We tried this for the first time last week. There's a quiet little specialty restaurant just around the corner from our villa. Their wafer-thin floor pillows didn't do much for my bony rump.

Also known as Ginseng Chicken Soup, Samgyetang is a whole young chicken stuffed with rice, served in a ginseng broth. It's recognized by Koreans as more than just a nutritious dish and is seen as defense against sickness and source of energy and good health. Carmen was told about it by her co-teacher, so we decided to give it a try. Ordering was much more simple than we expected as it's the only thing served at the restaurant, and there's a huge picture of the meal on the wall meaning we could do the classic 'point and nod'.

As with most traditional meals in Korea, Samgyetang is served with several side dishes including kimchi (of course), soy peanuts, lettuce and peppers. Bring your game face because some of this stuff is spicy (that word has a new meaning for me since living here, so I don't use it lightly).
Directions: pull apart the chicken, mix with other ingredients in the soup, scoop into the side bowl and chow down.


Staying dry



I'm often surprised at the way friends back home ask what we eat in Korea, like we're in some sort of third world country where we have to hunt for our own food every week. We can't find most of the meals we'd eat in Lethbridge, but there's no shortage of produce available on almost every street corner, and the spicy sauces have been a pleasant surprise. However, nothing we make at home compares with the huge tasty meals served at local restaurants. I thought I'd write a few posts describing our favorite local cuisine.

Gimbap is my favorite meal. Koreans will tell you it's picnic food - it's basically a Korean version of a sandwich. It is also very cheap, very filling and very healthy.

Basically, it's vegetables wrapped in seaweed with a few different choices for a main filling. The basic ingredients are carrot, cucumber, lettuce, radish, egg and rice. Generally there are three kinds of gimbap to choose from: tam chi (tuna), so kogi (meat) and kimchi. In some gimbap restaurants you'll also find doi chi (pork) and cheese. The roll is covered in sesame oil and served sliced - the same as sushi. Like every Korean meal, gimbap is served with a side dish free of charge. With a roll you'll get sliced kimchi and radish, as well as green onion soup (which tastes like French onion).

Directions: place a bit of kimchi and a slice of radish on a slice of gimbap and eat it with one bite. Amazing.


Dinner out

I may have eaten some sort of animal tongue, but I'm not sure. It definitely wasn't meat. It looked like it, but it wasn't. Nevertheless, the ginseng soup was delicious.

I updated my Flickr account, which can be accessed on the right, and uploaded a massive amount of photos from the last few weeks.



It's been a fun couple of days messing about with our new camera. The first two photos were taken downtown. The third was taken at Sindduk, our new hangout.
Cute little guy (the camera that is).


A new toy

On Monday, we welcomed a new addition to our family: the Canon IXUS 850 IS. We're very proud.

We've been considering getting a new camera for quite a while, but we want to make sure we prioritize our spending. Were were originally planning to buy a DSLR, but the cost and lack of compactibility scared us off a bit. With a compact point-and-shoot, we could get a high-end camera and take a weekend trip to Fukuoka for the same price as an SLR, and not have to worry about lugging around a huge case.

So we decided to go with the ultra-compact and more affordable PAS. I've really missed spending time taking good photographs. Our 35 mm SLR is great but it's difficult (and time-consuming) to get film developed here. And our compact Olympus has been very good to us (it's recorded Cate's entire life so far), but it's just not meant for quality photography. So after much research and shopping around, we decided on the brand new Canon IXUS. It's not as
ΓΌber-fashionable as the new slimline Nikons or Sonys but, from what I could tell, it's the best all-around ultra compact digital on the market.

I made the long trip to the north end of the city to a massive electronics outlet at EXCO. As a foreigner, it's a very intimidating place. Among the thousands of booths on three floors, there are dozens of camera shops, mostly selling the same thing but at different prices and with different deals. The key is to go to each one, ask the price of the camera, find out what the dealer's willing to throw in as part of the deal and then barter down from there. I'd write down the information from one booth and move on. The problem is, there are so many of them that I started going to the same shops twice without realizing it, asking the same men the same questions. I started to sweat and I knew if I didn't close in on the right deal soon, I'd make a rash decision and come home with a raw deal. So after narrowing down the field, I finally found the best offer. I found the camera I wanted, which came with a 1GB memory card and a leather case. But for only 15,000 won more (about $17), I talked the dealer into upgrading to a 2GB, throwing in an extra battery, a tripod and a cleaning kit. So I got all the extras and still ended up meeting our budget.
The trip home was a giddy one. Obviously, I had to test out my new gadget, so I recorded my stop at the transfer station downtown, which you can see here. It was surprisingly slow at Banwaldang Station. Notice how swiftly I move through the crowds. It's a technique you learn quickly here and, in this instance, it pays off in the end (you'll see why).


Pass the mic

This weekend I had the opportunity to experience the local nightlife with a few friends. This has been a difficult thing for Carmen and me because babysitting is not an option, which limits our chances to get out after dark. But on Saturday I was finally able to experience Daegu after hours (sans Carmen, unfortunately).

First stop was a wine bar called The Forest. It was a relaxing escape from the noise and chaos that exists everywhere else here. Our friends, Emma and Taransay, are friends with the owner of the establishment which meant excellent service and a bit of complimentary wine and cheese. Then it was on to a nearby soju bar. If you don't know what soju is, I'll describe it this way: I'd rather drink a glass of Buckley's and then brush my teeth with Pinesol. . . but it's cheap, so it's often the drink of choice for Korean men, especially with Galbi. I bought a bottle when on our first grocery trip (for a dollar) and have done nothing more than sniff the cap, which nearly resulted in a seizure. Fortunately for me, a soju bar serves this poison mixed with mango, kiwi or lemon, meaning it actually became quite tasty. This probably explains why I approved of our next stop: the Noraebang - Korean karaoke. I don't possess the quality of a Timberlake or a Groban, but what I lack in ability, I make up for in showmanship. To summarize, it was a grand ol' time.

On Sunday we found a new little restaurant very near to our place called Sinnduk, and they have the best kimbap I've ever had. It's also the cheapest. I'm sold.

Stephen in Korea?

Carmen's brother, Craig, sent us this video this morning. Allow me to explain.

Before reading and researching about Korea, and even before arriving here, we didn't know much about Korean (popular) culture. There isn't as much exposure to it in North America as countries like Japan or China. But now that we have an understanding of (and a bit of a love affair with) this place, it's quite a surreal experience to see a cultural icon like
Stephen Colbert satirize something that was once so foreign to us.


Repetitive advertising

The bane of my existence:

Heechul and Kangin


A winning weekend

It was a great weekend for a few reasons. On Saturday we went to Duryu Park to join in the Children's Day celebrations. There were plenty of activities going on, but too many people jammed together to take part in any of them. Nevertheless, we enjoyed a nice stroll through the beautiful park, keeping in mind it's the only green area we've seen in Daegu, besides the 20 square foot patch of grass at the playground next to our villa. It was uncomfortably hot all weekend and it's quite apparent that the much-talked-about Daegu heat and humidity has officially arrived and will only intensify as we move into summer.
The famous Woobang Tower, the highest tower in Korea, is bang in the centre of Daegu in Woobang Towerland. This view is from Duryu Park. Below is a picture of what appears to be a cartoon made of wood, but it's actually seen as a guardian in Korean folklore.
Here is a nice view of our immediate neighborhood with the rest of Yongsan in the background. Our villa is off to the right.