Saturday, December 02, 2006

best hommos in town



I will admit that this spelling, hommos, is an accepted variant of humus, as is hummus. However, if I were to pick out of the three to put on an advertisement that pronounces that you won't be able to eat any other's after tring their product, I'd probably opt for one of the other versions. I do recommend their humus, as well as the falafel at BricxX in Hongdae, and if you'd like to try to make some of your own, here's a recipe for Hummus, Hommos, and Humus.

homous

Friday, December 01, 2006

footprints

I like to wander, love to document where I've been, and I dig taking pictures of my feet, or my shadow, so I really adore this project, Footprints, by Mark Argo and Ann Poochareon.

Here's the gist:
Take pictures of your feet, from your cell phone, and then send them to nabi@myfeet.mobi and they will put them into their interactive installation piece at Art Center Nabi here in Seoul. Fantastic!

Where have your feet been?


P.S. The show is running from 12.7-12.30.

Monday, November 27, 2006

배꼽: belly button

I woke up dreaming about food. With growling bellies Judo and I wandered over to Platters in a hunger induced state of delirium. Platters is an American style dinner that looks like it fell right out of the 50's. I must admit that they did a pretty good job making the place look authentic. We sat down in the same booth we always do, and I ordered my usual, a mushroom swiss burger-without onions or pickles--IN KOREAN followed by my English translation.

After I ordered, Judo looks at me, smiling and says, "You're cute." This was not one of those moments, like in a movie, where the guy professes something really loving or just shows how much they like the girl. Instead this was a moment when I, once again, find myself laughing at my attempts to learn the language and/or truly accept the culture and country in which I live.

Apparently, I was cute because I said,"양파, 피골, 배꼽 주세요." Translated quite literally, I basically politely said, "Onion, pickle, belly button, please give." Of course, what I meant to say was "양파, 피골, 빼고 주세요," or "Onions, pickle remove and give please." I followed this by saying to the adorably dressed waitress, "I really don't like them," and she smiled and nodded. The problem here is in the pronunciation. There are double consonants, ㅃ, and single consonants, ㅂ. The double consonants sound "harder" and are said with more force. Regardless, she seemed to understand what I was trying to get across.

Now, what I got was a mushroom swiss burger WITH ONIONS and pickles on the side! What makes me crazy about this place is that I get the same thing almost every time I'm there, but they rarely can get it right. I thought I had expressed, quite clearly, that I didn't want onions, and why would they bother even putting the pickles on the side?

In conclusion, this is not a case of miscommunication, but rather just another example of bad service--if she didn't understand what I had intended to say, then WHERE WAS THE BELLY BUTTON (배꼽) I ORDERED?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

just another monday

Today is just another one of those mornings. Another ickie monday morning feeling rolls over me. I don't want to leave the warmth of my bed/shower/apartment... I groan and somehow, in a raspy morning voice, proclaim that Monday sucks. Today, HOWEVER, isn't Monday, but it still feels like a Monday.

The past two weeks can be summarized in two words: NON-STOP WEEKEND.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

eggy goodness


Okay, maybe this sounds gross: boiled scrabbled egg in a bubbling mini cauldron. BUT it's NOT! It's one of my absolute favorite Korean side dishes, kyeran chim! When a waiter/waitress brings over some of this goodness, I lose it and start jumping around like it's my birthday, like a monkey on crack, like... well, like they just brought over some good yummy stuff. I never thought eggs would have this incredible effect on me.

the meat you eat

I love signage. My new favorite kind: the kind that cutely, or blatantly, illustrates what you'll be eating once inside. I don't mean, for example, that they have an picture of the dish of the house on the front door, but rather, that they have a picture of a happy pig or a cow that stares at you with an empty gaze.


These piggies are so happy you came to eat samgyupsal at this restaurant they are simply tickled and dancing with joy.


This little porker is "happy" as well.

