Thursday, November 15, 2012

Non-Stop September and October

It's just been action-packed over the last couple of months at LB. We didn't take our foot off the gas following our one-year anniversary. We just pressed it harder. Needless to say, it's given me very little time to sit down and write. Even when I had a break from school and the bar, I was out traveling or hanging with friends.

September 30
The weekend of Chuseok was incredible. Because of how it fell this year, Chuseok gave us five straight days of freedom. Instead of keeping the bar open, we decided to take a trip with 8 of our friends. We headed over to Gangwondo, on the east coast of the country.

Jeong Mi's friend, Wang, got us a great room at a resort on the beach. Even though the water was a little chilly, Popper, Joe, Q and I decided to take a few dips in it. Koreans watching on with their full-on fall gear was a lot of fun.

We had a great time hanging out, playing on the beach and even got to a noraebang. Can't have a trip without that.

On the way back, instead of sitting in traffic for 12 hours, we stopped off a couple hours from home at the greatest place in Korea. That's right. It's the lake we went to the last time we got a weekend away. Though a bit chillier this time, it was just as fun. We ate dinner, hung by the water and took in that wonderful feeling of not being anywhere near a city. It was a perfect trip.

Check out pics from our Chuseok trip here!

October 20
Now here was a big day for the bar. This Saturday marked the first time we had live music. Thanks to Wang loaning us some equipment, Joe, Sam and James -- collectively known as Bozoot -- took the stage. Yes, we actually used the stage as a stage.

Our good friend Bryan opened the show. And our good friend Craig closed it. In between were a bunch of great covers and one original -- Liquor Burger Ho. Call it our theme song if you'd like.

The whole thing was a lot of fun, and we are definitely going to continue with the live music in the future.

Check out the Bozoot pics and videos here.

October 26 and 27
Our Chadwick friends once again made us their first stop on their Halloween bar hopping bus tour. Thankfully, they do their event on Friday, leaving us Saturday for our own. From about 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, 60 Chadwick teachers came through.

Their costumes all looked great and we had a ton of fun. We're so thankful that we've built such a nice relationship with them.

Check out the Chadwick Halloween pics here.

So with their party on Friday, it left Saturday for us. Bucking the usual trend of having a big Halloween party at the bar, we decided to take our party with us. We packed 35 LB friends into a bus and went over toward the west coast.

We rented an entire house just for our crew. It had grills, a fire pit and even our own, unlimited noraebang.

The gang looked great in their costumes. We all decided to wear them on the bus so we'd be ready to go as soon as we got to the house.

Jeong Mi went earlier in the day with Chris and MOB so they could set up the fun stuff. By the time the bus arrived, Jeong Mi was already grilling and the meat and other food was ready to eat. That meant the partying started right away.

We drank, danced, bonfired, sang and had a really incredible time. It went as well as it possibly could've, and that's saying a lot.

Check out the LB Halloween pics here.

Looking forward, we have a couple of events planned already. For Thanksgiving, we'll once again do a turkey dinner. We also have live music planned again for mid-December.

It's an exciting time for us at LB.

Of course, with the excitement is sadness. Our friendly familiar faces continue to cycle out. We only have a few people left of the original crew. As we grow and move on in years, so moves away our good, old friends. Fortunately for us, the latest group who has come into Yeonsudong are just as fun and friendly as the old group. It's hard knowing your here for an extended stay and friends roll in and out. But we'll never forget our originals, and we look forward to making new memories with the current crowd.

Check out some of LB's current pics here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Liquor Burger One Year Anniversary

Thank you, LB friends and family.

I want to say or do more for you guys, because you've done so much for Jeong Mi and me. It's because of your support, friendship and patronage that Liquor Burger has become what it is today.

I feel like we've built this unique, fun community in Yeonsudong. It's a group effort. And it's wonderful how it's come into fruition.

I hung those "Liquor Burger Community Center" signs on the door when we opened half jokingly. But I did truly want this place to be more than just a bar. Don't get me wrong. We're a bar. People come here and drink. But Yeonsudong and the people living here has made it more than that.

