Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I don't think you're all that funny.

I love the Spice Girls. I love Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. See what crazy stuff happens when you mix them up. LOL.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Life's Simple Pleasures

Life's Simple Pleasures tagged from Judy
Instructions: Name 10 of life's simple pleasures that you like the most, then pick 10 people to do the same. Try to be original and creative; try not to use things that someone else has already used.

1) When your iPod randomly plays the song you want to hear.
2) Finishing the last page of a book.
3) Someone keeps the door open for you.
4) Being warm and cozy under a blanket during stormy weather.
5) Crawling into a freshly made bed.
6) Finding a bathroom when you've been holding it in forever.
7) Making food for friends and family.
8) Finding a deal in a store but then is further discounted at the register.
9) The moment before you leave your apartment all freshly made, ready to conquer the world.
10) A stranger who gives you a smile that is truly genuine.

I tag: whoever has the motivation to put their list up.



Daniel Henney + Gwyneth Paltrow in Bean Pole ads. The first video gets extra props from me, because it uses the song "Slimcea Girl" by Mono. (Love that cd, but where did the band go?) The recent pictures below show the two reunited for new commercials for the fall line. Apparently, Paltrow was always with her new baby, Moses during her breaks.
Visited a couple of Bean Pole stores in Korea; a little on the pricy side for me and suspiciously looked similar to Polo Ralph Lauren/J. Crew clothes. Basically what Koreans think the British wear when they go to country clubs and hunting in the African safari. Mr. Henney was EVERYWHERE in all the Bean Pole ads. Couldn't help myself from going into each store...

Other hot Daniel videos:
him eating an ice cream cone:

him trying to master the Korean language:

In other news: IT IS SO HOT IN SAN JOSE. It has been the 9th consecutive day of temperatures reaching over 90 degrees, and the third consecutive day of 100+ degree weather. I don't think I've ever sweat this much in my life, i.e. constantly for the past 9 days. PLEASE LET TOMORROW BE COOLER.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Giants Game at AT&T Park

GOOO GIANTS! Giants won 9-3 against San Diego Padres yesterday. Thanks to Jess and her awesome family, we got to see it live in San Francisco. It was great to go see a Giants game in person (my first) and finally escape the awful oven temperatures in San Jose. It's amazing the temperature difference from inland cities like mine and coastal cities. It's like a 30 degree difference!

Jess has really cool connections to getting tickets, so we got these seats. Section 333, row 18. Basically the nosebleed section. But surprisingly, the view was AMAZING. You could see the whole baseball diamond, with the bay in the background. AT&T park is a really beautiful place to watch baseball. It would be awesome if you got a raft, set sail in the bay, and caught home run balls, which I've seen people do.

Jess, Will, Kevin, Jess's parents and I all took Caltrain into the city. Because of global warming (watch An Inconvenient Truth), it was yet again another Spare the Air Day. Which equates to free public transportation! w00t! Going in the game, I didn't know what to expect. I had Kevin and Jess give me a short tutorial on baseball and the Giants' status in the league. Basically, they're second place, behind the Padres, who they were playing. The Giants need to win basically to advance, or they don't have a chance int he playoffs. :'( Kevin had no faith in the Giants, and he predicted that they were going to lose miserably.

But he was TOTALLY WRONG. The Giants hit a first home run in the 2nd inning, but Will and I were getting food. We didn't see it in person. So sad. But fortunately it was on the TV, right next to the line selling garlic fries. So yummy, but eating those fries was like stuffing whole cloves of garlic in my mouth. Not good for the breath. And beers cost $8.50! Seriously, not worth it. My bottled water tasted that much better.

Anyways, the rest of the game was lackluster, until the 8th inning when we were up 9-0 because of 3 back to back homeruns. It was HOTT. It all started with Barry Bonds hitting his 722nd career homerun. Then two more came! The whole crowd went crazy. The Koreans (which there were A LOT OF) were sad, because they were rooting for the Padres pitcher Chan Ho Park, who gave us all those home runs. Can't wave those Korean flags anymore huh?

Jess said that the Giants always lose during the last inning, and it was partially true. The Padres went up by three points, and it was a little dramatic. Overall, it was an awesome game seeing all those homeruns. The park was packed full with people, rooting for the team. The funniest segment in between inning was about knitting while watching the game. They had a competition between two women who could knit the coolest. It went from knitting blindfolded, to knitting with one hand, to knitting with two baseball bats. It was hilarious.

The way home, it was drunken city in the train ride. People were loud and crazy. It was hilarious. Can't wait to go back to the game and escape another day of this heat that's killing us all. I miss Hopkins House AC.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Why the world I need Superman.

