Tag Archives: place

Mama’s Pie

I was visiting one of my friends in the city earlier today and she told me about this cute little mom-and-pops place that sold pies. There are some things you can’t really get in Korean and authentic, North American pies are one of them (unless you make a trip to Costco). It’s a nice little place off the main road and around a 5 to 6-minute walk from Timeworld Galleria in Dunsan-dong by the name of Mama’s Pie (and yes, it does bother me how the name suggests “Mama” only has one pie). There’s also a really nice-sized terrace with some seating and tables offered, topped off with umbrellas to fend off the sun’s harmful rays (un-pictured).

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PC Bangs

I heard about these so-called PC bangs, or PC rooms/internet cafes, long before I set foot in Korea. I used to love playing PC games, see. Perhaps this was to make up for the fact that my parents never let me play video games so when I got my first laptop, I played the heck out of it. ^^ Not the point. Anyway, I also took a Korean popular culture class my last semester in college just for fun. ^^; Anyway, I guess I still love playing them but I have no time… but mainly because I get really obsessive over it. (I suppose I would have time if I could play for merely an hour or two.) Same with dramas – I have to finish it as fast as I can. I don’t know why because it’s not like there’s a life-or-death situation looming over my head if I don’t finish the 16+ episode drama before a certain day (usually the third), but if I don’t finish it, I literally can’t do anything else. Well, I can, but I’ll be rather distracted. Hence, once I got that full time job at the restaurant and now that I’m over here teaching, I haven’t truly played any games, whether they be MMORPG’s or strategy games.

Once upon a time, I was an avid WoW player (Yes. WoW.) and I even dabbled in Starcraft for a while. This was back in 2007, the second semester of my first year in college. Or was it the end of my first semester in college? Either way, it was back then. I only played for a month and a half, after which I stopped because I didn’t want to pay the $15 per month, but it still nagged at me. Also: it consumed my life. My laptop’s video card couldn’t take the graphics of WoW, but that didn’t stop me. My roommate would let me borrow her laptop to play (she had gotten me into it) into the early hours of the morning and then even a mutual friend would let me borrow his on campus to play. If I wasn’t in class, I would head straight back to my dorm to continue. At the end of my 6-week stint, I had 3 characters under my account with the maximum level of around 23 for all three of them. It could have been worse, but it was bad enough.

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A Taste of India

I don’t eat meat. I don’t like spicy food. It’s funny how one of my favorite ethnic cuisines included Indian back in the States, though I suppose the fact that Indian food is vegetarian friendly helps as well and as long as I had a cup of water at my side, I was safe. It’s also funny how I chose to live in Korea. Well, I finally visited an Indian restaurant in Daejeon last night while meeting some friends and their friends; they had come down from Chungju.

I was so excited.

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F <3 I

It all started on a normal day, as these things tend to go.

I was walking to taekwondo and suddenly, I feel something vibrate in my bag – it was my cell phone. Who in the world would be calling me at this time, I thought, but it all made sense when I looked at the caller ID. Two days earlier, I went on a business trip to a nearby elementary school, around a 20-minute walk away from my own school, for a meeting regarding Hermes camp. It’s an English camp during the vacation sponsored by the city and various native teachers are recruited for it. Like most things in Korea, things are usually done last minute and, unsurprisingly, I’m usually the last one to find out which makes it really last minute for me. I was required to go to my kids’ class and then right afterwards, I was told that I should “probably go now” since I planned on walking.

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Spontaneity in the Form of Water

I just got back home and I have hat hair. Yes, I know. I usually don’t wear hats. In fact, I think this is the first time I wore one for most of the day. It’s your normal baseball cap, brown in color and with the letters “AFNY” in a bold yellow across the front. It’s supposed to stand for “Air Force New York.” That makes it obviously Korean, and it is. My taekwondo instructor lent it to me for today.