And who could resist this place with a picture like that outside? "Excuse me, I'd like to order the cow... like on the picture outside."

mint

If I ever write a book, I'll have my mother write the forward. She just returned from Costa Rica, and I must share this one golden bit recounting her vacation:


I also read Augusten Burroughs's new book, "Possible Side Effects" while I was there. You know I am Augusten Burroughs. Well not exactly--I'm not a recovering alcoholic, chain smoking, gay man with a horrible dysfunctional childhood, but I do know where he is coming from most of the time. I am giving you the book when you come home. But here is one passage that absolutely makes me scream with joy....it is on page 103. He was talking about an ad he was working on for Junior Mints, the candy, when he worked in advertising. He was describing a time when he and a colleague figured out an ad campaign playing on the word mint as in enjoy MINT or entertain MINT: "We began laughing hysterically. We hunched over, clutching our stomachs and gasping for breath. It was as though we had been told the funniest joke in the history of the world that, for safety reasons, had not been revealed until now."


This reminds me... just a note on "mint." My friend John used the word "mint" to mean that something was, as I would put it, fabulous. After the visit from Jutta's Japanese friends I've found myself thinking "sagoy," a word they seemed to translate into "cool" or as I would put it, fabulous. My young Korean students would often proclaim "ASSA!" when something fantastic like "no homework" was announced. I wonder if I'll ever find a word to replace fabulous. I tried fantastic, marvelous, crazy... but they just don't do it for me like FABULOUS.

Monday, November 06, 2006

ding dong


One of the best parts about Korea: The Doorbell. At many hofs (a Korean version of a pub--where you can get food and beer) and restaurants you can find a button on the table that grabs the attention of the wait staff. When you need soemthing or you're ready to order, just ring the bell.

ewww

It's raining.

Cold, wet, dark. A completely unfriendly and ugly Monday morning.

oddities/recently discovered gems




green masking tape


green masking tape
Originally uploaded by superlocal.
Wake Up Andy Warhol

Work inspired by Andy:
Everything covered in tape, even the tape.

sunday with color



Here we have Rhu, Yu, and Kazumi of colorvariation with Jutta. We had a brilliant time Saturday night at the Eden party thrown at B1. I met loads of funky fabulous people and got to spend time with heaps of my Seoul favorites. Dancing, dancing, dancing. There must be lots of dancing, and there was. OH Yes, there was lots of dancing. Just what I needed.



On Sunday I met up with the queens and the colorvariation crew for brunch, the Wake Up Andy Warhol show, a quick jaunt around the palace, and then to Samcheon. I left them to check out the Basquiat show at Kukje Gallery.



Then... sleepy, so sleepy. I went home. I slept. I woke up and went for kalbi for the third time this weekend. I gave everyone a nipple (Jess named her nipple Penelope, Kazumi named his "silbah" or Silver, Rhu named her nipple Rain, and Yu came up with the best name, Whirlpool), and kissed them goodbye.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

THE TAKE

wood

A recent trend in my Korea life: phalluses. I don't know what it is but all the sudden, everywhere I go, there's a penis involved. I went to Hongdae to meet some friends. Where were they? "Oh, we're at Cocks!" Last weekend I was walking around Hyehwa when I came across, BJ Partners, a hilarious ice cream stand (unfortunately closed when I came back with my camera. I was hoping to catch a couple of Korean girls licking and enjoying long cones topped with vanilla or chocolate fat-free fro-yo). Later, I went to a friend's place for dinner, a girl's nite in with the queens, what were we having? Bangers and Mash. Later in the evening Elinza pointed out the HUGE wooden penis sculpture at the restaurant (레스토랑 resuhtorang) near her apartment. Crazy.


I had one of those returning-of-your-crap-from-my-place exchanges. What did I get as bonus "parting gift" from this ex-lover? A huge pink vibrating dildo (no batteries included=>double dick action). In more exciting news, I got mail. I love mail. I got a package from Mr. O.

What was inside? A banana guard:
Aberrant Designs Inc. is an "idea company" founded by three Canadian Emergency Room Doctors who found themselves extremely concerned about the fruitless amount of banana trauma and abuse taking place in the world. The Banana Guard was conceived and produced to alleviate this problem. We take immense pride in helping to end bruising of the world's most favourite and beloved fruit. You can now take your banana to work school or play secure in the knowledge that no harm will come to it.

