Our last day at PyeongChang, the only thing we really did at Phoenix Park was check out of the hotel. Exciting, ain’t it? Yeah, well it’s about to get EVEN BETTER because the rest of that day was specially reserved for doing stuffs in the local PyeongChang area.
Like going to a Korean Buddhist temple.
While this is a fully-functioning temple (as in there are people praying and bowing in the buildings) it’s also something of a tourist attraction, being surrounded by lush mountain forests and all that. So you’ll see old ladies vendoring goods made from local PyeongChang ingredients.
Like potato dduk.
See how it’s kind of clear-ish? That’s because the outer part is made from potato starch instead of the usual opaque rice flour. And instead of the ubiquitous red bean filling, the inside is a sweet white bean pastey thing.
I’m gonna be honest with you guys; even though I love rice cakes to DEATH, I am not a fan of these potato dduk. When I bite into a dduk, I expect to be transported to a glutinous heaven of chewy, slightly sticky sweetness. With these, I got a snappy, jello-ish texture and a plasticky aftertaste. I ate the rest of my dduk, but not with the “mm, mm, MM THIS IS SO GOOD” thoughts that usually fly through my head when I eat rice cakes.
In the temple area there was also a GINORMOUS stone bucket brimming with fresh mountain water. I’m assuming it’s already filtered and everything because people would get bowls and drink straight from the well.
It tasted like… water. But good water. I thought it tasted cleaner and really refreshing, although that might’ve been because I’d been walking around in the crazy summer heat.
There were also piles of rocks everywhere; apparently people stack them on top of each other each time they pray.
Upon exiting the temple grounds, we chose to walk along a dirt path that led to a stream. The day was hot, and the sun was blazing, so we took our shoes off and went wading a bit.
There were also bugs. You’ll find those in the woods sometimes.
All that tramping through the forest made us hungry, so we went to a nearby restaurant. There were dozens and dozens, most of them with the same menu that focused on local ingredients like mountain vegetables, potatoes, and buckwheat. Other than the parts that are used as ski resorts, most of PyeongChang is made up of farmland, so all the restaurants either grow their own ingredients or buy them from neighboring farmers – it’s the slow-food movement at its best. We finally ended up choosing a restaurant because… I dunno, the car felt like going there.
I actually enjoyed eating the local food – it felt good knowing that the stuff I was eating was grown right outside and hadn’t been flown in from a country a million miles away. Because honestly, everything tastes better when it BELONGS in that region, ya know?
It was my kind of food – yummy but still healthy. I’m glad I got my bibimbap; it was vegetarian and with enough variety to keep it interesting.
Once we were done eating, we headed over to one of the many streetside farmers’ markets to get some PyeongChang produce to take home.
After haggling for a bit, my mom and grandma bought a huge bag of potatoes and a big sack of corn that I lugged into the back of the car. I actually ate those roasted potatoes for breakfast today.
Those were some good potatoes; I ate them plain, but these guys didn’t need any sour cream or cheese to taste good. They tasted very… potatoey. As in, you could really taste the potato-ness. Essence o’ potato. They had a crispy skin and a semi-soft inside. Mmmmm…
With our trunk full of PyeongChang carb-y produce, my family finally headed back to Seoul. Normally a 3 hour ride, it took almost 4 and a half because of the ridiculous traffic. 4 and a half hours of the same 10 Korean pop songs on loop. Yes, I suffered. When I got home, I tried to reverse the damage by listening to Daishi Dance. It helped, somewhat.
So those were my 3 days at PyeongChang. Now that I think about it, I was on vacation during vacation… Anyhoo, I’m really grateful to my aunt for preparing all of this for us. It was a great place and I got to do stuff I never thought I’d get to do during my month-long stay here. Yay for family vacays!