Jeju Pt 2: The Chocolate Museum

I had high expectations

Great Expectations

The Chocolate Museum in Seogwipo, Jeju is the second largest chocolate museum in the world (the largest is the Cologne Chocolate Museum in Germany). The building looks like an ancient castle made of chocolate (it’s actually volcanic rock from Jeju). I had high hopes for this museum from the beginning. It was named as one of the ‘World’s Top 10 Best Chocolate Museums in the World’ by the members and editors of VirtualTourist.com and it is the only chocolate museum found in Asia. 

With our free coffee with purchase of ticket

Awesomeness…

What we found inside was a strange conglomeration of things. Yes, they explained the production method of chocolate and its movement through history. That is what excited me the most, seeing some Mayan history in a random Korean museum. Aka my ancestors. Half of them anyways.  

A bit of my culture

Cacao bean

So apart from this cool intro to the history of cacao in early civilizations, you also get a look at the ‘Collection Square’. The ‘Collection Square’ features a wide array of chocolate cases and other items that Mr. Han Ye-seok, the museum director, has collected from around the world. 

Heading towards the Museum store, you are stopped by the glass walls that let you see into the kitchen, where a chocolate artisan is creating these awesome little truffles that make you want to melt. 

Choco Facts:

Weirdness..

And then there was the Christmas room. Say what? Some portions of this trip were just plain random. Like this room for example, followed by the strange items they sold in the shop such as lighthouse figures and nutcrackers. Hmm. For a chocolate shop, it really lacked the creativity to really draw the conclusion to a powerful close. The expensive truffles weren’t worth it. We left wishing it was more like a cafe – with offers of decadent chocolate cakes and creamy chocolate drinks. Unfortunately, we were left to fend for ourselves. Just look at those faces! We were like pitiful children, left with no dessert after dinner.

Gorging on random donuts from a random Korean bakery

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Jeju Pt 1: Land of Oranges, Pigs and Lovers

Image

MAY: Jeju Island, the perfect getaway to spend time with the girls. Though, technically, it’s a “Honeymooner’s Paradise”. The three chicas and I thought, “hey, what the heck? May as well enjoy its beauty”. We all had a must-see added to the list of things to do, but what made it easier and complete was renting a car. Can’t have a girl’s weekend without making it a road trip right?

Jeju Island is the only autonomous province in Korea. It lies south of the mainland, and is a short 2 hour flight from Daegu. Jeju is a bit different than the mainland. According to most, mainland Koreans sometimes have a hard time understanding them because of the dialect. A volcanic island, Jeju is famous for its unique flora and lifestyle. It’s like traveling back in time to an isolated island. To learn more here are some useful sites: here and here. Jeju can be summed up in 3 words: oranges, pigs and lovers. This is an over simplified version of what Jeju is, but for the four of us, this was our vacation summed up to it’s core. 

Source: Visit Korea

About those pigs…. Samgyeopsal (삼겹살). Pork belly, as it is called in English, is what Jodi and I usually eat at the traditional BBQ place. But here in Jeju, it’s different. Why? Their pigs are black. I wouldn’t think that made a difference but suddenly it does and it is a must have from what I have been told. 

What can I say? I was a bit traumatized, and for various reasons. First, we noticed that our pork belly still had hair engrained in it’s layer of fat. Seriously, I can see hair follicles. Now, I know I am “Chica Vs. Food”, but I think it is a fundamental feeling everyone has that they just don’t appreciate hair in their food. Secondly, the price. Regular pork belly is so cheap you could have it for a week without making a dent in your wallet. Here, we paid around $80 for it. What?! That is unheard of here in Korea. On top of that, I personally am not a fan of pork and for me this Jeju pork must have been overfed because its layers of fat were a lot thicker that the inland pigs of Korea. I left feeling queasy for various reasons. 

Source: Wiki

Now to further make this article complete, I did some research. Probably should have done that BEFORE I went. Needless to say,  I found out that this samgyeopsal we ate, is actually called Ddong Daeji (똥돼지). Literal translation? Poop pigs. 

No joke, further research led me to the traditional Jeju ways of raising their black pigs. They literally ate whatever came out of the home or communities’ outhouses … and you know exactly what that means. “The population began to diminish when farmers were not eager to breed them and the Saemaeul Movement replaced traditional toilets with modern ones. The Jeju Husbandry Promotion Center is breeding some 200 indigenous poop pigs to preserve their pure blood. So the Jeju black pork you currently get is actually from a mixed breed” (Joogangdaily). 

Don’t judge, it’s not like you’re eating actual poop. And anyways, nowadays that isn’t how they are raised. A little historical tidbit my Korean friends failed to tell me. No worries, I judged it after I ate it. Though apparently most people love it, so maybe I ate at the wrong place. Read this guy’s perspective. Ha maybe this should have been a “Chica vs. Food” episode. Lesson learned…research next time and THEN eat it. 


Chica Vs. Food: Chicken Hearts

 Chicken Hearts/염통(꼬지):
* Added Disclaimer: David is laughing at me and my crazy taunts from this video in regards to Jodi’s mom. I heart you Debbie!*

Woobang Tower Land School Trip

We had the great opportunity to go to Wooband Tower Land (우방타워랜드) on a school trip with all the students of my school. The park itself made me reminiscent of Busch Gardens back in the States, a European-styled theme park.  Obviously the central site is the tower itself which rises 312 meters above the park.I’m hoping to do the SkyJump one day, a 123 meters high (403.6 ft) jump with a 10 seconds fall. But that’s for next time.

My students took advantage of not having to sport their uniform, coming in jeans, shorts and leggings. The most surprising? Wearing skirts and dresses with cute little purses. Really girls? Really? I had to crack up at the audacity of it, until they were sent home to change. I can’t say much more about that, my principal had to do a double-take when I respectfully said hello and he couldn’t recognize me because he thought I was a student! “I was wondering why you’re hair was so long!”, he said.

 

The teachers took a break after we got inside the park and headed straight for the outside eating area. Kimbap was pulled out (as is the traditional food to eat during our school’s outing). One of teacher lamented how the students didn’t want kimbap anymore, and often settled for pizza or burgers from the concession stands. Ah, the good ole days! 

After the kimpab, fruits were pulled out and AFTER the fruits some cookies. And they were just beginning, the beer was taken out soon after. As my belly grew in size, I kept darting glances at  the youngest teacher at school. Of all the teachers, we were the bravest ones to leave the seating area and venture out to try the rides. I think the staff thought it was endearing seeing the youngest teachers get excited about rides. Ha.

We took the cable car and then got to go on one ride: The Viking Ship. ::Sigh:: Unfortunately, she was scared of everything else, finding even the swinging ship too much to even let go of the handle. I noted I needed to return with my friends who hopefully wouldn’t be so fearful.

The day ended with pouring rain, as you can see the impeding dark clouds in the first pic. My students had no qualms about the rain, running around and staying at the park till closing. Me on the other hand? Got to go home after lunch and relax. Mr. Kim had the same nonchalant attitude when the rain came, placing the juice box he was carrying over his head for protection. Haha, he is so awesome.

Here’s a vid I found that gives you a tour of Woobang from KoreanTourism.