Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Teachers E2 Guide to Pyeongtaek

 

Even though there are lots of us teaching English in Pyeongtaek, it can feel a bit lonely when you first arrive and you aren't exactly sure what's up. Just know that you aren't alone. Even after seven years a trip to immigration often shaves 5 years off our lives. It's simply always unnerving when you talk to people that hold your life in their hands.

To help new teachers get settled in and feel confident that they are headed to the right place, we have added the "visa" search as an option in the South of Seoul app. When you type this into search it pulls up a list of places that matter to you. A complete list of the places you might need to visit to maintain your visa. It's going to look something like this... but with more stuff to scroll through.



We recommend doing this search and having a quick look at these places to get an idea of what they are. We will keep a link to this blog post in each of these listings as well. It's not actually that hard to deal with immigration issues here, but even the smallest detail can seem overwhelming with dealing with language and cultural differences. Just always remember to breathe. Things are going to take longer than you want, but as long as your paperwork is in order every thing should be OK. Now, let's get started on what places are on this list.


Immigration Office

Subway: Seojeongri Station, however you will need to take a bus or a taxi if you are short on time. It's a bit of a walk from there.

What you do here:

  • Renew your E2 Visa - Please remember that this MUST be done online and it often can take 2 weeks to get an appointment. To be safe, reserve a date at least 4 weeks in advance. Also, this is a satellite branch of the Suwon Office. Your confirmation messages will tell you that you are confirmed with Suwon Immigration HOWEVER do not GO to Suwon. If your address is in Pyeongtaek, ALL your appointments should be in Pyeongtaek.
  • Notify of New Passport Number - If you get a new passport while in Korea you have two weeks to notify immigration. This does NOT need an appointment. Just walk in and it should be pretty painless and quick. You can get fined for doing it late so just get it done.
  • Replace A Lost ARC - If you regularly lose your ARC cards, know they aren't going to kick you out. We don't need to talk about how we know this. Just get your butt over to immigration with your passport and some new photos (you can get in the lobby) and get it replaced as soon as you know it's missing. 
  • Notify of Address Change - If you move for any reason don't mess around. Take your housing contract straight to immigration and let them know you have changed housing. If for some reason your boss had you move houses just go to immigration and tell them. Don't wait for your boss to notify them. Going to immigration yourself will make them call your boss for the new housing contract, thus protecting yourself and forcing your boss to comply on time without you begging him/her to do it.
  • Apply for a D-10 "looking for work" Visa - If you find yourself at the end of your contract but unemployed, don't panic. Just make an appointment with immigration for the D-10 visa. This will give you up to 6 months to look for a job. Click here to read more.
  • Certified Copies of Documents Held by Immigration - If you are a public school teacher Immigration will hold your Apostilles for both your FBI check and your diploma. When you are applying to different school positions - or graduate school in Korea - you will need to get certified copies of these items. You do not need an appointment. You also need to go to the fourth floor (investigations office) to request these.

Health Checks
Hospitals with Translation Teams
When you first arrive in Korea you will need to get a health check. Might as well just go to the hospital right away and get this done. It will also need to be done every year for insurance purposes. Although you can use just about any hospital for this, we recommend one of the two following options since they are used to doing them and have foreign help desks.

St. Mary's 
Subway: Jijae Station (You will then need a bus or taxi)
PRO-Tips: Although there are many different places to get your health checks done, we HIGHLY recommend making the effort to go here. Many other hospitals will take too long or provide inaccurate health checks. They just do a better job here and make more effort with confidentiality. They are required to follow more strict standards in order to be used by US military.  You do not need an appointment, in fact you can't make one. The health checks are on level B1. Just walk in and they will get you started.

Good Morning Hospital
Subway: Pyeongtaek Station (You will then need a bus or taxi)

PRO-Tips: This is the other big hospitals in the area. If you are teaching in Pyeongtaek City it can often be the easiest to get to. They have a foreigner help desk. Check in here and they will get you where you need to go.


Pyeongtaek Police Station

Subway: Pyeongtaek Station
What you might need here:

  • Fingerprinting for Background Checks
  • Korean Criminal Records Check

If you end up staying longer than a year, at some point you might find yourself in need of another criminal background check, either local or from your home country. When this happens you hurry on down to this police station. At different points in time the finger printing has been in different parts of the building. Just ask someone for help, they will point you in the right direction.


Pyeongtaek Education Office
평택교육원청

Subway: Pyeongtaek Station
Hagwon Work Verification - There are a few reasons you will need to go here. Usually when you are changing jobs. If you are changing from a private to a public school, you will need to get your work verified here to count toward you salary grade. If you are leaving the country to work in another country, you will want to get a copy of this and then have it translated and notarized in order to help prove your hagwon work history. Please note, this is NOT where you get your public school records. These records can only be provided by your public school.


