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Thursday, 31 August 2006

HSBC locations in Korea

If you are a client of HSBC, you will find six locations in Seoul. Here are some pics from our venture to the City Hall area from last weekend.

The Han River as seen from the subway:

The outside of the Samsung building:

Namdaemun Gate--nope, I don't know those guys:

Namdaemun Gate...smack dab in the heart of the city:

The HSBC main branch is located across the street from Namdaemun Gate. Look up and you can't miss it.

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

New banner--do you like it?

How do you like the new banner on The Daily Kimchi? I think it's appropriate considering I love Carrefour. ;-)

First day of the regular schedule

Last night we taught our first day of the regular schedule at work. This new schedules requires us to teach English for six hours until 10pm. We have a two hour prep period before work (which we can go nap secretly in the janitor's closet--joking!). This is a helpful time as it enables us to prepare (or pretend to) for our classes.

The regular schedule has three two hour classes on Mon/Wed/Fri and two three hour classes on Tue/Thu. This is different from the summer "intensive" schedule where we taught two three hour classes a day in the morning with a two hour break in between.

Remember the pictures I posted with the sleeping student and my collection of high tech cellphones? Well, I will be teaching the same group of Senior level kids again! This should be interesting as they were a fun group--yet they tried (the key word here is "tried") to get out of hand at times. You know what this means, it's time to drop the hammer once again!

Click "play" below to listen:

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PS - I can't believe I've had both the "hammer" and "ice" grace my blog...I feel...so...special...*tear*

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Walmart in KOREA!

OK OK OK...yeah I know, visiting Walmart in Korea sounds weird...but who doesn't like Walmart (it's not like they close their locations because employees try to start a union)?

There are sixteen (yes, I said sixteen) locations in Korea and I was lucky (it's lucky to visit Walmart?) enough to visit one of them. It required a 3200w bus ride for a round trip (expensive compared to the subway; next time we're going to a different location) to the location we went to. We decided to venture to Walmart at 10:30pm after stuffing our faces full at Spongy seafood buffet (read posts below).

The Walmart locations here are of the SUPERCENTER type, in other words open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Here's the funny part of the story. Out of all the days we visit this store...guess what we find out? IT'S THE ONE DAY THEY CLOSE AT MIDNIGHT TO DO INVENTORY! D'OH! Soooo...our trip was short and interesting to say the least.

Welcome to Walmart!

All hail our everyday low prices!

Yes, that's right...365 days a year, 24 hours a day...yet we show up on the day they do inventory:

Inside Walmart we found this pet store with puppies and kittens...just months old. It was hard seeing them in cages--way too young to be alone:

Look at the eyes on this kitten--blue and green!

The checkout at Walmart:

Hello Walmart smiley guy thinga-majig:

...and finally, what's a post on The Daily Kimchi without a picture of...KIMCHI!

Eating @ Spongy seafood buffet!

When we arrived in Seoul to teach English a month ago, we noticed advertisements around Mokdong promoting Spongy, a seafood buffet located by the Megabox movie theatre, near the Hyundai Department Center. They have their normal lunch and dinner buffets Monday to Friday and weekends are more expensive.

Since we will be starting the regular teaching schedule at work this week (working nights till 10pm) we wanted to try out the Spongy buffet while we had the chance. Sooo...The Daily Kimchi charged up the camera batteries and cleared the memory cards for your enjoyment. Our findings were absolutely spectacular! Get readyyyyyyy!

Waiting for a table at Spongy:

The table setting:

All you can eat crab legs!

Plate #1: smoked salmon, sashimi (tuna/salmon), other items:

Plate #2: Korean bbq, 1 piece of KIMCHI, crab legs...

Plate #3: bbq oyster, more sushi, bacon wrapped asparagus (hard to find in Korea!):

Plate #4: more crab legs and get this...baby back ribs that were fresh out of the rotisserie oven! I had about 6 servings of the smoked salmon by the way. muahahaha!!!

Plate (bowl) #5: nang-myun (ice noodles):

Plate #6: I'm getting hungry again...I'm at a loss for words!

They had an open grill where they made fresh pasta to order:

Plate #7: the result of the picture above--seafood pasta!

Plate #8 (the dessert plate): some pastries, rambutans (prev. frozen, darn!), and frozen yogurt (which tasted exactly like Red Mango!):

All in all, we *burp* had a wonderful dinner at Spongy (there were six of us altogether) and I definately will be going back (next time I will bring a wheelchair so Devante can roll me out of the restaurant). If you are coming to teach English in Seoul, visit Spongy!

Directions: get off at the Omokyo subway station and take exit #2. Walk towards the SBS building and venture into the plaza on your right. If you can find the Megabox, you will find Spongy!

Monday, 28 August 2006

Visiting Jongno-Gu...and COLD STONE CREAMERY!

On Sunday night we ventured out with a couple of the new teachers from our school. One of them is from the USA and the other is from Australia (I think he likes Fosters beer, hehe). We took the subway to Jongno-Gu, which is part of downtown Seoul. This place was hoppin' to say the least. We found a nice spot for dinner that had good sized portions at a fair price.

Jongno-Gu at night...sooo pretty (did I just say that?)!

