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Dear Korea #144: Hold the Door

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It’s been a busy and weird few weeks, but here’s a new comic! The concept for this one was given to me by the one and only Roboseyo. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier. Even after almost six years, those doors that don’t open still don’t make much sense to me.

Speaking of really cool blog people, I was recently featured in a podcast! The really nice guys over at Café Seoul invited me to talk on their entertaining show when I went up to Seoul for the event I was advertising last time at High Street Market (thank you to everyone that came, btw). If you want to give it a listen, click here.

See you next time!


Jen Lee's Dear Korea

This is Jen Lee. She likes to draw.
She also likes green tea.

Got any questions, comments, or maybe even some delicious cookies you want to send through the internet? Feel free to contact us at dearkoreacomic at gmail dot com.

You can also leave comments on the comic’s Facebook Page!

 


July 14-17, 2015Some people say that Thailand is too touristy...

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July 14-17, 2015

Some people say that Thailand is too touristy these days, but I enjoy how convenient it is to travel. Its hospitality makes it one of the most accessible exotic destinations on earth. Its diverse natural landscape is part of the allure. Go south for white sand beaches surrounded by deep blue seas, go north for greenery cascaded by mountains. Temples on every corner and good food throughout. 

Last time I went for beach time at Had Yao beach, Koh Phangan. This time I aimed to go up north to Chiang Mai. It is 700 km (435 mi) north of Bangkok and is situated amongst the highest mountains in the country. The old city of Chiang Mai is a neat square surrounded by a moat and a defensive wall built 700 years ago to defend against Burmese invaders and the armies of the Mongol Empire.

Chiang Mai is a chill place to kick back and relax and the streets are very walkable. For culture vultures, Chiang Mai is a vibrant classroom to study Thai language, cooking, meditation, and massage.

Marcus and I stayed at two great places: TJR Boutique House (~$30/night) and Nimman Mai Design Hotel (~$30/night). 

I had some great experiences in Chiang Mai, including:


About 

Hi, I'm Stacy. I'm from Portland, Oregon, USA, and am currently living in Busan, South Korea. Check me out on: Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Lastfm, and Flickr.

 


Ilchulam Hermitage – 일출암 (Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall at Ilchulam Hermitage in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Just east of the airport and south of Mt. Unbongsan in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do is the diminutive Ilchulam Hermitage (Sunrise Hermitage). Next to a flowing stream, you’ll need to head down a country road to find this little known hermitage.

Upon arriving at the hermitage grounds, you’ll need to climb a set of stairs with rails next to it. The rails are used to bring items up to the hermitage. After summiting the stairs, you’ll be greeted by the main hall straight ahead of you. While a bit boxy in design, the main hall is adorned with masterful Ox-Herding murals all around its exterior walls. Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll first notice a triad of statues resting on the main altar. In the centre sits Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). To his right, he’s joined by a long-haired statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Hanging on the right wall is an older looking guardian mural that’s joined by a beautiful Koi and hummingbird mural. And to the left of the main altar is the Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural.

To the right of the main hall is the monks dorms. But it’s to the rear of the main hall, and up a set of stairs that’s joined by the sheer face of the neighbouring mountain, that you’ll come across the second shrine hall that visitors can explore at Ilchulam Hermitage: the Dokseong/Sanshin-gak. While the Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) mural is rather plain in composition, it’s the Sanshin mural that’s pretty unique. Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) is holding the tiger’s tail, while the tiger smiles in its folk like design.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Pohang Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take Bus #200. After 26 stops, or 50 minutes, get off at the “Sangjeong Geomunso Stop.” Walk about 700 metres, or 10 minutes, to get to Ilchulam Hermitage.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10. While rather underwhelming for the amount of buildings you can explore at Ilchulam Hermitage, it’s the murals like the Sanshin mural and the Ox-Herding murals that make the hermitage worth a visit. In addition, the main altar statues inside the main hall and the guardian mural add to the hermitage’s overall artistic beauty.

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The grounds as you first approach Ilchulam Hermitage.

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The main hall at the hermitage.

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One of the beautiful Ox-Herding murals that adorns the main hall.

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A look around the interior of the main hall.

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The guardian mural to the right of the main altar.

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A hummingbird and Koi mural to the left of the guardian mural.

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The unique Chilseong mural to the left of the main altar.

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It’s joined by this mural inside the main hall, as well.

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The rock walls that surround the hermitage grounds on all sides.

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A statue that a devotee left behind at Ilchulam Hermitage.

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The Dokseong/Sanshin-gak at the hermitage.

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A rather ordinary painting of Dokseong.

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Who is joined by the tiger-tail holding Sanshin.


Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

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Marcus and I had a stressful adventure to get on our train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. He describes it well here:

Go from Bangkok to Chiang Mai via train.

