All posts tagged: travel

Donghae | relax east coast style

The east sea has beautiful blue water and sandy beaches. Our trip was very quick and the days were mostly overcast. But, the peace of being away from Seoul made the trip to sleepy Donghae worth the bus ride out there. where to stay We booked a room at the Hyunjin Tourist Hotel. It was spacious, clean and has lovely staff. This was a picture of our view from the room. It was about a block from the quiet and calm Hanseomhaean Beach. It’s a block a different way to many restaurants and stores. They could not find my reservation so we were upgraded. Terrific end to a moment of panic. I booked through Agoda here. what to do Besides the beach, in particular, Mangsang Beach, there are actually several things to do in this small coastal city. Sea Train: take a ride up and down the east coast to see great views, drink a beer and listen to music Cheongok Cave: a large, cavernous limestone cave in the middle of the ctiy Mokho Harbor: …

Made | A Review

Just a little jaunt down the road from John Cook Deli Meats, in Apgujeong, sits MADE (backwards d). From the outside, it looks like a run of the mill, albeit cool and modern, cafe. But, inside is a new American restaurant who is doing some good things with good food. In the evening, it boasts a pretty good little Italian American menu with lots of meatballs, pasta and some baked ziti which smelled just like St. Louis. You can pick and choose from the menu giving you a “made to order” type of meal. In the evening, MADE also has a few choice options from its brunch menu like Avocado Eggs Benedict, which I devoured on my first stop. They are pretty amazing, if not a bit too rich, but it went down the gullet anyway. So in my second trip to MADE, I wanted to enjoy the full brunch menu they have on the weekends. I saw a post on the Fat Girl’s Food Guide to Eating in Korea , to my utter delight, that they had real American-style …

Nonhyeon | at home series

For a long time in Korea, I used the word home as the placeholder of the city I had left to come to another country. As time marched on and that, “just one more year, probably” became a more permanent move, I grew to call Seoul my home and St. Louis, back home. I’m sure this is no surprise for someone who has lived abroad for some time. Nonhyeon has been my home for over three years now. I’ve grown to love certain dimensions of it and not love, to be kind, other parts. The nightlife, for one, has grown very tiresome. I’m too old, too sensitive, and too picky to want to see some of the scenes I’ve witnessed. Just ungodly things…on my way to work at 8:30 am for the most part. However, on the other side of that crazy coin, Nonhyeon is getting much more adorable. If you avoid the main strip of bars and noraebangs with drunks out until 2 or 3 in the afternoon from the night before, you can find loads of coffee …

A Brief Guide to Gamcheon | Busan

The colors. The COLORS. Gamcheon Village, located in sunny Busan, is a beauty and conundrum to behold. Built into the sides of a mountain, the former slum is a kaleidoscope of pastel colored Tetris pieces, painted in 2009 to entice spectators and tourists up one hell of a steep slope. And it is worth it, if only for the spectacular views and creativity. Tourists have access to so many places in Gamcheon, walking around what feels like people’s private properties. One might wonder how they get the necessities of life into the cozy, cement houses nestled so close to one another. I caught a glimpse inside one residence to see a full size refrigerator, the likes of which I don’t have, and could not stop thinking about what they had to do to maneuver that beast up the mountain slope and through the nonexistent “streets” the rest of the trip. I was at once both envious and confused. Gamcheon is dotted with galleries, street art, street food and cafes.  I loved all the colors, the vibrant feel, the artisanal quality of …

Searching for France | Seorae Village

Seorae Village is not the easiest of cultural hubs to get to. In fact, it’s placed in such a distance to the closest subway stop, that it keeps the streams of people away for much of the time. A wonderful discovery on a sunny Sunday afternoon. This was my third time to the area, and I was hunting for more French influence than ever. Sadly, however, the proximity to the subway hasn’t stopped this area from being infected with the old standards here in Korea like Tom ‘n Toms, Paris Baguette and others. Not to mention, the last time I visited this area, I had the most delicious French style baguette sandwich at Paris Croissant and when I visited this time, there was nothing but Korean style be-pickled and be-sauced sandwiches that I couldn’t bring myself to try. Le sigh. Seorae Maeul grew up French around the Lysee Francais, a school which teaches in French as a first language. Something like 40% of the population in this area are French. The area has it’s charm, to be sure, but there is …

A Brief Guide to Seminyak | Bali

Start your day with a gorgeous breakfast at Bali Deli’s Le Spot.  Get some lattes, some eggs and fresh fruit and prepare for hours of relaxation. Make a morning appointment at Prana Spa. This was the best thing I could have spent money on. We were massaged, scrubbed, slathered in yogurt and otherwise pampered every glorious minute in this unique destination. Then explore Seminyak on foot. Look for the beautiful offerings. Watch where you walk, you might just knock one over. If it starts to rain, just tuck into a bar and drink these lemony beers. Bintang Railler is amazing. Hello, Indonesia! Street art sits adjacent from offerings and tropical flowers. Then it was back to our little slice of Bali paradise, our Airbnb rental. It looks like this home has been relocated per the owner, but, I would recommend the new place. The owner is very accommodating and the house we stayed in was terrific. The new Villa Marjens 3 looks beautiful as well.  Here was Villa Marjens 3 when we stayed. The green gateway to heaven. Is it vacation time yet?

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 …

The Libertine | Revisited

This place is one of the jewels of Itaewon. The modern yet classic design, the changing menu and the kind staff make this a one of a kind eating treat. A friend was leaving Korea, as they are wont to do in our expat life, and she had not been to The Libertine. This was the classy exit she needed.  Mimosas all around! After checking the menu for new dishes, we ordered some divine buttered scrambled eggs on top of salmon and toast, Eggs Benedict with salmon (which they call Eggs Royale) and, to top off our ocean themed brunch, fried calamari. The eggs with butter were kill-worthy. I’m quite sure I liked them better than the Benedict, which were perfectly oozy and beautiful. They know how to make a nice little salad as well to balance out the butter and goodness. The calamari could have benefited from sitting somewhere to drain. They were a little mushy around the bottom and a bit greasy. I liked to breading, which was a little thick but flavored well. And their aioli is perfect.  Thick …

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 …