Monday, August 27, 2012



I spent the evening walking around Changwon’s neighboring city, Masan, with some newly made friends. Masan translates as “horse mountain” because apparently its mountain looks like a horse. It’s located on the sea, but lacks beaches and is mostly just industrial ports. It has the nick name “Dream Bay.” Because of its seaside location, it is a prime spot for seafood and home to the Masan Fish Market. It wasn’t in operation the day we visited.

Masan Fish Market

Masan Market
We walked around the streets of Masan looking for the elusive Mexican restaurant we sought to find.


When we finally found it, it was worth the wait. I ordered chicken with mole sauce. Also they had chips and salsa. Be forewarned: the ingredients to this salsa I believe are onions and fire. I actually had to call it quits on the salsa (anyone who knows me knows that that’s pretty serious).

No not Tijuana... Masan, Korea

We then walked around Masan’s newly renovated Art District. This area got a major facelift two years ago from a sad post industrial part of town to a thriving art community full of galleries, shops and burgeoning street and public art.

We peeked in some galleries.

Thats a homemade human sized transformer robot model

Hitler and Charlie Chaplin. The difference, according to the shirt?
"It's the hat"

We then walked around Masan a bit more and watched a little bit of the Olympics on a big TV screen hanging over an intersection showing the marathon event.



Much like a lot of food in Korean restaurants you are responsible for cooking and assembling Shabu Shabu mostly by yourself. At first they bring you a large bowl of hot broth.

They then give you your meat, which is paper-thin cuts of beef, and your veggies which include: cabbage, carrots, mushroom, bean sproats, more sprouts, onions, lettuce and sesame leaves.

They also give you some dipping sauces. Two of which are chili derived and the center is sesame oil based.

Using the supplied tongs you put in the meat and let it cook in the boiling broth. Its so hot and the meat is so thin it cooks in under a minute. Notice the brown wooden bowl to the left.

The brown wooden bowl is full of warm water. At the table you are given these patterned opaque disks. They are rice paper and will be used for making your very own Vietnamese-style spring rolls.

You take the now malleable rice paper and put it over this special bowl. Add your meat, add your desired veggies...

and you have a homemade spring roll thats ready for dipping.

But we're not through yet. After the broth starts to cook down, the restaurant adds noodles to the broth to give us a Pho-like soup.

Once the noodles are gone and there is only broth. Then they combine the broth with white rice and make a porridge for you.

And thats how you eat Shabu Shabu!

Sunday, August 26, 2012



I don't have too much information, but I'll tell you what I see and hear the most. There are these rust-colored dragonflies flying around everywhere.

There are very noisy cicadas everywhere. I have heard these suckers drown out a band playing live music. This is a picture of cicada (I think) that was on my window.

Cicada (I think)

Also I snapped this photo of a very pretty green dragonfly that was hanging out on my bike.


There haven't been many mosquitos... yet.



My mother is an ESL teacher in the United States and also teaches private lessons. On of the students she tutors, a high schooler named Sung Chol, lives in and goes to school in the United States. His dad still lives in Korea. Sung Chol came back to Korea over summer break and has been living in Seoul with his dad over the summer.

Sung Chol and CJ

I was lucky enough to have this connection, so Sung Chol and Sun Chol’s father CJ took me out to a fantastic lunch and took me around Seoul.

After lunch we went to CJ’s office. His office is located in like the Madison Avenue of Seoul. Right downtown and the views of Seoul from the office, the pictures speak for themselves. Also when I say its CJ’s office, its not that he works there. It’s his office. So we went up to his office and I enjoy an ice cold Coke as well as the incredible views.

CJ's Desk

After the office we went to NSeoul Tower. We took the cable care to the top of the mountain then went to the Tower where you can see ALL of Seoul.

NSeoul Tower

We watched a traditional martial arts demonstration and I enjoyed a Cold Stone Creamery ice cream cone.

He dropped me back at the hostel where I prepared for my last night in Seoul. I met up with some folks from the hostel at bar that had a small pool. In 100˚ weather it was very refreshing. 

The people I met at the hostel were very friendly and from a variety of mixed backgrounds but every meshed well together. There was Carolien who was the 6 foot Dutch blonde girl I went clubbing with, there was Juno from Australia, MK the hostel purveyor and Van, a Vietnamese American from LA and a captain in the US Army stationed in Korea.

We went out to dinner.

Me, Carolien and MK 

We later went to a few different kind of quieter bars where we did a lot of just great chit chatting and some very good “getting to know you” conversation. There’s a palatable magic that comes with being with other travelers in the way that you connect with people. You find yourself sharing things about yourself and connecting in a way that is very different than with people you meet and interact with in your day to day.

Pictured (l to r): Carolien, Me, Juno, Van, MK

We played some drinking games at some quieter bars. Nobody really got drunk, but it was just very pleasant, and without trying to sound too sappy, pretty bonding. One of the bars probably had over a thousand vinyl records and the bartender/DJ took requests. I requested Toots and the Maytals “Monkey Man” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Reason to Believe.” Our group also got down with some Elton John for a bit.

One of the bars had a view of the streets of Hongdae. 

All of a sudden we see a parade go through Hongdae of maybe 2 dozen people pounding on drums. It was like a Afro-Brazillian drum group (of Koreans) all playing and dancing in the streets with giant puppets following them. They all had funky hair and clothes. Saw some dreadlocks in there. It was a very special end to my time in Seoul.

I took the bus back to Changwon the next morning.

Oh yeah, also I saw this passed out guy in Hongdae. A not uncommon site in Korea because people get very wasted. A very big alcohol culture here. Soju, their rice wine similar to sake, Moekgili, which is a rice beer and is cloudy white, and Korean beer are the spirits of choice. For more entertainment of this variety visit Blacked out in Korea.