Saturday, June 30, 2012

Weird Things in Branson, MO

Driving down Hwy 72 in Branson can be as entertaining as going to any show along the strip. We took Hwy 72 back to Hwy 65 because we wanted to stop to get a drink at a drive-thru on the way home; otherwise, if you’re in a hurry, I don’t recommend leaving Branson via Hwy 72.

The drive from Silver Dollar City into the main part of the city is filled with beautiful scenery and nature.

Then you hit the strip.

A Volkswagon Beetle decked out like the Beatles’ yellow submarine. And my brother’s nose.

King Kong climbing a building behind the wax museum.

And there's always large farm animals.

A giant rooster

There are plenty more crazy things to see along the strip, but that’s all I was able to get pictures of for now. You’re usually moving so slowly due to traffic that you can take it all in with ease.

Silver Dollar City - Branson, MO

Silver Dollar City is an amusement park set in the olden days. You won’t find the flashy clowns or carnival type games here, but you will find fresh-baked breads and goods, candies and treats being pulled out of the ovens or made as you walk in the shops, and extraordinary talent making amazing crafts. I love this place even without riding any rides – it’s such a refreshing place to visit that reminds you of simpler times. I’d rather go here that to Six Flags or Worlds of Fun even…of course it doesn’t hurt that when I’m in the US, I live a short drive away. Silver Dollar City is located in Branson, MO – directions can be found on their website since I would probably just get you lost if I tried to give them.

The employees all dress in early-1900 or mid-1800 garb – which I imagine is quite hot in the summertime, but it makes them easy to spot. The park also has several festivals throughout the year that are quite popular – especially the Festival of Lights for the holiday season. A one-time pass into the park is pretty expensive, but a season pass is a bit cheaper than 2 individual tickets. So if you plan on going more than once during the year, a season pass is the way to go. You can also get special deals for tickets with its sister park, White Water.

Silver Dollar City has many talented people that will show people how they do their craft and then offer the items for sale in the shops.

The glassblower is always a popular stop for people. The guy there the day my brother and I went wasn’t the master craftsman with the beard, who is amazing to watch by the way, but a younger guy that was still good. He was friendly and trying to engage people, but the furnaces are kind of loud, so it’s hard to really have a conversation with the glassblower when he’s working. If you want to see an entire product being made, you have to be patient and stay there watching for a good couple of hours. I wasn’t that patient, but here are a couple of short videos of the glassblower. Items made by the glassblowers are for sale in the attached shop.

Ceramics are another item for sale. The pottery made at Silver Dollar City has actually won several awards for its quality and appearance. The potter happened to be in on this day working the wheel. He was friendly and answered questions that people were asking as they watched him work.

Woodcarving is another craft they have on display at SDC. Inside the woodcarving shop, there were three guys working that just come by occasionally and carve at SDC. They were all very friendly and had a pretty lengthy conversation with me about what they do. When I asked if I could take a few pictures of them working they responded that I could take some pictures of them having fun but not working :).

Another craftsman that is available to watch is the blacksmith. Unfortunately, he wasn’t in when we were there. Maybe he was out shoeing some horses…

The metal works made by the blacksmith are also available for sale in the attached shop.

Candy Makers
I think all of the candy and snacks for sale at SDC are made there. At certain times of the day, you can watch them make saltwater taffy by hand – it’s pretty interesting. Different candy shops will have different specialties for sale. Here’s the inside of one of the shops.

There are a couple of fudge shops available, too. My brother and I stopped at the one in the gift shop area on the way out and bought some different flavors of fudge to take home. They were all quite good, but very rich. The ladies could’ve been a bit friendlier, but we were able to engage them in a little bit of conversation about the candies and such after I mentioned to them that our maternal grandma used to spend the Christmas season baking all kinds of fudge and divinity for the whole family. Apparently the fudge shop inside the park used to also make divinity, but kids would squeeze the packaging and misshape it all.

There’s no shortage of food in the park for sure. I didn’t get my usual funnel cake on this trip *sniffle*, but I did get a fresh strawberry lemonade.

