A Virtual Golf Experience

golfing

Golf has never interested me. My family plays while I drive the cart and soak up some rays. That’s how it goes. My only other golf associated memories are from Squaw Valley. I spent many childhood summer days hunting for golf balls in the creek that runs through the golf course in Squaw. My neighbor and I would make loads of lemonade and cookies to sell on the border of the golf course, right where the golfers usually ran out of balls. They couldn’t say no to two little girls selling cheap golf balls and snacks. We raked it in. That’s really the only thing I liked about golf; it made me money.

Dave convinced me to give the sport a try and we finally went this weekend. Where in Seoul did we go golfing, you might ask? In a basement down the road, of course! We went screen-golfing. For 15,000 won per person, you can golf nine holes at many courses form around the world, or at least their digital counterparts. We chose an easy course in South Korea for my first (and most likely last) try. The room is equipped with clubs, gloves, and popcorn. You hit while standing on a platform that tilts based on the slope of the course. Birds chirp in the background, and if you ever make the ball into a hole (which I didn’t) there is applause from the invisible crowd.

my golf swing

I am not a golf convert. I found it a little frustrating and I understand why people throw their clubs. It’s not an easy game, and I’m certainly not cut out for it. That being said, screen golf is a fun rainy day activity and I’m sure it’s great for avid golfers living in the city who can’t make it out to a golf course that often. If you get nauseous easily, I don’t recommend watching the screen as the ball flies and hits the ground. It made me feel a little dizzy, but that could be because I’m not used to video game graphics. Dave won our match since I couldn’t manage to get my ball anywhere near the putting green. Oh well!

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Korean Thanksgiving and Our Second Trip to Sokcho

We are just finishing up our much appreciated five-day weekend for Chuseok aka Korean Thanksgiving. Chuseok is a holiday where families gather together, eat good food, honor their ancestors, and give thanks for the plentiful harvest. Gifts are exchanged on this holiday and the grocery stores are stocked with large gift set boxes of whatever you can imagine. One teacher recieved a gift set of shampoo. Eight bottles of shampoo is more of burden to me than a gift, but I’m guessing the idea is that you can share with friends. A very popular gift set is the spam and oil set. Yum. In case you don’t believe me I have some photographic evidence.

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The Gangseo-gu Neighborhood Pesticide Motorcycle (or truck)

I’ve been waiting to post about this until I got some photographic evidence and today I finally was in the right place at the right time with my camera thanks to Dave and his keen ear. We’ve seen a motorcycle drive around our streets a few times spraying a white cloud of mosquito killing pesticide in the air. Every time we’ve seen it we’ve been almost at our apartment and have had to bolt up the stairs to safety. We don’t know what the motorcycle is spraying, but we know it can’t be good. Sprays that kill anything generally aren’t great for you to be exposed to. Read more

Inspiration

While flipping through summer vacation photos from our trip to Busan and Boseong, Dave pointed out a common theme in all of my pictures: wherever I go, I always come home with a significant amount of pictures of the intricate artwork I see at palaces and temples along the way. It’s surprising I hadn’t noticed this trend myself since I consciously take pictures of the details I like in hopes of using them for inspiration some day. Not sure what I will use them as inspiration for, but the colors and designs seem to speak to me.

Dave suggested I post some of my favorites, so here ya go! Below are pictures from temples and palaces in Korea, China and Tibet. Despite all my time in Thailand, I really didn’t manage to take very many temple pictures and the ones I did take don’t quite make the cut. I guess I’ll just have to go back! Read more

Green Tea Getaway

Our first hour in Boseong was more than a little confusing. We asked a taxi driver at the bus station to take us to Nok Cha Baht which is what we thought the name of our hotel was. Everything seemed fine until our taxi driver had already dropped us off and left. We walked with our large backpacks along a crowded tree lined path to a front gate where a woman was tearing ticket stubs for what looked to be a park entrance.

