South Korea, Uncategorized

설악산

In case anyone has wondered where I’ve been this last month and a half, I’ve been in Korea’s countryside somewhere south of Seoul shooting stills and capturing behind the scenes footage for a movie. Now with only a week left in S. Korea, I’m trying to see some sights I haven’t seen yet.

I’ve been wanting to experience Seorak Mountain for a while now and I couldn’t leave without at least seeing it. The 3+ hour drive was lovely; mountains peered over small villages like curious children and a veil of fog danced through the valleys. For a moment, I was homesick for Mt. Rainier.

When we arrived, we took the cable car to the top and hiked to a lookout point. Like sprinkles on a cupcake, ajummas and ajossis decked out in brightly colored hiking attire trekked to the treeless tip with us.

One older gentleman was so blown away at the base of the the rocky point that he let out a good “YEEEEEOOOOHEEEEEE!”  I’m not sure if he was yelling out for the view or for the journey he took to get there. Either way, it was sweet and probably felt good to let it out just the same. I wished I had done the same, but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. Mountains should really have a designated spot for people to just yell out their frustrations/happiness with life. Now that I’m writing this, I’m curious what the average overall emotional status of a yodeler is.

seoraksanseoraksan4seoraksan3 seorksan2

Standard
Uncategorized

Dum Dum Dee Dum

I’ve been to a handful of weddings in Korea, but they all consisted of the same wedding hall style ceremony; you pay, sit down in a banquet style room, food is served (or if there is a buffet, food happens after pictures), bride and groom exchange their vows, a cannon-like thing goes off that shoots confetti, and everyone takes a picture.

My friends S & B had a much different, but more traditional ceremony and it was something a little like this:

1. A fancy fan dance happened. I was mesmerized.

2. B, the groom, walked down a tree-lined hill. I think this was to re-enact their courtship or something.

3. There was a fake rooster. This was to protect the couple from evil spirits.

4. Like in many things Koreans do, there was a lot of bowing. In this situation, the bowing represented the promise of commitment to one another.

5. I think there was alcohol. B said he got to drink. S, the bride, said she pretended to drink it. This was supposed to symbolize their harmony together.

6. The bride and groom both had attendants. I think this was to help them because their headpieces were massive and heavy. Also, I’m guessing it would be pretty difficult to do a lot of bowing in a hanbok.

7. After all was said and done, we gathered indoors and enjoyed a meal together — buffet-style.

And they lived happily ever after. The end.

000036 000035 000025 000024 000022 000018 000012

Standard
South Korea

Through the Holes

 

Last month, I went to Eurwangni Beach, or 을왕리해수욕장, near Incheon with my friend P. The rain came down like slow, lazy arrows. I expected the beach to be vacant; instead it was filled with families and college students splashing in the water and playing soccer. I suppose you have to make the most of precious vacation time — rain or shine.

We found an abandoned boat resting on the beach. I wanted to climb inside and explore, but unfortunately, being travel-sized does have a few drawbacks. Instead, I settled on peering through some peek holes. I didn’t find treasure, but I did appreciate the rust and sky color combination.

000033 000037 2 000035 000036 000034 000032

Standard
Japan, Places

Deer!

000021

A forty-five minute train ride out of Kyoto will take you to a park where the squirrels have been replaced with friendly deer who bow for treats. I promise!

I came to this place after @kathereal‘s advice and blogpost about Nara, Japan. And boy, was I glad I followed her orders!

As much as I adore all animals, I normally don’t like to see them locked up in places like the zoo.  I once visited the zoo in Seoul, and 10 minutes in, I was already looking for the exit. The polar bear’s skin and fur hung off him like an oversized t-shirt. His pool was just that, a pool with white paint to make it “feel” like the north pole. It was all wrong. The eyeless monkey topiary made from what appeared to be plastic brown twigs (I guess it was more like a “fauxpiary”) that hung by the entrance should have been a warning of what was to come. After I left, I couldn’t bring myself back to another zoo.

I did have a Japanese roommate once who showed a great deal of affection to animals. Maybe Japan was a little different.

The 1,200 sika deer that roam around the park freely seemed happy.  I mean, after all, these guys are considered sacred.

The deer knew where to wait for the goods, but the treat vendors shooed away the beggars with fans and rolled up paper. These peanut butter-scented wafer disks were sold for 150 Yen and could almost guarantee five minutes of popularity amongst the deer.

I held tight to my handful of treats as a herd of deer gathered around, pulling at my shorts and bowing for attention. Overwhelmed, I ran up the hill, away from my new friends. I decided I’d find a more patient group of deer to share the rest of my wafers with.

Instead, I found a bunch of uninterested deer hidden away from the main walkway. I held my hand out, but only one of the seven or so deer accepted the treat. These were obviously the organic eaters of the bunch. I imagined the guy who took my wafer probably had to deal with a lot of crap after that, so I felt bad afterwards.

Dejected, I broke the remaining treats into several small pieces and gave them to the same eager group who tried to depants me and made my way back to the train station.

I appreciated the fact that the park wasn’t flooded with tourists. It felt like any other park, but instead of little squirrels running around, this one had deer.

photo by albert shin

000026

000023

000020

I don’t think deer are very good at hide and seek.

000031

000033

000034

000035

Standard
Japan

Just in Front

In Kyoto, Japan, I noticed four things.

1. The city is immaculate. I’m convinced that even cars wear indoor slippers in order to prevent from dirtying the bright, crisp lines in the streets. In Korea, if I walk the streets with sandals, I have come to terms with the fact that my feet will be black and there is nothing I can do about it. Caveman feet don’t exist in Kyoto. I walked the city for hours, and when I returned, my feet were cleaner than if I had rinsed them off from a shower in Seoul (but that’s because of dust bunnies– more explanation later on that).

2. After coming from Seoul, roughly 1.5 million people seemed like nothing. When I first arrived, I wondered if we came during a holiday. I felt like the city was empty most of the time and hardly witnessed or experienced a traffic jam. Although that last claim isn’t actually fair since I only rode in a taxi once. Just ignore that bit. But it was pretty quiet most of the time.

3. Kyoto has maybe one of my favorite city color palettes I’ve ever seen in real life. I like Hong Kong, too. But Kyoto had a lovely burnt orange, warm bisque, and cyan accented with black and dark brown beams — almost like framing a masterpiece.

4. Lastly, wifi is not as accessible as it is in Seoul. It was nice to be unplugged, even for just a moment. Commuters spent their time reading books, while people at restaurants actually ate their food and chatted with their dining companion.

Just the holiday I needed.

000017

000007

000038

000010

000001

000007 2

000019

000011

000027

000042

000040

Standard