Monday, May 23, 2011

Turtle Egg Ice Cream Treat

I found this ice cream treat in the small grocery store that's across from our apartment. I'd never seen it before and it looked peculiar, so I bought one. When I brought it home Kwang immediately recognized this ice cream treat and told me he used to eat these when he was a kid. The Korean name translates into turtle egg.

When I opened up the plastic package I thought to myself, what the hell is this? I hate to say it, but it has a strange likening to an ice cream filled condom. Ok, as a kid growing up in the United States I remember being repeatedly warned about playing with balloons and being scared with the vision of some defiant kid who suffocated from inhaling a balloon. Here they fill balloons with ice cream, encouraging just the opposite. Have all of my instincts been wrong all along?!

The pictured instructions showed that I needed to cut off the tip of the balloon. From that moment on chocolate ice cream came spurting out under the strange pressure of the balloon. I cut a bigger opening about half way through, which was a huge mistake. The ice cream came gushing out at the end and practically exploded all over the floor. I still can't believe this is a mass produced, Korean FDA approved product.  Turtle eggs, worth trying while in Korea.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Urban Gardening in Seoul

Our new 14th floor apartment has a small screened in porch. I think most people put their laundry out to dry here. I've seen some plants growing though in the other windows I've peeked at.  I really miss having a garden so Kwang and I trucked ourselves over to the flower market to see what we could find. We decided on two big planters. Then we bought cucumber, eggplant, hot pepper, and tomato plants. We also got some basil for cooking and some mint for mojitos. I'm hoping if the cucumber plants really take off I an create some sort of trellis running up the wall. Some of my adult students have told me that in their experience plants don't grow above the 8th floor for some reason. I'm hoping to prove them wrong.

For Your Viewing Pleasure

There are so many advertising gimmicks here. However, I can never get enough of the funny costumes. Especially when it's a bowl of udong wore on the head. That fried shrimp does look pretty tasty though!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Seoul's Friendship Festival

Yesterday was a beautiful spring day. After my Korean lesson Kwang and I met up and went to City Hall to take in some of Seoul's annual Friendship Festival. There were booths from around the world selling crafts and regional food. We snacked on sausages from the UK tent and drank German beer. We also caught a couple of performances from Thailand and Korea. We're back at work today, but tomorrow is Buddha's birthday which means another day off (last Thursday was also a holiday).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Dog Cafe on the Wolmido Boardwalk

Kwang and I walked to Wolmido island from the Incheon subway station. He had a hankering for raw fish and I just wanted to explore. Wolmido has a long boardwalk lined with raw fish restaurants. Warning though, the prices were more expensive than if we had eaten at the fish market in Seoul. While we were wandering around we came upon a dog cafe. We sort of made the mistake of lingering around the doorway only to see that the owner looked pretty frustrated that all of the onlookers that weren't coming in to order drinks. So we decided, what the heck, and went in for a tea and milkshake.

There were about 8 dogs in the cafe. They were all very sweet, but I could tell they weren't really impressed with all of the attention.

There was a giant Saint Bernard. He slept most of the time, although Kwang desperately wanted him to wake up and play. Large dogs are not very common in Korea. I've seen a couple of gold retrievers out and about, but that's probably the largest dog I've seen being walked on the streets. It also seems that people are slightly afraid of dogs. I've had a coworker pull me aside to avoid a dog while walking on the sidewalk. With that said though so many people have little lap dogs that they dress up and take everywhere.

Most people who walked by the dog cafe were really curious about the animals. However, hardly anyone stopped to purchase a drink. I can see why the owner was a little frustrated. After going I was really happy Kwang convinced me to stay. So many cat and dog cafes have popped up in Seoul. I wonder if this is just a passing fad although I hope not for the sake of the animals.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Delicious Chinatown Baked Buns

In Chinatown there was a small shop selling baked buns filled with meat, pumpkin and other delicious fillings. There was a big line outside the shop which is always a good sign. I opted for the meat bun and inside this is what I found. The outside was a crispy baked bread shell. Inside was flavorful meat and a layer of green onions. Amazing.

While we were standing in line one of the shop owners gestured us to come look and see how the buns were cooked. These little bun pods are stuck to the sides of the oven. There are coals at the bottom that heat and bake the buns. Such a great traditional baking method.

Incheon's Chinatown

Directly across the street from the Incheon subway station stands the gates of Incheon's Chinatown. Korea has a fairly significant Chinese population. I was surprised to hear that on the subway some stops are spoken in Mandarin.

A protector of the gates.

I love it when one object is represented repetitively like these red lanterns. 

Here we are posing in front of the gold dragons. I think it was the nicest day yet of 2011.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Visit to MBC Headquarters in Jeongbalsan

MBC is one of the big TV broadcasting companies in Korea. The company has headquarters in Yeoido and Jeongbalsan. We walked to the Jeongbalsan location (line 3) after going to the Seoul Motor Show. On the first floor there's an interactive exhibit as well as a gift store, that didn't happen to be open on Sunday. The picture above is of Kwang posing with the cast of Infinity Challenge (무한도전). It's one of the most popular variety shows featuring comedians doing ridiculous tasks.

The exhibit had a miniature set of a traditional drama showing all of the behind the scene details.

I find this hilarious because we've encountered this same scene while walking around Seoul before. Dramas are filmed just about everywhere.

This was a fake motorcycle you could get on and see what it was like filming an action scene. Pretty awesome!

