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Noraebang 2014: Merlion Madness with a Singapore Sling

It’s been a while since you posted and you’re still not done.

I’m sorry! I’ve been preoccupied with a novel and it’s been getting me stuck on my recliner. However, the cold snap in Calgary is back and here I am, back in action to continue my trek along Southeast Asia.

Next up is Singapore!

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So what made you choose Singapore over Hong Kong? You sure gave up some valuable time from other countries to pick a tiny place.

That was my mentality before as well. It’s a super-tiny country but I’ve been informed by my friend’s who are Singaporean that this is a country that packs a big punch,

“You won’t be disappointed”

“If you love food, you have to go to the hawker stalls!”

My goal was to visit Kuala Lumpur to see another university buddy and HKG->SIN->KUL  was cheaper than HKG->KUL->SIN, so why not?!

With Scoot Air providing the wings, I landed at Changi International Airport:

Their airport looks awesome! Was it easy to get around?

Changi is actually rated the best airport in the world. Second was Incheon. After traveling to both, I agree. I’ve never gone through security so quickly and in an orderly fashion. Everything worked like clockwork.

Anything to recommend to do first thing when you land?

This applies to both Seoul and Singapore,

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Get a WiFi egg!

With only $10CDN/day, I have unlimited internet access anywhere I went. It was awesome, especially running GPS maps to get around places.

Then, I took the train to my hostel, which was in Lavender Street. I checked the map before booking and my hostel was close to the MRT. I was also told that this is one of the best places to set up as a hub, next to Orchard Rd.

So taking the train made you see the whole country?

Pretty much. Their transit system is so advanced that you don’t really need a car and it makes no sense, both logistically and financially (I’ll talk about that more later on).

It was a long ride though, to say the least.

I would assume so, especially after a flight post-insomnia in Hong Kong.

But no matter. I ventured on, checked in to my hostel and surprise, surprise…

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You really love to eat, don’t you?

I told you. My goal is to eat and taste the country. I never disappoint, to say the least. With open itineraries, I usually just take the train, get off at a random station, and go on from there. This was typical to my plan. So I first ended up in Raffles City, which is their central business district or CBD:

This is where you’ll see the big offices and some of the fancy hotels around the city.

Next up was Bugis Street, which is now a cleaned-up version of its’ former transgender haven,

Wait. Say what?

So Bugis Street used to be transgender central back then but by the time I got there, it was gone. Never fear! There’s an story for that later on.

Uhm… Okay. Moving along. Seems like you’re covering some ground.

So far, so good and while I was messaging some friends on WhatsApp, one of them told me to have a Singapore Sling at the original Raffles Hotel.

What’s in a Singapore Sling?

It’s an alcoholic drink that was created in 1915 at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The original recipe is available here. With nothing else to do, might as well go!

Wow, that places looks awesome!

It better be. Recognized as one of the world’s best hotels, Raffles Hotel isn’t really a ‘hotel’ but more of a complex; there are high-end stores like Louis Vuitton and Hublot, with a storied history that defines ‘Singapura’. Too bad a night stay is a Canadian-equivalent of a month’s rent. One day, I’ll stay there but for now, I’m just going to get smashed:

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Since it was a national landmark, was it hard to get in?

Surprisingly, no. I think I just lucked out though because there was a queue of me and an English couple on a retirement tour around Asia. It didn’t take us long to get a seat and since space was precious, we just combined as a party of three to increase our chances:

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10 minutes later, we were in. It was heavenly,

Well, it definitely has an old-school charm to say the least.

That’s an understatement. A little crash course on Singapore: It was founded by Sir Stamford Raffles and was pretty much influenced by the British since existence. The whole hotel was built in imperial British time and the Long Bar is what I would think, life would be like in the early 1900’s. This was (in my opinion, is still) the definition of ‘rich’. Kids nowadays would call it ‘old money’.

Enough about the bar. How was this Singapore Sling?

Well for starters, I didn’t check the price before I ordered. It was $28 Singapore Dollars. I was so glad I’m a cheap drunk because with the combination of the heat, the fact that I only had a bowl of noodles with free bar peanuts in my stomach, and the sweetness of the drink I only had two before throwing in the towel.

