For The Love Of Science

For the last couple of days we’ve had some amazing weather. Its been warm out, almost up to 60 degrees, and as I’ve said previously, I’m loving it. This last week we took the time to go to the Gwacheon National Science Museum. I’ve been feeling very nostalgic for home and back in the city I would always spend afternoons at the museums in Golden Gate Park. I know some people might find that really boring but thankfully my husband and I love learning about new things and it’s exciting to walk around and see the exhibits.

It’s very easy to get to the museum. We took the subway from Pyeongtaek train station to Seoul Grand Park and there was only one transfer from Line 1 to Line 4 at Geumjeong station which happens to be on the same platform. No having to run up a flight of stairs and across the station from one platform to another and then have wait a while for the next train (cause the one you wanted just left the moment you arrived). This time we actually lucked out because both trains happened to arrive at the same time and we literally got to step off one train, walk across the short platform, and step onto the next train. That never happens. (At least not for me.)

Once at the Seoul Grand Park stop we exited the empty station right into the park itself. The sun was warm, the breeze was light and the Museum was almost imposing. Seriously, you exit the station by staircase/escalator and at the top of the stairs there is a large path directly to this massive building. It’s the most impressive building I’ve seen as of yet since arriving in Korea. Inside the main building there is a basic science hall, natural history hall, children’s hall, Korean traditional science hall, advanced science & technology hall, science future and fiction hall, and a creation hall. There is also a special exhibition area, a restaurant, and souvenir shop. And that’s just the inside! Outside, throughout the park are different exhibits including an insectarium, an observatory, a planetarium, dinosaur park, wildflower garden and several playgrounds for kids to run around and play on. You could easily spend an entire day here and not see everything it has to offer and we were very excited to see what we could see.




We bought our tickets and decided to start off with lunch. After placing our jackets in the free lockers offered on the main floor we headed up stairs to the restaurant for food before taking in the exhibition halls. The restaurant is very nice and has a variety of foods offered. After we ate we headed to the traditional science hall and as we walked through we noted that unless the display was a larger item there were very few translations. This became more and more apparent as we moved from hall to hall and the more we saw, the more our enthusiasm for the place started to wane. It really was sad because there are so many interesting things to see but unlike art, with no explanation you honestly have no idea what is going on. And let’s be real, science isn’t exactly a place for interpretation. There was a lot of displays that I really would have loved to know what was going on such as the natural history hall and the Science Fiction and Future hall.


One of the displays in the science fiction and future hall that was discussing possible jobs of the future. I do believe I found my future job: Plant psychology! Although I would have loved to read what the rest of what it said.  I love my green babies and already talk to my plants all the time so this is my calling.

Either way, it was a great day and I’m glad that we took the chance to check it out. Also, as of writing this, I learned they offer English-speaking tour guides for 2,000 won per person. So, we are definitely going back!

Sensory Overload

We finally got the chance to go to Insadong to explore.

Insadong is a neighborhood in seoul that is very popular for teashops, art galereies and a great place to shop for souvners. Gyeongbokgung Palace and Jogyesa Temple are within walking distance to Insadong’s main road. From everything I had read it’s great place to go for souviners and arts and crafts.

I was really looking forward to checking out the area and had this image in my mind that it would be a lovely day of admiring art, enjoying some tea, and going window shopping. As always, the expectation did not match the reality.

We woke up in the morning and it was so foggy that we could barely see the railing outside our windows. For a little bit we were worried we’d have to scrap the whole trip because I was paranoid about road conditions to the train station. After a cup of coffee we decided to go ahead and get ready for the day anyway and see if the fog burns off at all. So we did the morning routine and checked the fog a little later. It had definitely cleared up a bit but I was still too hesitant to go to the bus stop. Anthony decided to call us a taxi and we headed out the door only an hour later than we had originally planned.

Once at the train station we picked up our tickets. We still had a little time before our train arrived so we went to the bakery to pick up some breakfast sandwiches. There is this egg and toast dish that they make with thick garlic bread, a slice of ham and a poached egg in the center that I can’t get enough of. Breakfast in hand we headed to the train platform.

Turns out our train was there already and as we stepped off the escalator it started to close its doors.

Ensue running scene with us rushing to our car, breakfast in one hand and bags in the other. Thankfully the doors opened once more and we jumped into the first available one.

It’s never an adventure unless one thing goes wrong.

Once in our train car we took our seats.  Of course our seats weren’t next to each other, they rarely ever are. (I will figure out the system to fix that sooner or later, I swear.) Thankfully I almost always stash a book or something in my bag every time we go out so I was able to read while on the train.

Once we got to Seoul station we got to the subway to head to invading. We’re getting better at the subway system around here where it’s almost seamless for us to pick the correct direction we need to go in.

Arriving in Insadong was interesting. You exit the subway station, walk down the street a little ways and then make a left turn. As soon as you turn you’re hit with a wave of sights, smells, and sounds. We were advised that weekends are the best time to go because that’s when all the street vendors are out and we weren’t disappointed. Vendors with hand crafted goods, food and trinkets were lined along the sidewalk. The shops had tables and stands outside their shops with their wares on display.


