Friday, October 30, 2015

Bouldering Gyms

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Last week one of my younger students came in to chat with me before class started.  We were discussing our favorite summer activities and I told him I loved rock climbing.  The next day, as soon as I walked into school he came bouncing out of his class to give me a brochure for a climbing gym in Songtan and Pyeongtaek.  He said he went with his parents and had a really great time.
 
Although I knew this gym was in Pyeongtaek City, I hadn't realized there was one in Songtan.  I hadn't even thought to look. Of course I had to to check it out.  I mean, it was recommended by a third grader. 

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The gym is about 5 minutes walk from Seojeongri Station.  It's only bouldering, but that's fine with us.  We climb outside on weekends so we are just looking for a place to train a few hours during the week.  The owner and climbers were very welcoming.  Sure, they didn't speak much English, but you can figure things out.  The Harri-bou-bou will be joining the gym after summer holiday and I will most likely join this winter.
They gyms are open Monday - Friday but closed on the weekends.  
They stay open until 10 or 11pm.
The price is 80,000 a month.
Discount for couples membership.
Discounts for 3, 6, 12 month plans.
Not sure the price for kids/families.
They don't usually do single use.
There is an are for storing gear.

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Songtan:
Name: 평택클라이밍센터
Address: 경기도 평택시 이충동 467-8
(Where we went)
 
Pyeongtaek:
Name: 평택클라이밍센터
Address: 경기도 평택시 비젼동 818-3
(We haven't visited here)

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

숯고개부대찌개: Budae Jjigae


In our lives, when it's rainy or cold, there are two things we eat: Budae Jjigae and Kimchi jjigae. Thankfully, Songtan is one of the best places ever for Budae Jjigae / 부대찌개 (also known as soldier stew) since it's where it all started.  

We have eaten this dish everywhere we go, but one of our all time favorite places (maybe our favorite ever) is at the end of the shopping street in front of Osan Air Force Base.  It's on the left and you will miss it if you blink.  The restaurant is two stories, very small, with seated tables on the first floor and floor seating on the second.  We recommend ordering at least one round of ramon noodles with the stew as they soak up the flavor perfectly.

If you don't know what Budae Jjigae is, it's a spicy stew made with sausages, spam, and ham, onions, scallions, and deliciousness. 

It's a lot of food so come hungry!





Name: 숯고개부대찌개
Street Address: 경기도 평택시 신장동 325-12
Driving Address: 경기도 평택시 쇼핑로 39-1
Telephone: 031-666-2768 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

5 Fun Things To Do In Pyeongtaek

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River Walk
Ode to Pyeongtaek Life

Let's be honest,
at first glance, 
Pyeongtaek might seem
 kind of lame.

However, if you live here for a while,
and you don't always go away on the weekends,
you will learn
it's actually magical.

Here are five of fun summer favorites

Afternoon laziness at Soho Cafe & Gallery:
http://chasingatale.blogspot.com/2013/02/soho-hobo.html
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Hiking in the mountains:
http://chasingatale.blogspot.com/2013/05/hidden-mountains.html
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BBQ's at Pyeongtaek Lake
http://chasingatale.blogspot.com/2012/05/summer-luvn.html
There are actually lots of lakes for you to visit, but Pyeongtaek Lake is the most known and has the widest variety of services.
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Farm-to-Table Dining
http://chasingatale.blogspot.com/2012/07/hidden-valley.html
One of the great parts about living here is that it's the center of Korea's Organic farming (and agriculture in general).  There are many restaurants located in the countryside that focus on farm-to-table traditional cooking.  The food is outstanding and worth the trip into the unknown.
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Hell'a Golf
Yah, I know this isn't everyone's thing, but if it is you are in the right place.  There are at least a dozen golf courses of varying styles and types around Pyeongtaek or neighboring areas, along with an endless number of driving ranges.  In fact, there are so many we don't even know where to begin.  This summer we will do more shopping around and put together a more detailed list, but just know - Golf is everywhere around Pyeongtaek.


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Lake Hills Public Golf Course

History and Solitude

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Pyeongtaek: To Do
Sightseeing

When the days are busy
and my thoughts too many,
I find a thinking spot.


