Monthly Archives: June 2012
From top to bottom: New and old neighbor’s moving, the first rainfall in weeks on my walk home tonight from our work dinner (forecasted to turn all monsoon on us), and the best kind of change…a brand new Starbucks opened this week right in our own backyard….can we say dangerous!?
Farmer Market Finds
I tried with all my being to fight off today’s occurrence of Rebecca leaving. I’m sure by now you realize that it didn’t matter, it was inevitable, and I just had to accept the fact she has to continue on with her journey to Israel.
When I think of Rebecca and our friendship, I’m instantly reminded of The Anne of Green Gables characters, Diana and Anne and how they become bosom friends instantaneously.
I just adore Anne! Every time I watch Anne and Diana, I get teary eyed and think of my dear friend Rebecca.
Do you have a friend like that?
You know, that friend that when you met one another you instantly connected, like you were kindred spirits?
And no amount of time or time zones between you could make you any less closer?
Gah! That’s how it is with Rebecca and I.
This week, as stated previously, was just incredible! I’m so thankful I could share my current life with her in South Korea.
So what did we do on Rebecca’s last day? Great question!
We toured the countryside up North, all courtesy of Mr. B, sipped on tasty mango smoothies and milkshakes by the water reservoir, watched the boats and water skiers go by, and picked up a Korean pizza on the way home for dinner.
Day 9 R&S Invade South Korea
Today is day nine…I can’t help but think about the fact that in a few short hours my wonderful week with my best fiend is coming to an end. Nevertheless I am very determined to not let that gloom over my head and not let me enjoy the precious hours that I do still have left with her.
Rebecca is still recovering with her medication. We again decided to have an easy, slow, at our own pace type of morning. With no rush or real plan in place, we all woke up, ate some breakfast, talked, and got ourselves around for the day.
We eventually decided that once the sun was setting we would head up to Herb Island, a fabulous (i’ll admit a tad bit cheesy too) botanical garden facility near our place. I really enjoy going to this place and was absolutely delighted when Mr. B first took me there. I just knew Rebecca would feel the same way and really enjoy it too, or at least I really hoped so!
Mr. B had some things he needed to tend to during the afternoon hours. This left Rebecca and I more time to just lounge around the house, nibble on our left over market goodies, and giggle. A few hours later we both looked at each other and decided that we were growing incredibly hungry. We were in need of something light, not in the mood for something heavy. Perhaps a sandwich shop? Hmm…the Subway shop nearby? No… that wasn’t sounding that appetizing or appealing in the moment. Ah! We could dine at the local GS 25 (A local convenient store) and raid the place for interesting finds. Yes! We thought: what a perfect idea!
We sat on the patio and munched on divine foods such as seaweed covered tuna triangles, chicken triangles, banana milk, with some sort of crazy circle things? Friend that speak Korea, throw me a bone and help me out! HA HA! We had a blast just sitting there watching the world go by, eating our triangles.
On the way back to our place we stopped by a local grocery store and perused the place for some goodies that we could box up and send back to the states for Josh (Rebecca’s amazingly sweet boyfriend!). While we were running amuck we found the popsicle display case and it was marked 30% off! SCORE! Of course we had to!
We strolled home in the heat with our melting popsicles. Mr. B had arrived home and gave us a ring to find out our location. We were so close so we just decided it made sense to meet back up at home again.
Around 6:30 we all piled back into the car and Mr. B took us on a nice drive through the countryside North of our place, no not North Korea HA HA! Rebecca really enjoyed getting to see all the mountains and all the lush green farmland. It’s such a change from hustle and bustle of Seoul and the city. It’s refreshing, calming, most of all it reminds us a lot of home.
We looped back around and found ourselves at Herb Island, exactly where we wanted to be once the sun had set. Excellent timing! The place was not jam-packed with people and we free to mosey around as slow as we wanted.Plenty of time to stop and smell the flowers, or in my case snap a million pictures. There were just to many silly or beautiful things that I couldn’t pass by without capturing.
After our Herb Island trip was almost complete we ended up at the restaurant, or what was left of it, that we wanted to share Herb bibimbop with Rebecca. Phewey! Herb Island was doing some major construction and the building was no longer standing in the place it once did. We opted to head into the bakery and munch on all the delectable samples of freshly baked breads. Mmm… this place is Mr. B’s Achilles heel.
We had to decide on something different for dinner. Our options were herbed meat or pizza. We didn’t have much reassurance in the pizza place because it was fairly empty. We all decided, meat it is. It wasn’t the herb bibimbop, but it was still tasty.