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It was my way of experiencing imperial British life in a cost-productive manner. I really wish I could’ve stayed in the hotel. That Sling was refreshing and tasty, to say the least. I will try and make it at home. It’s a must-have for a traveling foodie!

So now you’re drunk out of your mind in an Asian country. Do you still have your liver intact?

Why yes, I do. Singapore is one of the safest countries in Asia and I’m definitely sure that everyone makes more money there than I do. I swear, I did not see one homeless person when I was there. Nevertheless, it was early morning and I’m always hungry post-drinking so hit up a hawker stall and have some duck!,

The next day was slightly more forgiving but now, I was walking my way through Little India,

The country was preparing for Diwali (Deepavali) also known as the ‘Festival of Lights’. It’s a big Hindu holiday, celebrating the victory of light over darkness. As you can see, everyone is going all out for it, from streets to airports.

It was still early so I had brunch around Sam Leong Road and to another hawker center in Ang Mo Kio:

That looks good. All I see though are hawker street food. Did you try anything else there?

This is a staple of Singaporean life and while I enjoyed all of the flavors that a mix of Malay and Chinese cuisine had to offer, I stepped my game up a bit and went to Din Tai Fung.

What’s in Din Tai Fung?

Din Tai Fung is a Taiwanese franchise that specializes in xiaolongbao or soup dumplings. There was a location near Raffles City and we hit the good stuff. I got an order of the traditional dumplings, one truffle dumpling, and a lemongrass juice to cool myself down with:

Just how good are these dumplings?

In my opinion, they were fantastic! I learned how to eat it through Eddie Huang, a culinary bad boy and a legend in VICE Magazine. Unfortunately, the video is gone but here’s another video to show how much pride and detail is spent in each dumpling,

Damn, that is ridiculous for dumplings.

And it was worth every penny. Next stop to hit for a foodie is Newton Circus but October is monsoon season so this is what I saw when I got out of the station,

All good though because wait 15 minutes and it disappears. Now I was informed that this was the only place to get something called rojak, which is a fruit and vegetable salad. I also had a hankering for seafood so you know how we do this,

So what’s in a rojak exactly?

Well, according to Wikipedia:

Fruit rojak consists typically of cucumber, pineapple, benkoang (jicama), bean sprouts, taupok (puffy, deep-fried tofu) and youtiao (cut-up Chinese-style fritters). Raw mangos and green apples are less commonly used. The dressing is made up of water, belacan (shrimp paste), sugar, chili, and lime juice. Ingredients vary among vendors with some also using hae ko prawn/shrimp paste, tamarind or black bean paste in the mix. The ingredients are cut into bite-sized portions and tossed in a bowl with the dressing and topped with chopped peanuts and a dash of ground or finely chopped bunga kantan (pink ginger bud).

It was a good mix of sweet and savory, to which something I still can’t here in Calgary. It’s just so damn good!

The third day was slightly chillax, with the main goal of meeting up with my cousin and her husband, who was stationed there. I went around Haji Lane, which is where the local designers and artists are stationed. Nearby was Arab Street, which is the textile district and exposes you to a smorgasbord of colors:

I checked out the scenery for a while until I met up with them around Marina Bay Sands:

Cue the selfie photo,

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So is that Marina Bay Sands with a fancy pool up top and an observation deck?

It is the same one! Unfortunately, you have to be a guest to get into the fancy pool, which looks like this:

It has high-end botiques, eateries, and what I didn’t know until I came in, was a casino(!):

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Yup. So I have a weakness for craps and blackjack and I had to check it out. So similar to Japan, it’s illegal to gamble in the country but the kicker in Singapore was, you can play with real money (Japan only gambles with ‘play money’ and you can’t cash in your winnings) so long as you’re a foreigner.

First time I lined up and get a patdown for a casino before,

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I did the typical sign-in for a player’s card and off to the races I went! These players are legit ballers. I did not see a table with less than $50SGD minimum. 2 hours and -$96SGD later, I looked around the shopping centre and bought this cool hat (very representative of me, I must say!):

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Haha, nice! That’s definitely a must-buy. Sounds like you had a lot of fun.

I did and the last part was bittersweet and you’ll find out why. So I met up with my cousin in Geylang Road, where they have the best chili crab in town. The following was devoured with an overload of beer and seafood,

This is where I start rolling down the slope.

