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Rest and Recovery with Jenn and Den

Ulsan, South Korea

November 13 Saturday
My legs are sore and crippled from yesterday, especially from the climb up Gatbawi. What could be better than a decadent morning starting with my making Green Mountain coffee for everyone! Jenn made us bacon and eggs, I laundered clothes, even my photo jacket.
Almost noon when we drove north through dense traffic heading for Gyeongu and the ancient temple complex Bulgoksa, a UNESCO world heritage site. Vivid autumn foliage had attracted crowds of families and everywhere cameras focussed on groups of family, and friends, the Koreans being photograhed always making the V for “victory” sign. Beautiful children, fashionably chic adolescents even with platinum or bright red hair. Lovely ponds, curved bridges, even the toilet houses had traditional temple tiled roofs!
So did the nearby town's restaurants where we had a late lunch of rice, vegetables and meat in a hot pot that kept everything hot until the last bite. Next door, in the souvenir shop, Mary bought a pair of wedding ducks like the mandarin ducks we'd seen in a pond at the palace garden in Seoul. When I picked up a package of sticks with cribbage like holes, a Korean woman with good English explained the traditional game yut-nori that is played with them.
Evening we headed for Ulsan's harbor where we chose a simple-looking restaurant with tanks of crab outside. One tank held pinkish crabs about 10 inches across. Another held crabs at least 2 feet across and costing $200. Eager to sell us one of the giants, the Korean employee hooked one and lifted it up into the air to let us see the mouth parts working and the long legs. Plopped upside down on the scales, the huge creature could only wave its legs feebly. It was a surreal and sad experience watching these fascinating and very alive but doomed creatures that we were about to eat.
We were shown to a small cabin, the size of a child's playhouse, with walls covered with pink, rose-patterned wallpaper. Sitting on cushions as the floor heated beneath us, we drank beer and ate from the many appetizer and side dishes – abalone, snails, a white fish, seaweed, kimchi, small white sweet potatoes. The main attraction, a platter of four crabs, arrived with a Korean woman who showed us how to use scissors to cut the shell and how to suck out the meat... which was delicate and sweet. We left a table littered with debris and took the four small beautiful abalone shells with us.

November 14 Sunday
Breakfast of bagels, peanut butter, jam and marmalade! Jen, Den, Mary and I, together with their Boston terrier-Pug, Arnold, hiked from their complex of apartment buildings, past small garden plots growing cabbage and huge green radishes that were popping out of the ground, and up the nearby hill. We passed oak and pine, beautifully-tassled grasses, and the web of a 2 ½ inch, vibrantly striped spider.
In the afternoon Jenn and Den went to the Korean wedding of Den's colleague. It was one of some 10 going on in a wedding palace that provides hair salons, dress shops and an overflow area in the open space in the center of the various wedding rooms so that extra guests can mingle and create an excessive amount of noise. Mary and I had the luxury of staying in the apartment, taking it easy, except for throwing the ball dozens of times for Arnold to retrieve. When Jenn and Den returned, the coffee table became the site of a Korean game, in which you build a tower then take turns removing a lower piece and adding it to the top. Eventually the tower is so high and so full of holes that it collapses.
Jennifer made us a delicious dinner of pineapple glazed pork tenderloin, together with the basmati rice that is expensive and difficult to buy in Korea. For dessert, ice cream sandwiches in the shape of sea bream, the fish that is much prized at restaurants.

permalink written by  chertop on November 14, 2010 from Ulsan, South Korea
from the travel blog: Japan and South Korea 2010
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My mother tells me that when I was five and she took me by train from Vancouver to Edmonton, we had barely left Vancouver when I declared "Enough train. Get down now." But, at age 11 when my paternal grandmother took me from Edmonton to California and Disneyland, the trip instilled in me a...

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