Thomas Ross Hallock

Asia 2012 – Part 9 – Partying in Pohang and amused in Gyeongju

This post covers September 21st and 22nd of my 2012 trip to Asia. Start with part 1 if you want the whole story.

Before I caught the bus back to Pohang, I snapped this representative photo of a deluxe spam kit for sale in the Busan bus station. The price tag on the center one is 28,000₩, roughly $25 USD. Wikipedia informs me that Spam in South Korea is actually of higher quality than spam in other countries.

The bus ride back to Pohang went smoothly. I had enough time to shower and nap a bit before joining Hojeong and her group of about 20 eclectic friends for dinner. We had yummy Korean BBQ at a sit-on-the-floor restaurant, then took a city bus across town to a beach shot Roman candles. This beach had vendors down by the water that will sell you all the fireworks you want, regardless of your sobriety. I can only assume that most beaches in Korea also have fireworks vendors. The view of all the illuminated buildings and oil refineries lining the inward-curving coast was particularly stimulating.

We headed to a nearby bar / nightclub; some in our group engaged the beer pong facilities for a way too serious tournament, I was however, completely exhausted from my adventure in Busan. Amidst the loud dubstep remixes, boozy conversations, and beer pong splashings, I found myself fast asleep on a quite comfortable couch. I’m not sure how long I was out, but everyone was dancing and generally having a great time when I woke. I joined in the revelry for a bit, but it was apparent that I had missed the not-sober train. The evening eventually played out and a few of us made a stop at McDonalds before heading back to the dormitory at 6AM. The bulgogi burgers at Korean McDonalds’s are quite an improvement over their standard fare in the states.

The next day was something called “Member Training” for Hojeong’s dormatory and I was invited along. (It wasn’t actually training.) We took a charter bus to Geyongju and went to an amusement park, the 3rd of my week-long trip. Most of us, myself included, only managed to do two or three rides for the day since the park was so crowded. Honestly, I would have rather explored Geyongju, but since I was with a group and had no transportation, I just stuck with them and actually had a good time regardless. Before leaving the amusement park, the whole group decided to sing and dance to Gangnam Style. I made myself scarce during this time.

The next stop was a family owned traditional Korean restaurant. I don’t know the name of it, but you can find it right here, next to some Shilla hill tombs. This restaurant served the best traditional Korean food I’ve ever had. Shortly after we sat down, the waitstaff filled the table to the edges with all kinds of interesting things to eat. I tried to taste everything, but there were so many different things on the table that trying a bit everything was nearly impossible. The two most memorable tastes were: 1, thin lacto-fermented leaves; they tasted fresh, very spicy, and little stinky. I found them strangely addictive. And 2, some kind of rice-beer that had an interesting flavor. Google thinks that it might be called Makgeolli.

Our final stop in Gyeongju was Anapji, a pond area that was a resort for Korean royalty centuries ago, but is now a park. Parts of the park have been immaculately restored to their original glory. Three pavilions of the original resort have been rebuilt and are well illuminated at night. The pavilions are all on the edge of a pond with some small islands, which is also beautifully lit, and there is a trail that you can follow around the pond.

I woke the next morning and took a bus to Gimhae (Busan’s Airport) for my flight back home. My trip wasn’t over just yet; I had another 14 hour layover in Tokyo that I intended to exploit to the fullest.

Continue to Part 10 – Tokyo

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