We have our events like trivia night that really bring the neighborhood together. Dorian has done such a great job of hosting it. His replacements have done admirably, as well. But it's really his personality that drives the night. I look forward to Thursday every week. And we have other LB friends who have stepped up and taken on roles in the bar to make sure events like poker night, dart night and any other fun times come off successfully. Thank you to all of you guys.

Obviously, the hours can be tough. Going from the school 3 days a week to LB really gets in the way of my sleep schedule. I don't even get to nap anymore! Just a bummer, right?

But it's been totally worth it.

As we move forward, Jeong Mi and I will continue to keep our promise to this community. We will ALWAYS be here for you. Cell phones, bank accounts? We're here for you. Need a place to stay? We're here for you. Spread the word that your boss and academy suck and you're looking for a job? Yeah, we're here for you.

We'll continue to do our very best to make sure no one experiences South Korea the way I did my first year.

I know not everything has been perfect and not everyone who comes here likes us. That makes sense to me. I know even our best friends and customers aren't going to come here every day, or even every weekend. Hey, there are times when Jeong Mi and I are itching to go to a different spot.

But we're so thrilled that you guys spend the majority of your going-out time here with us. You make our jobs much easier and way more fun. And you guys truly are the reason Liquor Burger -- in my eyes -- has changed from just a simple bar or restaurant into a true community.

You guys are the heart and soul of Liquor Burger. No matter what happens in the future, we'll be forever grateful for the support you've given us.

So as I said at the beginning: Thank you LB friends and family.

Check out pics from our 1 Year Anniversary Party here!!!

And check out a new batch of random LB pics here!

Pochan Lake -- The New Best Vacation Spot

Back at the end of July, Jeong Mi and I took a day off from the bar and went on a little overnight trip with some of our friends to a lake in Pochan.

The lake is about a two hour bus ride away from Incheon. We took the trip with our part-timer, Ji Hye; her boyfriend; our other part-timer, MOB and our friends Geoff and Eun Hye. Our other buddy drove in and joined us a little later in the evening, as well.

I used to always rave about the east coast, but this may have topped it. Over there, you get the nature and get out of the city, but you deal with big crowds.

At Pochan Lake, there were ZERO crowds. There was our group and one more group staying there. We were right on the lake. The other guys all got a chance to ride an innertube behind a boat. We also played frisbee, grilled and enjoyed some drinks. At night, the dudes all took a trip into the small town and hit a noraebang, too.

All in all, it was a great getaway and might just be my new favorite vacation spot in the country.

Check out all the pics here!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

2012 Trip to America

Jeong Mi and I got home for the first time in two years during the last week of June and first week of July. It was well worth the wait, too. We packed as much as we absolutely could into the time, including new sites for Jeong Mi and meeting family and friends.

First and foremost, if you're traveling all the way to America or Canada, get ready to spend. Even by avoiding a direct flight, you're still digging deep into your pockets for the ticket price. And in an attempt to save some money, we had to go through more transfers than we would have liked.

The Plane Ride to America

Let me start by saying we had really good fortune with flights both home and back to Korea. We ran into zero delays, had smooth flights and had no luggage issues. Since we knew we would be in Franklin at Mom and Dad's place every three or four days, we only had to pack enough clothes for that. With that in mind, we decided against checking luggage. Wow. If you get a chance to go that route, snatch it up. It saved us a ton of time and headaches.

To get home, we went through Tokyo, then Chicago and then to New York City. It wasn't ideal, but again, all went pretty smoothly.

New York City

New York, for a first time visitor, is everything is seems in movies. It's big, exciting, busy, dirty, smelly and hot (in the summer). Some of it is great. Some of it adds character. Some of it is disgusting. But I suppose it's that way with any big city. And since I've been to NYC quite a few times, a lot of the charm has gone away. But it was great to take Jeong Mi around for her first time.

As far as big touristy things, we went to the top of the Empire State Building, rode the Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty, went to Coney Island and walked through Times Square and Central Park.

