Sunday, October 28, 2012

Taxi Driver Randomness

So, just a random little story for y'all today really quick.

One day last week after getting my morning...well, ok, let's be noon coffee at Starbucks before work I went out to flag down a taxi to go to work. I catch one, hop in, and say hello.

Driver: Ososehyo!
Me: Hi, um, Samsung Jeonja Jeong Mun.
Driver: Samsung Jeonja Jeong Mun?
Me: Nay.
Driver: Ok, buddy! Hahaha! Ok, buddy!!
Me: o_O

So off we go to Samsung.

This morning, I go to Starbucks to get my...noon coffee before heading to work. I head out to catch a taxi, but I get distracted by the caramel that has wrapped itself around my straw at the top of my iced coffee and miss 2 taxis as they go by. I do catch the third taxi I see and hop in.

Driver: Ososehyo!! Samsung Jeoja Jeong Mun?
Me: Um, yes. Jeong mun.
Driver: Ok, buddy!!
me: o_O

It's the same freaking taxi driver I had last week! What are the odds that he would happen to be driving by again and be the taxi that I happen to catch after messing with my straw in my coffee?! So, not only do all of the taxi drivers behind Samsung recognize me and know where I live, some random driver in Yeongtong recognizes me and knows where I work.

I guess all I have to say about it is "Oh, Korea."

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Kim's Club - Ingyedong New Core Outlet

So, I was going to Ingyedong yesterday (Saturday) to pick up a few groceries even though I live 2 blocks from a Homeplus. The problem with living so close to Homeplus is that you feel weird taking a taxi home even if you have a lot of stuff - at least I feel weird doing that. So when I go to Homeplus, I only grab a few things that I stick in my backpack. I don't like carrying bags in my hands for very long since it starts to hurt quite a bit - carpal tunnel issues. So I will take a taxi over to the Ingyedong New Core outlet and go to the Kim's Club in the basement.

If you're not familiar with Ingyedong, it's a nice area - I used to spend a lot of time there. I'll try to give a rough map (I'm on my netbook using MS Paint so....yeah...) with some landmarks that people might be familiar with in the area. Kim's Clubs can typically be found in the basements of New Core Outlets or sometimes as small stand alone neighborhood markets.
Yup...that's all ya get

To get to this area from Yeongtong, you can take a taxi and tell the driver "Ingyedong New Core," but pronounce "core" like "co-ah." In Korean, I believe it's written as 뉴코어, so pronounce it this to keep the drivers from looking at you like you've grown a second head. There are also two buses that go by the outlet - the 2-1 and and 13-1. It takes about 30 minutes or so on either one (catch them going away from the Homeplus in Yeongtong).

So why do I come all the way over here to pick up a few groceries? Several reasons, really, and I don't have pictures because I didn't feel like juggling my camera along with my shopping basket to take them. One reason is that they are never packed with people like Homeplus and E-Mart. One reason that I avoid Homeplus is there are just waaaay too many people. Kim's Club is never packed like that, so I'm not fighting my way through people to look at vegetables. They also have a broad enough selection of products and a few things you can't find at Homeplus. It's a smaller store, but they have enough stuff that it doesn't matter - a nice mix of local and imported goods. I picked up some frozen raspberries for a friend while I was there because they can't really be found anywhere else. They also have frozen blueberries, mangoes, cherries, and strawberries. The frozen food section is really quite nice: frozen pizza, tater tots, french fries, mandu, and other stuff. The dairy and cheese section isn't as full as Homeplus, but you can still get a nice variety of items. They also have a small selection of household goods like towels, bathroom stuff, pots and pans, etc. They also have a nice, but small, wine and beer selection.

So if you need to pick up a few groceries or other items and don't want to deal with crowds, you should give Kim's Club a shot - you might find your new market :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pho Mein - Everywhere

Hey folks! Just a quickie post about a Vietnamese/Thai chain. I'm starting to get a bit cranky about not being able to find my pics from Vegas from last year. It's very frustrating. Anywho, you'll spot little "Pho" chains all around Korea: Pho Bay, Pho Mein, Pho King (no I'm not kidding), among others. While hanging out with a couple of friends on Saturday, we went to the Pho Mein in the I'park Mall in Yongsan Station. I didn't take a lot of pics - sorry!

So, Pho Mein has a selection of pho as well as some Thai dishes, like Pad Thai. I believe dishes have an average price of around 10000 won, which is fairly typical. I wouldn't say this place is very vegetarian friendly, though. The spring rolls here, which are usually filled with only vegetables, have seafood or pork in them. The branch we were at also offered a pot of jasmine tea on the table for free, which is nice. The service was also very quick.

I had the chicken fried rice, which was really very good. It was a bit oily, so if you don't like that sort of thing, you shouldn't eat here.

Denise and Marianne both ordered the chicken pad thai. It looked really good and they both said it was good, so I'll take their words for it :).

I forgot to take more pics of the place, but oh well. You can spot Pho Meins all over the place. If you're in a hurry for a quick lunch or dinner, it's not too bad of a place to stop in and grab a bite. Remember, though, that a lot of the dishes will have meat or some sort of seafood in them. Enjoy!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Flying Pet Peeves

So, I’m still looking for my pics of Vegas from last year *sigh*. I know they’re on one of the external hard drives or computers – I just need to find the right one. Until then, here’s a post of my traveling by air pet peeves (in no particular order – they all annoy me equally).

