Monday, May 3, 2010

I'm in Korea... AGAIN!

This blog post comes from the future. 14 hours in the future. I haven't been able to blog much yet due to jet lag and having such a busy schedule, but what I do have for you is gold. Let me start from the beginning...

Our flight was long and tiresome, with a layover in Vancouver, then an hour bus ride from Incheon to Seoul. I slept alot so this time I wasn't as jet lagged as before... however I was fighting a sinus cold, so the air pressure in the plane pretty much killed me.

When we first arrived at her parents place, they took us out for our first Korean meal: Budeh Jiggae. It's basically kimchi soup with ham in it...
I absolutely do not look like I just traveled across the Pacific ocean

We then decided to sleep. It was only 6pm, but I needed to adjust to my new hours and such. We awoke at 8am and went grocery shopping so we could eat breakfast. Breakfast is like a supper meal in Korea, so we bought ingredients to make squid stir-fry. It's actually really tasty!

Yum! Spicy Tenticles for breakfast.

It was a good meal, but man, I was still tired, jetlagged and sick; so I went back in bed. While I was sleeping, Sohee decided to do some shopping and bought various clothes for our night out.

I awoke 8-10 hours later and I was pretty much fully recoverd from the lag, but my hours were all screwed up. We then decided to get our haircut at a salon. Normally, a haircut for men is only $5, but because I was in a salon, it cost $15. Still a pretty good deal.

We went out for supper and had samgyopsal (Korean BBQ). Sohee's good friend Sujin then met up with us. Sujin and Sohee then proceeded to consume a vast quantity of alcohol as per korean culture. They hadn't seen each other in a long time, so it was sort of emotional and whatnot:

After that, we met up with Kitaek and his friend. Kitaek lived with us in Regina and he is a really good friend. We went to a "Hof" (pub), and had a few more drinks and of course... more food. You can't just go to a bar and drink, you always have to order some food. I'm not sure if it is a law or something, but that's just the way it is. It was a ton of fun. Like a lot of great and simple moments in life, I did not capture this moment on film. But it's always good to have nice old friends and nice new friends just sitting around chatting and laughing at everything. Even if it is mostly in Korean and I'm lost in translation. We then went to a night club to dance and party more. The club had a short lineup which was very appealing because most of them had a extremely long lineup (Disneyland style). The bouncer ID'd us all, but I was the only one that padded down for weapons... so maybe it was a little racist, but after they found out that I was only carrying a super dangerous wallet and a sharp jagged cell phone, they let me in for free. Haha. All the Koreans I were with had to pay $10. The security also laughed at my hoody "Muhan Dojeon" (a Korean comedy on TV). As we go to the basement of this club playing gansta rap music, I noticed that 1/2 of the people were GI's from the American Military base. I guess that's why I was padded down. We then partied there for a few more hours, but then I got tired quickly, so I only lasted 'till 4am (They usually party until sunrise). For some reason, I woke up 4 hours later, wide awake. Jet lag is a mysterious thing.


Sohee has some friends there who she taught ESL in Regina, so the very next day (from clubbing) we go to the train station. We had some time to kill so we checked out some kiosks at the station. I found these earings with a swastika. Strange to my foreign eye, but the symbol is a buddist religious symbol here in Korea.

We then boarded a train to Ulsan. It's on the other side of the country. Seoul is in the NW part of the country and Ulsan is in the SE corner along the East Sea. The train ride was sort of long (almost 5 hours), but I guess considering that it's on the other side of the country, that's not so bad. The train is very comfy with lots of leg room. You have access to all the cars, so you can walk around for quite a while. It also had a small bar/restaurant, pc rooms, and karaoke. Wicked awesome. While Sohee slept, I studied Korean and found a new hobby... taking pictures of random people at the train stops. I don't know why I found this fascinating, but it was seriously a good time killer.

Random Dude

Random Ladies

I also took some pictures of the country side, but it doesn't look like country side. It seems like you never leave civilization in Korea. As you tour along the tracks, the city just turns into a very small town with a couple of small rice fields, then it turns into a city again.

We finally arrived in Ulsan and the weather was gorgeous there.

At the Ulsan Train Station.

Sohee's friend picked us up and then drove to a restaurant downtown where all of Sohee's ESL students (about 15 of them) were waiting there for us. It was really neat because they took time out of their busy schedule to come and spend the evening with us. The food was really good too. It was this soup with noodles, seaweed and potatoes. It basically tasted like cream of potato soup, but much better.

