Sep 022019
 

The rain held off for the rest of the day, so we were able to enjoy the outdoor portion of Lotte World, too! First, we had to get the obligatory Instagram shot.

This park is so ADORABLE.

The outdoor portion didn’t seem like it was all that crowded—because everyone was already camping out in the outrageous lines. (Note to self: go back to this park in the spring time when all the kids are in school!)

Look, I know it’s no Cinderella’s Castle, but this castle is iconic in Korea and it was so cool to see it in real life!

During our outdoor jaunt, we at lunch at this place called School Food, where Chooch had cheesy ramen and I had tteokbokki and mandu — not something I would ever think I’d eat at an amusement park! Henry was all, “I DON’T WANT TO EAT ANYTHING HERE” but then he ended up eating our leftovers, so….

Henry’s favorite moments are when he’s able to wander of without off, like here, where he had a minute to stare sadly at a lake before we summoned him back to us and began firing off more demands.

We found this little house with candy stuck to it and I yelled, “IS THIS A RIDE?!!?” and I mean, people were standing in a line next to it, so that was enough confirmation for me.

“What even is this?” Henry asked, and I just shrugged. Who cares?! It was a house with candy stuck to it!

Candy roof-nipples!

Henry was like, “There are lots of little kids standing in this line” and I guess he was insinuating it was a KIDS RIDE but since when has that stopped me? Because of that though, he was like, “I’ll just see myself out of here,” and went and stood alone like the predator we all know him to be.

But you guys! Once we were let inside the doorway, we had to TAKE AN ESCALATOR down to another floor and I was like, “Whhhaaaat is this going to be?” OH I’LL TELL YOU WHAT IT WAS! It was a dark ride! Like It’s a Small World but with candy and clowns and a dragon and singing flowers and and and…

…we had to sit in a train and enter the ride through a clown’s mouth!!!

This was my favorite ride at Lotte World! I told my friend Jiyong about it after I came back to Pittsburgh and she literally had no idea what ride I was talking about and then, after she looked it up on her phone, said, “Oh, because it’s a childrens ride.”

WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY, JIYONG??

I sent this to coulrophobic Wendy and she was like, “Wow, it’s nice to know you still torture your friends while on the other side of the world.”

You’re welcome, Wendy. I do my best!

Immediately after, I decided I wanted to ride this outside coaster called Atlantis. The line was relatively long, but I conned Chooch into getting standing in it by reminding him that we may never be in Korea again and YOLO, whatever. He is absolutely spoiled when it comes to going to non-crowded amusement parks because we had a super longstreak where we just timed our trips right and wound up at parks on super light attendance days where we just walk right on rides. Well, guess what pal? This is what it’s like in the real world, so suck it up.

Right when we got in line, Chooch noticed a Gongcha, which is a super popular chain of Taiwen boba tea, so he sent Henry over to get him one. We watched Henry standing there in line and didn’t think anything of it, but then the next thing we knew, Henry had rejoined us…EMPTY-HANDED.

“Where’s my Gongcha?!” Chooch shrieked.

“The line was too long,” Henry replied calmly, because our histrionics don’t faze him at all anymore. “I’ll go see what else I can find you,” and he strode away.

And then we we were without Wifi for a REALLY LONG TIME because he had the wifi thingie in his man-purse and was probably making his food-stand rounds instead of procuring Chooch a boba tea…

…which he proved when he came back 45 minutes later with a Smoothie King smoothie, which sent Chooch over the edge.

Still in line! I think I took this picture at the point where it said we had 80 minutes left.

That sign LIED.

I mean, it sucked standing in line for so long, but since it was Korea, we actually had really decent, inoffensive people in line around with us, like the group of high school boys in front of us who were SO COOL and I wanted to be a part of their crew in the worst way. I don’t care how creepy it makes me, I had so much fun standing there and listening to them talk, and I even understood a little!

“That one right there is the leader,” I whispered to Henry one of the times he came back to “visit.” Chooch just rolled his eyes because he was so annoyed at everything by now.

There was also a young couple behind us, they weren’t Korean; it sounded like they were speaking in Thai, maybe? I’m not sure! But they also spoke English and I know this because the girl part of the couple was super concerned when she spotted a bug in my hair and was sweet enough to alert me about it, and then they both assisted in helping me get it out. It was so kind! Chooch and I agreed later on that this probably wouldn’t have happened in America.

“Yeah, people would have just made fun of me about it behind my back,” I sighed.

Chooch was using the faux rock wall to hold himself up. It’s amazing how tired standing in line can make you.

When we eventually got to the platform-part of the queue, we got to skip to the front because the ride attendants were looking for two people to fill one of the cars — and it was the front row!

I thought the coaster was worth the wait – it was pretty thrilling and had some indoor elements too which I like! And I know enough Korean to know that the girls behind us were shrieking, “WE’RE GOING TO DIE” lol.

Chooch was just like, “IT WAS GOOD BUT WE WAITED IN LINE FOR LIKE 2 HOURS” and then pretty much complained about that for the remainder of our trip.

We ventured back inside after that and it was definitely more crowded now. I don’t think any of the rides had a wait time that was less than 180 minutes by now….

…except for the haunted house!

We had to pay extra for it but whatever – the wait was only about 15 minutes.

Spoiler: we escaped. It was your typical country fair-level haunt, and I think only two actual scare actors were inside. One was super laissez faire with their role, and the other kind of got into it, but the scariest thing for me was the fact that I was creeping around a dark haunted house with only one contact in.

Then as we were walking, a parade ended and everyone turned around and walked right toward us, like a literal Korean Wave, and I got caught in the undertow.

“10 million people in Seoul and a million of them are here right now,” Henry said after we swam to shore. It was overwhelming! But not as scary as it would have been if this happened in like, NYC or something. No one really pushes or shoves in Seoul, for what it’s worth.

We got some ice cream and were just about ready to punch out for the day when I noticed an entire kiddie section that we had missed earlier and I became obsessed with riding this dumb fish ride. Even this had about a 30 minute wait (I have never waited this long for a freaking kids attraction before!) but again, standing in line for rides in Korea is not as excruciating as it in America.

The whole time we were in line, Chooch kept saying, ‘We have to get the puffer fish!” and I was like, “Sure whatever,” but then when it was our turn, the ride attendant came over and said, “Oh no, you can ride by yourself,” to Chooch, because the front seat on the fish are smaller and meant for little kids, so Chooch was SO PISSED because now he had to ride in a different fish while I got to stay in the puffer fish, and not only that, but we were THE ONLY PEOPLE RIDING ALONE WITHOUT SMALL CHILDREN and it was so uncomfortable but oh well, YOLO remember.

Jackass Henry took pictures with his crappy phone but you can tell that Chooch is super sulky here, haha.

We picked up some stuff in the gift shop and then decided to peace out. It was 7pm at that point and the lines weren’t getting any shorter…

Chooch was soooooo cranky, but THANK GOD he got a seat on the subway. Trolling for seats is his specialty.

…so we left, rode the subway 20+ stops back to Hongdae, dropped our stuff off, and then headed back out to Dongdaemun/Jongno for some late night food and giddiness.

Overall, this was a great pre-birthday celebration. I love amusement parks so much and couldn’t imagine a Korean vacation without including one!

****

PRO TIP: If you ever go to Seoul and want to visit Lotte World, they have huge discounts for foreigners! We got ours through Trazy.com, but there are a number of websites that offer comparable deals, so don’t go to the gate and pay full price! 

Aug 312019
 

Hello, good morning, or good evening, please adjust as necessary. It’s 6:06am and we have departed our shanty in Brookline after a solid 30 minutes of bickering because what else is new.

We were still on our street when Henry announced that he forgot his hat and now he’s threatening to buy a MAGA hat at a truck stop kill me.

He just turned on the GPS and Cookie Monster’s voice filled the car at full volume and now my heart is racing. “Put it back to the Korean lady!” I cried but he said he doesn’t know where he’s going with her. :(

Also, I’m wearing my Kpop Fitness shirt and Chooch, without knowing that, put on his KCON 2017 shirt so now we look like Koreaboos.

6:26am: Some light just came on in the car to tell us that the tire pressure is low and Henry that cocky motherfucker said, “No shit.” That’s news to me, but OK.

7:18am: UGH we just left Sheetz in West Virginia. We had the unfortunate timing of being there with an entire orange-vested road crew and it took forever to get our stuff and then while we were waiting I happened to glance at my receipt and noticed that HAM was listed as an ingredient on my breakfast flatbread and I threw a fit and Henry was like “Sweetheart* just pick it off” and I was like I HAVE SPENT 3/4 OF MY LIFE JUST PICKING IT OFF (wow gross) and so he went over to the counter and caught them right as they were starting to make mine after the conveyor belt of MEAT SUPREMES EXTRA MEAT PLUS A SIDE OF MEAT that were being assembled for the hick road crew and asked them not to put ham on mine and when he came back he said, “See? I take care of you” so ALL HAIL THE HERO I guess.

*(Lol yeah right.)

Obligatory Sheetz Road Trip Selfie. I’m fucking tired.

The car radio defaulted to Country when Henry turned it on and even just five seconds of it before my Spotify kicked in was enough to make me angry.

“HOW DO PPL LISTEN TO THIS” I angrily spat and Henry told me to go back in Sheetz and ask them.

Then Chooch and Henry were arguing and Henry yelled, “Last time I checked, I can do whatever I want!”

He must check a lot.

Also, do the police know this?

8:30am: Chooch recently discovered a love for 80s new wave so I put on a Spotify playlist for him as soon as we left the house but he’s had headphones on the entire time so far, watching his dumb YouTube videos so I put Taemin back on, fuck that.

Speaking of Taemin, Baekhyun from EXO did an InstaLive with SuperM and they were all eating BBQ and I was like THEY R SO LUCKY TO WATCH TAEMIN EAT IN PERSON and Henry scowled at me.

9:30am: So glad Chooch brought his shitty crossword puzzle book on this trip. 94 miles to Cincinnati. SOS.

“Is Sammy Lee Jones an actor?” – Chooch from the backseat. Ughhhhhh. I turned up SHINee and I can still hear him asking for help.

10:16am: We stopped at a gas station and before leaving, Henry got back out of the car to throw out a banana peel and the sound effects Chooch is making for this action is soooo grotesque and hilarious. Now Chooch is fat-shaming Henry for purchasing a 470 calorie Nutty Buddy.

10:34am: An hour ago, i made what some might consider a stretch of a comparison between Taemin and Anita Baker, then I was perusing Spotify playlists and Anita Baker’s “Angel” was the third song in one of them so of course we’re listening to Anita Baker now.

“I went through a heavy Anita Baker phase when I was in 10th grade,” I said to Henry who muttered that he wasn’t surprised because my music phases were all over the place. Anyway, anytime I would mention Anita Baker back then, my dad would ask, “What? You need a baker?”

EVERY.TIME.

11:07am: We just crossed over into Kentucky. Hello Kentucky, sorry you have to hear us all yelling at Henry because our phones haven’t been charging this whole time.

11:25am: UGH I JUST LOOKED AT HENRY AND HE HAS HIS CREEPY UNCLE SUNGLASSES ON.

12:32pm: We made it to Louisville! We have like 9 minutes until we’re at Kentucky Kingdom and we’re all fighting over the playlist.

I’m going to publish this worthless post now but I will probably add it to you after we leave the park and head to Santa Claus, Indiana!

8:14pm: Wow we just left the park and I am pleasantly surprised! What a great park – I’m excited to do a review sometime soon after I get home but right now we’re looking for some place to eat on the way to Indiana.

Here’s a sunset!

8:26pm: Ok we found an eating establishment with minimal bloodshed!

Jerry’s J Boy! And they’re hiring so I got to submit it to Job Spotter! And Mary J Blige was playing when we were seated and our waitress is nice!

BEEN AWHILE SINCE I SNAGGED A LIVE-ACTION COLE SLAW MASTICATION SHOT!

8:46pm: Guys. They just played KC & Jojo, Phil Collins, the Folk Implosion, and Oasis back to back.

Jerry’s J-Boy, you were super hospitable to us, thank you, we will come again.

9:29 (10:29EST): We’re all settled in our actually halfway decent Motel 6 room, same place we stayed last year when we came to Holiday World. I’m exhausted and annoyed with both of my travel companions and snapped out after we left Jerry’s because that fucking Cookie Monster GPS was on my last nerve and Chooch was being shitty because he was tired and I almost just rhetorically asked when that will end but I’m 40 and still act like a roiling nest of hornets when I’m exhausted. So.

Anyway, goodnight before I punch Henry in the face.

Aug 302019
 

I’m always so happy to make it to Friday – doesn’t it feel like a VICTORY? Here are five  things that have happened since last Friday because contrary to popular belief, I actually am back to living  my life in Pittsburgh and not still stuck inside my head with Korea memREEZ. :(

A NEW DESK

I dragged Henry to Ikea on Saturday because I am sick of a lot of things in our house and we are slowly trying to upgrade all our shit so we’ll eventually be living less like college kids and maybe more like whatever comes after millenials. I can’t keep up with the lingo.

The first thing that I was adamant about replacing was our computer desk. LET ME TELL YOU A STORY ABOUT THE COMPUTER DESK.

Henry and I bought it at Ikea (“Someone tell these people there are other furniture places out there”) a long ass time ago, definitely before Chooch was born. I want to say possibly 16 years ago. That’s a long-ass time ago so you would probably agree that it needed replaced by now, but in actuality, it needed replaced the VERY DAY WE GOT IT.

So, this desk was like a big kidney-shaped plastic thing that I chose because, well, it looked cool. But it was always an awkward fit and never had a really good place in the house. But in addition to that, the day we brought it home, Henry had all of the pieces out of the box and was perusing the instructions, when MARCY (RIP sweet evil baby) strutted over, jumped onto the dining room table, against which the top of the new desk was leaning, and with one swift flick of her paw, she knocked the desk-top onto the floor.

No big deal, right? WRONG. The desk, like I mentioned before, was made of that dumb Ikea-plastic and was hollow, and when the desk top fell, it landed on something that BROKE THROUGH IT. So from the very first fucking day we had it, there was a hole in the top.

I lived for over a decade using a computer desk that had a hole in it, and of course it was conveniently placed right in the middle where you would be working the most.

A few years ago, Henry had the bright idea to turn the desk around so that the hole would be in the back, but because of the weird shape of it, it made things even worse and super uncomfortable because now one of the desk legs was right in the center so I would bash my legs off it any time I would move in my chair.

SO MUCH HATE.

Anyway, now we have a basic desk that’s not plastic and also has drawers so I feel like I’m really moving up in life.

Chooch was pissed because Henry put it together without him and he cried, “I wanted to help!” when he burst through the front door upon returning from the Teen Center.

“You did help,” Henry mumbled, “by not being here.”

Wow, sick burn, Handy Hank.

Anyway, the rest of my Saturday was trash because in addition to Ikea, we also went to the mall to buy school clothes and I hate the mall, but that leads me to my next Friday Five….

SEXIST ZUMIEZ

After I threw a silent fit in Express when Henry reminded me that we were there for Chooch (I keep spelling his name as Choco today) and not Erin, we went to Zumiez for more Chooch-appropriate* fare.

*(Although he did latch on to this one dress shirt at Express that was under a sign that said SALE! $19.50 but then rang up as $49.50 and Henry was like NOPE NOPE NOPE not for my 8th grader who still can’t manage to keep everything in his mouth when he eats so Henry tried to dispute it and they were like “OH JUST SELECT SHIRTS ARE ON SALE AND WE DON’T WHICH ONES UNTIL WE RING THEM  UP” ok Express, that’s not nonsensical at all.)

In Zumiez, Chooch gravitated to this windbreaker-type of color-blocked jacket that was actually pretty cool and I was considering getting it for him when some Zumiez broad came over and gave us her sales spiel followed by, “And just so you know, this is the girls side. The boys stuff is over there” and she pointed to all the ugly stuff.

“Yeah, we know, and we don’t care,” I said, snottily and then decided in that moment that Zumiez would get no business from me if they’re going to deter a boy from wearing pink or whatever.

I was ranting about this to Henry afterward (he wasn’t in the store with us when it happened but it’s not like his presence would have changed the narrative in any way at all, trust), and Mr. Zumiez Apologist donned his White Knight sword, and after clumsily mounting his Man-splainer steed, said, “Well, she probably just said that because girl shirts are cut differ—”

OH WOULD YOU JUST STFU HENRY.

BRUSTER’S BRAIN BUSTERS

Janna wanted to get ice cream so we met her at Bruster’s Sunday night, and it also kind of doubled as a back-to-school celebration for Chooch, who was running around all weekend, excitedly getting his backpack and supplies together and talking about how much he was looking forward to having homework again, and it was disgusting. Just so gross.

Anyway, back to the point. (I’m overcaffeinated and a loop of 2NE1 videos are playing on my TV which is getting me all hyped.) Chooch ordered Purple Dinosaur in a waffle cone, and the scooper-guy was like, “OK, but that’s going to be three scoops…” you know, just being cautionary about it.

Chooch sucked in his breath and said, “Yikes that’s a lot of scoops. OK, I’ll have…..NY Cheesecake in a waffle cone.”

In a waffle cone.

I just stared at him but he never flinched.

And then I waited for the scooper to hand him the waffle cone triple-jammed with NY Cheesecake for it to dawn on Chooch…

“Shit, it’s still three scoops!” he cried in shock.

Well, YEAH, what did you think, Einstein?! It wasn’t the particular FLAVOR that came with three scoops, it was the WAFFLE CONE.

OMG how can someone so smart be so stupid.

“What made you get NY cheesecake?” I asked after we were all settled at a table. (We tried to make Henry sit by himself at a table by a dumpster but he wouldn’t.)

“I was panicked when I had to choose another flavor so I just got this one!” Chooch said with Sadness-Tinged Exasperation, the flavor of the month at the Ordering Remorse Scoop Shop.

“What was Purple Dinosaur, anyway?” Henry asked.

“I don’t know!” Chooch scoffed haughtily in case we needed a reminder that he’s a recently-minted teenager. (OOH ANOTHER FLAVOR!?)

Found out later on Instagram that it’s just PURPLE-DYED VANILLA. Oh, he would have been so pissed if he wound up with triple vanilla.

Then we went to Giant Eagle for some last minute school lunch staples and Chooch was obviously super sugar-rushed after eating all three scoops while complaining about having to eat three scoops (being a kid is so hard) and I was super giddy too just because I almost always am and we caused so many scenes which Henry just loves, let me tell you. When we were in the parking lot leaving, I pointed to some guy who had the misfortune of being in the same aisle as us several times, and I said, “That guy hates us.”

Henry mumbled, “hate you…”

Wow. Ouch.

LAST SUMMER BREAKFAST CLUB OF 2019

Oh, the sadness!

We ended it the way we started it – full circle at Parker’s, our favorite local breakfast joint. I just can’t give this place enough accolades! The owners are so goddamn down to earth and they make you feel special. Luke always remembers stuff about us; gave Chooch dating advise (“just talk to them, don’t date them!” and “tell them you’re well-traveled!”) and both of us complimentary chocolate chip cookies; and told us a little about the bar he’s opening in the old Zippy’s location, which sounds like it’s going to be awesome and finally a decent drinking spot for the people in Brookline who, you know, aren’t white trash.

I almost always get the Little Miss Sunshine bagel sandwich, with sprouts, egg whites, avocado, tomato and mayo – it’s so satisfying! Chooch lately has been opting to build his own but then always remembers the things he wanted to add after the sandwich is already in front of him.

ANYWAY, it’s just a feel-good place, OK? We feel like we’re part of something cool when we go there, but not when Henry is with us. Henry ruins it.

CORGI MAIL

You guys, the most adorable thing happened. Chooch got a thank you card from the neighborhood Corgi, Spencer! We brought him some toys and treats back from Korea because why not, and his owner Bob is just the nicest guy ever, very Mr. Rogers-esque, which makes them kind of like a power duo. And the stamp Spencer used had a metallic orange dragon on it and an Asian temple!

Well, guys. That’s all I got. We leave tomorrow morning for our Kentucky Kingdom / Holiday World road trip so I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight!

Aug 292019
 

Every time I hear “Lotte World,” I imagine Pee Wee yelling, “SCREAM REAL LOUD!!!” and then in my head, I scream real loud because anytime I do that out loud, people think I’m either IN trouble or that I AM trouble and let’s be real, either one of those could be true at any given time.

Let me back up a minute. Lotte World is not only considered Korea’s Disneyland, but it also just happens to be the largest indoor amusement park IN THE WORLD.

THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!

It also has an outdoor section, too!

Originally, I planned to go here on my actual birthday, but then  that turned out to be the day of the kpop show, so Lotte World birthday pre-gaming it was!

But first — idol sandwich for breakfast!

And Henry had his basic red bean bun.

Then Chooch and I had to go and get our daily elevator selfie and also a picture of the view of Hongdae.

I have this Instax taped to my monitor at work and I blow it a kiss every now and then OK FINE IT’S THE TAEMIN BACKGROUN ON MY COMPUTER THAT I’M BLOWING A KISS TO, GODDAMMIT.

I dunno, I just thought this broom was nice-looking.

We had to take the subway out to Jamsil, and this was the first time we made it out to this area, which is nuts because it’s where the famous Lotte World Tower is and that’s like a total tourist destination. Imagine my surprised when we were walking through the subway station and stumbled upon this “little” slice of Italy! Yeah, just chilling underground, you guys, this luxurious fountain.

No big deal.

Then we emerged from the subway like mole people and this humongous phallic symbol of Seoul was thrusting its shiny tip into the heavens right before us. There’s an observation deck up there but…heights.

And then there it was—Lotte World!

Oh, also in case you didn’t know, Lotte is a HUGE corporation in Korea. They have luxury hotels, department stores, food (Choco Pies!)—don’t fuck with Lotte, is all I’m saying. You might end up at the bottom of the Han River with a cinder block tied to your ankle.

Chooch said he didn’t agree to this pose but I was like IT’S THE DAY BEFORE MY BIRTHDAY JUST DO IT.

We had to go into some special foreigner office to get our discounted tickets and then Chooch was like, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU” because I kept trying to hand my ticket to a Lotte World worker at the ticket turnstile to have them scan it but it turned out IT WAS A KID, LIKE A YOUNGGGGG KID who was just standing there waiting for his family and I felt like such a stoop but look—I was still just wearing the one contact, OK?

I will milk that excuse for all it’s worth, you betcha.

Anyway, look how fancy the lobby area was!

Family portrait. We *mostly* got along all day. *Mostly.* There were moments, though.

Then suddenly—BAM. We were inside Lotte World and it was staggering. Also, it was already pretty crowded even though it was only 9:30AM and had just barely opened. But look at that layered cake of amusement!

One thing I wasn’t stoked about was the pirate ship. I just generally dislike them lately because they make me literally feel seasick, and for some reason, seeing this gigantic one INSIDE made me feel so terrified.

Luckily, the line for it was ridiculously long all day so Chooch never even once entertained the idea of riding it.

We did ride Sinbad though! Lotte World has so many cool dark rides! Granted, we had no idea what was being said during the ride, but they were fucking fun! IT WAS A BOAT RIDE!!!

When we were standing in line for it, Henry murmured, “I wish we had a washing machine in the bathroom at home…” because he was OBSESSED with washing clothes every night in our guest house bathroom.

The Thoughts Henry Has.

We thought we were going to have the front row but then dumb fast pass people showed up and stole it from us, story of our lives.

(We were just bitter because Henry is too cheap to get us fast passes.)

30th anniversary, apparently!

Lotte World was so massive inside that it was hard to understand just how to get from one place to the next. It took us a stupidly long time to find the line for French Revolution and that had nothing to do with being foreigners — the signs were in English! There were just so many nooks and crannies like Thomas left the English Muffin factory to give amusement park designing a go. Random staircases were nearly hidden in the dimly lit hallways and we never did figure out how to get to the 4th floor until the end of the day. It was nuts and I already can’t wait to go back during the off season to really explore that motherfucker!

OMG for some reason, I really latched on to the rapids ride they have there. I mean, first of all, it’s indoors and that made it seem so much scarier! We rode it with some lady and her two kids who did not seem happy to be on it probably because the mom kept making them smile for pictures.

Even Henry rode it with us! And then he would tap out, having ridden two whole rides first thing in the morning. He spent the rest of the day people-watching while Chooch and I aged exponentially in lines.

Like when we were standing in line for what we thought was the French Revolution, because we were literally standing right next to part of it. It was about an hour long wait, I would say, but it went fast because so much was happening around us. First, there was a young elementary school and his sister in front of us, and he was happy to get to practice his English on us. HE WAS SO FUCKING CUTE. I have spent my entire blogging career (lol) bitching about how much I hate children, but Korean children are the exception. They were just wonderful and adorable and I made the mistake of telling Chooch once on the subway that I love listening to them talk and he congratulated me for being a predator but WHATEVER CHOOCH YOU’RE JUST JEALOUS THAT I LIKE KOREAN KIDS BETTER THAN YOU.

Then this kid starts talking to us about the French Revolution and how scary it is, etc and I was like, “Wow, what a brave kid, standing in line for this roller coaster even though he’s clearly terrified of it.” But then he and his sister decided that the wait was too long so they said bye and peaced out. Now there were new people in front of us, and one of them spent THE ENTIRE TIME taking selfies of herself so I had to keep ducking and turning my head or else I’d have ugged-up some nice Korean girl’s selfie bigtime.

MEANWHILE, there was live entertainment below us. Lotte’s house band was down there playing Baby Shark and Chooch demanded that Henry go to the source and record it for Calvin who, like all 2-year-olds and probably some weird adults, loves Baby Shark.

I looked over the railing after a minute or two and thought for sure I saw Henry but it turned out to be some pot-bellied ahjussi, so Chooch and I were nearly peeing our pants over this but then a minute later, I looked again…

AND HENRY WAS STANDING NEXT TO HIM!!!

OMG.

Then I was like, “WHY IS HIS HAIRLINE SO WIDE?!?!” and we were cracking up over it so I airdropped the picture to Chooch and he airdropped this one back to me:

And to top it all off, Chooch does the best impression of Henry which makes Henry look like a barbarian, and Chooch does this grunting thing that sounds like Paul Eugene and I swear that Henry doesn’t actually grunt when he walks, but it is SO FUCKING FUNNY TO ME that I had to beg Chooch to stop because I was seriously coming super close to peeing my pants and people in line around us were probably SO ANNOYED at the obnoxious Americans but I couldn’t help it—making fun of Henry is Chooch’s and my best hobby.

Oh, my stomach hurt badly from laughing.

Then Henry came back up to the line after we had moved forward considerably and Chooch stopped laughing and barked, “WHERE THE FUCK WERE YOU. DID YOU GET A RECORDING OF BABY SHARK” because he’s more of a nagging wife than I am, and Henry calmly said that no, he didn’t, because the band had already moved on to the next song by the time he managed to weave through the labyrinthine hallways to find the steps and he excitedly told us that the foreign girls dancing in the performance were scantily-clad in bikinis while the Korean girl dancers were wearing really nice and respectable dresses.

If Henry kept a diary, this would have been the only thing he wrote that day.

After standing in the extended queue for about 45 minutes, we were finally ushered into the entrance of the ride, where of course there was more standing but at least we were inside the main queue now, which was dark and made to look like a cave, so of course I tripped–HARD–and again I loudly reminded those around me that I was only wearing one contact.

Just the one.

In one eyeball.

When I have two eyes.

And then my favorite thing ever happened! WE GOT TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE AND I SAW THE RIDE VEHICLE.

IT WAS NOT A COASTER.

IT WAS A SAFARI JEEP THING.

WE HAD BEEN STANDING IN LINE FOR THE WRONG RIDE THAT WHOLE TIME!!

This ended up being some type of Indiana Jones-like ride called Pharaoh’s Fury and it was actually a lot of fun but my feelings were all wacked out because I spent an hour thinking I was going on some crazy-ass coasters with a bunch of inversions, but oh well. Lotte World had other plans for me.

SERIOUSLY I NEED TO STUDY THE LAYOUT OF THIS PARK NEXT TIME.

As the day went on, the line for French Revolution kept getting longer and longer until it was eventually like 250 minutes so, no French Revolution for me.

Stay tuned for the second half of our Lotte World adventures!

Aug 282019
 

After leaving the mural village, we spent the rest of the afternoon being nebby (Pittsburghese for nosey, yo) in Jeonju. HERE ARE SOME MORE PICTURES and then we can move on to the next day.

I loved this classic-looking store!

Gray skies & sunflowers.

The Daeseongjeon Shrine was under construction but we were still able to explore it.

Korea is chockful of these beautiful, historical shrines. My favorite parts of them is the underneath of the roof — there is a name for that, I think!? There’s always the coolest designs painted in bright reds, greens, and blues.

Being presh + Henry’s finger that I forgot to crop out. He’s such a great photog.

Nearby, there was some summer festival going on with a huge blown-up pool. Some of the locals tried to coax Chooch into swimming but he shyly said no — people in Jeonju were SO NICE.

There were several caricature places around, but I was drawn to this girl’s little studio.

She was so cute!

It’s tradition now for Chooch to get a caricature in Korea, I guess. I love this one and it also marked the first time ever that I got to say “daebak” in Korea. The artist loved that I said that and gave me a thumbs up, haha.

We went back to the choco pie bakery to get a box of them. There was no way I was leaving without more!

I loved that there were places of tranquility all around.

LOLOLOL so Henry kept wandering off and by the time we would realize, he’d be on the other side of the street and the only reason we would even realize is because he was the keeper of the wifi and if he strayed too far, we’d lose our connection. Chooch was constantly trying to play Pokemon Go so he’d usually be the first to notice.

Anyway, Henry was like straight up Peeping Tom’ing all the food vendors from afar and I was like, “OMG he looks like Michael Myers! He’s so creepy!” so then Chooch and I kept humming the Halloween theme and Henry was like WHY R U DOING THAT when we caught up to him but then we were laughing too hard by then to talk.

So one of the times he roamed away from us was to splurge on a BEER but not just any BEER, it was BEER with HONEY drizzled on top.

And he immediately got it all over his stupid beard.

Then we lost him again and when Chooch asked where he went, I said, “I dunno. Probably off looking for Laurie Strode” so then we lost it all over again.

Ugh Jeonju made us so slaphappy.

Random butts!

I am constantly craving bingsu so we stopped in 1723 Cafe for a fix.

It was really pretty inside, like a peaceful escape! I chose a secluded table though because Chooch and I were getting super hyper at this point and there was group of super cool looking high school boys in their uniforms sitting by the counter and I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of them, so we sent Henry up to order by himself.

FUCK you guys, I think this may have been the best bingsu I had on this trip. It was black sesame, red bean, walnuts, injeolmi (sweet soy powder, which is one of the BEST bingsu ingredients), and pumpkin. It was fucking divine and I regret so hard that I chose to share this with Henry. I could have easily inhaled that whole thing on my own.

Chooch got this refreshing parfait.

This is going to be futile to try and put into words, but while we were here, Henry finally cracked and started fighting back after we mocked him mercilessly for the 83749827498245th time that day.

“OK! Every time I say something, you have to say it twice three four times!” and shit motherfucker goddamn you guys, the way he said it was SO STUPIDLY FUNNY that we cracked the FUCK up all over again and Chooch went the extra mile by spitting his water into his hand.

The way he said “twice three four times” though!!! It was like “twice three-FOUR” times, like he couldn’t decide how many times and just kept moving the number up in a weird stutter, and we latched on to this SO HARD. Ir’s been a month and we still say it to him every chance we get and he is just like IT WASN’T THAT FUNNY.

Au contraire!

Then we had to quickly leave before we caused any more of a scene, but it wouldn’t be a Korea Vacation if we didn’t cause one every day.

We also spent some time tooling around this Cathedral which I already posted about because I like to jump around and stay unorganized.

We had to be back at the train station in time for our train back to Seoul, which was around 7PM, so we quickly shopped for some moju, which is a traditional Jeonju liquor with medicinal properties. It tastes like cinnamon, actually, and is super refreshing. Chooch and I also put money in some weird traditional capsule machine to get what I thought was going to be some astrological toy, like a year of the whatever animal thing, but ended up being our horoscopes in Korean, so that was 1000 won…not very well spent. Except that I was excited because I was at least able to figure out which machine we each had to use for our birth year. It was the most complicated, rudimentary capsule machine I’ve ever used.

Took a taxi back to the station and the guy was listening to Western soft rock which was interesting and he was also an aggressively efficient driver who saved us time from sitting in taxi traffic and extra fare by pointing to the train station from across a courtyard and basically kicking us out of his car.

I was excited to sit next to some Korean soldiers in the waiting area but then asshole Henry made me get up for no reason and I lost my seat. PRO TIP: a surefire way to make locals like you in Korea is to move over so that they have room to sit. Every time I did this small act of courtesy, the thankful response I got was startling. When we were sitting outside in the air-conditioned sitting area, I squeezed over closer to Chooch and motioned for an older woman to sit down next to me and she was happy about it. I am forever wanting to be liked in Korea (I’m so pathetic) and this is a really good way!

I was actually pretty sad to leave! Like I mentioned before, Jeonju is a pretty popular domestic tourist area, but it doesn’t seem like it’s a place that foreigners really travel to. If you ever go to South Korea, pencil this onto your itinerary! Obviously, there are a lot of other things to do while in Jeonju, not just the hanok village, so I think it’s going to be on our agenda when we go back to Korea.

On the train ride back, Henry was in an entirely different car and Chooch and I were also separated. He sat next to a young guy who watched kdramas on his phone and I sat next to a young girl who slept the whole time and I definitely nodded off here and there too but the ride back was ROUGH so I kept waking up in a jolt thinking that we were derailing. I’m not kidding, it was pretty scary.

It was after 11 by the time we got back to Hongdae and I don’t think any of us had trouble falling asleep, and I’m pretty sure it was also the first time I slept straight through the night until a reasonable hour the next morning! Jeonju was exhausting.

Aug 272019
 

Hello it’s me, here I am, back with some more Kennywood bullshit in bullet-form, because Chooch and I did, in fact, do other things besides ride the Steel Curtain.

  • ONE TRAIN OPS: OK, so maybe not all of the coasters were actually just running one train, but the operations were still TURRIBLE. Just straight up TURR-HUH-BULL. I don’t know if I just never really noticed but I was hyper aware of it on this day, which wasn’t crowded by any means but the sloooooooow asssssssss dispatchhhhhhhhhes made it feel insufferable at times. The worst, hands down, was the fucking Aero360, which I have actually complained about in the past but it felt even worse this time around. First of all, they were TRAINING SOMEONE and look, I want this kid to really learn his job and make sure the green light is on behind everyone’s seat (I just learned that along with him) but holy fucking deep-fried crucified Christ, it took a good 5 minutes AT LEAST to check everyone’s restraints and in the meantime, the SIZZLING HOT BLACK RESTRAINT that was stapling me into my seat was ALSO burning the bare flesh on the top of my thighs because I was wearing shorts and that fucking thing automatically slammed down into my legs before I had a chance to adjust myself and I was SQUEALING like a pig being barbequed alive which is probably a weird thing for a veg-person to write on her blog, and I considered deleting it but thought nah, that’s a waste of time so instead I’ll just type a bunch more words about it?! But yeah, fuck the Aero360. This ride used to be bae, but now I have officially slid it over into my “skippable” list.
  • KAREN: We kept seeing this Bitch Mom in every line and I was like, “What if that was the kind of mom I was?” and Chooch was like, “A MOM WITH KAREN HAIR? NO THANKS” and we were laughing at her because she had her weird “pretending like I just came here from a jog” racer-back athletic tank on and shorts of a modest length, but she was also pulling around a goddamn carry-on luggage with her everywhere, just kidding, it was some sort of huge insulated cooler that was in everyone’s way in every line. She was the worst. Her kids looked like dicks too.

  • Raging Rapids Mom: Speaking of moms, we were on the Raging Rapids with a mom and her daughter who looked like Dustin from Stranger Things but a girl and they were actually not too bad to ride with as far as strangers go but afterward, Chooch took it too far and said that he could see me being friends with her and I was like, “CHOOCH SHE WAS A MOTHER” and he was like, “Oh yeah, never mind.” In other Raging Rapids news, that piece of shot Thomas Town that debuted last year completely ruined that area and now it feels disorienting – I’m not sure if the line for the rapids was actually relocated or if it’s just more exposed now but it definitely doesn’t feel right and I hate it. I fucking hate it.

  • Phantom’s Revenge is still my #1 in case you were wondering. Our first time standing in line seemed to take forever but it was because it was ONE TRAIN OPS but then they brought on the second train while we were standing in line and everyone was like WHY ARE THEY SENDING THAT ONE WITH NO ONE ON IT?!?! because they’re fucking n00bs who don’t watch coaster videos every single day after work while eating dinner like I do. My life is fucking fabulous.
    • During our first time in line, we saw a kid puking over the side of the platform after he got off the ride, so that was fun. Also, I saw two ride operators that I recognized from last year and Chooch was like, “You’re a stalker” but HOW CAN YOU NOT REMEMBER JAKE??!!? Anyway, poor Jake had to clean up the puke and then we never saw him again after that so maybe they let him go home early.

  • Golden Nugget: I feel blessed to report that while the ride operations were questionable on this day (except for the Racer — that kid running dispatch was a real MVP and didn’t miss a beat while he was counting riders to quickly respond with “in the closet” when some little boy asked him where he got his yard stick) the young’uns slinging those famous square ice cream cones over at Golden Nugget were friendly and actually gave a shit about how the cones looked. Total redemption from last year’s sour experience! If you ever come to Kennywood, ya GOTTA get one of these, you guys. YOU JUST GOTTA.

  • That Guy Chooch: In line for the Jack Rabbit, some little boy said to his dad, “Look at that guy behind you” and nodded at Chooch, which made me crack up because he’s only 13 and some kid is referring to him as a guy. Anyway, it turned out that this was all because of Chooch’s corgi phone case and he was momentarily smug because finally someone was noticing his accessories, but then the little boy’s sister said, “LOOK AT HERS, IT’S A CACTUS” about my phone case so hahahaha. Also, one of the times we were in line for the Steel Curtain, I made eye contact with some lady and she cried, “WE WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT YOUR TATTOO” and then she started showing me pictures of her cat on her phone and Chooch was like, “Ugh” – he hates when people notice me.

  • Kennywood’s Got Jams: One thing that I feel like I never mention after a jaunt to K-wood (OMG I wish that meant Koreawood, wah) is that they play the fucking best music. I’m talking shit from the 60s thru 80s. We heard Duran Duran, Whitney Houston (“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” which is peak W.Houston, fight me, no don’t—I just did strength training and my muscles are all flubbery right now), Modern English and other things that I forget now because I rode Steel Curtain three times and felt like a football player the next day, i.e. concussion-y. The most recent songs we heard were TWO BRITNEY SPEARS SONGS on the Music Express and I was THERE FOR IT. It was back-to-back “Toxic” and “Womanizer.” I was so happy.

  • Music Express Observations: Maybe I was just oblivious for the first three decades of my life, but I don’t recall ever hearing so many warnings being blasted on the Music Express. When we were at Waldameer in May, they actually stopped the ride early because no one was listening when the ride operator kept yelling, “DO NOT HOLD ONTO THE SIDE BARS” and the same thing happened this time at Kennywood; in fact, it even happened while we were waiting too. I don’t remember anyone ever forbidding me to hold on to the side bars before and I have ridden my fair share, probably more than my fair share, so now I’m wondering: DID SOMETHING HAPPEN!!?? All I know is that I was so mindful of ONLY HOLDING ONTO THE BAR IN FRONT OF ME on this day because I hate being yelled and also didn’t want to die in a freak Music Express accident but mostly I hate being yelled at.

  • BONER JAMZ: We were in line for the Exterminator, which is a totally fun indoor coaster with a total NOT fun indoor queue that gets so hot, stinky, and LOUD when suddenly, someone airdropped Chooch a picture that he knew was going to be a mistake to accept, and I was like, “Don’t do—-” but it was too late, he accepted because he’s 13 and lacks the strength it takes to Just Say No to dick pics. This was actually just the smiley face emoji—-but you, know with a dick in its mouth. Then they airdropped me too but I was like, “Not today, Dick Pic Satan.” Chooch LOVES being airdropped by strangers and gets great joy sending pictures back, so he was searching his camera poll for this one particular picture he took in Pocheon, Korea of a giant weener, when he was gifted with another airdrop by this generous Airdrop Santa, whose name was Boner Jamz. So he’s giggling and trying to find a picture to send back when I notice that there’s a group of people in the queue next to us and one of them has also been getting these airdrop gifts, however, this recipient IS NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT. So his girlfriend happens to look over and sees Chooch getting ready to airdrop a picture and she nudges her boyfriend, who sees what Chooch is doing and gets this FURIOUS look on his face. Chooch is still giggling, unaware that he’s about to get his ass whopped by this guy who thinks he’s Boner Jamz, so I knew I had to intervene. “It’s not him!” I shouted, and I held up my phone to show the most recent picture from Boner Jamz that I had yet to accept or decline. “We’re getting them too. He’s just trying to send one back.” “WHO IS IT!?” the guy yelled and I was like, “Bro calm down. I don’t know.” Like, it really wasn’t the end of the world. There’s someone who tries to airdrop me the same picture on the trolley at least once a week, the picture is some hairy, naked middle-aged man holding up his arms to expose his pits. I just simply decline and move on with my life. Meanwhile, Chooch was upset because Boner Jamz went private so Chooch was unable to send him a picture of a stone weener and a zoomed-in picture of Henry’s face. In any case, it made standing in line a little less boring.

  • The Cult: For our very last ride of the night, we obviously chose the Phantom. You guys, we are totally back-row babies on most coasters, but when it comes to night rides on the Phantom, it is front row all the goddamn way. We got so lucky too because the ride operator made the last two people in line behind us move to different rows because we were going to be THE LAST RIDE OF THE NIGHT. WOOOO! But that’s neither here nor there, whatever that means. The whole point of this bullet is that I witnessed what I believe to be an actual religious cult target two teenagers in line in front of us. I’m not sure how it started, but the teenagers were probably 16 or 17 and one of them was a girl wearing a furry tail. The cult was a trio of men: one was in his 50s and the other two were maybe between the ages of 19 and 24. I wasn’t really paying attention at first but then I suddenly snapped to attention when I heard actual praying happening and I looked over just in time to catch the tail-end of a PRAYER CIRCLE. They were all holding hands with their eyes closed and at first I thought they were praying for a safe ride or something but no, they were praying for the girl with the furry-tail I think, and then they were all exchanging their contact info and one of the younger guys, to me, said, “This is a strange request but do you have a pen?” and first, I didn’t think that was really strange because I assumed he wanted it so they could write down phone numbers because maybe their religion doesn’t allow them to have cell phones but now that I think about it, maybe it was for some kind of blood-letting initiation challenge. In ether case, I did not have a pen. Now I couldn’t stop eavesdropping into their conversation (the cult is from West Virginia and they were asking the Lord to help Furry Tail do well in school this year) and it was creeping me out so bad because the leader was SUCH A STEREOTYPICAL CULT-TYPE CREEP you guys. Like, he was oozing predatory signals and vibes from every pore and he was throwing out this phony avuncular charisma that made me gag. They were all wearing matching Church-y shirts too. I forget what it said now. Something about redemption. I hated them so bad.

So that’s about it for our annual trip to Kennywood. It was just Chooch and me so we didn’t have Henry around to use as a whipping boy which meant that we occasionally turned on each other, but we always made up right away and then moved on to the next ride. Eventually, he’s going to be too old/cool to go to Kennywood with his MOMMY so I have to really savor these trips and try not to get too bratty but it’s hard when I’m basically the same age as him, attitudinally-speaking.

Aug 262019
 

Hi guys, I’m not stoked about this at all and not just because OMG MY LITTLE BABY WABY IS GROWING UP but obviously because the first day of school is like the kiss of death for summer, like why do we even bother pretending it goes on into mid-September, come on now, today is Fall.

I’m even wearing a hoodie.

(No hate on fall AT ALL, love that season, but I hate its bastard brother Winter and I’m sorry, we were having the best summer and I’m just not ready to let go.)

Oh right, back to Chooch.

That little weirdo packed and repacked his backpack like 7 times yesterday, excitedly told me on a walk on Saturday how happy he is to be having homework again, and for the first time ever actually wanted to go shopping for a First Day outfit.

What a monster.

He’s just really happy to finally be at the top of the school, an 8th grade king, plus he has algebra 1 this year and dude loves him some math.

I worked from home today so I got to make him breakfast (would you believe me if I told you that I actually make really good scrambled eggs? Chooch hates all other scrambled eggs and it like, blows Henry’s mind) and then I made him give me a public hug goodbye in the front yard haha.

Oh well. Time flies, they grow up so fast, blah blah blah.

Aug 262019
 

While walking around Jeonju Hanok Village, we randomly climbed up a small hillside just for funsies because why not go on a mini-hike in the middle of an Asian summer while the air is pregnant with condensation, ready to pop.

Seriously, if you’re the type that goes on vacations to loaf, lounge, and leisure, don’t travel with us. We don’t feel like we got the most out of our days unless we’re tucking ourselves in with sore, busted bodies at night.

I loved the aerial views we got of the hanok village.

Here’s Henry dreaming of living out here, alone…just a middle-aged man and his kimchi pots.

Chooch recreated his Instagram-famous Gamcheon Culture Village pose from last year.

Anyway, the little hill wasn’t that large so we made it to the top in no time. It was just like a little forest park up there, and we considered just turning around and heading back, but then we saw another set of steps on the other side of the hill, so we took those ones to see where they led, because YOLO or whatever, right?

Do the kids still say that?

No?

Good.

Anyway, at the bottom of the steps, we found ourselves outside of the hanok village and next to a road, and across the street was Jaman Mural Village, which was actually on my list of things to see in Jeonju!

Also, Korea and their mural villages. Jesus.

Since the day was so dreary, the mural village was a ghost town, although there was this group of tourists, who we think were German, that we kept running into and they were getting on Henry’s nerves for some reason.

We happened upon this food stand which was featured on Korean Englishman (one of our favorite YouTubers). They sell waffle-wrapped bibimbap but tragically, we were all still too full from our lunch to try one! #ANGONYFACEEMOJI

I tried to coax Henry into buying one just so I could have a bite but even Trashcan Stomach had reached his food intake limit, can you ever believe it.

FUCK I WANT ONE OF THOSE RIGHT NOW.

It started raining so we dipped into the closest cafe and it was so quaint! The older woman running it was very sweet and it was a comfortable refuge from the downpour. There were two high school-aged girls sitting near us, giggling like….well, school girls. I loved it. Chooch was obsessed with this book by Neil Patrick Harris so he was happy to have an opportunity to relax and get some reading in.

The Maybe Germans walked by while we were inside and Henry was so angry.

The rain died down after 30 minutes or so and we continued our exploration of the village. Chooch found a cat almost immediately and then I became with these fruit-things, which Henry’s phone said might be guava.

If so, I’m no longer obsessed.

Guava and I just aren’t friends. I don’t mind guava flavored things but the actual fruit can go kindly fuck itself.

Jaman Mural Village is built into a steep hillside so the views were sweeping no matter where you stood.

This little path was so steep and my backpack kept threatening to topple me over backward.

When Chooch and I posed for this, I bitched because I wanted Chooch to do the same pose as me….

…so he did, but then he called me a crybaby. WHATEVER, IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY TRIP NOT HIS.

Random Edward Scissorhands mural.

This cafe though!!! I wish it wasn’t closed that day.

You never when you’re going to turn a corner in Korea and find yourself in front of some historical monument from an ancient dynasty.

It never gets old.

Me, my iced Americano, and the Imokdae memorial.

And then more murals of Western pop stars…

While on the hillside, we also stumbled upon a lady running a balloon-dart game, which Chooch sucked at and only managed to get a small prize, which was some strange stuffed cartoon carp.

I BET YOU THINK THIS JEONJU IS CLOSED NOW. Well, you’re wrong. Get out your bookmark because the Neverending Story, Part Korea continues tomorrow with (probably) one last Jeonju recap, and then FINALLY I can start telling you about our day at Lotte World, a/k/a Korea’s Disneyworld. It was quite an experience.

Aug 242019
 

I came pretty close to eschewing our traditional end of summer trip to Kennywood this year because we have two amusement parks we’re doing during Labor Day weekend, but the coaster enthusiast in me was all “hold up, wait a minute—you’re seriously going to wait until next year to ride the brand new Steel Curtain?”

It was less of a desire to ride it but more of not wanting to have FOMO by not riding it in its debut season.

My issue with this new ride is that it just didn’t look that great in any of the POVs I watched but mostly – it’s themed to the STEELERS. YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I HATE NOT ONLY FOOTBALL BUT THE STEELERS SPECIFICALLY.

It is literally one of the worst things about living in Pittsburgh, having to rub elbows with those insufferable Yinzer Steelers fans, do not even get me started.

Anyway, I took the day off on Tuesday, the last operating weekday of the season, but Henry was like “LOL nah I’m good.” So it was just Chooch and me, the Diabolical Duo, the Pathetic Pair, the Terrible Twosome, the…you get the idea.

The downside to this is that we didn’t have anyone to make fun of/boss around all day/take our pictures on rides/get our food/drive us there & back/hold our bags.

Henry, you useful motherfucker, you.

So,  not only is the new coaster themed after the Steelers, but there is an entire new section of the park dedicated to those meatheads, called Steelers Country. I hate this so much.

Also, the new ride is called Steel Curtain and that’s dumb. I don’t even know what that means aside from something footbally.

But I digress.

Chooch and I got to the park right before the gates opened and then had the same idea as most everyone else and ran toward the entrance of the Steel Curtain. My first thoughts:

HOLY SHIT, WHAT AN EYESORE.

I mean, I already knew that it was because I had seen pictures, but being inside the park and seeing it for myself was really jarring. Kennywood’s landscape as we know it is totally changed, you guys. It looks like something I would have tried to design in Roller Coaster Tycoon, but then it would end up being unrideable because I never had any idea what I was doing.

OK, let’s move on from the aesthetics, because we all know what the most important thing: is this ride good or naw? Well, it took us about 90 minutes to get on the thing, because the ride wasn’t running yet for the first 30 minutes we were waiting, and then we wanted front row, so that took a bit longer, and while we were standing in the queue for the front row was when I realized that the damn thing plays Renegade every time a train goes up the lift hill.

That has to get super old for the ride operators.

Anyway, Henry  told me later that this is because that’s the song that’s played at Steelers games and OMG IS HENRY WATCHING FOOTBALL BEHIND MY BACK!?

Even though they were running two trains, the operations were sooooo bad. The dispatching was dreadful and the next train doesn’t start up the lift hill until the previous train comes back so two train ops doesn’t make to much of a difference.

Now, I’m only partially a coaster nerd so I’m not sure if there is a legit mechanical reason why the dispatch is so abysmal, but it seems weird because this is 2019 and you would think the ride would have been designed to run more efficiently.

OK, minor gripes aside: THIS RIDE SLAPS (I watch a lot of Coaster Idiots on YouTube). My expectations were pretty low, I’m not going to lie, but mostly because I’m so jaded when it comes to the Steelers, but this ride blew me away, almost literally. I didn’t think it looked very tall until we were inching up the lift hill (and I do mean inching — that lift hill was slow AF) nearly on our backs, staring straight up into the sky. And if you’re in the right seat, you got a killer view of the river which is creepy to me but if you’re into those filthy industrial vibes of the Mon, then sit on the right side and lap it up, baby.

Nothing could have prepared me for this ride. I had watched a bunch of videos and review online but being on it, holy shit—it is way faster than it appears, the inversions (a North American record of 9!) are relentless, and there is even a pretty decent airtime hill that really surprised me and actually might be my favorite part?!

I was fucking SHOOK by the time the train entered the brake run. Chooch and I just looked at each other and yelled, “OH MY GOD” in tandem. I guess I was expecting the second half of the track to be a bit boring, kind of like one of their other coasters, Sky Rocket, which runs through all of its tricks and elements right out of the gate and then just kind of goes through the motions for the last half, like it’s taking you on a Sunday joyride.

But Steel Curtain…it’s in it to win it.

My only legit gripe, aside from the theming, is that the lift hill IS SO GODDAMN LOUD.

And the queue line is DIRECTLY BENEATH IT.

I actually had a headache by the time we made it through the line the second time (we rode in the last seat, and the rest of the train was completely filled with blue-shirted Pitt band members so we totally ruined their picture; sorry Pitt band!).

I don’t know if the general public at Kennywood know how much of a big deal this ride is worldwide, but all the coaster vlogs I watch have been FREAKING OUT about it. One of them is from the UK and actually planned a US road trip last June with the intention of coming to Kennywood and riding it, but it wasn’t open yet when he was here. Still, he LOVED Kennywood and it made me feel so proud to watch his review of it! Kennywood is such a great mid-sized park.

I think Henry was expecting a sour review from me but I was blowing up his phone with accolades and super bold statements. I mean, I was even able to overlook the FOOTBALL-SHAPED seats and safety instructions as told by Steelers announcers (I didn’t know that until I watched a YouTube review the next day and they were like, OMG SO-AND-SO ARE THE VOICES ON THE SAFETY RECORDING.

OK cool.

We also got in one last ride – AT NIGHT.

IN THE BACK.

It was…a beautiful experience. We were screaming our faces off.

When we were in line for it the last time, someone behind me, “It’s about time they got a Steelers ride here.”

AND HE WASN’T BEING FACETIOUS.

The historic Log Jammer had to be removed to accommodate for this right and I am still salty over that, but I can’t deny that Kennywood…scored a touchdown (UGH) with this black & gold bastard.

(The Phantom is still my favorite coaster in the park, especially for night rides.)

Aug 232019
 

One of the most-asked questions I got when I came back from vacation was WHAT DID YOU BUY and my answers always disappoint people because I’m not a huge shopper. Last year, I got a pair of Gentle Monsters sunglasses as my “big” purchase, but this time around, I just picked up some little things that I liked. So, here are five of those little things which will probably be super disappointing but I LIKE THESE THINGS OK. (Don’t worry, I won’t make you look at all the kpop merch I brought back, lol.)

  1. This mask from Harajuku, Japan

I collect masks, all sorts of masks, whether they’re cheapo vintage Kmart Halloween masks, masks that my kid made in school, or traditional/historical masks. I saw this one from several stalls away in Harajuku and needed it for my collection. The tag on it says “designed and sold in Japan” so that was good enough for my authenticity check!

Chooch came downstairs the other night in his “movie-watching” robe and I was inspired to do a brief photoshoot with the new mask.

HNC had his porch light on and I was like GO STAND ON HNC’S PORCH because I thought it would be cool but Chooch was like WHAT IF HE SHOOTS ME but I feel like HNC is always just buzzed enough that he would probably be like, “Oh hey stranger in a weird mask and robe standing on my porch at 10:30 at night, want a brewski?”

Chooch also peeked into Blake’s front window in hopes of scaring him but Blake just looked over and nodded. Tough crowd.

2. Holika Holika Milky Cushion

Everyone knows that k-beauty is the best beauty, and I had been putting off buying this latest Holika Holika /Peko collab online since I knew I would eventually be in Korea. The nicest salesgirl helped me find the right shade for me and even talked me into buying the same lip color she was wearing (I never thought I would be a coral-type of person until I started using Korean brand cosmetics!).

Anyway, look how cute the packaging is! A little milk carton! I almost hated to open it.

The compact is absolutely precious and the product is so wonderful and long-lasting! I only apply a very light layer to my skin because otherwise it makes me look absolutely ghostly. I also bought a bunch of Peripera lip color and that is my absolute favorite lip product ever. CVS even sells it now but it’s like double the price because America.

Anyway, also pictured is the crucifix I bought in Jeonju!

3. SNACKS

Come on, you don’t go to Korea and Japan and come home without snacks stashed in your suitcase. We brought back all kinds but my personal favorites were:

A boxed set of authentic choco pies from PNB in Jeonju. I will write more about that in my Jeonju recap but these choco pies were legit and now I’m sad that I have to settle for the Lotte choco pies we buy at the Asian markets here. NOT THE SAME.

We also brought back these banana milk Kit Kats from Japan and I’m sad that they’re all gone now. However, my favorite Kit Kats were strawberry tiramisu, which we found outside of Seoul in the small town of Ildong. They were so delicious!

I think my runner-up in the snacks category would be the yogurt almonds – no, not yogurt-coated like raisins or cranberries, but these are almonds that actually flavored after the Korean yogurt drinks. Sweet and tangy! Henry and Chooch were like, “eh…” More for me!

4. BABY HANOK!

There was a ceramics boutique in Insadong called Gallery Dan and they were selling these adorable little Hanok; I had to snatch one up. It has a little hole in the back to stick a flower too. I love it.

The woman who sold it to me was so precious, too. Even the bag it came in was beautiful.

I love collecting little pieces like this. I still have this small vase that I bought in Pompeii when I was little that was supposedly made from volcano ash. It has a chunk taken out of it but I’ve had it since the early 90s so it’s a miracle that’s all that’s wrong with it.

(Now that I wrote that, Drew will probably knock it off the fireplace mantel this weekend.)

5. LIQUOR

Ok so we brought back a nice collection of flavored soju and magkeolli but also wine from Jeonju that comes with this cool ceramic face that I think doubles as a glass (???) and a bottle of North Korean wine!

Haven’t cracked these open yet. Maybe tonight. I always feel the urge to drink after I finish up a Friday late shift.

*****

I also got some jewelry (nothing super expensive or glitzy – just cute stuff that suits my cheap style lol) and clothes, and some other assorted souvenirs like a bunch of coffee cups from various places, but these are just some of my faves and also this was my excuse to take a break from vacation recapping because as much as I love reliving every day spent over there, it is tedious to put it into words! I haven’t even bothered editing the pictures we took with the SLR so crappy iPhone pictures will have to suffice. Wow, I’d make a GREAT travel blogger, wouldn’t I?

Except my Jeonju/Day 4 recaps at some point this weekend, though!

Aug 232019
 

Oh shit you guys, I can’t even tell you how stoked I was for our Jeonju day trip! It almost didn’t happen though because Henry went online to get train tickets the night before and they were all sold out because it’s a popular daytrip destination. But then the next morning, Henry found seats on a different train which were a little more expensive because it’s a sightseeing/tourist train, but YOLO right, guys? I was excited to go to Seoul Station and go down to the train platform! I’m a little kid when it comes to these things so I get easily excited and giddy.

GIDDY ON THE PLATFORM.

Since it was a tourist train, it went a bit slower than the KTX…but it was SO PRETTY!

Highly recommend this train for your slower-paced sightseeing needs.

Chooch was repulsed because I got a pack of chestnuts for my train snack but hey, it’s a popular Korean snack so don’t knock it.

The day started out all gray-skied and sprinkly again but this was really the only day we had available to make this trip so RAIN OR SHINE, MOTHERFUCKERS. I still enjoyed looking at the Korean countryside on the way there. Mountains galore! Henry sat behind us watching boring Middle Aged Man shows on Netflix (probably something about cops) and Chooch alternated between watching dumb YouTube videos and reading. Me? I just observed the people around us (this one guy brought corn on the cob for a snack and he ate it with such confidence that I decided I wanted to live my life like that guy, although it’s been a month and I still haven’t eaten corn on the cob on public transportation. Maybe I’ll whip one out on the trolley this week.

We arrived at the Jeonju train station around 11am and took a taxi (our first Korean taxi!) to Jeonju Hanok Village. It was about a fifteen minute trip and easier than trying to figure out which bus to take.

The Hanok Village here is one of the largest in Korea and if you have learned anything about me from (pretending to) read these Korea recaps, it’s that I love me some hanok. But the main reason why I wanted to go is because it’s also the birthplace of my favorite Korean dish, bibimbap. This was the first Korean food I ever had, decades ago, and likely didn’t even realize I was eating Korean food at the time. I had a friend (emphasis on “had”) whose family friends owned a Korean restaurant here and sometimes we would go so she could visit with the daughter who was around our age. Being a vegetarian, I always got the same thing: bibimbap. I remember loving that it came with a fried egg on top, and that I could NEVER remember the name and always called it “that beebop thing.” Oh, what a long way I’ve come!

It’s funny how exciting a travel day within a vacation can be! There are still thousands of things we have left to explore in Seoul alone, but that city still feels somewhat familiar to us, so getting away for a day to traipse around a quieter, smaller city was thrilling. I was so happy to be there! Even though Jeonju’s hankok village is a popular tourist destination (even for domestic travel), it was still so much quieter and slower-paced than being in Seoul.

Chooch was starting to get his hunger-attitude (note the forced smile) so after a brief walk of the area, we decided it was time to find a bibimbap place, and fast. Luckily, there were a ton to choose from.

Henry was already walking so far ahead of us because we get on his nerves, I guess. THAT’S FINE. It’s easier for us to make fun of him this way. And oh, the fun we made, folks. OH THE FUN WE MADE.

We chose this cute little spot for our bibimbap lunch. Except that Henry doesn’t like bibimbap and got something else.

Doesn’t he just look so wonderful to be around? Luckily, the food really gave him life.

The best thing about Korean restaurants is that even though you typically get your food really fast, you’re given an array of banchan (side dishes) to share before your main meal comes out so any present HANGER is sure to quickly subside almost immediately after ordering.

SO SMART.

Plus, the banchan is usually an assortment of kimchi and other vegetables, so it’s not like filling up on mozzarella sticks and loaded potato skins. It’s a healthy yet delicious pre-game! Also, most restaurants give free refills on the banchan too! You’re lucky if you can get free drink refills in most American restaurants these days.

THE MAIN ATTRACTION: Jeonju bibimbap! It was very satisfying and filling without making me feel like I had a rice-brick in my stomach, which is how I sometimes feel after eating bibimbap in America. This one was light and had an interesting variety of vegetables not usually found in Western bibimbap, like fernbrake, a walnut, something that I believe was a gingko nut?

Another must-do in Jeonju is PNB BAKERY! It claims to be one of the oldest bakeries in Korea, but also the originator of the famous choco pies, which have become mass-produced by companies such as Lotte and Orion. North Korea banned them in 2014 and they have since become a hot commodity on the black market. The NK soldier who defected last year requested a choco pie when he was in the hospital and Orion gave him a lifetime supply.

Choco pies are NO JOKE in Korea. We buy boxes of them sometimes at the Asian market here in Pittsburgh, but like anything else, they taste so much better in Korea.

But these ones from PNB? Holy goddamn shit, next level. They are, obviously, unbelievably fresh and come in 6 varieties, and instead of a marshmallow filling like the ones from Lotte and Orion, these ones are stuffed with fresh, smooth cream.

Hold on. I’m choking on my saliva at the memory.

We each bought one to eat while we were there, and then stopped back to get a box before going back to Seoul, and believe me — we tried to make them last as long as possible once we got back to Pittsburgh, but it was tough. These things are legit.

I have to see if I can buy them online…

Hanok Village has lots of soothing fountain and water features throughout, and the main drag is even divided by a little stream which was delightful to walk along. You could also rent these little electric car things which were kind of golf carts but cooler and Chooch was begging us to get one but only because he wanted to drive it and there was no way that was happening. Those things were a hazard with OTHER people driving them, I can only imagine the devastation that Chooch would leave in his wake.

We almost got flattened several times by those things.

We went inside this nice (TOO NICE) boutique of local crafts and tea sets, but pretty much everything was well out of our budget (and probably most people’s budgets, if we’re being honest – Chooch’s eyes bugged out at some of the price tags). There were things in there that I could definitely imagine my grandma making my pappap buy though.

So, you know. It was like THAT.

One of those OMG DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING shops.

It sure was pretty though.

A lot of the shops and restaurants were just in Korean so it was another time when it was helpful that I could at least read it. I’m pretty much map-illiterate (I couldn’t remember the word ‘illiterate’ and had to google it, I swear the only thing that has changed about me since turning 40 is that I’m getting dumber quicker), so I’m always happy to have some other useful skill while traveling, lol. Because aside from that I’m W-O-R-T-H-L-E-S-S.

Just like my daddy used to always say!

Lol.

Remember when I said I’m obsessed with hanok?

Yeah. Sigh.

More dumb poses.

Then we were like, “WHAT IS UP THERE I WONDER” because we some people climbing the steps so we followed like lemmings and that is how we exactly found the MURAL VILLAGE which is coming atchu next time, let a girl rest her fingertips. Ouch.

Aug 222019
 

I’m really slogging through this as fast as I can before I start forgetting the pertinents! It was all such a whirlwind and I didn’t realize just how much we actually did until I started sorting through all the pictures on my phone, like whoa.

But anyway, after an afternoon of shopping in superfluous Sinsa stores, we got back on the subway to go even deeper into Gangnam, where Coex and SMTown reside in all their Goliath glory.

We went to SMTown last year as well…but the museum portion of the experience was not yet fully constructed so of course I needed to go back because there is an entire SHINee exhibit and that alone was worth to me, especially since SHINee themselves have toured it!

Also something to note is that this time around, Henry was so much more experienced with the subway, that he got us straight to Coex with no hiccups. In fact, this time we got off at an exit that literally spilled us right out into the Coex/SMtown plaza and I asked, “Why didn’t we go this way last year?” and he just glowered at me in response.

I dunno, I guess Google maps had a big update since the last time we were there and now it actually tells you which line and exit to take. It definitely did not do that last time and Naver maps is all in Korean, so it was like taking a leap of faith every time we got on the subway.

Once we were inside SMTown, Henry very quickly bowed out of touring the actual museum portion because it cost like $15 god forbid. So Chooch and I went ahead and did this without him. We got to choose from a variety of passes to wear around our necks and we made a huge production out of this. The SHINee ones that had available were an Odd Eye design, and then ones with Onew and Key. I was sad there was no Taemin option (and I also found this kind of strange!) so I chose Key because I was really liked his solo album from earlier in the year. Chooch chose one that had a black and white picture of Red Velvet and then painstakingly filled out the back with his contact information while an SMTown employee giggled at him.

The museum is actually quite large and takes you down SM memory lane, starting with the founding of SM in 1989 by Lee Soo-man, who was also a performer himself. Before BTS broke into the western market, SM was widely considered to be the apex of the Hallyu Wave what with the crazy success and popularity of groups like TVXQ, Girl’s Generation, Super Junior, SHINee, and EXO. They figured out the formula and ran with it.

There are also displays of various outfits/costumes worn in popular music videos, like the above suits that my beloved SHINee wore in their first comeback video after the passing of Jonghyun, “Good Evening.”

Each group or artist had their own section of memorabilia, history, behind the scenes photos from videos. And there were also rooms designed to make it look like you were on the set of certain videos, with photo ops! This was our favorite part.

Of course we had to stand in a stupid line at the end and buy prints of the ones we liked best (which was all of them but Henry had joined us at this point and was like JUST PICK A FEW!!!!! as Won signs came out of his ears like smoke signals.

It was cool because the idols “interacted” with you before the pictures were taken. Chooch was really good at acting back with them but I always just stood there with one hand up and a surprised look on my stupid face. There was also an option to purchase a digital video of all of the “photo shoots” too but I didn’t want a forever-copy of myself looking like a deer in headlights.

I thought that maybe Chooch would get bored or rush me through, but he was just as interested and entertained as I was. We had fun looking for all of our favorites in the big collage of Polaroids and sending Henry photos of his Red Velvet and NCT biases (he never thanked us, by the way).

Actual wardrobe from various videos and music show performances!

Shockingly, there weren’t a ton of people there that day (that’s because they were all in the cafe and gift shop, as we’d find out later) so we really got to take our time and mess around with props and read all of the interesting descriptions.

Maybe you might be thinking, “This is so stupid, why would you want to do something like this while in Seoul” and it’s kind of similar to going to the Rock n’ Roll hall of fame in Cleveland–if you really like a certain type of music, these things aren’t stupid or a waste of time. For me, it’s like paying respect to groups that have added so much light and happiness to my life!

To Henry, it’s just another way for SM to be even more of a cash cow, and…I won’t disagree with that, lol. But even with all the hardships and scandals YG Entertainment has been going through, if they offered an experience like this, you best believe I’d be relinquishing my wallet to them.

And if a museum ever opened in England in homage to the Cure? Book me the next flight.

I love shit like this.

Sweet Jonghyun. </3

These are the clothes from the View video.

And this whole room had artifacts from the Married to the Music video which is coincidentally playing behind me as I type this!

The first time I saw this video, I fell in love with SHINee even harder and knew that stanning them was right.

It gave me so many Halloween dinner party ideas!

Some f(x) love! I don’t think they’re ever coming out of hiatus though, sadly. Krystal just recently announced that she doesn’t want to perform anymore, but I hope she at least keeps acting because she is always so good in dramas!!

We weren’t sure if people are allowed to sit in this chair, but there was no sign saying not to and no one was around to scold us, so…

Ugh, there should be a mold of Donghae’s face. He is seriously so beautiful and I should know – I stood about ten feet from him on a sidewalk in NYC last year! I honestly almost dropped to the ground in front of him, those strong visuals hit my body like a handful of muscle relaxers.

Henry texted me after an hour and was like, “…are you guys still in there?” Uh, yes. Getting our money’s worth!

NCT!!

Eventually, we made it to the end of the museum which, as I mentioned earlier, spit us out right into the madhouse that is the SM Cafe and Gift Shop. Hooooo boy, every fucking kpop-loving foreigner was up in that piece and there was Henry, standing alone, looking absolutely frayed and violated. It was pretty hilarious. It took us a good 30 minutes to get our pictures paid for and printed, and then Chooch wanted and EXO tumbler which required us to stand in the long cafe line, but that at least went pretty quickly.

We were really reaching the hunger boiler point by now, and planned on going to Plant, a vegan joint in Itaewon, but I was like, “WAITTTTTT, STARFIELD!!”

I was not going to be that close, twice in two visits, without finally seeing this incredible library-cum-art installation!

And it was worth it. Even if it meant braving the Saturday afternoon mall crowds in order to experience it. And wow, let me tell you—that mall was PACKED. Mall culture is alive and well in Seoul!

The amazing thing is that people really do grab a book and read here.

Then after that, I stalled my travel cohorts one more time so that I could get a quick video of the area and they wanted to kill me, but I thought that commercial playing on the giant screen was cute OK?!

Luckily, Itaewon is only a few stops away from Coex, so we got to Plant in no time and since it was only about 4:30 at this point, we managed to beat the dinner rush and got seated right away. First of all, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Who goes to Seoul and eats vegan food?!” but look: their veg scene has really been heating up over the last several years, and I have heard a lot of rave reviews about Plant, from vegans and carnivores alike.

Because it’s in Itaewon, a neighborhood in Seoul known for its large population of expats, I assumed that this place was started by one of those aforementioned expats; turns out, the owner was born in Busan, but has lived everywhere from the Ivory Coast to the US, before moving back to Korea in 2006. One of the other chefs is an American Korean, but the staff we saw that day was comprised entirely of expats – our waitress was Australian, for instance. Everyone in there was speaking English, and the whole vibe and aesthetic also reminded me so much of home that I almost forgot I was in Korea! It was pretty weird.

Henry treated himself after enduring 2 hours alone in SMTown haha.

Shit you guys, Chooch and I both had the chili burger and I’m not lying — it may have been the best homemade veggie burger of my life. The bun was incredible, the fries were so satisfying, the whole place was just so homey — I could definitely see myself easing into a Plant regular if I lived in Seoul.

(God, why don’t I live in Seoul!?!?)

Even Henry was like, “I’m comfortable enough in my meathood to admit that this is a delicious non-meat meal.”

Capped off the night with some Hongdae strolling while Chooch hung back in the room because he decided that waking up from his evening nap was not an option.

I made Henry go to his least favorite Korean store of all time, Chuu, but I sadly didn’t see anything I was interested in buying! That was a bummer, because last year I was panicked about the whole free-size thing and OMG what if nothing fit me, but then I bought a shirt from Chuu last winter and it was so comfortable and flattering, so I couldn’t wait to go back in person and buy clothes. But nothing caught my eye!

Then we had a late night convenience store run before heading back to the room and I finally got a real life Idol Sandwich! This one was from 7-Eleven I think, and it was the seasonal blueberry variety. It was SO FUCKING DELICIOUS. There is something about the bouncy, chewy bread that they use in Korea that really makes sandwiches POP. Would I go to the CoGo’s down the street from my house and buy a sandwich? FUCK NO. Would I confidently eat a sandwich from pretty much any convenience store in Korea? FUCK YEAH BRING IT. Their convenience stores are so superior to ours in America.

For instance, if something is out of date, the cashier won’t be able to ring it up! That happened to us! I couldn’t believe it.

Anyway, this concludes the three-part summary of our third day in Korea. It was definitely the first REALLY GOOD, everything feels normal again, day that we had since arriving and I was so relieved. My eye was nearly healed, the jetlag fog had finally evaporated, I felt fully functioning and oriented – from here on every day was better than the last. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish recapping it before winter, haha.

Aug 212019
 

So in my last post I was getting all high and mighty about how I love exploring old historical stuff but now I’m gonna be all contrary and tell you that one of my favorite things about Seoul is their weird, eclectic collection of stores masquerading as modern art installations.

One of the best areas for these quirky (and pricey) boutiques is Sinsa-dong, home of the famed Garosu-gil which is a tree-lined street full of designer $$$$ stores and fancy cafes. So like, Henry’s hell.

This is also near Gangnam, which is the majorly high-class part of Seoul, the subject of Psy’s hit crossover pop song “Gangnam Style,” and Plastic Surgery Town. Basically, we knew we were in Sinsa-dong when we got off the subway and were assayed by giant plastic surgery ads all over the station. People take “medical vacations” to Seoul, specifically to get plastic surgery and the whole time we were there, I kept examining my aging face in the mirror and musing, “Maybe I should get some work down while we’re here” and Henry’s frown (and eyeball dollar signs) pushed me onto my ass.

…which COULD ALSO USE SOME WORK.

You can maybe see why this isn’t Mr. Plain Wal-Mart T-Shirt’s ideal spot to spend a Saturday.

Or any day.

But you really can’t go to Seoul without experiencing this area…and nearly get run over by BMWs and Porches with tinted windows along the narrow side streets. (Henry’s like, “Yeah you can.”) And I was insistent that we make it out there because the Garosu-girl Gentle Monster was currently running a pop-up cafe in collaboration with Fendi! I saw pictures on Instagram and was naturally hypnotized by the aesthetics.

Something that Henry is immune to.

On the walk there, we passed this totally cool Baskin Robbins which really rubbed the salt in the wound of the recent horrible experience I had in an AMERICAN Baskin Robbins.

Ice cream ATM, you guys. I’m looking into having one of these installed in our office at the Law Firm.

No, we didn’t get anything! We knew that we were going to be scarfing down 1000s of calories at the Gentle Monster cafe in a few minutes, so we abstained from acting like stereotypical ‘mericans just let loose in the cookie aisle of Walmart.

Even the classy Sinsa area of Seoul has these stupid claw machine arcades, ughhh. I hate them because they put Chooch in such a shitty mood! And just as expected, he was a little jerk for about an hour after not winning anything. I fear that this is the gateway to the gambling and I’m so nervous for his future.

Luckily, Gentle Monster was right around the corner and we arrived just as the cafe was opening. There was already a small group of people waiting, and I was glad that we got there early because I have heard that some of the items sell out quickly and it often is too crowded to even get a seat.