Oh that doesn’t sound too good. What happened?

After we cleaned house, we went to Glutton’s Bay where I wanted some ice kachang or shaved ice. Shaved ice is always a crapshoot in Asia and I rolled snake eyes. We enjoyed the night as I saw Marina Bay Sands and downtown Singapore come nightfall:

Then I got the kachang,

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Looks are deceiving…

It was delicious but then hours later, it came back up as I got a bad case of food poisoning. I felt sick to my stomach and I had to force myself to throw up late into the early morning. The worst part was I had a flight to catch to Malaysia in 4 hours.

Oh damn, did you make it?! Damn that shaved ice!

I barely made it. I puked the night away then dozed off a bit. I woke up late and had to catch a taxi instead of the train,

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Fast we go, lah!

Arriving in Changi, I immediately got flustered by the sound of flip-boards.

Flip-boards? What? Did you miss your flight?

No, I arrived with minutes to spare before boarding but once I heard the sound, I knew I had to check it out. I thought they were all non-existent but there it was. A Solari board in Changi!:

WP_20141020_005It was still working and everything! I spent 10 minutes watching it.

I don’t get it. What’s the big deal?

I’m a sucker for old-school gear and as a traveler, I thought I wouldn’t be seeing a split-flap board in my lifetime. LED’s are cheap and easy to maintain/display departure times but this was a cool sight to see. To hear the flaps were cool. I loved it.

Are you hopped up on meds or something?

Probably. I was enjoying a cocktail of Gravol, Advil and whatever this pharmacist gave me at the airport,

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Alas, this was a trip to mark off and time to start a new one:

WP_20141020_008But I will be back! Hopefully, in a nice hotel haha.

You went through a lot and sounds like you’d definitely return. Why?

Mostly for the food. The immersion of flavors around the districts are divine. Given the diversity of flavor available, Singapore is full of diversity and it shows in their cuisine: Indian, Malay, Chinese, European… It’s there.

Besides the food, what will you always remember in Singapore?

Two things:

– How they talk. They always end their sentences with lah, similar to Canadians and eh? It’s quintessentially ‘Singlish’

– How economically well-off Singapore is. To give you a scale of how awesome Singapore is financially, they put tariffs in vehicles to limit the amount present on the roads. Given the small footprint of the country, every square meter is precious and can’t be wasted in garages or whatever. To combat spending, cars are taxed at least 100% of its’ value! So, I’ll post a bunch of car photos… Think of a plausible MSRP. Now multiply it by 2.

It makes Calgarian rich folks look like peasants!,

I like how it’s a mix of humble beginnings and modern extravagance. On the flip-side, it creates a big wage gap and resentment amongst the social classes. Those topics are heated for debate, to which I’d enjoy learning more about when I come back very soon.

I’d love to hear more from people through the comments and have a lengthy discussion but if you have any questions, just throw it my way.

Next up is Malaysia!

-Don

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Noraebang 2014: An Insomniac in Occupy Central

Seoul looked pretty fun but from what I remember, you’re just getting started correct?

You know it. From Seoul, I was suppose to catch a HK Express flight to Hong Kong but the flight got canceled and I had to buy an emergency flight via Korean Air.

Nevertheless, I made it to Hong Kong to visit my long-time friend from university and spend ~half a night in the city before my next flight to Singapore.

Wow, you are on the go. How was Hong Kong?

Last time I was there, the British were still in power. Everything was taller and busier now. Definitely changed for the better since the last time I was there haha:

Hong Kong is skyscraper country! Did you get lost?

Of course! Thankfully, my phone had an offline map so I was able to somewhat navigate my way through. Thankfully, my friend works for HSBC and is located at the main HSBC building so all I had to ask was where the HSBC building was and got clear directions. Eventually, I did see my friend and he took me around the building.

He hasn’t been back in Canada in months and I was glad to see him and catch up on what he’s been up to. We chatted on the observation deck where they serve alcohol at the bar! Bankers sure know how to party:

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So what’s life like in Hong Kong?

