Tokyo Game Show 2015


Hey, all!

If you didn’t see from one of my previous posts, I had the chance to take a nice long vacation in fall. So I decided to spend a few weeks in Japan and Korea. I still had to do my course work while I was away, but it was worth it!

I didn’t plan much for the part of the trip in Tokyo. I had things in mind, but nothing set. So while talking with some other hostel guests, I found at that Tokyo Game Show was happening while I was in town. Lucky me!

I’m not a huge gamer – casual, you might say – but I like to play. Plus getting a chance to see new stuff in person was definitely a plus.

It was a really long day with people, people, people everywhere. Also, we didn’t get to demo lots of games because of the long wait times. We got to try a handful of games in the hall with the indie developers. The only game I tried in the main event hall was Disney Infinity Star Wars (really cool!). But we also got to see some neat stuff.

Take a peek at the photo gallery:

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“Hormone” curry?

This one throw you for a loop? Certainly had me confused and amused. Luckily, the good folks at RocketNews24 have an explanation. “Hormone” is a portmanteau (words that combine their sounds and meanings)– “the word actually means “stuff you’d throw away” (horu, to discard, mono, stuff). If you haven’t guessed yet, we’re talking about offal, guts, entrails, icky animal innard bits grilled up yakiniku-style.” Ahhhh, now I get it. I probably would have tried it had I known.

And here are some of the cosplayers and promotional models at the show:

*Whew!* Long day, lots to see, but plenty of fun and a unique experience for my trip. If I’m ever back in Tokyo for TGS again I think I’ll be a bit more prepared for the experience.

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Packing for Korea

Happy December to all!

Soon, those of you who applied for the EPIK program will be finding out where you’re going to be placed. Exciting, right? But here’s one slightly less exciting part of the process – packing.

I mean, how do you fit what you’ll need for (minimum) 1 year in 2 suitcases? Well, having done that move, I have some input.

Clothes

Bras/underwear – Ladies, I say bring as much as you can. For those of you that are smaller sizes it shouldn’t be too bad, but I’m a bit curvier so I never tried. I brought all my underthings with me. I will say, though, that when I was in Tokyo for vacation I found bras that fit me in American Eagle in Harajuku.

Jeans – Again, if you’re pretty small then if shouldn’t be too terrible. I’m roughly a size 8 US, with a bit of a badonk, so it’s not always easy. It seems like Korea fashion does not account for said badonks. Plus, it’s pretty much a lot of skinny jeans. If you like different styles or are a larger size then bring 2-3 pairs with. However, there are stores like Uniqlo, H&M, and Forever21, so it’s not impossible.

Shoes – I’m a size 8, so I didn’t have lots of trouble getting shoes. I am, though, on the larger side for ladies shoes over there. You’ll sometimes find less styles than you’d like. Also, I noticed that things like sneakers are a bit narrower. So bring a pair of sneakers, maybe a few flats, and a pair or two of dress shoes.

Professional/work clothes – It’s something you’re going to need right away, and don’t wanna have to search for. Plus, style and sizing can be an issue. Things like nice slacks and skirts are always good. Also dress shirts and nice sweaters.

Just in general bring a few of your favorite things. I never really found casual/every day clothes to be a probably to buy. Things like dresses or party clothes, you may wanna bring a couple of your favs. I found plenty of dresses I liked in Korea (especially in Seoul), but sometimes ones I’d see would be way too short on me.

Toiletries

Deodorant – Bring a 3-pack or whatever with.

Razors/shaving gel – If you don’t mind the cheap throwaway kind, it’s not a problem. Also I remember seeing shaving gel for guys, but not for ladies.

Tampons – Your call, honestly. I don’t use them, but I feel like it’s not impossible to get them. It’s just that pads are more favored it seems.

Vitamins/medication – Of course bring your meds with you! Also the prescription (this goes for glasses too). Things like Tylenol, Advil, ibuprofen, Midol, and stomach medicine are extremely useful.

Toothpaste – I don’t like Korean tooth paste, honestly. Also I hear it doesn’t have fluoride. Anyway, just bring a few tubes of your fav.

