Tag Archives: california

Learning how to surf in Yangyang, South Korea

Our surfing instructor gives Hailey, me and Shayna some pointers on Yangyang’s Jukdo Beach (양양 죽도해변) in South Korea. SCREAMfmLondon

Find out more about Yangyang, South Korea’s coolest surfer town, in this post.

An express bus from Seoul zipped along the winding roads as city skyscrapers gave way to lush greenery and tall mountains. Yangyang, an idyllic surf town in South Korea’s Gangwon Province, is about a two-hour journey from the country’s capital. It doesn’t take long to reach the northeastern coast from Seoul, although it feels like a different world there.

We arrived late Tuesday night in order to wake up for our surf lesson, courtesy of Candy Surf, at 10 a.m. the following day.

Candy Surf offers surf lessons and accommodations in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Candy Surf is one of the many, many surf shops in Yangyang that offer everything from surf lessons and rentals to repairs and lodgings. The shop is rustically-decorated with hardwood paneling and glass bottles of sand from the world’s beaches adorning its front desk.

Candy Surf bringing SoCal vibes to Gangwon-do. SCREAMfmLondon

Some more beachy decor. SCREAMfmLondon

We stayed overnight in the guesthouse portion of the shop. It’s set up like a typical hostel, with rows of bunk beds lining each wall of the (separate) men’s and women’s rooms.

The room comes complete with a nice floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the beach, which is perfect for ogling the surfers walking around in their wetsuits outside.

The women’s bedroom at Candy Surf’s guesthouse. SCREAMfmLondon

The rooms are clean and well-maintained. Our only major complaint about the guesthouse is that there is no indoor shower — only one outside in the alley. Which is fantastic when you’re coming back from surfing, but sucks when you’ve just finished a long bus ride.

Candy Surf’s outdoor shower room. SCREAMfmLondon

Very outdoors. SCREAMfmLondon

But, anyway, we didn’t come here to shower! We came to surf!

I have always, always dreamed of being a surfer and living in a chill beach house in Santa Cruz with all my surfer friends. But I somehow never got around to trying it in California.

I know Korea doesn’t immediately come to mind as a surf destination, but some of the Korean beaches are really hidden gems. As we woke up for our surfing lesson, the whole town of Yangyang was buzzing with talk about the great waves that were expected that day.

Candy Surf in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

First, we got suited up. Changing into a wetsuit is a whole process in itself. It’s like putting on full-body yoga pants. Once I got my legs in properly, I stood up to take a break, already sweating and breathing heavily. I kind of don’t understand how actual surfers do this quickly without getting it twisted around themselves a dozen times.

A supply of wetsuits at Candy Surf. SCREAMfmLondon

When we were sufficiently clothed, we went inside to view a slideshow presentation on some of the basics of surfing: don’t step on jellyfish, don’t “drop in” on somebody’s wave, don’t get caught in a riptide, etc.

And then we trekked down to the beach, during which process I realized that surfboards are really heavy?! I’ve always seen people carry them on their heads like it ain’t nothin’, but doing that hurt my head. But the boards are too big and unwieldy to carry in your arms without smacking people around you. Again, this ability must come down to surfer magic.

Let’s go! SCREAMfmLondon

Jukdo Beach in Yangyang is packed with surf instructors and their classes. We found our own spot to settle on the sand and practice some techniques, such as paddling and quickly standing up on the boards, before we got into the water.

Learning some technique with Shayna. SCREAMfmLondon

It wasn’t long before we were ready to hop into the ocean.

From the beach, I felt pretty scared. The waves looked huge, and the water looked frigid. As soon as I stepped close enough, a wave smashed me in the face and dunked me under. I gasped and consequently took a big drink of salty ocean water. Sputtering, I resurfaced and wiped the water out of my eyes, thinking, Oh, well. With that out of the way, the ocean didn’t seem so intimidating anymore.

Heading off on our big adventure. SCREAMfmLondon

Our instructor was a big help guiding and helping us all try to catch the waves. It was super fun, although actually getting up into a standing position on the board was pretty challenging. It was also difficult to get the timing down — when to start paddling, when to try standing, etc. — without our instructor yelling behind us.

I think with some more continuous practice, though, I could totally be an excellent surfer.

After a while, the instructor left to teach his next lesson, and we were free to play with the boards on our own. Despite feeling so apprehensive that morning, convinced I was going to embarrass myself and drown, I was really loving surfing, and I never wanted to get out of the water.

South Korea may not be known for its surfing, but my first surf lesson in Yangyang was an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m so glad I did it.

