bye bye cherry blossoms

(photo break) cherry blossoms in our apt complex

pretty colors and greens :)


Do not feel safe at night? Tips & Get a Police Escort at night to take you home

Only applicable to Won-Hyo-dong (Yonsan-area) right now, but will be implemented throughout Seoul starting in May.

tv caption : call the number for more info

You can dial the number and a policeman will pick you up, drop you off, and even walk you to your door.

I think the time is after 10pm - please call for more details to be sure.

This police escort will be implemented throughout Seoul starting in May 2013.

*There have been increasing cases of street crimes against women at night.   To combat this growing problem - Seoul is implementing this service - and it's just one of them.

Tips for night safety:

  • Do not wear earphones while walking at night.
  • Be alert of your surroundings.
  • Look back once in a while to see if anyone is following you.
  • Avoid getting "too drunk not to be able to walk" - crimes against drunk women alone or in groups are targeted.

I hate to acknowledge that Seoul (Korea) is not what it used to be...  You can no longer trust your cellphone(or bags) to be left alone in public places any longer.

I used to feel safe walking at night 6 years ago - I can't say the same now.

I miss the good old days when there was trust.

One clear case is the problem with Korean rental system, "jeonse"(rental money).  You put a hefty down payment(upto 60% of the value of the property) down for 2 years that will be given back when contract ends.  This is one of the major ways people rent and still do now, but this rental system is being questioned and cautioned such as having the first lien and checking for owners debt..etc.  This new attitude towards renting is being taken after increasing cases of owners running away with this money and not giving it back - I'm talking about a huge sum of money averaging $100,000(more or less) and  just simply disappearing out of sight leaving the tenants broke and sometimes homeless. The real estate crisis in korea is just unraveling and we're bound to see what kind of mess it brings.

Korea is changing fast.

photo credit: tuis via photopin cc
photo credit: Kim Hanwool via photopin cc


City Hall Festival - Spring "namul" & local specialty goods

Today was another library day.

It was drizzling a bit and was hurrying my way to the building, then saw the "Spring Namul & local specialty goods festival" taking place.

They were putting things together as the sun came out. 

There were a few huts selling specialty goods, from kimchi, health food, honey..etc.   About 2~3 vendors were selling "sweet goodies" like sweet potato baked goods.

But most of the vendors were of "health goods" from veggies to kimchi.

But how much?

a scene after the rain

It wasn't as exciting as it looks - most of the local goods are "special" - meaning on the pricier side.
But it also had a few huts that were selling bundles of "namul", veggies, and plants.

The festival is good until the 28th this month.

FYI:  The City Hall library where PSY filmed a scene in his new single, "Gentleman".

the "stairway case & reading spot" in City Hall Library

But please do not imitate this scene there, you most definitely get "shhh"ed...
Even today - on a rather quieter day at the library- they had an announcement on "to be quiet and respectable" and a few staff were walking around to "shhh" the noisy ones.

I wonder how hard they have to work on the weekends to keep the place quieter - because the last time I visited it on a weekend - it definietly was not a "library quiet", but was a day care/couple on dates/study groups/friend meet ups - all taking place.


Mapo Galbi & cherry blossoms at "Mapo Restaurant Street"

After volunteering at the orphanage on Sunday, we headed out to grab an early dinner at our town near Mapo station.  We always have a huge appetite afterwards.

We ordered 2 servings of pork galbi and two "bibim nengmyun".  We can't have meat with out topping it with the cold spicy noodles - it's a great combo :)

To start it off, the banchan spread...

good looking and tasty banchan
tangy sauce and veggies and "mool kimchi"

veggies for "ssam" (wrap)

After enjoying a little bit of everything from the banchan spread - our 2 orders of galbi came!

2 servings of galbi
grilling away


"bibim nengmyun" - spicy vinegary sweet cold noodles

It was such a yummy dinner!

It wasn't overwhelmingly heavy in marinade that you could actually taste the meat.
The banchan and service was also very good.  Very attentive and clean restaurant.

For good digestion(?), we walked around the "Mapo Restaurant Street" for the pretty cherry blossoms.

walking the mapo restaurant street
pretty cherry blossoms

There is a cute little elementary school in the area.  We walked around to enjoy the "school scenery".

I find that Korean schools can be so cute - especially the "garden" area - where trees, flowers, and sometimes, ponds to pretty up the school.

magnolia flower

Looking at the cute school reminded me of my younger days in Korea.. ^^

After the nice long stroll around the neighborhood with the pretty blossoms and trees - we grabbed some hot coffee.

hot Americano

Americanos for only 2500won!

It was a nice way to finish up the day~

Directions to MAPO WANG GALBI:
  - Get off Exit 1 of Mapo station (line 5, purple color), walk towards the first right corner, keep walking up towards a small uphill.  It will be on your left - refer to photos below.

- "Mapo Restaurant Street" is a rather short street with restaurants, especially grilled meat.  When you get off exit 1 and turn to the first right street, you will turn right again to the right and you will see a nice road with trees and restaurants on both sides.

view of restaurant on left

look for this big sign

Almost there~ street to the restaurant on your left


New soju models

My husband told me a funny bit while he was out with his friends.

His Korean friend went on a rant while looking at the soju bottle ("chu-eum-chu-rom"),

new models; girls from girl groups..

"Who are these?!  Call girls?!!"

"Why did they have to take Lee Hyori out?!"

"These are call girls!!!"

"Who are these on the bottle, do you know?!"

"No!"  While peeling away the label to see if it was a "sticker ad(?)"..

And so they went on ranting about the call girls on the bottle and their disapproval of it...

