Monday, 2 February 2015

Cold-rea (Korea)

    This post is two months late. I figured I better get started on it or I'll never get it done. So here's my first experience in Cold Cold Korea. After about a month, I got to admit I can't remember the Korean names of the places we went. Only one think is stuck in my mind... the cold. It was so cold that getting out of bed every morning was a chore. We based ourselves in Seoul and took day-trips out.
Hiding under my hood gave me little respite from  the cold.
    One thing I've learnt, is that one needs to have an English-speaking guide when visiting the various palaces. There are hardly any English signs. We wandered through the complexes, not knowing the significance of each. It would have been better if we had someone to explain the intricacies of the Korean court and the significance of the various buildinsg and architecture.
You know it's cold when the stream freezes over
Rice wine - a whle pot of it
Korean BBQ Beef. Yummy!
    I was never really a fan of Korean food... until now.
Visiting the "Little Prince" theme village.
    We went on a day-trip to the Naminara Republic; a self-styled "island-state" where the popular "Winter Sonata" drama was filmed. Interestingly, it was "Winter Sonata" that started the Korean drama phenomenon and allowed Korea to snatch pole position from Japan.
Nami Island hotdogs
    Some of the best fried chicken can be found in Seoul. I reckon. It was simply a "hole-in-the-wall" kind of shop but it left me craving for more. So much so that I had to get more fried chicken before we flew back. 
Fried chicken and beer
    One of the more quaint places we visited was the Bukom Hanok Village. This adds another UNESCO Heritage site to our belts. The narrow street, flanked by centuries old, traditional Korean houses, make for a tranquil and pictureque scene. Then it began to snow... It was the first time I've experience such heavy snowfall. Soon the streets were covered in blanket of white.
Street Food. Brings to mind our local "Yong Tau Hu" but much more delicious. Comprising of rice cakes with sweet sauce, an assortment of friend fritters and fish cake in hot soup.
    Being lovers of sashimi, we couldn't miss Noryangjin Fish Market. You can find a huge assortment of fresh seafood in this sprawling complex. Choose a stall with the seafood you want, pick what you'd like to have, pay the noona, and she'll bring your seafood upstairs to one of the various restaurants where the food will be prepared and served.
Salmon sashimi, live octopus (it's so fresh, it wriggles and sticks to your gums) and grilled abalone
The crabs here aren't as good as those in Hokaido. But they're still good nontheless.
    The wifey is a fan of Studio Gibli. So how could we miss the Studio Ghibli exhibition that was going on? To-to-ro to-to-ro...
    Yes, it's food again. This is the best Korean mixed stew I've had - ever. Sweet and spicy sauce, coupled with magi noodles, onions and goodness-knows-what-else. Everyone in the shop finishes up their pot. At the end, they'd even use the remaining gravy to fry you a final rice dish. This is a must-try for anyone visiting Seoul.
     I must admit, I had my doubts about Nanta. I thought it's simply a brainless show where the performers chop food up. Boy was I wrong. It is much more than that. The story line allows for much of the "kung-fu" performance. The performers dazzled with thrie precision. The slap-stick comedic script added much to the enjoyment. I didn't regret it.
A trip to Seoul is never complete withouyt catching Nanta at least once.
Another palace framed by the distant snow-capped mountains.
Ginseng Chicken Soup
Fried pancake.
     If not for the cold, I would've enjoyed this trip a whole lot more. The food was fantastic, the company better. Looking forward to the next trip with the wifey. Stay tune till then.

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