A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: tdeits

Seoul national museum

semi-overcast 66 °F

I took it easy on Saturday, blogging in the morning and then heading to the Seoul National Museum. This is an entirely new facility opened in 2010 that is monumental in size, clad inside and out in marble, and relatively uncrowded with artifacts compared to the old museum which I had a chance to see about 15 years ago.

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There were some very fine pieces, of course - here are some random items I liked. This is a centerpiece of the museum, a 14th century buddhist monument.

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On a much smaller scale, here's a charming detail from an 18th century biographical scroll.

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Another detail from a 17th century ink drawing - the artist is famous for his oxen

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and who can resist a fierce lion?

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This 13th century celadon vase is very similar to the vases I saw in the Tokyo Craft museum

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and here is its ancestor (?) some 6000 years old

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An enjoyable day, but I do kind of miss the older museum crowded with artifacts.

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Grabbed a dinner of raw beef bulgolgi at the Seoul train station - it cooks as you mix it in the very hot cast iron pot.

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Finally I swung by Lotte Mall again. I don't think I mentioned that the nucleus of the Lotte region of Seoul is the Disney-style amusement park. It also contains a lake and huge hotel and now a giant office building under construction (around the clock, I think - this was taken at 10 PM on a Saturday).

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Another very good day in Seoul.

Posted by tdeits 18:40 Archived in South Korea Tagged food seoul lotte musems Comments (0)

Changdeokgung palace and bindaetteok at kwangjang market

overcast 64 °F

Took it easy in the AM blogging and watching the World Series game (yay Giants!) then headed to Changdeokgung palace. It's time for colors to turn here and so I wandered around getting pics of the building and the foliage, practicing with my camera, which I'm still learning to use Unfortunately it was overcast which flattened the scenes somewhat but who can complain after the great weather so far? Here, without further commentary, are some scenes from the palace.

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I had no plans for the evening so I googled the area and found the kwangjang market was an interesting spot. I wasn't expecting much, as it was Sunday night and most of the stores (largely specializing in linens and cloth) were closed that day, but thought there might be a few restaurants open. It turned out to be a quite lively place.

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A couple of cool food items - some kind of presentation confectionery?

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Nicely displayed fish.

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The market is well known for its bindaetteok, a mung-bean paste based pancake - here's one vendor grinding mung beans.

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I drifted to the back of the market and ran into this friendly vendor so sat down to eat.

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She offered three types of bindaetteok - with scallions, with kimchi and with peppers. I chose the scallion version and some rice wine.

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I ended up in a pretty sketchy conversation with a couple of other guys who were sitting at adjacent stools. We had a good time trying to communicate and the guy next to me really took a shine to me. About halfway through the meal he got a small plate and went to the other diners at the table and convinced each of them to give me part of their meals and added some from his plate. So I got to sample all the flavors as well as another thicker version. One of those really nice memories that seem to come if you wander enough and keep an open mind.

I was stuffed after the meal and wine so I paid my bill ($6!) and said warm farewell to my fellow diners.

Posted by tdeits 16:56 Archived in South Korea Tagged food market palace seoul Comments (0)

Traditional Korea

sunny 63 °F

I decided to head out to the Korean Folk Village, a combination outdoor museum and small amusement park on the outskirts of Seoul. Turned out to be a pretty good decision. There were, as might be expected, hordes of kids on field trips and most of them were very young - 1st grade and below? They all carried identical backpacks and were cute as bugs, but I was reluctant to take any pictures. There was plenty more to see, though.

For starters, there are dozens of traditional buildings from farmhouses to provincial offices. Koreans are proud of their ancient adoption of the ondol, or in-floor heating systems that are widespread across Korea. Pretty tricky to arrange as it requires a wood fire be maintained under a wooden house to transmit heat without causing a fire! Another interesting innovation is the green roof, which I saw in the countryside on my last trip to Korea. Rural dwellings frequently grow squash on the roof - lots of sun up there and some protection from pests. Here's an example a bit past its prime.

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Lots of cultural information as well. They staged a traditional Korean wedding. I liked the part where each party is served a cup of tea. They take a sip and then the cups are exchanged and another sip taken. Pretty familiar from Western weddings and an interesting convergence. Rather nicer than smashing pieces of cake into each other's mouths!

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A few of my other favorite Korean customs on display.

Ancestor poles that clearly harken to Pacific Northwest and Northern Japanese totems.

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The tradition is to stay up all night on New Year's Eve. If you fall asleep, your eyebrows will turn white. Here's mom pranking her kid.

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My favorite is this one. When in labor, the wife is given a rope attached to her husbands hair and pulls it to share the pain of labor.

