The Kittens

I ostensibly returned early from Seoul in part to get ready for English Camp the following Monday, but let’s be real since when do I plan anything ahead of time. So the rest of that week was spent largely lying on the floor in front of my kitchen sink, watching the tiny mewling balls of fuzz that was Luna’s new brood of five kittens.

So yes, all of a sudden I had six cats.  Luna, Momo, Marama, Kiwi, Gazpacho, and Henry.  At the moment I write this it’s finally just Luna and me.  Four kittens went off to new loving homes after much effort and Facebook posting and patience and anxiety.  Henry first, then Gazpacho, then Kiwi, and last night, Momo.  Marama died following an accident.  Maybe I’ll write up the story some day but let’s suffice to say that I’m still pretty fucked up over it when I think about it.  She was absolutely precious and the one I most wanted to keep.

But at the time, I had six and I kind of understand how moms say that you just soak in every moment of your newborn because they change so quickly.  It was so wonderful to watch the teeny floofs start to squirm around, figure out nursing, slowly open their eyes, figure out walking, and more.  Sure there were super stressful times (relocating kittens from under your sink when mom does not want them relocated, relocating kittens from your bedroom when mom does not want them relocated, removing kittens from behind your stove, removing kittens from behind or under your bed and cupboard, litter training, introducing food and water, when your kittens are inexplicably vomiting and no vets are open, when your cat goes into heat again whilst unable to be separated from the kittens who are unable to be left free to roam your apartment all day, when your kitten tears hole in your silk Marc Jacobs dress, cancelling vacation plans because you have five six-week-old kittens and can’t leave them for an extended period of time or find pet sitters, when you can’t sleep for the sounds of that many cats, when your kitten climbs into the couch and you have to figure out how to drag him out without dislocating his cervical verterbrae, and on and on) but ultimately these babies brought a lot of joy into my life too.  And it’s nice to be able to pick up Luna now, and understand why she hated me picking her up beforehand (don’t squish the babies).  Okay she still doesn’t love being picked up but she tolerates it now.  She’s an “I tolerate you” kind of cat :))

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Clockwise from top left: Marama, Kiwi, Gazpacho, Henry, Momo

Back to that first week, I was so grateful to have time to just figure out what the hell to do with the kittens.  Turned out I didn’t need to do much, for weeks they were 100% taken care of by mom, all I had to do was keep her fed and occasionally reposition the bbs when they were freaking out because they couldn’t figure out how to find an open feeding spot.  I put the thin mattress/pad thing I’d got when my dad was here on the kitchen floor and just watched them a lot.  I would steal time every day to pick them up, at least for a few seconds, to see how they were growing and also just get some a lot of pictures and love them. I also recruited my friends into naming them since five of us, five kittens, and they were the first ones on the scene.  I named Momo, the golden tabby.  Well actually I named him Squeaky because he was so gd squeaky, but his second name was Momo because I figured the squeaking would go away eventually (though his current pathetic meowing is still very squeaky).  Francine gave the little black cat Henry his name, named for the super cute insanely charismatic leader from Orientation week.  Nicole gave the grey tabby Gazpacho, aka Gaz, which is just a great name.  Jessamine gave Kawaii, which morphed into Kiwi, to the teeny grey tabby with white feet.  And Cam and Francine gave Marama to the black and white kitten, which was a beautiful name for her.

Months passed, kittens were moved and moved again.  Under the sink for a few weeks, in my room in an ever-growing cardboard fortress (more space, higher walls), into the spare room (so they could run around but I didn’t have to worry about totally kitten proofing the apartment or what they’d get into while I was at work) and finally at about 9 weeks they were let out into the apartment.  I’d started openly broadcasting that they needed homes around 8 weeks, and at 10 weeks Henry left to be the first cat of a lovely and loving expat.  A few weeks later Gazpacho joined a cat named Mozzi, gaining a new brother and a great mom.  Kiwi was taken in by some friends as a long-term foster/potential adoption a few weeks later, which was an insane relief since she was always just crazy terrified of new people and only about 50% of the time didn’t run away from me.  Emily and Andrew are cat whisperers apparently, because she actually willingly approached them within a few days.

Momo was the most stressful adoption. He was fun but two cats was never the plan, especially not with the costs of spaying and neutering being what they are in Korea.  About 7 people inquired after him with varying levels of seriousness, but nothing came of any of them.  Finally I set a date to bring him to the shelter, having begun to go insane from a mom cat in heat + an unaltered boy cat at the age of puberty responding to natural instincts + the yowling from keeping him sequestered + the constant stress of finding and losing potential homes + knowing I just couldn’t care for him properly + kittens get less “adoptable” as they get older + I couldn’t bring him back to Canada.  I ended up just openly weeping the other night from the sheer anxiety and stress of hitting the breaking point of realizing everything I needed to do and how hopeless it all felt.  And knowing that I couldn’t wait til February break as I had planned to get Luna spayed, that I needed to do it this week when I just booked a two week vacation to Japan and budgeted like half my post-bills/taxes salary for the next two months to cash savings for that dream trip.

I had thrown myself into planning and getting crazy excited for it after the soul crushing disappointment of losing the possibility of a trip home. I called my sister at about 12am Canada Time, crying, when I found out at work that it just wouldn’t work, just kind of stood outside in the rain behind the school so that students couldn’t see me and my coteachers wouldn’t know how devastated I was, and sobbed at her that tickets were 2,500-3,000 CAD but literally half that during the two/three weeks I’d requested and which every other person I knew had been assigned.   I’d been looking at plane tickets for weeks, been telling people I would go home, been thinking of who I could see and what I could do (Van Gogh exhibit at the AGOooooooo).  This trip to Japan was the only thing keeping me sane over the prospect of spending the latter half of January doing English Camp and deskwarming whilst everyone I knew was on vacation.  Anyway, I digress from my privileged white girl pity party (wahh what if I don’t have enough money to spend in Japan because of something responsible pet owners do wahh. I know, I’m insufferable, but heyo, my blog, my gripes.)

I felt like a monster but requested an hour and a half of leave for this past Wednesday to bring him to the Gwangju shelter.  But it was school volleyball tournament day so I couldn’t leave due to the paperwork requirements, and there was a staff dinner afterwards.  So Thursday, yesterday, I was approved to leave at 3.

Around 2 I went on the shelter website to see if there were fees for surrendering.  The site is entirely in Korean though so I ended up on the photo listings of cats in care and just started crying because they all looked so sad and thin and ill, and there were so many, and so many listed as recently deceased.  I had put out a final desperate plea for a home for him that morning, but nothing had appeared.  After convincing myself and my friends that morning that I was headed to the shelter, I broke down and declared that I would find a fucking way to make it through the three and a half hour bus ride with a kitten that hates his carrier to a potential home in Boryeong (and ordered 50$ CAD bottle of Feliway off of GMarket to help).  On top of that, that morning I booked Luna’s spay at an across town vet (because they spoke English and were the only recommendation I could find), then my coteacher helped me rebook at a local vet who was more expensive but at least nearby and did the surgery on Saturdays.  So now I needed to figure out how to keep Momo away from her as she recovered.

I left school early anyway, I’d filed the paperwork and was just so done with everything.  I stopped in at a cafe and opened up Messenger to see a Message Request that, Eleventh Hour Miracle, someone wanted to take Momo in, that night.

It was a tiny bit bittersweet to say goodbye to Momo but honestly more a relief than anything.  I taxi’d across town with him angrily meowing in the carrier and brought him to his new home, where he was terrified but greeted by the most enthusiastic and thrilled child I’ve ever seen.  The son of the person who’d got in touch, he was nonverbal as far as forming words, but he was more than vocal about Oh My God It’s A Cat This Cat Looks Just Like My Favorite Toy Cat.  So I stuck around for a bit to help Momo adjust and just reassure myself it was a good place (check) and also to play toy cars with the little kid.

So there we are.  That’s the kittens story.  And after this weekend I can be sure it will never fucking happen again Dear God.

End note: I set up a GoFundMe to cover some of the costs of the spay but tbh I don’t blame anyone who’s like “Wow fuck you, you’re going to Japan in January and are employed you don’t need this.”  But also would appreciate small amounts of help.  And shoutout to the crazy generous people in my life.

How-to: Use Yogiyo to order in + Know what you’re ordering

This post is dedicated to two things: 1, how to use Yogiyo, the at-present-all-in-Korean app used to deliver food to your house, and 2, providing some descriptions of dishes you might find in it, because my Korean food vocabulary is stupidly extensive compared to my actual conversational Korean. As an adjunct to number 2 however is 3, providing a mini food/cooking vocab dictionary to make reading menus easier.  So basically this post is going to be insanely long. Sorryyyyy. Also for the translations a) not comprehensive and b) I’m not an expert and if you are and I’ve made mistakes feel free to let me know.  For dish descriptions, obvies again not an expert, restaurants make different things, and I’ve tried my best based off of experience + some looking up recipes (looking up [name in Korean] + 만들기 brings up recipes for these things).


How to Use Yogiyo

  1. Well I suppose you should probably download the app first.  Yogiyo brings it up on the Canadian App Store, and it exists for Android of course.  The Korean name is 배달요기요.
  2. So, open up the app, enable location services, probably hit 닫기 to close whatever popups appear, and check the top bar to see that the address it’s displaying now is in fact where you’re located.  If it’s not, or idk, you want to order whilst walking home, you can type in the desired address/neighbourhood in the bar.
  3. Now you’re faced with heaps and heaps of choices.  The behemoth of a post below this section should help with that.
  4. Pick a category of food (described in detail below) or just go straight to the view all page.
    • This will bring up a scrolling list of all the restaurants in that category that deliver within your area.
    • Each restaurant usually has a picture to clue you in to what it sells, a star rating from user reviews, a listing of the minimum order amount to qualify for free delivery (최소주문), and some little boxes indicating that you can order via calling (전화주문), and that you can pay with your phone (요기서결제) or when the food is delivered (현장결제).
  5. Pick a restaurant to bring up its menu.
    • This page will again show accepted payment methods, and also opening hours (영업시간). If you order something too close to their closing time, the order may go through then you could get a text saying it can’t be completed.
  6. Now to choose something to eat. Usually there’s a top category you can tap on to bring up a drop down list of most popular dishes.
  7. When you see something you want, tap on it.  It will either be added to your cart immediately, or you might get a pop up with various options for size, add-ons, flavour, drinks etc.  These are often accompanied by price increases.  If you want one of these, hit the check box then select 주문표에 추가 to add it to your cart.
  8. **FYI you can only have items from one restaurant in your cart at a time, so if you go over to another restaurant and select something, it will clear it out.
  9. You can check your cart by clicking the little cart icon, obviously.
    • Here you can increase quantity, see your price total, return to the restaurant’s menu (메뉴추가) or proceed to check out (주문하기)
  10. When you’re ready for check out, go ahead and click 주문하기.
  11. Now to fill out your delivery info
    1. 주문자 정보 : address and phone number
      • Again check that your neighbourhood is properly listed
      • in 배달받을 주소 input your street address and apartment number
      • in 휴대전화 번호 input your cell number, so you can get a confirmation text
      • 주문시 요청 사항 (선택) is for extra instructions like if they need an entry code or something, or your place is hard to find, or I guess if you have special requests? Idk I never use it.
    2. 결제 수단 선택 : payment choice
      • 요기서 결제: pay right now via the app.
        • I have never figured out how to do this because my Korean debit card isn’t enabled for it and I can’t get my ARC number and foreigner name to work in the registration forms to set up phone payments or PAYCO or Kakao Pay. More power to you if you know how.
      • 현장 결제: pay the delivery man
        • 신용카드 : pay with credit card (Korean or International) or Korean debit card
        • 현금결제 : pay with cash
  12. Double check the items you want, then click 전체 동의 to indicate that you agree to terms and service.
  13. Click 결제 하기 to submit your order.  You’ll be forwarded to a screen summarizing your order, scroll through and click the bottom button to dismiss it.
  14. You should get a text with an estimated window of delivery within a minute or two.  Pick out the [number]분 to see within how many minutes you can expect your order.  It could be well before that, or a bit longer than, but Korean delivery guys are 2 fast 2 furious so it’ll be fast either way.
    • When delivery guy (I’ve never seen a female delivery person so I’m using the gendered term, forgive me) arrives, accept your food and hand him your cash or the card (he’ll draw in the signature squiggle for you probs) then take your card and receipt.
  15. Special notes:
    1. Chinese restaurants often deliver in actual dishes as opposed to styrofoam and plastic.  The delivery guy usually has a big ol’ plastic carrying case that he’ll bring into your apartment then proceed to fastidiously lay everything out on your floor.  Then you pay him.
      • In this case, when done eating, put your dishes outside your door or outside the elevator if you live a bit down the hall.  You don’t need to clean them.  Pick up might happen within the hour or the next day.
    2. The side bar menu has a useful feature: receipts/records, 비회원 주문내역
      • From here you can see previous orders and quickly reorder the same meal from a previously used restaurant by hitting 재주문 (or leave a review by hitting 리뷰)
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Yogiyo Categories

전체보기 (View all, typically sorted by popularity)

프랜차이즈 (Franchises)

  • This includes familiar things like McDonalds, Dominoes, Pizza Hut, and Korean chains specializing in things like bossam, pizza, and fried chicken.

1인분 주문 (Meals for one)

  • This doesn’t appear on every app I think, only if you happen to have a restaurant in the area that offers meals designed for one.  Yogiyo orders require a minimum order price to offer free delivery, so these generally are a bit higher in price to meet the cutoff.

치킨 (Fried chicken)

  • Self explanatory.  Some useful terms
    • 순살 : boneless chicken. This often comes with fried rice cake  or sometimes fried hardtack (small sweet crackers)
    • 뼈: sometimes they specify the part of the menu that’s bone-in chicken
    • 똥집: innards, idk which ones, maybe gizzard? Anyway sometimes you’re asked if you want them, sometimes they show up uninvited as a chewy fried grey thing. Dip it in sauce, it’s tasty if you let it.
    • 반마리 / 한마리 / 두마리 / 세마리 : half / one / two / three chickens’ worth or, for the latter three, one / two / three flavour choices in your order
    • 반반 : half and half, so maybe you get one chicken’s worth of fried chicken, but two sauce options
    • : flavour
      • 간장: typically a soy sauce glaze
      • 양념: means spiced, usually a sticky sweet red sauce but sometimes a powder that looks like a Mr Noodle seasoning packet but is v tasty
      • 스노우윙/스노우치즈: names to do with snow are usually a sweet white sauce like a sweet alfredo, but sometimes mean it’s got a pile of cheese powder
      • 허니버터 : honey butter, don’t knock it til you try it
      • 후와이트 / 후라이드 : just plain fried chicken
      • 매콤 / 매운 / 핫 : hot/spicy
      • 강정 : spicy sticky red sauce, gochujang based
      • 훈제: smoked/smoky 
    • 파닭: will come topped with a pile of raw, julienned green onion
    • 무추가 : extra containers of cubed pickled radish
    • Side dish options
      • 치즈스틱: deep fried mozzarella sticks
      • 김말이튀김: deep fried seaweed rolls filled with glass noodles and minced veggies
      • 감자웨지: potato wedges
      • 포테이토 or 감자튀김: french fries. Usually these are coated in a cheesy powder like a KD cheese packet

중국집 (Chinese food: Koreanized Chinese food)

Kay so, not always, but often, these ones have massive menus and are subdivided in categories such as:

  • 면류: noodle dishes

    • 짜장: jjajang sauce is a dark, salty fermented black bean paste-based sauce, usually with pork, potatoes, zucchini, onion and sometimes peas in it. Non spicy, v tasty.
      • 짜장면 is thick flour noodles with the sauce (usually comes already sauced, and will turn into a thick starch lump if left too long)
      • 쟁반짜장 is platter o’jjajang, noodles with extra things like seafood (해물쟁반짜장)
      • 사천짜장면 is Szechuan style, basically v spicy with red chillis
      • 간짜장면: thicker sauce with less water and more frying in oil or pork fat involved
      • 녹차짜장: green tea powder flour noodles with jjajang
      • 삼선짜장: jjajang with fish
    • 울면: flour noodles in a thickened mild broth with veggies like bamboo shoots, mushrooms, green onions, zucchini, or carrot, beaten egg stirred in, and seafood. Not spicy.
    • 기스면: pretty much 울면 but with chicken instead of seafood
    • 우동: udon, chewy thick flour noodles in a clear broth with options for various things in it
    • 짬뽕: a spicy red broth soup with flour noodles and seafood, usually mussels and various tentacle-y things
    • 물냉면, 비빔냉면, 열무냉면: naeng myeon is thin chewy noodles served with chilled (often slushy) clear broth, julienned vegetables, sometimes some simmered beef, sometimes a slice of pear, half a boiled egg, and packets of vinegar and mustard sauce (겨자소스).
      • The first option is just that, with a bit of gochujang sauce. The second comes with more of the gochujang sauce and thus is spicier.  The third comes with young radish stem kimchi.
    • 잡채: glass noodles with julienned fried egg, sauteed peppers, carrots, etc. with sesame oil and sesame seeds. Like everyone knows this, but just in case.
    • 콩국수/콩물국수: chewy flour noodles in a chilled, creamy broth of ground soybeans, may be salted or a bit sweet, but usually it’s salty
  • 밥류: rice dishes

