Thursday, April 28, 2011

Trip to Korea: Day 8

April 23 Sat.

Woke up around 10am, and headed over to a nearby mountain with my dad. The hike took about 3 hours up and down. It wasn't a very large mountain, but at the top, you could see all of Seoul. It was a pretty good experience. The only drawback was that i wore my converse.. i highly recommend wearing hiking shoes as the terrain is very uneven with many rocks. There were a bunch of other people hiking, and many came to have a small picnic which i thought was a great idea.

There are also these men at the top selling ice cream. Ice cream you can buy for $0.50 cents, is $1.50 up there. Talk about surcharge. I really wanted to eat ramen up there (they sell ramen, alcohol, boiled eggs, etc) - but didn't give in cuz we were going to eat some kal gook soo for lunch. My dad was bragging about how bomb the kal gook soo is at this one restaurant. I thought it was just okay.

Around 6pm, i met up a few friends and went to eat some Korean bacon. I'm not sure how to describe it, but the meat tastes different here. In a good way, it's a little greasier, but really good. We had a bunch of food between 7 people, and the total came out to $70. Not bad. After food, we decided to go play some ping pong. I actually did pretty well considering i haven't played in a few years. Next we went to BauHaus to go look at some clothes. Shopping at malls here is just ridiculous. Regular cross trainer Nike's go for $200. Most T-shirts go for $50. A korean-branded sweater was $120. RIP OFF.

I also need to show a picture of the Car Navigation units here in Korea.. it's a 6" screen with so much useful information. When will the US catch up?

Finished off the night by going to the public spa to sweat out all the grease and relax a bit. Tomorrow will be my last day here, a week here in Korea was plenty. I can't imagine being here longer.


I was going to write a blog entry of my last day in Korea.. but there just wasn't that much going on. Korea was definitely an amazing experience, even though i was here by myself. If any of you are planning on going, following the places i went to should be plenty.

All in all, this trip was mainly to visit my parents and spend time with them. I think that goal was achieved successfully. I'll close out this series of blog entries with a few family photos.

Trip to Korea: Day 7

April 22 Fri.

It rained today, and i was feeling a little sick. I think i got a mild cold. Ended up just resting the entire day and ate dumpling soup my mom made. At night we headed over to my dad's friends restaurant where they specialize in steam cooked pig legs. You wrap it in lettuce with garlic, spicy sauce, and jalapeno. It was pretty good.

After, the parents took off, and the younger kids went to drink. We ended up going to the block next to the University where they shot "My Princess". The area reminded me of the streets in NY next to NYU. Lots of college kids, lots of bars and restaurants. This was exactly what i was looking for the entire time i was here in Korea. The menus are so fancy too. Instead of just Duk Bok Gi (spicy rice cakes), it's Chicken Duk Bok Gi. Instead of Chicken Katsu, it's Fusion katsu. Bars here can't survive if it's too simple, so everything in the menu is a grade higher than what we have state side. We ordered a bunch of food, and it all came out to about $37. Not bad.

I learned a new mix drink i can use when i get back home. It's coke, soju, and beer. It's really good. You get 1 beer mug, and 2 shot glasses. You fill the first shot glass with coke and put it inside the beer mug. You pour soju into the second soju glass and place it on top of the first soju glass. Then fill the mug with beer. No shaking or twirling required. The end result is a Pok Tang Ju with a very sweet aftertaste (due to the coke). Girls apparently love this drink.

Finished off the night by going to a 24 hour coffee shop. Talked for an hour. Man, the way college kids here study English is so disturbing. The books they learn are basically a dictionary. It lists English words alphabetically, then the pronunciation, then the meaning, and finally it's used in a sentence. The homework is just memorizing all the words. That's so brutal.

Looks like i may not be able to go to COEX or a Wine bar this time around. Would have been boring going to those places by myself anyways. Tomorrow some friends invited me to eat Korean bacon with them, so looking forward to that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Trip to Korea: Day 6

April 21 Thurs.

Today started out with home made lunch from my mom. She made Kal Gooksu, which is hot soup with noodles. Delicious. Next i headed over to Ap Gu Jung Do in Gangnam.

