Dicking Around At Deulmusae

I’ve been a total perv lately. Seeing as the time bomb is ticking quickly on my Korean journey, I’ve been trying my hardest to get myself and my fellow perverts to a Penis Park in this country, and to no avail.

BUT, I found the next best thing!

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Over the weekend I conquered two things: figuring out how to use the Seoul Bus app on my phone that has been lying dormant for 3 years, and visiting a penis themed PLACE. I successfully figured out what all the bus station codes mean and how to properly plug them into the app so that Chrissy and I knew exactly how much time we had until the bus headed for Pocheon was gonna fetch us from the non-existent bus stop stop at Wangsimni Station.

After a 2 hour traffic filled bus ride from central Seoul to the glorious green countryside of Pocheon, we landed at the station that came after the station we were supposed to get off at. In the theme of the day, we had a truly dickish bus driver who completely overshot our bus stop all together after we AND a group of Korean girls told him the station we would be exiting at. He exited the bus, turned off the motor, and lit a cigarette outside the mart across the street before we could even swipe our T-Money cards out. Don’t mind any common decency or customer service, for I am AJUSSI!

With that, we took a stroll backwards in search of the World Mart station, wherever it may be. We later discovered it was unmarked as well, and with no “World Mart” in sight.  Along our wander, we stopped to admire heaps of yellow Korean melon before stopping at the GS25 for directions to Deulmusae, the local penis cafe. The young guy working there had no idea what we were talking about, but a nice lady stopped to help us figure it out. Turns out she was with her hubs and 2 little daughters aged 6 and 8 or 9. This would begin the awkwardness of the day, surely.

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As her husband Navered the directions, it calculated that we were about 30 minutes away.  His phone was 100% incorrect. But, he told us to hop in the car and they’d take us to our destination. We tried our best to fenagle our way out of the generosity, but before we knew it, their 2 little girls were grabbing our hands, handing us a piece of candy for the road, and escorting us into their playground of a backseat. Sandwiched between our two little playmates and their Gak, colored pencils, and every toy under the sun, we were taken on a 5 minute drive, which resulted in the most horrendously awkward thank you and goodbye I have ever been involved in.

Turning right at the yellow sign we had been looking for, we drove across the penis lined bridge to the shrine that is Deulmusae. We were living up to the foreigner cliche that KBS tells the public is truth. Trying desperately to contain our laughter, Chrissy and I were graciously let out of the car by the giggling parents (who I could not look in the eyes), and were greeted by a garden of erections. A happy afternoon we were to have!

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This place is beyond unbelievable. As you enter there is a man baking penis bread filled with red bean in his penis mold bread maker.

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Then you’re greeted by a big ol dick, and a map of the world illustrated in…you guessed it.

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Walking through the cafe, it’s a pervert’s paradise, really. Dicks of every shape and size everywhere.

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Dick family portrait.

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In case one is curious as to what it feels like to be the opposite gender.

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Surprisingly, in a country so buttoned up about anything sexual, the place was overflowing with the elderly. Literally every other customer aside from us and one other group of foreigners were old people, and they giggled whenever their food was served and every time they took a phallic photo. Instant bonding with the monster breed in this country.

Double the fun. The bread was warm and yummy, though I’d like to make a suggestion for the Deli Manjoo creamy filling. More delicious and more realistic.

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Oh, and so this is a cafe/restaurant after all, so you’ve got to see the tableware! We ordered Dongdongju, fish donkkas and hamburger steak to share, and look at that presentation! The men are served their meals on vagina plates, and the women on penis plates, and the same goes for the cups. This is apparently supposed to balance out male and female energy, or Yin and Yang. Ok. Let’s just say a lot of thought went into every detail of this place.

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The also have tons of the makkoli jugs with faces of famous Korean politicians and actors on them. I even found one of Jin’s favorite politician, Ahn Cheol-soo, that we met last year when he was doing publicity by our school. I doubt they meant it, but how appropriate to put such people on a penis jug.

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I hope you found my brief tour pleasurable! Now, I will leave you with some more modelings, and failed-to-be-captured leprechaun jumps on the penis lined bridge.

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Twas a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, and I highly recommend for anyone wanting to get down with their inner perv and experience yet another of Korea’s oddly themed establishments.

Directions: If you’d like to get down with your inner 변태 out in Pocheon, you’ve got to hop on the 3201 bus. We caught it at Wangsimni Station, but it makes several stops en route to the north, so if one is closer you could surely do that. The Wangwimni stop also doesn’t have a designated bus stop for this bus, but rather just kind of stand in between the other two bus stops and wait for the guy to come and flag him down, kinda dealy. 

 

A Wild Ride At Yongma Land

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During my innocent high school days, Nick and I used to go back to his dad’s apartment sometimes for lunch. Whenever we would, I’d eat a can of Chunky soup from the pantry, some Carl Buddig turkey (there goes my absurd memory for detail again), and some Kraft singles while I’d wait for my soup to heat up. Then I’d plop down in front of the tele and turn on Unsolved Mysteries. Robert Stack always creeped me the F out in that brown trench coat of his, but I think I really liked it. He was the perfect host for my favorite creepytime show. All of the stories on Unsolved Mysteries were primarily from like, 10 years prior, and the acting on the show was horrendous, but it gave me my daily dose of eerie and it made me happy slash vigilant in always looking behind me.

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Why am I telling you this, you ask? Because I wanted you to know that I’ve always loved spooky things, ok?? Especially movies like The Shining which I watched for the first time in high school at 2am, and still haunts me to this day. That’s why I had to purchase the REDRUM t-shirt you see in the following photos. It was the perfect dress for the occasion, because you know I never miss a chance to play a little dress up.

Remember when I broke into that abandoned insane asylum last summer? That was so cool, and still tops my list of favorite things done whilst in Korea. Since then, I’ve read about quite a few other haunted or abandoned places on this peninsula, and one of them that happened to be closest to Seoul is Yongma Land, an abandoned amusement park. It looked like more of a carnival to me, but that’s neither here nor there, and it went out of business sometime in the mid-nineties due to a lack of Yongma Land-goers.

