Tag Archives: Pohang

Pohang Soju cocktail restaurant Damichon

A while back my school had dinner at a pretty famous-in-Korea restarurant/ bar called Damichon (다미촌).

The lady who owns the establishment is kind of like Tom Cruise in Cocktail, just taller. She started as a server but made so much money with her skillz, red lipstick and toit tops that she managed to buy her own place after a while.

The food was pretty decent but you can’t really go wrong with Korean BBQ. Two things set Damichon apart from your standard Korean dining experience: our Soju bottles were branded with the school name and logo and the after-dinner cocktail show was unbeatable!

There are loads of videos on YouTube– check it out.  My principal went nuts for this dame… I’ve never seen him bow to anyone before.

It’s a good idea to pre-book Ham Sun Bok (함순복) in advance so that she can entertain your table with her tricks!

 

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Dokdo bread

If you live in Korea you know that passions run high when it comes to Dokdo, that tiny rock near Ulleungdo that somehow got left ouf of the peace treaty between Japan and Korea after the Korean War ended. “Dokdo is Korea” as the slogan goes and although Korea currently occupies this tiny, unhospitable rock it officially belongs to Japan. I guess you can thank Uncle Sam for that one.

Someone saw a gap in the market and decided to start baking Dokdo Bbang (bbang=bread) here in Pohang. As it happens, the bakery is quite near my house so I couldn’t pass up the chance to buy my school leaving gifts there.

According to The Korea Times, owner Kim Ki Sun got well pissed off when he heard that a baker in Japan was producing “Takeshima bread” so he decided to retaliate!

I bought 3 boxes of ten, and was offered 2 samples and 3 freebies- pretty awesome! These madeleine cakes are orange flavour whereas Dokdo itself is blueberry. I liked it for the most part but it did have a slight aftertaste, like when you add too much baking powder.

You can order the bread cake, online or just pop into 소망 베 이커리bakery itself, located in Song-do dong (they’re open til 11PM and they also sell pizza).

They make the perfect gift for principals so they offer the perfect ending to a happy school relationship.

 

Cycling from Pohang to Gyeongju (40km/ 2 hours)

On Hangeul Day, a public holiday in Korea, I finally made time to cycle from Pohang to Gyeongju. The bus journey between the 2 cities takes 30-40 minutes and the straightest line (on highway 7) makes it just over 30km. But I’m not looking for straight lines. I’m looking for curves that will swoop around beautiful stretches of farm land, small villages, rivers and streams.

The first time I did the ride I had the good fortune to be stopped by a farmer who was having a barbeque with his family and friends. I met his family, horses, dogs and cows and sampled some really tender beef! It was a random but great encounter, just another example of the extreme generosity and kindness you will come across in this country.

The route back was slightly less auspicious as I left Gyeongju a bit late and got horribly lost on the small country roads. It took me 4 hours to get home, double the time it should have taken! It was a beautiful night ride though, the night after the lunar eclipse: huge moon, clear skies… you could even see some stars. The silence of the sleepy countryside was intermittently interrupted by the sound of a stream or river nearby. It would have been true bliss had I not been so lost.

I was determined to try the route again since it’s a nice easy ride that’s easy on the eye. I made a pig’s ear of  the route on the way there so I’m only going to post my return route (Gyeongju-Pohang).

Most of the route will be on quiet concrete country roads/ nice bike paths, maybe 55%, about 5% on road, 15% gravel and 15% side walk/ shitty bike paths. I did the ride on my road bike, which handled the gravel sections fine but beware of uneven surfaces just before leaving Pohang and when you’re cycling in Gyeongju (next to the main road – there are some truly awful bits that can give you a snakebite if you’re not on the look-out). Obviously it’s common sense to take a spare tube, patching kit and a pump with you.

Some cool restaurants  near the Express Bus Terminal in Gyeongju include:

– Hawa Dhaba 하와다바 (Indian food) – google 하와다바 HawaDhaba 경상북도 경주시황오동 108-2

– Kong Story  꽁스토리 (Falafels)- opposite the Express Bus Terminal. OMG so good.

– NeCoZzang 네코짱 (Japanese Ramen)- also very near the Express Bus Terminal.

Here’s my route on Strava: http://www.strava.com/activities/209040367/embed/dbbd52f4072d70d513c188145f42f5158175d1b1

My Pohang start/ end point is Posco bridge, since it’s a well-known landmark. My Gyeongju start/ end point is very near the Express Bus Terminal. Where you can see loops it signifies going off-route so just go straight (none of the detours are huge though, should they occur). If you are starting from Pohang, you will need to cross the road when you see the huge retail park between Pohang and Gyeongju, otherwise you’ll be cycling against highway  traffic coming around a corner. Do-able but not safe at all.

