Elwood 5566

Monday Market – Apples (사과)

Posted in Comparative, Daegu, Food and Drink, fruit, seasons by 노강호 on November 30, 2010

early autumn apples

When I first visited Daegu in 2010, the city’s link with apples, a local product, seemed very strong. Ten years later, and on the odd occasion I have mentioned Daegu in relation to apples, and some people look at me blankly. Regardless, apples in Daegu, and perhaps further afield, are delicious. I rarely  buy apples back home partly as the varieties are never constant  and the taste and texture never guaranteed. Like many fruit and vegetables in Britain, they are rarely home produced. There is a lot to be said for seasonal fair as the quality is far superior and at the moment, cabbages (배추), apples, Asian pears (배), persimmon (감) and oranges (귤) from Jeju-do) are all in season. I have become quite used to watching the passing season through what’s available in the street markets and am currently waiting to see an abundance of of ginkgo nuts (은행).

Crispy, sweet and delicious

Korean apples are big, crispy, sweet and juicy. I’ve never had an apple that is soft or sour and would imagine sweetness is guaranteed because of the hot summers. Most apples are best about Christmas time and there are five popular varieties all grown in Korea:

‘National Glory’ (국광) – deep red with green stripes

‘Golden Delicious,’ (골덴 딜리셔스) – clear yellow

‘Huji’ or ‘Pusa’ (후지 / 부사) –  light red

‘Indian’ (인도) – green

‘Red Jade’ (홍옥) – bright red which is best slightly earlier than Christmas.

Monday market

However, as I write, I read that in the UK, this years season of apples, though outstripped by imports, are especially delicious as they generally tend to be approximately once every seven years.

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An Autumn morning in the Rose Garden (장미공원)

Posted in Daegu, Diary notes, Photo diary, plants and trees, seasons, video clips by 노강호 on November 29, 2010

blaze of autumn

In Autumn, you can often kick or push a small tree and the leaves fall like snow.  Last weekend I noticed several people , mostly couples, kicking trees and then getting all excited as they stood in the brief leaf storm.  In England, the air to usually too damp for the leaves to turn crispy and English leaves, sodden, soggy and sloppy, are notorious for sabotaging our rail network. Indeed, in just a few days the trees in one road,  golden yellow, have been blown barren by a bitter wind that bites your face.  In my UK garden, the defoliation of summer’s leaves is a long and slow process and even late December some leaves will have avoided being blown off.

These photographs were taken on or around 18th of November, which is actually winter rather than autumn, when most of the trees still had leaves and they were at their most dramatic. Most were taken around 7.30 in the morning with a frost over the ground and light mist in the air.

autumn colours

Autumn across the rose garden

contrasts

while I took these photos, suneung was just about to begin

the chong-cha (정자) at the rose garden's center

it's easy to see why the hanja character for autumn, is a combination of tree and fire

another blaze

rose, high rise and mountain

in the background is the boys' high school where the suneung was about to start

rose and high rise

and then home

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Suneung Thursday 18th of November 2010 ‘D Day’

Posted in bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture, Daegu, Diary notes, Education, video clips by 노강호 on November 20, 2010

On Thursday 18th of November, suneung (수능),  I set off at 6.45 am to watch the arrival of students at Song-So High School. By the time I arrived, around 7.30, most of the students had passed through the gates but a large ground of parents and supporters, plus a lot of police, were still in place and students were still arriving. I hadn’t even stopped to watch when a cup of grapefruit tea was thrust in my hands and a few moments later a woman police-officer handed me some chocolate gold coins.

Song-So Boys High School

plenty of hot and sticky drinks

The event was a little disappointing as even by seven am many students have entered their schools and nothing special was happening outside the Song-So High School other than there being lots of police and plenty of people taking photographs.

Students arriving

celebrity treatment

'Junior students rallying the third year candidates

Paying respects to exam candidates

a mother prays

sticking toffee on wall in the hope of success

I bought some chocolates for an old student resitting suneung but I couldn't get hold of him on the phone to get his address. He's currently doing his military service. So, 박진영, if your reading this I hope you did well.  As for the chocolates? They were truly  gross and greasy ersatz chocolate  the type of which predominates in the USA (eg, Hershey) '왝' But I still ate it!

