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Monday, 30 October 2006

Happy Halloween--safety tip of the day!

Happy Halloween everybody! It's October 31st in our part of the world right now. Here's your Halloween tip of the day: when walking on the sidewalks in Seoul, be alert--because you never know when a delivery guy on a moped might run you down, a Korean student late for ______ (fill in the blank) academy on a bike, or have a car hop onto the sidewalk. My previous encounters with street carnage if you remember are here and here.

Judging from this picture, who knows what happened but it doesn't look pretty! We saw this on our way home from our late night barbeque. These railings prevent pedestrians from jaywalking I would presume. Any other opinions out there?

Happy Halloween from our friends at Google:
Halloween 2006

Sunday, 29 October 2006

BBQ at night in Joongdong, Bucheon

Getting off work at 10pm has both pros and cons. You're either too tired to do something extracurricular or if you do decide on something there isn't enough time. Anyways, last night we decided to meet up with one our friends who was working in Joongdong, located in Bucheon...meaning we left the vicinity of Seoul (25 minutes west of Mokdong by bus) for late night BBQ! This was our second time visiting the area. Our first time was here.

Near this bbq place in Joongdong there is an E-MART (previously a 24 hour Wal-Mart) and a Hyundai Department store. Anyways, the barbeque was well worth it as it was one of the best I've had so far (can you ever have bad barbeque??) Maybe I was just hungry because we had just gotten off work, but I was a happy camper. Devante was happy too!

I didn't go trigger happy with the camera (I was too busy stuffing my face full of barbeque beef) but here's one picture for you:

After coming home late we proceeded to watch season one of Lost. We're almost done the first season so please don't post any spoilers! Talk about taking full advantage of a day (and more)! ;-)

Boat cruise at night on the Han River

On Saturday we celebrated the birthday of our friend Jessica from work. You might remember her previously from her celebrity status on my blog here and here (she's known as "HC"--hardcore). We started off the evening on a night cruise along the Han River--it was spectacular.

The cruise started off at Yeouido Park. We were starving once we got there and what does Gdog & Company see?--a KFC located right at the terminal--great (both good and bad)! After some heavy deliberating on what to do (10 milliseconds) we decided to just "give-er" and bow down to the mighty Colonel.

With our hot, delicious and greasy chicken in hand we boarded the ferry minutes before its 6:30pm departure. Once the cruise got started the views of central Seoul were amazing. The ferry went down the river and did a loop. The cruise lasted about an hour and cost us 9900w (10US) each. It was well worth it and I would recommend going at night.

Here is the amazing view of Seoul at night from Yeouido Park (notice Seoul Tower in the background):

The location of the terminal, along with KFC (what a great combo--eating chicken on the river):

We almost missed our cruise...and to answer your question--yes, my chicken was finger lickn' good:

Here's one of the many bridges across the Han River:

Here's a video of us crossing under a bridge...listen for the subway above us:

The LG Twin Towers...click here to see how they look like in the day:

Formerly the tallest building in Korea (the tallest is one of the Hyperion Towers located minutes from us in Mokdong), the 63 Building...if you want to know how to get in for free, click here:

Get off the couch and onto a cruise...to get there, take Line 5 (purple line) to Yeouinaru Station and take either Exit 2 or 3. Walk down to the park, turn right and walk along the water until you see the terminal. You better go quick because parts of the Han will freeze once winter comes.

Friday, 27 October 2006

Top 10: TEFL blogs...The Daily Kimchi is recognized!

TEFLLogue has come up with a list of Top 10 TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) blogs and The Daily Kimchi was recognized at the top of their list. It has been fun writing about my experiences in Korea and it's nice that others have appreciated my blogging. Click here to see the rest of the list. There is a plethora of other fantastic Korea blogs out there and I encourage you to check out the links that I have on my blog.

To celebrate this mini achievement, I'm going to have a bowl of...

...green tea flavored cereal! Thanks Post!

McDonalds...the incredible 2pm till closing deal!

The McDonalds near our work in Mokdong has an incredible deal right now. Everyday from 2pm till closing, you can get one of the following combos for 1000w (1usd):
  • Small drink + hamburger
  • Small drink + 3 piece McNuggets
  • Small drink + medium fries
  • Small drink + sundae
Let's get this straight: eating McDonalds will kill you. It will wreak havoc on your arteries--yet at the same time it's delicious! Muahhaha! Anyways, this is what we ordered one day for a "snack" and it only cost us 5000w. What a deal!

The funny part was watching the employee pour five drinks...the next time I'm going to get a sundae and throw away the drink. A regular sundae costs 1200w, whereas this deal will save you 200w (20 cents usd! haha)!

Thursday, 26 October 2006

Kimchi cutters...yes, I said kimchi cutters!

