Recent Blog Posts
September 14 - 16, 2016
For the Chuseok holiday (aka Thanksgiving or Mid-Autumn Festival) we took a ferry from Busan to Tsushima, Japan (대마도) for a few days of cycling, beaching, and camping. We took a ferry for 153,000₩ a person roundtrip from the Busan Port International Passenger Terminal to the Hitakatsu (比田勝) entry port.
There were a few fees at both ferry terminals, a fuel and oil surcharge and even a terminal tax, so make sure you have both extra Korean won and Japanese yen before both departures. Having already took the ferry to Fukuoka in February and experienced this earlier, these additional charges didn’t surprise me much.
Note: We also rented a “pocket wifi” device in Korea to take with us in Japan so we had internet. It was 18,815₩ for all three days and ten devices could connect to it at once.
Tsushima is a long and a narrow island which lies in the Tsushima strait. It’s actually closer to Korea (50 km from Busan) than Japan (138 km from Fukuoka). And, obviously, they cater to Korean tourists because a lot of signage is in Korean. The entire island extends about 82 km north to south, and about 18 km east to west.
We had so much fun! We didn’t take any expensive taxis or tour buses. Instead, we rented bikes from Chinguya (친구야), 1000¥ a day for an electric-assist bike or 800¥ a day for a regular bike. I’d recommend getting the e-bike (to help you get up the massive hills) and make your reservations (in Korean only) early as they have the cheapest prices in the area. Then, you just walk there from the ferry terminal to pick up your rentals.
It’s so great to have the freedom of riding around the beautiful island. We camped by Miuda Beach. The camping site at 대마도 미우다 캠핑장 costs 1500¥ a day. Then, it’s up to you how much camping gear you want to bring or rent. A tent rental is 3600¥ a day. It’s a massive, sturdy tent that fits 6 people, a bit like sardines. The tent rental includes a lantern and everything you need for cooking, like pots, pans, a knife, cutting board, and utensils. You can also rent a sleep bag for 500¥, a BBQ set (grill + tongs) for 500¥, gas for a burner for 700¥, and 3kg of charcoal for 600¥.
It’s such a great trip, I can’t recommend it enough. We cruised on coastal roads, in small towns, and by rice paddies with minimal auto traffic. We saw villages, forests, streams, mountains, parks, and temples. The beach was beautiful and mostly secluded (other than a few tour buses shuttling people here for 10 minutes at a time). We ate delicious Japanese food and even went to a Korean viewpoint where I’m pretty sure I could see the mountains of Busan!
Korean tongue twisters can be a fun way to practice Korean pronunciation (though quite difficult). I've compiled the five most common, as well as the most difficult Korean tongue twisters for you to hear. Try to follow along and see if you can say any of them.
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I recently took a very quick trip out to Seoul for a wedding. While the time in the Digital Media City area was very brief, I was still able to capture a few fanciful coffee spots to get the ball rolling on our capital city coverage of all the coffee in Korea.
114. Zoo Coffee was located in the K-Wiz building, where the wedding hall also was located. As it’s a chain (we’ve seen a location somewhere in Busan, although I cannot remember where), the coffee was fine but nothing special. Their stuffed wild animals schtick was kind of cute, though. Kind of reminded me of Rainforest Cafe in the States.
115. Yellow Bakery & Coffee. What this place lacks in a creative name, it makes up for with a boring sign.
116. Men’z Coffee, I imagine this is owned by those who had tree houses when they were young that advised, “no girlz allowed.”
117. Beans & Berries, located in Seoul Station.
118. Paris Croissant Cafe. A sister operation to the infamous Paris Baguette (this is apparently high class!). We killed about an hour here waiting for our train home. Apparently we sat next to a famous actor! My pour over was actually pretty tasty, I have to admit.
119. Coffee 1000. Can you guess why it’s called 1,000? With coffee this cheap, I can’t help but wonder how good this jet fuel is.
JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.
