Saturday, December 17, 2011

Insects again

Last year in the summer, I posted about crazy insects.  I'm adding two more.  Wow, Korea has some insane looking insects!
creepy looking spider

Oriental long-headed locuts, are in the grasshopper family. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hallasan mountain

Our last day in Jeju, we decided to hike the highest mountain/volcano in Korea.  We had to wake up super early in order to both hike the entire mountain and make our plane.  We didn't take our time as we were a little concerned about our timing.
The whole thing took us around 7 hours.  The hardest part was coming down, at least for me.  It killed our knees. Going up wasn't a cinch, but I'm always afraid of falling on my way down, and I generally walk like a grandma. Heres the video.  It was a fun, challenging experience, but I'm glad its over.

Hallasan video

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Dog Cafe in Myeogndong

Its not what your thinking... We didn't eat dog.  In fact a dog cafe is quite the opposite from eating dog.

A couple years ago, I posted about a bird cafe in Insadong (the traditional area of Seoul).  And only a few months ago, I posted about a "Dr. Fish cafe." Korea is funny like that. They're not an animal society.  That is, that traditionally, they haven't had domestic animals in their tiny apartments. So to compensate, Korea has created "cafes" for people to socialize with animals.  There are bird cafes, fish cafes, dog cafes and cat cafes.  There may be others, but I haven't heard of them.

We recently made our way into Seoul, Myeongdong, to be exact, just for the chance to play with some doggies.  We seriously have doggie fever. We miss having animals around so much, I sometimes throw a sock across the room just to see if Kyle will go fetch it.  If I promise to pet his hair, he'll pretty much do anything I ask. :)

Entering into the dog cafe, the fee is 8,000 won (about 8 bucks) but it comes with a free drink of your choice.  We sat our stuff down at a half eaten bench, but realized that the dogs didn't always come to you.  So we made our way to sitting on the floor.  I made the mistake of taking my green tea latte with me.  Some of the doggies found it and began enjoying my drink too.

After which, Kyle's boot was peed on. Obviously he was desirable territory needing to be marked.

When we sat on the floor, many of the dogs jumped straight into our laps wanting attention.  Many of the dogs however, were quite content taking a nap in their corner, or playing pull the other dogs tail with their friends.

The whole experience was surreal. There were at least 15 dogs out and about playing. A few of them, including an English bulldog became our favorite.  This English bulldog, probably my same weight wanted with every fiber of his being to be a lap dog.  And he didn't let his size put him off this goal.  He moved from person to person any time we kicked him off because our legs had fallen asleep with the weight of him.  He was quite a lovable giant.

We spent a good two hours in the cafe playing, laughing, and having our spirits lifted by the loveliness of the doggies. It was wonderful therapy, something I wish we'd discovered much sooner.

From the Myeongdong subway station walk down the main street.
At the first intersection turn left, toward Uniglo.
Either the first or the second right, turn right.  Just as your turn right you'll see the picture with the doggy on it (on the right handside). (And happy feet behind it)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Baked Meatballs = AWESOME!

We recently had a hankerin for some spaghetti and meatballs. Being in a country that isn't known for it's variety of culinary tastes, we weren't sure if we would be able to pull this one off. However, a super easy recipe and a bit of ingenious "wingin it" and we managed to whip up a lovely dish. Here's the original recipe first;

1/2 lb. ground pork
1/2 lb. ground lamb
1/2 lb. ground round (beef)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, or if you want to go all fancy, Pecorino Romano
5 oz. of frozen Spinach
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. Basil
1 1/2 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Mix everything but 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs
Roll into golfball sized balls and roll the balls in the bread crumbs.
Bake in 400 F preheated oven for 20 min or until slightly browned.

Here's the modifications I made;

1 1/2 lbs. ground pork. Everything else is too freakin expensive in Korea.
1/2 cup of the cheap green bottle Parmesan
1 stock of leeks chopped and saute'd with 1 tsp of fresh garlic in olive oil with 1 1/2 tsp Basil and 1 1/2 tsp Oregano (I hate parsley)
Skipped the garlic powder
Kept everything else about the same.
Best meatballs I've ever had and soooo simple!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jeju part 2

Another touring day, this time with clear skies.
Oedolgae Rock - Cool rock with a funny story. According to the giant plaque next to the observation deck, the rock was once disguised as a War General to scare off some would be invaders. The Invaders were so scared by the statue that they turned around and all committed suicide. True story (according to the Koreans)!

Jusangjeolli Cliffs

These crazy looking rocks were formed when liquid hot magma was forced up through tubes underwater. Purty neat we thought and stunningly beautiful! Some Ajimas were selling pineapple on a stick near by. It was so delicious we had to buy 2!