Immortalized on the polaroid wall at Candy Surf in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

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Theater: Shakespeare OC presents ‘Pirates of Penzance’

Alex Bodrero (The Pirate King, foreground) with Max Black and Nikolai Fernandez (immediately behind him) in Shakespeare Orange County's production of Gilbert and Sullivan's THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, September 10-26, 2015. In background, left and right, are Jacob Lansberg and James Quesada. Photo by Amelia Barron

Alex Bodrero (The Pirate King) with Max Black and Nikolai Fernandez in Shakespeare Orange County’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance.” Photo courtesy of Amelia Barron

To close their summer season, Shakespeare Orange County cordially invites the audience aboard the goofiest opera-singing pirate ship around with a uniquely intimate production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance.”

Director Peter Uribe, whose background in rock operas includes a six-month tour of the UK working on a Pete Townshend-approved production of The Who’s “Quadrophenia,” said he hopes to infuse Shakespeare OC’s debut musical with this kind of energy.

“The kind of mantra we live by is, ‘This is not your great-grandmother’s Pirates of Penzance,’” he said. “A big fight scene happens that’s kind of an homage to The Who and ‘Quadrophenia.’ We have a sound cue: at the count of four or five, the lights all go out, and it’s just Roger Daltrey screaming at the apex of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again.’ The lights just go black, that all happens, the lights come back up, and the fight’s over.”

“Penzance” is more of a comic opera that is best known for one specific song (“I am the very model of a modern major-general, / I’ve information vegetable, animal and mineral,” etc.), but Shakespeare OC hopes to show Southern California theatergoers how entertaining it is in its entirety. Because the 1879 opera is now in the public domain, the cast has had more freedom to reshape the material for today’s audiences.

“We’ve thrown in every gag we can,” Uribe said. “While we’re pretty faithful to the script, I encourage the actors the entire time, ‘Any time you see a space for a joke, improv a joke. If it makes me laugh three times in a row and it’s somewhat appropriate, it can stay in the show.’ It’s been kind of fun to work fast and loose with the script.”

The opera’s storyline follows Frederic, a 21-year-old who has just completed an apprenticeship aboard a pirate ship. However, as Frederic is preparing to be on his way (hopefully alongside the Major-General’s beautiful daughter Mabel), the Pirate King discovers a loophole: because Frederic was born on leap year, he won’t technically turn 21 for many more decades and has to rejoin their crew.

Alex Bodrero, who plays the Pirate King in Shakespeare OC’s production, said he’s enjoyed combining elements of serious opera with the comedy of “Penzance.”

“This is probably the most classical singing I’ve done in a long time, despite it being such a crazy, off-the-wall show,” he said. “It’s an interesting dichotomy. It’s got that legit thing while having fun like you’re on the playground in elementary school.”

For “Penzance,” Shakespeare OC decided to make the most of the expansive Garden Grove stage: instead of utilizing all 500 seats in the amphitheater, they will include audience seating right there in the midst of it.

“I don’t think people know what to expect when they’re going to come see this,” said Nikolai Fernandez, who plays Frederic in the production. “What’s exciting about that is you’re going to have audience members who are uncomfortable and look away when you’re trying to talk to them and invite them in, and you’re going to have audience members who want to, like, jump up and be a part of it when you give them that permission.”

In recent years, Shakespeare OC has been working to make classic theater productions more accessible to the local community. Earlier this season, a production of “Romeo and Juliet” staged its famous ball scene as a traditional Mexican quinceañera, and the Montagues delivered their lines in Korean. Uribe hopes “Penzance” will prove that musical theater also has a place in the OC.

“The stigma is that in LA, everything is better, but [Uribe] really brings a lot that you won’t find anywhere else to the theater,” Fernandez said, “and I think that’s a huge reason why I decided to commute down here two hours every day to be a part of it.”

‘The Pirates of Penzance’
12762 Main St., Garden Grove, Calif.
7:30 p.m. Thursday – Sunday through Sept. 26
Tickets are $20
For more information, visit www.shakespeareoc.org.

Food: Cielito Restaurant in Santa Barbara

Vanilla bean cheesecake. SCREAMfmLondon

Aside from Los Angeles being cool in itself, there are a million cool places accessible for a weekend getaway. I headed up to Santa Barbara for a few days to do what I do best: shopping, eating delicious things and going to museums while everybody else is at the beach.

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Blackberry margarita. SCREAMfmLondon

One of our favorite dining spots turned out to be the Cielito Restaurant.

Cielito was awesome. It’s set back from State Street in a little courtyard with a little fountain full of little turtles. Very atmospheric. The vibe is super relaxing, the food is super flavorful, and the entire staff is super attractive. Nice work, Cielito.

I started with the blackberry margarita ($13), which is Peligroso Blanco Tequila, Leopold’s Rocky Mountain Blackberry liqueur and fresh lime juice with dashes of agave syrup. Fabulous! We also ordered some chips with salsa and guacamole to kick things off, which isn’t really necessary, but guacamole is always a good idea.

The pork belly quesadilla ($12) was delicious — just the right amount of spiciness and a beautiful presentation. It is served in four pieces on top of guacamole and filled with pork, cheeses, shaved cabbage, pickled onion and salsa. Although it’s a small plate, it’s quite filling, and every bite is filled with the perfect combination of flavors.