    • 오므라이스: a thin omelette rolled  around fried rice with a layer of ketchup
    • 볶음밥: fried rice
    • ~~덮밥: something served with rice
      • 저육덮밥: spicy stir fried pork, with rice
      • 송이덮밥: mix of sauteed mushrooms in a thick sauce, served with rice
      • 카레덮밥: rice with a mild-to-spicy yellow curry with potatoes and peas and carrots and a small amount of beef or chicken.  Also called 카레라이스.  The curry is very generic yellow curry powder, but it’s nice enough.
    • 짜장밥: jjajang sauce with rice
    • 마파두부: Koreanized mapo tofu. Soft tofu and sometimes chicken in a v spicy sauce with lots of chillis, with rice
    • 유산슬: seafood fried with mushrooms and zucchini with oyster sauce and other aromatics, plus rice
    • 라조기: pieces of chicken fried then cooked with chillis and bamboo shoots and mushrooms and greens with oyster sauce and other aromatics, again plus rice. 라조육 uses fried pork tenderloin.
  • 만두류: dumplings

    • 왕만두 / 군만두 / 물만두 / 찐만두: large steamed dumplings, fried dumplings (more like gyoza), small boiled dumplings like wontons, steamed dumplings (reggo size)
      • Related: 만두국 & 떡만두국 are basically wonton soup and wonton soup with rice cakes, though the broth is a bit less savory and a bit starchier. But with green onions, sometimes stirred through egg, and just generally comforting.
  • 반반류: halfsies 

    •  Here you get two in one (clue to contents being in the compound word formed from various popular dishes). So a bowl with two compartments filled with, e.g.
      • 짬자면: 짬뽕 + 짜장면, spicy seafood noodle soup and black bean noodles
      • 탕볶음밥: 탕수육 + 볶음밥, sweet and sour pork and fried rice
  • 요리류: cooked dishes, so things like platters and sauteed one-pan dishes

    • 깐풍기: pieces of chicken fried with hot chillis and vegetables. Also available with shrimp or pork, 깐풍새우/깐풍육.
    • 양장피: a platter of cold vegetables and seafood. Idk, google it.
    • 탕수육: sweet and sour pork, but not really like North American Chinese restaurant sweet and sour pork that’s red and always full of canned pineapple.  Usually comes as a dish of crispy fried pork + a container of a clear, viscous sweet sauce with onions, wood ear mushrooms, and cabbage, and cucumbers in it, meant to be poured over the pork.
      • Sometimes there are different kinds like 마늘 탕수육, 양파 탕수육, 야채 탕수육.  This dictates what’s in the accompanying sauce (garlic, onion, mixed vegetables in those examples.)
      • I’ve also seen 탕수만두 which is fried dumplings with the sauce
    • 칠리새우: fried battered shrimp in a sweet chili sauce that is like North American Chinese restaurant sweet and sour whatever
    • 팔보채: assorted seafood (squid, shrimp) and vegetables (peppers, mushrooms) fried together with a oyster/soy sauce-based sauce.
    • 난자완스: small patties of seasoned pork fried together in a soy/oyster sauce with veggies

분식 (Snack food)

  • This is usually street food or convenience store stuff like
    • 떡볶이: rice cakes (most commonly) in a spicy red sauce, often with fish cake (어묵).
      • 국물떡볶이: rice cake and fish cake and egg in lots of spicy red sauce, more soupy
    • 라면: variations
    • 김밥: nearly endless types of fillings in a seaweed-wrapped roll of rice, almost always with burdock root and pickled radish and straightforward names
      • e.g.: 묵은지김밥  (aged kimchi) 고추치즈김밥  (pepper and cheese) 참치마요김밥 (tuna mayo salad filling)
    • 오뎅/부산어묵: fish cake stewed in a lovely broth
    • 순대: steamed sausage of pork blood, rice, glass noodles, and seasonings. May ask if you want extra slices of cooked 간 (liver) or 내장 (offal, often heart or tripe or something)
    • 주먹밥: balls of rice mixed with shredded seaweed and other seasonings, with various fillings
    • 튀김: deep fried stuff, sometimes just a section called 손튀김 or something and you select various fried things like peppers and 김말이 (nori wrapped around chopped noodles and veggies) and sweet potato. So 고구마 (1개) would be ordering one serving of fried sweet potato

한식 (Korean food, well, more traditionally Korean food)

  • This category is like…so much stuff. Here are some popular things:
    • 찌개: stews
      • 순두부찌개: soft tofu stew. Doenjang base, with enoki mushrooms, zucchini, other veggies, and soft tofu, typically.  Sometimes comes with a raw egg freshly cracked into it that you can stir to cook in the boiling broth.  Usually has some chilis in it but isn’t too spicy. Sometimes comes with meat or seafood.
      • 참치찌개: similar to the above, but with canned tuna
      • 김치찌개: kimchi stew, so so good, usually has pieces of pork in it. Spicy, comforting.
      • 된장찌개: basically that first one but more seafood and less tofu.
      • 부대찌개: army base stew, just a whole mish mash of things like beans and sausage and spam and egg and pork and noodles and cheese, with a gochujang broth base.
    • 탕, 국: soups
      • 닭도리탕/닭볶음탕: spicy braised chicken and potatoes with onions and garlics
      • 육개장: spicy brothy soup with beef brisket and soybean sprouts and mushrooms and 고사리
      • 내장탕: offal soup, I think with beef tripe?
      • 곰탕: soups with simmered bones, broth is usually kinda milky from the simmered collagen
        • 감자탕: spicy soup with pork spine, potatoes, peppers, cabbage, etc.
        • 갈비탕: short rib soup with radish
        • 뼈해장국/해장국: ox bone hangover soup with doenjang, cabbage, and chilis
        • 설렁탕: ox bone and beef soup with radish
      • 추어탕: ground mudfish soup. Sounds gross, tastes delightful.  Doenjang and gochujang base with ground up fish and idk what kind of greens but they’re great
      • 꽃게탕: spicy Korean blue flower crab soup with radish and onions
      • 순대국밥: 국밥 as mentioned is a brothy soup with soybean sprouts and green onions served with rice, + something else, in this case sundae
      • 삼계탕: whole chicken or cornish hen soup with a ginseng and jujube (red date) broth
      • 수제비: brothy soup with hand torn noodles, kind of like floating dumplings a la chicken and dumplings
      • 매운탕: spicy whole fish soup with mushrooms and greens
    • 찜/조림: stewed and braised stuff
      • 아구찜: braised 아귀, angler or something. Spicy and with soybean sprouts
      • 등뼈찜: braised spine bones, a bit fiddly to get the meat off the bones but nice.  Includes glass noodles, onions, peppers, chilis, soy-based slightly sweet braising liquid, sometimes shrimp and rice cake.
      • 갈비찜: braised short ribs, usually with onions and peppers and a soy-based slightly sweet braising liquid. Kimchi variation is nice bc cooked kimchi is great.
      • 찜닭, 안동찜닭: basically the same thing as the above two, soy based braised chicken with vegetables (potatoes, carrots, cucumbers etc.) and noodles, but often v spicy bc of the chilis used
      • 고등어무조림: stewed mackerel and radish. Fucking delicious.
    • 볶음: stir fried stuff, this category is more my own making
      • 닭갈비: spicy stir fried chicken, with noodles, cabbage, rice cake, vegetables, sometimes cheese
      • 불닭, 치즈불닭: fire chicken is the literal translation, chicken and rice cake fried in a spicy sauce, often served smothered in cheese
      • 제육볶음: spicy stir fried pork, often with cabbage

피자/양식 (Pizza/Western food)

  • Pizza restaurants
    • Lots of options here, usually the crust is kind of thin but with options to be filled with cheese or sweet potato mousse or something like that.  You’re also entering the land of sweet mayo on your pizza, and sweet seafood pizzas, and canned corn everywhere.  Like, with most franchises just accept that they’ll be crazy expensive and unrecognizable to a greasy pepperoni slice with a thick chewy crust. It’s its own special thing.
      • Common things that are uncommon to North America
        • 고구마: sweet potato
        • 불고기: thinly sliced beef in a sweet salty marinade
        • 떡갈비: minced seasoned short rib patties
      • Transliterations
        • 베지테리언: vegetarian
        • 페퍼로니: pepperoni (I haven’t had it but I’ve heard the pepperoni is…not good)
        • 하와이안: Hawaiian
        • 치즈: basic cheese pizza
        • 베이컨: bacon
    • Always comes with sweet pickles
    • Side dishes
      • 오븐스파게티: spaghetti with tomato sauce baked with a layer of cheese on top
      • 버필로윙: buffalo wings
      • 치즈스틱: fried mozzarella sticks
      • 오븐치즈스위트콘: canned corn mixed with mayo and baked with a layer of cheese
    • Mildly interesting sidebar: a lot of pizza restaurants have 임실 (Imsil) in their name.  Imsil County is in Northern Jeolla province and was the first place to make cheese natively in Korea after a Belgian priest introduced it to the county when appointed to an Imsil Church.
  • Other western stuff
    • 스테이크, 함박 스테이크: it may be pronounced steak but it ain’t steak. It’s like…salisbury steak. A meat patty. (Okay some restaurants serve steak but if it’s under 20$ assume it’s not steak-steak.)
    • 버거: hamburger (well, burger. 새우버거 is a shrimp patty, 치킨버거 is a chicken patty.)
    • 치킨텐더: chicken tenders
    • 윙: chicken wings

일식/돈까스 (Japanese food / Donkkaseu )

  • 회: sashimi/raw sliced fish
  • 초밥: ngiri sushi/slices of fish or whatever, with vinegared rice and wasabi (I find the wasabi is usually very horse radish-y)
  • ~: maki sushi/rolls
  • 돈까스: fried breaded pork cutlet
    • 치즈돈까스: pork cutlet with cheese
    • 생선까스: made with fish, so basically fried fish cake. Usually comes with tartar sauce :))
    • 비후/비프까스: beef cutlet
    • 치킨까스: chicken cutlet

족발/보쌈 (Jokbal/Bossam)

  • For some photos, you can go to this post for bossam or this one for jokbal
    • 족발, Jokbal: pig’s trotters simmered in an aromatic broth seasoned with soy sauce and served in slices, lots of cartilage and can be chewy or crazy tender and deeply flavoured depending on how it’s been made.
      • 매운불족: spicy jokbal
      • 냉채족발: cold shredded vegetables with a spicy mustard and vinegar dressing + cold sliced jokbal
      • 구이족발: grilled jokbal
    • 보쌈, Bossam: pork belly simmered in an aromatic broth and served in slices, can be bland and a bit greasy, or tender and delicately flavoured.  Roll the dice.
      • 마늘 보쌈: bossam either served with crushed garlic, or flavoured with garlic
      • 굴보쌈: bossam + oysters
  • Both are almost always served with lettuce and greens, green chilis, kimchi, dried radish strip kimchi, ssamjang, raw garlic, and fermented shrimp.
    • Often come with a small serving of buckwheat noodles with shredded cabbage and spicy vinegary gochujang sauce, this is referred to as 비빔국수 or 쟁반국수 and you can order a full size version that will have more veggies in it (technically what the 쟁반 refers to because that means platter).
  • Usually there’s a 반반 menu where you can order a bit of both meats.
  • Sometimes these restaurants also offer 오리훈제, smoked duck breast, or 매운양념닭발, spicy chicken feet
  • Reminder:
    • 소/小, 중/中, 대/大, 특大:  small, medium, large, extra large

야식 (Literally midnight meal, the type of food associated with late night meals when you been drankin’)

  • Pretty much just the fried chicken, hansik, and jokbal/bossam restaurants.

테이크아웃 (Takeout)

  • Restaurants you can send in a takeout order.

Mini Food Vocab Reference

Some handy terms before we begin, which pop up on Yogiyo fairly often:

  • 추가메뉴: here is usually where you find some add ons like extra radish for your fried chicken, pickles with your pizza (why), drinks, or a bowl of rice
    • Drinks, 음료:
      • 콜라, 캔콜라: Coke or Pepsi, the latter being a can
      • 사이다: clear 7-Up/Sprite analog
      • 쿨피스, 쥬시쿨: a brand of fruit juice, usually just a carton of peach, plum or pineapple juice
  • Misc:
    • 피클: sweet green cucumber pickles
    • 치킨무: cubed radish
    • 공기밥: bowl of rice
    • 곱빼기 추가: size up
    • 매운, 순한: spicy, mild
    • 매콤, 달콤: spicy, sweet
    • 불~~: either pops up as a descriptor of how its been cooked (e.g. 숯불, charcoal grilled) or to tell you that RIP your mouth, it’s super hot (불닭).  The bul in bulgogi is the former.
    • 맛: flavour
    • 양념: spiced/seasoned, often refers to a sweet/spicy red sauce or glaze
    • 소/小, 중/中, 대/大, 특大:  small, medium, large, extra large
    • ~~인분: servings, e.g. 2인 or 2인분 serves two people
    • 쟁반: platter
    • 국밥: a soup served with rice
    • 덮밥: something served with/on rice
    • 모듬: assorted
    • 반마리 / 한마리 / 두마리 / 세마리 : half / one / two / three creature’s worth. Shows up when ordering fried chicken or maybe a duck stew
    • 반반 : half and half, so maybe you get two sauces out of one fried chicken, or a plate with two types of meat

Food terms in general + some specifics. Basically this will keep growing forever and ever because it’s for my own benefit (again I’m pulling most of this from memory so if there are errors, my bad. This is for reading menus and recipes and just for my own reference, not for passing exams.)

