Public Exercise Equipment

One very common thing that I have noticed in Korea are the mini gyms that are located along walking paths.  Koreans seem to be very concerned with their physical condition; walking paths and these mini gyms are pretty common. Jochiwon Cherry Blossoms-162Most of these mini gyms that I have seen are simply aerobic workouts, but I think that it is very nice to be available to the public.  From what I have seen, the usual visitors are older men and women.

Jochiwon Cherry Blossoms-161I’ve never actually used the equipment, but I do love the walking paths that are so common in Korea.  Often, like this one, they are located along streams.  As I have mentioned earlier, many Koreans also enjoy hiking in the mountains.  Many paths are available for those enthusiasts as well.

Fried Gimbap

I’ve been making gimbap for a while now, but I haven’t been able to make it last more than one day.  The problem is that the rice always dries out and the seaweed gets soggy if I keep it in the refrigerator.  I heard about a method for frying gimbap, and I decided to give it a try. It is very simple, simply dip the gimbap into a bowl of mixed raw egg, and then set it on a fry pan. The egg acts as a delicious barrier that keeps the rice from drying out as much.  You can also season the egg to add more flavor to the gimbap.Fried Gimbap-154

Cherry Blossoms in Jochiwon

Cherry blossom season has come and mostly gone, but here is a look back at some of the blossoms in my city.  Jochiwon Cherry Blossoms-157The area of town that I live in doesn’t have the best cherry blossoms, but they are very pleasant to see on a daily basis.

Jochiwon Cherry Blossoms-158Once the season starts to pass, the cherry petals begin to fall and cover the streets, sidewalks, and cars.

Jochiwon Cherry Blossoms-159Each season these trees are clipped back.  Most of the winter they look like dead logs sticking out of the ground, but when spring arrives they come alive!

Jochiwon Cherry Blossoms-155This is a street nearby that has several of the cherry blossom trees.  In this picture they are just beginning to blossom.

Jochiwon Cherry Blossoms-156Another view of my neighborhood in Jochiwon.

Jochiwon Cherry Blossoms-154These may not be cherry blossoms, but magnolias are beautiful too.  They are also very common in Korea.

Jochiwon Cherry Blossoms-160A small stream nearby is lined with paths and soon to be blossoming trees.

Though this period of blossoming trees passes quickly, it is a nice indicator that spring has arrived!



Making Gimbap (깁밥)

In Korea, Gimbap is a very popular and quick snack.  It is inexpensive to buy at a shop, but I wanted to try to make it on my own.  Since I got a rice cooker several months ago, I have been making gimbap.  I am not a professional, but I am getting better!

Making Gimbap-157

The first step is to cook the rice and prepare the filling.  For this gimbap I will use a combination of egg, pepper, carrot, ham, crab, onion, and a leafy green like bok choy.  You will also need a bamboo rolling mat.

Making Gimbap-154Next, prepare your seaweed.

Making Gimbap-155Put a decent amount of rice on the seaweed.

Making Gimbap-156Spread the rice to cover 2/3 of the seaweed.

Making Gimbap-158If you use a leaf filling, put it down first. (sesame leaf is really good to use)

Making Gimbap-159If you can, add pickled radish.  This has a semi sweet flavor.

Making Gimbap-160Add carrot.  I usually stack the fillings as evenly as possible about an inch from one end.

Making Gimbap-161Add egg strips.

Making Gimbap-162Pepper and onion.

Making Gimbap-163Crab strips.

Making Gimbap-164Ham strips.

Making Gimbap-165Next, carefully roll up the gimbap starting from the end with the ingredients.

Making Gimbap-166I usually give the gimbap a little squeeze to make sure everything is packed tight.

Making Gimbap-168Next, Unroll the gimbap from the bamboo and start cutting.  It helps to keep your knife a bit wet so the rice doesn’t stick.

Making Gimbap-169There you have it! Gimbap is easy. You can either eat it plain, or dip it in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, and chili pepper powder.  In Korea it is easy to find ready ingredients for gimbap in any of the grocery stores.

If you go to a gimbap shop you can try several different varieties of gimbap including original, tuna, cheese, kimchi, and one that has everything in it.  It is a pretty healthy snack, especially if you are in a hurry!

Hiking in Korea: Obongsan (오봉산)

A very popular activity among Koreans is hiking; many Koreans love hiking!  And why not?  Korea has some beautiful mountains and natural sites. Because I too enjoy exercise and nature, I decided to take a hike at Obongsan (오봉산).   Obongsan-156

Obongsan means “five peak mountain”, and it is located just outside my city.

Obongsan-160I think it was only a few kilometers of hiking, but it was a very enjoyable afternoon.  This was on a nice day in January or February, so it was still a bit brisk.  The hiking really keeps you warm though!

Obongsan-157Parts of the paths are riddled with trees and roots, though these are actually very helpful when it is muddy and slippery.  It also gives a more nature-integrated feeling than simply being on a clean cut mountain path.

Obongsan-155There are several of these short pebble paths that are intended to be walked on bare foot.  I didn’t try, but I imagine it gives a very relaxing massage effect (sans pine needles).

Obongsan-161The pine needles were very helpful as well in the muddy weather; they also give the sense that the mountain is covered in a rough brown carpet.

Obongsan-163As I said, it was very muddy because of the ice and snow melting towards the end of Winter.  Some parts of the path had to be avoided entirely.  By the way, Korea has a red mud that is very naturally beautiful when you aren’t sinking in it.

Obongsan-162Mountain carpet of pine needles.

Obongsan-164Finally at the top of Obongsan.  It wasn’t a tough climb really, but it was very nice to relax and get a bit of exercise in nature. The only way it could have been better was with a little less mud.