Saturday, September 18, 2010

Northeast Asia Trip- Seoul, South Korea

March 13,  2010- Seoul, South Korea (Day 9)
After the trip to the hostile DMZ the day before, we were excited to tour the capital city of South Korea, Seoul. 
Our first stop was to the Namsangol Hanok Village, a historically correct Korean village.

Me and D on one of the porches of the villages royalty.

The above picture is of Kimchi pots. Kimchi pots are large terra-cotta containers that you see EVERYWHERE in Korea. Kimchi, a Korean food, is a staple in Korea. They eat it practically every meal. Kimchi is basically described as cabbage rubbed with spices and peppers that is placed in those pots and left to ferment. It's almost like a spicy pickled cabbage. Kimchi pots are mostly left outside and are sometimes placed in the ground to allow the kimchi to ferment. Sometimes the fermenting process is short, say 2 weeks, and sometimes its rather long and could take years. Either version was not appealing to me. 

We then visited a local open air market where everything from lunch to baby clothes to live fish was sold.

Here's some of the ladies in the market cooking for the lunch crowd. I did try some of the pancake looking food in the picture above. Our driver insisted that we would all like it. He was right. It was very good (and it was fried so I figured anything that could make me sick would've been gone after the high temperature frying). It was a thick battered pancake that had potatoes, vegetables, and fish (I think they said cuttlefish) in it that was fried on an oil flat skillet looking surface.
 Reams and reams of fabrics sold in the market.

You can buy any kind of sealife here at the market...fresh. Some are still alive can see the air tubes running to a few of the containers keeping them alive. Also see the squid and baby octopus on the table.

Next we visited, Changdeokgung Palace.

 This is Donhwamun Gate, the entrance to the Changdeokgung Palace. The palace, which was built by the Joseon Dynasty, was one of the five palaces Korean royalty lived in. They told us that some descendents of their royalty actually lived there until the 1990s. They even put electricity on 1 or 2 of the buildings for them. The rest of the beautiful complex is well-preserved in it's original state from hundreds of years ago.

Before we entered the gate for the English speaking tour guide, a group of Korean elementary aged students were waiting in line for the Korean speaking tour. In Korea, most of the students learn English, so that it will help them get a job and further themselves in the future (Actually D's cousin when to South Korea to teach English to kids for about a year). They had told us on the ship that the children would recognize us as Americans and want to try their English out on us. Sure enough, one little chubby faced boy steps out of the single file line the elementary school group had formed at the gate...he steps right up and looks me in the eye and says quite loudly, "Hell-o. Wel-comb tu Ko-ree-a." So I said, "Hello." It was soooooo cute. Well, all the children in the line started giggling and talking in Korean. Then they all started saying it to me.."Hell-o. Wel-comb tu Ko-ree-a."  
See the little lions (yet squatting like  in the pic above? Those are actually their water drains. The water runs through them and squirts out their mouths. Love it!

The room above is one of the rooms that the princesses (descendents from the Joseon dynasty) lived in unti lthe late 1990s. If you look closely you'll see the electric lights that were installed for them. (They have REALLY weird bulbs in them.)

Ok, I just had to throw this pic of D in...just because he looks so handsome. :)

The group I travelled with then ate a traditional Korean restaurant. I'll be honest. I pretty much only ate the fried items. LOL. After the lunch, we went shopping at some of the local shops and then headed back to the port to catch the Quest again.  Next stop... Beijing!

to be continued....

(did you miss the beginning of our trip to Asia? Click HERE to view)

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