Ah summer. The days of freedom. Where the sun shines brighter. The days are longer. And in the movie theaters, only hugely budgeted, mega-eventing, superstar action packed blockbusters reign the screens. After several attempt to watch the movie, Will, Jess and I finally went to the Tech Mueseum to see "Superman Returns" on the awesome IMAX dome screen. Will got this coupon that gave us 2 for 1 tickets, so it was an incentive to watch it on the huge screen. And HUGE it was. You could see ever pore and freckle on Superman's, er, face. His arms were 5 stories high. His shoulders were as wide as an olympic sized pool. ... You get the picture. The last time I went to this theater, it was to see "Beauty and the Beast IMAX" 5 or 6 years ago. Man, that time, the beast was BEASTLY. But for this movie, Superman was more than heroic, he was literally out of this world.

I profess that I have yet to see any of the old Superman classic movie franchise, or an episode of Smallville. *shock*. But back in the 4th grade, I was a huge fan of Lois and Clark. You know, the one with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher. Oh, those were the days of good TV. Now, seeing Superman on the big screen, gave new meaning to an action hero. With a lift of a finger, he could prevent an airplane crashing down on earth. With only an exhale, he could blow out any conflagration that he could find. Just standing there, bullets were inpenetrable. Superman is THE man, and he is my hero.

Now what got me in this movie was Lois Lane. I've always pictured Lois as Teri Hatcher. So seeing a blonde who turned brunette Kate Bosworth play Lois was a little off. I've always pictured Bosworth as a blonde, so as a brunette, it was weird. Plus, it totally annoyed me how no one can realize that Clark Kent IS Superman. Sigh. But that's the story I guess.

Now, why am I writing a whole post dedicated to this man, er, movie? It's because if you haven't seen it, GO SEE IT. It's an amazing movie perfect for summer. It has everything. Romance, action, comedy. Laughs, tears, palm sweats. I was seriously crying for Clark for half of the movie. The other half, I was clinging to the seat, hoping Superman would be OK. That's what the movie made you believe. It made me believe that Superman was real. You wanted to root for him, to beat the bad guys. Speaking of bad guys, Parker Posey was the best villain who turned good. I hope good things happen to Brandon Routh and I'll definitely see every movie that he'll appear in.

Summer movies to see:
Pirates of the Caribbean
Superman Returns
A Scanner Darkly
The Devil Wears Prada
Nacho Libre
A Prairie Home Companion
The Break-up
The Lake House
X-Men 1,2,3
An Inconvenient Truth

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Listen to: Jennifer Chang's Beat and Piano Puzzlers

So one Sunday afternoon during the spring semester, I get this IM from Jen. She proclaimed that she had a new show called "The Beach" on WJHU. I was intent on listening, to hear what my friend had in store of the news that was happening around Hopkins. After listening to her radio show, it was definitely a change of pace from the not so reliable Newsletter. Her delivery and the style was definite NPR. I could hear it coming out of my local public radio station, giving her insight on Sodexho and the events surrounding Brain Awareness week. That first episode was only the beginning of many. Each Sunday, Jen always brought something new to bring. A different perspective regarding issues and events on campus.

Just before graduation, she had won this amazing scholarship to Hawaii by the Asain American Journalists Association. For one week, the program trained students interested in radio and journalists and from this site, it looked like they had an amazing experience. I can't wait to see what she has in store next. Listen to her latest report on climbing Diamondhead Volcano, or when she's on WYPR's Mark Steiner show. I can't wait to hear her on All Things Considered or other similar cool NPR show. Keep me updated Jen! I'm your #1 listener!

Speaking of NPR, I was searching through iTunes, looking at any new podcasts that was available so I can listen to them on Kensington (my new iPod). And I found this. Bruce Adolphe's Piano Puzzler. After downloading the latest podcast I could find, I proclaimed it as GENIUS and downloaded all the episodes I could find. Basically, the show is feature Adolphe playing a small musical piece on a piano. The piece is usually from the American songbook, but it performed in a style of a classical composer (i.e. Debussy, Bach, Beethoven, Ravel, etc.) I surprised myself that I could get most of the composers correct, but not the original melody of the songs. Challenge galore! So tune your years and quiz up here.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Listen to: ClaZziQuai

If you guys don't know me already, I live for music. I'm always looking for new music to challenge and excite me. I guess I'll use this blog to as a springboard to launch some of the great new music that I'm listening to.

So the first installment will be: ClaZziQuai. So now who is ClaZziQuai? They're a three member group of Korean-Canadians that mostly plays classy lounge music similar to Thievery Corporation and a less moody Massive Attack. They sound infuses between electronica and jazz to produce smooth music that I truly appreciate. Listen to them now 1 2.


