Have a fabulous 2012


Gaga: Rest in Peace (b.2002 - d.2010)

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Vegetarian Recipe: Radish Paratha [무로만드는빵]

Radish Paratha at a final stage of frying.
 Impossible is nothing - right!

To kick start, I will give you a very simple recipe - a Paratha ( a flat bread) with a filling.

I am NO expert but whatever and whenever I cooked for friends and family, they complimented it. I guess cooking and recipes are a work in progress. Every time we cook something, there is a slight improvement in it from the previous time. In addition, it is an art - your very original and non plagiarized work.

Ten years ago, when we moved to Seoul, in the beginning, I thought that we do NOT have many vegetable varieties but with time, things have changed. Think of a vegetable and it is highly unlikely that you won't find it.

Among one of the common Korean veges is their radish (무/ moo), it is very close to Daikon but tastes slightly different. It is very juicy and sweet unlike radish in Pakistan. I love to munch it just like that.

Today's dish is Radish Paratha or flat bread with seasoned radish filling

Preparation Time: 45 minutes - 1 Hour.
Cooking Time: 20 Minutes.
Serves: 2 People
Yield : 3 Meduim Size Parathas ( 6 inch).
Variations: Instead of radish, one can use boiled/mashed potatoes or steamed spinach or whatever leftover vegetable or fried meat etc.)

Ingredients for Paratha Dough. ( All the ingredients are sold at Foreign Food Mart, Itaewon, Seoul)

1. 150 gm: Whole wheat flour ( all purpose flour)
2. 1/2 tea spoon: Salt
3. Luke warm water to knead


Mix the dry ingredients together and knead it with luke warm water to make a dough similar to pizza (or bread) dough and set aside for 10 minutes.

Ingredients for the Seasoned Radish Filling

Grated- seasoned Radish

1.  2 cups: Grated radish (grate a radish after peeling it).
2.  3 table spoons: Chopped onion
3.  1 table spoon: Crushed garlic
4.  1 tea spoon: Chopped green Chili peppers
5.  4 table spoons: Chopped coriander
6.  Salt (according to your taste)
7.  1/4 tea spoon: Red Chili powder)
8.  1/2 tea spoon: Crushed Cumin seeds
9.   1/4 tea spoon: Freshly ground black pepper
10. Nutmeg: freshly grated (a pinch/optional)

Mix all the above ingredients for filling and set aside for 5 minutes.


First make two balls (almost twice the size of the golf ball)

 Flat the balls and keep one slightly bigger than the other and spread the filling on the (bigger) flattened out portion.

Spread the filling and after that cover this with the other layer.

While covering it with the other layer, press it with your thumb softly to close it.

That is how it looks once the filling is sandwiched and it is rolled out.
 Now add 2-3 table spoons of oil in a pre heated frying pan at a medium heat and slide your paratha in it. Fry for 5 minutes and then flip it and add a spoon full of oil equally dripping oil in all corners of paratha. Let it fry for 4-6 minutes on medium heat. For a very crispy paratha, slow the heat *and leave it for 5 more minutes. Take it out when it turns golden from both sides (picture is on top) and serve with a chutney or ketchup or lemon or fresh yogurt with mint.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Family Stores (Salvation Army, Seoul)

If you are new in Seoul or South Korea in general then you must know about Family Stores run by the Salvation Army.. It is a place that offers relief to both newcommers and those moving out.

If you have used items you would like to donate or are looking to purchase secondhand or recycled items, consider the Salvation Army Family Stores. You can find both used and never-used goods. The profits from the stores are used to support people in need as well as to fund drug and alcohol abuse treatment and rehabilitation program.

What to donate to Family Stores:

Products: clothes, shoes, miscellaneous, toys, books, furniture etc.

Foods: Fishes and meat, vegetables, fruits, canned foods, rice, rice cakes, soybean paste, seasoning etc.

