A fun-filled week with the one and only Sharon

I’m back with a much anticipated post of Micah’s mom’s week long visit to Korea.  I say “anticipated” more because I’m pretty sure Sharon needs this blog post to remember all the things we did and food we ate. :-) 

This blog post is LONG  But hey – we did a lot!

Monday:  Her late night arrival.  All went smoothly with the flight and four-hour bus ride.

Tuesday: We oriented her quickly with how things work in our apartment (door lock system, water heater system, Micah’s cell phone, etc.) and the different places around our house. 

I left school early that day (ahem…cough cough), and Sharon and I were off to a Korean cooking class.  We, of course, were the only ones who didn’t speak Korean, but it was a really fun class.  We learned how to make two delicious Korean dishes: a spicy chicken and veggie dish (takgalbi) and Korean style fried chicken.

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The chicken dish is on the left (and is a favorite of many foreigners).  And as I’ve mentioned before – Koreans love fried chicken. 

    

We tried our best to follow along with directions and understand the different ingredients.  The teacher was super cute and also tried her best to tell us things in English. 

cooking class

We were at a table with two other Korean ladies.  So the four of us shared cooking duties.

I’ll have to share the recipes for another post.  I’m still in the process of decoding some of it – and need to do a solo trial run (to make sure I actually know/remember what I’m doing).

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Really delicious fried chicken – not spicy, but sweet.  We had bought too many chicken wings to the class, so we took some of the leftover ingredients/sauces and whipped up a batch for Micah to eat when he got home from school.  He loved them.

…Later that night:  We went downtown and met up with our friends Gabe/Charissa and Courtney/Sydney – as well as my co-teacher Sun Gyung.  (She’s the one who took us out to dinner in Yeosu a few weeks back).  We ate traditional stonepot bibimbap (rice, veggies, and meat)It’s really delicious.  And afterwards, we headed over to drink makkeolli (a Korean rice drink), play drinking games, and play Cranium.  A good time was had by all – and our friends liked Sharon (and vice-versa).

Wednesday:  Since it was Election Day and we had no school (yippee!) we decided to take a day trip over to the East Sea (aka Sea of Japan).  We took a 90 minute bus to the city of Pohang.  It’s a relatively small city, but is rapidly developing into a major seaport for the country. 

First stop: Bogyeongsa Temple in the northern part of the city.  It’s a very popular Buddhist Temple, nestled at the base of a mountain.  Unfortunately, to get there required a bus ride + undetermined wait time + transfer to another bus.  We killed time by walking around the town where the bus transfer was (there was hardly anything there).  We managed to find a pretty decent Korean BBQ restaurant – so we ate (samgyeopsal aka thick pork slices) for lunch.  And luckily, just barely caught the transfer bus after lunch.

Finally…3 hours later (from when we got to Pohang)– we got to the temple.

temple

The temple itself wasn’t all that spectacular – probably because most temples look the same.  But the area surrounding the temple was really serene and peaceful.  Had we the time, we could have taken a variety of scenic hikes – some a few hours long to checkout the waterfalls.

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At the restaurants and markets just outside the temple, we saw these alcoholic drinks for sale.  Look closely at the bottle – how hilarious.  If they weren’t so expensive, we would have bought one for our friend Gabe.  (Not sure why him…but that was our plan at the time). 🙂

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Can’t pass up the opportunity for a pose like this!

…After the temple:  It was already 4:30pm.  To get back to the main city would mean probably another couple of hours travel/wait time.  And then we’d barely have much time to do anything before heading on a bus back to Daegu.  Boo!

But my co-teacher (Minju) and her husband to the rescue!  I knew they were going to be in Pohang at the same time as us, but our plan was to meet them downtown in the late afternoon for dinner.  Hmm…it’s late afternoon already and we have no idea when we are going to make it back downtown.

But when she called me, they just happened to be only 15 minutes away from the temple.  So they just picked the three of us up in their car.  So awesome!  And from there, it was like a personal guided tour. 

They took us to Wolpo Beach – where Minju walked in the somewhat murky and dirty water.  It’s not a beach beach – it was really rocky and dirty.

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My co-teacher Minju – she’s super cute.

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Micah poking at seaweed and starfish with his poking stick.

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And Sharon in her own little world collecting all sorts of shells and rocks. 

They then took us to Chilpo Beach.  This beach was really cool.  It’s more like the type of beach most of us could picture laying out in the sun and playing frisbee on.  The beach stretched out for a long time and since it was getting close to evening – there weren’t many people there.  We walked barefoot in the sand and skipped rocks (or tried to).

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Look in the background – Sharon the shell collector. 

And then the grand finale of our special tourJukdo Fish Market.  We didn’t have time to tour the actual market since it was late, but we dined on a really really delicious meal of sashimi, bamboo crab, soup, and tons and tons of side dishes.  The fish and crab were purchased fresh from the tanks, and then we went upstairs to the actual restaurant.  Our food was brought out to us all cooked/prepared.  It was SOOOOOO good!!!

