Friday, October 25, 2013

The Ulsan Whale Museum

Last weekend I had a fun date at the Ulsan Whale museum.

There's no shade, so bring your own hat or steal someone else's
I took the express bus from Dongdaegu to Ulsan, and it took a little longer than expected. The bus to the whale museum stops right in front of the bus terminal ACROSS THE STREET from where the express bus terminal is. Buses 246 or 406 will get you there. My Cashbee card worked happily on the bus. The bus ride is pretty long, and you may get the feeling you've missed your stop when you go past big whale signs and whale sculptures. Do not be fooled. Ulsan is full of whales. It used to be full of real ones, but let's just blame Japan for that too, ok?

When you finally get to the whale museum, you'll see its big modern buildings standing out against the relatively nothing-ful town/dorpie it is in. It's right on the water, which is nice. Tickets were pretty cheap - we got the packagee deal which included the whale museum, the whale experience building and a 4dx whale movie. 

The immigration office
The bus stop is in front of the Ulsan Immigration Office, where nice whales can get their passports stamped before being brutally murdered and served for lunch at the restaurant next door.

Wait, what? If you don't want to eat whale, there's a convenience store that sells squid, nuts, fruit, junk food and ramyeon. They also have fried chicken cunningly hidden by the door.

The museum is more of a museum about whaling rather than an environmentally friendly save the whale kind of place. It didn't seem to pass much negative judgement on whaling; instead, a cute cartoon is shown to kids about how whalers were death-defying heroes who struggled to bring in the whale that would help their village survive through the winter. Fair point, I guess.

Happy fun dolphin time!

There are lots of cute and fluffy things about this museum. There's even a whole section about how Korean Dokdo is. But there are non-cute and fluff-less things as well, like porpoise fetuses in jars and the contents of a whale's stomach.

Best viewed before eating lunch

There are also some friendly, poopy dolphins playing in a tank for you to watch. They poo a LOT. The 4DX movie... Well, telling you anything would result in spoilers and I take a firm stand against that.

Ready for some 4D experiencing

Finally, between April and October you can go whale-watching/water-staring on a boat for about 20 000 won, next to the museum.

Whale watching info. Click to embiggen

We didn't have the nerve to eat whale meat this time, and the whale watching season was over, so I think we'll have to go back to stare at the sea and hope to catch a glimpse of our lunch in the wild next time.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

More reasons to learn Korean

Good morning, Daegu. After last night's debauchery, I hope you're picking up the pieces of yourself and sticking them back together with tape and sticky rice.

This morning I've discovered ten more reasons to learn Korean. I can't stress enough how much this will improve your life here.

1. Get discounts at stores because they're so impressed you speak Korean.
2. Stand up for yourself when being derided in Korean.
3. Be aware of any and all schedule changes way ahead of time because suddenly you can understand school emails.
4. Talk about things with your friends that happened last night without your mom understanding facebook comments.
5. As Nelson Mandela said, "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."
6. Discover that the menu at your local kimbab place has a lot more to offer than kimbap.
7. Understand specials, deals and ways to save money.
8. Be able to explain things to your students quickly and effectively in a way they can understand.
9. Make friends with Koreans.
10. It's super-easy and totally worth it.