Saturday, December 24, 2011

Japan Trip 2011: Kumamoto City

For the last 12 years, I have visited Kumamoto in Japan a number of times, but I never get tired of it. 
Especially the castle, it is beautiful from all angles.  The castle ground gets more and more complete everyday.

Even though Himeji is beautiful from inside, I believe the castle ground and surrounding buildings of Kumamoto castle is the best in Japan.  The newly built "Honmaru" goten imitates the structure and craftsmanship of the original.  I believe it is rare in Japan to have castle ground this complete with "honmaru goten". 

Kumamoto castle

Kumamoto castle honmaru goten
Golden Room in Kumamoto Castle Honmaru Goten
Old Kumamoto Castle town

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Burger King: Angry Poutine

We went to Burger King last weekend to try their Angry Poutine.
It is very hot but not as tasty for me for some reason.
The poutine sauce is added with jalapeno with a faint barbecue taste.

I usually like spicy food from all culture and fast food chain.  Somehow, this one does not turn out as well.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Korean Food: Seafood Pancake, Bibimbap, Barbecue, Kimchi Fried Rice

We tried all kinds of Korean food in various restaurant.
In Insadong, a Korean craft district, we tried seafood pancake, bibimbap and Korean steamed egg.
In Korea, food always comes with free kimchi and other vegetable dishes and I love that.

korea seafood pancake and steamed egg in Insadong
Korean bibimbap
We also ate in the local barbecue restaurant with my wife's friend's family.
The plate they use is very interesting, slightly slanted.
Korean fried Kimchi rice on teppan
After they barbecue, they have the option of frying kimchi rice themselves.  Very interesting and very tasty I must say.I also tried a bowl of Korean cold noodles.  (not sure what they are called, Japanese would call it "reiman".)
Korean cold noodle
The noodle is also very tasty but hard to chew.  (maybe it is supposed to be like this.)
However, I liked it as well because it is very different from any other country's noodles.
Sauteed barbecued beef

I really enjoyed the real local korean food and I wish that I can come back again to try them.

Korea: Lotteria's Shrimp Bulgogi Burger and KFC's Big Mouth Burger

In Korea, we tried all kinds of local food.  Even Western fast food with local flavors.
We went to Lotteria and KFC to try their new burgers: Shrimp Bulgogi Burger and Big Mouth.

Korea Lotteria Shrimp Bulgogi burger
The shrimp bulgogi burger is quite long but one can get very satisfy with this. This has two tastes: shrimp and bulgogi. It is exactly half and half. 
KFC's big mouth is also quite tasty with cheese and lots of mushroom and barbecue sauce.
Korea is a country very focused on skin care, so when we bought the combo, it came with two face mask packs.  I find it quite funny because fast food and skin care are totally different kinds of products.

Korea: Changdeok Palace

Changdeok palace
As seen above, this is another spectacular heritage place to see.  The exterior and the surrounding complex of buildings are amazing to see. (Also, the gift shop here has neat things to sell.)

The palace ground was large to navigate and with kids, we did not dare to stay too long.
There is a famous secret garden that we did not get to see but we were happy enough to enjoy the palace itself.
Changdeok Palace korea
This day was very sunny but very chilly...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Korea: Kimchi Onigiri

One more neat thing about Korean food I like is the Kimchi Onigiri (rice wrapped in nori).

You can only buy them in Korea, and they sell them in supermarkets or convenience stores.
They were very tasty with various taste and styles to my surprise.  They can come with seafood, tuna, barbecue sauces, etc.  We loved it and we ate lots.
Korean Kimchi Onigiri
Yummy.....I miss it so much.

Trip to Korea: Yucky Soba

On the airplane ride to Korea, we had lunch on the airplane even though it was a short ride.
It was soba.  I was so happy because I love soba and I have ate soba for year and they never go wrong.
It turned out to be the most disgusting `soba` I have ever tried...