  • Proteins

    • 해물 : seafood/shellfish
      • 새우: shrimp/prawn
      • 굴: oyster (often pops up with bossam menus)
      • 오징어: squid
      • 꼴뚜기: tiny squid things. Got the big squid head with short little legs, but mini
      • 낙지, 산낙지: octopus, baby octopus
      • 쭈꾸미: different kind of octopus
      • 장어: eel
      • 오만둥이/미더덕: kay there’s probably a difference between these or else why would they have different names, but the search results for 오만둥이 give me a photo of what my Korean coteacher told me was 미더덕, and they both translate as sea squirt. Anyway they’re small hard seafood things that look like stones or pancreases, and spurt a citrus-y or cleaning liquid-y (depending on who you ask) liquid when you bite down on them.  I like them, not everyone does, but know that you’re not being served stone soup.
      • 게, 게살: crab
        • 꽃게: Korean flower crab
        • 킹크랩: you guessed it, King Crab
      • 바닷가재: lobster
      • 조개: clams
      • 바지락: also clams
      • 꼬막: cockles, look like clams
      • 패주, 스캘럽: scallop
      • 홍합: mussels
      • 골뱅이: snails/whelks
      • 상어: shark
      • 해파리: jellyfish
      • 전복: abalone
    • 삼선 (물고기): fish
      • 굴비: corvina, small fish usually seen grilled
      • 가자미: I think generic term for flatfish?
      • 아구/아귀: monkfish, idk a gross looking fish and 아구찜 is a stew of that braised with other stuff
      • 어묵: fish cake (fish paste shaped into sheets, cylinders, cakes and cooked, with seasoning), often found in 오뎅, fish cake that’s been simmered in broth
      • 참치: tuna
      • 연어: salmon
        • 훈제연어: smoked salmon
      • 꽁치: sardines
      • 멸치: anchovies, varying sizes
      • 홍어: skate wing, pops up in bossam ordering as fermented skate wing to accompany your meal
      • 북어: dried pollack
      • 황태: also dried pollack. Common snack food is strips of this fried in a bit of oil and soy sauce and sugar.
      • 날치: flying fish
      • 알: egg/fish roe (날치알: flying fish roe, the little red ones)
      • 회 / 생선회 / 사시미 = raw fish, akin to sashimi but often served a bit frozen
    • 고기: meat (살 = flesh, so if you see 갈비살/목살 it’s just literally rib flesh/neck flesh)
      • 돼지(고기): pork
        • 삼겹살, 오겹살: pork belly with three or five layers of flesh between layers of fat.  Thick strips, sometimes with small pieces of hard cartilage/bone, but usually just boneless fatty meaty goodness.
        • 목살: meat from around the neck
        • 햄, 스팸: ham is not ham, ham is spam. Luncheon meat. Square shaped pink loaf.
        • 소시지: sausage
        • 비엔나: mini sausage
      • 소(고기)/쇠고기: beef
        • 한우: Korean beef
        • When you see 소 in front of a meat cut it’s saying this is beef whatever.  Ik kind of obvious, but nice reminder to think of prefixes when puzzling out a menu item. Likewise 돼지, 닭
      • 닭(고기): chicken
        • 치킨: literally pronounced chicken, refers to fried chicken
        • 통닭: also fried chicken
        • 닭발: chicken feet
      • 오리(고기): duck
      • 양(고기): lamb
      • 뼈: bones
        • 등뼈: spine, so if you see something like 등뼈찜, it’s a dish with braised meat from that area, on the bone
      • 갈비: ribs
        • 떡갈비: patties of minced, seasoned meat taken from the ribs
      • 곱창, 막창: intestines, typically small intestines (소장); 대장 is large intestine
      • 등심: sirloin
      • 안심: tenderloin (you can buy chicken tenders/fillets by going for 닭안심)
      • 육회 = seasoned raw beef, like tartare
    • 계란: egg (계란말리 is a rolled omelette)
      • 달걀: also egg
      • 알: also egg but in the broader sense than chicken’s egg, see above seafood section
    • 콩: beans, commonly synonymous with soybeans
      • 메주콩/대두: specifically soybeans
        • 두부: tofu
          • Mildly nterestingly, whereas 우유 is cow’s milk, 두유 is soy milk
        • 유부: beancurd skin, pops up as 유부초밥, pockets of fried beancurd skin seasoned in sweet vinegar, stuffed with seasoned rice
        • 볶은콩가루: toasted soybean powder, what injeolmi is rolled in. One of my favourite ingredients now, it adds a lovely sweet toasty nuttiness to things.
        • 콩고기: dried light brown pieces of what we call TVP/TSP (texturized vegetable/soy protein) in Canada
      • 검은콩: black soybeans
      • 녹두: mung beans
        • 녹두떡/빈대떡 is a (potentially) amazing fried pancake made with mung beans
      • 팥: red azuki beans, in dish names for sweet things often refers to the sweetened paste made of red beans
      • 렌즈콩/편두: lentils
      • 병아리콩: chickpeas
      • 강낭콩: kidney beans
    • Nuts and seeds
      • 호두: walnuts
      • 땅콩: peanuts
      • 참깨: sesame seeds (참기름 = sesame oil)
      • 들깨: perilla seeds (들기름 = perilla oil). Perilla seeds are now one of my favourite things ever.  They’re used in soups and stews sometimes to add a creamy nuttiness, and also as a dip for grilled pork.
      • 도토리/도토리묵: acorn/acorn jelly. Light brown  bland opaque jelly usually served with a sauce of soy sauce and green onions and sesame seeds and chilli flakes and some shredded onion
      • 밤: chestnut
      • 해바라기씨: sunflower seeds
      • 호박씨: pumpkin seeds
      • 잣: pine nits
  • 야채: vegetables

    • 고추: peppers
      • 꽈리고추: shishito peppers, small and green and a bit wrinkly looking. I usually see them in 멸치볶음, stir fried tiny anchovies, and 장조림, usually beef and quail’s eggs stewed in soy sauce
      • 청고추: green chillis
        • Broad term, there’s heaps of green chillis in Korea. Generally the large crispy long ones (아삭이) aren’t spicy, whereas the little ones are.
      • 홍고추: red chillis
    • 파프리카: bell peppers
    • 단호박: pumpkin, aka kabocha squash
    • 호박, 애호박: zucchini-like summer squash
    • 무: radish, the big smooth long white Korean kind that looks like daikon, not the little red ones.
      • 단무지: radish pickled with gardenia flowers, it’s yellow, crispy, and salty.  Often comes in slices with Chinese food and is part of 김밥
    • 마늘: garlic
    • 마늘쫑: garlic whips/garlic scales/garlic stems, idk whatever you want to call it
    • 산마늘: ramps/wild leek leaves
    • 생강: ginger
    • 인삼: ginseng
    • 감자: potato
      • 감자웨지: potato wedges
      • 포테이토: french fries, though potato pizza isn’t french fry pizza, should you see that on a pizza menu
      • 알감자: baby potatoes
    • 당근: carrot
    • 토란: taro root
    • 가지: eggplant
    • 상추: lettuce, just your standard green leaf (though if you’re eating, say, samgyeopsal and want more lettuce, just saying 야채 더 주세요 will convey that you want more lettuce.)
      • 양상추: iceberg lettuce
      • 꽃상추: ruffled edge lettuce, usually with red edges
    • 깻잎: perilla leaves
    • 청경채: bok choy
    • 옥수수: corn
    • 고수: cilantro
    • 파: green onion
    • 양파: onion-onion
    • 작양파: red onion
    • 대파: leek
    • 버섯: mushrooms
      • 송이: matsutake but I more often see King Oyster under this name
      • 팽이: enoki (thin, long, white bundles)
      • 양송: white button
      • 목이: wood ear (black, look like chunks of seaweed)
      • 표고: shiitake (savory, chewy)
      • 느타리: oyster mushroom (clusters with grey hollow flared caps)
      • 꾀꼬리버섯: chanterelle
    • 고구마: sweet potato, super starchy and light yellow
    • 오이: cucumber
    • 배추: Napa cabbage
    • 양배추: reggio green cabbage
    • 미역: what we call wakame in Canada
    • 김: what we call nori in Canada
      • 김자반: shreds of nori
      • 김자반볶음: shreds of nori seasoned and fried in oil and usually tossed with sesame seeds, crunchy and savory and just so wonderful
    • 시금치: spinach, but idk, it’s not quite like the spinach I’m used to in Canada. Still tasty.
    • Veggies generally more popular here than in North America:
      • 부추: Asian chives, long thin and flat and A+
      • 무말랭이: dried strips of radish
      • 고구마줄기: sweet potato stems. In summer like every street corner has an 아점마 peeling sweet potato stems
      • 미나리: water parsley/water dropwort, a crisp light slightly citrusy green that’s in 오리탕
      • 도라지: bellflower root, white root that looks like ginseng and is often sold as long white dried strips
      • 더덕: a root that emits a sticky sap when peeled, that I know best from 더덕구이, where its pounded flat then pan fried or grilled with a sticky sweet spicy sauce. Reminds me of an older parsnip, where it’s a bit fibrous.
      • 쑥갓: chrysanthemum greens.  The leaves are like rounded edge flat leaf parsley, and the stems are crunchy and delicious
      • 고사리: fernbrake, a grey-brown-purple mountain vegetable that’s a bit chewy and earthy and just v tasty
      • 우엉: burdock, strips of it is the brown thing that’s in most kimbap, and 우엉장아찌 is so tasty and crunchy
      • 죽순: bamboo shoots
      • 연근: lotus root
      • 세발나물: k there are a million herbs and sprouts and greens here I’ve never seen and that have no name in English but this is a favourite.  It tastes so lovely. Branching thin green strands off of a thin stalk.
    • Some kimchis
      • 통배추김치: whole cabbage kimchi, your standard napa cabbage with its leaves coated in pepper paste mixture and left to ferment
        • 맛김치: the above, cut up
      • 묵은지: aged Napa kimchi, much stronger
      • 동치미: non-spicy, radish floating in a tangy slightly sweet liquid with ginger and other aromatics
      • 나박김치: red water kimchi. Slices of radish and cabbage in a slightly spicy sour liquid
      • 백김치: non-spicy white kimchi
      • 총각김치: ponytail kimchi, little white radishes with their stems still attached, with the usual red pepper paste thing
      • 깍두기: cubed radish kimchi (personal fave)
      • 오이소바기: cucumbers split and stuffed with carrot and pepper paste stuff
      • 고추소바기: stuffed peppers version
      • 열무김치: young radish stem kimchi. Hits the sinuses a bit
      • 깻잎김치: perilla leaves layered together with pepper paste
      • 된장깻잎: perilla leaves layered together with doenjang (k probs not technically kimchi, but it’s so good with rice)
      • 무절임김치: thinly sliced radish kimchi, pretty much always on naengmyeon
  • 과일: fruit (just some of the ones that aren’t transliterations of English terms)

    • 홍시, 감, 단감: super sweet soft persimmon, persimmon generally, crunchy unripe persimmon
    • 사과: apple
    • 복숭아: peach
    • 딸기: strawberry
    • 포도: grape (건포도 = raisin)
    • 자두: plum
    • 매실: green plums, sour and the source of the amazing 매실차
    • 유자: yuzu/citron
    • 귤/감귤: tangerines/mandarins idk, some sort of small citrus fruit which is sweet, easily peeled, and has orange or green rind
    • 복분자: black raspberry, 복분자주 is a black raspberry wine
    • 모과: quince
    • 석류: pomegranate
    • 배: what we call Asian pear in Canada, large round crisp pear with smooth light brown or gold skin
    • 무화과: fig
    • 오미자: tiny tart red berry usually found dried, makes a really nice tea sweetened with honey
    • 자몽: grapefruit
    • 대추: jujube/red date
    • 살구: apricot
    • 참외: small yellow melons eaten crisp or soft, with a thin rind and lots of small seeds
    • 수박: watermelon
  • Sauces and seasonings

    • 간장: soy sauce
    • 고추장: spicy sweetened red pepper sauce
      • 초고추장: vinegared gochujang. The red paste thinned with vinegar and, sometimes, some sweet syrup.
    • 고춧가루/고추가루: red pepper flakes
    • 후추: pepper as in black peppercorns
    • 소금: salt
    • 된장: fermented soybean paste, kind of like miso
    • 쌈장: basically gochujang + doenjang, though sometimes more is added like sweeteners, onions, seeds, mung beans.  Red, a bit spicy, fermented, delicious as a dip for Fuji apples or on a fried egg sandwich. One of my favourite things ever and it’s always on the table when serving lettuce wrapped anything
    • 청장: fermented salted black bean paste.  When you order from Chinese restaurants you just about always get raw onions, danmuji, and a dab of this.  Idk if it’s meant to be added to your jjajangmyeon to make it more black bean-y, but I think it’s nice just with the onion
    • 식초: vinegar
      • 초고추장: vinegared gochujang sauce
      • Tangentially related Korea also sells wonderful things I guess I’d call sweet drinking vinegar, acidic but still quite sweet fruit vinegars that are amazing with soda water.  You can also mix it with milk but idk the curdled thing is a bit off-putting.  Persimmon, green apple, green grape, pomegranate, pineapple and tons more options.  10/10 recommend.
    • 겨자: mustard (I find Korean mustard tends to have more of the pungent burn than North American mustard)
    • 물엿: sweet syrup from starch, I think usually corn but formerly barley?
    • 쌀엿: sweet rice syrup
    • 꿀:  honey
    • 녹차: green tea (idk I don’t want to form a “leaves” category)  If you see this in a noodle dish name, probs means the noodles have matcha powder in them
  • Starches

    • 면/국수: noodles
      • 칼국수: knife cut flour noodles
      • 당면: sweet potato (glass) noodles
      • 소면: thin flour noodles
      • 쫄면: chewy flour noodles, often used in 잠뽕 & 짜장면
    • Rice
      • 밥: cooked rice
      • 쌀: used when talking about the uncooked form
      • 찹쌀: sweet/glutinous white rice (찹쌀가루 = sweet rice flour, it’s used for making chewy rice cakes)
      • 현미: brown rice
      • 흑미: black rice
      • 누룽지: scorched rice, the stuff at the bottom of the pot. Sometimes at restaurants they’ll bring your stone pot of cooked rice to the table, scoop out the rice, then leave the pot there.  Then a bit later add boiling water to it and cover it.  This is to make toasted rice porridge to have as dessert.
    • 떡: rice cake, tons of varieties–steamed, pounded, plain, flavoured, filled, coated etc.
      • 가래떡: long white rice cake cylinders, sliced to make the tteok in soups
      • 인절미: pounded chewy rice cake typically rolled in toasted soybean powder
      • 송편: the multicoloured (often white or dark green) gyoza-shaped, filled tteok that pop up for Chuseok in particular
      • 백설기: chewy white steamed rice cake often topped with things like raisins and squash and flaked almonds
      • 무지개떡: rainbow striped steamed chewy tteok
      • 콩떡: chewy steamed tteok either with layers of beans or beans cooked into it
    • 만두: dumplings
      • 찐: steamed
      • 군: pan fried
      • 물: boiled wonton-like dumplings
    • 메밀: buckwheat. So if you see 메밀전 you’re getting pancake made with some or all buckwheat flour
    • 보리: barley
    • 곡: grains. So 오곡밥 is five grain rice.
    • 빵: catch all term for bread, buns, rolls.
      • 롤빵: bread rolls
      • 찐빵: steamed buns
      • 계란빵: street food of small breads with a whole egg baked in (the best ones are still kind of soft)
    • Sweets
      • 약식/약밥: idk I just need to include this bc it’s so tasty. Steamed glutinous rice that’s seasoned and sweetened and mixed with fruit and nuts then shaped into squares.  The rice is a golden colour and it’s so wonderfully sweet and chewy.
      • 약과: again including this purely bc I love it: flower shaped honey soaked chewy cookies that are perfection
      • 호떡: street food of crispy or chewy dough filled with brown sugar, ground peanuts, and sometimes cinnamon or with savory fillings like vegetables and noodles
      • 잉어빵, 붕어빵: there’s probs a specific difference between these two but as far as I know they both refer to fish shaped waffles filled with red bean paste or sometimes custard or other fillings.  Fish waffle >>>>>
      • 꽈배기: twisted fried doughnuts tossed in sugar
  • Cooking/preparation terms

    • 구이, 구운 : grilled
      • 숯불구이: charcoal grilled
    • 찜: braised or steamed
      • For example  갈비찜 is pork ribs braised with onions and peppers in a lovely sauce, whereas 계란찜 is a steamed egg dish
    • 국, 탕: soup. 국 is usually a more vegetable-based soup, whereas 탕 is usually something with meat
    • 찌개: stew
    • 죽: rice-based porridge, sweet or savory  (팥죽: sweet red bean porridge with rice cake balls, 단호박죽: sweet pumpkin porridge with rice cake balls, 전복죽: rice porridge with abalone and often 부추 and carrots)
    • 전골: also stew, but usually with more ingredients than a 찌개 which is typically named for its main ingredient
    • 볶음: fried, the stir-fried kind, not deep fried
      • this is actually two kinds: dry stir fried, and stir fried with a sauce that reduces down.  So 멸치볶음, tiny dried anchovies stir fried with soy sauce, corn syrup, sesame oil etc. isn’t super saucy, but something like 낙지볶음, spicy stir fried octopus, is
    • 튀김: battered and deep fried
    • 냉: cold/chilled
    • 양념: seasoned. Can mean it has a sauce or its got a spice rub or really anything
    • 조림: stewed/braised/glazed–kind of a diverse term? For example:
      • 장조림 means braised/stewed in soy sauce; 계란장조림 is whole eggs marinated in soy broth. Tasty~~
      • 알감자조림 & 검은콩조림 are baby potatoes and black soybeans in a sweet and savoury glaze
      • 고등어무조림 is mackerel and thick slices of radish braised with pepper paste and other seasonings until falling apart
    • 장아찌: pickled in a soy sauce based brine
    • 젓: fermented seafood thing, so 새우젓 is the tiny fermented briny shrimp that comes with bossam
    • 나물: seasoned vegetables/herbs, a salad-type thing, usually refers more to leafy greens. Also sometimes refers to sprouts
    • 무침: another term for a seasoned salad, but not like…Caesar salad.  Often something-무침 is in a vinegary gochujang sauce e.g. 콩나물무침 is seasoned soybean sprouts seasoned with sesame oil and things like that whereas 골뱅이무침 is snails and cucumber and onion in a spicy vinegary gochujang sauce
    • 겉절이: freshly made kimchi that doesn’t get fermented/aged, applied to things like Napa cabbage (배추젙걸이) and lettuce (상추젙걸이). So just add it to the list of seasoned salads?
    • 전: fried pancakes, but not always like, a mixed batter fried into a thin pancake, sometimes you get, say, a slice of lotus root or a butterflied shrimp or a strip of crab meat griddled/fried in the jeon batter
    • 분말, 가루: powder or ground
    • 다진: minced
    • 비빔: mixed, usually but not always related to something with gochujang sauce that’s mixed up. So the classic 비빔밥 = mixed rice, bc you mix the rice with all the vegetables and gochujang sauce
    • 돌솥: stone pot, so 돌솥비빔밥 is the bibimbap that’s served in a hot stone pot, with crunchy rice on the bottom 🙂
    • 뚝배기: earthenware pot, so 뚝배기불곡기 is the kind of bulgogi that has been cooked in a pot with broth and noodles as opposed to the kind that’s grilled. In restaurants, single dishes of 찌개 usually come in one of these.
    • 훈제: smoked, e.g. 오리훈제 is smoked duck breast
    • 생: fresh
    • ~~산: country of origin (호주산 = from Australia, 미국산 = from America)
    • 통~~: whole, e.g. 통오징어구이 is whole grilled squid
    • 왕: King, usually means it’s large something.  Like 왕만두, large dumplings.

