Tag Archive: fish


Hoi An Cooking Class

Cooking class started at the hotel at 4 and we walked to Hong Phuc which was right next to where we had breakfast. I was worried because many reviews online said that multiple cooking classes here have you cut vegetables and stuff spring rolls and nothing else. First we went to the market I went to earlier and looked at banana leaves, shredded leaves in salt water (many things were in salt water for pickling but this was to preserve it), hot chilies, garlic, shallots, 3 types of ginger, lemongrass, Vietnamese celery, how they get mixed greens (just an old lady mixing it), a strange round green thing that tastes like cucumber, live eels, fish balls and patties for soup, crabs, and lotus seeds/nuts.I was worried because we looked at many of the same foods from the Thai class.

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The first thing we made was fish stuffed with green onions and fried shallots which was wrapped in banana leaf and grilled.

Second was squid with lots of spices. Third was spring rolls (making them) which was quite different from Thai ones as the paper was a lot thicker and we didn’t cook the inside and put egg inside. Fourth we made a sauce for the wontons which I knew I wouldn’t like because of the pineapple but, since it was cooked, it wasn’t bad. We then fried the wontons and fried the spring rolls, cutting them partway though (Hoi An specialty) to make the inside crispy too.

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My favorite was the wontons followed far behind by the squid and fish—Gemma made the point that it would be a lot better with a more flavorful fish and a less bony fish. I didn’t like the wonton itself because it was bland but I guess the pork ones were good. They were Hoi An special as well and were flat with a little circle to one side, which I thought was strange.

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Snorkel tour had tons of English people and a good amount of Chinese—about 25-30 in total. It seemed great at first because of the scenery but when the other group started drinking I was a bit worried that they would get annoying–and they did!

First we went to an aquarium where we had to pay extra so I didn’t go. Second to the snorkel area for an hour. I saw some beautiful fish including a black fish with gold eyes who stared at me and a white sea urchin. They gave out crap snorkels, so I was glad to have my own. They also gave out floating rings (like tires) so you didn’t get too tired swimming (great idea). Then a long ride to a fish farm where we ate (but we ate in the boat).

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Then a show of the boat workers where they started with Californication and then songs for the countries people came from (except America which had a Beetles song). Finally we had the floating bar which consisted of a raft for our lady boy and a bucket of booze he kept filling little cups with.

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We then went to a private beach which had 30,000 dong entry so I didn’t go. Again, beaches should be free! Had a nap up on top of the boat. Boat back to the harbor, taxi back to hotel around 4pm. Then I went to the beach just to jump in and it was still quite nice.

Temple Stay

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The monthly event at Hongbeopsa Temple for July was a temple stay. As opposed to being free, like all their other events are, this one was 20,000 won, compared to 40,000-50,000 for other temple stays.

At 3pm we arrived, checked in, went to our rooms and changed. Next, we had orientation and met a monk from Texas. She came to Korea in 2001 as a teacher and in 2004 became an ordained monk. She had to travel 5 hours to be with us for the temple stay. I am very grateful that she came because she was able to better explain everything we were doing, why we did it as well as what our Western perceptions were as opposed to what is real.

There are two main ways to hold your hands. One is pushed together, so no light gets though, with your arms flat. The other is to hold your right hand in your left hand, because the right does the bad things, and place them just below your belly button. This is where our energy comes from, and where breathing comes from when we are younger–if you look at a baby, their stomach moves when they breath, not their chest. It is also important to have good posture, to make breathing easier.

Then, we did the Heart Sutra which is the ‘heart’ of Buddhism. Overall, it is about emptiness, which is not negative, but rather just a different state.

After we had a break and then silent dinner, which was not too silent because the head monk kept giving us directions on how to lay out our bowls, how to receive the food, how to eat, and how to clean. It lasted an hour and a half but was only silent for about 20 minutes.

You are given 4 bowls that are wrapped in a cloth, with a place mat folded underneath, napkin on top, and chopsticks and a spoon on top of that.

