Ulsan

Wednesday | November 21st, 2012

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If immigration says I need to go to Ulsan to renew my visa, then that’s where I am destined to go every two or three years (or one after Meow kicks me out). I have to say, the bus ride from Gyeongju was short, but nothing was more impressive rolling into Ulsan than seeing a giant friggin’ ferris wheel on top of the Lotte Mall across from the bus station (hero image, top). That is a Korea first (for me).

On the bus ride Meow got Chinese food in her head then started listing all the things she wanted to eat for breakfast: mandu, noodles, rice, kimchi, noodles, mandu. She asked me if that sounded delicious. It doesn’t. I want bacon and eggs. With toast and homefries even better. But I thought this was just a birthday pipe dream. Then we went to the Paris Baguette Cafe across from the bus stop. It’s a curious thing to see toast wrapped in bacon (above, left). Even more was biting into it and finding hard boiled egg (above, right).

Immigration was a drag, but thankfully it was short lived. A little money, some jerk in a booth, another wallet sized photograph, some stamps, a receipt and we were out the door looking for a bank. The birthday boy needed money for his wife mandated shopping experience.

The shopping area near the bus station was all department stores and $200 pairs of Levis (I didn’t need to look, the story is always the same, cheap Bi-Mart threads for 5-6 times the price being pushed like Louis Vitton or Chanel). So we asked our cabbie to take us to the little shops and ended up in a bunch of side streets covered with this arched structure (above, all).

I liked how all the old buildings and new buildings were overcome by this hulking, rusty umbrella. The streets were cobblestone and somehow wet. It gave an overall Bladerunner feel to the place. This was reinforced more when we happened on the drinking street and all the bars and restaurants were similarly covered (below).

There were lots of other interesting things too. Meow and I went back and forth on all the streets before stopping for coffee. At some point after that we were just walking about with me sneaking off to take pictures of things (below, all). We found a vintage shop, but nothing grabbed me.

Somewhere near “Terror st” (crap clothing, btw), I found a shop with a halfway decent coat in the window. That one didn’t fit, but two other swanky ones did and I let Meow buy them (she insisted—apparently I don’t own enough clothing already).

I picked up a decent pair of boots and we were off in another cab back to the bus station to eat off the Bennigans “Dunch” menu. Meow asked me what “Dunch” was. There are so many answers here (see below), but absconding with my mother tongue and creating cutesy words gets my goat only because whenever I do the same with the Korean language, the Koreans around me get pissed or call me stupid or silly. Taking language and reshaping and morphing it is natural and, as I see it, part of acquiring and mastering another language.

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