Because my brother lives in Astoria, we also got some of the local flavor. We also got to hang with some of my buddies from Pitt. It was great to see everyone again and hang out.

Franklin, PA and Pittsburgh

Franklin, about 90 miles north of Pittsburgh, is a town stuck in time. And I mean that as a compliment. There are about 6,000 people, a beautiful small downtown main street, mountains, trees and rivers. It's an incredible area of the country.

We took the time at home to relax as much as possible. We took in the small shops, coffee places and restaurants, but we also just rested.

The Wednesday after we got home, we headed to a neighboring city -- Sharon, PA -- so we could have dinner with some Uncles and Aunts. While there, we got to see my grandparents, have a nice Italian meal and go to a Bike Night. Bike Nights are obviously a rare attraction in Korea. So to head to Quaker Steak and Lube to see all the motorcycles and the ... let's just say style ... of the people, was a ton of fun.

On Thursday, we made our way down to Pittsburgh to see some of my best friends. In the past, we took advantage of Thursday to go to 80s Night at my favorite bar. But I guess time has a big effect on everybody. No one was really up for the late night at 80s Night. Such is life.

But we still got to hang out and play some darts with good friends.

On Saturday, we had a big party at our place. June 26 is both our anniversary and my birthday. This is one year for us. So Mom and Dad hosted a big open house party. A ton of family and friends came to celebrate with us. It was great -- especially after two years -- to see as many family and friends as possible, all in one place. We're so grateful to everyone who came in to see us and wish us well.

Niagara Falls

The very next day, our adventure continued. We headed up through Erie to my sister's church. We saw her run the show and then jumped in the car for the quick ride up to Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls truly is one of the natural wonders of the world. It's a beautiful site, and worth seeing at least once in your life. I'm fortunate to have grown up in an area that is about three hours from the falls, so I've been there a ton of times. Once again, this was a first trip to the Falls for Jeong Mi.

We had it coincidentally timed that we were in Niagara Falls on Canada Day. So a place that is normally a zoo, was ten times so. But we did all the fun stuff, and even stayed in a hotel on Clifton Hill -- one of the main tourist strips.

We rode the Maid of the Mist and did the Journey Behind the Falls. In the evening, we got some poutine (I know it's Niagara Falls poutine, but it was still great) and hit up and Karaoke bar that was literally touching our hotel. I put my name in the hat, and we waited for about an hour. But I was just too tired. They hadn't called mu name by then, so it was time for bed.

The next day, we drove by the Falls once more and made our way back toward Franklin.

Back to the 'Burgh

We headed back down to Franklin for a day of rest. And on Tuesday, it was back to Pittsburgh for a Pirates baseball game. We went down a little bit early and showed Jeong Mi the University of Pittsburgh, where I went to school. While it's just a university, it's unique in that it has the second tallest education building in the world (tallest in the Western hemisphere). The Cathedral of Learning is 36 stories and houses various classrooms and department offices.

We went to one of the local college bars and had some pizza fries and super tasty and inexpensive beer. I mean -- seriously -- $6 for an entire pitcher of Yeungling. That is absolutely awesome.

Fourth of July

I think Jeong Mi has been in America for the Fourth of July, but she was on the west coast. This was her first time to experience in a small town. We grilled up some buffalo burgers (which we bought from a buffale farm on the way home from the falls) and had a lot of good food for a barbecue. We then crossed the street from our house and sat by the river to watch the fireworks, before lighting some sparklers and tanks in the backyard.

Playing on the Lake

On Thursday, some family friends invited us to a place nearby called Conneaut Lake, where we could do some boating, jet skiing and just some hanging out. It was a lot of fun, and a great way to start winding out trip down.

Last Night in Franklin

That Friday would be our last night in my hometown. We met one more time with a great friend of mind, and just relaxed. It was a fitting last day to our trip.

Flying Back to Incheon

On Saturday, we got on a plane at 6 a.m. and left for South Korea. Fortunately, we only had to transfer once in San Francisco. It was a piece of cake. When we got back in, we crashed for the evening. I got up late and spent a few hours at LB doing some budget work. It was then back to work and normal life on Monday.

