Friday, September 25, 2015

Vacation for the Seoul!

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If you head to a country with expectations that actors and actresses are the sample space demographic, you'll be sorely disappointed, England being a prime example (Where are you Emma Watsons?). Reframe the situation for a country that's famed for its plastic surgery, and the expectations vs reality is vastly magnified. Is it testament to my superficiality that I spent a significant portion of my free time in the week I was in Korea scrutinizing the noses of locals to see if they were real? Because man, those nose bridges were sky high.

Plastic faces aside, the people came across completely genuine with great beaming smiles! It helps that I've spent a few hundred hours studying Korean culture and relationships (and by that, I mean a LOT of K-dramas) so I am pretty confident I was able to correctly classify the appropriate noonas, oppas, ahjummas, and ahjussis when walking in public. And if those words just flew over your head, they're a good sign that you've probably spent your free time more productively.

Pertaining specifically to this trip however, I'm glad that I spent so much time building those high expectations of Korea because it was that early "exposure" to their culture that made the trip so much more enjoyable. I've been to Korea before, a little over 10 years ago, and it could be that I hardly knew what I was doing 10 years ago, but the trip this time surely surpassed it. I felt that being able to relate to the extent of saying, "I've seen that in an episode somewhere!" made the trip that much more of an adventure.

I have a bit of a weird habit where if I know I'll be going somewhere, I avoid seeing pictures of it as much as possible to avoid "spoilers". There are some things that just cannot be avoided, like the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall of China, but if it can be helped, I choose travel destinations by just very briefly glancing through the description, avoiding pictures as much as possible to prime myself for maximum "awe". It sounds crazy just typing it out, but bear with me. It's just like surprising yourself! (But I take the opposite attitude to food so it's often an internal battle when both are involved.)

But now that I've gone through my Korea trip with an idea of what was there, I'm starting to rethink my self-surprising attitude. Maybe an episode of a local TV show before I travel? Or a book set in that city? Regardless, this trip has changed my travel style and I'm looking forward for the different ways I'll experience a new country next!

Yikes sorry, I've really digressed.

Let's talk Korea.

I loved Korea. I decided I loved it on the day I arrived as I breathed in fresh air (a more-than-nice change from the Malaysian haze) and had my first meal of BBQ-ed pork. I loved it even more when we flew from Seoul to Jeju Island and I had one of the best days ever.

When we were told that we'd be heading to Korea's Love Lock bridge in Namsan Park, a  I was really just expecting a bridge with padlocks attached throughout. But it was a gorgeous park and creatively arranged, where locks hung off pinetree-like structures with Seoul stretched out before us. Love From The Stars fans were meant to recognize the location but I didn't, so the filming probably made it look different! *reassures self*

DSC_0275DSC_0300My ahmunni!

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Oh maaaa!

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We didn't go up the Seoul Tower, but the view was fantastic regardless and we had a good time taking pictures and posing on their "broken" chairs. I didn’t break them wan okay!

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LOL hello little boy.

Foodwise, I think Malaysians are pretty proud of our pork.

We show off our Siew Yuk and Char Siew and Bat Kut Teh because we find delicious ways to cook it in roughly 10,000 ways, but the BBQ pork we had was something special too!

DSC_0370DSC_0379Ginseng, wine, pine leaves, garlic, herb, curry, miso paste, and hot – 8 flavours of pork!

DSC_0375DSC_0376DSC_0384DSC_0387Check it out on TripAdvisor here!

Marinated in 9 different ways, when barbecued, the flavours of the meat come out in such an interesting way. The flavours are unconventional but delicious and is really something worth trying just for the wide variety of tastes in one meal.

My favourites were Pine Leaves and Curry, whilst my mom was more partial towards the Wine flavoured one.

Whilst Namsan Park was beautiful and lunch was delicious, what really escalated the day into One Of The Best Days Of My Life was when we flew to Jeju Island afterwards and got onto this beautiful yacht. Already it was fantastic because I love being on the ocean (boats are great and a yacht is totally a #lifegoal), but the cruise included some of my favourite things as well - red wine, pineapples, and sashimi!

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As we cruised along the waters by Jeju Island, the winds grew stronger and the waves got bigger, lifting the yacht with each one and bringing it back down with a splash when it passed. We were walking on deck as this happened and it was so fun having the yacht rise and fall with the swell of the waves. Soon however, the staff started yelling out "The waves are getting stronger, the waves are getting stronger."

Now i completely expected the usual request for us to head back indoors due to the strong waves, but was so shocked when they ushered us to the front of the boat! Turns out, stronger waves made it a lot more fun to ride in front, feet dangling off the edge, with nothing but a sheet of tarp between us and the water. It was exhilarating and relaxing all at once, feeling the sea breeze brush against my face and seeing the waves beneath my feet. The air was so fresh and clean, and I don't know if it's because it's a different part of the sea or due to hygiene reasons, but whilst the air was salty from the sea, there wasn't the strong smell of fish that Malaysian waters offer.

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I was joined by our Korean tour guide, who spoke Cantonese (which I do not speak) and soon after, a whole group of us were relaxing on the tarp, our backs to the ocean and eyes to the darkening sky. It was so relaxing and beautiful being there and I'm smiling just thinking of it.

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The meal that followed, which was braised mackerel fish was a really yummy way to end the night. Like Assam laksa broth without the Assam, the soup was so delicious I had about 6 helpings before I realized my clothes were getting tight and breathing became a little difficult. It's not for everyone though due to its strong flavour, the sort that belongs in the you-hate-it-or-you-love-it camp, so my glowing reviews of its silky smooth fish and just-spicy-enough broth could be inapplicable to many. But as they say. when in Korea, do as the Koreans do and well, there's really only one way to find out.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi babe, any recommendations of good place to visit at Seoul cause will be going next yr during CNY

    ReplyDelete