Presbyterian Missions Weblog

Team Timothy Cambodia 2011 #9 (Final)

Posted in Cambodia,Team Timothy by lenpine on August 7, 2011

We had a great trip home, with a nice break in the middle with a day long stopover in Seoul. We had thought about putting together a tour package, but it was too expensive, so we decided to launch out on our own. With carry-ons in hand, we headed for the airport railroad, which made the 53 minute journey into downtown. It was a nice ride, most of us slept (after not sleeping much in the plane during the overnight flight from Phnom Penh) while a few of us stayed more or less awake and watched the foggy, rain-drenched scenery go speeding by. The cost for a one-way fare was only about $3.70US, and it was cheap entertainment. Once at the Seoul Station, we hunted around for some breakfast that we could recognize, and were delighted to find a Dunkin Donuts where we purchased breakfast sandwiches, donuts, and coffee to get our batteries going. We then hunted around a bit to figure where to go next. Our target was the Insadong district, and old area of town that has been preserved and turned into an area of cafes and handicraft shops…it’s the place to go for traditional Korean stuff. It took a little effort and some help from a friendly passerby, but we figured out the ticket system quickly enough and were on our way through the subway system. Seems like Insadong was a lot more expensive than the last time I was here, maybe ten years ago. But it was fun, even with the rain. We ended up buying some umbrellas, and enjoyed the time together. From there we tried to find a restored temple nearby, but my internal compass had decided to stop working and we headed south instead of west. We ended up at a restored palace, which was even better, and then I finally figured out which direction to go to find some lunch. By that time, we were all pretty hungry.

Sharon was a life saver…or at least, a shoulder saver. My carry-on had conspired to completely inflame my shoulder, which has been a problem for awhile, so she wrestled it away from me and insisted on carrying it. She wouldn’t let me have it back until we got back to the airport. After some serious Advil and essential oil therapy (thanks to Talitha), the shoulder was starting to feel normal again by the time we got back on the plane. Thank the Lord for the two of them!

Anyway, back to lunch. Everyone wanted some traditional Korean food. The little restaurants and cafes were everywhere in the Chongno district (about halfway between Insadong and the Seoul Station). Of course, most everything is in Korean, and all the pictures of the dishes on the doors and windows all look alike. All of them were busy, and so we kept looking until we found one around the back of a big office and shopping building, tucked away among some trees. Couldn’t tell what the food was here, either, but by that time we didn’t care and just went in to see what would happen. This was definitely a locals place. All the patrons and the staff were startled to see us come in, and the staff almost got giddy they were so excited. One lady in particular, a delightful little Korean grandmother, took us under her wing, shooed us to a set of tables, rattling away a mile a minute trying to communicate through our vacant stares. I finally just asked for a menu, and she brightened considerably, and ran to get one. Apparently, the only one. It was a tattered, laminated sheet of white A4 paper with only four items on it. Surprisingly, they were also listed in English. The items were: Spicy octopus,  Clam soup, Spicy pork and potato, and an Octopus and green onion pancake. You should have seen everybody’s faces. But they were game, and we went for it. The lady tried to get me to order three of everything, but we kept it simpler. I wasn’t sure how much octopus we would be able to get down, and I skipped the clam soup. There was no rice, strangely enough, but bean sprouts to use for the accompaniment along with some pickled turnips of some kind.

The spicy octopus came out first. Evidently we looked perplexed about just how to eat all this, so Grandmother proceeded to take a pair of chopsticks (the other patrons were loving this), pick up a nice long tentacle or two, slap it onto the bean sprouts, pick up the whole mess and without hesitation began to feed Talitha, who has the misfortune of being at the far end of the table) like she was three years old. Naturally, we all fell apart with laughter. Talitha was trying to choke it down and be polite, bless her, and the lady kept shoving it as fast as Talitha could chew and swallow, until she was sure that we knew how to eat it. It wasn’t until we all picked up chopsticks and began to eat that Talitha had a break. It was great.

Then, the pork came out. Stewed on the bone with potato in a fiery red sauce that started your eyes watering when you smelled it, the dish was one of the hottest I’ve eaten in a long while. Even Eli found it hot. The team’s eyes were watering, faces were red, lips were burning…but it was tender and delicious nonetheless. You eat all of this with the sprouts and turnips, which helped to cool the heat down a good bit. Here again, the lady demonstrated the eating technique on Talitha, who patiently endured it to our delight (and undoubtedly Grandmother’s delight as well).

Finally, the pancake, which was not spicy, but only full of onion flavor from the scallions, and chewy from the boiled pieces of octopus fried into an eggy pancake. Grandmother showed how to cut it up with the chopsticks and dip it in soy sauce, and then employed Talitha’s services again. What a blast. The team did a good job putting a big dent in all the food…even though I hadn’t ordered as much as I was urged, it was still a lot of food. We went out of there full, with a happy memory (at Talitha’s expense!) and burning lips and eyes. Traditional Korean, indeed.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. We made our way back to Seoul Station, passing by a wonderful little river walk in the middle of downtown that has been opened up and preserved for green space, found the train back to the airport, cleaned up a bit there and hopped on our plane for Seattle. The whole excursion through downtown Seoul had only cost us about $17 a person! All the bags arrived safely, and we were met by Hugheys and Macks and Friends. It was a great homecoming. Back at the Hugheys’ we enjoyed a salad (can’t eat much in the way of fresh green leafy veggies in Cambodia, so it was perfect). The Macks headed home, I headed for my resting place for the night, and the Blizzard girls and Eli joined the Hugheys on a wonderful ride up to Bremerton where they caught a ferry across the Sound over to Seattle. It was a beautiful night, Mt Rainier was in full view over the city, and it was a real treat.

The next morning I took the Blizzards to the airport, and Eli and I headed home. It was good to be back. I would have written about this yesterday, but came down with a cold, probably picked up on the airplane, so was pretty out of it between that and the jet lag. It’s a little better tonight. When I get some pictures from this last segment of the trip from the team, I’ll attach some.

Thanks for your prayers for us on this trip. It was a good one. We pray that the Lord will magnify our efforts for His glory.


One Response to 'Team Timothy Cambodia 2011 #9 (Final)'

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  1. Hope your inflammation gets better. Praying for you!!

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