All of the lemonade drinks are made fresh in the little drink stands. There are also soda stands that make soda the old-fashioned way. There are plenty of restaurants in the park as well. This was around the time of a barbeque festival, so barbeque could be smelled all over the park. One of the popular food items that you see people walking around chowing down on are turkey legs. I’ve never had one, but they seem to be quite good judging by their popularity.

I haven’t eaten at very many places in the park since the food is kind of expensive like most parks, but my brother and I decided to try The Mill’s buffet. Eh. It was alright but nothing to write home about. One place that I do definitely recommend, though, is Buckshot Annie’s. This is a skillet place that seves two dishes that are cooked in giant skillets. The “family feud” is really good. You can find a full list of restaurants on their website.

It wouldn’t be much of an amusement park without rides, I suppose. When I was a kid, the only roller coaster was the indoor Fire in the Hole. Now they have 6 or 7 from what I’m told. However, the best two rides at the park, in my opinion, are The Lost River and The American Plunge. I can’t really ride The American Plunge anymore since my right knee is so messed up, but I love The Lost River. Unfortunately, my brother is a pansy and didn’t want to get wet, so I didn’t go on it since it’d be kind of eh to go with a bunch of strangers that I can’t really make fun of. Here are a couple of pictures of other people enjoying the ride, though.

The Lost River is a ride where you’re in a round raft type thing zipping around a river. It’s uncertain how wet you’ll get – it all depends on where you’re sitting. When you hit the rapids, the person with their back to them usually takes the brunt of the 6-foot waves coming up over the side. The American Plunge is a different story – you will get wet. You sit down on a toboggan with up to 4 other people (it’s best to put the heaviest person in the back) and zip along a pleasant little river for a while. Then you reach the conveyor belt and begin the climb. You reach the top, the employee monitoring the top of the ride will wave and make a smart comment or say goodbye, and then you take a nearly vertical 50-foot plunge into the water below. There aren’t any cameras available here, but people can stand on a bridge over the arrival area and watch your terrified faces shrieking in horror/excitement.

I think that about covers it for my recap of Silver Dollar City. There are loads more things to do there and see. There are funhouses, shops, kids’ play areas, music shows, magician shows, and tons of other stuff. You can even get married at the Woodland Chapel in period dress if you so desire. If you’re in the Branson Area for a vacation, I definitely recommend taking a trip back in time and stopping at Silver Dollar City for a day.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Miss & Mr. Potato - Yeongtong

Potatoes. And lots of them. Finding good french fries can be a bit tough without going to a McDonald's or a Burger King, so finding a place that specializes in potatoes is quite a find. We have a place called Miss & Mr. Potato in Yeongtong behind the building where Plus Animal Clinic and Pizza Hut are located. Yup, it's map time.

They have the usual plastic food outside for you to gaze at before going inside.

Yes, the middle one on the far right says "Choco paz" in Korean, so that would be a chocolate sauce on them

When I stopped in, there wasn't anybody in the store except for the guy working. It was an odd hour though. The menu offerings consist of french fries with different toppings, baked potatoes, hot dogs, some sandwiches, paz (the potato chunks in bowls that you can get at truck stops), and some coffees and other drinks. Here are some pics of the full menu (if you right-click on an image and open it in a new tab, you can see it better).

The inside of the shop is small since it's a long and thin storefront, but there are a few places to sit and it seems pretty cozy.

I ordered the "special cheese potato" to go and waited for the potatoes to be cooked. It's a bonus that they are cooked fresh for each order. It took maybe 5 minutes at most so I amused myself with taking pictures of the place. I was soon on my way home with my little cup of potatoes in tow in a little plastic bag and looking forward to some cheesy potato goodness.

I was disappointed :(

Not by the potatoes themselves but by the cheese sauce. The cheese sauce used on them wasn't very good at all. There was also some seasoning on them that reminds me of seasoning salt. If I hadn't let my love of all things cheesy lead me astray, I would've just ordered some plain potatoes. Curse you cheese!!! *menacing fist shake* At any rate, the fries were fine by themselves. I haven't ordered anything else from here, so I'll have to stop in again and try something else. Except hot dogs. I don't eat hot dogs.

