Wednesday, October 21, 2009

So I guess it's time to say goodbye

I just wanted to thank you for reading my entries -- especially to those who have left comments and kind words and who have written me e-mails. I have enjoyed writing about my travels, adventures, and thoughts immensely! You have all inspired me to continue travel blogging in the future and I can't wait to share my next journey with you. I would also love to read yours too so if you're going to travel to a fascinating place or if you want to show me your city or country, leave me an e-mail or comment with a link to your webpage :)

A huge thank you goes out to my friends for sleeping over with me the night before my flight and seeing me off at the airport, for visiting me and bringing me some things from home, for supporting me on my decision and keeping me from being homesick by Skyping with me and updating me with home happenings...

And last but not least, my parents! I cannot thank them enough. Ever since I decided to come, they never once told me I couldn't or shouldn't. In fact, they helped me research for it, they supported me emotionally - especially when I thought that maybe 5 months away from home was more than I could handle (hah.. it seems like nothing now!), they supported me financially tremendously, and anything I would happen to want or need, they would help me without batting an eye. Without them, I would not have been able to achieve one of my dreams to go on exchange

Now, I think about Korea every day and miss how much of a home it had become - I still have dreams about being there! I do plan to go back - probably not within the next couple years, but soon enough. Plans on teaching English abroad after I graduate has kept me daydreaming....... :)


Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Gosh... I haven't updated in so long. I haven't made Korean food *yet* because of some social engagements along with work, chores, and making sure I'm all updated with my medical shots.. I've been pretty busy. Downtown Vancouver is teeming with Korean people and restaurants, especially down Robson near Denman street. There has got to be at least 13 different Korean restaurants in that 2 block vicinity! Last week, I had donkatsu (pork cutlet) at a small Korean restaurant called DaeJi (which means "pig") around Dunsmuir and Seymour... and I ate one of my favourite bulgogi dishes at a restaurant on Robson called "Apgujeong" (wasn't anything nice as some of the restaurants in the actual Apgujeong district, though). I'm happy that Korean food in Vancouver is just as good as in Korea. Funny how we have different side dishes, though! For example, I've never had the potato dish in Korea -- not once!

I got my aunt and mom (my mom especially) into that 2004 classic (self-deemed) Korean drama, Full house with Song Hye Gyo and Rain. I got to re-watch about 1/4 of the episodes, which was nice. They have a lot of cute/sweet scenes in that drama. The other day, I caught my mom re-watching the episodes! haha.. I thought it was amusing considering she was someone who wasn't interested in anything remotely Korean all this time (since my first love for Korean entertainment in 2005). Anyway, I can't wait to get my hands on the Boys Over Flowers drama with English subs soon!

This is Brown Eyed Girls (브라운 아이드 걸스) song called Abracadabra. It's the #1 song on the weekly K-pop Music Charts on Soompi right now. Brown Eyed Girls is a group made out of 4 women (3 of the members were born in 1983). and they all happen to look pretty sleek in this music video. They debuted in 2006, but I had never really paid much attention to them. I'm a tad surprised this music video wasn't banned in Korea considering how conservative Korean entertainment can be (I think we can all contest to that... I mean, even this Chae Yeon MV - Shake was banned and I think this BEG MV is a bit more explicit).
The hip swinging seems to be the new move in Korean dance these days...
Evidence is seen in Baek Ji Young ft. Tacyeon from 2PM's song - My Ear's Candy
This is their performance from Aug 15th on the Chocolate stage. Thanks, Bern!

Monday, August 17, 2009

바나나 [Banana]

This is Anam Street (next to Korea University). I always saw this truck on my way up the hill to the dorm. The ajusshi who owned the truck sold a different kind of produce every day. Most often than not, though, he sold bananas (for a very reasonable price, too, might I add... at 2,000won per bunch).
I distinctly remember wanting to buy bananas that night, but the ajusshi was nowhere to be found! It was around 9:30PM. We chose our bananas and even put them in the thin, black bags with handles on the side. My friends and I stood around for at least 5 more minutes, waiting for some man to show up. Finally, we asked the man who owned the cart beside the truck if we could give him the money and take our bananas. He told us to wait a minute and dashed across the street into a tiny restaurant - the banana seller was eating dinner! I couldn't believe it hahaha! All this time, I was thinking how this would never happen in Vancouver. Nobody would dare to leave their produce out in the open like this... so easy to take. I tell ya, the level of trust business owners have is pretty darn high. Down the street, this other store sold a bunch of small knicknacks and umbrellas displayed outside.. all unmanned.

