Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gapyeong Pension and an Uzbek Dinner

I post remarkable irregularly on this blog, and for that, I'd like to apologize. In my defense, I am working really hard on my Korean blog (, another Korean lifestyle blog, and grad school applications. When I get home from work, the last thing I want to do is write a poorly written blog post about my weekend. However, this blog does remind me of why I love Korea, and one day I'll look back at this drivel and smile.

This past weekend, I piggybacked on some friends' travel plans to go to the countryside for a night of solitude in the mountains of Gyeonggi-Do. Pensions (holiday house rental homes) are pretty popular in Korea and can be booked for a decently cheap price. You'll normally end up sleeping on the floor, but with sleeping pads and surrounded by friends, it is better than a noisy sauna full of snoring ajjusshis.

Saturday morning we grabbed the ITX from Yongsan station and got off at . We picked up some drinks, meat, and snacks at a grocery store (20,000 won per person) and the grocery store agreed to give us a ride to the pension in the back of a van. As there was a group of shoppers before us, we had to wait. The area was pretty, however, so we walked around a bit, found some abandon buildings, and threw some snowballs. Some of these snowballs may have broke windows of aforementioned buildings... Oops.

Cameron at the gates to creepy abandoned Korean concentration campesque buildings
 The pension was adorable. Two stories with sleeping space for 12 people. By sleeping space, I mean lots of floor space and two beds. Ladies were given the beds, and all the boys were going to sleep in the common room.

 We slurped down some ramen and then explored our surroundings. Korea is such a beautiful wilderness outside of Seoul. To think, we went from one of the largest cities in the world to this in an hour? Awesome.


Half of the group
Our pensions was called Lothlorien pension I believe. After Lord of the Rings? So I tried to look a bit elvish. (Did I end up just looking stoned?)

The sun was setting and we had some BBQ to prepare. We had 목살 (pork neck) and 갈매기살 (I think this is back), which we grilled up. Outside. And it was freezing. I think we had some 4 kilograms of meat, so it took a LONG time to cook. Even though my feet almost fell off, hanging outside in the freezing weather to deliver food to our warm-bodied friends inside was actually a great experience. Especially since Cameron had brought along makkeoli from around Korea. We had peanut, tangerine, pine, and a host of other flavors.
Awesome makkeoli model
By the time we finished cooking and eating, the makkeoli laughed at us, saying 'Hey, you know how drunk you'll get when you are drinking to stay warm when it is well below freezing? Pretty drunk.' Since we were in the middle of the mountains with no other people or buildings around, this ended up being the best thing to do, so we spent the rest of the evening with more makkeoli and dancing in the common room.

The best part? Waking up to see this gorgeous thing. C, you look great as a unicorn eating ramen.

To make my weekend even more memorable, I had a date when I got back to Seoul. We went out for Uzbek food in the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park area (near exit 5). Man, that food is great. A drunken Uzbek man decided to join our table, and rambled on about Central Asian politics to us in Korean. Do you know what the best sign was that this date was going well? He took it all in stride and enjoyed the evening, even though it wasn't exactly what we planned.

The samsa and the borscht were the best parts
Feeling like all was right with the world, I headed back home, only to find that our washing machine wasn't draining because the drain had frozen over... That was a bit of a mess, but perhaps better for a ranting post about Korea than this lovely weekend recap.

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