New Purchases and Delicious Food

Sunday I spent an assload of money.

I went to an Adidas store very close to my apartment and got these bad boys. The first pair of shoes I picked out only had one pair in stock. These are size 300, and fit great. The girl who helped me was really helpful. It only took maybe five minutes to buy them. Ran me 51,000 won.

After I went home, I changed and hoped to find someone playing soccer at school, but the field was empty. On a whim I went about bought this beauty. Included was a lock. I got it for 123,000 won. I rode it all the way to the library we usually have our meetings at (but won’t anymore because the location isn’t great for everyone). Riding there was like 30 minutes, and twice I had to get off because the hills were too much for me. Let me tell you about the last three times I rode a bike. Spring junior year of college: After hanging out a friend’s, I was walking home and found a bike someone ditched. I got on and rode it, but the front wheel was bent, and I could barely go faster than I could walk, so I decided it wasn’t worth it. Freshman summer of college: Drunk as hell and walking someone home that had brought a bike, I briefly rode it around the street.

Before that was when I was fifteen and in Germany. My host partner’s father asked me if I wanted to go on a bike ride, to which I agreed. Little did I know that his father rode in marathons for a living. We went on like a 10 km ride, which is around 6.2 miles. It was awful. Before that, I don’t think I had ridden a bike since elementary school. As a kid, I could never seem to keep a bike. Either they were stolen or I lost them.

Anyway, on the way back, I was better about going up the hills, but still had to get off and walk up one briefly. The ride back was much quicker though. Maybe only 20 minutes, since most of it is downhill or even at least.

Sunday night I went to Lotte Mart with Chang-ki and bought some random shit. Iron, belt, sandals, candy for the kids (small bags which have already run out, so I’ll have to go to E-mart tonight on by bike [hopefully it won’t rain as it’s been threatening all day]), milk and bread and such. That ran about 80,000 won. All told, I spent around 250,000 won Sunday. For dinner, I had ramyeon — Ramen in English.

Teaching is pretty boring right now. It’s the last week with the books and almost all the classes have finished all the bookwork, so I’m left with pretty much nothing to do with them except play games. I’ve taken to punishing the kids who come late to class with aegyo. Aegyo is pretty much the act of being cute. Girls might do it to get something from a guy, or friends may do it together because it’s funny. But being forced to do it in front of classmates is terribly embarrassing. I don’t make them go crazy with it, just say “I’m sorry I was late” and rub their hands together (a pretty standard motion for Koreans asking for forgiveness), but it seems to keep kids from being late, and the rest of the class gets a kick out of it.

The only other thing left I want to talk about is the delicious food here. Let me introduce you to tomato kimbap:

Now, there’s nothing particularly tomato-y about this place. The other kimbap place I go to is called kimbap cheon guk — Kim bap 1000 Soups, and there’s barely any soups on the menu. It’s just a name. Tomato kimbap serves mainly guksu and mandu. Guk is soup, su is noodle, and mandu are dumplings. So, noodle soup and dumpling joint. And it’s fantastic. You can see that on the outside there’s a little plastic porch, which has its own “to-go” menu that’s different from the regular menu. Inside there’s only enough room for five people to sit down.

The mandu are steamed right in the shop:

When I get all steamed up, hear me shout…

Take off my top and eat my delicious steamed pork dumplings!

From left to right: bibimguksu, some weak broth with bean sprouts for drinking, angmandu, soy sauce for the dumplings, some sweet pickled turnip I’ve been told the name of a dozen times and can never remember, and ggakdugi.

The pork filling inside the massive angmandu. There are tons of types of mandu. I just picked this particular one because it was the cheapest, and you get two massive, doughy, pork filled dumplings for 1,500 won.

The fantastically delicious bibimguksu. Bibim simply means “mixed”, so put it together and you get ‘mixed noodle soup’. The first time I got it I wondered if they had mistakenly given me bibimbap, because there was no broth. Hard to be soup without broth, but instead of rice there was vermicelli noodles. In Korea, every restaurant makes everything differently. There’s a general method and definition for things, but they’ll all serve different banchan and they may have their own personal twists on each dish (the first time I had bibimguksu it was in a spicy, thin red broth with just noodles and no vegetables).

The bibimguksu properly mixed up. Best of all, it’s a cold dish. For some reason, the combination of cold and spicy has always been a favorite of mine. Unfortunately, there aren’t many dishes that combine the two. I usually had to settle for leftover buffalo wings the next day to satisfy that specific craving.

Actually, perhaps bester of all, the women there who cook the food are fantastically friendly. At Kimbap Cheonguk, the friendly atmosphere is a bit lacking. I don’t know if the woman there doesn’t like foreigners, or she’s honestly just one of the grouchiest people ever. In seven weeks now, I’ve literally never seen her smile or hear her laugh once, and I go there almost every day.

At Tomato Kimbap, they were fantastically impressed with my ability to eat Korean food and gave me extra red pepper sauce for my bibimguksu, since they could tell I like extra spicy food, and quickly refilled the banchan when they were gone.  I got to talk to them a little, and they asked: Maeweoyo? Referencing the bibimguksu (Koreans never say more words than they have to), asking if it was spicy. Ne, joahaeyo! Mashisseosseoyo! — “Yes, I like it! It was delicious!” I had to go back a second night in a row and have the same meal just to share it with you all. I’m seriously considering going back and working my way through the entire menu.

Well, I’m going to head off for E-mart soon. Hopefully the rain will hold off a little longer.

P.S. On a fantastically unrelated note (I know I used ‘fantastically’ a lot in this post. Word of the day?), check out this blog for a great post about Korea’s native transsexual pop star — Ha Ri Soo: http://speakingkorea.com/?p=1821

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4 Responses to “New Purchases and Delicious Food”

  1. Thanks for the plug man, and cheers for commenting on our site. Always a pleasure to have new comments. Interesting blog you’ve got going. Will check it out again.

  2. Jason Levine Says:

    I’m so jealous of your new shoes. My feet are too fat here.

    • How many places have you tried? This was just a regular Adidas store, nothin real special about it. You could always try Seoul or Busan for more Western sized clothing, though.

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