Jagalchi Fish Market and Busan Basketball

In January, I finally made it to a KOTESOL Seoul Chapter monthly workshop for the first time in ages. I really should clear my schedule more, since I’m the treasurer, but life more fun travel opportunities seem to get in the way. I always enjoy the workshops and leave feeling motivated, but when Craig makes some travel plans which conflict, they always seem more fun. But anyway, January is a slow time for sports and I am trying to limit my risk of frostbite, so I had  a free Saturday. Ironically, Stafford was presenting on a topic we used to teach at Gyeongin.

After the meeting, I met Craig and we whisked ourselves to Busan. I really can’t overstate how much I love the KTX. How did I bear traveling without it? More importantly, what will I do after I leave Korea?

Not only is the KTX fast and reliable, you can take awesome photos like this at the train station.

Not only is the KTX fast and reliable, you can take awesome photos like this at the train station.

As ever, I digress. We got to Busan and set ourselves up in a reasonable hotel, after being knocked back from the presumably posher “tourist hotel” outside the station. Bags deposited in the room, we headed straight back out for some lamb at Samarkand. We did not hold back. We had lamb dumplings, lamb skewers, and lamb chops with potatoes.

We also decided to try a bottle of Uzbek wine. Note to self: pomegranate juice= good, pomegranate wine= gross. I am pretty sure the proprietor high fived everyone in the kitchen when he was able to foist that on our unsuspecting selves. As we were drinking, we noticed a heavy film of sediment on the bottle and eventually noticed a long-passed sell-by date. At least the lamb was good.

After dinner, we had a few more refreshing beverages at a self-serve bottle bar. This is one of the things I love about Korea. Each refrigerator has a clearly marked price and you take whatever you want. There are even chilled glasses, if you don’t want to drink from the bottle. When you are ready to go, you tell the cashier what you drank and pay up. In the US, people would sound like xylophones as they walked out with half of their empties in their Ryanair coats and diaper bags.

Full of lamb and bottled refreshments, we eventually called it a night. In the morning, we slowly pulled ourselves together and made our way to the Jagalchi Fish Market. A few years ago, it was gussied up for tourists and is now a bright, clean fish market on the first floor. Most of the fishmongers speak at least a little English and are friendly. You find what you want to eat, tell them how much you want to eat, and they will carry it upstairs where it’s cooked and served with side dishes. It’s a bit pricy, but you know it’s fresh, and it’s always delicious.

We met up with one of Craig’s friend’s there and had a nice lunch, while everyone around us cooed over his baby and demanded turns holding him. I don’t think Alan was too impressed with that, but his wife is Korean and knows the drill. She dutifully passed him around and took him back as quickly as possible. Eventually, Craig held him while they ate. I’m sure his grandkids wouldn’t be jealous…

Don't tell the grandkids, but Craig's been cheating on them.

Don’t tell the grandkids, but Craig’s been cheating on them.

They had arrived late and finally we had to leave them to it, because there was basketball to be watched. The Asiad Sports Complex is about a half hour drive away. So, we grabbed a cab and arrived just in time, or at least, only six points had been scored by the time we found seats. We were meant to meet up with another of Craig’s friends, but we were late and the place is too loud for telephones. Craig managed to find him at halftime and he and his daughter joined us for the second half. SK beat KT, not surprising given that they are on top of the league, but it was a good game with an enthusiastic crowd.

It's entirely possible that Charlie's young daughter took this photo.

It’s entirely possible that Charlie’s young daughter took this photo.

Hillbilly Korean cheerleaders, or something.

Hillbilly Korean cheerleaders, or something.