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On Saturday I combined little thinking with a little learning by
visiting the grave of a Pyeongtaek hero Won Kyun
which happens to be 15 minutes from my house.
Read more about him by CLICKING HERE
or reading below.


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How to get to this thinking spot:

Address: 경기도 평택시 도일동 475



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Baguette Sandwiches


While looking for parking to go get my haircut, I was shocked to see this new sandwich shop had popped up. Although I've never been to Vietnam, I'm a fan of Banh Mi since was back in the day due to a life lived in the international district in Seattle where I could get one for $1.25 and lived off of them. Of course it's been almost 20 years since then and now these fresh sandwiches are a lot more vogue and a lot more expensive.  That said, they are still just as worth it.



Although they have a variety of options, I went with the classic Vietnamese ham with extra cilantro since I'm a bit of a cilantro slut.  As I chowed down I realized this would be a great place for vegetarians (not vegans) to grab a bite of lunch, so I asked them if they would make the sandwich with only veggies and no meat if people asked and they said that they would.  So know that is an option if you are out and about.

Another plus, very affordable and huge.  If I wasn't starved I could have easily split this with someone.


LOCATION:  Just down from JJ's American Diner and across from BANG in Anjeong-ri.


Louis' Bar and Grill


Wednesdays have become my day for trying something new, so I was really exited to see Louis' Bar and Grill opening this week.  Since I've given up on passing my Korean exam I had all the time in the world to go see if Louis' lived up to their online talk of homemade pickles and quality food. 



Since I think any joint claiming to be Americana can be directly judged by their BBQ sandwich,  I ordered without even looking at the rest of the menu. Without question, they delivered what they were selling and I was impressed.  Twenty years with a southern boy have made the slaw as important as the BBQ for me.  It's what has been missing on all the new sandwiches coming to Anjeong-ri.  Plus, the addition of the pickled onions and various hot sauces gave it the extra pop I look for in sandwiches I want to eat regularly.



Of course they have beer
In addition to lunch 11am - 2pm and dinner 4pm - 10pm, this weekend Louis' is going to start offering brunch from 10am - 3pm Saturday and Sunday.  Which I'm pretty excited about.  They were saying good things about biscuits and gravy, Eggs Benedict, omelets, homemade breakfast sausage, etc.   I'll be going back for that just as soon as I can.

LOCATION ALERT: The Louis' Bar and Grill Facebook page directions are totally wrong.  If you want to eat here its on the main strip located in front of the Camp Humpherys walking gate. It's on the left not far down the street located on the second floor.

Louis' Bar and Grill Brunch Menu
(One of our Two Best Eggs Benedict Selections)


Phillidelphia Hoagies

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Pyeongtaek Restaurants
That we love

Where to Go: Philadelphia Hoagies in Songtan 

No weirdness, just real Philly Hoagies on homemade bread. We loved the beef pastrami, cheese steak, and the roast beef.  Fries also delicious.

Pro Tip: Order the cheesesteak with hot peppers.

Address: Just off the strip, turn at the ugly ass gargoyles.

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Braii Republic

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Pyeongtaek Restaurants

Where to Go: Braii Republic Anjeong-ri 

We never really thought anything like this would come to our area, but here it is, our South African BBQ dreams come true. Not only that, maybe the best lamb pie of my life.  These guys don't pretend and they don't compromise.  You will be blown away.  Don't wait. Go eat this... every week.

Where: Near Camp Humphrys.  You can take the 20 bus from Pyeongtaek. Find the on Facebook at Braii Republic Pyeongtaek for a more detailed map. 

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JJ's American Diner

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Best Meal in Town
Pyeongtaek Restaurants
That we love

Where to Go: JJ's American Restaurant Angeong-ri

Since moving to Korea The Harri-bou-bou, a born and raised Southerner, has been withering away without his BBQ sandwiches, while I have been crying myself to sleep over the lack of plantains in my life.  Then, out of the blue, our lives were changed when we found JJ's American Diner.  After four years without the taste of soul food, our hearts have found a home.
We originally tried it on a whim, because Braii Republic was closed and JJ's isn't far away.  To be honest, we had very, very low expectations since it advertises itself as an "American" restaurant which usually means either weird food or tasteless food.  Needless to say, we have never been so glad to be soooooooooo wrong.  Thus far, we haven't had any bad experiences at JJ's and we eat there a lot.  The food is fan-flippen-tastic.  Like, no joke.  Usually we stick to the pulled pork sandwiches, but last week The Harri-bou-bou went crazy and ordered the Macaroni and Cheese with Pulled Pork Panini. Mind blown.  We also had a sample of some country fried chicken they are working on, it was wonderful. 
 