Yucky soba....not ``Yakisoba`` haha.
The rice along with it was super disgusting, too.  It is sour but not like sushi rice.  (Perhaps Korean style that I don't know?) I thought this is a Japanese soba bento but I have not tried anything like it.

The kids menus were better and I ended up sharing my son's sandwich and yogurt.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Korea: Seoul: Jongmyo Royal Shrine

On a sunny cold day during our Korea Trip, we visited the Jongmyo Royal Shrine.  It was five minutes walk from our hotel but it was almost 0 degree because the water in the pots was frozen.

We actually all did not wear a jacket because we thought it was going to be sunny and 20 degrees like previous days.  We were so wrong.  We got a guided English tour for only 2 dollars US or 2000 won.  However, we were sooooo cold during the hour of tour.  We wished we had the jackets so we can enjoy the tour more.  The tour guide was nice enough to lend us her guide uniform jacket to cover the baby.

On a sunny day, the place was beautiful!
Jongmyo Korea
This place is where the kings rest in peace in Korea.

At the end, the guide said she was nervous but we ensured that she did a good job and took a picture with her.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Korea: Seoul 2011 Lantern Festival with Pororo

The first day of our Seoul trip, we happened to stumble upon a lantern festival right beside our hotel.

It has various characters including Pororo, a famous Korean Penguin cartoon character.
They also had Superman, Batman and Anime robots.

Pororo lantern in seoul korea
They also have other Asian cultural themed lanterns such as rabbits making rice cakes on the moon.
It is an ancient tale for the mid-autumn festival that these rabbits were on the moon making rice cake.
rabbit making rice cake lantern festival

They also have lanterns displayed in other countries' themes or world heritage buildings:
Statue of Liberty in USA, Tower of Pisa of Italy, themes from Philippines, China and Japan, etc.
Statue of Liberty lantern in Seoul Korea
Tower of Pisa lantern in Seoul Korea
Nebuta Matsuri Lanterns in Seoul Korea
and some goldfish:
goldfish latern in seoul korea festival

We all had a lot of fun looking at these and we are glad that this is right in front of our hotel!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Korea: Seoul: Gyeonbok Palace

On the Second Day of our trip to Korea, we visited the Gyeonbok Palace.

We took the subway there and it took only 3 minutes for us to walk to the palace.
The palace looks beautiful.  (The picture was taken on a cloudy day, so the colors might not show as well as intended.)

Gate of Gyeongbok Palace
At this sight, they have the "changing of the guards" performance...the Korean version for visitors to see.
It was interesting to see the old military costumes and hear old military music.
Gate to the main palace in Gyeonbok Palace
The ground of the compound is very spacious. After going through a couple of gates, we can go up to the main palace room where the emperor sat but could not go in because it was barricaded. 
The who palace compound look well preserved and the style is a little different from Japan or China's.

(People with non-oriental backgrounds might think they look all the same but the buildings from different parts of Asia have differences.)

From the palace, we went to the department store and Lotte Mart near Seoul Station.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Giant Pocky Stick Box in Korea

If you are familiar with Oriental snacks, then you know "Pocky", a Japanese chocolate stick snack that has a thousand flavors nowdays.

I found this giant box of pocky that I have never seen before.  The biggest I have seen before was 40 cm boxes but not this big.  The biggest one in the picture, the length is 70 cm.  The medium box on top of the big one is around 50 cm long.  I am wondering if the sticks inside are actually that long.  I wish I had the budget to try it.

Giant Pocky Lotte in Korea

Just Got back from Japan and Korea...Jet Lagged

We went on a trip to Japan and Korea and just got back.  It is so difficult to adjust to the jet lag, especially with the kids.  I will feel sleepy at noon and nap if I can or can't sleep at night. 
Last two days, I was sleepy but my kids woke up at 1 am and 3 am.
They are sleeping well so far tonight but it is my turn that I can't sleep at all.