Just when you thought you've seen everything, something interesting always pops up. On one of our traditional biweekly trips to Costco, I noticed a rectangular shaped container with a blade inside. I thought to myself, "wow, that's one cool container for rectangular sandwiches"--but, truth be told, when I read closer it was indeed a KIMCHI CUTTER!

This handy dandy contraption cuts your spicy and delicious kimchi into perfect bite sized portions--but wait, it also acts as storage too! Right now I can just imagine my boyhood idol, inventor of the almighty Ronco Food Dehydrator and the Showtime Rotisserie Oven, Ron Popeil trying to sell this on a TV infomercial...it probably would go something like this:

"If you call now, you can get a second kimchi cutter absolutely free! BUT WAIT...it gets better. We're feeling generous today and if you can convince one friend to buy a kimchi cutter too, we'll throw in another one for FREE. That's right--two kimchi cutters for the price of one. Don't wait and call now--this order is only available for the next hour---BUT BUT...if you call within the hour, we'll throw in ANOTHER kimchi cutter absolutely free! That's our way of saying thanks for telling a friend. So you buy one, get two free!

Listen closely my friends--you won't have to pay $299 for this small wonder--you won't pay $199--not even $99. This amazing kimchi cutter will only cost you four easy payments of $29.95. That's right, four easy payments, of $29.95. But we're not finished. If you decide to order now, we'll throw in a free gift--these are some of the sharpest knives you'll ever use--that will never ever need sharpening. I'll throw in a set of these wonderful steak knives absolutely free. Now, every product we have is guaranteed and if you're not happy with our product return it for a full refund--no questions asked--and keep the free gift as our present to you for trying out our product. Don't wait, call now! Just remember, with this kimchi cutter all you have to do is CUT IT AND FORGET IT!!! (I can't believe I just typed this--we all know we've seen his informercials at 3am on Saturday nights many, many times)"

This screams "buy me, your kimchi will thank you!":

"Look ma, it comes with a lid!"

The question remains...what ever happened to just using a good ol' knife?

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Homever signage is now up...

Carrefour in Korea is now a thing of the past. As I posted earlier, Homever is the name of the new store. The signage is now up for Homever and the grand opening is on November 9, 2006. Most of the old Carrefour employees now work for Homever.

Here's the massive sign at the top of the building. You're looking at the parkade--the shopping area is underground:

Homever had a tent out front looking for people to sign up for a points card. With each sign up, you get a free grocery tote bag, sporting the Homever logo. What kind of sucker would sign up for this anyway?

I'll let you draw your own conclusions...(that's our doorbell/security camera)

Monday, 23 October 2006

Drastic change in weather...shorts aren't a good idea

Korea has four distinct seasons and so far I've experienced two of them. For the past three months I've been wearing shorts and a short-sleeve collared shirts to work. The hot summer weather and mild autumn weather permitted me to do this. However, yesterday was a different story.

The moment we stepped out of our officetel I felt the brisk chill...and the moment we stepped out of our building it felt like someone had blasted mother nature's air conditioner on high! The air felt fresh but holy smokes was it ever brisk and cold. My students had jackets and some of them had scarves. So yeah, maybe today I will consider wearing PANTS and a long sleeve shirt of some sort. That's my ramble for the day--ta ta!

Sunday, 22 October 2006

The DMZ tour...part four: inside the JSA conference room

These conference rooms are where negotiations and talks are held between North and South Korea. The Military Demarcation Line runs underneath this room so technically you can cross over into North Korea! There is a ROK soldier guarding the northern exit. He is given explicit instructions to stop anyone who attempts to go through that door (although some weary tourists have mistakenly/deliberately done so in the past).

Here is a fantastic write up by Seoul Searching that is very similar to what I experienced but in more detail...click here.

Here we are inside the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) building. The GI instructed the ROK soldier to come over to the main table:

Here's another video...do you feel like you're on the actual tour? Wowsers!

This concrete slab marks the Military Demarcation Line....separating North and South:

This ROK soldier was standing right in the middle of the MAC building. Notice his Tae Kwon Do stance and Ray Ban aviator sunglasses (all meant to intimidate North Korean soldiers):

This ROK soldier was guarding the exit into North Korea:

Next up, we we took our bus to a SK/US guard post...those white stakes mark the Military Demarcation Line:

A North Korean guard post...probably eyeing Gdog as he's taking this picture:

Here is North Korean "Propaganda Village" and the world's tallest flagpole. The flag must be taken down when it is raining as its immense weight cannot be supported by the tower.

Here is the Bridge of No Return...remember, James Bond (aka Pierce Brosnan) crossed this bridge in a scene from Die Another Day. This bridge was used to exchange prisoners after the end of the Korean War in 1953.

Here is a monument for the Axe Murder Incident...that stump represents the size of the tree that used to stand here.