So it's official. I'm going to go to Feinberg med. After my interview in December, Northwestern exceeded any expectations I had of them and it shot straight up to the top of my favorite schools list. All the facilities were brand new. All the students and my host David were super friendly. It seemed like everyone was really chill but still focused and enjoying their med school education. Just how I would like a school to be. Plus, the icing on the cake was that the school was two blocks from the Magnificent Mile. Click that link, and you'll see why I love the campus location.

This past week has been grueling with fighting jetlag and filling out all these post applications to attend the school. I was really worried at first that I would need to fly out to Chicago to search for housing. During my visit, it felt most students lived off campus in their high rise apartments. But I soon found out that they had on campus housing (see photo)! I know that this may not be the best choice, but it is the most economical. I won't need to purchase all new furniture that is needed in an apartment. I requested a studio apartment because it is the cheapest, but I got a one bedroom instead at the same price! Sweet! I'll be living on the 11th floor, and hopefully I'll be living with other first year students.

After that was all sorted out, I booked my flight to Midway August 20. Technically, my lease starts August 19, but Shakira is more important. I'll be arriving on Sunday and orientation will start the next day on Monday. I feel like everything is going at light speed. But I guess I'm not starting too soon like other schools I know (ie. Emily P's and Rob's).

I also had to fill out all these financial aid forms and health records but that was a breeze compared to all the stuff we had to fill out at Hopkins. So I officially have a little more than a month left here in California. I should make the most of it. Jessica might be leaving soon for Baltimore, so I'm sad about that :(. But we all have to move on I guess.

Some shout outs to Peony! I totally forgot about mentioning her. She was the one who introduced me to the hilarious blog that is Underwear Drawer. I wish her luck on the whole AMCAS process; I know that she'll get into all the top schools. And to everyone else, get through and good luck to those secondaries! You're like 70% done with the entire process! After that it'll just be a waiting game, so make sure you'll do excellent on the secondaries, because it is one thing that you can control.

Concerts and tea!

Concert season is in full gear and I can't wait to go to the two concerts I bought tickets for.

1) Kelly Clarkson: Addicted Tour! She was amazing in the Kelly/Clay Independant concert tour, so I can't wait to see her perform live with her Breakaway songs. I've read reviews of her new songs that she's going to perform, and they're more of the indie/rock bent. I'm sure she'll do well. Here's her new song "Go". You may have heard it on a Ford commercial.

2) Shakira: Oral Fixation Tour! Ok, this tour is going to be HOTTTTTTTTTTTTTT. Even though my seats are the nosebleed $20 seats, I swear Jess Lee, Jana and I are going to be one loud roudy bunch. Did you know that "Hips Don't Lie" hit #1 in like every country of the world except for like Canada and Russia? What's up with them? Watch this cool video of Shakira performing at the World Cup.

Speaking of addicted. This is my new addiction: I first saw this drink mentioned in the New York Times as the drink to get. Right before graduation, Stacy and I went to Aberdeen to drop off Eiline at her job interview. While she was at her interview, we explored the city, and I found this drink! This drink is made especially for me. First, the basis of the drink includes my love for pomegranate juice. One winter, I had an awful cough and sore throat. One glass of pomegranate juice cleared everything up and my sore throat was gone. I officially proclaimed the juice as the magical elixir that cures everything. Second, the juice is mixed with green tea. I love green tea for its nice bitter flavor and its antioxidants. Finally, the tea comes in a nice glass you can take home! So purrty. I'm all for packaging, as you may all know. So if you see it, go grab one, you won't regret it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

SFO to Seoul

SFO to Seoul
Originally uploaded by dwhang.

Three weeks in Korea was a blast. This was my second time outside America, (Ecuador being the first).

Just a warning, the photos match the title of the post. The description left of the picture isn't always related to the picture.

My mom, aunt and dad enjoying their Korean shows.

Overall, Korea is an amazing place to visit. There are beautiful people everywhere walking on the street. There is culture and history basically on every corner of the country. The food there is absolutely delicious. Korean food is the best obviously in Korea. However, I don't think I'll ever live there for the rest of my life.

Looking like a Pilot

Looking like a Pilot
Originally uploaded by dwhang.
First complaint: the bathrooms. Apparently nobody uses shower curtains when they are taking a shower. So there is a drain in the middle of the bathroom floor. DISGUSTING.

Dragon head sculpture formed by the igneous rock of Jeju-do!

Complaint #2: the smell. There is this smell I like to call, KOREAN STENCH. One moment you're enjoying your stroll in the city, the next moment the STENCH envelops your entire nasal cavity, suffocating your breathing capabilities. And the same STENCH can come out of subway stations, trash cans, sewage systems, the trees, senior citizens. It's the EXACT SAME STENCH. HORRIFYING.

