Monthly Archives: April 2011

Buzzing Bangsan Market

Today Sarah headed to Seoul with some friends to check out Bangsan Market. The Bangsan Market consist of between 25 to 30 baking product shops, each shop offering more than 3,000 items, meaning that you can find everything and anything you want for baking here!

That’s right I mean everything! Everything you need to bake cakes, pies, cookies, muffins, brownies, tortes, and tarts. You can purchase all sorts of cookie cutter shapes, baking utensils and tools, pans, molds, anything to make molded chocolates including the chocolate disks, baking ingredients, all sorts of cute sprinkle shapes, decorative boxes, cellophane, ribbons and stickers, and much more!

So where is Bangsan located? Glad you asked! Bangsan Shijang (방산시장) is in Dongdaemun area but is really about 1 ½ blocks from Dongdaemun station. The closest station sitting to the market is Jongno 5-ga. You are looking for a sign that reads “박스” this is at the entrance to the baking district alley. The closest subway station is Ulchiro-4-ga exit #6 (을지로4가역 6번 출구). Now prepare yourself you are going to think at first you are not in the right area… but really you are! As you walk you will take notice to all the little shops hidden within the busy alley and that this trip really was worth your while.

Bangsan is an awesome find! We plan to head back when more of our household goods arrive and we can whip up something good to share with our friends.

At lunch we decided to head into an open marketplace located almost directly across the river walk from the Bangsan market. This marketplace had tons of vendors and make shift little eateries serving up all sorts of yummy goodies! I was able to capture video on a HUGE pancake being made. It was incredibly tasty!

I ordered dukboki and I finally got to try out Chap chae also spelled Jab Chae (잡 채). Chap Chae consist of clear noodles made from sweet potato. The noodles are typically stir fried with sesame oil and served with thinly sliced carrots, onions, spinach, mushrooms. Sometimes the dish can be found served with beef or chicken or served cold or hot. This dish did not include meat and was served cold. It was delicious!

After eating lunch we decided to start heading back to catch the train. Along the way we checked out a few shops selling fur, umbrellas, bags, and toys. We checked out the Majeongyo underground shopping center. Here we found the typical shops selling shoes, bags, clothing, art, etc.

Walking into one of the shops with a friend I learned about the traditional Korean wedding gift. Are you ready for this? The gift is a pair of hand carved wooden ducks. Yes, ducks! These ducks symbolize both partners in marriage. What really got me was the female duck has cords wrapped around her beak. The cords were to represent that the wife to keep silent and support her husband…. Hmmmm….

At the Korea wedding the groom’s mother tosses the duck to the bride and if she catches it the couple’s first born will be a son. If when the duck is tossed and she misses of course it will be a daughter (less desirable).

After the marriage ceremony, the ducks are placed in the couples household on display. The ducks positions will tell what the relationship status currently is. When the ducks are facing each other beak to beak everything is going fine in the marriage. When the ducks are turned away tail to tail there is trouble in paradise. I found the ducks to be very interesting and thought I should share.

Fools in the rain

Today is a very overcast, rainy day in Dongducheon. Staring out the living room window I had a thought, we recently Skyped with a 3rd /4th grade class located in North Carolina that has been learning about Korea and following our blog site. They requested that we take them on a tour of the inside of our place and also wanted to ask us different questions about our experiences so far. There is a major time difference so we had to Skype at night allowing us to catch them during their regular class-time. We were not able to show the class what our “backyard” looks like due to the time of night.

We snapped some pictures of our “backyard” and learned a bit of more of traditional Korean culture. As you can see in the pictures we have three Korean burial mound sites and a large garden.

In Korea, it is very common to bury people above the ground, cover the body with rocks/dirt, and then grow grass over the body in a semi-circle mound shape (as captured in the pictures). It is said that in traditional Korean burial culture, the size of a grave mound increases proportionately to the social status of its owner. The ones that are located on the hillside in our “backyard” are a nice size but in doing research we came across what royalty mounds look like… HUGE!