Fun thing about knowing basic terms is you can pretty much guess what most things are, since a lot of Korean foods reflect a polysynthetic language approach.

E.g. 굴떡만두국: 굴  +  떡  + 만두  + 국 = oyster + rice cake + dumpling + soup.

해물파전: 해물 + 파 + 전 = seafood + green onion + fried pancake.

김치돼지갈비찜: 김치 + 돼지 + 갈비 + 찜 = kimchi + pork (+) ribs + braised.

콩물국수: 콩 + 물 + 국수 = soybean + water + noodles (okay this is a bit more opaque, but it’s noodles in a chilled creamy broth made of ground soybean powder)

Summer Break Pt. 3 (Ttangkkeut, Seoul)

Welcome back to Rosie has two days without class so she’s touching her blog again for the first time in three months: Tuesday edition.

After a week and a bit in Gwangju, and two or three reschedulings, we finally headed to the coast.  I picked Ttangkkeut again because I knew how to get there, knew that it could be an easy day trip with a not-too-crowded beach, and the gigantic donkkaseu with amazing savoury gravy at Bear House continued to haunt my dreams.

We headed out late because Dad is a Dad who lets his daughter sleep in and we made it to the bus terminal around 9:30.  We got tickets for 10:30, and moseyed round the terminal, ordering some red bean and walnut filled walnut-shaped cakes from the tiny stall in the terminal (they sell these on Bloor Street in Toronto and they’re v tasty, though nothing will ever outstrip my beloved fish waffle) and eating them over coffee.  Also stopped in at the book store where I bought some books to study Korean which tbh I haven’t touched yet because I’m awful.  Tbh I was a grumpy goose all day because heat + feeling like I’d overslept + 24/7 with your father is a lot of time with your father, and was mopey on the bus, but we eventually made it through the three hour bus ride and hopped off at Songho Beach for lunch.

When I’d been there the last time, with Cam, Francine, Nicole and Jessamine on our weekend beach trip we entered Bear House, one of the like three restaurants in the town, to escape from the rain and proceeded to spend three or four hours there playing cards and bananagrams and eating delicious lunch.

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To my dismay (okay I was just being hypercritical because I was at this point putting so much pressure on myself to deliver A+ meals every time we ate?) the gravy on the donkkaseu wasn’t as amazing as I remembered and the 들깨 삼계탕 wasn’t Earth-shattering (though, the bird wasn’t, like samgyetang usually is, a whole chicken. Maybe a Cornish hen? It was nice.)  But I was hungry, grumpy, and it wasn’t bad by any means.  Maybe the fact that the beach town was actually full of people this time translated to gravy that hadn’t spent the entire day reducing down as they waited for patrons (I admit, I’m insane.)

After lunch we walked along the beach for awhile, walking far out during the low tide to reach the ocean.  It was beautiful, busier than my first time there (though not crazy crowded for a Summer weekend in a country with 129.75x the population density of Canada), and blisteringly hot.  Kakao Taxi (Uber but with registered taxis) is not a thing there and no taxis were driving through so we stopped in at the police station to use broken Korean and broken English to ask for a taxi to Ttangkkeut Village.  (They asked why we didn’t just walk, saying it was close, but ho ho ho I was not to be fooled.  It’s “close” and “close” is an eternity when it’s 40 degrees and you’re as goddamn pale as we are.  They also asked if we were a couple. NO.)

We walked around, ate popsicles, drank iced lattes, and made our way to the Monorail that ascends the mountain to give you a full view of Land’s End as it were.  We hadn’t had the time to do the monorail when mi amigos and I were there, though Nicole and I did do a bitchin’ hike to the same/vastly better effect.  But again, 40+ degrees = no way in hell I’m hiking up a mountain.  And monorails are fun :))  Besides, we did the walk down, descending endless shaded staircases and following the path out to the stone monument marking the Southernmost tip of the coast. Just as beautiful the second time.

We walked back to the village, bought our bus tickets back, and went to find dinner.  I’d had ambitions of 산낙지 볶음 (spicy stir fried small octopus) or maybe 생선회 (the raw fish dish I’d had for lunch with Camcine) but then was lazy and decided to just go for a 백반 meal because the 갈치백반 meal we’d had in Songho had been so amazing.  The fist restaurant we entered for some reason only served it before noon, and the second was empty but we needed to pick something.  Again I felt irrationally disappointed in myself for picking a good but not great restaurant, but salty grilled fish is tasty and it did the trick for a dinner before we got on the bus.  And I always feel a bit proud when I get to debone a whole fish with chopsticks.

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Super smoky, salted grilled fish. A bit dry but not terrible.  Sticky sweet black beans, kimchi, the zucchini with crunchy dried shrimp dish I love, bamboo shoots dish I also love, sticky peanuts, fried anchovies with peppers, kimchi etc.  And the greens and doenjang soup that’s handed out like miso soup is at Japanese restaurants but tbh I think I love just a bit more.

After the three hour bus ride back we had another bing su from Cafe Pascucci in the terminal, because I knew Pascucci bing su’s were great.  It was.

Monday was our last day in Gwangju before heading to Seoul.  I’ve managed to lose my pictures from the day but it was Sujata for lunch, again (always worth a visit, like I would happily go there every single day.  And they had slightly dried out sour green plums covered in gochujang that day which were /everything/.)  For dinner we brought Nicole with to try for 오리탕 again, but sadly, as I discovered later via a single line on a single website, all of Duck Street shuts down on the first Monday of the month.  So we headed over to Geumnamro and the downtown maze to find somewhere else to eat, settling on a 샤브샤브 (shabu shabu) restaurant that wasn’t anything particularly special but it was something different and I like being with Nicole :))

After dinner when Nicole had left, we stopped in at a convenience store so I could buy an iced latte–I swear to god there is not a coffee shop in the country without a full espresso machine–because I play fast and loose with caffeine consumption.  Then there was the never-not-weird experience of spending an hour or two just talking with your father like an adult who happens to be his child.  Hey hi yes it’s me, the person who is legally an adult but still doesn’t have the concept of being an adult in her mental schema of her relationship with her parents.  (Though tbh my actual execution of being an adult isn’t that great either.  Wooo, early 20s.)


 

Seoul 

Day 1

After a bit of a fiasco attempting to get across the city for lunch to eat buckwheat noodles at a Michelin-recommended restaurant but then whoops traffic and your train is leaving soon, grabbing lunch from E-Mart, and taking a taxi to the KTX station we hopped on the train to Seoul.  Mes amies were charged with visiting the apartment every so often to check in on my cat Luna who was super goddamn pregnant (though I had no clue how far along because she was pregnant when I got her, turns out).  Put a pin in that fact.

Just like when Nicole and I bussed to Seoul, it took us an embarrassingly long time to figure out how the hell to get to the Subway platforms, but eventually we were on our way to the Holiday Inn Express by Euljiro station that was booked courtesy of Papabear’s prodigious travel points.  We had a room on the top floor where we stowed our things then headed out for dinner.  It was raining, but not terribly, so we headed out for a walk to a restaurant I’d quickly pulled up while searching through Seoul specialties and learning that there’s a Jokbal Street (장충동족발거리).  The walk was nice but soon enough the truly torrential downpour began and we wear taking shelter literally across the street from the restaurant.  I was glad to be wearing plastic sandals because I ended up walking through the rivers that formed on the banks of the road (though those gd sandals squeak for days after they get wet).  Then it turned out the restaurant I’d planned on was closed for renovations that week.  So we went next door because hey, we were on Jokbal Street.

뚱뚱이 할머니집 – 서울 중구 장충단로 174-1

Great call, this was amazing.  I know, overused word on this blog, but this really was delicious.  Jokbal (족발) is basically pig’s trotters (read: feet and do not picture those gross glass jars on the bottom shelf of the supermarket that are always a bit dusty and filled with slowly disintegrating pickled pigs’ feet) cooked in a flavoured broth that includes aromatics and soy sauce and sugar.  I’ve found that often restaurants who do jokbal do that + bossam, and they’re served the same way with the lettuce wraps, brined shrimp, ssamjang, and platter o’ spicy noodles.  I always thought I preferred bossam until I encountered this restaurant.  Typically bossam is tender and jokbal is kind of collageny and chewy and nothing mind-blowing. However this was so soft and fell off the bones so easily and the collagen was broken down so as to be as wonderfully soft as the fat (Rosie, you say, That’s disgusting you eat the fat on meat? Wow enjoy your heart attack.  Sure do, have since I was young, and you are missing out if you don’t.  Korea knows what’s up.)  and the meat was imbued with the flavour of the spiced soy broth, and the texture that comes from having one piece that has layers of skin, collagen, fat, and meat?  Sign me the fuck up.  We ordered the medium size and ate it all (okay what’s new) and cleared off the bones that are hiding under those slices of meat.  It also came with a mung bean pancake which was nice, nothing wild.  Also I just really love that watery radish kimchi–the crisp slightly lactofermented radish in a tangy broth that’s cool and refreshing and acidic enough to cut through the jokbal.

(Side note there are a few ways jokbal can be commonly found on menus, including spicy, grilled, or as 냉채족발 which is chilled slices of meat on a bed of shredded vegetables, usually dressed with a spicy mustard and vinegar sauce. Idk, just felt like stuffing that bit of info in.)

  • After dinner we went exploring, the rain having died down.  Honestly I don’t have much recollection of where we went and what we did aside from seeing Gwanghwamun Square, buying things at an Olive Young (dry shampoo on sale! Batiste!), going through the Lotte Duty Free mega store where some little girls emitted actual “Woooaaahhhh”s when I walked by lololol, and walking along the river and findind Gwangjang Night Market where I bought a hotteok, the chewy disc of fried dough filled with burning hot sugar that is literally dangerously delicious.

Day 2

  • The day began with a better-than-any-continental breakfast-I’ve-had-in-North-American-Holiday-Inns continental breakfast (Western, Korean, and Chinese breakfasty things.  Yas.  Throwback to Orientation Week with the breakfast salads.)  I reiterate: everywhere has a gigantic espresso machine.  Even continental breakfasts.
  • We spent the day pretty much walking around Seoul, which is a dangerous proposition on a sunny day.  We went to Namdaemun Market and explored its upper and lower levels, found a cool church to look through, and walked through Myeong-Dong shopping district.  We ended up back at Gwanghwamun Square where we walked through the City Hall a bit, seeing it’s living wall, and then heading into Deoksugung Palace, a smaller enclosed palace down the street from Gyeongbokgung.
  •  Within the palace grounds is the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art which was holding a retrospective celebrating the 100 year anniversary of 이중섭’s birth and the influence of his art.
    • Full disclosure, this was around noon when I did not want to be taking a one hour detour to walk through a palace as we were on our way to lunch and I was hot and tired.  So I was a grumpasaurus and this was exacerbated when I sat down to rest and looked up and Pops had disappeared.  Then I waited there for thirty minutes because number one rule is do not move.  Then eventually moved because I was sick of the man who had sat beside me and was trying to talk to me. Then found Dad who insisted that I was the one who ran away (Nope.) And then we started going through the art exhibit.
    • So basically I’m sure it was a wonderful exhibit and I could see why the artist is considered one of the Korean masters in contemporary art and it was cool to see that our hotel room’s lithograph on the wall was one of his, I was so not here for this at that point.
  • When we eventually left we continued on towards Tongin Market which I’d read about as being this super cool place known as the Lunchbox Cafe where you buy tokens that you exchange at stalls throughout the market to build your own tray of delicious things.  I was, as mentioned, grumpy and vindictive and made us walk the whole way because I’m an asshole like that (sorry, dad) when my blood sugar is low.
    • Then, of course, we managed to hit it during the three days a year period when its closed.  (Whyyyy)
    • So, finally, we just picked a restaurant within the market where we ordered a variety of things–dumplings, kimchi jeon, bindaetteok, noodles.
    • It was during this meal that I got a message in the Cam/Francine/Nicole/Jessamine/Rosie group chat, from Francine, that Oh shit, Luna had given birth and I was now ostensibly grandma to five or six kittens.
      • Luna had knocked down the baseboard of my sink cupboards and chosen that space as a great place to raise her kiddos for awhile.  Dirty and so dark that it was impossible to reliably count the number of babies.
      • And we can just take a moment here to acknowledge how #blessed I am to have friends who not only agreed to check in on my cat when my apartment is 25 minutes away, at least, and then all come to my apartment to deal with her and make sure she’s doing okay and that the furballs were okay and that she didn’t need a vet and talking to Cam’s parents who are vets to see if they needed to do anything.
  • After lunch we continued walking North along the perimeter of Gyeongbokgung so we could cross behind and head to the Bukchon Hanok Village.  Blah blah super hot blah blah very sweaty.  I didn’t realize The Blue House, the residence of the Head of Office, was behind Gyeongbokgung which explained why the security was so wild as we walked along and why an entire section of the map on Daum was basically wiped out.
  • We eventually made it to the foothills of Bukchon and began the climb up through it.  For some reason in my mind I was thinking Hanok Village like the one we visited during orientation, but no, this is literally a neighbourhood of traditional Hanok-roof houses nestled in the heart of the capital city.  It really was quite beautiful and I can only imagine the real estate prices there.  We stopped in at a small museum held in one of the houses, which had beautiful folk art and where I bought some pins to add to my slowly growing collection.
  • We went back to the hotel after that where I napped for awhile, energy just gone.  I awoke and spent some time finding a restaurant for dinner, then we headed back out into the cooler night air.   Dinner was at a nearby restaurant and was marinated galbi and pork intestine (can’t remember which one, small or large) grilled over charcoal.  It was excellent and also kind of amusing to see the table beside us just keep downing bottle after bottle of soju.  We went back out walking, ended up in Hongdae where we did more shopping for things to bring back to Canada (and I snuck some things in for me) and somewhere along the way ended up back at Gwangjang Market so I could fulfill my dreams of getting Gwangjang Bindaetteok, mung bean pancake.  We picked the one with the longest line up, which turned out to be the one plastered in signatures and photos of famous people who’d eaten there (the only one I recognized being Tim Burton.)  Simple, but so well done.

 

Day 3

  • I’d decided that the third day in Seoul would be my last, even though the hotel was booked for longer and dad flew out that weekend.  But I had tiny kittens at home, an English camp I hadn’t prepped at all starting on Monday, and as much as I love my father I have probably never in my life spent that much time, straight, with him.  I’ve become a solitary person in the past few years.
    • Plus now that we were in Seoul where just about everyone speaks English and there’s heaps of tourism info, I didn’t feel as much (probably unnecessary, he’s an adult) anxiety about ensuring that he knew how to get to places.
    • So I had my last hotel breakfast and we headed out to the subway.
    • img_3323
  • High on my list of places to go was the Noryangjin Fish Market, so we made our way out.  It ended up being interesting but not what I’d imagined (something closer to the amazing clips you see of Tsukiji Market in Tokyo.  Some idyllic Jiro Dreams of Sushi scene.)  Maybe it became more lively at night, but that morning it was just an opportunity to see plenty of seafood and fulfill the Papa Byrnes need to grow one’s collection of kitchen gadgets (I think he got crab scissors and a tool designed to remove abalone from their shells.)
  • We headed back to the hotel, grabbed my things, then took the subway back to Yongsan Station to have lunch and buy the next KTX ticket.  Lunch was a filled buckwheat crepe and buckwheat naengmyeon from a restaurant in the station’s mall complex, and soon enough my train was pulling up.  Saying goodbye was easy but only because I forced myself to ignore the fact that I wouldn’t be seeing him or any person from home for at least another seven or so months.  Master of Compartmentalizing and Repression over here.
  • img_3340
  • Then it was goodbye and vacation over and back home to my new family of seven.  (Spoiler alert it was five kittens. Plus Luna. Plus me.  We’ll get into this in another post.)

