Finally, a relatively mellow day. We spent it in Insadong, and our primary goals were keeping warm while shopping for souvenirs. Results?
Souvenirs: check (and some good ones, too).
Warmth: no, yes, no, kinda, not really... still thawing out.
There's something about extreme cold that's really energy-depleting. I do not understand how the locals stay warm, or for that matter, how this civilization has survived for thousands of years. No doubt about it, Koreans are tough. There are abundant examples, but here are a few:
- The girls wear short shorts in below-freezing temps and still manage to look glamorous.
- The girls also wear stiletto heels everywhere -anytime, anyplace- even when the sidewalks are coated in ice.
- Marble stairs and floors abound -subway stations, museum walkways, apartment steps. Am not yet used to the feeling of terror experienced when negotiating icy marble surfaces.
I'm becoming tougher but still have far to go. On the bright side, extreme cold does give everyone a rosy glow, so my olive complexion is perking up.
Living in freezing temperature lends itself well to eating often. We tried different foods from street vendors, and I'm now a big fan of dokbokki (rice cakes in spicy red sauce). Cheap and hearty. We also tried an historical and beloved dessert called Kkul Tarae. It's made of honey and malt, and it has an illustrious royal lineage. The artisans run through a song while preparing it which describes the process. Apparently the candy is made of 16,000 very fine strings which symbolize longevity, health, good fortune, and wish-fulfillment. May start eating it more often if I begin to see results ;)
Here are some photos to give you an idea of the process: