Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rick's Roadshow: Jeju Island, South Korea

Welcome to a new edition of Rick's Roadshow. I'm traveling parts of Asia on business, but as regular readers know I always bring a camera along to capture the interesting elements of my travels. My time in South Korea began on Jeju island, a subtropical island just off the coast of Korea. I flew here with my Korean business colleagues, who wanted me to see a different side of their country. As I have limited time for blogging on this trip, the commentary may be limited, so I'll jump right into the photos. The above photos are an interesting natural wonder, of sorts. These rocks along the coast have a naturally formed hexagon shape, and are a major tourist attraction here. Quite fascinating.
As you move along the cost, it is normal to see tiny fisherman (and fisher-women too) hauling in a variety of shellfish, and selling them along the coast. My travel guides were locals who knew the area quite well. I was intrigued to see a tiny woman in a diving suit busy, with a set of bowls, several cutting boards, a knife and buckets of sea water scurrying back and forth. As I approached, she was shouting at me in Korean and pointing the various bowls, each containing a live creature from the sea that was unknowingly still moving around in a tiny plastic bowl, ready to be sold.
I was fascinated by all the activity. She never stopped working, just because we walked up. Then she did something that made my eyes pop out of my head. She quickly began cutting up one of the ugliest shells and forcing out the creature from within. She removed the guts, and super gross parts, and splashed some sea water on the remains to "clean the meat".
I looked at all the various bowls, buckets and boxes- there were many. I tried to recollect my Marine Biology course back the fall of 1990, but to no avail. I couldn't recognize a single variety. To make myself feel better, I pretended that these must have been some local, Asian variety of shellfish so naturally, I couldn't be expected to recognize any of them. Well that made me feel better anyway, but I digress.
Then she started slicing up that one shell fish meat with her cutting board and knife. Again she splashed some sea water on the slices. Then in quick, jerky movements, grabbed a plastic plate, and a few bowls. She poured out some Korean red chili peper sauce (from an old water bottle I might add), and whipped out a pair of wooden chop sticks. All was placed on a plastic table adjacent to her. My travel companions all ooed and ahhed, some money was exchanged and everyone dug into the plate of super-fresh mystery-shell fish meat on a dish. Now, for those of you who recall The Venetian Scare from a few years ago, know all too well that I have sworn off shellfish. So there was no way in hell I was going to eat this- never mind how it was prepared. I quickly (but politely) refused, citing my allergies to shellfish. It was, however a unique experience that I quite enjoyed watching. For the sake of time, here are a bunch of photos:
these "grandfather" statues are all over the island

Fish cakes- were actually a sweet treat made of a bean filling

"Medicine Fountain Temple"

Tomorrow I'll share some photos of a day cruise we took around the Jeju Island, with some beautiful photos of the rock islands and coast line. I hope you will be able to return again, tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

Oh Rick, that island is so beautifule! Thanks for taking us along.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

very interesting rick. charlie was stationed there for a year but i couldn't go because the kids were little and there were no schools for them there. keep posting!

smiles, bee

kenju said...

I know very little about Korea, so I enjoyed seeing the photos.

KathyA said...

Not sure I would have eaten it either -- but the bean cakes looked good!!

Marvelous pics, Rick!

Cheryl said...

What an amazing place. I love the rocks! Thanks for taking us along. I can't wait to see Beijing.

Desert Songbird said...

Those coastal photos are amazing. If I had not known you were in South Korea, I would have guessed you were either in Great Britain somewhere or maybe even Greece. Wow.


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