Monday, January 24, 2011

New Friends & New Places

( COEX Aquarium )

Another weekend has come to an end. Once again, it was far from dull. I managed to keep myself busy the entire time. I have slowly begun to stop posting information about our Dinner with Friends evenings, but I would like to share one tid bit about this past Tuesday. It was Justin's second time around, and he is the kind of guy that goes for the WOW factor. He doesn't like to disappoint. He had been raving about his appetizer all day, and how all of us were going to be impressed. He was absolutely correct; when he walked out of the kitchen holding a lobster, nobody could believe it. He even went through the extra work of presenting it in the fanciest way possible. It was on a bed of lettuce, and garnished with sliced lemons.

( Appetizer )

( Couldn't resist posing with the lobster )

New Galbi ( 갈비 ) Restaurant!

Now, onto even more exciting things. When we were walking home from work on Monday, we noticed that the restaurant that had closed down months ago was now replaced with a new galbi ( 갈비 - Korean Barbecue ) restaurant. We decided that we'd have to try in out sometime soon. The general consensus on friday night was that everybody wanted to call it a night early. Everybody, other than JC & I, were going snowboarding at 6am on Saturday, so I had to seek out the few that I could convince to come with me. Naturally, I went to Erik first. He was in, and then, with very little persuasion, I convinced Justin to tag along.

Everybody who works at the restaurant is so nice. The owner is this really sweet lady, that by the end of the night, we were calling oma ( 오마 - mother ). Her daughter is one of the servers at the resaurant, and her daughter's friends are the others. We had some delicious samgyeopsal ( 삼겹살 - giant bacon slab ) and a number of mokguli bottles. 오마 and her children sat down with us for a few bowls and ended up splitting a couple bottles of soju. Whew! It was a good one. We felt right at home with this family and told ourselves that we'd be back.

( 한국오마! )

COEX ( 코에스 )

The next morning, JC, Katrina & I headed out to Gangnam ( 강남 ) to take a trip to COEX mall. This is just a gigantic mall with all sorts of things to do, including an aquarium. There is also a huge art gallery, cinema, and event center. One other thing to keep in mind, if you ever visit, this place has a ridiculous number of American restaurants. I would even say that they have more than Itaewon. We had dinner at a T.G.I. Fridays, but we also turned down KFC, McDonald's, Burger King, Sbarro, and Uno's. Upon our arrival we grabbed a snack and coffee and promptly began our exploration. I was able to try out WiiFit+ at this big display. I realized that I pretty much suck at flying and landing on platforms, AND I'm really bad at ski jumping. Meh, it was still fun to try.

After being schooled by a nintendo, we moved on to the task at hand: the aquarium. This place was really interesting. I'm surprised that they even call it an aquarium. Granted, they do have more fish than anything else, but it might as well be called COEX zoo. They had monkeys, bats, rodents, spiders, scorpions, a beaver, and an alligator. The alligator isn't that strange I guess, but still, the rest are strange to find in an aquarium. The first quarter of the aquarium was pretty disappointing, therefore you won't be seeing any pictures from this portion. It was filled with freshwater fish. It was the kind of display that you would see at the Iowa State Fair of local pond and river life. Once we got deeper into the aquarium, it was pretty cool. They had a large variety of sea life. The only thing missing was a whale. (That would have been so cool, though.)

There was one room that was extra interesting. It was filled with all sorts of ordinary objects, but instead of being completely ordinary, they housed fish in interesting ways. You'll see pictures; don't worry. I never thought that would by a Coca-cola from a machine that also had fish in it. Pretty cool.

After we had completed seeing all of the fish we could see, we exited and made our way down the Fridays. This was a real treat. Everything was exactly the same as you see in America. We even had a waitress that spoke nearly perfect English. Katrina and I were privileged enough to witness JC eat an unbelievable amount of food. He started off with boneless chicken wings, moved onto a huge burger, then proceeded to finish half of Katrina's dense creamy pasta. He didn't feel so hot. It's okay; he got better. After a little more browsing and another cup of coffee, we visited the Seven Luck Casino.

