Thursday, May 7, 2009

Korea - Day 2, Tteokbokki Festival and Dongdaemun

Here's a pretty funny sign at a fruit shop near our hotel. The sign reads, "Please no touch, only eye see." I wanted to ask if it was okay to "nose smell" but thought that would be a dumb Uda joke. We bought two packs of strawberries...mmmmmm!

We started Day 2 with a quick snack outside of the subway station. One of my favorite snacks on my mission was a cinnamon filled rice pancake called Hotteok. Always ate these things in the winter when freezing our bums off contacting in the streets or subway stations. The ones we ate today were green tea flavored and just as hot and syrupy as before. We love snacks! Here is Pae and her Hotteok.We headed to a festival south of the river on the subway. I remember the subway being a place where people always stared at white people and where people peddled all sorts of goods from fans to hot plates to candy and gum. The sellers would get on the subway and place some item on the seated passenger's lap. If you wanted to buy whatever it was that they were selling you simply pocketed the product and left the proper amount of money on your words needed. It always seemed awkward to me but I always preferred it over people just sitting there begging for money. Today was no different as a woman selling steamed corn on the cob made her way into our car, selling corn for almost double it's worth on the street. She was a poor, weak looking old lady. I was happy to see her sell a couple cobs to a lady in a thin spring coat. As for the awkward staring at foreigners, the Koreans seem to have gotten over being impressed by your whiteness. It felt more like Europe (Germany) where it's more like "You don't speak German, oh well. And no, I'm not interested in trying to translate your hand signals and sign language...go away" The Koreans are much nicer about it than that though! I think Europeans are just eternally annoyed by Americans anyways.We soon arrived at the Tteokbokki Festival. Tteokbokki is a popular snack, mostly sold in street side tents and around schools. Very popular with the students (and with Pae!) It is a combination of spicy sauce, rice cakes, fish cake and sometimes ramen and boiled eggs. Lately they even throw cheese on top and bake it into a casserole in the trendier restaurants.The festival was to promote new restaurants, manufacturers of ricecakes, and giant ricecake making machines. Of course, there were long lines, live music, mascots and most importantly, FREE Tteokbokki!Our next stop ended up being Dongdaemun, a giant shopping complex. Instead of taking the subway, a girl we met at the Tteokbokki Festival, Pom, showed us to the bus stop and we hopped a bus that took us directly where we were headed.Dongdaemun is one of a few old "gates" in a giant wall that surrounded the city during the Chosun Dynasty. Its directly translated the "Great East Gate". The less familiar name for the landmark is "Gate of Rising Benevolence" or Heunginjimun.We walked around the Dongdaemun shopping area for a while, I bought a warm jacket since I had been freezing in the wind the past day and a half, and then we went to eat something simple...Ramen with kimchi and Korean mandu. The mandu was fresh and the ramen piping hot, perfect for the early spring weather!Also on the menu for the evening, though it was cold outside, was some yummy smoothies...actually, not the best in the world, but the menu was so colorful and tempting, we just had to EAT!Here is a picture of the Dongdaemun shopping complex from the other side of the street. It's basically a bunch or shops in these tall buildings. Shops with cheap clothes, knickknacks, accessories, etc. Buying a jacket here was fun in that I got to haggle over the price, which I hadn't done probably in ten years. What's better is that the lady actually gave me a pretty good discount!Overall, we got to eat lots of free tteokbokki, ramen, lots and lots of strawberries, smoothies, hotteok and lots of other snacks and junk food. A good second day! Tomorrow, more shopping!


Beccarigg said...

Um yeah, I can't read your blog anymore because it makes me too hungry! LOL! seriously though, you should be a food photographer, you really make it look scrumptious!
p.s. "only eye see!" SO funny!

Moxy Jane said...

Ah, that simple bowl of ramen and kimchi really takes me back!

You and Pae should start up a tour guide business!! You know the BEST spots!

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