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Sunday, January 18, 2009

24 Hours in Seoul, South Korea

I was in Beijing last week. Since Seoul is a mere two hour flight away and M is working near Seoul, I decided to make a short hop over and visit Seoul for the weekend. Many thanks to M for showing me around!

Here is the Han River and the major bridge that connects the north and the south part of Seoul... just kidding, this is a little creek in downtown Seoul that is popular with the locals, especially in the summer. There is an interesting photo exhibit on the area surrounding the creek. Even as late as the 1950s, the creek was lined with slum shacks, now it is lined with skyscrapers. Kudos to the Koreans for the huge progress they've made in the past fifty years.

After a short stroll at the creek, we headed to one of the many popular hangout spots in Seoul. I love these kinds of neighborhoods... they are lined with shops, restaurants, bars... even the ones that are tucked in an alley or a corner are invariably filled with people making merry...

Mmmm, street food. You can find street vendors at practically every street corner. You pick out the food you want to eat, either pay and take away or you eat next to the stall, and pay after you are finished... very cheap way to fill up your tummy!

Here is a closeup of the typical street food offerings... dokbokki, Korean sushi, tempura, (sometimes the vendor cuts up the tempura and puts it in the dokbokki sauce for the customers)... fish cake on stick, the vendor also gives you a cup of the broth that the fish cake is boiled in... good comfort food.

After eating some street food, we wandered around old town... Seoul is generally modern, but there are pockets of older structures... I find them charming. I wish more Asian cities would preserve traditional structures instead of rushing to copy all things West.

Downtown Seoul can be seen in the haze beyond...

Seoul at night...kind of like big cities everywhere.

Now, time for some good food! When M pointed out the restaurant to me, I was a bit hesitant... it was on the second floor of a non-descriptive building... but, once you get up the cranky elevator, and get through the door, you are hit with a roomful of noisy diners... mostly young people eating pork belly BBQ, drinking soju and chatting away.

This restaurant is known for its pork belly... mmmm, so good, mouth getting watery again!

After it is cooked, the pork belly is wrapped with thinly sliced daikon... mouth seriously getting watery now, you see, the pork belly is slightly charred and fatty, and the daikon is refreshing and watery, they balance each other out perfectly... Mmmm, maybe I should head to Ktown and get some for dinner tonight!

I finished the meal with some cold noodles. Again, flavorful and refreshing.

The next day, we took a cable cart ride to Namsam, which overlooks the city. It was a hazy morning so not much could be seen, but we did see these love locks on the deck of the Seoul Tower (which is kind of like the Seattle Space Needle). Hmm, maybe I should unlock a few and see what happens to the love birds...

After the Namsam excursion, we headed to the "Beverly Hills" of Seoul... and saw this store named after yours truly. Yep yep, I am glamorous, but no, I am not a Japanese kitty, I am a Chinese kitty!

Last meal in Seoul... I like this little row of restaurants tucked in an alley off a busy market...

Very quaint can take off your shoes and do traditional style Korean dining...


Seafood and glass noodle concoction...

This was the star... Korean hot pot with dumplings, pork short ribs, mushrooms, sticky rice sticks, veggies... the sauce was spicy and sweet. Mmmm...I felt all warm inside after this hearty meal.

Good-bye Seoul... stone steps similar to these could be seen in the earliest pictures of the creek... at the time, women crossed the steps to wash clothes and food, now Japanese tourists hop over them to live out their Korean drama fantasies...


Anonymous said...

Cool pics!

Anonymous said...

Yummy looking food. So...where are all of the cute Asian girls at? Obviously they're NOT in Seoul!!! Just kidding...heee hee. Well, not really. You must have missed them.
Chivalry is not dead in your last image... or is the dude trying his best to keep his "brand" from gravitating toward the Westerners? :-)


Anonymous said...

awesome update, cat! i felt like i was in korea again. let's go to korea next time together!

Cat said...

L - be good... there are lots of cute girls in Seoul and I am sure the guy was just be chivalrous!

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