Thursday, August 21, 2014

What I ate in Korea - WIAW #3

I made it to Korea for 8 days and ate loads of food I crazily love. Korean food is spicy, rich in flavor and super delicious. The cuisine of this country is largely based on rice, vegetable and meat. They also have abundant side dishes like kimchi, cucumber, sprout or daikon pickles. Interestingly, those side dishes are served for free at any restaurant in Korea, which means you can eat as much as you want without paying money for them. That's the reason why I ate tons of kimchi which is one of my favorite Korean food. Korean love meat so on the streets are thousands of restaurants serving BBQ. When it comes to street food, they are beyond awesome. There are many kinds of street food ranging from sweet things to savory ones.

I prefer Korean food to Japanese one although I lived in Japan for one year. I found similarities between Korean and Vietnamese cuisine, their flavors, especially spiciness, and even the way we ate. Korea is truly a food paradise for me. 

Savory food

A kind of noodle

The whole meal in a food alley in a traditional market - hot noodle with fried tofu, cold spicy noodle called japchae with egg and vegetable pickles


Pancakes - vegetable pancakes and kimchi pancakes

Another type of noodle with CHinese cabbage, seafood and pork - super cheap  4000 won

This is a chiken meal 

Pork soup - Busan specialty
Close up to the pork soup's ingredients - pork, pork blood sausages, rice, and vegetable

A meal with fried fish and vegetable pickles

Cold noodle - naengmyeon


Snack and street food

Gimbap sold on streets

Sundae - pork blood sausage with noodle, the very popular street food. We have this in Vietnam but we stuff all of the blood into the pork intestine instead of noodle

Street food is various ranging from pork organs including sundae, deep fried things to tteokbokki - spicy rice cake and fish cake

sweet tteok (sticky rice)  with different flavors: cinnamon, sesame, green tea, etc.

hot tteok - sweet fried sticky rice with red bean and sunflower seed

another kind of hot tteok with vegetable as filling and ice shaving with red bean paste on top


I couldn't believe how cheap fruits in Korea are compared to Japan. I bought 4 bunches of grapes with only 3000 won which 1 bunch of grape costs me in Japan. Busan is cheaper than Seoul. I spent 5000 won for a big bag of peaches. It was HEAVENLY AWESOME!

How cheap these lovely fruits are!

Can you believe these giant watermelons are only 2000 won/ one?

For my moves in Korea, check this out 192 hours roaming in Korea

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

192 hours roaming in Korea

I couldn’t believe that I made it to Korea where I had great moments. I was in Seoul for 5 days, spent two nights at a hostel then surfed at my host apartment in the last 3 days before moving to Busan to see my friend. This is the most epic trip of mine so far.

Seoul is a lively, dynamic and exotic city. What I love about Seoul is that everything starts very early in the morning and finishes very late in the evening. I was so stocked that I could have breakfast before 8 at a local market, which is rare in Japan as most shops open after 9. As it is a capital, Seoul is full of people, but not as crowded as Tokyo for sure. I hit up Myeongdong, Insadong, Hongdae where thousands of youngsters gather and stroll around, and also visited the ancient side of Seoul in some palaces and the Bukchon Hanok Village where is well known for traditional Korean houses. However, the places I like most in Seoul are local markets where I saw daily activities of the locals, enjoyed tons of good food and felt local.

Bukchon Hanok Village

Bukchon Hanok Village

One of the most beautiful places in the village

Gyeongbokgung Palace

How I love those decorations

Wall Painting street in Hongdae

Turkey ice cream vendor - the artist on the street

 I also went to the Nami Island where the famous drama “Winter sonata” was shot. The island was pretty but for me, it was not only the views but also a coincidental meet with random people who became my travel mates for the whole day on the island. When I was looking for the way to go to the island (I had no idea how to get there after getting out of the station as there were so many transport options and all was written in Korean), a Korean guy came up to me and asked me if I was going to the island with an amazing English. It turned out he was showing his friend who was a Malaysian around, then I ended up hanging out with them for the whole day.  My last night in Seoul was spent in a board games café with my host and another surfer who was staying at the same place with me and became a grudging interviewee for some young Koreans who were doing their English homework on what foreigners do in Seoul (if I get them right because I still don’t know the purpose of their interview). 

Riding bike with newly met friends

with snowmen

Do you recognize who were behind me?

Doing fun with the sculptures

Does it remind you of anything?