Overall, I am glad I went on this tour. It was incredible to enter the Joint Security Area and take glimpse into North Korea. Visiting the site of the world's most heavily defended border and one of the last fronts of the Cold War was an unforgettable experience. I highly recommend this tour if you are visiting Seoul or are residing in Korea. It cost 42,000w (42usd) and it lasted an entire day.

The bus ride back to Camp Kim USO was horrendous. Traffic was so bad that it took nearly 2 hours to return. We were super tired and famished. I finished off my night be eating an 80z top sirloin steak with a baked potato at Outback Steakhouse. Deelicious! Thanks for reading and hope your enjoyed your visit to the DMZ. Send my cheque in the mail, alright?

Medium rare, just the way I like it (the plate was pretty skimpy for 20,000w!):

The DMZ tour...part three: the Joint Security Area

Good morningggggg world...welcome back! As promised here is the last segment of my tour to the DMZ. This was the moment I was waiting for. The other parts of the tour had taken its toll on my body (mainly that darn 3rd tunnel) but once we entered Camp Bonifas at Panmunjeom I gained my second wind. Camp Bonifas is named after US Army Captain Arthur Bonifas who was killed by North Korean soldiers in the notorious Axe Murder Incident of 1976.

We first were led into a quick briefing regarding proper conduct and the geography and history of the area. We also had to sign waiver forms that stated we were heading into an area where the unpredictable could happen and lead to injury or death--cool (not really)!

Here we are entering Ballinger Hall for the briefing. I felt like I was getting ready for war. The GI was brief and to the point:

Just sign along the dotted line please...and wear this badge so the North Korean guards know that you are not fair game when it comes to target practice:

The world's most dangerous par 3, one hole golf course...the other side of that fence is littered with land mines:

Okay. This video is the continuation from the last picture of my previous post where we were waiting on the steps. Entering the JSA area:

...and here we are. Yup, that is the North Korean side of the Military Demarcation Line in the distance. Notice the ROK soldier standing with only half his body exposed facing the North:

Here is another view. Notice the other soldier doing the same. We were told these guys can stand here up to 6 hours straight (what happens if they have an upset stomach?):

This North Korean soldier was watching us the entire time. We were told to not point or make any gestures toward the North Korean soldiers. It was an eerie feeling being here. It felt like a time warp. Remnants of the Cold War are clearly evident here:

The DMZ tour...part deux: the 3rd tunnel and Dorasan Station

Part of our tour included a tour to the 3rd tunnel, one of the many tunnels the dug under the DMZ by North Korea towards South Korea. This little adventure down to the tunnel involved walking down a tunnel that was 300 meters long and at an 11 degree angle (it felt like 45 degrees on the way back up). We had to wear hard hats on the way down and no cameras or bags were allowed (free storage lockers were available).

This is a picture of what we experienced once we got to the main tunnel. Gdog had to walk the entire way with his back hunched...I was sweating and my thighs were burning after this little walk:

Just across the way from the 3rd tunnel, there was the DMZ museum which was pretty interesting:

Here I am outside posing for the camera (that's a popsicle stick in my mouth; it was a pineapple popsicle for those who really care):

Around 2:50pm our bus left towards Dorasan Station. This station will one day have service to Pyongyang. Currently, there are no trains in use so it's just sitting there...idle:

Inside the station you can see there is a ROK soldier on duty. Notice the sign says "To Pyeongyang"...it's a weird sight:

It cost 500w (50 cents) to gain entry to the tracks...watch Gdog in action:

...and here was what I got to see! I jumped onto the tracks because I saw few guys from another tour do the same. Monkey see, monkey do!

Who wants to head north? Let's go!

...tomorrow...you will get to see the part you've been waiting for...the Joint Security Area. I have some amazing videos that you won't want to miss. Here we are, lined up ready to enter the JSA...I'm going to bed. Good night and check back tomorrow!

The DMZ tour...part one

Saturday morning was one of the most anticipated mornings of my time in Seoul: I was finally partaking in a tour to the DMZ with the USO. The first thing we did was head to Camp Kim USO at Samgakgi Station (exit 10) at 10:30am. Our bus left around 11:00am and our first stop was for "lunch" at this souvenir shop at Paju City. I didn't buy lunch but I did buy some snacks for the rest of the day. Our second stop was a visit to a quick briefing on the DMZ and an area where we could take a glimpse into North Korea with binoculars.

Here are our bus drivers on break...doing the "squat":

I was thinking of everyone so I picked you up a souvenir. It's a piece of the original DMZ barbed wire fence:

I decided to invite my buddy Bill. He came along on the tour (this is a picture of him from a book on the DMZ):

Our first stop after the souvenir shop:

During our brief lecture, signs clearly said "NO PICTURES"...I stumbled across this photo taken by someone else *cough*:

If you look closely, you can see the North Korean flagpole on the far left and the white South Korean flagpole on the right:

They wanted us to stand behind this "photo line" for taking photos:

Next up...a trip the the 3rd tunnel and Dorasan Station...

