Archive for February, 2009

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress

We finally made it to the fortress.  It wasn’t that far from our apartment… maybe 30minutes on the subway.

Hwaseong Fortress (The Flower of Castles)

This fortress was built between 1794-1796 by the Joseon Dynasty… same dynasty from the Shrine we visited.  It was used to protect the city, for worship and celebration ceremonies. They still have a changing of the guards ceremony… going on for over 200 years now. Hwaseong has 41 areas of importance, all but 7 have been restored. These would include temples, the floodgate, lookout towers, secret entrances, giant bronze bell (which I got to ring!!!)… and many more.

It took us 3 1/2 hours to walk around the entire fortress wall.  It was up and down inclines and stairs the whole way.  Yay us! Thank goodness it was beautiful weather all day.

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Normal Life

Really, there’s nothing exciting going on with us.  This week has been “normal” living.  We’ve cooked some good meals at home and have been going to work.  Seth has discovered that he likes ‘The Office’… as he never watched tv back home due to lack of time, here he has some time to kill.  I’ve been catcing up on ‘Smallville’ and ‘Lost’. 

:mrgreen: Thank goodness we are both feeling better and have begun to adjust to the crazy 14 hour time difference.  I wouldn’t say that we’re completely used to it now, but at least we’re not walking around in a daze anymore like zombies. 

Dango I have discovered that I love rice cakes.  It’s not like the rice cake you’d think of… more like soft, puffy rice pasta.  They eat them soooo many different ways, but I really like them fried and covered in a spicy sauce. Talk about “YUM”.  This place, near our school, sells them 5 or 6 on a stick for about .40 cents.  It’s a great snack between classes.  I can run down, grab a stick, and be back upstairs ready for the next class in no time at all.

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More Food

We have been going to this yummy place very near our apartment.  It has a smiling pig on the door and serves the most wonderful bacon and steak.  In Korea, they eat bacon as actual meals.  It’s thicker than what we’d have back home… and tastes a bit different too.  But this restaurant is another traditional style place that the food is cooked right in front of you on the table.  It’s fun.

Thats bacon and kimchi on the grill.
That’s bacon and kimchi on the grill.

They give you onions, garlic and all kinds of sides with the meal.  The bacon cooks for a while, then it’s chopped up into little peices.   You then put the bacon and other things into lettuce and it makes a sort of wrap.  Very yummy.   A salad always comes with the meal too.  To top it all off, this place is extremely cheap… this meal was about $8 total.

Some of the sides...
Some of the sides…

 Well, we didn’t feel like going out last night.  Today we are starting to feel like ourselves again.  So, this is good.  :grin:  Tonight for dinner I have some stuff to make hamburgers…. yay. 

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Life

The past few days it has been extremely cold and windy.  Thank goodness Spring is just around the corner.  I can’t wait to try out my badminton equipment.

Finally, I found a comfy blanket to curl up with on the couch.  Yay!  E-mart had some on sale… and I found one that was just like one I had back home.  It’s silly to think that a blanket could make me soo happy, but it does.

Seth went with our coworker to a PC room and played some weird Attack computer game. They died a bunch and had to have the PC kid use Korean Logins for them… otherwise they couldn’t have played. But both of them said it was fun… and the PC rooms always give out free coffee and have comfy chairs. :smile:

Today is Fat Tuesday… and not a mardi gras bead in sight.  I guess it’s not exactly a Korean holiday.  If we feel better, tonight Seth and I may go out to see if anything is going on.  I’ll be thinking of last year around this time… Robbie Gras!  My friend’s birthday party was mardi gras themed, soo much fun.  (Happy Birthday to Kristen, Robbie, Tara and Alishia… all happen close together)

Bead Tree on St. Charles Mask 1

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Views of the City

Seth went hiking on Saturday.  There are parks and trails all around this city.  Right now the trees are bare, so you can almost see the city.  The park closest to our apartment is called Surisan Park.  (San meaning mountain)

Park entrance

Park entrance

The first group of symbols on the sign say “Surisan”.  We’re getting quite good at reading the language, now we just need to learn what it all means.  :mrgreen:

View of Sanbon from the mountain.

View of Sanbon from the mountain.

We both have the sniffles, but aren’t feeling too bad.  Yesterday we took it easy, so that we could rest. We watched some movies at home and just hung out. Today, it’s back to school.