Namdaemun Market

At Seoul Folk Flea Market

Chilled out with host, surfer and some Koreans

I reached Busan after 5 hours on train and was picked up by my friend at the train station near her apartment. I was so glad to see her as we hadn’t seen each other for 2 years. After having meal which is one of the specialties of Busan at the restaurant my friend has been doing her part time job, we had a small break, then hit some places in Busan. We went to the Fish Market, strolled in the town, ate hotteoks at the most famous shop there, had dinner with BBQ and finished our day with a super huge dessert in the city center to celebrate our reunion. The Fish Market was awesome with tons of sea creatures which were either fresh or alive. I felt the fish smell just right after reaching Busan, which I couldn't do in Fukuoka. Busan is a truly fishery town due to that distinct smell which is rare in Fukuoka even though Fukuoka is a fishery town too.

Let's eat hotteok :)

Beomeosa temple's roof decoration

At Beomeosa temple

Super greenery landscape

I didn’t make plan for my days in Busan as I thought I could go around with my friend. Unfortunately, she had work suddenly so I ended up being alone for the rest time there. According the map about Busan and suggestions of my friend, I decided to make it to Beomeosa temple, Geumjeong fortress, Gamcheon culture village and Taejongdae natural park the days after. I had thought the fortress was only the wall built years ago but it turned out a place people do hiking. I found many Korean going there for hiking and I might be the only foreigner, which is super amazing. I hit up the highest peak of Mt. Geumjeong where the entire view of the city is seen. The landscape was super greenery and heavenly breathtaking. The fortress and mountains made my day. I found me sometimes singing in the middle of the forest without anyone around or on the top of the mountain where I could feel the wind, the clouds and everything. Who says Busan has only beaches. Busan, the name tells it all, doesn’t it? 

Hit the peak Godangbong

The natural spring

View from the top No.1

View from the top No.2

View from the top No.3

View from the top No. 4

The fortress
Busan is definitely my “wow” place. I couldn’t count how many times I did “wow” when I saw its magnificent natural beauties. Apparently, Busan is known for beaches, especially Haeundae beach but it is always full of foreigners and a bit noisy with lots of bars and restaurants. I prefer Taejongdae natural park where has a spectacular cliff. I spent lots of time sitting on the cliff and enjoyed the sea. Fresh fishes and other sea food are sold near the cliff and people can even eat them alive. The culture village was nice but for me, it is just a place for ones who love taking photos. I am more amazed by the mountain and the cliff.

Busan by night - taken at The bay 101 - home to a yacht club

The Gamcheon culture village

Taejongdae's cliff

what a breathtaking view!

My last day in Busan was finished with the rock festival. I went there with a German guy and a Korean couple I met randomly on bus. The music was so great, we really enjoyed it although it rained, and it was nice to see Korean dancing in the mud! 


I was more adventurous in Busan with the mountains, the cliffs, friends I met randomly and two times I almost got lost. Once was when getting out of the culture village, I realized I was off map. What I could do at that time was following the sign saying Busan station was ahead of me. There were some bus stops on the road but I felt hesitate to get in them as I didn’t know where they could take me to. But the station seemed too far while I didn’t know the way either so I decided to get on a bus with the words Busan station that popped up for a second on the bus's head. I kept crossing my fingers until a girl on the bus who could speak English told me this bus was going to Busan station. I felt totally relieved after that. Another time was after the rock festival. It was late in the evening and I didn’t know how to get to the station to go home. The Korean girl I went with said just cross the street and I could see the station but I saw nothing after a long walk. It started raining heavily, the street lights were off and no one could help me as they didn’t understand me. Suddenly, I saw a lady who was walking on the street. I didn’t know why but I just came up and asked her the way to get to the station in English. I showed her the map with the name of the station on it but she couldn’t read since the characters were too small. She only realized the station after I wrote its name down, and she took me there no matter how heavy the rain was and how late it was. No words could express how grateful I was to her. She was so kind to me. I don’t know how I would have been without her.

This trip is definitely unforgettable for me. It is not only because I have made it to Korea, eaten tons of good food that I insanely love or enjoyed the stunning nature but also about things and people I met on the road. Now I understand how risky travelling alone is, especially in the countries we don’t know their languages, but it is still my fascination. Not only has it helped me to understand myself better but it has also given experiences that are essential for a solo traveler. Be calm in any situation. Be flexible when one plan didn't work in the way we expected. And more importantly, good people are everywhere.