Monthly Archives: June 2011

The German Haus in Uijeongbu

We have been hearing mixed reviews about the German Haus restaurant located in Uijeongbu. Everything from people love it and raved about what we were missing to others saying they were not impressed. Well finally we decided that we needed to give this place a chance and see what our take was on it.

The restaurant is very easy to find in downtown Uijeongbu. You won’t miss the place because it really stands out among all the taller hotels and other businesses. (Feel free to out the pictures to see what we mean).

Immediately entering the first floor of the restaurant we were greeted and welcomed by a Korean woman that was fluent in English. She said we had our pick of sitting downstairs or upstairs. Of course we were totally nosey and headed upstairs.

Upstairs a Korean man that spoke broken English greeted us. He took us to our table and gave us menus. A few seconds went by and our waiter a young Korean boy appeared to take our drink orders. You could tell he was a bit uneasy about the language difference but tried his hardest to communicate and get the order correct. We asked what the popular items or more desired items were on the menu and he struggled to understand. He went to get our drinks and then came back with the women from downstairs that originally greeted us.

We were told right off the bat that the restaurant was more so known for the German brewed beers on site as well as bottled. This really made sense after looking over the menu. Typically you do not see items like honey pizza on a German menu. Nevertheless, we were told the German sampler was a great choice to try a bit of everything.

The German sampler was tasty! It wasn’t absolute German foods but it was still really good. We enjoyed the wings a lot so we ordered more to munch on while we listened to the live Korean karaoke entertainment on stage.

We didn’t know the songs but that didn’t keep our group from enjoying the music and bobbing our heads

We had a blast! We all agreed we would go back again knowing that it wasn’t a real “German food” place.

We suggest that you go with an open mind and try it out for yourself! The phone number and address is as follows:

Telephone: 033-855-1000

Uijeongbu Si, Uijeongbu-Dong, 500-2

Trip to South Korea’s Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

We Bee’s woke up bright and early to catch the bus to South Korea’s Demilitarized Zone, also known as the DMZ. Our families and close friends know that we are located very close to the DMZ.  To put things into perspective if you were to make a direct straight line from where we live to the DMZ we are only about 15 miles away.  Yes, we know we just made our parents and grandparents cringe.

Our trip itinerary was as follows:

-Departure (Passport and Attire Check) There is requirements to what you can and cannot wear.

-Start for DMZ Destination (Freedom Highway)

-Pass through Unification Bridge (Passport Check), Arrive at JSA Camp Bonifas.

-Slides show security brief provided on JSA

-Tour JSA (Freedom House – Conference Room – Sentry Post No.3 – Bridge of No Return

– Lunch

– Dora Observatory

– DMZ 3rd Tunnel

For those of you who really do know much about the DMZ or the significance of it we will provide you with the basic overview of the things we took away from the tour.

The DMZ is a strip of land that is 4km wide and 248km long. This strip of land is what divides South Korea from North Korea. This border is no joke! There was such a nervous energy on the trip because of the security briefing you attend, the high fences topped with barbed wire, tons of observation towers, the antitank and minefield to the left and right of the highways, armed soldiers, and the cameras and microphones monitoring you from both sides as you tour.

Once we made it through the unification bridge we arrived at JSA Camp Bonifas. We were told what we could and could not bring from the bus before entering into the orientation in the auditorium in Camp Bonifas.  The facility received its name after an American soldier killed by North Koreans in an “ax incident” over the cutting of a tree. Google hatchet incident or Operation Paul Bunyan for background information. We were required to sign a release advising us that, if anything happens to us on the tour, it’s our responsibility….eek!….

After the brief we got to go inside one of the actual main conference buildings. This is where official meetings are still sometimes held today. Once inside of the building we were intrigued that the room was very simple with almost a classroom style feel to it. There were large wooden tables and chairs. The tables had live microphones sitting in the middle of them. We were told that both sides were monitoring everything we said within this room. We were told not to touch anything within this room and this also included the two guards standing in a taekwondo stance at both sides of the room. Within this single room you can literally cross over from South Korea to North Korea. You could just see and feel how the entire group was thinking the same things and how this experience was so surreal

While we were inside the building we were told and got to see that two of the ROK soldiers stand half-concealed by the building that we were in. This allows the soldier to signal if they see anything going on within the North Korean side.