What a great night! Rebecca had a blast! Yippee! The night was a total success!
Day 8 R&S Invade South Korea
Rebecca was up and out the door this morning at 6:00AM to catch the metro down to City Hall in Seoul. Today is the DMZ tour and it takes approximately one hour and ten minutes to go from our metro station to the City Hall station. What a trooper! She woke up with a very runny nose and stuffy head. It might be allergies, it might be just a plain old case of the Korean crud, either way I knew it was going to be a pretty rough day for her.
Mr. B and I both had to finish out the work-week today. We were both delighted that Rebecca could go tour the DMZ and get a feel for the hope that exists for North Korea and South Korea to reunify. Rebecca said that the tour guide was a riot and reminded her of a little gangster when she used certain phrases or exhibited certain expressions. She thought to herself while on the tour that Id get a kick out of it. She knows me so well, I’m sure that I totally would have!
Once we were all back home in the evening, We wanted to hear how the tour was. Rebecca said it was good however the visibility was much like that of looking at North Korea on a google map. Eeek! That bad?! Yes, the sky was rather gloomy all day and it definitely would have affects on the South Korea DMZ observatory. That mother nature can really be a Debbie downer sometimes…All and all, Rebecca and I both are grateful, we know it may be a once in a lifetime opportunity experience.
Rebecca’s symptoms were definitely peaking in the evening and she was in dire need of some antihistamine or decongestant. We took care of her, many thanks to Mr. B, sometimes I am not sure what id do without this man folks, what a godsend. We hung out for a bit allowing the medication to sooth Rebecca’s system. About twenty or thirty minutes later she was actually starting to dry up a bit. She commented on how nice it was not to have to blow her nose every few seconds.
The semi re-charged Rebecca bravely blurted that she could handle going for dinner when we were ready. Dinner, dinner? Did someone mention dinner? Mr. B’s ears were certainly perked at this point. All week Mr. B knew that Friday night dinner plans meant D-I-N-O-M-E-A-T-S,those words were magical to Mr. B. and he was up and about and ready to go in no time. Uh-oh Rebecca…hope you are ready for this place.
We like to go to Dino Meats occasionally. Okay, okay, using the word occasionally very loosely here. This is a restaurant that is very popular because of the copious amounts of meat that you can consume. You hand select every cut and type of meat that you personally will grill and eat right at your own table. You must take off your shoes before entering and you must sit on the floor. We enjoy seeing the reaction of people who go for the first time because of all the key items listed above such as the floor seating, all you can eat meat, grilling at your table, and removal of shoes. It’s fun!
So how does one eat like a dinosaur? What a splendid question! I think we should ask Rebecca about that one…
Mmmm Hmmm… we indoctrinated Rebecca right away. We let Rebecca hand select the first round of meats. We then proceeded to provide her with a gigantic lettuce leaf and let her go to town. Mr. B said she had to eat it the Korea way. The Korean way, she asked? Yes, prior to consumption, you take whatever slice of the cooked meat you like and place it on the lettuce, with some cooked rice, or any combination of the vegetable such as the sliced garlic, kimchi, mushrooms, bean sprouts, or grilled onions. The final step, roll everything up in the leaf, and shove the entire thing in your mouth. It sounds easy right? I swear, it’s some form of mastering food art.
What a champ! She did it! Enjoyed it too! We giggled about how the first time Mr. B and I had to eat the meal this way we were trying to be all proper and have manners. Trying to perhaps tackle the leaf with some scientific approach and tear it in half, this way it would be smaller bites and smaller portions. WHOAAAAA!!! That wasn’t flying with our accompanying friends. When you are in a Korean “beef and leaf” restaurant in Korea, all the years you were drilled not to shove your mouth so full with food goes right out the window.
Bellies stuffed to the gills we went home.
Day 7 R&S Invade South Korea
Unfortunately I couldn’t tour Korea with Rebecca today, it was back to the daily work week grind for me. However I was very fortunate to have the time I did off with her.
Rebecca decided to get up, Skype, and catch the metro down to Myeongdong to see one of Korea’s catholic cathedrals. Afterwards she stopped off in Itaewon and found the foreigners bookstore called What The Book. She said the new books were priced a bit steep, but the used ones were very reasonable.
After grabbing two new books and a mango smoothie, Rebecca decided to make her way back to our place in Dongducheon. I’m so glad that shes the type of gal to seize the opportunity and get out see things even if I can’t join.
