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Category Archives: Seeing and Believing

Things to see and do in Korea.

Garden 5 seoul jangi yuk

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There is some significance of posting this blog, which may be boring to some, but I hope informative to most. There is a huge mall, supposedly twice the size of Mall of America, located just a short ride from my house, in Songpa-gu and Jangi Station. This place is called Garden 5. Approximately 8 months after living in this ‘gu’ or district whatever you want to call it, I went with my school on a field trip to see Cats. It was in the movie theatre located on the 12th floor of the Garden5 Living Tower.

This place has everything you can imagine and more. Comparing it to it’s close neighbor, Coex mall, this place blows it out of the water.

There are 5 towers (hence the Garden 5 name) and they are all connected. It is tough to get a view of this. but it is basically a big star shape and up top they are all connected to walk from each tower. There is living, fashion, young, techno, and one more I cannot recall the name of.

They have a website, but the English part doesn’t work. Story of our lives in Korea.

We went primarily to go ice skating, but also hit up this amazing sale at a department store and scored a new winter coat after fatally losing mine NYE in Hongdae.

Here are some photos from our trip.

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Father and son duo waiting to get back on the ice.

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Being tourists that we are. Helmets and all. We also got in trouble by the ice police to put our gloves back on.

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Girl brushing some ice and snow off her friends bum, busted!

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Next Kim Yuna’s sporting matching jackets.

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Not only couples wear matching clothes in Korea, brother sister striped duo hand in hand. Precious.

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As we left at night it was all lit up in flashy colors. Really pretty.

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Garden 5 is located at Jangi Station on line 8, or the pink line. Garden 5 can be accessed from exit 3 and 4.

Garden 5 has a huge food court with western, japanese, chinese, korean, etc. There are many restaurants, shops, empty shops waiting to be filled. This place took over $1 billion to build and was originally supposed to open in 2008, but the opening got delayed 3 times due to lack of interest, shops, etc. I think it has potential as Coex, the next closest ‘mall’ type place, is always packed and has a fraction of the stores as Garden 5.

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Yesterday is dead….

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Yesterday is dead. Tomorrow is a dream. Today – each today – is where the action is – where all of life occurs. Today IS your life – your only life. Life today to the fullest.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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How can you not love a face like this… when a 2 year old discovers what he looks like and how to use a camera, funny faces were made and continued for hourssss.

Just got notified from WordPress I have achieved my ‘5 followers’ award. How exciting. Thanks to those of you that stick through the long boring ramblings to get to the fun stuff.

Can you believe it is already 2013? I can’t.

Many times living abroad, I have to remind myself to take a step back and realize how thankful and lucky I am to be able to live the life I am living. I could not have done it without the most important people in my life, Pats. Mumsy and Daddy have become such an important role in my life as I am getting older. They are always supportive, no matter if I want to move to some foreign country across the world, or work a dead-end job at home to get me here. I know my mom is probably crying by now reading this, (I’m holding em back too ma, it’s okay), but I do not get enough chances in life to express my thanks. So usually around the New Year is when people take some time to reflect on the past year and yadda yadda. So with this blog, and my free time at work, I am taking this opportunity to reach out the longest arms in the world and hug my parents. There is not enough ways to say that I am so grateful each day that I have two loving parents, together, and healthy. Meeting people from all walks of life abroad, makes you realize that this is a rare occurance as we hit a year. So here it is, Pat and Pat you are my world, my light and my guides and guardians, thank you.

March 1st 2012.
Let’s recap on some posts from last year when I first landed in Korea.
I think my posts were more of a sugar-coated top layer of my experience in Korea. It’s hard to write a blog while at school, hating on school. I am currently counting down the next 37 working days with my other 9 co-workers that are also going to run out of these doors and not turn back on February 28th.
My first month was a shocking experience, settling in, figuring out what the hell I was doing here, why I brought this upon myself, etc.. Oh and how on Earth I was going to survive an entire year.
Here I am January 2013 with a positive attitude, and about to start a new contract and extend my Korean life for another year.

I would say until about month 6, I didn’t know I had such a strong love for Korea. It has it’s ups and downs. Most of the downs involve school, work, co-workers, boss, the bullshit that comes with most jobs, plus a massively gigantic language barrier working at a Korean school.
The ups mostly involve meeting some awesome friends, other expats, Koreans, etc. Exploring Korea, going to festivals, trips, Japan, Philippines, and getting out of the concrete jungle of Seoul we like to call ‘home.’ I cannot express enough how much I love living in Korea. Since it is my first city experience, I think it was a good choice. It is cheap, unlike most major cities, and easy to get around. The English help is average until you look around and speak up, you can get help at every corner and corner store you could dream of… for the most part.

