Sunday, November 26, 2006

East of Gyeongbokgung

I really like the neighborhood east of Gyeongbok Palace and north of Insadong. I am not certain what it is officially called, but it's full of little shops, Italian restaurants, and art galleries. It draws a very artsy-type crowd on weekends. After wandering around for a while, I gradually realized that there are no chain stores. A Starbucks would not look out of place, but there isn't even a 7-11 or a Family Mart.Even the "No-Parking" sign in the lower right is oddly classy.
The Tibet Museum. I don't know what's inside.
A sculpture store.
I'm pretty sure that means they have a menu for dogs. But you know Westerners who walk by are going to make fun of it, right?
This isn't quite traditional Korean architecture. But there are plenty of buildings like this coexisting with more traditional-looking buildings here.
Seoul is a hilly city, and you often see buildings only accessible by side roads that rise steeply up hills.
That said, it may be picturesque, but I'd hate to have to live in a wheelchair in this country.
Take a look at that foliage. Something Highly Official is behind that gate (note the armed guard); I'm not sure what it is but the President's official residence is nearby.
This is The Restaurant. If you're ever in Seoul and you're wondering where the restaurant is, well, here it is.
Next door to The Restaurant is this building with what looks like a statue of a woman bowling on the roof. She's either bowling or running - I can't tell. I figure it's a step up from the naked scowling pigman rooftop sculpture I saw in Suwon.

International Food in Seoul

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Korean Food

When I talk about the food I can get in little Korean diners, THIS is what I'm talking about.

This is ordinary Korean comfort food. Full English descriptions for the curious. Thanks to Mary Eats!

Google Maps

I live here.
Well, kind of. That apartment building dead center in the middle of that Google Maps page is indeed where I live - I'm there right now typing this. But in the time since they shot that satellite picture, they built 3-4 additional apartment buildings around my building - there ought to be 2 more on that road (Maporo) just north of where I live.

I work here.
But you see the highway in the lower part of that satellite shot? It no longer exists - in that form, at least. That's Cheonggyecheon. In 2005 the city government tore down the roadway, uncovered an old stream bed and turned the whole area into a landscaped park. It escaped Google Maps' attention, apparently.

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE! It's December 6th as I write this. Google has updated part of their Seoul map. Now the area around my apartment building looks more accurate. Check out the workplace link, though, and you can see where the updated photo is joined to the old photo just to the west.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

YBM Level 5

I started my YBM Korean level 5 class on Friday. The class is largely made up of people from my Level 4 class - mostly Japanese.

We have a different teacher and she makes it a point to talk QUICKLY. Which isn't a bad thing. I'm being challenged. The book is Yonsei University's level 5 book. Each chapter starts out with short dialogues and readings, then explanations of vocabulary words, expressions and grammatical structures, then a bunch of example sentences showcasing various structures, then a final reading.

Only thing is, the first chapter is devoted to Korean special ceremonies and customs, and so much of the vocabulary is somewhat difficult and esoteric. There's a whole bunch of difficult words about Korean funeral customs, for instance. The good news is that the teacher assures us things will get slightly easier in chapters to come. And most of the difficult vocabulary comes from Chinese, so I can easily recognize the Chinese-derived entymological roots than I know based on other words I've learned that Korean got from Chinese, which is sort of fun.

Peppero Day

Today is November 11 - 11/11 - Peppero Day. Peppero is candy sold in long thin stick form, and if you write out 11 - 11 you get four sticks - November 11 - Peppero Day - get it? It's a pretty transparent marketing gimmick, but places that sell Peppero have really gone all-out promoting it, and most convenience stores have big displays set up where they have all kinds of specialty Peppero laid out for people to buy and give as gifts. The last Peppero Day I was in Korea I worked at a kids' English school, and I recieved a staggering amount of Peppero from the children. I'm not expecting to get much this year, but maybe I'm better off that way, health-wise. Whoever the marketing genius was who thought up Peppero Day, I hope he was handsomely rewarded.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Near Dongmyo

Today I went to Himalaya, the Indian-Nepalese restaurant near Dongmyo Shrine, for a solo lunch. I also took my camera. Look at this wide-angle picture, and compare it to...

...this one, taken just down the road and looking back. Note the Lotte Castle high-rises. Those are clean, slick, ultra-modern buildings with shops on the lower floors and apartments above. Presumably several of those older buildings were bulldozed to make way for Lotte Castle.
I wonder what a Westerner who didn't know the swastika meant Buddhism in Korean culture would think if he saw how ubiquitous the symbol was in some neighborhoods here.

The wall around Dongmyo Shrine. All of these pictures were taken very close to one another.

The food at Himalaya is excellent, by the way.