Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pets and a Pet Fail

Like I mentioned, dogs are found everywhere in Seoul.  I should add that you find more in some parts of Seoul as compared to others.  For instance, in the Itaewon/Hannam dong area they are everywhere.  I hear dogs bark at night.  I see other owners with dogs, walking them.

The photo I posted of a woman with a dog was taken near the Gangnam area.

We visited the section of town that has all of the pet shops.  There must be an easy two or three dozen pet shops.  Here is one of my wife and daughter perusing one.  This is typical.  Just crammed full of all sorts of pet stuff.

But later, we happened on a store that had this box we could see from the store window:

I have no idea what it is.  I don't care to know.

Taking Peeps to a whole new level

We took a quick weekend trip to Fukuoka Island in Japan.  It was close to Easter so all the shops were selling Peeps.  But these are Peeps like I've never seen before.  Here is a photo of one:

And here is a huge lighted ad for them:

But they really weren't much like the Peeps in the US other than a vague shape of them.  No marshmallow center.  No sugary crunchy/squishy exterior.  And they tasted....ok.

Preparing for??

This photo was a little frightening.  Maybe the Koreans really are concerned about the survivability of a fire in the subway stations.  Or maybe anything else that might happen in a subway.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Tiramisu’s creator focuses on customer happiness

I don't want to abandon talking about food completely.  So I found this great article about the guy who invented Tiramisu.  I had never heard of the stuff until the movie Sleeping In Seattle.
Iannaccone was good at his work, and restaurants wanted his desserts. After success with a food distribution business, he moved to Baltimore to help a business contact launch an Italian restaurant. Although he and his wife, Bruna, had initially planned to return to Italy, events compelled them to stay. Now they run Piedigrotta on 1300 Bank Street, where everything is handmade with Italian authenticity.

In the midst of it all, Iannaccone invented tiramisu.

Or so he says.

A Washington Post reporter investigated the claim in 2007 and found it credible, although the dessert’s provenance is debated by food historians. With the same dismissiveness he applies to his age, he said of his world-famous concoction: “It’s no big invention. It’s not an airplane.”
AND he's modest!

At the end of the article is his recipe for Tiramisu.  Looks to die for!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Houston Mission Control in Tokyo Train station at Airport

I had to make a visa run to Japan a month ago.  I thought I would take the subway to the city center...until I saw this:


There was no way in heck I was going to figure this out.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The death of kimchee?

Who doesn't know what kimchee is?  Sort of the Korean version of sauerkraut, I guess.

But with garlic.  Lots of garlic.  Lots and lots of garlic.

So, when I saw this in the men's bathroom, it sort of reminded me of an alcoholic who had finally admitted he had a problem and needed to do something about it.
If you haven't figured it out, it's a mouthwash dispenser.  See the blue green color in the cup?  That's the mouthwash.

Now, the South Koreans still consume vast quantities of Kimchee, morning, noon and night.  But they aren't stupid.  They know their breath reeks.  But mouthwash only works for a little while, and the garlic breath comes back.  The real cure is to go cold turkey.  And I think they know that.

So, what I see is kimchee slowly over time being consumed less and less and only brought out for special occasions. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dogs in Seoul

So, before I left for Seoul I would search Goole to determine of owning a dog was common in Seoul.  From absolutely everything I read Koreans tolerated dogs.  They ate them.  Some were pets.  Many were not.

That was perception.  That was not reality.

We live in Hannam dong just beside the Itaewon section of Yongasn gu.

There are dog owners all around us.

Want an apartment that is pet friendly?  No problem!

And dog food? It's EVERYWHERE.  Pricey?   You bet.  but so is everything else in Seoul.

Not only all of that, but there is an area in Seoul with a couple dozen if not more pet shops and pet stuff shops.

Renting an apartment in Seoul

I received several text messages on my Korean phone from the agent.

Where are you?

Will you be here soon?

By the last text message, I was at the ground floor waiting for the elevator with a couple of minutes to spare.

I knocked on the door of the company and a woman opened the door.  I asked if this was the leasing agent.  Luckily, she spoke a little english.   Behind her was a room filled with some junk.  The plate on the door had the leasing agent's name on it.  How could I go wrong?

"No. Try next door".  So I did and it turned out to be the right place.  I was greeted at the door and ushered into the office.  There was a table with two well-dressed middle aged women seated side-by-side.

The agent greeted me and asked me to sit with the two women who he introduced to me.  After the greetings we just looked at eachother.  I couldn't speak Korean and they couldn't speak American english.

The agent came and sat with us at the end of the table.  He had three copies of the lease.  Luckily, the lease was in both Korean and English.  He laid them all side-by-side.

A Korean lease is really very simple.  It was about three or four pages long, but if you remove the English, it would all fit on two pages.  Whereas, a Texas standard residential lease is 7 pages long.

"The owner has told me that she replaced the old air conditioner with a new one," said the agent.

I smiled to express my thanks.  The entire apartment had been refurbished and the aged, yellowed A/C unit in the corner of the living room of the apartment sort of stood out like a sore thumb.

Then he and the owner both took out what looked like a short, zippered pencil pouch.  They were about two inches long.  They unzipped them and pulled out what looked like a tube of lipstick.  The agent also pulled out an ink pad that looked like it had been used  a LOT.  The ink pad was mushed up and looked like someone took a hammer to the pad and distorted it horribly.  But all that ever occurred was years of gentle use.

Then the agent began taking an end of what turned out to be a stamp and stamped the inside edge or rather the two touching edges of the leases.  Then the owner did the same thing.

"Now it's your turn." the agent said to me.  But instead of using a stamp, that I didn't have, I wrote my signature.

The agent folded the first page exposing the back and placed his stamp on the edge so that half was on the blank back and half of the stamp was on the page under it.  The owner did the same.  They did this for each page.

"Ok, now it's your turn".  So I signed my name in the same manner.

The ceremony was over.

Now, the really horrible problem in S. Korea is that most landlords require anywhere from one to two years of rent/deposit in ADVANCE.  I was lucky to find someone who only required 6 months.

The agent looked at me with concern "Gary, when will the money clear our bank?"  From that point on until the money actually cleared the Korean Bank, the poor young agent was sweating bullets, daily texting or emailing me asking about the money.  I guess I must look like a real low life.

A few days later when the money cleared the agent's account I sent him a text message saying that he could finally sleep tonight.  He sent me back a smiley.

Riding the Seoul Subway

Depending on the time of day and which subway train you take, the ride could be easy…or it wouldn't be.

I don't remember which day this was and where I was headed.  But this is as bad as it gets on the subway here.