Children’s Day and Cinco de Drinko fall on the same day in Korea. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I’d rather just use this time of year as an excuse to have a marvelous margarita. The majority of my friends actually got a 4-day weekend this year! Alas, I am still working Friday, but got a bit of a mid-week repose having Thursday off. I wanted to spend the day recuperating from the activities of the week (it’s exhausting running around teaching this many classes to this many teeny tiny ones!), but the sun was out in full force and I had to make the most of the day.
After a nice sleep in, we headed out to grab green tea lattes (and surprise macarons) and to run some errands in the neighbourhood. We caught a few shop keepers on lunch breaks, so we kept wandering around exploring our area. What’s spectacular about Sincheon is that there are so many tiny streets loaded with Korean BBQ spots, salon supply stores (hello – Expat Blondes: this is the place for you!), cafes, vintage stores, sake & izakaya spots, arcades, boutiques, bars, and my favourites: rock clubs/ vinyl bars and Asia Park, which is constantly full of swooping Magpies.
Whenever I let people know I live in Sincheon, I usually say Jamsil instead. Sincheon is located in between Sports Complex (where the LG Twins and Doosan Bears play, where tons of music festivals and concerts are held, and where what I believe is the second tier soccer team calls home) and Jamsil. In Seoul there is “Sinchon” and “Sincheon”, so it’s easiest just to say Jamsil. The reaction is usually “Whoa! You live so far away!”, but in reality we’re right next to Gangnam (yes – of “Gangnam Style” fame), we are about a $10 cab ride from Itaewon, and we live a stone’s throw from LotteWorld (an indoor and outdoor amusement park with a Magic Kingdom-style castle and a man-made lake). Having Lotte World and Lotte World Tower with the giant mall and food court is really convenient as a Westerner. It’s nice to have H&M, Zara, Mango, and other stores with western sizes nearby, plus being able to walk to Lotte Mart and HomePlus is really convenient. Legend has it there’s an “Ashley’s American Grill” nearby as well as the famous Tex Mex spot “Vatos”, but I have yet to find them. We’ve checked out the Hard Rock Cafe (a quick in and out – I used to work at the Toronto location) but most trips to the highest diagrid structure in the world (whatever “diagrid” means!).
While it’s really convenient to get clothes in identifiable sizes from places like H&M and Zara, it’s not exactly the greatest feeling to show up somewhere wearing the same outfit as 2 or 3 other girls. I was thrilled to stumble upon SEMI Apparel, a local women’s clothing shop. As luck would have it, the owner actually studied in California and spoke English really well. She not only let us try on the adorable, unique styles, she encouraged it!
I had never really felt like a big gal in Busan, but Seoul boutiques haven’t exactly been friendly to my 5’8″ athletic frame. At this store I was really nervous to try on clothes (especially non-stretchy ones with, *gasp*, a zipper), but everything managed to fit really well (save my favourites: the super sweet baby blue lacy dress that fit but was too short [as if that’s ever been my problem!] and the flirty summer dress which was pulling a bit in the bust region…sigh…). Ultimately, that horizontal striped dress featured in the “skinny mirror” came home with me for the very reasonable price of $35!
Each design is offered in one sizes fits…well…whoever it ends up fitting, to be honest, and each style comes in 2 or 3 colors. If a garment is offered in 3 colors, for example, it seems they will have only 3 pieces of that style. Tall girls, rejoice! You’ve just found your Sincheon destination for clothes you’re not going to see on any other expats (except, of course, maybe @lozuhl or me!). If you’ve been wanting to try out some Korean styles (which I personally find to be delightfully stuck in the early 90’s…) Sincheon, particularly Semi Apparel, should be your style destination. Not only did they have cute styles, I actually felt comfortable in a Korean boutique shopping environment. Any tall girl in Korea can tell you that’s not an easy feat!
Around the corner and up the street from Semi Apparel you’ll find Pizza Box. For just under $12, you can get a full pizza loaded with quality ingredients. As luck would have it, the owner (Dennis) actually lived in Vancouver and told us that we could swap out ingredients, add ingredients to existing recipes, or design our very own pizza altogether. At this price I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but we opted for the Mexican pizza and were not disappointed at all. On top of all that, they had Somersby Cider – the perfect beverage to bring along to the park from Magpie watching, and the odd cat on a leash.
The pizza was absolutely loaded with tasty ingredients that worked very well together. With tons of jalapenos, it was quite spicy. I loved it. I would go back especially for that crust. Korean pizza has a tendency to taste like cardboard, but this crust was thin, soft, and flaky almost like a cross between a fajita and a pie crust. It was weird and wonderful and I’ll definitely be back to test out that Gorgonzola slice o’ pie.