August 31 - September 5, 2016
I took a solo trip to Shanghai for five nights. Having been to Beijing before, I was eager to explore a new city in China but knew to keep my expectations low. To be honest, China isn’t a country I could live in. The food isn’t my favorite, I find it pretty overwhelming, and the language is excruciatingly difficult. Regardless, I enjoyed Shanghai for a few days.
I got 2GB of data (and no phone plan) for 200 RMB at Pudong Airport. Go to information or an independent carrier; prices are the same everywhere and no one will haggle.
I stayed at an Airbnb that a bit far from downtown (a km walk from Dongjing Road Station, which was a 30 minute subway ride from anything touristy). And since no one had stayed there before, it was really affordable at $103 for my entire stay. It’s a gamble sometimes to stay at a new place with no reviews, but they’re often cheaper.
The first thing I did in Shanghai was go to the large Japanese bathhouse, Gokurakuyu (極楽湯). Delightfully uncrowded when you go right when they open on a weekday. It was a nice way to relax.
Then, I went on a 3-hour Night Market Food Tour with Untour for 450 RMB. It was great to walk around Shouning Road Food Street (寿宁路美食街), eat and drink as much as possible, and be able to get answers from a native English speaker about local food and the city. This is the second food tour I’ve been on and I highly recommend them. It’s an efficient way to eat the best foods of a city easily.
Finding Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre is definitely part of the experience, and the 25 RMB entrance fee is modest for the humble museum.
Shanghai doesn’t have the beauty and history that Beijing has, but it’s significantly cleaner and easier to get around. If I went back, I think I’d likely try to get to People’s Square, the Jing’an Sculpture Park (静安雕塑公园), the Rockbund Art Museum (外滩美术馆), Southern Barbarian (南蛮子云南烧烤吧), and maybe even Shanghai Disneyland.
Greetings, travelers! I’m a member of Trazy Crew, this time here with a review of O Hui Spa and my experience there!It’s no secret that Korea is a country obsessed with skincare and beauty. I love makeup and skincare, but I’ve never been to a spa before where they massage your face and back with oils and everything. I guess it’s because I don’t really want to be splashing out so much cash on something that doesn’t have results obvious to others. The only relatively similar place I’ve gone to is a dermatologist. However, I really did want to wind down and relax, so I couldn’t refuse when O Hui Spa offered a body and facial care experience.
What is O Hui Spa?
O Hui Spa is known for being a “beauty secret healing hideout” to its customers, providing various facial and body aesthetic programs that guarantee amazing results.
People from all over the world visit and many Korean celebrities also get pampered here such as Choi Yeo-jin, Park Ha-sun, and Cho Yeo-jung. It is also the only spa entrusted as a Gangnam Medical Tourism Partner.
Where is it located?
The spa is located in Garosu-gil in Sinsa-dong, a trendy, hip, and upscale neighborhood with lots of places to dine and shop in. You’ll also see a lot of well-dressed people passing by. The area is full of energy and vitality regardless of the time of day, so many tourists flock there.O Hui Spa is in a more quiet location up a small hill in a luxurious and secure residential neighborhood. For a map and more detailed directions, click here.
In fact, I was told that former president Lee Myung Bak’s residence was nearby. There was a park right in front of the spa, and the entrance was a wooden gate with a doorbell that made it look like a house.
What were my first impressions?
Right off the bat, I could immediately tell that it was a posh and upscale place. The layout and interior were more like a house rather than a spa, with a mini chandelier and large wooden staircase leading up to the spa in the entrance. Inside, there were plush velvet seats, heavy wooden doors with gold signs, polished tiles on the walls and even a large open terrace area outside.
There were three different rooms labeled ‘VIP’, ‘Special’, and ‘Refresh.’ The ‘VIP’ room is for solo customers who usually purchase the special course or more expensive treatments, the ‘Special’ room is for two people, and the ‘Refresh’ room is for group guests.
Why Choose O Hui Spa?
So what makes O Hui Spa different from the others? Well, first off, they use premium brand products instead of aesthetic products. O Hui is actually a skincare and makeup brand currently modeled by actress Shin Min-a and their products are used during the facials. Other brands of products used include The History of Whoo and SU: M37.
