Finally back in Toronto after what seemed like a whirlwind adventure in the ‘Old World’. The time difference beteween Seoul and Toronto is 13 hrs. It’s weird to think we traveled back in time because we left Saturday morning on June 4 [Seoul date] and came back to Toronto Saturday June 4th also in the morning.
My mind frame right now is at 6pm Seoul afternoon instead of 5am Toronto. This is usually the time Chris would buy his tteokbokki snack. Tteokbokki [pronounced tok poh ki] is a korean traditional snack made of riced cake braised in a red spicy sauce. It’s incredibly spicy.
I’ve eaten a lot of kimchi while in Korea [it’s Kimchi Land after all] and I’ve learned to like it. It’s true that it’s something of an acquired taste. I was initially deterred by the spicy taste and the fact that its fermented cabbage.
One of the many things I liked about Korea is their food. Every meal we’ve eaten so far came with many varieties of side dishes and soup. Their diet is mostly vegetable and seafood. Meat like beef and pork are expensive and chicken you hardly see around in some places. They do love their pork here though. And very few restaurants even serve kai [dog] meat but it is something of a delicacy here so you may have to look for a particular place. (not something i would ever try)
Prices in Korea seems to be about the same as in Toronto, only slightly cheaper. So if you’re looking for bargains and deals, its not the place to go. Even in outside markets like Namdeamun or Dongdaemun it’s hard to haggle. What’s great is the fashion style here. Every one is well dressed and present themselves well. Although there is a sense of aloofness between strangers. Koreans as a culture have a distinct sense of self-identity. They are united by a single language called Hangungmal. The modern and traditional co-exist side by side and you can observe this everywhere. You can tell they are proud of their culture and try to preserve it as well as educate others. Their cultural places are as cheap as $4CDN (museums) and some are free. The palace entrances are 1-3,000 WON.
The landscape is surrounded by mountains and the sea. The cities maintain and preserve many of its green spaces.The subway ride to the airport (which is 1.2hr ride from seoul) was smooth and outside you can see untouched lands of mountains, some were small living areas of farmland that had rice fields and buildings. In some areas you can see the sea, it was low tide and the water was shallow with grass sticking out.
From the plane, there are many rows of domed green houses near the airport. Most of the food must be grown within the city. Fruits and vegetables are a little bit pricey in supermarkets. A big watermelon was 15000 korean won which equates to $13CDN.
Many restaurants table set up are based on communal dining. There are two side where you can sit on chairs and another side with an elevated deck [you must take your shoes off] and sit on a cushion with a low table (traditional korean dining). In Jeju Island [a beautiful quiet island] we had a traditional Korean meal consisting of 15+ side dishes with soup and fried fish and slices of pork. Everything was delicious. The fried fish a omelette was the table favourite. At night you can smell the sea breeze with fresh scent of flavours mingling with the aromatic smell of Korean BBQ. That was my favourite smell. It reminded me of childhood in the country [in the philippines called Bataan where we lived for a year].
Jeju is somewhere i would love to go back to and do some more exploring. Stay tuned for more photos as I upload them from my camera! :)