... do you know where your deformed children are? (... uhm in Korea?)

Also: dance!

If you're in the Seoul area, tomorrow is the last day to catch a Charles (and Ray?) Eames exhibit at the Seoul Arts Center: 100 images x 100 words.

It's a relatively small exhibit of photos and quotes by Eames. It's neat to see the snapshots of an important designer. To see what he thought interesting enough to capture. The words include inspirational aphorisms and quotes that provide some insight into his design philosophy. There's some good stuff there.


Eames's Photos

Eames Quote

Admission is free, and you'll have a chance to explore the Arts Centre as well. It brings to mind a James Bond nemesis lair don't you think?

Seoul Arts Center

Pictured are some chocolate biscuit snacks. The first one is a mushroom, the second a "homerun". They are both tasty and can be bought heavily overpackaged at any convenience store.

Speaking of treats, Hallowe'en is just around the corner. It's not a big deal here, but we have seen toy shops stocked up with masks and decorations, so it's either catching on or they are catering entirely to the foreigners.

We don't have plans yet, but I sure do hope that we find some costumed silliness this Friday. Fingers crossed...

Korea has many neon lights and they often shine brightest in the red light districts. I thought about the people that find themselves there, in search of something, and this old song popped into my head... this one's for the Johns!

Song: Foreigner - I Wanna Know What Love Is

I love Korean side dishes (banchan) that accompany every meal. I discovered a new favourite recently called uwong. It is some kind of root, with a texture that reminds me of canned bamboo, lightly coated with some sweet syrup, and sprinkled with sesame.

Apparently it's good for digestion. The lady running the restaurant demonstrated this by rubbing her stomach and then making the gesture of poop being briskly expelled from ones behind. I appreciated her directness. I sense that Koreans have fewer hangups about certain bodily functions.

She also gave us an extended Korean lesson, pulling out paper and pen, and correcting sentences we had been practising. Thanks nice lady!

(The photo is not of the restaurant, but a kimchi stall at a market.)

Friday! Well, Saturday for us. You should be having fun. Or you could look at these photos from Gyeongbokgung.


















Gyeongbokgung is a palace located right in Seoul. We happened to catch the changing of the guards ceremony.

After watching old men play baduk, we walked a bit and came to the entrance of some park. The entrance fee was 1000KW -- a buck. We hesitated. Should we venture a whole dollar on a park that looked the same as the park we were already in, with fewer old men?

It turned out to be the entrance to the Jongmyo Royal Shrine, the "oldest royal Confucian shrine", and totally rad. Here are some photos. Can you spot the persimmon tree?

Jongmyo Royal Shrine

Jongmyo Royal Shrine

Jongmyo Royal Shrine

Jongmyo Royal Shrine

Jongmyo Royal Shrine

Jongmyo Royal Shrine

Jongmyo Royal Shrine

Jongmyo Royal Shrine

Jongmyo Royal Shrine

Jongmyo Royal Shrine

Jongmyo Royal Shrine

Hey, there haven't been any photos of us drinking. That ain't correct.


Oh, naughty

Is it me or is it blurry in here?

Nu stylee

I've been in Korea almost four weeks, but it feels a lot longer. There have been many new things to learn and adjust to:

A landscape that is tall, the opposite of sprawl, butting up sharply against the mountains with residential apartments that all look the same and commercial buildings drowned in gaudy neon signs.

A weather system that makes you forget the weather. It is always "nice". Warm during the day, cooler at night. It hasn't rained since I've landed. We feel a bit spoiled.

A language that changes the way my tongue sits in my mouth and the shape of my face when I speak. Okay, that's dramatic. But, yeah, kind of true.

A routine that is mostly reading, writing, watching and working during the week, and walking, seeing, spending on the weekends.

I guess you could say that we're settled in now. I did not have the panic-attacks and emotional breakdowns that Kowloon experienced when she first arrived. But then I did have a familiar face to welcome and guide me, by the hand, through an alien country. I also didn't have to teach a room full of strangers speaking another language the day after my arrival with minimal instruction.

I had it easy.
The apartment is small but cozy. We cleaned it up real good, put up pictures on the fridge and bought some plants. It feels a little like home already. I love the gas stove. Boiling water for coffee or tea is fast! Controlling heat for cooking is instant! When we eat in, we usually have cereal, or toast with eggs in the morning, rice or noodles with vegetables and frozen dumplings during the day.

We finished watching the first and only season of Freaks and Geeks. For a while we took respite in its North American familiarity. The characters became temporary family and friends in an environment that is, at times, cold and unfriendly. Alas, we've watched all the episodes. I've moved on to studying Korean and reading "One Hundred Years of Solitude".

I will post more pictures from the past long weekend, and from Wolmi the previous weekend. You can expect a tour of the apartment as well. You'll also find me signed on to instant-messenger-land more now. I stopped because of my new work schedule, and kind of forgot about it. Chat me up!

Right now, it's off to work, at my desk (and sometimes my bed).

We discovered the area just South of the entrance to Jongmyo Park to be old man central! There was enough Brylcreem to grease an army tank, dentures to pave a plaza, Old Spice to fog up half of Seoul...

Games of baduk and janggi were in progress all over the place. Boards and pieces were available for anyone to start up a match. Here were senior citizens, not hidden away, not slowly growing frail in rocking chairs, but socializing vigorously and thriving in a public space. Inspiring!

A kerfuffle broke out while we were there (not over games, but politics or religion, we think). This was interesting as both the first real confrontation we've witnessed in Korea, and as further exhibition of some senior-citizen brio.

Go old men, go!

Pictured are three big batches of Korean rice porridge (juk, jook, or chook) at Kwang Jang Market. From left to right they are potato (or is it pine nut?), red bean, and pumpkin. I tried the pumpkin. It was mild and slightly sweet; a nice change from the salty-spicy Korean foodstuffs I've been having.

Three of us were sidled up to the small counter, which was one among many in the bustling food-court of the market. I look forward to this in the winter. It's going to be MAD COZY YO!

We were walking towards Kwang Jang Market for some lunch when an intense odour stopped us. A man had honeycomb sections and live bees in meshed bags, and some sort of machine that was steaming and churning away.

I'm not sure exactly what he was selling. The scent was intense and not unlike honey, but it was more like HONEY! WAX! ANIMAL!

I hope the bees are okay.

The leaves are starting to turn here. One could still get away with shorts and a t-shirt during the day though.

These trees are in the parking lot of the World Cup Stadium. We slept in a jjimjilbang inside the stadium. I believe it was called Spa World.

One sculpture of many by the Cheonggyecheon. I like the Cheonggyecheon.

We have a long weekend and have been walking Seoul until our feet said "NO."

Okay, I can do this. Just like taekwondo in grade 4, right? Man, she really wants that oversized stuffed toy. I can't believe I spilled acorn jelly all over my crotch at dinner. God, I hate first dates. Why did I drink so much soju? Okay, deep breath, pull it together. Are these things plastic? Okay, here I go...

People leave their toddlers unattended, keys in their cars, laundry outside, doors unlocked, and you want ME to keep an eye out?

Whatevs. Wake me up when a dog gets stuck in a tree.