1

Live where you love. #hamont

I’ve been falling back in love with my hometown… Sort of. I’m actually just having a sordid affair with our wonderful restaurants and the mall. When I lived in Busan I tried to go to small businesses and restaurants a lot. Businesses have a habit of closing if they don’t do well after a while in Korea, and I know this isn’t as common in Canada but I still want places I like to do well. Either way, I’ve been enjoying new restaurants here and places that have opened up while I was away.

20160405_153121.jpgOne of my most recent meals was at Mezcal, a tiny taco place that stole my heart with it’s delicious wild boar tacos and churro sundaes. It was everything I could ask for and more. The tacos stole the show, and my friends and I all enjoyed everything we got. Including some very well mixed tequila cocktails. There’s something about an afternoon buzz, good food, and better company that can just make your whole week.

Two cafes that have been my top picks in Hamilton would have to be Cafe Oranje, 20160427_150941.jpgour little Dutch piece of heaven, and Mulberry, a quiet little spot on James North. Cafe Oranje has
speculas (cookie butter!!!) lattes, and constantly has Donut Monster donuts. Mulberry has amazing treats and delicious hot chocolate. These cafes make me miss the places in Korea but we have no problem hunkering down in them and chatting for a few hours.

I’ve also went to a few food-re20160223_190145.jpglated local events. The first being Soup fest back in February
where I had Chicken and Waffle soup for the first time! It was amazing. The second being a food truck event super close to home where a few trucks faced off in a slider competition. My favourite slider was a play on a big mac, with some spam. That slider ended up winning! I’m looking forward to the summer festivals coming up soon.  I’m going to miss out on the festivals20160511_182620.jpg this summer due to work but I will hit up the Peach Festival for sure!

 

Hamilton is the waterfall capital of the world. Did you know that? I sure did. I’m trying to explore more of the city in my time off because I did get to hike a bit in Korea (though it was kind of dramatic) and I enjoyed it a bit. Hamilton is a lot less mountainous than Korea, so it’s a lot more manageable. One hike was in an area of Hamilton I’ve always heard about, but never really explored. My friends and I explored The Devil’s punch bowl one soggy afternoon and it made for an interesting day. It had rained a few days prior so there was a lot of muck but the weather was mild and it was

overall a good day. Another hike was to Cherry Hill. My mom, sisters, and I have a standing tradition to hike Cherry Hill every Good Friday, as long as the weather is good. The area is surrounded by water and the animals in the area know to come to people so they can get snacks. We fed chipmunks, squirrels, birds, etc. It was such a fun day!

Hamilton is home to me. It’s been great getting back into my city, and especially buying so many things at the mall. I love Old Navy and I always will, I missed it dearly when I was in Korea. The mall is kind of my safe space. Yes, I can go without buying things, but it’s nice window shopping and helping friends when they need to get an outfit, or a gift, or buy shoes, whatever. I just like the mall.. Except when it’s Friday night and every high school kid in the city loiters the mall for hours. I enjoy the mall during the morning-afternoon before it’s soiled by youths.

Anyway, this Grandma is 25 now. Life isn’t any clearer at this age and I doubt this cloudy picture will become any clearer any time soon. I’m still thinking about my next move, and when I know what it is, you’ll be top on the list to know.

Thanks for sticking by me for this, I know it’s been a lot different since I’ve gotten home and I’m really sad about it. Life as an adult is hard, and I’m sure you’re all figuring that out.

Next post soon, I hope.

Until next time,
B.  xoxoxoxoxo

Advertisements
0

Geishas, Pumpkin Lattes, and Chicken Hearts.

