Thursday, May 8, 2014

We Went to Daegu!

As an expat--nine months into--living in Korea, it's easy to get this false sense of security. As if we have it all figured out. As if we have anything figured out. Even one single thing. Travel humbles us again.

This was true when we traveled to Daegu last weekend with our friends, Bob and Trish. We left on Friday after work. Hopped on a bus and headed south about three hours. After a few misadventures finding our motel we landed at our "love" motel. 

Here's what little I understand of love motels: They are cheap. They are secretive. And they are rent-able by the hour. Basically, it's a place you can bring your extra-lover when you want to be sneaky. They make it easy to avoid being seen. Covered parking. Non-descript room key drop. In other words: perfect.

The places often come with more amenities than I would expect at Holiday Inn in the States: a fridge, filtered water and drinks (that you don't pay extra for), a computer, a TV, and a bath tub!

They also come fully-equipped with random English words and half-naked women on the walls. Ya know, for motivation. Or something. But only for hetero-males. "No go" for the rest of us.

On our first morning in Daegu, we found a little lake. A lake! Open space! Fresh air! And this friendly Turkish guy selling--what else?--Turkish ice cream (which we know now is stickier than regular ice cream). 

There were even these super-cool duck paddle-boat things!

And then we stumbled upon this airplane that was turned into a coffee shop. Cool.

After this, by way of Google Maps, reading bus signs, and asking friendly locals, we found our destination. Well, we found our destination after getting on a bus and trying to count the number of bus stops to our destination. Two stops early, the bus driver yelled at us sitting in the back, "WHERE ARE YOU?" and pointed out the window. We gathered that he meant, "Where do you want to go? Is this the place?" We just kind of stumbled out, assuming--as usual--that someone else knew better than we did. And he was right.

He had dropped us off right in front of Herb Hillz, a small little amusement park with an eco-friendly feel. A place we never would've successfully found on our own.

I knew immediately we were going to like this place. It's the most green I've seen months.

We ate some chicken. We saw some sheep.

And we checked out the main event: the eco-park with the high-ropes course. We paid money, got shooed in one direction, put on helmets and harnesses and followed the herd.

We "listened" as this guy gave--what we assume was--a 10-minute safety/instructional speech. We hung back in case he wanted to talk to us or try to mime the instructions. Instead, he looked at us, cocked his head to the side weighing his interest in trying to speak to us, pointed to the first ladder, and said: "Go!"

So we went.

It was a grand ol' time. 

After Herb Hillz, we were pretty hungry and, if I know anything about why foreigners travel in Korea, it's to find familiar food. We wanted Mexican. After checking and re-checking internet directions and wandering around downtown, we settled on a restaurant that looked hopeful. We saw burritos. We were sold. What we didn't know is that you basically pay by the individual item. Yes. Each. Potato. Wedge.

We were a bit let down.

And we didn't have super high expectations for the burritos, so we weren't too surprised when they came with slices of American cheese, mayonnaise, corn, and peas. 

But all is well, folks, because we found a Cold Stone. That's right. Legit ice cream. 
Trish was kind of, sort of in heaven.

The next day, we were so excited to find the G'Day Cafe, a unique bistro started by two Korean sisters who at one point lived in Australia and missed the food when they returned. 
We are grateful to them. Yum!

Later, we explored this medicinal/herbal museum place that had public foot baths. 
Which we think are super cool.

Then, in the afternoon, we caught a baseball game: 
the Samsung Lions (Daegu's team) verse the NC Dinos (from Changwon).

I'm only now learning how big baseball is in Korea! 
I imagine we'll be taking in a few more games this season.

The game is the same, but as expected, the culture is quite different. And in a good way. 
No half-naked cheer leaders. 
No loud announcer. 
No blaring music between innings. 
No giveaways. 
No vendors selling food up and down the aisles. 
Just people watching baseball. 

And it was good.
Everything was good.

CORRECTION 5/12: Come to find out the baseball was uncharacteristically quiet (i.e. cheerleaders and such) because the country is in a state of mourning. Apparently, they are normally more raucous, but because of the sewol ferry tragedy, they are keeping things quiet out of respect.