Their concept is that they offer 1:1 specialized care. While most places would provide the same treatments with the same products regardless of the client’s skin type, O Hui lets you choose the products you want to be used or the consultant will give recommendations based on your skin type and condition.
They will also keep checking up on you throughout your treatment, adding or removing products depending on your condition, so you really will be getting unique and personalized care.
You will be able to fill in a sheet beforehand with information about your skin type, condition, what kind of products you want to be used, as well as any health or medical needs of concern (e.g if you’re on your period, have any injuries, or have gotten any aesthetic procedures recently).
What kind of courses is available?
There are five different course treatments available, and Trazy currently offers an exclusive deal on the Trazy course, Special course, and Facial course with 10% off plus an additional 20 minutes of care. Click here for more details on each of the courses. O Hui Spa rarely offers special deals, so this is a real treat! *Note that the special discount ends at the end of 2016.
Other available courses include a 150 minute ‘VIP course’ (same as the Special course + a leg massage and facial care machine) and an 180 minute Queen course (full body) that is popular with celebrities.The course that I got to experience was the Trazy course, which is an 80 minute back and face treatment. I received back and shoulder care first, then get facial care.
What were the facilities like?
I was given a gown and ushered into the powder room, told to strip from the waist up and wear the strapless gown. There was also a locker to store my belongings. The powder room was very clean and well equipped. There was a dressing table with makeup, skincare products, a hair dryer, brushes – pretty much everything you would need to freshen up afterward. The bathroom was also spotless and had a shower.I put my bag and clothes into the lockers provided and gave the key to the attendant. I was then led to the massage bed where I lay face down as she removed my gown and got to work.
Can you explain the experience in detail?
I have a major tendency to sit hunched over in my chair so my muscles there are very tense. It also doesn’t make it any better that I wear a heavy purse on one shoulder all the time. The massage felt amazing. It was a little uncomfortable at times but never painful – probably due to the fact that I had never had my muscles kneaded, stretched, and pulled in that way. The attendant then rubbed aromatherapy oils on my back, which smelled heavenly. My favorite was when she had her hand in a fist and rolled it over my upper back area, which was painful but so refreshing and satisfying that I couldn’t bear to ask her to stop.
After the back massage, it was time for the facial care. I was led to another bed, where there was an interesting contraption called an air compression leg massager. The attendant put the air massage boots, which were basically like airbags around my legs and turned on the machine. The massagers would tighten and loosen around my legs over and over again, stimulating blood flow and providing relief for my tired and tense muscles.While my legs were being kneaded, the facial care started. I had my face double cleansed, dry skin patches removed, peeling to clear out my pores, and face masks and oils applied. I also received a décolleté (neckline) and scalp massage.The décolleté massage helps with anti-aging, stimulating the production of collagen and tightening the skin to delay the onset of wrinkles while the scalp massage stimulates hair growth. There was peaceful music playing in the background with the sound of nature as birds chirped outside. I was so relaxed that I drifted off to sleep at one point.
When I woke up, the care was almost over as the attendant asked if I wanted a BB cream or sunscreen finish – I opted for sunscreen as I was going to reapply my makeup anyway.
How did you feel afterward?
I was recommended to take a hot shower to soothe the muscles and warned that I might be a bit sore the next day. My back was a bit red from all the kneading but I felt rejuvenated and my skin and felt super soft, like a baby’s butt. I took a hot shower that night and the next day I felt sore, but not in pain. The sensation was similar to the day after an intense workout. I stretched out all my muscles and after a few hours, I felt heavenly.
How was your overall experience?
Overall, I am extremely satisfied with the care and treatment. The facilities were all clean and the service was A+, with the attendants constantly checking up on me and asking if I was okay. I also really liked how they explained what products they were using and what they were doing, so I knew what kind of effect it was having on me. I was provided with 3 day’s worth of sample-sized skincare products, too. I am usually someone who flinches even if someone touches my shoulders and I don’t like massage chairs as they make me feel uncomfortable rather than relaxed, so the fact that I enjoyed this experience really surprised me. I definitely would love to look into getting massages on a regular basis.Out of the five courses, Trazy currently offers the Facial, Trazy, and Special courses. There is also a special promotion deal with these until December 31st, 2016 where you will receive a 10% discount and an extra 20 minutes of treatment and care. For more info about O Hui Spa’s promotion, click here.
