As I spend so much time away from home, it always gives me a warm & fuzzy feeling to find something heartily Canadian while abroad. This doesn’t happen often but it did when I stumbled upon (and eventually out of) the Big Rock Brewery pub in Seoul. In Gangnam, to be exact. Being a big, big fan of cider in general, I was ridiculously happy to put back a few pints of Rock Creek when on a long business trip last fall.
The Big Rock brand of beer originates in Calgary and the brewery is super proud of it’s carefully crafted premium Alberta beers (and cider!) and cool company culture. So why Seoul? The Big Rock blog tells that a few Koreans had a successful trade mission a while back when they toured the brewery and later opened the Big Rock pub in Seoul.
So if you’re in Seoul and craving something Canadian or just want a stellar craft beer, you’ll find the Big Rock pub by following these directions (as posted on the pub’s facebook fan page).
Gangnam Station (line 2), Exit #7. Turn right immediately (down a small alleyway leading to a backstreet). Continue going straight up the hill. If you look back, VIPS and Starbucks should be at your back. Big Rock will be on your left. If you see a park on the left, you’ve gone too far.
I was secretly hoping I would find this Starbucks special somewhere in Taiwan, where I’ve been working the last week, but I guess not. The Honey Orange Latte was released by Starbucks Korea in January as part of a “year of the Tiger” promotion. Sadly, It’s appearance was too brief. Until next time, Honey Orange Latte, I ♥ you.
~photography not permitted beyond this point~
Having been to Korea dozens of times for business, I was beginning to get bored with the country when a friend of mine encouraged me to see Korea with different eyes and to do something that I hadn’t done before.
A day after arriving in Busan, jet-lagged and tired from a full day’s work I was craving a massage. I googled around and came across Hurshimchung (허심청), Asia’s largest natural hot spring spa at the Nongshim Hotel. Wow. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard about this sooner. I instantly knew that this is what I needed to relieve my fatigue and give me that chance to check out something new in Korea.
I promptly headed to the spaland and prepared to bare it all for the other women of Korea. Hurshimchung is a gender-segregated water park with indoor and outdoor tubs as hot as 56 degree celsius, some scented with herbs and fruit, including waterfalls, caves, saunas and swimming pools. Over the course of a couple of hours, I was scrubbed, salted, scalded and steamed. Clothing not permitted, I definitely saw Korea with new eyes and Korea definitely saw me like never before.
Hurshimchung can accommodate up to 3000 bathers in it’s 4300 square metre complex and is renowned in Asia as the largest natural hot spring spa and a top tourist attraction. That being said, I was very obviously the only tourist there. Nevermind. It was a fabulous, cost-conscious experience at only ₩8000 (or approximately $8.00 CAD) for entry and another ₩40,000 (or $40 CAD) for the facial, full-body exfoliation and massage. Not exactly for the prudish but certainly a therapeutic and relaxing experience, it is one of my new top recommendations for Korea.
I’ll be back.
Welcome to 2010!
For the first post of the year, I thought I would share just a couple of feel-good photos I found on my phone recently.
Love your life
Love your dream
It’s a good reminder.
The days sparkle during sakura season at
Inokashira Park, Kichijoji, Tokyo.
Happy New Year, everybody!
In just a few short weeks, I’ll be heading back to Korea. I don’t really like Korea in January as it is generally cold, cold, cold! I am nicely acclimatized in Vancouver and can’t really handle wintry weather anymore. Essentially, I’ve turned into a big west-coast wimp since leaving the prairies a few years ago.
Despite the cold weather, one thing I always look forward to when I go to Korea, is going out to eat with students. I love Korean food and a favourite meal of mine is sam gyeop sal. Sam gyeop sal is a social feast where delicious, sometimes-marinated pork belly, onion, garlic and kimchi are grilled at the table. As with most Korean meals, many side dishes are served including soup, salads, egg and other kimchi-like condiments. Often accompanied by soju (rice booze!), sam gyeop sal is definitely one of my favourite meals and a great pre-cursor to a night of karaoke and drinking!
Then there are the unrecognizable foods in foreign countries that I like to take pictures of but never, ever eat. This picture was snapped at a street vendor in Jongro, Seoul. Interesting to look at but scary to try, these are some popular Korean street snacks.
When in Seoul, I always stay in Gangnam, at the M Chereville residences which I reviewed on the blog in September. This area is stacked with restaurants, bars and coffee shops, Korean and western. As I’m always searching out Indian restaurants in every country I visit, I know for sure that there are a few very tasty Indian eateries in this neighbourhood as well.
