August On The Go: Goodbye JejuSummer 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.August On the Go: Crazy Multiply Dwell ShowTrying 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.Seoul, Korea: Mt. Inwang, Seokguram GrottoSeoul, Korea: Mt. Inwang, Seokguram GrottoThe 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.

Seoul, Korea: Mt. Inwang, Seokguram GrottoIt 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

Directions:

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.

Inwang Mountain Map

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.

Seoul, Korea: Tongin MarketTraditional 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.Seoul, Korea: Tongin MarketSeoul, Korea: Tongin Market

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).Seoul, Korea: Tongin Market

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.Seoul, Korea: Tongin Market

Address:

서울특별시 종로구 통인동 10-3

10-3 Tongin-dong Jongno-gu Seoul, Korea

Phone: 02-722-0911

Directions:

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.

Hours: 

Market:

Monday – Friday: 9:00am – 6:00pm

Saturday: 9:00am – 1:00pm

Closed Sundays

Dosirak Cafe:

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.

Suseong-dong ValleyAt 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.Suseong-dong Valley

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.  Suseong-dong ValleyFor 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.Suseong-dong Valley

Address:

서울특별시 종로구 옥인동 185-3

185-3 Ogin-dong Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea

Directions:

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, cafe

A 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.

Daegutang, Cod fish stew 대구탕Not 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.Daegutang, Cod fish stew 대구탕

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)

Address:

부산광역시 수영구 남천동 5-3

5-3 Namcheon-dong Suyeong-gu, Busan, Korea

Phone: 051-626-3330

Hours: 24 hours

Menu:

Daegutang (대구탕) (cod fish stew): W8,000

Daegu-jjim jeong-sik (대구찜정식) (not soup, cod fish stir-fried with veggies): W11,000

Directions: 

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,  42

One 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.

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