Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Temple Vegetarian Cooking class at O'ngo Food Communications

On Saturday I trotted off to a cooking class for vegetarians. I was very excited and a little nervous because a) I love to eat, but b) I can't cook. Like nadda. Toast, pasta, microwaves are where its at for me.

Watching the cooking demonstration from an expert

Grating some potato for the pancakes

Tada!! The finished product
Things we made (From left to right): Soybean Paste Stew in homemade vegetable stock. Potato Pancakes with Dipping Sauce. Shitake mushroom and Kelp Jorim. Nutritious Stone Pot Rice.

  1. Vegetable Stock
    • Water 3C
    • Kelp 2pieces dried (4inchx 4inch)
    • Shitake mushroom, dried 2each
    • turnip 60g(2oz)
    • Carrot 20g(.7oz)
    • Spicy green pepper 1 each
    • Spicy red pepper 1 each
        1. Clean the kelp with a damp towel
        2. put all the ingredients in a pot and bring to boil
        3. when it has a light brown color, take the kelp out. put aside for side dish.
        4. after 5 min take the mushrooms out. keep the mushrooms for side dish.
        5. strain the stock
  2. Soybean Paste Stew
    • Temple style stock (we just made it) 2C
    • Tofu 50g
    • Zucchini 30g
    • potato 1/2 each
    • enoki mushroom 20g
    • soybean paste 1/2tbsp
        1. Wash all ingredients and cut the vegetables and tofu into bite size pieces
        2. bring to boil the stock and put in potato first. After put in soybean paste and other ingredients
        3. cook your soup until vegetables are done
        4. put the enoki mushroom on top
  3. Shitake Mushroom and Kelp Jorim
    • Shitake mushroom and kelp (used for vegetable stock)
    • Sauce:
      • soy sauce 1 1/2tbsp
      • sugar 1tsp
      • sesame oil 1tsp
      • sesame seed, crushed 1tsp
        1. Slice shitake mushroom and kelp
        2. make sauce and set aside
        3. stir fry the mushrooms and kelp
        4. put the sauce in the pot and reduce until vegetables are well coated
  4. Potato Pancake
    • Potato 100g
    • Flour 1tbsp
    • sesame seeds 1/2tsp
    • pinch of salt
    • Dipping Sauce
      • soy sauce 1tbsp
      • vinegar 1/2 tbsp
      • pinch of chili powder
        1. Grate the potatoes into the bowl
        2. mix with flour and sesame seeds
        3. season with salt
        4. pan-fry with vegetable oil
        5. serve with dipping sauce
It was absolutely DELICIOUS, and I think I will try to make it again soon. You should try it, too. YUM!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Seoraksan National Park

Took a bus from Seoul (can you find it?) to Seoraksan  (top right)
On Sunday September 19th we took a day trip to Seoraksan National park. Here's a little blurb on it that I pulled off of google. Seoraksan is the third highest mountain in South Korea (and apparently the most beautiful in autumn). We decided to climb up Ulsanbawi (울산바위), which I think was one of the easier climbs, which took us just over 2 hours to get up.

Ulsanbawi (울산바위) is a rock formation in the Seoraksan national park. The shape of Ulsanbawi is unique in the area. To reach the rocks you need to follow a hiking path and climb over 800 steps (it's actually 888 steps according to locals). On the way there, there are two temples and a spherical rock (Heundeulbawi, 흔들바위) which is located on top of a larger rock.
Me with a GIANT Buddah

As you can imagine, 888 Steps does feel as bad as it sounds

Made it to the top! Too bad none of the leaves have changed colour just yet.

Demilitarized Zone & North Korea

First stop on the tour: A train station they built (Dorasan Station) a few year back with a big hooplah and ceremony dedicated to uniting North and South Korea. Unfortunately, things didn't quite go to plan, and the train station, still fully functional, has remained unused for years.

The inside of the train station. I would have wandered further in but they don't let you past the turnstiles!

 My first view of North Korea! It is also North Korea's first view of me. See the they guy on the steps looking through binoculars? Awesome!

The standard picture of me throwin' up a peace sign in front of North Korea. The blue buildings behind me are UN conference buildings that straddle the border.

We were allowed in the blue building. We could even walk into the North Korean side! After a few minutes, we noticed that the North Korean guards had come REALLY close to the building. The guard in the picture above is literally 3 feet away from the South Korean border.

A picture of the South Korean guards in the building with us, with the North Korean soldier outside. I don't think they come this close to the border often, so people were keeping an eye on them.

Suddenly more soldiers starting lining up outside the window. This is the point where our tour guide started getting nervous!

When we were escorted out of the building we could see that they were giving a couple of North Koreans a tour of the Demilitarized Zone! 

After South Korea erected a large flagpole on their side of the border, North Korea retaliated by building a flapole almost twice as tall, with a flag that is something like 30m long.
We were also told that, when looking through binoculars, one can see that all of the buildings around the flagpole are uninhabited; in fact, the "windows" are simply black pieces of wood nailed into the cement walls.

Standard touristy shot.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Birthday in Korea

September 17th was my birthday. In Canada I would have turned 23 on this day, but in Korea, age works a little different.

See, on your real birthday, you are considered 1 year old.

Therefore, in Korea, I am now 24. (and all of my students who told me they are 6 are actually 5 years old-yikes!)

