Archive for December, 2009

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Sokcho and Such

December 29, 2009

So I spent Christmas at a cabin with a bunch of friends. I won’t elaborate on my weekend, as it is too full of inside jokes, the kind when you spend 72+ hours with a group of ten people. I will say that I visited Waterpia, Sokcho’s water park, which contains an outdoor hot springs! Nice, huh? It’s kind of weird to enter a place in full on winter gear and then run out of it, with only your swimsuit on (even if you’re jumping into 40 degree Celsius water). Since I didn’t have my camera obviously, I drew a picture.

Once, I aspired to write a webcomic about my Korean adventures. As you can see, the truth caught up with me, I actually cannot draw. Sorry for forgetting your arms, Jung.

On the way back it started to snow. It was a five hour bus trip in total, though I was kind of perplexed when three and a half hours had passed and we had just got to Seorak mountain… especially since Seorak is in Sokcho (or close enough near it). About an hour later we were in Seoul. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Obligatory wilderness picture.

In other news, it snowed shitloads over the weekend. How much April, you ask? Why, up a soju bottle label’s worth!

I also like this picture because it conveys the deep seated existential bleakness of an urban winter. Oh and the LOLs it brings.

Happy New Year, folks!

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Now on Twitter.

December 23, 2009

Yeah– I know, I already have a twitter at @aprilangelica, but as you can see, I have made it private. Nothing personal, it’s just that that account is, well, personal. But, no fear, my adoring public, I can now be found at:

http://www.twitter.com/bunchabanchan

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Breaking Up with Mr. Kebab

December 22, 2009

Sigh, I never got around to writing a post about how much I liked the place, but I’m here to say, Mr. Kebab, I shall never go to you again, spending lunches with a novel at your White Stripes-colored establishment. Well, that’s probably a lie, I will probably get too lazy to cross the street sometimes– but yeah, we’re over. I have ignored your sad microwaved potato wedges for far too long. I know, I know we all lionize our firsts, but I’ve moved on to better things, in terms of quickie shawarma joints– mainly Petra Palace, whose fries are crispy… and well… a host of other reasons, which I have conveniently enumerated:

1) Thick, just toasted pita bread— not the, “is this a tortilla?” shit, I’ve grown accustomed to.

2) Hummus. Hummus. Hummus.

3) Falafel. Falafel. Falafel. Falafel. Falafel. (side story: a friend of mine came by and the guys said, “You look familiar.” She answered, “Well, sometimes I come here with my friend.” They answered, “Oh, does your friend like falafel?” Ugh. I have become Falafel Girl. As much as I hate to be associated with a food most famous for Bill O’Reilly’s sexual/linguistic faux pas– which you can google for yourself, I’m not going to be responsible to linking you to that, if you don’t already know– it has not deterred me from going there entirely too often.)

Fact: When I was taking this picture, I felt like Rafiki holding up Simba off a cliff in The Lion King.

P.S. I cheated on you with Ankara Picnic when I felt like you were being too clingy, anyway.

On a thoroughly unrelated subject, you wouldn’t believe how many people come to this blog searching for “Koreans in animal hats.” Yeah, I get it– it’s funny, goofy– but really? Really?

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No “Pho” Puns in This Post.

December 22, 2009

Shinsegae Christmas Display, I love you.

So occasionally, I miss home. But since moving to Itaewon, the foreign ghetto, I often have these moments where I’m sitting on the bus looking out the window and I suddenly realize, “Oh yeah. I do live in Korea! I totally forgot!” I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, one could argue that I’m not fully taking advantage of my host-culture, or you could also argue that I’ve become so accustomed to living here it no longer feels foreign. I’m not sure. I still have my hang-ups and bouts of shyness, but living here has become, well, comfortable.

Oksu Station, on the way to Wangsimni.

