All posts filed under: Travel

Seongsu dong | Revival

A painfully gorgeous day urges this couch potato into vast exploration of new areas. I found myself in sunlight and unknown neighborhoods last Sunday when I hopped on the subway to an area that is being called by people much cooler than myself, I’m sure, as the Brooklyn or Williamsburg of Seoul city living. These areas in Seoul, a generally run down looking, formerly industrialized Korean neighborhood with splashes of youth and transformation, give me a positive outlook on Korea. This country, for all its productivity and creativity, could easily become stagnant because of old fashioned ideals and hierarchical working relationships in large companies. Four years ago, when I first arrived, I was told the Korean career trajectory was: study endlessly in high school miserably, get into the best college, work at LG or Samsung or some other high powered Korean company, work long and tedious hours miserably until you eventually die with loads of vacation time stacked up that you had but weren’t allowed to take. Sounds awesome, yeah? I just couldn’t imagine that this sort of mindset …

The Great Outdoors | Adventure time with Gina & Crystal

I was incredibly lucky to FINALLY go visit my friend, Gina after an  almost 7 or 8 year separation, in Vancouver, Washington which is a stone’s throw from Portland, Oregon.  (It was also the perfect occasion to spread on some thick guilt about getting over to Korea to visit me. Dates were set. No backing out now, Gina!) On one of my beautiful vacation days we went hiking on Eagle Creek Trail, part of the Columbia River Gorge. This hike has everything you could want to see when your hiking days are quite scant and you want to make the most of it. There were basin pools, waterfalls and foliage out of a fairy tale landscape.  It was ridiculously gorgeous as you can see. It was a bit hard for an out of shape gal like myself but every step was worth it! We made it to the 3.3 mile mark and back. I was really proud of us! If you want to see anymore, visit my Flikr page! Portland, Oregon | Eagle Creek Trail After our hike, rewards …

Gus’s Fried Chicken | A Memphis Institution

There are a few places that must be on your foodie-to-do list while visiting Memphis and Gus’s Fried Chicken should be in your top 5.  Cooked in the grease that has been cultivated for 60 years, this place knows how to fry. Their sides aren’t sloppy either. Perfectly seasoned, battered, fried and cheesed, you will want to sample damn near everything on the menu. As I said previously, my trip to Memphis was short but I managed to eat some amazing food. Gus’s was indeed a highlight. Washed down my heavy meal with a cold, crisp Tennessee ale. The Ghost River Golden is not on the menu but you can ask for it. This is the “vegetarian” platter.  I know. It’s hilariously named but it’s the perfect way to order a bunch of amazing sides. My sister ordered the fried okra, mac & cheese and greens. Fried Okra. Recommended! Fried Green Tomatoes. Recommended! The three piece plate. Dark meat. Cole Slaw. Beans. White bread to soak up all that grease you might lose to the …

A Stop in Memphis

I was expecting to have a more organized visit to the great city my sister and brother in law call home, Memphis. I wanted to see a few touristy spots I had not yet seen and just visit the city that is growing by leaps and bounds. But, on my way out of Korea’s door I got word that my grandmother was about to have open heart surgery and I needed to get to Jonesboro (Arkansas, about an hour outside of Memphis) the day after I flew in. It was a bit of a mess but everything worked out well. Grandma had her surgery and is now comfortably resting in her home. My sister and brother in law had to work for most of my visit, it was inhumanly hot and I had deep jet lag, so being a tourist wasn’t really on the cards. But I did manage to see a few spots that I know I want to return to on my next visit. On South Main in Memphis. They have some adorable …

Panda Invasion!

Seoul gets some pretty damn adorable art installations. (See Rubber Duck!)  Just another reason to love this city. The latest installation that has captured the hearts of girls all over Korea is 1600 Pandas+. The name says it all, really, the exhibit is 1600+ paper mache pandas that have been on a world tour for seven years.  The pandas actual number 1800 and there’s a good reason for that. The installation’s main objective when it was created in 2008 was to bring awareness to the fact that there were only 1600 pandas living in the wild and in danger of becoming extinct. But the number has grown because of more eco-awareness. So yeah, it’s the most adorable invasion ever, but the message is working. That’s a pretty amazing thing in and of itself.

Gallery Hopping | Jongno

If you want a feel of authentic Seoul, I’d argue you need to head to the north side of the Han.  As I do much of my day tripping in the southern half, I relish the times I get to go to one of my favorite areas, Jongno.  My actual intention was the visit one gallery I had my eye on and ended up in an independent bookstore, three galleries and a museum. That’s the ridiculously cool thing about settling down in a living, breathing city like Seoul. You can always pick a location and find plenty to do in that area which can include, but is not limited to: entertainment, food, coffee and a cocktail. And depending where you go, each of those things can be an experience.

Banana Tree Cafe | Sinsa

If you’re one of those entrepreneurs with brass, umm, knuckles, and have decided to open up a little cafe in Seoul, the land of seemingly endless and charming cafes, you need a little something sparkly to stand out to keep from going under. Banana Tree Cafe in Sinsa found its sparkling star in a pudding dessert dressed up like a clay pot of flowers and you can happily spoon it up with a mini shovel spoon. In America, it’s something similar to dirt pudding except there are no chocolate flavors. (Honestly, they need a chocolate. No special reason, but I really like chocolate.)

La Vie En Rose | Garden Festival

Last week Korea was gripped in an obscene panic due to MERS. I was off from school closings and reading a lot of bad news on the internet. My solution? Ignore it and hop on the subway to the 2015 Rose Garden Festival which is inside Seoul Grand Park. This was my first jaunt out this way save for a few years ago when I visited the MMCA museum in the area. Just on the outskirts of the big city of Seoul, the park is surrounded by mountains and (hopefully) fresh air. The place was surprisingly big. You could easily spend 1/2 a day out there just in the rose garden itself. There is also a lake, trails and a lift that will show you a bird’s eye view of the park. Of course, since it was the middle of the week (and possibly the MERS) the park was not busy and it was easy to get to the themed garden. It’s quite a walk and the summer is heating up, so if you are not …

GongBoo Cha | Traditional Tea House

Never underestimate the power of wandering around aimlessly. It’s honestly how I find most things in Seoul…or anywhere, really. So, when I suggested going for a walk last Saturday I was very happy to find a new traditional tea house in my neighborhood. And the place is ADOREable. They provide so many types of tea that you’re bound to find something you’ve never heard of. I didn’t want to be too adventurous though and opted for some oolong because I already knew I love it. Plus, it was quite hot, I was quite sweaty and an iced oolong sounded amazing… it was. There was a single staff member there and she was so kind to my talkative friend who asked her many questions.  (She also gave him a couple free samples.) They don’t just sell tea there, they know tea, like academics. They hold classes, ceremonies and even take field trips to China to learn more with fellow tea enthusiasts.  There are walls of tea and tea sets. There is a small, beautiful room for classes as well. It …

Hangang Summer Picnic

It is summer in Korea. I am hot and sweaty when I walk down the street so it officially summer in my book. That’s okay, though, because last weekend I made a fun-tastic picnic and hung out at the river all day. I am indoorsy by nature, but a little preparation goes a long way! Take your food, beverages and entertainment and you too can enjoy a little summer picnic fun. And there’s always people and dog watching, which makes the time fly by. If you are hoping to make a picnic day by the Han in Seoul, remember to go early to secure your spot under a tree!