Once we were back outside we could see North Korean soldiers peering through binoculars watching our tour group as we stood on the steps standing only inches away from the North Korean side.

After we left the conference building we were loaded up onto a different bus from the one that we originally came on. While on the bus the guiding Soldier told us that there are only two villages in the DMZ. These villages are near the city of Panmunjom. On the south side the village is Daeseong and on the north side the village is Giljeong.

Daeseong is a government-subsidized village that has an elementary school, church, and is tax-free. The government pays the villagers about $82,000 dollars to harvest crops year round. The homes are modern and have technologies such as the Internet. We were told that right now 230 residents live within the village and have to follow a curfew of 11pm. When these villages want farm their crops they must have a soldier escort. We were blown away by this but got to see a famer first hand with two soldiers guarding him work near by.

The only way to live within this village is if you are a woman who marries into it or have an ancestor that lived or lives within it.  We thought this was rather interesting.

We asked what the village does when the child reaches an age where they are above elementary level. We were told that the villager’s family can choose where to send the child to school and are basically exempt from the rule of staying so many day/nights within the village while that child is attending school. We also learned that there were currently about 20 some students and there were just as many teachers to the student ratio –wow-.  When one of the students graduates from school the surrounding ROK Army Soldiers, nearby town Mayor and government officials attends the graduation and makes a big deal about it with a celebration. The child ends up with so many gifts that they have to have two trucks bring the gifts back to the village for the graduating child.

On the north side the village of Giljeong is rather different. This village was actually constructed years ago and was basically empty and used as propaganda up until the past few years. Recently the village has had some activity with North Koreans living within it.

On the tour we stopped off at one of the observation towers where we could see from a distance the Giljeong village. The village has a 160m high Eiffel tower structure flying a huge North Korean flag weighing about 660 pounds. We were able to take some pictures to show you all but the wind wasn’t blowing hard enough to extend the flag out.

The tour included getting to see the bridge of no return. This bridge leads into North Korea and obviously has no return. Near this bridge is where the “ax incident” occurred and there is a memorial plaque in remembrance.

After touring around Camp Bonifas we got back on our original bus and went for lunch. We had our option of bulgogi or bibimbap. Most of us within our group choose bibimbap. The dish and sides were delicious and really inexpensive!

After lunch we were back on the bus and heading to the Dora Observatory and the DMZ 3rd Tunnel. We were not really impressed with the Dora Obsevatory as the observatory section was being worked on and we couldn’t access it. Hence we could only peer out the huge glass windows with our own eyes to see North Korea in the distance. We decided that we would have to go back and give it another shot to make a final opinion of the place.

The last stop on the tour was the DMZ 3rd tunnel. Right off the bat the tour guide will warn you that this is quite a hike and will take time to see. We knew what we were getting into because of friends who have already experienced the tour. We wanted to experience it because we never knew if we would ever get a chance to again.

There are four tunnels crossing the DMZ that have been dug by North Korea leading to Seoul. They say that there are around sixteen tunnels estimated in total. These tunnels have been discovered only within the past few years, 1974 to be exact. North Korea tried to cover up the tunnels by saying that they were for mining and painted the walls black to have the appearance of anthracite. Of course no coal was ever found in these tunnels.

The 3rd tunnel that we toured is incredibly sloped the entire way down. The tunnel signs read that the tunnel is 1,700 yd long and about 490 ft below ground. They did not allow cameras in the tunnel. However, we snapped a few pictures from outside of the building of the tunnel start.

You are required to wear a helmet if you go into the tunnel. We laughed because if anything did happen when you were down in the tunnel this flimsy plastic helmet was not going to protect you from anything. We quickly realized that the helmet served the purpose of protecting your head when you have to walk crouched over through the low and uneven tunnel ceiling. Poor Hector wacked his head a few times and when we were laughing we ended up whacking ours.

On the way back up from being in the tunnel the air feels heavy when you are making your way back up. We knew were in trouble when we saw Koreans stopping along the way back up to take a break because these are the people who hike tall mountains on the weekends for fun and walk as a major mode of getting around.