Make-up – Korean make-up is awesome! But if you’re a darker skin color then bring your favorite concealer/foundation/BB cream/etc with you. You’re just not going to find it over there.

Snacks/food:

Bring a few of your favorite snacks if you have room. It can help combat homesickness. I suggest Reese’s!

Also if you love Ranch dressing (Heeeey, Simon), then you can buy Hidden Valley Ranch packets at the store. Saves a lot of room and you can make it whenever you want.

Home

Bath towel – Get a big, fluffy one. The towels in Korea are small in comparison, and it’s so annoying!

Pics – Bring some to decorate your home or classroom. Speaking of classroom, anything you can bring to decorate it great. I brought a poster of my college campus, pictures of my home, etc.

Camera – You can buy one over there too, but no matter what get one! You’re going to be overseas for a year and you should document as much as you can.

Adapter/convertor – Definitely bring a couple adapters. If you want to plug in more than one thing at a time then you’ll want a few. Convertors are only needed if you bring something heavy duty like a game system.

Laptop – A lot of people wait to buy one in Korea. For me personally, it seemed like getting a PC was troublesome (having to change the language and other things). I ended up buying a new MacBook in my 2nd year cuz my old one was dying a slow death. Apple products are more expensive there, unfortunately, but I never had trouble with it. Actually, it was nice having the hangul written on the keys.

The biggest problem with Macs, though, is Korea’s outdated obsession with Internet Explorer. It just doesn’t work on them! There will be many times, especially with your bank, where you simply won’t be able to do anything on your Mac. In those cases I used my school computer or went to a PC bang. Annoying, but it works.

Etc

Pics and videos – Buy an external hard drive and load it up. Take videos before you leave: of your family, friends, workplace, old schools, whatever. The kids will like it, and it can be nice when you’re missing home.

Books – Don’t bother. I love books, but they take up way too much room. Download the Kindle app and get e-books. If you ever want a real book, though, you can always order from WhatTheBook in Seoul.

Movies – Meh, a toss-up. Bring a few of your favs if you like. Korea’s internet is amazingly fast though so it’s not hard to download things.

I hope that was useful! There’s probably a few things I forgot, so if you have questions leave them down below.

Thanks for reading. Stay warm!

Gwanghwamun Square & Artbox Giveaway Winners Announced

I went over to Gyeongbokgung the other day when I had some free time in Seoul. Unfortunately, I didn’t look up the hours/days they are open. Turns out it’s closed on Tuesdays. ㅠㅠ Oh boo…

But still I had a nice walk down Gwanghwamun Square to see the statues of King Sejong and Admiral Yi.

*Plus* Artbox giveaway winners are announced! I’ll be contacting them shortly.

As always, thanks for reading and watching. 🙂

Muju Ski Resort

Coming from the grand old state of Wisconsin, I’ve had many chances to “enjoy” the winter weather. I say “enjoy” because I honestly really dislike winter. However, if there’s one winter activity I like it’s skiing and snowboarding. Actually, I’m pretty crummy at snowboarding since I just tried it for the first time last year, but it’s still fun. I had the chance to ski yesterday with friends at Muju Ski Resort.

Muju is roughly 1 1/2 hours from Daejeon. You can get buses that’ll go from different parts of the city right up to the resort. We left at the wonderful time of 6:30 AM from Chungnam University. I go recommend going early so that you can get in as much time of the slopes as possible. Unless you go during the week, there will be long lines to deal with  on the weekend which really cuts into your total time.

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Rental rates depend on how long you’ll be there. It’ll be roughly 30-38,000 won if you’ll be spending most of the day there. The lift ticket is around 70,000 won. My friend booked yesterday’s trip though, and we only paid 80,000 won total (lift, rental, and bus). That leads me to believe that there are trip packages with good deals so you’ll have to ask around.

I’m no expert on such things, but I thought Muju had decent conditions. We hadn’t had much snow so it was the fake stuff. There are several slopes ranging from beginner to advanced. I was generally on the intermediate all day since I haven’t skied in many, many years. There were gorgeous views at the top! There’s actually a gondola that goes up because there are lots of hikers that go to the enjoy the views as well.

