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Ever Evolving Primate: Travel, photography, food, cooking, and just about anything else.

Ever Evolving Primate: Travel, photography, food, cooking, and just about anything else.: September 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

If my long winded, contrived post on Bali wasn't enough for you, you might very well enjoy this visual journey through the entire two weeks...all in about 3 minutes.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Happy Trails...

Today we went out for a nice walk in the mountains. The air had a thin lacy white mist that made everything seem like it was a little bit more distant and grand. The mist wasn't so thick so as to obscure the nice, blue sky, but rather hid it behind a thin veil. You could tell it was clear, just a few meters above some layer of air that settled in the bowl that we live in called Daegu. Anyhow it was a beautiful day, and I took lots of pictures. Good news, the speck of dust that's been visible in photos for the past 6 months has moved on the lens and now disappears in the focus. Finally. I feel like I have a new camera. Perhaps I'll get a new camera strap to go with it. I hope you'll enjoy the pictures I'm sharing with you.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Not a whole lot to write about

The past couple of weeks have been pretty vanilla, but I'm not complaining. The biggest "event" we went to was a bowling night with a few foreigners. The bowling alley was fun, and surprisingly they had shoes I could deal with and two balls (12) in the entire lane that I could squeeze my fingers into (12). After our bowling we went out to a meat n' makgeolli place for a couple of beers before catching a cab home. Bowling here is just the same as it is at home. Frustrating with a side of fun.

Perhaps I'll do something blogworthy soon.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Big Fat Korean Birthday

In my last post I talked about the last decade and some of the things I hope to accomplish during my 30th year. That was all the night before my birthday, and I think I'm on a good start for some of the new goals. I'm well on my way to finding a German pen pal, I've completed the first section of my Deutche-Welle course, and I'm signed up for a BBC French course. Anyway though, this post isn't about all of that, but I must mention that I actually feel older now. Like concerned about heart health and stroke and that kind of thing.

Carolyn woke me up at 7:00am on my birthday with...24 Krispy Kreme donuts. What a treat! :) Work was a snap, and two of my classes even sang to me. It was super cute. After work Carolyn made me close my eyes while she brought in my gift. She got me a REALLY nice hand made concert-sized ukulele that's MUCH more playable than the one I bought off a hawker in Bali. I mean, MUCH more playable. I can rock on this thing. So far I've got three or four songs I can make it through without much difficulty but I'm hoping to change that to "I rock and yes I take requests" very soon. She also got me an iPod speaker that's shaped like an old fashioned radio. It's super cool. It's a lot more birthday gift action than I ever expected, and we really enjoy making music noise together.

We went out for a nice dinner at Italy Italy, our favorite Italian restaurant here in Daegu, and stopped by Choi Gane where Carolyn picked up a super good chocolate cake with macaroons on top for my birthday. IT ROCKED. Somehow I sacked out in bed at around 11pm or so, thinking that it was the best birthday ever.

After a busy Friday at work, we went out with friends to celebrate a bit more. We started out at a Dog and Cat Cafe downtown. I enjoyed a green tea latte and some pets, and I think our small band-of-misfit-toys group of friends did, too. Then we headed out for a beer, stayed for two, and then moved over to a multibang for some fun. The Multi-Bang is a combination of different types of bangs or "rooms" that Koreans rent for entertainment. It started out with Wii bowling, turned into Dance Central, and quickly devolved to karaoke. The evening rocked along until about 3am when we were all too tired to continue. A cab ride home ended the evening in not-so-spectacular but comfortable fashion. We slept until nearly 2pm and spent the rest of the day recovering from such a fun-filled evening. 

I'd say this was probably my favorite birthday I remember since about the 5th grade, so kudos to Carolyn for making it super happy and fun filled when it could have in all honestly been a lonely day far from home. It's super nice to have someone that loves you that much. :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Changing decades...GET OFF MY LAWN!

This is the last night of my "roaring" 20's. I'm not so freaked out about turning 30, but it certainly begs for a blog post reflecting on the last 10 years or so at the very least, don't you think? Join me on a contrived, overwritten journey down memory lane as I write about the last 10 years and show you exactly why the next 10 years are going to be SO MUCH COOLER.

Let's see, in 2001 I had just finished my first semester of college at Southwest Texas State University. I recently realized that the moment I burned out on majoring in music was when Dr. Jack Somethingorother told me I would need orthodontic work to play the trumpet well enough to pass my juries. There wasn't money or time for that, and I really didn't like my roommate or living in the dorms, so it was back to San Antonio to figure things out. I enrolled at the community college, changed majors a few times, and finally settled on History because I seemed to like it and do well in the classes. I also started taking German and got to a pretty decent speaking and reading comprehension level before graduating 3 hours shy of finishing my minor.