My mom and brother looking at bugs

Day 1
We flew from SFO and arrived to Incheon Int'l airport. On the airplane ride, I enjoyed couple episodes of Friends, True Hollywood Story: Angelina Jolie, and "It's Good to be Posh and Beckham". Oh, and I finished Wicked too. Joyce, that book is DIRRTY. Definitely written by a guy and the musical definitely toned down all the sexual references. Not Recommended.

Bobby told me that the Incheon airport was very posh. And he was right; the airport was very modern and had amazing shops on every corner. We all took our heavy luggages and took a bus to my uncle's apartment in Hwajeong, which is a 40 min subway ride north of Seoul. We had a good dinner in the city and crashed before our arduous trip ahead.

Kevin and Ha-Rim climbing rocks

Kevin and Ha-Rim climbing rocks
Originally uploaded by dwhang.
I know these are minor quibble to traveling to a foreign country and you can call me a spoiled stupid American. But that is what I am. An American. I <3 America and their bathrooms with shower curtains. I <3 the open spaces where you can roam around without smelling the STENCH. Here is a day by day analysis of my trip.

Right-side view outside my hotel room

Day 2
We all took a cab to Gimpo Airport for our flight to Jeju-do. Jeju-do or Jeju island is an volcanic island whose volcano has been extinct for thousands of years. They speak a different dialect than Koreans in the mainland. It's very interesting and we all had fun speaking like Jeju people. We first saw the Dragon head statue on the coastline. Very pretty. We also saw a Mongolian Horse show. Odd huh? There were 10's of kids doing all these Chinese acrobats with hula hoops, and ribbons. But the horse tricks were awesome. Very interesting indeed. We finally came to the hotel which was the Lotte Hotel which was very classy. Mostly Japanese tourists came here so there were life size figures of Yongsama (or Bae Yeong Joon aka Korean heartthrob for Japanese housewives). Unfortunately the pool wasn't open but it was cool seeing all the places where the Korean drama "All In" was shot. The whole series was shot at this hotel because of the casino downstairs. I lost $1 playing slots :(. No craps... I guess Asians don't know how to play craps.

View of windmills outside my hotel room

Day 3
Our first full day in Jeju explored the west side of the island. It was really cool seeing the World Cup stadium. It had a cool shape on the top. We visited mostly museums and rock formations formed my the igneous rocks of the volcano. The best was the grand canyon-like coast lines. They were a sight to see.

Next to the coast was a replica of Hamel's boat. According to my Lonely Planet Korea Guide (my personal guide for the entire three weeks) that Hamel, a Dutch captain, crashed on Jeju island. He was the first foreigner to visit the island and lived there peacefully for a decade. Unfortunately the king found out he was living there, so he imprisoned Hamel in the mainland. Hamel escaped Korea and wrote all about the "hermit kingdom" nobody knew about in those days.

Cool octagonal shaped rocks formed my igneous rocks cooling

Day 4
This was a rainy day in Jeju, so we didn't see much. We mostly visited historical villages that recreated life in the old days. Very interesting stories about how there were lots of women, horses and oranges on the island. This was also the day that Jess emailed me that I got a phone call from Northwestern! Jess totally made the trip worthwhile. These past 6 months have been grueling. Being on 5 waiting lists was tough and I wasn't looking forward to looking for jobs when I came back home. So being accepted at an awesome school like that was THE BEST THIING EVER. I can't wait to go to Chicago. The city is amazing and the campus is incredible. But back to Korea. I found out on a computer in Jeju Airport leaving for Busan. We arrived in Busan and did a very minimal trip around the city where my mom was from. Not that impressive, but we would come back later.

Replica of the Hamel boat that crashed on Jeju-do in the 1400's

Day 5

After a night in Busan, we headed to Gyeongju, which was the capital of Korea. It's located in the southeast South Korea and it was really interesting to learn more about the history of Korea, espcially during the era of three kingdoms. I finally figured out why Korea is called Korea. I always wondered why it was called that, because Koreans call their own country daehanminguk. Korea is named after the Goguryeo dynasty. Mystery solved!

We also visited Cheomseongdae, which apparently is the oldest astronomical tower located in east Asia. Call me nerdy, but I was really impressed with it. Visit the link to discover all the cool numerical emphasis on the number of stones to build the tower, etc. We saw a lot of old Korean temples and royal burial sites. You can't miss them, because they look like huge hills, similar to pyramids, except for covered in grass.

