Sunday, March 24, 2013

Another Saturday on Yeouido

At the Cherry Blossom Festival
So, this weekend I went on a date to Yeouido, which is an island along the Han River in Seoul. The first time I went there was for their annual Cherry Blossom festival with friends. The blossoms aren't out yet though. It's best known for being home to Seoul's investment banking district.

Well, we didn't go there to invest anything, but rather hang out and enjoy the nice weather. Spring's technically here, and we can sense that the actual warm weather will be coming one of these days.

The 63 Building
The 63 Building from the Outside

First, we went to the 63 Building. Up until about 10 years ago, it was South Korea's tallest building. It's still impressive today and its main attraction is the view that it offers from the 60th floor on top. On a clear day, you're supposed to be able to see pretty far. However, when we went, it was just a bit cloudy. It was still clear enough to see how Seoul is surrounded by mountains. There was also a little museum up there showcasing some rather strange paintings, with plenty of "paintbrush art" consisting of brushes on canvases.

The 63 building is home to a few businesses and there's a bit of a mall inside. Aside of the views from the top of the building, it hosts other attractions such as an aquarium, an IMAX theater, and a wax museum.
Not a wax figure, but it was cute!

We skipped the IMAX and went to the wax museum next. It was an entertaining place full of props that you could use for pictures. They made sure to put up plenty of warnings letting us know that we were financially responsible for any figures we damaged! It wasn't amazing or anything, but the figures were still recognizable. They had different sections for things like political figures, horror themes and sports stars.

After that, we went to the aquarium. Again, not amazing, but good enough for a fun day. Colorful fish, seals, penguins, etc. They host little shows there often and we happened to catch a "synchronized swimming" show. It was a woman creatively moving about a large tank with fish inside. The fish just swam around the tank without a care in the world.

Noryangjin Fish Market 
Some fish on display

We then decided we were hungry and stopped at the convenience store for a bottle of wine. We took that wine to Noryangjin Fish Market. I had been to fish markets before, but mainly to gawk at the fish. This time was quite different, because this time I was shopping for dinner!

It was as fresh as you could possibly get it. You shop around and haggle with one of the many venders for the fish that you want. The fish are swimming in the tanks and the worker basically kills the fish right in front of you once you buy it. I mean, I know I eat dead animals, but watching them being stabbed and bludgeoned to death is another thing entirely!
It was a crowded Saturday evening at the restaurant

When they are finished with the fish, you take it to a restaurant within the market, where you give them your purchase and tell them how you would like it prepared. We ordered sashimi and shrimp. The sashimi was killed and prepared for us by the vendor, and we ate it while we waited for our shrimp to be steamed. The sashimi is eaten raw. We dipped it in soy sauce, red pepper paste, and wasabi whenever I was feeling brave. After a quick lesson, I learned how to eat the shrimp and we enjoyed our delicious meal and wine. I mostly ate the shrimp by dipping it in a vegetable and paste mix prepared by the restaurant.

When you finish, they bring you a pot with broth made from your leftovers. You then make a ramen soup with the last bits of your food. That was delicious!

Our soup cooking. We added ramen later.

It's cool because you basically bring food to the restaurant, and they charge you for however they prepare it, and sitting there at the table.

 It was a new cultural experience that I appreciated.

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