Wednesday, December 7, 2011

November in Korea

I seem to have completely missed any updates in November, but I blame it on being so busy. The weather was apparently unseasonable warm, but I’m not complaining. We got to enjoy many days outside in just t-shirts so Andi, Cortney and I made a trip to Seoul Grand Park. This is the same location as the zoo, but we just took the ski lift up to the top to see the changing leaves.

I also celebrated my 27th birthday Korean style. I invited some friends out for dinner and reserved a table for 20 at a local dak galbi restaurant in Bucheon. We then went back to my apartment for a few snacks, a cake and some drinks before heading out in an area populated with many foreigners called, Bupyeong.
Judy, Sophie and Cortney
Andi, Aaron, Jeff, Jenn and Cortney

my Korean friend from my yoga class, Sophie and Cortney

With the holidays coming up, I’m getting my first taste of being away from home during typical family events. Luckily I have some great friends here in Korea so we planned to spend Thanksgiving all together. On Thanksgiving day we went to margarita night at an ‘On The Border’ restaurant in Seoul. It was all you can eat tacos, burritos and margaritas so we stuffed our faces until we could barely walk out of the restaurant.
Bucheon friends in Seoul

Then, that weekend we took a trip into Seoul to spend the night eating a delicious Thanksgiving meal with a When in Korea tour group. Cortney and I took a bus to a beautiful log pension where we met up with Aaron, Andi, Andrew and his girlfriend, Gem, along with about 80 other people. We had a great meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie and various other great Thanksgiving foods.

In the morning, Andi, Cortney and I took a trip to myeongdong, which is yet another superb shopping area in Seoul. This area has a lot of western stores, like Forever 21, H&M, GAP, Zara, among many others, as well as typical Korean shops and stands set up. We spent the afternoon shopping until we thought we couldn’t shop anymore…and then we went to Insadong for some more shopping. Talk about a dream come true for a bunch of shop-o-holics! We then got dinner and went home when we were so exhausted we could barely stand up anymore.

Also, November is kimchi making month. Apparently, Koreans like to eat more kimchi during the winter. I know, I know how can they possibly eat anymore of this disgusting fermented cabbage than they already eat? But apparently it is possible, so they make a ton of it during November that will last them through the winter until they make some more come winter’s end. Therefore, we took a trip to good ‘ol Yeawon farm so the kids could each get a giant head of cabbage!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fireworks and fall leaves

Every year the Seoul International Fireworks Festival takes place in Yeouido Park along the Han River in Seoul. I really love fireworks so I decided to go. I was told it gets ridiculously crowded so to try and get there as early as possible. Cortney and I got there about 2 hours before the fireworks started to pick out a spot along the river.

It turns out there were over a million people who came to see the fireworks. As it got closer to the start of the show there were literally people covering the park. Everyone brought these little silver square mats to sit on that looked like they were made out of tin foil, alone with their picnic dinners. All of the Koreans were “ooo-ing and ahh-ing” as the 3 countries, Korea, Japan and Poland, all put on their own fireworks shows. Each show lasted about 45 minutes displaying unique sets of fireworks with words and designs. I was especially impressed with the Hello Kitty fireworks!

The leaves are starting to look really beautiful now, so Cortney, our friend, Mitch and I took a trip to Namsan Tower. I'd been to Namsan Tower before, but it was definitely worth a second look.

Seoul from Namsan Tower

Gyeyang Mountain

It’s been a while because I’m finding myself quite busy lately. I have been doing some hiking and I think some of it is worth mentioning. Now that the weather is absolutely beautiful more and more people are outside. Hiking is one of Korean’s favorite pastimes so it’s quite a common occurrence to see a jam packed mountain on any given weekend, pretty much rain or shine. I met some new friends who live in Incheon and met them to hike Gyeyang Mountain on a beautiful fall day. We met at the subway stop closest to the mountain and just followed the mass of Koreans, decked out in their hiking gear, up the hill.
Mike, Jen and Nina at the start of the hike.

We got beautiful views of all the surrounding areas before heading back down the mountain to enjoy some makoli and pajeon, traditional rice wine and vegetable like pancakes, with a nice and funny Korean family.
amazing views

typical for me to be upside down

I even convinced Mike that handstands on mountain tops are a good idea!

It took us many attempts to capture a picture with the three of us actually jumping, but we finally got it!

We made it to the top!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

When we got back to Kuala Lumpur we checked back into our hostel and then explored more around Kuala Lumpur. We went to the Petronas Towers, which are the 3 tallest buildings in the world. They were the tallest buildings in the world until 2004 when the Taipei 101 building surpassed them. However, they still remain the tallest twin buildings in the world. Andi and I did some shopping in China Town and Central Market before we met back up with Aaron and Andrew for a delicious dinner of Laksa.

The next day we did some more exploring and shopping before we caught our late night flight back to Seoul. I experienced Dr. Fish for the first time. Letting thousands of tiny fish eat the dead skin off my feet. It was super weird at first and tickled so badly, but it was a cool experience! Until next time Southeast Asia!

China Town

Central Market