Monday, October 31, 2011

Jinju's Famous Castle (a.k.a. Fortress)

Following an enjoyable evening exploring Jinju's lantern festival, a packed-tight-ocean-side-camping-venture and island exploration, the crew you've read about all month (Mike, Melissa, Aaron and Lady Annyeong) made their way back into Jinju to explore the festival grounds and nearby 'castle' before heading north to Daejeon. The fortress is extensive, beautiful and wonderful for a mid-day stroll and city views. Filled with families and couples during the days of the festival, fortress grounds also offered unique photo opportunities (as in how Lady is now 'headless') and of plentiful people watching opportunities.

The final hours in Jinju were spent tracking down Jinju Bi-bim-bap (which should have had raw beef, but didn't, but was still delicious), steaking out a firework viewing patch of hill and enjoying the glowing lanterns one more time.  Once all was said and done, the car was loaded, Melissa was dozing and Daejeon was only a mere hour and a half away.


And that dear readers is the one thrilling travel of the Harrington's as Melissa then decided to go doubled-up style on her MAED and has been begrudgingly typing paper after paper every weekend since. Fortunately, there's a light at the end of the tunnel and the MAED will be finished on January 16th, 2012 just in time for two thrilling non-Korean adventures! Hoo-zah!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Water for Ethiopia

Our friend Matt's birthday is today. Rather than requesting material possessions for his special day, he is simply asking for money. A common request, and one that many are able and willing to oblige. However, he is not wanting this money for himself--he has a project in mind. The cash his project raises will be used to buy a drilling rig to roam Ethiopia and dig water wells for those most in need of fresh, clean water. Please help Matt's birthday wish come true.

Happy Birthday Matt

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

South Coast Camping and Nam-hae Island Tour

Having enjoyed lantern festivities, cool night air and the worlds most succulent roasted chicken, the Harrington crew and couch guy made their way toward an unknown destination in hopes of finding a piece earth upon which to set a tent. Falling asleep in shotgun, Melissa offered little to no help in anything having to do with settling in for the night. However, the commitment and determination of man Harrington to camp in Korea with the wits of a SmartPhone finally had the crew somewhere - on the south coast - of the peninsula, near a park, between ocean and rice field with a tent full of rambunctious adjummas (Korean for funky old women, much like the one seen here -- in the second video) within earshot. Like manly men, Aaron and Mike set up the tent and soon after, all were drifting in (and occasionally) out of sleep with Lady sliding around sleeping bags for the ensuing night.

Morning came quickly for Melissa, as is to be expected, so she took care of some business including walking Lady Annyeong through some nasty, destructive Korean flora that was eager to prick and stick onto fur and pajama pants. While getting all the prickly character's off of the Lady and finally settling in to read some Dracula while letting the boys sleep Melissa ran her fingers over the Lady and made a most unpleasant discovery amongst her white fur-coat, a tick. So it was, with squeals and gags Melissa aroused the men and coerced the Man into extracting the nasty little blood-sucker who so desperately wanted to be cast as Count Dracula on poor little Lady's neck.


From tick extraction and tent collapsing one naturally heads further south to explore the islands that be. For this crew, that was Nam-hae Island, full of joyous wonders such as American Village and German Village (neither of which were visited this round), desolate October beaches yearning to be a part of energetic and exciting photographs, raw, bony, spicy fish and simple, stunning seaside beauty.

Let it be known, that getting off the beaten track and/or enjoying Korea in the off season is sure fire way to rejuvenate the worn and weary Native English Teacher.



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Floating Lanterns and Festivities in Jinju, South Korea

The night of October the 7th, the Harrington duo alongside their Sofa-Sleeping friend Aaron and the most trustworthy sidekick Ms. Lady Annyeong loaded up the dear Guemi Matiz and hit the expressway en route to Jinju. About 2 hours, an egg salad sandwich and an unfortunate exit choice later, the crew pulled into Jinju, South Korea where festivities were just beginning to light up and had yet to receive the full flux of weekend travelers. So it was that the Harrington family and Mr. Fitz enjoyed an evening of glowing lanterns, candle-lit-floating-lantern-wishes, tunnels of glowing-red-lanterns, joyous children, fire-breathing phoenix and dragons, floating river bridges, heaps of food scraps for the Lady and a most amazing late-night-chicken-snack all on a Friday night. Having enjoyed the festivities and committed to setting up a tent and sleeping in it, the crew made their way south (slightly unknowingly) and pitched their tent between the sea and a rice field .