The Seven Luck Casino is not a lucky place. Nope. In thirty minutes, JC and I managed to lose 40,000 won each. Although I lost and didn't have any fun, it was probably for the best. Would I have won, I would have been wanting to visit the casino all the time, and I guarantee I would lose all of my money. Therefore, Seven Luck Casino, thank you. After the disappointing showing at the casino, we headed by towards home, so that I could introduce JC and Katrina to my Korea mom.

( JC & Katrina )

( the majestic lion fish )

( Wow! This can be found in the Han! )

( stoplight tank )

( The Amazon )

( sad fish )

( Yep. That's a two-headed turtle. )

( Myself & the electric eels )

( trying for a souvenir )

( I totally touched that stingray & that shark )

( NO... WAY... )

( one of the coolest-looking fish ever )

( shiny fish )

( large school of fish )


( jellies )

( TGIF )

( TGIF )

After the Aquarium

Like I said, I wanted JC and Katrina to meet Young-sim ( 영심 ), my Korean mother. We were warmly welcomed when we arrived around 7:30. Starting in on the mokguli this early can get a little dangerous. We sat and drank until we got hungry and ordered another form of samgyeopsal; it was sort of like a fatty pork steak. Still delicious. Katrina & Su-lim ( 수림 - the owners daughter ) really hit it off, and while they were getting to know each other, JC & I joined oma, her brother-in-law & friends. We had a great time shooting the shit with these folks. The brother-in-law insisted on wearing my hat, but he was never satisfied with the position of the ear flaps or the dangling balls. He kept readjusting until the damn thing was all tangled up on top of my head. He also loved having his picture taken. Quite the photogenic man. As the mokguli bottles began to pile up, the number of people at our table did to. At first, it was only 3 of us, then 5, then 6, then 10, then 12. Our friends were getting back from snowboarding, and their friends were getting finished with academies. It turn into quite the wild night. While browsing through the pictures, I was able to count fourteen bottles lying around, six of which were consumed by only three of us. Yikes. Another good night.

( Katrina & 수림 )

( awesome man )

( These earflaps just won't do! )

( Pepsi? )

( myself and oma )

( ? )

( Calvin mixing )

( woo hoo )

( Pepsi & pals - We called him pepsi, because he is too young to drink, but still played our games drinking only pepsi when he would lose. )

( Justin )

( This was done every 15 minutes. ) 

Samcheon-dong ( 삼천동) & Noksapyeong ( 녹사평 )

Today, I got a little bit of a late start to my day. I woke up and lounged around until about two o'clock. The only plans I had for the day were to make my way to Noksapyeong ( 녹사평 ) to get dinner with Amarisse. I decided to make my way into Samcheon-dong to find another cafe. I did have a little bit of excitement on the way into Seoul on the bus. It started out like any other day into Seoul, except for the fact that it was snowing quite a bit. I got on the bus, and continued to watch Adventureland on my iPad. I like this movie a little bit more, just because the theme park in Des Moines has the same name. Not important. I was zoning out when I heard a really loud noise and everybody on the bus stood up to see what had happened. Our bus slid a little bit farther than planned and collided with the car in front of us. As if this wasn't enough excitement for one day, we were sitting on the bus waiting for it start moving again when another car crashed into the back of the bus. Crazy stuff. We sat there for a good 45 minutes before we were finally on the road again. The bus trip took close the 2 hours after it was all said and done. I'm just glad that I had plenty of watching materials.

I arrived at Sadang Station (사당역 ) and hopped on a subway to go out to Anguk ( 안국역 ). After a 5 minute walk, I managed to find a nice little cafe in an alley way. I had some delicious coffee at Cafe 커피마시는고양이 and headed out to Itaewon ( 이태원 ) to meet Amarisse at What the Book, a very nice English bookstore. Amarisse had brought along a friend that I had never met. Her name was Gina, and she seems like a very nice person. I think the three of us are going to go craft material shopping in Dongdaemun ( 동대문 ) next weekend or sometime soon.