Help us protect your banana!



That last line just makes me laugh. Anyway, it looks like a dick. Mr. O knows what I like. Yesterday I received another gift--from Jutta--a cute little Korean relic of sorts, discovered on a walk through Samcheon. She got me a wooden jaji (자지)! There's a nice hole at the top, so I had the intention of getting a piece of cord and wearing it around my neck, you know, to keep it close to my heart. But then Jutta started putting my new dick in funny places, and now I'm not so keen on the idea.

Then, two nights ago I dreamed that I had a penis. A real penis. I was still a woman. I mean I was the same Koco, as I've come to know myself, but looking down at myself, I had a penis. It was just as I guess it would look if I really had one. In my dream reality it was quite normal to me, not surprising or scary. It was just there. Strangely enough, upon waking up, I realized that this was one of the normal parts of the dream. Far worse and disturbing things happened that made me uncomfortable when I was fully conscious. Many people would probaby say it stems from penis envy. Maybe, but I already have so many dicks in my life! I don't know what the deal is, but I guess, if nothing else, it's a good break from being constantly occupied with pussy, breasts, and nipples.

Friday, September 29, 2006

new toys

An afternoon with my new MacBook, Photo Booth, some tea, and one of my favorite freaks.




Tuesday, September 12, 2006

gotta love it


gotta love it
Originally uploaded by misskoco.

out of my mind out of seoul weekend


Ilsan
Chocolate Mousse
A 9-hour "lunch" with a student that included a DMZ tour (and dinner)
The Bean Museum
Hongdae
this (hello RachelLynn!):
A beautiful breakfast with Jutta
Bucheon
Incheon China Town

I'm exhausted.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

strut--for angel

Walk down the street like it's your catwalk, you own the block. Work it. And at the corner you pause, and give the camera a pose, a look, show off the features of your ensemble. You're fabulous. Let it flow. As for your retreat, work the posterior, you know they're watching.

I'm on a roll...

If you were to ask me if I have a hobby, I'd have to say it has become collecting and taking pictures of crazy and bizarre English in Asia. It's as if I was put here to find these things. This is like my true calling. I met up with Miss Tiff for some shopping in Myeongdong. You'll never believe what we found! THE POWER OF BLACK! THE ROOTS OF BLACK! and THE SOULS OF BLACK!



This t-shirt, made in Korea by HEYMAN , says on its tag, "Our original styles are designed for maximum comfort, protection pride and enthusiasm." And it's quite fitting since I felt a surge of enthusiasm upon discovering the perfect companion for my POWER BLACK, We are all brack people condoms.



"Sweet and pure like a honey-coasted nun," this absolute treasure was found just down the street from the store Studio 101 which prominently displays their slogan/suggestion to "try to use your sense to make you look better."

Monday, September 04, 2006

Thursday, August 31, 2006

processing: summer

Before my trip, the frustration of my expat existence had built up to a point where everything felt unbearable. More and more things became "impossible." For example: Hot tea, possible. Iced tea, possible. Coffee, possible. Iced coffee, possible. Chai tea latte, possible. Iced chai tea latte (what I want), impossible. A cup of ice and a cup of chai tea latte, possible after a ridiculous amount of coaxing. Good thing I didn't bother asking for soy milk. Meanwhile I started to find more and more illogical things that are "possible" in the collective Korean psyche, like year long pregnancies or fan death.

There were words I didn't want to let myself write, things I didn't want to let myself think, and emotions I wanted to deny, so I buried myself in the work, erected a force field around myself, and hid inside playing with fantasies between my headphones. Harsh beats, like the good hurt, throb through and rush from one to the other. I throw the flow round my dome. The music helps to drown out the nonsense and numb my consciousness. Yet, still... cursing at people under my breath, agonizing over simple things like riding the subway, and holding grudges against an entire culture; these things are not me. I don't know this person.
------
I had this dream.
I'm at a place where two tall buildings are close together, very close together. I have to go down this long and extremely narrow passageway, otherwise I'll get caught. Someone is coming. I can only go through if I turn sideways completely. I feel claustrophobic and afraid. The thoughts quickly churn through my mind. If I go now I can get away, but they might be able to shoot me anyway, but this is my only chance. I go. Focusing on the sky directly above beyond the buildings is the only thing that slightly calms me. I have to face my fear of this claustrophobic space in order to survive.
-------
Please don't do that.
That thing you do when you get irritated and don't acknowledge the things I feel. They, my feelings, are valid--just as my positive, joyful, fantastic ones are. While they aren't all logical, to you, please allow me to express them.