Once I got home from work we decided on dinner and a stroll along the metro line. I wanted to show Rebecca how the Koreans utilize the land and space for all it’s worth. It’s incredible! I mean even the building that I work at, outside has a tiny patch of something green sprouting up. We really could learn a lot as Americans from this self sufficiency.
As we walked, we reminisced about the fun times we had growing up. We talked about Rebecca’s friend Nora, which by the way she sounds so sweet, and how she is interested in starting up urban gardening programs. I made sure to snap some photos to share with her.
We ended up eventually at Lotte Mart. We decided that we wanted stone bowl bibimbop. It really hit the spot too!
Eventually, later in the evening, we met up with Mr. B and decided on going for dessert. Pot bing su! Is there anything else in the summer months of Korea?
Our cool treat was absolutely heavenly! We all walked back to Mr. B’s car while taking in the city lights, occasionally stopping for some photos. We’re big cheesers, we simply cannot help it !
Im super duper excited for Rebecca, tomorrow she is going on the DMZ tour!
Again, do these days really have to come to an end so quickly?!
Day 6 R&S Invade South Korea
Farmers markets around the world vary so much, they each have their own personality and aesthetics. Rebecca said that whenever she travels to a new country she really makes an effort to check out the local offerings. See what the locals sell, buy, make, how they live. You really get a better understanding of the culture that way, I couldn’t agree more with her.
Its true, I am a sucker for farmers markets. I have fond memories of my Grandparents taking me to market-houses in central Pennsylvania when I was a little girl. The fondness has Since continued to grow and today I love just taking a stroll through tents of vendors selling fresh produce.
Okay, so I know by now you must have guessed…we visited the marketplace near my house. The market is held every five days. The streets are lined with trucks, tents, tables, and loud speakers all trying to win your attention and bate you in.
We strolled along the streets ogling the produce, meats, beans, and well…the unknowns. Uh-huh…unknowns….
We decided before we picked up anything from the market we would go for lunch first. However, even before heading to lunch we made sure to drop off postcards at the Korean post office.
We stopped by the steamed dumpling stand for mandu. We picked up two bulgogi and one kimchi filled mandu. Rebecca picked up a red bean filled doughnut too. We sat in the shade and enjoyed our treat. AFTER munching them down we decided to get a seafood pancake.
The Seafood pancake reminds me of potato cakes from Pennsylvania. Rebecca enjoyed this tasty treat too. Whew! Two for two today! Ha Ha! The great thing about Rebecca is she is so eager to immerse herself and try all the cultural things, like myself.
After lunch we strolled more, stopped in a few stores, and looked at fun stationary. I loved sharing this with Rebecca too! I knew it was just her style and so inexpensive too.
After our shopping excursion we went back to the marketplace where we picked up some delightful looking cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a watermelon. Everything just looked so yummy! It was hard to resist not picking up more, if only we had more hands…
Day 5 R&S Invade South Korea
Today we woke up, grabbed a bite for breakfast, Rebecca Skyped a bit, and we were out the door.
We had a Korean cooking class scheduled near Insadong at O’ngo. What was crazy about this place is that, before I moved to Korea I found this company and had plans to take it while living here. I never got around to it and the brochure still hangs on my refrigerator to this very day.
Rebecca was coming up with her itinerary before her visit and found it while notating things to do and places to see.
Rebecca, the worldly traveler she is, took a cooking class in Thailand while on a trip and loved it. So once she found this class she immediately emailed the company for more info, in the meantime asked me what I thought. This is a true story! How in sync are we?! There was no thinking about my response. Yes! Yes, what an outstanding plan!
O’ngo offers many different classes and tours. We decided on a bulgogi and cucumber kimchi course.
We took line one to Anguk station and wondered a bit more around Insadong. In search of cool postcards and food magnets. Ha Ha! Don’t ask…it’s a crazy touristy Korean thing.
We dawdled a bit, grabbed some postcards and realized quickly we were getting much closer in time to our class reservations. Sorry O’ngo! We were 7 minutes late…eek!
We found the O’ngo building location and rushed up to the third floor.
The ladies that greeted us were absolutely fabulous! They immediately offered us tea, coffee, or water. They didn’t mind a bit that we were running behind on time.
We were taken into an connecting room that had a culinary setup. One station was set up for our instructor, the other for Rebecca and myself. We were the only two in the class. Talk about one on one attention! The private atmosphere was awesome! This gave us ample opportunity to take our time and ask any pressing questions that we had.
We started off with watching our instructor prepare cucumber kimchi. I’ve got to tell you folks, I’m so excited to recreate this!