Compared to Canada, it’s completely different. Since moving from Calgary, he has been given more responsibilities, more opportunities, but it comes at a price. Everything is expensive there in HK: he rents because owning his own condo would make him broke; he doesn’t cook because mathematically, it’s cheaper to eat out than to buy your own supplies, and he can’t drive anymore because the transit system in Hong Kong is that good and owning a car is expensive. This trip was an eye-opener because even though Calgary is called a ‘city’, we’re a small town in comparison to others.

We Canadians really do have it lucky with the clean air, mountainous views all over, and experiencing a lifestyle that others envy. In fact, we do take our freedoms for granted while others strive to fight for it. When I was there, Occupy Central was still happening.

I heard about the news. What’s that about?

Well, the Occupy movement stems primarily from the British to Chinese handover under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. Meaning that even though Hong Kong is part of China, they would have their own governmental system. Despite having the independence of voting your own leaders, the candidates have to be approved by the Chinese government, which has left a bad taste for the Hong Kong people, especially students.

Students started protesting and forming blockades around major roadways and districts in Hong Kong. With that, the opposed is hitting it where it hurts: through people’s pockets. By disrupting government buildings and main financial hubs, Hong Kong has experienced major disruptions on how to run the country. It’s costing them time and money.

A more detailed string of events is available here from the BBC.

My friend said that this magnitude of civil unrest has never happened in Hong Kong’s modern history and probably, will never happen again,

“Do you want to check it out and see?”

You didn’t.

Maybe it was the lack of sleep or the beer talking, but with my backpack in tow we set forth in Occupy Central. Frankly I was a bit worried going into a big protest site, especially as a foreigner, but this was a moment in history that you had to experience and I may never get another chance to do it, so why not?

What was it like? Was it crazy and hectic?

Well, when I first saw the barricades I was a bit hesitant:

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But we hopped over the clutter, and started walking the ‘occupied’ streets of Central Hong Kong.

It felt weird walking on a major road without any worries of cars and buses. It was deserted, quiet and then I saw what was waiting for me at the other side:

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There must be hundreds of people over there!

It was thousands to say the least! There I was, at the heart of the beast and I went this far so I soldiered on to see what would happen.

So what was it like being in the middle?

It was… Peaceful. It wasn’t crazy, hostile, or anything. I felt welcomed and these people just want what’s right for them. All they did was gather, chant to keep going and stick together for democracy. They handed out free mineral water and milk tea for supporting their cause. Since they’re students, they also had to study so they did. In the middle of the street:

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They also kept chanting, gaa jau, which apparently means ‘add oil’ in Cantonese.

Why would they chant that? How was the tension?

Oh when they were pumped up, they were pumped up. Apparently, ‘add oil’ is a Chinese way to keep going or ‘add effort’ to the plight. To keep going and never give up!

It was definitely an experience of a lifetime and I didn’t regret going,

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So what did you learn about the protests?

Well, there are two sides to every coin. While Hong Kong is fighting for their independence, China is dealing with a first-time dilemma which, depending on the outcome, can set a precedence that could catch on with the rest of China. Without dealing too much on the politics because I don’t know it first-hand, I just don’t understand why the resentment is just showing now? When the British were in power, they did the same thing and no one really disputed anything. If someone can explain this to me, I’d love to know more about it. All I can say is that here’s to hoping everything will be resolved as soon as possible.

Alas, I had to say goodbye to my buddy and head back to the airport and catch my flight to Singapore. I will return for longer next time!:

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Noraebang 2014: Enlightenment in Seoul

So what’s with the title here?

Well, this trip was the best trip I’ve ever had.

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Why? Because I experienced pure enlightenment for the very first time. And it was fantastic.

We visited a local temple, where I learned a lot about myself through a simple task of coloring.

Care to explain?

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So it seemed like a relatively elementary task but doing this activity taught a lot about myself and what life has been all about for me so far. I’ve been rushing everything in my life, expecting results on the spot. What happens is that I become impatient, and if somehow I get to something good I screw it up. I then panic, and give up.

I learned that if you give up so quickly, your life will always seem unfinished and meaningless. To me, this was life-changing because I’ve never finished something like this before and I tried really hard to be meticulous, be patient and make sure to have a clean, finished product.

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I also got words of wisdom from people who volunteer at the temple: to wonder why we’re truly here and what is our sole purpose in life. I still don’t know but I’m doing whatever I can to find out for myself why I’m existing right now.

