{Travel} Chapter 4 Seoul: Food for the soul

And so we arrived in Sokcho, a quiet town overlooking the majestic Seoraksan, northeast of South Korea. The place is renowned not only for the beautiful mountains but also for the many hot springs. After a few days in the bustling Seoul, Sokcho seemed somewhat quiet and unassuming.

We headed to our favourite E-mart and lo and behold we spotted GIANT boxes of cereal, sending my heart aflutter.

I digress.

We woke up the next morning to a beautiful sunrise and downed motion-sickness shots in anticipation of our adventure for the day. We’re going on a fishing boat ride.

We arrived at the harbour a tad too early so we went exploring. The place was scattered with people sorting out catch and mending nets. If anyone is familiar with Korean dramas, a scene of the very old school ‘Autumn in My Heart’ was shot aboard the mini ferry whereby the operator relies on manual strength to drag the floating vessel to the other side of the bank. Tough job indeed.

Not long afterwards, we hopped onto the bright red boat and made our way towards the sea. Looking back towards the shoreline, I could see smatterings of buildings through the slight mist. A breathtaking sight, especially where land meets sea. After 20 minutes out into the sea, the captain of the boat and a friend of his got into diving suits, slapped on equipment and backflipped into the water.

While waiting for the men to return, we had Gopchang to fill up our time and our bellies. Gopchang are pork intestines cooked with potato slices and sweet onion, served with coarse sea salt for dipping. Oh the collagen!

About 30 minutes after the dive, the first of the divers returned with their goodies. We were immensely fascinated with the squiggly and slimy octopus, perpetually attempting to escape.

Other catch included conch shells, fish and some type of spongy unidentified sea creatures. The fish was immediately scaled, washed and sliced to make sashimi.

Of course, the fish was wonderfully fresh. Now I know how it feels to have a taste of something that was just alive a minute ago. Glorious and sweet. We had the sashimi, Korean style, with a garlicky chili paste. Another gem we managed to have was fresh conch. It tasted of the salty sea and slightly sweet with a chewy, crunchy texture. The captain claimed that it’s good for the skin. For the Koreans, it seems that everything is good for one thing or another. If it’s true, I really wouldn’t mind popping a few more too as it is really easy to stomach. We rounded up the meal with a giant pot of Shin Ramyun. Steaming, bubbling and spicy, it was perfect for filling up our happy bellies and warding off the cold. For a long time, we were happily slurping up bouncy noodles.

We spent three hours out at sea and had the experience of a lifetime. Diving men, rocky boat, wonderful food and great company. It was a very good day indeed. We ended the trip with hot coffee but that wasn’t the end of the day. Yet.