Saturday, March 19, 2016

Adventures in Korea: Happy Mart

What do you eat? 
How do you shop for food?
Is it safe to eat?
Is it all weird stuff?

Those are just some of the questions I’ve heard from family and friends about living in Korea. I am not living in an episode of MASH. Korea is a great mixture of traditional open air markets and modern big box stores. There’s a little bit of everything for everyone.

We have two “mom and pop” grocery stores within a short walk of us. A few months ago before the great freeze of death winter, I took a stroll dragged my three kids to one and took some photos.

Say hello to Happy Mart. 

It’s a small but clean store that includes the basics of rice, chili pepper paste, vegetables, fruits, seafood, and many stacks of instant noodles. 

They even have tons of Korean snacks like these rice cakes (Tteok and Chapssaltteok).

Fairly normal, right?! 

Downside to walking to Happy Mart is that I only buy what I can carry while keeping up with two walking kids and a heavy baby on my back. 

This trip’s objective was to pick up items for lunches. Due to my diet restrictions (youngest has several intolerances/allergies) that means a lot of rice and vegetables for me! Happy Mart is more expensive than the open air markets, but it’s closer and open everyday. This trip cost a little under 12,000 won (about $10).  

Sorry to disappoint everyone, but it’s fairly normal overall. If those willing and able, there’s lots of yummy food here to eat!

From my husband's trip to Happy Mart one week.

Adventures In Korea: Outdoor Markets

It's been almost three years since I last posted. Life got very, very busy. How did my life go from my last post to three kids and living in Korea? I'm honestly not sure some days. ;) My goal is to get back to rambling as I see fit.


When I walked up to my first outdoor market I felt like I finally found the Korea I was expecting and wanting. Rows of brightly colored umbrellas and pop up canopies were squeezed into several narrow streets. The sights, smells, and sounds were overwhelming that first time as my family walked through what seemed like a maze. Food carts were squeezed into tight spaces with their spicy dishes and fried sweets. The language I didn’t understand buzzed in my ears as several stand owners yelled through bullhorns. Clothes hung in tightly packed racks. You name it and I’m sure someone was selling it. This wasn’t a fancy mall, the big box store Emart, or even the English speaking area outside of the base gates. This was Korea. One of the ongoing traditional outdoor markets.

I am not Korean sized, but they do have some great deals!

Very thankful we chose to wear our two youngest kids! On busy market days it’s really hard to fit even the smallest of umbrella strollers. Keeping up with three kids in such a crowded space is definitely made easier by only having to keep up with one walking child. 

That first trip I decided to stick to the basics...bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, and chamwae.
And have I mentioned that this was all WAAAAY cheaper than the base commissary prices?!