Good Morning Peeps! It is 7:33am here...I woke up early to write this journal, since there is mad competition for the internet here! Ahhh the shopping plaza I recommended to you in the previous emails is called Ssamziegil and it is in Insa-dong. It is quite cold this morning and I have my hoodie on, but I'm sure it will warm up. I've been using up all my t-shirts.
I am two journals behind so here we go...this one (Day 4) is SUPERSUPERLONG...don't feel the need to read it all haha..
DAY 4: Mon Apr 13/09
Suwon, Here I COME!
Since this is my third time to Seoul, I decided it was time to branch out and try to get myself outside of the city for a day trip of some sort. I decided to go to Suwon, which is reachable by the Seoul subway system. There are three things in Suwon that I would like to experience:
- Hwaseong Fortress (apparently it takes three hours to go around the whole thing! & there's archery there!! Yea yea!! I really want to try it!)
- Korean Folk Village (self explanatory, no?)
- Suwon Galbi (the beef ribs are their specialty...I'm sure Sheppy would love it!)
The lady at the tourism office spoke English and was able to answer all my questions. She was extremely nice and also allowed me to check my email on the internet terminals there. I had an email from Anne to plan to meet up. For some reason, at the time, I thought it was already Tuesday and had already missed the opportunity to meet. I sent her an apologetic msg and realized afterwards that it was actually Monday...oopsalini!
The tourism office lady, unfortunately I don't know her name so I'll have to refer her as that, recommended that I go to the Korean Folk Village first as the buses left every hour and the 11:30 bus would be arriving soon. It takes half an hour to get to the village. She suggested I take the KFV guide and also helped to answer my questions for the Korean Folk Village receptionist, since the other lady couldn't really understand me. It costs 12,000 won (approx. $12) for adults and there is a free shuttle there.
While I was on the bus to KFV, I was sitting near some other "foreigners". I heard them speak English and they were talking about how they should have gotten a guide as well. We started talking and they are Canadian too - from near Lake Huron. They were two sisters. One was teaching english to children in Suwon and the other was visiting. They also have another sister in Korea..so basically half the family is living there. Anyway, we had some good convos and then when we arrived, we wished each other a good trip and went our separate ways.
Performances; Equestrian Style
There were a number of performances happening at KFV, but I missed a bunch of performances. There were a bazillion kids there...no joke. Lots of schools having a trip there. I ended up going to the equestrian show and took some video which I will post at some point. I got a really good seat for the show and was sitting in between a bunch of kids and behind me were some pretty loud teens who reminded me of the ones that frequent the library sometimes. ahah..you know, the ones that make fun of everything?!
Just before they started, one of the horses got loose and was rampaging around where I was sitting. Some of the kids started screaming. I was pretty surprised and didn't think to videotape. I did take a pic though! It was quite entertainining...the show I mean keke. After the performance I walked for a bit and realized that I lost my KFV map and had to backtrack.
I went to the sets of "Dae Jang Geum" (Jewel of the Palace) and "The King and the Clown." The former, was an epic Korean drama that helped to spur Korean tourism with its popularity. It was about Dae Jang Geum, the one and only female to be a King's personal physician. I highly recommend watching this as it focuses on the power struggles in the palace. The kitchens had a lot of importance and everything they served the royalty had some kind health-related purpose. The drama also features some pretty delicious food!
Blockbuster Korean movie "The King and The Clown" broke all previous movie records to become the all-time number-one hit following 112 days at the box office. By the final screening on April 18, 2006, The King and The Clown had drawn close to 4 million viewers in Seoul and over 12 million people nationwide.
Exploring, Eateries & A Kind Stranger
I walked around more..taking pics of the different types of houses, bridges, animals (including black pigs from Jeju Island). I started to get hungry after a while. All I had eaten so far was gimbap, which is like sushi. [Traditionally, the rice is lightly seasoned with salt and sesame oil/perilla oil. Popular protein ingredients are fish cake, crab meat, eggs, and/or seasoned beef rib-eye. Vegetables usually include cucumbers, spinach, carrots, and danmuji (pickled radish) - credits to Wiki]
I headed to the food court and bought meal tickets for Soon dubu chigae, a spicy silken tofu soup and leek pancakes. There were numbered stalls and once the ticket was purchased I had to go to the right stall number. I went to stall #1 and sat at a low table. The food was delicious and I took pics. I keep forgetting to bring my camera down to upload pics! There was another person sitting by himself and he was an older man. We left around the same time and ended up at the same stall the second time haha.
The leek pancake was so yummy, but GIGANTOR! It was too big and I couldn't eat the whole thing. You'll see why in the pics. I finished what I could and then started to write a bit of the travel journal when I noticed someone standing near me. It was a middle-aged Korean woman, who I had noticed sitting with another woman and two men. I assumed it was two couples. They had been eating oranges and I had thought to myself, why didn't I think of that. The nice lady tapped my shoulder and smiled. She gave me half an orange and told me to eat it. I thanked her and her friend. It was so sweet and tasty!
This might be a strange thing to people, but when I travel, I tend to bring some small gifts/candies, etc with me, in case I meet supernice people who help me out. Unfortunately, I didn't have anything with me at the time...except for origami paper. So I made two origami dolphins and gave them to the ladies before they moved on. I thanked them and they said the dolphins were cute. They thanked me as they left. It was a nice experience.
Making Traditional Korean Paper
I signed myself up to make Korean paper... Why not? It would be an experience :D So I went through all the steps...(and i have pics too, as the supernice guys there took pictures for me). I mixed the water and paper mix, then used something like a basket to lift the mixture into a rectangular paper shape. We lifted what looked like the bamboo sheet people use to make sushi and used our fingers to press the sheets ends down and then lifted the bamboo off of it. Next we put it on a heater to try and I had to brush it out. The last step was taking it off the heater and putting a print on it. Through all of these processes they took pictures for me on my camera and tried to communicate with my limited Korean. They told me their clothes were also made out of paper. I made them an origami dolphin and frog and they put it on display ahhaa....
I really wanted to stay longer, but I had dinner plans. I might go back now that I think of it because there are other workshops I would like to try. I didn't have time to do the fortress either, so I'm going back to Suwon on Thursday and then I'll be meeting SHR again. I thanked the paper people and then rushed off to my bus. On the way I took a picture of three old women who were diligently working on the beautiful garden. I even got them to pose for one of the pics! They were so sweet!
Ok, this is too long...I'm gonna split it up into two emails....
Are your eyes sore yet?