Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bulgogi, Ponies and Waterfalls: Jeju Island, Korea (Part 1)

In June the girls and I were very fortunate to visit Jeju Island, Korea with my parents while Jamie remained in China to work (somebody has to!).  Every two years there is an international meeting for pig veterinarians (nope, not making that up!) and the location changes for every meeting. I attended my first IPVS meeting when I was 14 in Italy.  It certainly was a full-circle moment attending another meeting, this time almost 20 years later with my daughters.  We had three generations traveling together to Korea.

1.  The Food
Because we were in Korea, I wanted to eat as much Bulgogi as possible.  A friend of ours from the US kindly introduced us to this bit of heaven a few years ago. Bulgogi, simply, is barbecued beef.    We ate at the Japanese/Korean restaurant in our hotel the first night and enjoyed Bulgogi casserole and Japanese shabu shabu.  The casserole was meat and vegetables in a broth.  LBean was a tad bit disappointed that it was not a casserole like we would make in the US.  She kept asking for “the bread part” of the casserole.  The next night we ordered room service and had, you guessed it, more Bulgogi!

Japanese shabu-shabu.

The bulgogi "casserole" and LBean's
expression sums up her feelings about it.

However, EBean loved her meat!

Garlic is very common in Asian dishes and we saw many fields of garlic and even more of it drying on the sidewalks as we drove through the island.

Everything on those tarps is garlic drying in the sun.
Bags of garlic.
Sorting and separating.
This doesn't appear to be garlic, but it is some other ingredient.

2.  The Scenery
Several places on Jeju Island are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Over two days we were able to drive around the island and enjoy the fresh air and low humidity.  We walked to a waterfall, or as EBean called it a “waterfault”, and really took in the natural beauty.
As we drove through the center of the island we stopped to take pictures of the Jeju Island ponies.  The ponies on the island are a unique breed only found on Jeju.  They were used for farming instead of horses or oxen and now I think they are used in racing.  Koreans considered them to be a national treasure. 

Beautiful scenery!

In front of a "Stone Grandfather", similar to
the Easter Island statues.

Description of the Stone Grandfathers, which are
made of black lava rock.

Crossing some steps to get to the waterfall.

A picture of LBean in mid-air, she was so excited
to catch her first glimpse of the waterfall.

In front of one of the island's
many waterfalls.

Grandma Callie

Taking a break to enjoy the view of the waterfall.  

Coolest water fountain ever.

So pretty.

My girls were unwilling to take any more photos by this point.

Although it was not a natural wonder scenic stop, we did tour the Teddy Bear museum.  It was a cute stop and perfect for kids my girls’ ages.  One floor recreated famous paintings with bears and another floor recreated a timeline of major world events.

LBean in front of some teddy bears
recreating a Korean wedding.

These bears are made to look like
the terracotta warriors in Xi'an, China.

“We all live in a yellow submarine...” well, not really, but we did take a ride into one. Seriously! Someone in our group was a bit skeptical of the safety of the submarine (mom), but we managed to have a good time.  It included a short boat ride out to a small island and then an hour dive in the submarine. Thankfully the large windows in the submarine kept us from feeling claustrophobic. 

Waiting to take our boat ride to the submarine.

The island near the submarine.

The brave first volunteers.

Waiting to see some fish.

Saying hello to the scuba diver.

Pretty cool!

One of the girls spotted this starfish.
Can you see it in the middle of the picture?

3.  The Korean Market
LBean has many classmates from Korea and as we discussed what kind of souvenir she might want, she was most excited about getting a hanbok, a traditional Korean dress, like she had seen some of her friends wear.  The concierge desk suggested a department store a few blocks away.  I returned back to the desk when it struck me that I wouldn’t be able to ask about prices...I know a little Chinese, but that wasn’t going to help me here and neither was my Spanish!  This time there was a woman at the desk (jackpot!) who suggested we go to the local Korean Market instead.  

I was much more excited about this and was really interested in comparing Korea’s markets to our own in China.  After a short taxi ride, we made it to the market where we wondered around looking at all of the sea life, fresh meat, vegetables and local Jeju Island products such as honey, chocolates and tangerines. 


Cactus, tangerine and other varieties of chocolate.

I love pork, but I think I'll pass on this delicacy.

LBean getting fitted for her Hanbok.
Thank goodness for LBean’s eagle eyes because as we were walking through the housewares section of the market, through a small doorway, she spotted a hanbok!  LBean had stumbled across the fabric market.  That’s my girl!  We had a lot of fun picking out hanboks for both girls and they are beautiful.  I enjoyed walking through the fabric market and watching the women work.  Their sewing machines almost appeared to be setting on the ground (and I could not figure out how they worked the presser foot), but as I looked closer, I saw that the sewing machine was actually suspended over an opening in the floor.  The women sat on mats on the floor and their legs dangled over the edge of the opening and allowed them to run the machines.  LBean says this was her favorite part of the trip. 

EBean's turn.

LBean was pleased she found a similar looking hanbok
to her bear's.

The sewing machine with the opening
in the floor for the presser foot.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our Korean adventure!


  1. Yay for bulgogi! Did they ever serve it with a bazillion little bowls of Lord-knows-what where you put the meat and contents of said bowls in a leaf of lettuce and eat it that way? That seemed to be the most popular way the restaurants served it when we were in Seoul.

    Thanks for the update, I enjoyed reading about Jeju. The girls' hanboks look pretty sweet! I also like the teddy bear terra cotta warriors.

  2. No leaf of lettuce for us, but yes lots of little bowls. I tended to stick to the meat because it was so tasty! I was also a fan of the warriors and they also had a pretty sweet Michael Jordan bear!