(Note: the food items are included since the Salvation Army also operates food markets for the elderly, the disabled and others in need.)

Arrange Pick-up by calling 02-365-7084 and ask your Korean friend to help you.

Various Locations of Family Stores:

Namdaemun Store Tel 02-3789-7955 / Subway line 4, Hoehyun station, exit 4

Seongdong Store Tel 02-425-1377 / Subway line 2, Sangwangsimni station, exit 4

Ahyeon Store Tel 02-362-9779 / Subway line 5, Aeogae station, exit 4

Daehak-ro store Tel 02-747-7951 / Subway line 4, Hyehwa station, exit 4

Mapo #1 Store Tel 02-364-1377 / Subway line 6, World Cup Stadium station, exit 1

Bugahyeon Store Tel 02-364-7084 / Subway line 2, Ahyeon station, exit

Seodaemun Store Tel 02-362-9494 / Subway line 5, Seodaemun station, exit 1

Yeonhui Store Tel 02-6272-9494 / Subway line 3, Hongje station, exit 3

Mapo #2 Store Tel 02-702-1377/ Subway line 6, Gwangheungchang station, exit 4

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wall Chalking in Islamabad!

Jamate Islami's public call for Jalsa in Islamabad

Islamabad, my hometown and Pakistan's capital has lost its character at a fast pace in many ways in the last 15 years and is beyond my recognition, I always feel like a stranger in my own hometown - what can be worse? Among many other nuisances (use of loudspeakers, urinating in public etc.), what I have noticed is a new trend of wall chalking which is a crime under Pakistani law.See here.

Every single sector without an exception has fallen to the abusive and at times painful marketing strategy of "wall-chalking". You have to see it to believe it. It surely ring bells about the rule of law within CDA's sphere as well as their negligence on the rise for just about everything!
I came across a newspaper article about the helplessness of the authorities here in the article. It was shocking to know that CDA's limit of fine starts with Rs. 50 (50 cents) and ends at Rs.300 (3 $). Fines should be much higher (to be effective), for God's sake.

I have NOT seen a single moment during my stay in Islamabad that I felt proud about anything positive happening around, all you see is endless insanity, everywhere. The residents seems NOT TO CARE at all - a very sad behaviour because we are crowd in a geographical area called Pakistan. Everbody has built their own safe heavens - barbed wired, guarded and with concrete barriers. All that matters is the safety of few and NOT all. There are little states and kingdoms within a country and a city. If this is the capital's situation then it won't take any rocket science to understand what happens elsewhere in Pakistan.

While on a walk through our neighborhood streets the other day, I came across a children's playground where I saw a patch of shocking pink color on one side of the slide which was pretty disturbing for me. When I moved a little further, I saw the same pink patch on a government school's wall. Today, early in the morning, with a 3 days gap, the pink patch on the wall was adorned with an advertisement, probably done during the wee hours. The jug heads are marketing ,a treatment for patients with psychological disorders.
This raises 2 questions: these people are wall-chalking mercilessly everywhere from school walls to public parks and then the services they are providing are also "very questionable" and in addition are creating more sick than the healthy by their own behaviour.

Now, the question is how to counter Wall - Chalking in our neighborhoods or cities?
There must be a two way strategy to counter wall-chalking.
One: by using electronic media and mass public awareness campaigns.
Two: individually as a citizen by trying to tackle it yourself.

As is always the case in Pakistan, nobody will cooperate or stand by you for a right cause, do NOT frustrate or panic, just do it alone. You will NOT be disappointed, I assure you, something good may happen.

I called CDA, hopeless as they are, they gave me all sort of excuses on how combating wall-chalking is an unmanageable task and this menace is a lost cause - this is government's stand. :-) But I believe that in counter-wall -chalking campaign CDA and Islamabad Police must work hand in hand. This act must be heavily fined so that a person think twice if it is worth it? Heavy fines always work efficiently.