The graves in Korean cemeteries are curved to reflect the belief in reincarnation. Basically, it’s like the Earth is pregnant with those entombed and is almost ready to give birth to them once more.

We learned that there is a bit of a difference in comparing graves to that of the US. Koreans traditionally buried the dead under mounds standing upright in coffins made from six planks of wood. These wooden planks represent the four cardinal points on the compass plus a plank for heaven and the other for earth. The corpses either face south or toward some important spiritual part of the landscape such as mountains because these are said to be homes of the spirits of the land and sky.

We also snapped a picture of part of the garden that is off to the right side when we look out our windows. We have been watching this garden get bigger and bigger every day. The Korean family that is planting is working at it daily and continues to expand into new earth. We can’t wait to see what grows in it!

Another major difference in Korea we recently discussed on a walk is just how many gardens there are. We love the fact that Koreans really utilize and take advantage of any grassy area, field, or strip of dirt that can be used for growing something. We are not kidding when we say they are everywhere!

Happy Birthday Bean!

Happy Birthday Bean!

It’s Miss Bean’s birthday! We can’t believe it has already been 4 years since we adopted Bean as a kitten from the SPCA. We laugh when we think back on how teeny she was when we brought her home for the first time. Bean had HUGE ears and HUGE paws for her little kitten body. 4 years later I guess you can say she has really grown into them.

We could not imagine coming home and her not being there to greet us with her sassy attitude, or to have our iPhone cords, speaker cords, really any cords, not chewed through on a regular basis. What it would be like to not be woken up bright-and-early when she feels that we should be up, or when she HAS to come into the bathroom when we are getting a shower in the morning, or when she goes into the guestroom right after we have just cleaned and fixed the bed to mess the covers all up.

Ah yes…. Happy Birthday Beanicus!

Do You Deli Manjoo?

I have to share my newly found love here in South Korea with you all! Ready for this…. it’s called Deli Manjoo. Deli Manjoo is baked little cake (texture similar to a Twinkie?) with the imprint of a corn cob and filled with some form of custard cream (Almost like Dunkin Donuts barbarian cream filling). The name comes from the word “deli” from delicious and “manjoo” from the Korean word for “dim sum”.

Do not be fooled there in nothing corn tasting about these awesome little treats. I wondered at first because it seems like Korean’s sweets just are not as sweet as we are used to in the US. Oh, yes, not to mention it seems that Korean’s put corn in some odd dishes such as pizza or corn ice-cream.

Nevertheless the faint smell of these delectable little treats is normally creeping through the train station platforms or often found being sold by street vendors – it smells of vanilla and egg.

This delicious mini-cake is baked instantly right in front of you with an automatic patented corn shaped plated machine. In doing some research I found that this treat has made it over to the US. So if you are near a vendor or come across it on your adventures do yourself and favor and PICK SOME UP! You will not be disappointed!

Sarah’s Trip to Dream Forest in Seoul

My traveling buddies and I decided to check out another green park called Dream Forest located in northern Seoul. This Park is the 4th largest in the city before Seoul Forest, Olympic Park, and World Cup Park. The park was built on the land, 660,000m2 in size where Dreamland was previously located. This park is beautiful because it is surrounded by thick dense forest mountains of Byeoksan and Opesan. The park is now known for the cherry blossom paths in the spring (as shown in the pictures) or the maple tree forests in the fall.

The park features a nice array of things to do such as, Wolyeongi (the moon reflecting pond), the Wolgwang falls (moonlight falls), a 49.7m tall park observatory, Arts center, Concert Hall, Museum of Art, Restaurants, Botanical Garden, Deer Garden, Changyeongwigung Ancestral Shrine, an iris garden, Water play parks, and playground. A great place for adults and children to relax!

I took some video of the children playing at the playground on this interesting play set. It was pretty comical! 