This part was really cool. Who hasn't wanted to experience what it's like to be the weatherman. Kwang took a natural liking to this job.

There was even a mock version of the MBC news with a nighttime view of Seoul in the background.

 Have you always wanted to see what it's like to be a cameraman? Well here you can try it out. I was so pleasantly surprised by this entire exhibit. We had no idea that there was going to be this much cool stuff to do when we on a whim decided to go in the building.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Highlights from the Seoul Motor Show

There was so much to see at the Seoul Motor Show last weekend. These are just some of the highlights that I found intriguing.
Kwang I think you shrunk! 
Kia had a gigantic model on hand just for pictures like this one.

Camper cars are incredibly expensive in Korea. Most people rent them if they want the benefits of one. People could not get enough of this model. I love that everything is really hands on. With most cars you were free to get in them, fidget with the controls, get in the back seat and even open the truck. 

These kids even got some driving time in.

Alright, what's strange about this car? 
How the hell do you get in it? 
There are no handles.

Some mock off roading...I like it!
 I thought this car was pretty cool. The inside is like the set of the Jetsons. Plus look how the door opens up. Is this is the wave of the future? We saw so many cars that had this feature at the show. 

Everyone wanted a piece of the rampant poising action, including this little girl. I was a little skeptical at whether people were taking pictures of the cars or show girls...or maybe that was just Kwang.

This was the first time I had seen male models at an expo. 
It was totally refreshing. 

Car parts were also on display. 
This station showed the latest in windshield wiper technology.

Hey! What's a bike doing at a Motor Show? Oh wait it's a motorized bicycle. This model would be perfect for the radiation rain we've been getting here in Seoul lately. 

This bus was huge! We got a tour though....

The bus was the perfect place to take a nap...except for the disco lights over head, making this picture look only a little creepy. 

 Look at the width of this seating. 
I'll be taking this bus on my next 5 hour trip to Jinhae.

Don't worry, they didn't leave out the city bus either. Here's my stop!

Finally, you can't have a Motor Show with a bride. 
Now that I think about it there wasn't a groom, strange.
And no, this is not the dress I will be wearing next year.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Poktanju...the Killer Cocktail

My company went out as a group a couple of Fridays ago. We ate pigs knuckles and of course had some soju. However, my wild and crazy team leader heard that I liked to drink beer mixed with soju (somac), so she decided to make me a soju cocktail. She first filled up a shot glass with cola about 3/4 full. She put that in the beer glass, shot glass and all. Then on top she filled another shot glass with soju and stacked that on top of the cola shot glass. Then she filled up the tall glass with beer to make a poktanju cocktail. Bottoms up!

Who Thought That This Was a Good Idea?

Alright I love me some PB&J, but seriously this seems wrong. I found this burger at Hunter Burger in Kangnam. It really does have peanut butter and strawberry jam on it. To really top it off there are slabs of bacon added to the mix. I wasn't brave enough to order it and I definitely don't have any "jellousy" about this burger.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Working for EducaKorea

This is what I get to walk into every morning while working for EducaKorea. There's something pretty satisfying about being surrounded by books everyday. Especially when the books are reminiscent of my childhood. I'm currently working on a variety of projects including writing English assessment tests, creating compilation storybooks and workbooks that support the assessment tests, writing teacher guides for books like Maniac McGee and Island of the Blue Dolphin, and proof reading most anything that the company produces. I also get to do my first presentation to foreign teachers on Tuesday showing them how to use a textbook we sell.

The bookstore is also an amazing resource for English teachers in Seoul. I never knew small stores specific to children's English books even existed in Seoul before working here. They have English games, books, coordinating workbooks, puzzles, and English cartoons. I've used some of the storybook/workbook combos for private lessons which has been way great way to supplement my lessons.

The bookstore is open from 10-7 on weekdays and 10-4 on Saturday. It's located at Seolleung Station, exit 1. Walk straight out of the exit 1 for about 3 blocks until you see a Dunkin Donuts. At Dunkin Donuts take a right and walk two short blocks up the hill. You will see The Coffee Bean as in the picture above. The blue sign at the top of this picture is EducaKorea's sign. Take a right down the street just after The Coffee Bean.

On the right there is an entry way to the elevators. The bookstore is on the 5th floor.

The Beginning of Spring...Dust Storms!

A couple of weeks ago we experienced our first dust storm of the season. This is when sand from the Gobi Desert travels through the air and hovers over Korea. Last year I was surprised to wake up and find a strange orange glow radiating from the sky. This time instead of orange dust it was plain old ordinary regular dust. At first I thought it was smog, but then I looked at the cars.

I feel like this is worse than pollen season in New England. I'm thinking those little dust particles could scratch the surface pretty easily. I also have not seen an abundance of car washes in and around Seoul.

Here's a close up of what to expect from a dust storm. Kwang was telling me that he's been out in the rain during a dust storm and gotten back home with a head full of sand. Eh...I guess it's just kind of like going to the beach.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Need Some Luck on Your Big Test?

The new part of Sillim that we moved to is near an area where government and law tests are taken. These are serious, intensive tests. Kwang has a friend that's been studying for the past 5 years, trying to pass the government exam. We walked down this Sunday to explore and to find a place to have coffee. On the way we passed a table filled with these used book stands. Each one was once used by a prior student. They are marked with various sayings like "helper" or "gateway to success".

This one claims to be used by a student who passed the test. I love that added superstitious element. I figure everything helps when studying for such strenuous tests.