Saturday, November 12, 2016

South Korea has got Seoul

Yeah, I am aware that title is both probably overused and a bit cheesy. When in Rome, right? Okay okay, I will stop. I know it has been a while since my last post, so I will catch you up on my trip to Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul has an inherently different feel from Hong Kong, and ultimately it was a feel that I found refreshing. There are skyscrapers, of course, as with any large city. However, most of the city is not built up high. It is covered in buildings that at most usually extend to a fourth floor. These buildings are tightly packed, and many of them actually touch, all along the street. However, the makeup of these buildings is absolutely beautiful. So many of the shops have this brand new, trendy feel. Many of them playing music as well. It really contributes to giving Seoul a lively feel. It really is a great place to be a young person.

 As you can see above, the palaces here are something to be admired. Good thing there is certainly no shortage of them! All of Seoul is actually a fortress, so there are many chances to see the wall that was originally erected to protect the city. This means that all throughout the city you get to see beautiful palaces such as this one. The name is too difficult to remember and even pronounce, so for both of our sake I have decided to just leave it out. Funny story about this one though. On this day they were celebrating the man who created their language, and since he used to live in the palace it was free entry! I waited in line for a half hour or so, and I figured that was reasonable and worth it. Interestingly enough, everyone was in traditional Korean dress. It was a sight to see. The real sight to see was our faces when we found out it was  free entry for everyone wearing the traditional dress. So, even though you may get tired of asking questions as you are traveling, it is important to remain persistent! Also pictured above is a traditional Korean style pancake. The cooks take some sort of bean and grind it up with their hands, and then fry it in a huge fryer. They add meat, vegetables and spices, and there is even an all vegetable option. It was quite delicious, and I will always encourage people to try the local food. You may not like it, or you may love it. Either way, you will have a story to tell. If you have already looked downward, yes, indeed, that is a raccoon.

South Korea has so much to offer. A modern city. A nice economy. It is pretty safe, and reasonably priced. Raccoon Cafes. Gorgeous national parks. Yeah, a raccoon cafe! I do not know about you, but back home touching a raccoon is a big no no. So, I was a bit cautious when entering the raccoon arena. You actually have to take your shoes off and wear special flip flops. Then you pay a small fee and you can enter the area. You don't actually have to buy a drink if you don't wish to. It is actually pretty relaxed and they are quite tame. However, the black raccoons seemed as though they did not wish to be picked up, and it tried to claw at me when doing so. The white raccoons did not mind being held at all while I was there, and were almost like a dog. Except, more curious and they can climb stuff. There are also dogs in the arena for those of you that do not wish to touch the raccoons. The dogs are supposed to make the raccoons feel more relaxed. However, there was a moment when the dog started getting angry with one of the raccoons over some food. The raccoons immediately got out of there and climbed up their posts. I could see their hearts palpitating. It was a pretty intense moment, but then everything returned to being peaceful. But can you blame the dog? I'd most likely slap your hand if you tried to take my last fry, too.

Food is life. In literal terms, and in goals. Experiencing different foods is one of the easiest ways to experience a new culture, and South Korea has some awesome food!! South Korean barbecue is world renowned. Something I found humorous is that, while in Hong Kong, I have been on a boneless chicken hunt. I have done some serious research. To my disdain, I haven't had too much luck. Anyways, when I kept reading about KFC, I was becoming frustrated. I could easily eat Kentucky Fried Chicken everyday if I wished. It is only 15 minutes away. Actually, I was reading about Korean Fried Chicken. I couldn't believe it. I will be honest though, I took advantage of several opportunities to eat boneless chicken while in Korea, and I do not regret it. They have quite  selection of delicious foods though. It is a foodie haven, really. From grilling your own meats over a fire, while sitting on the floor to eating grilled mackerel (pictured above). The grilled mackerel was what Soomin suggested for a traditional Korean dinner. It came with several sides, such as seaweed, kimchi of course, rice, a kind of tofu made from chestnuts (I think), and various other veggie dishes. I took the liberty of trying everything, and I can say it was really nice. One may be surprised how nice seaweed and rice go together. We also made a special soy sauce infused with wasabi. The soy sauces hinders the heat from the wasabi, and gives it a nice flavor. I actually tried to spell flavour because I am becoming so accustomed to reading the U.K. style of English. Wow. If you have watched the video (I hope it works), you are probably wondering what that is... Well it is live octopus. Yes, you read that correctly! It is supposed to be a Korean delicacy. Interestingly enough, I only saw tourists actually trying to eat it. You may think that live octopus would be quite disgusting. I thought the same thing before I tried it. It is actually pretty tasty! This is where you may start to think I am crazy. So, it actually has to be a very young octopus. They take it straight from the tank and cut the tentacles off and chop them up. The lady also gave us a dipping sauce with a sweet taste. On the plate it is quite intimidating as it is squirming all around. So, my friend and I just decided to go for it. It continued to squirm in the chopsticks, and then as you put it in your mouth.... it suction cups to your cheeks! I almost thought it was painful at first because it is such an unfamiliar feeling. My friend and I had no problem finishing the plate. It surely is an experience that I will never forget. 

 If you are still reading, thank you. Also, it is clear that you are interested in having such experiences of your own. I hope that you act on these desires because you won't regret it! I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my Seoul trip. The city has so much to offer, and I could probably type for hours detailing every experience that I had, but I have some homework to do now. I made the picture of me the biggest because this is my blog, so I can do things like that.

Until next time,

No comments:

Post a Comment