I got to try another Korean snack today for the first time thanks to my new traveling buddy! She introduced me to a triangle-shaped rice packet wrapped in edible seaweed 삼각김밥 known as Samgakkimbap or samgak kimbap. The shape is designed to keep the seaweed fresh by putting two thin sheets of plastic between it. The concept is awesome however I still need to get down unwrapping it carefully so that I do not rip the seaweed before getting to eat it. We had tuna and it was really tasty! The best part is you can pick these little guys up for about 700 or 800 won (that’s roughly 70 or 80 cents!). You can check out the pictures for yourself! Do you think you would try one?

Getting to Dream forest was rather easy too! We took line one to the Seokgye Station where we got off and followed exit 7 to get outside where we took bus #14 for 10 minutes and arrived at the park!

I’ve mentioned to friends on the phone about some of the vendors that try to sell you things when you are on the train. They hop on and roll through just as the doors are getting ready to close. On my last ride there was a woman who was used very aggressive sales techniques to sell packs of gum. She would place the gum on your lap or in your purse even when you told her “A-ni-e-yo” (meaning no in Korean). Sometimes there are socks, melons, super glue, you name it… On the way home on this trip I was able to capture a man dressed very nicely trying to sell toothpaste. Unfortunately for him no one in our car was buying or seemed interested. As soon as he moved on to the next car to sell in popped a women selling Oksusu (Roasted Corn). People were buying this up like crazy. Some purchased yellow ears of corn or Indian corn and munched away or saved in a plastic bag. What really surprised me was that in the states we typically use Indian corn as fall décor not to eat….hmmm… Guess the toothpaste guy needs to look into the Oksusu (corn) peddling business.

Our Weekend Buzzing Around Seoul

Of course we had to check out Itaewon while we were spending our weekend in Seoul. Yes, yes, we know that Itaewon is a major tourist section of the city catering directly to foreigners. We do respect this section of the city for that purpose and know that it is not a true representation of Korea. However it was close to our hotel and we wanted to go see what it was really all about.

Itaewon’s shopping area is 1.4 km in length, it stretches from the U.S. 8th Army Base eastwards towards Hannam-dong and has over 1,000 different little stores. The area is known for its night life scene with many bars and nightclubs to choose from. We noticed there are many street vendors selling shirts, jackets, and caps, scarfs, food, etc. trying to capture the late night buyer’s fancy.

While in Itaewon we checked out a few Irish pubs, grabbed a bite to eat, and strolled along the main street as well as some tucked away alleys, checked out various street vendors and little shops. We snapped a few pictures of the places that we were near or checked out and though we would share with all of you.

First stop Buddha’s Belly for dinner. It was Friday night and we were starving! We started out trying to find a restaurant called the Maple Leaf restaurant that was said to serve traditional Korean food (we are sure more Americanized) but after walking around and around for 20 minutes we figured it must have went out of business. Our bellies finally did the talking and screamed feed me when we were standing out in front of a place called Buddha’s Belly. Buddha’s Belly is located just above Ushmania restaurant (2nd floor) 673 Itaewon 2 Dong, Seoul, Korea; it’s located in the Hamilton Hotel Alley. In this area you can also find Indian, Italian, Korean, American, French, Greek and other nice ethnic foods.

The menu is Thai and the chef is actually from Thailand. We still noted a bit of Korean flair in the dishes we ordered but were really impressed with the overall meal.

We didn’t capture any pictures to share as the atmosphere consists of a smaller private sized dimly lit room. The décor had a sexy-sleek appeal to it.  The entrees are rather reasonably priced and cost on average 12,000-18,000 won. The service was really speedy and we enjoyed that because we were both starving!

We started off with some chicken skewers that had a peanut dipping sauce. We both ordered dishes of Pad-See-Ew and a glass of wine. Each dish at Buddha’s Belly Thai restaurant is accompanied by pots of wet and dry hot chilies and Thai fish sauce so you can season your food to taste.

Overall we both agreed that we would go back to this place if we had to.

After dinner we went grabbed a coffee at Paris Baguette (The Korean comparison to Starbucks – well if Starbucks served up tons of delicious baked goods) due to the fact that Buddha’s Belly doesn’t serve coffee on the menu. We then continued to Stoll the alley’s and found ourselves in front of the Wolfhound Irish Pub.