Pyeongtaek Tax Office
평택세무서

Subway: Pyeongtaek Station (You will then need a bus or taxi)

PRO-Tips: You need to be sure that you are registered with your local tax office. There are some hagwons who don't do this and it can come back to haunt you at immigration. You also need to be registered within the first week or two of arriving. Make sure this happens. This tiny detail can turn into a big fiasco if your hagwon has a competing school. Since all hagwon owners know that everyone does things late, when a new teacher arrives at a competing school they might notify the tax office immediately to check to see if they were registered on time.


Local Pension Office

Pyeongtaek Station (You will then need a bus or taxi)
Alright, so you have completed your public school contract and it's time to head home. Make sure you notify the pension office so that everything is in order to collect your pension. Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Soy and Noodle Soup 밥보다 국시


Recently a very dear Canadian friend returned to Korea to visit and she was missing kongguksu (콩국수) like crazy so we took her out into the countryside for some of the best 콩국수 around. It's a little silly to be blogging about this in the winter since it's actually hard to find right now, but there are times this is what we are desperate to eat and this particular restaurant has it year round.

If you are vegetarian or don't eat spicy food, then you need to know about this delicious soup. It's made from soy beans and is mild and flavorful. It's generally considered a summer soup since it's usually served cold, but at this restaurant it's served year round. It's important to note that not ALL 강국수 is vegetarian and non-spicy. For example, I chose to have the squid, spicy version. If you are a vegetarian you might want to clarify that you don't eat "seafood or meat" - 나는 해산물이나 고기를 먹지 않는다 so that you get the version made only with the beans. At this restaurant, you will need to ask them to remove the egg that comes on top.

This particular restaurant is one of the most popular places in all of Pyeongtaek for this dish. It's very traditional with a simple menu and floor seating. Their side dishes are minimal and they put their efforts into their noodles and soups. The soup here has especially good noodles and the bean broth is very smooth and flavorful. You can tell they pay attention to the quality of their beans. It's somehow both light and rich at the same time. Very earthy and soothing.

In addition to the kongguksu (콩국수) they also have a few other seafood based noodle soups. We like all of them.

영양콩국수 - Nutritious Soy Bean Noodles
어죽국수 - Spicy Reduced Fish Broth and Noodles
맑은국수 - Seafood in Clear Broth with Noodles
물만두 - Small Mandu

For those that are new to Korean food we are gong to break down the aspects of the dish you might find a little hard to appreciate at first. We find that knowing ahead of time how the food is a bit different than you may expect can help you appreciate it more the first time you try it. For example, the first time we tried this dish we actually didn't know what we were ordering and when it arrived without meat and not spicy we were disappointed. It took maybe a year before we tried it again. The second time we tried it, we knew what to expect and deeply enjoyed it. Now it's something we crave. With that said, here are the elements of kongguksu that might surprise your pallet:

  • 1) very light in flavor and you will be expected to add your own level of sea salt 
  • 2) because it's ground beans it has a sort of chalky texture 
  • 3) it's cold  
  • 4) it doesn't have meat

If you are prepared for these differences you will be in the right frame of mind to enjoy this soup.






Bonus: If you think this sounds delicious and would like to make it at home, here is a recipe from Maangchi

For address and WAZE directions to anything on this blog download the South of Seoul App from either Google Play or Apple App Store. 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.app.southofseoulz

Why we do this:
We made the app to accompany the blog because it's easier to keep update with current information. In the past we've tried keeping the information on the blog but it's too hard for us to maintain the information in two places at once over time. Since we compile and write blogs around a full time jobs without compensation, we need to do it the most efficient way possible with as few steps as possible. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

5 Places For Secondhand Furniture in Pyeongtaek


Who has two thumbs and likes to save money? This girl. My Korea crew and I are always trying to find ways of shaving a few bucks off of what we need. Most of us do our home shopping at the apartments near our homes. We walk through on trash day and find home goods that are in great shape and being tossed. However, this doesn't always cut it. Maybe we need it quickly, we need it to work (like for appliances), or it's just not something being thrown away.

When that happens we turn to the second hand and recycling centers to fill the gaps. That's right, THRIFT SHOPS BABY!!!!


1. Weekday Thrift Shop

If you need a little bit of everything brag a big old car and head here. They have quite a selection of furniture and appliances. They even have fancy rice cookers sometimes.


 2. Recycle City

This center is a great choice for those looking for furniture. It might not be the latest style, but it's solid and functional at a great price.


