As has been reported, I am once again in Korea, birthplace of this blog back in October of 2005. It has been interesting to see what is different this time around and what is the same.
For starters, obviously, I am in a different city. Brian and I have set up shop in Andong, a small city known for its late summer/early fall traditional mask and dance festival. Sometimes Andong is called "the capital of the Korean spirit" although it's mostly posters in tourist offices and on bus terminals and whatnot that call it that. I mean it's not as if anyone said, "Welcome to the capital of the Korean spirit" when we got here. It's a nice little slogan, though. (What's YOUR city's slogan? Huh??) Andong has about 180,000-190,000 people, a hip, up-and-coming area called Ok-Dong (where we are staying), two multi-screen movie theaters, folk villages and museums, lots of Confucian heritage, a gazillion restaurants and coffee shops, a river along which one can run, an E-Mart (this means a lot to many expats in Korea), bars and hofs and noraebangs galore, etc. In other words, there's stuff to do and a lot of it is like other cities in Korea.
We are about an hour and ten minutes north of Daegu, my 2005-06 stomping grounds. In fact, we go to Daegu almost every Saturday right now. And that brings me to the title of this blog entry. Naturally, when we first got back to Daegu, I had an immediate sense of, "Wow, how fun! I'm in Daegu again!" which was even stronger than my "Wow, how fun! I'm at Incheon airport again!" that happened when we first landed. But overall, I would say it felt incredibly NOT-weird to be there. Jungangno, as you may recall from 2005-06, is the central shopping/restaurants/nightlife/neon district of Daegu. We walk around there pretty much weekly. Many things are the same (like my beloved commune's lonely hearts club watering hole!) and many things are different. I see restaurants I recognize and restaurants I don't recognize. My favorite restaurant, Outback Steakhouse, where you recall I treated myself to cheese fries once a week because as a vegetarian allergic to seaweed I was starving in Korea, has moved across the street. The movie theater that was next to it in that old building is also closed, and there is a newer, bigger movie theater down the block. Little changes like that.
I also feel like there are SO many foreigners wandering around Daegu's Junangno, which compared to Andong is true, but probably isn't actually more than were wandering around there in 2006. One thing that's different: all the Andong teachers and apparently a lot of Daegu teachers are all hopped up about this Canadian owned bar/restaurant called The Holy Grill, which was not here back in my day. The first couple weeks we were here, Andong English teachers were actually talking about regularly hanging out at The Holy Grill when in Daegu, but giving me blank looks about the Commune! The sacrilege! I was like, "What the h is the Holy Grill?" They all said, "I know it's been around a few years....it must have been here when you were here..." but, no. Turns out it started in 2007. Believe me, I would have known if in 2005-06 there was a place around the corner from Commune's with quesadillas and potato skins and other Western-food appetizers to be had!
So anyway, Jungangno is the same, but it is also different. And that's pretty much how life should be, I suppose.