As I’ve written before, I work at a Korean hag won or play school. It is about playing and it is all in Korean. I teach English to all classes for 30-60 minutes each day.
Next year, the school I have signed up for is an English Kindergarten with 16 foreign teachers and Koreans as helpers. Thank the lord. There is a god. I also have two friends that I will be working with and have met most of the other co-workers who are awesome.

I guess I should note that I just returned from a fabulous tropical island vacation in the Philippines. 9 days of sun, summer, mango shakes, and scuba diving was just what I needed to spend Christmas on the beach.

20130108-150116.jpgTaking a motorbike to the north of Malapascua to see some deserted beaches and spend day with two beaches and just us 3.

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Just after returning from a 4am Thresher Shark dive. saw 8 sharks. Definitely one of my diving highlights, life highlights, 2012 highlights, etc. AMAZINGGGG.

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Leaving Malapascua 5am. Last mango for god knows how long I’ll enjoy one of those in a tropical remote island like Malapascua. Paradise.

We returned to Seoul to ring in the New Year around 10pm and got here safe and sound just in time to be atthe bar by midnight. Phew. That was a close call.

Side notes/life reminders:
-boss (will probably never know her real name, that is what she is and forever will be known as to me) paid us 6 days late in December and returned 5 days after Christmas break was over for the rest of us. My smart coworkers put it together before she returned, plastic surgery. And indeed she returned, new face, new nose, botox, lips, the whole 9. Classic Korean move.

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One of my lovely elementary students. She is the brightest I have. And even got a name change, Kaylee. Love her still.

-my friend Geoff comes tonight for about a month or so. Who knows. But I am very off the walls excited to have a familiar face around. It is going to be so surreal to meet him later and have him stay with me!
-This is coldest winter in a long time Korea has witnessed. Today was a mild 12 on my way to work this morning and will go up to 28 today. Lucky me.

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Wasn’t joking about that… This was forecast for the week I returned from the Philippines. Yes this is Fahrenheit. Woot.

-Jen, Jenna and I will be living together come mid-feb and we are currently house hunting. It is quite complicated/backwards like most things in Korea, and we are told to only return to the Realtors two weeks before we want to move in and find a place. Go figure. Since our new school will pay for everyyyythinngggg It is not much worry for us, except to find our ideal dream home.

Signing off for now, I will try and make it my new years resolution to write again.

As I posted last March on my very first post in this blog:

“You’re on your own. and you know what you know. and you are the one who’ll decide where to go…” Dr. Seuss.

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Philadelphia Cream Cheese ad in Costco. Represent!

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Goodnight from the 5 year old Mond class. I told them to go to sleep. They listened. First time for everything.

It’s getting brr cold over here

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Henry sporting my new scarf. He’s a brat, but a smart one.

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One of my favorite/weirdest Korean snacks. This is a snack. The top slivers are chicken liver, and the bottom is Soondae. Let me refer my friend googs for a better definition than I can give.

Blood Sausage, a nice blog write up. But for my lazy fans: ‘Soondae can be made with squid and other protein-rich ingredients, but in its most popular form, it’s made by mixing pork blood with cellophane noodles and glutinous rice. (Barley, fermented soybean paste, kimchi, soybean sprouts, and perilla leaves crop up in regional variations of the sausage too.) The mixture makes for a dense, slightly gummy body. If you like chewy, mochi-textured things and blood, then you’ll probably like soondae.’

Here’s a recipe to create your own.

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This is basic Korean BBQ. And by basic, I mean the most elaborate, simple (yes all at once), meal ever created by god. I will try and name things starting from the rice going clockwise.

Rice. Typical rice serving dish kept in a warmer, mass produced.

Metal water glass, would you like a sip of water? and refill. Repeat 234234x.

Doengang Jjigae.

 

Complete with a recipe, comfort food with tofu.

Next metal bowl is bean sprouts in a kimchi like spicey mixture. Amazing. More like a filler in the lettuce leaf for the bbq.

At 1 o’clock is a plate of raw beef. Sometimes marinated, sometimes not. Usually various cuts of pork or beef. I prefer galbisal. I have no idea what it is… It is beef ribs, but boneless amazing. That is also what is cooking on the center of the photo. Just a little cook on each sides and bam it’s done. Amazing. Stuff it in a lettuce leaf with some fillers, roasted garlic, roasted kimchi (or not roasted), sprouts, anything else you can find on the table and fit in basically, sometimes rice.

The last dish is the one at 6 o’clock is an onion and vinegary type sauce that they serve to dip the meat in. Also there is a salt/vinegar/soy like dish that also serve. It’s all incredible.

If you were ever debating about trying out Korean bbq before reading this post and I have not convinced you yet, here is my last try: Raw meat, an open fire grill, and you are in complete control how to eat it. You are however not in control of how big and stuff full your lettuce leaf packed with deliciousness is about to fit and shove nicely (only in public) in your lil’ mouf. Just do it. Embrace it. And start with Kimchi lightly, but eat it at every meal and you will soon adjust.

