August 5, 2015
Now that we are back in the States I thought I would highlight some of our favorite places to hang out in our neighborhood. We lived in the city of Goyang (which means cat!) and in the neighborhood of Hwajeong.
Most of the time, we stayed around our neighborhood during the week and ventured into Seoul on the weekends. We had a couple places that we frequented often which helped us feel more like part of the ‘hood.
In Korea there are coffee shops everywhere. There are lots of chains but the one I preferred in our ‘hood was ToPresso. The owners quickly grew to know my face because I ended up there a lot – especially when I was teaching kindergarten. Even when ownership changed, ToPresso never stopped being the friendliest coffee shop in Hwajeong. The new manager’s face always lit up when I walked in, and inevitably, I came back to work in a better mood.
Another place I frequented more than Zach was Montmorency, a French bakery just down the street from our building. Though they also had Korean-style pastries and breads, they made some great French pastries. I typically alternated between a chocolate croissant or their version of an apple turnover, but occasionally we bought small loaves of bread too. I usually went on the way to work in the morning and the same Korean woman worked the front counter. She always stuck an extra pastry into my bag as a little treat.
One of our favorite street foods in Korea was right next to our building! In fact we never saw it anywhere else. We don’t know it’s actual name but we called it a hot dog crepe. It was a crepe wrapped around a hot dog filled with ketchup and cole slaw. The perfect combination.
Another thing Korea has a lot of are bbq restaurants. The concept of Korean bbq is that each table has its own grill so you can grill meat as you eat it. Typically each restaurant has its own specialty. We went to a couple in our neighborhood but our favorite by far was a duck bbq place just a ten minute walk from our apartment. It had a huge yard with outdoor seating where people could wait for a table or sit and enjoy a coffee after dinner, plus geese, chickens, a giant dog, and lots of wood. It was a cozy place to eat in the winter and an inviting place to eat in the spring. We will definitely miss eating there!
Everyday I walked Truman around our neighborhood after work so I watched the seasons come and go around us. We had a small park a block away which was where Truman and I usually ended up. Sometimes we met friendly dogs and people along the way. I was really happy we had the park nearby even though there wasn’t any green space for Truman to run around in.
Hwajeong was a pretty decent place to live for a year and now we’ll just have our memories.