I lied in my last post, unless “really soon” means two months later? I’m so sorry about that… Let’s get to it anyway.  Why do I keep naming my posts in threes? Well, it’s just so interesting right? I think so at least. When I last left my posts about Kyoto, I had went to the Golden Temple, ate some yummy ramen, and explored Kyoto Station. Well now I was ready to head off into Gion, arguably one of the most famous regions of Kyoto. fb_img_1451365497396.jpgGion is famous for being one of the main areas where geishas live and work. Though the geishas of today are not like those of the past, they are still women who are performance artists. It is not very likely that you will find a geisha or maiko (geisha in training) wandering around Gion. If you’re lucky enough to see one (like I was!) they’ll be rushing around, hoping not to be spotted and swarmed by tourists. It’s kind of scary to be followed around, like some sort of semi-celebrity, so I don’t blame them for running. I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a beautifully dressed girl in a blue kimono. She nodded at me and I at her, and she scurried down an alley before anyone else saw her. Probably one of the coolest experiences of my trip, though it was fleeting.fb_img_1451365500702.jpg
Gion had a wonderfully old school charm to it. Old wooden buildings, small shops. I wandered through the streets happily, after downing a sweet caramel pumpkin latte from Tully’s.
Which was probably tastier than a pumpkin spice latte, I haven’t had one in years now so I’ll compare this fall… I looked through the shops in Gion, buying some konpetti and the traditional Kyoto cookies made from cinnamon called yatsuhashi/bridge cookies (that are amazing!). I just enjoyed being a tourist. I loved Kyoto and how it felt being there, I did everything I wanted to do and then just sat down and people watched for a bit. I was on the edge of the Kamo River, watching the sun go down under a willow tree. The buildings lit up and I felt like I was in a fantasy world. It seems to cheesy to write something like that but I really did feel content with my life.

fb_img_1451365517448.jpgI wasn’t just waiting for nothing though, a friend from highschool was working in Kyoto and she agreed to meet with me for dinner. She took me to Fushimi Inari and we saw all the cool torii gates, as well as some cute cats and a tiny lizard. It was an interesting experience because it was night-time and the area is not brightly lit but it was still cool. We saw many shrines and small foxes. I would’ve liked to eat some kitsune udon while I was there but I’ll save that for next time I’m in Kyoto…

fb_img_1451365554621.jpgWe finished up at Fushimi Inari and then headed to an Izakaya for dinner. Izakaya are Japanese bars, but are kind of like a snack and alcohol bar. It was all fairly inexpensive for several drinks, a delicious cabbage dish (that was refillable and free!) and many fried foods. I had stuffed peppers, chicken skewers, and even chicken hearts. Not my favourite thing but when in Japan… Haha. We settled up the bill and hurried back to Kyoto station so I could make my train back to Osaka on time. A short ride later i was back in Osaka and I hit the motherlode of kitkats in the station. I figured they’d be good gifts to bring home and also it was going to be my last time in Japan for a long time so I might as well spend the money I had.

I saw lots of people in Halloween costumes too which was nice, people in Japan love Halloween! It was refreshing to see a country love a holiday that much. After rushing to the subway, I made the last train back to Doubutsuen-mae, and then back to my hotel.fb_img_1451365535906.jpg

I was thankful for a lovely solo trip and I enjoyed spending my last bit of yen on things in Japan. I know I’ll be back in Japan one day but since I don’t know when that will be, I can reflect and know that I did enjoy exactly what I wanted to.
So ends my trip posts. I haven’t been on any trips since being home, and I’ve been home nearly six months. I’m itching to go somewhere new, and I hope you’ll stick around for it.

Coming next are some posts from home and I hope you’ll enjoy them too. Thanks for sticking with me!

Until next time,
B.

fb_img_1451365548150.jpg

4

Hwamyeong Hotspot #4: The AGIT

wpid-img_20150626_171501.jpgThe AGIT is one of my newest discoveries but it’s easily becoming one of my favourite places in Hwamyeong. My friend Alice had recommended me to go here many times but it wasn’t until Gillian invited me for lunch that I actually went. I regretted not listening to Alice sooner! The AGIT is a huge cafe located in the basement of a building. The entire cafe is filled with different types of seating arrangements, including sitting on a cosy floor spot, or comfy couches, a Christmas tree, a nail salon, and even a doggy playroom. They have a mascot, Pepsi, who is a large sheepdog.wpid-img_20150626_171416.jpg

The menu seems small but they always have a variety of different things available. I’ve had a few things and I’m trying something new each time I go back. The AGIT charges the usual $4-$7 for a drink and $7-$10 for food, but it’s worth it. Everything I’ve tried from there was been delicious.