The three of us got a little lost trying to find the restaurant where we were to meet with Jill & Rob. We found the restaurant, named Indigo. It was delicious. It was mainly Italian food, but it wasn't too expensive. I had a pesto, chicken, mozzarella, tomato sandwich that was extra delicious. We ate and conversed for quite sometime, and after about an hour or an hour and a half, we all walked down to the station and parted ways. I really enjoyed getting to spend time with Jill and Rob. They are great people. I hope that we can see each other more frequently in the future.

( my bus stop in the snow )

( on the way to Samcheon-dong )

( I like this alley )

( Cafe 커피마시는고양이 )

( Cafe 커피마시는고양이 )

( Cafe 커피마시는고양이 )

( a little pricey, but worth it )

( Amarisse & Gina )

( a thing I liked )

( Amarisse & Jill )

( my sandwich )


COEX: Exit 5 or 6 Samseong Station ( 삼성역 ), Line 2

Cafe 커피마시는고양이: Exit 1 Anguk Station ( 안국역 ), Line 3. Turn right out of the station, walk about a minute until you come to a really old looking wall. Turn right and you will be between two walls. Walk for about 5 minutes until the wall stops and you start seeing shops. About a block down, you will see the cafe on the right.

Indigo: Exit 2 Noksapyong Station, Line 6. Walk straight out of the station and continue past the army base that is on your left. You'll come to a fork in the road, where you'll see kimchi-pots on the left. Keep walking up the hill for about 100 meters. You'll see it on your right. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Licensed Driver in Korea


After a long and annoying process, I am a proud possessor of a Korean license. Let the Lunar New Year road trip planning begin. It only took three days being awake before 8am spread across a five day stretch of time. With many mistakes made and a whole lot of luck, the time spend was well worth while.

We went to the US Embassy on friday morning. To get there on time for our 8:45 appointments, we had to depart from Suwon at 7am. These early days always start off a bit rocky. Calvin and Erik (the other two going through this process with me) had been out late drinking late the night before, so my phone call was a wake-up call for them. We finally made it out the door and down to the bus stop, and surprise surprise, the bus was full. We had wonderful standing seats on our 30 minute bus ride. This was extra enjoyable, because Erik is 195 centimeters tall, and I'm pretty sure the buses are maxed out in height at 190cm. This super tall white man was hunched over on the bus with both arms sprawled across the width of the bus, clinging to the luggage racks on both sides. He was speaking very loudly about how all of the sleeping Koreans were waking up and staring at him. Calvin made the best remark ever, "Maybe it's because you're the only person speaking on the bus, and you're speaking very loudly." I added as usual, "Plus, you are a huge American dude." Goodness, Korea is a fun place.

When we finally arrived at the US Embassy, we found out we were early, and I had forgotten my appointment confirmation at work the previous day. I was really worried, and had basically convinced myself that I could do nothing this day. We went over to Dunkin' Donuts for some coffee and breakfast, where we stayed for too long. I realized that my appointment was a mere 2 minutes away. UGH. We ran over to the Embassy, and I was able to convince the man to let me enter even though I forgot my print out. Lucky breaks 1 & 2 (tardiness, forgetfulness). We filled out papers and swore that our licenses were real; step one complete! We took the subway and bus home, and managed to make it back in plenty of time for work.

