Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Vacation Pt. 2: Rainy but fun days in Gangneung

Picture from Rochelle's iPhone.

We rode right into every traveler's nightmare: It was hot and sunny when we got in on Saturday and it's been raining off and on ever since. Nonetheless, we still have been enjoying our time here on the east coast and are making plans to return sometime within the next couple of months.

Highlights from the trip

Saturday night: Samgyeopsal barbecue

Samgyeopsal is grilled pork belly and it's similar to bacon, but it has one key difference: it's 10 times better than bacon.

Grilling samgyeopsal at one of the nearby restaurants.

Side dishes of kimchi, spinach, radishes, lettuce, sesame oil, red pepper paste, and more. The raw samgyeopsal's in the background.


Terarosa Coffee Factory, Charmsori Gramophone Museum, and Gyeongpo Beach

Terarosa's a famous place among Koreans and Westerners alike. Set outside the city, the place serves delicious coffee from around the world and has a tasty brunch/lunch menu. It is less a factory than a rustic house surrounded by lush green trees and plants. Most everything's made of wood; the place feels cozy and warm even in the air-conditioned indoors. You can sit outside in a couple of areas as well. We did this because it meant quicker service and a chance to take a closer look at the greenery.

At the entrance.

Me and a delicious cup of Honduran coffee, a circle of red bean bread, and Rochelle with a tasty cappucino. Our shrimp omelet had yet to arrive when the picture got taken. The food tasted good too. The coffee and food can be a bit expensive, but it's worth it because coming here isn't an every day activity. That 5,000won cup of coffee was worth every, er, 10won coin, too. I've written previously about coffee in Korea here and this cup tasted like the best stuff does back home. 

 We had lunch here to commorate 100 days together as a couple. Younger Koreans tend to count time in relationships in days instead of months, so celebrating 100 days together is a unique part of the culture and so thought we'd join in too. Photo taken by a nice Korean girl who happened to be sitting with her boyfriend at the next table over. She saw me taking a picture of the coffee and leaned over to ask about taking our pictures. We ended with a few shots. She spoke good English and we chatted about the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy.

*The Terarosa website provides directions for taking the bus or taking a taxi. The taxi will cost more but it will get you there faster.

We took a cab from Terarosa and went straight to the Charmsori Gramophone Museum and Edison Science Museum. Rochelle thoroughly enjoyed this. It felt great to see the place again. The old ad for 78s that said "78rpm--A speed we can live with" cracked me up because 78s quickly lost favor once 33 1/3rpm vinyl LPs came in years ago. Numerous families had brought their kids here and I couldn't help but wonder what they thought of the old gramophones and music boxes. Those under 12 have no knowledge of a world without mp3s and file trading. How would they view putting on an LP and dropping the needle onto a favorite track? I know it felt wondrous when I did it years ago. Regardless, it's good that they got to see some history.

*Some good fortune occurred on the way out: a friendly staff member gave us 10 dollars worth of postcards once she saw that we could speak Korean. 

The museum sits next to the Gyeongpo lake and we walked down one side of it until we came to the famous Gyeongpo Beach. The rain had started picking up by this point, but no one seemed to notice or care until the downpour came 30 minutes later. We didn't think too much of the rain either. This trip marked my fourth time to the east coast and I was hell-bent on wading into the water. And I did. It felt to stand in the East Sea part off the Pacific Ocean. [Note: The East Sea is also known as the Sea of Japan. I grew up calling it the Sea of Japan, but the Koreans insist on calling it the East Sea]

Gyeongpo Beach on a rainy day. Note the people and the police tent in front.

The tents on the beach. Grab one while you can.

Monday: Again, more rain. We stayed in and watched movies while eating delicious barbecue chicken for takeout. Chicken joints are everywhere here and this was our first time getting takeout chicken. Got to start sometime, right?

Tuesday: The sun came out as we said our goodbyes to each other and to city. Rochelle went south to Ulsan to visit her cousin and I went west and then north to Wasu. It took took five hours to get from Gangneung to Seoul (via Dong Seoul) to Wasu counting stops and transfer time. The ride through Gangwon into Seoul was an endless wilderness of green forests, mountains, hills, and valleys. 

Wednesday: a national holiday. School begins again on Thursday.

*Gangneung to Dong Seoul Bus Terminal: 14,000won.
Dong Seoul to Wasu: 10,200won.

There'll be more coming soon...

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