After graduation it was on to USAA and the realization that I was slowly dying as my soul was sucked through a telephone and sent to the wolves known as "members" every day. Some back-to-school plans evaporated and I ended up doing a little vocational school and becoming a scuba instructor. A move to Florida taught me I could live on my own, far away from family. A lay off taught me I could make a big move on limited funds, and I moved to Hawaii where I got a good job at a good dive shop that I had always wanted to work at. Living in Hawaii I somehow figured out how to go it alone pretty well, but was happy to move back to the mainland when I got offered a job managing a dive shop in Florida that some friends were starting. The dive shop job was a total bust. Promises went unfulfilled, the owner had a problem telling the truth, and some of the friends I started the job with backed down on their commitment to the shop, often leaving me as the only decision maker in a game where the choices were often predicated on which choice was least likely to put us out of business rather than what was good for the company.

So I had left paradise, moved back to Florida, had a miserable job, but at least it was a job during the worst recession since the great depression, and something good happened. The other dive shop in town closed down and we hired a couple of their employees. The best hire was a little blonde cutie who had been through worse and had a good attitude that really caught my attention. I went back to school, got out of managing, and started dating the cute girl, named Carolyn. Then she moved in. We adopted a beagle together, and it got serious. The decade takes a strong uptick here. I finished grad school, took a job teaching at a university, and she was looking for a way out of the dive shop quagmire, but we weren't having much luck. One day she saw a job post on for couples to teach in Korea, and a year later we've been living abroad for six months. We've been to Korea, Malaysia, and Indonesia all in a short 6 months and we're living a comfortable lifestyle away from the job-search-hell of the United States. We don't have a whole lot of extra money, but enough to be able to see a movie here and there. Did I mention we just got engaged? Yeah. Life is great now!

I've spent some time lamenting the fact that the last 10 years weren't all as good as the last two have been, but it gives me a lot of confidence that the richness and quality of life will continue on its current trajectory for a while and that the next 10 years and beyond will be amazing. Which leads to some goals to reach before 31.

1) Get the German back up to snuff. I've been working on this quietly for a while, and I think it's way doable.
2) Start learning French. It would have been useful in Bali, but it'll definitely be useful on our honeymoon in Europe.
3) Go to Thailand. With a new DSLR to share with Carolyn.
4) Save some money towards the big honeymoon in Europe.
5) Start figuring out what I want to do when we move back to the U.S., but not worry about it too much for the time being.

There's the obligatory "another 10 years have passed" post. Contrived, overwritten, and full of weak self-realizations. It had to be done.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mmmm...Jjim Dak

A little over a year ago, when we first started thinking about coming to Korea for a year, we read a post on an expat's blog about Jjim Dak. It sounded quite good, with spicy steamed chicken, potatoes, and sweet potato noodles. The first time we went to a Korean restaurant together we tried to find it on the menu but had no luck. We looked for it on menus at every Korean restaurant we tried in the US before leaving, but it just wasn't there. Somehow, when we finally got to Korea, we forgot to find it, or only found it at times that we weren't looking to sit down and have a meal.

Carolyn's school just got a new teacher, and her great co-worker wanted to get together with the two of them and go out for dinner. Our first suggestion was Rama and Bavana, an Indian place nearby, but he doesn't like Indian Curry. Hyemin suggested we try Jjim dak, and we were both excited to give it a whirl, so last night we all met after school, took the subway downtown, and had a nice big platter of Jjimdak.

image courtesy of Hyunwoo Sun on Flickr 
One of the reasons we haven't tried Jjim dak on our own is that the portions are huge, way more than two people can handle, and because of that the price is a little higher than most meals we go out for here. With four of us it was perfect, pretty cheap at about 7,000won each and not too much food (but certainly enough).

The flavor is what the jjim dak is all about. It has a spicy soy flavor, but it seems to me like the sauce has been reduced to a thicker consistency. There are red chilis, carrots, zucchini, and potatos along with the chicken and noodles. Sweet potato noodles are more dense, and I felt like I needed to be sure to bite through each bite of noodles completely or else I wouldn't be able to swallow them without choking. The meal was quite satisfying and certainly kept me nice and full until I woke up this morning.

I'm pretty certain we'll be going back out for jjim dak in the near future, and trying some other local delicacies.

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