8 July 2014
Yesterday I tried one of those little melons we've seen, identified online as Oriental melons, Korean Star variety - bought it at the market down the street and had one of the salesladies pick out a good one for us. And yes, this is why you need a Swiss army knife in your checked luggage, for moments like trying a melon.
Our report - lots of seeds inside, the flesh was a bit hard, and the rind was very thin - not even as thick as honeydew or cantaloupe. The taste was very mild, not a strong taste of anything. Vaguely sweet, and vaguely
melony. But, well, not enough of a taste to say wow this is
wonderful. More of a "meh." Nothing special, either way. We won't be
buying another one.
I'm still trying to find a place that will make a single-size bingsu for me - haven't found one yet, everyplace makes giant bigsus for multiple eaters. But here are some photos advertising this summer's bingsu flavours - I think the berry looks the tastiest. But see what I mean about an ice and fruit (or cookie) parfait? With some liquid poured in. I really need to try this and see what it's like. Very intriguing! Might be weird, and I don't really want to try the beans - but intriguing.
Okay, funny story about the subway from the other day. Now, each car or coach stops at a pre-assigned point at each station, labelled with a number - the track is separated from the platform by a glass wall with sliding doors that line up with the coach doors. Certain seats at each end of the coach are designated preferential seating for seniors, people with disabilities, people with babies, pregnant women. And people who sit there usually try to get Richard and me to sit there - I've even had older men get up to give me their seat. I'll sit if it's a long ride, but if we're only going a few stops I'll tell them that, and try to get them to sit down. And of course if someone old enough to be my parent gets on the train, I get up and offer my seat.
So I'm sitting on the train, we're going wherever, we're about 2 stops from where we transfer, and some older woman gets on the train. I pop up, go over to her where she's holding the upright pole, and motion that she can have my seat. Only she doesn't just go sit and smile thank you - no, she grabs me by the wrist and drags me back to the seat, chatting on the phone the whole time. Sort of pushes me back into the seat - except, as I'm ready to sit, the train starts off with a lurch and suddenly I'm standing on one foot, arms out and one foot up, doing sort of a yoga airplane and trying not to fall on the elderly people sitting on the seats! I managed to not embarrass myself by falling and rolling around this end of the train, which is what I was expecting - but it was pretty funny!
Today's event - you can tell I went to the flower market. The Express Bus Terminal is just two stops away from the subway station nearest our hotel, the Nambu Bus Terminal. (The buses go to different parts of the country, we haven't gone anywhere on them yet.) Anyway, on the third floor of the Express Bus Terminal is the wholesale flower market for this part of Seoul. HUGE hall that goes on and on forever, and is FULL of flowers!!! For anyone who loves flowers, this is heaven. For an art person and/or photographer, it is paradise. So yes, I hovered between heaven and paradise the whole time - it is SO GORGEOUS!
The entire hall is perfumed with roses, lilies, and all kinds of blooms, as well as the greenery that always is put into floral arrangements. Each vendor tends their area, keeping their flowers watered and fresh, the debris swept up, and okaying (or not) photo-taking. And of course I always thank people for allowing me to take photos of their flowers, and assure them that everything is just beautiful.
So, walking around carefully (because the floor is quite wet), I think I criss-crossed the entire hall, overwhelmed by flowers. I've been to flower markets in other countries, but I've never seen the bins full of stacked flowers like this! You'd think the blooms would get crushed, but the vendors have a system - flowers are usually grouped (6 or 12, I would think) and one layer is placed blossom to front; the next layer is placed stem to front and blossom to back, allowing buyers to see flowers from both sides of the bins. And creating sort of a supporting network between the layers of blossoms, so they don't crush each other.
At least, that's how it looked to me.
Some of the vendors make gorgeous displays that look as if they are still life compositions waiting to be painted by some Dutch artist from the 1500s. I guess it depends on the aesthetics of the vendor and how they choose to display their flowers.
I don't even like hydrangeas, the flowers don't have enough definition to look pretty to me, but these huge puffs of colour were just incredible! Intense pinks and blues, delicate lavenders, and some mixes - wow!
Of course, there was also a section with floral accoutrements - vases, baskets, ribbons, mugs, little ceramic animals on sticks to put in amongst your flowers, crystals, you name it, it probably was there.
And I realize not everyone notices the piles of debris and trash that get piled up, but at flower markets they really are pretty - sort of the floral detritus of a botanical frenzy, or something. I find them beautiful, and always try to get a few pictures. A few men found me quite funny, but one got into the spirit and held up some tiny celadon roses for me to photograph.
I bought a huge stalk of cymbidium orchids, one of my favourites - these are the flowers I carried as my bridal bouquet, so they're sentimental as well as incredibly gorgeous. As yes, I carried the flowers around all day, all around the market, the department store I browsed, to lunch, and back on the subway. They were resting on some cotton wool (quilt batting stuff in American English) and all wrapped in cellophane. A few of the flower vendors peeked in and told me the flowers were a good choice, they were very fresh.
Our friendly hotel clerks found a small vase for me to borrow, and we now have a wonderful floral display in our room, brightening things up for what likely is our last week in Seoul.