Saturday, 30 July 2011

Of Thai Lunches and Premium Chocolates!

It's not always a good idea to have a buffet for lunch. (It would cost you a couple more kilometers on the treadmill!) But when it's Thai buffet, I can always make an exception any day!
And Thai Orchid's lunch buffet at Itaewon is always worth the trip and skipping breakfast for (to make room for a bigger lunch! Ha-ha-ha!).  And joining me at ending my workweek with a Thai lunch were Tessa and her hubby, Min, who both brought me a box full of premium chocolates from Jubilee Chocolatier! (Thanks, guys!)
I don't mind running more kilometers on the treadmill to burn off the buffet and the chocolates. They're both worth running forever for! Ha-ha-ha!

"I'm Seething In The Rain....Just Seething In The Rain...."

"I'm seething in the rain...just seething in the rain....what a furious feeling...I'm unhappy again...."
Those would be Gene Kelly's lyrics, too, if he happens to be standing in the rain, waiting for an empty taxi cab and being shielded from the heavy pitter-patter of monsoon rains by an over-sized umbrella! 
And he still would continue humming those lyrics even while inside the taxi cab, which now is traversing the very wet, very slippery highway towards his workplace, with the car's wiper slapping the rain water from the windshield left and right!
These monsoon rains in the Korean peninsula this week are ruining everyone's day, home and worst, life! 
Last weekend, I was at the Boryeong Mud Festival and I thought I left all the mud there! But it seems it followed me all the way to Seoul with all the news about mudslides in the city!
I sympathize with the unfortunate who lost their lives last week, and with those whose homes were ruined.
I look forward to a drier and sunnier week ahead. I hate carrying umbrellas. 
And worse, I hate singing in the rain.
(I wondered what the taxi driver was thinking when he saw me taking photos of his windshield and the people along the road. Ha-ha-ha!)

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Yummy Gifts Of The Magi

In the Christmas story, there were three wise men-slash-magi who rode off to Bethlehem on their pet camels, bringing with them gold, frankincense and myrrh as gifts for Jesus when he was born. How thoughtful! Giving away gold as Christmas gift?!

These days, bringing a camel-load of gold across the border is close to impossible. The camel will be able to clear customs. But the gold won’t. Ha-ha-ha!

I was thinking that perhaps, the three magi thought that gold, as a valuable commodity of exchange, would be useful as a start-up capital for Jesus’ parents. His dad could expand his carpentry shop, while his mom could open a small hair salon and make her win more friends. (There was gossip in her neighborhood on why she was marrying a carpenter, by the way).

But what about the frankincense and myrrh? Well, the magi, wise as they were, thought that the family could use these to fumigate the manger and deodorize the smell of sheep, cows and, of course, the shepherds. The manger wasn’t exactly a bed-and-breakfast inn; it had no working toilet, nor a shower with hot water!
 Although I am not as lucky as the Jesus’ family, I have friends who bring and send me the next best thing to gold: Goodies from home!
 I don’t exactly crave for things I enjoy when I’m back home in the Philippines, but I enjoy the thoughtfulness of friends who send them over.
 From ensaimadas, cheese rolls, fruit cakes, hopia, Manila t-shirts, dulce gatas, buko pie, ube jam, garlic chips, polvoron, dried mangoes, dulong, bibingka and even slippers(!),  my friends brought these on their already heavy luggage carried by their camels from Manila.

 And other friends living in Hong Kong, Austria, US, Singapore, Italy and Australia (did I miss someone in the list?) have sent me moon cakes, chocolates, wine, panecotta  and Timtams, too!
 I’m not so sure if I would actually enjoy some gold bars if a friend brings me some. But I guess the Korean customs would. Ha-ha-ha!

But royalty or not, my friends are like these wise men, thoughtful and generous.  And I always make sure I thank them by returning the favor by bringing with me (and sometimes sending over) goodies from Korea and turning myself, too, into a magus… without a camel!

 As bringing pasalubong (presents) is a part of the Filipino culture, I guess, we are all in a way like those three wise men.  But instead of packing precious metals and incense, we bring the yummiest gifts our friends and family would enjoy! 

Monday, 25 July 2011

The Boryeong Hangover...

Twenty-four hours ago, I was making my way through mud, with very muddy feet and in the company of muddy people.

Now, I'm back to a cleaner environment, back to a quieter surrounding, back to work!
Attending the mud festival at Boryeong City at the South Chungcheon Province was a great way to spend the hot summer. 

But coming back to reality is a different story. 

Thanks, Boryeong!  I hope to get muddy with you again next year! 

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Outlet Shopping In Seoul!

I haven't returned to the Garibong area in years! I was there on my first autumn in Korea when I needed to get myself some winter coats so I wouldn't freeze over during my first winter ever.