1. Security Line
I know, I know – everyone bitches about security at airports. With all of the rule changes, the body scanners, and the incompetent TSA employees, who can blame people for complaining about it once in a while? I actually don’t mind it so much since I know they’re just trying to keep the flights safe, and I, for one, enjoy arriving at my destination safely. But there are two areas that annoy me: feeling like I have to do everything at breakneck speed and having to do two security checks back-to-back.

When I travel back to the US, I usually have multiple electronic items in my backpack that I use as my carry-on: netbook, external hard drive, camcorder, camera, iPod, and 1 or 2 cell phones. I have to pull all of this out of my bag and put it in the little tray. Then I have to also take off my shoes, belt, and if it’s the winter, my coat. There are usually going to be people behind me, and I hate to feel like I’m holding a line up, so I feel like I have to just dump everything out of my bag quickly and strip down as fast as I can. Then I have to put everything back in place after I get through the screening area – also at a breakneck speed. Luckily, at Incheon Airport for this last trip home, we didn’t have to remove our shoes and belts. I think Koreans were just tired of smelling foreigner foot stank.

Now, for the security checks, this is about connections in Japan specifically. A lot of my flights connect in Japan (usually Narita in Tokyo) since it’s cheaper to do so. But it’s really annoying to get off a plane and go right back through a security checkpoint and be right back at another secure area right after. Why? Why in the world do we have to do this? It’s just frustrating if you’re already on a tight connection schedule to have to waste the time going through a security checkpoint that really seems to serve no purpose. You even have to throw away a bottled drink if you had one from your previous flight. Very annoying.

2. Airplane Bathroom Sinks
I hate the sinks on airplanes. How the hell are you supposed to use those things properly? You have hold the handles down for hot and cold water at the same time to get a stream of water that isn’t boiling/freezing. You can sort of use your thumbs to hold each one down and kind stick your fingers under the stream, but that’s kind of awkward. The closest that I’ve come to being able to use it decently is putting water on one hand, squirting soap into it, lathering my hands up, then rinsing one hand while holding the water on with the other hand, then switching for the other hand. And once the water does come out, if you don’t have your hands at the right angle, you splash it all over yourself.

3. Recliners
I’ve talked about this before in relation to buses, but it’s annoying on planes, too. I know that we’ve all paid for our seats, blah blah blah. I don’t care. If you’re going to slam your seat back all the way and reduce my available space by several inches while making it damn near impossible for me to do anything at all with my tray table, I’m going to bump your seat every chance I get. My row-mates and I are not fans of having to do the limbo to get up to go pee. On my last flight, the flight attendants made people put their seats in the upright position when they were handing out meals, so at least we weren’t trying to eat from under a seat back.

4. Sleeping with the Light On
This is just a common courtesy: if you’ve had your overhead light on to do something, turn the damn thing off if you decide to go to sleep. I’ve had a few flights where the person next to me has had their light on to read, do paperwork, check their bomb schematics, whatever, and then decided to go to sleep with the light on. These little lights put out quite a bit of light, and if people have a hard time sleeping on planes anyway, this can just be more than a mild annoyance – it can completely keep them awake for the whole flight. I’ve thought about reaching across the person and turning their light off myself, but that seems a bit awkward. So, what I’ve tried to do now is try to make sure I have my sleeping mask with me for all of my flights.

5. Stupid Questions at U.S. Immigration
I really hate when I've just gotten off of a 10 - 12 hour flight, probably haven't slept any because the person next to me left their light on, and my shirt is wet from the stupid bathroom sink, and then the immigration official decides to ask me the stupidest questions, or really just any questions in general. I've been asked "What do you do in Korea?" "How long have you been there?" "Do you speak Korean?" "Where are you going?" And my personal favorite after learning that I work for Samsung, "What kind of phone do you have?" Really? Does it really matter? I appreciate the attempt at being friendly, but if my eyes are bloodshot and look like I just stepped out of a shower, please just stamp my passport so I can try to make my connection.

6. Overhead Hoggers
This is going to seem racist, but Asians on international flights are the absolute worst about this. Seriously. I’ve been on many, many international flights from Asia to the US, so I feel comfortable in making this stereotype. They’ll have their carry-on: sure, that’s fine, stick it in the overhead. The women (and men) will have their massive purses, which they will also stick in the overhead. THEN they’ll have 3 or 4 little bags of bullshit that they’re purchased from duty-free or somewhere else in the terminal that shove in the overhead, too. Then there’s their coats if it’s winter time. Come on, really? Shove some of that shit under the seat in front of you. On the big planes with a 3-5-3 seating arrangement, 1 person has pretty much just taken up the storage space of 3 people. On this last flight, I noticed something weird on two different flights. This older Asian couple got on the plane with a carry-on each and 2 smaller items. Let’s say the row numbering for the section started at 20 and their seats were in row 28 (they were behind me at least by a few rows). They stopped at the beginning of the section and put all of their stuff in the overhead storage for row 20. o_O Why would someone do that? You’ve not only taken up all of the storage space, but all of the storage for a completely different row! Why?! In what universe does this make sense? It was very early in the boarding process, so I know their area was clear for storage. I use my backpack now as my carry-on so I can stick it under the seat in front of me and have easy access to my stuff and not have to worry about overhead space, but it still annoys the hell out of me since I try to be respectful of others that I’m traveling with.

Anywho, that’s my traveling pet peeves so far. What annoys you when you travel?