21 September 2009

Hangul in Indonesia

I was at Tom N Tom's today, perusing Asiana's in-flight magazine, and learned that a small Indonesia tribe in the city of Bau-Bau (Bauer-Bauer) have adopted hangul as their written alphabet. Though the tribe has their own oral language called Cia-Cia, they have not been successful in maintaing an official system of writing. The Yonhap News Agency has more on this news story.

Though I still have issues with its patchims and some vowel sounds, I do have to admit that hangul is quite a nifty little alphabet. I think it's definitely better than the English alphabet. Come on now. Is it really necessay to have a 'c', 'k', AND 'q'?

13 September 2009


My cousin VP likes to take an occasional gander through the work 'n' play forums, and somehow she always manages to find jems like this posting:

hello, i'm a goose father who sent my family to chicago 3 yrs ago. so i live alone in mok-dong.(we call it 'goose father' hahaha)

i'll get a green card in the near future, and then i'm going to fly to chicago. i wanna speak english more fluently before i go there. i'm looking for a person who is a native english speaker, wants to learn korean, and lives around mok-dong area.

i've experienced language exchange in san fransisco in 1997 when i worked as kind of a correspondent of a newspaper. i taught korean to a berkley graduate who was supposed to be a english teacher in high school in korea. and he helped me learn english. nevertheless, i'm still not good at speaking and listening english like most koreans. but i'm confident of grammar and writing(do u agree with that? hahaha) so the most needed for me is spoken english.

i was a reporter, and i am a general director in charge of a business department in a newspaper. well, i'm willing to buy u a meal during our language exchange class. i know a very good italian restaurant around here. hahaha

if u live in an area a lttle far from mok-dong, i ask u to come here. mok-dong is very convenient for u to come by subway no.5.

it doesn't matter if u are male or female. i'm, of course, male in the 40s. too old? hahaha

why don't u give me a email, meet twice a week in mok-dong, and exchage languages with me? my email address is xxxxxxx@naver.com


I bolded the bits that I found most memorable. I'm particularly taken with the way he sprinkles his message with *laughter* (I'm sure the hahahas would sound less creepy in Korean. ㅋㅋㅋ).

I think I need to meet this guy. hahaha

10 September 2009

Hanaro Club

I've been meaning to blog about Nonghyup's Hanaro Club for some time now because I've never seen a mart quite like it. Resembling a large warehouse, the Hanaro Club in Yangjae-dong is sometimes described as the "Korean Costco." Membership is not required, nor do you have to buy in bulk, but Hanaro Club does sort of have a warehouse feel to it. It's like the food section of E-mart, only five times larger. (If I had to guesstimate, I'd say the store was at least the length of a football field and a half.) What I find most appealing about Hanaro Club is that it's like an outdoor shijang (market), only it's INDOORS, i.e., air conditioned and slightly less dusty. It feels like a colossal farmer's market, only, without the farmers. The produce seems remarkably fresh, as if some farmer just boxed it all up and dropped it off that morning.

The store is milling with people, but at least the warehouse is large enough that you can maintain your personal space, and not get run over by some woman's cart as you're trying to grab something from the sample tray.

Is it just me, or are Korean veggies unnaturally large? Check out the 대파 (large green onions)! Surely, these green onions are meant to garnish the dishes of giants and not my little bowl of ramyun.

I also encountered a number of unfamiliar veggies including this root vegetable 안동마 (andongma). It's similar to a potato, only with a stringier(?) texture. Apparently, when steamed, it makes a good snack.

I also realized that Korean farmers have been getting all mad scientist out in the shigol, and have concocted some amazing new products. Check out this lime-colored cucumber chili pepper. As the name suggests, this mild pepper does indeed taste like a cucumber. Yes, it's as good as it sounds.

Some farmer even invented the root vegetable of my dreams: 밤고구마, the chestnut sweet potato! Unfortunately, I'm the only one in my household who likes goguma, so I didn't feel like purchasing a box. I'll just have to look for it sold by the pound.

I wish that we had a Hanaro Club near my 'hood. I was told that there is a Hanaro Mart in Yongsan, but I'm assuming that it's not as magnificent as the Hanaro Club in Yangjae.