Sanbangsan Mountain 
This was a beautiful mountain with a Buddhist Temple at the top inside a cave with a dripping spring coming down the middle. The water was said to have healing powers. It tasted quite good too!

Next we headed off to the world famous LOVE LAND! This place is carazy! Not a place to bring the kids to. It's crude, it's crass and not the kind of thing you would expect to see in a conservative country like Korea. Perhaps the juxtaposition adds to the entertainment value. If you're open minded enough, there's actually a bit of artistry to the place and even those who don't care much for the "in your faceness" can't help but admire the creativity of some of the sculptures. I would say it's a must see for those with a good enough sense of humor and a high tolerance for deviousness. 

For dinner, we headed downtown. There are several restaurants in the downtown area that are listed in all of the guidebooks. The Mexican restaurant comes highly recommended. For those who have been in Korea, it's pretty much a Dos Tacos with a slight price hike. It is Jeju after all. The place is quite small so expect a wait but the enchiladas were worth it. 

Here is the link to my pictures which is all of the CRAZINESS that is Loveland.

DAY 4 
This was our "chill by the beach" day. The beach outside of our hotel was very pleasant. Small and a bit crowded by midday but what place isn't in Korea? In the evening we rented a Kayak  and cruised around the bay a bit. The water was lovely and the sunset was beautiful.


This was our big adventure day. The tour group had left and we were on our own to make our way to the other hot spots we hadn't hit on the tour. For those ignorant, lazy travelers such as us who stubbornly haven't learned the language, the bus system on Jeju is not Foreigner Friendly just yet. But with my awesome navigational skills and a bit of luck we got going in the right direction. 

Our first stop was Jeongbang Waterfall. It's big, it's beautiful and it was a lovely first stop to our adventure day. The trek getting there took a lot out of us though and since there wasn't much left that we hadn't already seen, we decided to hit the beach one last time. 

We tried to sort out how to catch the bus over to Jungmoon beach. We knew we were close and that there were buses that would take us there. We found the bus stop sign about half a mile down the road and waited a good 45 minutes watching several buses go by on the other street of the intersection but never having one stop at the actual bus stop. You would think someone would have moved the sign. You would think that the bus driver would have thought, "hey, maybe those people standing out in the blazing hot sun are waiting for this bus I'm driving that's supposed to be stopping at that bus stop." You'd be wrong. We finally got fed up with being passed by so the next bus we saw, we chased that sucker down! I had to remind myself that yelling at him wouldn't do any of us a bit of good. 

Alas, we made it there eventually and got dropped off at the Hyatt Regency. One of the nicest, and most expensive hotels on Jeju. It looked absolutely lovely inside however and the pool looked ever so inviting. We seriously considered stealing in for a dip but decided to hit the beach first. The beach was super crowded, surprise surprise and the waves were quite rough at the not so crowded end. But we lounged and had a dip and took a lovely stroll then headed back up to the Hyatt. We walked in like we belonged there and commandeered a few fluffy spa towels to dry off with and changed clothes in the lovely bathrooms. From there we headed back into town for dinner. 

The Baghdad Cafe offers some lovely Indian food. Again, a bit pricey but it's Jeju so it's expected and the ambiance was very nice. Be sure to try the desert. Melts in your mouth! 

Halasan, nearly the death of us. This one deserved a post unto itself. Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Jeju Trip Part 1

(Written by Mr. Rogers)

Our trip to Jeju began with a bus ride. Buses are funny things. You find them in almost every country in the world and they can be as different as the people that occupy them. Sometimes dirty, sometimes smelly, sometimes your not sure how it's still alive. But sometimes they're quite pleasant, comfortable even and having to spend the better part of a day with them doesn't seem so bad. Such is the case here in Korea usually. Then sometimes, the more time you spend with them, the more you start to see the side of them that wasn't so apparent at the beginning.
Enough silliness. The bus was long, and the driver was an AC Nazi as in he only turned it on for a minute at a time. Incredibly uncomfortable by the end.

Arriving in Mokpo, we stayed at a Love Motel for the night, then made our way to the ferry. The "ferry" was one of those old cruise ships from the 80's that at one time may have been luxurious by someone's standards. Our Meet Up crew was comprised of nearly 100 foreigners, the majority of which had spent the entire night drinking themselves silly. Many of them decided that the 4 hour ferry ride was a good time to go for a round 2. Van and I spent the majority of the time trying to find some sober people to socialize with. Not much luck.