I’d recommend the strawberry latte, blueberry smoothie, and the BLT.The bread is amazing and I never want it to end when I’m eating it. They also have a delicious huge burger that is super satisfying. I’d recommend anyone in the Buk-gu area to check out wpid-img_20150627_130729.jpgThe AGIT. They’ve been open since 2013 and they’re super friendly. Every time I’ve went with my friends they’ve gone out of their way to be extra kind and even given us great serbisu (free stuff).

I’ll be going back to The AGIT any time I want a chill reading area, or a good meal.

How to get there: From Hwamyeong station, take exit 1. Walk to the corner of Lotte Mart, across from the Samsung Store and To the Different. Walk directly up the street until you get to Lotteria. Cross the street towards the GS25, then walk up that street towards the CGV. You’ll see a pet store with a bunch of smiling animals outside of it. Go in that building, pass the cute animals on display and go down to B1. If you take the elevator, you’ll end up right into the thick of The AGIT.

wpid-img_20150626_172132.jpgwpid-img_20150621_141955.jpgwpid-img_20150621_143119.jpg

0

Hwamyeong Hotspots – #2 Chokie Cookie/Chokie N Cookie?

wpid-20150121_122819.jpgSo this one is a bit different because this is a chain store. I didn’t know it was a chain store at first because I hadn’t seen one before, but as far as I’ve seen there is a store in Hwamyeong and one in Deokchon. Now what is Chokie Cookie? (To be honest I don’t know the name, I just call it Chokie Cookie.) Well, it’s an import goods shop! They have a lot of Korean products, but also Japanese products and American products. And the products they specialize in? CANDY and SNACKS!

They have gingerale (I haven’t tried it, it’s not Canada dry.. haha) and Dr. Pepper, various beans, tomato sauces and pastes, pastas, other kids of chips and salad dressings. They also have Canadian granola bars, syrup, peanut butter, etc. They even have canned soups, like Campbells! They have a lot of goods for pretty decent prices. And the two bins out front are all 1000w (about $1). The best thing about it is the people who work there. The store in Hwamyeong has the friendliest people, and they always give you a chocolate or candy as “service”. It’s just small things like that that can really make a place feel homey. This was the first store where the attendant recognized me, and he even remembered I was from Canada.

The store in Hwamyeong is pretty easy to get to, when you exit the subway from Lotte Mart, leave Lotte mart and go right, follow the street all the way up until you get to Lotteria. Cross to Lotteria and then turn right again, walk down and Chokie Cookie is right there!

I was actually introduced to Chokie Cookie by the guy I replaced, Justin. He told me it was a pretty cool store and showed me all the stuff they had. I’ve been back several times since getting here. They have one of the most extensive selection of spices I’ve seen in a store in Korea! If you’re missing anything from home, take a look at Chokie Cookie, they just might have want you’re looking for!

0

Taejongdae Funday – Part 2 – At Sea

wpid-20150125_164000.jpg

Taejongdae is a smaller part of Busan, basically on its own little island. Grace had been here before and raved about the seafood. We could see countless tents selling various catches of the day. It was hard to pass by them because many of the owners and workers would be outside their stalls trying to get people to come in. But after our bus ride from Busan station, Grace and I were ready to hit the water. We had discussed on the ride over that, if possible, we wanted to ride in a boat. It just so happened that we ran into two gentlemen promoting their ferry tour of Taejongdae. It just happened to be the right place, right time. We handed over 10000w each and then waited for our ride. When a mini van showed up and about 20 people climbed out, Grace and I looked at each other. What were we getting ourselves into? As with a lot of things in Korea, it only seemed sketchy. It was actually fine. This company just uses smaller vans to transport people from the bus drop off area in Taejongdae to the coast area.

wpid-20150125_172403.jpg

Panorama of the boat, sort of… haha

We were let off right near all the tents we would later return to and made our way to the dock. The ferry was quite large, and after waitinwpid-img_20150125_170617.jpgg for the rest of the group to arrive, we set off on the last tour of the day. We had a very nice old Korean man who helped us on to the book, and ask us a few questions about ourselves.