The lunch we had was the most impressive. You know whenever you go to a Korean restaurant, you get a lot of side dishes, or banchan. Well at this place, they gave us 28 banchans. 28! It was really impressive, and gave us absolutely no room to eat.

The "grand canyon" of Korea in Jeju

Day 6

Well if you didn't know already, Korea is HUGE on football. HUGE. Everywhere we went, people were sporting those crayola red shirts, bandanas, and other memorabilia. Up until this point, Korea morale was on a high due to their win against Togo, and their match with France, that resulted in a tie. Unfortunately, the Swiss won their previous match with Togo, so they had to beat the Swiss in order to advance. Everyone was on the edge of their seats to watch this game.

Unfortunately, this game was on at 4:00am. Ugh! Since I was in Korea, I wanted to experience that was soccer with Koreans. The hotel had set up a big screen tv with chairs in one of their conference rooms so people would watch together. After waking up at that miserable hour, and pushing my brother out of his bed, we watched the game not with Koreans, but the other Korean Americans who came on the tour group with us. Oh well, these were Koreans nonetheless.

To cut the story short, the Koreans lost miserably. I had an inkling that this was going to happen. Ever since that Togo match I saw in San Jose with the other 2000 other Bay Area Koreans, they are no match. The Korean soccer players are puny against the French, Swiss and Togo-ans. One slight nudge, and they fall mercilessly on the floor.

Anyways, that day we headed for Seoraksan, the main national park of Korea. I don't think I mentioned this, but the weather in Korea for the three weeks I went was perfect for traveling. Not a drop of sunlight fell. It was overcast the entire time. I mean it sucked that I didn't really get to see the sun, but I guess it was better than dying from heat and humidity. The overcast weather made it really mild and totally spectacular.

So we all took a cable car ride up the mountain. National parks in Korea are either really suited for the non-nature folk, or the uber-hiker. So there's either an easy method to reach the summit, i.e. cable car, or the long circuituitous route. Traveling with children and seniors, we obviously took the less strenuous route. We climbed up the upper half of the tip and it was a lot of fun. We finally rose above the clouds and got to see the summit. It was really beautiful. I'll definitely post up more pictures from my dad's camera.

That night we stayed at Hotel Kensington, apparently the first hotel devoted to celebrities. It felt more like Hogwarts to me, the England theme with high leather chairs next to a fireplace. Each floor had a theme. We stayed in the Sports stars floor. My aunt stayed in the Pak SeRi's room, which was cool. They had her set of autographed clubs and gloves too. I stayed in the room of this Korean guy who climbed Everest. Pretty neat.

My uncle paying for raw sea animals next to the ocean

Day 7

We said goodbye to England in Korea and headed up north. And I mean NORTH. Apparently, there was a North Korean missile crisis going along. I really didn't know much that was happening at the time, but I felt like the international community was freaking out more than the South Koreans. We headed up to an observation tower to view what North Korea looked like. So what does this exclusive country look like? Mysterious. Intriguing. Foggy.

We headed west back to Seoul by bus. It was a long ride, but I was glad to see a city again. I love going away to the mountainsides for awhile, but it was nice to see crowds of people again. We stayed in the Somerset hotel, which most diplomats stay in, because it's right next to the American Embassy. The hotel was in the Insadong neighborhood, which is my favorite in Seoul. Art galleries, restaurants, cafes, tiny shops and boutiques line the entire street. Vendors are everywhere in Korea (like if there is an empty spot, a person wants to sell you something), and this place had plenty. Jungeun recommended the neighborhood to me and it was fantastic. There was this one building, Ssamjilgi, where it spiraled up with lots of little shops. Pretty awesome! I miss eating 500won hodduk off a vendor. Yummy honey gooeyness.

Doing the #2 Old Fashioned Style... over a manure eating pig

Day 8

Apparently my family added on this Seoul option to explore the city with the tour group. Basically it was just our family and the tour guide, so it was all personal. We visited the Blue House (similar to the White House), where the president lives. We then went off to Gyeongbokgung, which was the palace in Seoul in the last millennium. It was really cool to see a huge palace in the middle of a cosmopolitan city. Just across the palace gates, were tons of fluourescenet signs and lights. We then drove an hour south to a park that replicated an old Korean village. A lot of people there dressed in traditional clothing and "lived" in the village. People were farming, tending to livestock, making arts and crafts, making food, etc.