The very next day, we headed out to the DMV testing location. This was a bit of a journey. It should have taken about an hour to get there, but of course, once again, in typical "us" fashion, it took about two and a half hours. We started late, we stopped at Suwon Station to get license photos, we took a wrong bus, then eventually admitted defeat and took a cab. Once there, we filled out all of the paper work and had our heath check. We looked at the clock and realized that we were right on time, with a whopping 45 minutes left over to take our tests before the DMV closed up shop. We eagerly went to the International desk, where the lady had been incredibly helpful, to say we were ready to finish the thing off. She regretfully told us that we had missed the testing. It had ended an hour before. Apparently, they only have Saturday testing once a month, so that meant that we would have to take our test on a school day. We left disappointed.

Today, we returned to complete the process. The same nice DMV lady was working, and she sent us up to the testing room with the paperwork she had kept safe for us over the weekend. We went up and began testing. It was all pretty much common sense, but it was still pretty tricky. Erik finished first and left the room muttering that he had failed. I naturally assumed that he was just being pessimistic. I completed the test, and it instantly popped up that I had received a 90%. It was at this point that I realized that Erik had not, in fact, passed. He knew his results. I went downstairs to where Erik was fuming. The nice DMV lady was talking with him, and while he was in the background venting to himself, I motioned to the woman that Erik was sad, rubbing my eyes, as though I was saying cry baby. I was just trying to inform her that she was unhappy, but she didn't know exactly how to react, so she looked at Erik making the same exact gesture and facial expression. It looked like she was trying to say, "Poor baby! Better luck next time. Stop crying!" Pretty hilarious. Calvin emerged shortly after to inform us that he had received a 65%, which is passing. We then left with our licenses, and decided to return again on Thursday to give Erik a second try. He'll definitely be successful then.

If you're curious about how it's done. Here you go. (note: this is for Americans) Follow these steps closely, and you should have an easier time than us.

Step 1: Online Embassy Appointment
-Go online to the Seoul US Embassy website and schedule an appointment for notarial services. You can walk in and request the document, but it takes longer and the walk-in hours don't begin until 1pm on weekdays. I'm assuming that most of you work jobs where this isn't an option. The appointment hours begin at 8:45am. I would do this! Make sure that when you register your appointment, you print the confirmation document; this is required to get into the Embassy during appointment hours.

Step 2: Your Embassy Visit
-To get to the US Embassy in Seoul, you will need to take the subway to Gwanghwamun on Line 5. If you use exit 2, just walk straight out of the exit and cross the street. You will most likely walk right past an armored vehicle that looks a lot like the new Batmobile. This tank/car is parked on the street next to a tall barbed wire fence that is surrounding the US Embassy. Continue across the street, passed about 6 Korean guards, and you will find the US citizen's entrance on the right. After a security check, they will send you to the area where you need to be. Make sure you have the following documents prepared for you Embassy visit:
-Alien Registration Card (You will leave this at the security check point.)
-Driver's License (the document you are proving is real)
-Appointment confirmation page (required for admittance)
-50 USD or an American credit card (They only accept US currency.)

You will need to get a notarized affidavit that states that you have a valid US driver's license. This really is just a silly formality, but it is something that needs to be done. They don't even check for validity; they just ask you to raise your right hand swear that everything you stated on the affidavit is true. Pay your 50 USD, fill out a form, swear it's the truth, get a notarization, and you're done. It takes about 20 mintues.

Step 3: Getting Your License
Now that you have your affidavit, you need to figure out what Driver's License Examination Office is closest to you. Here is a link that lists all of the locations. I used google maps and the help of one of my Korean co-teachers to determine the best way to get to my testing sight. Make sure to prepare the following six things:
1. Original Foreign License (This will be exchanged for your Korean license.)
2. Notarized Affidavid (to prove your license is real [steps 1 & 2])
3. Passport
4. Alien Registration Card
5. 3 color photographs. (Passport size or License size both work fine)
6. At most 30,000 won. I can't remember the exact amount, but that will definitely cover it.

