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The main temple courtyard at Daeheungsa Temple in northern Gyeongju.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Daeheungsa Temple is located in the northern part of Gyeongju and just south east of the towering Mt. Jioksan (569m). You first approach Daeheungsa Temple past several farmers’ fields. The temple in fact seems out of place surrounded by agriculture on all sides.
Standing in the centre of the temple parking lot, you face a large retaining wall, past which lays the temple grounds. Climbing the large set of stairs, you’ll finally pass through the Cheonwangmun Gate at Daeheungsa Temple to enter the lower temple courtyard. Housed inside the Cheonwangmun Gate are four rather underwhelming statues of the Four Heavenly Kings.
Finally standing inside the lower courtyard, you’ll first notice the ornateness of the temple. To your immediate left is a statue of Podae-hwasang. And a little further left is the temple’s bell pavilion which houses a beautiful bronze bell. Straight ahead, on the other hand, is a large granite statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion), who stands in a shallow flowing pond. To the left rear of this pond is an elevated altar that houses a statue of the Eight Spoke Buddhist Wheel, and it’s backed by a seated stone image of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). While to the right rear of the pond is another elevated altar. This time, the altar is fronted by a large metal Geumgang-jeo (Diamond Pounder) and backed by another stone image of Seokgamoni-bul.
Climbing a flight of stairs directly to the rear of the pond and Gwanseeum-bosal, you’ll come to the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas. Just outside this hall are large paintings of the sixteen Nahan, as well as smaller stone statues of various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. As for inside the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas, and resting on the main altar, is triad of statues centred by Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). And this triad is surrounded on all sides, as you might have guessed it, by one thousand smaller images of Amita-bul.
Up another flight of stairs, and passing through the beautiful dragon adorned entry gate, you’ll be welcomed by a large concrete main hall. While the exterior of the hall is all but unadorned except for the traditional dancheong colours, you’ll notice a large triad resting on the main altar. Again, Amita-bul is front and centre in this triad. And he’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul).
To the left of the main hall, besides the monks’ dorms and a training centre for the monks, is a large statue to Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). But it’s to the right of the main hall which probably draws most of your attention. The all white shrine hall, which looks to be Indian-inspired, houses sari (crystallized remains) inside. But before stepping inside this elevated hall, you’ll first have to pass by two intimidating stone Vajra warrior statues. Once you step inside the circular hall, you’ll notice that the wall’s to the hall are painted with the Palsang-do murals that recreate Seokgamoni-bul’s life. And resting on the main altar is a sari.
Just behind the white circular shrine hall, and to the right of the main hall, is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Housed inside this hidden hall are three rather common paintings of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Yongwang (The Dragon King), and Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).
HOW TO GET THERE: From the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal, take Bus #203 for 45 stops., which will last one hour and twenty minutes. Get off at Oksan 2-ri and walk 850 metres towards Daeheungsa Temple.
OVERALL RATING: 8/10. While a bit out of the way from the usual tourist trappings of Gyeongju, Daeheungsa Temple is well worth the visit to the northern part of the ancient city. With all its stone statues and altars, the trip is worth it alone. But when you add into the mix the white circular sari hall, as well as the massive main hall that’s ornately adorned inside, and you’ll have to find a way to get to the newer Daeheungsa Temple.
The entrance to Daeheungsa Temple.
Rather uniquely designed stupas at the base of the temple entrance.
A walk towards the beautiful Daeheungsa Temple.
One of the Four Heavenly Kings inside the Cheonwangmun Gate.
The lower courtyard at Daeheungsa Temple.
The Podae-hwasang statue at the entry of the temple.
The bell pavilion to the left of the Cheonwangmun Gate.
The Eight Spoke Buddhist Wheel platform at Daeheungsa Temple.
And to the right is another platform backed by Seokgamoni-bul and fronted by a large metal Geumgang-jeo (Diamond Pounder).
The stairs leading up to the main hall at Daeheungsa Temple.
Inside the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas.
One of the Nahan paintings outside the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas.
The entry gate to the upper courtyard.