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Sorry – we ate some of you…and your friends.  But you were so tasty and we really appreciate it!

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We ate some of you too.  Ditto as above. 🙂

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A little soju with our meal.  Sure – why not?!

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We had four HUGE bamboo crabs.  We were so full, but somehow managed to eat them all.

My co-teacher and her husband were so amazing!!  They paid for our dinner (except the crab since we really really wanted that), took us all around Pohang to places we wouldn’t have gotten a chance to see (and saved us TONS of time), and even took us home.  It made for a really awesome day.

Geez…only on Thursday.

Back to school for us.  During that time Sharon went to the Korean spa that’s near our house.  We helped her get to the place, tell the lady what she wanted and then she was on her own.  But she figured it out ok and got a good scrub down and massage for 35,000 won (or about $30).  I had done the similar scrub back in Feb. 

After school, we headed to visit with yet another one of my co-teachers – Hanna.  (She’s pregnant and almost due).  It was SO wonderful to see her and her husband.  We met up with them last minute, but when we arrived at their house, it was like they knew we were coming along.  They had a delicious spread of fruit and juice for us to snack on. 

We had a great time catching up and chatting – and then we went to Subyin Park nearby to catch the nighttime water and light show (think a scaled down version of Bellagio in Vegas).  But pretty impressive for this little park on the outskirts of the city.

We had a late night dinner of Korean BBQ – but this time it was a marinated pork meat.  It came with lots of different sides that Sharon hadn’t tried yet.  And of course, I ordered the lunchbox!

We ended the night with a very popular summertime dessert in Korea called Pot Bing Su (팥빙수)(It’s not even available outside of the summer months).

It’s a really refreshing dessert.  It’s basically a souped up, crunchier ice version of Hawaiian shaved ice. 

Sharon really took a liking to this dessert – and thus we were on a mission each day to find it.    Unfortunately, the best one we had was from a small bakery near our house in Daegu.  The other three we tried were not as good. 

Side note: I JUST learned that the “pot” means red beans and the “bing su” means shaved ice.  The best kind is when you can get fresh fruit, cereal flakes, and mochi balls – so yummy!  You can even get it with ice cream or frozen yogurt on top – the combinations are endless.

Friday:  We went to school and Sharon toured more around our neighborhood.  A visit to the Daegu Arboretum, lots of open markets, and shopping at the big grocery store/marts. 

After school, we packed our bags and took the high speed train to Seoul.  We even ordered – FOR DELIVERY TO OUR HOUSE – the spicy as hell, but so freakin’ awesome Kyochon Chicken (to eat on the train ride).  It was hilarious watching each other eat.  Our mouths were on FIRE, but we kept going in for more.

GOAL ALERT: This successfully meets one of our goals of living in Korea: order food for delivery (speaking only Korean) to our house.  Woo hoo!  Nevermind you that the only thing we can order is Kyochon Chicken. 

We got to Seoul at nighttime and found our way to the hotel.  We checked-in and spent an hour wandering the streets near us.  Since we were near a University – there were a lot of restaurants and hofs (bars) around us.  The atmosphere was really fun.  And of course, we ended the night with Pot Bing Su #2 (the worst of the four).

Saturday:  It was all about sightseeing, shopping and eating!  This was actually my 5th time being in Seoul (Micah’s 6th) – so, we were pretty knowledgeable about the subway and the different areas to see.  (That saves a ton of time and energy alone). 

Side note: Many of our Korean teachers/friends in Daegu haven’t been to Seoul five times in their entire life.  To us foreigners it’s a fast (2 hour) and cheap ($35 one way) trip to one of the biggest capital cities in the world – but it’s not so easy and cheap for many Koreans.  Needless to say, we feel really fortunate for so many opportunities to see Seoul.

seoul

Good thing Sharon is in good shape.  We did a TON of walking – which in Korea means, climbing up and down flights and flights of stairs…everywhere you go.

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At Deoksugung Palace (very famous and near city hall), we watched some of the ceremony there and…got to wear some Korean gear aka ‘Hanbok.’

We ate some kickass Japanese/Korean style ramen for lunch.  I found it off the website: www.seouleats.com

Actually, we ate at three places that came off this specific list of food recommendations.  Although FYI: the directions to get to some of the restaurants are a bit hard to follow or a little mixed up.

…Back to the ramen:  It was sooooo good.  Easily the best ramen we’ve had in Korea.  It wasn’t the super spicy, packaged ramen variety, but instead had a rich pork broth with slices of fatty roasted pork in it (that just melted in your mouth). 

There’s only two types of ramen you can order here at Hakatabunkko Ramen.  We ordered the most popular type (which I have no idea what it’s called). 

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When you get your bowl, you immediately take one clove of garlic (yes, a whole clove each) and use the garlic press to mix it with the broth.  That part is soo awesome – and makes for an awesome taste (I’m going to start trying this with regular ramen at home).  Sprinkle some sesame seeds and you are in ramen heaven!!

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Ramen heaven!

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All gone.  Back to the real world.

