As I’m getting ready for the day in my hotel room in Incheon, South Korea, I can’t help but think what would Anthony Bourdain do? As I settle into that thought, I wonder what Koreans like to eat. After walking down to some local restaurants, and guessing what to order. Literally guessing because the menus are in Korean and have only pictures of the food, I came up with the conclusion that they are very keen on seafood. Crabs, oysters, octopus. Creatures like that.
Shortly after my indulgence in oysters,
I took a walk down to the bay and found the tide had receded and some people were digging in the bays mud that was left behind. In this mud, they were looking for Crabs and other shellfish of the sort. These shellfish would most definitely be put into the local restaurants nearby.
A week later I found myself near the downtown area of Incheon. This is a Place filled with coffee shops, restaurants, and college students. The place seemed to be very safe because kidnappings must hardly every happen or the Koreans haven’t discovered this horrible practice. I say this because everywhere I walked there were young school children walking down the streets either alone or with some other kids beside them. I come from a place where kidnappings seem to be quite frequent. So I say kudos to people of Korea for creating a trustworthy society such as this.
Outside of my hotel room is central park. Built on top of a parking garage, it’s been fitted with man-made elevation changes, a restaurant, and even a river running through it. Food stalls are tucked in the corner of a busy intersection on the sidewalk. As I’m walking through, a beautiful Korean girl catches my eye and she says hi. So we started talking and she’s from the east side of Seoul, about two hours away. It was nice that she spoke good English because I’ve found most Koreans don’t speak a lot of English, if any. I only wish I would have gotten a way to contact her, but my introverted side started to kick in from being secluded on an airplane all of the time,(I basically live on an airplane for 20 days per month), and we parted ways. I guess it’s on to the next one.
Feeling hunger kicking in, I chose what looked to be a Irish pub. I like to drink my dinner thank you very much. On the inside I think it was more of a case of mistaken identity. It was set up more like a quick sit down restaurant with green leather sofas, and English hip-hop playing in the background. I felt like I was placed inside of an Asian/American time warp, whatever the hell that is. maybe this is how a Chinese person feels when they go into an American Chinese restaurant. A shitty Chinese restaurant. I wasn’t feeling well after this meal so the question ran across my mind again. What would Anthony Bourdain do? Perhaps he would slam some Soju, mingle with the locals and ride the ill stomach out into the night. Or maybe he would drink a beer and head back to the hotel for the night. I chose the latter.
The following day I find myself getting ready to throw my 2-in-1 washer/dryer out of the window of my 38th floor room because I go to grab what I thought would be clean dry clothes but turned out to be only clean. Wet, but clean. So I tried to dry them but I wasn’t having much luck since the buttons were in Korean and I could only guess what the symbols meant. It only wanted to keep filling up with water. After I figured out how to re-rinse and spin my clothes. Twice. And just before the people of Korea were about to see the first flying clothes dryer, I finally found the dryer setting….
The quest was on for a local Korean dish. Eventually I did find one. I think. Kimchi, which is basically fermented vegetables with various seasonings, is what I had. Along with some more oysters and noodles. On the wall there were baseballs on display with American football teams names and logos on them! Now if that isn’t confusion, then Caitlyn Jenner must own the place.
The coffee shops seemed to have been copy and pasted straight from downtown New York. And with there being a coffee shop seemingly in every other store, on every block, I think they like to get their fix. A lot.
Bars on the other hand, may have more in common with a dry county in Kansas. They’re here. But just not as common as say, a coffee shop. I did find a pretty good bar in my wanderings. Filled with American Pilots, Expats, a couple of local Koreans, and the Kiwi owner himself. So if you ever find yourself in Korea, check out The Cinder Bar. It may not be very Korean, but if you look around, none of it really is.
I’ve read that Korea has been trying to create an identity all its own. But I’m starting to believe it’s anything but that. But then again, maybe that’s what makes Korea, Korea.