Well it’s been 5 months since my teaching contract ended at Sungbuk ECC. Even longer since my last post. I guess to wrap up my time at Sungbuk ECC here are some pictures of some of the cool crafts my lovely students made.
Since the end of my 6 month vacation is coming to an end I’ll give you some pictures from all the fun I have! We’ll call it Flashback Friday and I’ll post one for each week this month! For now, enjoy these!
For a How-to for the Truffula Trees click HERE
For the printable for the rainbows click HERE
For a How-to for the Rainbow Rain click HERE
Happy Birthday Buddha! I know I’m a bit late for this post but I wanted to share some of these great photos of Jeondeungsa.
The temple is said to date back to 381, which would make it the oldest temple in Korea. It’s a beautiful place, especially with all the Buddha’s Birthday festivities.
The Korea Tourism site mention to check out the corners of the main hall Daeungbojeon—you’ll see little carved figures of what kinda looks like a naked women holding up the roof.
“According to legend, the engineer building the temple fell in love with a barmaid in town. Unfortunately for him, she absconded with all his money. In revenge, the engineer worked her image into the temple, where, at least figuratively, she would have to hold up the temple roof for all eternity.”
Wow Korea is so good at revenge.
There are several national treasure here too, such as: Yaksajeon (Treasure No. 179), Beomjong Bell (Treasure No. 393, constructed in China in the 11th century), and Yangheonsu Victory Monument (Tangible Cultural Treasure No. 26). There are also many ancient trees.
We had a long weekend back in May for Buddha’s birthday. So with some friends we went straight down line 1 and went to the last stop headed west: Incheon.
Ah, this randomly popped up one day after posting. WordPress usually gives some kind of random inspiration to bloggers, like a muse or excessive drinking. This title caught my eye. “What travel lessons have you learned the hard way?” Let me put this out there and say I am in no way a globe trotter. I have been to my share of strange, different, and exotic places but I haven’t been everywhere. But in my time overseas and a few self-planned trips I can say mistake were made….
# 5. No Faffing About: On the way to Sokcho, Chad and I were almost left behind during a routine pit-stop in the lovely countryside of middle-of-nowhere Korea. Luckily, Chad and I can run fast. However much time the bus drive says you have, just take a piss and hurry back. Whatever you want to buy, or do, or look at, forget it, just pee and hop back on the bus.
#4. On the Map: maps, most are for free, we have them on smart phones and GPS and navigation systems. There are all kinds of neat and niffy way to access a map nowadays. Don’t waste your vacation time lost- look at a map! Everywhere I go, I bring a map or get one at the local tourist information center. If you don’t want to look touristy, cause you’re just too cool for that, check your map in a private location, like a bathroom. Just check it. Most places in Korea (if you look pretty lost and are staring at a map) some kind Korean, will an urge to practice English, will ask you if you need help. You never know, you can make a friend!
#3. Sail the 7 Seas with me, just find your own way: don’t book trips for friends. It’s been a few times now that I’ve planned and booked a trip and was a kind and handy travel agent for my friends. But unlike a travel agent I didn’t get paid and got the shaft. Then I’m left to pay the bill and make the recalculations. (Ya know like reckoning the price on sharing a condo with 5 instead of 6.) If you want to travel with friends, that’s find and it’s a great idea to travel with others, but have everyone book their own way and meet up later.
#2. 867-5309!!! This may seem simple but make sure you have the address and phone of the hotel or hostel or where ever you are staying. Lots of things ask for this. Customs want to know it, some random forms at the airport want it and it’s good to have it on hand if you get lost. (Also try to have it in English and it that country’s language/alphabet.) Even if you know the location and everything- just in case! I knew exactly where our hotel was from the subway station, unfortunately, I forgot which subway station and the name of them hotel once we arrived in Tokyo. It wasn’t until I was staring at a neighborhood map that it click, we were at the WRONG subway station…. This may seem like a no-brainer but simple things just confuse and scary me.
