Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

While many of you are still celebrating New Year's Eve, we are already up and drinking tea to start off 2016. we've had a wonderful time here in Seoul with Anjali and Domingos, full of new tastes and experiences. This afternoon we head for the airport and will be in Chiang Mai late tonight.

Yesterday morning we headed to the Korean War Museum, walking distance from the main gate. It is a stunning building and the displays were very well done.

The area outside was filled with tanks, airplanes and other types of vehicles.

Outside the main entrance is a very large pavilion. Around it is a memorial to every country that sent forces from the UN to assist the South Koreans. Each pillar shows how many soldiers were sent and how many were injured or died. I think there were 42 countries, with the US having the largest number.

Inside the entrance was this large drum, specially made following the war to symbolize the strength of the country.

There is a large quiet space that is a memorial to all those who died. There are two books on display, one listing the Korean war dead and the other all the UN forces.

There were candles along the side walls. Some were lit. It appeared to me to be an area where one could come and light a candle in memory of someone who died. The center of the room had a large infinity-edge fountain. People were quiet and respectful.

We went through a number of display areas that told the history of the war. I learned a lot I had not known. The North Koreans met with the Chinese and the Russians to plan their attack in June 1950. The South Koreans were taken by surprise and the North Koreans quickly took Seoul. They had a small force and would have been totally overrun if it were not for the assistance of the UN. 

The Koreans love photo ops! This display of Korea's famous island was near the entrance.

From the Maple City (Goshen) to the Maple Tree (Korean barbecue restaurant)! We had made a reservation for our first Korean barbecue. 

The decor was interesting and beautiful. A row of birch trees stood along the center. Several walls were made of green bottles from soju, a beer-like drink.

This is just a display of the condiments! So many I couldn't begin to describe them all.

Our server took care of putting things on the barbecue. In the picture above, you can see the charcoal brazier on the table. There were long copper pipes hanging from the ceiling that had exhaust fans to remove the smoke. (You can also see them in the photo of the walls above.) We had three kinds of meat and shrimp, as well as a plate of vegetables. The first beef was brought and put on the cooker. When it was ready, our server cut it up with scissors and put the pieces on the sides so we could eat them. The beef and pork could be put on a leaf and wrapped up with some of the condiments.

Our server brought the shrimp with the heads on, but cut them off to cook. They were gigantic!

The last meat, bulgogi, was thinly sliced marinated beef. It took a different kind of cooker.

We finished with a bowl of kimchee stew, a spicy soup. The purple rice on the side could be added into the hot bowl.

What a wonderful way to finish off 2015. Best wishes to all of you for a peaceful and joyous new year.

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