Five firetrucks zoomed down the street...something was on fire:

Curry tonkatsu. It was nice to taste curry (Korean style)!

Chicken tonkatsu...a nice change from pork:

Now this is where the party started...COLD STONE!!

They do the Cold Stone Creamery "cheer" when someone leaves a tip (although tipping is uncommon in Korea):

Here's our ice cream. The best part? You guessed it, the waffle!

I thought this was funny...it's not for three people, it's A TWOSOME PLACE!

These hard working chaps were wheeling beer bottle empties to the curb for recycling (unfortunately they stopped short and the wheel barrow tipped):

People still listen to Westlife?

Sharpening our dull kitchen knives...

Now, if you looked closely at the cubes of beef in my "Beef Stew" post below, this was made possible by our newly sharpened kitchen knives. Our accomodation came furnished by our employer (most companies do this when you come to Korea to teach English) but our kitchen knives were so dull they were on the verge of being dangerous.

Sooo...I had a magical thought one day. How would I sharpen my knives? I came up with the idea of asking the BBQ restaurant next door (where I had my first infamous experience with "naeng myun," aka "ice noodles"). I proceeded upstairs, but something seemed different about the place. The management had changed ownership and I did not recognize any of the employees! I tried to motion to an employee about sharpening my knives but I was denied...

...at this point I had no expectations about getting my knives sharpened, because I knew I was pushing my luck. So I ventured to the king crab restaurant next door and asked the owner there. He was reluctant at first, but then he quickly obliged to my Korean "charades" and started sharpening my knives right there on the sidewalk! He did a wonderful job and I thanked him for his kindness. I told him that I would be coming back for dinner in the near future. He motioned at the 45,000w/kg price per crab (approximately 47US/2.2lbs), with most crabs weighing in at 2-3kg!

He will soon find out that Gdog takes his food seriously and I am determined to conquer all restaurants in Seoul! It's part of my master plan...muhahahhahaha!

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"I read The Daily Kimchi!" -Dr. Evil

Cooking at home--beeeeeeeeef steeewww!

After eating out all the time (especially on our vacation), it's nice to eat a home cooked meal once a while. We decided to bring out the pots and pans and cook up a storm. Tonight's menu calls for beef stew!

After picking up the necessary ingredients at Carrefour (our favorite store that is only 75 meters away) we were successful in making a hearty, delicious, tomato sauce based beef stew. We decided to freeze the leftovers for a rainy day. We're on our way to saving some money (hopefully; that is if I can stop my spending at Carrefour) in Korea as it's expensive to live in Seoul!

Two steaks from Carrefour + garlic = amazing:

Caramelized onions plus mushrooms:

The vital part of our stew, the veggies:

The final product...after being stewed for an hour:

Yes, that is brown rice FYI; what a healthy meal!!

Sunday, 27 August 2006

Reading material on Korea--where to acquire books

Prior to our arrival in Korea I did some background reading on the internet. A combination of Google searches and reading Wikipedia entries did the trick. However, just before our vacation to Jeju (New Kyungnam Hotel 4 life!) I was able to find a few used books on Korea. I was specifically looking for Lonely Planet travel books. These wonderful travel guides are independently written and contain absolutely no advertising. This aspect defines a good, unbiased guide as your travel companion.

Luckily, I found used copies (Lonely Planet Korea and Seoul; minor wear and tear; some writing on the pages) for sale online by browsing the buy/sell forums on Dave's ESL Cafe and WorknPlay. I would highly recommend browsing these sites before you buy a new copy. This will save you money (who doesn't like to save money?).

Although our copy of the Lonely Planet Korea was an old edition, the majority of the info (such as Korean translation) and maps (including subway) remained the same. If you would rather buy yourself a fresh, new copy then heading to Amazon is the way to go, while supporting The Daily Kimchi in the process.

Saturday, 26 August 2006

Jeju Island...venturing to Jejusi (central)

So we decided to spend our last night in Jejusi, the central city on Jeju Island in the north. We were closer to the airport so waking up for our morning flight would be easier.

We took another bus ride and this time after getting dropped off we were on the hunt for a hotel. After asking a local (who happened to speak English) about where to stay, she recommended that we try exploring down the side street where we were dropped off. We found Wind and Sand, a nice hotel that cost us 50,000w/night. This time around, our room was very clean and tidy--score!

We ventured to Iho Beach and relaxed there for a while. Afterwards we went back to Jejusi and explored the area. The next day we had to wake up and say good bye to Jeju.

So all in all, our trip to Jeju was nice, but the lack of planning and preparation showed. We decided on this trip last minute and unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. Oh well, you win some and you lose some. Time to head back to Mokdong and continue to document my daily meals!!!

Downtown Jejusi:

The owner was really friendly and helpful. There was even free internet:

Our room was very clean and cozy:

Iho beach, located near Jeju Airport:

Lots of fishing goes on in Jeju:

Look at these Jejunians (is that a word?) enjoy their Saturday afternoon:

While we were eating inside a Lotteria, these kids approached us "Hi!!!":

Inside the taxi towards Jeju Airport; most car owners attach this knob onto their steering wheels to turn faster...right:

Have you ever seen a Hyundai with a "tiptronic" style shifter? Well here it is (most cars in Korea are either a Hyundai or Kia)!

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