My trip to ap gu jung do cost $8. As soon as you arrive there is a few blocks called rodeo.. lol.. LA ripoff. Its a bunch of expensive stores tied closely together. The first thing that caught my eyes were the sheer number of cafe bene which is the starbucks equivalent here. I decided to sit down near the front to do some people watching. The dudes here are all pretty broke in the face but they are also very tall. My height at 5"11 is average here. The girls here are definitely better looking than the ones I've seen elsewhere but that's not much of a compliment since other places were in the 3/10 range. Here there are more of 5/10 and the very occasional 8/10. That's about it. Maybe I'm just here at the wrong time. I'm currently sitting here at 5pm local time.

Maybe all the hot girls come out later? Ill sit here and wait a little more. I should have brought a book or earphones with me. Unfortunately I can't take any pictures because its just embarrassing.

Its been about an hour and a half now and I moved locations. I checked out the galleria which is a mall with all brand names like prada, lv, and cartier. There are a bunch of middle aged women here spending their husbands hard earned money. Oh almost forgot earlier I saw a 10/10 girl meet her bf at caffe bene. I think she was an escort... just got that vibe. But she was very pretty.

I think I walked a few miles already but haven't seen any celebrities. I think today is just not the right day. I'm just about to give up. Aimlessly searching is getting me nowhere. Seoul.. or Korea rather is just too big. Most of all, roaming around by myself is getting a bit boring. It would have been 10x better if i came here with a friend. I did find Kim Tae Hee.. well.. sorta.

On a side note I did see a Lamborghini diablo on the street. Must be one of those crazy rich kids. He looked around 25 as I couldn't see through the tint clearly. As soon as the sun sets it will be time to move again.. not sure where to go. Gangnam is a rather large city.. rodeo drive was pretty nice. Definitely the place with the prettiest girls I've seen so far but there's gotta be somewhere else. All the reviews I've read online told me to stay away from itaewon cuz its a sleazy foreigners district so I don't plan on going there.

I ended the night by getting a foot massage. All that walking needed to be relieved. My feet thanked me. Then i had chicken on a stick for $2. It was really good. The fried corn dog and this chicken have been the tastiest treats since I've been here.

Trip to Korea: Day 5

April 20 Wed.

Woke up, and walked down the street to a bakery and got some garlic toast. Came back home and had to wait for my parents to come back home so we could go to a restaurant in Seoul. We were invited by a nice couple whom are close to my parents. We went to a restaurant called Muscus ( which is a seafood buffet. Old ppl really like buffets. And i think they think younger ppl like it too. Unfortunately, I don't like buffets that much, specially when you go with old ppl. They keep looking at your plate and how much you eat. If they think u aren't eating enough, they will comment on it. Sort of like, "eat enough so we get our moneys worth". So i hate it.

Overlooking that fact, the atmosphere is nice, but the food was so so. I'd give it about 7/10.

Next was a trip to Dong De Mun. From Jang Ang Dong, it's a 20 minute cab ride during traffic. Cab fare comes out to $6.50. The first thing you notice when you arrive is the huge temple-like building that invites visitors. Within the first 15 minutes i realized i wasn't the only tourist there. Americans, Germans, and other Korean-Americans just like me where roaming around. You can tell which ones are tourists from the cameras strapped around their necks (including myself). I also saw the first black guy since i've been here.

An amusing incident happened while i was there. While walking around, i found someone selling gas masks! Yes gas masks. I thought it was hilarious so i busted out my camera to take a picture. Suddenly i hear an old guy yelling at me telling me not to take the pic, and he started to chase me with a stick. Oh gosh.. i ran for dear life. For the next 3 hours i was there, it was difficult to just take pictures of the crowd.

The funny thing about Korean street vendors is that they make up their own prices. Nothing has price tags. Sometimes you wonder to yourself, "am i getting ripped off?" The most popular of these street vendors are the large piles of clothes laying on the street with a man yelling "Every item just $3". People start flocking in like pigeons and just ravage through the piles of clothes. It's $3 for a reason. Feels cheap, looks cheap. And it's hard to find the right size.