After watching the cucumber kimchi instructions we were to head back to our station and recreate what we just learned.
Rebecca was much more handy with the knife. Although I loved that she was able to show me a few new tricks of the trade. I’m thinking a knife course is in my near future.
After preparing the cucumbers we went back to the instructors station and watched her prepare the bulgogi marinade. The aroma was incredibly delicious!
We loved how the bulgogi marinade ingredients were so simple! Asian pear, garlic, onion, mushroom, soy, sugar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, pepper to taste. We were also delighted to learn that pineapple or kiwi in the place of the Asian pear too.
What a wonderful experience! I’m so thankful we had the opportunity to learn this course together! (Thank you grandma Mem!!)
Rebecca and I agreed that we need to continue on with this tradition and when we meet up again in the future. It’s so much fun, you learn something new, and you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor with others!
After cooking, we plated our meals and sat down to enjoy.
After finishing the meal we didn’t know we were in for a special treat. We had a market tour! What fun! Again, I learned more about the Korean foods and culture. The Guide was very sweet and very patient with us. I loved that Rebecca had the opportunity to chat with an English speaking Korean.
We parted ways with our guide and set out for Lotte Hotel. We started out earlier in the week trying to book a tour to the DMZ but disappointingly due to location and subway times were not able to. Rebecca continued to do some reading in her Seoul City guidebook and was able to find two more companies offering the tour as well. Score!
We arrived at the Lotte Hotel and were instantly blown away at the classiness of the hotel. We made our way to 6th floor. The elevator doors opened and there were travel agencies upon travel agencies. We located the one we needed and were also able to book a tour for Friday! Score! What a relief! I feel much better now, this was something I knew when she visited she should experience if she could.
After booking the tour we made our way back to the subway and went home.
What an incredible day! I can’t stop smiling when I think of how much fun I had this week, today, and knowing I still have more time and a few days left to share with Rebecca.
Day 4 of R&S Invade South Korea
Early rise this morning. I made an appointment at the hair salon in Seoul for Rebecca and myself. I was in desperate need of a trim and highlights…I know, complete shocker these sun kissed blonde highlights are chemically engineered.
I was really eager to introduce the sweet girl that cuts my hair. I knew Rebecca would really enjoy her. Rebecca got a pedicure and picked out the cutest color pink to boot.
We took the subway down to the appointment. I knew it would be fun for Rebecca to experience public transportation in South Korea. Super convenient and super easy to use. Basically all your main areas are located along the subway line. Rebecca commented and said she couldn’t get over how clean the train and subway was compared to the DC metro. It really is rather clean and well kept after.
After the hustle to get to our hair appointment, we we’re able to enjoy not being against the clock. Take our time. Stroll. Ha-ha! Well as much strolling that my long legs will allow, they are rather long.
We walked around the Insadong area. Rebecca picked up some ceramic duck chopstick holders for a gift. We also poked in and peaked around some of the little shops.
Rebecca got to try out egg bread too!
I knew I want to let Rebecca try a Korean summer treat. Pat bing su. Rebecca tried egg bread and some other little vendor finds. Eventually after I drug her all over Insadong, we found a quaint second floor tea room serving pat bing su. Rebecca loved it! We both loved getting to sit down, chat, and catch our second wind. God bless her heart! I’m so thankful to have such an amazing bestfriend!
After out Pat bing su we walked around a bit more and decided to continue on to our next destination.
The Next stop was the Gyeongbokgung Palace. We stopped off at a Dunkin Donuts to grab a drink and of course see the crazy koreanized donuts. Take for instance the glutinous rice stick. I know doesn’t sound very appetizing, folks you don’t know what you are missing out on.
At the Palace we took an English guided tour. Again, it never gets old to me. I learn something new each time I revisit a place. We had a great time wondering all over the palace grounds.
We snapped some photos. It’s just incredible how the mountains and trees surround the back of the palace backdrop and the front is tall skyscrapers and the hustle of Seoul city life. It’s truly a place were you can see the old meeting the brand new.
After wondering through the Palace grounds we decided to head towards the subway and mosey home.
Once we arrive home we had to tackle one of the most important questions ever…WHATS FOR DINNER?! HAHA! We had endless amounts of our Korean meal from the night before…or we could go grab a bite elsewhere. We decided to go out. CHICKEN! Grilled Chicken!
Once home we FINALLY remembered to bust out the surprise for Rebecca’s birthday. A nice cool treat from Korean Baskin Robbins!