April 26, 27, 28
Here is “quick” recap of my last weekend-sort of a typical weekend as of late:
Friday night: took my new co-worker out to some Korean BBQ- accidently ordered the wrong thing but it was ok because I go to try something new: Sam-gib-sol is like really thick bacon-pretty fatty but still good. Also got to watch my new fellow co-worker try soju for the first time- they should invent a word for how a person’s face looks after their first soju shot: somewhere between eating a lemon, wanting to curse, and yet-at the same time- thinking “meh, not bad”
Saturday: went on a “hike” with all of my co-workers. This meant: me, Lacey from Texas, Desiree (new) from Michigan, Josh (only boy in the office) from New York and the 12 Korean women we work with. The ‘hike’ was really more of a stroll along some city streets and a little bit along some ocean bluffs. BUT we did encounter my biggest food gamble so far here- the director of our school bought some sea cucumber from a guy who was selling freshly ‘picked’ morsels out of a little bunker made from rocks right there on the cliff over the ocean. In Korea, women do all of the diving and they are referred to as ‘women divers’ (appropriate, no?) and this particular bunker had been set up by a gang of women divers back in the Korean war so it was pretty historic and what not. To keep the sea cucumbers fresh until someone orders, they keep the little guys alive and squirming in a little plastic dish filled with sea water out on display for all the hikers to see. When someone orders, they get out a knife, balance a cutting board over a bucket and they cut off the butt first and throw it away. Then they pull out all the sloppy, stringy orange insides- but get this- they DON’T throw this stuff away- it goes into the dish. Then they chop up the cucumber all nice and even pieces. Oh and they chop up something pink that looks like a real life pokemon character without a face and of course they include its inside orange bits too. A whole plate of this squishy mess only costs 3,000 won (a little less than 3 dollars) and it even comes with hot sauce. Now, the taste of this thing wasn’t that bad it just tasted like ocean. But the texture. You expect it to be real squishy like but it’s not. It’s actually really hard and it takes effort to chew. Like how I imagine eating a big hunk of cartilage would be like. Lacey spit hers out, I muscled through mine, Desiree looked like she was going to faint and Josh loved it and went back for seconds- ‘just the sauce tastes good’ he says.
After that we went out to eat at a family dinning joint- more barbecue- but this time it was ABSOLUTELY delicious- Dwaeji bulgogi (pork fire meat) and kimchi and chilled noodles. I was so full I tried to take a nap (we were already sitting on the ground anyways) but I restrained. THEN they say we are going to get dessert and they took us to get Pat Bing Soo which is shaved ice with red beans (like, who wants to eat some really cold beans when they’re extremely full?) but it was actually delicious and I can’t wait till I’m dying in the heat of summer to eat it again. After, I had to go home and nap but then I rallied and met up with some friends at Gwangalli Beach because there was this random fish festival going on. We watched a fake Psy do his new single dance, watched an awesome parade full of traditional dancers, music and clothes (and it went on for nearly an hour) and then we watched the traditional ‘fish catching competition’ where they put some UGLY looking fish in an oversized baby pool and let kids pay 5 dollars to get all in there with a plastic bag and try and catch one. Most entertaining was that they had a guy on a mic doing commentary for the event- as if it were a game show.
Sunday: not getting a good enough hike on Saturday I decided to drag the new girl along with me to a hike I’ve been meaning to do now that it’s Spring. We started at Beomeosa temple and luckily met a very cute little old Korean man who spoke English and worked as a volunteer for the temple so he showed us all around and taught us a few things about Buddha and such. Then we hiked up to Geumjeong fortress which is just a big wall encircling the top of the mountain with four gates pointing North, South, East, West. We hiked up to the South gate and then followed the East wall- up and down, up and down- until the South gate. I’m pretty happy with all the hiking I’ve been doing here and not to toot my own horn or anything but I consider myself in pretty good hiking shape (#atthetopanni) but even I was really tired by the South gate. At this point, Desiree (my fellow hiker) had only been in Busan for 2 weeks so she looked like she was about to die or strangle me first and throw my flailing carcass over the cliff. Either way- we wanted down. We found a nice little outdoor café and got some much needed Makkoli and pajeon and when we were feeling better we started looking for the cable car that Lonely Planet described and guess what- “cable car anniyo”- it doesn’t exist anymore. So we had to make the trek down the whole Mountain- into town- down until we found a subway station- I was like a whiny little five year old going “I wanna go home..” But in retrospect it was quite a lovely hike and I would recommend it to any and all and to be honest I’ll probably be back out there in two weeks or so.