On 21st of April 2007, was my first trip to abroad – my trip to Korea, the land of Kimchi’s. For people who don’t know what a Kimchi is, let me tell you that it is basically a traditional fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. It is often described as spicy and sour. The trip was with my official team comprising a bunch of 10 people. Few had already flown there and the rest were on the way.
We left Bangalore at around 12.30am as the flight was delayed for some time and it took almost 20hrs for us to reach the South of Korea via Bangkok and Taipei. We were intended to stay in GUMI Century Hotel (Gumi being the Industrial city of South Korea and has a drive of 4hrs from Seoul Airport) for the next 4 weeks. These weeks were full of new experiences, overall an adventurous one 🙂 .
To see a different place outside India is always exciting and being the first time, it adds up to lot of curiosity and fun element to the tour. Gumi’s climate was on an average with 18deg C. It did rain quite often and the rest of the time was sunny with lot of foggy mornings. Out of 4 weeks, we got 2 full weekends to freak out fully. On the first weekend, we did a day hike to Geumosan Mountain (Mt. Geumosan with 976m in elevation) which is designated as a provincial park in 1970. Half the way to the mountain was covered by the cable car and the other half…Nataraja Service (I meant by walk…though we didn’t make it to the summit due to time constraints) ;). The second weekend was in Busan – The Dynamic Busan. We visited the museum, the beaches, the underwater aquarium and to one of the Indian restaurants over there – Ganga.
The last week in Korea was a must visit to places where we could do shopping. Now shopping is something that every girl would love to do and I was no different and moreover it was my first visit outside and I had to take something or the other to my entire family. The major shopping destination for us was Daegu. I did my full course of shopping here and my entire list was almost complete giving me a feel good attitude. The currency used in Korea is called the South Korean Won and one Indian Rupee is equal to 17 Won and this was one of the reasons that I did so much of extra shopping 😀 .
To tell you something about the Korean cuisine is that it is way too different from the rest of the ones. People here eat anything and everything. Don’t get surprised if you hear someone drinking canine drink containing dog meat, or if you get a glance of any creature’s head on the plate or for that matter having Ice creams with topping’s and guess what are the topping’s? Well no prizes in guessing – its worms, beetles and bugs. Shocked? You get to be 🙂 . Yeah, you see that’s why Korean people are that strong. The locals there also told us with one of the secrets while eating an Octopus, now not that I would try eating one someday but for my knowledge. It seems when you are trying to eat the tentacles of an Octopus (which are chopped in equal sizes apt to put in the mouth), it would be still moving and the chances of it getting stuck on the food pipe is more. So to avoid that, you are supposed to chew it till you have absolutely nothing in your mouth. Hmm, interesting right. To fish out veg dishes here is very difficult. I am not saying you don’t get it but then you need to try a little too hard.
We also visited the famous Indian Guest House where one of our team member stayed. We couldn’t be accommodated there as rooms were not available. In the IGH, we had a Nepali chef and because of whom we got some great mouth relishing Indian food. We used to get food parceled sometime from there also.
Well I would also appreciate the Catering team in the LG office as they used to google out recipes from the internet and they used to serve us with rice, dal and chapatti though it used to be different from the actuals but hats off to those guys to give it a try. The normal rice is basically sticky there and that’s how people eat that with the chopsticks so easily and of course there is a knack in eating it also 😛 . We used to have a lot of Soya milk there in Office which used to look like any other flavored milk tetra packs. I noticed a unique way of drinking water in Korea.
They don’t keep plastic glasses to drink water but instead they make use of water proof sachets in which they pour water from the Purifiers/Water storages and then drink. Hmm, again interesting isn’t?
We did visit few bars there and played some pool over in the evenings. Few words to ponder from Korea were:
– Thumsamida meaning Thanks
– Shonyo meaning a Girl
– Namza meaning a Boy
– Ochana meaning 1000Wons
We got familiar with these ones during our shopping expeditions. I landed in Bangalore Airport on 19th of May, 2007 – back from my maiden International trip.