Archive | April, 2015

Avengers Age of Ultron: A Review

26 Apr

Because I live in South Korea I got to watch Avengers Age of Ultron in Theatres! (well it acctually was out like three days ago here but you know I work).

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Apparently South Korea gave the movie a money boost in order for Seoul to be featured in the movie (so this is me telling you that the place where a pretty big fight scene takes place is Seoul). This is why you get to see the Han river (if you have ever watched any Korean dramas you will know) and all the people and structures.

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So back to the movie it was really well done, the color and all the effects are amazing! Looks at how they fly together it is all very artistic and you have to appreciate it.

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The amount of action and brutality does not hurt either it was a great action film. There were moments where the team talks about their feeling and (OMG Bruce and Natasha are a great pair!) The Hulk has a calming down technique developed by Black Widow. Which comes a bit out of left field because well who saw that coming, right?

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Pietro and The Scarlet witch who at the beginning are against the Avengers but later see things clearly in a way are super awesome, and good casting in my opinion because while The Scarlet Witch is awesome we all know she has twisted scared child side to her that Elizabeth Olsen portrayed.

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After some in-team fighting as it often happens and Thor going to so god-like things (as is his thing to be the god of thunder), the team with the help of their Linchpin Nick Fury get back together and form a plan. Which works and they get the help from the Scarlet With and Quick Silver on the way. They also get help from a new superhero which has been dusted off the Marvel wall and made a large contribution to the Young Avengers along with Wanda (I am trying to give clues without giving away spoilers of the movie because it has not been out everywhere else yet). But if you are a follower of the Avengers or Young Avengers comic series you will be happy and will promptly hard-core nerd-out!

It was worth the three year wait, and I can’t wait for more Marvel movies!

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Adventures in South Korea: Gangneung and much food

20 Apr

So this time I went to Gangneung for a Waygook farmers’ market (which was more like a potluck the those who brought no food had to pay for the food). Among the awesome food was pulled pork, which was amazing.

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The market which is organized by the owner of So Zac’s cafe every year (I think).

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If you are in the the Gangwondo area around spring time look it up on facebook (because that is what people do in this portion of time) and support those who put a lot of work into the food they sell.

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Next you move to the coffee mile (which is basically a stretch of coffee shops along the Gangwondo coast).

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Here you can find a guest house where the bunk beds are shown through the windows. It might be cool to stay there or it might be better to stay at a place with blinds to sleep in late. The following are pictures of the cafes along the way (which if you have a large party on a sunny day, good luck finding a place to sit down and enjoy coffee).

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This is a beautiful strawberry tart that tasted as good at it looks.

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Then a couple of blocks away from the coffee mile is a place by the beach where I was told great hamburgers were sold (for a reasonable price too, the most expensive burger was about 8,000 won).

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However somehow the day turned from fun sunny warm day to pre-scary movie about killing sirens.

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But that did not stop a nearly wed Korean couple from taking pictures and hitting the groom on the bottom  of his foot (according to some other Koreans that saw us looking at the whole scene weirdly, told us).

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Yup not sure what is going on here.

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More scary mist and such.

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And finally the warmth of an over crowded tiny burger shop.

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With weird decorations that does not really make sense if you know English or have previous experience in dinners…

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This is  the address I think (to be honest I was starving so most of this was just a blur until I was able to obtain nourishment).

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And then finally the food arrived!

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The burger above was the bacon mozzarella burger.

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The one above was is the mozzarella spicy burger and below is the regular spicy burger.

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All was right with the world because the burger was awesome.

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In another note, in my almost seven months in this country I had never come across a married couple cab. Another one was spotted in downtown Gangneoung so it is a thing.

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Also in Downtown Gangneoung is the Teddy Bear Cafe. As it’s name says it is a cafe full of Teddy Bears (large ones small ones, some that tell you to be with them forever and you can chose the tone of creepiness you want to give that voice inside your head).

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Next up is Maggeoli or rice wine found in Korea. The most common way to drink maggeoli is with cider (a lemon lime soda here). In this maggeoli bar we found fruit flavored maggeoli (if you have an issue with texture I recommend staying with the traditional way to drink it. In severe cases of texture things stay away from maggeoli).

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So moral of this story, there is no such thing as much dessert, teddy bears can be supper creepy if they are six feet tall and the weather has taken vengeance on them, and always be aware of your texture tolerance for drinks.

