Upside Down, Rightside Up

Some days, I really feel the fact that Vietnam is on the opposite side of the planet from where I grew up.

A lot seems opposite here. I say what I believe is a simple Yes or No question, get a Yes or a No, then act accordingly, then get a disapproving look. Well, don’t say yes if you don’t mean yes!

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I still love Hanoi. I love the coffeeshops. I love the Old Quarter. I love the quiet that descends after a long day of loud traffic. I love that there is so much life crammed into the space here. I love the fact that there are still so many parts of the city that surprise me. We rode around the West Lake the other day and went under the great bridge that first brought us to the city one year ago.

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For example, a couple weeks ago we went to a part of Hanoi that felt more like Seoul or Hong Kong. High, modern buildings. Fast, mostly car traffic. Fancy places. Baby stores that carried the very best products. It was like stepping into a different city (or country) entirely. We went to a rooftop bar with a swimming pool on the 26th floor, and bought $1 bottles of beer and observed a wedding photoshoot. The song I associate with the first night we spent in China by the XX came on, and we looked out over the incredible human hives that are constantly being built in Hanoi. Royal City is the big, bright thing in the distance there.

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I know that I am constantly, just by existing here, confusing and befuddling and frustrating people. I am from a place almost as far away as it is possible to be. Of course everything I say and do is completely different from what is considered acceptable here. I am huge and blonde and a bit loud. I’m going to stick out.

But then, there is the happiest part of my days here. Finding the new street of guild members, from a happy little accident that left me bruised but brought me to the Teapot Street of Hanoi (heaven!) to the pleasant confusion of finding a restaurant with no walls and a waterfall indoors (outdoors?).

The next adventure is approaching, this particular time in Hanoi is coming to a close. It’s a great life here, and I hope to come back.

Then, there might be a new place I want to live in Vietnam….

Tiny-Ass Kitchen

You may have heard of Tiny Ass Apartment, a blog about living in small spaces. I do love her tips and I use them all the time. The Washi Tape thing will be added to my own place tonight.

But I’m here to show you just how tiny my apartment in Korea actually is.

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Boom! Oh yeah, the computer is totally on the fridge. We an fit exactly one person without verging into newlywed territory inappropriate for blogging. It’s about 12 foot square, my kitchen. In other words, almost too small to fit two six-footers. In other other words, it’s smaller in square feet than our bed.

But it’s ours! And I am already learning about living in tiny spaces, something that I dream about on and off of Pinterest. Tiny House Training, 101. Right here, right now. Busan is a great place to learn the ropes.

Beach Yesterday, Mountains today

We took our first trip to Haeundae Beach yesterday, one of the most famous in Korea. It was a great beach! We’ll go swimming in a couple weeks after I heal up fully from a minor medical procedure, and definitely go back for more craft beer and seafood.

Today, we took the cablecar up a mountain at Geumgang Park. It goes high above the city and gives you a great view. We could see Gwangalli Beach, Haeundae Beach, our neighbourhood, and many ones that we still need to explore. So excited to live in such a great place.

Little Things

When moving to a new country, I always bring little things to help my new space feel like home. We’re lucky that this time we moved to Korea in the Autumn. It’s the best time of the year in this country (in all countries?). When I moved here in 2012, it was much harder to adjust to the absolutely fucking freezing February weather.

This little Moka coffeemaker makes two shots of espresso. I bought it just after returning from living abroad for the first time in Italia, at McGuckin Hardware in Boulder. It doesn’t fit on our tiny stove, but I’ve MacGyvered it with a frying pan.

Little things. Baby steps. That’s how you live in a new place.

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Beer in Situ: Gorilla Brewing

UPDATE APRIL 2017: Please note that Gorilla Brewing is in a new, awesome space much closer to Gwangalli Beach.

Also please note that the guys running the place are amazing! They let me host a Beer School event in early April. You can check it out and ask me to lead one for you on this post.

Korea’s craft beer scene appears to be booming! When I lived here several years ago, the choices were basically Cass, Hite, or Cass. In 2016, the choices have expanded greatly!

Yesterday we visited one of the newest breweries in Busan, Gorilla Brewing. They are so new that I was the fifth person to follow them on Twitter! The brewery is a collaboration between the great CRATE brewing in London, so it’s a blend of a couple of our international homes.

Gorilla is near to, but not on, Gwangalli Beach in Busan. You walk toward the small hill near the far end of the beach (the Gwangan Station end) and past the famous live fish markets. Go past ‘The Motel,’ ‘A Motel,’ and ‘One Motel’ until you are in a newer residential area. Gorilla is in a smaller restaurant/office building on a quiet street.

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The experience is like being in an art installation, that happens to be a brewery too! They have clean lines and simple decor, with a few beers on tap. The food looked pretty good, too, although we didn’t try it yesterday.

We had the flight and a couple pints after, since the prices are much more reasonable than some of the other places in the area that sell craft beer. The best part is that this is real craft beer, not some imitation with watermelon artificial flavouring or the abomination that is Hoegaarden Rosé (and yes, that is sold EVERYWHERE in Busan).

The beers are English-style, given the influence of CRATE. The Pale Ale and the IPA are both well-balanced and clean finishing, but somehow would benefit from being slightly warmer (cask!). The blonde is inoffensive, if a little bit boring. Their best by far is the Stout, which is roasty and powerful like a silverback. It’s smooth and tastes of chocolate with forest fruits.

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We’ll definitely be back for more this year. Thanks for a great first visit, Gorilla!