This year as I sat down amongst eleven dear friends at our Friendsgiving table and I couldn’t help but think about the saying, “If you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.” It’s so simplistic, yet holds such truth and so much beauty, especially during this holiday season.
When we all sat down together to dig into our delicious spread, we all went around the table and shared what we were thankful for. It was one of the best memories that will stay with us when we think back on this very dinner. Listening to each person express how truly thankful they were for friends like us, like those around the table, made anything else going on just melt away.
The American Thanksgiving of course is not celebrated here in Korea, but that doesn’t stop us from pillaging our local vegetable market for local goods to make it happen. Over the years we’ve learned the hard way that a big ol’ bird simply doesn’t fit in our tiny “easy bake oven”, so we improvised and purchase an already made Turkey (a deep-fried one at that!) plus we sous-vide extra turkey breast and baked a ham in our crockpot. To make all the sides work, we borrowed another small oven, giving us a total of three ovens to work with. Talk about handling the heat in the kitchen… whew! SO.MUCH.FOOD. In the end everything worked out perfectly! We were pleased with all of the meats being moist and flavorful, and it was by far quicker to purchase and sous vide! (Check out that carrot cake too! A friend of our’s had it made with little bumblebee on it! Swoon!!)
Speaking of turkey…. THIS little turkey had a teeny bit of her first Thanksgiving turkey too!
As always….we are very thankful for all of you too… for those that have stuck by us, reading, commenting, viewing our photos and virtually traveled all around the world with us. Thank you friends! Happy Thanksgiving from Korea!!
I completely forgot this post up to share with you all. Oops!
Children’s day is a nantional holiday in Korea was celebrated annually on May 5. If you are not familiar with Children’s Day, it’s a day dedicated to family and encourages parents to get out and spend time with their children. Schools are closed and parents are off. It’s such a wonderful concept, so meaningful and completely unlike the generic Hallmark greeting card holidays.
The traditional places families head to are children’s parks in almost all communities here, amusement parks, zoos, or to the cinema for an entire day dedicated to just fun and games! Places are just packed! Of course bumblebee and I took a stroll downtown and had to get in on the action. Getting to see all these cute little kids run around just full of smiles from ear to ear made for such a wonderful afternoon!
Enjoy some of the photos I snapped from the day. (I’m partial to the fifth photo down… USA booth food representation…. Hmmm….)
How was your 4th of July? Did you get to celebrate with a good ol’ cookout? Take in the local fireworks display? We hope it was possibly your best one yet!
We didn’t do a typical Independence Day celebration this year, but then again are we ever doing the typical over here? Nah… But boy did I miss me some grilled cheeseburgers, bratwurst, and fresh corn on the cob, oh and our families too! Thursday evening right after work we grabbed some snacks and hit the road south to meet up with our friends at a ferry port. We purchased ferry tickets to visit the island of Ulleungdo and Dokdo. These islands are located off the coast of Korea have been on my bucket list since moving abroad. Yippee I get to now cross them off! I love getting to cross things off my list!
Friday morning we woke up early, ate our Korean breakfast consisting of a rice porridge, kimchi, fresh tomatoes, and coffee. Lol…of course we tried it, but as you know there are just something’s you can never shake…mine is an American style breakfast. I opted for yogurt, a banana, and coffee.
We boarded the ferry that took us 3 1/2 hours to reach the island of Ulleungdo. Here is a link to see more about the island. http://wikitravel.org/en/Ulleungdo
The island was absolutely beautiful! We loved how preserved and untapped it still is! There is hardly any industry, except for tourist and fishing. However even with the tourist there isn’t a ton of large luxury hotels eating up the land. The water was so clean, so blue, the air was so fresh, and the land was so lush and so green! I really had to keep pinching myself to remind myself that we were still in Korea. It was just that breathtaking.
We rented a large passenger van and cruised around the one main “highway” stopping off at all the little must see marks on the map from our car rental guy. It’s really easy to travel to all the locations, park, and walk. You honestly could do the island in one day if you rushed it, but we took our time, plus we had the entire weekend.
