Destination: Korea

Recently, the late night TV show 1st Look did an episode in Korea. They spend an afternoon and evening in Seoul, pick green tea leaves in Hadong, visiting the seaside in Busan and a temple in Pyeongchang. Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to visit either Hadong or Pyeonghcang myself, although they look stunning. I visited Busan my first year in Korea, but didn’t have a great experience. The Brit and I wanted to give it another try this year, but, as usual, life had other plans. However, I can say that the portion of this video that is filmed in Seoul captures pretty perfectly my life here. Give it a watch here for a taste of life in Korea.The photo below is from one of the fish markets in Busan, albeit not the one in the video.



Fun in the Sun

*Note: I have been informed by my mother that this post did not meet her comedic standards and I have updated it in attempt to please her. Oh the things we do for parental approval.

*Note 2: I don’t think I’m that funny, I’m just following orders.

The last weekend in May was a 3-day weekend here for us, too (thanks for being born, Buddha!), which coincided with my friend Emily’s birthday, so we decided to make the trek to Busan for the weekend. It is about a 3 1/2 hour bus ride, but totally worth it. Busan is the second largest city in Korea and has the added appeal of being right on the beach. And also the world’s biggest department store. No big deal. We stayed in what they call a love motel. I don’t even want to think about what the implications of that name mean, I just tried to spend as little time there are possible. After we dropped off our stuff, we began our long, arduous trek to Nampo (a neighboring area that turned out to be not quite so neighboring) to do a little shopping and check out the super mega huge fish market. Shopping was interesting, as always in Korea. We saw pants that would fit the Incredible Hulk at a store that boasted selling “American sizes.” That is what the world thinks of us, folks. There was a shirt covered in lion faces with these really creepy piercing blue eyes that looked fitting for a member of the wolf pack. I considered purchasing it because I thought I could use it during my inevitable future as a crazy cat lady. There were also some frightening mannequins that looked like giant Bratz dolls and what Joe so eloquently described as a “little girls’ S&M bathing suit.” While we were shopping for sunglasses for Joe, an ajumma shooed us away from her stall because she did NOT care for us trying on the sunglasses before buying them. How else are we supposed to tell which ones make him look like an alien and which ones make him look like a pedophile? While we were waiting to meet up with the rest of our party, we stopped for a pick-me-up in a bar with beer bottles the size of my upper torso. After a few drinks and some obligatory “hey, look at me with this giant beer bottle” photos, we ventured to the super mega huge fish market to stare at some seriously weird fish and take oodles of pictures. We bought some prawns the size of my face and some overpriced but delicious looking crab. We took it to the restaurant upstairs that cooks it on the spot for you. The crab was delicious, but there wasn’t nearly enough of it. Tragically, the prawns were a bit bland and overcooked, because I had been expecting big things from them (pun totally intended, albeit lame).  After that, we ventured back towards our hotel and got ready to paint the town red. Unfortunately, this was not to be. There must have been an axe body spray convention in town, because I have never seen so many popped collars in my life. And I grew up in the 80s. The ridiculous levels of testosterone and douchbaggery were making it difficult for us to have a good time, so we found a small, weird Korean dive and set up shop. We ordered the weirdest (read: grossest) nachos I’ve ever had. Koreans do a lot of things well, but Mexican food is not one of them. We spent the rest of the night there, drinking, eating weird food and people watching. We witnessed a group of VERY intoxicated men dressed as Catholic school girls trying to hail a taxi for, like, 15 minutes. They finally got one by jumping out in front of the taxi. I’ll have to try that method the next time I’m having trouble getting a cab. On the plus side, they consistently forgot to add our drinks to our tab so I think I spent $8 that night.  The next day was mostly spent chilled out on the beach, which was amazing. Korean beaches are ripe for people watching. There were multiple women trying to walk down the beach in high heels. I appreciate how difficult that must be, but come on ladies! And there were several guys in full on suits. Koreans don’t like to show a lot of skin, so most people were  covered from head to toe and looking at us like we were weird for wearing bathing suits. There was an awesome guy in a bright blue speedo parading up and down the beach on his jet ski flexing his muscles. I assumed he was just your run of the mill tool. Turns out, he was the lifeguard. Sometimes I love Korea. In the late afternoon we headed to the aquarium because not only do I freaking love aquariums, but my friend Emily was diving in the shark tank and we wanted to watch and take pictures.  And to see if a shark would go rogue. None did. BUT, we did get a bunch of super awesome photos of fish and Em. Afterwards, the birthday girl wanted to spend the night hanging out on the beach, so we did. We met up with some other friends from Jeonju that were in town for the weekend and had a blast. There were definitely some roman candles involved, and I may or may not have pretended I was Harry Potter while playing with them. There was some beach tag, which is hilarious to watch grown-ups try and do. And there were a bunch of really amazing sandcastles because they were gearing up for a contest the following weekend, and we got to see a little boy poop on one. Some Koreans came and took pictures with us simply because we were foreigners. Okay, not all of us. Mostly just my blonde friend. But I’m going to go ahead and piggyback on her experience. An inebriated group of foreigners not far from us spent a decent chunk of the night singing Disney songs. It was a great night. Monday was spent vegging on the beach, soaking up the sun, and dreading going back to the beach-less Jeonju before our long, frightening bus journey home. Have I mentioned recently how terrifying driving in Korean can be?

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