Wednesday, June 30, 2010

World Cup Fever... Korea Fighting!!!

For the little amount of time we have spent in Korea, it is not hard to recognize that when Koreans are into something, they are ALL IN! They don't do things half way when it comes to the important things in life (according to Koreans): partying, drinking, singing, and cheering for their soccer team! Danny and I got to have a once in a lifetime experience this past weekend when we went to Seoul... we got to see thousands and thousands of people cheering for Korea in the world cup. Above and below you can see that Danny and I with our friends Seth and Anna got all decked out to cheer on Korea as they played Uruguay. The Koreans are known for being insane during the World Cup season so for a month before it even started there were "Red Devil" shirts, horns, and a tatoos everywhere you went. I know, I know, I'm wearing devil horns but let me quote Seth's Korean co teacher and say this... " I like red, but I don't like the devil." ; ) It was fun to really get into the spirit and see how passionate Koreans get about cheering for their country and I really don't know if any other country can cheer for 1 1/2 straight like they can!
My shirt says, "The Shouts of the Reds!" and that is exactly what they can do...shout! They had cheers going at all times and it wasn't hard to get into the spirit. When Korea scored a point, it was like the whole country would shake with all the people jumping up and down. (The week before when people woke up to watch the game at 3:30 in the morning on a Wednesay, let's just say that is was difficult to get sleep that night. Danny and I might as well have watched the game because we knew when Korea scored when we were awoken from our slumber by screams and cheers... I don't see many Americans staying up to cheer at 3:30 am, but in Korea, it was weird if you didn't watch the game!) We saw the game on huge jumbo screens by City hall, basically the center of Seoul, and there were literally devil horns and people in red as far as the eye could see.
It rained basically the whole game but that didn't deter people from staying out! We kept right on cheering!
My favorite thing that night was to see all the little "devils" out to cheer on Korea! Korean kids are officially the cutest kids in the world already, and seeing them with just as much spirit as the adults is an adorable site.
Unfortunately, Korea lost the game that night so we are out of the World Cup. There was definitely an air of sadness in the country that night but one thing I really appreciate about Korea, though, is their sportsmanship. Even if they are disappointed, Koreans have such great attitudes about losing... way better than Americans. They are proud of the effort they put out but they move on when they lose. It is really amazing to see people, especially my high school boys, not let sports or losing frustrate them to no end, but they just applaud each other in true support... it's pretty cool.
Well the night, even though we lost (I say "we" because I am officially a Red Devil now), was great and Danny and I feel really lucky to be able to experience the World Cup in a country that really lives for those soccer games every 4 years. Below is a before and after picture of our experience. We were sad we lost, but mostly our faces in the after picture are more from pure exhaustion. We had been going from 7 am that morning and it was around 1 am when we were finally on our way back to the hotel, so you can say that these little devils were tired.
Well, if you ever want to feel the earth shake below you, come to Korea during the World Cup and you too will be able to be an official Red Devil! The word of the day: dae ha min guk (That is what Korean call Korea) KOREA FIGHTING!!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tortillas... my manna from heaven!

Many people are shocked at how much Mexican food Danny and I manage to eat here in Korea, and let me tell you, I wouldn't have it any other way. I can't tell you how often I dream about a margarita and chips n' salsa happy hour and because I can't buy limes and happy hour usually includes bottles of Soju (yuck), I will have to do my best with what I have.

A while ago I learned how to make tortillas when I lived in Romania because that country also lacked in Mexican food. What is the deal with me living in other countries that don't appreciate good burritos? Perhaps I should just move to Mexico and eat my fill... or Texas would be fine as well ; ) My tortillas have done the trick to ease my cravings and so now I will share them with you. I don't remember where I got this recipe, but it's no longer an exact science for me, so do yourself a favor and experiment a little till you too can enjoy perfect homemade tortillas.

