Traditional Marketplace Food

This was an extremely interesting meal in the center of a marketplace!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Generally ‘traditional’ Korean experiences involve taking your shoes off. So that’s where we started. Then shoeless, we climbed onto these raised platforms that were heated. Unfortunately, that was the only heat in the building and Korea is cold! But my bum was toasty and I was starving so I was ready for some Korean food.

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This Ajumma (old lady) walked around the platform serving food and filling drinks.

The meal was delicious! In the center is a fish salad with sesame, garlic, and peppers. The other dishes are Banchan (side dishes); there was kimchi, bean sprouts, and spinach.

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I’m not sure what the soup was because I was too freaked out by this next dish to ask…
Guess what it is!

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Have you figured it out?
It’s BLOOD soup! I’m not joking! It’s congealed cow blood soup!
Koreans say it has all kinds of health benefits, but just the thought of it turned my stomach! It’s called haejang-guk, 해장국!

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This soup was safe and yummy, just noodles, veggies, broth, and some clams. And noooooo blood!

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And for a little dessert, pan fried red bean filled rice cakes. Apparently, back in the day Korean moms use to make these for their kiddos!



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Hello Kitty & Hello Giant Burger

An entire café devoted to Hello Kitty. Super Asian and super cute! I love it 🙂

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Hello Kitty cakes!

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Hello Kitty menu!

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Hello Kitty cups!

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Annnnd…..Hello Kitty latte!

So we had planned on going to Joe’s Burgers, but when we walked in the door the man told us he had just been kicked out by the landlord! What the heck?! He said it happens all the time in Korea.  So disappointed and a little confused we wandered on to find a new place to eat.  Luckily, we found another burger joint just around the corner!

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There were two options for burger size on the menu, regular or large. Of course my husband wanted a large to himself, even after the many emphatic warnings of it being too big for one person from the waitress. But he got the large anyway, saying no matter how big it was he could finish it….

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Obviously he was unsuccessful! I’ve seen pizzas smaller than this burger!

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We ordered cheese fries and regular fries, both delicious.

The burger was okay, I’ve had better, but it was pretty cool to see a burger the size of a pizza.

Cat cafe

Cat café! You might be asking yourself, “what the heck is a cat café?” Well allow me to explain the awesomeness!! It is a coffee shop with cats roaming around!! And I know what you’re thinking, because it’s the same thing I thought when I first heard about this, and that is “eww, health code violation.” But it is actually the cleanest café I have ever been in. Seriously,  it is spotless and the coffees are made in a separate room without cats.

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Top floor baby! Unfortunately, there isn’t an elevator 😦

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Advertisement for the adorable kitties!

First, you trade your shoes for slip-ons. Very Korean.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Then you enter the room with the kitties in it!!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Meow!

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I see 3 kitties, can you find them?!

Kitties playing. meow.
Total there were about 8 cats…I think.

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That door/ window leads to the room where the coffees are made. See totally sanitary! SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

And then you just chill with your kitty friends and coffee!!

It’s 8,000KRW (roughly 8USD) for a coffee of your choice, I got a café latte, and you can stay as long as you please!

Song’s Kitchen

Again my Korean friends impress me with their awesome restaurant choices!

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Song’s Kitchen. Delicious!

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left: tonkatsu (fried pork topped with veggies) right: tteokbokki covered in cheese and bread (tteokbokki is rice noodles covered in spicy sauce, sometimes mixed with seafood)

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And the best part of the meal…송주 (song-ju)! Coffee and beer and whipped cream. My three favorite things!

 

Gyeongbokgung Palace

The Palace!!! Last time I went allllllllll the way into Seoul to see the palace it was a Tuesday and therefore it was closed. (sad) But this time I went with my Korean friend and got to go on the English tour! It was amazing!!

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The entrance.

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Sehee, my best Korean friend!

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Gorgeous roof top details!

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Throne room

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Dragon picture!

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The queen’s garden. It’s winter so it’s dead 😦

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Some of the buildings in the palace.

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The top of the folk museum!

Soooo, I always assumed that Koreans removed their shoes at the door as a sign of respect or something. wrong. It’s because of the heating system. Back in the day, there were fire places under the houses and the smoke and would heat the room above through the floor. This is the real reason for the removal of the shoes, to feel the heat. It’s the same reason the mattress would be placed directly on the floor.  And even today in Korea this heating system is still used. Of course, the fires have been replaced with gas/electric machines, but the heat still does come through the floor. (Even in my apartment, it’s awesome!)

