Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Korea

As promised, I have pictures from Korea. Lots and lots. Mom got her Mother's Day/birthday box, which contained a CD of them, early and sounded approving. I have yet to see hers and James's, of course.

This was dinner the first full day we stayed, or at least part of it--we also had sushi, meaning raw ray and flounder (?) that had been caught perhaps an hour before on the ocean directly outside the restaurant.


You can't see the rice, but rest assured it was there. I ate marinated vegetables and the egg/vegetable cakes, which were good, and watched the others plough through the basket of sushi until it was gone. We drank Coke with the meal.

My cousin Eunhae, who was our translator and tour guide for part of the trip because she speaks English, took us to downtown Pohang, where we were staying. We parked on a street full of hardware stores


and we saw a multitude of cell phone shops (incidentally, James bought one, but it doesn't work in the US) and stores like this:


We took our road trip the next day to go to the folk village and (as it turned out) see more family (instead of going to Seoul). This was one morning out of two I didn't eat rice; instead, we had sweet rolls in the car. We ate constantly. We stopped at midmorning for a snack; the others had soup, and I got this:


Other than my not actually being hungry, this was fine, since I like rice and seaweed. But I asked Mom what the stuff in the lower left was, and she said without looking, "It's kimchee. Leave it alone if you don't want to eat it." I looked at it a little closer and then announced, "It has suckers. I don't think it's kimchee." I did leave it alone.

The Korean folk village, Yongin, was, as I mentioned, cold and dreary. But still very interesting. There were a lot of old-fashioned houses


and features of real old Korean life, such as the candymaker. They made the candy and would carry it around, banging their (expensive) metal scissors like the music on an ice-cream truck, and the children would run into their houses for anything they could trade for the candy--spare metal, spare anything.


This was my grandfather's favorite candy. Eunhae bought a packet and shared it with the family. I have to admit I didn't really like it, but I was glad to finally taste some.

Another thing at Yongin was the swings. While we were there and my aunt and grandmother were swinging on them, we saw this guy:


He was running back and forth with a bunch of children in front of a camera. Later we found a plush version of him in the E-Mart, Korea's version of Fred Meyer, so he must be Korea's version of Barney.

The next day we went to see a Buddhist temple. There were lanterns all over to celebrate Buddha's birthday coming up.


We weren't allowed to take pictures of the actual Buddha statue, but it was beautiful, and beautifully kept considering how ancient it is. There were indeed Buddhist monks in red and yellow robes bowing to the Buddha and watching the rest of us to make sure we were respectful. There were a lot of us to watch.


It must be a popular field trip spot. Most places we went had lots of schoolchildren there, come to think of it.

That temple was on a mountain; after we had gone, and bought roasted chestnuts to snack on, we trekked down on the mountain and to a different temple. This one was more pastoral


and also bigger and with more to see. Again, no pictures of the Buddhas were allowed, but apparently Bodhisattvas are okay. These guys guarded the entrance:


After that, we went to a museum of history and looked all the Shilla artifacts and the old gold and strange instruments. (There was one exhibit marked 'mushroom-shaped instrument' and we figured the archeologists had no idea what they were for either.) Outside were more hordes of schoolkids. Here they actually mobbed James, asking for his picture, all wanting to talk to him in English:


Then we went to Chomsongdae, the oldest existing astronomy observatory in Asia.


Then we went to the dums--which are just mounds of dirt in a nice park; we weren't allowed to take pictures of the excavated one, either. Then, after a nice dinner of rice, vegetables, and (I think) fish, we went home and collapsed.

Then there was the family reunion. The pictures of the people are probably only interesting if you're part of my family, and the yunori game was only throwings sticks; what I remember most visually is the fish market. Ah, the fish. Here is a tiny fraction of what I saw:







I also have pictures of seaweed and socks and toilet paper and chipmunks for sale, but I'm afraid Blogger is going to choke on this post as it is. However, proceeding:

These are the hands that cup the first Korean sunrise of every new year. Well, one of them. The other is on land surrounded by torches and posing tourists.





Here's Minyoung, my first cousin once removed, the one to whom I taught tic-tac-toe.
As I mentioned, my family was snacking on seaweed as we walked along the beach and took pictures and picked up geh (crabs).



I miss her a little. I miss all of them a little. I'm going to have to go back.

2 comments:

JLB said...

Thank you so much for sharing all these pictures Jenny - they are wonderful, every one of them! My favorite is the image of Chomsongdae, and the fish market is just as I had envisioned it from your descriptions.

You must have had so much fun... I can't wait for my first trip to asia!

PS - That stuff in the lowerleft corner did NOT look like kimchee :)

Jenny said...

Thanks. :) You should definitely go! But watch out for the seafood. :) When we visited my aunt Suni she put out for a midnight snack some melons, seaweed, and this red pulpy seafood mixture that also had suckers and looked a little scary.