Adventures in South Korea: Insadong

18 Apr

Around January Solal or Korean New Year (also known as the Chinese New Year) comes around and day off are awarder to people who work in South Korea. Because of that I tried to do touristy stuff, which led me to Insadong the most cultural touristy part of Seoul.

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Now this is a lovely mural at the entrance (Iam not sure if that is the entrance really I just took a bus from Gangnam) Now remember the mural because it will be important.

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Just less than a block away from this mural you will find a trick eye museum. I was unable to go in because the group I was with had already been there (eye roll, to crummy tour guides).

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The above pictures are still trick eye museum.

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The street to the palace has a women’s university that used to be a palace which is pretty awesome.

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But this is the Unhyeongung Palace (which was the goal for our visit even though it is super easy to get distracted by all the shopping near the area). Heads up the Palace tour fee is free during Solal (not sure if this extends to other holidays)

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This is the throne room/court (you can tell because it looks fancy).

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This would be the King’s room, notice the art behind the couch/bed thing? (yup the mural at the entrance of Insadong)

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There is an importance of this mural but the person I was with was unable to explain it.

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In the above picture you can see the influence of the western culture (because chairs are not a thing Korea likes to do if they want to be authentic).

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These would be servant rooms because they are super simple and they are across the King’s room.

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There is a secret garden that you have to wander into (because my group did not really have a pattern to this)

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We did find the undol system bellow the King’s room (no secret garden yet).

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The kitchen because no palace is complete with a kitchen (is anything really complete without a kitchen?).

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We found it!!!!!

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This would be a wishing fountain but your wish only come true if you get a coin in the center pillar looking thing.

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What do we find in the secret garden? The courtesan house! But only the best ones got a permanent stay in the palace and the secret garden.

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Adventures in South Korea Japan Edition :Kyoto

7 Apr

So while living in South Korea is fun and is full of adventures and cultural experiences, there is one thing I am mainly angry about and that is that Korea lacks an understanding of Brunch or breakfast as I have come to know it. Which is why as soon as I saw that a brunch place was near my guest house in Kyoto I took my chances and ate there.

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After an amazing brunch I headed to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, the shrine of a thousand gates (and much walking).

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The messenger of the god that this shrine was build for is a fox. And that is why there are so many fox statues around the shrine. The foxes are all dressed up also because of the New Year.  Each object the foxes carry is specific to a message the god wants to send (but you can look that up if you are interested).

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The gates are meant to be good for businesses which is why there are so many (they have definitely passes the thousand gate mark). The gates take you all the way up the mountain and the down through a cemetery where people who really benefited from putting up a gate now rest (because it is expensive).

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Here is the beginning of the cemetery (I did not make it all the way up the mountain because we had other places to go. However all of it was beautiful and kept that old time influence with the modern life that we know Japan for (there were automatic sliding door that looked like traditional door in the little shops selling things by the monks of the shrine.

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There will no doubt be more gates added to the trail but for now I like the colors and the contrast with the mountain.

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Next in the day was Toji, everyone was dressed up and I really enjoyed seeing the people in Komonos go by.

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Again the temple was in a mountain/hill which meant a nice but tiring walk (again).

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This Shrine was more commercial than Fushimi because it had restaurants and more things were being sold much closer to the shrine.

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If you do travel here make sure to get the Sesame ice cream ( I loved it as you can tell because I only remembered to take the picture after half the ice cream was gone).

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While getting all the way to the top may be difficult it is totally worth it because the view makes it so.

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Again, sadly doe to y timing all renovations were being done to the pagoda due to the coming new year.

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However the structures I was able to see were lovely and made up for most of it.

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Remember comfortable shoes are very important!

Adventures in South Korea: Jinhae (The Cherry Blossom Festival)

7 Apr

It is spring in South Korea and that means cherry blossom time! So I went to Jinhae to go to the famous cherry blossom festival held every year. This is serious business (you know how in the fall pumpkin everything hits the United States? Cherry blossom everything hits Jinhae). I had cherry blossom cookies, chocolate, late, lemonade, bread, swiss rolls, macaroons (actually they ran out of macaroons, but they looked pink and really goo!) and tons of cherry blossom trees in full bloom.

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But the story is not all cherry blossom color. At the beginning of out journey from Busan (Heundae to be exact) to Jinhae we were a group full of hope ready to see the cherry blossoms and dressed for a nice warm spring time day. The picture below is of us standing in a bus of a trip that takes an hour (yeah we knew this when they asked us if anyone wanted to stand on the bus, we also saw that the line to get on the bus was about the size of a Harry Potter premier). So we got on the bus and tried not to fall on any Koreans.