Everything must be taken apart in a special way. Untied, folded in half, the napkin and utensils placed on your left knee, and then the tie is folded in half again. The lid is then removed from the bowls and the tie is placed on top. Then, the  place mat is unfolded in a the bowls are placed in the left bottom square–this one is for rice. The 2nd largest goes in the right bottom square–this one is for soup. The 3rd largest goes in the right top square–this is for water. The 4th largest (smallest) goes in the left top square–this one is for ‘side dishes’–vegetables and tofu as well as a yellow squash to clean the bowls after.  The utensils are placed in the water bowl and the napkin on top of tie.

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The water is then poured into the largest bowl, swirled around, poured right, swirled around, poured diagonal, swirled around, poured right. Next rice is served and we place it to our foreheads to say thanks. Next, soup is served, then the side dishes are passed.

When you eat, you must hold your bowl up to your face so no one sees your eating face. This just made us look around the room a lot–I kept finding my eyes were wandering.

To clean warm rice water was poured into the rice bowl and you had to use the yellow squash to clean it by pressing the squash against the bowl with chopsticks. This was poured right, and diagonal. After, we drank the hot rice water so there was no waste. We were also supposed to eat the yellow squash which I find disgusting so I did not eat it. A bunch of ladies in training tried to force me but the head monk made them stop. The hot rice water was not bad to drink, it was just chunky and pulpy which I also find disgusting–I always buy no pulp. Finally the water was poured around the bowls again and then poured into large buckets. Finally, we put the bowls back together with the lid on and place them in a crate and the napkin and other cloth items in another crate with the utensils.

Next we had another recess followed by meditation. First we did chanting, which was done in Korean so only the Koreans and the Texas monk chanted–everyone else just followed their actions of bowing. Next was sitting silent meditation for 30 minutes, followed by silent walking for 10, then silent sitting again for 20. During the sitting, we had our hands in another position: making a circle with our fingers overlapping on the bottom and the thumbs just touching on the top. They should not be pushing but just enough together to hold a piece of paper up.

A good way to clear your mind and not zone out is to count to 10 or to chant something in your head that you want to change.  Meditation should not be something where you are repressing other thoughts; my favorite metaphor she used for this was that a rock does not stop grass growing forever–when you pick up the rock, the grass will grow again.

Next we had fruit and went to our rooms at 10. Some people sounded like they were throwing a party which was frustrating since we had to be outside at 4:00. At 10:30 the noise stopped completely though.

At 4am we went outside and did walking meditation around the grounds and then into the temple. We then did 30 minutes of silent sitting meditation followed by the 108 bows which seemed to go by quickly. I was not counting, but it took about 10 for me to get into a rhythm and at about 70 I was just falling to my knees, not going down slowly; however for the last 10 I was back into a rhythm. After, we did walking meditation next to a river which was beautiful. By the time we started walking the sun had come up and rose beautifully behind the Buddha statue atop the temple.

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Next was a little break followed by picking up leaves, as monks need to be self sufficient and this was our lesson in that.

After was breakfast which was rice, vegetables, tofu, and bean sprout soup. Again, we cleaned our own bowls but this time we were able to use sinks.

Next we made bracelets which was frustrating. We put beads onto string, which was then tied in a certain way that I never saw because it was taken from me, then given back assuming I knew what she did when her hands were covering anything I was supposed to see. It reminded me of kite making where we were supposed to do the work but everyone came over and did everything for us. Not what I signed up for. I figured out how to continue doing the loop she had done and finished but she laughed at it because it was a spiral and not straight. Oh well, it worked. Many others had the same problem and had a monk make theirs for them. After we finished the drawstring part we added on beads at the ends of the drawstrings and did a different loop there. We were all given one large bead and told not to use it. I then had to give it back to the person leading us. Strange. There were also bracelets made by monks that were supposed to be given by the best 3–and none were given to anyone. Stranger.

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We ended up leaving at 10:30 instead of 10:00 so it was impossible for me to make the hike that was going on on Sunday. I should have known better because these events always end late.

The coy fish were acting strange. Kissy kissy!

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Jagged Ridge Hike

Busan Haps posted an article about the Jagged Ridge Hike, making it sound much easier to get there than it actually is.

