Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Touch Down

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If I'm going to go out and have a drink, I'm going to go to a dive bar. I'm going to drink cheap vodka on think about the good old days at The Fairview.  When that mood hit's I head over to Touch Down.

Why is this my bar of choice? First of all, I like it because it's old, dingy, and perfect for remembering things. Second of all, I like it because back when Songtan was nothing but juicy bars Gina (the owner) want's down with that. I knew that when I went to her bar it was going to be a friendly juicy free place to meet nice people. Third, she has been kind to the under 21 crowd who can't drink. Many places kick them out but Gina let's them drink their sodas and hang out. Fourth, it's a mixed crowd. The Touch Down is friendly to everyone. It's not an expat bar, it's just a local dive bar. Where locals go.

Name: Touch Down
Address: Main strip in Songtan kitty corner to Hangari Kalbi
(Which she also owns with her husband.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tofu Restaurant: 두부마을송탄점

One of the culinary surprises I experienced when eating in Asia, and Korea in particular, is that tofu is not a meat substitute. It has nothing to do with being vegetarian. It's just something people like to eat. This revelation was of great delight to me because I love tofu but I also love meat and I was always annoyed that I wasn't allowed to eat them together.  

To my delight, in Korea, when you go to a tofu restaurant it isn't just tofu. Instead, they feature homemade tofu as part of the over all landscape of the meal. The result - for us foreigners - is that tofu is re-imagined as delicious flavor clouds you can eat (or at least that's what they are in my mind) along with many other substantial flavors. It's hard to explain, but I feel like I finally understand what tofu is and why it became so popular. My taste for it has continually grown and now I crave it on a regular basis.

This particular restaurant is my favorite tofu restaurant in all of Pyeongtaek, not only because of the delicate tofu, but also because to the extensive seasonal side dishes that come with the meal. It's an affordable feast for the senses. Seriously, I eat here all the time.
Name: 두부마을송탄점
Telephone: 031-611-1321

Monday, January 11, 2016

Creer And M2

Sexiest, little new place in town. It's like I'm back in Milan or Paris. However, the name is so ridiculous and the interior so over the top that I thought for sure the coffee would be way over priced and terrible. Usually that's how it works.

The first thought that popped into my head when I took my first sip was, "I forgot what coffee tasted like." It's been three years since I've been to a country with a deep appreciation for rich beans and strong pulls. I missed it. This might only be delicious to you if you are a coffee snob, but I think this new shop has the best espresso in town. After this thought I pulled out my receipt to see what I spent on it... only 3,800 won. Which is crazy affordable for a place like this. Usually they charge as much as 5,000 won for espresso which is crazy.

Another unusual and lovely aspect of this shop is that it opens at 8:30 am. If I lived anywhere near here I would be here every week. I'm already missing it. It's ruined me on, like, five of my former favorites in just one drink.

For those that love desert, the cheesecakes looks amazeballs. I'd love to hear how it is from anyone who tries it. They had Nutella and green tea versions that looks fantastic.
If you do love the cakes, they come from Glamorous Penguin in Seoul. Check out the website and see if there are any you might want to have delivered for a party, then order using Ask Ajumma.

Name: Creme & M2
Address: 경기도 평택시 합정동 966-1 

Nolboo Hangari Galbi

Nolboo Hangari Galbi has officially reopened in Songtan on the main shopping street in front of Osan Air Force Base. If you are new to Korea and new to Korean food, this is an excellent place to get your taste buds acclimated. The side dishes are mild, the meat is excellent, the menus and staff use English, there is a stalked bar, it's easy to find, and the owners are lovely. In my opinion, it's the best place for BBQ on strip.

If you love meat, there is really no way to go wrong with this meal. If you want simple you can just order un-marinated meat, grill it and eat it. If you are more adventurous you can try a marinated meat topped with all the garlic, Korean sauces, etc. It's a meal for everyone, unless you are vegetarian, then you want to stay very far away. 

Korean BBQ is simple to order. You will chose a few delicious cuts of beef or pork which will come with various pre-set side dishes. These side dishes are refilled for free, so if you love them you can just ask for more. Once you are used to eating here other meat restaurants will be a piece of cake. 

