Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Summer Vacation! Jeju, Day 3

I really miss our summer vacation! It feels like it's been ages now, though that's mostly because the husband has been away for a shoot on-and-off for the past few weeks, so I've been alone and doing nothing but thinking about the fun we had during this vacation. Hee.

It's also been raining quite a lot in Busan lately, which is lovely (and makes me sad for L.A. with its lack of rain! Go to L.A., rain!) but also doesn't make me want to go anywhere, since I don't have a car. Thankfully, the gym is on the second floor of our apartment, so I don't have to go outdoors!

Here's Day 3 from Jeju!

We got up and took a ferry to U-Do (which I would have spelled Oo-Do, but whatever, Koreans), which is a small island off the much larger island that is Jeju-Do (Do means island, can you tell?? And it's pronounced "dough," not "do," which I think is so confusing!). There were either a ton of people on U-Do or the island was so tiny that the amount of people seemed staggering. Either way, lots of people and cloudy weather for the day! (Aww, the husband is carrying my bag for me in the photo above~ I love it when he does sweet things like that!)

Aww, they think they're beautiful! Honestly, I didn't think the island itself was beautiful ... it was just a teeny little island- so tiny that we rounded it in less than an hour on this little beauty:

That's right, we rented a little tricycle clown car! It was so cute! ... But it really didn't go very fast at all. Haha! It was fun, though, sitting in this teensy little car and vrooming around the island. We literally took the one "highway" (really, it was a road) around the island and did a loop and that that it.

Peanut ice-cream is really popular on U-Do, so of course we had it! Along with another popular U-Do (and Jeju-Do, for that matter) beverage, tangerine-ade. I love how Koreans add "ade" to anything and everything! All they do, really, is add carbonated water to syrup or concentrate. This ade was pretty good, though. And the ice cream! It was really good. I love peanuts, though, so of course I loved it!

We stopped pretty frequently as we saw things that we wanted to take pictures of, like this pretty cliff with ocean view. It was a cloudy day all day long with some sprinkling here and there, so the sky's not very picturesque, but it was still a lovely view!

Another mango juice place! This one was Rich Mango, I believe, which I thought was really similar to Mango Ray (which we had on our first night!), but slightly richer and with slightly more mango flavor. I love mangoes!

Then we took the ferry back to Jeju and went to Aqua Planet, the first aquarium I've been to in Korea that doesn't make me feel bad for the animals in it. It's really big and spacious, including the huge tanks for the fishies and sharkies and manta rays (I love mantas!).

Obligatory selfie at the selfie mirror inside the water tunnel. I loved the water tunnel! I've been to one before (I don't remember where, though ... Monterey Bay, maybe?) but I will always love water tunnels! We look tired because we were tired. It had been a long day full of exploring and traveling.

Sunset with wind turbines ... pretty! There are a lot of wind turbines in Jeju, but not that many on mainland Korea. Why is that?? 

Dinner was the delicious black pig of Jeju again, of course. I really didn't used to like this pork belly cut at all, because I don't like fat on my meat, but I've learned to love it while living in Korea.

Our room, panorama'ed!

Our room, panorama'ed from the other side!

The cutest little (huge!) ray there ever was at Aqua Planet. Aww, ray, why you so cute??

The seasons have definitely changed here in Korea. It's autumn now! And not that that's a bad thing, but it's really making me so tired. Yawn...


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Summer Vacation! Jeju, Day 2

Sorry about the delay in posting about our summer vacation! It's already been a couple weeks since we've gone and come back, actually, so these postings are testing my memory (and letting me re-live the vacation ... seems like it was so long ago!).

Day Two, here we go!

The photo above was taken, I believe, on the first night we were in Jeju. It was a good thing I took this photo, too, because they took the letters off the building the next day! (Ah, construction, always so fun...)

The view from our room. Not great, I have to say. I appreciated that the little house directly in front of us had a dog, but I felt bad for the dog because it was tied up the entire time I saw him. People in Korea are so much meaner to animals than people in the U.S. (I'm generalizing! Mostly it's like this!) And look at those clouds ... should have taken that as a sign, really, of tons of rain about to fall. (Click on the photo above for a larger version, as always!)

We woke up and drove over to O'Sulloc, (website in Korean), a famous tea plantation (are farms where they grow tea called plantations?? I feel like they should be!) and tea museum (the museum was meh, but free, so worth going, though there were a ton of people there!). They grow green teas, which I don't love but I drink a lot of, as it's supposedly very good for you. (No, I can't tell a difference at all between drinking tea and drinking water.)