Personally though, it's the Fried Dill Pickles and the Fried Plantains that make me get in the car and drive 20 minutes every week..  Just be warned, the plaintains will set you back a pretty penny, but if you are dying for the unique flavor it's totally worth it.
 
Pro Tip: If you like spicy then they have a special BBQ sauce you can order on the side, or on the sandwich.  This is my preference.  Also, they usually close for a short time between lunch and dinner so come before 2 and after 5.  Oh, and this isn't fast food, it's delicious food so just chill out and wait.
Address: New Camp Humphry's Main Gate.  Look for the building painted like an American flag.
 
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Fried Dill Pickles
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Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwhich
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Fried Plaintains
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Look for this.

Farm To Table Traditional Korean

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Are you a foodie who thinks Pyeongtaek doesn't really have much to offer?  Well, you are wrong and this place will prove it.  Tucked away in the hills behind a university, it will seem like you are lost just about the time you find this place.  Completely unassuming on the outside, inside is small bright space where reservations are often needed if you show up after 11:00am.  Many guests at this lovely destination come from far and wide to eat this exquisite food. 

The pictures in this blog do not do it justice.  You would think that I would have a zip drive full of good pictures because a) I go here all the time and b) the food is stunning.  Instead, however, I have failed each and every time to take good photos because I am too excited/overwhelmed by the food.  The presentation is just delightful and I get wrapped up in how lovely it looks and can't really think about anything else. So check out these Korean food blogs to get a better idea of the awesomeness.




(Arg. Looking at the photos is killing me. Want - to - go - now!!!!!)

There are only two set options and everyone will need to order the same one.  They are between $14 and $18 if I remember right. To be honest, I am always thinking, "Here take all my money. I love this too much" so I don't remember exactly what I spend. That said, I have only order the cheapest option because it's always too much food and I'm not ready to level up.  The basic meal is something like 16 courses so pace yourself please.  Just when you think you are finished more is going to show up.

The food here is indescribable and everyone I have ever taken here has been in awe.  The flavors are fresh and each plate very unique.  If you are going with kids, there are also kids plates you can order like fried pork cutlet so that you can keep the best parts for yourself.

Address:
 Name: 산말을명가  
Address: 경기도 평택시 장안동 92-17
Never Map: http://me2.do/5aNFlluS


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Vietnamese Fusian Shabu Shabu

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Pyeongtaek: To Eat
Vietnamese Shabu Shabu
 
One of the first meals I really fell in love with in the Pyeongtaek area was a fusion Vietnamese shabu shabu.  The best place I have been for this so far has been in Anjung-eup which is in the western part of Pyeongtaek.  
 
Last night, however, we ended up at one of these restaurants on the edges of Pyeongtaek City that took the whole thing to the next level because it was all you can eat beef, pork, and veggies.  It was possibly the best choice you could make for a large group of hungry, thirsty people.  It's one of the few meals that everyone can be happy with.  All spicy or unusual flavors can be completely avoided or totally embraced, you get to choose.  If you love meat, you can just eat meat.  If you love veggies, you can just eat veggies.  If you like spicy, dump on the sauces. 
 
It's simple, healthy, and filling.
 
Is this THE BEST Vietnamese Shabu Shabu fusion I've had? 
No, because it's not as great as Anjung-eups. 
 
Is it it the best I've had in Pyeongtaek City? 
Yes, because it's all the veggies I want and a good quality of meat.
 
From what I could tell there were options ranging from 9,000 - 26,000\ depending on if you also wanted to order additional seafood items (seafood not all you can eat).  Since I wasn't paying, I have no idea what our meal cost per person.  If I would guess, it was the 9,000\ option, but I have no idea.
 
As usual, the restaurant had private rooms to facilitate large groups of people.
Name: 월남 쌈 김상사
 
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