Taejongdae and the newest window

Facebook reminded me of this post today, which shows the full cycle of the seasons the last time I was in Korea. I got inspired to take another picture out the window, adding it to the collection.

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Our neighbourhood is older, but it is rapidly being changed from large, family houses to concrete block apartments for single or double occupancy. I will document the walk to work this week and then follow it up every couple of months. My guess is that things will change a lot in that time.

Busan is amazing, even if our job is very (VERY) stressful.  I won’t bore you with a laundry list of the same issues that teachers face all over the world every single day, but it’s been a long-ass week. Let’s leave it at “Wow! My brain managed to invent a brand new form of insomnia! Now I can neither fall asleep at night nor stay asleep after 4:30AM!”

Every weekend, we simply must get outside. img_5870

Taejongdae is a natural area that sits a little to the south of Busan proper, on the island of Young-do. It’s a little teeny bit of a hilly walk, but nothing compared to even most streets here in the land of 45 degree angle hills. Yes, there is a land train of sorts that can ferry you with hoards of your closest friends the 2.5 km to the lighthouse. But seriously, you don’t want to take that monstrosity. It’s an easy walk.

The best part of living in Busan is how many amazing rocks there are to climb! They are just everywhere. Last weekend we climbed up the rocks on top of a mountain near our place, and this weekend we climbed lots of rocks next to the sea.

My personal favourite part of Taejongdae is the kitties. I’m a sucker for sweet cats, but the blind one at the observation deck is just the cutest. He spends all day lying in the sun, receiving food from humans, sitting politely, and getting lots and lots of pets. He seems very happy indeed. What a life, where all you know is that there are nice animals all around you all day who like to feed you and pet you? He is very fat and well-cared for, even out there on the island’s edge.

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There are some very healthy looking kittens as well.

The area has a lot of stairs to climb and some great views of the city from a different vantage point.

We both got to take some nice pictures of us in our travelling element.

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Definitely worth a visit. You could probably even get a minbak or a hotel around there and chill out overnight.

To get to Taejongdae: 

  • Go to Nampo Station on Line 1 
  • Take Exit 6 and walk up to the bus stop nearest Young-do Bridge 
  • Take the 8, 88, 101, or 30 to the very last stop. (They all go by the same route, so just take the first one of those that shows up)
  • Walk up to the gate and into the park!

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.

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!

China Survey: Results

Thank you very much to everyone who responded to the survey I put up about China in 2016. It was very interesting to see how people said they view China.

The biggest takeaways:

  1. The majority of respondents have never set foot in China.
  2. More respondents have a negative view of China than a positive one.
  3. Stereotypes about China are persistent and often outdated.

Now let’s get into the survey’s meat itself. If you want to take the survey yourself, please click here. 

Q1 Result: 57% people residing in the USA.

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The other countries in the 32% at the bottom were mostly Canadians, with several Australians and many others.

Q2 Result: 56% of respondents consider their nationality US.

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Only a couple of people identified themselves as Chinese.

Q3 Result: Hardly anyone reads hard-copy magazines anymore.

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Bizzarely, most of the responses for ‘Other’ were for Reddit. Guys…that’s an internet news site. Except this one:

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Russ, is that you? 🙂

Q4 Result: Slightly more than 40% of respondents have a mostly negative or wholly negative view of China.

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One person did say it was too complicated to categorize in this fashion.

Q5 Result: ‘Authoritarian,’ ‘Corrupt,’ and ‘Communist’ are the top adjectives for the government of China.

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This question could have been formulated better, but I wanted to see what people used to describe the government of China broadly speaking. Additional write-in responses included ‘capitalist,’ ‘unknown,’ ‘fascist in some aspects,’ and ‘i haven’t thought of it before.’

Maybe I should have included a definition of these words, or asked people to define them in their own words.

Q6 Result: Nearly 80% of respondents have never visited China.

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This is the most revealing question in the whole survey. The vast majority of the respondents have never seen China with their own eyes, so their views must only be formed through the information they get from the news and their interactions with people they know who are Chinese.

A little over a year ago, I would have been in this category, too. My own views on China have changed a lot since I moved there last year. The post is coming, I promise! I’m still digesting what I think and forming it.

Q7 Result: 65% of respondents are not nervous about China’s place in the world. Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 3.46.30 PM

Interesting! I wouldn’t have expected this, based on the conversations I’ve been having since I got back. The comments on this question are revealing:

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I’ve heard a lot of comparisons to North Korea since I’ve been back in the States.

Q8 Result: I’ll get out of the way and let people speak for themselves. The question was ‘Describe your mental picture of China, in two sentences or less.’

 

Highlights include this gem:

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The most commonly mentioned phrase in these responses was ‘air pollution’ or some variation thereof, following by mentions of weak legal institutions and income inequality.

Q9 Result: Most people know at least one person from China.

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Q10 Result: Everyone knows about Mao Zedong, few people know the name of the First Emperor.

Sorted from most responses to least.

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Conclusions

It seems as though people hear about China a lot, even though most in this survey have never been there.

This survey falls in line with the general ideas about China in media, and the narratives that drive them. Some of the ideas people have about China are really outdated, but my guess is that this is due to the poignancy of the images from the Cultural Revolution and the heavy focus both within and outside China on the current air pollution issues.

I was surprised that more people did not indicate they are nervous about China’s role in the world, given that they are mostly from the USA and most people I’ve spoken to since being back here appear to be hyper-nervous about it. Equally surprising is that the Rape of Nanking ranks above the Cultural Revolution in renown.

It is unsurprising that those surveyed have a mostly negative view of China.

How do you feel about China in 2016? Do you have opinions about travel to countries like China or North Korea?