Here is what you will encounter at the Driver's License Examination Office.
1. Goto the International counter. (note: they only do testing on weekdays)
2. Fill out paperwork.
3. Take a physical exam (it is really only an eye exam & a color-blindness test)
4. Take a 20 question test in English.
This may sound intimidating, but it is really simple. Just use your best judgement and common sense. Don't stress about studying road signs; three of us took the test, and I was the only one who saw a sign on his test. They are all multiple choice questions, and they ask for 1, 2 or 3 answers each. You'll be fine, but make sure to use up the whole 30 minutes you have to take the test to make sure that you get at least 12 correct. That's right, to pass, all you need is a 60% (12/20).
5. After you pass the test, it takes about twenty minutes for them to make your new license and get you on your way.
6. (worse case scenario) If you fail the test, you can come back the next day and retake it. You DO NOT have to redo anything else. You only have to take the test.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Troubles with Heat & Hot Water

This is the second time I've struggled with both heat and hot water. In Korea, they have a very nice system of heat that runs through the floor. The pipes are filled with very hot water, and it makes for a very nice walking experience. The floor heat and the hot water are both controlled by the same box that is located just above my washing machine in my little laundry room. This stopped working a couple weeks ago, and eventually it was fixed. But sadly, on Sunday before I left to meet with my friend, Amarisse, I noticed that the little yellow light on my heat box was blinking furiously to let me know that something was wrong. I didn't have time do deal with it at the moment, so I just left and had decided to return from Seoul early to talk to my crazy adjuma, land lady. Adjuma is a word used to refer to old ladies in Korea. Sometimes they are angry and bitter, but sometimes they are strangely wonderful.

She is one hell of a woman, though. She actually reminds me a great deal of my Grandma Maynes. She is a very hard working lady that I am comfortable saying has the same sort of demeanor as my grandmother, only Korean. She always talks to me in this extremely fast paced voice that I can't understand. Then she just stares at me, as if to say, "This all makes sense, right?" It never does.

Moving on; she came down to look into my problem around 7pm. After poking around for awhile, she left and came back with tools in hand, and gestured that she needed me to help move my laundry machine. I complied, but she was upset to see that there were wet clothes inside. She looked at me as though I was the dumbest guy on the planet. She started throwing all of my clothes on floor, because obviously, 5 pounds of clothes were going to make all the difference in the world while moving that washing machine away from the heat box.

She left... again... and came back with a space heater. I'm pretty sure that my pipes were frozen, because there is not insulation in that laundry area of my apartment. She kept coming and going and coming and going, until it was around 1am. She gestured that it was time for me to goto bed, and through all of her speedy Korean, I could make out Hagwan and sleep. I was a little uneasy about sleeping while she was working through the night to warm my apartment, but after she told me a few times, a sleepy me retired to my bed.

I dozed off once she had left my apartment, assuming that she had decided to call it a night. Boy, was I wrong. She came back with more tools and continued banging away. After the next exit and reentry, she did the sweetest thing. She brought down a huge warm blanket for me. Avalon had only provided for me a really thin comfortable that doesn't really do much to keep a person warm, and she came in rubbing her shoulders, telling me that I must be so damn cold with no heat. She was right, but I would have survived just fine. Either way, she covered me up and basically tucked me into bed. That's right, I was tucked in by my own person adjuma.

She worked worked worked until 4:30 in the morning, when she nudged me, nodded, and gave me the good news that I would be taking a warm shower in the morning.

Interesting night.

Sunday, January 16, 2011



Things have been moving fast out here, and they don't seem to be slowing down in the slightest. This whole mass updating thing is sadly becoming a trend that I hope to break. I haven't made a post since before Christmas, so I hope you're all ready for some overload.

We began intensives at Avalon two weeks ago, and needless to say, I've been extremely busy. This hasn't stopped me from enjoying myself though. I guess I'll just start at...

Christmas Eve

The morning of Christmas Eve, Matthew hosted a nice Christmas Brunch. We used this event to tie off the week long Secret Santa we'd been having the entire week. We all brought food, opened up presents, and got to see Matt dressed up like Santa Claus, forcing us all to sit on his lap while we were opening presents.