What I did was I called the number of the Mental Health Center written on wall chalked slide and talked to the owner of this hospital and requested him to clean the walls and he agreed after some 15 minutes of conveyancing and pleading. During the conversation he said: do you complained to the religious and political parties for their wall- chalking? At least, in my neighborhood, if I see "any wall-chalking", I report and complain, I replied, in short: yes. I told him NOT to compare himself with the political parties - two wrongs don't make a right. As a nation if we are NOT doing "any good" to this country , we should NOT do any wrong or damage either - the least we can do. Most important of all, avoid to idealize the political parties or their culture, I told this person. It will bring destruction and nothing else, instead, ask yourself a question if your conscience is clear doing what you did?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pakistani Media is God's Vice says BBC!

A very intersting and comprehensive article by BBC Urdu's Wussatullah Khan can be read in detail here. The author has tried to question the limit for the media - the so-called TV Channels. Accroding to him, television  is NOT doing any service for the society but instead is endangering the lives through its unthoughful and provocative programs (where people's private lives becomes a tamasha on TV..why???) and this menace MUST STOP!

There is a famous proverb: "jis ki laathi uski bhains"  or simply put: who has the power has his say.
In case TV channels do NOT know how to use their power in a right and just manner - keeping in view the morals and ethics to do a program - then they must be sued and heavily fined. These days our media ceases to understand that with a camera in hands - they must act responsibily!

In our system, nobody is trying to find wrong within their own ranks and that is interesting for me.

We all remember Madrassa Hafsa's Burqa clad girls (of Lal Masjid Crisis). A detailed report by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) can be read here. Professor Adil Najam in an article entitled "Laathi Raj: Jamia Hafsa's Offensive on a Divided Offensive"  wrote:

"...if one believes that the violent and coerced imposition of any one view - conservative or liberal; secular or religious - is wrong, then one has to reject all laathis (sticks). One has to be as opposed and as appalled at the laathis being wielded by the burqa-clad women on Jamia Hafsa as one was a few weeks ago to the laathis wielded by the police at lawyers..."

Two wrongs don't make a right!

Since the introduction of endless TV channels, degradation of moral, ethical values is on the rise, insanity prevails and the reports and programs have gone from bad to worse which has added fuel to the fire in an already crazy and evil system!


1-  An Article by DAWN News: Big Brother (and Sister) is Watching You

2- Another post at Zee News here.

3- BBC Artile: Moral Policing of Taliban Style by a Pakistani Private Channel.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dragon Year 2012!

Today at midnight, East Asian (China, Koreas, Japan etc.) and Southeast Asia(Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, etc.) along with their diaspora will celebrate the Lunar New Year!

Hence, I wish you all prosperity, progress and peace!

새해복 많이 받으세요!
Happy New Year!
Naya Saal Mubarak Ho!

In Korea, we call it Seolnal (or Seollal / 설날) and it is one of the two most important holidays (the other being Chuseok) where the whole family get together, enjoy time and perform ancestral rituals in their respective hometowns and it is going to be a minimum 3 days holiday.

In China, the New Year is celebrated for 15 days (longest and the most anticipated holiday in China) and everybody likes to spend it with their families, which in turn leads to the biggest internal migration on earth at this time around.

Since, the weather has been strange lately, I hope that everyone reaches home - safe and sound!
I wish everybody a fantastic Year of the [Water] Dragon!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Expats in Pakistan!

My first advice will be: Do NOT bring your baggage to Pakistan, figuratively, that is. It is different from your your own country and has its own customs, traditions and hence, might not fit perfectly in your plans and ideas.
Having said that, I've been getting an idea that NOT many foreigners dare to come to Pakistan but it proved wrong when I boarded a plane bound for Islamabad (right after Eid). To my surprise the flight was full of foreigners except 14 Pakistanies ( I counted them being the last to get the boarding pass). I said to myself, how come with so many of these foreigners still visiting/living in Pakistan do we have such a bad reputation overseas- almost always? Is there anybody onboard who can say a few good things  about this place where they live and live lavishly (in huge mansions or really spacious houses; where they shop until they drop; enjoy exotic/garden-fresh fruits which are either extremely expensive in their respective countries or simply they don't have them; armies of maids, drivers, gardeners, security guards and still are able to have big savings compared to what they save while living in any other country). I think what is lacking wih respect to a foreigner is approaching this country and its people with open hearts and minds.