There was an artist painting ona canvas surrounds by pieces of his work and people were stopping to admire. There was a cart with hand crafted journals and another with incense and decorative burners. A shop with boxes upon boxes of handmade ceramic cups and bowls. Across from that was a shop of paintbrushes of all sizes including some as big as myself.


My senses were being attacked with the scent of sweet waffles and red beans, egg bread,  and fish cake. The street, which had been blocked from traffic, was filled with people walking around, shopping, and vendors. At one point I was so over whelmed it felt like I got sucker punched in the stomach and I just looked at my husband like a deer in headlights. He laughed a little at me and led me into a relatively empty art gallery. The silence and calm was much-needed respite to regather my senses.



After admiring some art and selecting some pieces to send back home to friends and family we braved the street again. Off the main road are lots of little alley ways where traditional tea shops and restaurants are located. These pathways look almost forgotten in comparison to the crowded main road. We stopped in one place for some tea and snacks. Another location, called TeaStory, was actually a tea shop and mini museum where I was able to purchase some tea to take home with me.


We didn’t get to see everything before the excitement of the day caught up to us. After dinner and a promise to return soon we headed home. It felt like there was no way to see everything in one day, at least not with the late start we had gotten. Insadong is definitely on the top of my list of favorite places to go, even with the crazy crowds.


A Dinner of Unexpected Events

Well, it finally happened.
I had that totally embarrassing moment at a restaurant here in Korea.
Think Christmas Story, when they chop the duck’s head off at the dinner table and the mother screams.
That was pretty much me.

So, Anthony and I decided to have a date night and to go try Shabu Shabu for the first time. I’ve been listening to people rave about the dish and had even watched a couple of my favorite YouTubers do vlogs at restaurants or make home made versions. For those that don’t know, Shabu Shabu is a Japanese dish of broth, veggies, meats (primarily beef or pork), noodles, and rice. It’s a family style meal in that everything is brought to the table on platters and everyone shares. The table has a grill or stove in the center and a large pot of broth is set to boil. You then add veggies and meats little bits at a time to cook and eat. Then you add the noodles, followed by  the rice. It sounded and looked so good. I had been begging Anthony to take me fore weeks now and I was really excited when he asked me if I wanted to go.

We carefully selected a restaurant with the South of Seoul app and held off on eating for most the day so we’d be ready for a big dinner. When we got to the restaurant and looked at the menu both of us were surprised they had a seafood option (I had only heard of beef or pork being the selected meats).

Now, as I said, this is a huge meal that you are sharing with your dinner party so I was hesitant about ordering seafood at first because I know my husband doesn’t like it. He encouraged me to order what I wanted. It was our date night after all and he wanted me to order what I wanted and not worry about him. So we got the special: Beef and seafood, which included shrimp, clams, octopus, and abalone. As for me, this is nothing out of the ordinary. I love seafood.
Grilled salmon? Yes please.
Sushi? Sign me up.
Oyster on a half shell? I’ll take it.
You get my point. The special sounded perfect.
Well, I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

First the waitress brings us the broth in this huge cast iron pot. I had never seen anything like it before. It looked like it was two half pots welded together so part of the broth was on one side and the rest of the both on the other. One broth had onions in it and other other had a couple tiny chilis. Not very spicy but the extra flavor was really nice. Then she brings a cart with platters of food. One dish was the beef, raw slices rolled and arranged in a neat pile. Another dish was a selection of different mushrooms followed by a plate of heaping lettuce leaves and bean sprouts. There was a bowl of rice mixed with dried seaweed, rice balls rolled in lettuce leaves with a dipping sauce, dishes of chopped cabbage with a sweet dressing, udon noodles with mandu, and of course kimchi. There were little kabobs of fish cake, crab meat, and sliced squid followed by whole prawns, little shrimp and fresh clams. We were in such awe of the feast set before us that it took a moment to realize that next to the shrimp was the abalone.

Still in its shell.


And moving.

I balked at first. I’d had raw abalone before. I liked it. But it was prepared for me. This time…. well, I didn’t expect it to be like this. How was I supposed to do this? Do I dump the whole thing in pot? Do I try to remove it from the shell first? It moved again. I panicked and Anthony had the staff take it from us. We apologized and told the waitress it was our first time having Shabu Shabu. The look on her face along with the head nod was the equivalent of “no shit.” She was nice enough to bring extra shrimp to replace the abalone.

Once that was taken care of we went on with the meal. I put the shrimp and clams into the broth to cook and we started dipping pieces of beef into the broth and trying it. That’s when Anthony notices a large cylinder bowl they had placed on the table next to a matching one holding the utensils. He tilts the bowl slightly and quickly gets my attention. I can’t remember what words were said at this point but I do remember seeing him startle and then I reach for the bowl myself to take a look.

It was a small octopus.


And moving.

I promptly started to cry.

So, here I am in the middle of the restaurant, crying that I’ve ruined dinner because I wanted seafood and I should have just ordered the regular beef. I didn’t know it was going to be served this way and I felt horrible because this was supposed to be a nice romantic date and I ruined it. Anthony took the octopus back to the waitress and came back to console me and calm me down.
In the end we finished the majority of the meal, there was so much food I don’t think anyone could have finished it, and left the restaurant agreeing to return one day and order just the beef (and a glass of wine).