Also tasted the Huarache de Hongos ($15), which was also amazing. It’s a flatbread topped with mushrooms, oaxacan black beans, cheeses, salsa, white truffle oil and avocado. The taste of the truffle oil and mushrooms is strong and rich, and the creamy cheeses and avocado just make it completely delectable.

For dessert, we tried everything. (Not a hyperbole.)

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Pork belly quesadilla. SCREAMfmLondon

I loved the vanilla bean cheesecake ($9) with hazelnut crust that was smothered in fresh strawberries. It’s a small portion, but that makes it easier to try all of the desserts on the menu and still be able to leave the restaurant without exploding.

The chocolate caramel semifreddo ($10) is frozen chocolate mousse with salted peanut brittle ice cream in the center, and it tastes just like a fancy Snickers ice cream.

Also, be sure to ask about the signature dessert specials because our favorite dessert of the night was the caramel apple empanada with ice cream on top.

Altogether, Cielito will provide a sweet dining experience for your beachfront vacation. I ate pretty much everything there was to eat, and I would do it again.

Excellent meal; would dine again. And I was serious about the good-looking waitstaff, too. Sup.

LA County Fair: Neon Trees, fried food and superheroes

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Cher Lloyd performs at the Los Angeles County Fair on Sept. 4. SCREAMfmLondon

As promised, I did indeed make it to the Los Angeles County Fair to finish up my 2014 to-eat list of fried fair foods, as well as to check out Cher Lloyd and Neon Trees at the End of Summer Concert Series.

The verdict: the LA County Fair is way cooler than the OC Fair.

The food

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Deep-fried cheesecake on a stick. SCREAMfmLondon

I immediately started by requesting a deep-fried cheesecake on a stick be made fresh. The cheesecake center was still cold from having been refrigerated, and it was wrapped in crispy deep-fried breading, sprinkled with powdered sugar and drizzled in chocolate syrup. It was everything I hoped it would be.

Another item I checked off the list was an order of deep-fried chicken skins. What a time to be alive! We all know that the skin is the best part of fried chicken, so why not skip the middleman? These were the perfect blend of crispy and chewy with a hint of chicken flavor, highlighted by the greasiness of the deep-frying process.

Finally, I insisted on trying the deep-fried frog legs just because. My theory was that people wouldn’t eat something so odd if it wasn’t delicious, and these turned out to be the best things I ordered at the fair. The presentation was a little disconcerting because it definitely looks like a frog sliced in half. But once you accept that, it’s not too different from eating chicken wings. The consistency is very tender, similar to scallops. And they are juicy and tasty — kind of tasted like fried catfish. I loved them.

The fair

The LA Fair is about three times the size of the OC Fair, and it’s a million times more fun. There are your run-of-the-mill fair sights (deep-fried foods, clearly rigged carnival games, rides, etc.), but there are also a dozen specialized areas full of unique exhibitions.

I spent a lot of time checking out the wilderness area, where they gave camping lessons, allowed visitors in the fire lookout tower, and taught us about California history and westward expansion. Another great exhibit was the Hall of Heroes, an entire hall dedicated to science fiction (and a few real-life heroes, like firefighters), from Dr. Who and Batman to Thor and Harry Potter.

The concert

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Deep-fried chicken skins. SCREAMfmLondon

After dark, the grandstand was opened for the evening’s show: former “X Factor” contestant Cher Lloyd opened for pop-rock group Neon Trees of “Everybody Talks” fame.

The sound was mixed terribly for the show. Lloyd’s backing vocals were way too loud, and the first couple of songs from her set were completely unintelligible. The stage was also set up in front of a very scenic large mound of dirt on the horse track. But I guess that’s what you get when you play the county fair.

Lloyd was still adorable while playing her upbeat pop hits, “I Wish,” “Oath” and, my favorite, “Want U Back.” She seemed truly grateful to be playing, and asked the audience if we would be darlings and sing along to “With Ur Love.” So cute.

Neon Trees took the stage in some flashy outfits: lead vocalist Tyler Glenn wore black sequined pants and a sparkling, fringe-covered jacket, both of which I want to own.

The band has a couple of excellent, catchy songs (“Everybody Talks” and “Love in the 21st Century”), but a lot of filler tracks that were quite boring to sit through, exacerbated by the really uncomfortable benches we were sitting on.

The concert tickets were obviously too expensive, since the majority of the audience sat in the stands and left the $100+ seating area near the front of the stage pretty empty. But it was still a great time, and I ended up staying at the fair from noon until after 10 p.m.

Basically, it doesn’t get much better than a day with fried food, comic books, wild animals, rock ‘n roll and a little history lesson. Well, for me, at least.

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Neon Trees performs at the Los Angeles County Fair on Sept. 4. SCREAMfmLondon