One of the ornamental dragons that hangs from the upper courtyard gate.
The unique hall that houses sari inside.
One of the stone guardians that protects the entry to the sari hall.
The main altar inside the sari hall.
A closer look at the main altar with the sari in the centre.
A look back at the entry.
The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall at Daeheungsa Temple.
The Sanshin mural inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.
The large concrete main hall at Daeheungsa Temple.
The main altar inside the main hall at Daeheungsa Temple with Amita-bul front and centre.
The Mireuk-bul statue to the left of the main hall.
The view from the upper courtyard down towards the lower courtyard.
Cat cafes aren't very hard to find in Korea, but they're a special stop for any traveler looking for a quick relaxing drink and a chat.
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If you've never stopped by a cat cafe before, check it out. It's definitely a unique experience from conventional cafes which are all over the world.
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This is a re-posting of something I wrote for the Lowy Institute here. Basically, I was trying to think of what might either bring North Korea down, or otherwise force it to change substantially. Usually at this point, people say something like, a war, or an internal revolt. But a war would be so disastrous, that it is worth looking at other possibilities. And an internal popular revolt seems really unlikely. In 71 years, North Korea has never had one.
In the movies, like Avatar, the people rise up and overthrow their oppressors. In reality, authoritarian regimes almost always collapse when the regime’s internal groups turn on each other. Regime splits, possibly catalyzed by popular protest, can force dictatorships to change or even collapse. In Egypt in 2011, the regime split after Mubarak failed to quell the revolt with his thugs and then flirted with using the army. They brass balked, and Mubarak began to lose internal support.
But if there won’t be popular revolt in North Korea, how to set the regime’s factions against one another? Well, how about going after their cash? The military and police who keep the Kim regime afloat pay a pretty high price for that. They are globally isolated, hated by the countrymen, and will be remembered in Korean history as thugs. What is the compensation? The great lifestyle of the gangster racket Pyongyang runs – the HDTVs, booze, women, foreign cars, and so on. All of that depends on a) foreign cash, and b) a foreign pipeline. China is required for both. Shut that gate, and the pie of foreign goodies suddenly starts to dry up. That might get them them tearing at each other.
The full essay follows the jump:
One of the great career mistakes a North Korea analyst can make is to predict Pyongyang’s downfall, or worse, attach an actual date to that event. The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) manages to survive no matter how much the world throws at it, no matter how many times we on the outside confidently predict it will fall. And it sure looks like it should fall. It violates almost every expectation we have about successful, or at least stable, states in the contemporary era. Indeed, we often label it a failed state, which suggests that instability or break-down are imminent or likely.
North Korea is just Supposed to Collapse…or Something
But one does not often see a credible pathway – i.e., one without huge changes in current circumstances – laid out for that implosion. Instead, I often find at conferences or in regional journalism a vague, almost teleological, sense that North Korea’s time is up, that it will naturally crumble, subject to ‘historical forces’ or something. The South Korean government is particularly prone to this sort of nebulous-but-confident speculation. Its presidents ritualistically suggest unification will happen soon. Lee Myung-Bak wanted a ‘unification tax’ for this imminent event, while Park Geun-Hye spoke of it as a soon-coming ‘bonanza.’ The South Korea left likes to speculate – even more fantastically – about a Korean federation paralleling relations in ‘greater China’ or even the EU. I have seen lots powerpoints over the years on what to do with the North Korean military or its nuclear weapons after unification and so on, but surprising few credible scenarios of how to actually get from here to there.
So rather than predict a date for North Korea collapse, I want instead to lay out a (hopefully more credible) pathway to change, if not collapse – a Chinese cut-off of North Korea igniting regime elite divisions as Pyongyang factions fight over a declining budgetary pie. There are other obvious possibilities: A war could break out – probably accidentally, as a result of a North Korean provocation gone too far, and igniting a tit-for-tit spiral that escalates. North Korea would lose that war. Andrei Lankov has suggested that the ongoing flow of information into North Korea could ultimately create generational change. The young of today, exposed to world, will inherit North Korea’s institutions tomorrow and slowly change them. Or perhaps, North Koreans will themselves rise, as Eastern Europeans did in 1989 and Arabs in 2010. All these scenarios involve huge changes, whereas mine tries to deal with the DPRK as it is now.
