Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…
After having returned from a short trip to Jeonju with Michelle a few months ago, I began to ponder and attempt to plan some kind of quick, relaxing trip for us during “Buddha’s Birthday” 3-day weekend this May. I researched returning to Japan for a short visit, but flights were either already sold out or triple the normal price on all budget airlines in South Korea. In addition, I scrutinized the idea of taking a ferry from Busan to the rather quiet and mysterious Japanese island of Tsushima, but it just didn’t seem to catch enough of my interest for the effort to get there. Finally, I pinpointed a certain area of Korea along the southern coast called Geoje that honestly reminded me of the Mediterranean, and I expressed a general interest in visiting there with Michelle, but she must have innately known that I was in fact a bit unsure about it all. And so this was when she shared with me her idea of visiting the city of Daegu, in addition to taking a day-trip to the nearby town of Cheongdo in order to check out a large wine cave where wine is made from persimmons. “Persimmon wine? Really?” I emphatically questioned. I’m a wine enthusiast, but I had never heard of or tasted persimmon wine before, in addition to the fact that I was also quite surprised to ascertain there was even such a place like this in South Korea. This idea definitely piqued my interest and I was immediately sold on the idea after Michelle showed me the information. She had come across this persimmon wine cave about five years ago and had been waiting to go there with someone close that greatly enjoys wine…
…well, that’s me!
During the train ride we had an enjoyable time chatting, reminiscing previous travels, sharing ideas about what we’d like to do in Daegu, and pleasantly staring outside into the distance and sketching a scene from the serene South Korean countryside.
After an easy 2-hour train ride, we reached Daegu and immediately headed to Peter Pan Guesthouse Hostel in the center of town. A relatively quaint hostel with an easy-going owner, Peter Pan Guesthouse would pleasantly serve our housing needs during our stay. With a very large patio atop a 6-story building, the panoramic views of Daegu were quite spectacular and Michelle and I even had the chance to catch a beautiful sunset during our first night. If the chance ever came to return to Daegu, I’d very much enjoy staying at Peter Pan Guesthouse again.
After dropping off our bags at the guesthouse, I suggested that we immediately visit the Shilla Gallery and the Daegu Art Museum. Unfortunately, Shilla Gallery was a definite strike-out, but it gave us a glimpse into a part of downtown we probably would have never visited – the wedding dress central of Daegu, ha ha. Next stop was the Daegu Art Museum, which was kind of cool, but nothing overly spectacular. Michelle and I made the most of our visit there and I let loose some frustration on a cop standing near the entrance.
After walking around downtown and getting a general feel of Daegu, we then ate the best korean-style chicken soup I’ve ever had and then headed back to the hostel to relax and drink some Banana-Mango Milk. It was quite tasty, but it made Michelle a bit ill. Despite the fact that it gave her an upset stomach, she would be the perfect model for it, no doubt!
After drinking a random vial of medicine a local pharmacist had mixed for her, she started feeling better and soon joined me and the other travelers in the hostel social area. The fellow in the yellow-shirt (below), a young lawyer from Hong Kong, was one of the most energetic travelers I’ve ever met. He was a bit overwhelming, but quite friendly at the same time. As always, I very much enjoyed my time chatting with everyone that came to join us for interesting conversation and a little port wine, soju, or beer. Hostels are indeed the best places to meet intriguing travelers and learn about the world.
The next morning Michelle and I set off to Cheongdo to visit the Persimmon Wine Cave. Cheongdo, a pleasant hill-country town about a 20-minute train ride directly south from Daegu, is known for growing persimmons and bull-fighting. Now, it’s not Spanish-style bullfighting everyone is mostly familiar with, but more like a bull vs bull “cockfight” that one is able to wager on. This style of bullfighting didn’t interest me much, thus, I was primarily excited to check out the wine cave, try some persimmon wine, and enjoy the countryside.
Upon our arrival I noticed a multitude of persimmon trees everywhere, in addition to the fact that the air was very fresh and so easy to breathe; there wasn’t a hint of pollution. Without a moment to lose, we caught a taxi and headed to the wine cave.
The wine tunnel used to be apart of the Gyeonbu Railway Line that was completed in 1904 and used until 1937. Later it was used as a supply route during the Korean war. The tunnel then sat vacant and unused for several decades until in 2006 when it was discovered that it would serve as the perfect place to store and age persimmon wine. The cave maintains an internal temperature of 15 degrees Celsius and a humidity level of 60-70% all year-round, literally almost perfect for wine.
There were two wines to try, dry and sweet, and when I thought we’d be given samples, we were poured full glasses. The sweet persimmon wine was not for me, but Michelle enjoyed it. The dry was more my style of wine and it tasted decent. It was fairly enjoyable and would probably be even more enjoyable with some smoked cheese and sliced deli meat. It’s sufficient to say that persimmon wine would make a refreshing summertime beverage.
After getting our wine fix and having a fun, goofy time together, we then headed to “Provence,” a French-style Disneyland without any rides. It was definitely a bizarre place in the middle of the country, but Michelle and I had a fun taking some interesting photos.
There were many places to take “butterfly” photos, and I thought this butterfly was the best. Shortly after taking this photo, an old, mean-looking man sat down at one of the butterfly benches. It was definitely odd and I was just about to take one of the funniest photos, but the old man suddenly left and I missed my chance. Dang! Michelle and I both were facetiously amused by this incidence and we continued to laugh about it all day. 할아나비!!!
Later that evening, Michelle and I ate cow stomach, a Daegu-style specialty. It was a first-and-last time experience for me. Cow stomach was like tasteless gummy bacon. No matter how much I chewed and chewed, it did not break apart and will probably take seven years to digest. I attempted to dip it in soy sauce, but that was a move I will never live down; it was absolutely horrible and I strongly do not recommend this. I’m happy to say that I’ve tried cow stomach, but I won’t go out of my way to eat it again.
After cow stomach, my mood was disenchanted until we soon randomly came across a pleasant Mexican restaurant called “Caliente.”
I scarfed down a large chicken taco, practically without breathing, in addition to large plate of potato wedges that made me feel right at home. I had a happy stomach and I soon forgot all about my wretched ordeal trying to stomach cow stomach. After dinner, we took a short stroll and then stopped in a quaint and quiet specialty coffee shop called “Dropp.”
We relaxed for awhile here and then returned to the hostel to get a good night’s sleep. The following morning we packed up and headed back to Seoul, where we were met with such a different city-feel than Daegu. While we didn’t venture around Daegu extensively, we discovered a few differences in how people act and speak in Daegu in comparison to Seoul, Busan, and other cities in South Korea. The most noticeable aspect is how people in Daegu are quite direct and blunt in how they speak to one another, much more than Seoul. While it may seem rather rude to Michelle and I, it appeared normal among Daegu citizens.
All in all, it was a very pleasant trip and I’m looking forward to next…