What is it with Koreans and apes
Okay, so despite my misfortune of the previous evening. I woke up in Onyang with a smile on my face and high spirits. I pulled out my trusty little tourist map of South Korea and looked to see where the train could take me. I found a place in the Jeollabuk-do province called Jeonju
. So I went back to the train station and got myself another ticket. Making sure that I did not lose this ticket, I placed it safely in my backpack and headed up to the loading area where the train arrived about five minutes later...talk about sweet timing. So the train ride was relatively boring. The country side of South Korea along the western coast in the middle/end of the winter basically sucks. Lots of farms, a few low key mountains and filthy looking little towns/villages.
bus stop in Jeonju
Once I arrived in Jeonju there was a tourist information booth in the parking lot of the train station. It was closed, however there was a map of the city, to which I basically destroyed by the time I left because of constructive use. I walked down what seemed to be the busiest street, found a little cafe, sat down with my espresso opened the map and made a plan, well not really a plan...more or less a "well what should I do now" type of thing. A very friendly Korean gentleman asked me how long I had been in town. I told him my story, to which he responded "Oh, you very brave." So, keeping my eyes on the map/travel guide, I noticed that Jeonju is the home of Bibimbap (description to follow). I had some of this yummy dish on the plane ride over and I was an instant fan. I thought to myself, "well, if it's that good on a plane, I wonder how good it is in the 'Home of Bibimbap.
'" So I asked him where I could find a local joint that specialized in this bowl or assorted rice, meat and veggies. He pointed to the intersection in the map where I could find one and suggested a taxi as it is a very long walk. Apparently, he was unaware of my insatiable appetite for an adventure. So I walked what was really only about five miles. Plus, if you opt out for a taxi, you miss out on some good photo opportunities, which I was fortunate enough to come across (look for the old man hunched over, haha).
Okay, so Bibimbap, wanna know what it is...
HanKookKwan menu: "Jeonju is a secluded placs bordering mountains to the east that are abundant with all kinds of wild vegetables(edible greens) including oak-mushrooms, tender bracken shoot, bellflower root, green squash slices, Asian bonnet bllflowers, mung-bean sprouts, taro stems, dropworts and sweet potato sprouts.
Attracted by these geographical characterisitcs, native nobles settled in nearby villages and banded down the cooking methods for the special cuisines of their houses. They enjoyed the flavor and style of their lives generously opened up their homes to us.The head HanKookKwan restaurant opened in GoSaDong, Jeonju in 1971, has been offering the traditional cuisines of this area for two generations. The recipe for BiBimBap, a famous traditional dish has been saved and handed down. They first cook the rice with beef stock(bone soup), mix the cooked rice with soy bean sprouts. Then on top of the mixed rice they put certain edible greens with a 3 year old special Chsun paste, and add walnut, pine nuts, jujube, chestnuts and ginko nuts on top together with some green pea jelly.
They finally add some extra flavor by adding sliced raw beef, Korean hot pepper paste and sesame oil."
I should add, that mine did not have raw meat, it was cooked, but it did have a raw egg which cooked itself in the stone bowl (see pics below). "One noteworthy is that wild vegetables and sesame oil, which are the main material of Bibimbap, contain plent
y special ingredients. Broadcast by MBC News Desk, those containing 'sesamin' and 'sesamol' are effective in preventing geriatric diseases and symptoms of senility. Nutrionists also insist that hot pepper paste containing 'capsaicin' aids in weight loss, skincare and overall helth."
As I sat there enjoying the pre-meal kim chi, sticking out like a sore thumb being the only non-korean in the building, I was treated with much respect, like I was an honored guest.
restaurant serving BiBimBap
Probably a smart move for them, because I AM coming back. And I am probably bringing people with me next time. They brought me a sample of Hwangpomuk, which I tried to decline because I thought they mixed up my order and brought me this "not bibimbap" dish. Turns out she was just being polite, to which I am most grateful. Hwangpomuk is Jeonju traditional yellow pea jelly seasoned with various sauces and decorated with vegetables and slivered meat....yummy!! But not nearly as good as the BiBimBap, a meal I will never forget. To top it all off, I was deliver a steaming cup of Moju, a rice wine carefully boiled with brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and some herbs. Not a bad meal for 8,000 won or about $6.