After the meal, we went down some of the busy streets and looked at the night life. The streets was really small, but it was architecturally so beautiful... with cobblestone, LED lights in the ground and random fountains. There were also a ton of people about because there are lots of hof's, clubs, restaraunts, and karaoke rooms around this area. We then went to a karaoke room to sing, eat, and drink more. We were there for quite a long time and everyone in the group sang at least once. It was super fun.

After a few hours, we then roamed the streets some more and found this game area that was outside... most of them were games of power (kick a soccer ball as hard as you can, punch a bag as hard as you can), and there was also a batting cage. I did all this stuff and it was quite fun.

We then made our way over to another restaurant for more food and drinking. I can't believe none of these people are fat, because we had 3 full meals in the span of 6 hours. More stories and drinking ensued and it seemed like everyone was having a good time.

Some of them were really tired and had a little bit too much to drink.

He also took off his pants.

We then decided to leave as it was almost 3am. We said our last goodbyes and everyone went home. Sohee and I stayed at a "Love Motel"... a cheap but really nice hotel. It had a big LCD TV and a computer which was really cool. All for only $40.

The next day, three of her friends from yesterday picked us up and drove us around the city. We drove by some ship building sites, and it was crazy. This is one of the biggest ship building cities in the world and it shows. The ships were insanely huge, and there were so many of them. The ships are almost little cities themselves. Fogive me for the quality as we snapped this photo from a moving car.

We then went to Daewang-am park. This park was very pretty with huge trees, little shops, and some live music.

The little shops also sell bugs that you can eat!

There were also some pretty cherry blossoms that were actually in bloom, so we decided to take a picture of them. I never saw them 2 years ago when I was here because they bloom only in April and the beginning of May.

We made our way down the path (about a 20 min walk), and we eventually got to the end where there was a light house, and then further down... very beautiful rock formation along the ocean. They had set up a little trail with a few bridges to connect the rock formation. With the waves crashing and the ocean being so blue, I felt like I was in the Gulf of Mexico, not Korea. It was crazy nice.

We then headed to the whale museum. You can learn all about whales and their habitat. We were running tight on time, so we just basically stopped for about 30 min.

There was this fishing boat on display, so Sohee and I decided to set up a "Titanic" pose.

The crazy/weird thing is that across the street there are many whale restaurants where you can eat whale meat. I found it kind of insane that on one side of the street they show the beautiful natural whales and the importance of conservation, then on the other side... they straight up eat them. I don't have a photo... So here is a random one looking out into the port.
We then headed down to the other side of the city (almost took an hour to get there) and took pictures of the most south east part of Korea. This is where the sun first rises in Korea, so it is popular with New Years Day. It also had the biggest functioning mailbox I have ever seen. You can actually go inside it to write your letter/postcard. We didn't stay long though, because it was insanely windy.

That's what she said.

We then headed to the beach so I could touch the pacific ocean. The beach also had this crazy island, that connects to the mainland when the tide is out. The tide was in at the time we were there so we saw people holding their shoes in their hands so they could get to the island (it was shallow water).
We then headed back into the main part of the city. I took a picture of this centre piece in the middle of this round about.

The sun looks ginormous.

One of Sohee's friends' parents in Ulsan also owns a restaurant. It was the most delicious Daejigalbi (Korean marinated pork ribs) I had ever had. I asked him what was different about it and what exactly was in it... and he said it was a secret. Damn. There is no way to replicate this at home. I guess it's a good excuse to return one day, because it is really THAT good. I think maybe brown sugar was in it... or maybe soy sauce... It's really hard to describe the taste because it was unlike anything I had ever tried. There were also a ton of side dishes with kimchi, garlic, and sweet potato.

After we said our goodbyes, we took the bus back to Seoul because the train was all sold out. The bus took about the same amount of time... but it only stops once, and there is no bathroom. So you better hold it, or pee in a bottle.

Anyways, I better rap this up because I'm wasting away the day. Stay tuned for more Korean goodness!

PS. I'll be posting videos on Facebook (for some reason I can't post on youtube as they have a verification ID law in effect). Also more photo's as well.

PPS. Please leave a comment! I want to know your thoughts, questions, and if there is anything you want to see as I could not post all the pictures. Also, I want to know if anyone reads this blog or if I'm just wasting my time. lol.


Shannon said...

Hey Jaret -

Looks like you're having an amazing trip (and a lot of food!) :) More pictures please!


cosby_sweater said...

Haha. I sure am. Thanks Shannon.