Since I’ve been dying to go, I grabbed my fellow abandoned places explorer, Joshy, and a very appropriately dressed Veny, to check it out with me. From Seoul, we all hopped the Jungnang line to the Mangu Station exit where we had about a 20 or so minute walk (if we hadn’t gotten lost en route) to the park. As you would expect, we took the very scenic route (read: the wrong way) after being detoured by some picnicing ajussis in the bushes. We walked along the path they told us to, but veered off to our other left instead of following this here sign like we should have. But should doesn’t make for the most enticing story, now does it?

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Our other left took us around a golfing range and into what we discovered to be the back entrance and what was probably at one point the water park of Yongma Land. Before dredging through the mushy hills and spiderwebs, we modeled in the once upon a time pool, and on the decomposing water slide filled with crap and a burnt teddy bear.

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We finally decided to try one of the staircases leading up to who knew where, and our first try proved to be a ghastly mess of monster ants and spider webs up the ying yang. Take two led us up this staircase on the left.

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And Joshy, forging the way for his ladies, took this route, which we did not.

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Instead, we went rock climbing, which Veny did not enjoy but cameraman up there did.

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If he’s anything he’s a gentleman!

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Behold! Back door entry to mounds of crap for everyone!

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Once arriving at the park, or sneaking your way in like us, the entry is 5,000won to Mr. Youn who still minimally maintains the grounds. When we arrived and dusted ourselves off, we thought we snuck in for free, but alas, a 6’4″ white man and his ladies stick out. The park has actually become quite popular for shooting k-pop videos and commercials, so we weren’t surprised to find quite a few groups there for photo shoots.

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Or this pervert and his muse.

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We let the perverts carry on as we explored and got our hands and butts a delightful shade of dirty. First up, dat Disco Pong Pong all the kids love so much. Joshy the giant was terrified during this photo opp.

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WALL-E!

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Office chair graveyard by Aladino and his magic carpet.

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Air vehicle graveyard.

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Always the gentleman, he carried our bags as we (dis)mounted large objects.

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K-Love bus buddies since day one!

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Hardcore rockin n’ rollin in this one. Their complimentary weights really balanced it out.

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Methinks I’m too big for this one.

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Jump on it, ride it, dat pony.

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Views at the top, in the castle and bumper car graveyard.

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Back to the future with this generic video game called…Video Game.

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And when we were ready for a bath and a meal, we left through the way we should have come in had we followed directions properly.

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If you are itchin’ to get out of Seoul, or want to fulfill the inner lust for the abandoned, shlep yourself to Yongma Land! It was super fun and an out of the norm way to spend a weekend taking colorful photos.

To get there, take the Jungnang line to Mangu Station exit 1. You’re going to walk straight out the exit down the main road where you’ll pass an Emart with a McDonald’s written all in Korean. Turn left when you get to the next main intersection. Keep walking straight until you come to the next major intersection. The road will sort of curve to the right into a smaller street. Walk down this street and keep following it. A little ways up when you hit a cake shop on the right it’ll curve around to the left and FOLLOW THAT. We made the “mistake” of just walking straight up the small street but that led us the super round about scenic route way (which you may enjoy). If you go the “correct” way, it’ll lead you up a street littered with little restaurants and straight to the entrance above. There’s also a sign with Mr. Youn’s number on it if you need to call him to let you in.

Happy riding!

#tbt The Night We Repped The LBC

For this #tbt (read: #throwbackthursday, read: flashback to days past), I’m going to visually recount when Joshy, Jee, Veny and I took our ghetto a$$e$ to see Snoop in Seoul, because, well, I realized I never repped him on the blog, and because it was super fun and it also wasn’t an epic bomb of a show like that time Collin and I thought we saw Gaga cover Gaga.

I realize this was pretty much almost a year ago next month, thus making it the perfect specimen for a flashy flashback.

We all got really super excited when we knew Snoop was coming.  There was the minor wonderment of how the man was going to enter the country under the influence, because you know he has to be, and there was no way he wasn’t going to be without it, but Korea is a druggless country. There was also the brief discussion of how we ourselves were going to get “lit”.

Joshua and I seriously looked up directions for how to smoke banana peels like a coupla hippies, but that turned up preposterous results, and work that proved to be far too extensive for an outcome that would not warrant our backbreaking labor over my measly toaster oven.

Guess we would just have to sip on dat gin (soju) n’ juice the old fashioned way while we got to work on our hand-crafted Olde English LBC represent costumerie. We kept in true Rastafarian color scheme to go along with his Snoop Lion-ness.

I would personally like to thank Itaewon’s skeezy scene for being a magical garden of glorious ghetto herb jewels!  Thank you for bedazzling our bosoms!

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After Snoopifying ourselves. Purple drank and a fat one.

Moving outdoors to some bars to get all hood and shit.

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Bad bitchez.

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Is this guy the biggest thug you ever did see or what? Livin dat THUGLYFE.

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The show was at Olympic Park Stadium, and once we got in, it felt so lax compared to concerts back home. I’m used to hardcore security at Staples Center where you cannot walk an inch without someone checking your ticket, but once we were inside, we were able to run down and we were on a lower platform just dancing and singing (screaming, let’s be honest, I lost my voice) the whole night with a slew of other people. It was bomb diggity.

We also made bets about what time and what song he was going to start with, and guess who was the lucky ducky?! That’d be moi! He kicked it off as Snoop Lion with his then-new “La La La” and after that he was Snoop Dogg for the rest of the show.

Everyone owed me a cocktail that I really did not need at that point in my life.

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In keeping with the theme of the evening, and because we wanted to try and stalk him and sneak into the after party with him and 2NE1, we went to every super gangsta bar in Itaewon. We ended up spending the bulk of our evening in Club Zion, which I deem the island bar because I like to imagine that’s what it’d feel like if you were on some sweaty island somewhere. I met a bald man named Herbert, and I will not be returning there again!