There is a trolley that will take you down the tunnel and back up if you call and reserve ahead of time with the exact number of people within your group. To get to the ending point you will still have to walk and crouch over at points.

In the end we are left with thinking that we never imagined in our lives we would be at the DMZ standing freely between two countries still at war. South Korea desperately wishes for unity between the two countries so that long lost family members can be reunited again and live in peace. …. We wonder if that will ever be in our lifetime? Who knows, maybe someday?

Eat Drink and be Merry….

That is exactly what we did tonight. If you are familiar with our past blog posts you know that we really enjoyed the food and experience at the Dino Meat Restaurant the last time we went. The past two weeks have been a bit of a blur with travel, trips, anniversaries, birthdays, and new ventures to come. To officially kick of the weekend we dined at Dino Meats with some great friends!

We were sat towards the back of the restaurant due to it being a busy Friday night. We ended up in a section that had tables reserved for a large party. We basically had the entire back part of the restaurant to ourselves until the large party came towards the end of our meal. We loved it! We had plenty of room to stretch out and just enjoy ourselves.

The large party consisted of various aged Korean’s celebrating with a lot of grilled meat and a lot of soju. We loved to watch the ladies as they all started with their hair down but as they continued to drink the soju they would pull it back into a ponytail. Each time they would take a shot of the soju their cheeks and faces would take on a rosier shade.  It was incredible to watch how they effortlessly shoved the different types of meats wrapped in lettuce and other sides into their mouths. We all got a kick out of it because no matter how hard we would tried to shovel leaves into our mouths the same way it never quite worked out. Although this time I was prepared with a tide-stick just in case.

We ended up selecting some new types of meat this time. Doris and I were on a search mission for meat that we had loved the last time we were here. It was thinly sliced meat that reminded us of a cheese-steak minus the cheese from the states.  There was much debate around who thought what meat it was. In the end everything was amazing and we left with our bellies very full.

After dinner everyone came back to our place to enjoy some coffee and strawberry shortcake. We ended up calling it a night before eleven because we knew we had to get up bright and early the next morning for the DMZ Tour.


Costco in South Korea

Woo-hoo! Yes, Costco is actually in South Korea as well! The address of the Costco that we went to is located at: 1312 Eaekseok-dong, Ilsan dong-gu, goyang city, gyeonggi-do Korea.

Of course there are definitely some differences when it comes down to product and prices. The membership price in the states is $100.00 but here it is only 30,000 won each or 35,000 won for the “gold household” membership. Once again Korea hands down has the better set-up!

Overall we felt like we were back at home taking our normal trip down the road to buy goodies at Costco. The experience was the same with the employees giving out free samples, large carts, huge warehouse feel, bulk sized products, and tons of cars in the parking decks.

We took a few pictures with our mini cam so the picture quality isn’t as nice but you will get the gist from what we have. We also took some video clips and hope to get that put together when we have some time and uploaded to the blog.

We had to laugh because every corner we took Korean’s were looking to see what the two American’s were purchasing. On the other hand, we were looking to see what all the Korean’s bought when going to Costco as well. Surprisingly it was candies like Hershey’s chocolates, frozen food items, skin care items, clothing, etc.

We bought some items we were used to from back home but mostly things that we have come to love from Korea. Our bill totaled 190,000 Won. We really did not buy much as you can see from our cart picture and they didn’t take our US Costco membership American Express Card. We found out that they will only take the Samsung Credit Card. So if you are planning a trip within Korea make sure that you have plenty of Won for your purchases.

We ended the trip with a tasty supreme pizza exactly like the ones that Costco serves back in the states. Yum-O!

Rubbish, Suregi, Trash…Whatever You Choose To Call It

We have learned a great deal while living in South Korea on the customs and culture. Most of the things we have learned continually have us posing the question “why do we not do that in the US?” Waste management and the recycling initiative here is yet another subject that blows our minds. We are told by numerous friends when first arriving to the country that the waste management system was puzzling (so we don’t feel as bad).

Unlike the US, South Korea is required to recycle by law. I think that most people really want to recycle in the US but they make it rather difficult to do so. Here you can recycle just about anything! Plastic, paper, glass, metal, they take it all!

