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Entries about culture

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)

Paris finale

overcast 38 °F

OK, just a few cool things to wrap up a most excellent 10 days (!) In Paris.

First a note about lily gilding. I did happen by chance to wander over to the Champs Elysees in the evening when I heard the Mozart Requiem (last blog) and got a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. Let's compare and constrast. One thing I didn't mention about the Louis Vuitton museum was a special feature that Frank Gehry incorporated - a 'secret spot' where you get a nice view of the Eiffel Tower. It is cool how the Tower seems to pop up in unexpected places as you wander around Paris and it's great that Gehry honors that. On the other hand, at the Champs I had a 'really?' moment. For some reason they have decided that the Eiffel Tower needed a big rotating searchlight in case you might not notice it! Come on, people....

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And while I'm ranting, here's another thing. Do we really need a great big lit up Christmas tree smack dab in front of the Cathedral de Notre Dame? What an annoyance. I did think the picture on the right of the tree reflected in the window of an apartment across the street was kind of cool though.

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And while I'm on a roll - YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN!!!!

I calmed myself down a bit with a splurge dinner at a hip Paris Bistro, the Clown Bar. I was lucky that there was exactly one bar stool and I was able to nab it; otherwise reservations are absolutely essential. I had a delicious oyster stew and panko crusted cheese croquettes with a 'Chardonnay Nature'. Minimally processed, unfiltered wines are the current big thing. I thought it was tasty and a good drink but lacking the kind of nose that you get from a good well-made wine. Worth a try, though - the brand is 'French Wine is Not Dead' if you want to check some out (really!). I followed this with a duck breast in brioche with a delicious Languedoc. Yeah, they sure can cook.

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I did run back to the Cite des Sciences et de la Industrie to look at one of the age-appropriate areas that required special permission to enter. Well, it's kind of hard to tell from the pictures but the area for the 7-12 crowd is enormous like the rest of the museum and very resource-rich, including paid staff demonstraters everywhere. Here are a few shots.

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On the way home in the evening I spotted another clever urban planning feature - a light rail line that has grass rails. Looks quite cool!

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Well, that really is enough about Paris - almost. I had a suit and shirts made in Thailand and I had bought a beautiful new tie at the Korea National Museum, so I figured I had better strut my stuff at least once on the trip. So I bought a ticket to the Paris Opera production of La Boehme (how much was the ticket? Don't ask! How good was the performance? Wonderful - including some magnificent sets!). Here's an exterior of the new Paris Opera house in the Bastille district and a shot of yours truly trying to show style.

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And finally just to bring things back to Earth - Go Lugs!

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Merci d'avoir Paris!

Posted by tdeits 15:16 Archived in France Tagged food paris culture eiffel opera wine notre dame lugnuts Comments (0)

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