Sunday, December 30, 2012

Reading the Subway Display or How to Not Get on the Wrong Train

So, I've been surprised to learn recently from some people I know here in Korea that they didn't know you can tell which train is coming at the subway stop by looking at the display screen.

First off, here's a link to an interactive subway map. And here's a link to a blog I posted previously with general subway information.

If you can't read Korean, I would definitely recommend learning enough to be able to read, or at least recognize, stop names on subway displays. "Why?" you may be asking. Well, here's why: some subway lines split and sometimes trains won't be going to the end of the subway line. Here's the best example of this: Line 1, the dark blue line.
Just waiting to take you to the wrong place

Let's say in this example that you are in Yongsan shopping for some cheap electronics (green circle) and now you want to go meet your military friend in Osan (red circle) to get some foreign goods from the Air Force base there. However, if you're not paying attention, you could end up in any number of places that aren't Osan. The 3 places that I've circled in yellow are where Line 1 splits. You need to be able to recognize a destination on the display that will get you on the right train going to your destination.

So, here is the display that you will see in the subway stations that have trains stopping that may be going to a variety of final stops.
You are so screwed if you can't read me, bwahaha!

The orange column (number 1) tells you the last stop of the train; the green column (number 2) tells you the current location of that train; the red column (number 3) just tells you the train's motion status. This is the display in Jeongja Station on the Bundang line. As you know, I live in Yeongtong: specifically, at the Cheongmyung Station stop. If I'm coming home from Seoul, I need to make sure I get on the right train to get home so I'm not waiting in the cold for 15 minutes for the right train after I have to get off at the last stop, which happened earlier this weekend when I wasn't paying attention. For reference, here's the part of the Bundang line being referred to in this sign.
Yay! The subway is open!

So, the top row is the train that is going to be at the station next. The last stop for it is Jukjeon (죽전 - you can ignore the "행": it just means "line"), and it is currently approaching (접근) Seohyeon (서현). Since the last stop for this train is Jukjeon and I want to go to Cheongmyung, I don't want to take this train. The second train (row 2) is going to Mangpo (망포), and it is currently at (도착)- or arriving at - Taepyeong (태평). Since Mangpo is past where I want to go, this is the train I'll wait for and take. The third train is also stopping its run at Jukjeon (죽전), and it is currently departing from (출발) Suseo (수서).

So, that's how you read the display and can tell if you're getting on the right train. If nothing else, being able to read the stop names in the subway should be good motivation to at least learn to read Hangul.

Happy subway riding and Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Worst Taxi Ride Ever

So, since I'm avoiding going back home and cleaning my apartment so I can start packing soon, I'll tell you a little story. Gather round, boys and girls, for the tale of The Shittiest Taxi Driver in Korea.

'Twas a cold and icy Saturday afternoon in the little hamlet of Suwon City in South Korea. Two young *cough* ladies, we'll call them Arizona and Missouri, had a craving for some Indian food, so they decided to meet at Ayesha by the train station for lunch. After some good food and general hanging out, they decided to leave and go back to their own neighborhood across town.

They left the restaurant and went in search of a taxi to dash them away back home. Now, they could've crossed the street, but Missouri was wearing YakTrax on her shoes so she wouldn't bust her ass on the snow/ice and wasn't up to climbing the stairs and crossing the road to catch a taxi that would've been more convenient. So, she made things more difficult and took her friend around the corner to catch a taxi without having to climb stairs.

They catch a taxi with minimal effort and no ass-busting on the ice, amazingly, since both of them are like a newborn Bambi on ice: one is from the desert and the other can barely walk on dry ground let alone ice. So, they get in the taxi and Arizona tells the driver, "Kyunghee-De kajuseyo." The driver says, "Gyonggi-de?" Arizona replies, "Aneeyo, Kyunghee-de." The driver shakes his head and says, "Gyonggi-de," and starts driving. Arizona and Missouri then both yell to the driver, "No! No 'Gyonggi-de', 'Kyunghee-de'!" The drive seems to understand and nods. Ok, good. Then the driver turns where he probably shouldn't turn. Arizona starts to get a bit worried, but Missouri used to live near the direction they are heading and tells Arizona that sometimes the taxi drivers will turn there and go around the major intersection to avoid traffic jams. But then, where the driver should turn right to head back to the main road, he keeps going straight. Arizona then pulls out her phone and has the driver pull over so she can show him the name of the place in Korean. This takes 4 attempts since he keeps touching the damn screen and flipping the page instead of just reading it. They even tell him "Yeongtong Gu" several times so he'll know for sure which area of Suwon to go to.

Finally! It seems they might finally have gotten through to the old man (and he was old). They continue on their merry way, but where the driver should have turned to go around the fortress to head to the right part of town, he turns the other way. Arizona and Missouri begin to get very angry when they arrive at the entrance to Gyonggi-de. Arizona then yells very angrily at the driver, "NO! NOT GYONGGI_DE!!! KYUNGHEE DE!! KYUNGHEE DE!! YEONGTONG!!" The driver turns around and starts to head in what seems to be the right direction. Now, if you're familiar with Korean body language and could see the driver, which Missouri could, you would see the driver doing the little head tilt/shake and muttering to himself that means he thinks the passengers don't know where they want to go and are stupid foreigners. Meanwhile, the passengers just want to strangle him.

Finally, the angry taxi ride ends at Arizona's apartment by Kyunghee-de - the driver took the ladies directly to the right place once he got his head out of his ass - and Missouri and Arizona have a much needed drink.


Moral of the story: Some people are just fucking assholes and think foreigners in Korea are stupid and don't know anything - even where the hell they want to go in a taxi when they show the address IN KOREAN. Asshole.