11 Things to do in Pohang

 

1. Take a surf lesson at Yeongilman (영일만, 서핑 포항).

2. Go to Chilpo-ri Temple (칠포리).  From Shiwae Bus Terminal, go to Heunghae Transfer Center ( bus 100, 500, or 107). There is a country bus without a number you can take from the Heunghae Transfer Center Stop. Ask the driver to stop at Chilpo. The bus runs once/ hour. The 500 and 510 go to Wolpo beach too.

3. Go to Bogyeongsa Temple/ hike the 12 waterfalls (보경사). Hop on the 510 bus from Shiwae Bus terminal- it ends at Bogyeongsa.

4. Visit the Homigot Hand & Guryonpo’s Japanese Street (호미곶/ 구룐포). Take the 200 bus – get off at Guryongpo transfer centre(구룡포환승센터) – then take the “Homigot” bus (호미곶 – there’s no number). Ask the driver to tell you where to get off (but it should be obvious).

5. Go to Jangsa Beach (장사리) – the best beach in Pohang. Buy a ticket at Shiwae Bus Terminal and ask the driver to stop at Jangsa. The journey takes about an hour depending on traffic. Buy your return ticket at the shop next to the convenience store opposite the beach (use the tunnel that connects the beach to the town).

6. Attend an orchestra performance. Bus 200 goes there from Shiwae Bus Terminal.

7. Attend a baseball game– Samsung Lions. Bus 200 goes there from Shiwae Bus Terminal.

8. Attend a soccer game – Pohang Steelers. Bus 200 goes there from Shiwae Bus Terminal.

9. Shop at Jukdo Market (포항죽도). Most buses pass by Jukdo Market.

10. Stay awake all night, party at Tilt and watch the sun rise (포항틸트). Naver has all the bus details!

11. Eat Haemul (cold noodles, grated pear and sashimi) (포항해물). It’s off the hook tasty! There are loads of restaurants that serve Haemul along Pohang’s main beach “Bukbu”, now known as Yeongildae.

Ice skating in Pohang

I’ve just come back from a morning of ice skating with my school. Pohang’s ice rink (포항아이스링크) is located in Jansangdong- click here for the map. Prices can be found on the 2nd tab at the top (아이스링크), 요금안내: 입장료= skates and대화료(헬멧)= helmet hire.  If you have a group of 30+ you can get a discount. If you want to play ice hockey join the Ulsan, Busan, Daegu, Pohang Ice Hockey  facebook group.

Surfing in Pohang/ Busan Surf Competition

I tried my hand at surfing for the first time in 2010. Jeffreys Bay, better known as J’Bay, is famous for its perfect barrels and its annual surf competition. I’ve been practicing paddling out and standing on our coffee table since I was 18 so it was cool to finally take beginner lessons. Two days of basic lessons followed by a year’s gap before I repeated the beginner game in Newquay, Cornwall. One day of surfing foamies followed by 3 years’ hiatus.

Last year I was in Busan to learn sailing and I happened to catch the last part of the Busan Surf Competition. The “waves” made me laugh. I come from a country where you grow up being dumped by waves and almost drown on a regular basis. They call THIS the sea? WAVES? Seriously… Korea is not known for its waves, that’s for damn sure. North Korea, maybe. South Korea? Typhoon time, sure. But then you’re not allowed to surf. In fact, they have cancelled the Annual Mayor’s Cup  International Surfing Championship in the past because “the waves were too big” ??? Check out this cool blog on surfing in the DMZ.

I decided to enter this year’s competition (entry cost 40,000 won) because I reckon even a beginner like me can surf Korea’s teeny tiny waves! If you want to learn how to surf in Pohang (in English) you need to contact these guys. However, if you already have some basic skills that you want to build on and you only need to rent a board, you can go to Surfer City or Green Room (naver 서핑 포항). These shops are both located in Yeongilman, past the industrial park and the harbour. I have rented boards from both shops and I got a better deal at Green Room but Son Young Ik, who runs it, is often away and Surfer City is usually open (expect to pay anywhere between 20,000-25,000 won for 2-4 hours’ board rental) . If you become a member of the KSA this will drop to 10,000 won. If you have your own board and a car, you can obviously go anywhere and Guryonpo is a good spot for bigger waves.

We had a few big waves around full moon two weeks ago and I got a bit cheeky. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up with a broken foam-top rental board. Young Ik is super laid back and was nice enough not to charge me, but I’m now known as that girl who broke a board. WORSE! The waygookin girl (the only one) who broke a board. Ah well, shit happens! That’s how you learn, right?! Haha.

Korea surf culture is still in its infancy but it is growing very quickly. Foreigners like to complain that Koreans follow no safety rules or etiquette when they surf. They also like to bitch about too many people at “their” spot. I would hate for Koreans to learn this negative, greedy, clique-y attitude to a resource that belongs to no one and everyone at the same time. No one owns the sea, you can’t own a surf spot. 