And no, we did not meet or get into any Snoop Doggy Dogg parties. But I know where to find all the Tanzanians if you’re looking.

All in all, it was an excellent show and we had SO much fun!

Always remember, WEST COAST IS THE BEST COAST!

Zumba & A Chop&Dye

As a foreigner in this far eastern land, there are a couple life necessities that are quite difficult to find that reach top notch western standards. One of those is a good hip gyrating Zumba class, and the other is a solid ‘do chopping. Well, the hair has actually been covered for quite a while, as my post on the gloriousness of Lucy has received much traction on the interwebs. However, I have recently tested other waters because, just because, and well, Danielle is happy.

And well, the connection between the two is that one who cuts yo hair also gets you to shake yo azzzzz! Sexy for sexy!

I Zumba’d quite regularly before coming to Korea, and the class was taught by a girl I used to dance with at Retter’s, so it was legit. Then I came to Korea and took a few classes, all totally made me sweat buckets, but totally sucked on the Zumbaness factor. The teachers just didn’t know what they were doing, or it felt like they were just making the dances up as they were going, or, um, they just didn’t look like they danced hardcore on a regular basis. Apologies, but you want your instructor to look like they get down and this ish works.

Then Veny enlightened me to the HOTT Zumbaboyz, who are HOTT. That’s with a double T. Dan and Jin are magical and so much fun and exactly what a Zumba class is supposed to be. They have classes that they teach together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Latin American Center in Kyungridan for 10,000won/class, or you can get a card  for 10 classes and pay 80,000won. Win win.

Kyungridan is on the opposite side of Hae Bang Chan, so go out Noksapyeong exit 2 til the underpass and cross under. Cross the street by Noxa and just walk straight, it’s just past Millions of Milkshakes and a taco place.

Dan also teaches at the Body Star in Jongno-5-ga on Tuesday nights and Jin at the Body Star at Sungshin Women’s University exit 4 (my hood!) on Thursday nights at 9pm.

Token photo with them the first time I went to one of their classes. They had a big fancy opening party with disco balls and flashing lights. Totes approps.

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As mentioned above, this post is two-fold. Not only is Jin a mover and a shaker, he’s also a hair chopper! He recently opened up JP Hair in Hae Bang Chon, just up the main road when it curves around to the left. That wasn’t supposed to sound dirty.

You see, I started cultivating my glorious “Garden of Gray” at the ripe age of 25 while stressing out over JLo, but it was manageable until the day I turned 30. On that fateful day in January, the garden started looking more like a forest each time I gazed in the mirror. It was a minor horror at each glance. It had to be dealt with immediately. My virgin locks had to meet dye for their first time. That, and I needed life brought back into my limp mane.

So I put my trust in Jin.

Since I am not a #selfie #narcissist I don’t have any just-after photos for documentation, but I actually told Jin just as I was leaving how much I loved my hair and that I never usually like how my hair looks when I leave a salon. He curled it, which looked divine, but to be expected, they fell by the time I reached the bus stop. Stupid hair.

So foreign AND Korean ladies, you should totes check out Jin for your next ‘do revamp! He’s a pro, speaks perfect English and his studio is centrally located and greatly priced. 20,000won for a cut and 50,000won to have my roots dyed. Not too shabby.

To get there, just walk out Noksapyeong Station exit 2 and into HBC past the kimchi pots. Walk allllll the way up the main street, and when you see it fork off just turn left and it’s around the corner above the 7-11.

Happy thrusting and sexifying!

Places In Seoul That I Love: Noryangjin Fish Market

I realized that I’ve had so many visitors to Koko, yet I’ve never actually written about some of my favorite places to show people on their visits! What a realization to have 2.5 years after spieling my life away to the internet universe!

After having so many people come, I’ve gotten in the swing of making a list of all the must-sees, dos and eats to make sure they get a good dose of the unique, the fun, the traditional and the delicious during their jaunt.

Of all the sights to see in Seoul, by far my favorite is the Noryangjin Fish Market. I’m actually a huge nerd about this place. I really really love it! Though I realize that there are probably much better fish markets in the world, this was the first one I had ever been to, and it totally blew my mind! America doesn’t have warehouses filled with row after row of tanks with every sea slug and penis fish under the sea, so it’s one of those “I’m totally in Asia” things, at least to me.

When you first enter the market, you’ll come in from the 3rd floor where you are hit with the bright lights of the fish sale stalls.  If you come early enough, all the stalls will be open and there are some in the way back selling sauces at wholesale prices, and tons of other kinds of kimchis, and dried fish. I’m not sure what time those stalls close, but I think early because they’re usually all shut down by the time I’ve come for dinner.

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Everything is for the eating, and you can hand pick the sea creature that tickles your best fancy for the eating. The fisher person will scoop it up and (though quite sad) kill the fish right there on the floor in front of you. Prices are by weight typically, but like lots of things in Korea, with cash, prices can be negotiated, especially if you’re buying several creatures. After they kill it, they can sashimi it up for you right there, or dice it up so you can concoct a soup.

If you’re not one for the killing in front of you, nearly all stalls have pre-made plates of sashimi that usually run between 10,000-15,000won. They usually like to look down on you for not buying fresh, but whatever. Not everyone looks at every living creature as something to kill and eat like many Koreans.

My favorite thing to make people do at the fish market is try the sanakji, or live octopus. The baby octopi run between 3,000-5,000won, and they’ll definitely grab it right by the brain out of the water and slang it in your face because they LOVE making the foreigners jump! You may even find yourself gettin a squirtin from a silly man and his penis fish.

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After fishing for your dinner, you’ve then got to head into one of the restaurants just behind the stalls in the very first row. These are some of my favorite places for a REAL FUN Korean dining experience. Nearly every time I’ve been with a visitor, we’ve somehow managed to attract the attention of a neighboring dining crew, typically ajussis, who decide they want to take shots of soju with us, or throw a couple monster crab legs our way.