( Connor, preparing to serve us all mimosas )

( JC brought the chips and salsa )

( Erik was feeling extra-Christmasy )

( Santa )

( Calvin )

( Justin with his goodie bag )

( Merry Christmas to me )

( Matthew enjoying my gift )

( Justin made eggnog )

We also did a Secret Santa at work, but it was obvious who was given a gift from the Korean teachers, because they had no idea what to get us. To be far, we had no idea what to get them either. The woman that i bought a present for was somebody I didn't know. She received a very nice set of lotion from the Face Shop. I was given one of those neck pillows. It's actually pretty nice.

( Jen, Calvin & JC )

( Matt sporting Justin's fashionable gift )

( Justin & Lucy )

( Down towards my end of the office )

( Calvin & his ecoMug )

( Erik, thrilled to be working on Christmas Eve )

After work, we all went home to change, and decided that since we have no family in Korea, we'd do something we'd never done before: drink on Christmas. It was pretty nice. It got a little out of hand at times, but it was definitely a night to remember.

( Calvin, Amy & shirtless man )

( Some of Honey's flaming specials )

( JC & Katrina )

( Christmas caroling with Dylan and his uke )

( Honey, Calvin & Erik )

( JC making sure we're all ready for something )

( Erik blowing fire )

( Having a good time )

( The makguli table )

Christmas Day

The very next day, we had a nice plan that was executed perfectly. We went down to Osan, where the airbase is, and had a really great Christmas dinner. It was at a Christian Hospitality House. It was just filled with foreigners celebrating Christmas in their home away from home. After eating, talking & playing music, we hopped a subway to go into Seoul and ice skate at City Hall. The other perk to this part of the plan was that I got to meet up with Ji-young (지영), who I hadn't seen since I moved away from Iowa. She was my neighbor when I was living in Iowa City. Iowa is having winter break, so I've been spending as much time as possible with her. Ice skating was great, and so were a few drinks afterwards. Of course, the drinks lasted longer than the last bus home, so we ended up sleeping in a DVD bang, and catching the 5:30 subway home.

( JC, Jen & Justin )

( Katrina, Chelsea & Jen )

( Erik )

( Myself and a guitar )

( The food )

( Chelsea & JC )

( City Hall Ice Rink )

( Seoul )

( another )

( Ji-sun 지선 and Calvin )

( 지선 )

( 지영 was amazed that I am no longer a vegetarian )

New Years Eve

I was the privileged foreign teacher that was given the honor of working an extra hour on New Years Eve. It was my favorite thing to do, but yeah, I ended up working until eleven pm that night. When I completed work, I headed home, where everybody was waiting for me. We had a few drinks and had a nice count down to the new year, then eventually moved on to Yeong-tong ( 영통 ). We hung around there, had some drinks, some galbi, and eventually called it a night. It was a good night out, but no where near as crazy as I thought it was going to be. Not for me, at least. Justin, Matthew & Calvin stayed out until 8am at the Norae-bang.

( Erik, Connor & his lady )

( the boys )

( Matthew & friends )

( singing )

New Years Day

On New Years Day, I hung out with Ji-young and her friends. It was really fun. It was a day where we did many things, and we also didn't do many things. I met with Ji at World Cup Stadium, where we were going to see a movie. This didn't happen, because the only movie in English we could see was Tron, and we didn't want to see Tron, even though it was in 4D. After this fell through, we went to a little museum inside the World Cup Stadium It wasn't very cool, but going out into the stadium WAS. After this, we met up with So-young and decided it was a day for Lotte World, a big amusement park. We took a subway all the way out there, because So-young was convinced that there was a "pick 3" special we could take advantage of. There wasn't. We decided paying to go for 3 hours wouldn't be worth it. By this time, we had also met up with Yeon-hwi, and decided to go bowling. There was a very long wait, so we passed on bowling. Instead, we played arcade games for like an hour. This is one of my favorite things to do in Korea, so I had a blast. Then we decided to see a movie, but once again, we were too late. There were only four seat available for the only English movie (The Last Godfather). I don't know if you know this or not, but Korean theaters have assigned seating. You probably have already figured this out, but the four seats were not next to one another. This didn't happen, so we went to have a few drinks and called it a night. Although many things didn't work out, I still count it as a successful one.