Pakistan offers a lot to foreigners but rare incidents hijack the spotlight and nothing but bad reviews is all Pakistan gets.
Pakistan has four (five: including monsoon) seasons (this is how Koreans and Japanese introduce their country and it always amazed me what is the big deal about it? Answer is:  other countries in that region have only 2 seasons: summers and rainy). Pakistan also has a great history - from Indus Valley Civilization to its fascinating Buddhist heritage as well as it is a mecca for the sikh religion,  from highest mountain peaks to an endless list of: beautiful landscapes, palaces, forts, walled cities, that are littered all across the country, hence, it ceases to be explored fully.

With all such gems, I feel cheated by the expats in Pakistan (most of them) who write about Pakistan but never tell the whole story, the truth - all they have to share is the bits and pieces of their (or that of others) bad experiences, that is all. I wonder how would they ever know the place if they have a negative/judgemental attitude towards it? A personal attitude is also a kind of baggage that people come with. At times their perspective become norms and no wonder this create a difficult relationship in opening up to a new culture, a new country.

I know, we all complain and criticize as expats and never get tired of it. We usually try to find our own home away from home which leads to frustrations but then, if we give ourself and our new country including the locals  a little time, it is impossible to get stressed!

I guess, travelling is a fantastic learning experience. Embrace any country without bias, in return, you are going to have great stories to tell...!

You will see how the well kept secrets will unfold for you, how out of the blue, great things will happen to you(this has been a blessing for me).

Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, people and much, much more is waiting right around the corner for you - go grab it. All we need to do is to open our hearts and our minds. All we need is to look beyond bias. All we have to do is to get real, get out of the living rooms and de-glue ourself from various screens (TVs, computers, cell phones etc.) and explore the country and the people around. I bet that you will say that: Pakistan is NOT as dangerous as the media tries to show.

The more you expose yourself to the locale, the easier the life will become for you and next time when you will email, blog, tweet etc.  about any country including Pakistan - I assure you that you will have tons of positive things to write about it!

I am confident that once, you will leave Pakistan for good, you will miss it and miss it terribly!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An Indonesian Student Buried at the H-8 Graveyard!

M.Faud B.(Born: 7th. March 1965 - Died: 8th. Feb. 1988) was an Indonesian student at the International Islamic University, Islamabad who died in 1988 in an accident. On my last visit at the H-8 Graveyard in Islamabad, I made sure that the grave is cleaned up and maintained properly.

When this Indonesian student visited Pakistan to study, he definitely had no idea that he will be here to stay ( like this) - so far away from his family and friends and very unlikely for them to visit.

It is surely NOT an easy task for the breaved family and friends to pay him a visit here in Pakistan. There is just a little note for you all: that his grave is taken care of from time to time - please do NOT worry!

May his soul rest in peace!

I am sure, Pakistan must be in your mind, always, in case you want further information leave a comment and I will try my best to get for you answers from the administration..

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Raining Finally!

It is raining today. It doesn't rain very often and when it does - it floods!
For two months straight, or actually 80 days, not a drop fall. Finally, January came, it has rained twice.
Dust and airborne diseases will go down, air will be much cleaner and so will be Islamabad.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

To God we belong and to Him shall we return. (إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ)

Flowers blossoming on a grave
A Sea of Tombstones
My visit to H-8's Islamabad Graveyard  (Qabarustan) was the one that I will remember for a long time.

