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Thursday, 30 August 2007

Playing Bumper Bodies in Seoul

Okay so the previous post I had a video of me walking down the street holding Devante's hand bag to avoid people. That worked like a charm I must say. Anyways, to truly show you how much bumpage can occur in the busy areas of Seoul, check out the following video I dug up from my picture and video archive. I like to call the following activity "Bumper Bodies," a variation of "Bumper Tanks" for those with good memories.

This video takes place walking through Myeongdong during a busy Saturday. I held a shopping bag in front of my body and filmed the bag getting hit and bumped as I walked down the street. Sure, some may blame me for not moving too, but just take a look at the beating my bag takes and how many people just stop in front of me and don't move, hehe!

I have some more priceless videos that I will be posting later on--videos that made me giggle like a little school girl after watching them again and again, hee hee hee (insert Homer Simpson)!

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

How To Walk Through Crowds in Seoul

With a population sweltering over 12 million, Seoul is a very crowded city. Navigating the sidewalks in Seoul can be treacherous (scooters, cars, ajummas, ajoshis, buses, kids, bikes, taxis, construction, brick sidewalks with missing bricks, etc), especially when it's jam packed and there are sellers lined up and down the street (let's not forget about those Ludacris-inspired ajummas who like to "throw dem bows"). Well, one day in busy Gangnam (fashion central) I decided to try something special. How was I going to walk through crowds in Seoul without getting bumped and bruised?

Well, the answer is to hold your girlfriend's purse/handbag in front of you while you're walking (and looking like a Korean mental patient in the process) through crowds. It's just absolute magic how people avoid you like the plague! My Korean friend Tae told me not to go through with this idea, but I did anyways. He's the one holding the camera filming me. Here we go!

(this video is being hosted on Blogger)

So there you have it...walk like you're crazy while holding some sort of bag in front of you, and the days of shoving and pushing will be gone like the wind. Bookmark this post for future reference! Has anyone tried this before? Let me know if it works for you! You could also try the secrets of Nordic Walking too!

Monday, 27 August 2007

Osoyoos Weather is HOT HOT HOT!

Our five day "holiday" in Osoyoos was a very relaxing one. The reason we went there was to help my brother setup his new recreational pad on Osoyoos Lake. Osoyoos is located on the BC-Washington State border, and is the only desert in Canada. Yes, that's right folks, this climate makes the weather in Osoyoos very HOT! Osoyoos Lake has average summer temperatures of 24°C (75°F) and this hot weather in Osoyoos brings a large number of retirees and vacationers.

We started our journey in the morning from Vancouver. I was with my brother in a Budget Rent-A-Truck packed to the brim, while my sister and Devante cruised comfortably in my bro's BMW, while we made the journey in a loud diesel engine beast. The drive to Osoyoos takes roughly 5 hours, albeit it's a very scenic drive indeed. Here we are driving alongside a mountain's edge:

So after a few pit stops to relieve ourselves and munching on snacks for hours on end (Spitz Sunflower seeds make a great time waster, especially when you spit the shells along the floor of your rent-a-truck, muahaha), we finally made it to "Desert Wine Country" and the hot weather of Osoyoos. Here is our approach into town, as you can see Osoyoos Lake and the town itself:

A fountain in the heart of Osoyoos:

396km to Vancouver and the Pacific Ocean, and 730km to Calgary, Alberta. Who wants to go on a road trip?

Here is Lake Osoyoos from the private beach front of property. This lake is supposed to be very warm...time to put it to the test...

...we made it into the water, and it was relatively warm but still a wee bit chilly. The cool thing about Osoyoos Lake is that it is very shallow--from where we are standing we were able to walk all the way to the dock in the background!

Here was our view for the next couple of hours, to dry off after a quick dip in the lake. The weather in Osoyoos is definitely hot! It was about 30°C on the first day there.

Of course, after unloading that huge Budget truck and hauling beds up stairs along with couches and dressers, we decided to head out for dinner. We ended up at Diamond Greek Restaurant, along the main strip of town. I had the Beef Souvlaki which was served with tzatziki and pita, Greek salad, lemon potato and rice (which was covered in copious amounts of canola oil and butter--which made it super delicious and tasty, just what I needed for my waistline).

So that's about it for the first part of our trip to Osoyoos. Have you been to Osoyoos before? How did you like it there?

Back from Osoyoos - Desert Wine Country

Hey everyone, I'm back from Osoyoos, also known as "Desert Wine Country". I'm also dead tired from the 5+ hour drive home to Vancouver so tonight I'm going to leave you with a brief preview of my trip there. Did I mention brief? Anyways, enjoy these couple of pictures and expect a full update tomorrow and the next. Goodnight!

