Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Green tea with a side of freezing

With four days off last week we decided to take an overnight trip to western Korea.  The area of Boseong happened to be putting on a winter light festival coinciding with the holidays.

The bus to our destination took just over three and a half hours.  We made one quick stop at a rest area to grab a snack.  Passing up the fried octopus on a stick, we chose something more familiar---potatoes.  We also snacked on walnuts encased in  sweet red bean paste and fried dough. 

Once we finally made it to the small run down bus station in Boseong, we waited to board a local bus that would take us to the Bohtjae Green Tea farm.  After showing the bus driver the name of the plantation housing our accommodations scrawled in Korean, we were at his mercy and awaited further instruction.  Eventually he waved his hand toward the door.  We took that to mean, “get off the bus.”  Once we did we found ourselves here. 

It could have easily been the exact definition of “the middle of nowhere.”  A Korean couple we encountered took mercy on us, and upon seeing the same pathetic paper we’d shown the driver, they pointed us in (what we hoped) was the right direction.  Luckily it was.

Soon we found a friendly woman who showed us to our small and cozy room inside this rustic cabin.

It wasn't much, but it was inviting and warm.  The temperature outside was quickly dropping and our room was toasty.  Reluctant to leave the heat, we bundled up and caught our first views of the Christmas lights we’d come to see.

As we waited for a taxi to the nearby Yulpo Beach we appropriately enjoyed some green tea.  The wooden furniture inside the teahouse was funky and artistic.

The tiny beach town proved to be nothing more than a short strip of seafood and barbecue restaurants.  We chose one, took our seats on the floor, and made room for the food that quickly began to arrive.
Samgyupsal and side dishes
Doenjang chigae
Following dinner we found our way back to a plantation close to ours.  Colorful lights lined each of its many tiers.  A stroll through a decorated walkway had colorful lights and festive archways prettier than any photo could capture.  We tried anyway.

After a picturesque and freezing walk among the tea plants, we wove our way through some green tea gift shops and many outdoor street vendors. 
Fried Fish
Potato Roasting Machine
A new friend purchased some of the delicious taffy for us.  We struggled to chew it and began the icy cold walk back to our room.  The wind whipped around our bundled heads.  With the wind chill, temps had been predicted to be around six degrees.  It felt colder.

Finally back in our room, warm and cozy, we laid soft blankets on the heated ondol floor and read side by side until we fell asleep.

We awoke to Christmas Eve morning and gulped more green tea for breakfast.  Before heading back to the bus we took in some daytime views of the plantation.  Although in its prime during spring and summer, the sights were still very pretty.

Exhausted and deliriously happy to be home, we came through our apartment door later that evening.  Under our arms were green tea souvenirs and groceries for our Christmas day brunch. 

Then it was Merry Christmas (Eve) to all and to all a good night!

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