With our tons of luggage in hand, we took the subway back to Hwajeong to our uncle's house. After an hour of navigating the Seoul subway, which is fantastic, we returned fatigued like no other. snoreeeeeeeeee

Buddhist Temple In Jeju-do

Buddhist Temple In Jeju-do
Originally uploaded by dwhang.
Day 9

The whole gang headed for Seoul again for more sightseeing. This day, we went to Changdeokgung, which is the more modern palace compared to Gyeongbokgung. You can noticeably tell that the palace is more modern. But the cool part about this one was that there was a park for the king and queen to take a stroll. Cool to have such a nice park preserved in the middle of the capital.

After that tour, we headed a couple blocks south to Cheonggyecheon, a small stream running down the middle of the city. Apparently this stream was ressurected to symbolize the respect for nature and harmony between the city and nature. The stream was dotted with cool murals and waterfalls and it must look really nice at night. For lunch, I was sick of Korean food, so I ventured by myself for some westernized lunch. And I was in for a surprise. I ordered a ham sandwich on rye with an iced tea. Pretty safe choice huh? I was eating the ham sandwich, and I tasted something familiar but was wrong in a ham sandwich. After a couple more bites, I realized that they spreaded peanut butter on one slice, and mayonnaise on the other. Pretty funky huh? Not horrible tasting, just a little jarring.

After that intersting lunch, we headed for the Kyobo bookstore underground. Lots of stores are underground in Korea, I guess utilize all the space there is. I bought the latest Utada and Nelly Furtado CD. The hottest group in Korea right now is SG Wanna Be. But meh, I prefer Lim Jeong Hee. She's like the Korean Alicia Keys.

A short taxi ride later (taxis are SO CHEAP, it's like the meter never runs), we went to Namdaemun. Before I came to Korea, I always symbolized Seoul with this gate at the southern end of the city. It was cool to finally see it in person. Nearby was the Namdaemun market, which has a lot of cheap stuff. Like CHEAPO stuff. But it's a cool place to shop if you want inexpensive Korean souvenirs.

Pretty Red Lanterns on the ceiling

Day 10

"My Name Is Kim SamSoon" is my favorite Korean drama because it is one of the funniest shows I've ever seen, and actually has good acting, scripts and awesomely good looking people. (By the way, Daniel Henney was on EVERY SINGLE BILLBOARD. He is the face of all brands.) One of my favorite scenes of SamSoon, is when HyunBin follows SamSoon in the cable car up Namsan. This was the day I finally convinced my family to visit this park in central Seoul. We took the car up to the N tower and it was a great place to see the entire view of Seoul. Too bad it was really hazy, so the visibility wasn't all that great. Now I can get that checked off my list and I will watch the series again for the 30000th time.

The night before was really interesting because my dad's high school's friends stayed over until 3:00am. I don't think I've seen my dad drink that much. He said that he drank his alcohol quota of 20 years that night which is equivalent of 5 shots. It was funny seeing my dad's Korean friends, but one of them was definitly beligerant. Oh these Koreans.

Hotel Room in Busan

Hotel Room in Busan
Originally uploaded by dwhang.
Day 11

Time to leave Seoul and explore the city where my mom is from: Busan! We half packed our suitcases and headed down south taking KTX. It was SUPER fast. By bus, it took about 6 hours. Taking this express train, it only took 2 hours and 45 minutes. It didn't feel like it was going that fast, but it said it was going 300 km/h. Pretty speedy indeed.

We arrived in Miryang, a city north of Busan to visit my mom's cousin, who apparently was her motorcycle buddy. Hmm... We finally had some Korean kalbi for lunch, but I'd have to say American kalbi is cheaper and tastes better. In the whole trip, I think this was the only meal that we had with beef. Everything else was fish related, which tastes so much better. That day we also got to see my great aunt in the sigol (countryside) and see where my grandparents lived. All in all, a pretty cool way to spend the day.

Gyeongbokgung (King's Palace in Seoul)

Day 12

We were dropped off at my aunt's house. She was the one who babysat me for a couple of years. She and I bonded had an immediate connection, and we bonded over Elton John and Yanni. I heart melted when she showed me her copy of Yanni: Live at the Acropolis video I personally made for her.

It was really great seeing her again, and she dresses so much hipper than I do. She works for Ask Enquired, a Korean clothing line that has British influences. She was really sweet for getting me some clothes too! Our family got to see their apartment and Kenny! I haven't seen my cousin in such a long time, and he grew a lot! He's definitely going to be taller than me, but that's not hard to beat.

Namdaemun Market

Namdaemun Market
Originally uploaded by dwhang.
Day 13

After a sleepless night of World Cup, we headed south to Busan for dinner. We literally went next to the coast, where we could choose the eel, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and other aquatic delicacies to eat. Then we got to sit around these tiny hibachis to cook our squirming meals. After eating cow penis, squirming octopus tenticles was nothing in comparison. Overall the seafood was pretty tasty!