When you sit down at one of the restaurants, just hand them your bag of creature, and they’ll do their wizardry magic for you. Sometimes you don’t know what to expect, like the time Cori and I got scallops and were horribly disappointed by the BBQness of them.

Then, other times you’ll be tremendously pleased with the outcome, like this last trip I took. We bought Sebastian the lobster and a heaping amount of shrimp that they steamed for us.  One word. BOMB. They also threw the remainder of the fish we turned into sashimi into a soup for us.

Shika, Dustin’s friend who was in town visiting, showed us all how to demolish and devour a lobster. Made me feel a little nostalgic for my felt Sebastian claws.

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I decided it would be fun to play with Sebastian’s head and sea whiskers (I don’t know what you’d call those?)

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And the aftermath. Hugely successful trip to the fishery.

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If you are on a first visit to the city, I 110% suggest going to the fish market. Even if you’re not into eating fish, it’s still super fun to walk around and explore and interact with the ajummas and ajussis running the stalls. From my experience, they freakin love foreigners!

Another little plus, if you’re finding yourself still not full, walk across the bridge from the fish market and go grab a hot dog wrapped in a pancake. So weird, but SO RIGHT.

Directions: Take line 1 or 9 to Noryangjin, and go out exit 1. Go up the stairs directly out the exit and walk over the bridge. You’ll enter a big warehouse and just go down to the 1st floor, and voila!

 

 

 

Lucky Number ’13

With the finale of 2013 behind us, I thought I’d throw together a nice lil round-up of some of the whathaveyous that occurred, and some of the thoughts, feelings and doings that made this last year my best, most favorite yet. I feel like it’s so cliche to say the past year was the best yet and “2014 really needs to top it”, but when I reflect and look at myself and how I truly feel I’ve grown as a human, I’m entirely certain that this past year gradually saw me grow into the skin I am meant to be in.

Here goes…in absolutely no particular order.

1. A Penny For My Thoughts

As I’m sure you know, I love writing, but I was never one to really keep a consistent journal or diary of personal thoughts until this year. When 2013 started, I found myself having feelings that were getting squashed, and began tormenting me into weird girl-over-analyzing-mode.  I hated that feeling, and I hate not being able to communicate properly, so I really made a conscious effort to carry a journal around with me everywhere I go, in case I just need to jot something down, or get something out of my head and onto paper to at least clear things up for myself.  I also made a point to blog more consistently, and took a crapton of my time to organize, categorize and tag my home on the internet into some semblance of searchable order.

2. I Can See Clearly Now, The Blur Is (Almost) Gone….

Remember this post? Well, unless we don’t talk regularly, you’d know that I finally got my peepers zapped, and for the first time in over 20 years, I can see (almost) crystal clearly with the aide of nothing but my own two hazel eyeballs! As silly as it sounds, in the past year I wavered a lot on whether or not to go through with the procedure. I have come to really love my specs, and they’d become a huge part of my essence, so the thought of giving them up simply made me very sad. In the end, I decided that not perfecting my eyes because I like how I look in spectacles is a stupid reason, because HELLO, fashion glasses! My world of options has just opened up exponentially as I transcend into the world of poser! Not to mention, if I decided to get LASEK back at home, I’d be paying thousands upon thousands (literally) more than I would here, where the procedure is probably done 10x better and more frequently.

I ended up going with Gangnam Saint Mary’s, based off the recommendations of some friendzies, and their super attentive and thorough care. Awesome place if you are lookin’ for that 20/20.

This was me for the first few days post laser blast acid trip:

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3. Lights, Camera, Action!

This year I took the liberty of throwing myself into some performance things that were all my own, and a few for charity at the begging of a scammer (that secretly didn’t need any begging whatsoever).  On a whim, I auditioned for the shadow cast of Rocky Horror Picture Show, something that frankly FREAKED me out, took me well out of my comfort zone, and had me feeling the happiest and most liberated I’d felt ever. I joined a flash mob dance class and found myself crossing “Participate in a Flashmob” off the ol’ Bucket List. I haiku battled Yo Mama to a runner up seed, and then saw my dream of Lip Sync battling (though I wish against one Jimmy Fallon), materialize into full fledged felt lobster claws and a first place redeeming win!

Here’s my latest in the Let Your Freak Flag Fly department:

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4. Signed, Sealed, Delivered

The thing that probably helped me grow the most this year was having the courage to be completely vulnerable and say exactly how I feel, putting it on paper, signed, sealed, delivered the old fashioned way. Even though it didn’t return the results I’d hoped for, it returned something quite necessary to light a fire under my ass to move on with my life. My words are out in the universe which makes me feel amazing, and now I know what I really truly want, and it’s not going to be one-sided work anymore. In fact, I’m glad I didn’t “get” what I thought I wanted, because I gained the perspective to know that’s not for me. You really can’t change people and just have to accept them for who they are sometimes, it is what it is, and exactly how it should be. Even though the situation still makes me a little sad when I think about it, overall I’m 150% happy with what and where we are now. Onward and upward!

5. On That Gypsy Life

The year began with my first trip home in 1.5 years, filled with tons of food, family and the coolest friends who flew in from everywherez. Only to be followed up with training and boating and bussing my way through Thailand and Laos. I played with tigers, cooked authentic Thai cuisine, border-crossed into Laos in the back of a pick-up truck and temple hopped til my feet hurt. I planned my first ever solo trip to Bali and the surrounding islands, where I got my fortune read by the famous Ketut Liyer, got stranded in the middle of the Gili Islands whilst snorkeling, and took the most invigorating yoga class ever. Cori visited me in Asia for the 2nd time, and we conquered Tokyo and its robots. That there is a city which is more fantastic than I had ever imagined. I even became one of the less than 1% of the Korean population to touch down on that sacred Dokdo soil. I’d say it was a mighty successful year for that passport of mine.

