SoKo Coffee Haus

coffee 4

When we were living in Korea, I discovered that the play wasn’t the thing, but coffee; or rather, coffee shops were the thing.

My office was/is situated in a little neighborhood near Gangnam (yes, THAT Gangnam). Surrounding said office, were three Starbucks, two Dunkin Donuts, at least two Coffee Bean & Tea Leafs, as well as the elusive Caribou Coffee.

In addition to those main-stream, corporate coffee houses, there were a plethora (and I do mean this) of smaller places. Places like Ediya, Tom N Tom’s, Coffee Factory, Seven Monkey’s, Coffine Gurunaru, Yellow Tree, and Serendipity (these last two were actually in my neighborhood specifically, while the others could also be found just about anywhere in Seoul) JUST to name a few. There are literally hundreds of these places, many of them in hidden locales, holes in the wall, off the beaten path.

A Google search of coffee houses in Seoul and there are listing of places I’ve never heard of! There is (or was when we were living there) even a bird themed house (in which live birds are free to fly about) and a cat themed house (in which coffee lovers can drink their cuppa in the company of random cats). The logistics of these two are interesting to ponder and should we make it back to Seoul anytime soon, I’ll be dragging my husband and son with me to check them out. And the one my boss would take us out to, without fail, whenever the occasion called for coffee, doubled as a flower shop.

If you find yourself in Seoul, please, please visit the local chains, you will NOT be disappointed.


This is why we can’t have nice things…

I had started walking between 3.5-5 miles 3-4 days a week about three weeks ago. I had been doing well, getting up at the crack of dawn, leaving a note for Jason to let him know I was out, and maintaining a steady pace as I went. I had been adjusting nicely to waking up so early, even on days I wasn’t walking.

I had been doing all this, until the sky exploded and hasn’t stopped spewing swimming pools of rain every day this week (except for Tuesday and this morning, and I did walk those days). The prospect of any time outside without my umbrella is pretty unlikely. Maybe Saturday will just be cloudy. Here’s hoping.

Also note that the humidity level is horrendous. So even though it’s pouring out, it’s still freaking HOT. This is why we can’t have nice things…it’s raining, HOT, and humid (think high moisture levels, little insulation, and crap wallpaper).

In other news–and real the reason I mentioned the weather and my inability to continue with my exercise regimen–I recently joined an online group that is functionally a support group for people trying to lose weight. I’m really excited to read about their progress as well as keep track of my own. The aim is to be a little accountable. The group is fairly small, but most of them have blogs about their journeys, so it will keep me inspired. Even the welcome blurb from Angela was inspiring:

Using blogs in this way is by no means new. Tons of foodies and people seeking a voice as they work toward a healthy lifestyle blog everyday. WordPress FOOD tags alone number well over 5,000 posts at any given time. Add in RECIPES, and the WordPress blog site has over 8,000 contributions. WordPress isn’t the only blogging site. Blogger has a multitude of food, diet, and healthy lifestyle blogs as well.

For many people, the world beyond their computers is actually quite small. The wonders of the Internet never cease.

A veritable smorgasbord of information and opinion, the Internet really does have a life of its own. I find value in much of what the Internet provides. Being so far from home and away from most of the conveniences I had taken for granted, reading blogs about life and developing my ideas for the future has truly been a lifesaver.

Another blog I did want to mention before wrapping this up to devote my full attention to one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes, is Krista’s blog. This girl has worked SO hard to lose a lot of weight and she’s opened herself up to the entire Internet community in the process. For the next two days, she’s celebrating her readers with an AWESOME giveaway.

**Question: What do YOU use the Internet for?**

Walkin’ on Empty

WHAT a day.

I should actually begin with yesterday. At around 4pm Jason skypes me to let me know that the landlord has put our apartment up for rent. OK. Right at the moment, there were people at our front door calling to get the pass code for our Seoul-standard electronic door lock. Not OK. First of all, hello short notice. And as such, there are clothes, dishes, even cash kinda lying around. The place is far from tidy.

Second, I don’t know these people, Jason doesn’t know these people… and we’re suspicious. So, no, we don’t want strangers (even if brought over by a realtor because we don’t know her either) walking about in our house without some sort of warning.

So, HOORAY, were packing up everything by the end of the weekend. Calling the shippers on Monday, and sending all our stuff, except clothes and some other essentials like toiletries, home ASAP.

Back to today…

I was up at 5:30 am to do my long walk. My regular week-day walks take me about 45 minutes. I figured today’s would be about an hour, which was pretty dead on.

I had originally estimated my Monday, Wednesday, Friday walk at 2 miles. When I came home this morning and told Jason that I did 3 miles at an hour, I was happy. He was…concerned.

“That’s a long time for just 3 miles, Babe.”

“Oh…yeah, I guess it is. Let me check it.” So I log into this site (which I LOVE) and find my neighborhood.


So yeah, not three miles, but just under five (I say five because this wasn’t as accurate as I could have made it, with the few additional side streets I needed to navigate before getting onto the bridge).

This also means that my weekday walks are not actually two miles, but three and a half. And my time is not a 20-minute mile, but a 12-ish-minute mile. These new developments make me happy if I can up my speed before my “race” in October. That would give me a better finish time than when I ran it the last time, or the one previous in 2008.