The guys got in some dives and were really excited about the clarity of the water and just how much sea life there was. Mr. B is already putting together a fun dive trip for the 38th Parallel divers. Something to stay tuned in for.
One morning we took another ferry, another hour and 40 minutes to Dokdo island. Here is the link http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264142 . The really awesome history about Dokdo is that Korea is constantly fighting with Japan over it, and still is. Japan has even wrote in history books that they teach their children that the island is theirs.. But Korea unfairly took it….but it’s not the case, and they found historical documents showing otherwise. While it is rather close to Japan, Japan would love to have it for the fishing rights. It’s pretty interesting. Oh and Korea has one resident living on the island. Also Korea is manning the island with stationed Korean police.
The ferry ride seemed much longer because we ended up cruising over two fishing nets that got wrapped up inside of the propellers. Oops. They did a number on the boat because it delayed our trip significantly. In the end they couldn’t cut away all of it and decided they needed to service it once we docked back on Ulleungdo. I felt sorry for the group leaving Ulleungdo that night that was scheduled on that very boat.
I think the a-ha moment was when someone decided to take a smoke break in the restrooms and the smoke detectors went off. I just sat looking up waited for the overhead sprinklers to kick on, luckily they didn’t. I’m not sure where the disconnect was with the passenger and all the signs posted in Korean not to smoke, smoke free vessel, etc. Eh…. I guess sometimes the struggle is that real.
We were nervous because the day we took the ferry to Dokdo island the waves were larger and there was the possibility we wouldn’t be able to dock on the island to get our chance to set foot on it. Thankfully we were able to dock and had some time to snap a few photos. It was really neat!
We met an older Korean gentleman, actually two different ones. Both such characters absolutely worth notating for future memories. The one worked on the ferry and kept a personal log book of guest he’s spoke with, said hello, blessed. He insisted we sign his log book and that we tell him where we were from in the states, after responding he proceeded to give us many thumbs up. We felt loved nonetheless. The other character sought us out while in line awaiting to board the boat back to mainland Korea. He handed us his business card and stayed he wanted us to return back to the island in August for a 5k that we could run or walk, all expenses paid. This man meant business and stood there wanting confirmation with guarantee we were coming. Sweet man. He then pulled us out of line insisting we get a photo with him in front of the boat, again posing with the thumbs up. Lol, I see a pattern here… So we got the photo, he seemed happy, but then later pulled just the two men out for a photo. It was harmless, but the joke was that our faces were now going to be on some Korean noodle restaurant sign that endorses just how delicious the noodles are. Do us a favor and keep your eyes peeled for us if ever in Korea. So that wasn’t the last of him, once on the boat he then purchased us all cold canned coffees and passed them out to our group. Too kind!
Fortunately and unfortunately, MERS the Middle East respiratory syndrome, has really made a dent in the tourism for Korea. Its made for some pretty fantastic advantages for travelers such as less people and discounted prices at some attractions. Almost all the attractions on the island were empty and we almost always had a discounted price.
The entire time we were on the island we ate what the locals ate, mostly seafood. Honghapbap-mussels with steamed rice, haemulcheon- seafood/green onion fried pancakes, sanchae bibimbap, ojing-eo bulgogi -squid grilled at the table with vegetables and hot pepper sauce. We tried the local flower shrimp, chicken shrimp, tiger beef, and frequented and befriended a local coffee shop.
The shrimp was out of this world! We were blown away by the taste and the fact they were only boiled. No old bay seasoning here folks. We would have ate sooooo much more, probably our weight in shrimp, but at 80,000 won a kilo…. Eek…bit pricey.
The tiger beef was outstanding as well! Again pricey coming out at 100,000 won per couple, we had three couples. But where else are you going to get to sink your teeth into a local delicacy like the island tiger beef? Nowhere but Ulleungdo so you just have to do it once.
The coffee shop was fantastic! The owner so nice and had excellent taste with his quality of bean choice. We highly recommend getting a nice treat there after a meal. Try the waffle, trust us it will not disappoint!