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6. Speaking Of Passports…

I added 48 brand spankin’ new pages to mine! Mama Schaeff may think all my passport excitements are silly, but that passport is my most prized possession. And, well, now I’ve got 48 more pages to stamp full of journeys!

7. Anyeong “North Korea”

It was a huge decision when I decided to stay a third year in the Koko. That pretty much involved a 2 hour phone conversation with Papa Schaeff til about 3am the night before my decision was due, and a not-so-hefty Pros/Cons list for me to finally make up my mind. One of my conditions was that it was a million percent vital to move from my isolated studio apartment in Danggogae, to something amidst civilization. So, I traded in my huge studio for a quaint little 1 bedroom plus entryway that Jeewon helped me find. And let me tell ya, it’s made a world of difference living amongst YOUNG HIP PEOPLE and bright lights!

Oh yea! Here’s a tour of my new abode. Sit tight, it’s a long one!

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Ta da!

8. My Clothes Fit More To My Liking

So I lost 15 lbs this year. I did more yoga, jumped a lot of rope in my apartment, wandered around exploring a lot more than I used to, and quit eating that rice that Koreans seem to absorb into who the hell knows where.  I tried on a dress that I hadn’t worn in a little over a year just the other day, and what used to hug my tuchous quite snugly, now just slinks perfectly right on over it. Virtual pat on the hiney to moi!

9. Makin’ Moves

I finally got serious in thinking about and figuring out my next move come fall when my third and FINAL contract in Korea is up. Europe has always been the highest of the highest on my Must Live There list, so to Europe, most likely Spain, I shall go. I found a couple teaching programs, I’ve downloaded some Rosetta Stone, and will begin the application process this month. Definitely looking to make Paella a staple cuisine in my near future.

10. Gave A Little, To Feel A Lot

2013 ended with a group of some of my nearest and dearest cooking heaping batches of seaweed soup in Jeewon’s kitchen, to distribute to the homeless. We made about 80 bowls of soup, all of which were gone from our cooler within 15 minutes of our arrival at Seoul Station. This was definitely one of the most special things I’ve done, and it felt awesome to ring in 2014 with a huge swelling heart.

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Now in 16 days, 2014 will mark my 30 year anniversary on the planet, and I am seriously so excited to turn the BIG 3-0! I finally feel so ready to leave the glory of my 20s behind and get into all that the next check box has to offer. I really felt like 2013 was a huge year for me, and come to think of it, I didn’t even really try to make it that way. I didn’t make any major resolutions, and the year actually shittily started in tears, so I am quite pleasantly surprised! Cheers to a bomb diggity year ahead!

A Thanksgivukkuh Miracle

The holidays are always a little odd whilst being abroad. It’s definitely the being thousands of miles and a Skype screen away from everyone that’s close to my heart, but I think it’s also in combination with the fact that as an expat in Korea we have to work right through our amazing Americana holidays.  And then it’s not til the last minute when we all realize that we need to get our shit together.

My first year here was the most depressing of the three. One, it was my first ever away from the world back home, and second, there were big talks of getting a group of us together and buying one of the big turkey dinners from the Army base, but that did NOT come to fruition.  Ultimately Steph and I spent our first Turkey day in Korea with 2 big piping hot bowls of pho in front of our faces. Don’t get me wrong, pho warms my soul on any other day, but on Thanksgiving it was pathetic and majorly deserving of a sadface.

Last year was much better. Though still accompanied by the lingering sadness factor, it felt a bit more like the holidays.  I had Josh “Gay” Rich visiting, which was a wonderful blast from the past, and my beautiful family over here managed to get our butts in gear to make a tasty spread of thanks in our microscopic kitchens.

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We even took these gorgeous family photos to top it off.

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Not ripping a page from years past, this year the holidays have begun to feel a bit more like the holidays should, and that makes Danielle a very happy camper! Korea obviously doesn’t get the right ring for an American Thanksgiving, and then Christmas likes to usually follow suit, except this year! This weekend began with a trip to the European Christmas Market that is held at Hansung University, which also happens to be 1 subway stop south of me, or a quick 20 minute jaunt. Nothing ever used to be close to me! YAYAYUYUH!

Joshy, Jee and I all met up Friday night after work for some piping hot Glühwein, a dinner made up of some mediocre excuses for European delicacies, a fully decked out Christmas tree and an extremely miserable looking Santa. But miserable Santa aside, the holidays were alive and thriving in the air, and it was a wondrously toasty night with my loves. It got me super in the holiday spirit!

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On Saturday we had our Thanksgivukkuh feast! It still took us a good nanosecond to get our lives together, and come to grips with the fact that of the 20 people we invited to our potluck, me, Tim, Joshy and Jee, plus a couple others, were the only ones to respond to be in our company. Hard feelings for all others aside, the few of us managed to slave away all day to pull off what actually ended up being my most favorite Thanksgiving feastgathering to date. Quality over quantity, as the saying so rightly goes!

It came fully equipped with a delicious homemade spread filled with some unsuspecting chefs (super impressed), and photos of said attendees taking photos of said feast. We are in Korea afterall, where the foodie photo reigns supreme, or you didn’t eat it.

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Greasy latkes were flipped by the token Jew on the block, in honor of the Thanksgivukkuh miracle of some 79,000 years.

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Fattening up was then followed by a few rigorous rounds of Apples to Apples (thanks Andria), Pilgrims and Indians arts & crafts hour with supplies hijacked from school, and a screening of the 2013 film most deserving of a Razzie Award, Sharknado.

I guess I can say goodbye to any form of political office with these totally un-PC photos of me sporting headress.

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The evening wouldn’t be complete without a family photo in front of a screenshot from said Razzie-deserver, of a man chainsawing himself out of the belly of the beast.

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It was a wondrously delicious evening with those I love most in this damn country that I live in.  A holiday which started out feeling a bit bittersweet with so many friends having already left really redeemed itself, and most of my homesickness as of late has begun to dissipate, thank God!

Even though being away from home during the holidays is sadface but has become my new normal, nothing says home, I love you or Happy Thanksgivukkuh quite the way a wacko Skype sesh with the Schaeffs does!