When we approached, I made the universal symbol for sleep and she shook her head. I showed her our map and said pension to which she said no and then proceeded to spend what felt like ten minutes looking for a map in English as we stood at the entrance looking like lost fools with our large packs. Not that a map would have helped us that much anyway. We were off the side of a highway in the countryside with heavy-ish backpacks and it was hot. I wasn’t about to walk around looking for our hotel. We walked back to the parking lot to find another cab. Read more

A Five Day Escape from Seoul

Photo taken by David Domagalksi in Boseong

Summer vacation was a mere seven days at the school where we teach. It was supposed to be nine days (a week wedged between two weekends), but our director decided to make it a few weekdays bookending one weekend. We were all already peeved about this fact and had resigned to them not changing it, when they came to us a month before vacation and asked us if they could go back to the original plan. They wanted to do a summer intensive program over vacation, as if the students don’t have enough on their plate already, but could only do it if it was a full week. Half of the foreign staff had already bought plane tickets months prior, so the school not only screwed the teachers and staff out of a nine day vacation, but also screwed themselves out of a potential money maker. Welcome to Korea.

Irritating politics aside, we considered many potential destinations before deciding to stay in Korea. Our first plan was Japan, but as we were thinking about buying plane tickets, the tsunami and earthquake hit and we decided it wasn’t the right time. We knew we needed to buy plane tickets months ahead of time and we weren’t ready to commit to expensive plane tickets to a country that was in the middle of some serious problems. Plus Dave grew up close to Chernobyl and we figured that the last thing he needed was to visit a country emitting serious radiation.

Then we thought about going to Malaysia or Singapore. We decided against traveling to either place for several reasons. I was afraid of going there, meeting other backpackers and coming down with a terrible case of wanderlust. That would make coming back to Korea too difficult. We also thought that it wasn’t worth spending the airfare to go there and back when we’d be in the area in the winter anyways. Why not just wait. Lastly, we realized we hadn’t traveled south at all and weren’t sure when else we’d be able to do it. What a shame it would be to leave a country we’d been living in for a year having not seen much of it at all.

So, we decided on two destinations: Busan and Boseong. Read more

Mixed-up Gorilla Sign

I am in the process of preparing my post on our very short but fantastic summer vacation adventures. In the mean time, here’s an awesomely jumbled sign. This is from the restaurant named Gorilla on the corner of the street we stayed on in Busan. They spelled the name right on the big sign, but misspelled it on this little one. They also seem to have confused their primates. I will never grow tired of the silly English in Asia. It will always make me giggle.

A Seoul Kitchen: Cooking in Korea

This is my first time living abroad with a kitchen. I’m thankful for what we have, but it is still a challenge. I’ve only had one good kitchen in my renting history. I dream of the day when I have a nice oven, a dishwasher, a nice stove top where four pots/pans can comfortably fit at once, and plenty of well lit counter space.

Cooking in Korea has proven to be a bit of a challenge. We are lucky to be one of the few apartments in our building with a full size refrigerator which we keep fully stocked. The rest of our kitchen though is the same as everyone else’s here. We have a large sink and two small pieces of counter space, a quarter of which is taken up by a dish drying rack.

We don’t have a dishwasher, which is no big surprise, but we both long for the day when we don’t have to spend a half hour or more a day washing dishes. Most of our kitchen storage is out of my reach, which means that before I begin a cooking endeavor I need Dave to get my ingredients and utensils down for me, so I don’t have to climb on the counter. All of this is a little inconvenient, but not necessarily challenging.

The challenging part is Read more

Road Trip! The Furthest I’ve Ever Traveled for a Single Meal

I’m not sure what the furthest or longest I’d ever traveled for a meal was before Saturday, but I know it wasn’t three hours one way. It’s monsoon season in Korea right now, which means the weather is muggy, hot, and rainy. The forecast for this past weekend did not look good, so we contemplated taking a two hour subway ride out of Seoul to the city of Chuncheon to eat dak galbi (click here if you don’t know what dalk galbi is). Chuncheon is where dak galbi originated and is supposed to have the best dak galbi restaurants in Korea. We’ve been wanting to go there for a long time since our absolute favorite dish is dak galbi, so we figured we should take a day trip there. Read more