Katy's Tortillas:

1 Cup Flour
1 Tbl. Lard or Crisco (or you can use vegetable oil if you don't have anything else)
1 tsp. salt
1/2ish C water

Get a tortilla station ready before you get all dirty. You need: a rolling pin (or a bottle of wine will do sometimes too : ), and a cup of flour to flour the rolling surface with. Now, put the flour and salt in a bowl and add the crisco. Break up the chunk of crisco with your hands until it has dispersed among the flour into smaller pieces. Add the 1/2 water and refill the cup before you stick your hands in the mixture. Start mixing the dough with your hands until all the water is mixed in. This is where it isn't an exact science so if you feel like you need more water (which you probably will) splash a little into the dough until it is at a good consistency (not too sticky, just wet enough for the mixture to become one big ball of dough.

Preheat a dry skillet at medium heat. Take the dough and place it on a well floured surface. Knead the dough for about a minute till it is nice and stretchy. Now break off golf ball or bigger hunks of dough and roll it out into a circle as thin as you can get it without it ripping. Take the circular dough and put it in the hot skillet. Let it cook about a minute or so on each side until it gets nice, toasted spots all over it. Rip off a piece of your first tortilla and savor the deliciousness! That's it... ENJOY!

I usually make 3 or 4 recipes of the tortillas at a time so I have a lot for the next couple weeks, but the simple recipe makes about 4 medium sized tortillas. I hope you try making them whether you live in Korea, Romania, or Colorado. Now go out and get a margarita, on the rocks, with salt, and eat a crazy amount of chips and salsa in my honor! Vamonos!!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Model, Idiot.

I hope all of you know where I got this blog's title. The title is not to call all you readers idiots, it is from the movie Zoolander so rest easy and read on. Who knew that Danny and I had to move to another country for our beauty to be appreciated? That's right, Danny and I have officially become models and it has definitely gone to our heads ; ) Actually the whole situation is funny and I still can't believe that our pictures will be on a billboard somewhere in Korea.

So here's what happened: Danny and I are good friends with a guy named Andrew. Andrew was featured in some Andong tourism ads so his picture is found on buses and posters randomly around town, and yes, we do try to tease him as much as possible for that. Andrew recently said that the photographer he knew needed 2 models to do some advertising for Andong apples (which are amazing by the way). So Andrew volunteered Danny and I to do some modeling and the picture above is just a snapshot of the amazing modeling I saw from Danny the whole day... I guess I was ok too.

The photographer wanted to feature 2 white people and a Korean girl so Danny and I said, "Yes, we can be those white people!" and that was that. We spent about 2 hours posing together while holding apples, or pretending to eat apples, or saying "Wow, this Andong apple looks SO delicious!" and I'm not kidding. Above you can see a taste of what the Korean model had to do with her apples, and let's just say she was talented, but if you saw Danny you would go out and buy a truck full of apples right away!

We got the chance to meet some really nice Koreans during our time as models... the woman in green was the photographer's assistant, and the other model was just a college student who got the job randomly. We don't really know what is in store for two out of work models, like Danny and I, but we feel like we are young and our future is promising! It's just hard to be ridiculously, ridiculously good looking, don't you think? (Also from Zoolander)

The modeling day was quite an experience, and especially for Danny I don't think he will forget the end of the day. After finishing the photo shoot (that's what us models call it when they take your picture) we were finally able to enjoy the delicious apples that we only got to pretend to eat. For some of you, you might be thinking, "Why is that a big deal?" and if that is the case then you don't know about Danny's apple phobia. He loves the taste of apples, but the crunch and the sound of an apple gives him the shivers and he just can't get past it. Danny hasn't been able to eat an apple since grade school and after the photo shoot he finally had to break that streak. He couldn't really explain why he couldn't eat the apples so he just had to grin and bare it. He got goosebumps up and down his body and I must say that I took a sort of sick pleasure out of watching him try to eat it. I guess he won't be doing that for a while. Well that was the end of our modeling career for now, but we hope that more opportunities for city buses or even a clothing line might come around! ; ) Today's word of the day: sawgwa ~ apple

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Run-In with the Korean Police!

