My Musts in Insadong

My amazing friend Zach is visiting Seoul in July for business and as soon as I found out I started making a mental list of all the things we must do while he is here. Among the many things on that list is Insadong. Insadong was originally an area for painters to study and has held true to its roots as it is now a place to find beautiful paintings, ceramics, and other crafts. Here are a few of my favorite things in Insadong. Read more

Something Cultural: Gyeongbokgung Palace

I’m no history buff.  I can really only handle it in small amounts, so here’s my incredibly short run down of the history of Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Gyeongbokgung roughly translates to Palace of Shining Happiness in English. It was built by the Joseon Dynasty in 1395 and then was burned down by the Japanese for the first time in 1592. After being rebuilt in the 1800s, it was destroyed by the Japanese a second time during their occupation of Korea. Only ten structures survived in the compound. It’s kind of understandable why there is an underlying dislike for Japan in Korea. Much of the Gyeongbokgung compound has been restored and it’s quite a pleasant place to walk around.

Hyangwon-jeong aka Pavilion of Far-Reaching Fragrance

Side note: I highly recommend wearing a pair of sunglasses if you go on a sunny day. I know this may seem obvious, but Dave and I thought it would be overcast so we didn’t bring our sunglasses. After emerging from the subway we were happy to find that it was turning into a blue sky day, but quickly realized that the glare from the light gray stones was going to be a problem. We jumped at every opportunity to stand in the shade and give our eyes a break.

My favorite part of the traditional Korean structures are the eaves and beams. They are beautifully painted. I love how much thought was put into a part of the building that we often ignore in western architecture.

Directions:

Take either subway Line 3 to Gyeongbokgung Station Exit 5 or take Line 5 to Gwanghwamun Station Exit 2.

Picture of the Week: Something Beautiful

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.

For more of David’s pictures, check out his flickr page and his blog.

Spring Has Sprung in Seoul

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

Picture of the Week: Angel-in-us

This coffee shop always cracks us up when we walk by it. Read it a few times and see if it sounds like anything else to you.

Maybe we are a little immature, but we can’t help but read it as Angel Anus. I love this picture because I’m a huge fan of Blues Brothers and if you look to the right, you’ll see Jake and Elwood dancing above the neighboring store.

Picture of the Week: School Food

Raise your hand if you want your mouth full of dream!

I took this picture outside a chain restaurant called School Food in Hongdae. For the record, they do have some dreamy items on their menu; like their mari, which is somewhere between kimbap and sushi, served with mayo (yuck!) on the side. Dave and I can’t get enough of their tempura shrimp and beef mari rolls.

Climb On

My spider monkey/personal climbing coach.

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.

Read more

A Rather Honest Valentine

How’s that for a Valentine? One of the kids in my kindergarten class wrote this to one of her classmates. Chubby James didn’t seem to be too bothered by it, but I did catch him reading and re-reading it a few times.

In other Valentine’s related news, did you know that in Korea, women are expected to give men gifts on Valentine’s Day, not the other way around?! Women get gifts from men on White Day, a month later, on March 14th. And they made a holiday for all the single folk a month after that, called Black Day, where single people get to eat noodles with a black bean sauce and celebrate being single. Bet you won’t find Hallmark making White Day and Black Day cards anytime soon.