EXCLUDING this opening paragraph, here are five paragraphs (which should take you about a minute to read each) about interesting random things I noticed during my recent trip to South Korea sponsored by Rakso Air Travel and Tours Inc. If you want a more in-depth story, I have one coming out soon for our travel issues that come out every Thursday. Wait for that one!
For now, here goes a quick rundown from my touristy mind:
Western Music. One of the ways I get to judge my chances of survival in a foreign place is by its taste of music. Very interesting, as I noticed that South Korea’s commercial establishments are bombarded with music mostly coming from mainstream America. Think Maroon 5, think Adele or Sam Smith. This could mean that the locals perhaps have a basic idea of the English language and their life trends follow that of the West. K Pop gets significant airplay too, but it’s not the only thing locals listen to.
Mustard and Ketchup. What is it about Mustard and Ketchup, two things Culinary Korea ships harder than Salt and Pepper? Seriously, at least for the hotel buffets, restaurants and bars I’ve been to during my short stay, I noticed bottles of Mustard and Ketchup ready for customers’ use. The idea seems to be that you could use both these condiments for just about anything you’d like to eat that day. Again, maybe it’s a West thing. That said, I had a grand time pairing my barbecue with kimchi, sans M and K.
Seafood game is okay. South Koreans, according to our tour guide, are mountain people (more about this in my travel story coming soon). Since South Korea is located in the middle of mountains, Koreans have learned to live and love life in the context of land. That also means the sea is quite a drive away from your typical Korean neighborhood. While the nation masters its pork, chicken and beef, I haven’t got the chance to try its best seafood besides the hearty pollock soup that is considered a household favorite.
Local support is strong. With Koreans known to be “mountain people,” these guys love their exercise and nature. That said, there are several mountain national parks in South Korea and it’s the locals who come back and trek to the peak of some of the mountains in these places. Local tourism seems to be a trend as you can see fellow Koreans mingling with other tourists from Asia. Not only is this true for mountain parks but it’s the same for nature parks and theme parks around the country.
Paranoia outside. During my trip there, perhaps it was one of the high points between the war of words between the leaders of North Korea and the United States. Sure enough, as I was browsing my Facebook feed from my hotel room in Seoul, the outside sentiment, the social climate, the mood of people everywhere (again, for the limited time I spent there) were nowhere close to negative. According to our trusty tour guide, South Koreans are used to the threats and it doesn’t faze them; however, they are still prepared.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on October 17, 2017.
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