Yesterday morning, my family drove to Icheon for a mini-vacation. Although definitely more rural than Seoul (there are green fields and farmland everywhere, and not a skyscraper to be seen) there are certain parts of it that make it worth going to.
Our first stop was Teremeden, which is a sauna/water park kind of place. I didn’t take any pictures because 1) I didn’t want to get my camera wet and 2) because I didn’t want to seem like a pervert by taking pictures of people in swimsuits. Legitimate reasons, don’t you think? So you’ll all just have to imagine in your heads a huge outdoor pool with slides and columns spraying water that leads to an indoor pool with hot tubs and people either frolicking around or relaxing everywhere.
Once you can imagine that in your heads, we can all move forward to real pictures of the lunch I ate!
The region of Icheon is famous for its rice, so the restaurant we ate at focused on using the rice as the center of meal, with millions of banchan to accompany each spoonful of plump, carbalicious chewiness.
I actually thought that the Icheon rice was a hype – I mean, how can rice taste that much better? Rice is rice is rice. BUT IT’S ACTUALLY NOT. This rice was actually distinctly different – it was light and perfectly cooked, but still sticky and chewy with just the right amount of resistance. The stone bowl also gave it a certain smokiness that I really liked. When you get rice in a bowl like this you also get water served along with it; what you’re supposed to do is scoop the rice out and pour the water into the bowl that still has rice stuck to it. Then you cover the bowl and let it sit so the rice softens and becomes noorengjee, a nutty, savory-tasting jook. But I like the crispy bits so I left the water out and pickaxed the rice out later with my spoon.
After lunch my family went to a ceramic museum; Icheon is also known for its pottery, so various sculptors and curators have amassed tons of ceramic sculptures for the viewing pleasures of tourists.
The museum was amazing; these artists did some things with clay that I didn’t believe was possible. After our thorough tour of a museum and half, my family went to a nearby street that sold ceramic plateware for wandering tourists and decorating restaurateurs alike.
None of us ended up buy anything (except for my little cousin and my sister who bought tiny pigs) but we had a fun time looking at all the pottery. All in all it was a fun day, with quality family time. But seriously, who knew clay could be so beautiful?