Sunsent in Osoyoos:

You expected a picture of food, right? This is my dinner from last night: BBQ'd rib eye steak with spaghetti, corn on the cob, grilled zucchini, and garlic toast. I was in "Desert Wine Country" and I didn't even have wine with my steak--go figure:

On a side note, remember my recent post about City Hall and how there's always something to see? Well, turns out we were being stalked at the same time, by a couple of Korean bloggers over at seoulitary confinement! Remember this picture I took, showing this crazy couple trying on the masks and taking pictures? Well, these two are the notorious scoundrels behind seoulitary confinement!

They posted a picture of us on their blog, claiming how we exposed their "undercover" assignment. This wasn't our first run in with these guys (when you're on top everybody wants to bring you down, lol). They didn't even come up to us to say "HI!"--creepy! Anyways, whenever you two read this, thanks for the shout out and oh--don't forget to take your medication on the hour, every hour. Good luck and keep on posting! :)

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Flying from Vancouver to Victoria...Almost Home!

If you're still following my blog, and you've had some time to catch up on our adventure home, right now we had just had our first meal back in Canada. After a brief binge-fest in Richmond, we were dropped off again at YVR to take a 15 minute flight to Vancouver (our flight was paid for by work of course). Here we are aboard our Air Canada Jazz flight (the cabin is small). The steward was eating pineapple just before we were about to take off--and he didn't even share!

I managed to take a quick video of our plane taking off (and the landing gear operating) for all you aviation fanatics...check it out:

Can you guess what this picture is?

It's the BC Ferries terminal in Tsawwassen, which we would have had to take if we weren't flying. That would involve lugging our heavy ass bags to the ferries, which would involve renting a van or finding someone with a truck. Flying is just so much easier and faster!

This little white speck is a BC ferry...it looks like the Spirit of Vancouver Island to me!

After being greeted at the airport by Devante's brother and a few of my close buddies, it was off to my parents' place for our first home cooked meal! Check out this picture from our front balcony--the space, the greenery, wow!

You can't beat mom and grandma's good 'ol Chinese home cookin! We have some fried fish at the top, greens from the garden, bbq pork, steamed soft tofu, and free range chicken:

So there you have it...that was our trip home after teaching English in Korea for one year (and a week)! I still have lots of stories and information to tell about Korea, so be sure to stay tuned. Tomorrow I'm heading to Osoyoos till Sunday, so the blog will be on a bit of a break until then. I'm going to enjoy as much sunshine as I can get. Adios, amigo!

Sunday, 19 August 2007

My First Meal Back in Canada

Okay, so we've landed at the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) from Seoul via Air Canada and we couldn't be happier to be back in BC! Upon stepping out of the plane, we were ecstatic to breathe in mouthfuls of fresh air and see blue sky! You never realize how great it is to be home until you've lived abroad.

We cleared Canada Customs without a hitch, waited a while for our overweight bags to hit the conveyor belts, connected our bags to our flight back to Victoria, then proceeded to find my sister who was going to meet us for lunch. Our flight back to Vancouver Island would be another four hours away--what could we do to kill time? You guessed it, EAT!

Here's a tip for those getting picked up from YVR--head to the upper level where the departures are to get picked up if you don't have any big bags (ours were checked), it's a bit easier and there's less traffic. We waited by the Fairmont Hotel:

It sure was weird seeing my sister after one year! Anyways, we were quickly whisked away into the heart of Richmond to get some lunch. Our place of choice today? Tsim Chai Noodles, located across the street from the Richmond Public Market:

We had been craving Chinese food for the longest time (I had my mini-fix in Hong Kong) so I had already "pre-ordered" what I wanted to eat months before I left Seoul! How about that? Here we have some beef in black bean sauce on broad rice noodles...and some gai lan in the background:

I was longing for these crispy garlic and chili pepper seasoned chicken wings...

...to go along with our iced "yeen yeun" (iced coffee/tea) and iced lemon tea (HK style!):

We also had some of my sister's wonton noodles to finish off our lunch. Man, food never tasted so good! It was really weird being able to understand what everyone was saying around me...you never realize how nice (or annoying) it is to hear English (or Cantonese)! So after gouging on all this Chinese food, we went back to my sister's place where she offered us some of the following:



Wow, we were so surprised to see these berries because we had gone cold turkey for one year (except for making my tofu smoothies)! It was very nice to eat fruit that I've missed. Who would've thought cherries and blueberries would taste so good?

So there you have it, this is part of my ongoing series of posts about life back in Canada, post Korea. Currently we are living a "retired" life in Richmond, enjoying the finest food that is available in BC. Stay tuned for more updates! If there is anything you want to suggest that I write about, please feel free to post a comment and I'll try my best to accommodate your request.