The Jinju Lantern Festival was fully enjoyable on all accounts. For the Harrington's, arriving Friday night was a special joy as the crowds were smaller and partaking in the festivities proved much easier than when the crew attended the same festival on Saturday night. Saturday night was highlighted by

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fine Dining in Daejeon: Proper Chinese Cuisine


If you've been in South Korea long it's likely you've discovered that Chinese restaurants abound, however the cuisine is not always what you had hoped. It remains a challenge for the American citizen in Korea to track down sesame chicken, General Tso's chicken and other such dishes as may be familiar to the Chinese restaurants of the west. However, those wishing to dine on something a bit more authentically Chinese and a whole lot less Black Bean Sauce over Noodles, may want to head on down over to Gung-dong and check out a Proper Chinese Restaurant (of which the Harrington's do not know the name). However, the restuarant can be found

Monday, October 10, 2011

From Trash, to Craft: Jewelry Organization

Those who are in close connection to the Harrington's know a thing or two about their dumpster-diving, thrift-finding, re-using ways. A bit of digging into the Harrington's U.S. lifestyle will reveal a whole-lot-of extending the shelf life of discarded foods. Heck, the couple couldn't even spend a short vacation at home without hitting a few dumpsters. And, some readers may well be aware that the couple lives in treasure finding paradise and the majority of Korea Villa furnishings are in fact other people's discarded junk. Therefore, it should be no surprise that Melissa picked up this simple, ladder-like hunk of who knows what from an infamous corner and simply counted down the days should could turn this 'trash' into a 'treasure' through a bit of craftiness. So with thumbtacks in hand (and between the teeth) Melissa threw together on heck of nifty accessory holder and has been ever the more stylish teacher for her efforts.

Korea, thanks for throwing things out, the Harrington home would be oh-so-bear were it any other way ^.^

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fresh Eats and a 108 Ft. Tall Buddha

A polite suggestion and a three day weekend lead to the Harrington's enjoying yet another road trip, enjoying a Subway sandwich and touring the temple grounds of Song-ni-san National Park. Having caught wind of a nearby Subway shop on Thursday night, the Harrington's began daydreaming about the delight which is found in fresh baked bread, southwest chipotle sauce and the simplicity of 'eating fresh'. Four days later, they had found directions, called up the Dickerson-Bradford's and loaded up the car en route to Cheongju on October 3, a national holiday in honor of the foundation of Korea (a story which involves lots of garlic, bears, tigers and the son of a god - which is best saved for a later date when all the details are worked out) and set about finding Dream Plus near Cheongju's bus terminal. The building was easier to find than expected and the crew need only wait until 10:30 a.m. before they were able to order their foot-long subs which would later be enjoyed in the crisp, clean October air at the foot of one of South Korea's National Parks.

Continuing on, the couple enjoyed the beauty that is Korea's countryside on the windy roads leading to Songnisan National Park. Known for it's gigantic Golden Buddha built in 1993 and an ancient 5-story wooden Pagoda, Songnisan has numerous visitors throughout the year and a holiday weekend only increased the amount of visitors making the trip. Regardless, the sites were beautiful, the day perfect and the meal prior to wandering the grounds absolutely fantastic! While Korean food does much to please the taste buds of the Harrington duo, not much can beat the satisfaction of a hearty and delicious sandwich which Subway so perfectly provides.


Getting There (Subway): Get to Cheongju's Bus Terminal, either one, whether by bus or car or taxi and look for the Dream Plus building (pictured in the first collage, top left) . It is between the Bus Terminals, near Lotte Mart and a number of nice cafes and restaurants. Subway is on the first floor and opens at 10:30.

Getting There (National Park): Not sure. Most parks have a bus that will go into them. By car you can take National Road 25 from Cheongju or the Expressway 3. Out of Daejeon, take the Expressway or National Road 37. You should see many signs for 속리산. Southern entrance provides views of temple grounds and large Buddha whereas entering on the northern side will provide for less congested hiking opportunities and more picturesque scenes which the Harrington's have now placed on their 'to-do list'.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In the Kitchen: September 2011

August saw the Harrington's chowing down in their favorite places around the states whereas September finally brought Melissa back into the comfort of cooking home-made meals with flair and joy.