Grown men do not approve of "skanky looking models" on soju bottles - at least Lee Hyori had some class, so they say.


Spinach & garlic banchan - easy recipe

I got a hold of "wild organic" spinach at the market!
I love the pinkish roots!   There's so much nutrition in them and tastes so sweet.

  1. Soak organic spinach in water (preferably filtered) to loosen up dirt and soak up some water back (about 30 minutes~).
  2. Rinse off remaining dirt over running water.  Clean the roots, but do not cut it off.
  3. Half the spinach from the roots.
  4. Saute 1tsp(or more) of mashed garlic on heated pan with oil (olive or grape oil) until fragrant.
  5. Add spinach.
  6. Mix and saute while seasoning with a dash of salt - flip well and don't let it "wilt" too much.
  7. Cook enough until it's half wilted (don't let it get too "watery" by letting it cook too long.)
  8. Remove from pan and serve.

Spinach is awesome for everything!

Spinach is great brain food

All those flavonoids that help prevent cancer also act as potent antioxidants that slow the effects of aging on the brain. Researchers have found that spinach helps protect the brain from free radical damage and slow age-related declines in brain power.

Spinach is packed with high quality nutrition

Spinach is one of the best sources of Vitamin K, which functions in retaining calcium in the bone matrix where it promotes bone mineralization. Other minerals in spinach include manganese, copper, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. This combination makes spinach a great fighter of osteoporosis. It's an excellent source of Vitamin B1, B2, and B6, and a good source of B3. Spinach is also rich in mood relaxing tryptophan, and cancer fighting fiber. One cup of boiled spinach contains over 5 grams of protein, and a decent amount of omega 3 fatty acids. And of course a load of Vitamin A.

What else you need to know about spinach

Spinach is among the 12 foods on which pesticides have been most frequently found. If you want to avoid the health risks posed by pesticides, buy only organic spinach.


How is it to live in South Korea?

With the "war" going on between North and South Korea, life goes on in both countries.

How does it feel to live in the middle of it?

Concerned for a second, but that's about it.

We live life just as the same - actually even more aware. 

“It's always one bloody war after another, and one knows the news is all lies anyway.” 

- Excerpt From: Orwell, George. “1984"

photo credit: U.S. Army Korea (Historical Image Archive) via photopin cc


Old Seoul City Hall & library

It was a beautiful weekend!
the old city hall on the front and the new one behind - I prefer the old one...

Here are some photos of the library (old city hall). 

It was so much busier on the weekend, I really do prefer it when it's emptier (weekdays).

Here is Chung-gye stream.

The weather has been colder than usual - it's still "chilly" in April.

Dress warm!

When is Spring coming?

It snowed yesterday.
It's been a very oddly cold and dreary beginning of April.

But slowly, Spring is slowly coming its way... slowly?...

 Walkways in our apartment complex...

 Our apartment "garden" area is looking very winter in April - can't wait for Spring to perk it up!

 The white little tags on the ground says "growing flowers".

FYI:  Youido cherry blossom festival starts this weekend!  from the 12th!

The solution to "food trash" in Korea - earth worming!

In Korea, recycling in a necessity.

Food waste is no exception.  Our apartment complex allows us to throw our food trash out in a big bin - but soon, it will all  change - so they say.

The city has a new system coming up in place for residents to have their own "trash card" where they insert the card, the system/machine weights the trash - and then you will be charged per weight on the trash you discard.

One of the ways I'm dealing with this "new system" whether it becomes the new system or not, is to grow my own earth worms!

I was repotting a plant and came upon a few little earth worm guys - probably around 10+.

I put them in a plastic bin with their old poopy soil and some fresh new soil - added some tree shrubs for their bedding and food waste that were marinating in the sink :)

After about 3 weeks of love and care, they are healthier and fatter than before!  They were really barely moving when I first found them - but here they are squirming and fattening up!

two guys bundled up in a ball of food matter

these are the "white worms" that also reside with the earth worms

hide and seek , I see 2 earth worms!

look at the size of this plump one! 

happily fat and healthy - with an onion piece

good looking one

"earth worm" house

I was really unaware of how healthy and thriving they would become! 

If you have a few plants around the house and want a new pet, earth worms are great for their fertilizer and they're actually really fun to take care of(?) - they grow so fast!

All I needed was a Styrofoam box, soil and earth worms - these all came free for me.  I made no holes in the box and just open the lid a bit for air.

I feed them once/twice a week.  But I hope this change since they are growing and will eat more in the future.  They've eliminated 1/4 of our food waste and that's not bad.  I've already used their "poopy soil matter" (sitting on the very bottom of the bin) for fertilizer for our plants.

It's a win win situation!

I was highly grossed out by them in the beginning (especially the "white worms), but now look forward to "playing" with them :)  I feel like a kid again - soil and earth worms :)

More about growing earth worms;
  • Keep the box moist (about 60~80% humidity), enough that a bundle of soil will drip, but don't let it soak in water, it will drown the worms!
  • When you feed their "food", make sure it's moist and cut up(not whole piece of lettuce).  They prefer "chewed" particles over hard and fresh ones.
  • I make sure to check their house every other day(vary) for moisture. 
  • I feed them about once a week.  I have a "corner" in the box where I tuck in their food (cover it with soil).
  • Avoid "meat" waste since it will stink up the house and allow other "things" to grow/fly...
  • I keep the box open a bit at all times (avoid direct sun). 
  • Add crushed egg shells (when feeding) for pH balance - to prevent the soil from being too acidic - not good for the earth worms.

If you're thinking about it, go for it :)

photo credit: John Shawler via photopin cc

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