Oregon Chai in Korea

22 09 2013

There are some things from home that I just can’t get enough of and miss like crazy… Being from Oregon, I can think of a few things. Good coffee, smoked salmon, good beer!!!, jerky, Tillamook cheese, Pendleton whiskey, Oregon Ducks Football, and Oregon Chai. Lucky for me, I can get a few of these things here at various import stores or if I’m nice to someone who can go on base and buy it for me. I’ve been here 2.5 years and still haven’t been on any of the bases. I would love to peruse the grocery store, just for nostalgia’s sake. Ahhh, America. 

Well, nobody can find me a bottle of Pendleton, but I can watch the Ducks stomp just about anybody at Traveler’s if I can rally the Oregonians in Bundang to vote for them. There are lots of us! Costco has decent enough salmon, jerky, and Tillamook cheese (Pepper jack for the win mother fathers!!), and more and more, I’m seeing Rogue brews popping up in nearby stores like Homeplus. It’s amazing! 

But alas, no Oregon Chai. Anywhere. 

Mom’s mantra. “If you want something done right…”

This translates to “If you really want it that badly…”

Okay Mom, I get it! I’ll make it myself! Geez! Get out of my head! 

All the ingredients are available in Korea (at foreign food marts/I Love Cookie), or are on iherb, where you can ship fast and cheap to the ROK. (May all the old gods and the new bless that website.) I’ll provide all the links to the stuff I used. I’ve become lactose intolerant since moving to Korea, so I used some soy substitutes. (Still creamy and amazing with soy!)

Oregon Chai Latte mix
1 cup soy milk powder (iherb)
1 cup vanilla “Better than Milk” (iherb)
1 cup non-dairy coffee creamer (Any grocery store, next to the coffee crack packets)
1 packet Jell-o vanilla pudding mix (I Love Cookie has it!) 
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups Nestea instant unsweetened iced tea (iherb)
2 tsp ginger powder (in Korean: 생강)
2 tsp cinnamon (EVERYWHERE)
1 tsp ground cloves (I have only found whole, and that kills non-glass blenders. iherb.)
1 tsp cardamom (no luck finding this, so iherb!)
1 tsp nutmeg (Foreign food markets)
1 tsp allspice (foreign food market. Not sure about Cookie. iherb link for the lazy/busy)
1/4 tsp white pepper (optional)

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Then, turn that course, beautiful mixture into something a bit more industrial, more instant. Cup by cup, blend the mix in a blender until everything is finely ground. NOTE: please make sure your blender is bone dry, otherwise things get gummy. Store in an airtight container. Any humidity will turn this mix to stone… and we know how humid it gets here! 

Mix 2 big tablespoonish scoops with 8 ounces of hot water or milky drink of your choice. Bonus points if you mix it with coffee for a DIRTY CHAI! 



For real. I went camping over Chuseok and one of the highlights was a dirty chai while the sun was coming up over the trees. We were down in a canyon with a river, and there was fog. Felt like all sorts of home. 



Camping in Deokjeokdo

21 07 2013

Over the last two plus years, I can say that I’ve traveled in Korea more than most Koreans. There are a handful of places still on my hitlist, but Deokjeokdo wasn’t even on my radar when my friends Katie, Stef, and Na invited me to go. In the last year or so, I’ve accumulated quite a bit of camping gear, but haven’t really had many opportunities to camp. I’ve gotten pretty accustomed to crashing in pensions in the mostly empty big rooms on a pile of blankets. Not this time! Camping time!

We searched Naver maps and blogs to find all the best info on Deokjeokdo, which mostly turned out to be wrong and outdated, so we had to wing it. I’ll try and give some more realistic advice for your adventure!

First thing, is that there are only two ferries that go to Deokjeokdo each day. The first leaves at 8, the second leaves at noon. For the sake of travel time, go for the 8 AM boat, because you’ll want as much time on the beautiful beaches as possible. Getting to the ferry terminal is a fun experience, because you’ll get to try and negotiate with terrorists, err, taxi drivers. Since the ferry is so far out, the drivers from Oido Station wouldn’t budge for less than 20,000 won. The estimate is 13,000 won on Naver, but since they have to come back to civilization, they want extra moola. Without traffic, it’s about a 20 minute ride.