( I didn't take any pictures other than this one in the World Cup Stadium )

Lotte World

Because of the lack of planning the week before, we planned for a Lotte World trip the following weekend. Sadly, Ji had to back out, so we used a replacement Ji, Ji-sun, and went anyways. Ji-sun, Calvin, Justin & I went out in the morning and spent the whole day there. This amusement park is half outside and half inside, so we were freezing half the time, and comfortable the other half of the time. It was a really nice way to spend a Saturday. We rode a lot of rides, waited in a lot of lines, and ate a lot of snacks. I sure do love snacks. I'd say that the highlight of the day was riding the Gyro Drop four times. It was the only ride without a huge line. You could basically ride the ride, then get off, wait five minutes, and ride it again. The lowlight (I don't know if that's even a thing) was waiting in line for over an hour to see a terrible 3D Haunted House thing. Just terrible. Other than that, this day was also a success.

( Jamsil subway station )

( First impressions )

( Justin & I )

( Magician )

( Ji-sun & Calvin waiting in one of the many lines )

( Gyro Drop )

( Atlantis )

( Castle )

( Rode it 4 times )

( Happy family )

( From the balloon ride )

Samcheong-dong 삼청동

The next day, I redeemed my rain check from Ji, and we were able to have a very nice cafe day. We met in Gwanghwamun and went to my favorite coffee shop in Seoul, Coffeest. After this, we took a long brisk walk down to Samcheong-dong. Regrettably, I took absolutely no photos of the walk. Samcheong-dong is a really nice street to stroll down. It has a good mix of old Korean architecture and modern. The streets were lined with cafes, restaurants & art galleries. I'll return when it's warmer and take a ridiculous number of photos to share. Ji and I came across a toy museum that she said she has passed many times and never entered. We figured that this would be the perfect time to do so. It was actually quite wonderful. I was impressed, and that's why you are about to see photos of so many toys. It was a nice way for me to let out my inner-nerd. Next, we had dinner at an Asian Fusion restaurant that only played Lady Gaga's Just Dance on repeat. It was pretty ridiculous. We just referred to it as the Lady Gaga restaurant for the rest of the day. After this, we met up with Justin, and Hee See (히수) for coffee and waffles. This was a nice time to chat. After, we went back to Gwanghwamun (by taxi this time) and spent quite a while exploring Kyobo bookstore (the largest in Korea). I actually ran into one of Amarisse's (and my) friend, Scott. It was a nice surprise; I never see that guy. Wow, I just used so many sets of parentheses. I don't know what got into me. Moving on. After we had exhausted the fun that can be had in a bookstore, we went to a small restaurant for snacks and beer Turns out, this restaurant was out of all the delicious snacks, so we just had beer.

( Alien (s) (3) )

( Star Wars )

( Han & a stormtrooper[or is it Han in the stormtrooper uniform: we'll never know!] )

( Lord of the Rings )

( Toy Story )

( Just seeing what it's like to be a Simpson )

( Ji wanted to see too )

( Huge Lego men )

( X-men )

( Smurfs )

Boemgye 범계

Chelsea made her way out to Suwon for my birthday, so we figured it was time to pay her a visit in Boemgye. It was well worth it, and I do believe that it may become a regular spot for us. It's only a 30 minute bus ride away. We met up with her friend, her friend's friend, and her friend's friend's employee. We started with some beers, some games, and the Asian Cup soccer game. South Korea tied Australia. I know that sounds weird, but yep, Australia is a competitor in the Asian Cup. After some drinks, we went to a club. I usually don't enjoy clubs, but this one was good for the most part. I wouldn't be surprised if we returned here too. It's always nice when we get to meet up with Chelsea; it had been quite some time.

