Sunday, June 26, 2016

All Aboard the Smoking Bus

Had a snack with The Stumbler this afternoon to catch up on his USA trip and daughter's wedding--it all sounds like it was lovely--in the Beer King at the Sinjeongnegeori area.

Since the smoking ban a few years ago, many bars and restaurants have installed a sealed off, generally really small, smoking booth, often jokingly called things like the gas chamber, the cancer cubicle and so on.

Ding! Ding! The Smoking Bus is now boarding.

It's quite roomy compared to many such booths:

And had a message in English, as you often see on cafe walls. As not all that often seen, the grammar was correct:

In case you have trouble reading that, it says: "It is regrettable that many smokers are still lighting up in unauthorized areas. So, it's for you. This area is designated for smoking."

Friday, June 24, 2016

Interesting Lesson: Sentence Relay

This is a lesson called "Sentence Relay", somewhat like a "running dictation" activity. Here's how it works:

Each team's members take turns being "the runner" (one at a time) while the others are "the writers". Supposing there are four members, they have three recording sheets. A runner goes to a station and deciphers the sentence in the image. The one below, for example, is "He is eating a pizza".

The runner returns to the team, dictates the sentence, and they write it in the appropriate space.

The runner takes the recording paper from the next team member and becomes a writer, while s/he goes to the next station to figure out the next sentence.

In this case, the target language was about sentences with present continuous verb phrases, like "I am feeding the dog." However, you can create sentences with practically any target language or topic. Here is an example from a sixth grade lesson about the seasons:

I have done four or five iterations of the Sentence Relay activity, and you may be wondering where one goes to get the "word pictures" on which it is based. I use a website called Tagul - it has the ability to be a url-linked "label cloud" on your website, if you like.

As I prepare to leave my current school, I think I may put more of the activities that the kids here have responded to really well.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tuttle Archives

Please don't tell the kids at my school, but I won't, according to my handler, be returning there upon the new contract--the school I've been at for four years is losing its Native Speaking English Teacher. I am really unhappy about this, and my feelings will be addressed later.

First of all, this doesn't mean I will leave Korea, or even SMOE--just like I was transferred from Young-il in 2012, I will be transferred from Yangmyung. Even though that's true, I recognize more than ever that my time here is limited. I'm looking around the apartment and thinking about the packing-up.

Anyway, I have had a number of vacations since living in this apartment that I had not archived. What do I mean? In addition to the photos I take and post here, I have also collected as much artwork as I could afford--carvings, pottery, paintings, scrolls, books, fabrics, etc. Maybe I'll be documenting that stuff later, but ...

What I meant was I have a backlog of tickets, flyers, maps, brochures, business cards, clippings and the like that I collect and organize in "clear files". Like these:

Not only are there tickets and the like, but even laundry receipts, restaurant bills and bus fares. Why? Well, good source of info if someone asks, or if I want to go back, and can't remember what things cost there!

As long as I was at it, I thought I might as well take a snap of the various snake oil elixirs (in some cases literally) I have collected on my trips around Asia. Tiger Balm was something I kind of grew up with, but Cobra Oil, Lotus Balm, White Monkey Holding Peach Balm, Siang Pure and Dragon and Tiger White, usually under a dollar, seem like a bargain. And the silver Jarungjit Inhalor works a treat for a stuffy nose!

Mostly, but not always, when I travel, I research things both online and with a dead tree edition, though more and more eschewing the LP guides. Still, I have a collection, or archive:

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Samgyup in Bupyeong

Went for dinner and drinks with Yongin roomies Andy and Max along with old pal Eric in Andy's stomping grounds these days well west in Bupyeong. I had never seen this area, really, but was less surprised than I would have been a few years ago to see it has a very busy "eating street".

We sat for a few beers at "gong-cha" in the alley next to a convenience store then found a place with all-you-can-eat samgyupsal (fat back pork) for 10 bucks a head (though some of the banchan was an extra 1000 W for seconds). Still a bargain. Look at the meat, it is particularly thick, which makes it, as Max pointed out, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, if cooked properly.

And, here's the most unusual thing: a relatively common thing in restaurants in the West, and an occasional thing in Western restaurants in the East, but the four of us agreed we'd never seen the massive pepper grinder shtick in a Korean restaurant!

We went to a batting cage for a bit after dinner, and I have to say that while I was no Baroombah, I made contact 80% of the time--the new lenses are definitely working!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

FC Seoul vs Pohang

On the final day of my Spring Break, Sunday, I went to Seoul World Cup Stadium at Sangam. I arrived well early, not much of a crowd in evidence, buying a ticket around 12:30 for the 2:00 start, being sure to specify an aisle seat as close to the bench area as possible (section F, 20,000 W).