Here’s a map to give you an idea of how far out of civilization it is:


We got ferry tickets to Deokjeokdo for 9,800 won each way, and the boat takes about two hours. Make sure you get there early, because tickets tend to sell out on summer weekends according to the tourist info line.

While on the boat, do your best to avoid the little kids with shrimp chips. They feed the seagulls from their hands. You will get pooped on. There is indoor and outdoor seating, but the ground is a little dirty. I recommend bringing a beach mat with you (you can find these at Daiso for next to nothing.)


Once you get to Deokjeokdo, there are several options for beaches. There are not, however, several options for taxis. Try to be the first off the boat and you might find a cab that can take you. Many pensions offer pick up, but the actual cabs on the island are tough to find, and no matter where you go, it’s 15,000. There is a bus that runs around the island, but if you’re in a big group with lots of gear, it’s just easier to grab a cab. Here’s the number of the man we used when we were going back: 010-2055-5855. I didn’t catch his name, but he speaks some English, even though I couldn’t understand him on the phone. I spoke Korean with him the whole time while giving him directions to where we were, then shows up speaking English. Oh well, my Korean skills are improving!

While we were on the ferry from Bangamori, a Korean business man came up and started chatting up Katie, then he proceeded to put whitening cream on Na, and bought us a couple beers. He invited us to go fishing and diving with him, explaining to us how he owns a factory in China that makes makeup brushes, and that diving and fishing is expensive, but he’ll take us and cover it. OKAY LET’S GO!!! But only 4 can go. The other 4 in our group had to find a way to get to the beach. Alone.

I didn’t really like that idea, and our sugar daddy of the day noticed. He had us all pile into the back of a Bongo truck with all our gear, but he had to stop for gas first. I should probably mention that Deokjeokdo is famous for bike riding, and massive 18% grades on hills. Steep stuff.


Not our best idea…


Weak engines and 10 people and gear in the bed of a tiny truck on a big hill at a gas station means crashing backwards into a cement fence and a pretty brick flower bed. Thank God for those otherwise we might have had some serious problems.


Then, they dropped us off at Seopori Beach and went off to lunch… and never came back. Oh well. I’ll dive like crazy next month in Malaysia! 🙂

We set up camp up in the trees back from the beach. It wasn’t even noon and it was HOT. Weather reports suggested 90F for the high. It definitely felt like it. Make sure you bring a frisbee or a soccer ball or something, because this beach is huge and flat at low tide. There’s even some mud for playing! The girls had their own mudfest and were covered head to toe.

Here are a few pictures from my phone:




Homemade Eggnog in Korea!

7 12 2012

Things you’ll never find in Korea #72: Eggnog

One of the things I always love about the holidays is the special foods and drinks. This is why I tend to get roped into cooking for WinK events. But so many people were posting on facebook yesterday about eggnog that it got me going. I made it last winter, but for some reason, I can’t find the recipe that I used. I thought I had it written in my journal, but I guess not. I took a recipe that looked similar, then adapted it to what we have in Korea.

From time to time you will find an ingredient that has about 5 kilos of sugar in it when it is completely unnecessary, (see any expat’s post about garlic bread.) So I’ve gone through the ingredients at my local GS and found the ingredients that ARE NOT SWEET. Except the sugar. That is sweet. Because it’s supposed to be.

Here are the ingredients that you’ll want to find:
– 6-7 Eggs, separated yolks/whites
– 1 pint whole milk (I literally used my Rogue pint glass for this measurement.)
– 1 cup cream
– 1/2 cup sugar (plus 2 tbsp for egg whites)
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 1 tsp nutmeg (add more if you want it. I do.)
– *cinnamon (if you want. I’m a sucker for anything cinnamon)

Whole milk

Cream. No sugar. Nice.

So what I did is this:

Take the egg yolks and whisk them until creamy. Slowly start adding the 1/2 cup sugar. Whisk it like a crazy person. Whisk, add. Whiskwhiskwhiskwhisk, add. Whiskwhiskwhiskwhiskwhiskwhiskwhiskwhisk, add. Whisk until your arms are tired and you end up with some yellowish stuff that resembles a melted Peep doused in marshmallow fluff. Make sure all the sugar is dissolved. It should look like this:


This does no justice to either the color or consistency of the egg fluff.

