I don’t seek out parks back home. Maybe that’s because we lived in Boulder and we had access to stunning mountains within walking distance. For what ever reason though, I’ve discovered and fallen in love with parks this spring.
The first park we went to was Seonyudo Park, to see the cherry blossoms. Seonyudo Park is a small island in the middle of the Han River here in Seoul. The island was formerly home to a sewage treatment plant from 1978-1998 after which it was converted into a stunning park which incorporates the structures left behind from the treatment plant. It’s a peaceful place for a quiet picnic and a lovely walk. Every time I go there I am so inspired by what an amazing job they did turning a place that must have looked so industrial and devoid of nature into a calm and inviting atmosphere for people to escape the city. It’s a place that gives me hope; it’s possible to turn all of this concrete into something beautiful again. Read more
I first discovered the Trick Eye Museum (aka Trompe-l’oeil) online a few months ago. Dave and I have been wanting to go, but it didn’t seem to be a great place for only two people to visit because it is an interactive optical illusion museum. What that means is that you get to pose with the paintings and become part of the art yourself. I imagine it’s quite popular here since everyone seems to have a fancy camera and vanity isn’t exactly frowned upon as much as it is at home.
Dave and I waited until we could round up a few other people to visit the museum to make the experience a little more fun. If it had been just the two of us we wouldn’t have been able to pose in pictures together and it would have been us just alternating who posed and who took the pictures. We finally went this past weekend and it was certainly worth the wait.
Here’s a sample of what the museum has to offer. Read more
Yesterday, Dave and I spent the entire day in Insadong. We took a cooking class (more details to come on that), learned how to make lotus lanterns (more to come on that as well), and watched the Lotus Lantern Parade. Because we were there all day, we were able nab front row seats for the festivities. It was the longest parade either of us had ever sat through, but being that it was our first lantern parade we sat through the entire thing and enjoyed every moment. The parade was in honor of Buddha’s birthday and was full of smiling monks and nuns, women in gorgeous hanbok (traditional Korean dresses), and many, many lanterns both big and small. Read more
This week I decided to post a little something different for the Picture of the Week. Instead of a silly English picture, I am posting one of David Domalgalski’s pictures. I chose this one of the cherry blossoms in Yeouido to post because I am still thinking about how stunning the cherry blossoms were this year, weeks after they have already disappeared. There was something magical about walking under that canopy of tiny white flowers. It was the perfect way to enter spring and I’m thrilled that we got to experience it.
Neither Dave nor I are huge mushroom fans, so when we first arrived in Korea and were told that directly across the street from our apartment is an incredibly famous mushroom soup restaurant, we weren’t overcome with excitement. We watched the restaurant fill up night after night from our living room window. We weren’t gung-ho about giving it a try because of our lack of enthusiasm for mushrooms, but everyone raved about it so much and it was so close that we had to try it. Now it’s one of our favorite restaurants and staple foods in Korea. Read more
Our school has been going through quite a few changes lately, which has increased stress levels for everyone here. Just when we were all starting to crack, the most glorious part of spring in Seoul came out to restore our sanity. Dave and I visited Seonyudo Park on Saturday and Yeouido Park on Sunday to check out the stunning cherry blossoms. These trees are ornamental and won’t bear fruit. They also will only flower for a short window (about one week), after which the falling petals give off the appearance of snow. Walking hand in hand with Dave through the park under the cherry blossoms was exactly what we both needed. I was incredibly giddy, despite the swarms of people in Yeouido coming to take a gander at the trees. Spring is here and it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time! Here are a few pictures from this weekend. Read more
Learning how to rock climb has been on my to-do list for a few years now. My goal finally seemed attainable when I started dating Dave because in my eyes he is an incredible rock climber. I’m pretty sure he was a spider monkey in a previous life.
This past summer I finally committed to learning to climb, and invested in a pair of climbing shoes. Unfortunately, the shoes are just as painful to break in as ice skates, so i wasn’t very motivated to climb because my feet hurt so much. I also have never had short nails and was distraught when I discovered I needed to cut my nails short.
We only climbed three times outdoors with ropes and three times in a gym before we left for Korea, so I didn’t have too much experience before we got here. Dave and I alternated being sick for our first two months in Seoul, so it wasn’t until about a month ago that we finally went to a climbing gym. I discovered this awesome website called Korea On the Rocks that has reviews, directions, and pictures of climbing gyms and areas all over South Korea. Turns out climbing is a popular pastime here.
A week and a half ago, Korea celebrated the Lunar New Year, so we had a five day weekend. Yay! Dave’s supervisor asked me what we were planning on doing and I replied that we weren’t sure since we had been told that most things would be closed for the holiday. After asking me what Dave and I liked to do in our spare time, to which I replied, rock climbing, yoga, reading, writing, art, and cooking, she came up with an ingenious idea. Why don’t we go to a couples spa?!
I immediately said YES! because I didn’t even know couples spas existed. It probably shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did because Korea is filled with goods and services directed solely at couples. For example, if you are in need of showing the world, (while you are sitting on the subway playing games on your cell phone), that the man sitting next to you playing games on his phone is your boyfriend, then pick up some his and her cell phone charms. If you want to make an even louder statement, wear matching outfits or his and her t-shirts. Yes, it’s true, couples have been known to walk around in matching outfits in Korea. On a side note, Korean boyfriends also carry their girlfriends’ purses around for them! A fabulous trend that I really wish would take off in the US.
The Tripping Blog featured my post on the Top 5 Things to do on a Frigid Day in Seoul as part of their weekly Travel Tuesday posts. The Tripping Blog is connected to www.tripping.com, which is a “global network of travelers who believe cultural exchange makes the world a better place. [Their] members connect with each other for travel tips, shared cups of coffee and even home stays. Tripping is safe, free and good for the world.” For more information on Tripping, check out their FAQ page. Go read my post and if tripping suits you, then sign up!
Upon hearing that Dave and I went to the Hello Kitty Cafe, one of our friends suggested that we go to the Charlie Brown Cafe as well. So yesterday, Dave and I looked up the directions to the cafe and got on a bus headed to Hongdae. The directions we had said to get out of exit 5 of the Hongik University subway station. We usually take the bus to exit 9, so we went down into the subway to find exit 5.
Unfortunately for us, the directions we had were a little outdated. In our defense, I looked at multiple websites to confirm we had the correct directions and none of them mentioned an exit different from exit 5. The Airport Railroad also stops at the Hongik University Station and appears to be a convenient new addition, unless you are looking for exit five which has moved in the exact opposite direction of the old exit 5.