3. Damoa Used Appliances

This particular joint focuses on appliances. Many of their options are almost like new.


4. Pyeongtaek Recycle Center

If you are looking for deals upon deals and fashion isn't your top priority, then this is the place that you need to check out.


5. Frugal Shop

If you are near Osan AF Base then you will find this place a very helpful spot. Fill in the gaps in your house without breaking your wallet.


The South of Seoul app has far more than just Food & Fun. We also list important things you need for living in life in Pyeongtaek: grocery stores, thrift shops, immigration office, police stations, hospitals, chiropractors, dentists, and much more. Our goal is to have everything you need in one place.
For address and WAZE directions to anything on this blog download the South of Seoul App from either Google Play or Apple App Store. 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.app.southofseoulz

Why we do this:
We made the app to accompany the blog because it's easier to keep update with current information. In the past we've tried keeping the information on the blog but it's too hard for us to maintain the information in two places at once over time. Since we compile and write blogs around a full time jobs without compensation, we need to do it the most efficient way possible with as few steps as possible. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

5 Awesome Indoor Activities

When winter rolls around it can be easy to just stay home and veg but that's often not the best for your mental health. So what should you do when you are allergic to the cold? Don't worry, you don't need to put on a snowsuit and go play outside. Instead grab a friend and checkout some of the fun indoor activities available in your area. These fun little adventures will brighten your winter weary mood and give you something to look forward to during your down time. Here are 5 of our favorite indoor options.


1. Indoor Archery
Locations: Seojeongri, Sosabol, and Pyeongtaek City.

The new thing in town is indoor archery and it's fun! The prices are affordable and they give you little lessons to get you started. This is a great way to begin your bow addiction. We have friends who tried archery for their birthday and a year later were entering competitions. It's easy to go down the rabbit hole with this one.

S.O.S. PICK: We go to Freddie's archery in Seojeongri for a variety of reasons: 1) It's near our house; 2) Freddie is an awesome part of the community and very involved with the foreigner community; and 3) Freddie speaks English and will make you feel comfortable. If you become instantly addicted to the sport, he also has ALL the hookups for gear and classes.


2. Fishing Cafes

You don't have to sit out in the cold to go fishing this winter. Instead, grab some friends and go to a nice warm fishing cafe where you can compete in catch-and-release fishing competitions and even win prizes. Great fun for families. To learn more check out these additional resources on the topic:


3. Escape Room
Location: Pyeongtaek City

If you are interested in testing your detective skills, the Escape Room near AK Plaza has a variety of options for English speakers. Everyone who goes says it's great fun. They are quite welcoming to English speaking guests so no need to feel uncomfortable. They even have the rooms summarized in English on their website. It's also very easy to find since it's directly out front of AK Plaza next to the bus stop. 


4. Roller Skating Rinks
Locations: Cheonan & Pyeongtaek

This year Pyeongtaek has it's very own roller rink right near AK Plaza. Winter activities don't get any warmer or more fun than this. The rink is small and you skate around pillars, but that just makes it more fun. This is the perfect thing for a Friday night with friends or for a family outing. Get some exercise and remember what it's like to be a kid again.


5. Bowling
Locations: Songtan, Pyeongtaek City, Sosabol

Who doesn't love a night out eating snacks and rolling some balls across the floor? Pyeongtaek has bowling alleys in almost every area of the city. We haven't entered all of them, just the ones that we think foreigners will feel the most comfortable at. You could even start a bowling league with your friends.

S.O.S. PICK: Pyeongtaek has a variety of bowling options, but one of the nicest isn't far from AK Plaza. Super clean with plenty of activities other than bowling for those that want to tag along with your friends, but aren't feeling like gracing the lanes.

Seriously, don't sit at home and be sad about winter. 
Get out there and have all the fun.

For address and WAZE directions to anything on this blog download the South of Seoul App from either Google Play or Apple App Store. 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.app.southofseoulz

Why we do this:
We made the app to accompany the blog because it's easier to keep update with current information. In the past we've tried keeping the information on the blog but it's too hard for us to maintain the information in two places at once over time. Since we compile and write blogs around a full time jobs without compensation, we need to do it the most efficient way possible with as few steps as possible. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Bangkok Rice Noodles


South of Seoul Directory: Cheonan - Cheonan Station
Name: Bangkok Thai Noodles

We didn't even know that we needed more Thai food in our lives. We thought we were doing just fine. That was until we found a random blog about a Thai rice noodle restaurant in Cheonan and decided that we needed to check it out for "research" purposes.

