Well, maybe a couple of comments isn’t exactly popular demand, but it’s the most I’m going to get, so here goes: A bit more on Korea, by request.
I ate at a Korean restaurant at least once a day, and I really miss it. Nothing like coming back to the States to remind me of how few healthy options there are here.
What I really enjoyed in Korea were the sides that come with every meal. The main dishes I ordered were hit and miss, but when whatever you order always comes with between 4 and 7 side dishes of various vegetables seasoned and spiced in different ways, then who cares?
One of the side dishes was always kimchi, which I got so used to I was craving it every day by the time I left. Anybody know where I can get some good kimchi in El Paso?
The other sides dishes changed, but often included cucumbers — spiced the same way as kimchi — bean sprouts, pickled radishes, tofu and seaweed. Heck, half the time I didn’t know what I was eating, just that it was good and healthy.
Then I returned to the states and rediscovered how difficult it is to find a vegetable or two at any American restaurant. You might be able to find some broccoli covered in cheese.
Erica asked about if there were any strange delights I indulged in. Well, probably more than I realize, since, like I mentioned, I often didn’t know quite what was in each dish. The only time I knew I was eating something strange when I went to a restaurant that only serves neckbone soup. They don’t even take your order. You just sit down, and they bring everybody the same thing: A bowl of neckbone soup, plus kimchi and the other sides. Looking back, that may have been my favorite dish. It took some work: You had to get the meat off the bones yourself, then set the bones aside on a plate they leave for you. But it was delicious.
At a burger joint at Seoul Tower I had a shrimp burger that was really good, but that’s not so unusual. And I ate some dishes with octopus and squid, but that’s not so unusual either. At least not for me.
I did more shopping in Korea than I would usually enjoy, mainly because shopping in a big city like Seoul is pretty fun. It was cool hunting for stuff from my favorite K-Pop singers and groups, like Psy and Girls Generation. Girls Generation recently won YouTube’s Video of the Year, beating out Bieber, Selena, Psy, Gaga and Miley, prompting The Guardian to write a piece explaining who they are.
Though they won for “I’ve Got A Boy,” that’s not even their best video this year. Not even close. That award goes to “Galaxy Supernova.” Check out this bit of awesomeness.
Meanwhile, I did discover a new K-Pop star while I was in Korea. I hadn’t heard of Park Ji Yoon before, but this song was on heavy rotation, and I started to dig it. Some nice jazz influences. Some not-so-nice rap influences, but that only lasts 10 seconds. It’s a song I’ve been humming ever since my return.
Watching a little K-Pop helps explain how I got around so easy in a foreign country. Just like in these K-Pop songs, there is a little English sprinkled in everywhere in Korea. Sure, you’ll mostly hear Korean, but it seems almost everybody can say a phrase or two to you in English. I almost never had a problem.
Liked: Bowing instead of shaking hands. Definitely more hygenic.
Disliked: Sharing a bar of handsoap in the public restrooms. I guess Korea hasn’t discovered liquid soap yet. Definitely less hygenic.
Liked: Koreans were friendly and could usually converse a bit with you in English.
Disliked: Too many rules. I was always being told I couldn’t shoot a photo there or stand there, or some such thing.
Liked: The public transportation system was amazing. Once I figured it out, I quit paying for taxis. The subway and buses could get me anywhere I wanted to go.
Disliked: Koreans favorite dinner drink, Soju, is nasty. I tried it once and once only. It was like sipping grain alcohol with your meal. The waiter laughed at me a bit when I told him I was leaving my bottle for him because it was too strong.