The winds have shifted and the cooler breezes have been blowing in to say autumn is here and winter is on its way. With autumn comes some amazingly colorful mountain views but also to delight, the cosmos bloom. It’s a flower that holds on until the end and seems to wave goodbye to summer and welcomes us in to autumn. It’s one of the last flowers to enjoy before the plants begin to wilt and turn…
Gongdeok Jeon Town (공덕전타운) is not a town as the name would suggest and is really not much more than two shops that sit side by side selling the same sort of fried food fare, but if you’re someone that enjoys the fried food on the street carts around the city and want to see everything that could possibly be offered to you, this is the place to go. Just a couple blocks from Gongdeok Station exit 5 just after Jokbal Alley, or Pig’s Feet Alley, is Jeon Town. Display counters showcase everything from fried peppers, zucchini and fish to shrimp, oysters and sesame leaves.
Visitors are directed to grab a basket from the beginning of the counter and then to fill up on whatever they’d like to try along the way. Once the basket is filled with all of the fried veggies, fish or meat you could want, it is handed over to one of the helpful older women behind the counter who will throw the lot into a fryer for one last go to heat everything up and make the food edible. While she is doing that, patrons are directed to take a seat inside where and are given side dishes and sauces to go with the food and if the feeling so overcomes you, you can even order some makkoli, or rice wine, a drink often served with this kind of meal.
With everything from fried peppers, mushrooms, zucchini and sesame leaves for those veggie lovers to fried shrimp, abalone and crab along with mini kimchi pancakes, veggie pancakes and seafood pancakes, there is something for everyone. As the colder weather is fast approaching, this is a great place to head this winter when the temperatures are a bit too chilly to be standing outside at your local food carts. Sit inside, drink up with friends and enjoy a meal you won’t soon forget.
Directions: Gongdeok Station, exit 5. Walk straight out of the exit, pass Jokbal Alley, or pig’s feet alley, just a block up and the next block is Gongdeok Jeon Town. Keep eyes and noses peeled to the left and you’ll be sure to spot it.
Cost: 3-4 people can easily eat for W15,000 – 20,000 + the cost of drink.If you just can’t get enough of deliciously fried Korean food, head to Gongdeok to try it all at once! Fry Everything, Please Gongdeok Jeon Town (공덕전타운) is not a town as the name would suggest and is really not much more than two shops that sit side by side selling the same sort of fried food fare, but if you’re someone that enjoys the fried food on the street carts around the city and want to see everything that could possibly be offered to you, this is the place to go.
Sky Park, or Haneul Park (하늘공원), is ready once again with tall grass blowing in the wind for people to come and enjoy the views in the cooler autumn breezes. Throughout most of the summer, the eulalia stalks are just starting to grow and they don’t offer much in terms of a view but if you’re going to visit Sky Park, this is the time to do it. Until November, the tall grass will be swaying in the breezes and changing from the green stalks that you can see now to browner autumn hues until finally they are cut down for the winter and then again there won’t be much to see for awhile except for the surrounding views of the city from that position up on the hill.
We went a little earlier this year than I normally like to head to the park, but I heard there was also a rather large plot of sunflowers up there to see at this time of year. We caught the end of the sunflowers, which unfortunately are definitely gone by now, but there’s always next year. The sunflowers and the tall green grass can be enjoyed throughout the month of August and then from September to November, the paths criss cross through the tan eulalia stalks. Every so often you’ll run into an artistic installation like the bird houses, the metal dome or the saucer to climb up into. It’s easy to get lost in the paths, though you couldn’t get lost for too long as it’s not that big but it’s easy enough to lose the other people visiting the park and meander by yourself for a bit and just enjoy nature.
Eighteen years ago this mound was a landfill that had hit capacity with over 92 million tons of garbage. Dirt was piled on top and the only reminders of that time today are vents and tubes scattered on the mountain to maintain safety and recycle the methane gas produced from the mountain into fuel for World Cup Stadium and the nearby neighborhoods. The area has been completely transformed through the Landfill Recovery Project started in 1996 with the grasses that have been planted and the release of 30 thousand butterflies to establish a natural ecosystem once again. From this park views of the city, Mt. Namsan, Mt. Bukhansan and Mt. Gwanaksan can be enjoyed.