Going up ~

Going up ~

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The weather was just perfect. Look how clear and blue the sky is!

When you need a snack break too there are a few choices for you. We all pretty much ended up eating at Popeye’s, but there’s your typical Korean food, (donkatsu, galbitang, etc.), Dominos, and a couple others. There’s even a GS25 at the very top of the slopes in case you’re a bit peckish after that long lift ride up. They usually run out of cup ramen pretty fast though, so grab it while you can.

Besides all that there are lockers on hand for you to store your stuff that’ll cost 1,000 won. You can also rent clothes (coat and/or ski pants) if you don’t have the proper gear. I highly recommend buying proper ski gloves and goggles before you come. They are much more pricer at the ski shop. I ended up having to get goggles there last year and they were over 40,000 won I think. You could probably get a decent pair at Home Plus or off of Gmarket for between 20-30,000 won.

They also provide lessons for an extra fee, but please note these are taught in Korean only. If you have some experienced, patient friends on-hand I would say ask them for help instead.

If you wanna check it out you can look over at the Muju Resort website.

Laters!

 

To market, to market

Hey y’all ~

The weather’s getting a lot warmer here in Korea. Pretty soon sleeve-less shirts and sandals will be a must. I love the warm weather with just two exceptions – 1) You get pretty sweaty. >.>  — and 2) I can’t run before twilight. The heat and humidity make it kinda crummy for running, so I’ll probably have to start my night running soon.

Anyway I’m coming to you with another mini-adventure from Seoul. I went up last weekend for the long weekend because of Buddha’s birthday (Thank you, Buddha~). Mostly just chilling and taking in what Hongdae had to offer. Friday night I met with friends and we ate at On The Border in Shinchon. I don’t care if it’s a chain restaurant, it was so yummy. Saturday I spent walking around Hongdae. Last year I went to the free market (read about here ~), and I’ve been itching to go back. I wasn’t disappointed! Check out my haul:

blue purse

First this cute purse and card holder. I bought a wallet with this design last year from this artist. I use it everyday and told her so. She looked very pleased that I liked her crafts so much. 🙂 I think I’m going to need to get a new wallet before the year is out, so I hope I can see her again and pick one up.

If you wanna check her out her name is Hye Jin Lee (이헤진). She has a cyworld here – http://cyworld.com/hjsamo .

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A crocheted animal… puppy? Bear? I think it’s a puppy haha. ^^

necklace and earrings

Last year I bought cute coffee cup earrings from this artist and I was happy to see she was back. I wore the earrings last Saturday and she was also pleased to see a happy customer. I can’t resist things with penguins so I bought this necklace and cute heart earrings.

20130522_163703A cute French flag magnet.

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This iPad pouch is quite nice. Leather on the outside, cloth on the inside, and each pouch has different colors and patterns. The artist even told me that since I live in Korea, if my pouch breaks then she’ll fix it up for me. Awesome!

You can find her site – toM – here: http://blog.naver.com/tomiscat

watercolorThe young lady who made this was very sweet. She had some rather nice drawings and watercolors. I asked if she was an art major, but turns out it’s just a hobby. She lived in France for several months and took some inspiration from her time there. Unfortunately I can’t decipher her blog name (I tried several variations). Jinkyoung ~ if you’re out there, I really like my drawing. 🙂

20130522_163437Ahhhh so cute! I can’t resist! These designs were calling my name. The characters are named Lala & Berry. Absolutely adorable. I could see these being very popular if the right people see ’em.

You can find her page at: peanutmellow.blog.me

heart print

The man I bought this from had some neat prints. Some were like this heart, some had Korean designs, and some were just — whatever haha. He didn’t sign or number these prints though! This kind of surprised me. I only took a semester of printmaking in college, but I feel like printmakers should at least sign their work. Putting that aside though, I liked this particular one. Simple and cute. 🙂

20130522_163540Last I picked up this bracelet. The artist had a totally awesome vibe. She lived in India for 4 years and everything she made was based on her time there. If I remember right, the skull on the bracelet is kinda supposed to take away your bad feelings and the other beads bring out the positive. Loving that concept. 🙂

You can check out her site here: www.lovejoypeace.net

I really do suggest giving this a look if you have the chance. There’s lots of talented people out there and you can get great souvenirs from your trip to Seoul. Don’t forget to explore the area too! Hongdae has lots of great shops, cafes, and restaurants. I found several places I didn’t know about before, and a couple I didn’t have time for (next time for sure!).