See, it all started last night while he was driving to drop me off. I needed a conversation starter and what better than to ask him his plans for the weekend. I knew that taekwondo was having an outing to a waterpark today – 테딘워터파크, or Tedin Water Park, to be exact – and so I ended up asking more about it and the curious part of me asked him where it was and other random questions. He then asked me if I was going to go and I said, “maybe.” Then he spoke more about it and I said that I wanted to (I wanted to try out a Korean water park) but it might be awkward. Well, next thing I know, he told me to give him a straight up answer then and there and next thing I know, we’re bidding farewell and he reminds me to meet at the taekwondo place at 8am the next morning. And so, I woke up early this morning to walk to taekwondo and meet up with them. It occurred to me halfway there that this would include the 6 other taekwondo sessions my taekwondo place holds before mine. I wasn’t wrong. 🙂

The Map to the Park

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Vegetarian Goodness – Pulhyanggi Vegetarian Buffet

This is at the entrance - but it's really downstairs in the basement.

One of the first things you learn when you get to Asia, is that shops, buildings, and homes aren’t all horizontal. They go vertical. It’s due to the lack of space but within one building, you’ll see a ton of signs stuck to the side, telling you what that building offers, which may range from a market (usually found underground in Korea) to various hagwons, restaurants, and medical clinics. After two weeks, my friend and I finally made it to try out the second (out of three) vegetarian restaurant in town; they all seem to be buffets for some odd reason, other than a branch of Lovely Hut up in north Daejeon. I still haven’t been. I got there forty minutes early because I was intending on taking the bus, which would utilize most of that time. However, I ended up getting dropped off at a subway station after dropping off my laptop – which crashed, again – and then making it over from there. Subways are fast. Too bad I don’t live near one.

Back to the point: I got there early and I remember from one of my co-teachers who said it was either in the same building or next to the building with the Africa Animal Hospital. I do remember it being across from Lotte Department Store, but that’s easy enough. Lotte Department Store is a good 12 stories high; you can’t miss it. This place, however, needs a little more effort to find. I walked up and down past the animal hospital and even further where I encountered a pet store. How convenient. Anyhow, I ended up looking up and I studied the side of the building. There it was. And then I looked down. A little further into a small alley but in the same building, I encounter an entrance and that sign you see pictured. In Korean, it says Chaeshik Buipae, or vegetarian buffet. On the upper right-hand corner, you see the English translation, but about a hundred times smaller. What I don’t get is why the sign for the place on the side of the building is near the top when the restaurant itself is in the basement. Also: signs on the side of buildings usually tell you which floor it’s on; this one didn’t. Well, I found it, and that’s what matters. 🙂

The sign of the price and hours..

Another thing I don’t get is why these places only open for such a short amount of time. My favorite vegetarian buffet in town, Marchera, up near Banseok Subway Station is the same, though I think they’re open for slightly longer and is a bit cheaper. However, the sign says:

Adults: 9,000 won
Children (ages 8 and under): 6,000 won
Lunch: 12:00 to 2:30
Dinner: 6:00 to 8:30

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The Beauty of Bakeries

I have a Korean friend who says one of the first things he does when he comes back to Korea is the hair salon; they understand what he wants for his hair the best. For me, one of the first things I do when I come to Asia is check out their bakeries. It’s no surprise that I love sweets of all kinds: cakes, mousse, smoothies, ice cream/gelato/frozen yoghurt, cookies, muffins, chocolate, candy, gummies, cookies, brownies, jell-o, pies and tarts… However, there’s a limit to my sweet tooth; not the sweets themselves but for exactly how sweet they are.

In my case, I go to the Asian bakeries because they understand my sweet tooth. They have pretty much everything for my snacking and junk food needs (and more often than not, their prices also control my desires) and it’s not as sweet as the usual fare in the States, or the western world, for that matter. Plus, they have the cool flavors you normally don’t find in mainstream bakeries. Depending on what region of Asia you’re in, there’s kumquat, sweet potato, yuja, green tea, taro, and even durian. Living in Korea, bakeries and coffee shops are seemingly everywhere – almost as if they’re stalking your every step, but I rather like this stalker. ^^ Just sayin’.