( JC & Katrina at exit 2 )

( Katrina, JC & Justin )

( Chelsea & Katrina )

( Oh, JC & his face )

( Kristine )

( JC & the waiter who thought he knew JC )

(No Club photos )

Last night out with Ji

So, after spending a lot of time with Ji (윤지영), I'm really going to miss having her around to hang with. She will be leaving to go back to Iowa City tomorrow around eleven. Who knows when I'll see her again. That previous statement actually bummed me out a lot. Ji, I hope that everything works out exactly how you want it to in this life. You are truly an amazing person. I hope that our paths cross again sooner than either of us are expecting. I know that you probably don't read my blog, but if you do, you'll stumble across this message. I'll miss you, pal. I really will. With that said, I'll lay out the evening for you. We met up in Apgujeong (Apgu, if you're young and hip according to Ji). Also, one should not call Sinsa-dong, Sinsa-dong. If one is cool, one would refer to Sinsa-dong as Sinsa. Just so you know. Spreading my newfound knowledge all over the internet is fun. We had coffee and cupcakes on a street that is named after the Korean name for the trees that grow on the side of the road. Hmmmm. I really can't remember what they are called. Either way, post-coffee & cupcakes, we headed out to Gongdeok (공덕) to meet Ji's high school friends for some Jokbal (족발 / pig's feet). All of her friends were really great about making feel welcome with their old-time group of friends. We walked about 10 minutes in the freezing cold. It was the kind of cold that is basically unbearable for more than 10 minutes. After awhile, we ended up in these little narrow alley ways, where every vendor was selling jokbal. We sat inside some plastic sheeting and enjoyed a large portion of pig's feet and a few bottles of makguli. These girls were a lot of fun, and the best part was that they all loved makguli. Next, we moved onto a HOF that served really traditional homemade makguli out of a dinged up makguli kettle. We played drinking games, and they all schooled me. They are even better at Korean drinking games than JC. I would love to see that matchup, someday. After an hour or two there, we moved onto a norae-bang, where we all sang karaoke for a very long time. We sang till almost 11 o'clock. Well, I stopped at 11, because I had to catch a bus home, but the rest of the gang stayed for more makguli and more tunes. It was a night that I'll definitely remember for a long time. I love those memorable nights that won't be soon forgotten. Keep the good times coming.

( the group -me )

( I was given a lesson on a camera angle that would make me look really good )

( Ji & the kettle )

( Everybody thought that this was hilarious. I still don't really understand it. )

( posing )

( Trying out the angle. Not good, but that is the hat that I traded for that night. )

( Love Shot )

( Love Shot )

( 노래방 )

( 노래방 )

( 노래방 )

( 혜림 & 지영 )


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Seoul Plaza - City Hall Ice Rink: Exit 6 City Hall Station, Lines 1 & 3, simply exit the station, and you will see the ice rink directly in front of you. I believe that it is open until mid February.

World Cup Stadium: Exits 1 & 2 World Cup Stadium Station, Line 6. Easy as that. The thing is huge; you can't miss it.

Lotte World: Exit 4 Jamsil Station, Line 2. Just goto that exit and follow the signs to the entrance.

Samcheong-dong Toy Museum: Exit 1 Anguk Station, Line 3. When you exit the station turn right. You will pass a really old wall after a couple minutes; keep walking. When you arrive at an even bigger wall (the one that surrounds Gwangbuk Palace), turn right. Follow this until the road forks and traffic begins to go left and right. Follow the right fork. Walk for 4-7 minutes on the right side of the road, and you will definitely see a sign on the right for a toy museum. Keep your eyes open though; this place is small.

Beomgye strip: Exit 2 Beomgye Station, Line 4.