The one important thing to note is that Korean BBQ is a meal meant for two more more. However, during lunch time individual soups and stews are available at Nolboo Hangari Galbi.

Name: Nolboo Hangari Galbi
Address: Pyeongtaeksi  Shinjangdong 315-8
Phone: 031-665-3737

Friday, January 8, 2016

Therapy Options for Expats

Living abroad is filled with all kinds of stress.  There is no way around it and there is no shame it it. Instead of turning to online forums that only feed the insanity, may I recommend therapy as a far more productive option.

As a former Social Worker and a current teacher, I wish everyone spent more time in therapy. Mental health is a critical part of well being; like going to the gym or getting a haircut. It's something to embrace and enjoy on a day off. Of course the issue for us, as Expats in the Korean countryside, is that - at a time when we nee it most - it's harder than every to access.

It you are an expat struggling with relationship issues, culture shock, depression, fear or anxiety - PLEASE - reach out and ask for help. Therapy is awesome. It's so much cooler than you think and way less costly than binge drinking or eating all the food. If you ask me, this is one of those times you save money (and relationships, sanity, your life) by spending money.

In Korea there are a few options available to you. Since it's therapy I can't really try them all (as much as I secretly want to) but I can tell you about them all so you know where to turn.

The one drawback to this list of therapist is that they are located in Seoul and most of us countryside dwellers can't get there on a regular basis, so I recommend googling online therapists and giving a few a try until you find the right fit. Many offer free 30 minute initial consultations and affordable rates so you have nothing to lose except your fear and stress. Some are even expats themselves and understand your unique issues and situations. Sure, in person therapy is dreamy, but sometimes it's just not possible.

The point of all this is that, if you are struggling, don't wait until the last minute to reach out for help. Don't be down on yourself for not being able to do it all alone. That's just ridiculous. We all need extra support sometimes and we need to reach out for it early, not late. Ideally we catch ourselves as we stumble instead of after we hit the ground.

Strength is about more than hanging on the longest, it's about knowing when it's the right time to ask someone for help and let them catch you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Chiropractic Care in Cheonan

Dr. Richard Lee
천안시 서북구 성정동 624-7

When I was young, due to the extreme lifestyle that I've mentioned, chiropractic care was a big part of my life. However, as an adult I've mostly fallen back on massage and yoga to manage pain and rehab my body after injuries and accidents. However, now that I am... well... *clears throat and cringes* middle aged... *shakes head and cringes some more* ... I'm facing the fact I might need extra help getting the old body fully functional again.  So, upon the new massage therapist's referral, I headed down to Cheonan to meet Dr. Richard Lee. 

Dr. Lee's office is located an easy cab drive from Dujeong Station across from a huge Lotte Mart downtown one the third floor in a small but well equipped office.  This space is his private practice where he sees his own patients on Mondays and Thursdays until 8pm.  He also treats patients in Seoul but you will be paying triple the price so I didn't even ask about all that.

Having studied in Atlanta, Georgia - Dr. Lee speaks excellent English and does a very thorough examination. I felt like he listened well to my pain and the diagnosis was consistent with what I have had in the past so I felt confident in his analysis.  While I was there I also witnessed a constant coming and going of English teachers who had obviously been using Dr. Kim on a regular basis and all of them were very excited about their results. It was encouraging to see so many happy patients following through on their treatments and feeling confident with the experience.

The cost per session is 50,000 won. You can buy a 10 session card and get two free sessions wish drops the price to just over 41,000 per visit. An small price to pay for pain relief. He recommends that you come with a full spine x-ray which you can get at a local hospital for about 15,000 plus 1,000 to have it put on a CD to take with you. (If you are asked to pay over 30,000 go to a different hospital.)

As an added convenience, Dr. Lee's office is also located next to both a Subway and a Starbucks and across the street from extensive shopping. So you can just make a day of it if you want too.  

The trip from Pyeongtaek Station to Cheonan is only about 20 minutes so this is vastly more convenient and less stressful than going to Seoul where the same service is 150,000 won per visit.

Since my first visit already improved my quality of life, I'm looking forward to my next two.