Well, Well, Well…Will Wonders Never Cease?

25 08 2008
Ian August, 2008 


Ian August, 2008


It’s official. Ian has a provisional driver’s license. He passed his road test about an hour ago. I haven’t heard the details yet, because, of course, he’s not home.

The tables are already turned. He called to let me know he passed and immediately proceeded to ask me if I was planning to “go out” tonight. I wasn’t sure what he was asking at first. He had to explain that if I’m not planning to use the car, then he wants to borrow it. Figures! I need to be very busy from now on. Don’t be surprised when I call to see if you’d like to get together.

OR, if someone would like to donate to Ian’s car and insurance fund, I’m sure he’ll be very grateful. Any disused car with trillions of miles will do…it just needs to pass inspection.

Happy Birthday, Ian


Photos from Korea

11 08 2008
Mermaids of Jeju Island, South Korea 


Mermaids of Jeju Island, South Korea


After 10 hours of sorting and uploading, the bulk of my photos from my trip to Seoul are up on my smugmug page. I didn’t have time to edit much or add a lot of description, but you can get a view of our experience. The coolest photos, in my opinion, are the ones I snatched of the women who dive for fish and shellfish without scuba equipment. They are known as Haenyeo or Mermaids of Jeju. They train themselves to dive up to 20 meters below the surface without the use of any breathing apparatus. 

Sadly, they are an aging lot. I believe the average age of the remaining Haenyeo is 60+ years. Not enough young women are interested in taking up the dangerous profession. It takes guts to fend off sharks and subject your body to such demanding activity. 

The ladies I encountered on the way back to my hotel were a lively wizened crew. They chatted spiritedly among themselves as a photographer was setting up his gear. Although I couldn’t understand the language, I could tell they are a closely knit community. The tone and pace of their repartee reminded me of the Ya-Ya Sisters.

P.S. The reason these photos are so special to me is that I don’t believe the Haenyeo are a normal part of the tourist experience. I got up at 5:15 am one morning hoping to catch the sunrise on Jungmun beach near the Lotte Hotel. I was 20 minutes too late for that but right on time for the divers.

Kimchi This and Kimchi That

3 08 2008

So here in South Korea, you can eat just about everything with kimchi. Or, rather, kimchi is served with and in just about everything. I had kimchi dumplings for lunch today. Take your basic steamed dumpling and put kimchi in it and, voila! Kimchi dumplings. You get kimchi pancakes, kimchi in your noodle soup, kimchi eggs, kimchi casserole, roasted kimchi, boiled kimchi, cold kimchi, hot kimchi…you name it, it’s got kimchi. Although, I must confess that I have not had any kimchi cake or ice cream or candy…although I’m wondering now how a high quality 70% bittersweet chocolate would balance the spiciness of high quality kimchi in a chocolate truffle….hmmm, maybe something to try at home?

I Haven’t Met a Korean Food I Didn’t Like

1 08 2008

Wow. We’ve been eating so well here in Seoul. Traditional Korean cuisine is fast becoming my favorite of all time. The breadth and depth of the dishes is astonishing. Plus, I don’t think Koreans let any edible flora go to waste.

Tonight’s dinner was at a traditional Korean restaurant where everything, at least all the flora, served at the restaurant is produced ORGANICALLY within an hour’s drive of Seoul on a farm owned by the restauranteers. The menu included exotic delicasies such as cockscomb, bellflower, chickweed, violet, whitlow grass, shepherd’s purse, mulberry tree shoot, lily root, dandelion, common sow thistle, azalea, and hyssop.

I took notes and pictures, which I’ll post when I have better high speed access. For now, let me assure you that it was a fabulous meal, not in just the cuisine, but the presentation as well. We sat on the floor at low pine tables. All the food was served on custom hand made pottery which was stunningly beautiful. The walls were papered with traditional Korean paper which includes real flowers. The setting was rustic. We traversed a rutted dirt road, passing by lush vegetable plants loaded with eggplant, zucchini, onion, squash, etc.

Ahhhh…I was in epiciurean heaven…I think I’ll go to bed now and dream of kimchi.