Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Chatty Cabbie

I have to say that today's taxi ride to work was one of my more entertaining ones in recent times. I can almost forgive the little guy for almost killing us three times.

So, after acquiring my coffee and lunch (a new Caesar Chicken Wrap from A Twosome Place, which I shared with Eunyoung - we both thought it was quite good), I headed down the block to the taxi stand to catch a ride to work. I hop in the taxi and the little driver (I say "little" because his seat was pushed waaaaay up) turns around and says, "Oh! How are you?" So now I'm thinking, "Great...another driver is going to want to chit-chat on the way to work. *sigh*"

Me: "Anyong haseyo. I'm fine. You? Samsung Jeonja tongyong mun."
Driver: "Oh, Samsung Jeonja...tongyong mun...hmmm"
Me: "Yes."
Driver: "I don't know where that one is." reaches for the GPA.
Me: "It's not in the GPS system. It's by jang mun."
Driver: "Oh! You know where it is?"
Me: "Yes."
Driver: "Oh, good. You can teach me then!" Starts to pull away from the curb almost into a truck passing us.
Me: "Um, yeah. I can teach you where it is."
Driver: "You work for Samsung Jeonja?"
Me: "Yes."
Driver (very excited): "Oh!! Wonderful!! Samsung Jeonja is very famous company in the world! In Korea, Samsung Jeonja is number 1!"
Me (nervous laugh): "Yeah, Samsung is number one."
Driver: "Where are you from?"
Me: "America, miguk saram."
Driver (excited again): "Oh!! USA! USA is number one country in the world!" Pulls into an intersection while the light is red. We get honked at by the car that almost t-bones us.
Driver: "Oh, sorry, sorry! USA is great country. To go to America is my dream."
Me (nervous laugh again as I think how happy I am that I used the bathroom before I left for work): "Yeah..."
Driver: "All Koreans respect America. All Koreans are very grateful to America for protecting us. I am thankful to America."
Me: "'re welcome?"
Driver: "All Koreans love Americans."
Me (trying to not laugh out loud at that that one): "Yeah..."
Driver: (more babbling about America)
Me: "Um, straight...jikjin..." Driver turns left at the light.
Me: sighing and thinking to myself, "Well, alrighty then...we're taking the long way around and he's a chatty one..."
Driver: "Thirty years ago I went to Europe. I worked for a European company in Saudi Arabia. I worked in Saudi Arabia for 2 years."
Me: "Oh yeah?"
Driver: "Yes. I had just married my wife and then I had to go to Saudi Arabia for work. I've been there and to Europe, but not to America. It's my dream to go to America. But going to America requires big money, so I work very hard!"
Me: "Yup..." As I wistfully look at the road that we should've turned we're really taking the scenic route.
Driver: "Yes. At that time, the company I worked for, it was a French company, gave us special one month holiday to travel. They gave us..." stops to make hand motions and I can tell he's counting decimal places, "3000 dollars. Yes, 3000 dollars. At that time, 30 years ago, that was big money, but now, not so big money. But I traveled all over Europe." Pulls into another intersection with a red light as cars honk at us.
Driver: "Oh, sorry. Very dangerous here. But yes, I went to Rome in Italy, and France. We went around Germany, though. And...I'm sorry, I forgot where you are going."
Me: "Um, Samsung Jeonja."
Driver: "Oh! Samsung Jeonja!! I missed the turn! I'm very sorry! So sorry! I was busy talking to you and forgot! So sorry!"
Me: "Kwenchanayo. It's alright." Meanwhile, I'm thinking that I'm glad I have an hour to get to work so I won't be late at least.
Driver: "Oh, but you wanted tongyong mun...this road goes to jungang mun." Turns onto main road that passes Samsung.
Me: "It's ok. Jungang mun is fine."
Driver: "Are you sure?"
Me: "Yes, it's near my building, too."
Driver: "Ah, ok, very sorry. You are very nice woman. Are you Christian?"
Me: "No."
Driver: "No? I am a Christian, but I respect all religions. I want to learn more about them. I went to a Buddhist university. Law school."
Me: "Oh really? Law school is very hard."
Driver: "Yes. But I enjoyed it. I have two children: one son and one daughter. I sent them to New Zealand for elementary and middle school to study."
Me: "Very nice. Lots of Koreans go there, I've heard."
Driver: "Yes. How long have you been in Korea?"
Me: "Four and a half years."
Driver: "Two years?" Turns to look at me.
Me: "No, over 4." I hold up four fingers, "Sa nyun."
Driver: "Four years?! Wow! You must be Korean now!"
Me (nervous laugh again): "haha...yeah..."
Driver: "There is Jungang mun...near the Yeongtong Gu office building. Are you sure it's ok?"
Me: "Yes, it is fine - I work in that really tall building there."
Driver: "Oh, I see. The complex is very big!" Turns into the entry to Samsung.
Me: "You can just u-turn here."
Driver: "Ok. Lots of cars!"
Me: "Yeah, it's lunch time."
Driver: "Ah, yes, people going out for lunch." I pay the driver a bit less that the meter says since he took the scenic route - he only requests 5000 won instead of 6000 won.
Me: "Thanks, it was nice talking to you."
Driver: "Oh, it was very nice to meet you! Have a nice day!"
Me: "You too." I scurry away towards the gate, very glad to have arrived alive.
As I enter the gates, I hear cars honking behind me and wonder if the little old man has pulled out into an intersection again without having a green light.
He never did learn where tongyong mun was...

