Thursday, May 14, 2009
Korea - Day 5 - Jinhae, Cherry Blossom Festival
We got up pretty early this morning to catch a bus down to the southern part of Korea. We were too early to catch the cherry blossoms in their full splendor in Seoul, but they started blooming in the South. Our original plan was to take the bullet train (KTX) from Seoul to Pusan then bus it from there, East to Jinhae, but it wasn't to be. Our bus trip was under 4 hours so it wasn't too bad.We brought some kimbab (korean sushi roll) on the bus and enjoyed it although it was practically inhaled as soon as the foil wrapper was peeled back! Some kimbap is made from tuna and even kimchi, but we had the garden variety which has ham and crab inside.We got to Jinhae and proceeded to visit four main areas where the cherry trees were beginning to blossom.We first climbed to the top of a small hill and got a good look over the whole city. Small place on the water, quaint, relaxing, nice. There was a mixture of cherry and magnolia trees blooming there. The weather in the south was much cooler than in Seoul so I had a chance to strip down to a tshirt for the first time during the trip.After that we walked through the market which transformed into the main festival area where there were performances, food, games, etc. Met a ROK Marine there and he gave us directions to a place called Romance Bridge.Before we got to the bridge, we took in the tree lined streets, which were beautiful, you almost want to take a picture of each tree individually!Romance Bridge was beautiful. It was a small two or three block long boardwalk along a stream. Cherry trees lined the stream above and bright yellow flowers brought some serious contrast to the area lining the stream itself.There was a sign that translates to "Watch your head" and I couldn't resist being a dork.Some kids were nice enough to give us directions to a rail station that is a tourist favorite during the peak of the blooming season.It was a good 15 minute taxi ride, but worth it. The trees stretch over the tracks and when blooming, form a blanket of pink and white for the train and its passengers.Although the trees weren't in full blossom, and they weren't as pink as we expected, it was a beautiful place to visit. We did some across some very pink flowers, but the dominant color of the cherry blossoms was pinkish white.We left Jinhae, back to Seoul and found us some good ole grub, seafood style, at a restaurant that sold spicy octopus. We'd seen a dish on TV that we wanted to try; seafood on spicy bean sprouts. We found it at this restaurant, ordered, and proceeded to find out that it was indeed; chock full of seafood, things we'd never seen or heard of before, much less eaten.There were these little brownish sacs we called "fart bags" because that's actually what they looked like. We picked around the fart bags for a while until the rest of the seafood began to run out...I thought, what the heck, we payed 45,000 ($35ish) won for this dish, we're on vacation, might as well taste the fart bag. Now, the wording of that thought should've been my first warning. I stuffed a little sac in my mouth, salty, soup dripping off of it...not bad so far...then I bit into it and it exploded in my mouth, an even more salty, fishy, soft and gooey flavor/texture...We picked the rest of the fart bags out! Pae ate some of the large egg sacs that were in the stew, but I stayed away from those.