You can take a bus from Sasang to Goseong or Tongyeong and catch a boat from there. I’m not sure the times so you will need to have a Korean speaker call the port you want to go to. They leave more often from Goseong than Tongyeong and Goseong is quicker. From either bus station you will need to take a taxi to the port. If you have a large group, like we did, you can hire a bus to take you direct to the port. It was 350,000 won and split with 16 people it worked out cheaper than buses and taxis (we think, including convenience).

The boat from Goseong has a cute whale on the side! At least some of them do, our return one didn’t.

Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 202From the boat ride, we saw a lot of fishermen. They set up the buoys with ropes on them to grow clams and the bigger fish come by to try to eat them so fishermen set up shop around the buoys trying to catch them.

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Below is our route. We had our bus come over on the boat with us and it drove us along the pink route and we hiked the orange route.

Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 227aBelow are photos of the hike with some descriptions under them.

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Rice fields a plenty here

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Too many hikers!Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 243

Lots of rock formations. Mostly in prayer towers, but there were some cute house like things built.Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 245 Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 248

So steep to climb up! We felt like mountain goats.Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 262

Another shot of what we climbed up. If you go to the right you can go around it.Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 283

Hope I don’t fall! So steep here we can’t climb up but there are lots of places to sitFringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 284

Poor tree!Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 285

We went around this little village.Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 291

Lots of ups and downs.Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 298

This guy sold us makgeolli and did a little show with his drum and symbol.Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 311 Don’t lean on the bridge, but you can set fire to it. Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 325

Traffic jam! This and the bridge are new which has lead to a lot more people doing the hike. Many people seemed to be scared to use the steps!Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 328

The new bridge! They had to use the ropes to pull it up.Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 329

A bit bouncy.Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 336The final view of the town, from the other side that we started from.

We finished just after the boat we were supposed to catch and were able to get one two hours later. In our extra time we had our bus go to the ‘beach’ which isn’t great but there were lots of seafood restaurants there as well. It is at another boat port and people RAN to get on it.

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Sensoji Temple

I went to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa at 8am to get there before the crowds and I made it just in time–as I was leaving hordes of people were showing up. None of the shops were open either, so I didn’t get a necklace like I wanted to replace the one that I lost years ago. Some of the food stalls were open, but it all seemed very standard so I didn’t get anything there.

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I never got used to the sound of people THROWING their coins into the box in front of the temple.

Tokyo 1 254There were incense burning at the main entrances of the buildings.

Tokyo 1 259There were some coy fish in the river as well.Tokyo 1 263And some general pictures:

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Hwacheon Ice Festival

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From Busan (or anywhere, I think) you will need to take a bus to Chuncheon and then to Hwacheon. From Busan it is about 5 hours and then to Hwacheon it is about 30 minutes. I think from Seoul it is about an hour to Chuncheon. Anyway, coming from Busan you can’t leave past 8pm. My friend and I tried going straight after work, getting to Nopo bus station at 840 with no luck. They said the first bus was at 730am and when we got there at 715 the next morning they were sold out until 840. We could have bought the 730 tickets the night before, but whenever I have bought bus or train tickets early I don’t wake up. And when I don’t buy the tickets in advance I wake up and the first bus is sold out. Oh well…thus is life in Korea where you can’t buy tickets online. And can’t buy them if you’re not in the city you’re buying from.

Hwacheon is a pretty small city, but throws a few festivals throughout the year, including one where you though tomatoes (I plan on coming back for that…). I’m pretty sure we walked around the whole city going along the river, so it can’t be that big. It does have Popeyes. Which I haven’t seen in Korea anywhere else.

We got there about 2pm on Saturday and left around noon on Sunday.

There are fish decorations all down the main street (N-S) and part way down another main street (E-W).

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There is also a giant bear to great you as you enter the city, but he has his back to the bus station so I couldn’t get a great picture of him. However he is the mascot for the town so he is pretty much everywhere.

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There were about 10,000 people fishing, would be my guess. We went back Sunday morning there was no one there.

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You can try to catch a fish with your bare hands, but that seemed a bit too cold for us. My hands were almost frozen just from walking around with gloves on (I always forget to move my fingers) so the idea of catching them wearing shorts and a T-shirt in cold water was not a fun idea. Most people but the fish in their shirts and pulled them out with their mouths. That’s too much.

