Monday, April 23, 2007

Godskitchen in Seoul and lots of food

For Easter, which seems so long ago now, we ate at a sailor's club down at Busan station.

This location is well-known among foreigners in Busan, as a good place to get authentic western food. By authentic I mean things like roast beef and turkey, which they do serve at other places but they always manage to Korean-ify it somehow. To Koreanify any dish, simply add red chilli paste or apple mayonnaise.

This is more traditional Korean style food. We eat like this at least once a week, usually more. Meat or seafood is cooked at an open grill with various side dishes on the table. Here we're eating seafood, after just finishing our pork. That's one thing you notice in Korea, what some people would classify as a main course turns out to be one-of-three main courses. See the blurry hands at work? That's the best thing about eating with Koreans, they just pick up the tools and happily cook away while you sit and talk to them.

And here we are at the Irish bar after a long day of teaching. Eun-sook is demonstrating how to drink an Irish Car Bomb, one of our new staple delicacies at such places. You drop a shot glass of Baileys and Jameson whiskey into a glass of Guinness and then drink it all at once. If you do it properly, it tastes like chocolate milk.

This is John's new motorcycle that he bought for $450 off a website. He's been teaching himself how to drive lately. Driving in Korea can be very daunting, because motoring etiquette here is a little different. I'm in the process of buying a scooter. Hehe.

Another teacher at a different CDI branch, Jane, found out that Godskitchen was coming to Seoul on the weekend. Godskitchen is a touring music festival with international artists.

So we got our stuff together at the last minute and caught the KTX train up to Seoul. The plan was to head up there on Saturday night, go to Godskitchen and then head back down in the morning to avoid paying for accommodation. It worked out pretty well.

Here's Jef and Amanda having a little picnic at the train station before the journey. A typical snack in Korea usually consists of a seaweed rice-triangle and some sort of juice that resembles cordial. Travelling in Korea is good fun and pretty cheap.

We got our seats without too much fuss and settled in for the journey. This was my second trip to Seoul since arriving in Busan, the first time being for a wedding. In this photo, John's innocent looking aloe-vera juice bottle actually has vodka and cranberry in it.

Then, for a $35 entry fee we went into Blue Spirit, the venue for Godskitchen. It was a nice setup, with a decent crowd and good music.

It was a great atmosphere and a refreshing difference to the well-worn mp3-playlists they have in the normal clubs. There were Russian dancers on stage, fire lanterns and free glowsticks.

Here's what it was like at the peak of the night. The lasers stopped for a moment and then a narrow bridge lowered from the roof with some dancers on it. That was pretty cool.

The venue was the Walker-Sheraton Hotel, a six star hotel in Seoul and the second highest rated hotel in Korea. It was well-designed and had a very airy and cosy feel to it. On the bottom floor they have their own casino, which Jef and I went to after Godskitchen. Casinos in Korea are for foreign passport holders only and all food and drinks are free. They're great places for a free lunch, but if you go too many times and don't play, they catch onto you. Before we came to Busan, we ate for three days in a row at the COEX casino before being politely informed that a 'free lunch' doesn't necessarily mean 'unlimited free lunches'. I guess we were affecting their bottom line.

And then, as always happens after an eventful weekend, it was Monday all of a sudden. This is the beginnings of one of my morning classes at the Seacloud Hotel at Haeundae beach. The students are good-natured and quite helpful. At the moment they're organising the chairs and tables for the class, which is always in a seminar room. I've been teaching here for nearly 6 months and will stop soon, mainly because the old boss (who was my friend from Adelaide) has moved overseas.

Here is what my normal classes look like at the language institute, Korean kids lined up and studying busily. Some are a little bratty, but all in all it's an easy job and good money. I give some of the kids their English names (I often name them after people I know in Australia), but others name themselves. Looking at the camera on the right is one of my favourite students, John X. Yeah, John X is the name that he goes by. Other funny student names I have are Madonna, Schofield, Windy and Johnny Depp. Laura has one student called Nike and his friend is Adidas.

Down at Jangsan, a new super-buffet restaurant called D'Maris opened. For $30 you get more than 100 metres of all you can eat buffet. It's a food lover's paradise.

The dishes aren't skimpy either. There are different sections, from Chinese style steamed dumplings to French, Italian and Japanese. So they have exotic things like escargots, sashimi, scampi, king crab and rambutan fruit.

Here's my first plate of the night. In the bowl is crab and seaweed soup, with some kingfish and tuna sashimi along with some other things. There are chefs standing behind the buffet tables who will slice you a fresh piece of fish or steam and fry whatever you feel like eating. It's a good way to put on weight.

Hungry yet? Well this picture is from an oyster restaurant down the road from my house. Oysters in Korea are fairly cheap because there's a big industry here. On this dish there were some raw oysters on a plate. What's in the middle of the dish? That's another pile of shelled oysters, so you get about 30 raw oysters for twelve dollars.

These are some little oyster pancakes that they also make at the restaurant. They were alright. In the end there were just too many oysters, because we also had oyster soup. This place has more than quelled my oyster addiction, I think it has extinguished it.

Last weekend, Ellie heard about a musical put on by a small theatre company in Nampodong. So we went down there to check it out. The crowd were mostly university students and it was a good venue.

It was a nice performance and had some good acting. But in the end, a musical is always just a musical to me. Call me narrow minded, but singing in the middle of a story tends to remind me of those Bollywood movies. Even more so if it's all in Korean and I can only understand about 5% of what they're saying.

Nampodong is a good area with a lot of night shopping. We don't head down this way very often because it's on the other side of town.

Well that's all for me again! Spring has come and the weather is warming up quickly. When I took this photo, I was on a break from work sitting at the beach in Haeundae. I'm enjoying work and life in general. The only problem is that time is just flying by. At CDI we're always saying 'I can't believe it's a new month already!' I guess that's a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it.


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