Archive for the ‘Korea’ Category

Have you heard of Jumunjin? No, neither had I until I went there. I’m always slightly wary of giving away information on less obvious places, but as the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang approaches it’s definitely worth knowing about.

Juminjin is a small beach suburb of the bigger city called Gangneung on Korea’s East Coast. Gangneung is famous for beaches and coffee and is also the venue for the indoor winter sports for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. You can reach Jumunjin  in about 20 mins from down town Gangneung and it’s only a short hop through the mountains to the outdoor alpine events in Pyeongchang County.

The town of Jumunjin is a simple fishing place with a great backdrop of the Seorak mountains. If you are familiar with the East Coast of Korea it’s like a mini Sokcho, which is no bad thing; Sokcho is one of my favourites! The best thing about Jumunjin is that it’s compact which means you can see  interesting places within a 10 minute walk of your hotel. There is the usual mixture of Korean style motels and some bigger resort type places near the beach. However, if you are an international traveller with international standards the best bet seems to be a recently renovated property ‘The Winners Hotel’. This place is set back from the seafront but it’s got a view over the single story fish places in front. it has easy access to the restaurants, coffee shops and some of the places offering boat tours. The hotel feels brand new and it has been finished in a boutique kind of way with tasteful furniture and pieces of contemporary art. Aside from the fixtures and fittings the absolute best thing about staying here is the view over the sea. It’s well worth waking up early to take in the sunrise on a clear day. The balconies are pretty large so you can sit out and enjoy a coffee whilst watching the squid boats come in.

 

Walk along the front if it’s not too windy, but if the wind does come in you can retreat back to the main fish market – parallel to the port area. I’m always happy to look around fish markets because where there is a fish market there are inevitably great restaurants. The main draw of Juminjin is the quality of crabs, there are endless tanks with the imperial crabs grappling over the sides. Having tried the crabs on previous visits to the East Coast I opted for something more economical, and surprisingly, something I hadn’t tried before – Mussels with Rice or ‘Honghapbap’. Not only was this meal amazing, the side dishes were plentiful and pretty tasty. I was astounded that the set menu I ordered also had a full mackerel as well.

 

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The photographs below show the restaurant which is just next to the fish market. You cannot miss the fish market because there is a giant whale guarding the entrance.

Despite waking up with the after effects of soju, the early morning wind freshened me up.  A big surprise for me in this small place was that above the fish market there is a quirky coffee theme park. This includes something for everyone. I actually just wanted to get a coffee but the brunches are really good, and if that wasn’t enough I even want through the trick eye gallery. These are getting commonplace in Korea but they are still fun and they bequeath you a load of novelty photos which lighten the mood for the serious travellers like myself! My favourite was playing pool inside a Van Gogh masterpiece – Dr Gache was looking on to make sure I wasn’t cheating. The coffee was high quality as they have their own roasting machine which you can see up close.

If you are considering getting away from the hoards of tourists either for winter sports or summer beaches then this little place comes recommended. I would also think about stopping here on an East Coast scenic tour. Gangneung is not a large city but it’s quite spread out, with this in mind it was very convenient to have everything on the doorstep of the hotel.

Further information:

Getting to Gangneung and Jumunjin:

At the time of writing the high-speed train has not yet been completed. It is possible by train but it takes a long time and you would have to change in Wonju.

By bus: The easiest terminal is Dong Seoul which has services to both Gangneung and Juminjin. It takes about 2h50 and costs W15,000 to Gangneung

Winners Hotel – Google Maps

The Hotel has recently been converted so it may still be listed as a motel. It’s walkable from the small intercity bus terminal. Head for the seafront and fish market area, the entrance is through a small opposite the boat tours.

Visit Korea Website – Jumunjin Beach

Gangneung Tourism (English Language)

 

I live in Jangandong. Here are some pictures.

 

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Dakgalbi is often a foreigner favourite in Korea. It’s not so much a type of food but rather a ‘food event’. There are often several stages as shown in the photos, and many modern places also throw in whatever extras are on the menu. One of the best extras is probably cheese because you watch it melt before your eyes and you might get to witness a kind of mini parting of the Red Sea – but with cheese instead of saltwater, also  chicken instead of a population of Jews fleeing the persecution of that Pharaoh in Ancient Egypt. As analogies go, that last one might be one of the worst, but I don’t care because I’m biblical.

 So, what the hell is it?  I would classify it as spicy stirred-fried chicken  where the ingredients are stirred fried in a large pan placed in the center of the table. Like many Korean foods it’s great for sharing. The best varieties (included below) contain tender chicken pieces in a spicy marinade, but the real seller for me is the texture. After frying the chicken they add  cabbage and some other vegetables:sesame leaves, leeks, sweet potatoes. They also add  rice cakes in case you need some carbs. After the various stages you are left with an excellent balance of sweet, spicy chicken with crunchy vegetables.

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The base of the sauce is gochujang – which is a Korean chili paste. Most places will serve about three levels of spice. If it’s too spicy for the foreigner you can balance it out a bit with your ‘ssam’ wrap which consists of lettuce and a few other veggies. If you want it spicy you can add some more chili or garlic in your lettuce wrap.

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Every place I have been for this meal has a server or chef who makes it round the tables to stir fry it for about 10 minutes. I think the key point is probably the crunchiness of the cabbage. If this gets soggy you’ve lost it! My favourite part of the ending when they may offer you some stir fried rice to soak up the remaining sauce. This sometimes comes with some lava or kim and gets smashed around the pan. It’s pretty heavy on the carbs so go to Dakgalbi place when you’re really hungry.

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The pictures comprise three of my Dakgalbi highlights. One of theme is in my neighbourghood – Jangan Dakgalbi. One is in Gangnam –  Jangin Dakgalbi. Finally, the outdoor pictures are from the home of Dakgalbi – Chuncheon.

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https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jangin-Dakgalbi/1694323930819687 – I visited Jangin in Gangnam

http://blog.naver.com/lovelyssing/220931626086 – Pictures and map for Jangan Dakgalbi (Korean Blog)

http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_2_1.jsp?cid=1373574  – Chuncheon Dakgalbi festival. If you are at a different time of year it’s still worth a visit.

 

Danggogae Station (Seoul Subway Line 4) Exit 1 or 4
Suraksan Station (Seoul Subway Line 7) Exit 1-3
Uijeongbu Station (Seoul Subway Line 1) Exit 1
Located 10 min. from exit

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Dongpirang is a painted neighbourhood in Tongyeong. It sits upon a hill and watches over the sea.DSC_0237

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It’s this way.

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If you need a rest…

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No Korean hill is complete without a lookout.

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Her bag is the shape of the village

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From the movie based on the life of Lady Di

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Fmous Korean cartoons.

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Best view.

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The shop of dreams.

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