Thursday, March 18, 2010

random wandering

A couple of weeks ago, we walked down towards Dongdaemun, then headed back to the Jongno area, via a couple of markets and random streets.  I know I've been here for a while now that nothing in the open food markets surprises me, and I can even say, as I wander through, "Hm, had that, tried that, oh, I know what that is."  In fact, channel surfing that morning, we saw a cooking show on one of the Korean channels, and then in the market, we saw the exact same kind of dried fish.  Not sure what it was, but we could certainly soak it and trim it and prep it to eat now.

This is one of the motels we saw.  They have these privacy curtains so once you pull in and get out of your car, you're not clearly visible to the street.

Home sweet home.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

no, say it isn't so!

Saturday night, since it was a delightful evening, not too freezing cold, we ventured out for an evening on the town, starting with Tex-Mex at Los Amigos and some sour lemon margaritas.  Seems like their margarita recipe had changed since the last time we were there.  After that, it was a stroll down the street to Vin Vino, the new incarnation of Kabinett, so we could check out the new place.  Which, by the way, now has a smaller dining area, has no desserts on their menu, and has an industrial style decor.

We decided to try the "wine flight" because we had no idea what any of the wines were.  Used to be that there would be about 4 or 5 red ones and 4 or 5 white ones to choose from if you just wanted a glass of wine.  Now, there was one white, and 5 reds.  And each month, the wine region changes.  For March, it's France.  For April, it will be a different region, but they didn't know which one yet.  So if you didn't like the one white wine available by the glass, and you didn't want to buy a bottle, you were out of luck.

So, here's the wine flight.  Note the little, tiny glasses.  I usually like to take a whiff of my wine before sipping, see if it smells like wine.  Here, all I got was eau de dish soap.  And of all the wines, I only liked the last one, the $10/glass one.

After Vin Vino, and still in search of dessert, we headed over to Chef Meili's for sacher torte and apple strudel.  As always, delicious.

Here's a shop sign in Itaewon.

NOOO!!  Say it isn't so!!!  Taco Bell is coming to Korea!  In the building where Patio used to be located, just down the road from the Itaewon station.

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unexpected free day

I had an unexpected free day today, so I did a little wandering.  Unfortunately, while it's somewhat pleasant in the sun, it's very cold and windy today, so I didn't do as much walking about as I'd wanted to.  Plus, today was a Yellow Dust day, and the Army's website says conditions are moderate.  Turns out outdoor PE was cancelled for the school kids and they had to stay indoors.

At one end of Insadong, there is an open plaza area where they stage historical re-enactments of traditional ceremonies, like weddings, that has just been redone.  Now, there's the stage, but also room for vendors to set up stalls and sell stuff.

Pillar at edge of the plaza area with tile flower designs:


After leaving Insadong, I headed up for Samcheongdong, another little touristy area nearby.  There are lots of art galleries, and various pieces of art installed along the streets.  There was one stone wall that had what I originally thought were bits of chewing gum stuck to it, but upon closer inspection, it was stone stuff glued to the wall.  There were quite a few of these throughout the area.  Here's a street corner with paintings on the walls and a sign pointing towards someplace.

Building in Samcheongdong.  The colors are what caught my eye.

Door of a house.  Many of the doors are these colored panels with designs on them.  Apparently there were dogs there because they started barking as soon as I turned off my camera.

Traditional style compound, with main house surrounded by stone fence.

Older style building.  According to the plaque, this is the "Original Site of the Joseon Language Society."  I couldn't find much about the Joseon Language Society in a very quick google search, but it appears that it came about during the Japanese colonial period as a form of resistance to ensure that the Korean language was not lost.

Typical street in this neighborhood, or at least one big enough for cars to drive down.

I'm searching for a place that I've seen described in summaries of things to do and see in Samcheongdong, and if and when I ever find it, I'll post about it.  It has been described as difficult to find.  But in the meantime, I've done some urban hiking in search of it.  I've noticed that on the map I have of this area, that the line width should not be used as an indicator of whether or not a route is really a street or not.  I walked up to a specific place, which according to the map, should have a road right next to it, since the two lines were of the same width.  Nope.  Turns out that while it looks like a road on the map, it's really a very narrow alley between two buildings, that turns into a flight of uneven concrete steps going up between houses.  With post boxes.  I'd hate to be the mailman in that neighborhood, although I'd probably be in amazing shape.  This is the view from the top of the steps.  Which, by the way, put you right into the middle of a street at the top.  And yes, on the map, both the street and the alley are the same line width.

View from upper road, looking out over the southern end of Samcheongdong-gil.  Traditional style building is most likely the National Folk Museum of Korea.

I think this is art.  But I'm not entirely sure.

Random art along the road.  The Star Wars characters are what caught my eye.  The letters along the bottom read: I Thought What I'd Do Was I'd Pretend I Was One Of Those Deaf-Mutes, Or Should I?

And after all this walking around, I can barely feel my fingers.  So it's time to go home and warm up.
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Samil and Tapgol Park

Samil, which is the numbers three (sam) and one (il) combined, is the holiday commemorating the March 1st Movement, or resistance against the Japanese.  On March 1, 1919, a group of Korean nationalists read a Declaration of Independence near Tapgol Park.  In the first picture below of Tapgol Park (all taken from my apartment), the monument for Samil is the grey stone wall on the left side between the gate at the top and pagoda on the bottom.

This year, it's a rather cold, windy, blustery day after a night and morning of rain so there aren't that many people out at the moment.  There are still loudspeakers going, with speeches and music, though.

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Duck in Chyeonggyecheon

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