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In other news, I was graced with my second Thanksgiving dinner. The first one wasn’t even picture worthy (you know I take pictures of everything  I can fit into my mouth, that’s how bad it was). It was ice cold, we ate it outside in the ice cold, meanwhile we were on an island and I cannot complain. This however was warm, fresh out of the oven, cooked and slaved over for days, it was incredible. Here is the vat of gravy.

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This was another table full of just sides, and some ham, tofurkey (actually quite tasty), 4 variations of potatoes, etc. It was incredible. Well done ladies.

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This was a show called Ingakyo, on SBS. We were invited thanks to K-performance supporters, part of the Korean Tourism Organization. It was supposed to be a live recording, but each group came out for about 45 seconds performed and was all pre-recorded. Was funny to be the ‘live audience’ and pre recorded acts.

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Korea in the fall. These humongous leaves were falling on me as I rode my bike to school, it was hard to capture while riding and on my phone, but this is still pretty.

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Delivery man. I’ve been meaning to capture this part of the culture. You can get anything delivered, any time of the day, basically. McDonald’s, Korean Food, Chinese Food, anything you could hope and dream of. Food related. I like the little back part of the bike with the crate strapped to it and the hand  guards for the cold/rain/etc.

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Back to Western food. I made some southwest steak chili, recipe is a secret. Or just a hodge podge of stuff I threw together and turned out amazingly. Also a blackened chicken onion cheesy quesadilla. Watermelon, salsa, guac, and chippies. Yum. Floor table dinner with some friends. I love cooking. Especially when I have other mouths to feed except my own.

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Bubbly egg dish often served with Korean bbq as service (free for being a regular, or ordering a bunch of food) or you can order for $2-5. Just bubbly egg with some chopped carrots and scallions on top. Quite tasty.

That will finish this food post, Corinne, this is for you most importantly. I love you all my 3 readers. Lately been receiving updates that I have a few more followers, but no one will ever know until I  get some comment support 😉

Thanks ya’ll. until Next time…

P.S. 12 days til Philippinessss…. Basking in the hot summer sun rays, swimming with the fishies, and overdosing on Mango shakes, mango everything. South East Asia I’m coming back for you 🙂

Mud festival x2

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Two weekends in a row I was blessed with mud. Yum!

 

Mud Festival is a popular event in Boreyeong, South Korea takes place every year for two weeks straight. Of course it started from something traditional, and not just a slop fest for a gathering of foreigners to get down and dirty. Koreans believe that the mud from this particular area is good for your skin, like most things in Korea, make a festival out of it! Korea also has certain places where certain food is popular. Like there is a bibimbap area in Korea, Jeju Island is known for black pig, etc.

So that brings us to your one and only mud festival. Lucky me got to go two weekends in a row, and was glad I did. It was amazing, I loved every second of being covered head to toe in mud. The girl in me thought, oh not my hair, and the 6 year old in me thought who cares! It was fun, it was muddy, and it was a drunken messy two weekends. First weekend has terrible rain on theSaturday night, but the second weekend had brilliant weather and sunbathed on the beach all day Sunday before getting on the bus home. It was convienent having pits of mud with paintbrushes, and the ocean just like 20 steps away. Get muddy, go for a swim wash off, drink a beer, repeat. Was my life for 4 days in July. It was lovely and I’ll be sure to go again next year if I am back. Oh the last picture, cannot forget to mention, Akon and the Wondergirls concert. Duh! Thankfully to some nice army folks I met, I didn’t have to pay, but got to see Akon roll around in this enormous bubble and then play with the most awful girl K-pop band there is. They can’t keep a beat or dance in sync to save their lives. Ohhhh K-Pop.

That’s that. Boreyeong Mud Festival, I will see you again.

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Teachers Summer Vacation in Korea

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As most teachers are used to, receiving the nice three months of vacation… here in South Korea it is a bit different. I get a whopping 5 days. Lucky Me!! I cannot wait… actually I can. It’s probably going to go so fast and then bam back to reality, till I figure something else out…

This summer I will be traveling to Jeju Island, South Korea. It is probably the top vacation destination for summer vacation which usually falls somewhere in August for most people. According to a majority of my students, they will also be going to Jeju Island. It is a volcanic island and also containts the highest mountain in South Korea. It’s filled with lots to do and see all around the island so our itinerary is jam-packed with sights and tours of the area. Yes, I said it, itinerary. I am indeed going on a group tour through Adventure Korea. Lucky me.
I am usually so against said ‘group tours’ and trust me, nothing has persuaded me otherwise. We paid a reasonable about for a 5-day trip via ferry (which I have been highly recommended to do) and tons to see and do.
I think that Korea is not the easiest place to see and do in a short amount of time and wanted to make the most of my 5 days off from this j-o-b. Will be heading there from Saturday- Wednesday. Then going to UMF Korea on Friday and Saturday.
Should be a good week all in all. I am excited. Hopefully the whole group trip doesn’t fail me, and the weather. It is also rainy season. Pray for the best plan for the worst. Will be over-packing in case of being drenched at any moment of the day.

