The last two years, for the Buddha’s birthday holiday, The Brit and I have gone away to a pension at the base of Jirisan for a Braai Camp. Now let me decode that sentence for you. In Korea, a pension is a type of vacation rental. It can be like a house, like an apartment, or in this case, like a cabin. It typically does not have a bed, so it feels a bit like a slumber party with everyone curled up on the floor together. Except that I’m not 9-years-old anymore, so it’s uncomfortable and makes my hips hurt and this is how I know I’m getting old. But I digress. Jirisan is generally regarded as being one of Korea’s three most famous mountains. The others being Hallasan (in Jeju) and Seoraksan (in Gangwand0). And finally, braai is Afrikaans for BBQ. And it is probably the most delicious BBQ I’ve ever had (sorry, Mom).
Both years we departed from Seoul in the wee hours of the morning for our long bus ride to the Namwon area. The first year the ride was especially long because our bus overheated and we had to pull over in the middle of nowhere to let it cool down. We had to pool all of our water together so the bus driver could put it in the radiator(?) . I dunno, the place that keeps the engine cool. Cars! And we had to keep the aircon off for most of the drive as a result of the overheating, so what should have been a 5ish hour bus ride turned into a really uncomfortable 8ish hour bus ride. Fortunately, this year there were no such complications. Smooth sailing both there and back.
The Braai Camp has been known to change locations, but the last two years it has taken place deep in the serene mountain range in Namwon, with Jirisan towering in the backdrop. Both years the area was lush and green and it felt amazing to be far, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. And also the pollution. At the base of the pension was a beautiful creek perfect for relaxing in sun, as long as you weren’t distracted by the highway on the other side of it. Hey, we can’t have everything…
Now, the name of the game at Braai Camp is to drink, have fun and eat good food. And that is what was done both years. Each day is spent just chillin out, maxin, relaxin all cool, shootin some b-ball outside the pool. When a couple of guys, who were up to no good – sorry, I seem to have gone astray. That’s been known to happen when the words chillin out get used. Back to your regularly scheduled broadcast. And at night, we BBQ. The first night is spent barbecuing either meat that you bring with you, or as we did, meat that you order through the organizers of the event. We ordered some lamb and some boerewors (a South African style sausage). The meat was amazing, but not nearly as good as the second night, when the guys from Braai Republic (a South African restaurant in Itaewon) fire up the spit and roast an entire lamb on it over the course of the day. I don’t know what spices and witchcraft they use, but this meat is literally the most delicious meat I have ever eaten. It is tender and juicy and loaded with flavor. I couldn’t stop myself from eating it. I was full, but my taste buds were screaming, “More! More! MORE!!!” And there is no one in the world I heed more than my taste buds. I think I felt full for four days after we left.
All in all, it was a great weekend, with great food and great friends. I highly recommend going on this trip if you’re in Korea in the spring. They have departures from multiple cities in Korea, or the option to make your own way there. I don’t know that there’s a permanent event page you can follow, but you can get in touch with the guys over at Braai Republic, or with Tobias at The Hidden Cellar, as he is the main event coordinator. Check out more photos here.