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Another day in Dynamic Busan...and Global Pohang City!

Ever Evolving Primate: Travel, photography, food, cooking, and just about anything else.: Another day in Dynamic Busan...and Global Pohang City!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Another day in Dynamic Busan...and Global Pohang City!

Before I begin this blog in earnest, let me note two more observations about things I've noticed in Korea that just seem kinda funny.

  1. Every city name is preceded with an adjective. For example, Busan is not just Busan, it's DYNAMIC BUSAN! The city that we're moving to on Friday isn't Daegu, but rather, COLORFUL DAEGU. Today we visited a city that exports a vast amount of steel to the rest of the world. It's not just Pohang City, it's GLOBAL POHANG CITY. I think it's kind of neat. The Koreans have more civic pride than they know what to do with, and that's a problem that I think people back home could stand to be burdened with sometimes.
  2. When you enter a men's restroom, there are probably women in there. Cleaning it. They'll clean the urinal next to the one you're using. I got used to that. It's okay. Even more shocking is that when you walk up to a urinal it flushes. Instead of when you leave. It flushes upon arrival. It just seems a bit backwards. I'm sure there's a reason for it.
Now, onto today's exciting update:

Today we went out for a Korean cultural experience, and I think we all got a little more than we bargained for. Our first activity was a 2 hour bus ride to Pohang City to tour the POSCO steel factory. This was the biggest factory I've ever seen. They said it was 800,000,000 meters square, with 210 miles of conveyor belts. We got to enter the actual steel mill where we saw massive slabs of glowing hot steel get pounded into 6mm sheets of steel in front of our eyes. The heat was amazing as the big pieces of steel passed by. They wouldn't let you within a mile of a place like this in the US, but here in Korea it's apparently a tourist destination. They seem to be very proud of their industry and ingenuity here.
POSCO Factory (Main Building)

After leaving the POSCO factory we drove back to Busan to have lunch at the Hwanha Resort. The food was kinda meh, but the view along the waterfront was stunnin. A beautiful bridge called Gwang-ann runs across the bay, and the picturesque Korean coastline is like a ghost on the Sea of Japan. That was poetic, no? Here's a picture, it's worth about 950 more words than what I just said.
Gwang-Ann Bridge
It really DOES look like this.

After lunch we headed over to the JUMP! theatre to watch a performance of...well...JUMP! The show is a martial arts show featuring Taekwondo, Hapkido, Drunken style kung-fu, and other martial arts style. It's a bit of a campy hong-kong-fooey kung-fu story that's played out with absolutely amazing athleticism right in front of your eyes. I'm very lucky to have gotten to see the show, I probably would have never heard of it if it wasn't for EPIK, and I would have never believed such a show would be good enough to pay to see. I'd pay to see it again! It was really that good. This isn't my video, but it's the show we saw!

A short bus ride back to the campus left us with a few hours of free time, and Babehoney and I both decided that it wasn't going to be a day for another cafeteria meal. We knew we liked Korean food when we left home, but the cafeteria had me questioning in the waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back of my mind whether or not I had just faked myself out. Well, we made sure to "oops" miss dinner tonight so that we would "have" to buy something to eat off campus. Babehoney needed AA batteries for her camera, so we took a trek to the MegaMart. More on that in a minute.

The first stop on our evening trip was the United Nations Peace Garden memorial for the Korean War. My grandfather (who I never met, but was my grandfather nonetheless) served during that war, so it was kindof cool to see a memorial for his and all the other participants, on both sides, sacrifices in the place where it happened. We're going to have to go back during daylight, though, we ran out on our walk over today :(. 

Korean War Monument

We walked from here to the MEGA MART. They are not kidding around. This is the first Korean big-box store I've entered and they had everything. And a million employees all saying something that sounded like "Annyeong Hashibnika!" The store layout was fairly confusing, as the snack foods were next to the pants, and the shoes were in several different locations. I bought a box of rice crackers shaped like chicken legs to snack on. They were kinda fun. After we picked up batteries we headed back towards Pukyong National University and looked for a place to eat. We re-entered the small alleyways to find less traffic and plenty of neon lit places that looked like they had good stuff to eat.
One of the "dark" alleyways with restaurants and bangs galore!

Cool view from a foot bridge

After much walking we decided on a sit-down looking place with a really scripty sign (which means I couldn't read the Hangeul) and started looking at the menu. I just learned to read Hangeul in the past few days, so I was quite slow trying to work my way down the menu looking for familiar Korean favorites. The nice maitre'd came over to the table and asked if I needed help. I asked if Kalbi and Bulgogi were on the menu and she said no, then pointed out that they only served pork and duck. Sam gyap sal. Pork belly cooked at the table and served with bahn jahn, the Korean collection of side dishes that you use to flavor your meat. We had to get 3 orders minimum, so we did. Then she said "drinkee?" and I said in KOREAN, "Meul juseyo." Which means "water please" and she brought WATER! FREE WATER!!! Now, this meal was a little pricier than we wanted to pay. For two of us, the meal was 18,000W. For 3 meat orders and bahn jahn. That translates to about $14.94. No tax, no tip (you don't tip here). A similar meal in the U.S. at a Korean restaurant would probably be about $75 in my experience. 3 meats at about $25 each, same bahn-jahn. I like how this worked out.

A quick walk back to Pukyong National University and we're in for the night.

Anyeong hee gyeseyeo! 

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