28 December 2007

Heart Attack on a Stick

This is a Korean delicacy that can be found on the streets of Seoul. In case you can't tell, it's a deep fried corn dog, fused with french fries, and smothered in ketchup.
It's 100% FAT FREE. ㅋ ㅋ ㅋ.

걱정마요, 이모!

It's pretty nasty if you think about it too long, so you have to eat it quickly. Otherwise, it's very delicious. If my heart could handle it, I'd eat one everyday.

23 December 2007

Ho Ho Ho!


In lieu of gifts, this year, Cyndi & I have made a music video expressing our warmest holiday wishes. I initially planned to piece together a Christmas medley from our recent trip to the norae-bang, so trust me, this video could have been way more embarrassing!

I know that this sort of foolishness is one of the reasons why I'm often mistaken for a 16-year-old, but I can't seem to help myself :)

So, to my dear family, friends, and the random few strangers who stumble across my blog while searching for the meaning of double bagger or tips on what to wear to a Korean wedding, I wish you all a melekelikimaka and a happy new year!

Special THANKS to my sister for the fleece PJs, as featured in the music video. They are very comfy. (By the way, the polar bear hat that I'm wearing in the video is for you.)

Without further ado, click on the video to see some Christmas silliness.

Henney also wishes you all a Merry Christmas (Thanks, Daniel!).


16 December 2007

Another Haircut!

Cyndi and I went back to Lee Chul HairKerker for a trim.

This is how we looked fresh off the boat, so to speak.


I love the Korean photo booths, but I still haven't figure them out. I know this makes me sound really lame, but I find them quite complicated. You can enhance your photos with all sorts of adornments: stamps, borders, backgrounds, etc. The options can be overwhelming. We went a little overboard this time around.

The machine featured below allows you to apply "makeup" to your photos, though neither Cyndi nor I managed to figure out the application until after we printed the photos. I especially like this machine, because there doesn't seem to be any sort of time limit.

15 December 2007


(photo source)

I, I mean, my friend, Banannalog, actually paid to see a movie in a theater, instead of purchasing a hot copy from the streets of Seoul, as I, I mean, she, normally does.

I have to say, I Am Legend was totally worth the price of a movie ticket.

I Am Legend starts off in the year 2012. Robert Neville (Will Smith), a hot scientist/former military officer appears to be the only surviving human-human left in New York City, and perhaps the world. Three years earlier, thanks to the shenanigans of Dr. Emma Thompson, mankind has managed to ruin itself with a virus that turns humans into rabid, light-averse cannibals. (I know what you're thinking. You already saw this movie -- when it was called 28 Days Later. I promise, this movie is actually quite different). With no one but his faithful German Shepard as a companion, Robert Neville forges a life for himself in the remains of New York City, all the while, maintaining the hope of finding a cure for the god awful virus, and saving what's left of humanity. I know; that's a pretty lofty goal. But, let me tell you, if there's anyone that can accomplish such, it's the Fresh Prince.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film. It was action packed, heart-wrenching, suspenseful, and often times, scary. Will Smith further demonstrates his range as an actor, infusing Neville with intelligence, strength, humor, and a dash of cuckoo bird. Somebody needs to get the man an Oscar nomination right quick. The dog deserves a supporting actor nod as well.

I also liked the fact that there's a lot of nuance to the film. Not everything is dumbed down and explained to you through lengthy exposition or dialogue. Much of the story comes from piecing together action, subtle character expressions, or flashbacks.

I definitely recommend I Am Legend.

12 December 2007

Tokyo Day 3

As usual, the video scrapbook's buried beneath all of the rambling.

We left the onsen bright and early, and decided to do a brief, walking self-tour of Odaiba, following the train line. I was really curious about the Sega Joypolis that we saw on our way into Odaiba, but of course it was closed.

Sega, Sega!

From what I could observe, Odaiba is a very quiet town. At least, on a Sunday morning. It was almost like the opening scene of 28 Days Later. The town seemed so empty. Even the roads were eerily empty. But, then we came across this long line of sports cars. There had to be about 20 of those Lotus cars. It's a car club! How cute.

Odaiba also features a mini replica of the Statue of Liberty, a very odd sight to see in Japan.

We headed back into the bustling part of Tokyo to investigate why Gwen Stefani is so enamored with those Harajuku Girls. We started with the Meiji shrine, because it was still too early to do anything else. The shrine was quite beautiful, and there had to be at least five weddings that day.

After the shrine, we weaved our way through Harajuku and Shibuya. With the exception of Daiso, a 100 yen chain store, we didn't do much shopping. I have to say that if you're looking to buy trendy shoes and clothes on the cheap, you can't beat Seoul. Well, perhaps China would offer some deals, but I've never been there, so I have no idea. There were lots of interesting fashion items, but I thought the prices were too high for such zaniness. Daiso was also quite a disappointment. I was much more impressed by the Daly City Daiso.