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A Touch of Tranquility – Update (1)

Posted in bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture, bathhouses and jjimjilbang reviews, Daegu by 노강호 on November 5, 2010

This article was originally published in Daegu Pockets in October 2010

All bathhouses have their own unique ambiances created by a combination of lighting, décor and design. Additionally, they differ in terms of what they offer. Bathhouses all have common features but every bathhouse provides something that differentiates it from other establishments in the vicinity.

Poolside

Situated in the very heart of Song-So, in the Mega Town Complex, which not only dominates the area physically, but in terms of facilities, boasting a large cinema complex, buffet and pizza restaurant and numerous other amenities, Hwang-so has gradually grown on me. My first visit was on a cold, dark November morning when I arrived to find the premises packed with a class of school boys – not the kind of atmosphere you want at 5 am and on your visit to a bathhouse in a number of years. I found it small, noisy and claustrophobic and didn’t go back.

I have since learnt that if you want peace and tranquility it can be found in the center of this bustling building and that school-boy invasion a blip that can temporarily blight any bathhouse.

Song-So's 'Mega Town' Complex - I minute from my front door

The reception to both the male and female bathhouses are on the eighth floor and once you have stripped to your birthday suit it’s only a couple of paces into the bathing complex. Here you will find a very intimate atmosphere with black marble tiling, low lighting and even some slightly darkened areas. Hwang-so is certainly not a large bathhouse. Four central baths, all internally lit, provide a water massage pool, warm and hot pool, and a bubbling Jacuzzi with herb additives. A large cold pool occupies one end and completes the facilities found in every bathhouse. As for the complex’s specialties, you can enjoy a Japanese style cypress bath (히노끼탕) and my favourite, a humidity sauna  (습식 사우나) where water sprays from the ceiling like the finest, warm rain and is so fine it hangs, caught in subdued lighting, like heavy mist.  A massive rock bowl sits in one corner and is filled with cold water which you can throw over yourself when you get too warm. Additionally, the seats in this sauna are cut from tree trunks and their woody aroma scents the air. Adjacent, is a Swedish style pine sauna with very low lighting. I have come to really enjoy the tasteful complimentary additions such as, water features, rock, and chunks of pine tree, which occupy various nooks and crannies.

The changing area is fairly spacious with central slatted benches and sofas plus the usual television and a resident barber. From this area, the jjimjilbang, the clothed, mixed sex communal area, on the seventh floor, can be accessed.

Unless you simply want to shower, you should never frequent just one bathhouse anymore than you should eat one type of food. Different establishments provide different experiences and to capitalise on this you need to a few alternative which can be matched with your appropriate moods. Hwang-so has no poolside television or piped music and swimming or playing in the cold pool is not allowed. If you find yourself in Song-so with a hangover or simply want to relax, this is a great sanctuary. My only criticism, there is no sleeping area within the pool area.

Link for information and details on Hwang-So Sauna

 

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Hyu-Lim-Won Sauna. Da-sa – 휴림원 사우나. 다사

Posted in bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture, bathhouses and jjimjilbang reviews, Daegu by 노강호 on October 15, 2010

A Bathhouse Review

First visited October 9th 2010. Most recent visit, 19th May, 2012. This bathhouse and jjimjilbang is an absolute must in terms of a visit. It is situated in the rapidly developing area of Da-sa (다사), Daegu. I got to know Da-sa ten years ago when it was noted for being an up and coming area to live. Since then, it has exploded into a small town on the edge of west Daegu and it is still expanding. Impressive high rises dominate its approach and though it is separated from the main part of the city by the river, giving it a sense of being outside Daegu, the new buildings and their size are very much ‘big town.’ It’s a short ride from Song-so, perhaps 5000 Won (£2.50) in a taxi and on the metro system. Da-sa lies at the back of Keimyung University campus. From the area of Song-So E-Mart, several buses go to Dasa, including the 527. The facility is directly opposite bus stops.

