We arrived in Gangyang tired and hungry to stop for the night. We quickly stopped by the only grocery store in town. (I felt so at home.) Where we picked up samgypsil (pork strips that look a lot like bacon), mushrooms, peppers, garlic, onions and sesame leaves for our own bulgogi. Then we drove back through the mountains to the hotel Ray’s dad owns. (The man with the ‘Vette.)
We safely returned his baby and set up our barbecue for the evening. We sat outside even though it was freezing cold. I could see my breath! Jamie was smart enough to bring a mummie bug. And sweet enough to let me curl up in it so I didn’t die. But it was so COLD! And it’s only fall! (I shudder when I think what winter will be like.)
Soon Ray had the samgypsill cooking away over hot coals along with some onions and garlic. He even let me throw a pepper on. Although everyone’s reaction to a roasted pepper was that it would be disgusting and mushy. (No, I don’t know why they all think that’s what would happen.) I tried my best to convince them otherwise, but to no avail. Every time I eat bulgogi, I love it more. The samgypsil was delicious. Tender and juicy, little bits of perfect pork wrapped with roasted garlic, onion and pepper in a sesame leaf are just amazing. We also had this great condiment of salt and sesame oil. It’s completely Korean, but amazing. You must eat bulgogi at least once before you die. (Preferably accompanied by soju.)
Once we had stuffed ourselves full again, the mikju and soju began flowing. It wasn’t too long before we were joined by fellow travelers. A guy, Air Force, came looking for beer and hearing English knew just who to ask. He was soon joined by two friends. They sat and talked with us for awhile as we talked about football (yes, the American kind) and Korea.
We talked about the States and the awesomeness that is Korean food before his friends convinced him to leave for dinner at a nearby restaurant. Turns out, they’d spent all night hiking down Seoraksan by flashlight. Pretty soon we’d had enough beer and soju. Or at least James did. He got the “fever.” (His word, not mine.)
So we headed up the street for noraebang. As we waited for a room to become available, we ordered a round of beers. Before we had finished the first round, the singing began. It wasn’t too long later, Air Force and I were having a conversation about the US military and it’s reasons for being in Korea and what this seems to mean for Korea. By the time the noraebang hour was up, Air Force and I both had one more number in our phone.