Saturday, August 10, 2013

how to get to jeonju

I was in charge of navigating from Seoul to Jeonju City. There's actually a lot of information on the interweb about it. Maybe too much. After sifting through it all, I decided that we should take the bus at Seoul's Express Bus Terminal because it was the safest bet. Buses to Jeonju leave every ten minutes from 5:30AM onwards.

But first, I had to get us from our hotel to Express Bus Terminal via subway. From our starting point, Myeongdong Station, we had to switch lines at the next stop, Chungmoro. I'm embarrassed to say that we got on the wrong train there. What can I say? It was way too early in the morning for me to be 100% coherent and I'm not used to herding a group of people who all want to go in different directions.

Anyway, after 13 stops (instead of nine) we made it to the Express Bus Terminal subway station. I knew that we were supposed to exit at "Honam Line", but somehow it was not that easy to find. After running around like headless chickens for a minute or so, we asked a nice lady who pointed us in the right direction.

And then we were inside the actual bus terminal. It was the nicest bus station I'd ever been in.

Our bus was departing at 9:20AM from Platform 9 which was clearly marked.

The trip takes about two hours and 45 minutes, and our tickets cost 18,700 won (about US$17) per person.

After about an hour on the road, we made a short stopover at a service area.

Friday, August 9, 2013

everybody loves paris baguette

The secret to maintaining harmony when traveling with a group is to have (somewhat) similar likes and dislikes. For the Kimchi Clique, our hands-down number one "like" was Paris Baguette.

Paris Baguette is the most popular boulangerie in Korea with stores virtually everywhere-- more than 3,000! When we saw one on Taejo Road in Jeonju City, we all went kinda nuts. It looked like my idea of heaven. And it smelled so, so good.

It was the only place where we could get coffee at 9AM. No kidding, all the cute little cafés in Hanok Village were still closed until lunch time.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

the girls visit gyeonggi-jeon

Gyeonggi-jeon a.k.a. Gyeonggi Palace a.k.a. Gyeonggi Shrine a.k.a. Historic Site Number 339 is the centerpiece of Hanok Village in Jeonju City. We found a couple of cute guys at the entrance.

Naturally, we had to take a photo.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

DIY jeonju walking tour, part two

Hanok Village (see previous post) is actually just a tiny part of Jeonju City. I really wish that I could have explored more, but I only had 26 hours. Inclusive of the six hours that I set aside for my beauty sleep and the five hours I spent stuffing my face, that didn't leave a lot of time for getting to know Jeonju. The city has at least four traditional markets, numerous parks and nature trails, a massive football stadium, and they even hold an international film festival every April. Lots of reasons to go back.

I was very happy with the location of our accommodations, Jeonju Guest House, because the must-sees were easily accessible by walking. A couple of blocks away was Dongmun Culture Street which is the quirky, artsy side of Jeonju. Too bad we only saw it after dinner on 16 July 2012 and at breakfast time the next morning, when most of the shops and cafés were closed. It reminded me a bit of Haji Lane in Singapore (which I blogged about here and here) but bigger, badder and more wonderfully chaotic.

Monday, August 5, 2013

DIY jeonju walking tour, part one

From the UNESCO website: The city of Jeonju, Republic of Korea has been appointed as the fourth UNESCO City of Gastronomy in May 2012. The nomination recognizes the city's undertaking of tangible measures to safeguard its culinary heritage, promote its local food and culture in an integrated manner. It demonstrates excellence in culinary infrastructure with many unique gastronomic assets and resources promoted through the various food festivals and vibrant local traditional markets.

So now do you understand why I had to go there?

But besides the food, the city itself is very interesting. Because we could stay for one night only, we spent most our time within Hanok Village which is famous for its traditional Korean architecture.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

nomming @ nambu market

Readers of this blog-- I believe that there are two or three now-- know that my favorite thing in any new place I visit is the market. And the more unusual the merchandise, the more inscrutable the vendors, in short the more local the market, the more I like it.

Because our time in Jeonju was so short, I chose to go to Nambu Market. It's the oldest traditional market in the city and the closest to Hanok Village where our guesthouse was located. It was already late in the afternoon when we got there, and most of the stalls were closed or winding down for the day. Still, I was able to catch a little whiff of local flavor.

Friday, August 2, 2013

eating bibimbap in jeonju

Jeonju City is an up and coming travel destination in the North Jeolla Province of South Korea, south of the capital Seoul. It's not very well-known yet among international tourists and travelers, but those who've heard about it know that Jeonju = bibimbap. Which is why I couldn't leave without eating it.

Jeonju-style bibimbap, served with clear bean sprout soup and assorted banchan.

We were in Jeonju for a measly 26 hours. The truth is, I can't eat as much and as often as I used to. So for any food trip, I have to plan my meals carefully. I have an eating itinerary, so to speak. My companions were talking about going back to Seoul early to have more time for shopping, but I hadn't eaten my bibimbap yet! Thank gadness we decided to stay for lunch on 17 July 2013.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

eating kongnamul gukbap in jeonju

After the 30-dish hanjeongsik (see previous post), the next thing that I had to eat in Jeonju City was kongnamul gukbap. I was armed with a list of restaurants that specialize in it, but I quickly realized that it was useless since hardly any signages were in English.

Luckily, it turned out that Dongmun Culture Street, just a five-minute stroll from our guesthouse, was Kongnamul Gukbap Central. There were three specialty restaurants within spitting distance of one another, and they were all open 24 hours a day. We chose the biggest one. I don't know its name, but the cute bean sprouts on the neon sign seemed a happy harbinger.

Yez, kongnamul gukbap is soybean sprout soup with rice. Doesn't sound very appetizing, but I was assured by the interweb that it was well worth the trip to Jeonju just to eat it. It was a very cheap breakfast for only 6,000 won (US$5.30) per order. There were seven of us sharing three orders, so it was around US$2.25 per person.

eating hanjeongsik in jeonju

It took a four hour flight from Manila to Incheon, an hour on the Airport Railroad Express (AREX) and the Seoul Metropolitan Subway, about five hours of sleep at a hotel in Myeong-dong, thirty minutes on the subway again the next morning, and finally, three hours on the bus to get to Jeonju City.

An epic journey deserves to end with an epic meal. Behold the famed (and rightly so) hanjeongsik. My lunch on 16 July 2013.

Each table d'hôte set was good for four diners. There were eight of us and so we ordered two sets, around 60 dishes in all. Half of them were banchan such as cabbage kimchi and eggplant smeared with gojuchang...

While the other half came in bigger plates and could be considered mains.