 Currently Korean surf culture is still very open, friendly and leans more towards longboards, which is more suited to the waves here. I’ve rented both 8 and 9 footers here and I actually prefer the 8.

SUP (Stand up paddling) is also taking off big time here, which makes sense considering the “waves”. Mel Vin is the best guy to contact on Facebook regarding SUP sales and lessons.

I have about 10 hours of practice under my belt for the Busan Surf Competition. All the foreigners get lumped together in the International Open, seperated only by gender, not experience. The Korean competition is divided into juniors, beginner, open and longboard . When I spoke to the KSA earlier this week there were only 2 other girls in the International Women’s Open, so we’re 3 in total. People can still enter on the day, but I hope no one does! How awesome would it be to snag 3rd place with my limited experience??!  The prizes in the International Men’s open are: 1,500,00 won for first place, 500,000 won  for 2nd place and a goody bag for third place. In the Intl. Women’s first place gets you 1,000,000 won, second place 300,00 won and a goody bag for 3rd place. Aussie surfer Brett Burcher has flown in to do a few workshops with Kai Surf/ Ocean & Earth Surf shop prior to taking part in the comp. I’m paying 35,000 won for surfboard rental through Kai Surf (to pick up at the venue the morning of).

Obviously I can write what I know about surf comps on the back of a soju bottle cap, but they still expect you to know the rules (even though there will be no briefing for foreigners). The rules are on the KSA’s website and event but they’re all in Korean. Luckily, the follow ISA rules, so you can inform yourself here.

For more info on surfing in Korea, go here.

Tide tables and Weather forecast: Use KHOA (Korea hydrographic and Oceanographic Administration), Buoy Weather or Windfinder.

Vocabulary: 밀물 = high tide, 썰물= low (ebb) tide,짜=date, 북= north, 서= west, 남= south, 동= east

Groups to join on Facebook: Surfing Korea, Korea Surf Association, Korea Water Love, Surfer City (Pohang), and Esl English Surf Lessons (Pohang).

Hostels on Haeundae Beach (Busan): Pobi Guesthouse and Popcorn Hostel.

Happy surfing x

BIPAF 2014 (Busan International Performing Arts Festival)

My friend entered his play “Treasured Love”  into  this year’s BIPAF’s 10 minute play competition. He recruited 4 volunteers from Pohang, including me, and we started preparing mid April. We lost one along the way so he became writer-director-actor. What a guy!

I didn’t realise how big the festival was. It ran from 2-11 May and the 10 minute play competition was the only one open to amateurs like us.  I’m pretty sure that we were the only foreigners out of 25 plays in the running.

It became clear on rehearsal day that our play was slightly different to the rest. The main Korean themes were suicide, bullying and handicapped issues. Real tear-jerkers- no language required! Our play was about vampires… A combo of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and “Only Lovers Left Alive”.  Needless to say, we gave our best but it was never going to cut it. At least we got some laughs from the audience…

I  learned a lot about what to expect and prep for next time.

Firstly, the theme has to have substance. Koreans like heavy themes, they spell drama with a capital D. The ten minute play should feature both laughter and tears (real ones, preferably shed by a male). There’s got to be Love and a Broken Heart somewhere in the mix. Plus Redemption if you have time…

Secondly, you need a soundtrack. At least one song but more is better.

Thirdly, lighting. Don’t think that having the lights on all the time will win you any points. It won’t.

Fourthly, timing. If the competition is called “Ten minute Plays” then you’d better finish right at 09:59 or 10:00. Seven and a half minutes? Forget you!

Lastly, script. Keep the English to a minimum, keep it basic, speak slowly. If you can, don’t use any language, concentrate on miming and dancing instead. Everyone loves a bit of synchronised dancing, especially if it’s a group of boys popping on the stage.

If I lived in Busan I would definitely have gone to the other shows. I admire  Korea’s approach to making arts and culture accessible to everyone by making tickets affordable.

I hope that next year will see more foreign plays in the running, since there is talent in Pohang, Daegu and Busan. Maybe one day a foreign play can even win. Now wouldn’t that be something!

 

Learning about Pohang from the seat of my bicycle

There is more to this place than just Pohang “Shi” (City). Pohang is actually a region made up of several towns and townships. Last weekend I rode from Jukdo Market (downtown) to The Cape, just north of월포 Wolpo-ri (Wolpo Beach). I had great company- I randomly met the co-teacher of one of my friends while cycling the previous weekend. “Seabed”owns a Moulton and circumvented Korea on his  bicycle when he was younger. I’m going to dedicate a whole post to this guy and what he told me so let’s get to the ride.

 selfie

Once you leave Yeongildae (Bukbu) and Jangseongdong (JSD) behind, hang a right and this will take you up the coast past a few awesome places:

1,2 &3. Jukcheon-ri, Umok-ri and Yonghan-ri: These small townships offer great photo ops and you can find deserted hanok (traditional Korean houses) and 해녀 (bad-ass old ladies who freedive and collect everything from seaweed to abalone). We also stopped by an old ladies house to take some photos of her and her front room. She told us she lives “혼자” – (forever) alone. At least she has lots of photos on her wall.

boatoldladyfreediver

4. 영일만 Yeongilman: Home to the Pohang Surf School, a Scuba Diving shop where they don’t speak English and the Yeongilman Harbour.

