All posts tagged: tourism

Seochon-dong | Hanoks & Whimsy

  Situated to the West of Gyeongbokgung, Seochon, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Seoul, is an obvious treasure. It’s name is simply, “west village,” but that doesn’t embody the liveliness and warmth that you can experience here. Seochon hanoks were under threat of massive redevelopment and destruction up until 2008. The concerned took measures to ensure the preservation of the hanoks in this area, like that of Bukchon, the hanok village on the other side of Gyeongbokgung. And we should thank our lucky stars that this beautiful area has been saved and updated so that generations to come can walk through the streets and buy up all the things. Or just look around, that’s okay too. 🙂 In Robert J. Fouser’s book, Hanok, The Korean House, he explains how this area is an example of the neo-traditional style, or the “mixed hanok.” This new genre allows for experimentation and, perhaps more importantly, the expression of the owner’s personality. Like the city of Seoul itself, they appear similar from afar but sparkle with the color of individuality up close. Not to …

Lhasa Cafe | Seochon dong

Behind a very nondescript door, to an even nondescript-ior building in Seochon-dong, lies one of the most amazing cafes I’ve ever been to. And we wouldn’t have gone in, but my partner in adventure, Phil, really need a break. Such a lucky break! (#punused #sorrynotsorry) I love Seoul in so many ways, but just randomly finding this treasure trove reminds me why Seoul is just the best. Walking into Lhasa is like walking into an intrepid traveler’s basement full of wonder. You awe at the collection of stuff and dust and quietly wonder if the owner of such goodies is probably a nutjob. The bottom floor has memorabilia and antiques touching every nook and cranny. The small kitchen for coffee, beer or a bit of food is underneath  a large staircase. There are records playing…real records on a turntable. The upstairs remained a mystery for a bit as I drank my beer and admired everything. There was a sign on the stairs that lets patrons know that if you don’t buy something from the cafe, then …

Reminiscing | Seoul’s Cherry Blossoms 2014

Seoul’s on the edge of Cherry Blossom season. A little honesty- after 4 1/2 years here in Korea, I’m over it. I do not ever feel like fighting the throngs of couples lining every street that happens to have these beautiful, delicate trees to get the perfect photo op. Seeing the cherry blossoms are  a bucket list item, for sure, but once you’ve dumped it in your bucket, it’s not worth being tangled up in the mess. Go see them once or twice and then, let the couples get their 100 pictures. In 2014, my sister and brother in law visited me in Seoul. Not only was I thrilled because it the one and only time anyone from back home has visited me here, but I was excited just to show them everything I loved about Korea. They arrived at the end of April so I told them we’d be lucky to see any cherry blossoms at that point. My sister really wanted to see the trees so I thought we would head to the National Assembly, where I …

Salon de Ddalki | Strawberry Salon

Strawberry, I ❤ you. There’s an amazing phenomenon that happens in Seoul during the winter strawberry season. The grand hotels of this great city decided several years ago that just buying strawberries in the local mart was not enough to truly enjoy this delicious season. So, as if in protest, they all began having gorgeous strawberry buffets all around the city. Just do a search for strawberry buffets in Seoul and you’ll see examples from the Intercontinental, Lotte Hotel, Renaissance Seoul and the JW Marriott.  And it was at the last one, the JW Marriot,  I found myself last weekend, much to my inner child’s delight! The Salon de Ddalki (Strawberry Salon) was every girl’s  pink paradise. They knew exactly who they were catering to and I have to give them ample admiration for that. Seoul may be the only place in the world who could properly do a retro French theme of Barbie proportions like Salon de Ddalki. The place was covered in girly goo love from the pink color of the server’s princess cut dresses, to the strawberry pillows, the …

The Food of Paradise

The trip I took to Bali over Christmas was a once in a lifetime opportunity for a gal from the Midwest. To fully experience the true essence of Bali I decided to join a traditional cooking class and shove food all in my face. The cooking class at Paon is entertaining, delicious and inspiring. For a measley $24 USD, you spend the morning in the Ubud market learning about fruits, vegetables and spices they use in Balinese cooking, are given an introduction to the family and hosts (Who are amateur comedians, I think), directed to the most beautiful kitchen and work together with a group of strangers who become cooking comrades among knives and hot coconut oil. There was a real sense of community and fun as we cut, chopped, fried, skewered, mashed and rolled real Bali ingredients with real Bali spices.   So let me take you through the culinary dream: We were ushered into one of the most beautiful houses I’ve ever seen. The Balinese homes are several rooms situated among a type of small compound. Their home …

Tap Rooms & Tapas | A Visit to Vancouver, Washington

Being a resident of South Korea, it is not often I have the chance to see old friends. After I secured a glorious three weeks off this year at work, I set about organizing my first trip to the West coast in over ten years. My friend, Gina lives in Vancouver, Washington, which holds (bff) hands with Portland, Oregon over the Columbia River. It is super cute. It has good coffee, beer and food. It is a very enjoyable little city that you should visit when you are in Portland.  So check out these pictures and get on down/up/over there! Downtown A wonderbeer tap room, the Old Ivy Brewery & Taproom. So many beers.  108 W Evergreen Blvd, Vancouver, Washington Charlie’s Bodega. Tapas all around!  1220 Main Street, Vancouver, WA

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 …

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 …

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 …