Speaking of fashion, I did not take very many photos of the Tokyo street fashions. Sometimes I am struck with these odd notions of privacy and intrusiveness, so I felt bad about treating the youth of Tokyo like some tourist attraction. Though, I suppose that if you're going to dress like a punked out little shepherdess with hot pink hair, then you're probably asking people to gawk at you. Cyndi and I did buy a couple of Japanese fashion magazines, so perhaps I'll showcase a few photos from them in a future post.

After Yoyogi park and our face time with the infamous Domokun, I seemed to have stopped taking photos. Our last night in Tokyo was spent in Shinjuku, which is famous for that huge pedestrian four-way crosswalk. Shinjuku was probably my least favorite neighborhood. It seemed to consist mostly of bars and restaurants. We stayed at the Hotel Rose Garden Shinjuku. The room was small, but I understand that's typical of hotels in Tokyo. I recommend dishing out the extra $80 or so and staying somewhere a little nicer. The Shinjuku Prince looked pretty decent, at least from the outside.

Maybe my opinion of Shinjuku is also tainted by the fact that I did not get to eat any kobe steak. Perhaps it was because I do not know the kanji for kobe steak, but I could not find an establishment that sold such steak. Bummer.

Instead, we had to settle for some sushi.
By the way, does this dude remind you of anyone that we know?

Rumble in Yoyogi

Check out the video at the end of the post.

The highlight reel for Tokyo Day 3 is forthcoming, but I just had to make a video for the incredible extravaganza at Yoyogi Park. We walked along the perimeter of the park on our way from Harajuku to Shibuya. To our great surprise, we came across a goldmine of entertainment (or was it more like a land mine?). The sidewalks of Yoyogi are littered with all sorts of performers. I've seen a number of street performers back at home, but I've never seen an array that was soclosetogether. There were rows of bands with no more than ten meters between each of them.

Alright, who am I kidding? I still can't guesstimate in metric units. I should have said: The bands were about three feet away from each other.

In my humble opinion, it seems more prudent to distance your band from the raging rock band immediately to your left, but in Yoyogi, it seems like the bands enjoy the literally close competition. Also, most of the bands come equipped with their own amplification system. Walking past the stream of rock bands, was akin to slowly turning the dial on a FM radio. There was a lot of noise, but you still managed to pick up some decent snippets of music.

My favorite performance was probably the street magician who turned a piece of paper into a potato. Unfortunately, I didn't catch his schtick on camera, because I was so enraptured with all the "magic."

I also enjoyed what seemed like a dueling gang of dancing greasers. I vaguely recall seeing some MTV News piece on this dance movement, where these Japanese men express their passion for '50s rock culture through impromptu boogie sessions. I just never imagined that they did this in such a public area.

I happily captured two separate dance gangs? on camera. In my opinion, the first group had more moves, but the second troupe, even though it was rather chilly, tried to make up for their lack of choreography by going shirtless. I call the rumble a draw, but you be the judge for yourself.

10 December 2007

Hey Santa

Dear Santa,

I think it's pretty fair to say that I've been a pretty good girl this year. I mean, granted, I most recently helped some of Seoul's most privileged children "fix up" their college application essays thereby promoting social Darwinism, but I think we're allowed a few transgressions. I mean, you, after all, condone bribery (what do you call those cookies and milk?) and reward good behavior through the promise of material goods.

I'm usually not big on gifts, but after checking out all the toys in Tokyo, I have to admit that there are some pretty cool things out there, especially in Japan. To make things easier for you this year, I've compiled a video wish list. Please view at your convenience.


FAMILY: I'm just kidding. I do NOT actually want any of these things... even though they are pretty cool :)

Tokyo Day 2

Feel free to skip the narrative and head straight for the video at the end of the post.

We spent our second morning in Tokyo checking out the chic Ginza district. Ginza apparently has a similar feel to NYC's Fifth Avenue. The area is quite posh, but dominated by many Western luxury brand stores. It's a nice area to stroll through and eye shop. Ginza also features one of Tokyo's largest toy stores, Hakuhinkan Toy Park. We also stopped by the famous Kimuraya-pan bakery, and it made me miss the Kimuraya back in Kaimuki (though I don't think they're affiliated).

After Ginza, we headed over to Roppongi Hills, which is marketed as the Beverly Hills of Tokyo. Roppongi features a humongous mall that makes my head spin just thinking about it. This is sort of the Tokyo I envisioned, lots of sleek skyscrapers and interesting buildings.

