Sep. 17th, 2008

Just got back from Korea last night, and I have to say that this was my best visit to the country. Even though both Paul and Sarah live(d) there I never really had much interest in the country and couldn't really muster up the excitment of visiting it. Part of that is because its only an hour flight, and it doesn't seem like you are traveling far (you're not!) But also becuase Korea is vastly different from Japan and I do really love Japanese culture.

Korea, is much dirtier- really! and there isn't much arcitecture. Thats because nearly 80% of the population lives in high-rise apartment buildings and that the Japanese totally torched most of the historical buildings when they colonized the country.

Back to it, I do like Korea food, and have made several Korean friends. The last two times I went to Korea I stayed in Seoul the whole time, and really wasn't all that impressed. Seoul is large, and kinda confusing. The people spit on the streets where old women sit and wash vegtables for the resturants they are in front of. Koreans speak more English than Japanese, but Ive also had several encounters that border on rude (getting flipped off by a cabbie for example).

This time I flew into Busan and took a bus to Daegu. Both are located in the south east and are much smaller cities than Seoul. I kinda passed out on the bus from the two cities (an hour? two?) and woke up in Daegu in a love hotel district. A quick block away was Dongdaegu station where I was due to call Sarah and tell her I had arrived and then call her friend EunBi and meet up with her to go and get glasses. I had only big bills
(10$) and the phones only took dimes. Took me forever to buy something that gave the right amount of change (one ice cream and corn tea) Sarah ahd been worrying since my flight got in at 4 and i didn't call till about 6:15.

She had work until 10, so Eun Bi was going to take me to get glasses and then to the coffee shop to meet sarah. Getting glasses in korea is the most AWESOME thing ever. I think it took maybe 40 minutes total, and thats with looking at the frames. I got an eye exam and everything. One pair glasses and 4 months of contacts= 160$. SO AWESOME.

Eun Bi also took me to her house (read apartment- i didn't see a single house while I was in korea) and fed me some traditional Korean food. I was in KOrea for Chusok, the Korean equivalent to Thanksgiving. We had Beef bone soup (it was white!!!), fish, tofu, kimchee, rice, and...some other dishes in red pepper paste. After all of this we went and met up with Sarah at her favortie coffee shop. All of this was in the neighborhood that sarah and E lived in previously. They just moved to a new job and apartment last month, and with the new job had to move neighborhoods. They love thier new work, but hate where they live now, whereas they used to love where they lived and hated thier job.

After coffee we went over to a Galbi resturant nearby where E met up with us and two other people sarah knew dropped by. The food was AMAZING. The best korean bbq I've had. And the kimchee and noodle soups that came with it were soo good! I need to find a place like that in japan!

It was nearing 1am, which aparently when you work til 10pm isn't all that late, when we headed back to S&E's place. Thier apartment is in a different side of town near a department store and a Home Plus (Tesco). BUT its ont the wrong side of the tracks. Read Ghetto. The place itself is very nice, but the neighborhood.....well... its hilarious? like drunken brawls and screaming old ladies funny? A bit sketch but nice.

Crashed on the floor only to be awoken around 10 so we could catch a bus to Palgonsong (??) a mountain on the outskits of the city where E spends many days in bliss hiking. Sarah and I?? whimps. Complete whimps! Made it mostly up the mountain, but then we got lost and were just wandering aimlessly (aka following elliott) up and up. Till we reached a peak of some mountain and realized we were 3 peaks over from where we wanted to be. Got off the mountain just as the sun was setting. 4 hours of hiking. Sarah and I were feeling it, Elliott looked refreshed.

We ventured back into the city where we ended up downtown to enjoy some of the best pasta ever. You could special order everything and it was amazing. Since we had planned to go to Seoul the next day for Chusok activites we headed home and ate some apple pie from costco and played video games. I once again passed out early.

The next day we rushed to the train station since Sunday was teh busiest day for Chusok (and there was some problem with the tickets) and borded the KTX for seoul. An hour later we pulled up to a bright, sunny and freaking hot city. We started in Itewon where I picked up some english books from a store that will special order them and you don't have to pay shipping. Then we went to Anguk and the palaces to see all the activited planned for Chusok. Since it was a national holiday everything was free to enter and browse around. Spent some time in the natioanl museum looking at the display of "KOREA: From Hardships to Glory!!" and then wandered the palace grounds. Sat in a cafe for a while with the most chocolate drink Ive ever had.

At the palace they had traditional dances and displays including rope walkers and such. Stood/sat and watched for almost an hour. Then the crowds got a little much and we headed to the COEX for dinner. The COEX is a giant mall that houses a movie theater, an aqaurium, and thousands of shops. We went to On the Border, an american mexican place that just opened in korea.

I LOVE MEXICAN FOOD!!!

Ate so much I felt sick. Then got on a bus back toDaegu- 3.5 hours. ugh.

Monday was a lazy day. Slept in. Went shopping downtown. Ate dinner at Costco and did some shopping there (omg i have cherrios!!!!) very nice day. Ended the trip playing badmiton in Sarah's local park listening to two old women have a throw down. Vastly amusing and slightly creepy.

Woke up around 9 on Tuesday and had pumpkin pie for breakfast. Got ready and packed and S&E took me out for bibimbap for lunch. I was sorry I couldn't finish it. It was delicious. got to the bus station (while running) JUST before the bus left.

All in all a great trip and Im really glad I got to visit S&E while they're there. Might have to do again sometime.

How was your weekend?

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