Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spring Hath Sprung All Over Korea

Korea has been crazy these past few weeks!!! I've been preparing for the Vagina Monologues (which is coming up this weekend!) and traveling around Korea (literally.. South East, North, South West, West) trying to help Chelsea check a few things off of her Korea list before she leaves me for good (tear!).  And since I've been MIA on my postings for Korea... I'm gonna do it all in one shot, one shot!

A few weekends past, Chelsea, Ali & I went to Seoul to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. We had a bit too many green beers the night previous at a Vagina Monologue fundraiser.. so we weren't too productive on Saturday.  Although we did leave Jeonju at 9:30AM and arrived in Itaewon to find a hotel by 1PM.  It took us a few tries to find an open 'cheap' hotel, but we finally found one!!  We ate some yummy subway then headed to the port to catch our St. Pat's Booze Cruise on the Han River.  It was 3 hours of unlimited Seoul micro-brewed beer while on a Korean version of a Cruise ship with 600 other foreigners (and a few Koreans)... mayhem!  It was SO fun though, even though we were all squeezed on.  The BBQ and wraps were DELICIOUS, and it was SO nice having REAL beer!  Dark, light, lager, pilsner.. everything your heart could imagine!

I found some Jin-jews randomly which absolutely made my day! I miss the people from Jinju SO much, but it's so far away from Jeonju I've rarely been back to visit!

After the Cruise, we romped around Itaewon (Little America) and I randomly met a girl who went to JMU and graduated about the same time as me... the conversation literally started with a 'You look SO familiar.. do you live in Jeonju?' 'No, I live in Seoul.. where are you from?' 'Virginia.' 'Really?! Where at in Virginia??' 'Close to Roanoke.' 'NO WAY! I'm from Franklin County, where did you go to school?' 'Seriously?!  JMU!' 'OMG I did too!'.  So I looked on Facebook later to see how many friends we had in common.. we had 6 friends in common!! What a tiny world.. but still no clue why she looked so familiar to me! We decided, we must have seen each other on the quad because we both hung out there so much!

Brucey and I found a DUKE DOG! :-)
On Sunday, we went to THE DOG CAFE!!!  It was seriously the cafe of my dreams.. although it smelled like cleaner and gave me a headache.  There were SO many dogs to play with and cuddle with.. all different types, all different mannerisms and behaviors.  I was seriously in love.  Bruce and Caleb (Bruce's friend who I ran into on the boat) came along as well.. such a riot!

Video: Chelsea's new best friend & the amusements of the dog cafe in Myeongdong! <3 Good times!


The city of my dreams!! I'd missed Busan SO much.  It definitely filled a tiny Korean void I've had since I've moved back to Korea.  My friends and I used to go there so often to see the ocean, dance, shop... and this was the first time I've been back since I moved to Jeonju.  Chelsea and I's first stop was Nampodong.  I had never been here, but always had it on my list of places to go.  Chels used to live in Busan so this was one of her favorite spots.  We met up with one of her Korean friends, JC, who was such a sweet heart and showed us around.  She also helped us find a piercing studio.. so we got new earrings! :)  

We found some AMAZING hodak (which is similar to a thick pancake that is filled with brown sugar and seeds.. when cooked the sugar melts and it. is. SCRUMPTIOUS!), and waited in a huge line to try its famous deliciousness.  Seriously, the most amazing hodak I've ever tried!  No wonder someone's job was purely keeping the line in order!

Then, we went to the Jalgalchi Fish Market.  I can't believe I never made it here.. it's totally famous in Busan, and really all over Korea.  The smell hits you when you get about a block away.. and then all you can smell is fish for the next few hours!  In doors they had heaps of aquariums and live fish that you can buy and take upstairs to have cooked for you in a sort of restaurant (will definitely be doing that next time).  I can't wait to try all of the random things that they have there!  SO many fish that I've never seen in my life!  An awesome experience!

Next up on the list, we went to Seomyeon to eat Dwaeji Galbi at one of Chelsea's favorite restaurants.  We had 3 orders just for the 2 of us and enough soju and mekju to keep us going for a while!

That night was what we'd been waiting for!  One Drop East was playing their last ever show with the lead singer, Angela.  Chelsea and I had each seen this band at least 5 times and this was my first time seeing them again in a year and a half!  THEY WERE AWESOME!  They absolutely rocked it!  I ran into a Jin-jew randomly, Nick, and we spent the rest of the night with him and his friends!  SO nice running into a familiar face in a random city in Korea!!!!  My goodness, this night was awesome.  At some point, someone broke out the tequila and the band had us dancing until at least 3:30AM.  We headed to Haeundae after that, but unfortunately the clubs were closing in 20 minutes, womp womp.  So we hung out at the beach.. and at E-Mart (no clue why still).  We said goodbye to Nick, then Chelsea and I headed to a popular Busan jimjilbang where we rested our heads for the morning.
The jimjilbang we stayed at was SUCH an awesome deal, $9!!!  And we spent the night.. sort of.. we went to sleep at 6AM.. Korean style, on the floor with a light blanket and instead of a wooden brick as a pillow it was a ... softer sort of brick as a pillow!  It was difficult finding the blankets though, I tried to ask a girl who was awake where she got her blankets, then her boyfriend farted really loud while he was sleeping, so she whacked him really hard, I had to leave I was laughing so hard... but eventually found them.  We were woken up at 9:30AM by some ajummas screaming at us so they could have our blankets to wash (WHO knew wake-up time was at 9:30AM?! they could have been slightly calmer about it!).  Chelsea and I crawled our way slowly over to the windows to see this view....
Then we went to the sauna part and relaxed in the hot tubs while looking out at the same view just one floor down! AMAZING!

Boseong Tea Fields

Rehana, Chelsea and I set off for the tea fields at 9AM.  After taking 3 buses, we finally arrived to our destination.  When we got off of the innercity bus at the entrance of the tea fields.. this is what we saw:

This is what we were expecting to see:

Of course we eventually found "THE tea fields".. it just took a bit of walking.  But the disappointment we felt when stepping off that bus is hilarious now that we look back on it.  Even the group of four Korean girls behind us were cursing (IN English!) because they had expected to see a different magical world from the get go as well!

But all was well once we found them, we climbed up to the top of that peak and could see the beach that we were going to be spending the night at.  It was SUCH a warm and beautiful day, one of the first of the season!  So nothing but smiles here!  We also had multiple green tea ice cream cones, green tea fried pork, hot green tea, and we bought heaps of tea leaves in bags!  A+ trip!

Yulpo Beach

This beach was only 15 minutes away from the tea fields.  It was LOVELY and known for its gorgeous sunrises!  I didn't want to leave the next day, it was SO nice being at the ocean again!  So the first thing we did was kick off our shoes and jump in the mud/sand!  The tides on the western side of Korea are crazy.. they go out reallllly far during the day, and come almost all the way in at night!  We watched ajummas digging up clams and shrimp and octopus... it makes you very thankful that you do not have to bend down and work that hard every day of your life!  Those ladies are rock stars!

Then, we went to a sauna that was famous for its green tea bath (it was a scary brown color.. but SO worth the fear) and seawater bath.  It was SO relaxing after busing and climbing all day, we were all exhausted but ready to find a hotel and eat dinner/drink soju and Cass alllll niiight long!  HA! Who am I kidding, I think we made it until 12:30 then crashed.. however the next morning wasn't pretty.  Hangover + 4 hours on buses = unfortunate!


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