Above my favourite chamchi kimbap restaurant! Wish I could have chamchi kimbap right now...
So I clearly don't want to say goodbye to this blog, but I must go on to concentrate on other things (not yet, though)... and work hard and save so I can afford to go on another big trip abroad.
I hope to take a couple of smaller trips to Vegas or New York in the meantime, but Greece (with side trips to Italy + Spain.. + possibly Paris again and Germany), here I come in a year!!
I'm back at SFU in the Fall and will *hopefully* be graduating in the Spring... so 2 more semesters.
Aja aja hwaiting!
Btw, stay tuned... I am going to attempt cooking some Korean food next week! Wish me luck~

Saturday, August 15, 2009

DBSK - Picture of You (Afterglow)

My favourite Korean music group, DongBangShinKi, came out with a new music video for their Korean song, Picture of You (Afterglow). The song is actually pretty old - it's from their Mirotic album (Sept, 2008). It's a beautiful song written by Junsu (one of the members)..... he's one talented guy.

I want his dog, Xiahky (a Samoyed).
Anyway, the video was shot earlier in the year in Saipan. The concept is kind of cheesy at parts, but... the boys look good! I love listening to DBSK harmonize! Unfortunately, I couldn't find a HD music video with English subs.... so this one will have to do! Yay~
Thanks, Soompi!

Monday, August 10, 2009

I Stepped Into North Korea...

DMZ = Demilitarized Zone.

For many guys, this day trip to the DMZ is the highlight of their trip to Korea. Since it has been almost 3 months since my visit to the border between South and North Korea, I can't really remember all the details... and also, I don't want to give too much information away, especially if you plan to go there.

The DMZ is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Korea (pretty much only available for tourists... I believe I heard that Koreans need to do a bunch of paperwork - lots of hassle - in order to do it). From comparisons to other tour packages and from what we were most interested in seeing, I believe the tour USO offers is one with the most value. The tour cost something along the lines of $59 USD.. compared to ones I've seen that cost over $115USD and did not cover all the sites we went through.

It seemed as though people were flocking to join these tours because of all the speculation regarding North Korea's plan to restart their nuclear program and how it was becoming ever so unsafe to tour that it could be canceled. We had no problems, though... and it was reassuring to know that this border is the most heavily guarded in the world.

So that morning, Bern and I woke up pretty early and made our way over to the USO building to embark on our half day tour called the USO Panmunjeom Tour. By the way, there's a semi-strict dress code. Once we signed in (we had to pay and reserve spots way in advance -- spots filled up quickly), we were split into two or three Grayhound-type buses. Each bus came with an English-speaking tour guide. Everyone on the bus, besides B and I, were English teachers, mainly from the US!

First, we went to Camp Bonifas and watched a powerpoint to help us understand the history and situation between the North and South. Throughout the trip, we were lead by either our tour guide or by a couple of dudes from the United Nations Command military personnel.
You are here.
We were not allowed to take pictures in certain places. They strictly reinforced this rule.

Panmunjeom: Joint Security Area (JSA) where negotiations are held (since 1953).
This is the closest you will ever get to North Korea.
The Military Demarcation Line (MDL) - the border that separates North from South.
South Korean military... they stay just as still as the Queen's guards...
North Koreans chatting away ^^
Unfortunately, it was a very cloudy day so we weren't able to see very far... You'll have to go to see the village yourself.

The Bridge of No Return: the only bridge connecting North and South Korea...
Once you walk one way, you're not allowed to come back... dun dun dunnnn
On the bus
Incursion Tunnels (I thought this was sooo neat). Basically, in 1974, the South Koreans found four tunnels running North to South under the DMZ! They were dug by North Korean military, presumably for invasion purposes. The North Koreans claimed that they dug the tunnel to mine coal but there is no coal in these tunnels... the North even painted some rock black to make it look like coal!! haha!
It is too small and narrow for any vehicles to pass (it had enough room for 2 average-sized people to pass at the same time... but if I stood up straight, I would hit my head on the granite (I'm 5'6)!). The tunnel tilted a bit so that the water did not stagnate (kind of high tech that way). We went through the Third Infiltration Tunnel (1.6km long, allowing 30,000 soldiers to pass through per hour). So yea - we got to go into the tunnel wearing construction hats haha

Oh yea we also had a good lunch somewhere in between.

At the store~ You can get tons of camo-wear here.
I bought my brother a gun bullet keychain. Used, perhaps? It had scratches on it.

You can also buy a plaque with a piece of barbed wire in it for around 12USD.