#1. Ah, take the Cash in hand: This may seem strange to some, and I’m sure some people will say I’m all wrong about this one, but trust me when I say, keep cash on you. Not a lot, and always enough to get a train, or bus, or cab, back to the airport, ferry or whatever that brings you home. The morning we were headed back from Tokyo we had spent all our cash, not wanting to carry a bunch of yen back to Seoul. “I’ll just use my card” I thought. Except in Tokyo the only ATM’s that have any English options require you to withdraw a minimum of 10,000 yen which, at the time, was roughly 100 USD. We had just under 100 bucks in my home account, because the night before I used my card to buy dinner. We were stuck with the crippling fear of no way to buy a train ticket to get back to the airport. We were stuck in Tokyo! We had Korean won and even a 50 US dollar bill in my wallet but no Japanese yen. Luckily, the other train company in that station opened at 6:00 AM and Chad was able to scrap enough Japanese to buy two tickets to the airport. This train company had a ticket booth that took card. Thank God for the JR line (Japan Railways Group.)
So these are my top 5 tips for travelers. Bon voyage!!
Wow, fantastic baby!
Where did April go?? It’s already SO hot, summer will be here before you know it, and my second year in Seoul will come to an end.
Right on line 4 it was very easy to get to from my location in Donam-dong. You need more than just a day to see everything it has to offer, and repeat visits are a grand idea if you want to get away from the city and see all it has to offer.
We spend our time at the zoo. The zoo was pretty cool, lots of animals and each area themed and decorated. We didn’t even get to see everything because it was getting late.
Here are some of my favorites:
Some pictures from this March! Enjoy!
Here are some of the highlights from this past month! Hope you enjoy!
Anapji (meaning goose and duck pond) is an artificial pond that was a part of a palace complex in the ancient Silla Dynasty. It went into disrepair, but during a renovation project in 1974 it was restored to it former flourishing glory. The complex is located in central Gyeongju and only a three minute walk from Gyeongju National Museum. You can take city bus number 11. It was highly recommended to visit at night.
Gyeongju is the former capital of the kingdom of Silla Dynasty that lasted for almost a thousand years. The city is rich with history and ancient treasures. One of the biggest and most famous spots is Bulguksa or Bulguk Temple.
The temple, along with Seokguram Grotto, was added to UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995. It’s also the head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. The temple is classified as Historic and Scenic Site No. 1 by the South Korean government. With all that, you can see why it’s a big deal and a major tourist site in Gyeongju.
The most highly recommended thing to see at Bulguksa are the two stone pagodas. These pagodas were build in 751 and are prime works from the Silla Dynasty, which is considered the golden age of Buddhist art. One pagoda Dabotap (pagoda of many treasures) is elaborate, full of details and unique sculpting. In contrast, Seokgatap (pagoda of Sakyamuni) is a simple and basic design. Both compliment each other nicely in the courtyard of Bulguksa.
You see a lot of rock stacking in Korea, at temples and on hiking trails. Someone once told me that you add a rock to a stack and make a wish. If the stack stays the wish will come true, but if it falls then all the wish won’t come true. Some rock stack as a family, each rock for each member. Some use it as prayers. I have even seen rock stacking in the current video game I’m playing Skyrim. It’s a bit of an enchanting sight to see so many little stacks of rocks, it’s a peaceful feeling to gaze at all of the mementos of prayers and wishes of hundreds of people and families.
Gyeongju is a beautiful city in the southeastern part of Korea. It was the capital city of Korea during the Silla Dynasty for about one thousand years. It was the longest surviving kingdom in the history of Korea.
Gyeongju is packed with things to see from burial tombs to temples to a theme park.
We stayed at a really inexpensive hotel called the Sajo Resort. It was about ₩80,000 a night divided by five people, it was a steal. The room was condominium style with a living room/kitchen area and two small bedrooms. We got a taste of Korean style sleeping, which means sleeping on a pallet on a heated floor.