We snapped some pictures to show you just how rigorous the system is here. There are different containers where you have to sort out your stuff. These containers consist on plastics where you can dispose bottles, containers, wrappers, etc. Glass, where you can dispose of green, brown, clear, and other colors. Aluminum, where you can dispose canned goods, canned drinks, spray cans, butane glass bottles, stainless steel, iron wires or tools. Paper cartons where you dispose milk, juice, boxed liquor cartons. Yogurt plastic bottles (YES, they are huge here! sold everywhere). There is a place for your general food waste and styrofoam. Another area is cardboard boxes and paper such as newspapers, flyers, magazines, books, notebooks. They even include areas where you dispose of fluorescent light bulbs that are unbroken, batteries, clothing, or plastic bags. So what do you do if you have a large item such as old furniture or toys or appliances no longer wanted or working… you put it in the bulk items section. Bulk items are anything that is larger than the general container waste bags. However, we are told that if you want to dispose of such items you need to obtain a bulk waste sticker from the local city office with the description of the item and put the sticker on that item. We are aware that each city as well as even down to the apartment complex you live in have different set up but still similar in overall concept.

You cannot use a hefty garbage bag, set your bag outside, and call it a day. No, you must purchase the specially colored garbage bags at supermarkets or convenience stores in your neighborhood.  There are about six or seven different sizes of bags; 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 liters and the price per bag will vary according to the size.

While traveling around various parts of Korea we have now even started to see signs that specifically say “Garbage Watchers”. These people watch others taking out the garbage to ensure that there is efficiency and respect of the system being followed. Trust us when we say they will not hesitate to grumble at you if you are doing things incorrectly.

Recycling is taken so seriously by Koreans that even the restaurants and businesses recycle. Well, there isn’t much of a choice. If you are found breaking the law you will be slapped with a huge  fine. The food waste goes to farmers for feed and fertilizer.

So why is there such seriousness around the waste management and recycling in Korea? Well, think about it… this place is incredibly mass populated and the landfills are filling up rather quick. We were told that the system really started to become inforced around the year 1990.

We would love to hear comments or others views on this.

Church Picnic

After service our church held it’s summer picnic today, and it was a gorgeous day for it!

It was pretty warm but that didn’t stop anyone from enjoying themselves! The food was excellent and plentiful, and there were games, and all sorts of activities for everyone to partake in.

You will see photos of great friends captured. Sam, Susanne, and their precious baby girl S. I can’t get over how much baby S. has grown since first meeting the family. Children really put life into perspective sometimes. Life goes by so quickly and there is so much yet undone. 

This couple will be leaving South Korea in the next few days to move back to the states. We pray for a safe journey and that they will always know they have friends located on the other side of the world. You will be greatly missed! We look forward to watching baby S. continue to grow!

Today,Food, Fun, Fellowship and Friends. A GREAT day ; )

Homemade Ice Cream

For some reason I do not have the clearest memories from when I was a child, however, simple things that I do remember include homemade ice cream and the summers at my grandparents when I was a kid growing up in central Pennsylvania. I remember we would make flavors like Teaberry, Vanilla, and Strawberry. We would sit out back on their patio and enjoy the warm summer evenings and eat our delicious ice cream.

I am sure some of you are asking what in the world is Teaberry? Teaberry is really one of the many staples from Pennsylvania. Teaberry is a tiny red berry (pink when it melts) that tastes like wintergreen. I am sure this is really an acquired taste but my husband and I enjoy it. Sometimes my gram even uses teaberry candies on top of her Christmas sugar cookies.

Mmmmm….Isn’t it funny how the simple little things remind you of some of the best memories in your life?

Yesterday I got to Skype with my grandparents and we talked about the ice cream machine briefly. From what I remember they have an older model that had a hand crank but also had a motor. I think I remember rock salt being needed as well?
Okay, where is all this talk of homemade ice cream and Teaberry flavor going?? Well, Larry bought me a Cuisinart ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet maker!! I am so excited and cannot wait to experiment with healthier, low fat, better for you flavors than what we can purchase at the stores.

We snapped a few pictures from my first try and experiment with flavors. We opted for fresh cherry frozen yogurt. The results were not too shabby but a bit overly sweet for our taste buds. Next time around I would tone down the sugar and vanilla. As we speak I am concocting some vanilla cinnamon ice cream.

Until next time!