Category: Food


Part 1/3

This was my third trip out of Japan to a nearby country, and my first trip alone! Seoul was a great choice for a solo trip. The flight time was short, about 2 hours from Tokyo. Navigating the Seoul metro system was ridiculously easy and also very cheap. Each one way trip only cost about $1 (US). Also, there was English everywhere, and where there wasn’t English, there was Japanese. Being bilingual is great sometimes!

My plane was taking off at 6:20 pm in Tokyo and would land in Seoul at 9:10 pm, so I made a point of getting my currency exchanged to Korean won before getting on my plane in Tokyo. But when I arrived in Seoul, despite the late hour, the currency exchange was still open! I’ll keep that in mind in the future. From the airport I took a train to Seoul station.

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So it’s 11pm, I’m alone in Seoul, what do I do? I go to a night market of course! There is a great night market in Dongdaemun that is open from 8 pm to 5 am. Dongdaemun is a short ride from Seoul Station. I arrived and put my bag in a coin locker ($3) and headed out to see the sights. There were a lot of people out shopping and eating food from street stalls.

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A stall selling some kind of omelet. I had a hot dog at a different stall later.

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The market wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. The items for sale were clothing, accessories, and cosmetics. Not very many souvenir type things. If you are serious about getting some clothes from Korea, then this is the place for you. The shoppers were a mix of people looking for good deals (everything was very cheap) or people looking for wholesale items to use in their own stores the next day. I simply looked around and enjoyed the atmosphere.

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Around 1 am I got tired and went to a tourist information booth (open at night!) and asked for the location of a Korean spa (jjimjilbang). I was directed to one in the basement of a large department store across the sidewalk. Why go to a spa? Because it is a cheap place to take a bath, get something to eat, and take a nap.

I really recommend staying in a jjimjilbang if you are in a pinch and need somewhere to sleep. I stayed the night for only 10,000 won ($10). When you enter, they give you a key with a number on it, take your bag, and give you some towels, a t-shirt, and shorts. First, you lock up your shoes in the foyer, then you go into the locker room to change and lock your belongings into a bigger locker. I was expecting the spa to be similar to a Japanese onsen, so I didn’t bring any of my shampoo or conditioner with me. Unfortunately the spa only provided a bar of soap. I made sure not to get my hair wet and took a relaxing bath and watched some television. There were a lot of other Korean ladies there doing the same thing, washing their hair, and brushing their teeth. It was a nice atmosphere. When I was ready for bed, I put on the provided t-shirt and shorts and found an empty bed in the sleeping room. Yes, there was a sleeping room full of beds. There weren’t any blankets, but it was warm enough inside without one. I got about 5 hours of sleep. Around 7 am everyone’s cell phone alarms started going off though so I took another bath and left around 7:30.

I don’t want to make this post too long, so I’m breaking my Seoul trip up into 3 parts.
Stay tuned for Part 2!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve made a post. This will be the first in a series of my recent travels.

In February I went to the Snow Festival in Sapporo, Hokkaido.

You’re probably wondering what a snow festival is. Think tons and tons of snow shipped in from all over Hokkaido, compressed into huge blocks, and then carved into intricate designs and put on display for everyone to see. Add tons of food and people from all over the world, and you get a snow festival. There were even ice sculptures at the snow festival too.

I only got to go for 3 days, but that was pretty much all I needed.

The festival didn’t officially start until Monday, so Saturday and Sunday were a chance to explore the sights of Sapporo.

The first day was spent in a neighboring city called Otaru where I went to see the canal snow light path. It was snowing and cold, but very beautiful.

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That day I got to eat some delicious ramen. Hokkaido is famous for delicious miso ramen and crab.

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The second day was a chance to see Sapporo’s famous chocolate factory. At the beginning of the trip I thought the chocolate factory would be a boring, run of the mill factory. Instead, it was like walking into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The factory owners/operators really tried to make the trip magical by filling the place with a ton of weird stuff, and of course some views into the factory and an explanation of how they make their signature product.

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I ate some more delicious ramen that day. This is called miso butter corn ramen. There is a lot of butter and corn in it!

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Sunday night was test night for the Snow Festival light up shows. I got some of my best pictures of the huge sculptures.

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An ice sculpture that has real crabs and fish in it.

Finally the day of the Snow Festival came. I saw all of the sculptures in the day time, some performances and shows, and stuffed myself with food from Malaysia, China, Russia, and Japan, of course. I wish I had taken some pictures of my food for you all, but it was gone quickly after I bought it.

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After a great weekend in Sapporo, it was time to go home. I want to go back soon to eat more fantastic food and see more of beautiful Hokkaido.

At the airport we ran into a special friend. Melon bear!

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I taught my kids the sentence: Kristen looks like food for melon bear. They weren’t as amused as I thought they would be.

Now for your feedback – what was your favorite sculpture?

-Kristen

Japanese Cuisine

I don’t feel like I’ve made any of my state side friends super jealous of me lately, so I’m going to rectify that. Feast your eyes on this:

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Katsu kare

a.k.a Japanese curry, rice, and fried pork cutlet. One of my top favs!

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Tenpura soba

Hot soba noodles in sauce with tenpura vegetables and fish.

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Okonomiyaki

A fried pancake mixed with all sorts of ingredients.

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Coolish

Soft serve ice cream in a squeeze container. Don’t knock it till you try it.

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Homemade Gyudon

Beef and onions on a bed of rice. Since this picture I’ve gotten better at making it!

When it comes to food, this isn’t even the beginning, believe me. Thanks for reading, and keep a look out for my next post: Japan – The Taste of Fall

-Kristen