We had to take care of some business today so we headed to the US camp at Yongsan first thing in the morning. We needed a few things for our upcoming ferry ride from South Korea to Russia and the 7 days we’ll be spending on the Trans Siberian Railroad. So we stopped at the hospital for a prescription refill. No problems there at all. We got in to see a doctor right away who was able to review the records and enter a script into the system. The pharmacist filled it immediately. We had been told that process could take hours, even days (to get an appointment to see a doctor) but we were very fortunate. Huge thank you to the Army staff who walked us through the process, the Korean doctor who was understanding of our situation, and the Ethiopian pharmacist (who Kathy got to know a little and has a fascinating life story, having emigrated from Ethiopia to Germany when she was 10, and ended up marrying a US service member, and now happily living in Korea).
After that we headed to the Exchange to see what we could find to get us through 7 days on a Russian train. Not knowing what to expect for food along the way, we’re stocking up on some staples that can travel well. We considered a few bottles of wine but ruled them out as too difficult to carry (we’ll probably regret this decision around day 4 on the train), opting for canned and dried food items instead (we might post something later about what we ended up with). I also picked up a new day pack (my 15 year old Rick Steves’ bag was showing its age) and a light jacket.
It was afternoon by then and we needed something to eat so we grabbed a tuna sub from Subway. Eating Subway in Seoul might seem sacrilegious but we appreciated it because we needed to eat right then and a little American comfort food is a good thing when you’re on the road for a while. We used that time to swap the contents of my day pack and discuss the food and money strategy for the ferry and train rides. We know there’s a restaurant car on the train but we’ve read it’s pricey and not very good. There’ll be some food available on the platform when the train stops (a couple of times daily for 20 minutes or so). Hopping off the train at those stations to deal with foraging is a scary prospect right now because we don’t know what we’re doing and the last thing we want is to get left behind. But I’m sure we’ll manage just like others have. We just need a few things to get us through the times we aren’t successful (whether we miss a stop or don’t particularly want to eat the dried fish from Lake Baikal).
We spent the afternoon wandering around Bukchon Hanok village which has lots of buildings from around 600 years ago. Most of the buildings are residences that have been meticulously restored so it’s a great place to just wander with lots of folks strolling around in Hanbok traditional clothing. It was fun but started getting a bit chilly as the sun was setting so we headed out for dinner.
We had heard that fried chicken was a specialty of this area so we set off searching for a restaurant that served it. We found one place that looked promising but decided to walk up a street that looked even more interesting. That was a good call because we came across a great looking Korean BBQ restaurant (forget the fried chicken). So we ducked in there. The staff spoke good English and were very helpful. This was our first BBQ experience so we only knew what we had seen online. We had one order of the Jeju white pork belly and one of the black (each order was 170g of meat, about 6 ounces) and two bottles of Cass beer. They loaded us up with sauces and sides and patiently explained each, then brought out the hot coals. Next came our two chunks of pork which they put whole on the grill. After a few minutes they cut the slabs into bite-sized pieces and further cooked, constantly checking and turning the pieces and adding the vegetables. When done the process was to chopstick a piece of pork, dip it in sauce, then put it in a lettuce leaf and enjoy. It was truly a memorable experience and good meal, in no small part because of the staff.
After dinner we headed back to the apartment. I took a stroll over the Seoullo walkway to check out the night lights again and stopped at the Lotte Mart on the way back for a few more supplies. Lotte Mart is a gigantic, hectic supermarket that also sells goods so it’s a good place for food items for breakfast and snacks. And it’s right across the street from our bnb so very convenient.