Alright so I left the restaurant and headed towards the Hanook village which is this neat little part of town that has everything you need: Chinatown street, Street of youth, Dongmun culture street, wedding street, jewelry street, film street and street that is desired to walk.
dunno what to think about this yet
I think most of these are self explanatory except one. Street that desired to walk: a clustered area with stores and movie theaters. I actually did not walk down any of the streets except for wedding street....married me a Korean...just kidding. I actually went to the village itself for a self guided photo tour. I won't really get into it, you can just check out the pics. A few notable things, as I entered the Gyeonggijeon, I saw a guy with a "free hugs" sign. Well after learning he was studying English in Australia and chatting for a while I had him right down the name of a local motel in Hongul (Korean language) so that I could hand it to a taxi whenever I was ready to crash. I then kept walking around and found some stairs that lead up this large hill. On top there was a statue for a soldier who came back from a war and hid there from the Japanese for a few days with no water or food.
classic architecture mixed with modern development
While up there, I could hear the voice of an old man what sounded like some sort of sad song he was singing. I actually took a seat and listened to him for a while wondering what he could've been singing about. Maybe he is performing some ancient ritual, praising his ancestors, just singing his favorite tune, or hell his dog could've died and is just singing to ease the pain. Whatever the case may be, it was a beautiful song and I enjoyed the experience. I came down the hill and was walking along some street when there were a couple of cute Korean girls who seemed very young, but they said hello and I asked if they any more English. They asked how old I was and said they were 21, then they performed what I noticed alot...I will refer to it as the "Traditional little Korean girl giggle" or TLKGG for short.
Next I found a tourist booth with an English speaking woman inside. I was looking at my tour guide at the local flavors and asked her where I could find a local eatery that served Dolsotbap, another Jeonju favorite. She explained how to get there and even wrote the name of the place down in Hangul so I could go up to a stranger and point to the name and they could point me in the right direction, as it is easy to get lost wondering around these streets not being able to recognize any writing. "Dolsotbap is a cuisine combined over 15 ingredients like glutinous rice, barley, chestnut, bean, ginko nut, pine nut, ginseng etc with rice instantly cooked in a one serving earthenware bowl seasoned with soy sauce etc in it. The more chewing, the more tantalizing savor dolsotbap gives.
Its scorched portion (nurungji) from the bowl bottom is another exquiteness of the taste
just kinda like this sign
This is another great restaurant experience. I actually took the time to take a few pictures inside the restaurant because it really had such an authentic feel to it. Plus it was kind of early for dinner so there were only two others customers besides myself. After that and another long story, I found myself at a watering hole called the Deepin where I was able to talk with some local esl teachers. We shared a few pitchers, some laughs, then I hitched a ride to the motel on a scooter and was out like a light.
Woke up this morning and put on some fresh socks and headed out the door again. This time I wanted to climb the mountain I kept seeing in the background. My guide was it has a palace sit, a sacred ground of Mt.
Chimyeongia and the Donggosa temple. It was my intention to see all three of these. What I didn't realize is that I wouldn't come anywhere near finding any of them and definitely would not be finding anyone who could help me. So I strolled along to the mountain, just kinda headed in the direction I felt I should go. After what seemed like forever, I was there. I looked out and saw what I hoped was an entrance to a carved out trail that lead directly to the sites or at least one of them. Well, I walked along the dirt/gravel road and up this hill. I was yelled at from across the valley by some folks and told to come toward them so I did and what I got out of the conversation is that there was some sort of monster on the other side that would chase me down the mountain and possibly eat me. So I asked them if it was okay to go along their side and they didn't say no.
i really wanted him to spread em
So I kept on my merry way. I ended finded a pretty cool trail, not o bad of a hike. Maybe 45 minutes or so to the top. Nothing serious. It was steep though and the view wasn't all that good because of the fog. The moment I stepped foot onto concrete there was a taxi dropping someone off and so I hoppd right in and told him to take me back to the village. I went back into the info booth and asked them how to get to yet another local eatery that, this time specialized in Kongnamul Gukbap (quite possibly the best soup I've ever had, well....that's awfully bold, but it was DAMN GOOD).
"The origin of Kongnamul Gukbap is without question Jeonju. If the type of that is sizzled in a fuss blended with all sorts of seasonings upon rice and bean sprouts in an earthenware bowl is the traditional Jeonju Kongnamul gukbap, the ones in which cooked rice lumps are lumped up in gravy are so called 'southern style Gukbap.
I waited for over 20 minutes....nothin
?? Yeah so it was the perfect meal after the cold hike. It made me sweat, my nose ran, it was a great experience. You take the broth and add it to two raw eggs. It comes out so hot that it cooks the egg. You add pieces of seawood to the soup. It's like you have two different soups. They also gave me a complimentary cup of Moju. There is one more traditional Jeonju dish that I did not try.. :( Too much food, not enough time. I cam back to Seoul. Met up with my host and ate Yu Ka Jang, a spicy beef and leak soup.