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Seoul Trip in Photos

6 Jun

So I’ve been more than a lota-bit lax with keeping this gong-show updated during the month of May. To be fair it’s been a pretty busy month thats included my birthday and a well saturated sleep schedule.   Also celebrating a birthday in May was Buddah, who like me, is a Taurus. No wonder we have so much in common!   Beyond explaining our almost scary similarities(I’m wise, he’s wise, I’m super popular, He’s -mildly less- but still super popular, and so on and so forth), this meant I had a four day holiday during which I took the chance to visit Korea’s capital. For the first time in my life I felt like a townie taking on the big city. Although hailing from Pohang, with a meger population of 520,000, would hardly qualify me as a townie, having been born and raised in Toronto certainly makes it seem so in comparison.

Although I wish I could to regale you with hilarious tidbits from my holiday, it was over a month ago and seeing as I’m now a quarter of a century old my memory is slipping(was it ever there to lose?), so the best I can do is bombard you with pictures.

I traveled to Seoul via Korea’s version of the Bullet Train – the KTX. I took this picture as the train was pulling out of the station in hopes of capturing it’s super speed (clearly I failed). Surprisingly, the ride felt a little less like the Vortex at the CNE(or whatever traveling carnival comes ’round your parts) and a little more like, well, a train ride(go figure).

One of our many stops on my short trip was to Gyeongbokgung Palace(which apparently translates to “Palace of Shining Happiness”). The palace was built in 1394 by the Joseon Dynasty.  During  the Japanese occupation of Korea in the early 20th century, much of the Palace was destroyed in order to eliminate any symbolism of the former dynasty. (Wow it’s almost like I know stuff……or maybe the pamphlet that followed me home from my trip has been well read)

We were just really excited to be able to take a picture with a man who donned such a luscious beard

Looking back at the palace gate

Geunjeongjeon Hall, where the king held his court. Also, note the slight angle at which this photo was taken. Some would say it’s crooked, but if you look closely, you’ll see the hallmark of a true artist.

K’naan, this one’s for you

Bad-ass Urn – aka I don’t have any infomation on this one

This is part of the palace’s back garden. The pavilion is named Hyangwonjeong, which translates to “Pavilion of Far-Reaching Fragrance”

Perhaps it’s because I hail from Toronto, but whenever I spot a mountain range I get excited (this means I am excited quite a bit in Korea)

Like a true tourists we also visited Seoul Tower, which is located on Namsan Mountain, and is known to boast some of the best views of the city. Unfortunately our view was rather gray and melancholy

Couples write messages on locks, which they attach to the gates on the base of the tower as a symbol of their commitment to one another

The tower at nightfall

One of my favourite places on the trip was a traditional makgeolli bar whose interior was filled with log huts that may/may not have have come straight from the jungles of Indochina. Mageolli is a sweet milky liquor made of rice and I have yet to decide on weather or not I like it as one time it was bearable, the other time not so much.  What was definitely delicious here were the buchimgae, which is a savoury Korean pancake which can contain various ingredients such as seafood or kimchi(to be fair, I am unsure if all variants of the dish are called buchimgae),and could be described as Korea’s answer to a latka, except better.

We followed up this Korean gem with equally classy joints

They brought me to this bar, aptly named “Garage Bar” seeing as it’s in an old public parking garage, in jest.  Much to their dismay I took quite a liking to it, mostly because I could relate to its trashiness, and maybe because I am a bit pretentious??

I’m not a fan of Andy Warhol, infact, I think he’s a bit of an a-hole, but this restaurant’s signage had a neon, worn nostalgia that I can always enjoy

Starbucks has a significant presence in Korea, usually made known using their familiar romanized sign. However, this location’s Hangul take on the iconic sign acted as a reminder that I’m just a little far from home.( another,but not as obvious, reminder would be all the Korean people who live here)

And I’ll end this one with a picture of the health food snack we snuck in after our shopping frenzy at Dondaemun market . Yes, this is a corn dog deep fried in fries. Pure Genius.

This thing will be updated more I promise. May was just a sleepy month……..



Cuddly Cultural Experience

28 Apr

In the past few weeks cherry blossom season has come and gone (which I must say, albeit of momentous beauty, is overshadowed by its fickleness…..I would say that the flowers were in bloom for no more than 3 days prior to wilting away) , I have hiked mountains, seen temples, and have visited three different cities. Within these lie some of the most visually stimulating experiences of my life time thus far, so of course are all ones I forgot my camera at home for(ah! such is the burden of the dufus).

But alas do not fret for all is not lost, as I did manage to bring my camera to the most enriching of these experiences – the opening of the Teddy Bear Museum in Gyeongju (one of my students really wanted to go so that is how I ended up there… I swear it!)  All sarcasm aside the experience was certainly intriguing. The event’s demographic was equally comprised of children and women my age, with a small percentage of parents and disgruntled male chaperones(who doubled as personal photographers/purse racks).  When I was originally told of said  museum images of a child friendly, cozy and kitschy  environment came to mind, and yet it was nothing of the sort, as it seemingly attempted to imitate  modern art galleries with its sterile white walls and glass encased displays.  What was also interesting was the choice in themes for the displays, from ancient Korean history and the birth of baby  Jesus to ones inspired by popular Korean dramas, none of which seemed to be of much interest to what I anticipated to be the intended demographic.

An example of how ornate and detailed some of the displays were:

The famous Sermon on the Mount where Jesus made sure that no bears went without fish and honey

A re-enactment of my fave scene from House of Flying Daggers

Just giving ol’ pops a piggy back ride

Warming up for a scene in the upcoming Black Swan sequel. Industry insiders say  that it will have even more crotch grabs than its predecessor(hard to imagine, I know), including an intense psychedelic slo-mo montage of said grabs

Middle East Represent!

I have a penchant for all things neon, so I will admit that I enjoyed the “Under the Sea” exhibit

And then there was a series of displays paying homage to the classics (Fine, to be fair some could legitimately classify as classics, but I doubt this standard would apply to the general Korean public, especially not the adolescents) Really, of all the movies ever made is Step Up amongst the most deserving of a Teddy Bear homage?(I wonder which one is meant to be Channing Tatum)

To my disappointment, there wasn’t a display for Saturday Night Fever’s sequel, Staying Alive

Rudy Galindo gets a life sized bear (and rightfully so!)

Wow I just managed to write an entire post based on my visit, so really what’s more laughable :S