Now, suddenly, there are somethings I cannot say, things I cannot express.
Not a good sign.
Please don't do that.
------
compunction (n.)
1. anxiety or deep unease proceeding from a sense of guilt or consciousness of causing pain
2. a sting of conscious or a tinge of uneasiness; a qualm; a scruple.
----
And that was it. It had built up too much. I could tolerate no more. NEED SPACE, QUIET, AIR.

Deeply, I found myself wanting to love this place, these people, this language, where I am, what I eat, what I do, how I exist here... like I did when I first came.
I wanted that fresh new feeling again.
Going away for a while was the perfect remedy.

I never thought I'd be so relieved, so pleased, so thrilled to return to Seoul. It is still "a foreign country," but it's the one I know. I still can't do everything, or understand everything, but I can do so much more than I have given myself credit for. Simple things: being able to read, giving directions to a cab driver, being able to figure out if a place is a store or what(?), knowing where I will rest myself, when I will be able to take my next shower, how I will get to the next place I need to go, or how much something actually costs.

Good to be home.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Back in the ROK

I've returned.

I never thought I'd be so happy to be back in Korea! I've been sleeping for the past couple of days. It's going to take a while for me to get back into my routine. As for the trip, I have lots to tell. In time the stories will be told, I'm just still processing what just happened.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Still on vacay

I'm in Moscow till tomorrow. Then off to St. Petersburg for the weekend. I just spent three days on a train. 77 hours. By hour 76, I was ready to get off.

updates will have to happen after I return.

too much and too little time.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Siberia


I'm in Siberia. About to go fishing on Lake Baikal. The internet is slower than slow.

Monday, August 14, 2006

endless sky


sky
Originally uploaded by misskoco.
From the window of the train all I could see was just sky and earth. And then the next day I was out there, in Mongolia. It is truly difficult to find the right words to express the impressions of and experiences in Mongolia. It is a place so unlike anywhere I've ever heard of or seen with my own eyes. A place that made the cliches of travel just feel real.

The quiet I've desired for some time was there. All around me. I felt that time was thick and my hours, the far too few hours spent there, stretched beyond and over the landscapes. My fear was quiet. Discomfort, that I've become accustomed to and learned to compensate for, had disappeared, simply disintegrated into moments, a collection of clear moments without any thoughts. Clear. Content. Just there.

The landscape, the environment, the people, the air... put me in the right place--just where I am. My thoughts slowed enough for my body to catch up and find a relaxed space in my body.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

earth, sky... nothing

There wasn't much to do on the train. Chat, maybe play a game, read, write, look out the window, take pictures, drink, have a snack, sleep. Repeat. I spent most of my time horizontal, which I enjoyed. It was somewhat like a beach vacation without the water. As we continued north, the landscape got more and more interesting. At first it was just farms, farmers, horses, corn, sunflowers, broken down buildings, towns filled with buildings that all looked the same. AND THEN... there were landscapes. Amazing sunsets, and sunrises. I couldn't stop taking photos. The colors, all that space, and just all the nothing out there, blew me away. I hadn't seen anything like it... the only thing I could even remotely link this to was the cross-country drive I took in college and the images left in my mind of the Southwest, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

Day one on the Trans-Mongolian

Once on the train, the funny tummy feeling subsided. In our four person "hard-sleeper" berth we met two equally sweaty and adventurous Welsh men--Barry and Ian. Ian had spent the past three years teaching English in Japan and met his father in Beijing to take the Trans-Mongolian/Trans-Siberian Railway the long way home. They were lovely roomies. Barry was well equipped for the trip with the best, most up-to-date guidebooks, several board games (including travel scrabble), a positive outlook on traveling, and little treats from back home for the ride.