How to Catalyze Regime Splits?
Rather than looking for a black-swan event like implosion or collapse, far more likely is the possibility of regime splits at the top leading to some sort of mild, perhaps rolling, political change. Comparative political science often argues that authoritarian states are prone to change when divisions arise among elites. Often popular revolts catalyze these divisions. But North Korea has never had a popular protest in its history, and there is precious little evidence of a civil society. So what other mechanisms might set the DPRK’s elites against each other? As it is basically a gangster state, how about their money and goodies?
The current South Korean and US strategy is to slowly isolate North Korea in hopes of pushing it back toward the bargaining table. Sanctions have steadily increased; this year has seen the heaviest UN sanctions yet, plus the targeting of Kim Jong Un personally by the United States. This has probably slowed the nuclear and missile programs, but North Korea’s behavior this year is arguably its worst since 2010. South Korea closed the Kaesong Industrial Complex, depriving North Korea of 100 million legal USD per annuam. And Seoul is now seeking to peel away North Korea’s ‘third-worldist’ friends, like Cuba and Namibia. This should make it harder for North Korea to evade sanctions and engage in the gangsterism that has provided cash to the regime for decades. All this should help. Its slowly shrinks North Korea’s room for maneuver, and it wisely pursues low-hanging fruit first. Cutting off subsidies, thickening sanctions, isolating North Korea step-by-step from its few remaining friends slowly backs it into a corner, where it survives almost exclusively on Chinese forbearance.
A Chinese Cut-Off
It is now widely understood that North Korea is greatly dependent on China. China accounts for roughly 90% of North Korean trade. Its banks hide the regime’s slush funds. Informal cross-border networks help feed North Koreans where the state no longer can. It is the pathway over which elite luxuries like alcohol, HDTVs, and jet-skis travel to the Pyongyang ‘court economy.’ The closure of Kaesong, roll-up of other allies, and tough new sanctions on North Korean shipping increasingly leave China as North Korea’s last major pipeline to the world economy.
A Chinese cut-off would therefore be disastrous. It would dramatically reduce resources flowing into the country, especially the luxury goods which underwrite the governing bargain between the Kim family and the military. In the mid-1990s, Kim Jong Un’s father promised the military extraordinary access to politics and the budget, in exchange, most analysts believe, for not overthrowing Kimist rule after the end of the Cold War. This was known as the ‘military first policy’ (son-gun), but it is better understood as a gangsterish bargain: the Korean People’s Army (KPA) will not overthrow the Kims so long as they provide the goodies to the brass. Those benefits include living in Pyongyang in nice apartments with proper electricity, water, and so on; foreign luxury items like HDTVs, liquor, films, and automobiles; a blind eye to corruption and personal debauchery; limited access to the outside world for elite families and their money.
Critically, this ‘songun bargain’ (my term) requires an outside pipeline. These luxuries are not substitutable domestically, no matter how hard the regime squeezes its population. Should the booze, jet-skis, clandestine shopping trips to Beijing, and so on be caught off, what are the benefits to the KPA standing by the Kims? The costs are clear and enormous – senior regime figures are marked men globally, individually subject to the whims of the Kim clan, cannot travel easily, will likely be lynched or executed should North Korea fall, and so on. Why carry these costs if the luxury benefits are not there?
Further, all sorts other standard, but scarcely substitutable, goods, such as hydrocarbons and machine parts, would dry up if China took sanctions more seriously. Fuel shortages already inhibit KPA training, for example. Factories would shut down.
