Dan in Busan

We headed back to Busan on Sunday (because some of us had to work the next day!) and got Dan settled into my flat. Due to my school having mid-term exams, I was able to leave early on Monday so I decided to take Dan to one of the most interesting (in my opinion) sites in Busan – one of Korea’s best fish market. Not the biggest, but still very famous. We have already written about it, back in April, so I won’t go into detail – you can skip back and read if you can’t remember.

So anyway, we headed there for lunch…now, Dan and I are complete opposites when it comes to food – he loves trying anything new and I am much less adventurous. Nevertheless I ended up trying my first sashimi! It was dogfish, a kind of shark, and we chose it from a tank, still alive, and then headed upstairs to wait for it to be prepared. It was brought to us on a big plate with lots of extra bits and bobs to go with it. It took me a while to muster up the courage but there I was, chopsticks poised over the plate, ready to go, when I noticed a twitch. Dan thought I had just psyched myself out about it, but as we stared at the plate it became clear that some pieces of the fish were twitching! Needless to say I avoided those, and had a couple of definitely-dead bits. Dan also tried something called a Sea Squirt, which has been described by Lonely Planet as tasting like “rubber soaked in ammonia” – Dan said it was like an oyster but not as nice.

On the Wednesday afternoon Dan was invited to my school to watch a jazz band that was coming to perform in assembly. It was…interesting. I’m not a fan of jazz but I did recognise a few tunes and we had a laugh. It was definitely weird hearing “Fly me to the moon” in a Korean accent!
Panda Dan Didn't Get Naked
Last week you saw how much Dan liked to get naked. Well this entry is no different. This time we spent a good hour enjoying each other’s company while being fully nude. In England, this sentence might sound a little strange but in Korea, spending some quality naked time with a friend is very common. In fact I can now say that I have seen more than a hundred Korean penises. What’s this you ask: Have I now become a prostitute with a very impressive client base? Did I really come to Korea to become a penis doctor or “dicktor”, if you will?

The answer to those questions are “unfortunately not” and “no, but I like the nickname.” Actually, Dan and I went to a Jimjilbang called Spaland, in Shinsaegae – the World’s largest department store. A Jimjilbang is an interesting place for a foreigner. It is basically a spa where there is a communal area with a variety of saunas, cold rooms and places to get massages and such. And then there is the segregated section which separates the men from the girls. Here it is custom to get fully naked and enjoy a variety of baths at varying temperatures while checking out everyone’s package. For Koreans to see Westerners experiencing this, it is particularly exciting and you are met with more than a few stares. I don’t have any photos so please keep reading. 

Spaland is a 5 star establishment and I left feeling very relaxed and with an inflated ego after comparing myself to the country with the World’s smallest penis size. An average of 3.8 inches. I’m just glad I wasn’t in these baths in Ghana. Check the link out to see why...

What else did we do with Dan to stop him from going barking mad with boredom? Well the next tail is all about a night out that ended up as a right dog’s dinner. The tail starts after a long, hard night and we all felt a bit ruff. We were walking to a restaurant when we herd about a terrierist in the area so we thought we best be alert. We stopped at one of the many marts and bought an energy drink that gave us all a new leash on life. Anyway, Dan needed the bathroom so marked his territory up an alleyway. Mutt-erring to myself about my hunger, I herded the ravenous pack towards the restaurant.

Let me paws for a moment and just say a few words before you continue. I came here for new experiences so please throw me a bone and don’t pass judgement.

So for dinner, we decided to eat something a little different to usual. My Korean friend, Lindsay, took me, Dan, Katie and our friend Tom to a restaurant where we could order the illegal dog soup– it’s about as illegal as picking your nose to be honest. The soup smelt like dog and tasted like dog but, it was actually very tasty.

I had a traditional Korean chicken soup, which was really bland and disappointing. I did try some of the dog soup, and while the meat wasn't anything to write home about (although we clearly are!) I did think the broth was delicious, really fully of flavour.

I know a lot of people will hold Great disDane to me over this but I feel like it needed to be blogged about and I hope you found it punny. I also wanted you to find the story fetching and not get too hot around the collar over it. Until next time, goodbye. Oh and please don’t hound me for naked pics please ladies. (all puns thorough-bred-ly intended)

Dan Visits Seoul

...and so do we. If you don’t know Dan, here is a little about him. He loves holidays and flew to Brazil last year for a week-long trip. He also went travelling around Asia with me for 6 weeks ending with him going to a 5 day music festival to arrive home on the Sunday night; the night before he started a new job as an investment banker. He loves to be busy and is a great guy so Katie and I were delighted to have him visit us in Korea.

e met Dan in Seoul, the capital of Korea. Home to the World’s best airport since 2005 (it has a spa and a golf course) and with a population of over 10 million; we were suitably excited. With its high buildings, huge subway system, and an abundance of people, it sort of reminded us of a bigger, more expensive version of Pbusan.