The tea fields above are the first time I've seen tea in its raw state, and it was a little ... weird. Disconcerting, I suppose. It doesn't smell like anything, even like the tea you steep, and it's just ... leaves. It was really pretty, though! The fields were huge and, I thought, very lovely. (It was so hard to crop out all the people milling around!) Anyway, now I know- I love tea plantations!

It was raining, unfortunately, so I took about two photos of the fields and then we dashed inside to the museum. Ahem, the "museum," since I didn't really see how it was a museum! It didn't have any artifacts or anything, it just had a few teapots and teacups and a cute little diorama-thing (seen above). I don't know what those red creatures are, but they were cute!

This was right beside the loudest, most crowded cafe I've ever been to in my entire life! I think of tea and think of ladies, sitting and sipping and talking quietly. Not so with Koreans. They were shrieking, it felt like, and there was a LOT of insanely loud yammering. We had two very expensive tea drinks (that were really good, actually!) and high-tailed it out of there.

We went to the World Automobile Jeju Museum (website's in Korean), which had a lot of cars outside and a ton of cars inside. They also had deer outside!

That's not his tongue, it's a carrot! There was a sign that said we could ask for deer food to feed the deer, but it was raining and we were getting wet (we only had one small umbrella for the both of us!), so we dashed off to get to the car (and get dry).

Sorry my deer shots are so blurry; he was moving and I was in a hurry to get out of the rain! We got into the car and drove to go eat, because I was getting hangry again. (Recurring theme of this trip, I tell you!)

We went to a restaurant called Shillawon (website in Korean), which is famous for its horse-meat dishes. It sounds odd to me, as an American, to eat horse, but it's common in other countries (I just learned from that Wikipedia page that Koreans don't generally eat horse meat except on Jeju Island, and usually raw!)

Above is the raw horse-meat, which was the best of the three horse-meat dishes we had. It was so good! Horse-meat tastes a lot like beef (why don't we call it cow-meat??), but very, very lean. The leanness was probably what made it not very good when cooked, because it cooks up really tough and stringy, like chicken breast can get if you don't cook it well. Ah, the joys of fat-less meat... ㅎㅎ

The above is a photo of braised horse-meat, which was not very good at all. I like my meat braises to be sweet and salty, as they usually always are. This one was ... neither. It didn't taste like ... anything! It was so bizarre, because it looks just like braised beef, but it didn't taste like it AT ALL. Maybe we got a bad batch, where the cook forgot to add the seasonings?? Whatever the case, we ate all the meat, puzzling the entire time why it tasted so odd.

The whole table. That dish at the top right was the only pork we had, which was good (and seasoned!) but tasted really fatty after all the horse meat. We were having shabu-shabu with horse-meat when I took this photo, which is what's in the pot in the middle of the table. The shabu was okay, but not great. Again, horse-meat has too little fat to be eaten very well when it's cooked (though that braise...! Such a waste, it would've been so good if it had been seasoned properly!).

We took a drive through the middle of the island after lunner (that's between lunch and dinner, FYI) to check out the mountains. Jeju is a volcanic island, after all, so there are mountains here, there, and everywhere! 

In the mountains (this was at a rest stop, because I wanted this pastry that they sell at rest areas, but the store was closed!), it was cool and foggy and mysterious, which I LOVED. I love fog, I love cool, I do not like hot and sticky, and I love mysteries! It was so pretty, and this photo doesn't do justice to the landscape at all. 

We went back to the hotel afterward because I was pooped. I had gone to the hospital the day before we took off for Jeju, so I think I was rightfully tired! The poor husband just got nagged at the entire time we were on vacation ㅋㅋㅋ

After resting for a little while, we decided to go see Jeju LoveLand, (website in English has less information, the Korean version has tons more!), which is a racy theme park that people kept posting about online.

The entrance, which looked like an ice-skating rink to me, for some reason. The moon was either full or just about to be full, and the husband's looking a little weird in this photo, but oh, well!

We wandered around the park and saw all the sights (lots of sexual statues! Lots of sexual noises!), but I got rather chilled, because it got pretty frosty at nighttime, and we went around 9:00 or so. There were tons of giggling 20-somethings, which was funny, and a few buildings where we could go inside and see "artistic" renderings of things and lots of sex toys for sale. 

The pastries above were filled with Jeju orange paste, which didn't taste all that different from regular ol' orange paste, but they were warm, which was nice! The husband's finger is there for scale (though he has abnormally large hands, so I probably should have used my own hand!).