You may be thinking, "Katy, what have you done?" Well let me tell you a VERY interesting story. Last Thursday I was walking out of my school getting ready to ride my bike home from school as usual and suddenly I saw that my bike was no longer there! I came to find that it wasn't some elaborate prank by Danny, but indeed my bike had been stolen. : ( I was extremely bummed and really didn't know what to do since I had never had anything stolen from me before. Danny and I decided that we would have to buy a new bike since I couldn't really walk to school the rest of the year, so I was even more bummed that I would have to waste that money.

I started praying for a miracle. I prayed that somehow I would get my bike back or find it somehow but I knew that I would probably have to eventually buy a new bike. The rest of the week I looked around Andong at all the bikes people were riding in an effort to find my bike but it wasn't successful. I resolved to the fact that my awesome purple and black cruiser was gone when Danny and I were walking home from downtown the next Tuesday and Danny stopped all of a sudden. He had seen something very interesting: a boy sitting on MY BIKE! Danny went up to the boy and started asking where he got that bike. The boy couldn't really speak English but after some broken conversation he said that it was his and he was okay with us calling the police to figure it all out. We were prepared that the bike issue might be difficult to figure out if this boy had in fact bought the bike from somebody without knowing it was stolen but that would have been another problem all together. Then all of a sudden the boy made an excuse that he had to drop off a sweater at home and said he would be back in 3 minutes. He left the bike with Danny and I and walked away so we began to wait and see if he would ever come back.

My Coteacher came to our aid and called the police so we could make sure that everything would work out and needless to say, the boy never came back. The police concluded that the boy probably did steal it and made an easy getaway so as not to get in trouble but the final conclusion was... I GOT MY BIKE BACK! I know it was definitely an answer to prayer and I along with my friends and my school still can't believe it! What a funny turn of events. Just another day in Andong!

The police officers were so kind to pose for a picture with me... JUSTICE IS MINE!!!! (Wow his vest is shiny! ; )

Monday, June 7, 2010

Camping in Korea! Island hopping Korean Style

Danny and I decided to try another new experience in Korea... camping! We had a 3 day weekend so after buying 2 sleeping bags and a tiny tent on Gmarket, we headed south with our friends Andrew and Helen. We had to head through Daegu by bus, so of course we had to start our adventure with a delicious meal at the illusive Holy Grill. The Holy Grill is a restaurant that is rumored to be owned by a Canadian in Daegu that has all the western food you can ever imagine! We gorged ourselves on nachos, cajun chicken sandwiches, and the most amazing chocolate brownie I have had in Asia. I haven't felt that full in a while, and because that is the closest western restaurant to Andong, we will definitely go back.

After a fantastic meal, we took another bus down to Tongyeong, which a port city from where we would start to island hop. From Tongyeong, you can go to over 100 little islands, so we took a boat to our first stop... Yeonhwado.

Since we have been to some of the Carribean islands, we sort of expected Korean islands to have a similar feel...WRONG. The islands we saw didn't really have beaches surrounding them, but the stuck out of the water with rocky cliffs on most sides. It was actually very beautiful and it made me feel like I wasn't even in Korea anymore. The funniest thing we noticed when we compared Carribean islands and Korean islands was definitely their use of land. On a Carribean island, they would use the "beach front property" for the tourist shops and restaurants, but not Korea. They don't hide anything tourists might see as unpleasant, but instead they flaunt it!

We discovered that the "beach front property" was taken up by large blocks of ice and row after row of freezers. But wait! If you look a little closer, you will see that they aren't blocks of ice, but instead they are blocks of frozen fish...YUM!

Why would they move the blocks of fish farther away from the water so they could make room for more pleasant sites and smells when they need to grind up the fish right by the boats?! Such a silly question. This is a perfect example of Danny and my slogan for Korea: A great idea, just poorly executed. Letting tourists tour islands in Korea by boat was a great idea, but what would be the point of having shops or restaurants on the islands once they get there? Haha, we are constantly seeing our slogan come true all around us, and even if you think it probably ruins the country, in instead gives it a goofy kind of charm.