The Wolfhound Irish Pub is located in another small alley down from the Gecko’s Terrace. Sorry bloggers we don’t have the address to provide on this one. We will continue to research for a more direct location. We were able to capture a few pictures of the place for others reference.

We enjoyed the Irish Pub atmosphere. It didn’t feel like we were still in South Korea while inside. The crowd consisted of military, teachers, and tourist in the area. The bar has two levels and features a selection of draft beer as well as mixed drinks and foods.

We enjoyed ourselves, had some drinks and decided to continue checking out what else Itaewon had to offer.

We found ourselves at Baby Guinness and Sam Ryan’s Sports Bar and a hot dog vendor (mmmmm…that tasted more like Kielbasa) before we decided to call it a night.

The next day we headed to Gyeongbok Palace. The palace was one of the first places that Larry got to check out when he first moved to Korea. He was really eager to share the experience with me so we thought with the beautiful weather this weekend we should take a tour and snap some pictures along the way. The address to go see the Palace for yourself is Seoul-si Jongno-gu Sejong-ro 1-1.

The term “Gyeongbokgung” means palace greatly blessed by Heaven. We took an English speaking tour lead by a Korean college student. We captured the beginning intro of the tour for you to try to hear some of the facts she provided us with.

The palace was actually constructed in 1395, but was destroyed in the 1500’s during the Japanese invasion. However in the late 1800’s into the 1900’s the palace was completely restored. We couldn’t even imagine living here as a King and Queen the grounds are absolutely massive! Consisting of more than 300 buildings, 6000 rooms, and more than 4 million square feet and sits in one of the busiest sections of Seoul.

When we arrived to Gyeongbok Palace we entered in the gate (Kwangha-mun) protecting the palace from Seoul. We were able to get a picture with the guards that stand there.

Another interesting fact that we learned was that Sejong the Great was the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty, and ruled from 1418 – 1450 during this time he created the 28 letter system of the Korean Hangul alphabet. Today however the Korean alphabet consists of 24 letters.

Overall we had an amazing time with a very good tour of the palace.

After walking the palace we decided to needed to hail a cab and head to N Seoul Tower. N Seoul Tower is also known as Namsan Tower because it’s located on Namsan Mountain at Seoul-si Yongsan-gu Yongsandong 2-ga San 1-3. Private automobiles have been stopped from entering the mountain since the year 2005 so that they could more easily preserve the area. You really have three ways to get up to the tower and each does involve some form of walking. One, take a cab or bus but note that you can only go up so far with the cab or bus and then you will get dropped off and have to walk up a pretty steep paved road. Two, take the cable car up from the bottom of the mountain. Please note you will have to climb steps up from the cable car drop off point to get to the tower. Whatever you decide we think it’s worth it while you are visiting or living in Seoul.

N Seoul Tower stands 237 meters high, standing atop 243-meter Mt Namsan. It was remodeled in 2005, and has a rotating Western-style restaurant on top that we plan to possibly check out at night next time we visit.

Below is what each floor consists of:

1st Floor

– Olive Young (supermarket / convenience store)

– Coffee Shop

– Eatery with indoor and outdoor seating

– Food Court

– Gift Shop

– Ticket Counter


2nd Floor

– Viewing Platform

– Restaurant (relatively inexpensive with great view)


– Elevator Entrance

– Tous Les Jour (bakery)

– Ticket Counter

– Exhibition Area


Observatory Gallery

(360m altitude, reached by express elevator)

1/F : Hancook Restaurant

2/F : Sky Cafe

3/F : Observatory platform

4/F : Observatory platform

5/F : N Grill by Vips (revolving restaurant)

Tickets to get inside of Seoul tower observatory for two adults cost us 14,000 won.

We snapped pictures of the locks and tiles at N Seoul Tower. The locks are “Locks of love” and can be found on the fence outside of the tower. They symbolize lovers’ promise that they will never separate. The message tiles of love inside are something you could purchase to write a little love note on and then it is displayed on a wall within the tower.