Side note: The streets of Tokyo are quite clean, especially in comparison to Seoul. At first, I thought this was because the city of Seoul does not provide public trash cans, but I didn't see very many public bins in Tokyo either. Could it be that the people of Tokyo actually hold on to their trash until they find an appropriate receptacle? That's craaaaaazy.

I digress. Anyway, after some sushi in Roppongi, we took the train to Odaiba to check in for an evening at the Ooedo-Onsen-Monogatari, a self-described "hot springs theme park." The onsen was probably one of the highlights of the trip. I'm still not too big on sharing public bath water, but you don't go to a hot springs to walk around in a yukata. I have to admit, the hot baths were pretty nice. Cyndi and I also paid to have the dead skin on our feet eaten by the so-called "doctor fish." It's not as gruesome as it sounds. It's actually quite ticklish. Actually, a little embarrassing as well. Most people had a handful of fish nibbling at their toes, while Cyndi and I were inundated with swarms of fish. It seemed as if half the pool was buffeting it up at our weary feet. I also really enjoyed walking around in the yukata. The skirt of the robe and the fear of pulling a Britney forces you to walk like a lady, or at least like a geisha. For an additional $15, you can stay overnight. Women may rest on some cushions in the ladies only relaxation room. If you're a light sleeper, this may not be your cup of tea because women often move in and out of the room. I, however, slept very comfortably.

Edit: Oops. My bad. That was Asahi TV (Roppongi Hills). Fuji TV is located in Odaiba.

07 December 2007


A couple of months ago, I saw these boxes while riding the subway train, and it made me very sad.

All three boxes contained puppies. They cried throughout the train ride. It was heartbreaking.

These puppies were likely taken to some busy shopping area to be sold on the street.

I can't say that puppy mills and this mass sale of puppies do not happen in America. The puppy business is a huge deal in many parts of the world, but seeing these puppies stuffed into boxes made me feel awful. I may be ignorant, but I think that commercial dog breeding and the sale of dogs are much more regulated in the States. At least I hope so. I see dozens and dozens of puppies sold on the streets of Seoul, and I can't imagine that all of them are sold, especially at $200 - 400 a dog. I wonder what happens to the dogs that become too old or big to be marketable. (I don't want to hear any cracks about Koreans eating dogs.)

We stumbled across a couple of legitimate pet stores in Tokyo. Of course the prices were extremely high, but at least I knew that these dogs were kept in a clean and humane environment.

Anyway, as I get off my moral high horse, why don't you check out these ADORABLE puppies!

06 December 2007

Tokyo Day 1: Asakusa and Akihabara

We arrived in Tokyo around 2 pm or so, then stored our bags in a locker at Ueno station. Based on proximity, we decided to check out the Asakusa neighborhood.
As I mentioned previously, we lost our "No Plan, No Problem" guide to Tokyo, but we managed to get by with one of those free English brochures from the airport. The brochure featured handy profiles of the most popular neighborhoods in Tokyo. Unfortunately, the neighborhood maps were pretty terrible. The map was filled with western reference points like TGI Friday's, the Gap, or Citibank, which was not very helpful when asking a local Japanese person for directions.

We arrived in Asakusa without much of a game plan, but the neighborhood looked very promising once we were greeted by this large, golden sweet potato!

Asakusa features a nice little marketplace, a warren of small shops selling snacks and souvenirs. It has a similar vibe to the International Marketplace in Waikiki.

Listen to the dog: "Smile everyday."

Our first day in Tokyo was marred by rain, but to our great luck, we found an abandoned (or more likely, forgotten) umbrella on the Keisei train from Narita airport. Tokyo totally loves us.

Throughout the marketplace, you'll find a dozen of snack shops selling fresh, seasoned rice crackers. I totally thought these were made in a factory in China.

After a walk through the market, we stopped by the Asakusa Tourist Information Center, which is located somewhere near this cool Seiko clock. At the start of every hour, this little animatronic (is that word or just something that Disney made up?) troupe performs a taiko number.

Asakusa also features an area known as Kappabayagi (or something like that), a large block of kitchen supply wholesalers. They had stores bursting with all sorts of cooking and baking supplies. I even found a store selling fake food displays used in restaurants. I find fake food strangely appealing.

Following the suggestion of the nice lady at the tourist info, we also checked out a nearby shrine.

We're not clear on the details, but we saw a bunch of people basking themselves in the burning incense, so we, of course, did the same. I'm hoping it was all for good luck, and not just something that stupid tourists get fooled into doing.

After Asakusa, we headed to Akihabara to check in at the Capsule Inn. Akihabara is the home of otaku, "geek culture," so I thought that I'd feel at home. But, it turns out that "geek culture" entails an extreme interest in video games, electronics, manga, and dressing up in costumes. I guess that's why it's more accurate to say that I am nerd, not a geek.

