Monday, September 3, 2012

Bread with Ice Cream

Let it be duly noted: Changwon bus drivers have insane road rage.

So, my good college friend Sung Min came to visit! He is originally from Daegu, and went to high school and college in the States. Since he only has a few days left in Korea before going back to the US to study, he hopped on a southbound train and came to Changwon!
"Downtown" Changwon, the Sangnam area. It's fairly lively! Nothing compared to a big city, though.
At 할매 낙지 for dinner!
After introducing him to my host family and catching up, we bussed to Changwon's 시내 (shinae, or downtown), although to be honest there isn't much there. It took us maybe twenty minutes to walk around the entirety of the few blocks. The district is called 상남동 (Sangnam-dong), and it along with 중앙동 (Jungang-dong) are what seem to be the nightlife-oriented areas in town.

To that end, there are plenty of bars (술집; suljip) and restaurants, more than a few 노래방, at least one club, and lots of people walking or wandering around. There are also three huge department stores (E-mart, Lotte-mart, and Lotte Department Store) and a movie theater that are open pretty late. Ooh, and apparently there is a dog cafe and a cat cafe! (Confused? Read here.)

Sangnam and Jungang are pretty small, but since this was only my first time visiting, I still have some exploring to do! I want to check out the traditional market (시장, shijang) and the secondhand store (who knows what crazy stuff I might find?).

Sung Min and I ate dinner at a place called 할매 낙지. 할매 (halmae) is roughly equivalent to "Granny" in English, and 낙지 (nakji) is a type of small octopus that, as it turns out, is absolutely delicious if you stew it with 불고기 (bulgogi) and tons of onions. So, Granny's little octopi made for a great meal. Haha, what a weird sentence. No but really, it was 맛있어요 (mashisseoyo)! And only 7,000 won (less than $7) per person.
불낙 (bulnak), which is bulgogi + nakji. Mmm, look, you can see little suction cups. Haha.
After dinner, shopping for some workout clothes and also chancing upon an awesome promotional sale being held outside the Lotte 백화점 (baekhwajeom, department store) and picking up some more teaching clothes, we went hunting for dessert. In the department store, there was an Angel-in-us Coffee, which is just one of many, many new coffeeshop chains popping up all over the country. There, we indulged in something called "Maple Ice Cream Bread".

It is literally two slices of white bread (the fluffy Korean kind, though), flavored with maple and served a la mode like a slice of pie or something. It was bizarre. It was also delicious.
Bread with ice cream! For the noms!
It was so great to chat with Sung Min all evening about everything from future plans to Korean stereotypes to the latest news about our mutual friends. And of course, being Swatties, we had to talk about other Swatties. In fact, Sung Min is the seventh Swattie I've met in two months here in Korea! There was also Jeewon and Se Eun, Melinda, and Hae-in and Jung Hyun and one of their friends.

Ah... I've just realized that I never finished my Seoul weekend series. The last two posts were supposed to be about spending Sunday afternoon with Hae-in and Jung Hyun and the KLCC graduation ceremony. Well, I'll do that later. I think what I originally wanted to talk about in this post was about how crazy Changwon bus drivers are, and I got way off topic thanks to maple ice cream bread and the like.

In any case, it's just that I took the city buses four times on Sunday, and each time the drivers seemed to become progressively more reckless. In the morning, on the way to church, I noticed that the bus was taking pretty fast turns; on the way back, careening around the giant roundabout in the middle of the town nearly knocked me off my feet. That evening, when I was riding with Sung Min, we both realized that our driver was going at least 15mph over the speed limit, as if he were racing to get to each stop. At night, this became almost terrifying because our driver would honk at anything in the way and ruthlessly cut in front of other vehicles; at one point we narrowly missed hitting another bus!

I speculated that our driver just really wanted to finish his shift and go home. I couldn't speculate more because I was actually a little dizzy by the time I got off the bus.

Well, it's either get a Nubija pass, buy a bicycle, or embrace the adventure of mad bus drivers for a year... I want to see more of downtown Changwon; I guess I'll just have to risk my life to do so!

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