Sunday, December 14, 2008

Korea 6th Dec 2008

After husband's 2nd day of conference, we decided to go and visit the Korean National Mosque. A study of the local map showed that we needed to get to Itaewon, where the mosque was located. And with our good friend Dr Chew (our subway guru) on board, we were quite certain we'd have no problems getting to the place.

I'd say, it was a good hour later (with us changing lines 3 times I think) before we finally arrived at Itaewon. Upon stepping out of Itaewon station, we found ourselves standing in front of a building which had the word Hamilton on it ( I can't remember if it was a hotel / shop or restaurant). We immediately turned left and started walking amongst the crowd... but weren't sure how far we had to walk before getting to the mosque. Luckily, husband spotted the minarets of the mosque in the distance... probably some 50m away. We quickly zigzagged in between rows of shops and soon found ourselves in the vicinity of the mosque.

By the time we reached the mosque, which was beautifully perched on top of a hill overlooking Seoul city, it was slightly after Isya'. The majestic entrance leading to the mosque was beautiful with turquoise geometric tiles set according to Islamic architecture... and right at the centre were some Korean wordings which I assumed meant the Korean National Mosque.

The front facade of the mosque

It was interesting to learn that Malaysia had a role in setting up of the mosque. In fact, if I'm not mistaken the late Tunku Abdul Rahman had helped by purchasing the hill top land at the price of US 33,000 back in 1962. However, the plan was derailed due to inflation and the mosque was only built in Seoul's Itaewon neighborhood in 1976. The president of the Korea Islam Institute estimated that there are about 40,000 listed Muslims in South Korea, and about 10,000 are estimated to be highly active practitioners.

We met a few muslims at the mosque and wished them Happy Eid Mubarak as Raya Haji was just 2 days away. From them we found out the location of halal restaurants in the area and soon found ourselves at a Turkish restaurant called "Salam Restaurant". Hubby, Dr Chew and I were more than happy to escape the cold and have a quick bite and pit-stop at this very cosy place. Feeling rather famished, we happily ordered dinner which comprised of lamb kofte, chicken kebabs with salads, pitta bread and turkish coffee ( the last one for the heck of it).

Salam Restaurant


Yummy... no more!

With a full belly and an empty bladder, we left for Myeong-dong for our last shopping spree in Korea. We were leaving for home the next day and I was feeling very apprehensive as I hadn't bought anything for the kids. I was told by Dr Chew that this was the best place to get cheap cheap toys for children.

Ready for riot?? Normal scene in Korea

Myeong-dong.... shop till you drop

Had it not been sooo cold, we might have stayed longer and explored the area better. But it was freezing cold... -10 Celsius, and I felt as if my nose was going to fall off soon. So with shopping bags in hand, we ran into a cab and headed for our hotel. While husband had a short meeting with a colleague back at the hotel, I had the task of packing for our trip home the next day. We managed to get loads of stuff for our girls at Myeong-dong, but none suitable for our boys. Hubby later said that we'll just do what he normally does on his overseas trips when it comes to getting gifts for the kids...that is shop at KLIA toy shop before getting into the taxi home. Yup! That's what we did... and a big Kamsa Hamnida to the cashier for snipping off the price tags before stuffing the things into our shopping bags.


mama23beas said...

Was in Seoul donkey years ago, during my uni days, doing some teakwondo at one sport university there. But what really stuck in my mind is the sight of pig heads (chopped flat on the neck, so they could stand straight up, muncung all up) on low tables at some foodstalls in Namdaemum. Did you see that?

Right after the trip, I told everyone that one trip was enough for me..was tired of trying to get halal food (maybe it is relatively better now, reading your story), communication was hard. But now...rasa satu trip lagi ok kot;)!

bluewonder said...

Thank god we were spared from the pig sighting. Maybe it's better this time around... makan wise that is.

Just hop onto the tube and go the Muslim area in Itaewon...banyak restaurant halal kat situ.

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