Monday, March 26, 2012

Frogger Go Splat

For those of you that actually check my blog, no I haven't been to a frog leg restaurant ;)

These are screenshots from a video by YouTube user pawvic
Here is frogger as he's being hit by a car:

And here's frogger after being hit by a car:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ho Lee Chow - Itaewon

Chinese food like we have in the U.S. can be extremely hard to find in Korea, but Ho Lee Chow does a pretty good job of it. I've been to the location in Itaewon twice and have had no problems with ordering or the food. I don't have any pictures at the moment since I forgot my camera, but their website has a full menu w/ prices, location directions, and hours of operation. It's only in Korean, but the main navigation is in English.

Ho Lee Chow has 5 locations (soon to be six) in the area: Itaewon (in the Hamilton Hotel), Apgujeong, Jamsil, Bundang, Dogok, and in April, one will open in Yeoido. The interior of the Hamilton Hotel branch is very spacious and you don't feel crowded or rushed while you are eating. Free hot tea is on the table - I want to say it's a jasmine tea, but I could be mistaken. The tea hit the spot on Saturday with the random freak snow flurries we had. The staff are friendly and attentive, but they don't hover like many places in Korea.

Prices aren't too bad for lunch items, and I would probably recommend a lunch set for a larger group if your food preferences aren't too varied (mine and my friends' usually are). For 4 people, 3 dishes are probably enough. We each ordered a dish and some chicken fried rice and spring rolls to share and weren't able to finish all of our food. We were going to give our leftovers to the homeless person outside, but he was gone when we left :(.

The chicken fried rice was really quite good and not Koreanized at all. I had the kung pao Chicken, and it was pretty good - not too spicy, but the chicken had kind of a weird texture. Still good, though. Justin had the orange beef and said it was really good while Marianne had the sweet & sour pork and said it was good. Our resident vegetarian friend, Denise, had the Buddha's tofu dish and said, "oh my god," so I take it that it was good, too. Actually, the tofu dishes did look really good, so I'll probably try one of those next time. The have a nice variety of chicken, beef, pork, seafood, and veggie dishes, so there should be something on the menu to please everyone.

One of the things I like about Ho Lee Chow is that they actually have plain iced tea (no peach or lemon flavor in it) and bring you liquid sugar to mix in with it if you want. Most restaurants that have "iced tea" on the menu make it from the Lipton packets of peach or lemon flavored instant tea, but the menu doesn't tell you that it's flavored.

So if you're craving some Western-style Chinese food, Ho Lee Chow is a good place to give a try. They don't have Springfield-style cashew chicken, but hey, nobody's perfect ;)

Is Yeongtong Becoming the New "It" Place?

So, I haven't been trying many new places in the neighborhood, but hopefully I'll get off my butt and change that soon since the weather is getting nicer. However, I've noticed some new places popping up in the area, and it's made me wonder if they're trying to make Yeongtong THE place to go for shopping in the area (so people don't have to go to Seoul).

There are some new "trendy" coffee shops opening up in the area, like Cafe Droptop and Coffee Tweet (opening soon). I noticed a Calvin Klein store has also opened up across from my beloved A Twosome Place, and the other night I spotted an Abercrombie & Fitch behind Landmark Hotel. AND there's an Apple store called Concierge where Holly's Coffee used to be across from Homeplus.

By the footbridge, there's supposed to be a new building that appears to be slated as having hotel rooms, office tels, shopping, and restaurants; however, I've yet to see any construction actually happening.

I haven't noticed much of a change in restaurants yet except for a new Seafood & More place in Homeplus.

So...whatchy'all think? From what I know of Yeongtong, the area was developed as a "high-end" area for people that didn't want to live in Seoul yet worked in Seoul. I think the subway station in Yeongtong is scheduled to be done early next year maybe? Maybe they're hoping to lure people from Bundang to Yeongtong when the line opens?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pet Peeve of the Week: Bus Seats

Today’s blog is going to be a bit of random venting about one of the things that just irritates me in general: bus seats. Now, it’s not the obvious complaint that my big ol’ butt is too wide to fit comfortably – I can sit in the seats just fine, thank you. However, getting in and out of the seats is an issue, for anyone really, when the asshole sitting in front of you doesn’t put the seat back in the upright position after they get off the bus. You may be asking yourself how often I could find myself on a bus with reclining seats, but here in Korea, tour buses, the airport shuttle buses, intercity buses, and the buses we use for work all have seats that can be reclined. My other complaint is people sitting in the aisle seat that think you can get out between them and the seat in front of them – that is a super-small space on most buses.

