Monday, December 15, 2008

South Korea 2008

These photos were taken from my trip to South Korea in November/December 2008. I had about 10 days on the entire trip. The main objective of this particular expedition to the far east was to meet up with my little brother Dusty, who had just recently landed himself a teaching job in Seoul. However, I was able to turn what was a routine family visit into a nice little trek along South Korea's east coast. South Korea unfortunately gets a little overlooked by travelers when coming to this region as opposed to Japan and China. However, South Korea has plenty to offer travelers of all types.
After a rather arduous flight on Qatar Airways that went all the way form Abu Dhabi to Doha and then to Seoul, via Osaka – I finally arrived at Korea's Incheon International Airport. Dusty and I immediately headed off to Busan – South Korea's largest southern port. Our main reason for coming to Busan was to go shark diving in the Busan Aquarium on Hae-undae beach, where you can walk amongst giant gray nurse sharks, sand tiger sharks, lemon sharks, leopard sharks, and white tip reef sharks, as well as giant grouper and sea turtles . After Busan, Dusty and I headed up to Gyeongju- the old capital of Korea's illustrious Shilla Kingdom.
After parting with Dusty in Gyeongju, I made my way up along South Korea's northeast coast where I visited the country's finest hiking ground, Seoraksan National Park and Samcheok - where I made the side trips to the coastal resort of Jeongdongjin, the magnificent limestone cave of Hwanseon Donggul and stared in disbelief at the phallic monuments of Haesindang Gong-won park in Sinnam. Dusty and I met up again in Seoul where we ventured to the city's highlights: Changdeokgung Palace, N'Seoul Tower, Inwangsan mountain and the Insadong shopping district. We also took the USO's DMZ tour and took a couple of steps inside North Korean territory – an absolute must for geopolitical-aficionados.
It's not just the sites and activities that makes South Korea such an intriguing destination but Korea's got quite a unique cuisine. Hanjeongsik is the full-course Korean meal which includes rice, soups, meats, vegetable dishes and kimchi-the soured cabbage that has become Korea's staple dish. However, those brave enough may want to explore some of Korea's off the beaten track dishes. Dog is of course the most notorious of these dishes. However, it can actually be quite tasty – like a very lean beef. The same can't be said for steamed silkworm, which are sold in packs near the smoked almonds. My advice is to stay far away from these.
The most deadliest dish we consumed in Korea was blowfish. This highly toxic fish can cause fatalities if not served right but it's also a delicacy in these parts. We found a restaurant in Busan that specialized in pufferfish and I must say it was absolutely delicious! Squid is consumed at an alarming rate in South Korea – almost in a similar way as french fries are back in the States. Dried squid is sold everywhere; however, the biggest surprise must have been the squid-sashimi in Sokcho. Although cut up into pieces, the squid is still alive and moving, with its suction-cupped tentacles still fully functioning when you pop them in your mouth... one of the many 'Korea-only' experiences this country offers!
To view more photos from this trip, check the main website:

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