I have been blogging for 3 years! I started AmberAnda when I moved out of Bellingham in late October 2007. I think my first entry was about leaving the flower shop. Then I did a trip back east to Washington DC and South Carolina, flying there and driving a friend's new car back to Bellingham. Between my first time in our nation's capital, visiting a nudist community, driving thousands of miles cross-country by myself, and staying with BYU students in the heart of Mormon Utah, I had plenty of fodder for my first few blog entries.
Since then I have traveled throughout much of Latin America, sailed in Canada, lived in a yurt on an island, and moved to South Korea. In Spanish, I would translate Amber Anda "Amber on the Go" or "Amber Ambles", though for chunks of the last 3 years I have lived in one place. Whether traveling or staying put, experiencing the exciting or mundane, I have cherished this blog as a steady place to just write whatever I felt like. It's probably telling that I started it a few months after graduating college- with no more assigned papers, I missed having a reason to write in my life. Thank you for reading, whether you have stopped by once or are a regular follower. I appreciate having this means of communication.
Hey! While we're here, I might as well tell you about last Saturday. It centered around one of the most quintessentially Korean things possible- kimchi! This spicy fermented cabbage side dish is ubiquitous in Korean culture, and fall is the traditional time to make it, when the last of all the cabbage is harvested. The main vegetable of kimchi doesn't have to cabbage though- it can be radish, greens, or anything you want really. The vegetable is soaked in salt water, then coated with layers of chili paste, garlic, ginger, brined anchovies or shrimp, fish sauce, green onion, and other varying ingredients depending on preference and region. Since coming to Korea I have eaten it at least once a day, and truly love it. It is full of flavor and just feels... alive. Yesterday I went 2 hours south to Gwangju for the huge annual Kimchi Festival. You can sample chili pastes and powders, try different kinds of kimchi, fusion kimchi foods, watch live music and dance, go to kimchi exhibits, learn new kimchi recipes, meet contemporary Kimchi masters, buy a special kimchi fermenting pot or fridge, among many other things. Check out the mascots- huge napa cabbage next to a daikon radish.
Above is one of the many sampling booths that you had to elbow your way into if you actually wanted to try anything. I went with another teacher friend who I met at the Great Wall of China in July. She lives in Gwangju, and along with her friends, we made our own cabbage kimchi which we got to take home in nifty little pails.
Also, being foreigners, we got our pictures taken a lot by local press, and one friend got interviewed about kimchi. It was fun, and I'm hoping to make more of my own kimchi before fall is over. I actually planted a big bed of cabbage in my school garden, but it still has awhile to go before it will be full-sized. After having our fill of all things kimchi-related, we headed to downtown Gwangju for dinner. We went to an Indian/Nepalese restaurant which was INCREDIBLY exciting for me. I mean, I REALLY like a lot of Korean food, but the lack of variety after 7 months gets hard to deal with. Eating curry, chicken saag, and garlic naan was amazing. It was just nice to get out of Gunsan and see something different, and experience flavors Korean and foreign.