When I arrived at school  they had set out a massive spread of fruit, cookies, pizza, and a Costco cake for me! YUM!

Salivating over cake

Mrs. Kang, Joanne, Yoo-Ri, and Kevin

The birthday Swans love me

My First Chuseok (Choo-Sock) Gift!

"Happy Chuseok, Enjoy your Holiday" -Mrs. Kang (My Boss)

What could it be?!

On Skype with my sister opening it...


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chuseok: My first (of few) National Holidays

The next couple weeks are going to be pretty jam-packed, and I couldn't be more excited.

Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) runs from September 21-23. Yes, that is a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. And no, my school chose NOT to let us off easy and give us the monday or friday off.

What Chuseok is supposed to look like
After hearing that everyone usually clears out of Seoul for the holiday, we decided to plan a fun-filled few days. So The plans are as follows:

Friday, September 17: My BIRTHDAY! 

Saturday, September 18: Getting as close as we can to North Korea on a tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)!

Sunday, September 19: Day hike in Seroksam National Park

Monday, Sept. 20: Work

Tuesday, Sept 21-Thursday, Sept 23: DeokJeok Island (guided hikes, beach time, etc)!

Friday, Sept 24: Korean Vegetarian Temple food cooking class!

I'll let you all know how it goes :)

Korean Online Shopping: Gmarket

So in Korea, they have a wonderful website called gmarket ( On this website, thousands of small businesses can list what they have for sale in a mass online marketplace.

My cousin Jan, who has lived here for the past few years, swears by it. He insists that it is the place to buy things like home furnishing, food, toilet paper, water, etc., while paying little or no difference in retail cost. Instead of ordering it online and having to wait a week to get it like in Canada, the order takes 1 or 2 days to arrive.

The only problem is that this site works best when in Korean (the English section is much more limited). Luckily this weekend I was with a native Korean speaker who agreed to help me out. It was finally time to order something i've always wanted, from the far corners of my heart!

So I ordered leg wax. (haha)

The order officially went in on Monday morning, and arrived at my place on Tuesday!

My little gmarket experiment worked. From now on i'm using it to buy everything. Any suggestions?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

September 3rd- September 9th Week Update

Well, it's been a while since I last posted; nothing too eventful has happened over the past week. I confess this is a good thing, as it probably means I am finally settling into some sort of a schedule here.

So many wonderful things to buy
Last Saturday, September 4th, I took some time to clean my room the way it should have been cleaned when I first arrived. Saturday morning I went to a HomePlus store at Mullae Station (owned by british mega-company Tesco). It was lovely because there was a decent amount of english on the products being sold, and it felt like a Walmart. Floor 1 was clothing, floor 2 was childrens, floor 3 was groceries, and floor 4 was electronics. I left with a new toilet brush, sponges and gloves, mini vacuum, a tshirt, a block of cheese, and some yogurt. Spent the rest of the day bleaching everything in my room. It was marvelous. I also finally planted my basil seeds (which sprouted yesterday!!)

Sunday, September 5th I had my first day of ultimate frisbee! I am on Team Squid, and we got our butts kicked 15-3. That's O.K., because I met a ton of really nice people and got in a great workout. This upcoming weekend I am signed up for a tournament that runs both days... can't wait!
This is what I look like when I play

Monday morning I went on my merry way to school. I had to go in early to finish report cards, which were late because I procrastinated. The fact that I even had a the stress of writing report cards for my students makes me feel SO old. I'm not the one getting report cards anymore :(

Tuesday I acquired my first bike. Well, I don't actually have it YET. The guy who gave me the bike couldn't bring it all the way from the subway because he had to take a cab. So instead he locked it up at the subway station. I have a piece of paper with the name of the subway station, and the combination for the bike lock. I will mission out to get the bike tomorrow or the next day.

And the last piece of news is that I will finally be getting my first pay cheque tomorrow!!! I've avoided taking out money for the past week so I don't have to pay the transfer fee and exchange rate. This morning I ran out of money on my bus pass, and had to walk home from school in the rain. I also have about $2.50 in cash in my wallet. So this money can't come soon enough! I don't even have enough money to do my laundry! So I'm smelly and broke.

That's all for now, I'll write again after my ultimate tournament this weekend!

평화와 사랑
(peace and love)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Typhoon Kompasu

Today I lived through my first typhoon!!


forecasted as: "A typhoon is expected to directly hit South Korea, with heavy rains and strong winds forecast for Wednesday night and Thursday, as it moves northward toward Jeju Island on Wednesday."

Well, this morning I woke up to nothing but the sound of strong wind outside my window. It was about 5 am, and the noise was deafening! The halls in my building are lined with windows and they were all open and whistling. Doors slamming, building swaying. 

I was obviously WAY too excited to go back to sleep so I stayed up and watched the storm for a while... fences blow down, hard rain, and insane wind!

At one point, the doors in the hallway that lead out to a public balcony slammed so hard the glass smashed (see picture). Note that I am on the 11th floor. I can't imagine what it looked like on ground level with stuff blowing around and trees falling over!

I tried to take a video showing how strong the gusts were, but it didn't do the storm justice. After about an hour I got tired and dozed for the rest of the morning. When I woke up again at 7:45 the storm had passed.

An exciting way to start a day!!