Sunday, May 08, 2011

Holy Mackerel!

Today we headed out to a salted mackerel place near the Andong Dam and the Wolyeonggyeo Bridge, famously the longest pedestrian wood bridge in Korea. Or maybe the longest pedestrian bridge in Korea, period? At any rate, it's cute around there, and we strolled across the bridge and gazed down the river at the Andong skyline while we waited to meet our friends for some famous Andong salted mackerel. I guess Andong became famous for this specialty because, being inland, the Andongers had to salt the mackerel while it made its way from the coast.

Other Andong specialties, in case you are interested, include the famous Andong jjimdak (which is a delicious spicy chicken stew that you need multiple people to eat because it always comes as a giant helping), Andong beef, and Andong soju. I am personally no fan of soju, and while they tell me the Andong soju is "different" and "better" it still does nothing for me.

But salted mackerel? Does a lot for me. It was so delicious. We just picked the deliciously soft fish off the bones from the plate and ate and ate and then ordered two more fish to eat. I can't believe we haven't got around to trying salted mackerel before now! I had this idea it would be expensive but it's totally not. We really are spoiled with so many restaurants to choose from around here, right in our neighborhood, within view of our school and apartment. It's actually an effort to try them all, an effort that we have not yet come close to achieving in the first tertile of 2011.

The Wolyeonggyeo bridge and Andong Dam are a mere ten minutes or so vehicle ride from downtown. Andong is not a big city. And yet I somehow still have so many cute and delightful spots around here to explore.

Last weekend Brian and I headed to Bonjeongsa, which is a temple a 25 minute or so bus ride from downtown Andong in the other direction. It was one of my favorite temple visits thus far in Korea, from 2005-2006 or 2011. It was really nice and peaceful, and so green! It was a great two hours of strolling up and down and around. There's tons of hiking to be had up there, too, so it's good to know that Bongjeongsa is available within completely easy striking distance, now that the warm weather (i.e. lack of ice) is here.

Other things keeping us busy of late? Let's see: we're getting ready to roll into the end-of-semester testing period at work, our weekly Korean class in Daegu is going swimmingly, and we had a Cinco de Mayo party with the other Andong English teachers on our rooftop because, conveniently, May 5 is also a holiday here in Korea, Children's Day. Also, Brian and I have a new fascination with watching Criminal Minds on TV. Mostly because it's on, is why one gets into any random U.S. tv show while living in Korea, but this one Brian discovered first and then convinced me to also watch, and now I find myself caring about the characters and getting sucked into the grisly but compelling stories, too. Of course, we haven't actually figured out exactly when it will be on, as the TV schedule can be a little unpredictable on SkyHD and some of the other English channels, but it is never long before it crops up again.

This past weekend in Daegu we saw the movie Source Code. Um, not really great, but an OK enough diversion for an hour or so. Definitely not great though. Let me emphasize that again: plausibility and tight logic were not by any stretch of the imagination part of this film. I am sure I will end up watching Water for Elephants soon, because I bought and read the book, but I'm not really holding out high hopes for it (and I also thought the book was overrated).

By the way, while I was looking for a picture of Wolyeonggyeo bridge to share with my adoring fans and I came across this fifty-year-old article about a different bridge in Andong, which might be an interesting read for some of you. I personally found it interesting that the population of Andong was only 40,000 during the war. It's around 180,000 nowadays.

Have I mentioned that we have been here in Korea for 18 weeks out of 52, in other words, more than one third of a year?

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