Summer Break Pt. 2 (Gwangju Food Tour)

Alrighty let’s hop to it.  Jeolla province (North and South) is food capital, Korea, and I wanted my dad to really experience what Gwangju has to offer.  I was also hype to have someone to finally visit all these restaurants with me, because honestly that is the best possible use of my vacation time.  Eating.  I researched this.  I planned this.  I did my best.  I think I did pretty well.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast was eaten at mi casa, as per usual.  I went with sautéed mushrooms, a fried egg, sprouts, and yuzu natto.  I love natto.  Dad stuck with some bread or a kimchi fried egg sandwich most days, understanding that we would be going hard at lunch and dinner every day.
    • img_3101

      Doesn’t look appetizing but hey

Lunch

영미오리탕 – 광주광역시 북구 유동 102-31

들깨 오리탕, perilla seed enriched duck stew with water parsley

  •  Gwangju has five “flavours”–loosely designated food specialties often accompanied by areas with a cluster of restaurants serving these delicacies.  Then again it could be more than five, depending on which tourist map/site you refer to. (One map I have lists out quite a few–soy sauce marinated crabs, tteokgalbi, boribap, Yangdong fried chicken, and more.)  But Duck Street was the one my dad had discovered online months prior and ever since, on just about every Skype call, asked if I’d gone to duck street yet.  So Duck Street it was, for lunch.
    • I picked 영미오리탕 out of the lot of restaurants on the street, based on research from the tourism sites and a few Korean blogs.  A+ choice.
      • We bussed down and made a short walk to Duck Street, enjoying the slightly macabre use of Donald Duck as a mascot for the restaurant.  We were seated and a half-duck was ordered for us (not that there are many options on the menu there. They know what they do, they do it well.)
    • Banchan of aged napa kimchi, radish stems, pickled peppers, radish kimchi, soybean sprout salad, and doenjang marinated sliced peppers  were brought out, along with dishes of ground perilla seeds and bottles of vinegared gochujang.
    • A large stone pot was brought to the table and placed on the gas burner.  With it came a dish piled high with minari, which translates as water parsley or water dropwort, a crispy delicate green that is intended to be wilted down in the stew, to whatever level of tender-crisp you prefer.  The stew itself was tender pieces of duck on-the-bone in a creamy, savoury, just beyond delicious thick broth.  Creamy from perilla seed powder rather than dairy, it reminded me in some ways of an Indian curry like a korma, but ultimately was distinctly and uniquely Korean . And as much minari as we were given, I could understand why one of the few options on the menu was another platter of the greens.
    • The dishes of perilla seed powder we were given were meant to be mixed with the vinegared gochujang to use as a dipping sauce for the duck, or to simply be mixed into your dish of stew.
    • I feel like I cannot overstate just how good this dish is, but the fact that the two of us finished off the entire pot should give some perspective.  And that I went through the effort of tracking down a Korean blog post giving recipe (if not the recipe) and translating it into English just so that I could provide my dad with some idea of what might have gone into it.***
  • After lunch we wandered over to Art Street to look around, and through Daein Market (which isn’t that exciting during the day, given how much of an attraction the Daein Night Market is.)  It was rainy and many shops were closed, but Art Street is still a lovely place to see sculpture and street art, and we stopped in at some art supply stores and I acquired a set of acrylics and some canvasses, plus a ceramic palette like the one I used to use for watercolours before I managed to shatter it.
    • We also perused through the maze of Downtown, stopping in at ArtBox, since we were there.  And ArtBox is a nice place for buying small gifts, I figured.

Dinner

항아리보쌈 – 광주광역시 광산구 수완동 1701

  • We hopped on the bus to Suwan, to a 보쌈 restaurant Cam had recommended.
  • Bossam is basically a large piece of pork belly that has been simmered in a flavoured broth until soft, then served in slices with, typically, dried radish strip kimchi and large pieces of traditional napa kimchi + lettuce, ssamjang, and salted fermented shrimp for wrapping. Also often comes with 쟁반국수, or platter o’ noodles, a dish of thin buckwheat noodles, cabbage, and whatever else the house pleases plus a vinegared gochujang sauce.
    • I find that the less expensive it is, the closer the pork is to just being steamed pork with no real flavour beyond…pork.  Which is nice, but some restaurants go all out with their broth and the meat is just…beyond.  There are also some versions where the pork has been barbecued after being boiled, so it’s not only super tender but a bit Maillard.  And ones that are served with tons of crushed garlic.
  • This restaurant offered up:
    • Bowls of doenjang soup with greens
    • Pickled radish slices (쌈무, one of my favourite things)
    • A ssamjang that went beyond the usual doenjang + gochujang, to include seeds and grains
    • Slightly larger than usual 새우젓, briny shrimp
    • Raw garlic slices and young green onion kimchi
    • A large roll of kimchi, cut at the table, into sections and topped with pine nuts
    • 무말랭기, the dried radish strip kimchi I love
    • Plenty of lettuce, napa cabbage leaves, and perilla for wrapping
    • 보쌈 that was flavourful, tender but not overly soft/greasy as 보쌈 can sometimes be
    • A 쟁반국수 tossed at the table with sprouts, raisins, almonds, sunflower seeds, cabbage and carrots, noodles, and a granita’d gochujang sauce
    • Very pretty waiters. Literally all of them were attractive young men.  Nice.
    • Really really good food. Dang.  Also the waiter gave me some candy because I helped him clear the table. Or just because. Who knows.

Thursday

  • On Thursday we got fancy.  Fancy lunch.  Fancier dinner.  I decided to get ambitious and conquer my fear of figuring out how the hell to use Kakao Taxi so we could get to Damyang to 담양애꽃, the tteokgalbi restaurant I’d been to for a staff dinner ages ago.  It was worth a return visit, and I wanted to force myself outside of the city.  Damyang’s bamboo forests are too close and too famous to not show them off (even when it’s a trillion degrees.)
  • I figured out Kakao taxi and soon enough we were on our way, for a pretty reasonable 18,000 or so won.
  • We waited around for about 40 minutes, since it’s a popular restaurant even on Thursday afternoons and we had no reservation.  A lovely man offered us some of the sweet potato tea the restaurant had in a large metal cooler.

Lunch

담양애꽃 – 전남 담양군 봉산면 죽향대로 723

Fun fact the first time I went to this restaurant was the day I faced abject humiliation.  These four photos above are from that day since I forgot to take photos of the tteokgalbi itself on my lunch with dad, pictured below.  (We again ordered two servings of both pork and Korean beef) So it was doubly nice: got to override the negative memories of that day with one of time spent with pops. Who doesn’t care that I dare wear shorts in hot weather while hiking.

Lunch was, as ever, delicious.  A different kind of tteokgalbi from the one we had at Songjeong Market, this being more of a jeongsik style as opposed to eaten in lettuce wraps.  Myriad dishes and soups and side dishes and delicate teas and kimchis.  Very balanced and aesthetically pleasing.  This is just such a special restaurant.

  • After lunch we grabbed another taxi to the Damyang bamboo forests to have a mosey around.  Which was insanely hot but also lovely because bamboo forests always are.  Before heading home we picked up some dried 오미자 (omija) berries from a vendor on the side of the street who was sampling an omija tea made with berries and honey that was just so lovely.
  • Dinner was to be a grand affair, though I had no clue how grand and thus none of us were dressed for the fanciness of the restaurant.  This restaurant had been on my list for months, one I’d discovered on the tourism website as being a place to experience Korean Hanjeongsik at one of the best restaurants in the city (voted as such and everything).  But this place was expensive, so I figured maybe one day I’d get to the lunch special.
  • Enter: Dad. (Enter: Dad’s credit card.)  I invited Cam, Francine, Jessamine, and Nicole and the six of us met up at my apartment (where it was decided that yes Luna was super goddamn pregnant) then headed out.
  • Like I said, I had no clue what we were in for.  So when we ascended in a gold elevator and were greeted by tall doors that swung open before us and women in full hanbok, then led quickly into a private room (we had no reservation might I add), the sense of “Oh wow we’re in t-shirts right now” was strong.  But our lovely lovely hostesses never once made us feel like we were out of place, like man, talk about service.

Dinner

송학한정식 – 광주광역시 서구 상무중앙로 101 (치평동)

So. Hanjeongsik.  Hanjeongsik is a broad term for a traditional meal comprising 20+ dishes served through multiple courses, though with numerous dishes on the table at each setting.  I don’t think we knew how much was coming, and it kept coming.  And it was beyond.  Three or four full tables.  Delicate, beautiful, seasoned to perfection.  Served to us personally (no really, see the photos of our lovely beautiful elegant-as-all-get-out hostess creating individual wraps from the 구절판 platter.)  And as much as the bill at the end of the night was steep, for six people and the sheer quantity and quality and diversity of the food we were experiencing, and the atmosphere, talk about Worth It.

  • Roll me home.

Friday

Lunch

옛날에 금잔디 – 광주 광산구 도산로9번길 54

Lunch was knocking off another item on the list of the five flavours of Gwangju: boribap. Okay technically it’s Mudeungsan boribap that’s the ~flavour~ but I had a delicious restaurant nearby.  This is the one I went to with Seung Hee, her husband, and Jenny.  Lovely :))  Boribap is just a bowl of barley rice + heaps of side dishes and sesame oil and vinegared gochujang and it’s delicious.  This places does it really well for 8,000 won. (And the cold tea that is basically very strained nurungji water is so lovely.)  The spicy stewed pork is crazy good, especially when eaten with the coleslaw with a yuzu dressing.

Dinner

임가네 – 광주 광산구 사암로130번길 65

This is the restaurant I had had staff lunch on Tuesday.  It was close to my apartment, inexpensive, and tasty, so it was an easy choice for a dinner.  We ordered two servings of 쌈밥, aka spicy stir fried pork and cabbage.  Along with some bokbunjaju (black raspberry wine), side dishes, greens, a weird coleslaw that I s2g had cornflakes and yogurt dressing (still tasty?) and some free pork skin (mm, collagen) it was a lovely meal.  Unassuming photos, and not earth-shattering, but a nice restaurant.

Saturday

Lunch

하림가 – 광주 광산구 삼도가산안길 42

So here’s where we really level up on Rosie finding Korean restaurant experiences.  Weird rabbit hole of editing the Gwangju Wikipedia page because I was annoyed by how outdated it was, going on tourism websites for references, finding one that listed restaurants by dish type, and finding this little gem with its one line description in English, a link to flash-a-riffic Korean website, and Google results providing a single Korean blog post.  I was sold, and for lunch we set out via Kakao Taxi for the absolute countryside of Gwangsan-gu, for a meal that I honestly didn’t really even know what it would be.  But when you see a red clay restaurant in a field that serves three things and specializes in a nine hour stew made with a berry with no real English translation, you go for it.  Another worth it restaurant: Harimga.

We ordered the signature stewed duck and picked a bottle of kkujibbong (transliteration, 꾸지뽕) wine, kkujibbong being the berry that made the broth special.  It was much like the black chicken samgyetang we’d had Thursday, in method, but the flavour was its own special thing.  The meat shredded off the bones, the broth was clear of most of its fat and so full of flavour, the banchan were perfect and plentiful.  It was an insane enterprise for two people but hey.

Dinner

원조양동통닭 양동본점  – 광주 서구 천변좌로 260-1

Pretending that we hadn’t eaten an entire duck hours before because time in Gwangju was running out and I wanted to give another go at fried chicken, we headed to Yangdong market, which we’d been to the previous weekend but at 10am when, though they were indeed frying, we didn’t have the fried chicken.

We ordered 반반통닭, half and half–half plain fried chicken, half tossed in the unique-to-each-restaurant sticky sweet spicy red sauce.  Was it Earth-shattering? No, not really, I’ve had better since, and the wait was interminable, but it was still good and it was another chance to try it out in a would-never-ever-pass-Toronto-health-code place with self-serve pickled radish which makes me happy because I can snack on that forever.

And then finally we headed home and stopped off for a 눈꽃팥빙수 at the cafe by my school. Because why not.  Who doesn’t want a pile of silky shaved ice milk with whipped cream and a mound of red beans and toasted soybean powder and biscotti ice cream and mochi and cranberry almond cereal?

img_3219

커피한봉 – 광주 광산구 사암로 214 1층

Alright, I’ll end it here.  Another post for the rest of the trip eventually, maybe.  I just wanted to write up these restaurants.


***for the record, the post I found, and the recipe I loosely translated, as sent to my dad in an e-mail.  I’ve added in the literal pronunciation of the Korean ingredients + a few notes:

들깨오리탕 (Deulkkae oritang)
  • Stew
    • 오리1마리 (duck, one)
    • 배추시래기 적당량 (baechu shiraegi, not 100% on the translation of this but I believe its wilted down greens, maybe small napa cabbage, the green outer leaves, or something bok-choy-like)  The quantity translation is “just the right amount” and I’m guesstimating about 1.5 to 2 packed cups
      • It’s what’s in this photo. They say that you can use other vegetables, too. Probably not something like kale because even after cooking it maintains its fibrous texture, but if you can brine down some napa, bok choy or callaloo or some other leafy greens that aren’t too fibrous.
      • I say brine because while Naver translates it as dried, I think its closer to brined/wilted since I usually see ladies on the street selling things like this stored in a bit of water and the photos don’t show crunchy dry leaves
    • 대파3뿌리 (leeks, 3 medium, chopped into fairly large pieces)
    • 홍고추 (hong gochu, pretty sure this translates as the Korean peppers. No quantity listed, theyre sliced up though and I’d guess one large green one, one small red one)
      • Korean peppers are usually large, long, smooth, narrow green things that aren’t spicy.  The smaller ones can be hella spicy, though, so do what you feel is real.  Best exchange I could think of would be green bell pepper sliced thinly + some seeded jalapeno for spice.
    • 미나리 (minari, water parsley)
      • Another one of those things you’ll just need to track down.  Because it’s definitely not parsley-like.  Maybe closer to cilantro stems, but cilantro’s flavour is quite different.  But I mean, if you want to freestyle, find the crunchy young stems of an herb you really like and go for it.  A blend of young cilantro and flat-leaf parsley shoots, and carrot greens maybe? (Not really.)
  • 향신채 (Seasoning)
    • (대파,통후추,월계수잎,전복껍데기,양파,청주1 )
    • Leek, pepper corns, bay leaf, abalone shells, onion, cheongju—“refined clear rice wine”, 1 cup)
      • No quantities for anything but the rice wine, but you can see it in the photos. Maybe four abalone shells, two bay leaves, a tablespoon or so of peppercorns, half a medium onion, peeled, and one small-medium leek cut in half.  I’m sure you could switch out the abalone shells or maybe add a half teaspoon of fish sauce? Don’t come for me, people who know how to make this, I’m guessing.
  • 양념장 (Spice paste)
    • 집된장3큰술,고춧가루4큰술,들깨가루6~8큰술,마늘2큰술,국간장으로 간)
      • Doenjang, fermented soybean paste, 3 tablespoons.
        • Doenjang is akin to miso but I find often chunkier and more funky.  It’s great.
      • Gochugaru, red pepper flakes, 4 tablespoons.
        •  Adjust up or down for spice-level, not /really/ interchangeable with standard italian red pepper flakes. I think the one we had at 영미 wasn’t too spicy, or at least had more perilla powder to outweigh it.  
      • Deulkkae garu, perilla powder, 6-8 tablespoons.
        • Not really interchangeable since it’s flavour is so unique.  Vaguely sesame-like.  Really worth tracking down, it’s also amazing sprinkled over sweet dishes (apricots + tahini + honey + perilla powder with plain yogurt? Done.)
      • Crushed garlic, 2 tablespoons.
      • Korean soy sauce, no amount listed, rough translation as “to taste”.
        • Korean soy sauce isn’t exactly like Japanese or Chinese soy sauces, but close enough if you don’t live near a Korean grocery store.
Method, as far as I can figure out (no guarantees, my Korean is not fantastic beyond reading menus. When I write simmer and boil I’m not 100% sure, and trust that people who cook and might want to make this are intuitive enough to figure it out based on experience):
  • Combine the wilted greens with the spice paste ingredients. Mix it up~~
  • Boil the duck for 7-8 minutes, then drain
  • Simmer the duck with shells, onions, and leeks for 30 minutes
  • Remove the seasonings and duck, reserving the broth. Break down the duck into manageable chunks.
  • And the marinated greens and spice paste to this liquid and simmer.
  • Add the duck, now broken down, back in, plus the sliced leeks and peppers.
  • Before serving, add in heaps of water parsley cut into three or four inch pieces.
  • Serve it with perilla powder (들깨가루) mixed with vinegared gochujang (초고추장, chogochujang).