In short, if the Chinese seriously shut the gate, there would eventually be a contracting budgetary and foreign goods pie in the court economy at the top, which could set elites against each other over what was left – which parts of the security apparatus got whatever gasoline was left, which generals got the remaining top-shelf liquor or HDTVs. This would not happen immediately; there would be a ‘pipeline effect’ of several years, perhaps a decade. Extant reserves would cover initial losses; China would probably not seal off North Korea completely, even if it were offered a withdrawal of US forces from South Korea in exchange; North Korea would likely return to serious gangsterism in order to find funds; and the regime would first crack down even harder on its own people to find resources for the court economy. But eventually the shortages – particularly in nonsubstitutable foreign niche goods (Kim Jong Un’s favorite cigarettes, for example) – would feed through to the top. As resources shrank, it is easy to imagine a gangster regime – already built on predating its own people and the international community – falling into mafiosi gangland-style infighting over what was left.
Keep Flattering China, South Korea
If there will be no popular uprising to push North Korean elites toward fracture, maybe depriving them of the luxuries, which are the only benefit they accrue from the whole awful system, will. North Korea cannot survive on its own. It has always required a foreign patron; the only time it did not have one, it fell into a man-made famine. Worse, the regime’s ideology is a preposterous quasi-theological monarchism which its elites almost certainly know is bunk. The military-first policy and well-known indulgence of the North Korean elite strongly suggest their cynicism. We also know that North Korea reacted sharply to the US pursuit of its illicit holdings at Banco Delta.
Exploiting this weakness for foreign cash and luxuries will, as ever, require Chinese cooperation on sanctions, plus a long-term effort to convince China that North Korea is greater threat to it than a unified Korea. This re-evaluation may be underway, and South Korea should keep flattering away with China, however humiliating it may be. The road to Pyongyang still runs through Beijing.
Filed under: China, Corruption, Factionalism, Korea (North), Lowy Institute, Political Science
K-Pop fans, prepare to be strapped for cash as you blow all your money on these goodies from this awesome collaboration. SM Entertainment already has multiple stores open to the public selling exclusive goods and merchandise as seen here as well as a surround viewing concert,hologram concert,and hologram musical.
This time E-Mart, the biggest discount mall in Korea has teamed up with SM Entertainment to stock the shelves with an array of food and drink items featuring your favorite stars such as Super Junior, TVXQ, EXO and Girl’s Generation.For those of you looking to take home something featuring your favorite K-pop star while also satisfying your taste buds, read on!
Featuring aqua blue packaging that’s as refreshing and fresh-faced as SHINee themselves, this collection features sautéed red pepper paste in seafood, nut, and beef flavors, sweet and salt flavored popcorn, lemon flavored sparkling water and finally cheese and snack sausages.
The red pepper pastes are not only perfect for mixing with rice and sesame oil to produce a simple meal but also feature the member’s beautiful faces. Now that’s killing two birds with one stone.
2. Super Junior
One of SM’s earliest formed and still active groups, Super Junior is endorsing ddeokbokki (spicy rice cake) sauce, sea salt and pepper corn flavored potato chips, sweet and peanut flavored popcorn, sea salt flavored popcorn, Habanero ramyeon and jjamppong(spicy Korean-Chinese noodle) .
The jjamppong is very popular,with the flakes you sprinkle over the chewy noodles packed with squid, onions, red peppers, beef and even shrimp. The sea salt flavored popcorn is another favorite. You definitely won’t be”sorry sorry” for purchasing them.
Need we really say more? Packaged in sleek black and white with their futuristic cubic logo as a finishing touch, this range features sparkling water and the already famous jjajangmyeon (black bean sauce noodles) and jjamppong which have been blowing up on social media with fans purchasing boxes of them in bulk to take home.
Much like their masculine and sexy image, the TVXQ range features spicy and barbecue flavored popcorn, almond and caramel flavored popcorn, truffle chocolates, and lobster flavored chips. There’s even health food-6 -year- old red ginseng extract available in stick, capsule and tablet form for your convenience. The striking black and gold packaging is sure to catch your eye in stores.
5. Girl’s Generation
With their exemplary ruling status among female K-Pop groups,this collection has gorgeous and girly packaging featuring Thai sweet chili flavored chips, cheese caramel mix popcorn,and powdered vitamins.The packaging on the vitamins is so pretty that it almost looks like an album!