People have different opinions on visiting or not visiting cemeteries but as far as I am concerned, I think it means a lot to me. On my father's death anniversary, I went there to pay my respect and also visited a few more people that I` know through different references such as Josh Malihabadi,  Ahmad Faraz, Parveen Shakir, Qudratullah Shahab, Maulana Kauser Niazi, Begum Viqarun Nisa Noon and Mrs. Peerzada (the first principal of Islamabad College for Girls, F-6/2) to name a few and offered fateha.

H-8 Graveyard has 3 official gates but walls have been torn down at 3 points, two on the front and one at the back, to enter it easily (short-cuts culture - that we love so dearly).

I went staright to the flower shop (run by Haji Saab for decades) picked up rose petals and bottles of rose water and headed at Abbu Ji's final resting place. While getting there, I saw a board clearly stating that "this graveyard has been closed for any further buriels - No MORE buriels."

 On my way, I saw that the tombstones have sprwaled over a huge area - as far as I look. Seemingly the place has come to a maximum limit but despite the noticeboard I saw earlier,  I witnessed the digging of a number of graves near Gate 3. I was told that the CDA staff is preparing 16 graves that day. I was wondering why the authorities are breaking their own rules and laws? What is the politics of the living for the dead at CDA??

Anyhow, as it always happens, the nightmare begins at H-8 Graveyard when all sort of grave cleaners, gardeners and sort start stalking a visitor as soon as one enters the gates. These people market all sort of skills they have - which is an extra source of income apart from being employed by CDA for the maintainence of the graveyard. What is upsetting is the fact that visitors to the graveyard, with heavy hearts and tormented souls, who are there to meet their loved ones first, have to encounter these unwanted hosts.

Not everybody is lucky enough to visit the graves of their lovedones as frequently as they want, for many different reasons. A bit of silence and a fraction of time be given to these visitors to come to terms with the their loss, sea of memories, grief and sorrow. Only some time to recollect themselves, please! One must be left alone unless they themself ask for help - at least, this is my desire!

I believe that it is CDA's responsibility that they must come up with regulations for those who work, do business or who simply live inside the graveyard. The obnoxious behaviour of these people and the residents in servant quarters at the graveyard make the visitors pretty sick and put them in awkward situations.

The graves that are just next to the quarters of the staff must have a partition either of trees or bushes or whatever, so that women residents that line up and give stares or make a tamasha of any visitor be avoided.  Their laundries are hanging only a few steps away from the graves and I was wondering what can be next??? Chaos and nuisance has followed us in the graveyards too.

It is mandatory for the CDA Graveyard authorities to provide respect and space for the dead as well as their bereaved families. This Tamasha (Show) by the residents of the graveyard MUST STOP!! We are in a habbit of insulting the living and unfortunately, it does NOT stop even after the death in this country.

Another thing I have noticed is that the graves that have been cleaned up, their weeds are thrown next to other graves alongwith the plastic bags, incense boxes and like. Please have some respect, for God's sake ~ “Memento Mori” or “Remember you will die” and don't forget that cleanliness is next to godliness, isn't it!

Last but not the least, I would like to request people - to focus on selves than on others particularly when that "other" is a complete stranger! Not everybody loves Q&A (of personal types) and social networking and that too in a graveyard, kindly avoid it!


Monday, January 9, 2012

Backpacking South Korea!

South Korea has a high cost of living and Seoul being the 5th most expensive of cities to live in Asia still is a cheap choice for backpackers. I would like to rank it as one of the best and the cheapest in many ways.

South Korea is one of the safest countries to live (or travel) in the world. People are very honest and helpful. This is an important aspect for me to go travel a place - security and safety, that is!

If I'm backpacking - boarding/lodging, local food, Internet, public transportation, public toilets, cell phone, and power voltage alongside sockets are a few basics that I would like to know about beforehand. Since it is holiday season I thought I should do a post on backpacking in South Korea /Seoul!