Before the train got going, we sat their in our sauna of a train car fanning ourselves and discussed our disappointment and thrilling takes on Beijing. Barry mentioned that he was "a bit of a dirty boy" due to some "bad dried prawns." At the time I wasn't quite catching what he meant, but soon found out--that he had a terrible case of deadly flatulence. Every once in a while, on our 36 hour train to Ulaan Bator, we would suddenly be overtaken by an unbelievable stench. If this were depicted in an animated series, you'd see me laying there, content as could be, and then a huge green smoky fist would have worked its way through the air before finally coming and decking me in the face. I felt quite bad for the kind Welshman. He was so proper, it must have been torture for him, and I'm sure his funny tummy feeling was far worse than mine that morning.

And then the train started. They pumped cheesy music and ridiculous announcements through the overhead speakers--The Rights of the Train Master, warnings against touching the "stop cock," random facts about AIDS, old age, and obesity. I played with all the buttons and switches in the cabin and discovered: the knob above the window turns down the music, the two switches next to the door have some correlation to the lights(sometimes they turn them on or off), and there is a funny little ladder that can extend to help you climb up on the top bunk. I also discovered that there isn't much information about when we will be arriving at a train station, for how long the train will stop there, and more importantly, when it will leave.

08.12.06

Saturday, August 12, 2006

dining on the Trans-Mongolian


Matt and I continued our exploration of the culinary delights of Asia in the dining car. By far this turned out to be the worst meal on our trip. The waitress was pushy, and made us order Budweisers to enhance our dinner of rice and chicken with green peppers and onions. The food was awful, the beer didn't exactly make it better. It was all greasy, fatty, just pure nasty. I would have preferred a questionable something on a stick over this. And it wasn't just the food, but also the service. The waitress quickly ushered us from our seats, barely leaving us a moment to finish our last sip or finish chewing. It was a crappy hurried meal, but an experience to say the least.

The best advice, just stock up on food BEFORE you get on the train.

funny tummy feeling

8.12.06 Last morning in Beijing.

What do you want to do today?
I don't know... let's go to Mongolia.

trainWe woke up bright and early--actually Matt hadn't gone to sleep yet--to really begin the Big Train Ride. I had my first real case of a "funny tummy." Like laying with a new lover, it's that feeling I get before leaving for a destination that is far, unknown, and a bit scary. This discomfort spread throughout my body, and the pain in my hip, knee, and ankle were all too familiar. Every ache told me that something important in my back (or my soul) was out of place and that I should stay right where I was, or just go right back to Seoul. My fear told me that I had enough vacation, that I didn't really need to go on this trip... Alas, the adventurer in me won over the neurotic, so I strapped on my massive bag and hobbled along after Matt as if I was his elderly grandmother.

Despite the early hour, the heat and unmerciful humidity of the city clung to us, and continued to make me feel like I shouldn't move. We climbed into a taxi that three European travelers were just getting out of, and Matt sold his China guidebook to one of the women for ten bucks US. Strangely, this short encounter was just the thing I needed. She relayed that Mongolia is great, because there's, "Nothing, just nothing" there. She had survived and even enjoyed my next destination. This calmed me.

Friday, August 11, 2006

probable hiatus

I have no idea what the internet situation in Mongolia and Siberia is going to be like. I leave tomorrow for Ulaan Bator.

And the itinerary (most likely boring to you, more like me typing out loud) goes like this: I arrive in Mongolia's capital Sunday, depart for Irkutsk on Tuesday. I arrive there on Wed. go to Lake Baikal and then I'm off to Vladimir on Friday in the afternoon. Three days on the train. Suzdal, Moscow, then St. Petersburg hopefully by the 24th at the latest.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

bad English


Beijing bad English
Originally uploaded by misskoco.
...it's everywhere.

the duck


duck
Originally uploaded by misskoco.
Sweet, crispy, fresh... totally worth all the hype.

When in Beijing, you gotta do the duck.