Continuing on with being humbled, I was able to experience more of the temple and how they lived through their food,

Oh wow, that looks good. What’s in that?

It was a very simple meal primarily of vegetables. The only thing that had protein in it was the egg and it was very filling. In a land of excess waste, fast food, and super-sizing everything, it was a very good change of pace and a delight to have simple things again. We then enjoyed the rest of the day with random sight-seeing and weird signs.

What else did you learn about Korea that enlightened you?

Well, it’s not about what I learned about Korea; it’s who I learned it with. With me staying in a hostel, I was able to meet new people from around the world. They taught me a lot about who I was and what Korean life is all about. At the end of the day, we’re all the same people that love the same things in life: to enjoy every single moment, wherever you end with whoever you meet.

I am honored to call them friends and they are now an integral part of who I am today. My hostelmates are the reason why this trip is called ‘noraebang’:

Looked like fun. What’s ‘noraebang’ anyways?

Well, it’s ‘karaoke’ in Korean and through them, I learned a lot about Korean culture, K-pop, and more about the Korean cuisine. I learned about different bands that will define my trip:

After that, all I did was eat the days away through:

Hotteok: Korean pancakes

Bulgogi: Korean barbecue

Seolleongtang: Ox bone soup in a milky-white broth

Naengmyeon: Korean cold noodles

Kimchi: Fermented vegetables, which came in EVERYTHING.

Damn, that looked like a lot of fun. What was your favorite thing to do and/or eat?

It had to have been either a hotteok (Korean sweet pancake) or the seolleongtang (beef soup):

Hotteok in action!

Hotteok in action!

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Last but not least though, the best thing I experienced were meeting these people I’m proud to call my friends:

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So it’s all over. That was a good way to finish that.

Who said it was over? I’m just getting started. Next up, Hong Kong!

Hotteok in action!

Noraebang 2014: ‘Seoul’-Searching Begins

So what happened?

Well, I had an awesome trip around SE Asia in merely 10 days.

All with a sole goal of eating.

That’s what happened!

Oh yeah, where did you go? And what do you mean eating was your sole goal?

I’ll let this picture do all the talking:
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I did the calculations and I found it cheaper to travel around Asia, enjoy different currencies, rather than staying in one spot.

My point of traveling is to experience local culture. There’s no other way to do that than to live their everyday lives and everyone’s gotta eat. You can discover one’s culture through what they eat:

Asian and some Middle Eastern cultures love to share food and does ‘family-style’ cooking all the time, while North American culture loves the emphasis on plating and food art.

The British love their tea and it shows in their culture through afternoon tea and the traditions that revolve around it.

I could go on and on about it and while I love history and monuments for sight-seeing (and you have to do some while you’re around there), I haven’t ‘traveled’ till I’ve eaten local food.

Wow, that’s one perspective in regards to traveling. So where did you start off to?

From Calgary, I headed to Seattle to catch my Delta flight to Seoul:

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Meals suck at 4AM but whatever.

Early flight to Seattle meant I was a lounge hound at the airport, eating whatever they had propped up that morning. In this case, it was a cold sandwich, yogurt, banana, and a cup of coffee.

I landed in Seattle at 7AM and I didn’t realize that SeaTac airport was so big!:

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The fact that you needed to go around the airport in multiple train lines shows how little Calgary little is.

That must’ve been different. Have you been to Seattle before?

Yeah I have, but only through driving trips so never been to SeaTac. I had a 4 hour layover before my flight to Seoul so it wouldn’t made sense to leave. Naturally, I looked for a lounge and made camp there. Thankfully, I was close to the United Club lounge and stuck around there:

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United Club in Seattle was re-done and it shows: modern layout, with plush chairs but not a lot of food options. With my trusty travel watch at my side, I went out to look for food.

Usually airport food sucks. What’d you find?

They have a friggin’ Ivar’s! That was awesome to see!

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Fish and Chips! Winning.

What’s Ivar’s?

Ivar’s is a Seattle chain of fish and chips and it’s a homegrown icon. They churn out pretty good stuff IMO. Unfortunately, I had to eat it outside before getting back into the lounge but it was well worth the money. Good stuff.

Boring. Are you in Seoul yet?

Don’t be so rude. It takes a while to get there. Jeez.

