It’s been seven years this week since I arrived in the cool Korea. I never thought I’d still be here, and there is no way that I planned on staying here this long. The coworkers younger than me say things like “How could you live here so long?” or “How can you work here for so long?”. There’s a certain respect that comes with longevity and as a foreigner that is the only currency you have regardless of your skills. You can almost think of it like a term deposit at the bank: the longer you stay the more your employer will trust you. Trust is the interest your time invested in your employer earns in our analogy. It’s only then that your skills are actually valued for what they are.
Of course, the younger me did not know this and he thought that he could change his world overnight. The now me still thinks he can change his world, but in a more subtle and slower way.
My answer to my coworkers is that I’m working in my field at the top company in their field, so my unplanned career path is working out.
Today is the first day of three that the shipyard is closed. It’s eerily quiet in my neighbourhood as well because the offshore division is closed today too (they usually operate on their own schedule). Since it’s been four-and-a-half years since I moved to Ulsan I went for a walk with my trusty Canon something-something DSLR.
This is the street about 10 minutes walk from my apartment. You’ve got your bars ahead and on the left, a few Korean restaurants and those 1/2/3 room studio apartments. The streets in this area are much wider than in a similar area in Seoul. Naturally this means that everyone if they can, and all the foreign contractors drive SUVs. It’s a safety thing.
On the main street is this gem of a bar. It’s ‘Korean Only’ but not really. There are a few of these in my neighbourhood, but that might be to offset all the ‘Western’ bars. Western bars are where men go to drink with women that work there. They typically have a bar (duh, right?) and some tables or booths. Korean style bars don’t usually have a bar, the idea being that Korean men don’t usually go drinking alone. It could also have that sign to describe the staff since most of the other bars on this street employ migrant workers from the Philippines or Uzbekistan, as well as Koreans. Perhaps there are some things we are not meant to know.
A few blocks up the street we have Pizza Palms. This was my first meal in Ulsan. He makes a decent pizza. The only one he makes with corn is the Vegetarian Pizza. He also has a Lobsty Pizza where he puts a lobster tail on the pizza (never tried it and have no interest to). The pasta bake is not too bad, either. The bar above does a decent pub steak night on Fridays. The also have a real dartboard, not one of those electronic ones that plague most bars in these parts.
Eventually I got to the beach. Ilsan Beach looked much different when I first moved here. There wasn’t really much sand there back then, just lots of rocks. Not that this stopped people going there after work and having a few drinks by the water before going to Hiru (pronounced ha-i-ru) for some smoked BBQ duck. For some reason, this duck restaurant is the go-to place for Korean managers to take their foreign counterparts.
I stopped for lunch at Golden Eagles. Actually, I stopped for an IPA since this is one of the few places in this area that has IPAs, and it had been a while since I’d had a burger so I decided to try out the Hanwoo Burger.
It was very similar to what my mum makes whenever I’m home (my parents ran a milk bar in the 70s so they know the burger). Mum usually uses an egg ring so the egg doesn’t end up like it did here. Still, tastes the same. The only differences were the bread (not toasted, fell apart) and the pickles. I’m not a fan of pickles like those usually on fast food burgers. If you want something sweet on a burger, add beetroot. These ones were not sweet, and were cut lengthwise so maybe they were homemade. The bacon tasted like real bacon, not that Lotte ersatz bacon. Best thing about the burger was that it didn’t have that rubber meat taste most pub burgers around here have.
Not bad at 9000 won.