Accommodation in Seoul:
One of the major concerns is boarding and lodging while travelling. If you don't want to rent a room in a motel (cheapest comes for 30USD/35,000 won per night), a guest house (35-40 USD)or a decent hotel(90USD - 250 USD) then the cheapest way to spend a night (or day - whatever) is to find a Sauna (찜질방). Sauna's (Chimchil- bang) are littered all over the place and the cheapest I have come across is 7 USD or 8,000 won in Seoul but the farther you go the cheaper. One of the famous spots is Hamilton hotel's sauna located in Itaewon, Seoul. You will get a locker and unlimited time to use Sauna as well as a towel + T-shirt + Pajamas/Shorts + sleepers and also a free WiFi (if the Sauna costs 15 USD/15,000 won).
Another option is Youth Hostels in South Korea - where you have a choice to get a seperate room or simply sharing your room and charged per bed. Go to the Seoul Youth Hostel website and look what choices you have? Maximum occupancy per roo is 8 people with the minimum charges starting with 16,000 won (15 USD).

Vegetarian Restaurants / Halal Restaurants:
When it comes to food, people come with different sorts of baggage. Some are vegetarian, some like it Halal and others can munch on almost everything. Luckily, Korea caters to all.

Vegetarian Choices in Seoul: If you are a vegetarian, go for Yachae bibimbap ( vegetable bibimbap) - you can find this dish everywhere. In university neighborhoods it starts with 2.5 USD or as cheap as 3,000 won and in Insadong they may charge you for 4 to 5 times more for less tastier or rather bland bibimbap in a chic restaurant. The standard bibimbap sells for 5,500 won.

Yachae kimpap is another option - its like Sushi rolls or California rolls but more handy and ready to go version and sells for minimum 2USD or 2,500 won. Some ajumonies make it fresh and ask for your preferences too.
Don't miss soyabean products commonly fall in "tofu /dubu or 두부" category, it is served as fried, in soups and stews and also as drinks. Tofu is rich in proteins and is made in hundreds of different ways - you can go for that.
Try out the local fast food chain called LOTTERIA, they have a wonderful salad option and some other healthy choices (and halal choices such as fish, shrimp and squid burgers), I would say don't miss a LOTTERIA visit while visiting South Korea, you will love it - it is much better than many famous fast food chains and is economical. Oh yes, chains remind me of Subway Sandwiches - they also have a good vegetarian choice as well as halal choice ( I mean tuna sandwiches)!

Halal Food in Seoul: I'll recommend the use of seafood choices with your Korean menu. My favourite is Sangsong-gui or 생성귀 - usually grilled mackerel is served with rice bowl and a number of sidedishes. Korea has 116 types of fish and I was surprised to know that Pakistan has 630 types of fish - that's a lot, wow!!
Well back to seafood, lots of shells, muscles, sea urchins, squids and octopus etc.are a few common choices for menu that I previously saw only in my biology book - go for it, if you are a curious foodie! :-) How about eating a live octopus dipped in sauces and both the octopus and the person (who wants to eat it) are struggling to win over each other - it's a memorable scene (I have only witnessed it, never tried it coz I'm NOT a very curious foodie).
People on short trips and backpackers must visit Itaewon area. It is the hub of halal food restaurant (South Asian, Middle Eastern, Central Asian, North African and Turkish) in South Korea - just about anything is found there that falls within the halal category from all the corners of the world - both cooked or groceries! I'd recommend you to visit "Foreign Food Store" - I know them from the day they did their opening in 2003. Owners are from Bangladesh, simply the best!!!
If you are NOT big on food, Korea has hundreds of ramyeon (instant noodles) from vegetarian to otherwise. Korean instant noodles are the best quality and the tastiest. They come in all sizes and forms with different price tags. Very elaborate to very very instant. Famous ones are "Samyang's original Ramyeon, Nong Shim's Shin Ramyeon and Outuggi's Jin Ramyeon" - when you will taste it you will surely going to notice the taste and texutre of it. Many other Ramyeons have been introduced and one of my mother's favourite is Curry Ramyeon by Outoggie - it is really good, belive me! Slurp it shamelessly because that's how we do it in Seoul ;-)  .

