I can squeeze in an hour or two in the afternoons and evenings. I am working for BikeToursDirect, a great company based out of Chattanooga, Tenn., that is connecting people to local bike tours all over the world. Just this month, my boss informed us he was going to give us 3 weeks of paid bike tours anywhere in the world every year. All expenses paid. (I’m currently planning a fall trip with a co-worker somewhere in Asia).

 

 

 

Next weekend, we’re moving to a bigger place after spending a couple months in a tiny one-bedroom. We’ve made it work fine, but we are really excited to move into this new place and make it our home. And lucky for us, it’s just in the building next door.

Life is busy and full for us here in Korea. I think it’s hard for some people to imagine us living over here, wondering what we do and how we get by. But it’s a wonderful place, with warm people and fiery food. We do feel challenged on a daily basis, and sometimes it is frustrating when you can’t just ask someone for exactly what you want. But there is something so nice about living in a culture very different from where you came from, and learning to accept it, and then embrace it, and then seeing your own life and world in a very different light.

Beach, bop and blondness in Korea

It’s been a good week for us. Finn survived his first week of Korean preschool. Whit went back to work full-time, and I started working from home for BikeToursDirect as the Asia Tour Specialist (check us out here: http://www.biketoursdirect.com).

In celebration of Finn doing so well at school, we took him to the beach on Saturday. Not just any beach, but the most popular one in Korea, in Busan. Lucky for us, it took just over an hour to get there. And of course, that meant we were riding the TRAIN. Transportation is all the rage these days.

Seeing Korea from the eyes of my blue-eyed, blonde-haired, wheel-loving 2-year-old has changed my own view of the country. It’s a paradise for the senses–from the flashing lights of motorcycles and the belches of buses to the fish tanks leaned up against the outside windows of seafood restaurants down every street. He even mocks the bus drivers when they honk too long (“beeeeeeeeeeep” he repeats, usually while sitting directly behind the short-tempered bus driver.) Finn can’t wait to get outside every day. We think he’s smitten with this birth country of his.

Korea loves him too. We don’t walk 10 steps without someone smiling down at him. “Annyong! Annyong! Ahhh, Epo! Epo! So pretty. Luckily, we live in a diverse area and, while everyone certainly smiles at him, no one points in the distance. They certainly could, the way his bopping little white head sparkles amidst the darker backdrop.

He’s coming out of his shell these days, which is fun to see. We got on the bus the other night after dinner with friends in Daegu, and he unabashedly sang the entire way home to a very quiet bus. “The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round.”

Tonight, we had dinner in a galbi restaurant–one of our new favorites in the neighborhood. Finn has recently learned the joys of meat (Korea can do that to the most wayward of vegetarians). But as the pork was still cooking on our table, sizzling and popping in front of us, he demanded the rice we ordered as a side.

“Rice, Mommy, rice! Rice. Rice. Rice. I want. I want. Rice!” Whit and I were busy in conversation, ignoring his pleas since there was nothing to do but wait on the rice. “Mommy! BOP!” And there it was, the first time he went from English to Korean in a blink of an eye.

What a treat for us. And lucky for him, his bop was delivered soon after (I think he yelled it loud enough for the waitress to hear.)

Waiting for the train to Busan



To market, to market…

We have a fantastic traditional market in the heart of our little town. A whole world of slimy roped fish; green-rooted vegetables, colorful legumes, and shiny fruits beneath faded large umbrellas.

These markets aren’t new for us. We went often in Gwangju, and even took a trip once with a photo club to a nearby rural market. I’ve photographed them many times. I brought my camera along this time anyways, hoping to see the market in a new way.

Most of my images seem familiar to the ones I’ve taken before. But in the coming months, I’m going to try and see this market from a new angle, to capture it in a unique way. Maybe through Finn’s eyes, next go round.

We plan on going here once a week for groceries. It’s cheaper than the grocery store and more money is going to the farmer. Win-win.

 

 

This woman smiles at Finn, trying to get a response from him

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Babywearing

In Korea, many women choose to wear their babies rather than stroll them around. I love this. I have two carriers and they have both been used religiously since Finn was born.

Also, Korea has a traditional carrier called a “bodegi,” which is basically a blanket that ties around your body. I see old grandmothers carrying the tiniest babies on their backs this way all over Korea. I don’t have one of these, but I love it!