Saturday, 21 October 2006

DMZ tour...I made it back in one piece!

Incredible. That is one word that summarizes my tour to the DMZ with the USO. It was amazing (and very safe). I will be posting a full report detailing my trip (that includes what I ate) tomorrow morning. You will be amazed at the pictures and videos I took. See ya then.

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Tour to the DMZ on Saturday...

This Saturday I am going on a tour to the DMZ (I first mentioned the DMZ in July) with some friends from work. If you've been reading the newspapers and following the news on TV, you probably think I'm crazy right about now. But the truth is there is no immediate danger with visiting the DMZ (although there is risk involved) according to the organizers of the tour, the United Service Organizations (USO) Korea. This according to other coworkers is the best tour as it is led by US military personnel which makes it very interesting.

We will be visiting Panmunjeom (about 53 kilometers/33 miles northwest of Seoul) where the Joint Security Area (JSA) is located along with a walk to the 3rd tunnel. According to Wikipedia, "The third tunnel was discovered on October 17, 1978. Like the previous two, the third tunnel was discovered following a tip off from a North Korean defector. This tunnel is about 1,600 metres long and about 150 metres below ground."

There is a dress code required for this adventure. No shorts, sandals, sports wear, etc. You must look neutral and somewhat presentable. This might not be the best time to visit the DMZ according to some, but right now we're not really scared or anything. It's life as usual here...just smelling the roses. My next post will be after my trip there--don't worry, I'll take a billion photos and hopefully some videos too.

Hey, if this guy can make the DMZ look like his own playground, I think I can too (not that I want to), hehe.

"I said I wanted my Two Two Fried Chicken order extra crispy!!!" - James Bond

Thanks to Madonna for the title song...for your listening pleasure:

TV channels free on your computer...I'm watching NBC as we speak!

Now, coming over to teach English in Korea meant no more live TV for Gdog and Devante. One of the things I miss the most is live NHL hockey and pro sports in general. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with the sports here on TV but I just miss watching sports back home.

Well, that has changed recently with the discovery of the TVU Player, a free program that lets you watch "live" TV on your computer--for free! If you're currently in Korea teaching English or anywhere else in the world, you might enjoy this. According to the review from WebTVHub "Channels featured on TVUPlayer currently include CBS, ESPN, NBA TV, ABC, NBC, FOX, Comedy Central, Disney and more, including sports channels."

It might not work for you in your region, but it's been great for Gdog. Check it out!

Say hi to Sponge Bob (image courtesy of WebTVHub):

Some days you just don't want to cook...a visit to the mandu man

When we first arrived in Seoul...we didn't cook very much. We were just getting comfortable with our surroundings and then slowly we acquired the "tools" to fix meals for lunch and dinner everyday. Given that we work at night and finish at 10pm, that means we can sleep in (sometimes too much) a bit and then enjoy our morning. Both Devante and myself get cracking around 10am and decide on what we want to make for lunch--but like the title of this post says, some days you just don't want to cook!

So we decided yesterday to buy our lunch instead. We had a few errands to run near Mokdong Station before work and decided on getting some mandoo (dumplings; how about homemade mandu "chips" by ZenKimchi?) and kimbab (Korean sushi)--quick and easy. The place we went to was called MyungIn Mandoo (since 1976 I might add), near Two Two Fried Chicken (I didn't plan this, honestly!).

The price for one order of mandoo (10 dumplings; 5 regular + 5 kimchi), and two tuna kimbab rolls was 7500w (about 8US). The kimbab was jam packed full of ingredients and the mandoo was awesome as always. They steam them literally on the sidewalk. Highly recommended if you're looking for a cheap and quick snack in Mokdong, or anywhere else in Seoul for that matter.

Look for MyungIn Mandoo right by Two Two Fried Chicken:

Just place your order on the street...it doesn't get easier than this:

A closer shot of the mandu and other snacks for sale:

Now, you're in for a treat because I have a video of the mandoo man making mandoo...at lightning speed. It will be up in the morning. But in the meantime, if you're really bored, here's the Two Two Fried Chicken logo:

OK, I'm going to sleep now, this time for real...here's your promised video:

Normally, when we do have time and the groceries, we whip up a meal like the one you see below. Beef stir fry with red, yellow and orange peppers, flash fried head lettuce in garlic with oyster sauce, and creamy cheddar whipped mashed potatoes. It's a weird combination, an Asian inspired meal only to have creamy and cheesy mashed potatoes be the odd man out. It was delicious though. ;)

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