And well, I’ve totally had a “in Korea but doesn’t feel like it” Sunday. It started off with class, as usual, and then I met up with some friends in Wangsimni to a Vietnamese pho restaurant, head by a Vietnamese guy, and frequented by Vietnamese people. Okay, for those not in Korea, you have to understand this—yes, there are tons of pho places in Korea, various chains— and I have acquiesced to them on numerous occasions, enduring their meh rice noodles, their pitiful assortment of herbs (onions and bean sprouts and lemons, only? WHAT?) and their, well-at-least-its-hot broth—but seriously— fuck all those places. This place in Wangsimni is legit. Like, Westminster/Garden Grove Litte Saigon legit. Hell, even Saigon-Saigon legit.

The broth was a religious experience, a cure all for colds and the cold, both of which I had enough of that day. I felt as if I could endure winter without five layers because of that pho, could withstand any obstacle, was magically cured of my sniffles and ills, hell, I might have even been able to fly, it was that good.

Um. This is my phone’s background now.

Of course, a place like this does also have its quirks. The ambiance was well, desolate food court style, with a few fake flowers in soju bottle vases. And it mainly caters to Vietnamese people, who all seem to know the chef, and come bearing gifts of herbs, eggs, and sauces, all finding themselves free to tinker around behind the counter or lounge on the sofa. I will say that the selection isn’t great—we came on beef pho and fried rice (only) day, I guess the menu depends on whatever tributes the chef is brought at any given time.  Bring your own limes (which are for cheap at E-Mart now!) though. Some say these are drawbacks, but I am of the mind that these things make Little Vietnam (that is what the place is called) awesome.

Oh? Where is it exactly? Dude, call me up and ask. I’ll show you. I’m game to go anytime.

Later that day, I met up with some other folks and ate at the American Chinese restaurant, Ho Lee Chow. Then we headed to Tartine for some pies. Enough has already been said about these places. But I’m going to share some pictures from Tartine anyway, because who doesn’t like pics of pie?

Merry Christmas everybody. I’m heading to Gangwondo for Christmas weekend which should be fun—freezing but with snow. I’ve never had a cliché Christmas before (in terms of weather). SNOOOOOOOOOOWWWW!

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A Cheap (Up)Date.

December 19, 2009

Currently, -8 degrees Celsius. Tomorrow it will be a low of -14 degrees Celsius.

I only know what’s cold in Celsius, what’s nice and warm in Farenheit.

Merry Christmas, send me mittens, k thanks.

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The Korean Simon and Garfunkel: Totes Better than the Ukranian New Kids on the Block

December 14, 2009

So tonight I found myself at a gathering at a wine bar in the hills of North Seoul (kind of like the Korean Bel Air), owned by the Simon or Garfunkel of the Korean Simon & Garfunkel. They were called Sa-wol & Oh-wol (or April and May) and they even played a set. They were pretty good.

I kind of like old Korean music, though I only really hear it in a taxi. Most of those ajusshis listen to this genre, called trot.

I don’t mind it at all. Maybe I just haven’t been culturally wired to think that it is old-fashioned and silly, like I guess country music is in the US. Though between you and me (you being the fair amount of people that come here, just passing through or regularly stalking– hi!!), I like [old] country music anyway. For some reason it feels like Patsy Cline weather lately.

This is my unhappy I’m cold face. Though, I am strangely obsessed with the dyed red collar on this winter coat I was given (thanks, btw!). I’m pretty sure it’s made out of bunny. I feel guilty about it, but it’s so warm and soft. My mother says, “It was either you or the rabbit,” though I kind of doubt that.

A bit of lazy post, I realize. What? It’s cold! Hard to type with mittens on, you know!

Oh– you say? But April– you haven’t told us what’s been in your stomach lately! You can’t just end it like that! Well, kids, if you must ask, on Friday I had delicious Peking (Beijing? What’s culturally correct?) duck at my work’s end of the year party:

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Easy Equations for Happiness

December 9, 2009

1. Dolsot Bibimbap (loosely translates to “mixed rice and vegetables in a stoneware pot” or in fewer words, “delicious”)= Joy.

2. An order of jimdak (soy chicken-y goodness with potatoes and glass noodles) + eight of your friends (because c’mon, the plate is bigger than a walrus’ head) = a party.