Droptop Cafe

Alrighty, I've been meaning to check this place out since it opened a few months, and I'm finally getting around to it: Cafe Droptop. Cafe Droptop is a new coffee shop in Yeongtong - it opened up a few months ago between Cafe Pascucci and ABC Mart, and right behind the Yeongtong Park bus stop (by the foot bridge by Homeplus). It's hours of operation are the same as Cafe Pascucci's: M-F: 7am - 2am; Sa, Su, Holidays: 8am - 2am (ooohhhh, competition, girlfriend!!). I'm off work today for the elections, so I might as well do something semi-productive with my day :)

And here's another of my lovely maps:

outside view of the shop from inside the building

One of the very first things I noticed about this cafe when it opened was the door handles:

I just thought the 'D' forming the handles was unique and liked it.

Every time I've been by this place, they haven't been busy at all. I don't know if I just walk by during non-peak times or what - it might pick up in the evenings. Despite it being empty in here right now, just me and one other girl, I can't hear myself think even with my iPod on. The music in here is up too loud, like in most coffee shops in Korea, which is completely un-necessary in my opinion. Why do people go to coffee shops? To visit with a friend or to study are the most common reasons, yet they feel the need to have the music soooo freaking loud that you have to shout to talk to your companion or put in ear plugs to do any work. *sigh* I digress.

They offer free Wi-Fi (after you enter the password posted by the register) and also have power outlets under the booth seats. The young man working today was very friendly and started to bring my tray out to me in the lobby, but I was already standing near the pick-up area, so he just handed it off to me. He's also the only employee here as far as I can tell, so this must be their slow time of day (I got here about 10:30 am).

I like the interior design, and they have a separate smoking room for their smoking customers. The counter says "modern" on it near the Droptop logo, so I think they're striving for a clean, modern look in the interior design. The white ceiling and back wall give a clean, open look while the pipes kind of add a unique industrial feel to the place. This used to be a hair salon, so I'm not sure if having the piping exposed is purposeful or not - this is the only Cafe Droptop I've ever seen in Korea.

the back wall

view of the interior from my seat in the corner

interior from another angle

As far as drink offerings and prices, they're pretty typical of Korean coffee shops. Prices range from 3000 won for an Americano to 5600 won for a cafe mocha. They also offer a selection of teas and hot chocolate drinks. For food, they have sandwiches, breads, "cheese balls," and some desserts. Prices on these are between 3500 won and 6000 won mostly. I'm hesitant to try any of the breads since they tend to be sweet in Korea, even if they're a cheese bread or garlic bread of some sort.

display case

They also offer sets for desserts w/ coffees and sandwiches with coffees.
sandwich specials

They also seem to have a daily special during the week. Today's Wednesday, so the special is a macaroon brownie and 2 cups of Americano coffee for 9000 won.

So what did I try on my first venture to Cafe Droptop? Well, I saw the Oreo brownie and it was all over (I hadn't eaten yet today, so it looked especially delicious).
Oreo brownie or sin on a plate

It looks like it would be super sweet or rich, but it's not. It's really no sweeter than a regular brownie. And it has crumbled up bits of real Oreo on top - not the Korean Oreo-wannabes.
And for my drink I got a cafe mocha with no whip cream.
cafe mocha w/ "no whipping"

Overall, I think this coffee shop is pretty nice. I'll have to check out their oven chicken breast sometime and post it along with some other drinks.

Update June 2nd
I recently decided to stop in for a pretzel for a snack at Droptop, and I will not be doing that ever again.
That orange....stuff on the left is the cheese. It was pretty gross. The pretzel on the right was a pepperoni pretzel. The pretzel was barely lukewarm. So yeah, I don't really recommend the pretzels here, but the desserts are decent.