6. Red Velvet
Just like how their group name combines the strong and fierce image of red with the soft and feminine image of velvet,this sparkling water is a delicious blend of fizzling soda and smooth grapefruit.
Red light? Nope, you’ll definitely be hitting the green light as you race to sweep up these purchases with F(x). Enjoy cheddar cheese and onion flavored chips, butter and coconut flavored popcorn and rainbow gum. There’s even an anti-drowsiness gum with caffeine in it, perfect for preventing your eyelids from drooping as you drive late at night, cram for finals or work overtime
If you want to purchase K-Pop goods aside from these, check out our post on where to buy K-Pop goods in Seoul here. For more awesome finds like this one and the latest, trendiest and newest things to do in South Korea, visit Korea’s #1 Travel Shop, Trazy.com!
Pfft. Every post can’t just be excuses about why I haven’t been posting, so I am going to try to at least tack a recipe on the end this time around. Feel free to skip to the end if that’s what you’re after. I have been busy, though. Is there anything quite as thick and long as summer on the peninsula? I’ve been waking up early for sunrise walks by the Han, before the day gets too heavy. It helps me clear my head — you’d be surprised, maybe, how busy this city remains throughout the weekdays, unless you rise at dawn.
Around the last time I posted, I had concocted a somewhat harebrained Plan B before I’d even given A a try, but then somehow the universe turned over and spat out a handful of opportunities, like it always seems to do. Self-sabotage is one of my fortes, but something always seems to get in the way. Translation work has been surprisingly steady (and challenging, interesting and decently paid). I’ve had some god’s-honest writing work as well, all of it dropped into my lap. I’m working now on running out and getting some for myself. Probably the most pleasant news is that there will very likely be some literary translation to come, which I thought would be out of reach for a while yet, but like I said, opportunities.
I’m not saying there’s a god, or anything like that, but what I feel like lately is that whatever’s kept me going so far in life seems to be fed up with the begging off and bowing out. Korea was a plan B, teaching was a plan B, language school, grad school, maybe even the magazine was a plan B. Or maybe I just let stuff happen the way it needed to. It’s hard to know. But how I’m feeling now is like the table’s been set right in front of me, and I’ve got to do is pick up a fork and dig in.
So I’m going to give that a shot.
Speaking of tables and digging in…
I’ve become very fixated on rye flour. I’ve been subbing it into everything — brownies, muffins, pizza dough, pancakes. There’s something about that rich, slightly salty, earthy flavor. It wasn’t that long ago that our wheat flour used to taste like something. Now we remove all the flavor in the processing. But rye’s flavor remains, and I like experiencing the flour as an element of taste, as well, I guess. I’ve also been putting black pepper in all my desserts, which I will get to eventually. I promise I’m not pregnant.
These rye blueberry pancakes made for a nice Liberation Day brunch this past Monday, which was followed by a Hitchcock marathon. It was a nice weekend, and the last one, I hope, we spend huddled inside under the air-conditioning. I don’t mean to be that person, but fall is sort of almost here? Indulge me. We all have our wishful thoughts.
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup rye flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- butter, for coating the pan
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined.
- Toss in the blueberries and stir through.
- Place a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Drop a pad of butter in the pan and swirl it around until it is coated. Ladle the batter into the pan, using the back of the ladle to spread the batter into a circle. Don't crowd the pan -- make sure the pancakes won't touch.
- When the batter begins to bubble, flip the pancakes over and continue to cook them on the other side until they are dark golden brown. Wipe the pan down between each set of pancakes, adding fresh butter to re-coat the pan. Serve with your choice of toppings.
The post Rye Blueberry Pancakes and Where the Hell I’ve Been appeared first on Follow the River North.
Freelance writer and editor. American in Seoul. I write about Korean food. I blog about all food. Last year I wrote a monthly column about traveling to different places around the country to explore Korean ingredients and cuisine. This ignited my interest in local foods and cooking, which I blog about regularly now. I also blog restaurant and cafe recommendations, recipes and some background and history about Korean food.