Then I went to the GS 25 and had a couple of beers before dropping by The Fan Zone where they have installed a trophy room:

Outside, one of the stars, Osmar, defensive midfielder from Spain, was signing autographs in his street clothes. Odd. He didn't play, still don't know why.

Anyway, I made my way to my seat, to find it was not in fact an aisle seat, as promised. My mood was not improved by the story of the match: though FC Seoul controlled the ball most of the game, they were down two-nil at halftime, and lost three-one. Here's the kick-off:

On my way out, I stopped at the ticket office to complain about my bad seat, and was given a free ticket to the same section at the next home game. So that's pretty good customer service, if somewhat belated. Fortunately, I'll be able to attend--May 22nd, if anyone wants to join me.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Children's Day 2016

Bugaksan provides a striking background during a visit to the downtown Jongno district of Seoul. Thursday was Children's Day, and Jongno is the place to go to see the festivities. This year, not a lot was going on at the Cheonggyecheon:

One feature along the walls of the stream are a long series of painted tiles (supposedly the longest work of its kind in the world) which depict a visit by King Jungjo to Hwaseong fortress, based on a painting by one of Korea's great artists, Kim Hongdo. I have below juxtaposed the "money shot" with a similar representation in lantern.

The other key gathering place is Gwanghwamun Plaza, which I visited with old pal Helen in 2014, when technically Children's Day was cancelled following the Sewol Ferry disaster. This year, the area in front of Admiral Yi is dedicated to the memory of the children who died that day during school trips to Jeju-do.

There are lots of activities designed for children.

There were also a few performance art installations, such as this mystical egg nursery, visited by playful dino-lizard creatures who took some time to menace small children:

People were fascinated by this guy, who seemed frozen in place all day long. I tried to wake him up.

My Spring Break activities will conclude on Sunday with my first trip of the season to watch FC Seoul play at Sangam World Cup stadium. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Tuttle Travels To Buyeo 부여

... with his pal The Stumbler. Our bus departed from Nambu Bus terminal at 9:30 on the dot and arrived in the small town south of Seoul a little under two hours later. The first site to visit is Jeongnimsa Temple in the downtown area, fifteen minutes from the bus terminal.

There are two key things to see at Jeongnimsa, plus a lotus pond--the lotus is a key flower of the area, and the Buddhist culture of the Baekje 백제 era (one of the so-called "three kingdoms" of Korea's ancient times).

The five-storied stone pagoda was built in the sixth century, and represents the epitome of Baekje pagodas, repeated throughout the period and found all around Chungcheongnam-do. Inside the temple sixty meters away is situated a large stone Buddha that faces the pagoda. It was constructed for the temple originally built in the sixth century and reconstructed by Goryeo four hundred years later.

Down the street and to the left of the temple is a very nice (free) museum, the National Museum of Buyeo. The museum has artifacts from prehistory to the Baekje period and the Buddhist culture of Baekje. Here are some tools and pottery, including a you-know-what-shaped jar handle, and a piece of "found art", scratched onto a roof tile by a worker. The last is a mold of a giant Buddhist frieze, with The Stumbler to provide scale.

Pottery is a key artifact of any society, Korea being famous for delicate blue-green Celadon, for example. The piece de resistance of the Baekje period in Buyeo is this beautifully detailed gilt-bronze incense burner in the shape of a lotus blossom beginning to open.

Speaking of lotuses, as I have twice, the famous food of Buyeo is a dish called yeonnipbap 연잎밥, seasoned rice cooked in lotus leaves. By now it was around two o'clock, and we made our way back into town to partake in this much-lauded nourishment. For being so famous, it was actually a challenge to find a place that specialized in yeonnipbap, but we hit the jackpot, with an awesome spread for 13,000 W, polished off with a lotus blossom tea.

We took a taxi about six clicks out of town to Neungsan-ri 능산리, site of Baekje era royal burial mounds. Most of the mounds and their artifacts were destroyed during the Japanese colonial period, but there is a nice interpretive center. In the second two shots, The Stumbler is again providing scale.

Busosanseong 부소산성 was the last site on the agenda, but it was approaching 4:00 and our bus was departing at 5:00--on the dot. Everything was uphill at Busosanseong, the ancient fortress of Sabi (the old name for Buyeo). One element of the site was 250 m from the entrance, and every other one was at least one kilometer away. It is Samchungsa, built as a shrine to three loyal subjects of Baekje, the period that lasted from around the time of Christ to the seventh century.

One lesson to learn from our otherwise fun and interesting visit to this fine little historical town is a matter of order. I had actually debated which direction to go, since both Busosanseong and the Jeongnimsa temple/Buyeo Museum were within walking distance of the bus terminal, just in opposite directions. I would do it the other way round, now, since we simply ran out of gas/time by the time we got to the fortress area.