Stacy had some international commitments and needed to be in a place with reliable wifi for a Skype call at 11 pm. Most people who make this trip take the night train as the trip takes about 11 hours and the night train is quite comfortable. But this was not an option for us because the train does not have wifi and tethering with a mobile hotspot doesn’t work so well on a moving train in rural northern Thailand.

We decided to take the day train. By the way, anything you ever want to know about train travel in Thailand, check out The Man in Seat Sixty-One

Our train was scheduled to leave from  Bangkok Hualamphong station at 8:30 am. We were staying not too far from the train station via taxi and were up and ready to go by 7 am. Easy peasy. 

Note to self and others: I almost never get in a taxi that is waiting outside of a hotel or restaurant, bar, etc in Bangkok. These drivers stand around all day waiting for some unsuspecting tourist (falang) as the Thais say, to jump in the back seat and be methodically taken for a ride. But we were not going far and we had plenty of time. I thought there was no way this guy would try to get over on us…

I am not fluent in Thai. For that matter, sometimes I can’t get my words out in English and I am an English teacher. That being said, I told the taxi driver where we were going and from the moment he started driving, I knew he was going the wrong way. Maybe he knows some shortcut and will save us some time or he is trying to get a few extra baht in fare. At 34 Thai Baht for each USD, I was not worried about it. 

Before long, however, he managed to find the only traffic jam in Bangkok at 7am on this side of town. Suddenly our “we have enough time to catch our train” became an uncertainty.

I am going to skip ahead a bit to the point where we realized that we were not going to make it to the train station in this taxi. We had him u-turn, and drop us off at the closest MRT stop. We were 5 stops away from the train station and we had 10 minutes until departure. The part of me that does not know how to stay calm wanted to scream, “FUCK!”

We arrive at the station at 8:31am and there is a chance that the train is still there. Thais are generally not known for promptness like the trains in Japan. An official looking woman sees us looking for our train and asks to see our ticket (she probably didn’t actually work for the train station).

“Your train leave 5 minutes ago. Here, take moto taxi to next station and catch train!”

She led us out of the train station to two motorbike taxis that just happened to be ready to speed us through morning traffic to the next train station to catch our train. Bags in tow, helmets half on, and hanging on to the drivers for dear life, we raced through the streets of Bangkok to the next train station.

About this time, I started thinking that our train probably was still at the station and this was some sort of scam. Before long, I spotted train 7 behind us and the next train station ahead of us. Both motorbike drivers slowed down and decided this was the time to discuss how much we should pay them for helping us catch our train.

Our 11-hour train ride to Chiang Mai from Bangkok cost 641 Thai Baht ($18.18 USD) each. These guys were asking us for 600-1000 Thai Baht ($17-28 USD) each for helping us catch the train. And, of course we are still on the back of the motorbikes and they have slowed to a crawl. If we don’t negotiate soon, our train would reach the next station and pass us.

There is no way in Hell I was going to pay more for a 10-minute death ride through Bangkok traffic than I paid for the actual 11-hour train ticket!  We argued about price in Thai for a bit and finally agreed to give them about $10 USD each (300 Thai Baht). We are not talking about being scammed out of a large amount of money by American standards, but given the price of the train ticket and our need to be on that specific train, we were between a rock and a hard place.

Once we gave them their 300 Baht and got on our train, we had time to take a deep breath and think about all that had happened. Did the taxi driver get stuck in traffic on purpose? Was the woman at the train station a friend of his? Were the moto guys in on the scam?

We will never know. 


Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Printer-friendly version

Marcus and I had a stressful adventure to get on our train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. He describes it well here:

Go from Bangkok to Chiang Mai via train.

Stacy had some international commitments and needed to be in a place with reliable wifi for a Skype call at 11 pm. Most people who make this trip take the night train as the trip takes about 11 hours and the night train is quite comfortable. But this was not an option for us because the train does not have wifi and tethering with a mobile hotspot doesn’t work so well on a moving train in rural northern Thailand.

We decided to take the day train. By the way, anything you ever want to know about train travel in Thailand, check out The Man in Seat Sixty-One

Our train was scheduled to leave from  Bangkok Hualamphong station at 8:30 am. We were staying not too far from the train station via taxi and were up and ready to go by 7 am. Easy peasy. 

Note to self and others: I almost never get in a taxi that is waiting outside of a hotel or restaurant, bar, etc in Bangkok. These drivers stand around all day waiting for some unsuspecting tourist (falang) as the Thais say, to jump in the back seat and be methodically taken for a ride. But we were not going far and we had plenty of time. I thought there was no way this guy would try to get over on us…

I am not fluent in Thai. For that matter, sometimes I can’t get my words out in English and I am an English teacher. That being said, I told the taxi driver where we were going and from the moment he started driving, I knew he was going the wrong way. Maybe he knows some shortcut and will save us some time or he is trying to get a few extra baht in fare. At 34 Thai Baht for each USD, I was not worried about it. 

Before long, however, he managed to find the only traffic jam in Bangkok at 7am on this side of town. Suddenly our “we have enough time to catch our train” became an uncertainty.

I am going to skip ahead a bit to the point where we realized that we were not going to make it to the train station in this taxi. We had him u-turn, and drop us off at the closest MRT stop. We were 5 stops away from the train station and we had 10 minutes until departure. The part of me that does not know how to stay calm wanted to scream, “FUCK!”

We arrive at the station at 8:31am and there is a chance that the train is still there. Thais are generally not known for promptness like the trains in Japan. An official looking woman sees us looking for our train and asks to see our ticket (she probably didn’t actually work for the train station).

“Your train leave 5 minutes ago. Here, take moto taxi to next station and catch train!”

She led us out of the train station to two motorbike taxis that just happened to be ready to speed us through morning traffic to the next train station to catch our train. Bags in tow, helmets half on, and hanging on to the drivers for dear life, we raced through the streets of Bangkok to the next train station.

About this time, I started thinking that our train probably was still at the station and this was some sort of scam. Before long, I spotted train 7 behind us and the next train station ahead of us. Both motorbike drivers slowed down and decided this was the time to discuss how much we should pay them for helping us catch our train.

Our 11-hour train ride to Chiang Mai from Bangkok cost 641 Thai Baht ($18.18 USD) each. These guys were asking us for 600-1000 Thai Baht ($17-28 USD) each for helping us catch the train. And, of course we are still on the back of the motorbikes and they have slowed to a crawl. If we don’t negotiate soon, our train would reach the next station and pass us.

There is no way in Hell I was going to pay more for a 10-minute death ride through Bangkok traffic than I paid for the actual 11-hour train ticket!  We argued about price in Thai for a bit and finally agreed to give them about $10 USD each (300 Thai Baht). We are not talking about being scammed out of a large amount of money by American standards, but given the price of the train ticket and our need to be on that specific train, we were between a rock and a hard place.

Once we gave them their 300 Baht and got on our train, we had time to take a deep breath and think about all that had happened. Did the taxi driver get stuck in traffic on purpose? Was the woman at the train station a friend of his? Were the moto guys in on the scam?

We will never know. 


July 12-14, 2015I’d been to Thailand four years prior and was...

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July 12-14, 2015

I’d been to Thailand four years prior and was looking forward to walking the familiar streets of Bangkok with my friend, Marcus. Those few days were an endless stream of street eggrolls, pork, chicken, curry, and Chang beers. Sadly, Sukhumvit Soi 38 (my favorite) has been shut down as a street food area due to a property dispute. 

Last time in Bangkok I stayed at Rambuttri Village Inn, which had very few amenities, was close to Khao San Road, and had a pool on the roof. The price is around $25 via Agoda. This time I was a bit further away from the partying in a nicer place called Bless Residence (around $60 on Agoda).

There’s a plethora of information online about fun things to do in Bangkok. Personally, I like making time to walk up to the Temple of the Golden Mount (Wat Saket) to read my fortune on a random piece of paper. It’s been pretty on point for me. 

Then, on any free morning, go to the Grand Palace + Wat Phra Kaew and neighboring Wat Pho, home to the famous reclining Buddha and massage school. Next, head across the river to Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) and get stellar views of the city from atop the temple. 

Be sure to wear clothes that cover your legs and shoulders as it’s considered disrespectful to wear revealing clothes at temples. If you don’t, you can rent pants or shirts.

Last time I was in Bangkok, I went to a floating market (good) and the Jeath War Museum + Kwae Yai River (good), had a painful Thai massage and was scammed by a tuk-tuk driver (bad), rode an elephant (bad), went to the Tiger Temple (bad), and traveled down to Had Yao beach, Koh Phangan (good).

It’s easy to forget -I know because I did- but ignore any “friendly” locals who tell you that an attraction is closed for a Buddhist holiday or for cleaning. These are scams for trips to a bogus gem sale or shopping at the overpriced tailor. Refuse any driver who quotes a flat taxi fare which will usually be three times more than the meter rate. Always head out to the street and flag a cab. And, if the driver “forgets” to turn on the meter, kindly remind them.


July 12-14, 2015I’d been to Thailand four years prior and was...

