Tuesday, March 12, 2013

hi ho hi ho, off to Seoul I go

On the weekend I traveled from Daejeon to Seoul with Jihyeon to meet her friends in Gangnam. This might sound crazy considering North Korea (only a stones throw from Seoul) was making all kinds of threats this week but here in South Korea people just carry on with their daily lives as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening. North Korean threats have become white noise to South Korean people which I know might sound crazy given the seriousness of the threats, but that is just the way it is. 

The latest threat came two days after the North Korean military announced it would rip up the 1953 armistice agreement ending the Korean War - a move that would theoretically pave the way for a resumption of hostilities. LINK

Anyway, we finally made it to Gangnam (after walking, catching the subway, catching a train, catching another subway and then changing subway lines). All up it took about 2.5 hours. I really wanted to have my photo taken in front of a sign at Gangnam station doing the famous crossed wrist dance that PSY does but Jihyeon was too embarrassed to indulge me. 

We headed to a Korean BBQ restaurant in Gangnam where we had Samgyeopsal. It was kind of expensive (for Korea) because Gangnam is an expensive area. It worked out to be about 20,000 won per person (about $20). As you can see in the picture, the meat and the side dishes was very good. More info on Samgyeopsal here.  

We then moved onto an Irish pub (which was quite expensive even by Australian standards). From memory a schooner was 8,000 won ($8). 

Needless to say, we didn't spend much time here even though we had our own private room. We quickly moved onto a more traditional Korean tavern.

Here we drank Makgeolli which is a Korean rice wine. It was originally quite popular with farmers but more recently it has become popular in cities among younger generations. Because the farmers were poor they would use the only container they had to carry the wine, a tea kettle. In the village the rice wine would be stored in a central storage area. After a hard day working in the field the farmers would take their kettle to the central storage area and fill it with rice wine to take home. They would then pour it into a small bowl to drink it. I wish we went straight to this place instead of the Irish pub first. The atmosphere was much better. 

We headed home about 10pm and got back to Daejeon about 1am. At Daejeon train station we decided to catch a taxi home. I thought I had been in some crazy taxi's before, but this guy took the cake. Speed signs? They are actually a maths test. Whatever the speed sign says.... you should do at least twice the speed. I am not kidding or exaggerating this. We were doing 110km/h through city streets. Indicating? When you are going that fast there is no need to indicate to let other cars know what you are doing. By the time they see you, you are already past them. Jihyeon told me it was called a Korean bullet taxi.....

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