South Korea (1) – Rainy Days in Daegu

It’s the third day since we’ve been in Daegu and it’s been raining almost constantly, making it impossible to do any activities.

Not that Daegu has much to offer anyway. Apart from some hikes in the mountains that are close by but unreachable under the pouring rain, Daegu is the the city where nothing really happens. There are a couple of temples (but out of the city), some small museums whose explanations are only in Korean, some parks and a lot of restaurants, pubs and cafes. There’s even a street that’s called “Cafe Street” where coffee shops and Western-style restaurants line up.

But I did discover a fascinating place for spending these rainy days: the markets.

Seomun Market is one of them. One of Korea’s three largest markets, Seomun has been famous for its textile and sewn items (Daegu being known as the ‘Textile City” , though in the past years the textile industry shrank). But actually I’ve been more fascinated with the food you can find here.

The food stalls crammed in the narrow alleys display anything from seeds and colorful fruit and vegetables , delicious mochi sweets to more heavy things such as pork intestines or cooked silk worms (Beondegil).IMG_20140806_142112IMG_20140806_150418IMG_20140806_150509IMG_20140806_144929

The mochi sweets have various color in Korea, unlike Japan where they are usually white, brown or green. While also filled with red bean pasta, they are sweeter than in Japan and less soft.

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The cooked silk worms are a really popular snack in Korea (they are high in protein and low in fat :)). You can find them even at convenience stores or buy them live and prepare them yourself. I consider myself quite adventurous when it comes to trying new food but I admit that worms or other insects are a really big barrier. So far.

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But a delicious and safe thing is the ‘hotteok’ – a very popular street food. It is a deep-fried pancake filled with brown sugar, honey, cinnamon and nuts. It just tastes divine!

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We still have two more (and looong) days to spend in Daegu….with the rain and no attractions around I might be reconsidering trying the silk worms. At least it’s something exciting :).

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Welcome to Hong Kong, the Tropical New York with Scrumptious Fluffy Buns

I knew I had to visit HK when my sister bluntly told me she was not that impressed with New York. It turned out her New York was actually Hong Kong, where she had worked as a French teacher.

At first, I thought HK was like a tropical version of New York. The same vibrant atmosphere, full of light, movement and with surprising details at every step. Like when we bumped into a flock of flamingos quietly relaxing in the middle of a park in Kowloon. Or when we stumbled upon run-down food stalls, selling the most delicious street goodies right next to shiny glass skyscrapers and shopping malls.

Hong Kong, perfect food, travel in Hong Kong, ideas in Hong Kong, interesting stuff to do in Hong Kong, dim sum, delicious asian food

Hong Kong, perfect food, travel in Hong Kong, ideas in Hong Kong, interesting stuff to do in Hong Kong, parks Hong Kong

Food is one of the greatest things in HK. It’s so delicious and cheap, and you never seem to get enough of it. All kinds of strange sea creatures (the only one we were able to identify was octopus), deep fried tofu and peppers, caramelized potatoes. I’d prefer thus stuff to a fancy restaurant any day.  Oh well, unless you’re talking about the delicious pork buns at Tim Ho Wan. This is one of the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world, selling dim sum in the shopping mall at Central Station. The buns really are to die for. Crispy, yet fluffy, and they melt to perfection in your mouth. It’s like the Ferrari of all the pork buns in the Universe, except for the price tag.

Soon after our New York-esque experience, we arrived in a completely different milieu. We stayed at a very funny guesthouse (Peace Hostel) in a huge maze of a building, inhabited mostly by Indian immigrants. So ten feet away from the cosmopolitan Nathan Street, there we were, back in India. The same persistent smell of curry mixed with paan, peddlers offering you all kinds of unusual things (like tailored suits?!), bowls of palak paneer and sugar loaded sweets. So many memories and sensations from our trip to India came back like a boomerang.

A few things I loved most in Hong Kong:

  • Hiking through the forest to the Giant Buddha statue on Lantau Island

Hong Kong, perfect food, travel in Hong Kong, ideas in Hong Kong, interesting stuff to do in Hong Kong, parks Hong Kong , Giant Buddha, hikes Hong Kong, dim-sum

Hong Kong, perfect food, travel in Hong Kong, ideas in Hong Kong, interesting stuff to do in Hong Kong, parks Hong Kong , Giant Buddha, hikes Hong Kong, dim-sum

  • Scrumptious bakeries everywhere. I am now a lifelong fan of green tea pastries and puffy sponge cakes. There was a bakery on Mody Road where people would queue up for hours before opening time. We never had the patience to stay in line, though.

Hong Kong, perfect food, travel in Hong Kong, asian cakes, ideas in Hong Kong, interesting stuff to do in Hong Kong, delicious food Hong Kong, dim-sum, asian food

  • Wandering through the many open markets, bargaining for every trifle. We bought a few small kitschy Buddha carvings, and when I asked about what their various facial expressions meant, the lady kept pointing at them and shouting: ‘Happy’, ‘Lucky’, ‘Money’, ‘Happy’, ‘Lucky’…
  • Strolling through the lush parks ( Hong Kong park, Kowloon Walled City park, Botanical Garden)

Hong Kong, perfect food, travel in Hong Kong, ideas in Hong Kong, interesting stuff to do in Hong Kong, parks Hong Kong

Hong Kong, perfect food, travel in Hong Kong, ideas in Hong Kong, interesting stuff to do in Hong Kong, delicious food Hong Kong, dim-sum, asian food

  • The magical Dundas & Temple Streets near Mong Kok, where just looking at the throngs of passers-by is a show in itself. Oh, and the Dai-Pai-Dong which is an open-air stall, serving delicious food. There are only 28 such stalls left in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, perfect food, travel in Hong Kong, ideas in Hong Kong, interesting stuff to do in Hong Kong, delicious food Hong Kong, dim-sum, asian food, not to miss in Hong Kong

Hong Kong, perfect food, travel in Hong Kong, ideas in Hong Kong, interesting stuff to do in Hong Kong, delicious food Hong Kong, dim-sum, asian food, not to miss in Hong Kong

  •  Going up through a misty cemetery and down to Big Wave Beach, the most peculiar hike I’ve done in a long time. It ends in a tranquil surfing village, so disconnected from the rest of HK.

Hong Kong, perfect food, travel in Hong Kong, ideas in Hong Kong, interesting stuff to do in Hong Kong, delicious food Hong Kong, not to miss in Hong Kong, hidden things Hong Kong, hikes Hong Kong

Hong Kong, perfect food, travel in Hong Kong, ideas in Hong Kong, interesting stuff to do in Hong Kong, delicious food Hong Kong, not to miss in Hong Kong, hidden things Hong Kong, hikes Hong Kong

  •  Of course, the view from Victoria Peak, which I guess is on every tourist’s to-do list

Hong Kong, perfect food, travel in Hong Kong, ideas in Hong Kong, interesting stuff to do in Hong Kong, delicious food Hong Kong, not to miss in Hong Kong, hidden things Hong Kong, hikes Hong Kong

And also, pies, buns, fluffy sponge cakes, mochi, bubble tea. I know I said this before, but the sweets are stronger than me­­.

Happy Hong Kong-ing!