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After a Year in Korea

13 Jul

So I have officially been in Korea for one year and 17 days. My year mark came and went on the 22nd of July. I would have to say it has been an interesting experience, I met a lot of very interesting people even while staying in a small town like Samcheok. I said goodbye to my students and they were adorable till the end. Sadly I failed at turning them into Ninjas/spies but you know they got pretty close. The winter is Samcheok was deadly mainly because I got sick and Bronchitis does not pair well with freezing temperatures, but everyone else did not have the same problem so I feel that was mostly me. I had some great fun and enjoyed all the work I put into my lessons as well as all the conversations I got to both hear and be a part of. I will miss all the people I have met (with the exception of one person and they don’t know who they are).This is a check in WordPress more stuff to follow as I have time off and will be able to write more or at least fix my pictures situation.

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: 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).