I thought it was quite interesting - I'm glad I went. What better way to learn about the situation than to go see for yourself? Now I can say I've been to North Korea! kk
Learn more about the USO tour HERE.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I shipped 2 decently-sized boxes full of stuff home using the cheapest shipment (the one by ship that takes 2-3 months to arrive) and I have received them both! It has only been a little over a month :) Hurray!

My transcript has also arrived to my home university and I found out that I passed all my courses - hurray again!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Sorry for the delay! I've been busy enjoying the sunshine :) Now, I'm a few shades darker. Funny how in Korea, my legs were quite dark compared to other girls on the subway... but here, people look at my legs and go "why are they so white??"

Fact: I have not had Korean food since I've arrived home. I found out that my favourite Korean restaurant downtown Vancouver serves Gamjatang for approximately 17,000won (if I were to convert)......... instead of the 6,000won I'm used to paying... nooooo!!

Fact: I had my first shift back at work today after a 5 month hiatus (I'm a server @ a Japanese Sukiyaki restaurant called Posh) and served a couple of Korean girls. I understood 80% of what they were saying (it was really simple, though).... but so neat! I didn't mention that I knew, but I ended up surprising one of them (the one who didn't know very much English) at the end when they were paying, asking them if she wanted to put everything on her debit card... "ta gachi?" kk

Fact: When someone who doesn't speak (much) English does something for me, I (still!) automatically say "kamsahamnida" (thank you), or "dae" (yes) when I reply... even if it's Chinese!

Last time riding the subway :(((
Speed Limit: Zero
Last time visiting Cafe Slow haha (sangria + good service)... :( Gosh I love that cafe.. and I don't know why I do, really.
It was kind of funny.. we asked the server to get the sangria to our table really fast (bbali bbali!) @ Cafe Slow lol... but they did it! We had to get to Eden.
I'm eating the fruit~
Then we went to Club Eden (said Ed-en.. not Eeee-den).
Located next to the Ritz Carlton (if you take a taxi from somewhere in Kangnam, just tell the driver to take you to the Ritz because it's hard to explain and most of them won't know where Eden is). Electronic music. Free cover before 11 if you become a member of the U.N.O Entertainment group on Facebook and are on the guestlist... you might need to be invited though, I just realized. (FYI - you used to be able to bring one guest per person on guestlist, but now they've changed it so I highly recommend you get your friends/SO to sign up... or they might give you a hard time or not even let your friend in). Even if it's for one night, it sure beats having to pay 30,000 for cover!! Plus, you'll get invited to the latest + exclusive events @ Club Eden if you do. Fergie is the special guest on Sept 5th... and it's "Model's Night" every Friday night. If you want to see where a lot of "beautiful people" hang out on the weekends, Eden (and Club Answer) are the places to be. People tell me that 80% of the girls who party there have had some sort of face alteration (plastic surgery... nose/eye/jaw) which is no wonder how they look kind of perfect. I often see them looking at themselves in the mirror, pinching the bridge of their nose haha VIP is upstairs... and also a hotspot for celebrities if you're interested in that sort of thing. Dress code in effect... but it seems much more strict for guys.
They have a huge washroom with seats where girls smoke and primp.
Tiiiiiiffffffffff -- if you read this, I miss you!!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Goodness (!)

These are what the pricier (80,000-260,000won) bags look like. They're made out of real cow leather and are divine to touch. I got to sneak a picture because the lady was absent... for a very very long time.... in fact, she never came!
You know what's funny? She had left a note (in Korean) next to the phone, telling the customers to call her number if they wanted to buy anything! Wow talk about trusting nothing would get stolen! HMMMM... But I really enjoyed how I wasn't pestered at all or pressured to buy it from the lady. I could take my sweet time trying on all the bags. As nice as most of them look from far away, none of them worked with me unfortunately.

Here's another example of a SA who left her name and number on a note. This was in Goodmorning City shopping complex in Dongdaemun. I guess it made sense she wouldn't be there as it was almost 4AM. A lot of the time, they get people from neighbouring stalls to cover for them so it was a bit amusing to see the same sales person follow us down a whole aisle.
Desserts (no, not on the same day)...
They love their waffles! (@ Doota Accessories floor in Dongdaemun)
Lynn's Red Velvet cupcake @ Lotte Department Store
Misarang's Pizza... I forgot what it's called but it has sweet potato in it which is funkily sweet.
Had a shabu shabu lunch around campus with JiHee (KUBA buddy) + Chika~~
I want to see this movie -- Antique!

haha what a random post. Too hot to stay still and blog. It hit 40 degrees Celcius (104 Fahrenheit) downtown today...
I'm meeeeeeeeeeeeltinnnnnggggggggggggggg!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Triple Dog Dared

Remember how, after my first visit to a Korean jjimjilbang (sauna), I dared and promised myself I would do the full body scrub before I returned to Vancouver? ..............................

