Yongsan Market

Selling cabbage on the street

Traditional markets are everywhere in Korea.  Seomun Market is the largest in Daegu, but there are countless smaller markets on practically every street corner.  Elderly women spread out tarps and sell whatever is in season.  All of the food is grown locally.

Kimchi for sale

Late November is cabbage season, which means its kimchi season as well.  Recipes are passed down through families.  The markets are bursting with cabbage and other kimchi ingredients.  Many families make enough kimchi to last an entire year – although others are starting to buy kimchi at the grocery store.

Radishes?


The Yongsan Market is pretty small.  It’s mostly women sitting on the ground, but there is an actual structure.  It’s in bad shape after years of not being maintained.  Still, it’s a great place to run out to if you need some more potatoes or onions for a recipe.  (You’ll have to buy a dozen, but they last a while.)

Dried rays… yummy

Radishes, turnips, garlic, and cabbage
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Freaky Food: Makchang (막창)

Sometimes, on Wednesday nights, the NETs at my school get together and grab dinner.  A few weeks ago we opted for a Daegu delicacy, makchang (막창).  Similar to chitlins, makchang is actually grilled pig intestines… sounds good, right? They belong to the anju food group, aka food to be consumed alongside soju.  I’m not a soju fan and I was sick… so I opted out.  It’s a popular dish, is appropriately freaky, and originated in this area, so we bit the bullet and tried a place near work.

our makchang on the grill

It was served with lettuce leaves for wrapping, onions, garlic, and some kind of ssamjang.  They also gave us a frosty cabbage soup and squid salad.  The pieces were pretty big so we cut them.

Ultimately… it was good.  It had a slightly sweet flavor, enhanced by the sauce.  We got the spicy variety but it didn’t pack too much heat.  Some of my fellow diners were put off by the chewy texture as well as the flavor.  My Korean coworker described it as “bold.”  Honestly, wrapped up in my lettuce leaf, I didn’t find it to be particularly strong.  Would I eat it again? Yeah.  For the price, though, I’d rather have some good samgyeopsal or galbi.

Freaky Food: Makchang
Verdict: Decent, but not worth the price

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Chuseok Vacation – Kyoto, Japan

Every fall, Korea observes its annual harvest holiday, Chuseok.  During Chuseok (추석), Koreans leave the cities and return to their ancestral hometowns.  In many ways, it is similar to American Thanksgiving (without the turkey!).

Unfortunately Chuseok fell on a Sunday this year (so much for the three-day holiday…), but we still managed to take a trip.  Andy and I choose Kyoto, Japan.

This post is very picture-heavy.  If you’re interested in seeing my photos, click the following link.

Andy at a ramen shop
conveyor belt sushi – this one is tuna
at Fushimi Inari, a Shinto shrine famous for its thousands of orange gates
5-story wooden pagoda at Toji Temple
maiko (apprentice geisha) outside of Gion Square, a well-known theater in the neighborhood
sukiyaki (Japanese hotpot with meat and vegetables) at an izakaya (Japanese pub)
Tenryuji, Temple of the Heavenly Dragon
Andy in the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Salmon roe (fish eggs) for sale at Nishiki Market

The trip was super fast 🙁 although it might have been a blessing in disguise, because Japan is certainly the most expensive country I’ve ever visited.  Even more than Switzerland in my opinion, although some people might disagree…

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Andy’s Family’s Visit

Last month, Andy’s family came to Daegu.  Unfortunately, so did Typhoon Sanba – yet we managed to find some things to do.

First, there was a baseball game.

Samsung Lions (Daegu) vs. Lotte Giants (Busan)
Go Lions!!

Then we tried makgeolli and shabu shabu.  Yum!

During the storm, we ducked into an arcade for good old-fashioned fun.

The Champion

We feasted on duck-in-pumpkin… (Andy and I will find any opportunity to do so!)

at Goya in Igok-dong

And finally, we explored Apsan, one of Daegu’s protecting mountains.

I can see my house from here!

Andy and his family also explored Busan while I had to work.  Their trip definitely flew by!! It was really great to see some familiar faces.  Also fun to see Korea from a newbie’s eye – we might still be fairly new ourselves but it’s so easy to become accustomed to the oddities of Korean culture.

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Freaky Food: Beondegi Round 2

About 3 months, Andy and I faced one of our fears… eating bugs! Beondegi are super popular snacks at Korean events or even sold in stores, similar to popcorn or nuts.  I remember very clearly my distaste for this snack… but Andy wasn’t convinced.  A second round was in order.  Watch the verdict below.

Don’t forget my original post on beondegi!

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International Bodypainting Festival

Fantasy Make-up

Last weekend, Daegu hosted its annual International Bodypainting Festival in Duryu Park.  Bodypainting seems like an unusual choice for such a conservative and modest country, but the massive crowds clearly indicate a lot of interest.

Artists from all over the world were present (including 2 or 3 from the States), as well as international models.  I heard many languages spoken in the various tents.

