13 May 2009

Jangsan, Galbi, and Tasty Lemon Tarts

Last weekend was relatively tame compared to the overly-active four day weekend before it. I managed to get in some of the usual things again:

On Saturday Keith(whiskeynexhaust), his girlfriend Karen, Paul (another drinking buddy) and I decided to climb Jang Mountain (Jangsan, 632m), out in the east end of the city where all of them live. It's close to an hour by subway for me to get out there, but I find that it's worth the trip to hang out with people who are as dark and crazy as myself.
Jangsan (634m) is shorter than Geumjeongsan (842m) but it's steeper and a little less travelled. It was kinda hot that day and by the time we got to the top I was thoroughly drenched with sweat. There's supposed to be a temple next to a waterfall on the back of the mountain, so we set off down the back of the mountain hoping that it would be a fantasy-type waterfall where sweaty, sun baked hikers could refresh themselves under a cold, crystalline shower with a beer can filled pond at its base. Alas, it was not to be.

The path 'round the back of the mountain seemed to keep going in a direction we didn't like, so we decided to find a shortcut. How bad can it be? We can always see the city from the mountainside. We ended up half-lost in the woods after we tried to descend the mountain by following a rock wash (dried up spring melt stream) of huge boulders (above right, Paul is in the distance). The going got dangerously ankle-busting, so it was decided that we'd try to cut across the mountain face through the brush. It took a while but we managed to get down with no broken ankles and only a few scratches and scrapes to show for our misadventure. Post-hike, we sat at tables outside a convenience store drinking beer and doing crossword puzzles until everyone was ready for soup and dumplings at one of the neighbourhood Korean diners.

Later that evening I met up with Lynn and we hit a super cheap galbi restaurant; we both ate like kings (or king and queen) for less than 12000 won, including beer. I eat way more meat here than I ever did in Canada. It's kinda weird because it's cheaper to eat at a restaurant than it is to eat at home, if you want anything with a bit of variety, that is. If you're eating just rice and a simple soup or something it probably costs the same as eating at a diner

Later we went to see One Drop East, a local funk band made up of expats (teachers), they aren't bad and I've seen them a few times. They play a small repertoire of funk, reggae and R&B tunes with one or two of their own songs. It's all right but they usually play at Moe's, a crowded second-floor jazz and blues (mostly) bar, and after a while the crowding starts to get tiresome. So we cut out and went for drinks at Soul Trane (at left), a basement bar that used to play funk and house music, but they moved to a new place and turned into a pubby type place, which is fine with us. Relaxingly dark and only a little dank, it's my bar of choice in the neighbourhood. My favourite watering hole of all isn't a bar, it's actually the plastic tables outside the convenience store across the street. You can sit outside literally in the street and see and talk to everyone without any noise or crowd. Kinda like a cafe but more low-rent. Keith and I can often be found there having a brew, we think it's the best bar in Busan.

On Sunday Se-yeong and I went for Vietnamese noodle soup (pho) and she gave me some homemade lemon tarts. Absolutely delicious! I gave some to Paul one night and he said that I'd be an idiot if I didn't ask her to marry me. She bakes when she gets stressed out and she calls it her 'angry bread', which always cracks me up, but it's appropriate. Who knew angry could be so tasty when properly handled? She's a great baker, really some of the best baking I've ever had. Pound cake, cookies and quite a few other treats. The lemon tarts were made with real lemons and topped with real whipped cream. And they're always packaged in really nice boxes and bows.

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