So, the reclining seat…a comfort for long trips indeed. However, reclining bus seats are abused just about as much as airplane seats and have the same issues. Now, most people I know will check behind them on a bus before slamming their seat back, or at least only recline it a tiny bit so that they aren’t sitting up ramrod straight. I don’t know how many times I’ve had something in my lap (usually my backpack) become wedged between my body and the seat back because the jerkwad in front of me decided he had to slam his seat back as far as it would go. Ok, that’s fine, recline your seat like you own the bus. But when you get off the bus, at least have the common courtesy to PUT THE SEAT BACK. Oh, no? That’s too much to ask? Well, I’m sorry, do it anyway or I will hunt you down and break your kneecaps like a mafioso once I wedge myself out of the seat. I mean seriously, you have to know that your reclined seat lessens the space the person behind you has to work with and makes them feel like they’re doing the limbo to get off the bus, so why be a douche and leave your seat reclined when you get off the bus? It’s just plain rude. Koreans seem to be kings of doing this. I don’t know how many times I get on a bus and immediately return the seat that I sit in to its original position.

My other pet peeve about bus seats is that Koreans seem to think that pulling their feet in under their seat will give you room to squeeze out between them and the seat in front of them. Now, on some buses that have lots of leg room, this is fine, but on most (especially if the person in front of them is a recliner), there just isn’t the room. Now, sometimes you’ll have them attempt to turn sideways and try to move their legs out of the way. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. Now, I have a lot of junk in my trunk, so for me, it doesn’t usually work so well and they end up with a whole lot of white-girl booty in their faces. I actually had a woman one day think that pulling her legs in and trying to pull the cake box on her lap closer to her chest would give me room to get out…I just looked at her and said, “You’re going to have to move.” Seriously, even an anorexic person wouldn’t have been able to fit between her and the seat in front of her with the cake box on her lap – there was maybe 2 inches between her knees and the seat back, not to mention the fact that there would have been butt being rubbed all over the cake box. This was on the company bus going to work in the morning, so maybe lack of coffee or whatever could be blamed, but I doubt it. If I’m sitting by the aisle and the person next to me needs out before I’m at my stop, I always stand up and let them out – this slows the flow of people exiting much less than waiting for the person to crawl all over me to get to the aisle. Sometimes I’m not fast enough, though, and they end up crawling over my lap to get out anyway – quick like ninjas they are sometimes.

OH! I just thought of a bonus bus rant. Charter buses like I’ve been talking about aren’t meant to have people standing in the aisles – they just aren’t very wide. However, many of the intercity buses and the buses for my employer often will have people standing in the aisle. This is fine…stand all you want, but at least make an attempt to move out of the way when people are getting off the bus. I really, really hate having to rub all up on people to try to get to the door to get off the bus when the aisle is packed full of people.

So yeah, there’s my bus rant. If people just had a bit more common sense or common courtesy, the world could be a much more convenient place in which to ride a bus.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Walking/Driving in S. Korea

Last year I posted some blogs about public transportation in Korea (buses, trains, and taxis) but neglected to post about the cheapest and easiest way to get around: walking. I’ll also mention a few things related to driving in Korea since you have to watch for similar things (I don’t drive here because I like being alive).

Walking would seem like the safest way to get around Korea after what I mentioned about the other ways to get around, but that’s just crazy talk – there’s a reason why K-Pop music videos and K-Dramas seem to have recurring themes of people being hit by cars. You definitely have to be more alert and keep an eye out for things more than in the U.S. when walking and driving both (except for muggers…you have to be on the lookout for those in the U.S.) - especially since you don’t have that nice little barrier of plastic/metal between you and a speeding vehicle when you’re on foot.

Intersections without stoplights are typically the less busy roads and are fairly easy to get across, but you have to definitely look both ways still. Even when crossing one-way streets. That little arrow with the ‘X’ through it means nothing - cars will still barrel down that road whether they’re supposed to or not. From what I’ve been told, the rule of thumb is to stop for 3 seconds at a crossroad (there are no stop signs in Korea). If you’re at an intersection with stoplights and crossing signs, you would think you could stroll on across when the little green man lights up, but you’d be horribly mistaken. Buses, taxis, and anything else on wheels will still charge on through that sucker like it’s still a green light for them. You typically have to wait another 3 to 4 vehicles AFTER their light has turned red before you’re able to safely cross the intersection. Luckily, a lot of busy roads will have underground tunnels for people to walk through to make things a bit safer and convenient.

You have to watch out for motorized vehicles even when strolling down the sidewalk. Scooters will charge on down those suckers like it’s nobody’s business and honk at YOU to get out of the way. Bicycles will also come zipping along ringing their damn little bells for you to move out of the way, so be on the lookout for those, too. Cars will also park on sidewalks, so you have to dodge those as well sometimes. Just yesterday by Kyung-hee University, I spotted a car DRIVING down the sidewalk. Pedestrians really seem to have no right of way at all in Korea. However, to be fair, people will walk down the middle of the street instead of on the sidewalk and wander out in front of cars without even looking. Check out a report of traffic accidents for each here in Korea here.

Basically, keep your wits about you and keep an eye out if you’re driving or walking because you can’t count on drivers to exactly pay attention to traffic laws.