KOREA

Oh lord, I cannot even begin to describe Korea. I spent a year going to university here my sophomore year.  I lived in Daegu but travelled over most of the peninsula in both the cities and the countryside.  Korea is full of dichotomies: its ancient and modern, western and eastern, fun and boring, simple and complex, friendly and cold.  The summers are sweltering and the winters cold enough to make the Russians shiver.  It is a surprisingly difficult country to live in for all its modern bits yet the experience is so worthwhile.  It's like a mountain that is hard to climb and tires you out like nothing doing, tempting you to quit every step up yet offering the most rewarding view when you finally make it to the top that you know you'll treasure forever.

Since I have both many photos and stories from Korea it will be several pages to make loading time for each one manageable.


The ever popular Korean pastime of drinking. Often combined with eating or turned into a contest.  Bars in Korea are about as common as traffic jams and that's saying something. University students spend many a night in their favorite hof (beer hall) whiling away the night with pitchers of maekju (beer) and bottles of soju. Soju is the poison of choice for most Korean men, its 22% alcohol, cheaper than water, and it tastes like cheap vodka.  Usually drunk as a shot with a water chaser it is a great accompaniment to the meat heavy popular Korean dishes like kalbi (grilled spare ribs)  It also sneaks up on you like nothing doing and at about US$2 a bottle has caused many a student to miss their morning classes.  Fortunately many Korean profs consider drunkenness a valid excuse for absences. Sometimes they're even the ones buying!

This picture and the one below are from our favorite watering hole in Daegu, "Buffalo"


Here we managed to combine a city wide university song contest with the consumption of the winnings of Kaisa and Ingvild (next up picture) in the beer drinking contest.  Just so you know, the guys and I won the contest ($300 plus prizes).

Korea is densely populated (see the city of Daegu above and above left, the 3rd largest city in Korea) but the Koreans appreciate nature and take care of it. There are many national parks on the mountainous peninsula and even cultivated areas are sometimes open to the public to enjoy like the Bosung tea plantation on left.  Hiking is a national pastime and everyone from the little kids to the grandmas enjoy it most fine days.  Don't underestimate the difficulty of the mountain trails though, I found myself lagging far behind many an 80- year old women on the steep slopes of Palgonsan.

PAGE TWO OF KOREA