Wonderful Trip

There were really no bad issues, or even stress, with our trip this time around. We saw a lot of great sites, saw family and friends and had a super fun time.

We were fortunate to have our good friend, MOB, run the bar while we gone. Even though the kitchen was closed, MOB served drinks and hosted the usual weekly events. From what we've seen and heard, all went well while we gone.

Knowing he can run the show with no problem gives us hope for a few more weekend-type vacations in the future.

What a great trip! Thank you to everyone!!! We love you guys -- both in Korea and America!!!

Check out all our pictures:

America Trip 1

America Trip 2

America Trip 3

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

April and May Happenings

I wouldn't go as far to say that being busy is the reason I haven't updated this in awhile. It's more or less that I don't really want this blog to be just a big, dumb ad for Liquor Burger. Making things difficult is that even the events we do now happen mostly through LB.

Back in April, we took 40 people to a Strawberry Festival in Yangpyeong. It was really a great time. We rented a bus and took an LB crew. We made strawberry bread, picked strawberries, ate some bibimbap, rode a tractor, made some rice cake and drank some maggulli.

It was a lot of fun to see what a strawberry farm is like in Korea. Because of the weather here, they raise the strawberries in greenhouse-like tents. I guess I'm not sure how they raise them in America. I just always pictured an open field. I suppose anywhere without a perfect climate would need something this, though.

Keeping with the theme of LB events, we took about 40 people to an Incheon SK Wyverns baseball game in May. With the summer here, we wanted to do more for the Yeonsudong crowd to make they get some cool experiences in Korea. While many of them have been to baseball games before, very few of them sat right down in the reserved seat fan zone.

So we booked tickets for all our buddies, made LB/Wyverns t-shirts and went and had a great time. Fortunately for us, Incheon won. There were even fireworks!!!

We did actually take a day off and go do something by ourselves! At the end of May, everyone had Monday off from work. We decided to close the bar on Monday as well and head to Gangwondo and Seokcho on the east coast. Over there, we headed to Seorak Mountain.

Everyone in Korea knows Seorak mountain. As far as this country goes, the east coast is my absolute favorite part. It's all countryside. There are mountains, rivers, trees and clean air. It's really incredible.

So we went hiking all day on Sunday, and then just hung around the east coast on Monday, when the weather didn't cooperate as well. It was an incredible time to just be by ourselves and get away from the city, the bar and school for a couple of days.

Everything at Hambak has gone really well through the first semester. I really like my co-teachers. We don't work directly with each other on normal days. But they're very professional. We discuss everything. They don't give me late info (unless it's late because of another source). The students all know me and we have a nice vibe in our classes. It's still a really pleasant work environment, and I'm happy to still be a member of the staff there.

On the side, I'm still teaching Mr. Kim's son for two hours a week. We even added one of his buddies now, as well. It's great to have a second student in the class. One-on-one can be tough unless the student's level is incredibly high. Now that he has a friend there, he is a little more comfortable and is quicker to answer questions. It also makes game a ton more fun.

While I am tired and do get a little stressed from all the odd hours, I'm very comfortable over here professionally right now. Outside of bar business, Jeong Mi and I don't even have the smallest squabbles. And we understand that when we fight about the bar, it's business-only. I'm sure there would be tension with any business partner. Things are obviously kicked up a notch when the person is your spouse.

As the end of June approaches, we have a couple of big things happening. One is our one-year anniversary. It's on June 26 (same day as my birthday, of course). The great news is that we'll be in America for the anniversary. We'll be home for the last week of June and first week of July.

While we're gone, we'll have one of our Korean buddies and a couple of part-timers running the bar. We'll still do our usual events. This is a guy we totally trust, so we're fortunate to have him. Neither of us were really looking forward to just shutting down for two weeks.

I'm sure there area bunch of things I'm missing in this update, but that's the basic scoop of everything that is going on here.

The bar is open now, so I guess I'd better get to work! See you all in a couple of weeks!!!

Check out more of our pictures here:

Strawberry Festival

LB Wyverns Game

Seorak Mountain trip