Vegan Eats and Treats in Seoul: Baru Gongyang

Eating out in Seoul is a true delight, and a real treat for us since we’ve given up completely on eating out in Ulsan, the land of endless greasy Korean barbeque and fried chicken joints.

Our diets have changed completely since moving to Korea, due to a combination of factors, including price and availability of certain foods, and my outlook on the food industry has changed a lot since moving here.  Korea is a country OBSESSED with meat.  You can’t walk down a street without coming across posters depicting piles of raw beef and fatty strips of pork.  And, as you’d expect in a country where the consumption of dog and whale meat is still very prevalent, there really isn’t much in the way of animal welfare, or the humane treatment of animals.  Consequently, I’ve pretty much stopped eating meat and animal products entirely since moving here.  The only animal products I still consume are organic honey and sustainably wild-caught sardines, which I have shipped over from the US.

Eoin’s still a meat-eater, though he only buys Australian beef, as we’ve both been disconcerted by the fact that even though beef seems to be the staple of the modern Korean diet, we haven’t seen a single cow in any of the stretches of farmland we’ve driven past.  I’ve actually only seen two cows in Korea, harnessed into the back of a flatbed pick-up truck…

Thankfully, we were spoiled for choice with delicious vegan options in Seoul!

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Super Old Stuff in Gyeongju

We were looking for something new to do a few weekends ago, which can be a bit complicated and frustrating when you have to rely on public transport, but then we realized that the birthplace of the Silla Kingdom (Korea’s longest-reigning dynasty) is just a short 25 minute train ride away from Ulsan!

Gyeongju was the capital of the Silla Kingdom from 57 BC to AD 935, so it’s filled with super old stuff!

The most striking thing we noticed about Gyeongju’s landscape is the vast amount of perfectly rounded green hills:

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Tokyo! Part Two: Yoyogi Park, Ueno Park, and the National Museum

When we were preparing for our trip to Tokyo, I compiled a massive itinerary of stuff I wanted to see and do, which included about seven different parks.

I guess I didn’t realize just how HUUUGE Tokyo would be, though, because we only made it to two parks before totally running out of time.  Thankfully, the two parks we visited were well worth it.

We went to Ueno Park totally by fluke; we were changing lines at Ueno metro station while trying to get to Akihabara, when I noticed a sign for Ueno Park and decided to take a quick detour.  A quick detour which turned into a 3 hour-long excursion!

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Tokyo! Part One: Temples and Tanuki

So Eoin and I recently returned from a FABULOUS five-day excursion to Tokyo, and it totally exceeded our expectations.  We were pretty sure we were gonna like Tokyo, but we weren’t expecting to fall as completely in love with it as we did.  We took SO many photos that I’m going to have to spread them out over a few blog posts, starting with some of the beautiful temples and gardens we visited!

Entrance to the Meiji Shrine.

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Seoul Awesome! Part 2: Sanchon Temple Food in Insadong

Righty-o!  So, part two of our Seoul adventure took us to Insadong; this is the place to go if you want to buy Korean antiques and traditional crafts.  It’s a pretty tricky area to navigate, loads of tiny little streets and alleyways absolutely brimming with shops and restaurants.

Our main purpose for visiting Insadong was to find a reportedly amazing Buddhist temple food restaurant called Sanchon.  It took us a good while to find it after unsuccessfully following two different sets of directions I’d gotten off the internet.  The best way to find this place is to type the address into your phone and wander around staring at your Google map, trying not to bump into anyone in the process.

Sanchon is tucked away in one of Insadong’s many alleyways, but the hustle and bustle of the city completely vanishes as soon as you walk in the door.  It’s beautiful inside, with loads of Buddhist antiques, art, and hand-crafted souvenirs.

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Buddha’s Birthday in Busan!

So a couple weeks ago we had an awesome three-day weekend in S.Korea’s second-largest city, Busan, which is a convenient 40 minute train ride away from us!  The reason for the three-day weekend was Buddha’s Birthday, which meant that the city was decked out in bright, paper lanterns for a few weeks.

Before heading to Busan, we visited the temple closest to us: Junggwangsa.

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