It was kind of gloomy out, but it didn’t rain, and it made for beautiful weather to be out on the water.  We had swarms of seagulls following our boat. The shop outside the dock sold snacks and many of the people would throw the snacks into the wwpid-20150125_170846.jpgater for the seagulls to eat. They were well trains because many of them could catch them in their mouths.  I had an amazing time on the boat and took a lot of pictures, there’s not much to say about the water experience because I wasn’t really sure what I was seeing but it really was beautiful.  If you get the chance, I’d really recommend going on the water. I think it would be especially beautiful in the summer.

After docking, Grace and I were trying to figure out what to do next. It was getting later in the day, nearly 6pm by the time we had made it back to the main area. That’s when Grace remembered that there was a train. wpid-20150125_175105.jpgA train that goes through some of the main areas of the mountain in Taejongdae. We started walking up the steep hill until we found the train. The Taejongdae Danubi train is only 2000w to ride and you can get on and get off at any of the stops. There’s a train every half hour, I believe, and it runs until 7pm. It was prewpid-20150125_175114.jpgtty empty when we got on, we chose to ride in the caboose. The train allows for scenic views of the mountain and you can see the coast the whole way. There were people walking through the mountain but if you don’t have all day, the train is a way better option. We chose to get off at the observatory, we could see this area from our boat ride and we found out that after we got off, we’d have to walk to the lighthouse to be able to get the train back.

Because it was later, almost 6:30 when we arrived, we had to go quickly through the observatory (most things were closed anyways) and we took some pictures. It was kind of beautiful because it was so dark. The ships at sea looked like the stars in the night sky. There were little beacons of light on the water. It reminded me a bit of Ponyo… haha.

wpid-img_20150125_181141.jpgAfter walking around the observatory and seeing the small lighthouse, Grace and I boarded the last train back to the beginning. We were hungry, finally, after our huge lunch. We started walking back to the main area, and then down to the tents.

The thing about Taejongdae is that all the tents are basically selling the same things. We went to the most friendly woman and were very happy with our choice. It was really an interesting experience because, at first, our table was just in the tent set awpid-20150125_190855.jpgmongst the rocks on the beach. It made my chair really uneven and was hard to stay up straight. So, when Grace headed to the ATM (note: Taejongdae tents are mostly cash only) I moved us to the area where there was a platform. I was much better there because my chair didn’t sink further into the rocks every time I moved.  Grace had raved about the seafood she had eaten before, saying it was amazing. We ordered a set of food that was 40000w. For Korea, that is quite expensive. But when the food came out, I really understood the price.

For starters, we were given a huge bucket of mussels. They were served in a broth and they were hot. I’ve never had mussels before and they were pretty good. But nowhere near as good as our dinner. After the center of our table was lit up with fire (haha like a grill in the center) the owner of the restaurant began to cook for us. We were served countless shellfish with carrots, onions, garlic, spicy sauce, etc. I can’t tell you what I ate exactly, but it was all good. For someone who likes fish but that is the extent of seafood I usually eat, I really enjoyed myself. It was all delicious. My favourite part of the meal was the spicy fish dish we had on the side. It was tender and moist, and wasn’t too spicy.

I had an awesome time in Taejongdae, and left with my belly full. It was a great Sunday Funday in Taejongdae. 🙂

We made our hour journey home to Hwamyeong, grabbing some cream deli manjoo for dessert on the way home.

