Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Itaewon, Seoul Tower, Noraebang

On Saturday, the old training gang and I went to Itaewon, the foreigner neighborhood, to check out the international scene, grab a kebab and maybe even get some pie. There are a handful of kebaberies (probably not correct, but I thought I'd used it anyway) in Itaewon but fortunately Jon had found a list of the top 5 with explanations, so as soon as we arrived and met up with our friends, we headed to #1 on the list: Petra. The kebab, or chicken shwarma as it's also known, was delicious. Lunch also gave us a chance to catch up with our friends and find out how things are going at the other branches.

After lunch, we headed to the international grocery store, where I found such delights as nacho cheese, peanut butter, and nutella. I didn't buy anything since we were going to be walking around for a while and I didn't feel like carrying stuff with me, but the next time I'm there I'll to have to pick up some nutella for crepe-making purposes.

Next we went to an English bookstore. It had a pretty good selection but nothing tickled my fancy and I brought a few books with me in which I have yet to make a dent, so I once again made a mental note to come back at a later date.

We ended up also going up to Seoul (or Namsan) Tower which is located on the top of a hill not too far from Itaewon. It was a chilly and clear night so we had a lovely view but it was painful to be out there for too long.

We took these cable cars to to get to the top of the hill/base of the tower.

By the time we got to the top, it was sunset.

There were these locks all around the fence. Apparently couples put them up so that their relationships...are locked down forever? We saw a few handcuffs too.

It was nice, but really cold so we didn't stay too long. Also, it turned out that we couldn't actually go to the top of the tower without paying for another ticket (we'd paid to get to the top of the hill) so we just took our pictures of it and left.

After we left Seoul Tower, we headed back to Myeongdong to get some dinner. Mmm...Korean BBQ.

Finally, we went to Noraebang, which is Korean karaoke. It has the same basic principle as normal karaoke except that they have these little rooms ("bang" means room) complete with TVs, disco balls, and tambourines, and you and your friends rent the room by the hour. So instead of singing in front of a whole bar full of people you don't know, you just have to make a fool of yourself in front of your friends. And you get to be the DJ. They have these binders with thousands of songs, some of which were fairly recent, and a remote control so that you can pick whatever song you want. We did more than a couple Lady Gaga renditions and of course the requisite Journey, too. (In fact, my friend Alisa has compiled a list of songs we sang that evening). After you've finished singing, the TV grades your performance. Not to brag or anything, but we got quite a few scores in the 90s, including one 99. Ahem. All in all it was a fun day.

We're currently in week 9 at school, which means the students are taking their achievement tests next week and the term is coming to an end soon. I guess at the end of every term, our branch has something called Hwaeshik which is like an office party. Everyone goes out for dinner, usually Korean BBQ, and then does noraebang or goes to a bar. Sound familiar? We'll see if this aging twenty year-old can handle two wild nights in one week.

P.S. Now, I know what you're thinking: what about the pie? Didn't you find any in Itaewon? Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to look for the bakery, Tartine, to pursue our pie desires. However, on Sunday Jon and I happened upon some pie in the most random of fashions. First of all, it is important to note that pie, with fruit filling and buttery pie crust, is not easy to find in Korea. They have other sweet baked goods, but nothing that would satisfy the insatiable pie craving that lives deep within us all. Or at least within me. OK, now it's time for a tangent which will eventually lead back to the pie...My bank is called Woori Bank and the closest branch to my apartment happens to be in a hospital across the street. We went in late Sunday night so that I could take out some cash from the ATM. As I was withdrawing funds, Jon disappeared around the corner where a small bakery/cafe resides in the hospital. He returned with a large, pie-shaped box and a big smile. They had apple pie. Seriously, of all the places to find pie, a hospital? Anywho, we stopped by a convenience store to pick up some vanilla ice cream, then high-tailed it back to the apartment where I heated up the pie (in a frying pan because I don't have a microwave) and Jon dolloped some vanilla ice cream on top. It wasn't apple pie in the most traditional sense since it seemed to have some sort of an apple/sweet potato filling thing inside, but it didn't really matter.


  1. Kebaberies is my new favorite word, so thanks for that!

    Again, SO PRETTY. I'm glad to hear you finally found some pie! And that noraebang thing sounds so much better than regular karaoke. They really need to export it to the US.

  2. Greetings... I'm Chef Garrett, owner of TARTINE Bakery & Cafe in Itaewon. I am sorry to read you didn't have time to visit our cafe for pie. We also have wonderful Romanian Peasant Bread available. We are easy to find. From Itaewon Station exit #1, walk to the second alley [KFC being the first], turn right, we are halfway up the alley. You can't miss the pies in our window. Pie and Valentine's Day go together. 02-3785-3400. Best wishes.... Chef Garrett