Ulsan is an industrial city, but Sohee has lots of friends here that she met through the ESL program at the UofR. So we decided to see the sights here and visit some old friends.
Firstly, we check into our hotel. The Hyundai Hotel. Yup, same company that makes the car. Hyundai, Samsung, LG make and do everything here. We even bought some LG diapers for Hannah... ahahaha! Anyways, this was by far the nicest hotel we stayed at.
It was in the industrial part of the city, but it had a pretty good view.
Hannah enjoys heights.
Not far from our hotel was a McDonald's, and you always gotta check out what other countries are doing. We were there for breakfast, and it is pretty much the exact same menu. I'd say the quality was a little bit higher. The coffee was really nice, the McMuffin was built with care, and the hashbrowns were nice and thick.
One thing that was pretty cool (and you see this in a lot of restaurants) is the way they handle the trash. Liquids go in one bin, cups get stacked, food waste in another, and regular trash in another. They try and recycle as much as possible which is quite rad. We need to start doing that in Canada.
Do it for the polar bears.
Next day was busy. We first have lunch with our friend Cheol-Wook. His parents own a restaurant with the most amazing samgyeopsal (pork) ever. I have even blogged about this before, but it was worth mentioning again. It's amazing. Secret recipe. You need to go there now.
Pork flip, son.
When we offered to pay, they refused our money. Amazing food and amazingly kind. Many thanks!
CheolWook and his mom.
Next, we hit up a traditional cultural festival that was going on in Ulsan (Soeburi). It is supposed to be a festival celebrating Ulsan steel making and engineering. They have a huge history of engineering here and they celebrate it with old and new innovations. But in reality, it's much more... It's basically a cultural folk festival. Here is a marching band playing traditional Korean music.
Each one of those tents has something different. Some had traditional items like masks or carvings of scriptures, and some had an activities you could participate in. Like drumming! One of the beats they were playing was very similar to one of the cadences I played in high school, so we had a little jam session going.
Crazy foreigner knows the traditional cadence for some coincidental reason.
Next, we found the marching band playing again... and they were putting on a performance. Some were playing traditional music with traditional instruments, and some were break dancing (b-boy). Traditional mixed with modern freestyle dance. Deadly combo.
What a crappy photo of something that was very awesome.
We then found this blacksmith dude engraving names into metal. He was surrounded by crazy eager kids jacked up on sugar, so I was astonished that there wasn't a terrible accident involving liquid metal.
Protip: red coals are hot.
We then stumble apon the main area of the festival where another perfomance was going on... probably the highlight. There was a 30 minute-ish performance of a traditional ceremony. There was a lot of drumming, music, singing, and speeches/prayers.
The ceremony itself was sort of strange yet intriguingly rad. They were praying to a ghost for good luck, and offered the ghost gifts, one of them being a pig's head (it was fake, but I bet there was a time when it was real).
Head of swine (could be a rad band name).
When the ceremony was all over, they had a big party. They broke the 4th wall and the party was for everyone in the audience too. They started playing happier music, dancing and handing out rice cake (it's a dessert used for a lot of celebrations) and makkoli (unfiltered Korean rice wine). That's right, they were just straight up handing out alcohol to everyone in the crowd. It was amazing. We seriously need to lighten up our liquor laws in Sask. So, because I was a foreigner, I was offered a fair share of both.
Rice cake entering my mouth.
I was then offered to come on stage and party with them. I have no idea what I'm doing, but they seem to enjoy the fact I'm willing to participate with them. It's really my pleasure as I enjoy dancing (badly) after drinking a little free rice wine.
The High Ten dance with the leader dude.
After resting a bit, we go to the beach.
But we are not here to relax. We are here to hike the mountain that is to the right of us. In flip flops. Holding a baby. Why am I so crazy? We'll never know. Actually, it's not a steep climb. It's basically like walking up stairs for 45 minutes. And then down. The first part actually is steps. Haha. Great fun.
The start of our journey with CheolWook and his girlfriend:
Why you gotta take me everywhere?
When you get to the top, there are some wicked deadly views of the beach, city, and ocean. I won't ruin it with my smart ass comments. Just enjoy:
Making our way back down, the sun is beginning to set. It was a long and tiring, but the view made it all worth while.
Past our friends, past Sohee and Hannah, you can see the beach, where flip flops are advantageous.
Next up, we meet the rest of the crew (all of the old ESL students) at a Jajangmyeon Restaurant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jajangmyeon). The food was amazing, and it was good to see some familiar faces again. They are such kind people and it was really cool that they all came out to see us.
Peace for everyone.
Lastly, before I wrap up... here is a picture of our drinks. Soda Pop is still served in glass bottles. Yes, I know you can still find it in Canada if you look hard, but it is straight up the most common medium here. Hell yes. Pop is just better out of a glass bottle. If you think otherwise, I don't think we can be friends anymore. Also in this picture is Pineapple Fanta. I really didn't know what to expect, but it was #%$*ing awesome! You can't get it in Canada, so I might take a suitcase of this stuff with me. The taste is so refreshingly good, it'll blow your face clean off.
Where will our journey take us next? Here is a not so suble hint: Busan.