Friday, May 8, 2009

The heart and Seoul of Korea. 서울

In Korea they a holiday for children. For the kids this means a day off at school and for us it meant that we had a four day weekend. Chelsie and I decided to use this extended weekend and take a trip to the big city, Seoul. With a guide book in hand and a backpack on each of our backs we hopped aboard the 7:20 bus. The four hour trip to the capital is literally on the other side of the country.

Insa-dong 인사

Our first adventure began in one of the many marketplaces in Seoul. It is a valid attempt to bring a taste of historic Korea to the consumer and the tourist. We had a wonderful time poking our heads in and out of each suitcase sized store. Fabrics, handmade paper, jewelery, art, antiques, trinkets, pottery and more overwhelmed us for the afternoon.

Of the many products in Insa-dong we were particularly interested in the pottery. There was a wide range of prices and qualities. From fine fine expensive traditional celadon pieces, to the factory stamped tea cups, it was all there.

Chelsie was fascinated by the unique handmade silver jewelery. There were shops and street vendors sporting their wares.
She selected a couple pieces and bought a set. It looks wonderful on her. Sorry, I don't have a pic.
They was an array of brushes for traditional calligraphy.
Tea = 차 =cha (short "a")
Tea seemed like a necessity after an afternoon of shopping. We discovered a Korean specialty: Dew Tea. It is made by a special processing of the Hydrangea leaf. It is naturally sweet, caffeine free and very smooth. We bought only a small amount of the loose leaf in the market, as it is quite expensive.
Seoul has a very clean, efficient and well routed metro system. We rode the subway all week to many different sections of the city.

We were amazed at the variety of architecture throughout the city. There is a taste of the old and the new throughout.
The world trade center in Korea.

It truly is a city that is always alive, always awake. As you can see, here is an example of a street that is well smattered with neon signs. You can see and feel the ever increasing English influence in this culture. Many refer to it as "the language of success."
We stayed two nights at the Ritz Motel. Hotels are a story and a blog posting in themselves. I'll have to get to that later.
Changdeokgung and Deoksugung Palaces
Amongst many, there are four main temples/palaces in the Seoul metro area. They are well protected and well taken care of. One tour was self guided and the other had an English tour guide.

I am trying to keep this posting simple and not overwhelm you with information, but if you visit South Korea it is worth your time to visit these rebuilt architectural masterpieces.
Garak Market 가락시장
This one was an eye opener. I have seen markets, I have sold at markets, but I have never seen one this big. Garak Market is the largest agricultural exchange hub in Seoul. Chelsie and I spent a good 2 hours meandering through this maze of fruits, vegetables, and fish and still didn't see it in its entirety. A large amount of bulk products are sold here. This market is the middle man for restaurants, grocery stores, and other vendors across the country.
and Roots can be found here.
Garlic cloves are sold by the Kilo.
Fishy friends?
As far as you can see in every direction there are fish and fishy people. Yes, we got lots of funny stares and lots of offers to buy here. You just smile and keep walking. "Anio, gamsamida" = No I do not want to buy that weird looking sea creature.
Octopus arms. Yum.
Dried fish
Dongdaemun Market 동대문시장
Chelsie and I get a kick out of seeing all the markets if you haven't noticed by now. What do we buy? You'll see at the end of this posting, but honesty, not much.
Dongdaemun Market provided us with a taste of a merchandise market. It had less fruits and veggies and more household items. You name it it was there. It was sensory overload. Click on the pictures for a closer look. Can we pick you up anything?
There are many ladies here who are happy to provide you with lunch while you shop. MMM, pig feet, and it looks like real sausage and squid are on the menu too.
Lots of plants on the border of this market as well. Chelsie and I couldn't resist this temptation.
Cactus of every color,
and orchids too. We ended up buying some orchids. We decided that they would be easier to transport on the return trip than a cactus.
Here is what we managed to fit in our backpacks and carry at our sides. Beautiful orchids, a celadon tea set, a beautiful scarf, some Korean coins from the 1850's, dew tea, ginseng candy, masks from hi-Seoul festival, and some classic English literature we found in a monster book store. Looks like a successful trip to Seoul. Chelsie and I have loved our travels together thus far. We make good traveling buddies. It is always an adventure.
The end of the vacation was topped off with a double shot of espresso over a peanut covered icecream ball, an affogato, at a cute cafe called A Twosome Place.

The End 끝나
Whew, you made it.
Some have requested our mailing address. We route all of our mail to the reliable school address.
c/o Jesse and Chelsie Bright
2F Hywon Bldg. 208-6 Gohyeon-lee, Shinhyeon-eup
Geoje-shi, Gyeongnam 656-304
We can also provide you with the school's phone number upon request


Jeff said...

Nice. I want that big calligraphy brush! Great to see more images out of Aliens, too. I fully expect to hear what stingrays and jellyfish taste like. Soon. I was a little disappointed to see the affogato. I mean, it's lovely and all, but after teasing us with the beautiful pottery and tea canister, you shock your readers with that stunningly caffeinated confection. I do understand that once you drink coffee you're ruined. It's probably not worth the therapy to try to go back. So I forgive you. I'll return to the other beautiful photos soon ... time to go home for some coffee ice cream (Häagen-Dazs five™).

Amber said...

Hey, wow... it look's like you guys are having so much fun... I'm jealous as usual:) Thanks for keeping us updated. I love you and miss you!

grant said...

Jesse! This is so amazing. I'm still so proud of you guys and happy for you too. It looks like you got some great stuff at the market and could get just about anything you would want. I really like the tea set and the orchids are beautiful. Thanks for the awesome pics and the posts. Thought of you at graduation. Tell Chels hi. Miss you guys.

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