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Jinhae was all that we expected there were cherry blossoms in every direction and it all looked gorgeous.

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There was even some naked ladies art which seem a lot more artsy as it was surrounded by cherry blossoms,

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Then the rain started being from Portland it did not bother me and we were in line to get some of the cherry blossom everything I mentioned earlier. However we did run into some trouble getting a bus back to Busan as about a million people (and I am not exaggerating here, that is roughly how many people go to this festival also tried to get back to Busan). As my friends and I separated to get into the ticket buying line and a getting into a bus line both lines were the equivalent of a city block (unless you count the line for getting seats in the bus line in which case that would take over two city blocks)

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The line never changed size even before we got into the bus it just kept growing as people desperate to leave kept buying tickets and standing on either one of the two lines and buses kept rushing in and taking as many people as they could back to Busan. As my friend Jennifer put it it felt like being in the movie Titanic because there was water everywhere, we were soaking wet (as you may recall we were dressed for a warm spring day and an umbrella was ever so under appreciated at the beginning of the day and then they were sold out in all of Jinhae) and we just wanted to board a mode of transportation to dry land.

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So we finally did make it into a bus after maybe three hours of standing in the rain with no rain gear for about three hours (I was unable to move my hands or feel my fingers or toes). As we were on the standing line there were no seats for us except they did miss an empty sit which was able to take and then just fall asleep for a big chuck of the way back to Busan.

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Moral of the story if the rainy season is anywhere near, TAKE AN UMBRELLA or at least a rain jacket. If you arrive at a bus station and there is a line of about forty people waiting to get on the next bus (because the current bus is full and leaving) buy tickets right there and then. And one last thing tights are awesome and they dry quickly (unless the rest of your clothes is completely drenched in which case your tights will dry and remain wet at the same time) but do not sit on the train or next to people because you will get them wet also (because osmosis and your clothes are probably saturated with water). The last picture is of my camera fogging up due to all the moisture in the bus.

Adventures in South Korea Japan Edition: Osaka

6 Apr

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So for my winter vacation (from being an ESL teacher in South Korea) I went with the cheapest air fair available to me (not that Japan was not in my visit and visit again list). The first spot in my week was Osaka.

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The morning in Osaka was great, We went to Tenjibashi, where a market is set up and with market comes street food!!

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The market has a blend as almost everything in Japan of old and new things just trying to make their way into the world.

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If you come to this area as well as many areas of Osaka you have to come hungry, because takoyaki does not come in less that half a dozen (big deal considering that I had had a meal prior to entering this awesome land of street food, a repeating mistake I made through out my entire stay in Japan).

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Ok of the picture above I want you to focus on the rectangular containers with aluminum foil (do you see them?) they contain an onigiri like no other I have ever tasted. This is rice wrapped in bacon (and I would travel back to Osaka just for it).

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Now to the Owl cafe (because owls are awesome)

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I cannot stress the importance of getting here early or having an extra hour to spare (do not under estimate the cuteness of owls) This place takes a limited amount of costumers per hour. Naturally this is to be able to train people on the art holding and petting an owl (since the normal response is to cuddle with one). There will be a waiting list and you should have your name or the name of your party be put down then take some time and enjoy the street food previously discussed.

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All the owl are super cute follow the instruction and remember you are here for the owl not the beverages.

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About half a block from the Family Owl Cafe in the direction of where the bacon onigiri is you will see a temple looking building to your right. I went there while preparations for the New Year were being made so the place was almost empty (not sure it that is the usual state)

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In any case it is something to experience and it was free.

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After this I went tot the Osaka palace. I went in through the park (which makes you feel like you have to find and rescue a member of the royal family since you are making your way through a dark forest to get to a palace).

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There will always be picture of random animals in all of these get used to it.

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The views are awesome because it again allows you to see the contrast between the new and the old.

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Make sure you walk every single walk-able part of the grounds because you may never know, also I again because of the New Year the palace was close and an inside tour was not an option.

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see

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Finally the night led me to Dotonbori street, where again I found street food I was too full to eat (darn bad timing of nourishment consumption)

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Because it bagan to rain and all of the people were out there with umbrellas I felt like I had been thrown in to Blade Runner or a Hiroshige painting

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I did manage to have takoyaki which was really good (this coming from a person who does not eat much sea food by choice).