For some later fall views of the park, check out my post from November in 2012 to see what’s in store later in the season. The park isn’t far from Hongdae and would make a great trip before you head into that bustling area for a night out. Enjoy the beautiful autumn hues while you can.
마포구 상암동 482
482 Sangam-dong Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea
Bus: 271, 6715, 7011, 7013A, 7013B, 7019, 7715
Subway: Closest subway station is Worldcup Stadium Station. Take exit 1 and look at a local map in the station.
Hours: Change depending on the season so be sure to check. Currently they’re open until 6:00PM, but it can be 5PM, 6PM or 7PM depending on the month.It’s that time of year when the greens are fading into tans and browns outside and the views are beautiful. Tall Grass Blows In The Wind Sky Park, or Haneul Park (하늘공원), is ready once again with tall grass blowing in the wind for people to come and enjoy the views in the cooler autumn breezes.
Chuseok, a holiday devoted to being thankful for a good harvest, is one of the biggest holidays in Korea. Families come together, eat large amounts of food and play games. Falling on the 15th day of the eighth month on the lunar calendar, this year Chuseok is on September 8th. As the holiday falls across the weekend, families will get one more day added on to the usual three day holiday. Four…
Buddhist temples are not terribly difficult to stumble upon while in Korea. There are temples in the middle of Seoul daring those that enter to just try and find quiet solitude and there are temples dotting the mountains across the country so any hike becomes that much more interesting with the addition of a tour of one. Rarely, though, do you find a seaside temple in Korea. Haedong Yonggung Temple (해동용궁사), which means Korean Dragon Palace Temple, is probably the most popular and widely known seaside temple in the country and truly does live up to the hype that brings so many visitors to its gates.
First founded in 1376 by venerable monk Naong, an advisor to King Gongmin, during the Goryeo Dynasty, it was destroyed like so many others during the Japanese invasions and the one currently standing wasn’t rebuilt until the 1930s with additions added on in the 70s and 2000s. The temple was originally named Bomun Temple (보문사), but upon reconstruction headed by the venerable monk Ungang, it was renamed Haedong Yonggung Temple.
Twelve statues representing the twelve signs of the zodiac first welcome visitors toward the temple followed by a nine story pagoda ushering people through a golden dragon gate leading to steps that lead to the coast. Down the lantern lined 108 steps that represent the 108 agonies of earthly desire of Buddhism, visitors come to a bridge that leads to the main temple complex. Numerous statues and shrines including a large golden dharma smiling broadly, a granite statue of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Gwanseeum-bosal, and the Yacksayeorae Healing Buddha sit around the complex and beckon those that have traveled to this spot to take in a few moments of silence in between the crowds of tourists as well as get in some photos. Every angle of this temple is beautiful and provides some great scenic views.
If you’re visiting Busan and happen to be at the far eastern end of the city, this is a must see.
부산광역시 기장군 기장읍 시랑리 416-3
416-3 Silang-ri Gijang-eup, Gijang-gun, Busan, Korea
Subway: Take the subway to the last stop on the green line, Jangsan Station and from there either catch bus 181 or grab a taxi to the temple.
Bus: 181, walk up a road about 500 meters that leads to the temple. It’s the only road around so it can’t be missed.
Amenities: restrooms, food, souvenir shops, parking lot
Website: http://www.yongkungsa.or.kr/Visited Busan over the weekend and finally got to the see Haedong Yonggung Temple & The Seaside View, famous for its coastal location. Buddhist temples are not terribly difficult to stumble upon while in Korea. There are temples in the middle of Seoul daring those that enter to just try and find quiet solitude and there are temples dotting the mountains across the country so any hike becomes that much more interesting with the addition of a tour of one.