However, being retired has me spending time outside and away from the computer, actually doing things and interacting with humans. Therefore my posting rate might dip down a bit, but of course you can count on me to keep writing about Korea and other miscellaneous items I stuff down my throat (E.G. a $7 frozen durian, as opposed to $17 in Seoul). ;)

Friday, 17 August 2007

Flying On Board Air Canada: Seoul to Vancouver

So after some duty free shopping at the Incheon International Airport, it was time to board our Air Canada flight from Seoul to Vancouver. We had a window/aisle seat to ourselves and after finally sitting down in our seats, we wondered "where did the year go?!" So for everybody that just arrived in Korea to teach English, take advantage of your weekends to explore the city and to get out there and do stuff. Your one year contract is going to flash before your eyes!

We tried to spend all of our remaining Korean Won at the airport. So I decided on a pre-flight snack. How about some ice cream? Sounds like a plan to me! Overpriced Haagen Dazs? Sure, why not? After taking a look at my options, I went with this ice cream bar...

...instead of these individual ice cream cups. Can you say freezer burn?! In the words of Gordon Ramsay, "I wouldn't even serve this to a PIG!"

After flying on Emirates to Dubai and Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, riding aboard Air Canada was truly painful. However, I was surprised at the leg room that was available and the food was decent (that means edible). What really sucked was the one TV screen in the middle that was fuzzy and hard to watch:

Here we are flying high above the clouds...a spectacular sight:

Shortly after getting into the air, we were given choices for dinner! I went with the "chicken" and Devante chose the "beef". Here is what accompanied our main course: a salad with smoked salmon and olives (it was REALLY good), bottled water, cake, a bun, and...KIMCHI!

Here's the chicken...looks appetizing, right? Errr...yeah...it was very salty:

I told you the salad was amazing right? Well, in front of us were two Korean boys eating. I noticed one kid had finished but left his salad untouched. Hey, my grandma always told me not to waste food, so I asked the kid if I could have his salad! He was quick to oblige and gave me his salad! Ahh saahh!! Thanks, kid!

That salad was delicious...so delicious that I decided to double-dip and ask his friend for his salad too. Let's take a look at what happens:

Okay, so I was royally shut down, but hey, you gotta give me credit for trying. Being greedy is never a good thing!

The cabin was very noisy at the start of the flight, but slowly became quiet. Here we are flying over some mountains in BC on our way to Vancouver:

One way for a smooth flight (and landing) is to take advantage of free rum and Coke!

Next up, I'll show you our first meal after landing in Vancouver! Oh man, all I have to say is that the food in Richmond is incredible! Anyone else out there love (or hate) Air Canada?

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Around the Blogs Update

I apologize for the delay, but yesterday I made a trip out to Surrey, BC, to help my best friend paint his new pad. I just got back tonight and I'm dead tired. Nevertheless, I thought I'd make a post about what has caught my interest lately in the world of Korean blogs. Let's take a look, shall we?

How to Build a Street in Korea - If you've lived in Korea, or are currently residing in the ROK, this will get you a cheap laugh, because it's true!

The Stranger in Suwon (Eva) has an interesting blog post on Sexuality and the Military Service.

ROK Drop has more info about the Korean hostage crisis (day 25) in Afghanistan.

Campus couples, as captured by Feet Man Seoul.

Excellent questions to ask employers on teaching in Korea for those interested, answered by lao-ocean girl!

Korean sliced raw fish, also known as Hui, as told by ZenKimchi

I will leave you with some more crazy Omuto Tomato omurice food porn (this one's a keeper):

Have you noticed anything interesting of late out there in the blogosphere?

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Incheon International Airport Duty Free

If you're still following our journey home right now, by this time we have finally reached Incheon International Airport via the Airport Bus from Mokdong Station. Once we arrived, bag carriers helped unload our bags from the bus, free of charge. In some other countries, you'd be expected to pony up a tip right about now. I had mentioned before that all of our bags were overweight by at least 2-3kg (5-6lbs/bag)!

Once we arrived at the Air Canada check-in counter we were praying that we wouldn't have to pay the overweight fees, although we were prepared to do so. Lucky enough, with my luck we ran into a very friendly employee who waived all the charges for us! :) So after checking in we went through security (my jacket weighed about 10lbs) without a hitch. Phew.

Next up, was Korean Immigration. Here they check your passport to see who you are and why you're leaving the country. This is where we surrendered our Alien Registration Cards (ARC). They would have made great souvenirs though! Oh well. All this work of course had built up our appetite, including lugging our bags to Mokdong Station and that bus ride. Time to eat!