Don’t forget to check out Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop, to book this course and many others and check out the latest and up-to-date fun things to do in Korea!
August 26 - 30, 2016
Langkawi is my ideal beach getaway. It’s comfortably hot, you’re always close to a picturesque tropical beach, everything’s affordable, and food is great.
Through AirAsia, I paid $108.07 for a 6-½ hour flight from Busan to Kuala Lumpur, and then $20.18 for a 55-minute flight to Langkawi. Such a great deal!
We stayed on the main beach Pantai Cenang at Mali-Mali Beach Resort (note: “resort” term used loosely). A taxi from or to the airport is a standard RM20. Four nights at Mali-Mali was $150. We had an absolute blast. Here are a few tips:
1. Buy duty free booze! There a few shops on the main strip of Pantai Cenang. RM40 for Smirnoff vodka or RM17 for awful vodka. I don’t require alcohol to have fun, but it made this trip even better.
2. You can watch the sunrise and sunset every day on the island if you’d like.
3. I ate Indian curry every day and for almost every meal. There’s a night market every night from 7-10pm, but it moves around. The locations are: Monday at Ulu Melaka, Tuesday at Kedawang, Wednesday at Kuah Town, Thursday in Pantai Cenang, Friday at Air Hangat, Saturday again at Kuah Town, and Sunday at Padang Matsirat.
4. Go island hopping and make sure you see Dayang Bunting Lake / Tasik Dayang Bunting / Pregnant Maiden Island. You’ll likely see eagles feeding on your tour which is pretty surreal. A Jet Ski tour will probably run you around RM600, but we enjoyed a half-day boat tour for RM40. Booking in person will be cheaper than online.
I’VE been spending a fair amount of time recently sneaking around a dystopian near-future version of Prague.
As Adam Jensen, a cyborg Interpol agent, I’ve been stealthily knocking out gangsters, fascist cops, cyborg terrorists, corrupt politicians and members of the illuminati in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided on PlayStation 4.
It’s great fun messing around in the game’s open environments, figuring out multiple ways to complete the divergent quests, cringing at the game’s laughably bad lip-syncing, watching the story unfold in response to the actions and decisions I make and utilising the protagonist’s technologically enhanced super powers.
However, the most intriguing aspect of the game by far is the parallels it draws with the real world.
Mankind Divided is actually the fourth in the Deus Ex series and is a direct sequel to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, itself a prequel to the entire series.
The previous games were set way in the future but this one and its predecessor happen much closer to our time, the late 2020s.
The world of Deus Ex is a libertarian capitalist’s wet dream, in which three or four multinational corporations run the show and operate, more or less, completely free from government regulation.
The natural environment has been utterly destroyed and most wild animals have become extinct. The poor and working class have few rights, no political representation and all public services have been ruthlessly privatised.
Advances in cybernetic biotechnology have drastically improved people’s physical and mental abilities — provided, of course, they have the dosh to pay for the robotic implants and the medicines required to stop the body from rejecting all that metal.
Those that can’t afford the biomechanical upgrades are outpaced in the labour market, while those who can’t afford the medicine live in a constant state of withdrawal.
That was the backdrop to the beginning of the previous game until — spoiler warning — a rogue member of the illuminati, for reasons the game doesn’t make exactly clear, activated secret software inside the biomechanical upgrades and caused the “augmented” people to viciously attack everyone around them.
In Mankind Divided, non-augmented society has risen up in a rage of right-wing populism and heavily oppressed the augmented, forcing them to live in walled ghettos or concentration camps — which are 3D-printed by the transnational corporations.
