Seoul: Jet Lag, and the Art of Suction Cup Chewing

Mark Stewart Destinations 6 Comments

Round two: Seoul.

Sleep deprived, and awake at 2:30am, once again we’re off to the airport to check out how things roll on the other side of the planet.

Seoul by Night

Seoul by Night

Flying into Seattle first with the intention of spending at least a part of our 6 1/2 hour layover outside of the airport and checking out a bit of the city, we finally decide against it. The chaos caused on the east coast due to hurricane Irene has caused thousands of people to be stranded in Seattle waiting for delayed flights. We chose to play it safe and not risk missing our connecting flight because of problems getting through the crowds on the way back in. Anyway, long story short, the connecting flight was fine, and Korean airlines is awesome. I’d almost say on par with Singapore Air, but not quite, simply because the food was terrible. Though being as tired as I was, I couldn’t enjoy the free entertainment, and spent most of the 11 hours trying to sleep. Silly me, I’ve never been able to sleep on airplanes… So by the end of the flight, I was completely drained of energy, all I could have asked for was an hour of sleep, but no.

After we touched down in Seoul, getting into the city was fairly simple, other than the two hour bus trip required, which just added to the burnt-out-edness (yes, I just made up a word). Getting off the bus, at (almost) the right bus stop, we had to walk a couple of kilometers before getting near our guesthouse. Did I mention that it was night time, cloudy, and 28 degrees with full humidity? Being already dehydrated we eventually found our guesthouse and dropped our bags in our beautiful little courtyard with one major downside: the double room Kylee booked, was just a single room with a thick mat beside the bed that acted as the ‘double’. Being too tired to complain, or even really care for that matter, we went to the closest store, chugged a bottle of water, and passed out. That three inch thick mattress was the best bed I’ve ever slept on; at least from my perspective at the time.

We woke up before 6 am, unknowingly, because we don’t have a clock, and begin checking out the city. We grab an amazing bowl of noodles in Sincheon and check out the palace. By about two-ish in the afternoon, we’re ready to crash, jet lag and the sweltering heat has messed us up a little more than we expected. All we need before heading back to crash for the evening is some food. Over an hour of searching later, we finally found a place that was open and grabbed a bowl of Ramen, incredibly spicy Ramen, but absolutely delicious. After washing the last of the soup down with some cold beer, we finally make it back to the pad, and crash for another night.

Up early this morning, better sleep than last night, and up at 7… back to normal I think. Off to the fish market! Amazing, I wouldn’t say better than Tokyo’s, and not nearly as big, but very cool regardless. A football field sized building, wall to wall tanks of the freshest seafood you can imagine: every possibly type of shellfish, octopus, squid, shark, stingray, and fish this area has to offer… But there was one thing in particular that we came here for.

Breakfast in Seoul

Still Photos don’t do justice

Because we were still feeling a bit sketchy from the time delay and dehydration, we left the market for a bit to go get some more water and some caffeine and relax on a bench for a bit before going back in. We didn’t come to the fish market to see the fish.. we did that in Japan.. although this was awesome, we had another purpose. Sannakji. We walked around the market again until we found a woman with tanks of shellfish, sea urchin and baby octopus.. we looked at the tank, and she looked at us and nodded. “Sannkji?” she says. We nod, and hold up one finger. She proceeds to reach into the tank and grab the octopus, and bring it over to her cutting board. Grabbing her knife she cuts off all of its tentacles and slides the squirming mess onto a Styrofoam plate and splashes a pile of hot sauce on the side, before handing it over. With just a toothpick as a utensil, I dig in, stabbing on of the squiggling appendages and sliding it through the sauce, pausing for a second before placing it in my mouth, and chewing. Not surprisingly, it tasted very fresh, aside from the sauce.. and surprisingly, it was not nearly as chewy as I had expected. Although it did squirm around a lot and I was constantly trying to grab it with my teeth as it never seemed to stay in one spot.. that is until it found any non-moving part of the mouth. It grabbed hold, those little suckers stuck, and I learned quickly, that chewing fast is key.

An hour or so later, on the metro back to our place.. I found something on the inside of my cheek that had been nagging at me for a little while, and finally managed to scrape it loose with my tooth. It was a little suction cup that had refused to let go, even after the rest of the squirming tentacle had long gone.

Click here for a video!

Bon Appetit!

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About the Author

Mark Stewart

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Mark is a multi-passionate creative with a fascination for getting the most out of the human experience. While he isn't chasing adventures around the globe as a travel journalist and photographer, he works as a freelance writer, private chef and web developer.

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