Printer-friendly version




















July 12-14, 2015

I’d been to Thailand four years prior and was looking forward to walking the familiar streets of Bangkok with my friend, Marcus. Those few days were an endless stream of street eggrolls, pork, chicken, curry, and Chang beers. Sadly, Sukhumvit Soi 38 (my favorite) has been shut down as a street food area due to a property dispute. 

Last time in Bangkok I stayed at Rambuttri Village Inn, which had very few amenities, was close to Khao San Road, and had a pool on the roof. The price is around $25 via Agoda. This time I was a bit further away from the partying in a nicer place called Bless Residence (around $60 on Agoda).

There’s a plethora of information online about fun things to do in Bangkok. Personally, I like making time to walk up to the Temple of the Golden Mount (Wat Saket) to read my fortune on a random piece of paper. It’s been pretty on point for me. 

Then, on any free morning, go to the Grand Palace + Wat Phra Kaew and neighboring Wat Pho, home to the famous reclining Buddha and massage school. Next, head across the river to Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) and get stellar views of the city from atop the temple. 

Be sure to wear clothes that cover your legs and shoulders as it’s considered disrespectful to wear revealing clothes at temples. If you don’t, you can rent pants or shirts.

Last time I was in Bangkok, I went to a floating market (good) and the Jeath War Museum + Kwae Yai River (good), had a painful Thai massage and was scammed by a tuk-tuk driver (bad), rode an elephant (bad), went to the Tiger Temple (bad), and traveled down to Had Yao beach, Koh Phangan (good).

It’s easy to forget -I know because I did- but ignore any “friendly” locals who tell you that an attraction is closed for a Buddhist holiday or for cleaning. These are scams for trips to a bogus gem sale or shopping at the overpriced tailor. Refuse any driver who quotes a flat taxi fare which will usually be three times more than the meter rate. Always head out to the street and flag a cab. And, if the driver “forgets” to turn on the meter, kindly remind them.


Learn Hangul (Part 7)

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Here's the seventh episode of the new "Learn Hangul" series - a series designed to help you learn the Korean alphabet from the very beginning to the end.

So far we've been introduced to the basics. We've covered all of the basic vowels and consonants, as well as 4 syllable blocks.

Part 7 will cover 2 new syllable blocks. These will be the last 2 syllable blocks we'll need to learn.

Stay tuned for more!

The post Learn Hangul (Part 7) appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.


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Healthy Eats each side of the Han

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Back in Canada there were plenty of places to go to get a hearty take-away lunch or dinner loaded with greens, veggies, meat, and cheese.  A stellar sauce always made the meal for me, but I’m happy with avocado, a runny egg, or even just tabasco.  In Busan, I found myself constantly craving these bowls.  It’s always good to make things from scratch yourself, but sometimes I just want to pick something up that has vitamins and protein and is low on the net carbs.

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On Sunday, a fellow blogger friend The Soul of Seoul and I meandered around Hongdae after checking out the Hello Kitty Cafe with her adorable little munchkin, Ava.  As far as food goes, well, it’s exactly what you’d assume for a novelty cafe: lacklustre and overpriced.  I was glad enough to pay for the novelty green tea latte, but beyond that I was definitely still hungry!  We walked by WOKS9, where the geniuses have their menu in Korean and in English on a massive sign street-side.  Perfect.  Just what I wanted!

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Hallie (Soul of Seoul) got the sweet potato fries which actually almost tasted like home!  They came with a light and refreshing vinaigrette dipping sauce and were slightly crispy on the outside and perfectly mushy on the inside.  I may go back just for those frites!  My rice bowl was definitely more meat and veg than rice, which always makes me happy.  I think I paid KRW 6,300 and was happily surprised with the quality of the savoury, marinated meat , and surprised that my meal deal came with miso soup and pickled vegetables!

For directions to WOKS9 in Hongdae, click here.

 

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South of the Han, in Sinsa, you’ll be able to get your Gangnam Style on after a tasty rice bowl, too at March Rabbit.  Someone once told me that avocados are nature’s mayonnaise, and I’m inclined to agree!  I added lentil salsa to my stamina bowl which had rice (again, not a ridiculous amount, but perfect to take half home), mushrooms, avocado, lettuce, and beef.  Topped with a fried egg (which was a little overcooked for my liking), and the slightest bit of what was supposed to be an oriental dressing (it just tasted like herby olive oil).  That said, the combination made me happy, and adding cucumbers and hot sauce when I finished my leftovers was definitely the kick the meal needed.  My meal was accompanied by pickled which weren’t too sweet (wahoo!), and a split pea soup for which I would definitely return.

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Vegans, rejoice!  Kristina of The Nerdventurists is vegetarian and has a few allergies and intolerances, so March Rabbit was exactly what she needed.  Here you’ll see the hummus, lentil salsa, tofu, and bread atop a mixed greens and veggie salad.

 

 



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