We’re trying to take an account of our trip so far and it’s pretty intense. In two weeks we’ve visited 5 cities, ate 25 completely different Korean meals, slept at 6 love motels, drank 6 bottles of Soju, over 200 bottles of beer and suffered from 7 serious hangovers.
Here is a day in the life of an urban hiker.
Woke up at 8am in Pusan to have breakfast with Mr. Crazy Couch Surfer Kim. He “encouraged” us to eat all of our food, including: seaweed with rice, kimchi, potatoes with egg and warm rice noodles. Give that a shot at 8-fucking-am… I don’t even drink coffee that early.
On the way to the bus terminal, Mr. Kim drove us to visit the Beomosa Temple. Thank God this was not a temple you had to hike to because all I wanted to do was get away from Mr. Crazy Kim who WHILE touring the temple continued to make sex jokes.
The temple was gorgeous, and very active. This was the first time where I saw dozens of worshipers chanting and bowing. We’re learning bits and pieces of Buddhism as we go along. At every temple you will find a big bell, a fish, a cloud and a drum. They are sounded daily to signify the respect for life in the air, in the sea, in the sky and in the ground.
You will also find some delicious running water and communal bowls. I love this and always grab a drink, it’s seriously tasty!
After cruising the temple, Mr. Kim drops us off at the bus station. Thank God, baby Jesus, Buddha and whomever else was watching over us, because I was sincerely scared for my life during our stay with Mr. Kim.
After two hours of bus travel we make it back to home base, Pohang. Nap for a bit. Upload photos for a bit. Then it’s dinner at my favorite restaurant in my favorite Korean city, Gyeongju (about 40 minutes away, driving).
This dinner is the best EVER. We’re served in a traditional Korean house – sitting in tiny private room surrounding a central courtyard. Dozens of dishes are served at once- chicken, fish, cabbage, Korean burritos – you name it, it’s on the table. We all eat together out of the same bowl, and each person makes sure that the glasses remain full of hite-uh.
At the end of the night the staff closes the doors so the little rooms aren’t filled with smoke from the fire outside. Ages ago that fire would have been used to heat the floors and to this day Koreans still sleep on heated floors.
You would think that this would be enough of an adventure, but no…. just driving back to Pohang is an exercise in the bizzarre. While grabbing a $60 tankful of gas we notice that the station attendant has set up a little workout room for himself.
We figure that he sits in that dirty porn-filled gas station room, smoking cigs and thinking that he needs to work out on his stationary bike…
After making it to downtown Pohang, we check out the red light district and head to the bar – alone. It’s time for soju shots, gallons of hite and MORE FOOD, this time kimchi pancakes and delicious mondu.
You may be wondering how the hell we can eat so much, but food in Korea a totally different experience from what American’s are used to.
Koreans eat sloooowly for hours. With so much variety and so many people eating from one dish, you can’t get greedy and shove the whole plate down your face.
Korean’s are truly organic about their food – specific meals are served when you’re hungover or have a head cold. Just like the spa had specific healing rooms, Koreans dishes serve specific purposes. Supposedly serving food alongside soju is a good way to stave off a hangover but really, for me, it’s just more to puke up when you wake up wasted at 6am.
Shots, shots, shots, shots and hite-uh.
Now it’s time for dessert! How about some peaches in ice?
By this time everyone is shitcanned, Vinnie has already passed out on the street outside and Travis is falling asleep at the table. It looks like this will be an early Urban Hiking night, which is fine because I’m exhausted and smell like fire from dinner.
Everyone rebounds just long enough to have a titillating discussion on Korean grammar before we catch a ride home with a cabby who wears gardening gloves to drive.