There were tons of street food vendors. All of them sold the same thing though. Dumplings, spicy rice cakes, fried tempura, hot dogs. I ate it all. The dumplings were good, and the fried hot dogs (YES FRIED!) were good too. But the spicy rice cakes or Duk Bok Gi, wasn't mediocre.

Towards the end of my trip in Dong Dae Mun, i witnessed a collision between a motorcycle and a taxi. They were both not hurt, but they were fighting. Two cops came and stopped them. I was only able to record the ending when the motorcyclist leaves.

I also bought a tripod for $10. I may make good use of it before i leave. To close out the day, a bunch of us went to eat beer with fried chicken. It was all good, until they told me i had to try this awesome stew. I ate it.. then found out what i ate was silkworms.. WTF. WTF.. WTF!!!

I still need to meet someone famous before i leave. Tomorrow i will hit up Ap Gu Jung Do.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Song of the Day: A Pink - Don't Know

"A Pink" is a new group that debuted in Korea middle of this month. I was looking over their age, and they are between 14-20 years old. Dang.. i feel so old right now.

Trip to Korea: Day 4

April 19 Tues.

Spent the first half of the day broken with a hangover. I think it's time to get up now (4pm) and go to gang nam. But, i was bitten by the lazy bug. I ended up just staying home and enjoying my Mom's home cooking. Watched some TV shows and just crashed.

Trip to Korea: Day 3

April 18 Mon.

Went over to a hair studio right across from my parents place. Gosh.. this may just be the best thing about Korea. The stylists here sure know how to do hair. I got a pre-wash with shampoo and a nice head massage. Then they tell you how they will cut your hair. They also use about 4 different types of scissors for each layer. Lastly, they don't rush. They take their time. All for $10 with no tip necessary. Heaven!

After the haircut my parents took me to a fusion buffet on the top floor of a shopping mall called Bauhaus near our house. Even though it was packed, the food was so so. The food there were things like spaghetti, pizza, fried chicken, etc. I would have rather ate something like KalGooksoo, but oh well.

After lunch we headed over to Insang Dong. This area is full of little shops that sell antique Korean pottery. Prior to going there, i purchased my first public transit card. If you go to Korea, you will need one of these, which can be purchased at any convenient store for $2.50. Then they will ask you how much you want to input into the card. I put $20 in it. Each bus ride is $0.90 cents and the subway prices vary by destination. You have to remember to scan your card BEFORE and AFTER you enter and exit the bus/train - because that's how they calculate exactly how to charge.

We went over to a bookstore located underground - and i found a translated version of the Japanese Manga JUMP. I was tempted to buy one, but i probably would have not kept it. Next we went to a Korean palace located in the heart of Seoul. If you've seen Iris, this is where they filmed the big shootout shots.

At Insang Dong, i ate some steamed dumplings. It wasn't that great. 3 for $3. Still not worth it. Don't go here. Lots of tourists come to Insang Dong - i saw many Americans and Japanese people. There are many stores that sell gifts and accessories. Girls could probably spend a whole day shopping here. I wanted to buy one of those hand made neck scarfs, and found one store that had them. Then the lady was all, "i personally hand made these, so it's expensive". I asked, "how much?" She replied "$100". "WTF. No thanks'. Unfortunately, that was the only store that still had them. Every other store i visited told me they don't sell them anymore because of the season. Oh well.

At night, i took a cab to Namsan Tower or Seoul Tower. It's beautiful, with an amazing view of the entire city. It's $7.50 to use the cable car to the tower, and if you want to actually enter the tower, the elevator ride is $9. If you go during the day, you can skip the cable car and just walk which takes about 30 minutes. I got to see all the locks that they've placed around the gates, and also saw the coffee vending machine that was featured in "Boys over Flowers".

A 10 minute walk takes us to Myung Dong which is a small area with lots of shops and restaurants. It's quite the spectacle here, as you feel the energy flowing from the bright lights and crowded streets.

To close out the night, i went to a PoJang Macha, which is a street vendor of alcohol and finger foods. I had 2 bottles of soju and Udon for $9. Quite the bargain. Came home pretty wasted and had the worst hangover in the morning.