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See the little squares under the building? Yup, those are where the fires were lit and maintained. 

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This was built as a private place for the king to go.

 The palace was lovely and beautiful and I am so happy I got to see the inside this time! It’s a wonderful place to take pictures and a great way to learn Korean history! I definitely recommend going on the English tour!

Lunch and dinner in Insadong

I love my Korean friends for so very many reasons, but I really really  love when they show me new restaurants! Sehee and I hung out long enough to warrant both a lunch and a dinner stop! Score! First we checked out a Vietnamese place…

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I had the rice, Sehee had the noodles.

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Some spring rolls! And fruit! I need to know the name of the fruit because it was really delicious – a little sour but very good!

 And now for my new favorite restaurant in Korea…..

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Mexican of course.

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I had the burrito!

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Sehee had the taco!

 

Lost in Translation

I can often be found wandering this country, speaking to random people in an attempt to practice my Korean, 한국어. And because of this, I end up having conversations with such a huge disconnect that I can’t help but laugh. So here are my top five “lost in translation” moments.

1. liaison

While at lunch, my Korean friend complained about the area having too many love motels. (Korea is known for its abundance of love motels.  And they are exactly what the name implies, a place people go to do the dirty.  Keep in mind homes in Korea generally have more than one generation living in them, so sometimes this is a way of getting privacy. But also they can be used for prostitution.) The topic love motels eventually lead to affairs and infidelity.  But my friend couldn’t think of the English word for infidelity.  She speaks pretty good English but every once in a while she has to look words up.  So she plugged the Korean word for infidelity into an app on her phone and the English definition it gave was “immoral conduct with a liaison.”  She couldn’t pronounce liaison, so I pronounced it for her.  But somehow during this exchange I lead her to believe liaison means prostitute! So for the rest of the conversation about the love motels (and it went on for longer that you’d expect) she used ‘liaison’ when she meant prostitute!

Wanna learn more about prostitution in  Korea?

2. 애교 or aegyo

I was at dinner with a Korean friend when she asked if I “did lots of 애교 to my Husband.” I was confused, and honestly, it sounded dirty, so I just told her I didn’t understand. She typed it into a translator app, thinking we could easily remedy this lapse in communication. Turns out it wasn’t that easy.  애교 literally translates literally to ‘lovely’ but that’s not really the full definition. Eventually, I texted a friend who is fluent in both hangug-eo (Korean) and English (yeong-eo) and she explained 애교 fully. This youtube video does a better job explaining it than I ever could. Basically it’s just being adorable to show affection or get something you want.

3. texting

Making plans via text message can get a little tricky with the language barrier. But as crazy as the conversation below seems, I am proud to say we did end up successfully planing a dinner date, to which we both showed up at the right place at the right time! Christina-1 Language barrier-0

texting

4. May I have you?

I met a girl on the subway who spoke pretty good English but often fumbled with the verbs.  We made small talk for about ten minutes and then she asked “May I have you?” I was so confused. Have me do what, or for what? She said it several times motioning between us and I finally asked, “oh, you want to be friends?” She was relieved I understood and we exchanged phone numbers.

5. Crock pot

Apparently, the concept of a slow cooker is as foreign to Koreans as most Korean foods are to Americans.  I explained it several times and was laughed at each time.  I said, “Oh you just put whatever you want to cook in there and leave it for 7 or 8 hours and then its ready to eat.” My Korean friends were baffled. They said, “Christina cooks for 7 hours?!” I kept correcting them, saying that it only took a few minutes of prep time and then I just let the slow cooker do the work, but I’m not sure they ever fully understood.  Throughout the afternoon jokes were made about me cooking for such long periods of time.

 

Bonus Korean Experience:

Parking in Korea is creative. It’s one of those “the rules are there are no rules” kind of things. Which is both extremely annoying and often very convenient. So when my husband and I went to pay rent at the realty office, he pulled the car off to the side of the road and left me there while he ran inside.  Yes, the car was in the middle of the road but this is pretty standard in Korea.  So when a taxi behind our car couldn’t get around and started honking I didn’t know what to do.  I don’t drive in Korea, and I was scared to even try. Just to moving the car down the street seems simple, but I don’t have a license in Korea and I’m not on the insurance. So I waved apologetically and tried to convey that I couldn’t drive. Next thing I know, the passenger from the Taxi is in MY car, driving up the street and out of the way.  I swear, she just got in the car and moved it. By the time I realized what was happening, it was over.