Saturday, July 30, 2011

Itaewon's Secret: Discover Some Place New

When you think of Itaewon several images might come to mind. For instance the many pubs or clubs you can go to. Or perhaps, great international restaurants where you can get a taste of food from around the world. But, would you think that somewhere in Itaewon is a quiet cafe street? A place to go see some art and kick back with a cup of tea or coffee? For some time now an area of Itaewon has been growing with galleries, cafes and mini-shops.

I suppose sharing this secret might open up this haven in Itaewon and turn it into another bustling section of Seoul. But I really feel that there are folks out there who would like to see this new place and also might respect it's atmosphere.
Gallery Golmok is the feature of this area as it resides in a little nook of an alley, next to a cafe. But you are probably wondering how you find this new secret area? And of course I am going to tell you but in a simple way.

Either make your way from Noksapyeong station towards Itaewon and take the alley next to Suji's restaurant or head down the street from The Wolfhound and keep on going until streets begin to narrow.

That's it! You are on your own from there and can use the pics in this post for clues. I suppose though you can watch my video, to get a visual representation. Really though the best part about life in Seoul is going down new streets and alleys.
I hope the freshness and spontaneity of this little area stays as such and even develops into more funkiness. Along the path I spotted this pack of dogs in a store front.
Just around from the shop with the doggies was what appeared to be a used clothing store, like the vintage stores I saw in Osaka, Japan.
Things come to a crest at a hill and you can see large office towers in the distance..
Going down another street you go by several clothing shops.
Maybe even try your luck at something to eat.
When I started to head towards the heart of Itaewon I noticed many buildings were under construction. I wondered what will fill these hollow structures in time to come.
Heading towards the central area of Itaewon things started to shift from artsy to the every-day. Meanwhile I found this hot dog place, which certainly looks like it is for the brave eater.
And then there was this gleaming shop with red paint on the exterior. It was a photo-op in heaven.
I suppose if you see yourself going past this place you know you are getting closer.
The artistic started to fade away as more signs of construction were around me.
Before long the regular "old" Itaewon comes into view with The Wolfound making it's appearance.
I hope you do find this little slice of Itaewon and enjoy it's contrasting atmosphere. Maybe a little quiet nook tucked in a busy city isn't for everyone. But I know it will make a great place to go to and have a relaxing read, after getting a book at "What the Book." (Just around the corner too~)

I know I look forward to returning and seeing what new shops and cafes have popped up in my absence. So get out there!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

All This Idling Time

You finish work and you go home. What do you do? You should go to the gym and exercise. You should study Korean or do some painting.

Mostly what happens to me is that I sit back and think about my past. It's not just homesickness but the feeling that you are getting older and further away from everyone and everything in your past. Then you end up listening to a podcast and hear the following song by Adele. The rainy weather might be affecting me but generally sometimes my life in Korea makes me feel isolated and lonely. Maybe that is why I push so hard to get out on the weekend and why I am always reading other folk's blogs.

The truth is I yearn for my past but want to quickly jump into my future. Ah geez...must try not to get into that whirlpool of self-loathing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Oh my! They took off their shoes.

"The road closures and sporadic public transportation made commuters late for work, and people took off their shoes and socks in offices to dry them."

It's been pouring cats and dogs and other large animals for the past 24 hours and a lot of the news is covering the flooded streets of Seoul. Sadly people have lost their lives to landslides due to all this rain. Amidst the news wast that quote above, from the Korea Times and to me it was a bit funny. I don't even bother with shoes or socks and just go out in my sandals. But I think it is interesting that this sort of social aspect was even mentioned amongst the other disasters of the day.
Anyways, I hope people are going to be a bit more cautious tomorrow as the rain doesn't look like it is going to stop.

Tom Plus Rain Doesn't Mix

Tom: Meooowwwwwwwww Open the door! I want to go out Mom......meoooooooow
Me: Awe you want to go outside. Ok let me open the door for you.
Tom: o.O
Tom: (Look on face): What the hell is this?
Me:'s raining Tom.
Tom: Make it stop!

Itaewon's Secret: The Video

I am sure there are other secret areas of Itaewon that please the eye too, but this one is literally being made in the moment. There were buildings still under construction as I walked through there. I think this area is going to develop into one that is known for cafes, galleries and cute little shops. 

A post with pictures and more thoughts to come, in the meantime give me your reactions to this video. Also if you like it why not share it with your pals, huh?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hongdae: Mustoy or Paint Your Own Little Happy Doll

I think there is a section of Hongdae that most people don't know about. Usually when you hear people talk about Hongdae they mention the specialty restaurants or the clubs. I've never heard anyone mention a place to go and paint your own cute little doll and have a creative experience in Korea. Then you might understand our reaction when we happened to come upon the store Mustoy.
It was perched at the top of a hill alongside an area of Hongdae that is back to back with cafes.

As we looked from the outside at the Mustoy we saw people inside clutching something little and painting it. You instantly knew this place was special due to the numerous dolls along the window.

What is Mustoy? First off it is written this way... ç„¡stoy.  That Chinese character has the meaning of "nothing" and is pronounced "Mu". The idea is that you start with nothing, just a blank doll and can draw whatever you want on it.  After we entered the shop the lady, who spoke very good English, gave us a nice introduction on the place. Apparently it was started by what I think was a famous singer, or someone who owns a big company. Not sure. Anyways the point of the store is to come with your friends or loved one and make a nice happy memory.

What you do is select either a small or large version of the doll and get a set of permanent markers and go at your creation.