After more drinking, where else would we go besides karaoke. It was a really nice karaoke room that overlooked the coast. After an hour of drunken singing with the family (Kevin and I screamed to "Since U Been Gone" much to our family's chagrin).

But that night we stayed over in a Jjimjilbang, basically a bathhouse. In Korea, there are thousands of these basically on every corner. For $6-7 you can enjoy the sauna, and steam rooms and basically stay there for the entire night in the common areas. Really cheap for housing for a night if you think about it. I didn't like it much because everyone was sleeping together in a common area. It was like a mass sleepover with strangers. :-/

mmmmm... Korean McDonald's

mmmmm... Korean McDonald's
Originally uploaded by dwhang.
Day 14

After a sleepless night of snoring strangers, we headed out to find a hotel in the Nampodong area in Busan. We easily found a hotel and explored the neighborhood. Nampodong was definitely the place to shop in Busan. There were small vendors that sold cheap goods and every single fake purse ever made in the world. (I snagged myself a fake Gucci manpurse.) If you walk towards the other end, there were tons of upscale shopping to do. My favorite was American Apparel. Unfortunately the American dollar is WEAK, so everything there was more expensive if I bought it in California. But I did find some True Religion jeans for 29,000 won = $29!! So cheap. They had tons of Energie, Diesel jeans at that same price too, but none were in my size. Best shopping ever!

This day was also the day we had Korean Pizza hut. One big difference? The salad bar. Unlimited salad with your pizza! Now why can't we have that here? It's such a good idea to have something nice and refreshing with the greasy pizza, which wasn't really greasy. Most of the American food I had in Korea was definitely less greasy and in smaller portions. I guess that's why we're so fat.

At Sookmyeong Women's University

At Sookmyeong Women's University
Originally uploaded by dwhang.
Day 15

In the morning, my aunt and mom wanted to see their home that they lived in during their kindergarten years in Yeongdo-gu, an island in southern Busan. We all took a bus down to the area but unfortunately their house wasn't there. Their house had a beautiful view, right next to the coast, but it was definitely dilapidated. My mom randomly knocked on her neighbor's door to see if her friend still lived there. Apparently, the guy's mom lives there and she found out his contact information. The next day, she met up with him and got all the contact information of her other friends. Cool huh? I wonder if it would be possible to find my elementary school friends again. It's like that show HyoLee does, Happy Together, where Korean celebrities find their long lost elementary school friends.

We then headed for the main park in Busan in Nampodong. It also had a huge tower in the middle, like the N tower in Seoul. Unlike the one in Seoul, you could see all the ports and city from the top of the tower. Busan is the major shipping port and you could see all the boats importing and exporting all the goods. Pretty nice.

Namsan Cable Car!

Namsan Cable Car!
Originally uploaded by dwhang.
Day 16

This day was raining pretty badly so unfortunately we couldn't head to Haeundae, which was the most popular beach in Korea. Our hotel from day 4-5 was right in the center of the Haeundae beach and it would have been really nice if it were sunny and crowded with people. With my aunt taking care of my cousins and brother at her work in the shopping mall, the rest of us went shopping for more Korean stuff at the Jin market. My mom had a few requests to buy stuff for her friends, i.e. a baby hanbok for dol (100 day baby celebration). My aunt bought some bedding and other fabrics.

We all met up at 2001 Fashion Outlet, where my aunt works. It's a pretty fancy place for shopping store. Like 12 stories of shops, and every floor had greeters like Wal-mart. But more intense. We had to climb up 4 stories, and each time we got off the escalator, they kept saying "Customers, welcome to our store. blah blah blah". It was awkward because they kept bowing to us again and again.

Anyways, that night we headed off to Lotte store to have dinner. Again, the store was really fancy with 11 stories. But this store made me fall in love with duty free shopping. Tons of discounted brand name items without tax and cheaper than anywhere else in the world. Too bad, ... or good thing I didn't have my passport with me, or I would've gotten $400 Prada sunglasses half off. No it was a good thing I didn't get them...

Riding a Cable Car up Namsan

Riding a Cable Car up Namsan
Originally uploaded by dwhang.
Day 17

Fortunately, the rain let up this day so we headed for the beach in Gwangalli. A short hop, skip and a subway ride, and we were there with the sand covering our shoes. It was an awesome beach, because the Gwangan bridge spanned the entire beach. It must be an awesome view at night, when the bridge is all lit up. My brother and my mom spent the whole time searching for petrified wood and shells. Pretty nice finds.

