Monday, October 27, 2014

KGSP - Busan Fireworks Festival

Ughh. I forgot to do another post on a Sunday again. I'm just straight up terrible at this now. I didn't really have plans this weekend, but on Friday a few of my friends spontaneously decided, "hey, let's go to Busan tomorrow for the fireworks festival".

So I was like, yea sure I'll go. I wanted to check out Busan anyways and I heard the fireworks festival was awesome. Plus it's fairly close to Daegu, so on Saturday morning me and three of my friends got on a train to Busan.

This time, the non-KTX version.

The moment I got out of the station, I already felt like I would like Busan. The station looked really nice and the environment was really nice too. Lots of mountains but still a lot of open space. After some walking around and looking for food, we decided to head to the beach to get a good spot for the festival.

And in order to get a good spot for the festival, we got there at like 2:30. The actual event started at 8:00, so we got there pretty early. Reason was because literally millions of people go to Busan for the event, so you need to get there that early for a good spot.

Barely even 3 PM and there's already a lot of people.

So we staked out a spot, threw down our tarps, and waited for the fireworks to start. It was kind of a long wait, but between casual conversation, the odd game and going on food/snack runs, next thing you know it was dark.

By this point we had like 7 other people join us. Apparently a ton of people from our school came to Busan for the festival, so we just invited them to join us. The more the merrier right?

Besides, what's seven more people in a sea of millions?

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I read that the fireworks festival was amazing.

It really was. Holy crap it was so good. Like, I've never seen such a display before. The fireworks were huge and it was all choreographed to music. It was a 45 minute experience of just pure awesomeness.

Lasers and lights.


More explosions.

It was soooo cool. Totally worth the trip and the waiting. Afterwards we decided to walk around a bit more and kinda just take it all in. Then we ended up staying in a 찜질방 because that's apparently Korean style and what you have to do when you go to an event like this last minute.

That was pretty terrible. I'm glad to say that I've spent a night there, but it wasn't very pleasant and I couldn't sleep well since it was hot and filled with people so it was noisy and just uncomfortable. Regardless, it was a place to stay. The next day we were super tired so we just went back to Daegu.

But not before checking out the beach one more time.

Busan was super fun. Didn't get to do everything I wanted because of the limited time, so I definitely need to go back again. Super beautiful city.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

KGSP - Korean Food

This week was pretty ok. Pretty standard week; a lot of Korean learning, some eating, some shopping. Nothing too exciting. Fun fact though, this was the first full week of class I've had. Every week except for two so far have been interrupted by some sort of event or holiday.

The first week I missed a few days because I went back to Canada, the second week was this week, so yea. Since there wasn't too much going on this week, it'll be a filler week of sorts. In this edition I'll be talking about Korean food.

Again, can't be iterated enough. Korean BBQ is delicious.

So Korean food for the most part is more spicy than the food I eat at home. Not all of it is spicy as in like, hot, but the way they prepare the food with random spices and sauces and stuff makes the food taste spicier than the milder tasting food I eat at home.

Now before I get into the good food, let's talk about the dorm food I get at the cafeteria here. I'm on a meal plan right now so I eat at the dorm cafeteria (look at me not using res caf guys) pretty often. It's pretty much prison food.

I was surprised to see the crab there until I tried it and realized it was terrible.

That pretty much tastes like it looks. It's not very good. The standard stuff they have is rice, kimchi and a soup. 90% of the soups tastes the same even though they're made of different stuff. Then they have some sort of meat/fish thing and other veggie stuff. Overall kinda meh.

But, Korean food really starts to shine when you leave the school, similarly to most other countries really. Of course, they have Korean BBQ which everyone knows about, but they also have other stuff. For example, some restaurants are 치맥 restaurants that only serve fried chicken and beer.

I thought I had a picture of food in a restaurant. Apparently not so here's a picture of a picnic we had.

Most of the time it's pretty decent. Lot of variety in flavours. They have like, regular barbecue flavours, soy sauce, spicy, cheesey, etc. Everything really. It's pretty good. Unlike fried food back in Canada though, it doesn't feel as greasy. So you don't feel absolutely terrible for eating it. You just feel a tiny bit terrible.

There's also a lot of stir fry and  stuff as well. I don't really know how to explain it other than a bunch of food is mixed together and then cooked and made delicious. Sometimes it's spicy, sometimes it's not, but most of the time it tastes pretty good.

Chicken, potatoes, onions and cheese. So good.

And of course since Korea is in Asia you have a ton of traditional rice and noodle dishes as well. Again they're generally more spicy than their Japanese or Chinese counterparts, but it really depends on the dish. Sometimes they're not too spicy, but then it gets a bit boring.

Speaking of Chinese food they claim to have "Chinese food" here but it's totally just Korean food. It's always like, 자장면 and stuff, which is ok, but it's really not Chinese food. I really do miss some good Hong Kong style food.

"Chinese food"

Don't get me wrong, still tastes good, but I miss traditional Chinese food. Speaking of fusion food, a lot of Western style food gets a Korean twist too. For example, they have bulgogi burgers at McDonalds which pretty much taste the same as your regular burgers, but they're called bulgogi.

They also have a surprising amount of pizzas. Pizzas are a thing here apparently and you can get a ton of interesting toppings on them. They put random things like corn and mayo and potatoes on their pizzas.

Seriously, there are potato wedges on my pizza.

And of course they have street food and desserts too. There's so much to say about these two things so I'm just gonna post a bunch of pictures.

Fish cake with some rice cake in the middle.