The two of us arrived the night before Dan and, after exhausting the few leads we had on cheap places to stay, ended up sleeping in a rather…basic, “love motel”. I don’t know if we’ve told you about love motels yet but here is the basic gist – affairs are big in Korea, so there are thousands of cheap motels that you can rent by the hour (or night) all over the country. They range from super-seedy to practically 5* and prices can be anything from about £10 to £100, depending on where they are and how fancy they are. Ours was £20 and smelt like cigarettes, but the owner did throw in a handy over-night pack, full of useful goodies such as 2 toothbrushes, a razor, some facial wash and a condom. I love a hotel-freebie as much as the next person but I found that more than a little disturbing.

The next day, with Dan in toe, we started the way you should always start when you get to a huge city – we went to the highest point (Seoul Tower) to have a look around. We got some good views but some crappy photos, all while Katie struggled with her vertigo.

Seoul really was huge and there were lights in every direction as far as we could see.

Here’s a great thing that Korea does, which Britain doesn't. Our Pbusan subway beepers (basically an Oyster card) work in Seoul as well as most other cities with only a few exceptions. So that’s pretty useful: Open your ears, Boris, put a comb through your hair and MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

We saw another temple and snapped a few shots with some guys in traditional gear. There seemed to be some kind of festival or event happening but when is there not in Korea??

We experienced some Seoul night life while we were there: I say nightlife, we drunk some beers in a park in the central club area. We weren't alone though and caught some Korean street dancers who were very good and seriously hilarious. And we got harassed by some really annoying American guy. I mean, so annoying I wanted to tear out his lungs to see how much shit there was because it was spraying, like a fire hose, out of his mouth.

Anyway, we finished the last day in Seoul by looking around an art exhibition, which I was very excited about. It was called Trick Art and I’ll finish this post by showing you a selection of the cool photos that we took.

This is how I feel around Katie

Dan enjoys taking his top off

Dan topless again
Dan getting a little handsy
Should we have called this blog: Dan Topless?


Business in Korea is like dinner with my brother – it’s competitive and you’ll do anything to win. Who can eat the most pigs in blankets? Who can stuff themselves then one hour later, be ready for a sandwich? Who can throw up first? Well business in Korea is no different.

It’s a Korean eat dog world out there, and if your business doesn’t cut it, you’ll go under faster than a Japanese seaside town.

So what do you do to gain a competitive edge in this market? There are mobile phone shops on every corner, a convenience store on either side of every shop and a man selling something out a van everywhere you turn.

Well some shops have taken to the challenge and started to give away freebies with their items. Picture yourself about to buy a 24 month mobile phone plan and phone on a Saturday night at 11pm (they are open until about midnight – who knows why?) and you aren’t quite decided on the contract. What can tip you over the edge and get your signature?
Coffee. It is night time after all so some coffee might be just what the doctor ordered. Don’t want coffee, how about . . .
A free pack of cling film - that’s gotta be the clincher.

Me: “I’m not convinced by the cost of calls on this price plan and the handset isn’t the exact one I wanted.”
Salesman: “Did I mention that you get a WHOLE box of cling film?”
Me: “Where do I sign?”

Innovation in business strategy is not usual in Korea, they are much more likely to see your idea and copy it for themselves. I’m starting to sound like Sir Lord Spur’s scum Alan Sugar with all this business chat... Anyway the next mobile phone shop made a slightly better offer than cling film.
Noodles and kitchen roll, that’s related to me buying a new phone :s
I don’t know who is in charge of their sales strategy but this technique really isn't in just one or two stores. Here’s another one:
Now you can have some fabric conditioner. The shop opposite, not to be outdone, then gave away this:

Fabric conditioner for the ladies, the tissues for the man. What more could you ask for?

Well you could throw in some kitchen roll and surface cloths. That’s what the other phone shop did! Definitely the deal I have been hunting around for. Or is it?

Moisturisers and creams. You had me at annyeong. Meanwhile by the cling film shop, another rival store plans to steal some business with this crazy idea.

