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Archive for November, 2010

Funnily enough, when we hear “Japan” we quite often think of geisha, samurai and blooming cherry trees.

If we hear “Tokyo”, however, the first thought will be for the megalopolis, Harajuku, Shinjuku and the high tech gadgets that will be the new hype in the West about 2 years after being born in  the East.

Well, the same approach goes for Korea.

The country in itself is steeped in its rich history, and the way of life in the countryside has not changed that much.

Seoul is not Korea.

Seoul is ever changing, ultra modern and never quiet.

But even that futuristic side is based on the past.

How so ? Because of Confucius.

You might be thinking: “Right, this time she lost it.”

I disagree.

It’s the Confucianism that has been, and still is, the base of the Korean society. It shapes the moral system, the way of life, social relations and even the legal system.

What does it have to do with the futuristic Seoul ?

Simple.

How long do you think you could leave an HD TV set in the Parisian or NYC  subway ?

I meant, a working HD TV set.

Yes, that’s what I thought.

In Seoul, not only do you have HD TV everywhere, but now the city is putting even more technology in the subway stations.

Enters the Giant Ipad.

This brand new device is a public phone, an interactive tactile map, internet connection, TV and probably a few other things that my lack of Korean didn’t allow me to understand.

It’s actually almost too much if you don’t know the language, but scrolling over Seoul with one swipe on a huge screen is… pretty cool.

Another nice thing with the subway is the T-money card.

T-money is used to pay the fare in the bus, subway, some taxi, museums, buy stuff at the Mart and to use the phone function of the Giant Ipad.

But this is Asia.

They won’t give you a dull, boring, horrendous card with the-worst-picture-of-you-ever.

Instead, they’ll sell you the cutest mobile phone decoration.

Mine is a Hello Kitty.

More examples:

Of course, if you want to get the dull original card, feel free to do so !

But cuteness is not only in accessories.

Why can’t your fridge be cute as well ?

Ok, Seung Gi does add to the cuteness, but still !

You can’t turn on the most basic Korean device without being greeted by a nice little jingle.

The air conditioning, but also the dishwasher, the washing machine and I expect the dryer to be the same.

Too bad we didn’t get to use an oven or a coffee maker, would love to hear what they would sing.

A last peak into what technology is like in Korea:

I’m pretty sure Confucius would disapprove.

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While searching for better pictures of Korean ice creams, I found this.
I can’t believe I didn’t know about that Micky’s gelato store.
That’s too bad.
I guess I just have to go back to Seoul…
Life can be tough.
가자 ?

A trip to Micky's Timeout Gelato Shop XD yay! i found it! this just made my whole korea trip worth the flight ticket haha (i didnt do much else coz I was accompanying my mum on a biz trip TT___TT) but anyways! I can be of some (not much) help for those who wanna go find the shop in seoul coz i tried to find an address online and got zilch Locals probably know a better/easier way to go there but I will share the 'howtheforeignerstumbleduponthegelatoshop' way kay XD. First I took the subw … Read More

via totally fangirling

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When travelling abroad, especially in a far away country with a very different “cuisine”, one of the big question is:

What on earth will I eat ?

If that doesn’t sound like fun, spice it up by having a special diet.

I, for example, do not eat meat.

Koreans do.

A lot.

Bulgogi (Korean barbecue), Galbi (grilled spicy pork ribs), Mandoo (steamed dumplings) and quite a few others, are typical Korean food that I couldn’t try.

Meat being really popular, it was always kind of a quest to find a restaurant with a vegetarian offer.

Of course, seafood is also widely available in the peninsula, and that’s what we’re going to talk about.

First thing first though.

The other big question when travelling is:

Is the food expensive ?

And the answer is NO.

In Seoul we never had a dinner that costed more than 15€ per person. And that was expensive.

Most of the times you can eat for less than 10 000₩ (less than 6,30€) and we’re talking restaurant here, not Burger King.

You may be asking: “But what did you eat ???”.

Aaah… now, that’s a good question.

But before getting into the meaty stuff (or fishy, rather), let’s get a few things out of the way.

When you order in Korea, or in a Korean restaurant, you always get a demi dozen of side dishes that you didn’t ask for.

That’s part of the traditional Korean hospitality.

Among those little dishes, there is at least one type of kimchi.

It’s a national dish, and most Koreans can’t even fathom a meal without kimchi.

Here’s a little video to show you what it’s all about.

We”ll come back to Kimchi later on.

 

So, what can you eat in Seoul ? (If you don’t feel like Starbucks ^_^)

 

First and foremost: Noodles !

Here’s a list of noodle dishes.

Really inexpensive and tasty, sometimes really spicy >_<, sometimes cold and chewy, made of rice flour, potato flour, wheat, buckwheat, green tea, served hot or icy, with or without broth, with meat or fish…. you name it !

 

My absolute favourite Korean food is also the cheapest one.

Meet the Kimbap.

A cousin of the maki sushi, it has a very different taste. It can contain almost anything, including kimchi, and can be bought in convenience stores (wrapped like a chocolate bar) or made in front of you, by a skilled ajhuma, in a matter of seconds.

Healthy, cheap, filling and tasty ! What else ?

 

Another famous dish is Bibimbap.

A bowl of rice topped with vegetables, egg, meat and spicy sauce.

It has a non meat version, but we stumbled upon a very interesting twist of this classic dish.

The rice was topped with lettuce, dressing and raw fish.  Kind of a sashimi taste. Absolutely brilliant !

It was one of our cheapest meal in Seoul, 5000₩ if I remember correctly, but also one of the most delicious.

 

It would take too long to through all the things we ate.

Let’s just review our most expensive meal in Korea.

That was in Yulpo, a small town (village ?) on the south coast of the peninsula.

Those giant mussels were absolutely HUGE !

Once cooked, they looked and tasted a lot like scallops (coquilles Saint Jacques).

The stew was nice with lots of vegetables and other shells, but most of the side dishes were just soooo spicy !

 

In Insadong, we found a lovely traditional restaurant that serves absolutely brilliant food for a very affordable price.

The waiter did ask us about 4 times if I could eat fish, eggs, seafood etc. I made his life a bit complicated that day, but he was really welcoming and nice.

When everything was on the table, it looked like this: (sorry for the darkness, but it was dark in there !)

 

But Koreans also know how to make cakes.

Here’s my birthday cake for example.

 

And their ice creams are just the best ever !!!

 

Hmm, mashiketta !

Anybody hungry yet ? ^_^

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