Internet and WiFi in Seoul: WiFi is virtually available in every corner of this country no matter how remote the place is! I will call South Korea the most wired among all countries. At many places it is part of the package & is free. There are certian places where you can go and use not only the Wifi but there are free internet lounges with computers. Korea Tourism offices, post offices, Korea Telecom buildings, Tourist Information centers (some have and some don't), university's student lounges have a free access to a computer with an internet. Most of the Korean coffee shops offer notebooks (not as take-out) and Wifi both but at Starbucks you may have acess to free Wifi (free)  - no IDs or coupon numbers like in Europe or the US....Yeahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

Public Transport in Seoul and Beyond: Seoul and greater Seoul area is well connected with 9 subway lines. Subway is the cleanest, cheapest and the fastest way to get anywhere in Seoul. Buy a transportation card which can be used in any type of transportation. It is called T-Money card and comes in various amounts as cheap as 1USD (1,000won) to whatever amount you want to fill in. I will recommend you that buy a minimum of 15,000 won (15USD), it is rechargeable and on your return the remaining amount is refunded!! Cool, isn't it???
Apart from subways you can do your trip in a subway+bus combination and there are no extra charges while doing that. Go for it! The key is: after coming out of exit and taking a bus the given time is about 15 minutes. If it is more than 15 minutes you will be charged afresh otherwise you keep transferring between subways and buses. Oh, don't forget that as the zone changes you will be charged extra 30 cents to 50 cents depending on the zones (the distance covered).
Last but not the least, Korean Taxis or Korean cabs: In Sweden, West Indies and the US, I would rather prefer to walk than to take a taxi - the taxi drivers over charge you! I always tell taxi drivers in Seoul that they are the nicest of taxi drivers I've come across so far! Anyhow, taxis are found in a few colors so do NOT get confused. Black taxis are the most expensive (they are the luxury taxis) whereas grey (silver), orange, green and white are standard ones in which they start billing from 2,500 won (2USD)- all of them. No taxi accepts tipping. In Korea there is "No-Tip Culture"!!!

Last but not the least, cellphone on short term basis are rented out at the Incheon International Airport ONLY. Before leaving the airport get hold of one such cell phone. It is the cheapest and most economical way to get a cell phone for short term visitors. Various Tourist counters at the airport will help you locate the rental place. Also get some brochures from the tourist counters at the airport before leaving the airport, they are free as well and will be helpful in locating places.

Now, as far as public toilets are concerned, they are FREE and usually VERY VERY CLEAN so don't worry.

Seoul has 220 volts power supply hence be prepared for convertible plugs or converter for any 110 volts gadget!

Enjoy your backpacking or simply travelling around South Korea.

Happy holidays!

Bon Voyage!!!

p.s: Accoodation in Seoul can be found here

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Maedeup and Origami Greeting Cards


Learn to make Origami greeting cards and Maedeup (매듭 - Korean Traditional Knotting) at Seorae Global Village center, Banpo-dong, Seoul.

For making greeting cards the fee is 3,000 won. For Knotting (Maedeup) the fee varies between 5,000 won to 12,000 won depending on what you would learn to make with knots (bracelets, necklace, key chain, cell phone charms etc.).

I guess these little cultural exposures are a treat for a lifetime for both youngones and adults and will always remind one of their stay in Korea. It's holidays so I'd highly recommend this class.

Greeting Cards Class is January 5th. between 14:30-16:30.

Maedeup (매듭-Korean Traditional Knots) class is on 10, 17, 31 of January 2012 between 13:30 to 15:30.

For more information call: Seorae Global Village at Banpo-dong. Phone:2155-3949

Monday, January 2, 2012