Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Been here for a week; time for minutiae--like doing laundry and getting a haircut...

No 'famous' tourist things today...

This morning, while having my coffee (alas, instant), I sat on the floor amidst a week's worth of dirty laundry,  a dictionary in hand, staring at this control panel:

I can 'read' everything--phonetically, that is...but knowing the vocabulary? I didn't want to bother my mother, uncle, or I figured it out eventually. Nothing got torn, nothing shrunk, and I'll be presentable again, in freshly laundered clothing, smelling of the sea, perhaps. (Almost no one has dryers here...clothes racks are on every balcony/patio.)

I finally went for a run today!--along the beach, through some back streets, through a small stretch of pine forest--trees that look like giant bonsai--up a hillside with small farm plots--until I hit a military fence in the woods; being so close to the border with North Korea, large sections of the coastline remain off-limits to the general public--guards constantly patrol the coast, on the lookout for infiltrators from The North...

After a run, you gotta eat...

So we went to a restaurant in a beautiful rice-paddy-filled-vale--we sat on the floor along long tables made of giant slabs of pine, to enjoy one of the local specialties that does not involve seafood: buckwheat noodles and tofu made from black soybeans: 
In the small cup on the right is a uniquely Korean condiment-pickle-beverage. Yeah, I know--sounds weird--it is...but it's refreshing and full of probiotics! So, it takes five months to make--it involves a giant radish which is pickled with Asian pear's kept ice cold, and you eat the radish slice like a pickle, but you drink the cold salty/sweet liquid as a beverage--it's even slightly 'carbonated'!! Amazing, eh?--what's considered normal in different parts of the world...

Later, we went to the grocery store--what a contrast to the seafood market downtown--this place would give any grocery stoe in America a run for its monehy--super clean, friendly service, free samples everywhere--and it's 4-stories tall: Levels 3 and 4 are parking...Level 2 is like going to a fancy Target, and Level 1 is the grocery store...AND it has a food court. (Anyone familiar with the Monoprix chain in France? C'est ça.)

At any rate, with iPhone in hand (I really don't care if the local employees think I'm a crazed foreigner with a photo-addiction)--I just had to get a shot of these juices: 
 Really? Are you for real? You're not just an optical illusion?
100% natural produce...

Upstairs, in the stationery section--tons of cutesy examples of Engrish, including this little notepad:
Oh, little mister "DoReMi" doggie (trust me, that's his name),
why, oh why do you love watermelon so much?
And why does this belong on a "Check List?"
Allow me to paraphrase:
Decide what you gotta do. Do it. Only you will make you do it.

Globalization in the form of fried chicken:
...although you will find NO biscuits here--
just the cajun-spiced fried chicken
AND--look at the ad under the counter--
a local addition:
'paht bing-soo,'
a dessert made from shaved ice,
cream, red beans (sweet, though),
and some other toppings as well...
I know, sounds weird, but on a summer day, so nice...
Don't knock it til you've tried it.
If you'd rather not, there are plenty of
"Mochaccinos" available...

Later on, after stocking up on sundries, I went out to get a haircut, and saw this: 
 There is some truly horrific hotel-architecture in Sokcho.

(The green box on the back of the scooter reads "Pelicano"--it's a local chicken-restaurant-chain, and they deliver! Pizza Hut and even McDonald's also have these little delivery scooters here...)

More 'whimsical' motel architecture--this just up the street from my Uncle's...
(I do like the blue tile roof on the more traditional building in the foreground, though...)

But not all the lodging options are so gaudy;
check out these little casitas--a few doors down from my Uncle's,
on the way to the seawall:
...and Sokcho is full of roses right now--the marine climate must be good for them...

The sea is quite clear here: 
Ahh, young love--typical graffitti by the seashore--in any language,
"I love you" will always be found.
Language lesson for today--to say "I love you" in Korean:

The coast is clear enough for locals to forage for edibles; at certain times of the year, my Aunt will gather little anchovies that swarm close to shore...Today, a neighborhood 'halmoni' ('grandmother') was gathering 'mi-yeok,'--edible kelp:
 ...very enterprising; she sold some to a man who was on a bike ride with his daughter...
 I love how he's in a dress shirt and slacks, with his pig-tailed daughter on his bike, riding one-handed:
Why bring home the bacon, when you can bring home the kelp, right?


No kelp for dinner tonight (I do like it, though--great in soup!)...
But the simplicity of local fresh ingredients is a delight--
so many fresh vegetables:
Here's the inside scoop on this wrap:
Fresh red-leaf lettuce from the backyard,
a 'gae-nip' (perilla, or ''wild sesame") leaf,
some sticky white rice,
'dwehn-jahng' (a kind of red-pepper-laced miso paste),
and a couple of mellow (really! ) pickled garlic cloves...

The 'slow food' movement' is right at home, here in the provincial parts of South Korea...

No comments:

Post a Comment