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Until next time, friends ~

Trek to the North

At least once, sometimes, twice a year we are required (okay, kinda forced) to take business trips for work. This pretty much involves us going to different language institutes in Korea to see how they operate. On the way we stop at various sights, temples and such, and eat different kinds of Korean food.

I’m not really a fan of trips where every stop and every day is scheduled fully, but not a lot you can do when your supervisors are in charge. Still, I have to say that the trip we’re currently on has been pretty decent.

I mean look at the scenery I woke up to this morning.

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Nice,huh? We stayed overnight in Goseong which is pretty close to the DMZ. It’s something like 5-10 km away. On our way here we also made a stop at 2 houses of some rather famous men: Rhee Syng-man and Kim Il Sung (as in Kim Jong Il’s dad… *that* guy).

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This home was originally built by a German architect for missionaries, but Kim Il Sung decided he liked it, so he took it. It became his summer home. There’s even a picture of little Kim Jung Il sitting on the steps outside. There isn’t much inside. It pretty much contains information and the area and the Korean War. This house is small, but it has a nice view.

Next we hit up the 1st president’s house. Also a summer house, it only has 3 rooms: a bedroom, office, and family room.

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The former president’s office.

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Figures of the president and his wife (who was Austrian, I might add).

Now, I realize these weren’t exactly great men. One was a dictator, the other an authoritarian who ended up in exile. But history can be fascinating and it’s interesting to see how these people lived.

As for other parts of this trip, I’ve been fairly pleased. Sometimes, for me, Korean food can be hit-and-miss. I’ve been satisfied this trip though (Sorry I am lacking photos for all the food). Thus far we’ve had tofu, cold buckwheat noodles, sashimi, and spicy soup. One of my supervisors was also kind enough to buy us chicken on occasion as well.

The language institutes we visited were interesting in their own ways. They’re a completely different set-up compared to our work, which makes me question the point of these trips, but whatever. It is nice to get out of the office once in awhile. We have 4 camps in a row coming up, so we’re going to be quite busy.

I’ll have to remember these cool ocean breezes for upcoming humidity and monsoon season that is supposed to be coming. Oh boy!

Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

Last weekend I went with my friends to Jinhae for the cherry blossom festival. There was just over 30 of us, so we rented a bus to get there. It takes roughly 3 hours if the traffic is good. Typically during the festival it can take much longer to get there (maybe twice as long when it’s really bad), but because we were in a bus we got to drive in the bus lane.

We lucked out too since it was a bit cold the previous week, so we weren’t sure if the blossoms would be open. However, it was a clear sunny day. It was also quite crowded. If you aren’t a fan of big crowds this might not be the event for you.

We didn’t really see any performances or events even though it was the 50th anniversary. Our timing was kind of bad I guess. I heard SHINee performed the weekend before for the opening of the festival. But there’s still enough to see and it’s pretty good exercise — I wouldn’t recommend driving anywhere once you get there. What should have been a 3- 5 minute drive took maybe 20+ minutes. We ended up walking all day which was fine because of the weather.

There’s plenty of food to eat. You can sit down in one of the big tents if you feel like it or find a restaurant. If you aren’t too picky I’d just stick with street food. It’s fast and easy and there’s no wait. I don’t recommend any of the coconut stands though. I bought one for the fun of it, but the milk (water?) was kind of sour. Definitely not fresh.

Basically, it was very lovely, good exercise, and fun. You need plenty of patience, but it can be worth it. I probably won’t go back next year since we experienced it already. I hear there’s more festivals much closer to home (i.e. in Daejeon) so I’ll look forward to that.