All and all the trip was wonderful and getting to pal around on the island with some good friends made the trip that much more! So if you find yourself needing to get away from Korea without getting to far away, check out the mysterious island of Ulleungdo.
More helpful information about traveling to Ulleungdo Island:
The dive shop that Mr. B frequents has become like a second home to the both of us. We look forward to the ocean breeze on our faces and in our hair. The escape of letting the crowded city and everyday stress behind. Catching up with friends that have become like family to the both of us. It’s deeply cherished and has absolutely become a big part of our lives.
It was a special weekend as we were invited back to the opening of the shop for another year of diving. The shop’s opening ceremony kicked off with paying respects to their ancestors, Korean rice wine flowing, and a big ol’ BBQ with copious amounts of food being served (Thank’s again for grilling Jeff). It was surreal to look around that night under the big tent and realize that we didn’t all speak the same language, we didn’t come from the same countries, but everyone there all held the same passion for diving and that made everyone one in the same in that moment.
It wasn’t that we had a lot of snow this past winter, it was that winter seemed to last so terribly long. We along with 50 million other Koreans have been patiently awaiting warmer days. The chance for new beginnings, a fresh start, a spring clean!
Springtime in Korea has got to be one of my favorite times of the year! The cherry blossoms are so beautiful! The walking paths and streets are covered in the tiny pink and white petals every time the wind blows. I drive Mr. B crazy insisting that I need to stop and smell or photography almost every flower that we come in contact with. Especially the cherry blossoms and lilac bushes. I can’t help myself. I.am.obsessed.with.flowers. Luckily for the most part he doesn’t mind and even pauses for a moment and points out a flower if he sees something that I will swoon over. That boy of mine, what a catch!
This year we got to experience the cherry blossoms from another view because we moved into a new place at the end of the summer last year. These photos were taken after I had come home from work and the sun was setting with that beautiful warm orange glow. Looking at these photos now, I feel like these photos don’t even do the trees justice. We instantly fell in love with our new place because of the greens and blooming trees just outside of our windows. The daily drive or walk in and out of our little neighborhood just fills my heart and continues to remind me that even in our crazy messy world, there is still so much beauty around us.
Are you seeing buds of greens and new blooms popping up wherever you are located? What is your favorite thing about spring?
Ahhhh weddings….The Beatles said it best “All You Need is Love” and I couldn’t agree more. A few weeks ago we were part of being witness to that kind of love that the beetles sang about, yes, in my book the most wonderful feeling a human can experience, LOVE! It’s just as good sitting in the wedding hall on the sideline in the crowd and getting to take it all in at its most optimistic and perfect form. Swoon!
The day was filled with smiles all around, loving glances shared, and laughter! This was the first time we had been to a Korean wedding and friends told us we were in for a treat. We wanted to share our experiences in the event you too find yourself in Korea invited to a friend’s wedding.
There were many differences when comparing a Korean wedding to a western wedding. The first thing that comes to mind is the location. Most Korean wedding and ceremonies are held in a wedding hall where many other couples are also having theirs. This wedding hall was located in downtown Seoul. Let’s just say that there was a close call with a traffic cop so from one friend to another… give yourself ample time to find the location beforehand. The entire day (couple of hours) is every prompt and efficient with everything being timed down to the last second. There are no casual drinks, toast being given by the best man and no reception dance party afterwards. Sorry folks, no getting down with the chicken dance on this side of the world.
Before you enter the area of the hall that your friends will be getting married in, there is typically a table set up where they are taking money. Forget the gift cards, coffee pots, or toaster you might so graciously gift the happy couple, instead you need to take an envelope and give the gift of cash. Guidance given on gifting cash is centered around your closeness to the couple. If you are family or close friends they say 100,000 or more, acquaintance or co-worker 30,000 – 50,000 won is well received. Once you give the money you will be immediately handed tickets. These tickets are your meal card. Basically the money you just gifted purchased your meals for the wedding buffet (spoiler alert more on that in a few). Pretty clever when you think about it.