When we finally arrived on Jeju, the weather was starting to turn. We had been forewarned that foul weather was on the way so we weren't too disappointed. We wandered around for a bit, then made our way to our first restaurant on the island to have the famous "black pig BBQ" of Jeju. Think super thick, super fatty bacon. Pretty yummy but not really any different from the traditional Samgibsal we've had a million times before. From the restaurant we had a good view of the ocean out the back though and as the night progressed, a fantastic lightning show gave us quite a bit of entertainment.

Our first stop on our official tour was to some Lava Tube caves. The rain had gone and blown itself up into a full on typhoon. As we made our way through the river in the parking lot, we were looking forward to being deep inside the nice dry caves. Funny thing about underground caves though. They leak. They leak a lot. In fact, at certain points, it didn't seem much different from being outside. The underground waterfalls were quite a sight however but man was it cold. On the way out, the storm was getting particularly strong and just as we were leaving the cave a HUGE bolt struck right next to where we were and I got zapped through our umbrella leaving my thumb numb for about half an hour!

So with the weather being what it was, our guides decided to rearrange the schedule a bit, so our next stop was to a trick art museum. We had seen some of this before at an exhibition a while back so we weren't thrilled about it but it was pretty fun and we got some good pics. Our new friends Kayla and Autumn helped make it even more enjoyable. By the time we left, the skies were finally starting to clear.

Our next stop was a quick ferry ride over to Udo island. The plan was for us to rent ATV's to tour the island with. Having been on one before with little success, I was apprehensive about getting one and thought that the Golf Carts might be a safer, more pleasant alternative seeing as how it was still raining a bit. After being duly ridiculed, Grandpa Kyle gave in to the peer pressure and agreed to go with the ATV. Turns out, they were all set to 2nd gear anyways, so not having to shift made it super easy and very, VERY fun! We took a lunch break at a Pirate themed cafe, that was a bit hidden off the main road. The Bibimbop there was exceptional and the owner and his wife? were quite the characters. Again, Kayla and Autumn putting around with us made the day exceptionally good! We ended the Udo trip with a visit to a black stone beach that was quite beautiful. Kayla fell and we all laughed. Good times!

After Udo, our next stop was to Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, a giant crater that is known as being the best place to watch the sunrise and sunset from. We were a bit behind schedule so we had to book it to the top but the view was well worth the effort. Amazing end to a fantastic day!

For dinner, we went to a restaurant right around the corner from our hotel that's known for their "giant herb burgers." They were certainly giant and not half bad.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Orange candle

And yet another pinterest idea come to life is the orange candle.  In Korea, clementines are very popular during the winter season.  I thought oranges were in season in the summer in the states, but what do I know about growing produce; squat.
In the preschool, these tangerines are given often as gifts. They're a delightful snack, but I've found a new use for them in addition to a healthy treat, a candle.

I'm gonna give you the rundown without a picture tutorial, but if you'd like a picture tutorial, you can visit this site.

  • Cut the orange in half (hamburger wise)
  • Gently work your finger inbetween the skin and the pulp.
  • Pull the skin away from the fruit, being careful not to tear the skin.
  • One of the ends will have the wick (the white skin that goes in the middle of the orange)
  • BE VERY CAREFUL not to break this wick.
  • You should have two orange cups now. 
  • In the cup with the "wick" pour olive oil, careful not to wet the entire wick.
  • Cut a hole into the top of the second orange cup.
  • Light the "wick"  (this takes patience, but as long as the olive oil isn't too high or the wick didn't get wet, it will light within a few times)  A lighter is better, but if all you have is matches, plan on using at least three.
  • Put the orange cup with a hole on top and enjoy your natural candle.  It smells delightful and will last a couple of hours.

*Note: Don't leave completely unattended.  This only has happened once but the top of my orange caught on fire (a slow fire) after three hours of burning.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Snowman fridge

As I said before, I've become a little obsessed over Pinterest.  Its not necessarily a "time waster" because its an idea trove, and in general the creative process takes time.  Cultivating creativity isn't as simple as waving a wand.  Rather it requires tender loving care, sunshine, unpleasant climate and time.  (Unpleasant climate because if I have to stay inside, I have to get creative)

Follow Me on Pinterest (follow me)

Because of pinterest, I've been busy trying out new things.  One of my most recent projects was the snowman fridge.  I saw a picture of it on pinterest and FELL IN LOVE.  So I decided to try it out on the preschool mini-fridge first.  I was so proud of it, I had Kyle make his way over to gawk and applaud me. Because my husband is very creative, I asked for his input.  "A hat, he needs a hat." he said, and went to work making him a top hat.

 We then took the idea to our own home.  Everytime I walk into the room, I'm surprised.  Truly, I yelp with delight.  We don't have a tree this year, but this snowman makes up for it.  He seriously makes my day every time I see him. I want to do this at other times of year with other animals. Wouldn't that be fun?  Or is it just me?