I really didn’t want to sit outside and eat melty desserts, thanks.

Chooch got the first Fendi popsicle of the day! Hilariously,  this is the only Fendi we can comfortably afford, so hopefully Chooch savored every last lick.

(He certainly didn’t let the rest of us taste it.)

His super-verbose review was that it was “good.”

The dessert display inside was gorgeous, and also kind of like a game of “which one is edible?”

We chose the set of three banana which were surprisingly soft – we were all expecting more of a hardened candy-coating, or maybe something akin to fondant, but it was a soft icing-like consistency and each was filled with a different type of mousse. They were extremely decadent and fulfilling. I wish I could have them with coffee everyday.

The moss-looking tree stump was actually a pistachio cake topped with an almond cookie and it was also WORTH IT. And we all fought over the last bits like starving birds who found a tin of severed toes in a junkyard during the apocalypse.

We got to sit in the best room of the cafe since we got there early!

Chooch was pissed because we didn’t let him have the entire cookie off the cake and I pointed out that he had just had a popsicle so then I was accused of fat-shaming him and that really set the tone but deep down I knew he was still surly about that fucking claw machine. But then he was happy because he took this tilted picture of me and I actually liked it and I am super hard to please with pictures.

My iced Americano didn’t taste any better in a cup with Fendi scrawled across it but it was still refreshing.

The main Gentle Monster showroom across the street didn’t open until noon so we went shopping at Aland. I LOVE Aland. They sell CosRX products there and I really like CosRX facial cleansers so I got one of those and also discovered the Korean clothing line Dear Stalker which I fell in love with immediately and bought one shirt even though I wanted them all.

Chooch was being a pissy brat and actually disappeared to be alone with his brooding sulkiness but then we found him (it was one of those, “Oh shit, does anyone know where Chooch is?” moments) and showed him the Wiggle Wiggle section–Wiggle Wiggle is another Korean brand and they have some of the best phone cases. One of my most recent phone cases is actually from Wiggle Wiggle, so Chooch was like, “OH GREAT MOM IS PROBABLY GOING TO GET ANOTHER PHONE CASE BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS FOR HER” and yeah he’s right because this was MY BIRTHDAY TRIP but anyway, I was nice and said that he could get a phone case and he was excited because they had a Corgi one so he got to add another thing to his Corgi collection that has everything but a real Corgi in it.

Admiring his new case while adjusting his attitude.

Henry’s lucky that he was off “looking for a garbage can” while also conveniently being the keeper of all of the money, because I would have thrown down some major ₩₩₩₩₩₩ at Stretch Angels. Their bags are so appealing to me! And their store gave me MUCH interior decorating inspo.

Henry really missed out on this one, that’s for sure.

But no worries, because Gentle Monster was open and ready to accept Henry’s sneers and grimaces!

I kept trying to get Henry to buy new frames but he was all, “THEN I WILL HAVE TO PAY A LOT OF MONEY FOR LENSES” and I was like, “Yes, but you will have GENTLE MONSTER frames, so…”

I thought for a second that I almost had him swayed when we found some cool black frames, but then he backed out.

And Chooch was mad because still, a year later, we wouldn’t buy him a pair of sunglasses.

One of the salespeople saw him trying to figure out how to put on this one pair, which is always a questionable thing when you have to figure out how to put on a pair of sunglasses, so she came over and happily demonstrated for him. Then she was like, “Here, you try” and this is why I love Gentle Monster – for as artsy and peacocky as their glasses are, the people who work there (and we have been to like 5 of them) are so kind and helpful! They don’t breathe down your back, they don’t try to upsell, they don’t tell you not to touch or take pictures—they encourage it! It’s just as much of a multi-media, hands-on art experience as it is a shopping trip.

This video was actually from our last day in Seoul, when we went to the Gentle Monster in Hongdae and Chooch was like, “Whoa, look at me, knowing how to open these complicated shades.”

 

Next up was Dr. Jart, a Korean skincare brand that also makes browsing an interactive, stimulating experience.

The outside was themed like an olympic swimming pool, complete with misters which didn’t really help on this sweltering 90 degree day, but thanks for trying, Dr. Jart!

The upper level was themed after Henry’s place of employment. Just kidding, but he does work in the warehouse of a beverage company so this definitely made him feel like home, I think. Complimentary water bottles of varying temperatures were offered and there was a young couple chilling off to the side, on a seat made of water pallets. So strange, yet cool and I wasn’t exactly sure why I was excited about this other than the fact than I was in Korea and everything there makes me happy, even a room decorated with hundreds of water bottles.

Behind those curtains were several sinks where you could wash your hands using this lovely citrus hand wash, which Chooch and I immediately imprinted on. Henry was like, “Oh for god’s sake, fine” and washed his hands too and agreed that it was a very nice cleansing experience and I’ll tell you what, Dr. Jart — great fucking marketing. Because even though we had already perused the actual shop portion of the three-level experience, we marched our asses right back down the steps and bought some of that citrus shit. We actually opted for the hand cream and Chooch also got a lip treatment because he always gets chapped lips in the winter, so…way to think ahead. And the salesgirl threw in a TON of samples for me too and I was stoked because one of the samples was the BB cream, which I love.

Also, props to Dr. Jart for being one of the only skin care shops where you can shop peacefully without a shadow. Sometimes I will leave a shop even though I originally planned on buying something, because the salespeople make me feel so pressured and self-conscious! The two people working at Dr. Jart that day just stayed behind the counter, but they did smile and say hello, so it wasn’t like a frigid, uncomfortable experience. It’s all about balance, salespeople!

This concludes the shopping portion of our Saturday in Sinsa. Next up: SMTown and Plant!

Aug 202019
 

I’m killing time before leaving for Kennywood and thought wow, what a great time to share some of my current favorite kpop songs with the dark abyss of the Internet.

Meanwhile, I guess Jonny Craig has done something pathetic/stupid again because my blog stats are blowing up courtesy of Google searches and all of my anti-Jonny blog posts of yore. So if you’re here because of whatever shitstorm he’s kicked up, stay awhile and check out some good music from good people who aren’t raping women, doing drugs, and scamming their fans!

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The song that has been stuck in my head the most lately is definitely NCT Dream’s Boom and here I will be sharing one of their live performances because I am ob to the sessed with the choreo.

The next song is the solo debut from my Winner bias, Jinu! I just love his soft voice so much. My friend Jiyong told me that in Korea, they call him 사슴진우 because his eyes are like deer eyes. It is so true! I’ve watched this video an embarrassing amount of times since it came out last week.

Chooch and I got to see CIX when we attended the live recording of The Show in Korea and this song was on a constant loop in my head for the rest of the trip. I’ll write more about The Show soon!

And is it even summer without a Red Velvet comeback? I love this song and video! RV always delivers the eye candy & ear worms. It’s like injecting happiness straight into your brain.

Ok well now I’ve fallen into the Taemin Japan concert footage rabbit hole and I’m crying so I guess I should end this now in order to scrub the mascara from my face before leaving for Kennywood.

(SM ENTERTAINMENT: PLEASE RELEASE A DVD OF TAEMIN’S LATEST JAPAN TOUR I WILL BUY IT AND LOVE IT FOREVER.)

Aug 192019
 

I got to some quality weekending and it was just what I needed to come back to earth a bit, or…come back to Pittsburgh, I guess.

Sigh. Pittsburgh. #ugh

Janna came over Friday night and endured FOUR HOURS of looking at our vacation pictures projected onto the TV while Chooch and I argued over minor details and Henry served us pizza and Korean booze.

Janna is a super good sport! I know I’ve been slowly blogging about the trip but it was really fun to sit down and actually tell stories for real and not just plunk out words and wonder if anyone is reading.

I know Janna was paying attention too because she asked lots of really good questions and I felt like a PROFESSOR giving a LECTURE that people actually SIGNED UP FOR.

The next day, I met up with Jiyong for the first time since before I left! We went to Bureau Coffee in E. liberty and I gotta give them a shoutout for not charging extra for milk alternatives. They’re the real MVP. However, their seating is mostly in shared space format and that’s really uncomfortable when you’re there to actually chat with a pal and not stare silently at a laptop.

Anyway, it was fun to talk to Jiyong about the trip and she seemed surprise at how many different places we managed to cram in, and also we gossiped about Korean news and gushed about the possibility that Heechul and Momo are dating and talked about how much we like Jinu’s solo debut.

I’ve never been the type of person who needs to have friends that are exactly like me but it’s really been nice having a pal here in the Burgh who I can talk to about my niche Korean interests! Usually after we hang out, I spend the next two days excitedly saying, “Oh yeah and Jiyong said…” to Henry.

Later that night, Henry and I drank some of our souvenirs while planning our next (hypothetical but hopeful) trip which is shockingly not to Korea this time but don’t worry I WILL RETURN TO THE MOTHER HANGUK the year after!

You know there was some Taemin action in there at some point too.

Sunday the 18th was G-Dragon’s birthday! So I busted out the GD socks I bought in Myeongdong on this past trip. MY KING!!

After Chooch’s piano lesson on Sunday, we headed on up to Butler where we met Tommy & Jessy for lunch at Reichholds.

Henry thought this book said “Born to Be White” and I mean, we were in the right (white?) area for that to be accurate. #yikes

Oh man, the service was sooooo slow and there seemed to be turmoil left and right but I had the roasted tomato omelette special and it was one of the best omelettes I’ve ever had, possibly because of that pesto smear on top.

Turns out that Tommy & Jessy are regulars here and the entire waitstaff knows them which made for a wildly entertaining experience and I felt like I was sitting with the In Crowd in the middle school cafeteria, you know?

Our waitress asked Jessy what my name was—twice–because Jessy mentioned at the beginning of the meal that this was my bday lunch, so the next thing I knew, everything got quiet and someone turned on some creepy old-fashioned recording of the Happy Birthday Song and then a birthday pancake was placed before me.

It was so sweet! I mean, the pancake was sweet but the sentiment too!

But of course Tommy couldn’t let Chooch and me have a peaceful meal. He antagonized Chooch from across the table the entire afternoon until Chooch was like THATS IT and made Henry switch seats so that he could sit across from Tommy and kick him. Meanwhile, Tommy overheard me telling Jessy that I met G-Dragon’s dad so he kept telling all the waitresses SHE HUNG OUT WITH GFUNK’S DAD and I was like ITS GDRAGON, STFU!

Ugh!!

We were the last people to leave after the joint closed at 2pm and even though the service was a hot mess, the waitresses were so freaking cool and obviously the company was the best (the Tommy-half of said company is questionable though) and the food was legit. (Chooch ate his strawberry crepes with the verve of a child who’s only fed lima beans at home.)

Tommy and Chooch had a parking lot brawl and then Chooch proposed that Tommy have his picture taken standing underneath the giant roof rooster.

“A dick standing under a cock,” he blurted out and then ran away before Tommy could retaliate with violence. It was an impeccable burn on Chooch’s part!

What a satisfying weekend!