Hyu-lim-won Sauna in Da-sa, Daegu

Hyu-lim-won is a very new complex which I need to explore more, so this is a cursory ‘report.’ My first visit was to the bathhouse (목욕탕). Being a ‘play Saturday’ (놀토- when kids have  no State school)- at a time when many students have finished their mid-term exams, it was busy. The changing area was very comfortable, though a little small after the spacious Migwang  Spolex (미광) in which you can get lost. A large decked seating area occupies the center of this area with numerous facilities, a snack machine, barbers etc, on the periphery.

The Bathhouse pool complex (male ): As you enter you notice the layout is on two levels with the back pools being accessed by a large inclined walk-way. There are about twenty stand up showers directly on your right and beyond these perhaps 30 sit down showers. On the left is the massage and scrub down area and various saunas: a dry sauna, very hot steam room and a salt sauna (소금방). Between the sit down showers and the saunas are three pools: a large warm  pool (온탕), which at 42 degrees makes it as warm as many hot pools. Beyond this pool are two smaller pools one of which is the hot pool (열탕) which was 48 degrees. Beyond these and to the right is a large cold pool (냉탕), at 17 degrees. Access to the cold pool is via the inclined walk-way, to the left of which are a few lido deck chairs and a sleeping area (수면실) with floor heating (온돌), and at the head of which are steps into the cold pool, on the right. Standing at the peak of the inclined ramp walk-way, are steps into the furthest pool, a large therapy pool at 33 degrees. The therapy pool was very interesting with lots of facilities I’ve not seen before. On the far side are seven ‘pods,’ slightly sunken and  in which you stand using handrails and after pressing the activation button are treated to a hydro massage, on your back. The jets are powerful, and if you maneuver yourself, you can give your butt a deep clean but you should have cleaned this area before entering any pools. On the right side is a glass pod in which you stand and again, after activating the button, a very powerful shower blasts your shoulders or back. Next to this is a similar shower, but not as powerful, and then three ‘pods’ which blasts jets of water onto the soles of your feet. On the left hand side are four sunken stone beds on which you lie for an alternative back and leg hydro therapy.

To the left of the central sleeping area, beyond the salt sauna, is the event pool (이벤트탕), and of all the event pools I’ve used, this was the most eventful. The pool was 36 degrees and had a powerful continual jacuzzi, while the water, scented with lemon, mint, lavender and rose, was bright yellow. Tucked into the corner behind this, and next to the therapy pool, is a sleeping area (수면실) with unheated flooring.

Like the changing area, the ‘powder room’ felt a little small but as mentioned earlier, this is because I use Migwang Spolex, in Song-so, on a regular basis and it’s very spacious.

Plan

Hyu Lim Won, Dasa. Bathhouse design (male)

Location – (Wiki Map link ) Fifteen minutes by taxi or bus from Song-so. As you enter Da-sa, it is on the left and easily seen. Alternatively,  you can use the metro underground from Song-so but it is easier to get to from Daeshil Subway rather than Dasa.

Daegu metro system

Times – 24 hour jjimjilbang (찜질방) and bathhouse.

Facilities – (in process of being researched) 1st floor reception,  women’s bathhouse, jjimjilbang, men’s bathhouse, coffee shop, shoe shine, barbers.

Jjimjilbang – (pending)

Bathhouse (men) – around 20 stand up shower facilities and 30-40 seated. Event pool with jacuzzi, (이벤트탕), hot pool (열탕), large warm pool, another unknown pool, large cold pool (냉탕), large therapy pool, steam room, dry sauna, salt sauna, 2 pool room relaxation areas, heated and unheated, changing room.

Cost – bathhouse 5000 Won.

Others – hairdressers, massage and rub downs, parking, cafe. Opposite impressive new development.

Ambiance – not my favourite, I prefer a  little more subdued, but impeccably clean, new and bright. I didn’t notice any televisions. Friendly, but I would imagine one of the busier saunas.

Waygukin –  None.

Address – Da-sa (다사). Daegu.

