N Seoul Tower

At over 1,500 feet above sea level, the views from N Seoul Tower are fantastic.  At the base of the tower, there is a park where visitors can relax and children can play.  There are also multiple gates on which to affix love locks, a popular symbol in South Korea.

Love locks are personalized padlocks that couples lock onto something to symbolize everlasting love… pretty cheesy.  Korea loves love, and so that’s right up their alley!

Seoul, South Korea

Andy and I visited Seoul Tower right before Chuseok in October.  The park was surprisingly busy, and we were even lucky enough to witness a Joseon Era weapons display.  Due to the holiday, many people were also playing Korean traditional games.  It was a fun atmosphere to say the least!

Playing yutnori, a traditional Korean boardgame
N Seoul Tower
Love locks – so heavy that the gate is bending!
Ancient weapons display

We took the subway to Myeongdong Station, and then walked to the cable car station.  If you’re interested, you can buy padlocks there.  You can then ride the cable car to the base of the tower.

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Chuseok Vacation – Kyoto, Japan

Every fall, Korea observes its annual harvest holiday, Chuseok.  During Chuseok (추석), Koreans leave the cities and return to their ancestral hometowns.  In many ways, it is similar to American Thanksgiving (without the turkey!).

Unfortunately Chuseok fell on a Sunday this year (so much for the three-day holiday…), but we still managed to take a trip.  Andy and I choose Kyoto, Japan.

This post is very picture-heavy.  If you’re interested in seeing my photos, click the following link.

Andy at a ramen shop
conveyor belt sushi – this one is tuna
at Fushimi Inari, a Shinto shrine famous for its thousands of orange gates
5-story wooden pagoda at Toji Temple
maiko (apprentice geisha) outside of Gion Square, a well-known theater in the neighborhood
sukiyaki (Japanese hotpot with meat and vegetables) at an izakaya (Japanese pub)
Tenryuji, Temple of the Heavenly Dragon
Andy in the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Salmon roe (fish eggs) for sale at Nishiki Market

The trip was super fast 🙁 although it might have been a blessing in disguise, because Japan is certainly the most expensive country I’ve ever visited.  Even more than Switzerland in my opinion, although some people might disagree…

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Freaky Food: Yukhoe Bibimbap (육회비빔밥)

Every region of Korea has its own culinary specialty.  A group of friends and I found ourselves in Jinju (Gyeongsangnam-do) last weekend, and we decided to sample some local flavor.  Jinju is known for yukhoe (pronounced yook hway) bibimbap – raw beef mixed rice.  While some people may have eaten raw beef before, I hadn’t.  In Japan, I had a dish with raw egg and felt squeamish… surely I would contract salmonella or worse! But it was fine (and delicious), and part of being a traveler is trying new things.  Otherwise, why bother?

A new Korean friend took us to a local market where we could find a few restaurants, including one that specialized in this dish.  There was literally a line out the door and around the corner, always a good sign!

We went upstairs.  Sat down.  Looked at the neighboring table.  They had ordered an entire plate of raw beef, which looked pretty scary.  Hesitantly, we ordered our dishes and awaited our future food-poisoning…

But then this came:

yukhoe bibimbap - raw beef mixed rice in Jinju, South Korea

It was delicious.  The bibimbap alone was really great, with lots of veggies and other goodies, but the meat was super flavorful.  The beef seasoning included soy sauce, sesame oil, and even Korean pear, which is pretty traditional.  I ate an entire bowl and half of Andy’s!

This particular restaurant also served a bowl of beefy, oniony soup with each order.  The banchan were radish kimchi, pickled radish, and ojingeojeot (fermented squid – sounds gross but is amazing).  All in all a great place!

Freaky Food: Yukhoe bibimbap (raw beef mixed rice)
Verdict: A must-try!

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Andy’s Family’s Visit

Last month, Andy’s family came to Daegu.  Unfortunately, so did Typhoon Sanba – yet we managed to find some things to do.

First, there was a baseball game.

Samsung Lions (Daegu) vs. Lotte Giants (Busan)
Go Lions!!

Then we tried makgeolli and shabu shabu.  Yum!

During the storm, we ducked into an arcade for good old-fashioned fun.

The Champion

We feasted on duck-in-pumpkin… (Andy and I will find any opportunity to do so!)

at Goya in Igok-dong

And finally, we explored Apsan, one of Daegu’s protecting mountains.

I can see my house from here!

Andy and his family also explored Busan while I had to work.  Their trip definitely flew by!! It was really great to see some familiar faces.  Also fun to see Korea from a newbie’s eye – we might still be fairly new ourselves but it’s so easy to become accustomed to the oddities of Korean culture.

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