Birthday blues, drinking bans, monsoon season, and all-you-can-eat health food, (and the world’s your oyster…)
On August 6th (my 29th birthday for all those keeping track) I took a cab to Sports Complex Station in Seoul, the express subway to Gimpo, then crossed to the other side of the platform to catch the remaining distance to Incheon Airport. The subway from Seoul to Incheon is ridiculously easy, as is the public transportation from Don Mueang (the smaller airport) into the city of Bangkok, Thailand.
From International arrivals head to Gate 6. From Domestic it doesn’t really seem to matter which Gate you take, just head outside and look for the A1 Bus. This bus will take you to Mo Chit BTS Station and costs 30 baht ($1.11 Canadian). From there, you’ll need to figure out to which BTS station you need to go. This determines the price of your trip. To ASOK Station, the cost was 42 baht ($1.56 Canadian). You’ll need exact change, but there are cashiers to provide you with all that (they don’t, however, provide you with a ticket. That seemed pretty odd to me).
I did one splurge night and one save night in Bangkok as bookends to my trip. While my save night was more comfortable than expected, the splurge night left me ready to take on the next 10 days of my trip in style. The Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 is a short walk from Asok Station, and is very close to Terminal 21 – a Western-style shopping mall with an H&M, a Victoria’s Secret (accessories and undies, only – no bras), a giant Starbucks, MAC cosmetics, and some other recognizable retailers from back home. I didn’t stick around too long as I was in Thailand, of course. On the other side of the main street you’ll find Soi Cowboy (from the movie “The Hangover II”) as well as a variety of Indian restaurants, upscale burger bars, and tons of stalls for fragrant street food (just make sure they cook it in front of you!). The location of the Novotel Sukhumvit 20 in Bangkok could not be more perfect – you’re right by the subway (Sukhumvit Metro Station and Asok BTS), street food, ladyboys, nightclubs, restaurants, and shopping. The old city is a 25-minute air-conditioned subway ride away as well.
I wish I had known what an amazing location this actually was, but in the heavy rain and with the drinking ban due to the election, I was very happy to enjoy a lovely meal, a glass of champagne, and a quiet night in my luxurious hotel room.
When I arrived at the front desk I was hot, sweaty, and carrying a big ol’ duffel bag since I had no checked baggage with Air Asia. The staff were courteous and friendly, and my check-in experience was smooth.
I loved all the details included in the decor. I had no idea that this location was only a couple of months old. Upon first glance everything just seemed to be in tip top shape. I was really impressed!
The best part of my hotel stay is definitely a toss up, but I always judge a hotel based on my room in particular. My Superior Room included 1 King bed (although 2 Single Beds are available if you’re not keen on snuggling), a 42″ Flat screen TV, a mini-bar with cheap and cheerful Chang (100 baht/ $4/ can), free WiFi and a safety deposit box. My room had a shower, but apparently bathtubs and Smoking rooms are available upon request.
The bathroom had great lighting for makeup as well as a giant, fancy shower with a removable nozzle and a waterfall/ rain-style shower head. I’m also very, very glad it was the only hotel/ hostel of my stay with a scale, because I got a little curried away throughout Phuket and Chiang Mai!
After a quick shower and rest in my stellar than stellar room, I ventured up to the infinity pool to check out the view and take a dip before dinner. The pool wasn’t too crowded, the music was faint, but added to the ambiance, and the decor was modern and fun while still managing to be sophisticated. Because the hotel is so new, I really felt like I had the place to myself to just relax right into the start of my Thailand vacation.
I had read all about The Food Exchange restaurant in the in-flight magazine on Air Asia, so I was excited to give it a try at my own hotel! After a dip, I wandered up to the 9th floor for some healthy eats. They were running a promotion for 50% off the price of the buffet, so I bought myself a glass of champagne and settled onto the balcony for a breath before heading back in to check out the buffet offerings. The Food Exchange prides itself on being health-focused. There’s even a tag-line about this being a lifestyle and not a diet. I’d be inclined to agree, however my lifestyle couldn’t handle the sheer volume of what I would mostly agree were healthy eats!
