Lantern Festival for Buddha’s Birthday in Dongdaemun, Seoul, South Korea

These pictures are from the 2009 Lantern Festival around Dongdaemun in Seoul. I took these back in April of 2009, my third month living in South Korea.

The Lantern Festival is a celebration for Buddha’s Birthday, which is a really big deal in a lot of Asian countries. Buddha’s Birthday falls on May 21st and, according to wikipedia, many temples offer free food and tea to all visitors on this day.

This year (2010), the parade will be held on May 16th from 7pm-9:30pm. Get more information here: http://www.llf.or.kr/eng/03introduce/introduce.asp

To get to the festival, I took the Seoul Subway to the Jongno-3 Station and followed the huge crowds. The parade was by the shopping district in Dongdaemun.

If you go to the Lantern Festival, let us know what you thought about it in the comments!!!

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Drinking Green Tea in Gyeongju, South Korea

I love tea. I grew up having tea parties with the ladies in my family, and whether at home, in the backyard, or at high teas at hotels, I love the experience. Of course, tea is an integral part of Korean culture, so I was eager to try the “Traditional Korean Tea Experience” when I visited Expo Park in Gyeongju.

How much was the tea?
5 000 won per person.

What was the Korean Traditional Tea Service like?
The tea room was on the upper floor of the Culture Centre. While it is very open and has a rather cold-contemporary-gallery-feel to it, I quite enjoyed the table settings and the traditional Korean house backdrop, as well as the display of all the teas/pots/dishes. The girl behind the cashier served the tea. She was wearing a sweatshirt. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting from a “traditional” tea experience, but a young girl serving tea in sweats didn’t seem to match. But, I did enjoy the green tea nonetheless, and it was a lovely part of my trip to Gyeongju.

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Experience Korea UCC Video Contest

I found a contest sponsored by ExperienceKorea.org where you can win up to 5,000,000 won. That’s 5 million won!

It seems all you have to do is create a video which shows how to make any type of Korean food. You can create a “unique, special Korean food recipe” or a recipe that is “simple to follow, easy to get ingredients of, and of course, taste good”. Upload that video to youtube and you’re all set!

Submit your videos between March 1st and March 31st.

You’ll have some stiff competition if you enter since you’ll be up against the fine folks here at JustEnoughKorean.com but give it a shot!

Check out the contest here:
http://www.experiencekorea.org/summary_01.asp?nation=en

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What to Avoid Eating at a Hof in South Korea

Around midnight one April’s eve, Jermil and I found ourselves combing the streets of Geojedo for some eats. Many establishments had already closed, but we found a small Hof. (You might be asking yourself, what is a Hof? It’s a Korean-style bar or pub, and there are thousands of them in Korea.)

We couldn’t read the menu, but upon entering the hof, I spied a delicious stir-fry platter being served. It was everything I wanted: veggies, protein and a side of rice. Sold! Below I recount some of the dialogue that follows the hot stone stir-fry plate being delivered to our table:

X: (examining the stir-fry up-close) Um. That meat doesn’t look familiar.
Jermil: (looking confused) Yeah…what is that? You know what, I’m up for anything, I’ll try it.
X: (looking skeptical, but slightly relieved) Yes, good, you try it first.

Jermil takes a bite of “meat” and the look of nervousness turns to a look of disgust as a loud CRUNCH sound comes from his mouth.

X: Are you ok?? Are all of your teeth still in tact?!?
Jermil: That is not meat. That is organ.

Hmmm could it really be? We left the plate relatively untouched and ordered another item on the menu, which to our delight, turned out to be sweet and sour pork (tang soo yook). I returned to Seoul and told my students about my experience.

X: (desperately) What did we eat?!
Students: (buzzing, laughing) Ohhh X, some Koreans don’t even like that!!
X: (turning green) What was it?!?
Students: Chicken intestines!!!

Perhaps you have an appreciation for this culinary delicacy, but Jermil and I didn’t much care for 닭똥집. If there’s one Hof tip we can provide you with, it would be to avoid ordering 닭똥집!!!

Chicken Intestines

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Lotte World: The Disneyland of Seoul, South Korea

How to get to Lotte World
Jermil and I love skating in the winter, and Seoul Travel and Culture magazine mentioned Lotte World Amusement Park houses, in addition to all of the typical thrill rides, a skating rink as well. Although it’s a bit of a trek to Jamsil from where I live (the North Western part of Seoul), we hopped on the Seoul Subway Line 2 and braved the 40 minute subway ride.

Buy the “Special Pass”!
Lotte World was worth the journey, we ended up not skating at all, but instead, we purchased the “Special Pass” and got some sort of foreigner discount that ended up costing each of us about 31 000 won.

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Lotte World Amusement Park was an idyllic getaway from humdrum Seoul living. The music, the smells, and the happiness in the air had Jermil and I smiling the whole time we were there. We rode roller coasters, dropped from the sky on the “Gyro Drop”, and got a little wet on the log flume ride. We were just steps away from performers in sporadic parades that happened throughout the day (see the parade pictures below), and we watched several shows that included acrobatics, dance, and live music.

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Is Lotte World really like Disneyland??
Lotte World cannot really be compared to Disneyland in terms of size and impressiveness, but it really was lovely, and we had a great day. Both of us remarked that we had forgotten we were even in Korea. We were also really surprised that the park was open in the winter, but a large portion is indoors, so that worked out for us, since it was -12 degrees celcius the day we were there.

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We’ve heard Everland is also a fun amusement park, but we haven’t been yet, have you? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments!

Enjoy our pictures from the parade at Lotte World Amusement Park.
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Order the new Just Enough Korean ebook on sellfy.com. Filled with tips for travelling or living in South Korea.

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