I did it!!!!

That's right - I lay completely exposed on a table, in the public women's bath house, and an ajumma in black, lacey lingerie scrubbed me from neck to toe. First, I had to soak in a hot tub for 10 minutes to get the dead skin loose haha...

The scrub was great - it was 20,000won. First, she doused me with warm water and then started scrubbing away. It was really soothing, for me - I was falling asleep! I think I'm an odd sheep that way, though -- quite a few other people found it to be a bit painful. So I had to turn over on all sides. I didn't notice, but I guess a lot of "skin noodles" (as my Korean friend calls it/translated) came off, if you know what I mean. Yea. Gross! After scrubbing, she soaped me good and gave me a bit of a back massage using her knuckles. I felt really clean -- and kind of lazy 'cause I just realized someone just bathed me! Maybe I turned a shade paler haha but I couldn't really tell. And then I rinsed myself and then soaked in the super hot tub and cold tub for another 15-20 minutes.

I'm proud of myself for doing it~
Of course I was feeling a bit shy at first to walk around wearing nothing, but after 5 minutes, I realized it wasn't a big deal at all. Everyone else around me in all shapes and sizes were just as naked and walked as though they owned the place.

Melanie also did the scrub except she got a body massage and an oil treatment along with it for 50,000won. She sure got more than she bargained for hahhaaha! The story is much better told in person, but in short, her "massage" was pretty much a harsh knuckle massage where, after massaging each limb, she would get hit! She got punched in the foot and even slapped on the butt! LOL so, needless to say, she doesn't recommend the massage.

So yea, that took place in the women's sauna down the stairs from the women's changing room. After, I went to sweat in the hot rooms. I snapped a few super quick pictures to show you guys. The layout of the whole facility is a bit confusing. This unisex part is on the 1st floor to the right after the men's changeroom.

The 2 pyramids are the warm rooms. The one on the left is around 36 degrees and had a TV in it. The one on the right is too warm for me at 67 degrees... only because the floor is too hot to walk on, let alone sit on.
They have 2 of these "kilns", too that are even hotter than the pyramid rooms. They don't even have a temperature indicator for them. Just by sitting, you'll start dripping after a few minutes.The cold room! It has penguins in front and a couple of snowmen inside. I really like this room after I leave a hot room.
I don't know the purpose of this, but it was used for game shows.
You can also get a manicure, face threading, and eyelash perms and extensions there, too.

I really love The Dragon Hill Spa (get off at ShinYongSan and walk towards I'PARK Mall. It's on the left of the mall). It has so many facilities including a Finnish Sauna and even an arcade area.

They had these mini karaoke rooms. I thought they worked the same as the ones I've sung in in Daejeon, but these ended up being 20 minute sessions instead of per song!! Wasn't as fun as singing with someone else. And I didn't even know how much it would cost because we get these beep-in tags and had to beep in for everything - even all the food you buy, and pay for it when you leave. Since it was lunch time, I bought a few marinated eggs, a popsicle, and a green tea (nok cha) drink.
kk can you guess which song I was singing?Admission is 10,000won before 7PM and 12,000 or 13,000 after 7PM and on the weekends. Open 24/7.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Last time I went to Namdaemun, I saw these street food stands with those plastic chairs and tables under a tarp just like in the dramas! So, we went there to find it but we didn't find any. I guess they're not open on Sundays. We ended up eating something random at this open stand.
I just pointed to a couple skewers and some fish cakes in the broth.
Yea... the skewers looked like chicken but they ended up being gizzards of some sort. I don't mind gizzards, but I really don't recommend this haha.. I was your guinea pig.
Disappointed, we walked over to Myeong Dong..
But not before buying some seaweed chocolate ^^ It's pretty decent tasting! There's only a hint of the seaweed flavour. I also tried kimchi chocolate haha.. oh what a mistake!
He didn't know how to use macro...This lady was selling puppies! She wouldn't let me take anymore pictures after this one... couldn't get a close-up, but they were supercute!
I've been having quite a few dreams about being in Korea recently -- I'm still in a daze that I'm back in Vancouver. Sometimes, I find myself thinking "what do I feel like doing tomorrow? A lazy day lying around the sauna, eating marinated hard boiled eggs and watching StarKing at The Dragon Hill Spa would be great...." and then I remember it's not really possible... darn.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Gosh everyone who travels by KTX travels light! I didn't notice anyone else carrying a big honkin' suitcase like mine on the train...