Summer Break Pt. 1

Hi hi hello. Still alive.  Still in Korea.  Somehow…three or so months behind.  Oh well.  Plenty of things have happened in the past three months–a visit from my Dad, my cat giving birth to five kittens, raising five kittens, losing one, adopting out two, summer English Camp, Chuseok, injuries, Thanksgiving, Open Classes…etc.  Easy enough to just not pick this thing back up again, but if I’m being honest the emotional highs and lows have been swinging towards low lately, so maybe a trip down memory lane is just what I need. Plus I just can’t let go of how proud I am of the sheer number of restaurants I packed into my vacation with my dad and really would like to share a bit about that.

Preamble about this extended vacation recap: this was late July to early August aka hottest times of the year in Korea and sweet Jesus was it ever hot.  I felt like I needed to make this vacation the best possible thing for my dad but didn’t know what that looked like, and the heat made sightseeing fairly miserable as a prospect.  Eventually I clued into the fact that I get my love of food from my dad, and he would be just fine with a vacation centred around experiencing what kind of food Gwangju and Korea in general has to offer.  After a few days I settled into just trying to find the most unique regional eating opportunities for us to experience, and I couldn’t be happier.   Sure we saw some of Korea’s natural beauty, too, but some days really were just heading out for excellent meals and then retreating back to the air conditioned apartment.  No shame.  These two Byrneses show their love with food.

Let’s go way way back to Friday, July 22nd

  • Last day of school, last day of school.  At least I thought so, since even though I had to go to school on Monday and Tuesday I figured classes were done.  I ended up having another class the following Monday, but basically last day of school, last day of school.
  • I’m sure classes happened, I know an English Club happened, but basically the day was just one extended countdown to my father’s scheduled arrival at Gwangju Songjeong station, where I headed shortly after getting home from work.
  • I ended up just waiting at the plaza above the arrivals platforms, convincing myself as time went on that my dad had missed the train to Gwangju from Seoul.  Chatting with my mom as I waited, and waited, deciding that I would just stay at the station until he arrived.  Eventually as people stopped coming up the escalators connected to his train’s platform I figured I should be conspicuously foreign somewhere else.  Then lo and behold I spotted another conspicuously foreign person, i.e. the tallest, second blondest person in the hall.
  • After some hugs I handed him the public transport card I’d picked up, and we lugged his bags across the street to grab a bus to mi casa.
  • We stayed local for dinner, wandering over to my favourite-for-no-particular-reason-aside-from-familiarity-and-a-gigantic-menu restaurant for 열무냉면 (cold noodles with radish stem kimchi) and some dumplings.
  • Then we returned home and I realized where I get my “shows love with gestures and small gifts” from.  Of the two suitcases my father had brought, one and a half was purely stuff for me.  Clothes, maple syrup, maple candy, maple smoked salmon, maple butter, honey, almond butter, tahini, good olive oil, balsamic glaze….more stuff.  Lots more stuff. And enough cheese for me to be genuinely amazed that customs didn’t stop him.  (I finally opened the aged cheddar for breakfast the other day. Angels heralded a heavenly chorus.)
    • Side note, I still have some of that cheese left.  I’ve been doling it out, savouring  it, sharing some of it.  It just gets funkier with age and I couldn’t be happier.

Le weekend

  • That first Saturday was Market Exploring day, starting at Yangdong, which I’d never been to, and where we got various 전 (translates as pancake, but a bit more like various veggies/meats/crab stick fried in beaten egg or in a thin batter) for breakfast along with a few donuts (because why not eat freshly fried donuts for breakfast).
    • I managed to forget my phone at home, but at some point a market is a market, all with the same things.
      • Though, unlike some others I’d visited, Yangdong had cages and cages of live chickens–Yangdong fried chicken is fairly famous–and geese, not that I’d want photos of that 😦
      • They also had heaps of kitchen supply stores and dad was defs contemplating hard how possible it would be to get the stone slabs designed for grilling or the stone pots home via plane
  • We popped back into the apartment to grab my phone then ventured out to Songjeong 5 Day Market, which honestly is still ranking as my favourite market in Gwangju.  We wandered, marking things to buy after lunch, including plenty of fruit (melons, plums, dried citrus for making tea).
  • Lunch was my second experience with Songjeong Tteokgalbi, but my first at possibly the most famous restaurant on the street.  Last time I’d visited, with Cam and Francine, it was closed, but that day Pops and I settled in for the fancy hanu (Korean, as opposed to, often, Australian) beef seasoned minced patties served with a lovely milky bone broth starter and plenty of greens and side dishes.
    • This was also Pops’ first of many meals spent sitting on the floor, something I don’t think ever became comfortable, given the amount of hip and knee flexibility a 6’5″ person would need to fit their legs under the low slung tables.
    • I’ve had tteokgalbi a few times now and this really was wonderful.  10/10 recommend.
    • 송정떡갈비 1호점

    • 광주광역시 광산구 광산로29번길 1 (송정동)
  • After that we wandered over to the Songjeong 1918 market which I’d read about recently.  A single street that had been renovated to become an exciting place for people stopping in at Gwangju Songjeong station to travel to.  Mission accomplished, the market street is beautiful and has an aesthetic quality that is so delightfully hipster cute with its bakeries and thematic stalls while still retaining the authenticity of vendors who clearly have been doing this for ages.
    • We stopped in at a bakery with a massive line up and picked up some breads, a plain, soft milk bread with toasted almonds and a pull apart bread that reminded me of pizza buns I loved so much when, as a kiddo, I was allowed to get them from No Frills or YIG bakery bins. A Korean version of the pizza bun, though. Because there was corn.  Always corn.
      • The plain bread was lovely with yuzu marmalade, as a side note.
      • img_3058
  • Afternoon brought a visit to E-Mart, something that would become a fixture of our vacation because a) where do you think I get my thing for grocery stores and hunting down exciting new products from? b) it’s very air-conditioned in the summer c) we went through so much sparkling water and ice that week.
  • For dinner we headed to Shinchang to meet Cam, Francine, Jessamine, and Nicole for a classic 삼겹살 dinner at the restaurant Camcine and I had found a few weeks earlier.
    • Major tangent here to discuss some feels:
      • It’s an odd thing to introduce parents to friends as an adult, extra-ly so when this is the first time you’re introducing friends that you’ve made whilst across the globe and discovering what and who you are as an adult.  (Okay quasi-adult, still a dependant overgrown child in many ways.) Extra-extra-ly so when said child has had maybe two quite close friends in her life, I imagine.
        • Then again this whole trip felt a bit odd, like it was my first time seeing my dad during a stage in my life where I’ve done something monumental in terms of progressing through my life stages.  Moved across the world.  Found a job.  Started drinking and going out to restaurants without anxiety, found friends, acquired a cat, developed a marginal command of a third language.  In some ways I feel like I’m very much the same person I was 8 months ago but in others I feel like I’ve changed incredibly.  Hello, Dad, spot the difference.
          • Obviously I’m not a parent, but every so often I take a second to look at myself from the perspective of being my parent, or any parent, and lord what a trip to have this Being you’ve taken care of for 22 years suddenly up and leave, and you see them maybe once a month on Skype.  Even through University I had visits from my Dad on the regular, because he’s that type of caring.
    • After dinner the six of us went to a Caffe Bene to split two 빙수s then just delved into Meet new Rosie, meet her wonderful friends when we stopped in at a convenience store to buy all sorts of Korean booze, ostensibly to give my father the full experience of Korean beer, soju, and makgeolli in one night.
      • Party~
  • We met with Cam and Francine again late the next morning, ready to make our may to Mudeungsan to hit Sujata, the truly glorious Buddhist temple-adjacent vegetarian buffet nestled at the base of the mountain.  One of my favourite places in the city, and one ranking high on my list of places to bring Dad.
    • The bus ride was long, the wait for the buses seemingly even longer as we melted in the sun, but we made it there eventually and it was everything I love and a bit more.  On previous visits the drinks were simply some sweet teas and cinnamon punch, but this visit brought a bottomless self-serve vat of some sort of delightful slightly boozy rice-based punch, a levelled-up sikhye (단술 for the record).  Icy, delightful, and apparently intensely evocative of a drink consumed years gone by on one of my dad’s trips through Europe with mama Byrnes.
    • We put in a noble attempt to walk up to the Mudeungsan art gallery, and had some lovely stops en route to rest along the river, but eventually gave up and turned back for one of the many gigantic air conditioned coffee shops.
  • Dinner was at a franchise restaurant near the house for a braised short ribs and glass noodles and cabbage and shrimp and chillies and…more things dinner.  Not amazing, but nearby and I don’t have much awareness of restaurants in my neighbourhood, seeing as most places don’t do the whole Table for One thing in Korea.
    • img_3067

      등뼈찜

Monday, Tuesday

  • I still had work on Monday and Tuesday, and both days involved no one telling me dad could come to school lunch until it was no longer possible to get hold of him (though he did walk me to school on Tuesday and get a chance to meet my coteachers, the VP, and amaze some of the students with his towering height and foreign-ness~~), so Dad was left to explore solo while I taught one class, desk-warmed, had a final staff lunch for the semester, said a sad goodbye to 민희 my wonderful Grade 5 coteacher.  Wahhhh.  Three months on, I still miss her. 

  • Monday lunch was standard school lunch, and Monday dinner was an ordered-in 고등어무조림, one of my favourite stews at school that ended up being disappointing compared to the school lunch version (and strike two for my personal compulsion to offer up wonderful dinners to my dad as he visited.)
  • Tuesday lunch was a staff lunch at a local restaurant whose location I made sure to pin, so I could return later.  쌈밥 apparently, though that translates literally as wrapped meal/rice, and I’ve finally figured out that the name of the stewed pork is 제육볶음.  Tasty tasty.  Afterwards a few of us stopped in at a cafe near the school for coffee and 빙수 (well, Jenny ordered one and pretty much only she and I ate it), and ended up spending the rest of the afternoon there. An end of term, end-of-time-at-that-school farewell, as both Mini and one of the other teachers were leaving.
    • I came home from work to find that my dad had managed to become Maximum Dad, aka fixed my air conditioner, cleaned out my spare room, fixed my shower drain, and set up the spare room as a room for himself for the next two weeks.  The previous two nights I’d taken the couch and given him my room, since it has the air conditioner.  Buuuut my couch isn’t that comfy, and the way the A/C is set up, the hot air it produces vents onto the balcony which recirculates into the living room if I keep the balcony door open for fresh air.
      • So dad made the noble sacrifice of taking the second bedroom with its single bed + lumpy mattress + a foldable bed/mattress topper we picked up at E-Mart while I kept my single stacked atop a queen in the air conditioned main bedroom.
  • Tuesday dinner brought us back to Shinchang for fried chicken, pizza, and beer at 치킨풍 with Cam, Francine, and Nicole.  Korean fried chicken is fairly lauded, and it stands as one of my regrets of the trip to have not, in my opinion, offered up a fried chicken experience that really deserved the hype.  Oh well, next time.
    • But I mean, fried chicken is fried chicken. It’s never really not tasty.
    • Afterwards we went back to Cam and Francine’s to chat and sip on drinks and play video games (well, I have this weird anxiety about playing literally any video game so I watched) and eat pie.
      • I’d found a local shop that seemed to have potential, as it sells pecan and walnut pies. It wasn’t quite what I had hoped for, the filling more custardy than cloyingly sticky-sweet as pecan pies ought to be, but it was still nice. Kind of like a walnut clafoutis inside a tart shell?  I picked a walnut one up after work since it’s right close to my main school. Didn’t remember to take photos, but this is their website.
        • img_3074

I think I’ll break off here, since the next few days brought the true Gwangju Food Tour.  Probably deserves a separate post since it’ll just be restaurants and a sprinkling of what I remember us doing between eating and finding air conditioned places.

 

Days 137-154

Eyyy bet you can’t guess who’s feeling five month fatigue.  Yes that’s right, the great disappearing wonder, she of the sporadic posting schedule, 로지쌤.  But heyooo vacation starts next Wednesday but lbr it actually starts tomorrow because Papabear Byrnes arrives in Gwangju at 7pm and I don’t think I have class on Monday and Tuesday.

Just like last time: friends are the greatest, Gwangju food is unreal, I don’t sleep enough, I love my cat, school is school: a fantastic job with some drawbacks, and overall still pulling a solid B on my Korea life. Hopefully two weeks of vacay, hugs from my dad, and the maple syrup he’s bringing can pull me and my morale up into the A range.

I could do minutiae but with three weeks’ worth of backlog and the gift of hindsight my grievances seem irrelevant, my work weeks blend into one another by virtue of it being end-of-semester-review-a-thon-slash-playing-Pictionary-or-other-time-fillers-for-forty-minutes, and pictures are the best way to talk it out, as it were.

School things

  • Finally just asking my teacher convo class what they want from me bc they seemed  super unenthused by the premise of convo class lately.  So I taught them some slang and idioms and text speak and it was fun and useful and now they get it when I say “Nailed it!” during class.
  • So many cancelled periods in the past few weeks. At least one to two per week, with one Wednesday being completely cancelled.  Bless.  If I believed in The Secret I’d say the universe was manifesting my “I can’t even right now” energy~~
  • On one Tuesday I taught six periods the song Sugar by Maroon 5 and if the fact that I don’t hate it after hearing it like three dozen times in one work day isn’t a testament to the song then I don’t know what is.
    • Enjoy this video of my Soccer Team girls singing it. They’re lovely and I love them and our last class together on Monday went well and yay.  No clue if I have them again next semester.
  • I managed to write a major swear word on the board during my Grade 4 class bc my coteacher just kind of noped out of helping out during that period, and I miswrote the word for dinner, literally evening meal, as, roughly, slut meal.  Those ㄱs and ㄴs.  Tbh I didn’t really care until my CT decided to tell just about every staff member I interact with on a daily basis.  Fun for them on a Friday I guess.
  • Discovered that I can in fact wear sleeveless things at my visiting school God Bless.  Wore a sleeveless dress. Such freedom.
    • In stark contrast up there is an outfit actually worn by an actual human being on a day with like 80% humidity and a “Real Feel” of 34.
    • Also on my last day coteaching with 경희 for the semester we inadvertently wore matching red/coral dresses and looked so cute.  Couple dressing is a major thing in Korea and some  of the teachers kept saying “Couple” and basically 🙂 🙂
  • Got in on a pizza party bc how else does one motivate a class of students then to dangle the prospects of a pizza party in front of them throughout the semester.
  • Turns out 민희 isn’t returning next semester which is upsetting bc we were getting closer and she’s the cool hip stylish CT I have on Wednesdays who appreciates my outfits and I appreciate her outfits and really everyone knows women dress up for shared enthusiasm with other women. 😦 Also she’s just cool and I’ll miss her.

School lunches

Out-of-school things

  • Okay this one is semi-school related: the Nice attack. Got that headline on a Friday morning ahead and as each period passed the death toll climbed and by the time midmorning break rolled around I had to just break down and cry.  And I felt such a disconnect from the world and from my concept of monumental events, when it wasn’t on anyone’s radar and my CT didn’t really seem terribly bothered when I told her why I was crying.
    • So that Friday night was a desperately needed night out with Cam and Francine and Nicole and Jessamine and we went for fried chicken and I drank more than I have probably in the past five months, because at that level of emotional “What the fuck is the world doing right now?”, after a full week of an insane news cycle, my ongoing journey into exploring my alcohol tolerance in a safe environment pushed into new “No fucks left to give” territory.  Didn’t get smashed or anything, but I did discover how wonderful Yuzu Soju is.
    • Also I brought donuts bc sharing is caring and 2$ buys me five fried donuts filled with red bean paste and rolled in sugar, and TGIF amirite.
    • I also didn’t take any pictures of that dinner but it included a 3L pitcher of beer, bacon-covered sausage/rice cake/or cheese sticks, a platter of make-your-own wrap-with-chicken-and-veggies-and-tortilla-wedges, and a little anju dish of dried anchovies and peanuts and crunchy fried green bean crisps, and also just a batch of fried chicken.
  • Also had a wonderful weekend prior spent mostly with friends: Friday fried chicken (enh, not great, a subpar franchise) and bing su (so good) with Jamcine on Friday night, Saturday dinner of 삼겹살 (so good) with Cam and Francine then spending the evening with Francine watching Beauty and the Beast and then La Belle et la Bete, then staying over on their little fold out couch.  And just 🙂  Then Sunday dinner with Cam and Francine and Nicole and Jessamine at a restaurant with a self serve banchan bar and I mean can one ask for more?
    • Did I mention how grateful I am to have these people in my life?
    • Francine also gave me some super gd cute clothes, two tops, a dress, and a jacket. #blessed #bless
  • Since Papabear is coming I’ve been doing some more cleaning and gotta say, having a drain outside the tub and a moveable shower head makes cleaning the bathroom much easier.  Just spray everything, scrub it, and hose it down indiscriminately.
    • Similar with the balcony which was groce and basically amounted to dumping tubs of water on it and just sweeping it towards the drain in the corner of the balcony.  Much better now but it was not a fun experience. Earwigs are the worst.
    • Fun fact stressed Rosie often turns into “SCRUB THE FLOOR” Rosie.  Either that or “BAKE THREE DOZEN COOKIES AND TWO CAKES” Rosie.  And I don’t have an oven.  So yeah, clean clean clean. Though idk if I’ll ever get the spare room into any state of livability.  I don’t need it, I have to store crap I’m not allowed to throw out in there, and it’s also host to the few moths I still see in the apartment. NOPE.

