Sorry for the interruption before. I was telling you about my weekend before, but I left out the best part: Sunday. It began a bit slowly, thanks to a weekend of running hard and staying out late. I decided to grab lunch in my neighborhood, so I went to my favorite spot. It’s a little Euro-style coffee shop near my apartment that has WiFi and a bagel that is almost kinda western. I don’t drink coffee, so I ate a bagel very slowly and used their router to download some shows to watch later.
After lunch I hopped the subway downtown and met a group of friends to hang out and explore. Our main goal was to find a bookstore with English books, which we knew existed but couldn’t find before. We knew the general area in which it was located, but had no specific directions. So, we ventured into downtown.
It was pretty cold out, so we were constantly ducking in and out of stores. Most of them were pretty boring, but a few were cool. I am a fan of Korean fashion, so I had a great time looking at all of the nice men’s clothing in the department stores. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single piece of clothing in Daegu that will fit me. Nonetheless, I had fun browsing.
As we walked, I noticed a lot of things that I overlooked at night. In fact, downtown looks like a totally different place in the light. One of the coolest things I saw was a small snack market. The guy set up tables in a storefront on the side of the road and loaded them up with large baskets of snacks. When we slowed down to look at them, he encouraged us to eat whatever we wanted. “Try! Try everything!” So we did.
Almost all of the snacks that I tried were excellent. Some of them were even salty! As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, that is hard to find here. The Koreans simply don’t like much salt. I bought some bagel chips, which looked and smelled amazing (like pure garlic), but when I got home and tried one, I discovered that they were full of sugar. It was seriously disappointing.
We found an Apple store, which was a lot of fun. Like my coworkers, the nice folks at the Apple store were under the impression that we were a herd of morons. I snapped a picture of some cool phone covers (thought of getting one for my sister), and one of the employees was kind enough to walk over and explain to me how phone covers work. Apparently, they are made to cover the phone. I turned around, and saw another employee explaining to my friend Claire that you put your phone or iPod on an iPod dock, the way it is illustrated in the picture right under the dock at which Claire was looking. Ultimately, the Apple store was great because it was nice to shop in a place where all of the Koreans spoke English.
After the Apple store, we made our way to a department store in the neighborhood north of Bangwoldon, Jungango. We weren’t interested in shopping, just warming up and hitting the restrooms. Half the group waited near the entrance while the other half took a quick bathroom break. As we waited, Scott asked an English-speaking employee about the bookstore. It was just across the street, so we were all pretty excited about being so close. After a couple of minutes, everybody came wandering back….except Claire and Mark.
Fifteen minutes later, everyone started to grow impatient. I told the rest of the group that I would wait for Mark and Claire so that they could head across the street and check out the bookstore. That was a mistake. I must have spooked some of the customers or employees because a couple of the security guys walked over and stood near me. They were polite and kept their distance, but they made it clear that they didn’t want me loitering. Too bad for them, because the three of us waited together for the next half hour.
Claire finally made her way to the front and told me that she had no idea where Mark was. We couldn’t leave him, because he doesn’t live in Daegu and doesn’t have a phone. If we didn’t wait for him, it could be difficult for him to make his way back to the KTX station.
After another half hour, Claire finally found him. Mark had wandered to the top floor of the store, where he found a room with free video games. He lost track of time and had no idea that we were waiting for him.
The bookstore was pretty uneventful. It was so crowded that it was difficult to look at the books. Each level of the bookstore was essentially a huge square corridor, so people were constantly circulating It seemed like every time I reached for a book, a group walked past and I had to wait. This is normal for the Koreans, who are accustomed to forcing their way into and out of crowds, but it’s very uncomfortable for me because it would be rude in the US.
Before parting ways, we walked back downtown and went for dinner at a restaurant called “Food Mall.” This was a misnomer, because the place was a small restaurant. It was also delicious. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, so we ordered too much. My favorite thing was a fried slab of pork sliced into strips. There were also some excellent pot-stickers filled with beef and vegetables. I think that the Korean pot-stickers may be better than the Chinese and Japanese versions.
After dinner, we had to split up and head home. The Ulsan people went north to the KTX station, and the rest of us hopped on our respective subway lines home. It was an excellent day. I learned more about the city and saw more interesting things in one afternoon than I did in the past week combined.
Until next time.