We got back to the hotel, where I filled in my journal for the day. I love having a Midori (well, two of them!) because it's so nice to have one place where I log my day, schedule my week, write down reminders, etc., etc. My hand is looking a little wonky in this photo...

And we had green tea lattes! The husband loved his green tea latte at the O'Sulloc Tea Museum, and they were selling them there, so of course we had to buy some! They're actually really good and not as many calories as I had feared (I think it's around 55 per packet), so I love these! (We also found them at a store near our apartment for only ₩500 (about 43 cents) more than what we paid in Jeju!)

The second day was tiring for me, for some reason- I think it was the medication I was taking for my tonsillitis. I miss our summer vacation, though! It was so much fun to do nothing and worry about nothing for a few days~

The third (and last full!) day coming ... soon-ish!


Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Summer Vacation! Jeju, Day 1

Oddly, to me, Koreans all go on summer vacation. Why?? The country is a steam-box in the summer and the traffic is horrible! But since I married a Korean and live in Korea, we went on summer vacation. ^_^

Since it was our first summer vacation as a married couple, we decided to go to Jeju Island, an island off the south coast of Korea (that's supposedly called "the Hawaii of Korea" but it's nothing like Hawaii, so don't get your hopes up!). Lots of people go to Jeju for their honeymoon (but less so lately, I think, because plane tickets are getting so cheap!), just like Hawaii. Because of MERS, there were actually seats on planes and hotel rooms to be had, which was exciting (normally, you can't go to Jeju in the summer without a few months' head start to get your plane tickets and accommodations worked out!). Luckily for us, the husband, who is quite a bargain hunter, booked the travel and room two days before we took off. And then off we went!

I do not like or approve of these thin paper plane tickets. What happened to those thick cardboard ones?? And what happened to those card-stock ticket folder things?? Man, traveling is getting so cheap and flimsy now. Anyway, the flight from Gimhae Aiport to Jeju International Airport is just about an hour long, which is a nice little nap. 

We landed in Jeju, picked up our one bag (the teeny white suitcase seen in the photos above and below!), went to get our rental car, and then zoomed off to our hotel. Our hotel, the Jeju Grand Hotel (soon to be re-named to the Maison Glad Jeju) was under construction, so we never got to use the front entrance! What a bummer. But the construction made the prices much better (not cheap, per se, but less expensive, anyway), so that was a nice bonus. They're still constructing the outside of the hotel, but the rooms are all done! And our room was really very lovely. I love exposed brick and I love dark colors, and look at the wall behind the TV! Exposed dark brick. So pretty~ If only they had made the counter a dark color, I would've wanted to take the whole room back home with me. What is up with the blond wood?? Bizarre Korean fashion sense, methinks!

The room had two beds, which was a bit odd (who would sleep in the other bed??). The one shown below is queen or king, and the one in the foreground was a single, so we just threw stuff on it and used it for lounging. That chaise in the background next to my husband was amazing! It was grey and quilted and so comfortable. We tried really hard to figure out who made it, but there were no tags or anything! What the heck! Overall, the room was a win. The view was a bit odd, since we could see peoples' houses and restaurants, but we didn't look out the window very often, so it was fine. The floors were so pretty, too! Dark wood, unlike our floors at home (which are white wood, which is hideous). 

Since we had checked in and had our room and had thrown our suitcase into our room, we went off to have dinner. Eating would end up being quite a point of contention during this vacation. I get hungry while I sleep and generally wake up starving, while the husband is perfectly content to not eat until dinnertime. We generally ate once or twice a day, while I moaned and whined and had lots of beverages to tide me over. (I can be quite the whiner when I want to be, poor husband!)

The first restaurant we went to is called Seoul Restaurant (서울식당), and I was hesitant because DUDE, we're in JEJU, not SEOUL! What the heck! But the husband swore this was one of his top-three restaurants ever, and since he's an indifferent eater, I believed him when he said it was good. (An indifferent eater, to me, is different than a picky eater because they'll eat anything, but they won't say that many places are good. A picky eater won't eat much (or at all) when they don't like it.)

Do you see those little black specks? That proves that this pig is a black pig (흑돼지), which is what Jeju Island is famous for. There are black pig restaurants all over the place! And you can even see the cute little piggies, rooting around and such, if you go into the countryside and drive around. Very cute, though not so cute that I can't eat them! In the photo above, that one strip of unseasoned meat is all we had of the raw black pig, while the three little riblets in the background are what we had much more of- seasoned pig rib meat. I love the meat around the bones, so those three little riblets in the back were eaten after we had the unseasoned meat. (I preferred the unseasoned 오겹살 while the husband preferred the seasoned meat, but he loves sweet things, so I wasn't surprised.) Really good! Loved Seoul Restaurant and even wanted to go back another time, though we ended up not having time. (Or perhaps it was because we only ate once a day!!)

