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. 


  1. Hi Spencer... I am an Artist and I have just come across one of your photo's, specifically your 'Shiny Fish' and I would just love to paint it!
    Usually I either paint from life or I use my own photo's, but unfortunately a fish doesn't like to be still for long and I can't paint underwater! I was wondering if you would be willing to let me paint using your photo as a reference? I would of course credit your photography skills!
    If you would not be happy for me to use you photo then I completely understand and it's no problem. I just thought I'd ask. (Or if it's not your photo, please let me know)
    Please could you drop me an email to let me know in case I don't see your reply?
    If I don't hear from you, I'll assume that you don't want me to use the photo and I won't do anything.
    ...Meanwhile, Korea looks like a pretty amazing place! :0)

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