So the rest of the afternoon we wandered around to different markets.  The free market (think major arts/crafts booths) in the Hongdae University area (where I picked up a really cool painting), and the crazy hectic Namdaemun Market.

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Sharon wasn’t a huge fan of this market.  It’s extremely crowded and chaotic, but a sight to see nonetheless.

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Namdaemun Market gave us a chance for Pot Bing Su #3.  Again, not as good as the first one – but refreshing enough.

After some refresh and nap time at the hotel, we headed back out on the town.  This time to the famous artsy area of Insadong.  Most foreigners like this part of town because it’s more chill and laidback.  Also, most of the shopkeepers speak a pretty decent level of English, and there are SO many different things to buy (from the cheap socks and cell phone charms all the way to really nice jewelry, paintings, and ceramics).  Sharon LOVED this market the most.

insadong

Lots of things to keep Sharon busy and straying away from us in Insadong :-)  Common phrase heard: “Where’d she go?"

And no trip to Insadong is complete without stopping by the honey candy vendors – where you can watch how they make the delicious candy and listen to their cute song that goes with it.  It really is quite entertaining – but this was my third time seeing/hearing it.

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And then fourth time, when Sharon stopped by another vendor doing the same thing just a few minutes later.  We did manage to buy a box from each vendor 🙂

It’s called kkultarae – and it’s made from fermented honey that’s stretched out into little strings and then filled with a nut mixture.  It’s really delish, but best eaten the day of.

 

…One more thing that night – dinner!  We went back to the Hongdae area to try and find this Korean ribs restaurant (again a top recommendation from SeoulEats).  Unfortunately, we couldn’t find it and by the time it dawned on us to call them – well, they were closed.  Insert: Micah NOT happy!! 😦  But instead, we ate some really delicious pork and beef galbi at a BBQ restaurant in that area. 

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Chef Sharon trying to set the place on fire.  (I asked her to pretend to be cooking…but she didn’t – and spilled some garlic oil onto the coals.  WHOOSH!).  :-) 

SAM_2062 A little char for your garlic and galbi? 

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We ate at the very popular (usually long waiting lines) galbi restaurant, Hongik Sootbul Galbi.

 

And finally – Sunday:

We did some shopping at the nearby Emart so Sharon could pick up some more packaged ramen and other Korean goodies.  She loves the Korean ramen! 

We checked-out and stored our bags – and off we went for our last remaining hours in Korea. 

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We decided to use the SeoulEats restaurant recommendations again.  It took us to the Myeongdong area (where TONS of retail shopping stores are located).  We ate at Myeongdong Gyoja and ate their delicious knife cut noodle soup (Cal-guk-su), dumplings, and a chilled soy milk soup (Kong-guk-su).  I thought the Calguksu was the best one.

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Look at all the food!  This place is fast-paced.  Get in, order before you even sit down, pay upfront, eat, and get out!

 

And of course, we couldn’t let Sharon leave Korea without one final attempt for a really good Pot Bing Su.  We were told to go to the Coin Cafe (a very cute, quaint, laid-back place where we just relaxed for an hour or so).

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Pot Bing Su #4 – A huge bowl this time, topped with ice cream and nuts.  Still, no fresh fruit, but it was the second best of the four we had eaten.

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Fruit or no fruit – there was no stopping her. 

Farewell:  We got her onto the airport “limousine” (really just a big bus) and away she went.  Micah and I then headed to the train station to get back to Daegu. 

It was a really fun and jam-packed week.  Sharon told us that she loved everything and we were great hosts/tour guides/translators/lost and found/etc.  🙂 She actually preferred the slower pace of Daegu more than Seoul – but overall had a fantastic time.  She loved every thing we ate…including the things I didn’t mention: Korean ice cream, mandu, kimbab, pajeon, soups, jimdukk, Korean melon….you get the idea :-) 

  

Of course, a week like that doesn’t come without its consequences.  Operation: HARDCORE WORKOUTS are currently in progress for everyday this week :-) 

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9 Responses to “A fun-filled week with the one and only Sharon”


  1. 1 Mark Z June 9, 2010 at 3:45 am

    You ordered delivery on the phone? *singing* Congratulations!…
    That’s like the final boss battle! You’ve officially beaten Korea! 😀

    I love the Japanese style tonkotsu ramen! I never did make it to Hakatabunkko, but I did have it in the real Hakata district in Fukuoka when Jiksu and I were in Japan, so I feel like that counts. 🙂 맛있다!

  2. 2 muchadoaboutlisa June 9, 2010 at 3:49 am

    Hi mark!! That totally counts! I love Japanese style ramen!!! But the addition of the garlic clove made it even better!

  3. 3 Joan June 9, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    After reading this, I am SO HUNGRY! Wonderful word pictures!

  4. 4 Mom June 10, 2010 at 6:10 am

    What a whirlwind week you three had!! It looked and “sounded” like you had a terrific time. It was so cool that Sharon was able to come over. Time is flying by….won’t be too much longer until we are able to see you two!!!!!

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