The way I like to eat my grilled meat- wrapped in lettuce with grilled kimchi and some 쌈장 (sauce), which was very good at Seoul Restaurant. Yummy, yummy! On a side note, whenever we go to grilling restaurants, the husband likes to command the grill. It's a bit control-freak-y, since most Koreans expect the youngest one at the table to man the grill. I don't mind, because it means I get to eat! Hee.

Click on the photo above for a larger version. I love the panorama feature on iPhones! This was at HamDeok SeongWooBong Beach (험덕서우봉해변) during sunset, though it was cloudy enough that we couldn't really see the sun setting. The beaches in Jeju are quite nice (though again, not at all like Hawaii, so don't compare!) and have better sand than the beaches in Busan. There were quite a few people at the beach, but not so many that I wanted to kill them or myself. (It took a lot of effort to crop out all the people!)

Because I had read online that mango juice was a big thing in Jeju, I wanted to try it. I love mangoes! But I'm used to the big mangoes with red and yellow and orange and green on the peels (I think the mangoes I always ate in California were Haden and Tommy Atkins), and the mangoes in Korea are tiny and yellow (I think they're Carabao mangoes, from the Philippines). The mango juice, however, was delicious! It wasn't juice so much as it was more like a shake or slushy, but whatever it was, it was goooood. Mango Ray (the website says it's for Rich Mango, but the address is Mango Ray! What the heck??), I love you so~~

And here's the husband, holding out the mango juices. They're tiny but so filling that it took me until the next day to finish mine! They're also expensive, but since we weren't going to be having mango juice anywhere else, I didn't mind forking over the cash for the juices. (We did end up having mango juice two more times in Jeju, but it was worth it!)

We drove around and took in some sights. There are so many empty and half-built buildings in Jeju, and those kinds of things always depress me a little. There were once so many hopes and dreams attached to those projects, and now they're derelict and just being ugly, ruining a nice landscape or cityscape. Sigh.

We went back to the hotel pretty early, since the traveling had tuckered me out, and watched TV and played on our phones and giggled and did all the things that two traveling ninnies do. Ha. It was a great first day!


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

El Taco, Busan

El Taco
Busan Haeundae-Gu Jung-Dong 1515-2
Kyung-Dong Meris #103

Open from 12 noon - 9 p.m. (or opens at 4 p.m., not sure which!)

부산광역시 해운대구 중동 1515-2번지 경동 메르빌상가 103호

This past weekend, the husband and I went on a little adventure. I say this because anytime we try to go anywhere in our neighborhood during the weekend, it's an adventure! We seriously have way too much traffic in Haeundae, mostly because of all the summer tourists. (We have the nicest beach in all of Korea, apparently!)

So on a drizzly and thankfully cool Sunday, off we went to E-Mart and then to go have Mexican food, because I LOVE Mexican food!

The restaurant is pictured above. It's on the non-popular side of Dalmaji Road (달맞이길), which is famous for its nighttime views. I've been there at night, though, and frankly? Not that much to see. It's just a hill with tons of coffeeshops, I think is what I would call it. It's hugely popular, though, so I was a bit worried about all the people ... and was pleasantly surprised! Not that many people!

The menu was pretty cute, no? Except I don't think Koreans know or comprehend what "pub" means, because this place is called a pub but looks and sounds and feels like a family restaurant!

We had nachos, of course, because I love nachos! The pickled jalapenos brought a little tear to my eye. I love them so~ Koreans like really sweet pickles, and the tangy saltiness of the jalapenos brought my childhood rushing back to me! The jarred salsa was okay; better jarred than some weird concoction that some weird Korean makes, I say! The cheese was sadly lacking, of course, but what can you do, right?? These were the Nachos Grande, which are 9,000 KRW (about $7.60).
Two beef tacos! Pretty good, I have to say. Of course there wasn't enough beef (Koreans are really cheap with meat because it's much more expensive here!) but otherwise okay! The crema / sour cream on top was a little bit odd and excessive. What the heck? And no salsa inside, but I used the extra from the nachos for the taco. A messy eat, which is the best kind of taco! Two beef tacos were 7,500 KRW (about $6.33).
The quesadilla was, by far, the most Koreanized thing we had. It was a sausage potato quesadilla, which I wanted to try because it just SOUNDED so Korean! It was okay, except I'm not a huge fan of refried beans, and this had a ton of them in there. Along with the soft potato, it made for a major jaw-gluer. And crema / sour cream again! What is with Koreans and their love of garnishing foreign foods?? This was the most expensive thing, I thought, in terms of quality : quantity, at 11,000 KRW (about $9.29).
Husband perusing the menu in the tiny little hole-in-the-wall place. It had photos of America in the back of the photograph above, which I thought was cute... but slightly weird, because it had Hollywood and also New York. Where are you from, restaurant?? California or New York?? Haha!
The menu is above. This is all that they serve, and while I've only had the three dishes shown above, I think it's a safe bet to assume that all their food pretty much tastes the same. Kind of American-Mexican but with a strong dash of Korean and an even bigger dash of store-bought. For the money we spent at this place, we'd be better off buying the store-bought ingredients and making the dishes at home! (Which I think I need to do... right??)

