I was in Seoul on Monday evening and this is where I ate supper. In one street of a market, a row of plastic tent-like structures had been set up, each covering the cooking equipment, half a dozen little tables with plastic chairs, and a heater to keep the cold at bay. The food was delicious – vegetable pancake, noodles with vegetables, a soup and a bottle of Cass. The photos aren’t bad considering they were taken with my iPhone.
Another train ride north of Gwangju is Jeonju, home of the bibimbap. Bibimbap is a dish with rice, vegetables, optionally meat, and often with a fried egg on top, mixed up with some chilli sauce and eaten with an array of side dishes. I’ve had bibimbap twice a day on occasion. It’s all very healthy if you ignore the mayonnaise on the plate of salad.
The other main attraction in Jeonju is the Hanok village, an area of traditional-style Korean houses. It’s significantly reconstructed rather than original, but it’s still good to see this heritage preserved rather than swept away in the rush for modernisation. It’s a real tourist attraction, and there are lots of places selling crafts, but it avoids being tacky.
How was the last day in October in the UK? I guess it wasn’t as bright, sunny and warm as in Jeonju – the autumn colours looked perfect in the sunshine. There are plenty of gingko trees with yellow leaves; we were told that they’re symbolic of academic purity because insects don’t like them so the trees are not compromised by lots of bugs.
Another feature of Korea at this time of year is the eulalia grass. I’ve been trying to get a picture on Jeju that does justice to it but never felt happy with the result. The photo below was taken on a river bank in Jeonju. I’d still like to get a better picture next autumn.
Our last meal in Jeonju was only partially successful. We went into a beef restaurant, although we didn’t recognise it as such, for an early breakfast, and I asked for a meal with no beef. I don’t know whether the guy didn’t understand me or didn’t believe me (both are perfectly possible) because the meal arrived with chunks of beef on the bone in a soup. I took them out, and it tasted quite OK.
We took the bus this morning for the short trip to Moseolpo Port. It’s obviously an active port with a small fleet of fishing boats. Most boats have a line of large lights above the deck; I think that’s to attract squid but I need to find out for sure. We watched one boat fill a couple of freezers with ice, presumably in preparation for going out to sea.
Unsurprisingly, there are lots of fish restaurants between the port and the town so that’s where we had lunch – a couple of fish dishes and assorted pickles. It was delicious and not bad for around 15,000 Korean Won (£10).
We went to Gwakji beach, on the north side of the island, last night along with all new members of staff and their families. The sea was warm and the children had a great time.
It was raining when we arrived, which caused some humour about the British at the seaside; Jeju has had six weeks of dry weather but that uncharacteristic dry spell has just broken. So, our first stop was one of the restaurants behind the beach. We chose Korean – a spicy mackerel stew, a seafood pancake and a Korean beer.