Well, that’s sold me! Noodles, kettle and a hoover. I can make noodles using water in the kettle then clean up the mess with the hoover. I can then use the phone to call all my friends up and tell them about my incredible purchase.

Hope you enjoyed the new feature – more to come soon!

Weekend Funtivities Part 3

One weekend we decided to take the train to a small place called Cheong-du, which is famous for one thing, bullfighting. Hosting the biggest bullfighting stadium in the World (the World being Korea of course), it was a fine setting to lock horns with each other (figuratively of course) and place bets on which bull would win the fight. The fight consisting of two bulls locking horns (literally of course) while trying to shove each other into submission. The bull wouldn’t tap out or anything but would do a shameful trot away with his back to the winning bull that normally chased after the other one triumphant. The highlight of the fighting was when one bull sent his owner flying and the man got trampled on a little bit. Fortunately he was okay except he got his trousers pulled down and a little ripped.

To make the contest a bit more interesting, we decided to place bets. We played against Brittany who in another life had been a bull because she guessed ten in a row correctly. I then used all my cunning to guess predict seven winning bulls in a row. Unfortunately like the bull owner I was left with my trousers around my ankles screaming in agony because I couldn’t mount a comeback.
Bulls Fighting
Bull Skeleton
After the bulls, we moved from Cheong-du to Daegu, which is Korea’s 4th largest city. We went out clubbing and generally had an drunkentertaining evening.
Nuff Said
We then explored Daegu a little more and we came to the conclusion that all Korean cities look and feel very similar. Except Pbusan has a beach so is therefore > Daegu.

Back to Busan and Shinsegae (진세계) aka Centum City (μ„Όνƒμ‹œν‹°) is billed as “The World’s Largest Department Store” and for once, I think the Koreans might actually be accurate. Clearly we were sceptical after The Great Fountain Debacle of 2011, and sadly we were somewhat disappointed by the experience but for me this boiled down to the definition of “department store” – I had been under the impression that this was the same as a shopping mall, but in fact it is more along the lines of Harrods and Selfridges. You know, one big building with lots of boutiques with expensive labels and cosmetics. So everything was way out of our price range (I did buy a very cheap skirt in the UNIQLO sale but that was it) and not really that interesting. For the most part.
What is this? A Department Store for ants. Needs to be at least 3 times as big!
On the top floor is the electronics department, and this was really quite incredible. Korean’s have gadgets and technology for just about everything – the latest being a kind of wardrobe to hang your suits in, that then steams them, shakes the creases out and makes everything smell nice. Who has room for that?! ( We didn't take a photo so you'll have to wait to see what one looks like!) There were also all manner of air conditioners and fancy vacuum cleaners and of course, the latest in TV/internet/mobile phone/wifi/stereo/arse-wiping/webcam/3D/HD/PVA developments.

Dave went wild up there but my pleasure came from the basement…the food court! It was huge and although there weren’t as many free samples as I would have liked (I’ve been spoiled by Emart) it was pretty interesting and we got a few tasty treats. This was definitely the highlight of the store for me, and well worth checking out.
There is one part of the store that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to enjoy, and that is Spa Land. David has been and will reveal all in a later post, I’m sure.

I was lucky enough to go on an all expenses paid day trip to Goryeong courtesy of the office of education. With a 6am Saturday wakeup call, the day started red eyed and grumpy. But the free pastries on the coach to Goryeong festival were welcomed grabbed with both arms.
As it was strawberry season, they had organised a stop at a strawberry crop for some picking.  
While strategically placing strawberries in my box to fit in as many as possible, it brought out the engineer in me, especially the bored engineer who would play Tetris rather than work. I felt a little sick after eating a sizable chunk of the Korean’s strawberry crop and this is when we went to the festival.

Goryeong is home to an ancient city, which the Korean Indiana Jones and Korean Howard Carter have been excavating to reveal relics from the 3000 year old culture of Korea. We went round a museum and I learnt a bit about the history and development of their civilisation. There aren’t many photos because the place was crawling with kids but here’s one of a sword they found that’s over 1500 years old.
Almost as old as Vicky (she turns 30 this month :o)
I then saw the World’s largest fountain.
Or not! I just liked this fountain more than the last because it actually turned on while I was there.

I then got my photo taken with the guys in charge of first aid and fire safety.
And finally I (accidently) offended and cursed my bloodline for a thousand years by standing on the grave of an Ancient Korean king.  Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.
Sorry Future Offspring