One of the reasons why people are so blind to the root causes of their problems is that the media is dominated by a single company which acts as the voice of big business.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a dark prophetic vision of our future. Especially so, since we learnt last week that 69 of the top 100 economic entities in the world are private corporations — which partially explains why governments drag their feet to implement the minor environmental changes recommended by the 2015 Paris climate conference and the motivations behind TTIP, CETA and the other so-called “free” trade deals set to make a mockery of democracy.
The human rights of ethnic minorities, refugees and poor migrants are trampled or straight-up ignored in favour of profits. Desperate people who try to reach the safety and economic prosperity of Europe, the US or Australia find themselves in privatised detention centres, which goes some way to explaining the EU’s inaction over the refugee crisis. There’s profit to be made.
The biomechanical technology in the game might be a bit far-fetched. But, as Edward Snowden’s revelations have shown, corporations are not beyond using secret software to spy on us.
And companies like Uber, Deliveroo and AirBnB are leading us in an “economy” race to the bottom where things like trade unions, guaranteed working hours and holiday and sick pay are a thing of the past.
A note from the editor-in-chimp: This review originally appeared in the Morning Star as part of my bi-weekly gaming column Game On.
The post Mankind Divided: The Wet Dream of Libertarian Capitalism appeared first on Monkeyboy Goes.
August 24 - 26, 2016
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, or “KL” to the locals, is an interesting place to spend a short period of time. It’s hot and humid which makes walking around for any period of time uncomfortable. A lot of great Chinese, Thai, and Indian food here, but majority of the population are Malay and Muslim. That means a lot of women are in long skirts or pants and head scarves. Also, alcohol is ridiculously expensive, like $10 a drink at a bar.
I didn’t spend much time in KL, but here are my tips:
1. Get a SIM card at the airport. I bought a 4G HotLink SIM card, RM40 for 7GB - and it worked great in Langkawi, as well.
2. Take the bus from the airport to downtown for RM15. You’ll buy a bus ticket on the first floor of the airport. Or, use Uber. Uber is great in KL.
3. I stayed at Hotel Soleil for $30.86 a night. Location, pool, and view were great. Digs were a bit dingy, though, and the street was loud all night long. Luckily, my travel partner, Rosh, and I both thought it was funny and stayed up late chatting anyways.
4. My favorite restaurant was TG’s Nasi Kandar, which probably made the best Indian food I’ve ever had.
6. The Batu Caves is a limestone hill that has a series of caves and cave temples. The caves are one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, and is dedicated to Lord Murugan (aka Kartikeya), the Hindu god of war. It’s super easy to get to by transit. It’s the eighth station from KL Sentral Railway Station, a RM2.60 train ride that comes around every 40 minutes.
7. It’s also worth getting around to the Islamic Arts Museum and Masjid Negara (National Mosque). They’re within walking distance of each other. The mosque is only open certain hours for visitors, you do need to rent a robe to wear, and there’s quite a line to wait in.
8. It was fun seeing the Petronas Towers in person. I personally wouldn’t pay RM85 to visit the observation deck, as just walking around the area was great and there are plenty of bars in impressive skyscrapers around town.
During your time in Korea, you will want to travel to lots of different places. Some will be relatively straightforward to get to, but others won’t. The more you travel around Korea, the more important it is for you to know how to give directions in Korea.
Why Directions Are Important
Even though public transport is incredible in Korea, there are plenty of times when you may want to take a taxi. Hailing a cab is easy in Korea, and if there are no taxis nearby then you can use a smartphone application such as ‘Kakaotaxi’ in order to get a taxi to come and pick you up. Once you are in the taxi, you will have to give the driver directions to where you want to go.
If you give a taxi driver the address of where you want to go, then you may come into difficulties. While everywhere in Korea has an address, often the addresses are a little bit confusing, with streets just having numbers instead of real names.
In fact, until a couple of years ago, Korean roads didn’t even have names (Each building in the neighborhood was just given a random number instead, which was very confusing for anyone trying to give directions). As a result, taxi drivers are often quite unfamiliar with street names, and satellite navigation systems might take you to the wrong part of the street from where you want to go to.