Still, always fun to go on an adventure! ^_^


Friday, July 31, 2015


To me, journaling has always been something of a hobby that I return to again and again. I don't return to it because I love it so much (though I do love it!); I return to it because I have this need in my life to get things down on paper and keep them for all eternity. I think I have a weird complex about this, in a sense.

My issue with journaling has always been that I invariably end up writing about things that piss me off (so, so much!) because I have a lot of anger that I hold on to (without expressing it in my everyday life, of course). When I look back on my journals, I toss a lot of them because all they seem to be is a collection of angry thoughts, written really heavy-handedly by a very angry me. I don't want my memories to all be angry! I want to remember the good AND the bad.

From this article from psychcentral, though, I apparently did know a thing about journaling:

University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health.

Okay, but writing about just the stressful events can't be good, right?? I don't regret throwing out my old journals because they were just cesspools of negativity! I want to be known as having been happy, not having been sad and depressed.

So my latest love is my Midori Traveler's Notebook (two of them, actually!), which I have wanted for a long, long time but didn't get previously because someone that I really didn't like has one and I didn't want anything in my life to be the same as theirs (see what I mean about the anger??). Since I haven't seen that person in years and I doubt I'll ever see them again, I asked my husband for one for my birthday this year. He bought me my brown one (the bigger one, in the back! I have no use for tiny little notebooks, which is his in the front) and I love it! My birthday is in the beginning of June, so I've had this for a while, but still adore it.

I love stickers (can't you tell??), and have been going all kinds of crazy buying stickers for my Midori. Sticker mania!!
The husband just laughs at me every time I buy more stickers or (washi) tape or anything, because he knows there's no stopping me! I love embellishments, and I'm not the type of person that can't use them (oh, I use them all the time!).

So recently, we bought two more (!!) Midori Travelers Notebooks, this time both in blue! This is supposedly a limited edition, but it seems to still be widely available online. These came with the little airplane charms you see below (the husband gifted me with the four-leaf clover on my brown one):
And the blue ones are embossed! So cute! (Though I much prefer my all-lowercase embossing to my husband's all-uppercase embossing, haha!) Click on the photo below for a bigger view:
In case you didn't know (who are you, anyway??), I have been Instagramming more frequently than blogging or Facebooking lately. I love Instagram because it's fast, it's easy, and it's just one photo per post with a short (or long) description. And it's always chronological! Facebook annoys me with its order, which seems to be what it thinks I want to see. How does it know?? And when I change it to sort by time, it re-sorts itself in a very short while! Argh...! so Instagram it is!

Out of all my journaling posts, this is the one that has the most likes:
I think maybe it's because of the flowers? I have no idea! (The flowers are from the invitation to a co-worker's wedding. I thought including this in my journal was a nice way to commemorate the wedding, even though I don't really like said co-worker all that much!) 

And this is just one more of my journaling posts, of which there are quite a few now:
I love writing in my journal, and I don't worry about mistakes. Who cares, right?? And mistakes are where you learn about yourself and how you grow as a person! That's what I'm telling myself, anyway!

And this is my most recent Instagram post about journaling, which is a work-in-progress:

As you can see, journaling seems to have taken over my life! (It hasn't, really, I promise ... I only journal maybe five minutes per day.) But I do think about it a lot more, and think about what I do every day, since I write it all down. It's a good thing, I feel, but journaling (diary-keeping?) has made me think that the days really go by too quickly! Time is so fleeting. Sniffle.

The weather here in Busan has been extremely hot and muggy for the past couple weeks, which is gross and makes me want to die, so I'm happily at the office at the moment, enjoying the (overly) air-conditioned rooms!

That's it for journaling ... for now. We'll see how long I can keep this up! I'm hoping for a really long while, since it's easy and I'm enjoying it.