The American influence in Korea is obvious and you really can’t swing a stick without hitting a Starbucks, Baskin Robbins, Burger King or 7-11. This should certainly satisfy those tourists that travel half-way across the world to order a grande, no-foam, 1%, extra-hot, vanilla latte for breakfast and a Whopper combo for lunch. That being said, I’m really looking forward to warming up with the new honey-orange latte offered by Starbucks Korea! 맛있게 드세요!
Each time I’m in Seoul, Korea
I stay at the M Chereville
. While the location is super convenient and with walking distance of the vast majority of my appointments as well as all the food and entertainment you need, I vow each time I stay at the Chereville that I will never stay there again. In all the times I’ve been
to Korea I’ve learned that Koreans generally value price over quality and this is reflected at the M Chereville. Don’t get me wrong, it is a reasonably nice facility but the unpredictable water temperature and hard bed sometimes make me feel as if I’m camping. And camping is exactly what you don’t want to do on a business trip.
That being said, the M Chereville is priced just right at about 98,000 KRW (about $95 CAD
) on www.hotel.co.kr
. This price includes a small daily buffet breakfast on the 5th floor and amenities that you would not normally find in a hotel such as free
(or included, depending on how you spin it) high-speed internet access, laundry facilities in each unit and a kitchenette. Regarding internet access, I have found that the more expensive the hotel, the more expensive the internet access tends to be. And internet is something I definitely cannot and will not live without while on the road. I need to be able to download all my favourite tv shows. Oh and yes, I need to be able to work.
These are indeed apartments, spacious bachelors suites and one-bedrooms, that are suitable for any long-term
business traveler, tourist or English teacher. A small kitchen including a 2-burner cooktop, fridge and freezer and all necessary utensils helps to make this home away from home. However, if you plan to cook for yourself,finding a supermarket can be a challenge in Seoul but you can always head over to level B1 at the Shinsegae department store at the Express Bus Terminal Station which is only a hop/skip/jump away from Gangnam station. Being a business traveler that spends weeks and weeks on the road, I’ve also come to genuinely appreciate having a washer / dryer in the suite as well. A small instruction booklet with diagrams in English and Japanese explains how to use the steam-shower, air conditioner, washer/dryer, hot water heater and more.
As with many types of accommodation these days, there is a small fitness centre and business area. This is located on the 5th floor near the reception area. I’m not one to exercise (I know, I know, I should…) so I can’t really attest to the quality of the equipment at the Chereville but it looks nice and appears functional.
I’ve heard from my colleagues that there are similar residences or serviced apartments just a little further away but still near Gangnam station that might, just might be, a bit better quality than the M Chereville. One friend
told me to try out the Coatel. She even said the layout and look is identical to the Chereville and I have a hunch they are owned by the same company so I’m not actually much more confident that the quality would be any better.
Considering I’m in Korea about 3 times a year and stay each time at the Chereville, I think I can say that the convenience, location and price of this serviced apartment definitely outweigh the sometimes questionable quality. While the bed is hard and the water temperature unpredictable, it is my home away from home in Seoul and making a change is sometimes just not worth the hassle. While I might moan a bit about the M Chereville, you’ll be sure to find me there on my next trip to Seoul. Unless the price goes up…
I’ve been enjoying an amazing summer in Vancouver (heat-wave included!) but now it’s time to hit the road again and get posting properly and regularly on the blog!I’m in Brazil now and just happen to have a teaching job in Korea to tell you about. Check it out below!This school is located in Asan which is a small city next to Cheonan and is about 30 minutes from Seoul (by train). The city has a population of about 250,000 and is known for it’s spas! I’ll be in Korea in September so if I get a chance to check out the school, I’ll be sure to post pictures and more details!Job DetailsContract: 6 months – 1 year (1 year preferred)Hours: 6 hours / day Monday – Friday (1:30 – 8:30 pm – 1 hour lunch)Students: Elementary & AdultClass size: 8 – 20 students / classSalary: app. $2300 CAD / monthHousing: Shared housing (private room, of course!)Required: Bachelor’s degree & TESL or CELTA certification; previous teaching experience an assetThis school has only a few part-time native English speaking teachers (from the US & Canada). You would be the only full-time native English speaking teacher. The school employs Korean speaking teachers as well as a Japanese and a Chinese language teacher.This is a great opportunity for someone who really wants to experience Korea!Bring on the kimchi!Contact Euroconnect to apply!