One of the food courts at Incheon has a Subway, Burger King, KFC, Dunkin Donuts (read here on how to build a street in Korea), and a Korean restaurant. We opted for sandwiches from Subway, wet napkins from KFC, and a drink from Burger King! There was no way I was going to shell out 4000w ($4US) for one bottle of Snapple from Subway!

Our view from out table was this "phat" airline:

But wait, there's more! There was the Summer Star Cool Festival happening at the airport. This booth was setup to offer free 4x6 portraits to everybody. Apparently you are supposed to spend $50-100 at the duty free shops to get a picture, but these guys were letting everybody have a free photo. Did you say free? Count me in!

Here they had pictures of random people and on that red board to the left, you could vote on which was your favorite picture. Some cute kids were there, so we put up a sticker to vote for them:

Here's the result of our picture. This couple working the booth were really friendly and they spoke English. He was shooting with a Canon dSLR, so I knew that his camera took CompactFlash memory. I happened to have a spare memory card in my pocket so I asked him if he would be willing to take our pictures with my memory! He agreed! Perfect! This picture is now my profile picture on Facebook! Thanks buddy!

Let's get onto the duty free shops at Incheon. The duty free shopping here is well laid out and there is a lot of selection. Here's a map of the airport's layout:

Here's one of the directories for your shopping desires:

I bought some Jeju orange chocolate and an LCD screen protector ($8USD/8000w) for my Canon XTi. We had some extra Korean Won so we had to spend it somehow!

Who can forget our favorite Korean conglomerate, the makers of everything, Lotte?

The next post will be about my adventures on the plane, which included asking the kid sitting in front of me for his salad. Stay tuned! Have you shopped at the Incheon Duty Free?

Monday, 13 August 2007

Taking the Airport Bus to Incheon Airport from Mokdong Station

There are many ways to get to Incheon International Airport. You can now take the subway, taxi, or airport limousine (you can walk too, but that might take a while). I've taken cabs to Incheon before (think Hong Kong) and it's the most expensive choice. From Mokdong, which is in western Seoul, fare is about 40-50,000w ($40-50USD) one way. If you were to take a cab from anywhere else to Incheon, be prepared to pay a lot more.

Since we left the next day in the afternoon, we had time to take the airport limousine. This bus makes stops throughout Seoul and runs about every 30 minutes to an hour. The driver helps you load up your heavy suitcases (our ajoshi probably pulled a back muscle--more on that later) and the cost is about 8-9000w ($8-9USD--I forgot the exact amount). Total travel time from Mokdong was about 40-45 minutes.

The checked baggage allowance on Air Canada is 23kg (about 50lbs). As you can see below, after using the digital scales for free inside Hyundai Fitness, this bag was disgustingly overweight. I blame it on the suitcase itself, as it's big and heavy to begin with! D'oh! So I had to unload a whole bunch of clothes and some bedding sheets we were going to bring home. Even then, it was still overweight by 5kg!

Here's another bag that's overweight, this time only by 3kg. The overweight penalty is $35CDN for being 1-20kg over. So with four bags overweight that equals $140CDN...we were praying that we would luck out at the counter! Find out soon as to what happened!

Here's the airport bus sign that you should look for...you can't miss it:

We had to roll our bags to Mokdong Station from work--about 10 minutes in the humid summer weather. Not really the most enjoyable thing to do. I was able to coerce my boss into helping us get one of the counselors to drive two of our bags to the stop! Thanks!! :)

Everyone in Korea rides these mini bikes...I want one:

Inside the bus, it was nice and cool. Air conditioning and a LCD TV to boot...oh yeah!

So here we are, waiting to get off the bus. See these ajoshi cabbies doing the "Asian squat"? Well, remember to never take these black cabs, because they come at a premium price. I like to call them "baller" cabs:

Stay tuned next for more pics from Incheon, including what we had for our pre-flight meal! Have you taken the Airport Bus before?

Sunday, 12 August 2007

A Beautiful Wedding at Horne Lake, Vancouver Island

So we're back home after having spent a wonderful time at the wedding of a good high school friend. The wedding took place at their cabin on Horne Lake, near Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves from start to finish--they had everything planned out well and that led to a very smooth wedding. It was an intimate gathering of under 100 people. The people were great, but the food was even better. I'm going to leave you with some pictures I took--enjoy. Congratulations Shylah and Dan!!

Arriving by boat...

Waiting in the wings...

Getting serious...

Standing guard...

For you feet lovers...

If looks could kill...

The beautiful bride...

The incredible dinner...

Last but not least, yours truly..."This one time, in band camp..."

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