Street Shopping

More views of street vendors in Seoul.

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The kimchi pots in the bottom pic had me drooling. They are too heavy to carry back on the plane, but I have put my order in.  I may just have to wait a year (or more) until I get them.  Well worth the wait!

Street Skating

Goddess and I seem to be in the right places at the right times.  We started off the year in Köln (Cologne), Germany, staying in a hotel overlooking the square while riot police struggled to deal with an “unruly crowd“.

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Here in Korea, we emerged from the subway station to find the road lined with police buses and police putting on their riot gear.  It was May Day.  Fortunately we didn’t see anything like we did in Köln, although it looks like if we had traipsed a block or two over it would have been quite interesting.

Instead, we saw a bunch of fun street scenes.

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Art viewers being viewed while viewing art.

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Pick a stamp…

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Or a brush and paper.

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Perhaps a bowl…

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Or a well-worn tract.

During our meandering through the markets, we found a restaurant to try.  I was especially intrigued by one menu item – skate.  It was something I have never run across.

We sat down, ordered and the food quickly arrived.

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That’s the skate sashimi, known as Hongeohoe, upper right.

It is a unique dish.  As expected, it was a bit chewy as it is a cartilaginous fish.  But after a minute of chewing the piece, a very strong flavor of ammonia filled my mouth. I was not expecting that.

Once I explained my experience, our friends started laughing. The joke was on me, although they truly thought I knew what I was getting myself into.

I didn’t, but cotinued to give it a try, especially since it was a $20 USD entree.  But after a half-dozen pieces, I couldn’t do it anymore.

I learned that the ammonia flavor comes from the skin, through which the skate “urinates”, excreting uric acid.  It seems that the Koreans accentuate that flavor by fermenting the skates, sometimes for many months.

So now I have two foods on my list of “no thanks” – the skate and Japanese natto.  Both fermented dishes, which is odd since I love fermented foods.

Just not those.

But now, a day later, I realized that I would try it again.  Most suggestions are that a foreigner has to give it at least four tries before the appeal sets in.  I get that.  It would just have to be a very small serving of a few pieces, not an entire entree.

Heck, with that in mind, I might even give natto another chance.

What is on your food “no way” list (besides the two I have already mentioned)?

Market Scenes

So many markets, so little time.

We rarely buy, other than food and drink.  But it is fun to see pieces of daily life.

Like in Tokyo, Seoul has sections of town dedicated to a good or service. 

Do you have a 25 year old sewing machine that needs a new gear for the bobbin winder?  Head to the sewing district.

Want bio-friendly bamboo spoons with a logo printed on them?  Head to the kitchen district.

Need to replace the lighting in your kitchen?  Head to the chandelier district.

It’s a concept that seems odd, until you need a certain thing and don’t want to or can’t travel all over the city to find that widget.
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For us, it’s a great way to get a feel for the heart and soul of the city and culture.

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Gyeongbokgung Palace Vignettes

A few quick vignettes of Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul.

The martial drum beat during the changing of the guard.

The colors of the guard’s flowing uniform material and the waving of dynastic flags.

The squeals, laughter and yells of the elementary school field trip groups.

Quick sidesteps as selfie sticks swing around into position for that perfect angle.

Quirky statements on clothing; words strung together that likely don’t mean what the wearer thinks they mean.

Collections of lines, shapes and shades that keep me moving quickly through the grounds.

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I had my regular camera with me, so I was back in my element, limiting and challenging my eye by only shooting with a 200/2.8 lens.  Detail shots similar to the third image below.

Should I feel the need to get broader views, I’ll run back before we leave Korea.

Yum!

Two of our favorite ways to get a feel for a culture are the markets and the food. 

We even joke about how we ate and drank our way across Europe.

But the sights, the sounds, the smells and the feel of an Asian market – there really is nothing else like it in the world.

Not even the souks of the Middle East.

I prefer the simplicity of the presentation.

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Once the food is bought, whether by individuals or restaurants, it is time to prepare the meal.

These meals are very social, especially at restaurants where everyone cooks the food and shares it from a common cook top.  No one pours their own drink, as your companions pay attention, then pour for you when you’re ready.

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But one of our favorite things to eat, no matter where we are in the world, is the homemade paella from the kitchen of a dear friend who happens to be a chef.

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That perfect soccarat from the bottom of the pan is sublime and is the mark of a successful paella.

But the best part of the meal is the company.

Where in the world is your favorite meal?  What is it?

Dreams of Home

A quick glimpse of a country that I have spent almost one-fifth of my life living in and experiencing. 

A land where, if I could only live in only one country for the rest of my life, without hesitation, i would choose this one.

Its symbol touches me deeply every time I see it in person.

Even if it’s a glimpse through an airplane window.

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One Year

It has been a while.

We have enjoyed a lot of scenery and met with a lot of friends and family.  And we look forward to more.

Most importantly, today is our anniversary.

One year ago today, we turned over the keys to our rental house and became houseless.

Not homeless, but houseless.

Wherever Goddess and I are together, that is home.  We have been welcomed into many, many homes, where we celebrate our friendships and family.

We have also enjoyed some fantastic scenery.

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Convict Lake, Mono County, California

With a new year ahead, we look forward to seeing more friends, family and scenery.

See you soon!

Faces

One thing that we realize that we are horrible at doing is catching selfies with all of our friends as we meet them around the world.

Even if we state up front that we need to get one right after getting together, we get caught up in the moment and don’t remember until 20 minutes after we part ways.

It happens more often than not.

Like I said, we are horrible at it.

But here are the ones we’ve managed to catch over the past few months. No names, just smiling faces.

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As I attached these images, it really stuck me how horrible we are at this.  So many smiling faces that we have met with over the past few months that aren’t here simply because we can’t remember to take a moment and capture the meeting.

So if we cross paths over the coming months, please help us to make sure we get a pic.