Hyu-lim-won Updates


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Kayasan Hotel Bathhouse – 가야산 관광호텔

Posted in bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture, bathhouses and jjimjilbang reviews, Daegu by 노강호 on October 11, 2010

 

Kayasan Hotel (가야산 관광호텔), near Daegu

Before I give an account of the bathhouse, I want to review the hotel because this a truly impressive location and well worth a visit, either for an overnight break or simply for coffee. Kayasan Hotel (가야산), Kyongsangbukdo Province,  is around an hours drive from Daegu and is situated in the heart of the Kaya Mountains. This hotel truly impressed me as my first glimpse of it was on an early morning , after substantial snow.

 

Kayasan Hotel in snow

 

View from the hotel entrance

Kayasan Hotel entrance

The hotel has a restaurant and cafe, as well as an open-air  bar/cafe, situated next to a small cascading waterfall-feature, which is open in good weather. A couple of smaller restaurants, including an adjoining traditional Korean restaurant, are close-by. The hotel sits right by the entrance to a nature park next to which is a natural history museum containing some very interesting displays.

 

invigorating

 

Dining room

The hotel is large and spacious and the emphasis on white marble and white tiles, both in the facilities and hotels rooms, gives an airy, if not slightly clinical atmosphere. I found the bedrooms a little strange but pleasant. The one we’d booked was simply, a tiled white room with all the facilities you’d expect but an absence of anything soft either in texture or shape – other that is, than the bedding. Looking  thorough the brochure, rooms with western style beds and sofas are available.

 

a western style bedroom (photo from hotel website)

However, at times I was unsure whether or not I was in a hospital, space ship or heaven and had an angel, nurse, or spaceman appeared, I wouldn’t have been surprised. The lounge, restaurant and cafe maintained the white theme, contrasting it occasionally with black tiling, but were tastefully and luxuriously decorated. The hotel design made maximum use of the panoramic views of the mountains both in the lounge, bathhouse and the more expensive bedrooms.

 

The grand lounge and bar

panoramic view similar to the ones provided in the bathhouse

open air cafe/bar

Family room korean style (photo from hotel website) Costing about 143.000 Won per night (70 pounds)

I was eager to use the bathhouse as this was a central feature in the hotels advertising and it looked very inviting. If staying in the hotel, entrance is free and the facility is open from 6 am. Once again, pure white tiling pervaded on floors, walls and ceilings. The changing area was very relaxing and spacious though there was an absence of  relaxation area with the usual TV screen and snacks. In the bathhouse, the most alluring feature were large arched windows that looked out onto the adjacent mountains and the various pools were designed so you could lounge and admire the view. A number of monks were busy scrubbing each other or shaving their heads and given the Heinsa Temple is close-by, monks are regular visitors. Stereotypically, one doesn’t associate a monk’s lifestyle with opulent bathhouses and grand hotels but I would imagine the hotel bathhouse is a wonderful place in which to meditate.

 

The bathhouse (photo from Hotel's brochure)

a large geode in one of the saunas

All the standard  showers and pools were available, as were saunas. Particularly impressive was a jewel sauna (보석 사우나) which contained an enormous geode which I managed to photograph. I’m also sure there was a salt sauna but I actually can’t remember as, so far, I have only visited the bathhouse on one occasion. However, the panoramic views, monks and secluded mountain location, provided a relaxing and invigorating atmosphere.

 

the lounge

one of the crystal displays in the lounge

Location

Kayasan Hotel and surrounding area

Facilities – hotel, bathhouse, restaurants, bar, lounge, out door cafe/bar, sport facility, arranged tours, nearby nature park and museum, numerous restaurants, panoramic views and lots more.

Hotel website – http://www.gayasanhotel.co.kr/ Actually, the photos here are limited and do not do the place justice.