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And of course there was a demonstration of traditional Korean hip-hop

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Had another traditional Korean dish for lunch

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The square brown stuff is dotorimuk, which is a jelly made from acorns. Requires lots of washing to remove the bitter/toxic alkaloids from the acorns and the result is a very mildly woody/bitter product. It was traditionally eaten in times of hunger, but is now part of regular Korean cuisine.

But apart from the culture and food and cute kids, it was just a beautiful day so here are a few photos of the scenery.

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Plan to go out of town tomorrow and see if I can top these photos!

Posted by tdeits 18:25 Archived in South Korea Tagged buildings food culture scenery seoul Comments (0)

Korea Grand Finale

sunny 64 °F

With only one day left, I decided to head out of town on a train and take a look at the countryside. I headed for a popular tourist destination called Nami Island, which styles itself as the Nami Republic. I ran into a couple of very nice people from Singapore on the train going out and we spent the day together taking pictures of the leaves and each other. By pure luck, we were there near the very peak of color and so I went nuts taking pictures. Here are a bunch....
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We ended the visit with a meal of grilled chicken and tofu and 'hangover soup' - which in this version is a dried fish soup with an egg added.

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What a great end to a great visit to Korea! On to Perth tomorrow!

Posted by tdeits 20:47 Archived in South Korea Tagged landscapes trees food scenery island korea foliage soup nami hangover Comments (0)

Perth

and a word about power

semi-overcast 75 °F

I flew on China Southern from Seoul to Guangzhou and then a long overnight flight to Perth from there. The meals were very good and the seat closely resembled the Korea Air one I showed earlier. Oddly, only about 1/3 of the seats in business class were filled - maybe they don't run an upgrade program? I was able to get some sleep so I arrived in Perth at 6 am feeling vaguely humanoid. My AirBNB host Susanne picked me up at the airport and after a shower I was able to enjoy the day in Perth.

But first a word about power. The single largest practical issue I have faced in my day-to-day life as a world traveler has been power - electrical power - battery power! Getting enough battery power to get through long days on my cell, managing camera power, laptop power, and a backup power supply is a real challenge. Just as an example here's my current (ha!) setup to charge stuff in Perth

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Let's see.. . The white gizmo at the bottom is an adapter that connects an Australian plug to the various kinds of plugs found elsewhere- I got that in Perth. Here's a pro-tip; if you go to an electronics supply shop in a foreign country (I tried this in Korea and Australia so it must be true everywhere, right?) and look for an adapter for plugs, they will happily provide you with a device that will allow you to plug Korean (or Australian) things into foreign plugs Of course, what you want is the opposite; a device that will allow you to plug your style plug into their style outlet. That's harder to find, but I managed it. This may be because Australian plugs are so weird (prongs at 45 degree angles) that even Aussies need them for their electronics. So travel prepared and get the gizmo at home before you leave My only excuse is that the one I brought along blew up in Korea.

Anyway, atop the white gizmo is an American-style plug extender that Robin found for me in Japan (many Japanese plugs use the American standard) and that has proved invaluable - thanks, Robin! On the left is a power supply for my cell or my cell backup charger. On the right is a power supply for charging my camera battery. On top is my laptop power supply which, since I had to buy it in Korea, has a Korean plug and so requires another adapter from Korean to American which I happened to bring with me. In a pinch I can also charge some things using the USB ports on my laptop as a battery . Oh, and then why does my camera decide it needs a mini USB instead of a micro USB which means one more cable to lug around? Waaaah.

The only good bit worth mentioning is that most consumer electronic power supplies are happy to accept 120 or 220 volt inputs so you don't usually need to lug a transformer around as well. If you are unsure about whether your device accepts 220, it is probably written on the adapter in print so tiny that you may need a magnifying glass to read it.

Anyway, back to fun. I spent the first day just walking around the neighborhood, Inaloo, and shopping for things like the adapter pictured above. I also had to buy a new rash guard. For those who don't know what that is, it's an elastic long- or short-sleeved shirt designed to be worn in the water. It originated in the surfing/boogie boarding world because folks found that lying on a board all day tended to rub your stomach raw. Hence the name. The other nice thing about them from my point of view is that that the good ones provide SPF 50 protection from the sun. This means you can wear one and not worry about covering your body with sunscreen. That's doubly nice when traveling alone because putting sunscreen on your own back is, to say the least, challenging. To find one I first asked a guy shopping for swim trunks what they were called down here. The answer - 'rashie.' Armed with this lingo I was able to find a store and successfully communicate with a store clerk to complete the purchase. Now I felt ready for a bit of adventure!

I had a frankly mediocre vegetable pasta dish at a restaurant on my walking tour of the area (the first klunker meal of the trip so far) and hit the sack.

Posted by tdeits 19:28 Archived in Australia Tagged shopping perth electronics Comments (0)

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