Summer is coming to an end and I’m looking back thinking I didn’t get nearly enough beach time in. Then again, I was pretty busy with other things. So it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut would say. After finishing up the camp down in Jeju through the first week in August, I got back up to Seoul in time to finish up the last preparations for another Crazy Multiply Art Show. After showing my own artwork in one of the shows a few months back and then being asked to start curating with the group and shadowing them for a show, this was the first show that I actually curated along with Amy Smith. From finding artists to bands to planning the layout and emailing artists and bands almost weekly to answer questions or to ensure everything and everyone was prepped and ready, there was a lot of work to do. The show went pretty well, but as two of the ladies that had previously ran it had moved back to Canada and it was just me and Amy running it, of course there were some growing pains and quite the learning curve for how we work best together. The next show should be even better than this one, but this was a great show to curate as my first with Amy.Trying to finish up work in an effort to take it easy for my last month of pregnancy coming up in October, I spent this month getting in the odd jobs as a speaking contest judge and English interviewer and anything else I can do that still allows me to have a good nap when I need to. I don’t tell the employers I’m pregnant because in Korea, people tend to think pregnant woman, either one month in or seven months along, just can’t work. That’s bunk of course so, I show up and as this is the first month that I’m actually looking pregnant and not just like I love beer with a passion, the reactions have been across the board. People, or I should say women, because men either couldn’t care less about how exhausting and uncomfortable it is to make a child or just can’t tell, have started getting up for me on the bus. I’m jazzed about that as I’ve been waiting to actually look pregnant and not just feel like it.
Though my husband wants me to slow down, and I have, I really have, I can’t just sit around on my butt every day. I still have to get outside and enjoy the weather, the energy and the people of the city. My bed time is about 9:30 these days though and talking with me after that is just no use because I’ll be trying to my darndest to listen, but trust me, I won’t remember a thing said. We made two trips down to Busan this month, one for the Busan Rock Festival where my husband with Every Single Day was playing for a gigantic crowd. The second trip was for Every Single Day to play at the smaller, but no less fun, Busan Sunset Live Festival over near Songjeong Beach. Loud music may be something I have to miss out on for just a bit quite soon so I’ve gotta get my fill now.
The rest of the month was filled with an impromptu hike, just a short one, to see Seoul’s Seokguram Grotto, eating stuffed squid at Gwangjang Market, laughing at the funny positions my cats sleep in when they’re hot and watching the spider outside our house devour gigantic bugs.August On The Go! Summer is coming to an end and I’m looking back thinking I didn’t get nearly enough beach time in.
Seokguram Hermitage (경주 석굴암) is one of those places that makes it onto every list of top 10 temples, Buddhist sites or wondrous views while in Korea. If you haven’t heard about it yet, head over to my friend Dale’s website and read more about it there. As I’ve read the name and heard it again and again, though haven’t yet been the site myself, I recognized it when I came across the name in Korean as I sat on the side of Mt. Inwang in Seoul. Seokguram… Seokguram (인왕산 석굴암), when I realized why I recognized the name it made me all the more confused as to why there was a sign for it on Mt. Inwang when the famous one was nestled quietly down south in Gyeongju. Of course I had to go see what this was all about, even though I’m seven months pregnant, and up we hiked. Luckily, from where we started in Suseong-dong Valley (인왕산수성동계곡), the walk was only about 25 minutes up. If you’re not pregnant, I’m sure it’ll be much faster, though when I say up, I mean up. The entire walk is at a steep incline up stone steps.The steps lead to a clearing and what looks like a giant rock that would be easy enough to walk right on by without noticing except that there is a door on the side beckoning those passing to enter for just a moment. The rock has been carved out inside and though it’s small and no where near as large as the Gyeongju Seokguram, it is no less remarkable that the inside of a rock was carved out to house a Buddhist altar. Lotus lanterns cover every inch of the ceiling and dangle down from above. The carvings in the wall are intricate and beg those stopping by to take more than one look.
It doesn’t take long to stop by and is worth a gander on any hike around the mountain. Don’t think that you can cross off Seokguram from your list of must sees in Korea after you’ve seen this one though. You’ll still have to head down south to see the more immense and popular one of the same name down in Gyeongju.
Address: (no specific address available)
서울특별시 종로구 옥인동
Ogin-dong Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea
Subway/ Bus: Gyeongbukgung Station, exit 3. Out of the exit, walk straight to the maeul (local bus stop) stop and catch bus 09. Take the bus to the last stop on the route which ends at the foot of the Suseong-dong Valley. The maeul bus takes less than 10 minutes from the subway station. From there, follow the path up. There will be signs directing you.Seokguram Grotto: Seoul’s Version Seokguram Hermitage (경주 석굴암) is one of those places that makes it onto every list of top 10 temples, Buddhist sites or wondrous views while in Korea.