We stopped and played some old school Super Mario off an interesting console that is not made by Nintendo. I played for a little bit, and those stupid turtle-bird creatures totally kicked my butt.

I think this photo pretty much captures the essence of Akihabara, at least as far as I've seen: a multi-storied Taito arcade, a bunch of manga related shops, and Don Quiojte. If you've ever been to the Don Quiojte in Honolulu, you know how crazy that this mega-mart can be. If fact, I would say that the Don Quiojte in Tokyo is ten times as crazy. It's bursting with all sorts of costumes, cosmetics, and groceries.

We spent a couple of hundred yen (a few dollars) fruitlessly trying to win one of these amazing prizes from the claw machines.

These rodents are cute, yet disturbing -- something my sister would enjoy.

Huge boxes of those koala biscuits -- something that Stacy would also enjoy.

After hitting up a karaoke and murdering a few Mariah Carey songs, we checked in for the night at the Capsule Inn in Akihabara. The capsule is a nice option if you want to save a little yen, and don't mind small spaces.

A stay in the capsule is about $40 a night, and the inn accepts credit cards. Reservations are not required, but recommended during high travel times. Since capsule inns are usually frequented by salary men, I had my reservations; especially when the manager was like, "You know that this is a capsule inn, right?"

Women get their own floor. The female floors are accessed by a key, so we were allowed to bring our luggage up to the capsule rooms. Otherwise, I believe that luggage must be left in the lobby area. They give you a little chain lock to secure the luggage to something heavy.

Overall, I felt quite safe, and the inn is clean enough.

The capsules comes with a yukata robe, towels, and a toothbrush. The bedding is quite comfortable, and the rooms are nice and toasty.

You can even watch some TV or listen to the radio.

In my opinion, the capsules are quite roomy, though I should note that I'm rather short.

Just pull down the shade for some privacy.

I wonder if we have capsule inns in America. Probably not. We're pretty big on personal space in America.

04 December 2007

Back from Japan

Japan was fabulous. I have lots of pics, plus a couple of videos, which I will post later this week.

Cyndi's Tokyo Top 5
  1. Finding Domokun
  2. Eating real Japanese ramen
  3. Overnight in a capsule hotel
  4. Japanese crepes
  5. Getting nekkid in the bath house
Anna's Tokyo Top 5
  1. Getting my stinky feet nibbled by "doctor fish"
  2. Yukata robes
  3. Smooth, clean sidewalks
  4. Tokyo architecture
  5. Japanese salmon

30 November 2007

"It's like Korea, only Japanese."

That's a direct quote from Cyndi.

We arrived in Tokyo. Yay! As Cyndi noted, Tokyo feels very similar to Korea, but is also quite different. I don't mean to offend the Motherland, but it's much cleaner here, and people seem to be much more polite. I haven't heard so many "Excuse me" (sumimasen) in such a long time. I guess I've become accustomed to all the passive aggressive pushing and shoving on the mean streets of Seoul.

This whole trip to Tokyo was sort of thrown together at the last minute. We've come to Tokyo with no concrete plan. In fact, Cyndi even bought a Tokyo guide book from Kyobo Bookstore called No Plan, No problem! Unfortunately, we lost the book at the subway station.

No worries though. We're doing surprisingly well, given our little knowledge of Japan and the Japanese language.

Tonight, we're staying at Capsule Inn Akihabara. It's pretty cool. I will of course, take lots of photos.

Soreja mata.

25 November 2007

Put some pants on.

Dear Ladies of Seoul,

Put some pants on.
As Gummy will attest to, it is far too cold to wear a mini skirt or hot pants.

Sure, I know you have your little sheepskin-lined boots on, but unless those Uggs go up to your thighs, there's no excuse for you to wear such mini articles of clothing. It is winter for goodness sake! Lindsey and Paris can get away with such foolishness, because they live in L.A. You, girlfriend, live in Korea.

I see you running around the streets of Seoul, pretending not to be affected by the cold, but, girl, who you foolin'?

I see you walking briskly, trying to act like you're in a rush, when you're really just trying to keep your legs from going numb.

I see you walking amidst large crowds, hoping that those bundled up strangers will block out some of the cold.

I see you trying to block the wind with your shopping bags.

I see you huddling with your equally silly girlfriends.

A good pair of tights may keep you warm, but not if you're wearing a mini skirt!

Despite all of that, I know how you're really feeling. I wear about five layers of clothing, and I'm still freezing my bum off. I am admittedly less tolerant of the cold than you are, but look at any of the gentlemen next to you. Do you see any of them in slippers and khaki shorts?

Even the dudes in Cake know better. At the very least, short skirts should be accompanied by a loooooooooooooooong jacket.

Seriously, put some pants on. You're making me feel cold.