Where was I? Right! So many Walking Dead episodes later, I finally got on the plane onwards to Seoul!

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Top Gear on the plane? I could get used to this.

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Finally, you’re in Seoul! Is it easy to get around?

For a figment of my imagination, you’re pretty rude. How would I know? I just got there! All I knew was where my hostel was and the station location. In general, I found Seoul was tricky to get around the first time but once I found my hostel and got used to the location, it was relatively easy to find things.

How did you get around the city? Car?

You could’ve taken a taxi but why would you do when their public transit system is top notch? The train lines are efficient and easy to navigate around since they were color coded. Love that identifier system, by the way. Makes life easy.

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They also have a great stored value smart card system called ‘T-Money’ where you can pay anything with the card, from fares to food or whatever. It’s similar to the Octopus card in Hong Kong, the Suica card in Japan, or the Oyster card in London.

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Enough about the transit. What did you do while you were there?

What didn’t I do?! So I still did some sight-seeing but my main goal was to eat, eat, and eat some more! So first, I went to Gwanghwamun Plaza en-route to visit some friends. We saw the statues of both Admiral Yi Sun-sin, a great naval warrior in Korean history and King Sejong, the person responsible for the Korean Hangul language, who is seated as a bronze statue.

After that, we wandered around the greater Seoul area and ate the night away:

Oh man, you weren’t kidding about the eating part. All I see are food pictures!

Well, this is just the beginning. Next post will be more food photos but there’s more enlightenment involving a visit to a Buddhist temple.

But for now, gunbae! (Cheers!)

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Noraebang 2014: The Trip

This trip was definitely a ‘spur-of-the-moment’ trip, bought off of a seat sale. I’m still going through photos but here’s a preview of what I’ve covered the past 2 weeks:

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A lot of stories to share, many people met, and lots of foodie pics.

Stay tuned!

Photo Courtesy of travelfeeder.com

“Seoul”-Searching!

Ha. See what I did there? So another Delta flight later, a big trip is coming up and while South Korea wasn’t in my ‘places to visit’ list, you couldn’t beat $500CAD round-trip.

With 10 days under my belt, I’m planning to dedicate 5/10 to Seoul and primarily hitting places that Seoulistic.com has suggested (great website by the way. Thanks, FlyerTalk!).

http://seoulistic.com/korean-food/love-korea-food-visit-these-food-towns-streets-in-seoul/
http://seoulistic.com/korean-food/complete-guide-korean-street-food-pictures/

Also planning to check out the landmarks like the kimchi museum at COEX Mall, the DMZ, and eat the night away at pojangmachas (포장마차) or food carts around Itaewon.

I am a big foodie so my trip will primarily focus around cuisine. The other 5 days will be country hopping to visit friends in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur. Mostly eating again haha.

Fellow travellers, do you have foodie recommendations in Seoul and beyond?

gunabe!

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Miami-Bound!

So I’ll be off to Miami next week and does anyone have recommendations on where to go as a foodie? I’ll be in South Beach with a completely open itinerary and I can rent a car. I might go to Key West as well as I heard their seafood is phenomenal.

I’ll try my best and hit the different neighborhoods for some awesome local cuisine.

There was a United sale and pounced on it. Being a beach bum isn’t bad either haha!

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#PDX Autumn Foodie Tour: Taqueria Y Panaderia Santa Cruz & Laurelhurst Market

Like always, I save the best for last.

It’s our last day in Portland and while people in Calgary are cutting up their turkey slices, we are enjoying downtown Portland more and more:

For our last day, I thought I’d treat the family to something more simple and drove north across the beautiful St. John’s Bridge (not my picture):

Waiting for us on the other side was the historical neighborhood of St John’s, which housed a Mexican taqueria (taco shop) and panaderia (bakery), called Taqueria Y Panaderia Santa Cruz:

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Taqueria Y Panaderia Santa Cruz
8630 N Lombard St, Portland, OR 97203

It’s a mix of bakery, general store, and taco shop (which is located in the back) and they offer a lot of things in store:

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We enjoyed a sampler of fresh, authentic tacos and various knick-knacks around:

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At $1/taco, we just went all out and ordered everything on the menu. It was delicious tacos and my chile relleno, which is like a pepper omelet, was filling to the core.