When we got to Daejeon, we waited at a cafe in the station for my friend, Jessica, to call when she got off school. I know Jess because we took Japanese together for two semesters at SFU except now she has graduated and is teaching English in Daejeon. She was so kind to let us stay at her apartment for a couple nights! Actually, since the apartments are so small, I stayed in her room on the 3rd floor and M stayed in her friend's room, Ann, on the 1st floor.
Jess told us to grab either a white taxi with an orange top or a black taxi with a purple top because these two taxis are part of companies that track where the taxis go so they are much more likely to not rip you off and drive you around in circles.

When we got there, we hung out for a bit in her room (I tried on one of her wigs) and sort of got settled in a tad. Her room is tiny! It's pretty much as big as my bedroom at home except she has a desk, a washroom + washer, some closet space, a bed, AND a mini kitchen + fridge in it so there was only a little bit of space to walk in the middle -- probably about 1.5 metres by 1 metre wide. Cozy. So sweet - she bought an extra blanket just for me and made me sleep on her bed -- she was so tired the days after from sleeping on the ground! ♥ Anyway, she also planned everything for us to do (but because so, I didn't really know anything about Daejeon before I arrived). We got there Friday afternoon around 4PM and left Sunday morning around 1:30PM. Soon after, we went to Say department store which is a walkable distance from her apartment, but because we were so distracted by talking and whatnot, we ended up taking the subway even though it was only 1 stop away.

We ate omurice at Omuto Tomato~ they have this chain in Seoul too but I've never tried it. Not bad~ Omurice is like rice/fried rice inside an egg crepe type thing with different sauces on the outside. I got mushroom. The best was Ann's popcorn shrimp type one.
Then we went upstairs and played a ton of arcade games hehehe.. I love arcade games! I've never noticed them before, but there are mini karaoke booths! You sing per song and apparently it's the same price as a regular norebang sans the extra free minutes.
Not the cleanest, but it's great that you can also take your time finding the next song. Jess is a great singer~
Then we went up and watched Transformers -- awesome possum movie!
Walked home :)

The next day, we rode the bus to O World!
M's first bus ride in Korea
They have these plastic surgery ads everywhere!! How horrible.
O World -- is a cute amusement park - smaller than Lotte World, but it has a botanical garden and safari zoo-type thing too... and of course, rides! But not the roller coaster type ones. I believe it's regular 35,000won to get in to be able to see and ride everything but luckily, connections got us in for 8,000won :)
We spent the day with Jessica's friends from various schools in Daejeon.Not very many people there - it sprinkled a bit at one point but it wasn't enough to use an umbrella!Ah this ride was crazy - it's like the Wild Mouse ride at the PNE where you feel as though you're going to fall off when you turn the corner except these corners were even sharper + 4 people are on a cart at a time and the cart spins while you're going around! I think we rode this one 2 or 3 times in a row hahaI tried this peach ice drink because it was hot and I needed something refreshing.
I can't believe I paid a dollar for peach flavoured ice you just suck on lol but I guess it's the same as a regular peach drink.
Korean babies are cuuute!
Then we went to this hill and rode this innertube down like 10 times!

Race race race! If you go down on the very left, you get to go through the mist~
I got so dizzy just looking at this ride for kids...Then afterward, we played the confusing Korean rock paper scissors to see who would get a ride to downtown or have to take the bus. Ann and I lost so we took the bus haha
We ate a feast at this Korean restaurant ---
On top of this, we shared rice, a soup, cold noodles and something else. wow.After dinner we went shopping in this area that reminds me of Myeong Dong except I think their sales and variety are better! I wish I could have stayed in this area for longer.
Quite happening~
They also have a huuuuuuuuge underground mall! Everywhere in Korea sells pretty much the same clothes at the same prices. I tried to powershop but only ended up getting a blouse before it closed.

They're big dessert eaters -- always have to have dessert.... :)
Fun day~~
Then back at the apartment, I watched Twilight in Ann's room -- Jess couldn't stand watching that movie, saying that it was too unrealistic. M agreed with Jess, but Ann and I loved it. Can't wait for the sequel haha~~

The next morning, we packed and went out to eat seafood soup for lunch at this hole in the wall up the street from the apartment. Good stuff. Then we hailed a taxi and rode to the station to head back up to Seoul!
I did! I like what it says "To be happy, drop the words 'if only' (and) substitute 'instead' next time".

We had such a lovely time =) Thanks a million again for your hospitality, Jess and Ann