For this little adventure we took the subway from Songtan Station to Cheonan Station, then walked about 10 minutes to the restaurant, which is located near a big Cheonan traditional market. The trip was very simple and we used the Map option in the South of Seoul App. Instead of using Google we use the apple maps option and it treats us right. The map worked perfectly and we followed the little blue line directly to the restaurant. No need for Naver or WAZE. This is why we love the app so much. Our lives made simple.

The restaurant is pocket sized. There are barely enough seats for 8 people and you all are sitting VERY close together. The chef and host are super nice and speak English and Korean, in addition to their native Thai. The young man even used to live up near Osan AF Base.  It's humble but very clean and organized. The menu is written in Korean and Thai so we will break it down for you :) We ordered one round, and then ordered again. It was that good. Next time we will get the bigger sized Pad Thai, spring rolls, and tcurry... OK, let's be honest, next time we plan to order one of everything.

Beef, Chicken, or Thai Curry Rice Noodle Soup 7,000 
Pad Thai small 7,000 / large 9,000 (x-tra Veg 1,000)
Beef or Chicken soup with rice 8,000
Side of rice 1,000
Papaya Salad 8,000
Spring rolls 5,000
Thai Ice Tea 2,000
Soda 1,000


The Pad Thai was fracking phenomenal. It's straight street food style. The owners are Thai and feel that the best recipes are found in the street stalls. They get their ingredients from Thailand and it's going to be mostly Thai people there with you. If you love mall food Thai, this might not be for you. If you go to Thailand or grew up with Thai family, this is your place.



For address and WAZE directions to anything on this blog download the South of Seoul App from either Google Play or Apple App Store. 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.app.southofseoulz

Why we do this:
We made the app to accompany the blog because it's easier to keep update with current information. In the past we've tried keeping the information on the blog but it's too hard for us to maintain the information in two places at once over time. Since we compile and write blogs around a full time jobs without compensation, we need to do it the most efficient way possible with as few steps as possible. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

5 Best Korean Stews/Soups For Winter


Winter is coming and when it does you are going to be thanking us for this post. When the temperature drops and your butt freezes, there are five Korean stews/soups we recommend to chase the blues away. They are spicy, ass kicking soups that make you feel like you are being hugged by an angry grandmother from the inside out. These are the dishes we crave and eat in mass all winter long. At this point we don't know how we ever lived without them.

1. Kimchi jjigae.

This is not for the timid, but it is the ruler of them all. When we first arrived in Korea we thought this stew as too much, but now it's what we crave more than anything when the weather gets cold. There is just no way of replacing this unusually, delicious stew. It's spicy, tangy, sweet, and rich. This soup is often eaten for breakfast because it sets you up to have a good day.

Where we like to eat it:


How you can make it at home:

2. Budae jjigae.

Now, if meat is what you are all about, then you want to go for some good old fashioned soldier stew. This dish doesn't try to be fancy. It originated during the Korean War when they were making food out of scraps left by soldiers. It's pure brilliance. If you are a food snob, don't even bother. This is all about cheap hotdogs, sausages, and ramen noodles. OMG we want some just talking about it.  Songtan is also known for having the best budae jjigae in the country so it's the perfect place to try it.

Where we like to eat it:

How you can make it at home:

3. Sundubu jjigae

We call this "Angry Care Bear clouds" in soup. It's often super spicy but the soft tofu feels so comforting you're not sure if you are in love or angry. Unbelievably awesome to eat in January and there is an especially fabulous version in Pyeongtaek not far from AK Plaza. If you are in a hurry though, this is a great dish to grab at any Korean lunch counter.

Where we like to eat it:

How you can make it at home:

4. Dalkdoritong

Not exactly a soup or stew by Korean standards, but it is by ours so it makes the list. This dish can be hard to come by as it often has to be ordered ahead and is made for 3-4 people (also making it expensive on the menu). The chicken will simply melt in your mouth and the heat from this dish will keep you warm all day long. We love to go to a restaurant and order this on a weekend with friends. Especially if we have been playing outside in the cold.

Where we like to eat it:

How you can make it at home:

5. Yukgaejang

This winter classic is filled with stewed beef and unique Korean vegetables. Known for being VERY spicy and hearty. The mountain ferns give the dish and unique earthy flavor that you will either love or hate. Once again, this is for those who love Korean food and unique flavors.

Where we like to eat it:

How you can make it at home:

For address and WAZE directions to anything on this blog download the South of Seoul App from either Google Play or Apple App Store. 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.app.southofseoulz

Why we do this:
We made the app to accompany the blog because it's easier to keep update with current information. In the past we've tried keeping the information on the blog but it's too hard for us to maintain the information in two places at once over time. Since we compile and write blogs around a full time jobs without compensation, we need to do it the most efficient way possible with as few steps as possible.