Saturday, April 25, 2015

Festivals Weekend Report

We have had a packed-full weekend so far.  In addition to BR's end-of-season "Soccer Festival," Saipan's "Festival of Runs" and the annual "Flame Tree Arts Festival" here on Saipan, the girls also got a special surprise at a birthday party they attended...

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The trees are not fully in bloom yet, but that's what they looked like last year at their peak:  



At the Festival, artists from around Micronesia come out to display and sell their work, and musicians and dancers perform.  Good food, good people, good times.  That was Friday evening.
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Saipan's Festival of Runs is a joint NMI and Japanese-run event and started at 4am on Saturday. There are four distances to choose from: 50K, Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10K.  The course is mostly flat, with a little bit of incline in the first half of the Marathon and then an added bit of challenge for 50K runners as they do a loop up Capital Hill and back down (phew).

I participated in the Half and our run was completely flat and followed Beach Rd. from American Memorial Park down to PIC and then back again.  Our start was at 5am, an hour after the longer races began, because it is still dark and not as hot.  It rained a bit, mostly a drizzle and that seemed to keep things cooler than usual.  

Oh, who am I kidding.  This is Saipan, after all, where the temperature never dips below Hot and Humid.


At the turnaround, I had a chance to count how many women were ahead of me and I worked hard to catch up to, then pass this woman who held on to 3rd place for a long time:


 J. was my one-person support crew/cheerleader and I am SO thankful he agreed to do it.  He met me at planned intervals just to cheer me on, and kept me from taking any walking breaks.  Just knowing that he was up ahead waiting for me kept me moving.

He is also pretty good at taking photos from a moving vehicle.  :) 
(Yay, I can stop running now!)

(check out those shorts)

Hey, look: it's me in an Asia-Pacific sandwich!


The Marathon course does 13.1 going toward the north end of the island and then comes down and completes our loop before the finish so we got to see them as they whizzed past.  The top Marathon finishers:



When I first arrived on the island last year, I was told that there are great prizes for sports events if you "place."  Recently, the kids and I won a raffle after a family color run and earned a couple of free passes to a water park.  I figured a raffle was our best chance of seeing any of those prizes, but then yesterday, in addition to this beautiful floral wreath, I also won $125! (*)


There were 110 people in my race, total, and 100 in the Marathon, which is quite small.  
So it's also likely to be the only time I will ever place in the Women's Overall category, or win money.  I hope you'll forgive me for the brag post, I felt it deserved a celebratory note!

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BR had three back-to-back soccer matches on Saturday morning.

He scored within the first 10 seconds of this match

They won twice and tied the final match.  It was a great end to a fun season.

(Since J. was busy taking care of me at my race, he only made it to the last bit of BR's final game, hence the paucity of photos to share.)

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And the girls...well they had been invited to a birthday sleepover and as a surprise to the birthday girl her parents took them all out parasailing off Managaha Island!  Again, no photos since I wasn't there, but I hope to be able to share some soon.  Stay tuned...


(*) #1 M/W finishers in the Marathon and 50K get $1000!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

You'll laugh, you'll cry...

(this is the sign outside of a Seoul restaurant)

Misc. about Korea

There is an emergency hotline to report spies.

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There are subway cars designated for "customers who prefer weak air conditioning."

Also, gas masks in large cases:



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People just love their phones here.  I estimated about 80 to 90% of folks on the subway are on them at any given time.


I even saw a couple once who were napping while still clutching their phones.

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"Silver Zone":


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Seoul is a big city.  A Really big city.  We aren't used to that anymore, but it was really fun.  (Once the feet and legs adjusted.)   

Here is the lineup on my camera from the end of our trip to our return back to our little isolated piece of tropical goodness.








and then...



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Food!

We met a Flemish-Belgian family we all went out to dinner one night.  Without having a particular restaurant in mind, we decided to walk until we found a traditional barbecue place that could accommodate the ten of us.  I walked confidently into one restaurant, expecting the usual smile and "Anyong ha seyo!" greeting from the staff. 

Instead, there was complete silence, and a look of surprise (and nervousness?) on their faces.

I hesitated, confused, but decided not to give up too soon.  We all crowded into the entryway, and stood waiting.

The owner finally composed himself and came over to us.  He had just enough English to explain to us that this was not a typical BBQ place.  Their specialty: cow stomach and intestine.  He did not insist that we leave, exactly, but strongly recommended that we eat elsewhere since it is more of an acquired taste and the children would most likely not enjoy it.

We thanked him and decided to move on.  

About three hours later, we had finally finished dinner but none of us could decide if we had made out any better than we would have with the cow intestine.  We inadvertently ordered spicy marinated chicken feet--lots and LOTS of it!

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fresh seafood market in (chilly) Sokcho, on the eastern coast
 
 

McD's "bulgogi burger"
  

Lucky for us: the kids LOVE kimchi as much as their dad does.  They can't get enough.  Really!

kimchi snack-pack, can be found at any convenience store
melon-flavored "milk"
Sunny took us out to the most delicious lunch after a hike in Seoul



Sunday, April 12, 2015