Traditional markets dot the map of Seoul with some becoming more popular than others either due to a central location, the size or a delicacy or item you just won’t get anywhere else. Tong-in Market (통인시장) probably became famous due to it’s location in the high traffic area just west of Gyeongbukgung Palace, but over the years it has become popular with tourists for another reason. Tourists from all over come to Korea and though many want to be adventurous and try the spicy and delicious Korean cuisine, going all in and getting a whole meal without knowing what’s in store can be a risk many do not wish to undertake. At Tong-in Market, visitors can opt to pay W5,000 and try just a helping of numerous Korean fare at a great price at the “Dosirak” Cafe, or Lunchbox Cafe, inside. Go there to be cheap or go there to try something new, either way, it’s a good decision for a lunch while out in the city.
Tong-in Market was established in 1941 as a public market for the Japanese residents in the area at the time, but after the war ended, street vendors and store owners swooped in to grab a spot. Now, 75 shops and stores, mainly focused on delicious Korean food sit side by side ready to share their goods. At the Customer Service Center located in the center of the market, visitors can pay W5,000 and receive a tray much like those used by children in elementary school and a string of coins to pay the vendors. The coins are each worth W500 in the market and most dishes range in price from W500 (1 coin) to W1000 (2 coins) with just a few being as much as W1500 (3 coins).
Spicy side dishes, fried fish and veggies, noodle soups and kimbob (rice rolled in seaweed with other vegetables inside) are ready and waiting to be eaten. The vendors that are open to accepting the coinage have a sign that sits at their stall and they can be seen slicing, dicing, flipping and frying away in anticipation of hungry customers on the way. Koreans and tourists alike line up to get their share of fried fish, broiled meat, spicy vegetables and more. One of the more popular dishes at the market is the tteokbokki, rice cakes in a spicy sauce, but this isn’t just any tteokbokki. The dish here is different from others you’ll find on street carts around the country because it is stir-fried in oil. At Tong-in this specialty comes with two flavors, the first being just fried in oil or the second fried in oil with a spicy sauce. Don’t miss your chance to try some!
The aromas waft along the corridor and vendors invite you to their stall ready to spoon big helpings into your tray. A helpful hint: walk along the entirety of the one corridor that makes up the market to get a feel for what there is to eat before you dive in at the firs stall. There is something for everyone. After the trays have been filled, head back to the Customer Service Center and walk up the steps to find a two story cafe/ cafeteria to sit down and indulge. There are drinks, rice and utensils provided once upstairs to complete the meal. The cafeteria is only open giving out the trays and coins from 11 to 4, so get there early to get in on the goods.
서울특별시 종로구 통인동 10-3
10-3 Tongin-dong Jongno-gu Seoul, Korea
Bus: 1020, 1711, 7016, 7018, 7022, 7212, local bus 09
Subway: Gyeongbukgung Station, exit 2. Walk straight an entrance to the market will appear on your left less than 10 minutes up the road.
Monday – Friday: 9:00am – 6:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am – 1:00pm
Monday – Friday: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Amenities: restrooms, lunch cafe
Website: http://tonginmarket.co.kr/Headed to Gyeongbukgung Palace? Stop at Tong-in Market nearby for a delicious and cheap meal. Tong-in Market: Eating on a Budget Traditional markets dot the map of Seoul with some becoming more popular than others either due to a central location, the size or a delicacy or item you just won’t get anywhere else.
At the foot of Mt. Inwang (인왕산수성동계곡) an interesting thing happened a few years ago. During demolition of the Ogin Sibeom Apartments in 2008, a scene very similar to that of the artist Gyeomjae Jeong Seon’s (1676 – 1759) in his “Eight Scenes of Jang-dong” appeared. During the rapid growth and industrialization of the area, the scene on the side of the mountain had been covered over with an apartment building in 1971 and wasn’t viewed again for more than 30 years. Upon razing the building a stone bridge was uncovered and the city, which had bought the land back for reclamation, decided to turn the area back into the beautiful natural scene that Gyeomjae Jeong Seon had first painted in the early 18th century.
