Sunday, April 11, 2010

Our Backyard

Yesterday we decided to explore our backyard a bit more... Just behind the parking lot there is a trail leading back into the woods and mountains. We've done a little bit of hiking back there, but yesterday we went on a serious journey! There's some interesting stuff that you come across when hiking here. In the next picture you see these circular grass mounds... I am almost certain that they are "tumuli" - thanks to Ingrid for the real research!:) Or in other words old burial mounds. They are everywhere scattered throughout the woods along trails.

Here are some more cared for ones. I think that the family members of the deceased will hike out here and keep up the site. The whole family might come and visit to pay their respect to the ancestor on a holiday like Chusok.

You see a lot of these all throughout the woods and I'm not quite sure what they are yet... No idea... Anyone?

So after a little hike the small trail opens up into a much bigger one and for a little while it is actually somewhat paved.

And then there's some farms... Only accessible by foot. No cars! There's this whole little world back here in these woods that you can't drive to! You have to hike at least twenty minutes to get to them. There's houses and even a little church. (I'll have to get pictures of those some time.) It seems like it's mostly elderly people living back there. I wonder if they are mainly self sustaining or if they just regularly hike in and out...

Beautiful trail, cool rock!

Lots of little waterfalls and streams everywhere.

Before too long our big path petered out and we ventured off onto smaller trails... And at this point as we were hiking and taking in the awesome scenery we decided to make an adventure out of the day and see if we could hike to one of our favorite places: Black Goat Village. After this point our smaller trails completely vanished and we were doing a bit of bushwhacking or following deer trails. It was about an hour into our hike that we stumbled upon this property. Again... no roads around! I know it looks like a road in the picture - but it wasn't. And now looking at the picture it doesn't look like much of a property either but it was! It kinda looks like a pile of trash, but it was actually a little farm and compound of shack like structures.

As we began getting closer to Black Goat Village we stumbled upon THIS! I believed it's called the East Gate. It's part of a long chain of fortresses and temples that are along the Geumjeongsan Mountain Ridge. These create a really large loop of sites all connected by a wall.

Crossing another stream...

And we finally made it! To the place that looks like a castle and has the most delicious food in the world! this picture is actually the place across the street from the restaurant, but it looks really similar. Hahah... forgot to take a pic of the restaurant. The restaurant looks older though and has a lot of gold on it...

We were so happy!!!

This delicious and gorgeous side dish had azaleas in it!

This is actually a picture from the first time we went... It gives you a better idea of the whole spread.

And notice the flowers in the back, behind Ken in the last picure? These are real orchids! Aren't they beautiful?

And that's about it. It was a good day!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cherry Blossoms

Spring Is Officially here! FINALLY!!!! It's been a very long and unusually cold winter so it is with great pleasure that I show you these pictures! Once the cherry trees start blossoming every one begins to celebrate. There are festivals everywhere and just yesterday there was a little celebration for our apartment buildings... Forgot to take pictures. There was live music that was very... very loud (we could hear it as we hiked way up into the mountains), lots of eating and children running everywhere. So these are the beautiful trees that line the pathway up to our building.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New Posts Coming Soon!!

For those of you dear and faithful, and probably dissatisfied followers - I hope to resume posts soon! I just got a computer today!!! I will soon have regular and plentiful access to the internet once again! It's 1am now though, and I'm off to bed.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Our Weekend in Japan

So we went to Japan about three weekends ago now to visit Ken's family and show our support after the death of his Grandpa Masada. It was an incredibly special weekend and we had the most wonderful time with Ken's mom, grandma - "Guh-rand-ee-ma", aunt Ako and cousin Yukari. Most importantly we laughed and cried together, hugged, danced, ate and talked even though we don't share a common language. We also got to meet Ken's Great Uncle and Aunt Jack and Keiko and learned so much about the Masada/Marshall family history. It was a a short trip but was more rich than some extended stays can often be. Aside from all that we got sing karaoke with the family, eat blowfish shabu shabu, gyoza, and see a bit of Osaka.

For our first night in Japan we all went out to eat sushi at a restaraunt which had the sushi on a conveyor belt. The selections were endless, the rice was perfect, the fish pieces were huge and fresh and each piece costing about .50 cents... I was in heavennnnnn!!!! After that we all went to karaoke and I'm sorry to say we forgot to take pictures! I'll have to post some of me and Ken here in Busan soon though...

