Day 5 – Saturday, October 15, 2022 - A Day in the Life of Oeam Village in Asan
Last night Pam delivered a beautiful birthday cake and Gennie brought it to breakfast to share with our group. We had an earlier departure this morning heading south to Oeam Village in Asan, so breakfast was at 7:00 and we were on the road by 8:00.
At 9:00 we had a restroom stop at a highway service center. We had 15 minutes to look at all of the shops selling traditional as well as the international brands. Vic bought an espresso coffee at Angel’s Coffee and I purchased a carton of Munchkins from Dunkin to share with the group. Pam bought us a walnut cookie treat, dried squid, and a little sweet rice crispy. New tastes and smells as well as spontaneous opportunities are reasons we love to travel with OAT.
As we traveled south from Seoul we could see the corporate headquarters of many international and Korean companies. Samsung, LG, and Hyundai are the ones that everyone recognizes, but as a developed country, many industries and technology companies here are booming.
Pam gave us a running commentary on many aspects of life in South Korea. We are always able to ask her questions about her country and the issues Koreans face in daily life. Although the country has made much economic progress since the wars, it is still a very conservative society.
She also gave us a handout of the Korean alphabet that has 10 vowels and 14 consonants. The characters are easier to read and write than Chinese, but we still struggled with the assignment she gave us to translate the words.
Driving further south, we saw mega greenhouses and fruit orchards. In the flat plains there are fields and fields of rice. It is harvest time now; the stands of grain have been cut and laid out to dry. The farmers plant in flooded fields in May and in the fall co-op groups of farmers now harvest the rice by machines, no longer by hand. The straw is bundled in huge white marshmallow like bales and used for livestock feed and also for thatch for the roofs of traditional homes.
We passed Camp Humphreys, a newly constructed facility that consolidates army bases from all over Korea. The facility is the busiest U.S. Army airfield in Asia. It is a huge and very secure installation with over 20,000 United States soldiers and their families.
A Day in the Life is a well-respected component of Overseas Adventure Travel. This morning we visited Oeam Village in Asan, a rural farming community. In past centuries large family clans lived and farmed together in coop like communities. Oeam Village is the center for the Lee Family.
We met one of the village leaders, 80-year-old, Mr. Lee. He welcomed us into his home that had been in the family for eight generations. Besides growing rice, the Lee Family tradition is making the famous Lotus Leaf Liquor used for family ceremonies and celebrations. We were able to taste the liquor, almost like straight alcohol. In each yard of the of the homes there were stoneware jars used to store kimchi, a traditional Korean side dish of salted and fermented vegetables, customarily, napa cabbage
After thanking Mr. Lee, we continued on our walk to the home of another member of the community, Mrs. Lee. She taught us how to make a hot spicy chili paste called Gochujang. This is a basic ingredient in Korean cooking. We blended ground red chili pepper flakes, rice flour, fermented dried soybean flour, and sea saltwater. Then we added a concentrated sticky rice malt. After finishing our cooking lesson, we were able to package the paste and take it home as a souvenir of Oeam Village.
Lunch was served at a very traditional home style restaurant where we sat under short tables and were served a variety of vegetables, rice and black beans, and a white bean soup. Most of the veggies were very spicy, flavored with the Gochujang paste we made earlier.
We left the village and drove back to Seoul. As we had a free afternoon, Pam offered to take us to the Seoul Tower. However, because it was Saturday many local families had the exact same plan, so we opted for Plan B. We took the city bus to the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, abbreviated as DDP. This is a major cultural center and futuristic building designed by Zaha Hadid.
Little did we know that this weekend was the Seoul Fashion Week where young models from all over the world were posing for international fashion photographers. As cameras were clicking and models were posing wearing the Spring lines of famous designers, we walked through the crowded DDP, (Dream, Design, Play).
To get back to our hotel, we went deep into Middle Earth to ride the Seoul Subway. Pam taught us how to purchase our tickets. In this system, you have to be fast and ready with your cash as the ticket machine will time out and you have to begin again. Marvin, our friend from Ohio, would be proud of us for successfully finding our way back to our hotel!
Dinner was on our own again tonight and we joined Pam and five others to try a chicken and veggie stir -fry restaurant. The group was divided between “spicy and no spicy”. The way it worked out, we were four and four with two “kind of spicy” who sat in the middle and enjoyed both woks.
By 8:00 we were back in the room reminiscing about our experiences and choosing the photos so you could see and enjoy our busy day. We have a very early morning. We will travel to the DMZ on the border with North Korea.
Accommodations: Pacific Hotel -- Meals included: B & L
To receive $100 per person off your first reservation with OAT, mention the following information when reserving your Overseas Adventure Travel Trip: Mr. Victor Garcia Customer #673062
beautiful photos from the village :)
Happy Birthday, Gennie! Hard to believe, eh? What a great place to celebrate--you made it through the Pandemic, & all the way to Asia!
Interesting comments on the Seoul subway. I rode the subway in Tokyo and Haneda and I will be interested in your comparisons. Rides are charged by distance, similar to BART or the DC Metro.
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Steve and I were in South Korea about 20 years ago on our own and found there were a lot of spicy foods and accompaniments that we just couldn’t eat because they were too spicy. Kimchi was eaten occasionally in tiny amounts! We didn’t get to the DMZ because we hadn’t booked early enough. We had reservations by the Seoraksan National Park. Getting transportation there was very difficult. We thought many people would be able to speak English after the Olympics had been held there. It took us a whole day with a number of stops at train and bus stations and a travel agency to work it out. Then we later booked an express bus to our next location, but it stopped in every small town on the way! That trip got us to take our first OAT trip when we were planning to go to Vietnam! Sounds like you are having a birthday trip. That’s always a great gift to oneself! Happy Birthday!
Day 15 – Tuesday, October 25, 2022 – Return Flights to the USA
Our bags are unpacked, the laundry is done, and we are trying to get back on Colorado body clock time. Our trip home was long but basically uneventful, always a good thing!...