You might be able to see a few intact grains of sugar in the above picture because my arms were tired. I took a break and took a picture… but I got right back to it! Then set it aside.

Next, your arms are really going to fall off because you get to pretend that you’re a standup mixer. lol. Hilarious. Have you ever tried to whip egg whites into soft peaks without a mixer? Yeah, it sucks. Add the 2 tbsp of sugar and beat the whites into oblivion. Then throw them in the blender for a few whirls if you have one, then pour them back into the bowl and keep going, because they’re just going to fizzle out and you’re going to start swearing at them. Encourage them with a little more sugar. Say nice things to them. Then give up when it’s mildly bubbly and you’re about to say “eff this noise” and the temptation pour them down the sink sets in. That’s a good stopping point.

Give your arms a break and add the cream, milk, and vanilla to the yolk mix. If you want it a little thicker, whip the cream in it first with the vanilla, then add the milk. Add your spices and then gently mix in the egg white mixture. Chill in the refrigerator and drink it later. This mix is good cold, but I especially like it hot… with rum or bourbon.

Even with all this, I added more nutmeg and cinnamon. There’s something wrong with me.

On a side note, I got hired to teach at a new school today. I won’t start until March 2013, but it’s at a fine arts middle/high school. I am freaking STOKED. Gonna go home and celebrate a little bit with my eggnog and booze. My one year gig just turned into three.

Happy Friday!

If you can avoid Korean winters, I would highly recommend it. Unless there’s snow involved.

4 12 2012

Because that’s when the crazy comes out.

I like to think of myself as a mostly logical person. After living in Indonesia, full of jam karet and 90% of things working backwards, and almost 2 years of living Korean style, I’d like to think that I can understand things from the other side of the logical  fence.

For instance, wide open windows in the wonderful -7C temperatures. Fresh air after the room finally gets warm enough for me to take off my wool coats and giant scarf. I get it. Leave the coat on.

This is actually what  I look like now. I can’t put my friggin arms down.

During the summer, there  was this wonderful energy saving campaign to limit the temperature of public offices. Air conditioners couldn’t go below 28C. That equals 82 degrees Fahrenheit. An air conditioner. Valiant effort guys, but productivity drops the second things get uncomfortable. Thankfully my office is separate from the main office and my coteachers have the “blame the foreigner card.” We played that one whenever an administrator would come in here… which they rarely do.

For the winter, the new rule is no heaters above 18C. Again, a toasty 64F. I’m writing this with gloves.

Thankfully, last night I won part of the money from Bundang’s Biggest loser (-8.6 kg!!) and was eager to buy myself a little reward as we were leaving Travelers. Just outside of the station, this vivid royal blue knit scarf was calling. I saw it as I was walking out of the station and thought, “If I win, I’m going to get it.” I won. I went back and used my crappy Korean skills to chat up the vendor and got a whopping 1,000 won discount. Not good enough. I walked away.

As I was walking down the stairs to the subway station I had that feeling. The feeling that I was going to need that scarf, and soon. Screw it. Turned around, went back, told the vendor’s wife that I really wanted that scarf, but their offered price was too expensive, and got it at the price I wanted. I’m a bargaining warrior. (Seriously, I should put my killer price negotiation skills on my resume.)

Good thing I was excited to wear it, because today, we are expecting 3-5 inches of snow and it is currently -5 degrees Celsius. Better known to the students constantly walking in and out of my office as “Shut the door. It’s cold today.”

I get to school to find the gates locked. Both of them. I cannot possibly climb this fence, and there aren’t any spots to climb through. I call my coteachers… nobody answers. I was about 2 seconds from saying “forget this” and walking home when the new painfully shy military assistant guy comes running out and opens the gate for me. Apparently the gates are now to be locked at 8:15 every morning. I come to work at 8:30. Take note: this is crap.

