When I started planning my Gapshida trip, I had never heard of Rotorua, New Zealand before. I chose all of my Gapshida locations based on submissions through my website, and I really wanted to meet and cook with Mere, so I booked a ticket for Rotorua without even being sure how to pronounce it properly.
Just before I arrived, I found out that it’s a popular travel destination because of its natural beauty. It’s well-known among Koreans although personally I had never heard of it.
This is my hotel in Rotorua. I stayed on the second floor where the table and chairs are, and my room had a Jacuzzi! However, they had a rule that you couldn’t use it after 10pm, so I only had 2 chances to use it.
Most of the time I hung around with Jamie and Ryan who were staying across the yard. I could check in on them pretty easily and see what they were doing, and if they were ready to cook something. Usually they were ready.
I found this place called “Arirang” (the name of a Korean folk song) nearby with norrebang (singing room) written in Korean, signs that many Koreans had been here before!
One night Jamie, Ryan, and I had a party. We invited Jill and Mere for dinner and bought top quality sirloin to cook soegogi gui grilled beef.
“Here is gochugaru (hot pepper flakes)!” Jamie and Ryan are making yangnyeomjang for green onion salad.
“The delicious taste comes from my tips of fingers!”
Jill came and I was totally surprised by what she brought – a huge pot of dakjuk (chicken and rice porridge)!
Jill’s dakjuk in a large pot.
She followed the directions from my recipe exactly, by first serving the chicken and then the porridge!
She said this was the first time for her to make dakjuk. It turned out perfectly! The chicken was tender and the porridge was very delicious.
Yummy yummy boong boong!
Mere joined us soon after. We had a great party!
After dinner, all of us had a wonderful time talking about many things. Jill said: “I like Korean food, but I’m not a big fan of rice cake. The taste is strange and gooey.” Mere nodded, agreeing with Jill.
Jamie said: “Oh, I didn’t like rice cake either the first time I tried it, but I kept trying it. By the second or third time you’ll really like the texture.”
Jill and Mere were smiling to be polite, but they looked at each other as if to say: “Why do we have to keep eating something that we don’t like?”
I thought this was very funny. It reminded me of a Canadian friend who once told me: “I love Korean food, but rice cake is strange. It’s not sweet, and when I chew it, it grows more and more in my mouth.”
I helped Jill and Mere: “Haha Jamie, it sounds like you’re trying to persuade them to like rice cake!” Everybody laughed, including Jamie. We teased him: “Are you working for the Korean government to promote Korean food?”
Sooner or later I found my eyes were closing due to exhaustion. Eventually Mere said: “Maangchi, you must be so tired, I think you need some rest.”
She must have seen my eyes were closed for a few seconds. So I went to my room and fell asleep soundly.
The next day Jamie, Ryan and I went out and found a nice place for breakfast. I had a delicious cafe mocha.
Toast, bacon, and fresh mushrooms.
I’ve often bought frozen New Zealand mussels in New York, so I was really looking forward to trying their fresh mussels when I visited the country. The mussels were much bigger than the ones I’d previously seen. I made miyukguk (seaweed soup) with these fresh mussels.
“Ooh yaya! Here you go! Delicious miyeokguk with lots of mussels!”
Large and plump mussels are delicious by themselves but also make absolutely delicious broth! I expected these mussels to be expensive, but I bought enough for everyone with $3. I regret not buying more of them sooner!
“Victory! Victory about what? Happy moment!” Jamie Frater, curry rice, miyukguk, and his best friend: beer.
Whenever we had time, we did some sightseeing in Rotorua. One day we went to Wai-O-Tapu, which is series of thermal pools and craters created by volcanic activity.
The range all natural colors in this area are due to different mineral elements from the earth, so in this photo the red comes from iron oxide.
Near Wai-O-Tapu, Jill took all of us and her family to a very hot stream that is not known to many tourists, but well known to locals. I’ve been to many hot springs before, but usually the water gathers in pools and is still and calm. I’d never seen a hot spring where the hot water flows down the valley in a rushing hot stream.
They seem to come here a lot. Even Jill’s dog was familiar with the stream, and was excitedly swimming and jumping in the hot water. I also saw some candles there, left by previous visitors. I bet that it would be a great place to come at night, under a full moon. If I lived near there I would go all the time.
This was the first and last time for me to use my swimsuit on my Gapshida trip. I thought I would be swimming all the time in hotel pools, but I never had time to do it. The stream was about 40 degrees Celsius, warm, full of minerals, and the most exciting thing was that it was free! : ) However, I didn’t have a chance to take any photos.
One day we visited the “Buried Village,” which is an excavated village that was buried by the erupting Mt.Tarawera in June 10, 1886. This gave me a chance to see how Maori people lived traditionally, and also the story of the people and places around in the erupting volcano.
At the entrance of a Maori house. I am wearing the hat that Chris in Australia gave me. The hat with the small corks on strings will keep flies off my face.
The kitchen in this Maori house is at the entrance. What do you call it? Yes, it’s an open kitchen!
I imagined a Maori mom cooking, and her family watching and smelling the delicious food. The steam and smoke from cooking will go out the front door, but the heat will stay to make the room warm. Wise!
Rotorua Museum, Rotorua, New Zealand
View from the top of the museum.
Bye bye my friends! Bye bye New Zealand! Jamie and Ryan saw me off at the airport in Rotorua before they drove back home to Wellington.
My trip to Europe, Australia, and New Zealand was done and now I was heading to Asia. First stop? Singapore! Come back and I’ll tell you all about it!