Waffle thing with cream and delicious on top.

More fish things I think.

There's popcorn on my ice cream guys.

I'm a really big fan of snacks, so I've been pretty happy with the random things I've found here in terms of desserts and stuff. Overall Korean food is pretty ok. I kinda miss some more milder tasting food, but there's a lot of cool things here to try.

Also by writing this blog I realized I have a distinct lack of food pictures. I think I need to take more now.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

KGSP - Family Sightseeing

This was also a pretty cool week. My parents and my sister came to visit me in Daegu. It's the first time they came to Korea, so I spent the weekend hanging out with them. Before they arrived in Daegu on Friday, we apparently had another festival at the school.

Apparently festivals are just like every week. Since it was Hangul Day (한글날) on Thursday, we had a day off and then celebrated it on Friday with the school. We had a bunch of games and activities going on which all the foreign students had to participate in.

By far the best part was seeing my friends dress up in Hanbok.

I met up with my parents halfway through the night and we went out for dinner before going back to the festivities. It was pretty cool because they had some people sing and people dress up in their countries' traditional clothes. Two Korean girls sang Let it Go. In Russian. That was cool.

The day after we went shopping and did a bit of sightseeing. To be honest, there isn't a lot to see and do in Daegu, but I figured we could check out the National Museum of Daegu. I heard it's a thing here and I haven't been there before, so I brought my family to check it out.

Super empty museum was super empty.

It was ok. Probably wouldn't go back. Spent the rest of the day walking around downtown and shopping, managed to get some new shoes and a new belt, so that's pretty exciting.

Today we went to Palgongsan to go hiking. My sister wanted to go hiking so I decided to go here since I haven't been there before and I read that it's a relatively easy hike that wasn't too long. It wasn't too bad actually. Not as steep, long or difficult as Bukhansan that's for sure.

I think hiking in a few weeks would be super pretty with the leaves changing colour.

Getting there was kind of a pain. I had to look for a random bus by Dongdaegu and then we had to stand the entire trip because it was really full. But at least now I know where that bus is if I ever want to go back. Tip, it's by the KTX station, look for the underpass or just ask the information booth.

Like a lot of the other mountains in Korea, there are a few temples along the way on the trail. At the top there is a big Buddha statue called Gatbawi which is pretty much just a stone Buddha with a cool hat.

Hats are alright I guess.

It was nice seeing my family again. Sure, it's only been a few weeks since I last saw them, but who knows when they'll visit again?

Monday, October 6, 2014

KGSP - Day Trips Galore

Man, I totally forgot to write an entry yesterday. There goes my hope of keeping everything on Sunday. Oh well. Monday isn't too far off I guess.

So this week was pretty interesting since I actually did more things! Thursday was a class trip organized by the school, so all of the students learning Korean went on a day trip to Andong, a city to the north east of Daegu.

A flock of foreigners in Andong.

They have an annual mask festival in Andong, so for the first half of the trip we went to check that out. To be honest, it wasn't super interesting. They had some masks, statues and some traditional things there, but I think we went a bit too early so we didn't really get to see any performances.

Afterwards we went to eat lunch and then went to the Hahoe Folk Village, a UNESCO site dedicated to the ancient Korean style of living. That was a pretty cool trip because we essentially went to see a farming village that was kept in the traditional Korean style.

So pretty much thatched roofs and lots of farm plants.

It was refreshing to be able to walk around and check out some different things. The farms themselves were pretty cool, and there were also some naturey things to check out around the perimeter too. And of course there were some cool stuff within the complex too.

The day after was the National Foundation Day, which I still have no idea what it's supposed to celebrate, but it was a day off from school. I found out about this rock festival happening at another university on the other side of Daegu, so me and some of my friends went to that.

Well, so much for not participating in any political demonstrations.

I didn't really expect much from that to be honest. When you think Korean music you think of Kpop, definitely not anything related to rock. But hey, I decided it would be kinda cool to go, plus I get to stake out another university in Korea, so why not?

Turns out it was a good idea. It started off kinda meh and boring, but as the day progressed the bands got better and better, the crowd got bigger and bigger, and it was just a pretty fun night. The bands mostly played cover songs, but some of them really knew how to get the crowd going.

This band was awesome. They had a whole silent rock out and the vocalist's leg started bleeding for some reason.

Following that, we decided to go check out a national park the next day. At the Gayasan National Park, there's a temple called Haeinsa which is also a UNESCO site. Fun fact, I like visiting UNESCO sites because I decided I would visit them one day.

We took a bus to the park and spent some time eating lunch and checking out the temple. The temple was really cool. Like the trip to Andong, that trip was also really refreshing because it was different. It's nice to get out of the city once and a while and just admire history and nature.

Also why does this ghost statue thing have no arms.

We were going to go hiking up the mountain to the peak too, but when we got to the base of the trail we found out they stopped letting people up at 2 PM because it would get dark. We got there at 2:30 so that kinda sucked. We didn't know about it beforehand or we would've not dilly dallied as much.

But we made the best of it. We went to a different temple as well and just had a fun time doing random things and checking out what we could. We also did a certain set of happy birthday pictures for a friend of ours, but I don't really want to talk about that. We totally did not use our bodies to spell out happy birthday.

As an aside, we got yelled at for standing on the grass where this picture was taken.

Overall still a really fun trip. We made the best of it and I still had a good time. There's another holiday this week too so there's also a bunch of festivities. I've been in Korea for over a month now and I still haven't had a full week of school yet >_>