Golden Birthday in Korea

So happy!

Lucky me, I got to spend my Golden Birthday in Korea! It was memorable…

The first person to wish me a Happy Birthday was my brother, Zach, who is stationed in Afghanistan right now. He and I started talking on Skype around 11:30pm and didn’t get off the computer till about 1:30am. Love and miss you, bro. Get home safe!

That afternoon, I met my friend, Michelle,  to buy yarn at Dongdaemun market. I taught her how to knit the night before so we were all excited to get some cool yarns to knit with. Believe it or not, I have whittled down the stash my mom sent me a few months ago. 😉 When we got there, unfortunately, most of the shops in the market were closed and there were definitely no yarn shops open at all. Maybe because it was Sunday…? It worked out okay because Michelle suggested another fun adventure…

Off to  Hwehwa we went. Michelle took Mike and me to the Filipino market (yes, there is one here!) and introduced us to some new foods. It was yummy!  I had a coconut drink that tasted like ice cream. I think it’s young coconut juice mixed with ice and sweetened condensed milk.  Mike had some pancit (rice noodles) with chicken and I went for some lumpia (similar to a taquito) with vinegar and onion dipping sauce.  I was surprised when I tried what looked like a fish cake but it ended up being a slice of fat. Very soft and chewy.

Stews and pink salted shrimp condiment (on the right)

Being from Guam, a lot of the cuisine was familiar to me. I had banana lumpia, noodles, and was really torn about getting some egg (custard) pie. I was pretty full by then. At the market, I saw something familiar, I had forgotten the name but knew it was a salty fermented shrimp condiment. I told Michelle how my folks liked the pink salted shrimp stuff, which she also happens to love. I remember trying it as a kid and spitting it out because I thought it was disgusting. I tried it again and I guess my taste buds have changed because it wasn’t so bad. It tasted like some of the Korean food I have for lunch at school. Fishy.  I wouldn’t buy it but at least I could eat it this time.  Mike liked it.

Enjoying our food at the market

It was pretty funny that the vendors didn’t know which language to use when speaking with us. They started with Korean, then moved to Tagalog and then finally, English.  Amazing that they can do all three!!

Afterwards, Mike and I went to church and then met up with some friends for dinner. My absolute favorite food that I could eat every single day is Vietnamese pho. While it’s not exactly like what I’m used to back home, 쌀국수 (salguksoo) at Paris Hanoi comes pretty close. It’s a small restaurant that is famous for its pho (with a Korean twist).

How is pho different in Korea? For starters, it’s not as flavorful. It doesn’t hit the palate hard with flavors of basil,  clove, and cilantro. One of the most disappointing things for me is that they don’t serve pho with (thai) basil. If you know me, I’m usually just chewing on the basil leaves before getting my soup and then putting a whole clump in my broth. Another thing, limes are pretty much nonexistent here in Korea, so pho is served with lemon. Kinda weird but you get used to it.  Either way, Paris Hanoi is the place to get pho when in Seoul in my humble opinion. If someone knows of a better place, please tell!

After pho my friends and I had drinks at Zan bar, they sang Happy Birthday to me, and then we had cake. Actually it was more like this: my friend Cherish said, “We need a cake! Eh, excuse me, let me run out for a second. I-uh, think I’m getting a call…” The opposite of subtlety…Lol… So a couple of my sweet friends brought back a delicious and cute chocolate cake. Fun times. Oh yeah, they made me do a speech! I feel so grown up now, making birthday speeches and all.

Thanks to my hubby and friends, I had a great birthday in Seoul. Turning 30 was not as traumatic as I anticipated. ^^ To all my friends who have yet to reach 30, it’s not that bad. To all my friends who are in their 30th decade or more, please feel free to share your pearls of wisdom in the comments below. Also, if you want to see more pictures check out the slideshow!

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