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Indulgence Corner (of the healthy sort): Homilhodu

I work at one of the few schools with a female Principal. She’s nice, I guess, but we don’t really interact much. It turns out that she used to be the head of some English department for the government… and yet she doesn’t speak English to me. The Vice Principal’s a jolly man who enjoys calling out, “Hi, how are you,” and “I’m fine, thanks,” in a rapid-fire order in the classic Greeting Foreigners Formula that Koreans have ingrained into them, whenever he sees me, whilst holding up his right hand in the British Royal way of “waving”. At times, it’s pretty amusing…

Principal: Hi! How are you?
Me: I’m doing pretty good. How about you?
Principal: I’m fine, thank you! And you?
Me: ..I’m doing well…

He totally rocks. Well, when he sees me, he would normally say that, but at around lunch, as is custom, he always tells me to eat a lot and to eat well – in Korean, of course. At lunch, he normally sits with three other men around his age, one of whom is the traffic director at the front of the school and we always make it a point to smile and wave to one another when I pass the school gate. One day, I was turning into the hallway that led into the staff lunchroom; it’s essentially the science lab. Yes, they have a fully-equipped science lab. First person around the corner was the Principal who told me to eat a lot, then was another of his Lunch Posse who nodded at me and smiled. Then there was the last member of The Posse; the traffic director. He also told me to eat a lot of grabbed one of my hands to place a small, round object wrapped in white tissue paper and told me to eat it along with a barrage of Korean; I decided he was telling me it was good for me so I must eat it. It was from Homilhodu.

It’s a chain of stores and cafes that specialise in sweets featuring walnuts and what he handed me was their signature product. It’s this ball of dough surrounding an entire walnut within as well as a ball of sweet bean filling in the middle. There’s actually a small, but cute branch within my neighborhood that I often pass by on the way to school, but I never went in at first, because I didn’t know what they sold. Now that I know, I plan on visiting very soon as their products appear to be pretty healthy and delicious. It just hasn’t happened yet because there always seems to be food in my apartment and there’s only me to eat it all, so I haven’t gotten around to it. :/

Sadly, I don’t think the branch in my neighborhood features everything that could be found in their cafe, but some selections include their signature item (the walnut-paste-ball-of-happiness), stuffed buns and other bread-pastries, as well as pies (or so they call it – looks more like tarts instead), cookies, and waffles.

All I know is that this place screams out for my family; it’s exactly what my mom and sister would fall for. Nuts in a subtly sweet dough and a bean paste in the middle? Yes, well, I come from a family of health nuts (pun not intended though appreciated) and I supposed I’m a bit influenced as such. Even if you’re not into that, just look at what you find inside the wrapper!

Basically, just try it out if you haven’t already. 🙂 Yes, that’s the main point of this post.

Shabu Well Buffet

I just love trying new things and sometimes, it annoys me how I’m (mostly)-vegetarian. Needless to say, I know that being vegetarian in Korea’s pretty hard so before I set foot in this county, I told myself that I would allow myself to be flexible. Where I normally wouldn’t drink broth derived from animals (or seafood) or eat food cooked with or touching cooked animal flesh, I would here. Otherwise, I would be one hungry teacher and me hungry isn’t a good thing. Even so, I always go through a vague sense of dread when it’s time for a teacher dinner or a meeting out with native Koreans. Although the vegetarian community is growing, most of that’s happening in Seoul and a majority of Koreans don’t fully understand the concept. Plus, outings usually mean soju which is inevitably paired with meats like samgyupsal and snacking foods like soondae (Korean blood sausage) and gopchang (intestines). Even my beloved ddeokbokki usually contains fishcake and lets not think about the broth that they might be using. It turns out that they truly thought of this this time, even though that they were puzzled at my self-enforced dietary limitations; sometimes I’m puzzled by it too, but it’s a good challenge that keeps me interested in life. So… for tonight’s dinner with the other fine-arts and non-homeroom teachers for my male coworker’s last day working at our school, I found us here:

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It’s been a long while since I’ve written a substantial post of what’s been going on. As a result, I’m going to try to condense the last two weeks into this one post without making it tl;dr. >.> It will be split up into three main parts:

The Coworker | When my Orientation Roomie Came to Visit | The Busiest Weekend Ever

I remember telling people I needed to take some time Friday night and clean up my apartment because it seems like for the past two weeks, I’ve pretty much been heading home only to sleep and it’s the truth. All of the three aforementioned categories contribute to this most beautifully.

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