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Then we found our foreigner only fishing area which did have Koreans in it! The staff there were super helpful and you can borrow the fishing rod from the foreigner only tent (which had Koreans blocking it the second time we tried to go in…I guess when they were told they could not go in they stood outside and tried to not let anyone in–that doesn’t work for me!) The staff will get the fish off your hook, put it in your bag, and put water in your bag too so the fish won’t die.

I didn’t catch any, but my friend caught two.

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We tried the fish both ways they were offered–grilled and fried.

Hwacheon Ice Festival 062 Hwacheon Ice Festival 065After that we headed to the kiddie area, called Snow Fun Park. They had a Snowmen Zone, Snow Snake Eolgomi Sled and Sledge Park. The Snowmen Zone made me think of that photo that was going around awhile ago with the caption ‘snowmen gather to protest global warming’. They were all made by kids and parents.

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The Snow Snake Eolgomi Sled and Sledge Park were closed when we went on Saturday, but we did them on Sunday, after the 4-wheel-bike/ATV on ice. The 4-wheel-bike had a ticket office next to it saying 5,000 but we were charged 10,000 per bike so the two of us went on one. We switched part-way though, and were too cold to finish the 10 minutes allotted because we could not move our fingers while driving and they started to freeze. They let us go into their warming area with their heater though! It was a lot of fun sliding around on the ice in the ATV. The Sledge Park was a hill where you were given inner tubes to go down. When I asked if I could go backwards the guy at the top said ‘Ummm….yeah….you’re brave’ but I figured since I always spun around halfway down the hill anyway I would do it this time too. Wrong. Went backwards the whole way which was still fun. After that he spun me and I said to my friend ‘you should try it!’ but she did not hear me, and when I stood up I automatically said ‘I’m gonna throw up’ because I was so dizzy but still told her to try it, leading to the best quote of the weekend:

“I’m gonna throw up. You should try it!”

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The Snow Snake Eolgomi Sled was interesting….it is two kayaks tied together which are tied in the front to a cable that goes back and forth and you do an oval around it. At one point we flew out of the oval track because we did not weigh enough and my kayak got pushed back in but my friends did not and she had to wait till we were going fast enough to go back in! She was basically vertical until she went back it. It was tons of fun! I screamed and laughed the whole time.

Hwacheon Ice Festival 195After that we tried to go fishing again but we were told that we would have to buy the pole and such as there were SO MANY RESERVATIONS. We were surprised as no one was on the ice and we were the only foreigners around. Then we just went to see if we could get sashimi without bringing a fish which was 12,000 including the vegetables. (Otherwise 5,000 for the pole, 8,000 entry that we paid the day before and lasts a week, 2,000 for preparation, and 2,000 for vegetables totaling 17,000, or 9,000 if you take off the entry since that was paid the day before and we already caught 2 fish the day before). Good deal. It was pretty good, I still liked grilled the best. I’ll be off fish again for awhile (we’ll see how long that lasts i Korea…)

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After we tried the sweet food they had: grilled rice cake on a stick with honey. Pretty good, but still not as sweet as my American taste-buds would like. I liked it more than I though I would have though.

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As for the night….

There is a World Winter Cities Plaza which probably would have been better during the day, but we ended up there at dusk. The 3D art area was really small so we did not want to pay 5,000 entry. There was also a 4D ride which had a huge line filled with children, so I guess it was more for them. The Tea Event is what we really went to this Plaza for, but if there was tea to be given out it was no longer there at 6pm. There were outfits from different countries you could try on and pose with though–we did not because, well, what does that have to do with tea?

We then walked to Hope Lights Plaza which is a tower with an ice skating rink next to it. There were some people preforming at first, and later anyone was allowed on.

The Ice Illumination Plaza is where the ice sculpture were and they were huge! I’ve seen ice sculpture before but never this big! The was a Zodiac calendar, Terracotta Warriors, Andong Masks, statues and palaces from Seoul, the Taj Mahal, an Igloo, a dragon chair, the Sydney Opera house and so much more.

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