Temple 미황사, Nagan Folk Village, and Jeolla Province

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Finally, we can say we have visited each corner of this little country! The beaches in the West, the mountains in the East, the city in the North, and finally, Jeollal Namdo in the South.

This province is said to be the “least developed” in Korea, and offers some unique and beautiful things.

We checked out the Damyang Bamboo forest, and rode around the park in this beauty:

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and saw this hungry panda!

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We also did the breath-taking Wolchulsan Cloud Bridge hike.

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The highlight of the trip was definitely the Temple Stay at Mihwangsa (미황사). There was a pretty strict schedule we had to adhere to while visiting.

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We traded in our clothes for ones that would allow us to let go of suffering more easily:

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The quad was decorated with beautiful colourful lanterns for Buddha’s birthday. Also, all of the food was vegan! But did you SEE that schedule? We had to wake up at FOUR in the MORNING for meditation and prostrations! And we put 108 beads on a string!

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We finished up our tour of the south at the quaint little Naganeupseong Folk Village. A little ajumma walked us to a small straw roofed cottage where we stayed for the night. At one time, it was used as a fortress to repel Japanese pirate raids from the South.

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Korean Vegetarian Eats!

James and I struggled somewhat when we first arrived in Korea to find food to eat. The first week we were here, we went to a cafe and pointed to a picture on the menu of a bagel five days in a row. Now that we can stumble through some phrases (“ko-gee pbay -go joo-say-yo!”) we have varied our tastes to more that just carbs.

Here are some of our favourite vegetarian eats in Korea.

1) Bibimbap

Every vegetarian’s go to Korean meal. It’s delicious, full of veggies on a bed of rice, cheap, and everywhere in Korea. You can ask for it without eggs if you are vegan. Similarly, the Mom and Pop places that sell bibimbap also usually sell Kimbap (like Korean sushi) that you can get without ham.

2) Jajangmyeon

Ohmygod this stuff is jajangYUM. This is usually only found in Korean Chinese restaurants, which are plentiful around Seoul. It’s noodles drenched in thick, caramelly, black bean sauce, which is salty and filling and oh so good. You have to specifically ask for it without beef (and sometimes shrimp) though, but then they load it up with extra onions, carrots and OH GOD I JUST LOVE IT.

3) Pizza Ddeokbokki

 

Typically, ddeokbokki is made with spicy meaty sauce, so James and I cook it at home we change the recipe to something we can actually eat. Pizza ddeokbokki is our Korean food that reminds us vaguely like home… It is super filling, super cheesy, and super easy to make. Thick, squishy rice noodles called ddeokk (duck), tomato sauce and cheese. Yum!

4) Cheese Ramyum Dakgalbi

This stuff is spicy hot and salty but it’s good when drinking a few Cass with friends. The guy makes it right in front of you at your table… it’s ddeok again, with ramyum, veggies and a river of cheese. You have to specifically ask for no chicken though… and you will get a weird look.

Going Blonde in Korea

Recently, I auditioned for an English production of Alice in Wonderland in Seoul. After the director informed me I would be playing Alice, (yay!!!) she also told me that she doesn’t believe in wigs. 

I have naturally light brown hair, which I dye frequently at home. The director said that she would be paying for the blonde, so I should visit a Korean salon. It took 4 hours, 3 bleaches, and $200.

This is the colour I had last week:

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And this is where I ended up:

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As you can see, it’s a bit yellow. I asked her if they had blonde toner at the salon. Nope. Koreans don’t use toner because no one has blonde hair. My hair dresser assured me that I would be unable to find toner here. Oh dear.

BUT! I checked G-Market, just for fun, just to see. And lo and behold, Wella Color Charm Toner T14 and T18, in stock!!! I bought a 20 Volume Developer from G-Market also. It’s all being delivered and will (hopefully) arrive soon, along with an update.

 

봄꽃축제 Cherry Blossom Festival

I don’t mean to brag considering I hear Ontario is still frozen, but it’s spring in Seoul!

James and I went to Yeouido for the Spring Flower Festival 여의도 봄꽃축제. It was packed!

Here are some pictures of the warm weather in Korea!

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We also found a little music tent! James’s playing attracted a lot of attention….. his fans all applauded when he finished.

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What’s up Gangseo-gu?!

When James and I first learned where we’d be living in Seoul, I immediately Googled our gu. After some disappointing search results, I concluded that Gangseo is not the most happening place in Seoul. I had little expectations beyond a 45 minute subway ride to Itaewon. But, after living in the neighbourhood for nearly seven months, this is how I’ve survived:

Vegetarian Food

“Kogi bay go, joo say yo!” (Take the meat out, please!)

Bon Juk – A chain, with one vegetable juk (yummy rice porridge). You can also get cheese on top!

Pizza School – We get pizza school every Friday. $5.  

Tomato Kimbap – A pretty standard mom and pops bibimbap and kimbap place. They know us, so they always take the fish and ham out, but they understand “vegetarian please.”

Talker Toast – Little garlic toast sandwiches with cheese and veggies for 2000 won, and the best yogurt smoothies ever. The lady that works here is so sweet.

Dr Robbins Slim and Healthy! – So good but so expensive. It’s no butter/oil/sugar but does not taste like it.

 

Norebangs 

There are MANY. Norebangs as far as the eye can see! We like Bing Bing and Pink, both of which are off of Ujangsan-ro.  

 

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Gimsatgat 김삿갓주점 – Just the best. Tucked in behind Ok Norebang, Gimsatgat is more of a traditional Korean atmosphere. You can sit on the floor or at a table. This place serves delicious pajeon (kimchi or potato for vegetarians). For drinks, you can get cheap Cass beer, soju, or makgeolli in the bowls. They don’t speak much English but they are welcoming to foreigners!

Luna Bar – Cute, cozy little bar. They have wine specials from 6 to 10pm most days. They also take music requests and you can smoke inside. English level is pretty good!

Baby Guiness – Close to Songjeong Station, on the way to Gimpo. Lots of drinks/beer/shots, yummy food (and vegetarian stuff!).

Wa Bar – Lots on tap and good atmosphere. Can be expensive… I think it is a chain.