So if you're looking for a quick snack or just want some potatoes, stop in Miss & Mr. Potato and fall into the potato's temptation...their words not mine.

Yup. Those are some temptin' taters.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Elevator Exasperation

Alright, maybe I’m just a cranky-pants this week, but I’ve been more annoyed than usual by elevators. Not the elevators themselves, mind you, but the people that use them. Now, you might wonder what could possibly be so different in elevator usage between Korea and the US, and that’s a legitimate thing to wonder. It seems pretty simple: you wait for people to exit the elevator, people exit the elevator and go about their merry way, you enter the elevator. Simple. Or at least it should be.

Door Hoggers
My first annoyance is with people that stand directly in front of the elevators while waiting for it to come. It’s like they’re so impatient that they ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO BE on the elevator as soon as the doors open.

Ok, fine, be the first one on – I don’t care. But the elevator-door-hugging person always seems to forget that there are PEOPLE ALREADY INSIDE.

“What?! That can’t be possible…this is my personal moving box. The door. It’’s opening just for me!” Seems to be what goes through their minds. I never fail to be amazed by their amazement that *gasp* people are trying to exit the elevator. They seem to forget that people need to get off of the elevator before they can get on. If you’re one of the people trying to get around the human wall standing directly in front of the door, this is very, very annoying. Especially when you encounter it at work. Every. Single. Freaking. Day.

Now, I don’t know if “airhead” should really be the right term here, but they seem to have no clue of that there is a world around them. I actually experienced this situation this very morning when I got to work.

You’re waiting for the elevator – off to the side like a good little person and not playing human wall directly in front of it. The doors open and people begin to exit and go about their business.

Except for one. One completely oblivious person that seems to forget that there’s a world moving around them steps out and stops. Directly in front of the elevator doors. This person then begins to discuss with her companion which way they are going.

Now, believe it or not, I’m a fairly patient person (shut up – I can hear you laughing), so I wait for her to realize, “Oh yeah, the world doesn’t revolve around me,” and to move the fuck out of the way. She doesn’t realize this. Her friend finally notices the large foreigner glaring angrily at the back of her head and pulls her arm for her to move. She’s still kind of oblivious until she turns and sees me blankly staring at her. She gives one of those “surprised Korean” noises and slowly sidesteps out of the way while mumbling, “Sorry.”

At this point, she’s moved so slowly that the doors are closing and I can’t reach around her without giving her a shove to stick my arm in to stop them. She should be happy that there weren’t any blunt objects within my reach.

Now, you may be thinking, “So people block the doors once in a while.” But you don’t realize (unless you’ve been to Korea) that this is only part of a larger annoyance. They do this very same thing EVERYWHERE: elevators, escalators, doorways, department store aisles…literally everywhere. So it’s pretty much a daily occurrence unless you’re a recluse.

The Button Spazzer
We have these people in the US, too, of course, but I’ve never seen such an abundance of them as I have here. You know the people I’m talking about. The people that press the “Door Open,” or “Door Close,” or “Elevator Call” button once.

But the doors aren’t opening fast enough/closing fast enough or the elevator isn’t coming fast enough. So they press the button again. And again. And againagainagainagain.

It’s almost as if they have some personal vendetta against the poor elevator button they’re beating it so much. The elevator button is all that is wrong with the world, and by smashing the hell out of it, everything will be all sunshine rainbows again. No. No, it won’t. The only thing that pounding on the button does is annoy people around you and prove you’re an idiot.

The “One-More-Will-Fit” Guy
If you’ve been to Korea, you know that personal space is pretty much non-existent. This is most evident in elevators. I work in a very large building with lots of people – mostly Koreans. So when it’s lunchtime, the elevators are absolutely crazy. It’s understandable that it’s most efficient to fit the most people in as you can so that everybody can go to lunch at the specified time. However, it’s nice to be able to breathe on the way down and not be pressed against people you don’t know for a 30-floor ride.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but next time people are getting into an elevator in Korea, watch where they look. They don’t look at the body space and see how much body space is available – they always look at the floor first to see if there is feet space.

