After a few days in Seoul, I headed back to Daegu to do some traveling with Julian. I once again boarded the KTX and had a little giggle when the train conductor (a comely lass) gave a little bow to each passenger that passed her by. I’m not used to such formalities and wasn’t sure if I was supposed to bow back or just nod or ignore, so I sheepishly gave a half bow and hurried to my seat. I’ve noticed that all the women who work for the KTX, as well as the airlines and hotels have a uniformly “attractive” look. Porcelain skin, large eyes, perfectly groomed features and hair and slender figures. I guess if you weren’t born pretty or lack the money to buy a plastic surgeoned face, a job in the hospitality sector is not in your future. After spending a few days in glorious sun, I myself am now too “brown” to make the grade. The girls here are seriously pale. Only in Korea will you see women wearing long sleeve shirts, pants, a hat, and sitting under an umbrella at… the beach!
It felt good to be back in Daegu again. It’s a much smaller city than Seoul and has a cosier feel to it. Julian took me to some markets where I got great pictures of the local produce ranging from fresh peas, spring onions and….dog. I hate having to face up to the actual proof, but its true. Some people still eat dog meat. Apparently it’s only a particular breed that is specifically bred for meat and it’s not that widely eaten. I’d go as far as to say that it’s a little looked down upon as “country” food, at least that’s what I’ve always been told by my parents (maybe they were trying to shield me from a grosser part of Korea’s food history?) But who am I to judge what has been a part of someone’s traditions. They eat monkey paws in Africa, smoked bats in Indonesia and squirrel brains in the South, but this is one part of the culinary adventure I am going to pass on. I might try the guinea pig one day if I’m in Peru and am starving on some mountaintop, but eating Lassie is just not in my future.
I was however more than happy to try out “H.O.T. Kitchen.” A great Korean-fusion restaurant owned by a friend of Julian’s. In downtown Daegu, the restaurant had a clean, modern feel to it. The food was fairly traditional flavors but cooked and presented with a precision unusual for Korean food. It was a bit of fine dining meets the best meal your mom ever made. It was also the first Korean restaurant I’ve been to where I didn’t think it would actually be appropriate to ask for a refill on the kimchi. There was such a great variety of dishes though, that I never missed it.
And who could call it a night out on Daegu without copious amount of drinking. After dinner, we went to a bar called the “Romantic Soul Lounge Bar.” If Julian didn’t already have a girlfriend I may have been a little suspicious of the place, haha. The dirty martinis were not quite dirty enough for me, but the conversation was. It was decided that an ex-pat bar visit needed to be had to round out my Daegu nightlife experience. I had been toying with the idea of having fun with some gullible foreigners by playing up the- “no speak ingrish” card. The other night I had a rather amusing run in with an American colleague of Julian’s roommate who assumed (perhaps rightly so) that I was “Korean,” and promptly trotted out his most polite and insidious Korean pick up lines. I actually couldn’t stop laughing while also being horrified that some poor girls may actually fall for his shady little act. I could sniff the yellow fever a mile away. Ladies beware!!
After deciding the new flavor of the month ex-pat bar was a bit too frat boy/spring break horrible, we went into a basement bar next door called “Who’s Bob.” I guess 6 months ago Bob’s was the “it” place to be for the fellas and ladies who wanted to find the English speaking contingency and the Koreans who love them, but trendy places here seem to have the same life span as the popular collagen injections. Now it was a sad affair with less than a dozen patrons, including us. Maybe they should have changed the name from “Who’s Bob” to “Where’s Bob.” The highlight of the evening was finally, FINALLY beating Julian at a good ole beer chug. I will never ever challenge him again.
The next morning, 3 coffees and 1 hangover later (his, not mine…Korea does seem to have an amazing effect on my alcohol tolerance) we were on the road to Andong.