Adventures in South Korea: Bonghoasan Samcheok and the Rose park

10 May

I should have posted back when the cherry blossoms were blooming but I didn’t (either way you would have to wait until next year to see a hill full of cherry blossoms).

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This is right next to the hill where my house is at the moment except I could not tell you the street of where this hill is (mostly because street don’t work quite the same or at least I have not gotten the hang of them yet).

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Mean while just look at the surroundings so you can make it thee.

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The walk was beautiful and the loose cherry blossoms made great hair accessories.

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Now we did not go up this path we took the other side of the fork on the road (however this side is supposed to take you to a gazebo that overlooks the city).

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We made it all the way to the top of the path and then began to make out way down the other side of the hill. And it felt like a quest in a fairy tale.

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Eventually you make to the other end of the city and can go to the rose garden (the roses haven’t made it in yet).

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Great hike and worth taking plus there is a nice little coffee shop in the rose park called Daily Coffee.

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Adventures in South Korea: Ocean Rail Bike, Samcheok

10 May

This weekend, I ventured out to the ocean rail bike trail! How do you get there? well you take bus 24 or 24-1 (price is 1800 won cash or 1690 with a cash bee card) to Gungchon, say it just like that to the bus driver and they will probably tell you where to get off (I showed a picture of the rail bike trail in the tourist pamphlet just to be safe).
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That is what the stop looks like (if you do not make it you can also get off at the Yongha stop which is the other end of the rail bike station). Now, this is very important you must make a reservation because people take this seriously and you can often be left without a bike cart. The tours leave every hour at ten past the hour and take 50 minutes to complete.

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As far as making reservations you can count on the tourist information center near the bus station and they can call in a reservation for you any day or at least let you know there are seat available in any of the tours for that day. Once you get off the bus just get your tickets and you can go explore which is what I did.

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Luckily the tomb of

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You see the red arrow? That directs you to the tomb of King Gongyang (well sort of, you see the king used to be buried here but then they moved him so…).

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You can choose if you want to climb the steps to these empty tombs or not.

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Random moth? (butterfly maybe I just thought there was a lack of animals in this post)

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The view is nice from here….

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Look pretty flowers! you can see them if you go up the steps to the empty tomb with sentimental value.

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A small walk down the road and you get to the ocean part of the ocean rail bike.

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The weather could have been better but the smell of the ocean and the soft breeze made up for it.

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Finally it was time to get on the rail bike trail. We picked a four people rail bike (oh yeah you can pick a rail bike for two or four people).

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We took some pictures while people were being loaded up into the other bikes. As soon as that happened though we were off! Speed was our game.

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and we got to the part of the trail were a creepy doll takes your picture mid way. The Rest of the way you get to see hotels and houses on one side and the beach at the other side.

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Bathroom and side restaurants are readily available just a few seconds away from the rest stop.

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The rest stop is filled with sculptures so just take in the sites.

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A word of caution for those with long legs the security bar is rough on the knees, so make sure to use your seat belt (you have to I kept slipping of the seat).

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A couple of tunnels are in the path and well they improve…..

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So then we reached the end of the tour and we got out pictures and waited for the return bus to Samcheok

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Over all it was a fun experience, and as most of the other people seemed to have hit the soju and were having tons of fun (so if you can get a bit tipsy do so).

Adventures in South Korea: Dakgalbi street

9 May

So May 5th is Children’s day in South Korea and as a teacher I benefited from kids not going to school on children’s day. I took this opportunity to go to Chuncheon a two hour bus ride away from Samcheok. Chuncheon is the place where Nami Island is located (I was unable to go this time because it rained), it is also the place where dakgalbi was first ever made (if you have been to Korea and have not tried dakgalbi you have been robbed of an awesome gastronomic experience).
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This is one side of dakgalbi street (it is actually more like an alley, but it is filled with dakgalbi restaurants so we will let them be a street). I would like to point out that right next to this sign is the entrance to a large underground shopping center that people should experience.

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There is a map of all the restaurant available and well we only tried three this time but we will go back.

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Also they like to have chicken themed things which why-not just take a picture with it all.

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The first place was a different type of dakgalbi i have never tried before and by looking at the picture you will notice the difference. This type of dakgalby is just chicken marinated in (an impossibly good) sauce (how do they make it I would like to know the secret to this sauce) and grilled over coals just like bulgogy.

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As side dishes you have a greens salad of sorts which contains green onions, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and other herbs (I just don’t know the names of them in English or Korean to be honest).

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Lettuce is provided to wrap the chicken you grill and cut (with scissors) and other things like your salad, kimchi, radishes, garlic, and gochujan sauce (it is given with almost any type of grilled food here and I am not entirely sure on the romanized spelling of it). What ever you put in your lettuce wrap depends on the place you go to because side dishes will always change.

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These are thinly sliced picked radishes and are an acquired taste but you won’t know until you try them won’t you?

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While that was not the dakgalbi we were expecting it was good and for only 11,000 won it is well worth going to try it.

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this the other end of the street and there are many advertisements for following festivals in Chuncheon, which include puppet and mime festivals (look them up).

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We also found a desert place near the street. it is a waffle on a stick with icream and whip cream on it and it is delicious for 3,500 won you get two waffles on a stick for an extra 1000 won you get four (your call from then on).

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Chuncheon is also the site of the very first super popular drama, Winter Sonata which launched Korean dramas as the leading dramas to watch in South east Asia and all over the world (just look at crunchy roll or drama fever most of them will be Korean dramas).

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SO that is that on Korean Dramas back to the food!

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Second dakgalbi place, this time it was more like we had experience before. The cabage, dok (rice cakes), sweet potato, sesame leaves and chicken in the awesome sauce cooked right in front of you.

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Sorry for the food porn.

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The side dishes inchoded kimchi, cold radish vinegar soup?, garlic, gochujan, and lettuce.

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at the end of the first part when you eat the chicken and the vegetables you leave some of it behind and order noodles or rice. We went for cheesy rice because it is always a good choice.

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and it was the best ever.

The next day a dakgalbi restaurant had this and I just had to go in it.(woomi dakgalbi).

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is a hungry nerd’s dream!

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They are also dakgalbi purist so no cheese here but the sauce has a ginger feel to it so if you like ginger come here.

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next after circling a couple time because we got too full of dakgalbi we found an ice cream fish place!

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They take a fish shaped cone and fill it with ice cream and fruit. Try it!

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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!

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!