Getting to Gyeongju is real easy and similar to our trip to Sokcho. We head to the Express Bus Termial in Gangnam right on line 3. Thanks to Sunny we already had our tickets so we all got some breakfast and waited for our bus. Tickets for the bus only cost about ₩20,000 for one way. (Round trip cost about ₩40,000.) Due to the holiday traffic the bus ride was about 5 hours instead of the usual 4 hours without traffic.
Once you enter the city you know you’re miles away from Seoul. You enter a city full of Hanok style homes and buildings. You can see the mountains that surround you and no skyscrapers to obstructed your view.
The air is fresh once you step off the stuffy bus and be sure to stop by the travel information center that is located right next to the bus terminal. Grab a map! There is a bus stop right across the street that leads to most of the hotels and Bomun Lake area.
If you want to know more about the ins and outs there is a great blog I found written by this guy that has lived there about five or so years, check it out!
It’s the Year of the Dragon! Hope this year brings you joy and love.
The biggest Pepero Day is coming up this Friday!! It will be 11/11/11 the first and only one ever, well not until 2111 I guess. I wrote about Pepero Day last year and talked about it some. You can click here if you want to know more about the holiday. I’m really excited this year because they added a new flavor STRAWBERRY! So here’s my two favorite ones.
While my mom was here, we went to Everland, a giant theme park/zoo/water park all-in-one. There was this part where you could feed these birds and they flew around freely in this area. I’m terrified of birds. While I was a kid I was attacked by bird 11 times in my life. My cat was blinded and later killed by a bunch of birds when I was a toddler. Me + bird does not compute. Here is a funny picture of me trying to conquer my fear. Yeah, didn’t work.
Hey everyone! Sh1ft.org has a new project coming up: A Day in the Life. If you want to play click here to learn more!
Here are some pictures of our DMZ trip. We took the USO tour which is by far the best tour available because it’s the only one that allows access to the Joint Security Area (JSA) in the Panmunjom area. KoriDoor is the company and the tour takes you to JSA, Third Infiltration Tunnel, Dora Observatory, and Dorasan Station. It cost a bit more but it’s worth it, about 92,000 won or 80 USD.
First we went to the Third Infiltration Tunnel. This is the third out of four official tunnels found that lead from North Korea to South Korea. Stooping all the way, we made it to the end of the tunnel where we could see the third concrete barricade. In that barricade you can see a tiny window where the second barricade is visible. The first barricade is not visible. Also taking photos is prohibited in the tunnel. There is a movie about the war visitors can watch and there is a small exhibit filled with items from the war and miniature models of the DMZ.
There was this amazingly campy tourist sign of the DMZ outside so of course we need a picture of that.
There were a couple of other cute things that you could take pictures next to.
After the tunnel, we drove to The Dora Observatory on the top of Mt. Dora. From there you can see into North Korea. We ate lunch at the Inter-Korean Transit Office. After that we were scheduled to go to Dorsan Station but we had to change plans and get to Camp Bonifas.
Camp Bonifas is a United Nations Command military post located 400 meters south of the southern boundary of the Korean Demilitarized Zone. There we received a briefing about the JSA and the DMZ. We got on a military bus and headed to the JSA.
We were not allowed to take photos of Camp Bonifas or the Freedom House in the JSA. But we could take photos inside the UN Command Conference Building and outside of the Freedom House that looks towards the North.
Inside the UN Command Conference Building there were two ROK (Republic of Korea) soldiers. All ROK soldiers stand in a taekwondo stances wearing dark Ray-Ban sunglasses and helmets. They wear these to show no emotion to North Korea. While inside northern part of the UN Command Conference Building you are technically standing inside North Korea.
We walked back outside and stood on the edge of the top step of the Freedom House facing Panmungak the North Korean building. While there we could ask any questions to our US MP tour guide as long as you don’t point or gesture.
Finally we made our way to Dorasan Station, with it’s motto “Not the last station from the South, But the first station toward the North.” In hopes of reunification, the train tracks lay there new and quiet waiting for that day.