A few hours later we were on the bus, to Gangnam to run some errands and snag a quick brunch before meeting some of Jason’s co-workers across the river. We were going to see Kung Fu Panda 2 in 3D.

The movie was cute. Seeing it with a writer (Jason) and a designer (Karen, one of Jason’s Korean co-workers) was a trip…well afterward it was fun hearing them discuss the creative aspects of the plot and animation.

The theater was inside a mall/train station, so the building was HUGE. After seeing the movie, we had lunch at some fusion place called Pasta Amigo. Randomly, and without reason, I ordered the Salmon Fettuccine. It was really tasty. The Alfredo sauce was a bit sweet because of the onions and fishy (obviously) because of the salmon. The pasta was actually spinach pasta, and therefore it was green… a nice touch.

After leaving Jason’s co-workers to wonder the giant mall, we found a few items at the E-Mart there, and made our way home.

So, what began at 5:30 am with a 5 mile walk, turned into a very long day of more walking with a cute movie and a nice lunch thrown in the middle. It’s also VERY hot these days, and while it’s still not as humid as it could be (think walking though a heated swimming pool while staying mostly dry), it’s pretty miserable none the less when you have to hike back from the subway to the apartment.

Don’t worry. We bought giant bottles of water (will be recycled) and popsicles to help cool us off.


Hey Seoul Sister

As I mentioned before, I want to walk the Duke City half marathon in October. I actually started “training” two weeks ago by walking a two-mile loop near my apartment. Last week I didn’t walk. I know, I’m lame. But, moving right along, I did walk this morning (I’m shooting for 3 times a week at 2 miles, and one day where I walk 3 miles) even though it looked pretty close to raining. But, whether it was mist, fog, haze, smog, or just cloudy, it still looked like it was going to rain.

South Korea used to be called “The Land of Morning Calm” due to its high mountains (which is still has) and clean, clear waters (not so much nowadays). This fact is pretty well ironic now, what with being one of the largest cities in the world and all. The hustle and bustle of big city life is far from calm.

That wasn’t the case this morning, however. If you wake up early enough here, it doesn’t seem quite so “large.” Sure, the amount of cars on the road at 5:30 AM probably exceeds the amount of people in my hometown, but it’s a stark contrast to what you would see twelve hours later.

But, I digress. What I really wanted to write about was a few of the things I saw on my 5:30 AM walk.

For starters, cloudy skies. But I continued along my path and once I had crossed the road toward the middle school, it was easier to tell that I wouldn’t get rained on. As I was walking, I was passed by this guy, who was riding a bike, rather than walking, as I had become used to seeing last year. I saw him again for the first time two Mondays ago. It was really inspiring.

As I passed the middle school, I noticed what looked like a broken down bus. As I passed it? Lady Gaga’s. I kid you not.

On the bridge I observed the fallen trees, which were knocked down in last September’s typhoon, which happened the day we were supposed to go to Jeju Island (we still made it there, but on a later flight). The trees were still green and thriving, even though they were pretty much 90% horizontal with the ground. Nature: FIGHTING!

Then, finally, as I was heading back, I caught a glimpse of the orange sun, I blame pollution. But, I guess it’s just random particles in the atmosphere… Let’s go with that.

Anyhow, it was a lovely walk. I feel refreshed and almost ready to be at work today.

Social Vibes

So, this whole blogging multiple times a week sure is easy!

Today is Monday, and I am off work because it’s Korean Memorial Day. On today’s agenda is cleaning and preparing the house so we can have the movers come out to give us an estimate later this week, and a bike ride.

As expected, I still got up relatively early this morning. I’m not sure why I get up so early on my days off, but I do. It’s sad. After the normal business of waking up was finished, I clicked on the computer and went to work reading my subscriptions. My regular rotation of blogs includes Clean Eating Chelsey, Kath Eats Real Food, Cook Eat Live Vegetarian, and Ginger Couturier: Trapped in Suburbia as well as others, but these ladies (yes, all ladies–I think all my subscribed to blogs are written by ladies, hmm) post the most often.

Today, as I was reading Ginger’s blog (I want to try that cobbler now, too!) and nearing the end, I saw a reference to this blog, where she challenged her readers to take action. While too late to actually participate in the contest, I did want to check out the SocialVibe widget she mentioned.

SocialVibe is itself a social networking site, but it’s aim is charitable. By adding the widget to my page and having my readers click the badge, donations are generated which help my selected cause. For each click, the site gives a certain amount to the cause. For us, in blog land, it’s great because we can enact change and bring awareness to a variety of causes simply by including the widget. It’s free, meaning if you click, you don’t have to give a monetary contribution–you just have to watch an advertisement, and complete an activity (for me, this meant voting for a cause to win a car). Poof! You’ve just helped the environment, abused children, battered women, people living with AIDS, service animals, the clean water campaign, or any of the many other causes.  That simple.

So, get clicking! You can sign up via Facebook, Blogger, WordPress, or just by going directly to the site. Post the badge on your blog and watch the counter go up. The toughest part is only being able to do one. But you can help other causes by clicking other people’s causes in their blogs.