I can’t wait to go back to Taejongdae in the summer! I can already tell that it’s probably going to be crazy busy!wpid-20150125_194106.jpg

Until next time!
-B

1

Taejeondae Funday – Part One

Last weekend I asked a friend if she wanted to go get some Uzbek food. My friend Grace is a super interesting person and she’s always up to try new things so after we both slept in, we headed off on our afternoon Sunday adventure. We were torn between going to Gimhae, where we had been before, or trying Texas street. Texas Street (now called Choryang shopping district for foreigners) is RIGHT near Busan station and has a bit of reputation for being a prostitution area. We figured going there on a Sunday afternoon wouldn’t be wpid-20150125_140617.jpgvery risky. We were fine, we only had one group of guys ask if we were Russian, aka looking to sell some sex. The area of town is a bit dirty looking but it has some awesome foreign food places! There were plenty of Russian restaurants, Uzbek places, Filipino restaurants, and many other places!

Grace and I were set on having a travelling lunch. When we were in Gimhae, we shared dishes so we could try as many things as possible before leaving. There are no real international restaurants in Hwamyeong so I was completely okay with this. We wandered up and down Texas street (I think it has another name now but whatever) seeing what interested us. We stopped into this AMAZING smelling bakery, and looked at their stuff for sale. I was kind of hoping to find some perogies but I had no such luck.  We passed by a guy baking something on the street. He had a huge pot and was pulling these delicious smelling dumplings out. Grace and I put a pin in that spot and wandered the rest of the street. When we reached the end, we both looked at each other and decided to head back to the restaurant with the dumplings. It was a great
choice.

We ended up at a great Uzbek place (I don’t remember the name 😦 ) and ordered two of the dumplings which I learned are wpid-20150125_141946.jpgcalled samsa, not a samosa but similar. It was a pastry (awesome crust) filled with meat and onions. Now most people who know me know I can’t stand onions. I hate the texture of them but I love the smell of them cooking. I scarfed down that entire dumpling, onions and all. That’s how good it was. It was seasoned wonderfully, it worked together so well. I would eat a hundred of them if I had the chance. And the best thing — they were 2000w (about $2)!!! I would have been pleased with just that but Grace and I also ordered some kebabs. We were going to try different types but the waiter recommended the lamb, because it was the best. We each got a lamb kebab, and we also were given some bread. In addition, we also ordered a pot of lemon tea.

Lamb is delicious. (cue Simpsons: Lisaaaaaaa Lisaaaa, I thought you loved meeeeeee). There’s something about kebabs that is just wonderful. wpid-20150125_143122.jpgThey are tasty meat swords that just don’t disappoint. (don’t read any more into that ok). I was satisfied after the kebabs but Grace and I decided to try the Uzbek restaurant I had read about online: Samarkand.

We decided to try two different soups from Samarkand because we didn’t just want to have kebabs all day (though I could have had another samsa….). I ordered the chicken soup, and Grace ordered a beef soup. They were similar but there were plenty of differences. Grace’s was a really tomatoey based broth. There was rice, and chunks of beef in it. Mine was a delicious chicken soup with potatoes and carrots. They also had croutons you could add into the soup and that made it even better. It was the perfect thing to eat on the chilly January afternoon. Samarkand had a wpid-20150125_151004.jpginteresting interior, and I will definitely be back to Texas street.

After we left the restaurant, there was a guy outside there selling samsa too. We got nice and close to the oven and it was really cool to see how he made them. It was like how they make naan bread in the case that they just   throw it on the side wpid-20150125_153821.jpgof wpid-20150125_153831.jpgthe oven, but it was so good. We didn’t try the samsa from Samarkand, but I will be back.

After we were full we decided to go hunting for something sweet…

This hunt was unsuccessful but we did find a bus to Taejongdae. We hopped on the bus across town to explore a beautiful area of Busan I had yet to see… and Grace and I had discussed on the ride over that if we could, we’d go on a boat that day. Little did I know that we’d also get to go on a train too!

But that will be continued in the next post!

Thanks for reading! I hope your weekend if going great!
I’ve started a mini series on Hwamyeong, so please check it out if you haven’t already!

Thank you all for your continued support!

See you in the next one!
-B