May 19th, 2013
Last weekend was full of tacos, traveling, reading, preparing for school, and the other usual run of the mill stuff! Last Saturday I went to Seoul and hung out with my friend Su Hwan in Itaewon. We haven’t hung out since the end of language classes so it was really nice to see him again and chat about well everything. He’s a Korean who has lived in Indonesia, and Italy and fluent in English, Indo, slightly rusty with his Italian and is currently learning Korean. He’s a really cool guy, and whenever we talk it’s bound to involve foreign affairs, politics, religion and culture. Our conversations are never dull and I’m happy that some people his age and really fascinated about the inter-workings of the world.
We only spent about 3 hours together, but the time was spent devouring tacos, visiting a used book store where I bought copies of The Grapes of Wraith and The Brother’s Karamazov, hiking a small mountain to realize it was only a modern church at the top and then relaxing after coming down by enjoying a lemonade at a local business.
After bidding adieu to my friend Su Hwan and making plans to meet up again in the future I took the metro to Anguk where I met up with other friends and we walked onwards to find an ideal spot to watch the Lotus Lantern festival parade. Browsing Korean websites I knew that this was going to be a pretty fancy parade but I didn’t expect it to last for over 2 hours and for almost all of the parade to be quite as extravagant as it was. The lanterns were beautifully hand painted and the streets were packed to the gills with people. Some of my friends and I sat up on a ledge hovering above the crowd where we all took pictures until our batteries died.
After the parade was over we strolled to a coffee shop and relaxed before going to the after party which involved dancing and shooting out pink colored confetti designed to resemble flower petals. If you caught one of them you were also in for some good luck.
On the bus ride home I decided that since the weather was beautiful I would walk home from the terminal. During the walk I relaxed and caught up on the weeks news, and was honked at by at least 4 taxis trying to garner some of the loot I held in my back pocket. Walking during the evening or wee morning hours was interesting. I felt completely safe and not worried about my situation at all, I only wish that in some places in America I would be able to feel the same way. (Granted I am a man, and I know that this situation might not apply to females, but the weather was beautiful and I was glad that I took the time to walk home.)
May 16th, 2013
Andong is a city located near the eastern seaboard of Korea. It’s well known for it’s specialty chicken dish called jjim dak. (찜닭) It’s a chicken dish that’s prepared with fresh vegetables and cooked in soy sauce. It’s one of the unique cuisines in the region and it’s pretty delicious. It made the nearly 3 hour drive to Andong worthwhile, and it’s important to note that I went there for more then just eating food, but it was worthwhile!
After enjoying some jjim dak and restful sleep it was time to travel to a very famous hanok village in the region called “Hahoe.” It’s a village rich with tradition, culture and memories of the Joesan Dynasty. The village does a great job of preserving the look and feel of the village from back in the day, albeit with some modern technological advancements such as satellite television, and internet cords being added. Despite some of these minor adjustments the homes are kept up to date and some of the original families still live in the homes generation after generation. Some families sell arts and crafts out of their homes which they converted to shops and some altered the exteriors of their homes to allow places for people to sit and enjoy food while enjoying the scenery. Overall the village offers some beautiful vistas and allows you to get a sense of what life may of been like during the time period. It’s been enhanced but they’re tried to keep the spirit of the village alive.
On our way out we had the pleasure of viewing a traditional mask dance. Masks are well known in the region and my girlfriend was telling me about the specific performance that we got to view. She informed me that the mask dance was seen as a way for common people to mock or almost put on a satirical dance making fun of the royalty and upper classes of Korea. They made fun of the upper class as well as performed some crude jokes that people of all ages could enjoy so that they wouldn’t alienate some of their younger viewers.
My trip to Andong was quite enjoyable and if you haven’t visited it within Korea, I’d recommend it if you’ll be in the country for awhile. It’s beautiful and with the pleasant weather we’ve been experiencing lately it’s the perfect time to travel there.
May 11th, 2013
Having a slight amount of spare time over the past week I decided it was time to clean up my room and pack a suitcase full of winter clothes to send home soon.
The above pictures are some pictures of my room in Korea, more or less in utter disarray from the cleaning process I was in the middle of. I’m definitely already starting to mourn my imminent journey back to America. I’m torn, but I feel it’s time to leave. I won’t delve into a nostalgia filled post about Korea just yet, but my plane ticket is secured for Detroit this August and it’s now it’s time to enjoy the reminder of my time in Korea.
Time is already moving at a pace far too rapid for my liking so it’s not too early to kick my Korean work, travel, and volunteer plans into overdrive. 3 months left……