Woke up at 7 am… again. 😦
We can’t believe it’s effecting us this much, when we went to Germany and even when we got back from Germany we were usually pretty good about switching back and forth. Even the flight was awful – both flights to/from Germany were not half as bad as that one was.
I blearily made coffee. The room only came with a kettle and some kind of tea-coffee. Its like coffee in a teabag and you steep it for a questionable amount of time -we can’t read the directions and for some reason there wasn’t a familiar Arabic numeral on it. So I boiled water, put the coffee bag in, we waited almost 8 minutes and it was still see through. Not a coffee we would ever want, but we gave it a try. Nope, nope, nope, this was not coffee. I mean, it was technically coffee, but it didn’t taste like it. We promptly walked to GS25 (convenience store) and got iced coffees. The unfortunate think about Korea is that coffee here is delicious but expensive- at Dunkin Donuts it was $3 each for a small “Americano” – it was basically a drip coffee but you can’t actually buy a drip coffee here. Of course the coffee is insanely delicious but it’s expensive – hence our tea coffee. Aka Mul-Koeppi as we’ve called it in what little Korean we know (water-coffee).
We began our great breakfast foraging. We didn’t want to go to Dunkin Donuts again so we just went straight for the street food. The day before in Myeongdong we got the most amazing street food – Hotteok. I had been ranting to Chris about how I had heard about it and really needed to try it. There were stands everywhere but some looked savory – I wanted a “traditional” one with brown sugar and nuts/seeds. So we bought the first one we saw.
Then decided it would be an appropriate breakfast – it was, of course.
What it is is a deep fried bread filled with a sugar/honey filling. It can have nuts, it may not. We’ve had a couple and they’ve been different. For breakfast Chris got one that was filled with red bean paste which he always enjoys. To answer everyone’s questions – No, we’re not being effected by gluten here at all – just like we thought, because that happened in Germany, too.
After our Hotteok breakfast we hung out in Namdaemun and Myeongdong markets for fun. They’re lively and nice to hang out in because they don’t require any real thought. We walked around for a few hours before we needed food again. The jet lag has also made our meal-times a bit off.
I demanded a western lunch – I had been craving Italian food, and I know I can eat that (after not exactly enjoying my street food and soup the night before I’ve had much less food than Chris has – great for a diet but I hadn’t had a right proper meal since Denver at the rate we were going). So we went to look for pizza, but because pizza is boring, we didn’t go to Pizza Hut (which does exist here). We wanted Koreanized pizza. Sweet potato, corn, anything other than “normal” pizza”
So enter the tourist police. They wear puffy red coats and even if you don’t want their help they will bow to you, great you and try to get you to come talk to them just because you’re white. They’re super nice and can speak about 3 languages. They stand in the busiest intersections of high-tourist areas. We approached one person and asked if there was any Korean pizza nearby. “Korean pizza?” “Yeah, like, not pizza hut” “Ohhh, you want something like shrimp? Koreanized pizza?” She directed us to Mr. Pizza. Tourist police/helpers are the best idea ever.
With the wonderful slogan “Love for Woman” you can’t get too much more Korean than this. The pizza options were wonderfully Korean, you pick your crust first, there are options such as sweet potato, regular, or even some kind of split pea soup which consists of the crust filled moat-style with greenish cheesy paste.
The true toppings are any kind of option – Korean barbecue, “Secret Garden”, beef tips, “Potato Gold” – potatoes, bacon, sour cream, onions, corn, etc. “Shrimp Gold” – shrimp, cocktail sauce, corn, onions, bell peppers. We choose a mix of half Shrimp Gold and half Potato Gold.
Feeling full and happy we took a walk to see what else was nearby. Well, we were looking for a blank journal and there was supposidly the Kyobo flagship store nearby. Those unfamiliar – Kyobo was almost one of the original e-readers before Kindle. It is a huge bookshop here and it claims to have English books, stationary, etc. We got there and there was a huge 60 story building with a sign that read “Kyobo Life Insurance” Not correct. But we did accidentally find Cheonggyecheon – a really cool stream/river that runs through Seoul.
After the Korean War it was polluted and destroyed so they paved over it to make a large interstate-type road. They decided to open it back up and make it a nice space for people to hang out.
We ended up finding another bookstore in the area so we took a shortcut along the river. It was neat because they have these “bridges” – stepping stones across all rivers in Korea. They’re easy to cross and they can’t be knocked over – only flooded.
We made it to our bookstore, it ended up having a paper gift shop in the bottom that was filled with cards, journals, school supplies, Apple products, anything you could ever want. We found some journals and some awesome Engrish (mistakes/confusing English – because english is fun and hip to put on things [much like Chinese characters were hip and popular in the US for tattoos/shirts etc] Enrish is the resulting mistake of English-for-the-sake-of-English on products)
A collection of Engrish
Then, not English, but very funny to us was this journal, the more detail you notice, the funnier it gets.
After the bookstore, we needed coffee. It clearly had been a taxing day (sarcasm – jet lag). So we went looking for coffee that wasn’t $4. We didn’t find any so we broke down and bough some anyway.
You know those buzzers they give you at Applebees, Outback, etc… that buzz when you’re table is ready. We got one of those to wait for our coffee – except it had a tv screen on it and we got to watch TV until it buzzed. Very modern – we’re impressed.
Then we witnessed the changing of the guard almost half a mile away from their palace (an ancient palace, no one start thinking there is Korean royalty presently). But for some reason they play their drums and march all the way down, they were crossing busy streets and maintaining character. It was unique for sure.
Sorry to make most of these posts about food but we haven’t exactly been packing our days full of activities. We have really just been slowly moving from place to place, relaxing and trying to get over this b***h of jet lag. And we have the whole rest of the year to come to Seoul whenever we want – we’re taking it slow and loving it.
We went looking for dinner – an ordeal after yesterday. But fortunately we found a sort of restaurant district and found a quiet locals restaurant serving cheap food.
We got $6 Bimimbap – what Chris had on the plane and a very popular/convinient meal in Korea. It means literally “Mixed Rice” – veggies, seaweed, meat, sauce and rice, and usually an egg that you mix around in a bowl. Because it was so cold we got Dolsot Bimimbap – in the same container my boiling soup came in yesterday. If you leave the bottom layer of rice alone you get a baked crispy rice.
We thought we were pretty clever because the restaurant had serve-yourself drinks, we watched a couple other people get up and get their own glasses and drinks. Korean restaurants are smart and serve beverages in reusable water bottles – this way the waiters/waitresses can leave you alone and you can just refill your own cup continually. So we got water which was nice because we’ve been struggling to rehydrate after the flight. Also it was a tiny bit spicy.