The landscape in the valley has been restored with more than 18,000 twisted pine trees and rocks and paths have been made taking the time to lay the stones in the traditional fashion. Paths criss-cross through the area allowing visitors to go this way and that to enjoy the scene thoroughly while maintaining the openness and attractive nature of the area. Visitors can start here and continue on up to Mt. Inwang for a hike if the mood strikes. The valley has not only been intricately restored but, it is also important as the source of the Cheonggyecheon Stream, the 5.8 kilometer popular resident and tourist attraction that runs from Gwanghwamun to the Han River. The stream in Suseong-dong once joined up with Baekundongcheon Stream and then met up with Junghakcheon Stream which becomes the Cheonggyecheon Stream. For a lovely day out in a quiet area surrounded by aesthetically pleasing views, this is a great place to head just minutes from the busy Gwanghwamun Square and Gyeongbukgung Palace.
서울특별시 종로구 옥인동 185-3
185-3 Ogin-dong Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea
Subway/ Bus: Gyeongbukgung Station, exit 3. Out of the exit, walk straight to the maeul (local bus stop) stop and catch bus 09. Take the bus to the last stop on the route which ends at the foot of the valley. The maeul bus takes less than 10 minutes from the subway station.
Amenities: restrooms, convenience store, cafeA Landscape Revealed on the side of Mt. Inwang. At the foot of Mt. Inwang (인왕산수성동계곡) an interesting thing happened a few years ago. During demolition of the Ogin Sibeom Apartments in 2008, a scene very similar to that of the artist Gyeomjae Jeong Seon’s (1676 - 1759) in his “Eight Scenes of Jang-dong” appeared.
Not all stews in Korea are spicy, though depending on where they are served, some may be spicier than others. Daegutang (대구탕), or cod fish stew, is one dish that is very different if you pop into a shop to eat some in the north versus the south. In the north, the soup comes out with a deep red broth. It’s spicy and is more akin to maeuntang (매운탕), or spicy fish stew. In the south however, the cod is boiled and served in a broth that hasn’t had spices other than salt, pepper and garlic added. The result is a deliciously simple yet flavorful and filling dish that allows the delicate taste of the cod to come out. Daegutang is one dish that we almost always have when we head down to Busan because the northern restaurants just don’t cut it for us.
Daegu literally means “large mouth” in Korean so the cod in Korean is “large mouth fish”. The stew is perfect for those hungover friends that need some broth to re-hydrate and for the foodie in the group that wants to eat something that’s just fresh and cleansing. If you walk into a restaurant that serves daegutang and you want to know which version you’re getting be sure to check the signs, or ask the waiter. The spicier version will be called daegu maeuntang (대구매운탕) and the milder version will be called daegujiri (대구지리). At Goma Daegutang (고마대구탕), the stew is served simply with just radish and scallions added to the milky white broth. No fuss, no muss. This stew doesn’t need anything else as it is perfectly appealing. Of course, the soup is served with rice and other side dishes to compliment the meal and anywhere you go to find some, you’re sure to be content. A small dish is provided so that you can take the large pieces of fish out of the stew and tear off the tender hunks of fish with your chopsticks. If you’re a foreigner and you walk into this establishment, don’t be surprised if you’re served the stew without the bones attached. You can ask for the boneless and easier to eat version or show off your chopstick skills by picking apart the fish, but the owners may just assume you’ll want the boneless if you’re a group of foreigners. Don’t take it as an offense if you’re served the boneless without asking, they would just rather everyone thoroughly enjoys the dish they have meticulously prepared.
Our go to restaurant for some delicious daegutang in Busan:
Goma Daegutang (고마대구탕)
부산광역시 수영구 남천동 5-3
5-3 Namcheon-dong Suyeong-gu, Busan, Korea
Hours: 24 hours
Daegutang (대구탕) (cod fish stew): W8,000
Daegu-jjim jeong-sik (대구찜정식) (not soup, cod fish stir-fried with veggies): W11,000
Subway: Geumnyeonsan Station (금련산역), walk straight out of exit 5 and follow directions to Gwanganli Beach. The restaurant is at the far eastern end of the beach just before the apartments begin.
Bus: 41, 42One of our go to restaurants in Busan serves up this simple yet satisfying stew: The Simple Taste of Cod Not all stews in Korea are spicy, though depending on where they are served, some may be spicier than others.