After we passed the fish cube alley, we continued to wander around the island and found a beautiful hike. We walked straight up for about a kilometer and got some great views of the island and the islands around us.
Danny and I do love that you can take a 3-4 our bus ride and get just about anywhere you want to go, and the scenery is so different all around Korea. Who knew that Korea had so many islands!
After spending the afternoon on Yeonhwado Island, we decided to "hop" to another island which was about a 20 minute ferry. We headed to Yokjido Island, which was where we decided we were going to camp for the night. Right away we decided that it was time for some fresh sushi (or sashimi) so we chose one of the seafood stands along the water. We chose a few fish from a bucket and proceeded to watch the lovely woman below cut the fish apart. I watched the fish continue to flop around even as she skinned it, and I have to be honest, it was a bit unsettling. With that said, I still enjoyed the freshest raw fish I had ever had and had a good time even though the chopping and smacking of fish was the soundtrack for our meal! ; ) Side note: Apparently many women prefer the style of a towel clipped on their head over a hat, and I must say that I am thinking about gettin' me one of those to wear when I get back to the states. That's Korean fashion for you!

I just had to throw in this picture of "the only way to travel". Koreans don't only NOT have the seatbelt law or the helmet law, but they aren't afraid to take their small children out for a hazardous ride as well! (See mom, no one else wears a helmet!)

Our goal on the island was to get to a beach where we were going to camp that night. So like a true group of foreigners, we started walking toward the direction of a beach but really had no idea where we were going. After walking for about an hour, and with no beach in site, we decided that it was time to turn around. Now it's time for a little confession: I (Katy) have become an expert hitch hiker since we moved to Korea! There, I said it! My hitch hiking career started after I got tired of walking an hour and ten minutes to go home after school and so far it has been an interesting experience. I have met many different people, and even though many of you may be worried about my well being now, hitch hiking in Korea is actually safe and I have only been picked up by completely nice and completely normal people! Anyways, what that has to do with our island experience is this: after walking a long time to nowhere we decided that it was time to try hitch hiking back to the main town.
After waving to many passing cars, a really nice family finally stopped to pick all FOUR of us up and take us back to town. The good Samaritan, Mr. Kim, had to basically repack his car so all of us could fit in his van, but he made it work. He was celebrating his anniversary with his wife, and decided to take pity on us so after that Danny, Helen, and Andrew all got to become Korean hitch hikers as well!

We never did find a sandy beach, but after resting in the main town again, we decided to set up camp at a stone beach on a grassy area right next to the water. It was really beautiful and what could be better than waking up to the sound of the ocean? Our tiny 3 tent camp wasn't much, but it worked and I'm sure shocked a few Koreans on the island being that we weren't sure if we were in a "approved" camping area.

The night in our tents was filled with rain, lots of drunk Koreans walking by, little sleep, and anthropods (which were centipede type bugs that decided to crawl all over Andrews tent...haha... he had anthropods and Danny and I had cute lady bugs!) Even after all that, we survived our camping excursion, and we are hoping to go camping in the next couple weekends.

On our way home, we decided fill our belly's after an exciting and tiring weekend with one of the most excellent Korean meals I have had so far. We ate a seafood stew that was out of control... it had crab, shrimp, clams, mussels, fish, and who knows what else and it was awesome. This wonderful lady working at the restaurant took it upon herself to help us with cracking all the shells and getting the good meat out, and she even helped me eat some of it as well!

You would think that all of that was enough right? But no! The finale of a great weekend involved our friend Andrew, a water bottle, and NO bathroom. You can probably imagine what a 3 hour bus ride will do to a guy when he needed to pee after 15 minutes... let's just say drastic measures were taken.
Danny and I are both looking forward to more camping adventures in the future, our only hope is that we somehow find a nice sandy spot next time! The Korean word of the day: tentuh (that is how Koreans pronounce tent!)