Saturday, June 28, 2014

Food, Culture, Food, Tea, Food... (6.28.14)

Today was the first full day of 'Mike and Chris take over Seoul' and boy, it was a successful one. The Day off with coffee, toast and eggs before we headed out.

Our first stop was the Jongmyo Shrine. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was constructed in 1394 and is considered to be the oldest royal Confucian Shrine. When it was built in 1394, it was the longest building in Asia. When a King or Queen died, a memorial tablet is placed inside a plain hall. This hall serves as a resting place the deceased person's soul. There are elaborate rituals that must happen each time a tablet was placed inside a hall. Traditionally, there would be three years between the death and the placement of the tablet inside the hall. The original shrine had 7 rooms and was eventually expanded to 19 as more Kings reigned over Korea. During the 7 Years War, the Japanese invaders burned most of the shrine down. The memorial tablets were saved by placing them in a commoners house and they were retrieved after the war and placed back into the repaired shrine. 

After the shrine, we roamed for a bit looking for some lunch. We went through a really neat little part of town that has been preserved as a traditional Korean Market. Here, they sold everything from tea, to calligraphy brushes, to hand made paper. We found a lunch spot that served chicken and seafood soup. Like all the other food I have had in Korea, this tasted great and was a very satisfying lunch. After lunch, we visited a tea house and shared some afternoon tea ate frozen persimmons for a refreshing dessert.

With our stomachs full of soup and tea, we headed to the banks of the Han River to rent some bicycles and ride along the river for a bit. It was very relaxing and a beautiful day for a ride. After we returned the bikes, we hung for a bit before heading home to enjoy an early evening beer on the roof of our hostel.

It was time for dinner and we headed into Hongdae to seek out nourishment. We found a Korean barbecue place with a table open and ordered some marinated pork and some beer. It came with mashed sweet potatoes, an onion and soy sauce salad thing, fermented soy bean paste and lettuce. You cook the food yourself over a charcoal fire that is in the middle of your table, cut up the meat and make a little lettuce taco. Afterwords, we enjoyed some rice and soul before heading out into the Hongdae nightlife.

Nothing like a good old-fashioned 'spicy pork seasoned rip' to start the night. 

The chef for this evening...

After many stops, many beers and a ton of conversation, we headed home for a nightcap on the roof. It was a great end to the first full day of the Mike and Chris Conquest. Tomorrow, we have most of the day in Seoul before jumping on a trai. And heading south three hours to Waegwan, Mike's town. 

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