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Happy holidays from my crazy faced family/ies (sans Brotha Schaeff) to your’s!

Gettin JAPpy With The Japs

As many of you know, I have been super top of the pops over here in the visitor department.  So popular in fact, I actually can’t even keep track of how many people have visited me over the past 26 months, but I’d ballpark it somewhere around 15 or so.  October marked by faux-teen visitor, and one of my most anticipated because it has taken her forever and a freakin day to get her JAPPY ass out to see me! But let’s remember, all good things come to those who wait!

Well, it had been nearly 2 years since Cori and I painted ourselves florescent on the beach of Koh Phangnan, so we were long overdue for a reunion of loving and bitching and bickering til death do us part.  She came to the land of pig, where we ate lots of chicken, for 6 days, and then we flew our JAPpy selves on over to Tokyo for some bright lights, robots, green tea Kit Kats and some Japanese culture.

Starting with the Kokoness of her journey, I took her to all the visitor must-see hot spots, and she met most of those awesome folks who are left of my friend circle in the country. That was actually maybe the weirdest thing.  This was my first visitor since nearly everyone left, and part of the fun of having visitors is introducing them to your family in your home away from home. But c’est la vie and on with the show!

First things first, I’d just like to say how impeccable our timing was upon meeting at my subway station after her arrival! As I was coming up the escalator on my way home from work, Cori was walking just past the exit! It was pretty perfect. And there was embracing and extremely loud laughing, because it wouldn’t be a Diamond & Schaeff reunion without it.

Now let’s take a little jaunt through some of the highlights shall we. As it turns out, the spicy dakgalbi with an over-abundance of ramen, was her favorite meal in Korea. The chicken, vegetable and rice cake dish is also one of my fave Korean foods as well. Nom!

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We tried to kick her jet lag by going to Hongdae for some makkoli and dong dong ju times with Tim. We wanted his opinion on our new hairstyles. What do you think?

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Next we visited ZEN 1, a VERY old faithful staple of Hongdae times, where we met up with Jee, and I ducked down to look like a midget for this photo.

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The next day was filled with the clusterfuck that is Seoul shopping. We paraded around Myeongdong, then headed over to Namdaemun where she got acquainted with the efficiency of purchasing fancy new spectacles accompanied by prescription fillage. She also ate her second hotteok of the day while enjoying the ever-so-slight constant drizzle.

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Next came my super slutty moment. We hiked up Namsan Tower and locked our love down overlooking the glorious city of Seoul. Our 23 years of sisterly love is officially locked down forever. I am a slut because this was my third display of love to be locked up. But I guess as the saying goes, third time’s a charm.

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We even did this cute lovers pose on a love bench.

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We began our day of culture with a smidge of a bust, as I had no clue that the huge palace, Gyeongbukgong, is closed on Tuesdays. Here we are in front of the palace door, but we could really be anywhere with massive red doors since you can’t actually see the ornateness of the palace! Grrr!

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We did however meet a new friend, Darshan, who was very taken by the giddyness of the elementary students who were swarming around us. It does feel good to be a celebrity, I must admit! And in Korea’s homogenous society, there’s no shortage of celebrity status.

I ended up playing tour guide to both of them for a little bit, and introduced them to King Sejong and his concoction of Hangul (the Korean alphabet).  Then in Gwanghwamun Square, we got dragged in by a very persistent ajumma for a rendition of the “Conga”, and got a taste of traditional Korean dress, dance and song before heading off to a naengmyeon and bulgogi lunch in the traditional Hanok Village.

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The most fantastical part of our “Day of Culture” was by far our afternoon of traditional Hanbok dress up. We went to a place on the main Insadong road that Veny actually told me about. There you have several different options ranging from getting full hair and makeup done for a professionally airbrushed photo session, to the bare minimum of just trying on the hanbok to take your own cell phone photos in their gallery.

We opted to have our hair done in full traditional Korean fashion, and then couldn’t have chosen our hanbok any more appropriately. Cori was the Queen, and I was her faithful entertainer.  We took the professional photo and then tore up that gallery area. I’m surprised we weren’t asked to vacate the premises prematurely.

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The next thing we did, which I have done more than a handful of times since moving here, is something I am EXTREMELY proud of Cori for trying! Before coming, I kept telling her I was going to force her to try the live octopus, which is a super Korean thing to do, and every time she squirmed with a big fat HELL NO. Well, that got flipped upside down!

My favorite person to do the Noryangjin Fish Market with is Joshy, because he will pretty much try any slithering sea squirt that lies in those tanks.  So he met up with us for the venture and helped initiate Cori into the world of live octopus eating!

On her final day in Seoul, she came to school with me and got the chance to see what a Korean elementary school is like, and meet my most adorable 4th grade baby dolls. Unfortunately my 5th and 6th graders were gone for the week so she didn’t get to meet them. I thought the 6th grade girls would especially love her because they are obsessed with all things girly and fashionable. Bummer!

Most importantly, these little peaches were SO excited to meet her, and have since thrown her name into the greeting each class! “Good morning Ms. Jin and Ms. Danielle and Ms. Wanda and Ms. Candy and Ms. Cori Di-A-mond!” Pardon the awful bottom picture, but, please take note that my little peach Paul is holding Cori’s hand. Not enough hearts to go around!! ❤

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And with that, two Jewish American Princesses were off to get all kinds of Jappy in the land of Japs!

To begin, I absofuckinglutely LOVED Tokyo! I already knew I loved Japan after going to Osaka and Kyoto, but Tokyo really solidified it. As the cliche goes, it’s like a breath of fresh air stepping onto Japanese soil from Korea. People dress to their own heart’s desire instead of blending in with the next, and something about Tokyo just feels HUGE. I love Seoul, but Japan just has this huge heart pumping through it. The buildings seem bigger, the lights seem brighter, and the people make a conscious effort to not shove into you like you’re some inanimate object.  Aside from their facockta subway system and the radiation, Tokyo is one of my favorite cities I’ve traveled to.