Have some cat pictures.  Is she pregnant? Who knows? I sure vacillate between “Yes definitely” and “But maybe not?” and “Maybe I just fed her too much at first.”  But based on the most generous possible timeline of a two month gestation period, I guess we’ll find out by the time this vacation is over~~

 

Days 123 – 136

Whoops two weeks later.  But even with two weeks’ worth of things, I think this’ll be a mainly pictures post.  Because the past two weeks have been what is my new normal: work, friends, cat.  Korean class, outfits, second guessing outfits, food.  Studying Korean, food with friends, rain. Rain. Humidity. Rain. Poofy hair. Rain.

School things

  • I had a second period Monday class cancelled which left me with 70 minutes until my next class. I used some of that to call home.  Calls home have been turning into excitedly planning things for my dad and I to do when he comes to visit in 18 days.  I’m a wee bit excited, to put it mildly.  I miss family, I miss home, I miss Canadian culture.  Also he can pack maple syrup and other things from home in his suitcase B)
    • I also love FaceTime so much. I love actually seeing Sarah and Alex and my Mom and my Dad.  Well “seeing” my Mom, since she has a tendency to put her phone’s camera either facing the ceiling or a ½ cm away from her forehead.
  • I got bored/had twenty minutes to fill on a Monday and decided to raid the supply room for paint and painted that hibiscus for my co-teacher.
  • Two or three new girls have been added to my after school soccer team class. I need to figure out how to…do those classes.  It’s been pretty hit and miss lately.  They’re so forgiving which is great but I still haven’t figured out the right balance of fun/learning + how to accommodate Grade 3 to Grade 6 English knowledge.
  • I’ve begun to dread the “I should have told you” opener from Seung Hee. It never bodes well.  This past week’s “I should have told you” was “Surprise, it’s picture day.”  I maybe wouldn’t have made it a dry shampoo and fifteen minute makeup day, but hey, I made it through til after lunch without staining my shirt, without sweating off my makeup, and humidity was on my side re: my hair.
  • After school fun with Jenny lately has comprised her helping me with studying Korean, sometimes with the Memrise app (I’ll tell her the Korean word that the English prompt is asking for and she can tap it or type it in), or us drawing on the blackboard.  Sometimes she starts something and wants me to help finish it, other times it’s just “Rosie draw thissss”.  Scenes from Cinderella, scenes from Tangled.

Cat things 

Yes we have an entire section devoted to my cat now.

  • The Wednesday after I got Luna Cam, Francine, and Nicole came down to Usan-Dong to meet her.  I was slightly vaguely worried Luna would be nervous around strangers, but no, she was just as chill as ever.  Plus Cam is a cat whisperer and managed to get her to actually be interested in the toys I bought her.
  • The next day Jenny, Seung Hee, and my Grade 5 co-teacher swung by my house to meet Luna too.  As soon as Jenny heard about my cat she was insistent that she needed to meet her.  I invited 민희 too because why not. (I’ll tell you why not: the next day she told me that she just realized she has a cat allergy. Whoops.) But anyway, Luna was again super chill and basically I love her.
  • I spent like a solid hour on GMarket comparing cat foods to find the one with the best price and best macronutrient breakdown and translating Korean labels and just man, what a to-do.
  • Accordingly Luna has put on weight in the past two weeks which I think is a good thing since she was pretty small when I got her.  I just need to keep an eye on her to see if she can stick with free-feeding. Idk what I’m doing really.  But she seems to accept me.
  • die everytime she comes up on the bed when I’m heading to bed or waking up and rests her tiny paws on me.  Or when she just winds around my legs as I try to walk.  Or when she knocks something off the table and then stares at the things on the floor looking devastated.  Or when she hides in my closet.

After school things

  • Korean class continues to be challenging in the best way.  It’s nice to be able to understand more and more.  I’ll never touch fluency but I’m slowly growing my vocabulary and ability to put together basic sentences and puzzle out longer ones.
    • It is hard to have to be gone on Mondays from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. though.  Luna seems to survive it, but I still feel bad being away for so long.  But I have to leave for class after school if I want to get there in time, and there’s no direct route home so it takes even longer.
  • I’ve been spending more time with friends which has been essential to my mental health as I’ve begun to transition into the homesickness/culturesickness phase of living abroad.  I’m so #blessed to have not one not two but four intelligent, interesting, into-food people in my Korean life.  I need conversation in my life, I need people I can talk to not just the small talk sort of thing I get at work if I’m lucky.
    • That Wednesday Cam, Francine, and Nicole came to visit Luna, afterwards we ventured out into Usan-Dong to find a restaurant for dinns. I’m woefully unfamiliar with restaurants in my neighbourhood bc generally you need more than one person at most Korean restaurants.  But we happened upon a nice 갈비 집 where we paid 40$ total for a platter full of different cuts of meat and sausage and pig skin, plus lettuce and banchan, plus a steamed egg dish, plus a soup with congealed blood that was actually hella delicious.
      • Bless.
    • Last Friday we went out to dinner together, for 샤브 샤브 at a restaurant near Camcine’s place.  It was delicious and like 14$ and there was a salad bar toooo.  It’s a lovely social sort of meal, the type of thing Korea does so well.  Vegetables and thin slices of meat dipped into seasoned broth to cook at the table. Plus that particular restaurant also does Vietnamese food and they served rice paper and spring roll accoutrements with the meal so we could make little rolls with our just-cooked beef.  It was also stupid cheap, like everything in Gwangju seems to be.
      • Then afterwards the five of us went back to Camcine’s house and talked and played drinking games and improvised our own Noraebang courtesy of their bluetooth speaker, laptop, hdmi cable, tv, and YouTube lyrics videos.  This was after facing near-extortion prices at a nearby Noraebang.
    • This past Saturday Camcine came down to my neighbourhood to have lunch and go shopping at E-Mart.  We went to the 24 hour restaurant near my school that does every conceivable comforting Korean dish + great fresh 김밥 for super cheap.  It was a rainy day as per usual, and the restaurant is air conditioned to the high heavens, so we were able to order boiling hot stews without dying.  I just had 된장찌개 because I can’t seem to ever want anything but that when it’s offered.  Basically identical to the last time I had it, that morning the wallpaper people came to my apartment while I was getting ready for work and began moving everything in my apartment onto the balcony.
      • Afterwards we went to the red bean bun stall at the market just down the street, the one that is single-handedly responsible for at least five of the ten-fifteen pounds I’ve gained in Korea.  Fresh steamed buns with red bean paste, fried chewy doughnuts with red bean paste, and fried buns with red bean paste.  Tossed in sugar of course.  Cam and Francine agreed with my assessment that it is wonderful.
      • Then we shopped at E-Mart, whilst lamenting the dress codes at work (Francine has it worse than me I fear.  It’s hard to buy Korean clothing when you’re 5’10” or so and have been told you need to cover your knees.
      • We went back to my apartment afterwards to see Luna and just hang around til 6 when we planned to meet Nicole for dinner back in Cam and Francine’s neighbourhood, since they happen to live like right next to one of if not the best Italian restaurants in Gwangju.
      • Jessamine was out of country for her sister’s wedding, but we still enjoyed a really good meal that while “expensive” by Korea standards was still insanely reasonable.  As in like 25$ each for a main, shared salad and crostini, and a bottle of sparkling grape “wine” each.  Plus it was replete with ingredients that cost a fortune here compared to back home. And as we were leaving the owner handed us a bag of plums.
      • Afterwards the four of us had dessert at a DropTop cafe (I went for the rice flavoured gelato which was actually lovely) then went back to Cam and Francine’s and looked at their wedding photos which are wonderful and talked and just :))
    • Sunday afternoon Nicole and I met up to go down to Songjeong Station to see if we could figure out how to reserve KTX train tickets to Seoul for her.  Turns out we didn’t have to speak to a single person because the kiosks were straightforward and had an English option. Success~
      • Then we headed back to my place for lunch, or rather headed back to the restaurant I went to the day before with Cam and Francine.  I finally ordered something other than soybean paste stew or kimbap, opting for a 참치 김치 돌솥 비빔밥 (tuna kimchi dolsot bibimbap) which somehow is the first 돌솥 비빔밥 I’ve had in Korea and also the first good 비빔밥 I’ve had.  Well, to be fair, my school has done bibimbap once or twice and it was delicious, but the only bibimbap I’ve ordered was the sad sad one at the Hampyeong festival.
        • So good news, this restaurant, as per usual, knows what’s up.
      • Afterwards we again went over to the red bean bun stall, despite the torrential downpour, where Nicole picked up some fried buns and fried doughnuts, some of which she shared with me, then we walked around the little market relishing in the fact that it’s stone fruit season and agreeing that we should cook fresh fish when we finally do a dinner party.
      • Side shoutout to Nicole for being sympatico with me on just how frustrating it’s become to get constant up and down looks and turn-their-head-as-you-walk-by stares, and old men always trying to talk to you. I get it, I expect it, but it’s wearying.
        • That being said we do occasionally get what I refer to as the “female foreigner credit” where kind old ladies give you extra stuff for free after telling you you’re beautiful.  Nicole got extra plums from the market fruit seller after buying some nectarines because she’s 예쁘다.
        • Basically being told I’m beautiful is lovely from like everyone but old men who stand too close on the bus.  But that’s women’s experience the world over I suppose.

Oh and here are school lunches:

Days 116-122

One of the things about living in Korea that makes me feel the most disconnected from my mental picture of what my life is and what the reality of my life is is that news stories that I consider absolutely massive to Canada/North America don’t really hit the radar here.  Or at least they aren’t something that anyone talks about in my daily Korean life.   The fires in Alberta were something I eventually brought up to some of my coteachers just because I felt this need for people to know how Canada was suffering.  But I mean, that doesn’t affect Korea whatsoever, and it doesn’t affect me directly either, so there wasn’t much of an emotional buy-in for any of them.  Cool, totally understandable.  But like, after the Orlando shootings, which I learned about as the situation was developing due to the time difference, I couldn’t quite process that it wasn’t on anyone‘s radar on Monday at work.  I almost broke down in tears at lunch while reading news stories on my phone, but not a single Korean person has mentioned it.   Maybe it’s a polite conversation thing, maybe it’s just a taboo subject here.  Based on how contentious the unfolding of Seoul Pride was and recent news stories about Korea’s fight for marriage equality, I wouldn’t be surprised. I couldn’t even access quite a few of the news article links I clicked on since just about every website pertaining to the LGBT community is blocked at my schools.  Even some “LGBT YouTube channels”, like LogoTV, which airs RuPaul’s Drag Race, are blocked when I’m using a Korean IP address.

Idk, it’s hard to articulate, and I don’t want to turn this into being about me (says the person who runs a blog, cool), because the LGBT+ community’s grief isn’t mine to appropriate but like…I miss Canada.  Basically, I just want to be able to tell my sister and her girlfriend in person how much I love them and how much much my heart aches for the reminder of how violent the fight against progress is even when existing alongside profound achievements in equality, I want to be able to hug them and make sure they know that I love them more than anything, I want to feel like this grief and anger and sorrow I feel is being publicly acknowledged and shared, I want to feel like it really is Pride Month.  I don’t really get that here. I’m not saying Korea and every Korean is completely conservative, but it is different from how I grew up.  There are times where I can see myself in Korea for years and times when I’m reminded that, as my mom says, I won the lottery the day I was born in Canada.  That the worldview I was raised with is not really the world’s view.  Talking about this stuff online and with my foreigner friends helps, but it’s a bandaid not a long term solution.  I’m privileged enough to be able to move to a foreign country without much fear about my safety based on my identity, and I’ve been welcomed with open arms here, I certainly don’t regret my choice, but I can’t live comfortably, long-term, in a place where I know that my friends and family wouldn’t necessarily get that same welcome due to their visible and invisible differences in identity.

Anyway:

School things:

  • It’s so hot oh my god how will I get through summer.  My schools don’t have air conditioning, just windows and some fans whose currents never seem to reach me.  It’s a daily challenge to dress as coolly as possible without risking another ahem incident about my legs.
    • This black and white striped dress cost $0.01 (it was part of a larger order so even if I assign it the cost of shipping from China, it was still a great deal) and was great on a hot af day.  Plus one of my coteachers said I looked like Aphrodite which I will take.  I was living dangerously with that side slit though.  But I like to live dangerously at my visiting school since no one there has yet told me I dress inappropriately and I can’t leave well enough alone.
    • You know what, let’s just talk about my outfits because I was feeling myself this past week.
      • Eyoo giant denim pants.  How my coteachers exist in actual jeans and sweaters I don’t know.  I want as little fabric as possible touching my skin when it’s hot out.
      • This ice cream top isn’t super breathable, but on a cooler-than-usual day it was lovely.  Skin tight skirt, I don’t care.
      • This outfit was a hella hit with my students, especially the Grade 4s.  So cute.  And so easy breezy.  Not a huge fan of the look of elastic waistbands, but the trade off is having a waist line.
  • My visiting school’s garden beds out front are just booming.
  • Cultural Experience Wednesday was bumped up a week and ended up being just going to a movie, which was lovely.  Especially because a) we left right after lunch b) every Korean seems to have some sort of magical discount card so it was only 6$ c) it was just me, my Grade 5 coteacher, and the lovely teacher who just came back from Mat Leave.  We took her car, which is a bomb-af Mini Cooper, over to the theatre by my house.  Min Hee saw X-Men Apocalypse while we opted for the live action The Jungle Book.  It wasn’t in 3D but it was still…good.  And Disney.  And for a Wednesday workday afternoon activity I have zero complaints.
  • Thursday after lunch lots of teachers went to the Special Ed room for iced coffee/to celebrate the return to work of one of the teachers whose been taking time off to look after her very ill daughter.  So double celebration that she’s on the mend.  Now I got this info afterwards, since the entire thing was me sitting there just listening to Korean, but hey, it’s practice at picking out words I know and recognizing patterns and figuring out what things posted around the classroom say.
  • Conversation Class was okay but it was mostly me talking since 24 hours notice wasn’t enough to prepare to answer the conversation topic I suppose.  I even provided a full list of the main topic + ideas to consider + key expressions.  But we’ll try it again this week, so let’s see.
    • I ended up drawing out a timeline to explain the concept of “In ten years I would like to have visited Paris” vs “In ten years  I would like to visit Paris” to Seung Hee.  Which stayed on the board and turned into me explaining it to the other teachers in the conversation class.  Fun stuff.
    • Afterwards Jenny helped me with the native Korean numbers which I have such a hard time remembering.  Two sets of numbers exist in Korean, e.g. one can be 일 or 하나.  And you might use for one o’clock l the latter, and for one minute the former.