Since the 9th graders are finished with their exams and still have to come to school for a month to basically watch movies and do useless lessons, lots of them have been coming late on a regular basis. So naturally the solution to get kids to school earlier is to lock them out. Make them get to class later… this boggles my mind.

Once I make my way to my office and get settled, my dino-computer finally boots up and I’m ready for my day of 3 whole classes. Then the power goes out. Computer dies, heater dies, lights out. A minute later, things are bright again, my work laptop starts the 8 minute struggle of turning on, and the room is freezing. Where’s the heat? As they might say in Korean, 없어요.

Surprise new law: Space heaters are banned from public buildings, too. It’s a good thing I keep fleece blankets and hand-warmers in my desk drawer. (I kid you not.)

My classes all got cancelled, and lunch was nengmyeon, or cold noodles complete with icy broth… with ice. Then, it started snowing.

What is basically came down to was a moment of “aaaaand I’m going to the coffee shop.”

So I did.

Beauty ensued as the snow fell.

The front courtyard of my school. The principal made two troublemakers clean the path.

The front courtyard of my school. The principal made two troublemakers clean the path.

On the way to the coffee shop

On the way to the coffee shop


One of my favorite boys, about to pwn some of his friends with an awesome snowball!

One of my favorite boys, about to pwn some of his friends with an awesome snowball!


At the coffee shop. lovelovelove

At the coffee shop.

What awesome luck.

6 03 2012

I was looking through my lesson plans from last year, and found a mysterious “Canon_119” folder. 

Guess what was in it? 


As my friend Christian pointed out, all it took was looking for repeatable lessons. Fair enough, sir. Fair enough. 

You guys will get a link for all the wonders of last spring… hopefully before this spring. 

Pomegranate Ginger Lemonade

4 03 2012

One of my favorite things I learned from working at Kyllo’s was how to make Candi’s delicious, delicious pomegranate ginger juice. Well, I found POM in Korea last week and decided it was time to try it out, Korea style.

I scoured the shelves of a few different stores for juices that weren’t too sweet, and after a year of trial and FAIL, I found a few that I wanted to play around with.

I found a pomegranate juice made by Lotte, but it is pretty sweet and diluted, Sunkist Lemonade, and a white grape juice that turned out to be closer to simple syrup than anything else.

I borrowed Jessica’s brave little blender and scrubbed off all the dirt on the half kilo of fresh ginger I got from one of the local markets. I broke it up and blended it until it was on the coarser side of pulpy. When I opened the blender, it was an overwhelming smell of ginger. If you know me, it’s one of the flavors I can literally consume constantly. Ginger tea is almost a daily thing for me. I dropped $5 on 5 ginger cookies that were more licorice than ginger, but still thoroughly enjoyed them. The whoooosh of the burn made me want to make ginger lemon bars. That recipe has been taunting me for months. Alas, it was nearly midnight, and I was making juice.

I boiled the ginger in about 1.5 liters of water for about 30 minutes, then let it sit to cool for a bit.

In a big pot, I mixed the bottle of lemonade, the bottle of POM, the Lotte pomegranate juice, and just a glug of the white grape juice. It was a good mix of tart and a little sweet. The closer I can get to tart flavors, the better. I strained off the ginger chunks and mixed in some of the gingered water, which with a spoonful burned on the way down like it was spiked with something. It was hot. Awesome. Then I added some more.

After everything was bottled, I made some black tea and mixed in some of the spicy goodness. It isn’t cheap to make here, but it is delicious and I’ll definitely be making it again!!

Bon Anniversaire, Korea.

1 03 2012

That’s not the same as saying “Bon voyage!”

Nope, you’re stuck with me for another year.

Tuesday was my one year anniversary of living in Korea. Time sure moved quickly. It doesn’t really seem like it’s been a year yet. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had four seasons in a year since 2009. Plus, being from the Oregon Coast, having four distinct, changing seasons is a new thing to me anyway.

As many of you know, I have a really tough time identifying the amount time that passed since I did something. “The other day” can literally mean months ago. And after mentioning something to a friend of mine that allegedly happened “a while back,” we discovered that “a while” means well over a year. That something was getting ditched for Halloween (in 2010 mind you,) and subsequently buying some vino and watching multiple episodes of 30 Rock, timed perfectly with a friend on the other end of the phone doing the same thing. Good times a while back.

But seriously, I got here yesterday. And it was a good day.

So here are a few photos of some of the things I did. (In no particular order)

On the bike trip in Gyeongju

Busan's Jalgalchi Seafood market sells octopus sashimi so fresh, it still moves.

The teachers' retreat included sashimi, drunken fireworks, and karaoke with the principal in Gangwon-do.

Mychaela and I at the Namsan Tower's lock deck.

Foreigner soccer game: Cheap tickets + free beer/food = serious debauchery.

We bought tickets to go to NK... but we couldn't actually go there.

All time favorite restaurant in the Googs.

Chris and I wandered around Seoul for years looking for this tiny owl museum. Worth it just for the quirkiness!

Never try to put on Daylin's glasses. They're terrible! But Muuido is awesome!!

At Orientation, we were the cool kids. Clearly. (Beware of the creeper)

Beautiful cherry blossoms! And I used to think Trombley was amazing. WOW.

The boys later developed the no-pants rule. Noraebangs get pretty intense!!

You've seen this one before. NYE was a blast!

Lauren and I were eating ice cream on an art instillation in Haeundae. Some guy wanted to take a picture. We obliged.

Dart Bar. All day, erry day. Complete with crazy shirts.

Or randomly running into college friends at MudFest. Great times with Val and friends!

We're in a motorcycle gang. We rented bikes and rode by the river while some idiots abused themselves playing paintball.

Girls night in Hongdae!! Always fun times!

To offset the cost of veggies, I grew my own last year and just started new sprouts! Stoked for peppers and broccoli!

Why Laura asked me to pick up this bike, and why that guy looks so stoked, I'm still not sure. Hongdae is the only explanation.

Spent the afternoon perusing Gyeongbukgung with Chris. That day, he also got a photo my my first-ever, completely Korean conversation with a guy selling fans. I need to go back and get a fan. They were gorgeous.

Orientation got pretty elitist at one point. We were the "Suji 6" (even though I don't live in Suji) and then Dorian jumped in.

Sports day is possibly my favorite school day of the year. This fall, we get sports day AND school festival. I'm excited!!

Deceptive flowers are stinky. Checking out the traditional houses in Gyeongju.

On the train of sparkly socks headed to Busan, which then brings us to the Philippines! Such a blast with Lauren!

Quite possibly my favorite picture of me with my students. On the Double Rock and Roll at Everland. What a crazy day!

So those are just a few of the highlights of this year in Korea. There were highs and lows, complications and smooth sailing days. Friends have come and gone and need to come back. There are some people that need to leave. There were students whom I can’t stand and those I want to adopt. Icky kimchi and delicious kimchi. (I make the delicious kind.)

Either way, my life is so good.

But this is the English Zone!

26 02 2012

Okay guys, I just have to share the ridiculousness that is happening in my office right now.

Last year, all 5 of the teachers here in my office were English teachers. We are in the super fancy, never-gets-used-because-it-cost-too-much, English Zone, after all. Now, all of the long term teachers have been moved up to the 2nd floor main office, and I’m the only one left in here.

The other department heads (NOT English) have been moved in here, and now they’re moving all the English materials out of my office and into the hallway, and moving science/math/Korean stuff in. I really want to protest, since the English materials (DVDs, games, books and other supplies) are all on open bookshelves and are going to be destroyed by the kids in about 4 days, and they moved in lockers that are lockable.

They’ve now detached the water dispenser from the pipes, moved it over about 3 feet and put a paper shredder in its place. Why they couldn’t move the broken fridge and put the shredder there, I still don’t understand. I asked if we could move the mini fridge out to the closet in the English Zone (since it is broken), but they said no, we must keep it in this office. GGGAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!

Godzilla, you understand, right? So why haven't you come to Korea?!?

Though it’s been said, many times, many ways,

Korea is where logic goes to die.

On the bright side, they’ve just demanded that the principal install walls that are real, not the loading dock door and the plastic dividers with windows like we currently have. Let’s hope that we can get in and out after that… since the maintenance guy said that our door lock can’t be fixed until July.

Where’s the tool box? I’m my mother’s daughter, I’ll do it myself.

Wine in Korea is “meh” at best. Watch as we try to find the best of “meh!”

22 02 2012

So Jessica and I decided that we were going to take advantage of all the wine sales going on lately. Emart and HomePlus have been selling a bunch of red wines at a pretty good price over the last few months. From what I’ve read in Korean magazines, wine is a fairly new thing, except for Korean plum wine and raspberry wine, which are very unique flavors and for many, an acquired taste that demands more than your standard bottle of decent wine… such is my case.

This project was slightly inspired by my friend Sara, my distaste for sickeningly sweet red wine (which somehow always gets served at staff dinners…), and my desire to find a palatable red wine at a price that doesn’t rival the Gangnam clubs. Those are pricey. Jessica call the wines we’re testing out “won conscious wines.”

Tonight’s agenda brings us a wine that I found at Emart for a whopping 8,900 won. This is about $10.

Tasty first try! We recommend this one!

We stocked up last time we went shopping, so we have a lineup of wines that we know absolutely nothing about. This one is a Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, 2010, and delicious.

I prefer medium dry wines, not too sweet, fairly rich, but none of that “earthy” crap. I don’t want to feel like I just drank dirt. If my tongue gets dried out, you’re doing it wrong. This one does it right. None of the dry linger, earthy nonsense. Just smooth tasty, slightly fruity, goodness.


(Thanks Jessica for your input. Those were fancy pants, which quickly became sweatpants, by the way.)

Tonight's agenda included not only wine, but also dress up and make-overs, hence the lipstick. 🙂

Anyway. Jess gives it a 9 our of 10, and I’d give it an 8.5. Either way, we’d drink it under most circumstances. Cheers!

Famous on the internet

17 02 2012

When I was a freshman in university, Youtube was a fairly new thing. “Daft Hands” and “The Evolution of Dance” (I met that guy!!) had me mesmerized, and “Charlie The Unicorn” and “Charlie Bit Me” nearly make me lose my shit. They still get me from time to time, you gotta love the throwbacks to 2006.

Now we have things like Bieber and that nonsense Rebecca Black does. (Does she have eardrums? And Glee producers, I’m glaring at you over my Korean hipster frames, since I don’t wear glasses. Unacceptable.) I do love Jenna Marbles and My Drunk Kitchen, so Youtube has its redeeming accounts.

So last year, before I came to Korealand, wonderous world of no-Hulu or America only videos, I saw this little diddy of educational perfections:

I knew I had to do it. They all had such straight faces, but I had to make it fun. Somehow.

But how?

Sing along and dance like an idiot.

My 7th graders were amazing and we put it together (if you take away the drawing signs time) just over an hour. We made the video, and I posted it that night on Youtube. Here it is:

That hooting sound at the beginning is me. I almost dropped the camera while adjusting it on the tripod. Oops. My kids I had so much fun, rocking out and getting into it.

First, facebook liked it. I figured we’d sit pretty at a few hundred views, 303 to be exact.

Turns out, 303 is the number Youtube gets stuck at when a video is going viral.

My friend from Pacific, Vincent, commented on a post that it was moving up on Reddit. I was on my phone and out for the day, so I had no idea the interwebs were blowing up with my lovely students. Reddit has some serious trolls, so I had to do some damage control there. One Redditor so kindly made a meme out of one of my students.

This kid follows me at school. I swear to god he's everywhere, and thanks to a Redditor, now he really is.


After Reddit, it went bananas.

Huffington Post (HOLY CHRISTMAS.)


College Humor


The Independent


Tastefully Offensive!


There were many more, like thedailywhat, buzzfeed, theawesomer, storyful, knowyourmeme, several university websites (like Syracuse, but not Pacific??) and many local news outlets. Sadly, none from Oregon. Cue the sad face. 😦

I did happen to love the commentary from Tuscon Weekly.

And one that I discovered only recently… Perez Hilton posted our video!!

421,666 views right now. Maybe half of them were from me.

I’m SUPER proud of my kids. Here’s to another year of trying to make the textbook irrelevant!

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