Restaurants

Barmingo: Cocktails and Chinese in Hannam-dong

I keep telling myself I won’t go more than a couple of days without updating this blog, but things just keep not working out that way. This time, I’ve gotten sidetracked by photography. I started out a few months back as worse than the average casual photographer. I used to be infamous among my friends for taking terrible, blurry photos, and photography is definitely what eats up most of my time in keeping this blog. Recently, a friend mentioned that she would be willing to sell me her Nikon for a song since she’s looking to upgrade. My current DSLR is worse than useless, but I’ve been putting off replacing it until I can justify the cost. A year ago, when I started to think seriously about figuring out how to take photos, shelling out for a new DSLR would’ve been akin to finger-painting with oil paints.


Burger Bang in Bukchon

Yesterday my friend and I were supposed to meet at Arario for lunch, and meet at Arario for lunch we did, but about an hour after we had planned to. AWL Fridays are tending, so far, to not really go as planned, because the museum restaurants finish lunch service at 2, and — although the websites and signs out front don’t say so — then take a break. We arrived at 2 on the dot and were promptly turned away.

Luckily, my friend, being the master of Seoul north of the river that she is, knew of a place just around the corner.


Chung Mi Shim Hanu Restaurant in Cheongdam


British-Irish Style Pubs in HAPS Issue 33

The new issue of HAPS Magazine, the English-language publication covering Busan, is out. Included is my latest contribution for the bi-monthly, on the growing number of “British-Irish Style” pubs popping up all over the city.

Head to page 36 now or view the entire issue online below. You can grab a free copy at many fine and dandy establishments around Busan.



Play Coffee/플레이 커피 in Gwangju

This little café was introduced to us by our good friend H. It is situated in a side street in Gwangju’s dong-gu, where you wouldn’t expect to find a cute building housing a café that serves fresh coffee, tea, mojitos, and homemade cakes.  The interior is playful and features toys, cute lamps and seats.  It also has a small classroom that teaches people how to make cake and rooftop seating. When you enter the café, you will be greeted by their friendly staff, adorable furry friend and a giant Lego doll.


Korea in Chiang Mai

 

You spend enough time in Asia as an Irishman and you give up expecting to find Irish stuff. You know you’ll stumble across something here or there, but at the best of times all you can find is a can of Guinness and a Westlife song. Chiang Mai, despite its large expat population and even larger tourist numbers was no better than Korea, or anywhere else I’ve been. I had hoped for half a day or so, but any hopes I had were soon dashed by the obvious.


Supermarkets -v- the People?

 

It has been bothering me since about the time it has been instigated. It’s a simple thing that shouldn’t really get me agitated as it has very little effect on me, and in many respects it is a good principal to take. It’s just that I think it’s the wrong step and I don’t think it really solves any problems, only encourages more populist resolutions to complicated social and economic problems.

What am talking about? Sunday closing for the so-called discount stores in Korea.

Now lets establish some terminology first.

“Discount stores” are what major supermarket chains are called in Korea. These include E-Mart (part of Shinsaegae international), Homeplus (owned by Tesco, the second largest supermarket company in the world), and Lotte Mart, which are the biggest ones.


“Free, for me?” Korea knows a thing or 2 or 10 about great service.

Living and teaching in Korea has allowed me to adopt a pretty decadent life-style. I’ve been pampered in traditional Korean bathhouses and spas, I’ve wined and dined most weekend evenings in Seoul, I’ve adopted a Korean sense of style and I can find an item that ‘I just have to have!’ in any store, and I’ve adventured throughout Korea and flown to Taiwan and Thailand all in the last year. My teaching salary has allowed me to try, see, taste and shop my way through Southeast Asia all while sending money home to the US each month to pay off student loans and other debt.

I will leave Korea in June, so I have decided to be a bit frugal and save more money in my last few months. It is comforting to know that while I am saving I can still enjoy myself in true Korean style. Korea is famous for exemplary ‘service’ and freebies. Money is great, but free things are even better.

free


VU in Beijing, China

VU in Beijing China

 As is often the case, you can find scrumptious vegan meals in every corner of the world, and China is no exception. Granted, I was nervous about going to Beijing knowing that the international dish of China was duck drenched in lard, and not speaking a lick of Chinese beyond ‘hello’, ‘thank-you’ and ‘beer please’, I had my work cut out for me.

I stayed in the Hutongs of old Beijing in a quant cosy backpackers aptly called On the City Walls. The snow had suppressed the worst of the pollution and the closure of factories over Lunar New Year meant smog was at an all time low. Even so, the streets echoed of celebratory fireworks day and night and the smoke of incense could be seen beyond the temple walls.


Just say “Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice” to escape the Korean winter.

As I’ve said before, I’m not crazy about the cold. Yes, I’m from New England, but no, I don’t really ski, so winter for me is about the first magical snow (just one please, that’s enough) and then of course the oh so mature Christmas countdown. Sometimes January and February can leave me in a kind of funk. But this really hasn’t been the case in Korea.

drinks in korea


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