Monday, June 17, 2013

11 Hours in the Big City

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I picked up an old friend, Jeremy B. who's now a US Army Captain on a short visit to Seoul as aide-de-camp to a two-star, at noon at Noksapyong. The plan was to return him there between 10 and 11 in the evening, see what we could, and make sure to attend a Korean baseball game. We managed, and with about five minutes to spare.

We started at Tapgol Park, which is renown as home of the 1919 Independence (or Sam-il) Movement, where its leaders planned to read their declaration to the public. Though it actually took place at nearby restaurant, Tapgol Park is a seminal site in modern Korean history. Using my Nikon, I got photos of all the bas-reliefs that tell the story, and include a few below.

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Tapgol Park is also home to National Treasure #2, the ten-tiered pagoda from the Wongaksa Temple site. A kind Korean gent instructed Jeremy on exactly how to pose.

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Insadong is a must-see, I think, for a first-timer, because of the concentration of traditional art objects, shopping opportunity, street food, and restaurants. We first encountered a traditional marching band, and I got my picture took:

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There were knick-knacks to peruse, then time for a late lunch. Samgyupsal, natch. With a bottle of soju. We ate and drank every bit of it.

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We made a quick tour through Gwanghwamun Plaza, including the highlights of the underground museums, before traipsing across to Gyeongbokgung. We hit the geunjeongjeon or main throne room, with its irworobongdo screens, meaning, The Sun, the Moon, and the Five Mountains. Then we stopped by the Gyeonghoeru, the Royal Dining Hall, or Party Central, surrounded by a lake.

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Next we stopped by the Cheonggyecheon, but nothing seemed to be going on there, so we refreshed ourselves with a quick draft beer and made for Jamsil Sports Complex to catch the Nexen vs. LG game (my Heroes lost 5 - 4, but it was a good game). We dined on dried squid, sundae (blood sausage) and KFC--Jeremy impressed all day with his willingness to give anything a try!--before returning to Noksapyong.

And since we had a few minutes, we strolled down to HBC, sat at Bonny's and a tried a couple of fine foreign lagers before calling it a night. It was great to see an old friend, and also great to see a bit of Seoul through fresh eyes.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

How's the Weather?

Today the temperature hit 90 F for the first time this year (and summer is nearly two weeks away); I turned on the AC in my classroom today.

But I've been turning on the AC for two weeks or more, if the heat has made me uncomfortable. Furthermore, last weekend I went to TechnoMart and purchased a small, desktop fan to put in my office. It works really well, and cost 13,000 W, down from 15,000. That's not much of a discount, bargaining-skills-wise, until you consider that it's 13%.

I won't keep you long, but I just want to mention how different my experience of Korea is compared to some others; over on, there are a couple of threads about how people are wilting in the heat, students are fainting, and the school won't allow them to turn on the AC until July 1, or July 14 or whatever.

No one has given me any such instructions, and my co-teachers have at most merely commented that it's nice and cool in the classroom (I'm keeping it at 23 C with low fan during class). In fact, last week, some maintenance guy came in to clean the filters and didn't say a word about it. Not to me, at least.

Anyway, it's now the time of loose knits, short sleeves, light chinos, and absorbent handkerchiefs at the ready. And will be until September.