More shopping was done at night. I feel like all we did in the last week in Korea was shop. I guess we were tired of going to museums and temples. We had some nice samgyetang, a chicken ginseng soup that was really good, somewhere in Nampodong. My brother had the itch to bowl, since we bowled in the hotel in Gyeongju. Oops, I forgot to talk about that. There was a bowling alley in the basement of the hotel in Gyeongju, really random. It was super cheap and we all played couple games and it was a lot of fun. My brother wanted to find a similar bowling alley in Busan. It seemed hopeless to find one, but there was one outside our hotel window. My uncle, brother, cousin and I played a game it was fun, but I need to practice my game.

That night we said goodbye to my aunt and uncle. It's really sad because who know when I'll meet them again.

On top of the N Tower overlooking a hazy Seoul

Day 18

This was the day we all said goodbye to Busan. We took the super fast KTX back up to Seoul. My cousin's new fiance took us to a place where we could get some Korean eyeglasses. There are a lot of eyeglass centers but most aren't really reliable. So she took us to one that had good prices and trustworty optometrists. Basically it was 30,000-40,000won, which was $30-40 a pair. I should have gotten more. Here is a picture of the new style I got. Hope you like.

We were all pooped so we didn't do much this day.

On the 20th Floor of my mom's cousin's apartment

Day 19

This was filling last run of errands in Korean day. We all followed my dad to a piano shop to get some supplies for his work. I guess they don't sell the same stuff here in the states, or it's a lot cheaper in Korea. We then set off to Myeongdong, which is an upscale area in Seoul. The cathedral, which was the oldest catholic cathedral in Korea, we saw there was really pretty. My dad was telling me how trendy the neighborhood was, and it was true. Students dressed in their fashion gear were walking left and right. Korean people in Seoul are REALLY pretty. The girls know how to strut their stuff, and the guys really take their time to look right. The style right now I feel like is vintage gypsyness with punk elements. I doubt I can dress like that. I wish I took pictures of more Seoul people and their fabulous garb.

In the afternoon, we met up with the rest of the group at Han river near the Olympic village. We all decided to take a river ride up the river to see all the sites of Seoul by boat. It was a really nice hour long trip to see all the skyline by boat. I wish I got to see it when it was at night. But I feel like it's more of a couples thing. There was major PDA everywhere.

On Top of the Youngdosan Tower overlooking the entire city of Busan

Day 20

The apartment that we stayed in Hwajeong was my uncle. His wife is my aunt and my mom's sister, and she died from lung cancer in 1994. This day we rode a van and drove a couple hours to see her at the cemetery. Korean cemeteries are different from American ones because they are above ground, and covered in grass, producing little hills.

Since the city of Icheon was nearby, we visited that city, which was famous for its delicious rice. Meh, I couldn't tell the difference. The city was also known for its pottery and ceramics. It was really fun because the kids and I got to create our own dishes, pots, cups, etc. I made a coffee cup, because you really can't find those huge cappucino cups anymore. I've never done that whole spinning wheel with clay thing that you see in Ghost, so it was a really cool first experience.

Best Name for a Korean Store EVER

Best Name for a Korean Store EVER
Originally uploaded by dwhang.
NSR (Nun Sarang Angyeon = Eye Love Glasses) I <3 GLASSES!

Day 21

Last day in Korea. Sadness. We didn't do much except for eat lunch and headed for the airport in Incheon.

In retrospect, Korea is an unbelievable country. There is so much wealth in history and culture everywhere you go in the country. And it's amazing how much progress the country has progressed throughout the years. My parents kept saying that Korea is not the Korea that they knew. Well, the Korea they knew was 25 years ago, so it must have been totally different. The cities are so vibrant with tons of people walking on the streets, drinking and having fun. The countryside is beautiful with rice patties glittering the countryside. I would definitely visit again. But like my mom said, maybe this trip was the first trip and the last trip to Korea. She's like, I'd rather venture some other place that Korea. I guess that's true too. I'm glad to have Korea checked off my list of countries to visit, and it was extra special that I got to travel with my parents again. Who knows when I'll be able to travel with them. Sad to think about it huh?

1) Millenium statue in the Nampodong Area in Busan
2) Mom, Kevin and I on top of the Youngdosan Tower in Busan

RIP Xanga

When Hopkins started, everyone started blogging. For some reason, Xanga had been the blog of choice for most Hopkins people. It's been a lot of fun doing that, but after reading the Underwear Drawer, I've been inspired to start a new blog detailing my new adventures in the next stage of my life: MEDICAL SCHOOL. Hopefully life won't be mundane that there will be nothing to talk about. So why not start a new one at Xanga? I chose Blogger because it looks pretty, and associates well with Flickr so I can easily upload pictures. I hope this is a way I can reach out to most people, and hopefully I won't lose touch with you guys at Hopkins.