Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer in Busan

Last weekend we took a trip down to Busan, on the southern tip of the peninsula. It was our third trip there since living in South Korea and our first time staying at a hotel off of the main tourist strip in Haeundae. Since it's peak season and we were planning the trip with only a week lead time, we weren't able to find a reasonably priced hotel near the country's most popular beach. But this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Our hotel was on the much chiller Gwangalli Beach overlooking Gwangan Bridge.

We spent most of Saturday laying on the beach and swimming, and then had the freshest crab we'd ever tasted for dinner. The next day was a scorcher and while we originally planned on doing some sightseeing, we ended up hanging out at Haeundae Beach until our train left. I have never seen a beach that crowded! Unfortunately, the large number of people attracted quite a few thieves. The girls sitting next to us had their bag stolen while they were in the water. Although petty theft is super rare in Korea -- most people leave their laptops and purses at their tables while they go to the restroom in restaurants, for example -- Mike and I are cautious Chicagoans. We took turns swimming and watching our bags, and came home with all of our belongings.

Since we're leaving Korea in less than three months, this was largely a farewell trip to Busan. The city has always held a special place in our hearts ... maybe because with its smaller population and waterside location it reminds us a lot of Chicago. I'm not sure when we'll come back to Korea again after this year, but we've already decided to make Busan a destination when we do.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Gwangalli Beach

Spending the afternoon at Gwangalli Beach in Busan right now. The weather is great and the water nice and cool. I dug a pretty deep hole that a bunch of little kids have inspected with curiosity and amazement - also that a guy with a handful of inner tubes accidentally fell in. Woops.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bingsu Heaven

It being summer, we went to get ourselves a popular Korean treat called "bingsu". It's traditionally a mix of fruits and ice cream served on a bed of shaved ice with a topping of sweet, red bean sauce, but these days Koreans have gotten more creative with it. We went to a place Nissa had been wanting to come to for a while called Cafe Add Bing and ordered the Oreo bingsu, which was basically an Oreo milkshake on a bed of shaved ice. It was an indulgent delight. The ice actually served as a nice diluting agent for the richness of the cookies and cream.

Oh, and the waitress actually brought us 4 spoons at first - maybe that was a hint? Whatever. We Americans could handle it.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Three's a crowd

A group of boys take shelter from the rain in our neighborhood. Captured by Mike using his HTC Desire cell phone.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Giant bowl of homemade japchae.

My latest attempt at Korean cooking was japchae, or stir-fried cellophane noodles with vegetables. The recipe I chose did not indicate how many servings of the dish it would make, but I assumed that like the other recipes on this website it would make four or five. I was wrong.

We now have enough japchae for at least 10 people! I'm hoping we can get rid of some when we see Mike's cousins this weekend, otherwise we'll be eating japchae at every meal next week.

In case you're wondering, the japchae I made includes cellophane noodles, carrots, spinach, ground beef, onion, green onion, garlic and button mushrooms. And like bibimbap, each ingredient is cooked and seasoned individually before going in the serving bowl. Simplicity is a rare thing in Korean cooking.