If you want to tell somebody your address in Korea, it is important to remember that addresses go from large to small, rather than small to large. They start with the city, then the district, then the major road, then the minor road, then the building. For example: Seoul, Gangnam-gu, Hakdong-ro 426, Gangnam District Office, Seventh floor, Room 765.
If you tell a taxi driver the district (구 – gu) that your destination is in, then this can help them find it. It can also help them choose the right place when there is more than one place with the same name.
For example, if you say Gangseo-gu Leports Center, the driver won’t get confused with Eunpyeong-gu Leports Center.
An easier way to give directions is to use landmarks that are easy to find on a satellite navigation system. Two of the most useful landmarks are subway stations and schools. Almost every neighborhood has a school nearby, so even in places without subway stations, you can use this method to get close to your destination. Taxi drivers never have a problem putting school or subway station names into their satellite navigation system so this approach is very effective.
The word for ‘station’ in Korean is 역 (yeok). When giving directions, you can use this word for both subway stations and regular train stations.
When two subway stations have similar names, such as 신촌역 (Shinchon Yeok) and 신천역 (Shincheon Yeok), it is useful to mention the area of the city that they are in; in this case 홍대-신촌역 (Hongdae-Shinchon Yeok) and 잠실-신천역 (Jamshil-Shincheon Yeok).
The Korean word for ‘elementary school’ is 초등한교 (chodeunghakkyo), the word for ‘middle school’ is 중학교 (junghakkyo), and the word for ‘high school’ is 고등학교 (godeunghakkyo). If a school is a single gender school, then it may have 남 (nam) in its name if it is a boys’ school, or 여 (yeo) in its name if it is a girls’ school.
The word for ‘university’ is 대학교 (daehakkyo). Often, you will need to specify whether you want to go to the main gate (정문 – jeongmun) or the back gate (후문 – humun).
Once the driver reaches the school or subway station, you can give more specific directions. Again, using landmarks can save you a lot of hassle here. Fast food restaurants are particularly good landmarks as they have large, easy to see signs, and well-known names. There is also usually just one branch of each fast-food chain in each area, and their names are in English which makes them even easier for people who can’t speak Korean to use as landmarks.
After fast food restaurants, banks are the next best landmark. Be aware that the English name and Korean name of the bank may be different. For example, if you want to go to KB bank, you need to say 국민은행 (gukmineunhaeng), not KB Bank (nor KB은행).
Another way that you can give directions is to use road junctions (사거리 – sageori). These are quite well known, and you can use them to help explain to drivers when to turn left or right too.
There are some useful phrases that can help you give directions. The most useful one is 가 주세요 (ga juseyo) which roughly means ‘please take me to’. Both of these phrases are equally acceptable to use.
To use either of these phrases, just say the name of the place that you want to go to, followed by these phrases.
홍대입구역으로 가 주세요. (Hongdaeibguyeokeuro ga juseyo.)
Take me to Hongik University Station please.
잠일 초등학교로 가 주세요. (Jamil chodeunghakkyoro ga juseyo.)
Take me to Jamil Elementary School please.
뱅뱅 사거리로 가 주세요. (Baengbaeng sageoriro ga juseyo.)
Take me to BaengBaeng intersection please.
Phrases for Specific Directions
Once you reach the general area that you want to get to, you can give more specific directions to where you want to go.
Three of the most useful things to say are ‘turn left’, ‘turn right’, and ‘go straight’.
왼쪽으로 가세요 (oenjjokeuro gaseyo)
오른쪽으로 가세요 (oreunjjokeuro gaseyo)
If you want to be more specific, you can use the suffix -에서 (eseo) to specify where to turn left or right.
사거리에서 왼쪽으로 가세요. (sageorieseo oenjjokeuro gaseyo.)
At the intersection, turn left.
Once you get to your destination, you will need to ask the driver to pull over. To do this in Korean, you can say the phrase 세워 주세요 (sewo juseyo).
Now that you know how to give directions in Korea, try taking a taxi to a new place and exploring a part of the city that you haven’t been to yet.
Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series: http://www.90DayKorean.com/learn