Jason and I volunteered for him to go to South Korea for one year--without me!--so that we would have our choice of "follow-on" assignments; it's how we got to Italy. I went and visited him in South Korea twice for a month each time. This photo is from my first visit, during August. I would not recommend South Korea in August. But then I'm from Oregon where humidity is a foreign concept (in Oregon humidity falls from the sky and is called rain).
In any event, while Jason was in South Korea that pesky SARS virus was floating around Asia so we weren't permitted to leave the country. Our plans to visit Thailand were foiled, but we did get to travel all over South Korea, which is gorgeous. Whoooooo, baby, I mean gorgeous! It is a beautiful, beautiful country, with wonderful food and kindhearted, helpful people and scenery to die for and out-of-this-world shopping and and and... I love it there. I would love to go back some day.
One of my favorite things about South Korea is just how different it is from America. And this meal that we're having in the above photo is a perfect example. Please forgive my posture, I was trying to lean in for the photo and also I was slighly preoccupied with what was about to happen, which I think you will understand in just a moment. We were in Pusan (or Busan, depending on which map you look at or where you look), which is on the southeastern shore of the South Korean mainland. Jason had been there before and was dying to take me.
So we wander down to the waterfront and into this huge circus-tent type building which is just a huge fishmarket, with stall after stall of aquariums with live fish and other sea creatures. Jason finds the vendor he went to before (because he speaks English and is nice) and proceeds to show me all the fish in the tank and starts ordering different things to try--rockfish, octopus, squid, huge tiger shrimp. And the guy reaches into the tanks with a net, pulls each thing out, chops it up lightning-quick, and serves it to us raw on a plate. Can't get much fresher than that!
Now, here is my favorite part. The octupus was still moving on the plate. So we picked up the wriggling parts with chopsticks, dipped it into the sauce--which was convenient because the wriggling ensured that the piece was coated--and then ate it. We learned quickly that you had to bite into it right away, otherwise the tentacles would latch onto your teeth or tongue. Yup.
A bit after this photo was taken a nice Japanese man who saw us there bought us a sea urchin to try, which is apparently a real delicacy. They crack it in half and all of the spines are still moving while you spoon out the insides and eat it straight. It was even weirder than the octopus, but being that it was a gift--and we were representing America!--we ate it up and thanked the man graciously. :)
There's so much more I want to say about South Korea, so expect more SK Favorite Photos on future Fridays! :)