5. 칠포리 Chilpo-ri:   The first decent beach north of Yeongildae- smaller than Bukbu and pretty by Korean standards.

On the way to Odo we were passed by a truck booming out announcements about its wares for sale. Usually you’ll hear “삭와” (apples) or “수박” (watermelon). On this occasion it was the “개” truck. I did a double take because I couldn’t believe my ears. Yep. A dog truck. Lots of little brown maltese poodles in the back.  Seabed explained that the dogs get fed a lot of water before they are sold because it makes the meat more tender. Very surreal.

We also cycled past many rice paddies being planted. Back breaking work, but made better with some makkoli no doubt! Again, idyllic scenery-  great for photos.

ricefield

6. 오도리 Odo -ri: I really like Odo beach. Smaller than Chilpo, good for camping and the water gets deep quickly (unlike Yeongildae where you’re knee deep for 200m). If you don’t want to camp there are a few pensions around. Peace and quiet.

월포 Wolpo-ri: Wolpo is OK. I think Odo is better but is beach has more facilities.

화진리 The Cape: We ended up at The Cape, just north of Wolpo. The owner showed us around and explained that many famous K-Drama stars and politicians often stay at his hotel. As you can expect, it’s decorated to very high specs and each sea view apartment has its own Japanese sauna. The cheapest room costs 150,000 won per night but I’d say it has the nicest, widest, cleanest, wildest beach I’ve seen 30km to either side of Pohang City. This is definitely the place to celebrate anniversaries and Valentine’s Day.

cape

A note on using naver: Search “포항오도리” and click “지도” on the top left hand drop down box. It will bring up a map of the area. Now hover over the bus symbol and all the other search categories will appear. Click on the Bed symbol “숙박” and it will display all the hotels, minibaks and pensions in the area, including the company’s website if it’s been provided. Take the tropical paradise looking cover photos with a pinch of salt though and look at the gallery for the truth.

If you fancy doing the route yourself click here. It’s approx. 60km and takes about 3 hours on a road bike.

If you don’t have a bike:

 Tsk tsk. Get one.

There is a country bus without a number you can take from the Heunghae Transfer Center Stop. You can get to Heunghae by taking bus 100,500, or 107 from Shiwae (stand opposite the bus station). The bus with no number only goes every hour or so… Taking a taxi from JSD is probably easier, or if you continue on the 500 bus or the 510 you can get to Wolpo beach. 

 

Pohang Orchestra

Tonight I watched Pohang’s local orchestra perform at the Pohang Culture and Arts Center near POSCO Bridge and the baseball stadium. Mendelssohn, Mozart and Dvorak all featured in tonight’s performance.

What makes attending this classical music event so special? Well, for starters, it’s 2,000 won per ticket! Show me anywhere else in the world where you can regularly access good quality music for less than a quid!

Tonight’s performance was conducted by Byeong-Uk Lee (Lee Byung-wook), who usually heads up the Korean Symphony Orchestra and featured Ju-Won Kim (Kim Juwon) on flute during Mozart’s “Concerto for Flute and Orchestra No.1 in G Major, K313. It’s hard for me to find information on these musicians using google but I’m sure that if you naver them you’ll find a trove of information. Most of my info seems to indicate that they’re usually based up in Seoul but both of them have connections with Germany.

Great performance, really enjoyed Dvorak’s “From the New World Opus 95”.

Two things I’ll mention about the overall experience.

1) There are loads of kids. They run around and they whisper and make telescopes out of programmes. Cute and slightly annoying.

2) It’s hot in the auditorium – the musicians were sweating on stage. Don’t sit in the lower section – definitely aim for higher up where the air is cooler. You’ll also have a better view of the orchestra if you sit in the elevated section.

Booking tickets: My co-teacher was kind enough to book the tickets online for me but you can probably buy them at the venue too.

The next performance is on June 19th and will feature works by Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky.

Getting there: Take the 200 from Shiwae Bus Terminal or a taxi to 포항문화에술회관대공연장 (790-722 경북 포항시 남구 시청로 1(포항시청 14층 포항시시설관리공단).

Sidenote: There are also free monthly concerts held on Saturdays at 17:00 – 육거리 포항 아트홀. The last one was 17th May.