5. Once a Month Cooking - The highlight of September's kitchen adventures was the process of preparing 5 items en masse to be frozen and then spruced up at a later date for a home-made meal in a matter of minutes. Knowing that she would take on two MAED courses starting in October, Melissa wanted to be prepared with some items ready to go so as to avoid 6 weeks of eating pizza, toast (buttery, delicious Korean style sandwiches) and fried chicken. So it was, she spent part of one holiday in the kitchen preparing 5 items: Roasted Veggies, Pulled Pork, Shredded Chicken, Rice Pilaf and Tomato Sauce.

4. Bok-choy Stir-Fry - This dish ushered in a whole new manner in which to prepare veggies and man-oh-man did it ever satisfy the taste-buds of Mrs. Harrington.


3. Masala Black-Eye Peas - This dish provided Melissa with what she loves most - 1 cup of leftovers. Not many things provide quite as much creative encouragement as one cup of something delicious that must be split between two or three mouths.


2. Tofu Pudding - Having seen this concept in a cookbook while back in the states and again in a magazine, Melissa was eager to try it out and find out just how realistic it was to think Tofu could make a decent pudding. Perhaps not as delicious as traditional milky/creamy pudding, Tofu Pudding provides a much quicker alternative that's not half bad!


1. Hootenany or Oven Pancakes - If you have an oven then you have no reason not to make these for breakfast. They are quick, fluffy, eggy and fabulous with a touch of honey and cinnamon.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Anseong Winery Tour and Grape Harvest 'Festival'

In order to bid farewell to the month of September, the Harrington's joined a meet-up group, loaded the car (primarily with their bodies, some maps and a handful of snacks) and made a quick jaunt north to Anseong, home of Kenneth Kim's Winery. Legitimately interested in wine-making and beer brewing, Mike was excited to see the inner workings of a Korean winery and Melissa was simply content in knowing she'd get to take in a fair share of complimentary wine throughout the day.

The trip began with a visit to a Grape and Wine history museum that culminated in dixie cup filled with grape vinegar which was surprisingly refreshing (at least, the first sip was). From the museum, our guide and host Ken politely acquiesced to a request to visit the French Catholic Missionary where Anseong's wine tradition began in 1901 according the Official Site of Korea Tourism. The abbey building was a unique combination of traditional Korean design and of course classic European cathedral design. The building today is an interesting contrast to the cement block church which greets visitors to the abbey.



Following these initial aspects of the day of wine, the Harrington's and meet-up crew made their way to a nice lakeside restaurant for a wide variety of traditional Korean dishes and the first samplings of Kenneth Kim's wines. Wines ranged from whites, to ports, to sherry's and other red varieties. There was no holding back on Ken's part and wine glasses remained full through the meal and two vocal performances from meet-up attendees who had professed and hidden talents in the world of music and performance.


With bellies finally filled the crew re-loaded the bus and made their way to the wine 'estates'. As is expected, Korea is not Napa Valley. That out of the way, the winery was ultimately right up the alley of Mike and Melissa with their humble Wyoming upbringing and acceptance of all things done with a dose of redneck thrown in. Highlights, other than the continuation of free-flowing wine included a dark, dank dungeon of a wine cellar, wine in large plastic bottles most generally associated with Culligan-type water systems, heavy-duty brick wall paper covering the small abode and the outrageously massive power line serving as a reminder that while you may be in the countryside, it remains that you are in fact on a small peninsula filled with millions of people who appreciate electricity.

Additional highlights of the hours spent on the estates were live music, grape chowing and grape stomping and walking away with complimentary bottles of wine.




The days events came with a number of opportunities to receive a discount these included 10,000 for joining this meet-up group, 10,000 for early-registration and 20,000 providing your own transport. So it was, the Harrington's each paid 40,000 for a day of touring and drinking, eating and drinking a bit more (but not so much as to be unsafe to drive) while walking away with a 30,000 won bottle of wine each. Overall, looks as the couple made out quite well.

For others thinking of touring, look for a good deal such as this and you should have no regrets. Remember you're in Korea, not California and you should have no regrets. Consider going with a meet-up group as you may luck out and meet a few individuals who are interesting, kind and willing to sell/give you some hops for brewing. You may also meet individuals with whom you disagree and could get on fine without ever meeting again, but you'll never know unless you try it!


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