We were there for 3 glorious days, and our feet shlepped us and our wallets so many places, each offering its own unique vibe, of which I’ll highlight my favorites.

1. Robots vs. Pandas vs. Dinosaurs vs. Pole Dancers in Kabukicho, Shinjuku’s Red Light District

Yes, I know what 3 letters come to mind. WTF. And that’s exactly what you should be thinking, because we were thinking it during the whole show, and I’m still thinking it now, even though my mind was utterly blown into fantastic smithereens.

After getting a few snickers from asking where Kabukicho was (this is the Red Light district), we could not find this Robot “cafe/bar” for the life of us.  We actually thought it was just a cafe/bar type place where robots served you and you could come and go as you pleased. But no no. After scouring the district for quite some time, passing it unbeknownst to us several times, we decided to give up, til we met our new friend Frank, who was innocently looking for a Penguin bar while on a business trip. He remembered seeing the robots, and threw searching for said Penguin bar out the window to come find this Robot joint with us.

We found it, and it was NOT a cafe, bar, whatever you wanna call it. But rather, it was a full blown show encapsulating the above title header. And it was worth every last penny of those 5,000yen (~$50), even the horrendous bento box dinner we were served.

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2. Barbie Lingerie In Harajuku

Cori’s top priority in terms of districts to see was Harajuku. These are the girls made immortal by Gwen Stefani in the early 2000s. We actually went to Harajuku a couple times over the course of our trip, but we only really saw 2 true Harajuku girls, which kind of bummed us, but mostly Cori, out. That, and we didn’t ask to get a photo of or with her because we thought for sure we’d see plenty more. Negatori Yakatori.

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We may have missed out on the Harajuku girls, but we did find the Barbie lingerie store, which to me is equally, if not more, fascinating, and a bit deranged.

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I also was overly and oddly excited about this Sanrio Surprises on Takeshita-dori, which smelled of gumdrops and cotton candy. I am made more aware of my Asian-ness in such moments.

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There was also this creepy rabbitequin.

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3. Writing A Note To Hang On the Tree Of Life At Meiji-Jinju Shrine

Cori and I took a break from Harajuku girl stalking to add a little Japanese culture to our lives.  We visited Meiji-Jinju shrine, located right by Harajuku station, which is the largest Shinto shrine in Tokyo and was built to honor the soul’s of Emperor Meiji and his wife.  The shrine was dedicated to them in 1920, and completed in 1926.

It’s a beautiful walk into the shrine, filled with Iris gardens and so much lush greenery.

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And absolutely no shortage of decorative fermenting Sake.

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Once reaching the shrine, you are face to face with what I instantly called the Tree of Life. I don’t really know if that’s what it’s called, but it seemed properly suited. Here visitors have written hopes and wishes for the future, or struggles they hope for their family or friends to overcome, and just need some sort of little mighty push.

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I decided I had some things that needed some push, so now they are fully displayed for the daily world to see.1382924_10102721202275657_1361541361_n

4. Taking a Magic Carpet Ride & Meeting King Triton At Tokyo Disney Sea!

For starters, I had no idea that Tokyo Disney and I have been in the same grade all along! We just so happened to be there during its 30th Anniversary party! Lucky us!

If you sense an air of irritation in the photo, it’s because we were so rudely being pushed out by what I believe to be an intrusively rude Korean couple.

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We went to Tokyo Disney our first night, and actually barely rode any rides. In fact, the only ride I rode was a magic carpet in Agraba. It was a solo ride though, because Miz Diamond feared her tummy would act up. Hmph. At least I was thrilled with joy to have King Triton grant me such a warm welcome to his kingdom beneath the sea!

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5. Shoving Takoyaki Balls In My Face

One thing I regretted when I went to Osaka and Kyoto was being too scared to try Takoyaki, which are these fried octopus balls that are served slathered in mayo (vomit), and crispy onions. Well, I told myself that I would definitely shove them in my face this time around.

Turns out I didn’t see them anywhere, until our last day while visiting Senso-ji shrine. Due to the scarcity of them, I’m led to believe that Takoyaki is primarily a regional food of the Osaka area.  Either way, I grabbed 6 balls, NOT slathered in mayo, and ate 3 of them before contracting a stomachache.

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One little side note while on the topic of food, I did eat a fair amount of sushi whilst in Tokyo, because it would be an utter shame not to. But, one thing I was very aware of was the amount of searing being done to the sushi.  I’m not sure if this is normal in Japan, but I saw it done so frequently that I figured they were doing it to maybe sear out some of the radiation in the fish. Who knows, but just a thought!

6. Cleansing Our Dirty Mouths & Fortune Telling At Senso-ji Shrine

On our last day we decided to actually stay in our neighborhood, Asakusa, which was a remarkable hub for all the super cultural attractions. We visited Senso-ji shrine, which is another huge Shinto shrine.  Despite the rain, I really loved the walk into this shrine. It felt like real old Japan, and women in traditional kimono and parisol were not a scarce site.

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The shrine was gorgeous and massive on a rainy day.

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And there were tons of people dropping coins into the prayer boxes and carrying on with their prayers. One of us saved the praying for later after we chose our fortunes from these here boxes.

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You are supposed to politely shake that silver box, make your wish, and then pull out a numbered stick that corresponds with one of the numbered drawers. My fortune was a “small fortune” and said I have many good things coming my way if I put in the work.  Cori however, well, she got bad juju and went to smirk thru her prayers.

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Then we both cleansed our mouths. Nice try holy water, but not sure this is strong enough.

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7. Sensory, Porn & Anime Overload in Akihabara

This was by FAR my favorite district of Tokyo. Not because of anything I very much enjoy, but because it was SO (pardon my French) fucking bizarre! Akihabara is the electronic district, which also boasts a huge porn and anime scene.

