Last Monday was a national holiday because of Chusok (Harvest Moon Festival) the day before. Our K-friend Park Jung Sun invited us to do something (we weren't sure what before hand because we can't communicate very well in either language) at 11:00. She showed up with her grandmother, sister, niece and nephew, the last three who had lived in Vancouver for a couple of years, and so could communicate with us!
In our parking lot, we did introductions, grandma (who didn't live in Canada) said "Nice to meechuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu" and laughed and laughed and laughed, we gave them some pears, and we had a lengthy discussion about what foods we liked. They decided something and off we went to get lunch, except that, being a big holiday everything was closed. So after a half hour driving around Samcheok, we went 6km up the coast to the slightly larger town of Donghae, where they had heard a restaurant that would be good for us vegetarians would be open.
The restaurant was good for us, and it was good. The theme of the place had something to do with mineral water and dolsot (the hot stone pots). The lunch we were served was amazing:
[Click on the picture to get a better view of what we were served.] That's a fish, a whole pike, I'm working on with my chopsticks there, and it really is hard work. (We're really more pescaterian than vegetarian.)
We were served rice (cooked with yams, pine nuts and a jujube) in little hot stone pots. After scooping the rice into a bowl, we poured hot water into the pots, covered them and set them aside. After the meal we went back to those pots, which then had hot water and rice that was simultaneously mushy and crispy coming off the sides. We drank the water and ate the crispy-mushy rice. It was delicious, and apparently good for health and digestion. We were also served some sort of cinnamon tea, with a single pine nut floating in the middle of each cup, that tasted incredibly good.
After lunch we were asked if we wanted to go shopping. I told them I was excited to go to E Mart (the biggest department store within an hour of our apartment). So we walked around town for a while:
We shopped for shoes for the kids and went "eye shopping" in the fancy Nike store and took lots of pictures:
We eventually went to E Mart, by which time everyone was pretty frazzled from trying to communicate across the language barrier, so we went shopping separately (and found cashews and unsweetened yogurt!), but not before Park Jung Sun, who is something of artist, took some arty shots:
It's always a treat to get to hang out with Koreans (especially since they have to struggle to speak our language, even though we are guests in their land). to get to hang out with a grandmother and a whole family and go to such a neat, traditional restaurant was really extra special. Happy Chusok everyone.