Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gangnam Hills Toastmasters

New Toastmasters clubs have been popping up around Korea like enchanted mushrooms. This recent flurry of activity has enabled the Korea Toastmasters clubs to collectively form a territorial council recognised by headquarters.
Being a territorial council doesn't equate to an enormous amount in itself. But like all goals in Toastmasters, the value is not so much in the goal itself, but what had to occur along the way.

And Gangnam Hills Toastmasters is one of the many great things that happened along the way. It's held on the third Friday of each month at Cafe 100 Eok, behind CGV in Gangnam. The president of GHTM is my mentor at the South River Toastmasters, the brilliant Ron Cahoon. 

Last Friday, we went along to their third meeting.

The toastmaster of the night was Hyun-Gee Lee, who did a good job of spinning the chuseok theme into the program. Hyun-Gee is an intern at Reuters and her favourite book is Anne of Green Gables.

A good thing about Gangnam Hills Toastmasters is that it's held at a bar/cafe and alcohol is available from the beginning. It helps to loosen up inhibitions, especially during table topics (a session for impromptu speaking by audience members). GHTM is also run a little differently from most clubs, with a more relaxed atmosphere and new ideas each week.

And if you read this blog, you're invited to their next meeting on October 15th.

In other news, Seoul was greeted by Typhoon Kompasu this season, designated as a quiet rascal by local observers. On the night of its passage, I slept through the event without an inkling of what had happened. In the morning we awoke to debris strewn across the road, mud on our sidewalks and this tree toppled ominously above my favourite path to the lab.

The following afternoon however, some chainsaw-toting ajossis came and made quick work of the mess. In a rare stroke of genius for the ajossi species, they decided to use the wood from the felled tree and craft it into steps. Now we can walk down the previously slippery incline quite easily.

Good on them, I say.

The last time we went to the Dieu Hien Quan restaurant in Ansan was back in February of this year. Although mentioning the same restaurant twice on a blog may be a bit dreary, the sheer gravity of the event makes it appropriate. In total, it takes us about 2 hours of travel time to get there and back. The service is rough, the hygiene is questionable and you tend to stick out conspicuously as the only non-Vietnamese customers. But the food here is stellar. It's as if the Vietnamese food gods have decided to shine only a single ray of light here out of the whole of Korea, after having been irreversibly offended by the likes of Pho Bay.

They've also upgraded their menu and now serve all manner of frog dishes. We haven't tried them yet, but I'm sure they're frogtastic.

The cold rolls are good, but rather filling. It would be nice if we could order a single bite of everything.

This time we ordered fried rice with our pho, which turned out to be a good choice. I don't mind bokkeumbap, but it tends to have its subtle qualities drowned out by a certain popular fermented cabbage flavour.

Heather was also pleased with the outcome. If she were Vietnamese, I'm sure she would have sung a few lines of the V-Pop song Con Gay Bay Gio to celebrate. She's eating a little more these days, which is good. So far the only craving she's had has been for sundae.

Not the ice-cream sundae, mind you.

And here's Dori Lee holding up a letter to be mailed to Ian Kim. Dori is an artist, and likes Ian's work. Ian is also an artist, and used to go to middle school with me and Daniel in Australia. You can see his work here. While I don't know much about art at all, I find it fascinating that artists mail each other. Scientists tend to do the same, but we use email.

Dori is mailing Ian an invitiation to her first exhibition in Hongdae called The Paradox of Coexistence.

It's a solo exhibition running until September 27, 2010 at Myth Hong in Seoul. Heather and I have been meaning to go, but we're both quite busy. If you're in Seoul and interested in the independent art scene, be sure to check out Dori's work.


David said...

If you want, I can send you some spice package and rock sugar to make authentic vietnamese pho. I make pho at home and my friends and family think it is better than the restaurant and I know what went in it. What I do is make a bunch and freeze the broth for future use.

Lee Farrand said...

Haha, sure David...

Josh said...

Pretty cool stuff. How do you find out about other toastmaster's sites? I'm outside of Seoul, so it might be a bit more difficult to find

David said...

I am in southern california and we do have a large southeast asian community. I read somewhere in your blog that you could not find a key ingredient for malaysian cooking, I am sure it exist here. Email me with that info as well as your address and I will ship it to you.

Lee Farrand said...

Well, that's very nice of you David, even though I don't know who you are. My email is

Send me your email if you like, although don't feel obliged. It's really not so important.