The last day we were there we checked out Myeongdong still located within seoul for some shopping.

Myungdong is a selection of shops, like Zara, UniQlo, Forever21, ABC Mart but also features all sorts of street vendors selling shoes, scarfs, jewelry, food, etc.

We enjoyed some green tea ice cream and found a vendor who sells King’s Beard Candy. We were able to quick capture the vendor making the candy and bought some to try after we had heard great things about it. Final consensus….we LOVED it!

We can only describe King’s beard candy as a small fuzzy white sweet treat with a chewy inside and a crispy outer layer that just melts in your mouth. It’s so fun to watch the vendor create 16.000 honey strings in two minutes! They act as they are doing it too counting in English as well as Korean. Next time we see this vendor we will try to capture better video because it is really entertaining!

The last night we were there we decided to go back to Itaewon and check out Zelen’s for dinner. Zelen’s is a Bulgarian restaurant owned and operated by Bulgarians. The location yet another strange place – the same alley we were in when at Buddha’s Belly. It’s the alley right behind the Hamilton Hotel.  The address is the second floor, 116-14 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan District.

Talk about amazing food! We had no idea this place was going to be this fantastic! Get ready…you know we are going to rave about it in our blog now. In the land of red pepper paste and kimchi it’s nice to experience something different once and awhile.

Once you take the steps up to Zelen’s from the alley you open the door into the second floor restaurant where you quickly see a garden-esque room that is candlelit and features an open kitchen where you can see the chefs preparing the delish dishes.

The menu is quite extensive and it’s great because the meals are detailed and named in both English and Korean. We had a chance to grab the owner Mikhal Ashminov and ask him what he recommended. We were so pleased that we had done so because he turned our decisions to the stuffed peppers that were amazing.

We ordered stuffed mushrooms and the stuffed peppers for appetizers to our meals. (You can view all of our meal and pictures of the restaurant within this blog)

Larry’s main course was pork tenderloin stuffed with smoked Gouda, green onions, bacon and tangy pickles. The dish was plenty big and we think next time we will order this dish and another and split it up to try something new.

Sarah’s main course was the vegetarian moussaka. The dish was oven-baked layers of vegetables and cheese topped with homemade yogurt. The dish really reminded us of almost a shepherd’s pie but meatless. The dish was served alongside a small rustic salad, for 14,000 won.

We were so pleased with both of our dishes that we both agreed that we will be taking friends back there for dinner.

After we ate dinner at Zelen’s we headed to the Cheonggyecheon River Walk . We learned that this river walk is fairly new to the city. It was constructed in 2005 where previously it was just concrete roadways running through the center of Seoul. The address for the river walk is, 31, Taepyeongno 1-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul

One word for this place…calming! Once you are on the river walk path you slowly forget that you are located in the center of a huge bustling city. The walk features small waterfalls, various colors of lighting, stepping stones to cross from one side of the walk to the other, and amply amounts of greenery. We loved that we got to check this place out at night because the last time Larry visited he said it was during the day and people were everywhere!

We met three young Korean adults that were trying to snap a picture together but were not achieving the shot they wanted. We took notice of this and asked if they wanted us to get a shot of them so that they could all be in the picture together. They graciously accepted and kept thanking us! We asked if they would mind returning the favor so that we could also have a shot of the two of us. Of course they replied they were glad to do so. (Feel free to check out our various pictures of experiencing the Cheonggyecheon River Walk).

Once we got back home we looked through all the pictures we snapped and kept talking about how much fun we had on our weekend adventures.

If anyone else has suggestions on places to see or eat at please feel free to share with us!

What the Ho-ddeok (호떡)!

Today is the 15th so it happens to be a day when the big market occurs in Dongducheon. We wrote about the marketplace a few blogs back however when we went it wasn’t on the 5th day of the month so it was much easier to move around and take our time checking everything out.

Sarah decided today that she wanted to walk down to the market and see if any of the street vendors that had Ho-ddeok for sale. HA-HA that’s the understatement of the year! Korea ALWAYS has street food. It’s everywhere! In the video you can see that she was able to obtain some footage of the street that most of the market takes place on.