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Shabu Shabu

This has to be one of the best dinners ever.  It’s really tasty and an all around fun experience.  The restaurant is in traditional style… meaning that you have to take your shoes off at the door, sit on the floor, and your food is cooked right in front of you.  It’s sooo fun.  This place is on the 2nd floor of a building we pass everyday… it looked intimidating so we had never been in.  Last night we decided to give it a try anyway.  The owner did speak some English, which was nice.   We will definitely be going back again.

Tons of side dishes and condiments... Love it!

Tons of side dishes and condiments... Love it!

Okay, so Shabu Shabu is basically a soup.  It’s a broth base, they add cabbage, green onions, mushrooms and some other green leafy stuff into the kettle right on the table.  It boils.  Then you have a plate of very thinly sliced beef that you add into the pot after about 15 minutes.  The meat cooks and you spoon out the soup into your bowl.

You can add rice noodles, dumplings, onions... as you like.

You can add rice noodles, dumplings, onions... as you like.

Seth sitting down to the lovely meal.

Seth sitting down to the lovely meal.

What’s even the coolest part of this whole meal was that the mushrooms are grown in the restaurant!  They grow in these jars… they actually cut them out of the jar filled with dirt into the kettle.  They were the best mushrooms I have ever eaten.

Mushroom farm in the fridge.  :-) Weird, but awesome.

Mushroom farm in the fridge. :-)

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Jongmyo Royal Shrine

We finally got to visit some of the Korean palaces.  The Jongmyo is the royal ancestral shrine of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910).  Spirit tablets of the kings and queens are enshrined here.  This place was amazing.         *it made for a fabulous Valentine’s Day*

 Now, of course, this place has been re-painted and many of the stones have been put back into place… but it still had that ancient feel. There are several other palace grounds that we want to visit, and hopefully will get to do that soon. We have no idea what’s going on this weekend yet, but we’re thinking about touring more of Seoul. We could go up there every single weekend and never see it all.

Oh, and that day we saw the palace grounds… we found a Mexican restaurant!  Talk about making my day.  :grin:  It wasn’t exactly Rio Grande and they don’t have cheese dip, but it was good. 

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Palace Grounds – Botanical Observatory

Everything was soo beautiful.  I can’t wait to go back in the Spring when all the trees are in bloom because I’m sure it’ll be even more amazing. These are pictures from the Observatory that was on the Palace grounds.  I was amazed from the first plant to the last.  Just about every plant, I had never seen before.  I wish I could bring some of these home with me.

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Checking out the Area

On the first trip to Seoul, I finally got to see something that made me really feel I was in Asia. :mrgreen:

Wall of an old Palace
Wall of an old Palace

The palace is gone, but sections of the surrounding wall still remains.  Wait until you see the preserved Palace grounds pictures.  There are 2 very near us and we got to visit them this past weekend.

Now, of course, you can still see the high rise buildings in the background and across the street was a convenient store… but the wall was cool.

OH, and I finally took a picture of one of the weird “deals” they give at the E-mart.
Buy noodles, get paper towels

Buy noodles, get paper towels

I mean, how random is this?  These are taped on the side of the packages.  :?:
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Seaweed Soup

I never thought I’d say this… but I love seaweed soup!  I’ve had versions of it back home, but never made any myself.  This is the easiest soup to make, and oh sooo tasty.  So, I wanted to post the recipe so you can make it too.  All of the ingredients can be found at most Kroger’s (I know the one in Barboursville has seaweed now).

Seaweed Soup

  • 1 (1 ounce) package seaweed … in sheets
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 6 cups beef stock (I used bouillon cubes)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3-4 green onion sprigs… chopped
  • solid tofu… cubed… I used about 3 inches of the tofu block

Heat a saucepan over medium heat; add onions, sesame oil, 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, and a little salt, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in seaweed and remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce; cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Pour in 2 cups broth, and bring to a boil. Stir in garlic, tofu and remaining 4 cups broth. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Seaweed Soup.... YUM

Seaweed Soup.... YUM

It’s a fabulous, bright day today.  Mondays are always busy for me with 6 classes in a row, but at least they’re over more quickly that way.  I miss everyone and hope everyone is doing well.

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