If there’s room for 2 feet, well then, of course their whole body will fit! And they will squeeze themselves inside. In the summer, it’s made worse because people are sweaty and stinky.

*Sigh* Okay, I think I feel better now…until next time someone does one of these things at least.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Village Coffee - Forest City, NC

So, Doug and I had several hours to kill between lunch at Louie’s and the wedding, so we sought out a coffee shop. We found 1 (maybe the only one in Forest City) called Village Coffee.

Village Coffee is located at 247 Oak Street in Forest City, NC. It’s easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it. My GPS told us it was in a field about a block further down the road after all.

Anyway, the inside is spacious, but they don’t really have very much seating for customers. I guess with a city the size of Forest City (6963 people according to the 2009 also apparently used to be called "Burnt Chimney"), they don’t need much. They do have a conference room available for usage though oddly enough. They also have a drive-thru which probably lessens the foot traffic in and out of the shop.

With Doug strutting his stuff to the loo

I liked the wall painting on the wall by the entrance.

I ordered a drink that was apparently named after a local band – sorry, I’ve forgotten the name by now! But something like "something hawks iced something er something". Anyway, it was pretty good.

They also offer some dessert items, like cheesecake and such. The staff here was very friendly and they didn’t yell at us for sitting in their lobby for 3 hours using their wi-fi to amuse ourselves. However, to be honest, we were the only ones in there except for 1 lady that I think was selling stuff that sat down for a bit.

Overall, it’s a nice little place to stop for a bit to have a coffee if you’re in the area, so stop in and check out Village Coffee if you’re passing through.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Simple Shoe Saga Pt. 2

The poor little guys were expecting the Silver Dollar City trip to be their last day out and about, but, sadly, that wasn’t the case. They had to endure the rest of the trip home.

At the cemetery on Memorial Day

At Cracker Barrel for breakfast with my Aunt Peggy, Aunt Laura, and cousin Shelley

Beginning the drive to NC

Unfortunately, they became camera shy for the rest of the trip, saying something about, “No, don’t look at me right now – I didn’t sleep well.” Or “I don’t have my face on.” I told them they look fine and they’re the most comfortable thing I could have on my feet, but they were having none of it.

So, we’ve been back in Korea for about a week now – more to come later with the shoesies.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Plus Animal Clinic - Yeongtong

Having a pet in Korea can either be a huge pain or it can give you something to come home to from work if you live alone. Having a place nearby where you can get all the supplies you need for your pet can make owning one here a lot easier. Plus Animal Clinic in Yeongtong offers supplies for cats and dogs (and a few other animals, I think, too). They're also a vet clinic and have staff that speak English. Plus Animal Clinic is located across from Homeplus next to the Concierge Apple store. You can also spot it by the throng of people making faces at the cats in the window.

Another lovely map

I know that you can get supplies for dogs, fish, gerbils, etc. at Homeplus, Emart, and other department stores, but their cat supplies are sorely lacking. There are two other small animal stores in Yeongtong, but last time I checked, they didn't have any cat supplies. I believe this is because cats are only recently becoming household pets due to being considered bad luck historically.

So if you have a cat like I do, finding a place that has cat litter and more than one type of cat food is a huge bonus.

Random picture of my kitty, Bessie

So I definitely recommend Plus Animal Clinic for your pet needs. I haven't taken Bessie to the vet here yet, but I've heard good things about them. You can also get the paperwork taken care of for traveling internationally with your pet - you just need to take your pet in at least one month before the travel date.

Some people just stop in to look at the cats. I'm not sure if the cats that are always in there belong to people or the clinic or what, but there are always at least 5 or 6 running around. When I stopped in today to get some cat food, it must've been kitty nap time because about 8 cats were sleeping all over the place.

And I mean all over the shop

So if you have a pet and need schtuff - carriers, toys, food, treats, etc. - I recommend stopping in and seeing if they have whatcha need.

Gratuitous picture of Bessie