Tuesday, April 28, 2009

BBQ (and Peace Signs)

Post-baseball at a place in Seoul.

Peter, Sam, Anne, and HJ at another BBQ place in Gangnum.

Most Koreans, especially younger ones, will throw up a peace sign when they're getting their picture taken. Sam has perfected the move....Pete is still working on it.

Brian, Sam, and Peter post BBQ.

One of my favorite things about Korea, or at least about eating here, is BBQ. Every third restaurant here is a BBQ restaurant. In the middle of each table (see pictures above) is a gas or charcoal fired grill. You order some marinated meat or seafood, along with some vegetables, and grill it all up right in front of you. Some places help you cook it if you look lost, others leave you to your own devices. When everything is grilled to perfection, or crispy, depending on the cook, you take a piece or two of meet, along with some garlic, onions, and delicious mystery sauces, and wrap everything in a piece of lettuce. It's hard to shove the whole wrap into your mouth without looking like an animal but we tend to try anyway. The best thing about BBQ, other than the taste of the food, is the leisurely pace it encourages. The portions are small enough, and it takes long enough to cook, that you can easily spend 2 hours grilling/eating/grilling/eating (while drinking). Neither of the places pictured here is our local place. Between work and my apartment there is an "all you can eat" BBQ place where, for 8 won, you can eat as much BBQ as you'd like. Its a great deal even if you're not that hungry. We usually are.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cherry Blossoms

Friends Heather, Thomas, Peter, Liz, and Marshall on the way to view the annual cherry blossom festival.

People "picnicking" in what used to be a park near the cherry trees. The whole park, dozens of acres along Seoul's largest river (the Han) is being re-landscaped. These people were actually pretty lucky.....those little green shoots they're sitting on were better than the dirt most people found.

Part of the landscaping project. Cherry trees in the distance, along with, by chance, Korea's largest Christian church (the Yoido Full Gospel Church - about 800,000 members). The guy on his cell phone might not be working hard but most construction workers here never seem to stop. I've seen guys working on buildings at 10 pm on a Sunday night.

The crowds were incredible. Made appreciating the trees a little difficult.

Too many blossoms, or maybe soju bottles (soju is the Korean spirit of choice and seems to be appropriate at all hours of the day).

Every spring cherry blossoms arrive in Asia. In Seoul there are not nearly enough trees to go around. On a recent Saturday we went to the prime cherry blossom boulevard in all of Seoul. The whole street was closed off, maybe 5 lanes wide, and it was still hard to walk. Groups of people were camped out on any piece of ground they could find...eating lunch and taking pictures of their friends in front of the trees. The blossoms were great but the people watching was much better. This last picture was not the only person we found passed out, just the best.

More Baseball

Most of the baseball crew.

Lighting a sparkler (passed out to everyone in the stadium).

My friend Marshall with a mini Heroes fan. The stadium is separated into home and away sections....we were surround by Heroes fans. Sadly we chose wrong....the Heroes got crushed by LG (the team, not big TVs).

After the game my friends Liz and Thomas hopped over the fence and ran from 3rd base into home. An act that probably would have resulted in hefty fines in the US but just got them escorted out of the stadium.

The cheerleaders were great but I took so many pictures at the game I couldn't limit those I uploaded to 5. These are the best of the remaining.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Korean Cheerleaders

Female chugging contest in the 7th inning. The winner got more beer.

I went to my first Korean baseball game last weekend. It was a great time. The most hours I have spent sitting in the sun since I've been here. It was good baseball but the players had to compete with the cheerleaders. Korean baseball teams don't just have mascots, they also have a male cheerleader and his four skirted assistants. The whole set up was pretty hilarious.

Agro Fish Market

One of the biggest landmarks in town is the Agro-Fishery Market. A huge blue-roofed complex a couple minutes from school. I've been looking at it for weeks and finally walked over one morning last week with my friend Peter. Of the two main buildings, one is dedicated to fruit and vegetables and the other to fish. We walked out of the latter a little nauseous and with soggy shoes. Both reminded me of the big market in Florence I visited as a kid with my family. Agro caters to commercial buyers but anyone can walk in and pick up a couple pieces of fruit, or an octopus. I bought some green and red peppers. They went into some very good fajitas.