Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bupyeong Farmers' Market

I'm having a difficult time remembering to bring shopping bags to the store.  At Lotte Mart, you can bring your own bags or buy them for 600 won a pop.  This encourages you to buy reusable bags and not use 10-20 plastic bags each trip.  On Sunday morning, Kyle and I set out to buy produce from the outdoor market in Bupyeong.  It's a good 20 minute walk, and halfway down the road, I looked at Kyle. We forgot the bags. Again.

Oh well.  We kept trekking and opted for limiting our purchases to only a few items.  We weren't sure exactly where this so-called market was held.  We knew it was in the general vicinity of Bupyeong Station, so we figured we'd stumble upon it eventually.  We walked all around the station with no success.  We headed toward the shopping/bar section of Bupyeong that's become familiar most Friday and Saturday nights.  There was a lot of street vending, but no produce to be seen.  After an hour of unsuccessful searching, we thought we'd grab a coffee and call it a day.  We decided to make our way to the end of the road then loop back around to Starbucks.  Kyle said no to Chocolate Cafe, Cupcake Cafe, and Kitten Coffee.

At the end of the road, there was a curious looking alleyway.  Let's just check this one last spot...

Maybe down this way...?

Just around the corner, there were rows and rows of umbrellas, tents, carts, baskets, and FOOD!  We found it!

We walked down the street peering into each basket and crate. We crossed the street, then walked up the other side with our eyes glued to the displays.  Off the main drag, even the curving alley ways were filled with vendors.  Our senses were on overload.

Some typical street food tempura style

Gorgeous potted flowers
The freshest seafood around - still swimming!

An assortment of dried beans
Various pig parts, including the head

Larvae: a protein-packed snack
Freshly caught fish on ice
More pig pieces: feet, ribs, legs, etc.
Navigating the narrow paths through all the stands was quite overwhelming! You'd be gawking over some gorgeously plump strawberries, when suddenly you're hit in the face with the stench of raw fish.  Or you'd be pondering the purchase of almonds vs. walnuts, then you peer into the next barrel and find it full of larvae.  We saw entire hindquarters of cows sliced open at the hips, sting rays cut into slabs, rows of whole chickens piled high, and squid with their tentacles draped to the ground.

I expected the Korean vendors to be aggressive, but typically, the tenant was an older woman slouched in a lounge chair, who pulled herself up only if you were making a purchase.  My mid-western American manners urged me to smile and nod at them as I photographed their goods, but they just shook their heads at me, laughing.

In the end, our feeble arms could only carry a few carrots, a head of lettuce, and some oranges.  The carrots were the biggest I've ever seen - at least 3 inches in diameter!

Enormous, delicious carrots
Bright and juicy oranges
My ability to communicate in Korean is still non-existent.  I couldn't quite make out the sign for the oranges, so I picked up four, handed them to the vendor and asked how much? His eyes shifted, and he said quickly, "5,000 won."  I handed him the bill, then walked on.  Kyle said, "I think the sign meant 5 for 5,000 won, but you only got 4.  I think he just ripped us off."  Stupid Americans.  We spent the walk home arguing over whether or not we just got swindled.  We'll be back next weekend ready to haggle, as soon as I learn the Korean number systems (yes, there are two, depending on what you're counting). I'll also bring shopping bags.


  1. So I'm dying to know--- did you try the larvae?!?! As much protein (or more!) as edemame (I bet!) Aaaand those carrots are mutants. OUT OF CONTROL!

    1. I did NOT try the larvae... wasn't feeling quite that daring!!