Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…
It was hot, humid, and probably the smoggiest day I’ve encountered since my early childhood days in Los Angeles in the 1980’s, making it as they say in photography terms – a white-balance nightmare; not to mention enduring and experiencing the feeling of sitting in a stuffy, smoky room and not being able to leave. However, all this didn’t stop my friend Cassandra and I from traversing the almost interminable distance across Seoul, from Gangnam all the way to Incheon, in order to take a stroll through the largest Chinatown outside China itself and relax while indulging some authentic Chinese cuisine. The thought of scrumptious, fried rice was on the tips of our tongues the entire odyssey to Incheon, and as soon as we stepped off the bus, we immediately set off to find a nice Chinese restaurant that would render satisfaction upon our unyielding longing for great-tasting Chinese food.
As soon as we exited the metro station, we set eyes on what we knew was the Chinatown entrance and then began the trek uphill towards what we could see as the principal area. We passed by several Chinese restaurants and many outlets selling tawdry merchandise, or as I emphatically mentioned to Cassandra as “nick-nack BS.” This prompted a brief chuckle, but we continued on uphill until it plateaued.
After taking a right, we then cruised down a street full of Chinese restaurants, nick-nack stores, and tourists that we were successfully able to dodge in order to find at random a super cool Chinese restaurant at the end of the street that pulled us in like gravity.
Immediately upon entering, Cassandra and I knew that we had chosen a perfect restaurant to obtain our fill. The restaurant had a great feel about it, and after examining the menu, we eventually chose a garlic-chicken dish accompanied with some “special” fried rice and “special” fried noodles. We didn’t necessarily know what we were exactly ordering in terms of the “special” dishes, but we concluded that it would be kind fun to just take a chance and try them. However, before the dishes arrived, I wished to satisfy another small craving: a zesty Tsingtao that would aptly pair with our food.
What I didn’t know was that the Tsingtao came in a monster-sized bottle, which utterly surprised me at the sight of it being placed in front of me. No matter, I thought. The size of the bottle was soon forgotten when our food arrived as I continuously needed suds to counter the spicy Chinese garlic chicken. The fried rice, noodles, and chicken were quite delectable, especially the fried rice and garlic chicken, as they were essentially cleaned off the plates by our ambitious appetites in a matter of minutes.
Upon exiting the restaurant we were hit with a blast wave of sweltering heat and humidity, and it was almost regrettable that we were leaving the confines of an air-conditioned room. However, we traveled quite a distance, and it would have been wrong of us to just head back after getting our fill without checking out Chinatown a bit more, in addition to the large park nearby.
It wasn’t long before we stumbled upon this cool Chinatown public area where many people attempted to stay cool in the shade.
I even attempted to take a break in the shade for a moment…
…and I probably could have slept here for hours, but time was of the essence.
After taking a stroll up the road, we reached a large park where I knew stood a monument dedicated to General Douglas MacArthur, and I was supremely eager to locate it. Before reaching it, I snapped several photos of interesting things along the way.
Upon arriving the Douglas MacArthur Plaza, I was surprised to find that his statue-monument was surrounded by large flower gardens.
For those not well versed on South Korean history, General Douglas MacArthur is seen as a hero by the Korean people as he devised, launched, and coordinated the Incheon Landing (Codename: Operation Chromite), despite strong objections by other cautious generals, on September 15, 1950, which was a surprised amphibious assault that ended a string of victories by the invading North Korean Army. The Battle of Incheon subsequently ensued for two grueling days that resulted in an overwhelmingly decisive victory and strategic reversal in favor of the United Nations. The UN recapture of Seoul quickly followed partially severing North Korea’s supply lines and the tides of war in Korea were quickly and forever changed from this moment on.
At this point we were both drenched in sweat, but were still all smiles.
After leaving the park on our way back to Chinatown, we passed through the North Entrance/Exit and then heard music down the hill.
After hastily venturing down several flights of stairs, we reached the street where we then saw a Chinese parade and “dragon dancers.” We both rushed in to get a close view and to quickly snap a few photos.
It was a good day in Chinatown and I can see myself returning whenever the super strong urge arises to get some authentic Chinese food; yummy!