I can't even begin to tell you how exited writing this post makes me. I took well over 200 pictures! Now don't freak out on me. I will not make you guys suffer by posting all of them, but it WILL be a very long post. I HAAAAVE to share this place with you, it was amazing!
First of all, Mother's Day in Korea is celebrated on May 8th, and it's not really Mother's Day but Parents Day. That day S. came home with a beautiful box filled with Peonies (my very favorite ♥). As my clueless self usually is, I was completely unaware of this day so I was pleasantly surprised. So come next Sunday which happens to be US Mother's Day I was not expecting anything at all. (actually I'm never expecting anything to begin with, not because I'm an all goodie-goodie girl, but because as you know, I can NEVER remember any special dates... : (
S. goes for a run and gives me a call to get the kids ready because he rented a car so we could go on a drive for Mother's Day. Whaaaaattt!!! Y yo como casi-casi no soy andariega'... Road trip!!!!!
So we headed towards the North side of South Korea to a city called Paju.
Paju is a city in Gyeonggi Province. It's about 40 minutes from Seoul by car and you drive along the Imjingang River through a road that's called the "Jayuro Road of Freedom". This river flows from North Korea trough the DMZ and down to South Korea. This drive left me with quite the impression as trough the whole drive you are on a road that's lined with barb wire and guarded military posts like every 300 meters. It felt as if you were entering some sort of a prison town. To me, this was pretty intense stuff!
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I guess they are for protecting the South from Northern invasions. Or maybe from crazy swimmers that try to cross the river to come to the south.
I'll tell you something... it's the first time since we moved here, that I felt and realized I was living on a Country that could go into War at any given point.
I hope it never happens...
More on this feeling later, because on our way there we saw a sign for a place called "English Village" and you know, I haaad to see what it was! : )
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Now, I don't know if people actually live here, but there are houses. I do know it's an English School during the week. To me it felt a little bit like an amusement park, a British themed one.
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& we got to ride on a railbike, wich totally made Markus' day.
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Actually just walking on the dirt/gravel trail and looking at a real track made him happy... "dito" he's a city boy... : P
Me... not so much as you can see... Someone's gonna be ready to head back as soon as this ride is over!
Just kiding, it was motorized! hehe... Although I did think up until the last minute I had to pedal. S. loooooves messing with me like that. Since I can't understand anything they say.
And you go around a small tour of the town-like village.
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Marky was so happy...
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Even though there wasn't much to do, it was fun to walk around, look at the shops and of course take pictures.
And we had lunch there... hotdogs and fish & chips.
& now what we came for...
We left the English Village to go find what we came to see. The Heyri Art Valley in Paju is another town like village. It's hidden in a valley filled with art galleries, cafes, book shops and film studios. If you are familiar with Korean Dramas (if you are not, you should...they are goooood!!!), well the Seoul Action School of the Drama Secret Garden was filmed here.
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Heyri is an experiment on ecologically friendly architecture, design and urban planing.
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Whaaaat.... One of my pictures of the weekend won me a spot on instagrams blog on this weekends hashtag project, streetartistry... I was sooo exited when I saw my picture made it out of over 12,000 others... I know it's silly, but I'm sooo into these hashtag projects! I look forward to my weekend hashtag adventures! : )
Yes, instagram is my new addiction...
There's lots of great little shops with handmade goods..
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& we got some street snacks for the road...
They tasted like waffles filled with melted whipped cream... tasty little fellas! : )
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There was also a Trick Art Museum. We had soooo much fun here! I will do a post on this later, as there are just too many pictures. : )
I was thinking this was it, but my dear S. had a Grand Finale planned for the perfect day!
He wanted to take me to a very famous eel restaurant, (the town is known for specializing in this dish).
✳✳✳ Do you guys remember what I've told you a couple of times before... If not, I'll remind you before I continue. I am NOT Andrew Zimmern or Anthony Bourdain. But... I am getting much better with trying new things! I'm becoming quite the foodie here! : )
To get there we had to drive trough the DMZ. The Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land that serves as buffer between North and South Korea. It cuts the Korean Peninsula in half.
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& trough some amaaaaaizing rice fields...
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I love this picture. The color, the sunset, the field, the fogginess, the lady & the bike at the end... like a movie...
I was blessed with a BIG imagination!
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We arrived at the Imjingak Unification Park, so we could take a look at the North and the Bridge of Freedom.
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The Bridge to Freedom. Taking in the view... It's hard to believe that such peaceful looking and feeling place has such a turbulent past.
No matter how serene this place may seem, the constant reminders of "what could be" can change the mood in an instant. The sign says: "DO NOT COME CLOSE. DO NOT TAKE PICTURES". I read this after I took the picture, and after I did, I ran to the car... hehehe....: P
We arrived at the Restaurant, I think called "Bangujeong Naruteo Jip"... More info. on it here, but if you need to translate because this site is in Korean. : (
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As I got of the car, the barbecue smell made my stomach talk...
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And as soon as I entered this place, I knew I was in for a truly amazing and authentic experience.
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The structure of the restaurant itself was like an upgraded version of what would be a traditional Korean restaurant. The indoor sitting areas are divided in private sections. We were guided across these rooms, towards the back to the outdoor sitting area.
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And you walk by these ladies that are grilling the eel out in the open.
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I felt as if I was entering a picnic area...
One thing you should keep in mind when you come to Korea, "don't come with missed matched socks, or if you are a girl remember to do a pedicure!!! (sorry for my ugly feet). You always have to take your shoes off. : )
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Stealing a private moment...
Whether it was someones birthday or sending their kid off to the Army, (Army is mandatory for all boys in Korea) families come here to commemorate special occasions. I was so happy, I felt like toasting with them! : )
|Bangujeong Naruteo Jip|
Then two young men come bringing a whole table with our food!
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This is how a typical Korean dinner table is set. You are given a bowl of white rice, kimchi, radish soup (tastes like vinegar) and side dishes of veggies that compliment the main course.
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And the grilled eel comes...
What makes this dish special, is that these eels caught in the river here are supposed to be specially meaty & delicious, as they come from sweet water. It's said that they are good for when you need a little more stamina, are feeling down, blood circulation or to increase apetite.
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& meaty they were...
S. giving us the prep. instructions. "A little rice, some fresh ginger and a piece of the eel.
|Bangujeong Naruteo Jip|
I won't pretend...
I do not like green eggs and ham....
I kinda' was secretly imagining this table filled with "tostones", "mofongo relleno" (stuff some of this eel inside a mofongo, and I probably would have liked it more) and "arroz guisado" claro!!! ohhh...I miss you "Mi Viejo San Juan"...
You know what they say; "you can take the girl out of Puerto Rico, but you can't take Puerto Rico out of the girl"... : )
|Bangujeong Naruteop Jip|
Even tough eel is not my thing, I would TOTALLY recomend and I will ABSOLUTLY bring anyone that visits me here. The athmosphere, the place, the lights, the people... The building and the feeling of peace it gives you. Tradition keeps this place running and tradition made us have an amaaaaazing authentic dinner experience.
|Bangujeong Naruteo Jip|
To think that as I'm havin the best time on this side, right behind me is the barbed wired fence and the lives of many other's that suffer.
Maybe one day... here, there, "en el Caribe", we will all have peace...
After this looong day I was so looking forward to our dear city, as I know you must be looking forward to me ending this post! hehehehe... No worries it's over!
To be continued... : )