I love the pollo taco (chicken) the most! Zest of lime and some tamarind soda…

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Mwah!

The general store gave you a family, old-fashioned vibe and we loved the paper lanterns hanging:

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The one thing that I saw that blew my mind was this particular flavor of popsicle:

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Cucumber-Chili

That’s right. It was a cucumber-chili popsicle.

If you’ve ever had a wasabi ice cream cone, it’s exactly like that. If not, it’s an odd sensation of cool, refreshing feeling provided by the ice and the cucumber but then spiciness sneaks in from the back thanks to the chili flavor.

You have to try it once in your life!

After that delightful lunch, we strolled around historic St. John’s and enjoyed more Portland’s picturesque atmosphere:

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With the sun setting and our time fleeting away, reality is setting in and we realized that we must have Thanksgiving dinner before our drive back. What trumps turkey?

Steak.

Every. Damn. Time.

So we went to a restaurant that has a butcher shop in-house! Why, Laurelhurst Market, of course!:

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Laurelhurst Market
3155 E. Burnside, Portland OR 97214
503-206-3097

WP_20131013_043I didn’t know what Scrapple was but I want it.

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Meanwhile, my brother ordered steak tartare:

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Another Portland-style of steakhouse that focuses on simplicity of food and figuring out ways to enhance it with a supporting cast of greens, cheeses, and spices.

I know the latter part was picture-light but the atmosphere was dark so it was hard for me to get photos but Laurelhurst is a great place to get your cuts of meat and perhaps enjoy one yourself before you head on home, even if your home was thousands of kilometers away 😉

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Till next time!

– Don

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#PDX Autumn Foodie Tour: Tesla & Biwa

Second day was meant to relax and enjoy what Portland has to offer: a beautiful landscape during the autumn season.

 

I love how Portland left the foliage intact and didn’t cut the these beautiful trees down to make way for buildings. Instead, they are part of the landscape blending nature and man together. Calgary’s downtown is great but because of diversity of buildings.

I like Portland’s setup better but that’s just me.

Walking around downtown Portland definitely gives you a ‘hipster’ vibe; Goodwill stores, vintage clothing…

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This.

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What model EV is this?!

While we stroll around and enjoy the view, I was chatting with my buddy who couldn’t believe we went to Portland for a weekend.

Yes, I know that we drove to eat, which sounds crazy to some people, but this is how our family works. Another thing that we do is randomly going to off-ramps and somehow, we stumbled upon a Tesla showroom(!):

Continuing with the ‘hipster’ theme, Tesla seems to be a seller in Portland (saw a bunch while driving around the city) and oddly enough, in oil-rich Calgary as well.

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That chassis…

It’s a big seller not because that Tesla is a snobby way of showing off your commitment to being ‘green’ (which it is), but because it’s a great car for the price you get. For the price of ~$70,000USD, which is in comparison with the big saloon Audi’s, BMW’s, Mercedes, this is a steal at that price tag for what you get. I mean, just look at the technology involved and that interior!

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Yes, you’ll bitch about the range but it’s new technology so it’ll take time to get superchargers running along the major highways. Gas stations didn’t pop up instantly when Henry Ford mass-produced the Model T. It took time and I’m excited for what Tesla will offer in the future. In fact, one of the salesman drove from Portland to Banff in his Model S!

Yes, he had to stop and charge up which made the drive from 14 hours to ~2 days but if you’re not in a hurry, that’s pretty impressive.

Elon Musk is definitely changing the game of transportation and I want to see him succeed!

After more wandering and splurging at the Woodburn Outlet Mall (no pics of that because outlet), we finished at ~10PM and were looking for some late-night eats. In comes Biwa:

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biwa
215 SE 9th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97214
503-239-8830

Like always, we always go big or go home so here we go!

The dishes that were worth nothing are the chicken heart and liver:

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It was charred just right and the flavors just brought me back from when I had huromonyaki in Japan. The sauce was a tad sweet, which was perfect for this setup. Coupled with my black pepper soda, I was in foodie heaven:

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Biwa is a straight up late night eatery but you won’t find any Lumberjack Slam here. It’s a great place to get your night started or to revive yourself for round two!

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Simple as that.

– Don