Food things + After school things:

  •  I really love my Monday Korean class.  It moves quickly and I feel like a babbling idiot sometimes when it takes me forever to string together a sentence with grammar patterns we just learned, but ultimately my brain has missed straight learning something.  Something completely new.  I also enjoy doing the worksheets/homework after work on Tuesdays.  I usually go to the staff room next door to our staff room, so that I can talk out loud to myself, and last week 경희swung by and when she saw what I was doing and looked over it which was nice 🙂
    • It’s also got me doing more actual self-study, with Memrise for vocab building, various internet resources, and also a fair bit of just asking my co-teachers if what I’m trying to translate is correct.
    • My lessons keep paralleling the lessons I’m teaching Grades 5 & 6 lololol.  Giving directions, telling time, talking about your schedule, prepositions of place.
    • Although I managed to screw up the ride home again, getting on the 28 bus not the 27 then needing to transfer twice and basically just ending up home at 11.  Oh, self.
  • After school on Friday Francine and I met up to go to the 찜질방/sauna near her house.  It was lovely and we spent a long-ass time just relaxing and talking and using sheet masks and drinking iced coffee and sitting in saunas and exfoliating and getting well and truly clean.
    • Afterwards we went for dinner at a 전 place nearby, getting a 해물파전 (seafood/green onion fried pancake) that was excellent.  We ordered some makgeolli too, well Francine did, since her Korean is >>>> than mine which is unsurprising since she a) started lessons ages ago like a smart person b) is a smart person.  During dinner she taught me some of the verb conjugation endings she knows that are vv useful.
    • We ordered another pancake but I guess didn’t really since it never materialized, but that meant that we spent awhile just sitting there talking as our side dishes were replenished.  But miscommunication lead to kismet, since Francine’s adoptive Korean mom appeared, and I guess they hadn’t seen each other in ages, and omg she’s so nice.  I handed over my phone at some point to show pictures of our trip to 땅끝 which turned into her going through like every photo on my phone which was an exercise in “Do I have anything embarrassing on there?” panic.  Ultimately no, unless we count a million selfies as embarrassing.  No shame.  And fair’s fair since she showed us her travel photos (girl has been to some amazing places.)
      • We set plans to all meet up at the 찜질방 the weekend after next.  Let’s get familiar~~
    • Then we headed to Cam and Francine’s apartment, which is super cute, and watched some YouTube videos while raiding Cam’s stash of birthday chocolate (thanks, bruh).  The couch was offered, since it was pretty late by then (legit we stayed at that restaurant for like an hour and a half), but I decided to grab a taxi home (well I decided to take a bus, but Daum lied since the buses were not in fact still running.)

Weekend things:

  • I GOT A CAT.
    • Her name is Luna.  Her name is Luna.  The name popped into my mind before she arrived at mi casa, but I didn’t decide on it until I saw her in person.  She’s black with gigantic eyes, a little white patch on her stomach, and is just the sweetest. 
    • Kay so on Saturday someone posted in the Gwangju Facebook group about a friend finding a cat outside their apartment a few days prior, and being unable to keep her due.  They were wondering if anyone knew of a shelter to take her in, or maybe even to take her in.
    • I’ve been seriously thinking about getting a cat for a few weeks now and even planned on going to the shelter this coming weekend.  I even had a carrier, and food, and litter, and a scratching pad.  But instead the heavens hath delivered unto me the most beautiful, sweet, perfect little black kitty.  She’s perfection you guys.  And I love black cats so so much.
      • I spent some time tidying up the apartment to make it cat-ready (aka taking my clothes off the floor because I’m a trash person who throws all her clothes on the ground) then settled in to wait for her to arrive.  Thankfully the person who had her had a friend who was willing to drive her over to my apartment.
      • They arrived around 8 on Sunday night, and I brought the carrier down to their car and we brought Luna up to my apartment.  Within roughly thirty seconds of leaving the carrier she managed to discover a way to crawl underneath the cabinets in my kitchen and knock over the baseboard I didn’t even realize was moveable.  There weren’t any wires or holes or gas lines under there so I didn’t worry too much and I lured her out eventually with a pouch of tuna.
    • Fun coincidence, the friend who drove Luna and her temporary owner over mentioned her friend Daya having had a cat, and turns out she knew the guy who had my apartment before me (his name was Daya) and had even been there before, but I’ve changed it so much that she didn’t recognize it.
    • They left eventually and then it was just me and Luna.  She roamed around for awhile, figured out the litter box sitch, hid under the bed for awhile, and basically made my life the greatest ever.  I’m obsessed.
  • I FaceTimed with Sarah and Alex before bed which was lovely because I miss them a lot.

 

Days 109-115

Let’s just jam an entire week into one post bc Monday was interesting, the work week less so, and the weekend not at all.  Allons-y!

Monday

We talked back and forth about what to do Monday morning, Cam/Francine/Jessamine maybe wanting to do the mountain hike Nicole and I had done the day before while Nicole and I figured out something else to do.  But in the end thighs-on-fire from a day spent squatting while making a sandcastle + a checkout time of 11 pre-empted those loose plans.  I called home before we left, while los amigos were playing cards, managing to catch my momma during a dinner with my neighbours who I love like a family, which was a wonderful surprise.  Getting to talk to momma, dad, Deb, Chai, and Mia all in one go.  I miss them so.  But no time to dwell on homesickness, and besides, friend time helps mitigate that longing for familiarity and family.

We called a taxi and headed over to Ttangkkeut, where we’d need to catch a bus to Haenam to catch a bus to Gwangju.  Somewhere along the ride we asked the taxi driver if there were any 회 (hoe, pronounced hweh) restaurants around, 회 being raw fish/sashimi (Japanese term not exactly welcome here, though 사시미 does appear on the occasional menu), something Francine had proposed, figuring that a seaside town would be the perfect place to get it.  Our taxi driver took this as a request to drop us off at a 회 restaurant, which he did, then proceeded to bang on the door and holler at the owners (this was at like 11-something, well before we actually wanted lunch.)  Turned out he was getting us a place to store all our luggage, in addition to getting us a de facto lunch reservation, which was handy because we were schlepping an awful lot of stuff.

We left our things in the restaurant, saying we’d return for 12:30, then went off to look at the bus timetables, and check out the town when not being pelted by rain and wind.  Turned out that there was indeed a direct bus from Ttangkkeut to Gwangju, and a departure at 1:10, so we decided to aim for that.  That time frame eliminated the option to take the monorail (monorail, monorail) up to the observatory, but we had time to follow one of the trails along the coast.

We moseyed along together, soon enough hitting the part of the trail that was primarily stair cases.  Francine and Cam bowed out, Nicole, Jessamine, and I continued on, up and down stairs (including rusty ones without risers, which brought my old anxiety about riser-less stairs back, despite having thought I’d banished it years ago), along narrow pathways, eventually hitting the Ttangkkeut namesake: Land’s End, an obelisk statue marking the southernmost tip of the South Korean mainland (with island it defs reaches farther South).  There were enough flights of stairs down to the outcropping to make us consider how much we actually wanted to climb them again, but basically how could we not at that point.  And then I ran down even more steps when I saw that there was another little deck thing down a few more flights that was totally empty (this time Nicole and Jessamine opted out of needing to climb back up those ones.)  Very much worth it, it was so beautiful.

Shortly thereafter I got a text from Cam and Francine, asking how long we’d be, since the three of us had plans to head back to the 회 restaurant at noon (Nicole and Jessamine not being terribly hungry).  We were…not that close, so I left Nicole and Jessamine behind and ran/speed walked when necessary back to them, impressing myself with how quickly I took the stairs in a pair of rubber Birkenstock sandals.

We walked back to the restaurant, explained why we were three not five, and after a bit of Naver Translate-ing ordered 생선회 for three.  Jeolla continues to kill it, since lunch was amazing and only 15$ each, and nothing like any sashimi-style meal I’ve ever had.  The side dishes were excellent and refilled constantly (usually I’ve found that you need to ask for refills, which is just a smidge beyond my comfort zone and also makes me reticent to eat more than 1/3 of a given dish, which sounds so gluttonous, but I just really love kimchi okay.)

With lunch finished and paid for we loaded ourselves up with everyone’s bags and met back with Jessamine and Nicole who had bought the bus tickets home.  After buying a coffee, some gum, and a package of chocolate digestives to share on the ride home we boarded the bus (again, sadly, not a lush express one.)  We made A++ time, arriving back in Gwangju within two hours.  Cam, Francine, Jessamine, and Nicole grabbed a taxi together, since the former three live in the same area and it’s convenient for Nicole to grab a bus from there to her house.  It doesn’t quite work out well for me to do that, since I’m on the way, not past that point, so I opted for the bus.  My bank didn’t come back online until Wednesday and I didn’t want to use my 20$ remaining in cash (since I settled up with Jessamine on the way back to Gwangju. Can we appreciate that that entire weekend was like 140$) on a taxi. Well I wanted to, but I didn’t need to.

I may or may not have had a mini meltdown while hauling my crap to the bus stop and arriving just as the bus I needed pulled away, me loaded down with a backpack, duffel with tearing straps, and a mosquito tent, being stared at even more than usual, feeling hot and sticky, stuck waiting another fifteen minutes while facing a gigantic ad on the side of the behemoth department store across the street of a thin, white model in front of the word Diet (so subtle).  But I made it home eventually, after pushing my way onto the bus to secure a seat and nearly maiming an elderly woman with my duffel.

Home sweet home.

The rest of the week things:

  • Whoops woke up an hour and a half after my alarm on Tuesday.  Good thing that still put me at like…an hour and a half before I needed to leave.  Because as I’ve discussed I prefer lesson planning in the a.m./am lazy af and thus set early alarms.  Thanks, circadian rhythms.  But anyway, that just meant it was a dry shampoo + minimal makeup + pull on a dress day as I rushed to put together materials for Grades 5 & 6 (then last minute change one, then last minute change that during class because I wasn’t sure it would fly.  Good call, Self.)
    • My third period Grade 5 class is the one with the girl who’s hella advanced in English compared to the textbook material, and I felt so happy when she returned the little sheet I’d made out of cursive writing for her to translate into printing.  In return I gave her a sheet with some line drawings of various clothing articles/specific names, like mini vs midi vs maxi skirt, short vs 3/4 vs long sleeve, heels vs wedges vs flats. The kind of thing that’s more specific than skirt, shirt, shoe.
    • In my second Grade 6 period, the one after lunch, the one that is always the roughest, 경희 had to leave like three minutes in because one student was being a hell-raiser.  She ended up returning three minutes into the next period, which made that post-lunch period a bit interesting.  I stopped being Fun Rosie Who Does The Game Section of class, making them put their heads down in silence when they were being sups loud, nixing the points-giving questions, etc.  Le sigh.  Made it through though.  That’s all that counts.
  • Wednesday‘s Grade 5 lesson involved present progressive and expressions, e.g. She’s dancing, She looks happy.  As a review Min Hee had me do charades in front of the class so they could guess the two sentences.  I’m proud to say I committed 100%, and do an excellent “She’s playing the violin, she looks angry” or “She’s eating a sandwich, she looks sad.”  Also I managed to bruise my knees when I fell dramatically to the floor as “She’s drawing a picture, she looks tired.”  Whoops.  But it got the point across and the kids engaged, and I’ll sacrifice my pride (and knees) for that.
    • At lunch I stepped in to be one of the jump rope turners for some Grade 5 girls.  I’m not like a regular teacher I’m a cool teacher~~~ Plus I showed them the great fun that is Jump Over the Waves aka make a sine curve with the jump rope and try to jump over without hitting the peaks.  Also tiny adorable Grade 4 who I love so desperately gave me a little cheese sausage, the odd, rubbery, inevitably-a-bit-fish-tasting cheese, shelf-stable cheese product that is hella popular here.
    • Wednesday also ended up being Teacher Sports Day aka go to another school for another staff volleyball tournament.  Apparently it was for any teacher to join but I thought there was an actual volleyball team so I didn’t change, and instead sat on the sidelines reading or working on memorizing more Korean verbs and eating some of the snacks our school brought (bananas, chocolates).  I was vv happy for 경희 bc a) her broken finger had healed just in time for the tournament and b) her team killed it, even though technically I was a main school Cheer-er that day.
      • The men’s teams games were so goddamn intense, and also I was v amused when my main school and visiting school teams were up against one another, and both principals were playing.
      • Bonus the school was literally across the street from my apartment, so it was a short walk home.
  • Thursday and Friday were basic and that’s fine, because it means nothing crashed and burned.  Grade 6 was the same lesson I’d taught three times on Tuesday and Grade 4 was low stress aside from ending up with five minutes to do my 10-15 minute activity.
    • Oh, adorable things though: tiny precious Grade 4 girl I love so dearly gave me one of the crafts I presume she made in a preceding class. A little rubber bamboo steamer filled with tiny little erasers shaped like food.  So now I have a mini steamer full of steamed pineapples and grapes and apples.  And Jenny gave me one of her school craft things, a card that when unfolded is a 3D pop-up of a chair on a floor with one point perspective tile lines, brightly coloured with crayons.  The type of Grade 1 craft I love so dearly.
    • For Conversation Class I had set the task of coming up with a Would You Rather question, but I guess that does not exist here bc turns out they were all super stressed by it and when 승희 showed me some examples she had come up with they were 100% not Would You Rathers.  So I quickly prepared a few beforehand, trying not to be overly abstract or both-options-are-terrible (which I mean, that’s what Would You Rather is for, right?), which was a good call.  Oh well, try something new, learn something new.
    • A baseball game was running on Friday night and Cam/Francine/Jessamine/Nicole were going but I was nine kinds of exhausted so I went home and napped like the 70-year-old woman I am.
  • Straight up I did nothing this weekend.  Nicole and I had planned on going for a hike, but the weather forecast was 30 degrees with storms.  It may have been 30 degrees, but no storms materialized, so that was a bit of a bummer. The lack of hike thing.
    • did go to E-Mart of course, and bought these wonderful gigantic denim gaucho pants because I now second guess every skirt and pair of shorts I own and needed something other than a floor length skirt to wear with my tops.  8 dolla haul, y’all.
      • Almost as good as those The World/Pringles: Preferred Crisps shorts.  Also a fan of those t-shirts.
    • Basically my weekend was sleep, more sleep, and watching Lady Dynamite because it finally appeared on Korean Netflix and I couldn’t be happier, because I love Maria Bamford so much and so many of my favourite comedians also appear in the show.
      •  One day I’ll write about how important comedy podcasts have been for me and my mental health as I moved to a new country (and just in the past few years of my life in general.)  Or maybe not because that’s really boring, but basically I would have a much harder time in my day to day life without a guaranteed source of laughter.  Even if it makes me look crazy as I try to stifle it while walking down the street.  I got some stares from some students the other morning as I walked up to the staff room on the verge of tears from laughing so hard at this (which probably makes zero sense without context).
  • And random note that it’s garlic season here I guess because everywhere I turn someone is selling gigantic piles or bags of heads of garlic. Which is an odd enough sight, but even odder considering that usually you have to search hard to find anything but already-peeled cloves.

Day 108

Sunday morning dawned early, sunny, and with the joy of knowing that Monday is cancelled.  Breakfast was plain popped corn I’d found at the convenience store, trail mix, and milk eaten as cereal out of a cup, plus a coffee made from a freebie single-serve coffee concentrate I’d gotten with a GMarket order of chia seeds.  Plans formed out of the fact that the day before we had seen a picturesque af entrance to a path into the forest outside the motel and Nicole and I were up early enough/sufficiently enthused about a morning walk-that-could-turn-into-a-hike that we decided it would be a great morning to give it a go.  Jessamine wanted to head down to the beach later, meaning she would need to keep and bring the room key, so Nicole and I packed up everything we’d want for the beach and headed out.

Nicole had gone down a bit before, since I was taking a stupidly long time to pack up everything/change clothes a few times (ended up on a bathing suit, loose top, very lightweight zip-up, and shorts, because just as the Korean seniors have hiking uniforms that are probably overkill, we wear bathing suits even if we probably won’t be swimming.)  I won’t even tell you how much I stuffed into my bag because it’s embarrassing, but it included a full bed sheet, brought from home, in case I wanted sun shade over the top of our mosquito tent, a book, a Kindle, two bottles of sunscreen, etc. and not the type of weight that is the most fun to carry up a mountain (thank god it could be worn backpack-style.)

The concierge guy was talking to Nicole as I came down, apparently inquiring as to if she was going hiking solo, but which turned into him offering to drive us to a nearby mountain supposedly with beautiful views after a 30-or-so minute hike.  We politely declined, heading out to the path. Our quick walk turned into a low-key-hike, even though Nicole was in sandals–it was just so lovely (birds! ferns! cool breezes! cairns!) and we’re both of the mindset that You might as well keep going.  I learned later that it was the path built by the hotel to merge into the county-maintained trail, which made sense of the fact that the first while was us trying not to slip on the steep inclines covered in still-a-bit-damp underbrush, whereas when we hit the country trail we were met with legit staircases and barriers to keep you from falling off a steep embankment.

After awhile the trees started to thin out and we emerged onto an incredible, presumable, burial ground with a multitude of statues/monuments and an amazing view of the beach and town down below, the water, the forested mountain, and the beach/town on the opposite side. Basically just REALLY NICE, YOU GUYS.  I don’t have the whole mountains thing in Ontario.