My Korean friends told me way back about this place, where I could get myself cheap bargains for quality clothes. And they were right! I returned to the Mario Outlet and the W Mall a couple of times ever since! 
And as three of my Pinoy friends (Ruth, Polly and Bong) in Seoul wanted me to bring them there, I played tour guide one day.

The fastest way going there is through the subway. Just get off at the Gasan Digital Complex (Line 7), Exit 4, and you're almost there. But Ruth's driver had other ideas that day. We took her car from Itaewon, thinking he knew the fastest way to get there. But he relied on his electronic navigator, which instructed him to meander through Mapo-gu,Yeouido and Yeongdongpo-gu before hitting the direction to our shopping target. (I actually knew the fastest way by car, but I just shut my mouth up, lest this noisy, human navigator wanted to be kicked out of the van! Ha-ha-ha!).
 And after 45 minutes of joyride and unscheduled sightseeing from the van, we finally arrived in Garibong!
The Mario Outlet has 2 buildings, each one has multiple shopping floors. The W Mall across the street also has several floors and with a convenient food court at the basement, right next to a Zara discount shop! Where else can you find an outlet mall, where you can munch down your bulgogi lunch, while picking out Zara items at the same time and at an unbelievable discount!  Zara goodies for only KRW10,000! 

Well, to make the shopping blog short, the four Pinoys had fun shopping, and ended up with tired legs (as expected!) and multiple shopping bags (really expected!). Ha-ha-ha!
And to cap the shopping conquest, we rested our tired legs at the coffee shop on our way to the Gasan Digital Complex Station. No more driver this time.
(thanks for the coffee, Polly!)

                           (a shopper with a mascot)
                   (a happy shopper on her way home)

So, if you're heading there soon, be prepared to spend the whole day there.  Happy splurging!

The Occidental Tourist

Having lived in Seoul for quite sometime now, it was easy for me to ignore the places, the sights and the sounds of the city which all fascinated me the first time I planed into this country.

I always said to myself, that for me not to get bored while living in Seoul, I should always think of myself as a tourist...with a working visa! Ha-ha-ha!

But there are days when I get caught in the meshwork of daily living (and work!) that I always fail to realize that the Korean cuisine I enjoy, places in Seoul I pass through, festivals I attend and the people I bump into are the experiences that tourists and people who want to visit Korea would want to experience as well.

So, one day, on the anniversary of my arrival in Seoul, I decided to spend an afternoon downtown and looked at the city through the eyes of a tourist.

And being from Occidental Negros (in the Philippines), I chose to call this blog, The Occidental Tourist (actually a twist from that movie of Geena Davis which earned her an Academy Award; I just replaced one vowel. Ha-ha-ha!).

And like a tourist would, I armed myself with a camera, a pair of Nike Presto, fresh legs and a tourist map, which I never had to read! Ha-ha-ha! (I think I know this city so well, I am as good as your hired tour guide. Ha-ha-ha!)

So, I went to the most tourist-y area, Myeong-dong, and made the Myeongdong Cathedral my first stop as I, being a Catholic, had to give thanks to You-Know-Who for keeping me safe all these years, and for not being run over by those crazy drivers in the city who do not know the real purpose of traffic lights!
                     (inside the Myeongdong Cathedral)
And here are the photographs taken by the Occidental Tourist...
                                            (the road along Myeong-dong)
                                               (vendors in Myeong-dong)
                                    (a smaller alley in Myeong-dong)

                                               (portraitists and customers)

                                                             (stuffed toys!)
                                   (local and international shoppers!)
(the 'beauty lane' in Myeongdong)
               (promo girls of the 'beauty shops' calling on customers)

                              (Japanese tourists tasting Korean barbecue)
 (the underground shopping center at the City Hall area)

                               (the pedestrian lane to the Seoul Plaza)
                  (people cooling off at the Seoul Plaza)
               (the Kyobo Building at Gwanghwamun. I think I  had pasta once at the restaurant on its ground floor) 

                                                        (an afternoon traffic)
                                                      (a man with a message)
                        (the art piece at the tip of Cheonggye Stream)
                                                         (the Seoul mascot)
(a performance at the Seoul Plaza)

                                           (a samkyeobsal restaurant)
                        (darkness falls in the city)

And I ended my tour with a dinner at the Tony Roma's restaurant in Myeong-dong and rewarded myself with their yummy baked salmon with mashed potatoes!

(Baked salmon with mashed potato as dinner for the hungry tourist at Tony Roma's in Myeongdong. 
Notice the Seoul map for tourist? 
Just a decoration, I didn't actually have to use it. Ha-ha-ha!)

                               (McFlurry as dessert!)

Until the next tour!