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While here we saw so many different kinds of cafes being advertised, ranging from Maid cafes, to Domestic cafes, whatever the heck THAT means. Not to mention, I have never seen so much anime since my family’s family friend’s cousin used to dress up as Sailor Moon just on a regular Saturday. It was ODD.

Maybe the funniest thing though was the 6 floor porn building prominently situated right by the subway exit. The walls were plastered in Polaroids of naked girls and naked girls having sex. Then once on the floors, there was anime sex props up the ying yang, whips, dildos, vibrators, pretty much anything imaginable. And tons of people were just perusing at their leisure.

I especially loved pausing behind some creepy old man staring rather intensely at a leather whip.

Here I am with my gazoongas and kimono ready to get educated in Japanese sex culture! My, was it a thorough education!

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Kind of fun fact: This is a great district to do your duty free shopping in, as duty free shops are EVERYWHERE. I had a really early flight out the next morning and wasn’t able to buy my green tea Kit Kats at the airport, so I just did it here.

8. Romancing A Spider For An Exquisite View Of The City At Roppongi Hills

Prior to visiting Tokyo, I read that going up to Tokyo Tower for the city view was quite overrated, and that the view from the 54th floor viewing deck of the Mori Building in Roppongi Hills is far more breathtaking.  Not to mention, you get to see Tokyo Tower as part of your view and seduce a giant spider before making your way to the top.

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It cost us between 1,500-2,000yen ($15-20) and an ear pop in the speedy elevator to the top!

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9. Failing Miserably In A Japanese Photo Booth

I think it’s just an East Asian thing, the whole photo-booth-make-your-eyes-ginormous thing, but even coming from Korea, a photo booth in Japan was high marked on the to-do list! Especially since there are some pretty stunning glamour shots in mine and Cori’s past that desperately need recreation.

We found a Cherry Cherry booth and scurried in, only the whole thing was in Japanese so we had a few minor difficulties in navigation and procurement. Once we took our photos, filled with a heaping amount of awkward face, we waited for definitely over 5 minutes at the photo retrieval machine to no photos being dispensed. We then realized that we had skipped part 2. Part 2 being doodle all over and make your eye balls HUGE, obviously the most important step! Well, the language barrier interfered again and we ran out of time sans huge eyeballs, plus lots of Cherry Cherry baby.

Maybe our “thing” is just taking awful photo booth glamour shots! That’s it, it’s settled.

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10. Starf*ckers Come To This Starbucks

Located smack in the middle of Shinjuku’s busiest intersection, lies the busiest Starbucks in the world. When the lights turn red, the entire intersection opens up for pedestrians and it is a massive clusterfuck of humans, which can all be seen in perfect flourescent light stricken view from the top of said Starbucks. Stopping in the middle of the intersection, you know, to document it or something, is apparently similar to asking for a death wish.

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Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to highlight a couple things we attempted, but much like the glamour shots, failed at.

1. Radiation Overload At Tsukiji Fish Market

We had read about the tuna auctions that happen every morning starting at 4am on the docks at Tsukiji Fish Market. The fishermen catch fresh (radiated) tuna straight from the water and auction them off to bidders, and then everyone somehow kills themselves with radiation for breakfast.

We weren’t 4am ambitious, but we didn’t realize that the entire fish market shut down by early afternoon.  Coming from Seoul, I assumed it would be open all day, but just more insane in the wee hours. I was wrong, and after mazing through the endless back warehouses of the market, this is all we saw.

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So, if you decide to go to the Tsukiji Fish Market, plan to get there EARLY. I imagine they close by 12 noon, so plan on making a Japanese breakfast out of the venture.

2. Hopping A Moat To The Imperial Palace

We didn’t really jump over or swim through any moats, but we didn’t get to tour the gardens surrounding the Imperial Palace where Japan’s Imperial family currently lives, as it was closed the day we went. We did however get this documentation of us in front of the moat in the rain.  The palace is also behind us in the distance.

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3. Bicycle Riding In Nakemeguro

Biking around Nakemeguro was highlighted as a must do in Tokyo, and since one of my favorite activities to do in a foreign country is whimsically bicycle around, I was all about it. Unfortunately we were totally let down when we couldn’t find where to rent the bikes! We found a bike parking lot, but our lack of Japanese speak and the worker’s lack of English provided for no such luck.

It wasn’t all a bust though, seeing as two vintage loving gals found themselves wandering down a quaint street lined with pink lanterns and littered with vintage shops GALORE. We ate our eyeballs out!

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To get here, you’ve got to get to Nakemeguro Station, and after exiting, it’s going to be down the first street you can turn down on your right.

After 10 days with each other, my Diamond and I had a wonderful trip, with a smattering of bickerings here and there, but overall just lovely!  Twas another adventure to add to our chronicles of taking over this fascinatingly beautiful continent!

WTF?! Wednesday ~ Drugstore Cowboy

As most of you know, Cori has been visiting me the past few days, and today we are popping off to Tokyo Town!! We are quite excited. And, well, hoping to not get radiated.

During her few days in Korea, as I’ve been giving her the grand tour, I’ve obviously told her to keep her eyes peeled for ridiculous Engrish all over da place. Well, the other night we were in Dongdaemun in one of the big shopping department warehouses, and I stumbled upon this gem.

I’m not quite certain what a drugstore cowboy is, but he sure sounds like a funny chap!

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WTF?! Wednesday ~ Please, Do Warn A Brother

Happy Wednesday peeps! Guess who’s classes are all cancelled today in preparation for Sports Day this Friday? MINE! I do miss having my little baby doll 4th graders though. It feels like I never see them because we’ve had so many Wednesdays off in a row lately! But, I welcome any break I get!

Moving on to today in WTF?! I bring you something ghettosilly. I found this piece of fab a while back at a little boutique that I always used to shop at in my old hood while I’d wait for my pizza at Pizza School. I stood there for a good 30 seconds just shaking my head and laughing, and then immediately sent this photo to Tim who greatly appreciated it’s amazingness.

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This is one shirt where I do regret not making the purchase. Tim was pretty mad at me as well. Le sigh.