Address – 경북 성주군 수륜면 백운리 1282-4. Tel. (0540) 931-3500 Fax. (054) 931-7771

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Bathhouse Ballads Pocket Version

Posted in Daegu, Uncategorized by 노강호 on October 9, 2010

 

information to suit many tastes - Daegu Pockets

Bathhouse Ballads now has a monthly feature, specifically on bathhouses and bathhouse culture, in the magazine, Daegu Pockets. The first article was in the September edition with October’s hot off the press. Daegu Pockets is an international magazine that is published online and conveniently sized  – capable of fitting in your pocket alongside your hard-earned Won!

Launched in 2009, the magazine has a number of full-time staff and team of dedicated Korean and expat volunteers all of whom work together to produce a useful bilingual resources  for local Koreans and expats alike. The magazine is locally funded and edited by Craig White. More information on Daegu Pockets can be found at Galbijim. The magazine is also on Facebook.

On a personal note, a great resource which is provides a range of information to suit many tastes – as a snob who likes opera, very refreshing!

 

Link to Daegu Pockets website

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The Memi’s Lament

Posted in Animals, Daegu, Diary notes, seasons, vodcast by 노강호 on October 4, 2010

Last Saturday (25th September), I heard my last memi (매미 – cicada), and with it ends the song that has accompanied the entire summer. The temperature certainly wasn’t much over 84 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature at which memi ‘sing,‘ and in the slight breeze which  heralds autumn,  it felt cooler. I always find the song of a single memi sad, a lament to summer and suppose they epitomize the lives of many humans who end their days ‘singing’ to no one. Had the memi been around a month ago, it would have been surrounded by others and its voice would have joined summer’s paean, screaming from the trees. Now, it’s a lonely, solitary dirge to which there is no crescendo and no response. I would imagine the best thing that can happen to the final memi, those that have arrived a little too late and missed the party, is an early frost.

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Bathhouse Basics (9): – The Hot bath (열탕)

Posted in bathhouse Basics, Daegu by 노강호 on September 29, 2010

 

A typical yeol-tang (열탕)

The yeol-tang, (열탕) is the hottest bath in a bathhouse with temperatures somewhere between 38-48 degrees. As always with pools that are at the extremes, bathhouses often keep them at around specific temperatures and these may vary depending on the season. Hence the hottest and coldest pools vary between establishments. If you have aching muscles, for example, you might prefer the hotter end of the scale.

 

Having fun in a yeol tang

Sometimes yeol-tang are built with health inducing stone and in some cases plated with gold or silver, in which case they will be small. The most common stone is probably jade. Sometimes they may also have a jacuzzi or contain medicinal herbs in which case they may be called a han-yak-tang (한약탕), but this may not necessarily be the hottest pool.

 

a hot pool in a golfing complex

Among the various bathhouses in Song-So, Daegu,  Migwang (미광) has one of the hottest yeol-tang which is usually between 48-50 degrees, whereas Hwang-So (황소) is usually much cooler but recently the temperature gauges have not been working. Han -Seong (한성) for many years had a very hot han-yak-tang but in the last few months the temperature has been lowered and the largest pool, with an intermittent jacuzzi, has been designated the hottest pool. I don’t know if it is intentional, but Samjeong Oasis (삼정 오아시스), at Yong-San-Dong,  has a yeol-tang which seems to operate between  between two temperatures and when the pool cools to a certain temperature, it suddenly heats up.

 

relaxing

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'Red-Eye' – Conjuctivitis

Posted in Daegu, Health care by 노강호 on September 26, 2010

I can remember outbreaks of this infection in previous summers and it is often associated with bathhouses where water is unchlorinated.  However, it is also a problem in schools and universities. and is especially problematic in Daegu. If you get an itchy eye which subsequently turns pink or red, you may have one of the numerous forms of ‘red-eye.’ The link provides a list of symptoms for the various types ‘red-eye‘ and suggestions to help  prevent further contamination. For many students, a severe case of ‘red eye‘ is welcomed as it often results in an impromptu vacation – a real vacation where both school and hakkwon attendance is suspended. Currently, one of my students has been absent from school for two weeks.

I continued teaching as the 9 days of the worst part of my infection were around chu-sok (추석) and only involved two days teaching but I avoided any contact with students and their hands were sprayed with anti-bacterial spray on arriving and leaving the school and leaving my classroom.

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