In other news, been quite happy to be away from the land of guns lately. America is really firing up at each other. It is nuts. Read briefly about the Chick-fil-a scandal, come on now how ridiculous. Joe Pa and all that mess (EW), and of course the Colorado shooting. People are disturbing, especially in America. I guess each part of the world has it’s own problems in one way or another.

School is same ole same. Had a Pajama Party last friday which I got to work a lovely 13 hour day. How exciting. The students came back around 6pm after leaving for an hour or so, but most of them ended up staying. We had a pretty terrible chicken bbq dinner (processed chicken on a stick frozen and cooked on a pan, do not be fooled), and some fruits and other random sides. Then we had a fashion show where everyone walked this little cat walk and then we had a big pillow fight. I have seemed to master the ‘look bored to tears look’ and for the past two after hours events we have had at school they let me go like 30-45 minutes early. Woot. It is quite painful actually, and cannot stand the idea of working another weekend day at this dreaded place of work. I signed up for it across the world, so I will somehow manage to get myself out of it, hopefully….

Other than that not much is really new here. Have a few days off in the beginning of October so trying to decide where to go… If I can even think of affording something. Stupid bills/loans.

I have continued my white rice ban, except a few kimchi jjigae feedings that have definitely not been as frequent.

Attended two weekends in a row at mud festival in Boryeong at Daechon Beach. What a beautiful place. It was definitely built up everywhere around for the foreign attraction for the two weeks the event ran. It was definitely a good time. The first weekend we had a bit of rain on Saturday night that made for an interesting time, drunk walking around trying to find shelter. Then the next day we were blessed with some sunshine at the beach and most mud and beers.
The second weekend was steaming hot Saturday and Sunday without a speck of rain. Got to enjoy the mud and soju yet again, and see a little Akon and Wondergirls at Green Groove Festival near the beach on Saturday night. Good times all in all and would definitely recommend the events to anyone near Korea at that time.

I will sign off for now, this is a bit of a bore, I am sorry. It is hard to update with photos whilst at school, but one of these days. I promise. Love to all my 2 readers out there… or no one it seems since I never get any love/ comments on here :/

xoxo

Holiday Schmoliday

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Tomorrow we are blessed with the day off. I call it a blessing. As with every other holiday in this country, it is falling on a Wednesday making it impossible to take full advantage and like take a long weekend to get out of this city or something, but hey I’m not complaining. I think I will check out the Seoul Folk Flea Market, sounds pretty interestingg…. so we shall see. Only going to be like 90 so good thing it won’t be too hot to walk around in sweltering city heat…. pshhhh…

Anywho. Went for a really nice hike on Sunday. We went to a mountain (san) in Hanam, the cityish place next to Seoul. Quite a nice hike actually, got some nice pictures which I plan to post when I get home later.  Seems like the only time I actually get to update this blog is when I am at school.

Oh lovely school it has been, really excited for a day off tomorrow. Did I mention that yet?

Going to Rocky Mountain Tavern tonight for wing night. Only 3000won for 12 wings, or like $3 comparably. It’s quite nice and a canadian style pub so always playing hockey games of the sort and some tacky canadian jerseys in frames all over. Can’t complain though.

This weekend will be traveling to Yeuso Expo. We (Theresa and I) have received a free trip from the Korean Tourism Organization group K-performance supporters that we are in. We applied and won with like 30 other people. Should be nice to get away. Can’t wait to wake up at the ass crack of dawn on Saturday and take a 4 hour bus ride to go see the coast of Korea. Been planning another trip the end of this month to Busan so that should be nice, real beach, omg. I Cannot waitttt.

Signing off for now.

Much love,

Kelly

 

P.S. BIGGG shoutout to the Pats on here. They have accepted my desperate call for ‘larger’ sized shoes since shoes in Korea only go up to size 8! It’s a bit ridiculous, but summer is here and one pair of flip flops and one pair of nicer sandals that are peling fake plastic bits more and more, I was feeling a bit desperate. Wasn’t about to pay the ridiculous shipping costs from Old Navy (don’t even like their shoes, but Target doesn’t have international shipping available), so Pat and Pat came into play. Luckily, I have the best parents ever and my mom has handed me down a severe shopping problem and abnormally large feet, so guess this is how she is sending her apologies in return 🙂