Mother's Grill - Chinatown, Las Vegas

Yes, Las Vegas has a Chinatown. And they have a website. So, if you know me, you know that I absofuckinglutely looooove Chinese food. Especially Springfield-style cashew chicken. Yeah, that's right, we created that deliciousness in SW Missouri. But, I digress. So, when I'm in the US, I have to try to have American Chinese food at least once. So, while taking a taxi back to my hotel one afternoon, I asked my taxi driver, who was Asian incidentally, "So, can you recommend any good Chinese restaurants around here?" And because I didn't want to seem racist, I hastily added, "Or Mexican restaurants?" The nice fella informed me that there was a Chinatown located maybe a mile behind my hotel, recommended a restaurant to check out there, and told me they had a website I could look up to get directions and such.

So, I browsed around the web site and decided that I would take Doug there after he arrived one night for dinner. Who would've thought we'd have a Chinatown nearby? Now, our getting there was an adventure, which I will tell you about now. Apparently I'm shit at telling directions outside of Missouri. I think Korea has broken my internal compass. So, my directions from the hotel to Chinatown said to turn 'x' direction on Spring Mountain Rd...Spring Mountain Rd curves around my hotel, so I had no clue which direction was which, so I panicked and turned the wrong way. Of course. So, we drove the wrong way for a bit looking for a place to turn around and head back the other way with the idea to take a cross road back over to Spring Mountain Rd. Nope. We end up on a highway type road. Shit. I pull us off on a road name that I recognize and kind of head towards what I hope will be a road that can take us back to where we want to be. If not, we'd just stop somewhere random and eat since we had tickets to see Penn & Teller later that evening. Finally, I say to Doug, "Ok, the next light we'll turn left and see where it takes us." We turn left, and I see Hangul (Korean) on a building, then Chinese characters. Doug and I look at each other in startled disbelief - I had somehow bungled us directly into Chinatown! Moral of the story - buy a damn compass.

This is the only non-blurry pic...

We look around at our options, and I inform Doug that we're having Korean BBQ. Since he won't visit me in Korea, I'll bring a bit of Korea to him.
Yes, he is using a fork. The boy can't use chopsticks to save his life.

We ended up going to a place called Mother's Grill. It wasn't bad and it was reasonably priced, I think.
A few of the meat options

There were a few issues I had while trying to order our food. We waited for several minutes for the guy to bring the meat out for us to cook, but apparently since we only ordered 1 order of meat, they were going to cook it in the back and bring it out. A minute later, he comes out with the raw meat and tells me that they hadn't started it yet and turns on our grill so we can cook it ourselves - very nice of him :)
The meaty meat

So, then, since I'm apparently the demanding kind, I asked him if we can have some sesame leaves for the meat. He said that for the type of meat we ordered, the salad was the base for it. I wasn't happy with that since a lot of the leaves in the "salad" were bitter and I wanted sesame leaves, dammit. So I then asked him, "Well, can I purchase some sesame leaves on the side?" He looked kind of surprised and said, "Oh, well, yes. Give me a second." A few minutes later he comes back out carrying a small plate and looking kind of sheepish, "I'm sorry, the leaves are very small, so I'm not going to charge you for them." They were tiny. It was pretty comical to hold up a leaf half the size of my palm - I didn't take pictures of them, my bad. I think I ended up kind of sandwiching the meat between two leaves for most of it.

So, that was our Korean BBQ adventure in Las Vegas. It was no Hwasarang and not as good as the BBQ in Korea, but if you've never been to Korea, then you won't know the difference :) There are a lot of restaurants in Chinatown to choose from: Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese... So if you want to get off The Strip for a bit, I definitely recommend checking the area out!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Aces & Ales, Las Vegas, NV

So, I haven't found a lot of my pics from last year, but I do have my pics from this year's trip. I'm finally going to write a post about Aces & Ales. This is a bar located a few miles off the strip. It's known more as a craft beer bar and people go there to try lesser-known beers. You can get the address and see their full food and beer menu on their website that I've linked to above. It takes about 15 - 20 minutes to get to the place from the strip, but it's worth it. The prices seem fairly reasonable to me, but then again it's Vegas and I've been living overseas for 5 years, so what the hell do I know.
Aces & Ales

Now, I'm not a big beer fan, but I had been watching Brew Masters on Discovery Channel and was intrigued by the different flavors that Dogfish Head brewery uses (we're a bit behind on TV shows in Korea). So I did a search for what places in Vegas sell their beers and found Aces & Ales. It didn't hurt that they also have a full menu so we could have dinner there as well.

As at any bar, you'll see the regulars there sitting at the bar playing the video poker machines embedded in the counter. The people working are friendly, though, and try to be attentive. We were there fairly earlyish on a Saturday evening and it was pretty busy.

My Dougie and I tried the Black & Blue from Dogfish Head first.
Big bottle o' beer
Nice looking beer

It wasn't bad, but I sadly am just not meant to be a beer drinker - guess I'll stick to my mixed drinks and my hard ciders.

For dinner, I ordered the buffalo chicken macaroni & cheese. It was, really, really good. It also came with some toast. It was very cheesy and the buffalo chicken wasn't overly spicy, but added just the right amount of kick.
Mac & cheesey goodness

I think Doug ordered the chicken cheese steak sandwich with sweet potato fries. If I remember correctly, he said it was really good. Both of us were super stuffed after grub.
Doug and his sammich

To finish up our dinner at Aces & Ales, Doug had a glass of 120 Minutes from Dogfish Head (I think) and I had an appletini :D
He wasn't drunk - he just looks it
Don't judge me - it was delicious

So that wrapped up our evening at Aces & Ales before we headed back to The Strip. I definitely recommend checking this place out if you want to get off The Strip for a bit for something different.