We got to look through Grandma's old pictures which were magnificent! Here is one of Grandma and Grandma as newly weds! They were a beautiful couple! I am so sad I never got to meet Grandpa. I am positive that I would have taken an instant liking to him. I absolutely adore Grandma and I am sure that Ken's grandpa was just as wonderful. (You can always click on the pictures on this blog to see them enlarged. )

For our first official day in Japan we went to meet Uncle jack and Keikoe, and then we went to ?Shinsaibashi? It was this long, exciting strip full of shops and restaurants and people! It was shoulder to shoulder packed with people!

For our final night in Japan we all ate blowfish Shabu Shabu together at Aunt Ako and Yukari's house. Apparently blowfish is considered a delicacy and it is generally very expensive. For all of us to eat blowfish out at a restaurant it would have cost around $300... We got an incredible deal however, and they actually found some at the store that was on sale because the store was about to close for a few days due to the holiday. All in all they got enough blowfish for all of us for about $50. It was delicious, meaty and tender with a very delicate flavor. And did you know that blowfish is actually poisonous? Only someone with a license can cut and prepare the fish and must carefully extract the poisonous gland. Every once in a while someone will die from improperly handled meat. I thought that was pretty interesting.

So our final night was a wonderful summation to a short and sweet trip. Also, later in the night Yukari's boyfriend, Mr. Fujimara came over and joined us as well. We all laughed a lot together and got pretty silly. At one point I even got Grandma to do an impression of Ken's funny dance moves! It was hilarious! As you can see... Yumi was very tired - still recovering from the jet lag, and fell asleep on the comfy sofa missing out on our little party!

Sunday, December 27, 2009


While eating out here can be incredibly inexpensive, I'm having a hard time saving money at the grocery store even buying just the basic staple items. I'm thinking this might be because anything not produced in Korea is highly taxed to discourage from buying things that aren't local? There's definitely a lack of variety in the things you can purchase at the accessible stores and it requires some flexibility and creativity to adjust my cooking to what is available. Now that I'm a bit exhausted by eating Chamchi jiggae every day for a few weeks I'm not sure exactly what to cook. One thing that is really surprising is that I can't find beans here! Actually the store did offer two bean options: canned, baked beans, or canned pork and beans. No dried beans. There isn't much variety in produce or herbs and spices either and no cheese! Meat of all varieties is very expensive.

This was a sixty dollar trip to the grocery store - not including the plant, candle and folder which were already on the table... The wine was an indulgence at about 8,000 won or roughly $7 - and this is one of the cheapest bottles, and the coffee was an expensive necessity at around 15,000 won - also one of the cheapest bags they offer - and not very tasty.

But, hey, at least you get free socks with your cereal.

And the toothpaste fights calculus which is worth way more than 5,900 won!

Jagalchi Fish Market

One of our favorite sites in Busan so far has been Jagalchi Fish Market. There is so much sea life being sold here that it is hard to believe there is anything left in the sea.

This building is full of tanks containing all kinds of fish and creatures you can imagine... As far as I can tell you can just go up to any tank and buy your seafood right there. If you like they will even slice it up for you and you can eat it raw, on the spot.

All sorts of fish, shrimp, crabs, squid, octopus, eel, mussels, shells, slugs, urchins, spawn... what else lives in the water? Whether you ever considered it edible or not, it is probably there too.

A tank full of lively octopuses.

The view of the water right outside the building.

More vendors line the alleys and streets around this central building selling all of the same varieties of seafood, and then different kinds of seaweed, homemade kimchis and other side dishes, fresh tofu and bean jellies, herbs, teas, spices, etc...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Time in Our Apartment!

Christmas came and went with minimal bells and whistles but he had a five day vacation which was incredibly nice. My mom sent us a package of Christmas goodies so we were able to make our apartment at least a little bit festive. People in general don't really seem to celebrate Christmas over here, except for commercially. Many of my students actually had tests on Christmas day!

This was definitely one of the hardest times being away from family. For me, this was my first Christmas away from home and this is typically one of the few times of the year I actually get to see my them. For Ken it was even more difficult this year because we learned that his Grandfather Masada passed away on Christmas day. Being here in Korea actually does have its advantages though in this case, because we are so close to Japan and will be able to fly there next weekend to join Ken's mom, grandma, aunt and cousin.