Matt overfills his pancake... watch how long he has to chew.

crazy shit on a stick lane



Walking through the market in the Wangfujing area, I took a turn onto some street filled with vendors selling things on a stick--things I never thought people ate. I mean, yeah the Koreans do eat dog, and silk worm larvae, but here they had two different kinds of huge bugs or larvae, scorpions, sea horses, starfish, and lizards(?)... I'm all for street food, and I was tempted to try something like the lizardy thing, but then Locks&Bagels asked the question that settled it all, "But does it smell good?" NO. It didn't smell good, at all.

Acrobats



Locks&Bagels and I wanted to see some acrobats. This was really entertaining. They had a chic so flexible she could flip her legs over her head and sit her ass on her forehead. There was a tight-rope walker who did a bunch of crazy stuff with a bike and flipped and bounced between two ropes. There was a troupe of guys who flipped all over the place and a whole bunch of ladies on tall unicycles flipping metal bowls onto their heads. I left giddy and giggly like a little kid who had just gone to the circus.


my first youtube upload! WOO-HOO! (no editing)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

perfect start


sandwiches
Originally uploaded by misskoco.
It's been a long time since Matt or I had a really good sandwich(sandwich-y if you're Korean). When we found Epicerie--a cute cafe/bakery with gelato, outdoor seating, a talking bird, stunning looking desserts, and sandwiches--it was a beautiful moment in SanLiTun. And then we proceeded to over do it, AGAIN.

Korea has altered our image of the size and quality of a good sandwich. They were under three bucks a piece, so we guessed they were small, so we ordered three--grilled chicken, smoked salmon, and tuna--but they were huge. Matt got his coffee, I got a fantastic iced lemon tea. We followed the meal with two scoops of gelato, raspberry and tiramisu. All of which came to a grand total of 101 Yeun, or 6 bucks a piece.

It was just what we hoped for. Okay, I'm a bit of a pig on vacay. I can't stop eating. Come to think of it, I'm hungry again.

Till the next meal...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The people you meet, the food you eat

On Sunday I met Matt and we went out for some food in Dongcheng with a guy he met at the airport. Dinner was lackluster. Nothing really had taste, but it did the trick because I was starving. Matt's new friend, who I soon named Super-negative Lars, wouldn't stop complaining. All he could talk about is how he hated everything, all the women he hoped to sleep with, and the ones he had successfully "made out with" on his Asian sex tour. Between the part where he was describing why he didn't like Tokyo, because there are just too many prostitutes, and the part where he was saying that he doesn't like his women "too oily," I heard a cheesy little narration in my head...


Super-negative Lars with garlic.


Lesson 1
When traveling you may meet people who are different from you. People with different interests, different goals, and aspirations. This is the beauty of life and the great thing about people--we're all different and have much to share and teach each other if we just open our minds and our hearts.

At first, it took everything in me to suppress the feminist bitch rant that was building in my chest. I had to swallow back the fury I wanted to spit on him. And then... it was just like not worth it. I'm on vacation. I let him cat call at the women, and went home laughing at the situation, and him.

A much better dining experience was lunch yesterday. OH MY GOD! We checked out the Lonely Planet and set off to Xiae Wang's Home Restaurant in the Sanlitun area. We ordered WAY TOO MUCH FOOD. We stuffed ourselves and rolled ourselves into a taxi to go take a nap. Highlights from lunch included:


A tofu dish fit for Miss Koco.


This was my favorite dish.
1. I love tofu
2. The sauce wasn't as sweet or as spicy as I expected
3. It was perfectly crispy with a nice soft texture on the inside.


The Dragon Fish



Cashews with a nice coating.


We survived the food coma incident and went off to have dinner with Matt's friend Dave--his old roommate from Ulsan. He picked us up in his somewhat scary jeep and we went off to eat with his Chinese friends, Sebastian and Mica. Mica was quiet, and spent half of dinner texting friends. Sebastian was outgoing, really gentlemanly, and, well, cute. Dinner was yummy too.


Sebastian. So adorable.




Peppers and Beef!




Matt, Dave, FOOD