Day 9: went to FC Seoul vs Busan! It was pretty fun. The first half was deathly boring and to make it worst Busan scored. BUT the second half got going and FC Seoul made a come-back with 2 goals. I’ve yet to attend a game that we lost. I’m good luck like that! Final score 2-1 FC Seoul!
Day 7: Visited Gyeongbok Palace today. We were suppose to tour the Blue House (Cheongwadae), which is the president’s house but we missed our tour because I got us lost. However, all was not lost we did get to see the changing of the Royal Guard ceremony and that was really cool. We also toured the rest of Gyeongbok Palace which was great and that was my last palace to see. Now I’ve been to all Five Grand Palaces!! Gyeongbok Palace was the largest of the 5 and with the most still standing or restored. It was the main palace and called “Palace of Shining Happiness.” Inwangsan stands in the background while looking west at the palace. It also has the National Folk Museum and Palace Museum on the grounds.
After our trip we went to Chad’s school to meet his kinders and older students. They were great. One even wrote my mom a letter, it was so sweet.
Now the big adventure tomorrow, the DMZ.
Day 6: Toured the Five Grand Palaces and the Secret Garden of Changdeok Palace today. The Secret Garden was so beautiful. It’s a giant rear garden that was a relaxing place for the king and queen. They would partake in several outdoor activities such as military exercises and archery. The king would even raise grain and the queen would engage in sericulture, the rearing of silkworms for raw silk. It was a little bit of a up and downhill walk at times but completely worth it. I’d love to go again in autumn and spring. Tickets were 8,000 won per person that was to go around Changdeok Palace and The Secret Garden guided tour. You can only enter the Secret Garden with a tour group. They have tours in Korean, English and Japanese.
Day 5: Took Mama to The Foot Shop. It was amazing. Experienced Dr. Fish and it was cool. Doctor Fish are these little fish usually Garra rufa and Cyprinion macrostomus, that eat the dead skin off your feet. It tickles a little and it’s great for you. Then we soaked our feet in a little foot spa and had a 60 minute foot massage. You sit in these big comfortable chairs and they massage your feet and legs. At the end you even get a little shoulder rub. Now I know where I’m going every payday!
Day 4: Namsan! My favorite place in Seoul. We went to N Seoul Tower and the Teddy Bear Museum.
Day 2: We walked around Dongdaemun and did some shopping. Then we walked from Dongdaemun to Jonggak Station along the Cheonggyecheon Stream. If you know the subway route it’s about 3 subway stops on line 1 the dark blue line. It was a long but fun walk. We saw this grandfather walking with his grandson teaching him about the fish in the stream. The kid was no more than 2 or 3 years old. I actually could understand what he was saying. It was a very sweet little moment. We took a couple of pictures and enjoyed the scenery. The stream is a beautiful oasis in this urban jungle.
Then we met up with Jamie and went to Myeongdong. At Myeongdong we visited the Myeongdong Cathedral and lit a couple of candles. Its Neo-Gothic architecture is something to admire. Kyle met us for a late lunch and then we went to see Nanta. Nanta is amazing even if you’ve see it before.
Tomorrow is another adventure, stay tuned!!
Day 1: Today we took Mama to Korean class with us in Gangnam. She really enjoyed it and got to meet our CLS friends. Afterwards we took the bus to COEX mall and of all things ate at On The Border. We roamed around the mall and then went to the COEX Aquarium. It was fun going there again and because it was in the evening (around 5pm) we gt in at a discounted price. We took Mama to galbi in Anam-dong and chai tea at Saru our favorite Indian/Nepalese resturant. Overall a great day. I’m so glad Mama is here.
This is Seoul Forest. It’s a forest in the middle of Seoul one of the largest cities in the world. Korea’s ambition is to grow it into a premium city park like Central Park in New York City or Hyde Park in London. In the times of the Joseon dynasty it was a royal hunting ground. This is all according to the official Korea tourism site. I had a fun time with Kyle and Brooke walking around the park. Sorry I posted this kinda late. We did this a few weeks ago.