There were three categories at the festival: bodypainting, fantasy make-up, and most photogenic model.  The contests were on Saturday and the awards on Sunday night.  Either day, I’d recommend going later in the afternoon (after 3pm at least) to see the models with the most amount of paint coverage.  As it gets dark, the models assemble on stage while K-Pop blares into the crowd.  If you get hungry, you can always buy food from one of the vendors lined up next to the field.

My friend Deva wrote a great article for Chincha!? magazine, read it hereWarning: some photos might not be safe for work!!

European models chatting
A Korean artist works on her model
Just a small cross-section of the astounding number of photographers
One of the best – a jaguar prowling on a Korean temple roof
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Thailand: One Night in Bangkok

The final day and a half of my Thailand trip was spent in Bangkok (Krung Thep to locals).  After almost a week in island paradise, Bangkok presented a sharp contrast to the relaxed lifestyle.  Like any city, the City of Angels was hot, noisy, crowded, and smelly.  But it was also full of beautiful sights, delicious food, and friendly (and not-so-friendly) people.

As with the rest of this trip, nothing was planned in advance.  We caught a cab and told the driver to take us to Khao San, the popular tourist street.  Near this area we found a hostel called Wild Orchid, which I would recommend.  Definitely cheaper than the islands, if you can believe it!

While in Bangkok, we
– saw the reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
– were approached by gem scammers but avoided trouble and scored a cheap tuk-tuk ride and free visit to the Golden Mount (as well as a free admission to a fake Buddha)
– explored the infamous Khao San road… on a Buddhist holiday on which the sale of alcohol was prohibited! A few bars paid off the police and served alcohol in coffee cups, however.
– took lots and lots of riverboats

We only had one night… so we made what we could of it!

Khao San
Making our pad thai
in a tuk-tuk
Wat Arun from across the river
in front of the reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
Plinking satang (essentially Thai pennies) into 108 pots for good luck
A Thai man and a Buddhist monk
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Thailand: First leg of the trip

I recently went on an incredible trip to Thailand.  It would be way too long and wordy to properly explain here, so I’ll break it up into a few parts and share some photos.

The first day was spent mostly traveling (Daegu-> Shanghai -> Bangkok).  Less than eight hours after touchdown, Andy and I had a connecting flight to Phuket and then a ferry to Ko Phi Phi.  Needless to say, we were very tired!

Ko Phi Phi was absolutely beautiful.  It’s a tiny, touristy island located in the Andaman Sea.  It’s so small that there are no roads on the island, and so everyone travels by bicycle or push-cart.  To get to a different part of the island, it’s better to charter a longtail boat.  We got dropped off at the pier in Tonsai Village, but wanted a quieter locale.  100B (~$3) will get you to Hat Yao, Long Beach, which was perfect.

Longtail boats docked at the beach at Tonsai Village, Ko Phi Phi Don
Our bungalow! Paradise Pearl Resort, Hat Yao, Ko Phi Phi Don
Buddhist spirit house in Tonsai Village, Ko Phi Phi Don
Breakfast on Hat Yao, overlooking Ko Phi Phi Leh, the smaller sister island

As much as we loved Ko Phi Phi, we decided to check out Ko Lanta for the next few days.  My cousin and several friends raved about this quiet island, and for good reason.  After just one night, we boarded the ferry to Ko Lanta, which you can read about here.

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Delivery!

In Korea, you have to be very careful.  Not from the usual threats of crime or international peril, but from a much more dangerous hazard – delivery scooters.  Scooters are apparently exempt from all traffic laws (and a few laws of common sense).  Sidewalk? Fair game.  Stop sign? Just a suggestion.  Red light? Doesn’t count if you just honk your horn at full speed!

These fearless moronic men have an important job – delivering food to hungry Koreans.  It seems like every night, I return home from work to find my front door plastered with menus and ads.  As I absentmindedly flip through the booklets, my mouth begins to water.  I wish I could order food, I think.  How delicious and convenient. But alas…

Well, it’s been about three months and it finally felt like time to do something crazy.  Andy and I decided to try to order jjim dak (찜닭), a tasty Korean dish of chicken, glass noodles, and veggies in a sweet and spicy sauce.  Last month’s issue of the Daegu Compass (expat magazine) had a guide to order food… so I took a deep breath, dialed the number, and waited for the voice on the other end.  (For a copy of this guide, see the end of this post.)

Somehow, I managed to fumble through enough Korean to state my address and my order.  The man on the other end of the line was patient and actually understood me – to my shock and delight! Of course, we had no idea if the food was actually going to arrive…

A little while later, I got a call.  The delivery man wanted some clarification on our address.  It turns out I had mixed up the words for 1 and 2 (il and i, pronounced eel and ee), but after some massive confusion, we figured it out.  A knock on the door and our food had arrived!

Our Bounty

All in all, we got:
jjim dak, hanmari (한마리), (one chicken)
pickled radish, commonly accompanies chicken dishes and is delicious
a random bottle of Coke
4 sets of chopsticks… lol

Total cost: 19,000 won ($16.10).  That’s the price of the food – there’s no tipping in Korea.  Totally worth it considering it was delicious AND we have leftovers!

I am definitely going to order food again in the future.  When in Korea, right?

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Here’s a copy of the Daegu Compass guide.  Mine did not go 100% according to script, but it was certainly a good start.

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