Ho-ddeok? What in the world is that? Ho-ddeok or ho-tteok is a delightful variety of filled Korean pancakes. Typically it is eaten during the winter season, however, it’s been sticking around all year due to the popularity. Normally ho-ddeok sells for around 500 won that’s about $0.50 in the states. How to describe what ho-ddeok taste like…..hmmmm….well, the taste is similar to that of a sticky bun. SO YUMMY!! If you visit Korea you have to stop by a street vendor and try it out for yourself. Don’t say that we didn’t warn you on how delicious and how addicting they can become!

The dough for ho-ddeok is made from wheat flour, milk, water, sugar, and of course yeast. The special part about this street vendor’s hoddeok is that there is green tea incorporated into the dough. The picture is hard to see but there are little green flakes in it. The hoddeok dough is rises for several hours. You can see in the video that handful-sized balls of the thick dough are filled with a delicious sweet mixture that can contain brown sugar, cinnamon, honey, sometimes chopped peanuts. Once the dough is filled it is then placed on a greased griddle, and then pressed flat into circles with a tool that consist of a stainless steel circle and wooden handle. I was able to capture ajumma (Pronounced a-jum-ma, meaning a married women or old enough to get married) making ho-ddeok at the market on my little camera to share with all of you.

Sarah Ventures to Children’s Grand Park

I have been so blessed and thankful to have been meeting so many fantastic new friends while we are living in South Korea! I was invited to spend the day at the Children’s Grand Park located in Seoul. We took the train line 1 from Dongducheon to the Children’s Grand Park. The trip was rather easy and we only had to deal with one line transfer station on line 7.

Children’s Grand Park was originally opened on May 5th, 1973, and covers over 138 acres all geared towards children. Right when we got inside of the main entrance a park attendant approached us and provided us with a nice park guide and tried his best to tell us a little about the park.

The original area was the grave of the wife of King Sunjong, the very last emperor to the Joseon Dynasty. The tomb was relocated in 1926 and then later used as a golf field before being sold off to the city of Seoul Government to be renovated into what we know as the Children’s Grand Park.

The park offers tons of green grass and paved areas for a child to run free and burn off energy! There is a zoo, some vendors and eateries, a music fountain, outdoor concert center, fairyland, roots garden, an environmental pond, animal school, adventure land, design Seoul gallery, a botanical garden, a kids auto park, marine animal house, parrot village (where you can hand feed the birds), a small animal village, the world of ferocious animals, a water playground, an animal show theater, amusement park, and tons more! Curious to know the cost? Get ready for this…. FREE! This place is absolutely FREE! The only thing that you would have to pay for is if you purchase food to feed the animals, yourself, or souvenirs. The Park opens at 5:00AM daily all year and closes at 10:00PM. Just another reason why I absolutely love this place!!

The group all snapped tons of pictures and I wanted to get mine posted so that they could take whatever ones they liked as well. In some of the pictures you will see get to see “flat Stanley”. Today was my first day learning about Stanley from Stephanie and I thought I’d share what I learned on here too.

The flat Stanley project was created in 1994, by Mr. Hubert, a third grade teacher. The flat Stanley project supports the international literacy and community building activity for students of all ages, teachers and families.

The Project allows opportunity for students to make connections with students from other schools who’ve signed up with the project. Students begin by reading the book and becoming acquainted with the story. Then they make paper “Flat Stanley” and keep a journal for a few days, documenting the places and activities in which Flat Stanley is involved. The Flat Stanley and the journal are mailed to other people who are asked to treat the figure as a visiting guest and add to his journal, then return them both after a period of time.

If you want to know more or want to get your class or child involved check out the website – While you are there view the live map of where Flat Stanley is located.

Sarah Buzzes by Time Square Mall


Today I was invited to go to Time Square Mall located in Seoul’s Youngdeungpo neighborhood. It was the first time I have used the train in South Korea. Luckily I met a wonderful sweet friend from church that showed me where to go once inside the train station, and where to purchase and load my T-Money (a rechargeable “smart” card for paying public transportation fares in cabs, trains, and busses instead of having to use money or credit cards).

