Tuesday, April 22, 2008

glancing through a window of reverie

this has been a long time in coming
and a long time in the making
i've wanted to create some kind of an account of my summer trip to south korea two years ago
i even started to post things on my cyworld webpage (see 1st post for access info) but that got too time consuming and my friends and relatives outside of korea couldn't easily access it

well, these days im idle and nostalgic and feeling the loneliness of the suburbs of portland...
so, a perfect chance to finally share all my experiences
...but i have to warn you
this whole account is incredibly long
i even have to divide it into separate posts due to its enormity
so i dont really expect anyone to read it all (except for me from time to time of course^^)
but i suggest scanning through the 500+ pics (i said long, didn't i?) and reading about ones that catch your eye

and if any of you feel compelled to make a comment(those who shared these experiences with me and anyone who gleans something from my stories and remembrances), i would love to hear your memories/insights :)

with that, i will unleash this beast!

my journey begins in early june
my plan was to take some summer courses at 중앙대학교 (chung ang university) and travel a bit around 부산 (busan) and 대구 (daegu) before heading back to hilo for the fall semester
i had saved enough money for my plane ticket and a little to get me started, but i was planning on staying with friends and tutoring (illegally, of course) to keep financing my exploits

when i arrived at 인천광역시 (incheon airport), my friend, long j, who i was planning on staying with at first, was nowhere to be found
an hour later, i could be seen rifling through my luggage in the lobby looking for his number
i eventually found it and discovered that he thought i never asked him to meet me at the airport
instead, he was at a bar with a girl lol
so i boarded a bus at around midnight and arrived at 서울역 (seoul station) at one
long J and his lady friend met me and my luggage envoy for this photo

back to the bar! despite feeling exhausted, i decide that drinking away fatigue and hitting the night life will be a better seoul-welcoming to me than sleep^^
i find out that j and his friend 영지 (youngji) both applied for jobs at the same company
youngji was hired and celebrating long j was not and drinking away his sorrows kkk
this bar was in 신천 (sincheon) i think
we went to 노래방 (noraebang) which is pretty much just like karaoke
here we stayed until sunrise
i stepped outside for an early morning smoke and was greeted by the 'fresh' morning air and the 'scenic' shincheon streets
still, i somehow felt a strong sense of arrival and contentment...
views of the city from long j's apartment
this was a man-made waterfall (yes, i know) and school also viewed from long j's apartment
some scenes from the seoul subway
this pic was taken in 강남 (gangnam)

riding the elevator to a study room in gangnam
this is called 부대찌개 (budeajjigae) it's basically a soupy-stew made from literally everything - ramen, hot dog, onion, pepper, and a lot more
apparently it is a meal that was created by korean soldiers who took the leftovers that american soldiers threw away we're so wasteful -___-;;
i meet my korean sister 선영 (sunyoung) after lunch

sunyoung took me to the underground mall called CO-EX it is HUGE then we sat in a coffee shop and watched the people go by later we went up to the street to walk around the convention center

right around here i remember seeing this tv program being recorded outside
on the program were contestants, possibly pulled from the crowd sitting in chairs around the stage
the contestants were trying to beat each other at a racing video game
i was sort of confused but the audience wasn't - they loved it

i think this place was at the seolleung train station
it was a good place to hang
especially when i was living in 오리 (ori) which is outside of seoul with my friend jeongeun (정은) and her family
on this day i met shimdang (jeongeun) and we went to her church after snacking on some 빙수 (bingsoo) which is like a shaved ice cool treat with sweet red beans and, for me, green tea flavor :)
after church and youth group, we went to eat MY SOON TO BE FAVORITE KOREAN FOOD 삼겹살 (samgyeopsar) - thick, fatty slices of pork which you fry at your table and cut up and eat in a little lettuce or sesame leaf sandwich with marinated onions, garlic, and pepper paste
normally you should eat this with 소주 (soju) - korean rice alcohol

the next day i visited long j's school, 한양대학교 (hanyang university) - another school from which many of my korea-hilo friends have come
here i am with my good buddy 용훈 (yonghoon, sometimes just 'hoon' or 'brian' lol) for lunch i ate 냉면 (naengmyeon) - cold rice noodles in an icy, spicy broth these are super refreshing on a hot, muggy day!
hanyang university pics

long j, yonghoon, and i meet up with 명주 (myeongju - mj for short) walkin' da streets of popular shopping district 명동 (myeongdong)
we stop at a 떡볶이 (ddeokbokgi) street stand
ddeokbokgi is really hot and spicy
the ddeok is like small dumplings and they are cooked and served in the spicy sauce YUM!
i have heard many koreans trapped in hilo lamenting on how they miss this
we go drinking after meeting long j's friend, who i called 'texas girl' (cuz she associated with texas where she lived for a while) this was pretty the only usable pic form the night, not due to a lack of pictures, but a lack of photography skill after serious soju-imbibing
despite the extent to which i became inebriated the previous night, i woke the next day feeling so incredibly fresh and chill
i met jeongeun at 어린이 대공원 (children's grand park)
it was a beautiful day
some korean water-fowl
(not pictured, the grey-crowned crane - Balearica regulorum - a famous symbol in korea)
i think the heat took all the stuffing out of these tigers (not stuffed)

the lions, however were, ah, uh.... unaffected... as evidenced by their, hum... energetic activities... ...echoingly-loud love makin'
children cried

nothin' like watermelon in the park on a sunny day the park also had this foot-massage path which you removed your shoes and trod on, painfully, but it felt real great afterwards

세종대학교 (sejong university) named after sejong the great, the king who created the korean alphabet 한글 (hangul) which revolutionized korea by making literacy incredibly accessibly to the common people who theretofore (is that a word?) had to learn the excessively difficult chinese characters i myself can attest to its logistics, and i maintain that the writing system can be learned in an hour amazing, eh?
this pic is taken from the walkway of another university - 성신 (seongshin) women's university
sunyoung at her university :)
one of the reasons she brought me here was so that i could post my flier that advertised me as an english tutor (i actually got no calls - poo!)

we went to a 샤부샤부 (shabu-shabu) restaurant for lunch
shabu-shabu is like a cantonese 'hot pot' in which you boil water and then subsequently add veggies and meat
everyone sharing the pot just pulls out what they want (often involving fighting)
we had a seafood shabu-shabu
taking my turn at cutting the kimchee

i met 보경 (bokyoung or 'bobo') at her church in 철선 (cheolseon) and afterwards we went to the seoul city center

bobo took me to 덕수궁 (deoksoo palace)
this place was inhabited by the korean royalty until the japanese destroyed most everything (the japanese army burned all the buildings in the 16th century during an invasion and they were later rebuilt only to be nearly destroyed again during the occupation)
the buildings and architecture are beautifully crafted - to me it is the intense coloring of korean art and architecture that is most characteristic

these stones, as bobo has informed me, are actually not gravestones as i originally believed, but are in place to recognize past government officials

aside from an impressive view of my nostrils, i cleverly took this pic incognito at this HUGE bookstore that had a ceiling constructed entirely of reflective surfaces
THEN bobo took me to 인사동 (insadong) - an immense outdoor market (and sort of tourist trap) it's a really cool place to wander around, look at trinkets, eat some snacks, and watch the people i came here several times while staying in seoul
determined to give me an unbeatable tour of the city, bobo gets lost looking for a superb restaurant she remembers (or doesn't) kkkk
after a more-than-satisfyingly-spicy meal

경복궁 (gyeongbok palace) the final sight on an amazing day
extremely beautiful and magestic at night
i return to long j's apartment and am greeted in the morning by a startlingly-red morning sun

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