The place has several dolls you can buy that have been painted on by actual known artists, as seen above. Also you can buy a set to take home. The in-store painting costs 12,000 Won a doll and the take home, where you get two dolls and a marker set is just 30,000 Won.

Although, my friend and I didn't make one this day we hope to go back.

Getting here from the Hongik subway station might be a little tricky for the untrained. However, I would recommend starting out on the main strip going up towards the University. As Taco Bell is on your right you want to turn left down one of the little alley-ways, then make your way right up a big hill.

The website provides a map that might be interpretable and a video that is also quite helpful. Also go into the iTunes store and look for a mustoy app as you can make one that way.

DIY shops are becoming a little more common these days, but I think they are nice break from the usual coffee-shop hang outs. You definitely feel a sense of creativity and relaxation in the Mustoy place.

I would highly recommend you getting out to one of these and enjoying a different sort of activity in Seoul.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Speed Ahead

My one week vacation ended this morning as Tom nudged me awake at 6:30. I know not to wake up immediately because of this, but when I did wake up I knew that three weeks of camp were ahead of me.

The camp at this school is different from the previous camps I have had in that it is a lot more academic. I have one group of kids for the whole time and we will be going through two major topics. These are Science and Reading, and the rest of it is "activities" and "drama." I didn't see the book until today, bright and early right before things started. Immediately, I realized this was going to be hard due to that it is mostly words and few pictures. The activities and drama section was apparently put together at the last minute as the materials originally submitted weren't accepted. We've ended up with one topic for each week, and very few hands-on materials for it while mostly relying on data in the book. The drama section, although put together very well, is way over their heads.

In the end, what you have here is a situation I always dread in this business. Being put in a room full of young low-level learners with non-matching material and a lack of a plan.

Today went by as chaotic as it could and I made due, trying fruitlessly to make reading games out of the material. But my batch of kids seems to be a mix of the really low so I am going to have step it back a notch. I had planned on showing them videos to accompany the Science material, which I found on youtube. But alas our internet is down. Another challenge added to the mountain of them.

After some talk with a senior teacher, I was told that mostly the goal is to prepare stuff for the open class (not judged) at the end and get the bookwork done. The children will work on the following items:
  • Making a class flag to carry at the closing ceremony.
  • Practice a role-play and perform it.
  • Practice a class chant.
  • Practice a class song.
As you can see, I will have things to keep them busy with for the next three weeks. Just that they didn't give us much in the way of drama scripts, material to prepare them for role-playing, chants and songs. Thankfully, I have experience in the role-play department and know what I need to do there, as for the chants and songs it is just a matter of giving them the lyrics and practicing a lot.

All right so camp is not what I expected and it is definitely different from years past. In fact, I really feel sad for not planning this camp and miss the fact that there is no "cooking" day.

In the meantime, I am trying to get ahead with next semester's planning. As for the lesson planning portion I am already a bit ahead but I want to get the materials made for at least the first month. I am the kind of person, unfortunately, who is not satisfied till something is done right away. It makes me end up being anxious and when something affects my path of completion I get all bent out of shape.

Last night, I had a conversation about this with JH and he told me how I need to relax and keep big goals in mind. Also, to keep my cool when something comes along that makes me have to change what I am doing. He is a big help to me, even though it takes some time to get him to understand it all completely.

Camp is just three weeks and we are suppose to just have fun with the kids, so I am going to try my best to kick back a little, play games and make it work in a fun way. However, I mostly just want it to be over.

I have a lot I want to post about trips that transpired during the last week. Let's hope all this work stuff doesn't get in the way!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Seoul Rain a Video

It's a little poetic and on the short side, but I like it! If you like it too why not share it with your pals. But really this video captures how the rain can make you contemplate life and all it's wonders.

Touch Korea: Learn, Discover, Collect

Want to gain some quick knowledge of Korea? Would like to do so in a visually appealing way? Well the Korean tourism board "Buzz Korea" has come out with a way to do this, which is their "Touch Korea" campaign.

How well do you know Korea? Come and meet the charms of Korea at Touch Korea! You are warmly invited!

Already, I am having a good time on the interactive map and going over some places I have been to. So check out the event page and get into some exploring!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hongdae: Board Game Cafe

As you can see I went to Hongdae with a good pal of mine last weekend, and we tromped around the area doing all sorts of fun things. One of those items was visiting a board game cafe that we cam upon randomly. At first I was looking for a cafe to eat some patbingsu, but the rain was coming down really hard.

We came around to the main street where Taco Bell and Starbucks is and saw a sign, in Korean, that read "Board-uh Game-uh Cafe." Taking the chance, we went inside and up to the 4th floor where we entered the cafe.

The space inside was huge with many tables all about, which reminded me of a classic diner from back home.

Except, here you aren't being served burgers and milkshakes but rather board games and coffee. The deal was that you pay per hour and also should buy a drink. Although I am not sure if it was mandatory to buy a drink. However, the price per hour was per person and cost around 3,500 won each. Any time over the extra is 500won an hour.

They had a really great selection of games and many with English. I suppose if you are feeling brave you could try out your hand at a Korean language game.

We weren't really in the mood for a boardgame, so I suggested we play "SET." I thought it was a good choice since it isn't time consuming and also is fun. Unfortunately, I was the looser but we'll see next time!
I am guessing this place gets crowded in the later hours and folks find themselves having lots of fun. Those red things are like plastic hammers that you can bang someone with if they do something wrong during the game.

View from the window...

As you can see this place is right across from KB bank, so I don't think you will have a hard time finding it. It made a great rainy day activity in Hongdae.
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