The trip was about an hour and a half and all we did was stay on line 1 until reaching the Yeongdeungpo Station that connects an underground shopping market to the mall. It’s wonderful because once we got on the train in Dongducheon we never had to go back outside until we arrived back in Dongducheon to get back off the train.

The Time Square Mall features five main level shopping floors as well as one basement level with an E-Mart and a few restaurants. I was super excited to see that there is such a variety of stores available all within the mall. Plus if you are longing for something sweet from back home without a Korean influence there is, Annie Annes Pretzels, Smoothie King, Krispy Kreme, Baskin Robbins, Cold Stone, Quiznos, and Dunkin Doughnuts this place has it all!

For lunch we ate at a mexican chain restaurant called On The Border- Pretty delish! The chips and salsa is awesome and is endless!

Some other things I pulled from the brochure that the mall offers:

* Shinsegae department store: Louis Vuitton, BVLGARI, Cartier, Gucci and other luxury goods and high-end local products

* CGV: 12 multiplex movie theaters, STARIUM with the world’s largest screen, multiple performance centers and Beerhouse

* Kyobo Bookstore: 4,000 ㎡ (Don’t fear – they feature an english section)

* Courtyard by Marriott Hotel

* AMORIS, Wedding Hall

* E-Mart, Kolonsporex, I Like Dalki, Modern House

* Restaurants: Hanilgwan (70 year-old bulgogi restaurant), Jien (Japanese Restuarant), Star China (Traditional Chinese Restaurant)

What’s the verdict? I had a blast! Loved getting to meet new people, and cannot wait to take Larry back to check it out!

Changwon Cherry Blossom Festival

This weekend one backpack bee packed up and headed to the Changwon’s Jinhae Gunhang Je (known as the Cherry Blossom Festival) with friends (Mr. B was under the weather). We took a private bus trip departing in Dongducheon at 6AM to Changwon. Our guide joking stated the best comparison she could provide distance wise is like when you are in the states heading through the four southern states to get to Miami Florida. The trip down was about 5 ½ hours South including three rest/ stretch stops along the way.

We enjoyed the bus ride and traffic was fantastic right up until we were nearing the festival location. Our friends packed food for an army so of course we munched on snacks, talked, relaxed to tunes, and munched more. We celebrated Hectors birthday with a cake, candle blowing, and song, along with an anniversary.

Changwon’s cherry blossom festival is the oldest known festival beginning in the year 1952 and is held annually April 1st to April 10th. This year marked the 49th year of the festival celebration! The town is best known as the world’s largest number of flowering beotkkot namu (cherry trees). The festival commemorates Korea’s famous naval hero, Admiral Yi Sun Shin. Closer smaller celebrations near Dongducheon will take place around Seoul later in the month when the blossoms start to open.

Last year over 2 million tourists came from all over the world to attend and walk along the beautifully tree-lined streets and take in the picturesque mountain views. At some points when the wind would blow it would look as if it was raining pink petals. Words really cannot express just how beautiful the sights were.

I snapped as many pictures to try to capture what the town and festival looked like to share with all of our bloggers. In the pictures you will notice that a new friend Mary and I tried beondaegi, or known as boiled silkworm larve. Yes, ewww! Ha-ha! It was something I said I was going to try and blog about once I had done so. The taste I can’t even put in words. It is definitely something that I have gotten out of my system and do not feel the need to try again….well until I make my way to Taiwan where I hear they are actually pretty tasty.

I snapped a few pictures of the various food vendors to include the little beans that one vendor was selling. Suk grabbed the sampling plate and told our group to try them out that they were very good. Surprisingly I really thought they were good! Suke went on to tell us that these beans were a local thing that the area prided themselves on. The beans are said to provide your body with a cancer fighting preventative factor. Next year if we go back I will definitely purchase a box or so because they were so yummy!

Okay, enough rambling! Go check out the pictures!