Coffee shops and meat everywhere I look. We arrived in Korea when I was 20 days into a 60 day Sadhana which involves a special diet to prepare the body to explore higher dimensions of life as I prepare for Samyama. I’m not sure Korea is going to serve me well with being a Vegan, but the opportunity to enjoy a taste of the Winter Olympics in South Korea was to great to miss out on.
“I’m going to Asia there will be loads of veggie options”, I thought! HA! Not so! In Seoul there is meat, meat and more meat. If you find a vegetarian dish there is probably egg in it. Vegans beware and plan ahead if traveling to this corner of the world. I’m not normally vegan, but I’m doing a 60 day food intake that involves at least 50% raw food, no caffeine, no alcohol, no onions, no garlic, no chili, no dairy, no eggplant (aubergine), no dairy.
Why such food restrictions you may ask. Prana is the basic life energy within us. All the food you eat becomes you and gives you your prana. The more positively pranic your food, the more energy you will have, while eating negative pranic food creates a level of inertia in your body leading to reduced energy and more heaviness. All the nos on the list are negative pranic foods. If you are interested in knowing more Food and Prana
Did I mention there are coffee shops everywhere, Starbucks next door to Street Coffee, next door to Ediya Coffee. We went into a speciality coffee shop and I had the most delicious Pear and Ginger Tea, no caffeine was harmed in the making of this brew. A tea that has fresh pear and ginger and cinnamon. Never had anything like it before! One of the fun things about getting to travel the world is getting to try out new foods. I will certainly be turning up the notch on the fruit teas and will be experimenting with this little gem.
It is almost impossible to avoid onions and garlic when eating out. So I had to say I would do my best for this week and helped myself by bringing food with me for breakfast. I made up a bag with oatmeal, chia seeds, psyllium husks, hemp and peanuts to soak in water overnight for breakfast every morning. I ate this along with fresh fruit, almonds and raisins. Every night I would add the mixture to a jar I bought with me, give it a good shake and breakfast was waiting for me in the morning, I also brought herbal tea bags with me to avoid black tea.
The Namdaemun Market was great fun, a foodie delight, the smells, ooohhhh man it was a delight, they were steaming and frying up all sorts of deliciousness for us to savor. The highlight turned out to be the first stall we stopped at, they had a pancake, bun type thing that was stuffed with red beans, it was orgasmic deliciousness.
I will certainly be experimenting in the kitchen with this red bean filling. We didn’t always know what we were eating at the market, but it was all consumed and enjoyed. We ate too much, but we may not be back and wanted the full on experience.
There was often a language barrier which made food ordering interesting, there was a lot of looking at photos and pointing at the ones that did not have meat, crossing fingers when it arrived and hoping for the best.
The yoga practice
As part of my 60 day sadhana there are certain yoga practices I need to do everyday. I was not sure how this would work out in many ways, but particularly as I was sharing a room and had to consider my sleeping buddy. I woke up every morning between 3 and 4:30 and pop, up I got and started with asana. By the time I had completed this my sleeping buddy, JT, was waking up and I could do the noisier kriyas, lots of AUMing and other chanting style activity. I may have looked strange on some of the buses, but I managed to do my one hour of breathing, version of alternate nose breathing. I learned a long time again to embrace the weird and am very comfortable with it these days.
Out and about in Seoul
A trip to Korea would not be complete without a visit to DMZ, the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea.
This was quite a bizarre experience with a major tourist attraction on the South side with playgrounds, restaurants (Popeyes, coffee shops, video explaining the history of Korea and museum), and of course tourist shops.
All male South Koreans need to do military service and get paid a whole $10 a month for the privilege.
Toward the end of our trip we discovered Iteawon, this area was more international and catering outside the realms of Korean cooking. We wanted to go back and explore here more, but there was not enough time for us to fit it all in, but there was a great vibe in this area and it was very eclectic.
We went to a buddhist temple on our last morning, the lady in the visitor center was adorable. If you visit Jogyesa Buddhist Temple include a quick trip to the foreigners visitor center.
The guides at the temple were kind enough to show us a neat area in walking distance with local shops and more food, delicious lunch before heading to the airport! There may have been a little shopping involved.
Seoul was a neat city to visit, the streets were clean, the traffic was flowing, we met a few interesting characters. Some of the taxi drivers would pick us up, while others would not, fortunately they were plentiful. Language barrier was the biggest obstacle. There are a lot of public transport options so it was easy to get around, we tried out the subway too and it was easy to navigate.
The Winter Olympics
We were fortunate to enjoy the Winter Olympics and picked our couple of events very well. We were over two hours to the olympic events and were very happy with our choices, freestyle skiing cross country and women’s ice hockey final that went to extra time and a shoot out. You don’t have an appreciation for the height these skiers jump until you see it for yourself, quite amazing. The hours spent at the ice hockey flew by at such an exciting game.
Those ladies skate about on the ice like it is nothing, it was such fun to watch, apart from the guy behind us who spilt his beer!
No trip is complete without good company, thank you ladies for allowing me to enjoy this great experience with you, JT and Steph.