06 September 2009

Caribbean Bay

With H1N1 running rampant throughout Seoul, I decided that there was no better way to challenge my now 27-year-old immune system than a trip to a Korean water park.

Thanks to Summer's foresight and Cyndi's hotness, we were able to wrangle a ride from our ultra-friendly real estate agent. Thank goodness we got a ride, because Caribbean's a bit of a drive. Part of the expansive Everland theme park, Caribbean Bay is located in some lush valley in Yongin. It's a bit of a fortress, actually.

Despite the swarms of people, prevalence of mesh shirts*, and the chattiness of our real estate agent, I had quite a good time.

Caribbean Bay is not prettiest water park I've ever seen, but it's definitely the largest. The pseudo-Spanish/Mediterranean decor reminded me of a Tex-Mex restaurant back in the Homeland.

Did I mention the swarms of people? You'd think with the threat of H1N1 people would be more prudent and avoid crowded areas, but no, there were hundreds (maybe even thousands) of folks just as foolish as me. For goodness sake, parents. You should keep your children at home -- so that I don't have to wait 1 hour to go down a water slide!

Sorry. Nothing really exciting in this picture. Just a bunch of umbrellas and beach chairs. Though I carried my camera around in a waterproof pouch, I didn't really take very many photos. Firstly, it's quite a pain to remove your camera from a waterproof pouch. Secondly, it's quite a pain to take photos when you're wooshing down a water slide.

Here we are chilling in a hot tub. Finally! A jacuzzi where you don't have to share water with a bunch of naked ajummas. (No offense, ajummas. I just don't like sharing bath water with strangers.)

We kept coming back to the tidal wave area because it was the one attraction where we didn't have to wait in line. Not sure if you noticed our very attractive vests, but those babies were provided by the water park folk (My vest is less tropical because I got the little person's vest). I know that some girls were probably bummed that they had to wear such tacky and concealing attire over their cute two-pieces, but I for one was grateful for the life vest. For one thing, I was able to go out into the deep end of the pool without fear of drowning. Secondly, I didn't have to worry about any wardrobe malfunctions this time around. Trust me, ladies. Do not go into a wave pool in just a two piece unless you want to give the lifeguards a show.

Speaking of two-pieces, can I just say that Korean women dress to impress when it comes to the water park. I'm not just talking about the agashis. The ajummas were working the two piece. You ever see those swimsuits at Dongdaemum or your local super-mart, embellished with rhinestones, ruffles, or flowers, and wonder, where would one wear that? The answer is Caribbean Bay! In addition to their colorful swimsuits, Korean women know how to accessorize. From their hat, to their sunglasses, to a sparkly little cover-up tied at the middriff, Korean women look like they walked off the set of some summer music video.

You may also notice our headgear. Summer told us that the park requires that headgear be worn when in the water. Presumably, the head gear was to decrease the amount of hair clogging up the pools. Esther kindly loaned me her visor. I'm not sure if the visor was successful in keeping my hair in place, but it did a good job of protecting me from the sun. Thanks, Esther!

If you can put up with the massive crowds, Caribbean Bay is quite fun. It boasts a number of exciting water slides. I mean, I only got to try a few of those water slides due to long lines, but all those slides seemed like they'd be quite exciting.

I have to say many thanks to SK-unni for getting us tickets to Caribbean Bay. I owe you dinner!

*I wanted to spare people from my tangent on mesh tops, but since you've made it all they way down to this little asterisk, I'm going to assume that you're interested in what I have to say.

What's the deal with mesh tops? A number of women at Caribbean Bay were wearing mesh "cover-ups" over their swimsuits. Cover what? It's full of holes! A lot of women at the park seem to have opted for the mesh dress for the sake of a little more modesty. Am I alone in thinking that mesh tops seem more skanky? In my opinion, a bikini seems more modest than a mesh top over a bikin. In addition to their non-functionality, mesh tops are just plain ugly. I don't care if you have Heidi Klum's body. It looks like you're wearing one of those laundry hampers you buy at the dollar store. Thirdly, those mesh dress pose a safety hazard. Can you imagine your mesh dress getting caught on something? It happens to fish all the time.