This morning I woke up in Gyeongsan after an announcement over the building intercom (installed above our heads) announced a disinfection to take place at 9:30. After the daily itenirary has been confirmed through sleepy eyes and nods, we all claim different rooms in preparation. Jang grabs the bathroom for cleaning, Tae-Eun grabs the kitchen for breakfast and I grab a cup of sachet coffee and drag myself into the lounge where I can wake up slowly. I offer to switch on some Hongdae tunes, while I inspect a packet of PingPong Gold Star Fish food. Inside there’s a teeny weeny spoon measuring just the right amount for Pyori and Dali’s daily meal. The goldfish belonged to my roomate and I donated them to Tae-Eun’s family after she left Korea.
I have managed to veto the public bath idea. I wasn’t quite confident enough to scrub up with my skinny friends, but today’s menu is a good Daegu lunch followed by book shopping and a visit to Seomoon market. Pictures to follow as soon as they’re taken.
서문 (Seomoon [Western Gate]) Market, Daegu is heaven as much as it is hell. Korean Markets are an oppertunity to experience Korean culture at it’s purest. Take a camera and dress comfortably. If possible, glue your money to your stomach with tape because you are likely to leave angry if you go with anything that will obstruct your own movement or that of someone else.
Seomoon Market trades in virtually everything from textiles to clothing, bedding, food and furniture. Take a weekday to stroll around as to avoid the bustle of crowds of people trying to squeeze inbetween the narrow footway inbetween stalls.
I have to admit that the one part of Korean vs South African culture I just cannot accept is the squeezing and pushing. Nothing quite rubs me up the wrong way like a lady pushing me from the back, or people squeezing by you, often taking your bag with them and hurting you in the process. Even though I understand that no one is being rude, and that it isn’t considered offensive but merely practical in Korean culture, I cannot switch off the part of my brain that boils when it happens. In most cases there is just not the luxury of space like back home. In any case, its best to try to accept this part of living in Korea, and try to remember that no one is trying to offend you, they’re just trying to get to where they’re going.
That culturale note aside, Seomoon is well worth a visit. You are likely to get really good pictures and perhaps find a couple of good bargains. Especially for bedding or kimchis or some nice fresh fish. Hungry, hot and bothered we sauntered over to downtown Daegu for Tukkpokki, spicy rice cakes with yummy naughty fried mandu at Two Guys Tukkpokki. The last time I ate here, the food was so hot, that I had blisters in my mouth, but this time round it was very mild. The little cakeslice shaped shop is adorable and trendy, just opposite a narrow street next to the giagantic three story Angel-in-us Mega Coffee Shop (to the left if you’re looking at Angel-in-Us with Holly’s behind you).
Deagu Downtown: Holly’s Coffee
If you’re not quite full after the Tukpokki, I recommend a sweet potato latte at Holly’s for dessert. Although, it may be a little heavy after the guy-ish fried food. Alternatively, go for a Dutch Coffee (beware: it’s iced) at Angel-in-Us and sip on it in their little secret garden at the back. Especially if you want to escape the city for a few moments.
Another tip for ordering coffee in Korea. Iced Coffees are extremely popular in Korea, so that more often than not, if you don’t specify that you want your coffee hot, chances are pretty good that you’ll end up with ice coffee. Don’t rely on the names of the coffees as asssurance that it will be hot or cold. Be specific when ordering.
A note for South Africans. If you’re anything like me and enjoyed drinking your coffee through a straw much to your scolding mother’s annoyance, Korea is just the place for you. Coffee is often served with a little red straw. Use it don’t use it, but no one will scold you here if you do. Remember that in most places you should order in front and collect your order yourself. Service in Korea, although very good and fast, works a little differently. You’ll never find a waiter asking you if your meal is good or not, unless you go to a very posh restaurant. In most cases there will be a bell on your table for calling the waiter only when you need him or her.
Daegu Downtown: Kyobo
After your relaxed dessert, if the sun hasn’t made you too lazy, remember Kyobo is just a stone throw away from Holly’s and it contains three stories of reading pleasure, with a fair English section, containing mostly classics, but you’ll get lucky more often than not. Look out for the little blue and green Kyobo bird. In the basement of Kyobo, you’ll suddenly find yourself emersed in designer stationary/art supply heaven. Once again, there is a gigantic pushing factor here, but chances are you may be the one pushing. I’ve often invisioned myself lying on the floor surrounded by notebooks and diaries with a high angle camera shot of the sheer extasy on my face… OK…just kidding. It’s not that bad…but it’s pretty amazing. If you were stupid enough to bring a guy with you, send them over to the CD shop or the little Baskin&Robbins to cool down while you hunt and gather.