Next you will quickly notice that guest are dressed in whatever they want. The whole philosophy of being overdressed rather than under dressed absolutely isn’t applying here. The attire ranged from jeans a tee and sneakers to a more formal style of dress pants and tie… I think I might have even seen hiking gear?? The ceremony is very informal when doing the comparison. There were people walking in and out during the service, talking or playing games on their cellphones, chit chatting, laughing, etc. I was stunned coming from a culture where you can probably hear a pin drop during our ceremonies.
Getting to witnessing a wedding in another culture is just so interesting to me! This wedding the bride and groom wore western style wedding attire, both rented. The dress was beautiful and the bride looked stunning! After the ceremony, the couple do a quick ensemble change into a traditional hanbok to show respect to their past generations and go to greet their family and friends at the dinner buffet.
After the ceremony you are ushered into the elevators to head to the hall’s gigantic dining area and large buffet. You will quickly see now that there are a lot more people here and that is because you are now dining with all of the other wedding hall’s guest. Just seek out an empty spot because there are no assigned seats, or table numbers.
Our friend that teaches in Korea told us that the children in her class say that the best thing about Korean weddings are the buffet. Some even just show up to eat and leave. LOL! Honestly, the children had it right! The spread is incredible! Tons of dishes and tons of Korean desserts to choose from …BUT… no sweet icing laced traditional wedding cake to be found. (Hands down my other favorite part of a wedding).
Another feather to add to our culture caps! The day was a lot of fun and we really appreciated the opportunity to be apart of our friends special day and learn more about the Korean culture and also have the opportunity to share it with all of you.
Have you ever attended a wedding within a culture unlike your own? What was it like? We’d love to hear!
This morning, Christmas eve, I attended a graduation and certificate ceremony for my dear friend at Le Cordon Bleu (French for “The Blue Ribbon”) culinary school located in Seoul. What an honor to be invited and partake in such a monumental moment in someone’s life. Not to mention a dream of my own…swoon…
As you may know already, there are some rather distinct differences when it comes to comparisons between S.Korea and the US. I now can also safely say that a graduation ceremony is another difference in my life experience book as well. The ceremony while very nice, had some distractions occurring.
…Eh, heck why not, I’ll share some of the humor with you all…while I carefully tried to concentrate and make out some of the words being said in both French and Korean, I was sitting beside a Korean man who was obviously very proud of his family member, so much so that right after his family member walked off the stage he decided he immediately needed to put together a video montage with songs right on the spot (I’m talking no ear buds, full on sound for all to hear around him). Then after said Korean man was happy with his masterpiece, I thought I was in the clear, silly me….two elderly Korean woman to my left decided to sit down and have a very loud conversation and pay no mind to the ceremony, or anyone sitting around them. I really don’t believe that they looked up at the stage once. I pondered if they even knew anyone there and perhaps maybe had come for the free food afterwards? Hey, no judgement ladies… no judgement. For future events try to keep it down a bit please?Thanks.
Anyways, the ceremony was beautiful in book, even with said distractions. I was beaming from ear to ear with a huge permi-smile for my friend and her incredible accomplishment! I think I told her about 50 times that afternoon how proud I was of her and how much of an inspiration she was to me. She really is, more than I think she will ever know!
Onward to the celebration afterwards. Let’s talk food shall we?
No, wait.. even better shall we look at amazing photos of the food that the Le Cordon Bleu Chefs prepared for the graduation ceremony? Yes, I think we shall…
There is no need to make reservations and the afternoon tea is held in the Library Bar and Lounge of the hotel. The Afternoon Tea Set starts at 46,000 KRW and there is an option to upgrade and add a glass of champagne for the set price of 68,000 KRW.
First we were seated and asked to select our tea choices. Because our group was rather large, we ordered various teas. The tea selection is plentiful and I immediately fell in love with TWG’s White House tea. I know, I know…Perfect pick for the American! But really, the tea was a delightful white tea. It was described as, “delicately fruity with overtones of ripe, red berries and a scattering of rare and fragrant rose petals.”
I was blown away by the tea set that came out! It was impressive and perfectly plated for presentation. A wonderful section of various pastries, hot scones, sweets and beautifully sliced tea sandwiches. The afternoon Tea set also includes a selection from the cake cart. Our group chose a gorgeous slice of chocolate cake (and that says a lot coming from a non-chocolate lover)!