Aren’t these facilities perfect for small conferences, appreciation dinners, or even (dare I say it…rehearsal dinners/ weddings)? I like a modern touch with warm, muted tones so this space would be perfect for the kinds of events I enjoy planning and running!
I couldn’t believe the different international dishes they were offering! I was delighted by the giant, carved wasabi flower, the large display of colourful sushi, the various types of hummus, tabouleh, sun-dried tomato spread, olive tapenade, and guacamole (with real, fresh cilantro – heaven!). There was chicken kofta and falafel balls, freshly made papaya salad, bespoke pasta, tasty flatbreads, a smoothie bar and salad bar. This is what Korea so desperately needs: GREENS! I would dine out weekly at a hotel rather than a meat-market weekly if fresh avocado and mixed greens were on an all you can eat menu. I think most expats would agree!
After getting my mix of falafel and steamed veggies (as well as a little birthday champagne – why not, right?) the rain started to fall…hard. I retired to my room where there was a surprise of light, but decadent, chocolate cake from The Gourmet Bar and a lovely note from the hotel management wishing me a Happy Birthday. It was nice that someone remembered and did something (oh – shout out to Air Asia for giving me a complimentary bottle of water, too. No love for Canada Post).
After over-indulging and then catching a few heats of Olympic swimming, if was time to snooze! My bed was plush and comfortable, my room was quiet, and the only thing waking me up in the morning was my alarm. The blackout curtains would have been essential had my “one night in Bangkok” gone according to party plan! Sometimes I think the universe is just willing me to slow down, and I can’t think of a better place to have relaxed!
If a hotel has a fitness centre I always make sure to check out how stacked it is and try to at least get in some weights. Being that this location of the Novotel Bangkok is so new, the fitness facilities were practically untouched. This, to me, was perfection. I got in a quick run followed by some time with their free-weights and weight machines. If I were here for business I’d be thrilled to come into this clean, well-organized facility before heading to meetings of a boardroom for the day.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present: REAL BACON! After a year and a half in South Korea, real, fragrant, crispy bacon is a rare find. I was clearly very excited for my bacon! There was also tons of fresh fruit, a new assortment of sushi, the smoothie and salad bars were up and running again, and there was a grand supply of morning pastries I avoided. Omelettes to order were available, the coffee was hot and fresh, and there was finally an assortment of Thai dishes ready for me to devour. While the fish balls didn’t happen, the cashew nut chicken was calling my name. I enjoyed it without rice, instead opting for fruit, veggies, and assorted cheese (something else that tends to be a hard find in Korea!).
The Novotel got their very own tuk-tuk the evening of August 6th, so I guess this little guy and I share a birthday. In the morning, I had my very first tuk-tuk ride to the subway station where I departed for the airport to head to Phuket. I’ll have to make it back soon to check out the new Sky on 20 bar where those staying in Executive Suites may enjoy lounge access with complimentary hors d’oeuvres and drinks during happy hour. Since the 20th floor is currently getting its finishing touches, I guess it’s just an excuse to come back when Lake Ratchada is visible from the 20th floor with 270 degree views (and Mexican cuisine being served, because I’m always down for tacos!).
My one-night stay at The Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 was in partnership with Accor Hotels and The Toronto Seoulcialite, however views (and food & beverage purchases!) remain my own. I would like to thank the team at Accor Hotels for hosting me, and for their start to finish great service with a smile. My stay at the Novotel Skhumvit 20 may have only been one night in Bangkok this round, but I would surely recommend staying with them again. #WeLoveAccorHotels isn’t just a hashtag!
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This spring South Korea’s National Police Agency began conducting a nationwide survey to gather opinions for how to punish drunk drivers & if the country’s blood alcohol limit for drunk driving should be lowered from .05 to .03 percent. Such changes in other countries have led to a decrease in road fatalities, & Korea FM host Chance Dorland spoke with Jonathon Passmore, technical lead for the World Health Organization’s violence & injury prevention in the Western Pacific Regional Office, & Yours – Youth for Road Safety Executive Director Floor Lieshout, to learn more about the issue.
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