I cannot wait to go take a few friends back and share the experience.
I Highly recommend the afternoon tea and by the way, don’t forget pinkies up!
Recently I joined my good friend SP on a mini road trip northeast of Dongducheon to the city of Chuncheon. The city is known for its stunning views of Lake Soyang and Lake Uiam, and the filming location of a popular Korean drama.
Mr. B and I took my best friend Rebecca to the area when she came to visit us in Korea, but it’s been a year or so since I had been back. This time It was awesome to have someone along that could tell me a bit of history and facts about the area. Thanks SP for letting me play a million and one questions with you!
After traveling quite a ways, we arrived at our destination where SP shared an old traditional Korean restaurant with me that she and her family have frequented for years. SP described the food as always being very fresh, delicious and known as being healthy and healing for your body. EEK! I was sold at the words “traditional korean restaurant”! I’m always eager to indulge in the Korean culture and to have this little gem of a place shared with me was quite special indeed.
I felt that most foreigners might be taken back by the look of the restaurant, but to me it was just rustic charm and immediately took my mind to my days of accompanying my husband and friends in the coal region near our hometown for screamers or dead burgers at Tony’s Lunch. (Tony’s Lunch: A very simple, been there for years, wallpaper and tables haven’t changed, diner located in Central Pennsylvania). Ahhhhhh such delicious memories.
We feasted on the local specialty, Makguksu. Makguksu is a dish of buckwheat noodles served in a chilled or hot broth. Once served, SP prepared the dish at the table for me by taking the various condiments on the table of sugar, mustard, sesame oil or vinegar. I know it sounds strange reading those ingredients off together but it was out of this world delicious!
Just like typical korean style, we were served what seemed like endless banchan (side dishes). There was boiled pork, gamjajeon (potato pancakes), and memil jeonbyeong (stuffed buckwheat crepes), and hot buckwheat tea.
We left with our bellies almost filled to full capacity, almost being the key word, but we switched over to dessert stomach. We started to head back towards home and drove up through the mountains and stopped off at a newer coffee cafe, Cupola.
Cupola had a great atmosphere, served a decent latte and gave us the most incredible views of the lake with the sun setting off in the distance. As I sat there talking with SP I watched some of the couples take in the views and sip on their coffee too. I’d absolutely go back again, just look for yourself…
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before or not, but because we live outside of Seoul we are lucky enough to have easy access to the local farmers that are selling their produce at roadside stands. We live near a very famous mountain that sells grapes. We stopped off and grabbed a few boxes from a popular organic farm. Twenty thousand won, roughly twenty dollars, for a nice big box of fresh organic grapes.
I may be the only one that feels this way, but what is it about the ocean that just makes you chirpy? We spent the past weekend in Busan at the beach, celebrated Mr. B’s birthday in style, hopped aboard the never-ending Busan city tour bus, feasted on some rather delicious celebratory foods and adult beverages. Relaxation all around. (Minus our amature booking the wrong hotel location snafu..oops). Check out that beach crowd, looks like we weren’t the only ones with the idea to escape to a sandy oasis for the weekend.
Cheers to sandy toes, salty hair and smiles all around!
Sorry for the delay! The past two weekends have been jam-packed with post op eye check ups for the Bees, baking surprise “Mac and cheese” and balsamic chicken for dinner, meeting up with Kelsey in Gangnam, repotting our herbs and house plants, a little reminder of America with a dinner at Chili’s, a nice countryside drive, “gorilla gardening”, a really nice leisure evening 5 mile walk, finally getting to see what creature makes the strangest noise in the early AM on the hillside out back of our place (spoiler alert, it’s a pheasant), exploring Pyeongtaek, getting to see and hang out at Kelsey’s humble abode while catching up over her recent trip to Japan (she spoiled us with treats too!)and of course ending it all with new flavors of potbingsoo’s at the Sulbing cafe while taking in views of the Ho Bar (no really that’s the name of it).
Here’s a smattering of photographs to share all the fun with you all.