Monday, July 14, 2008

Jeju Trip (Day 1)

I have a college buddy, Jeff, who decided to take a break from his lucrative yet workaholic life in the realestate world to teach English on Jeju Island. I arranged to take my first trip to Jeju and to meet him during my stay. For some reason Jeff never responded to my last few emails, so I wasn't sure if I'd see him in Jeju.

The night before the trip I went to bed later than I wanted so I only got 3 hours of sleep before heading to the airport. It's a 1 hour flight from Seoul. I arrived in Jeju around 9:30am, sleepy and looking for some strong coffee. I took a bus to the center of Jeju City and began walking around in search of coffee. It was sprinkling rain a little. I found my coffee and then headed toward Jungmun Beach (중문 해수욕장). Jungmun Beach is a popular tourist beach with waves big enough for surfing.

By the time I got the the area, it started raining heavily. Even with an umbrella, my pants below my knees and socks were soaked with rain water. Fortunately I picked up a brochure from the airport for a Gecko's Pub that was recently built in the area. I hopped into a cab and made my way there.

Once inside the bar I changed my socks but decided to leave my pants on to air dry. I ordered a beer and entertained myself with free pool as the rain continued to pour.

The bar was virtually empty at 2pm. I drank for about an hour when Jeff called. He and some coworkers drove out to meet me. We ordered some food and some more drinks. By 6pm or so we headed back to Jeff's two bedroom beach house.

This is a picture of the kitchen.

This is a picture of the dining room side of the main room.

This is a picture of the living room side of the main room.

The back porch is huge and has a space on the end for a hot tub which should be installed before too long. It's a perfect place for a barbeque.

After returning from having lunch and drinks together, we watched a little tv and relaxed before heading to Jeju City for some evening entertainment. We started with Chuncheon Talkgalbi (춘천딹갈비) for dinner and then made our way to two bars where westerners like to hang out.

It turned out to be a late night. I excused myself from the drinking at around 3am so I could get some sleep at a nearby motel. Unfortunately for me, I woke up the next morning with a hangover and was completely unfit for climbing Hala Mountain (한라산), the huge volcano in the center of the island. Climbing it was one of my main goals for going to Jeju. So I was disappointed. In retrospect, it was nice to see an old college buddy and catch up. Hala Mountain isn't going anywhere.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Busan Trip (Day 2)

My second day in Busan was as good as the first with the addition of sunny weather for the most part of the day. I wanted to take advantage of the clear skies for photography, so I headed back toward the APEC house to retrace my steps from the previous day.

My Korean friends living in Busan told me that these are the most expensive apartments in Busan. There's no doubt why. They are new, overlook Haeundae Beach, overlook the bay, and Gwangan Bridge.

I added the top picture to show how the apartments are located in respect to Gwangan Bridge. The lower picture is a close up of the 7,420 meter bridge, longest bridge in Korea.

This is the road that takes you to the APEC House. In this photo, I'm looking back down the road from where I came. Hear are some seagulls resting on a lamp pole. As you can see from the coloration of the road, this is a dangerous lamp to walk under.

Here is an interesting looking tree growing outside of the APEC House.

Here is a shot of the APEC House from an observation platform.

Looking the other way, you can see most of Hauendae Beach.

I found my way back to the beach for sunset. I met some young Korean high school boys while I was sitting there, so I got another chance to practice Korean. I could understand about 20% of what they said because they were speaking really fast and using words I don't know. It was a good chance for practice anyways.

I knew Busan would be a great place to have seafood, so I jumped into a taxi and said I want to eat Jogae-guwee (조개구이). He took me for a 10 minute ride to a great restaurant. This is a blurry photo, but you can get the idea. Basically, you cook shells over charcoal until they are ready to eat.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Busan Trip (Day 1)

I went to Busan in a solo trip over the weekend and had a really good time. I left Seoul Station via KTX high speed train at 7:30am and arrived in Busan at 10:15am. My seat was comfortable but wasn't great for sleeping which I really needed. I didn't go right to bed after work on the 4th because I wanted to have a beer and light fireworks to celebrate American Independence Day and my brother's wedding anniversary. So I was operating on about 3 hours of sleep.

Right outside Busan Station is a Starbucks and in front of Starbucks is a bus to Haeundae Beach, which was my ultimate destination. So I drank 8 shots of espresso and started for the beach.

The weather was a little cloudy. I stood near the middle of the beach faced left and took this photo. I think it is pretty cool that you can see the clouds engulf the peninsula.

Here is the view looking to the right.

I laid out in the sun on my back for just under 40 minutes, but I got a really small sun burn anyway. I didn't use any sunblock, but I really didn't think I'd need any for such a short period of time in the sun on a cloudy day. After about 15 minutes of laying on my stomach I went into the water. I was only in the water for about 5 minutes. It was so cold that I felt dizzy and short of beath. I didn't bother to go back into the water again.

I brought some books to study while on my trip. One was Principles of Language Learning And Teaching, by H. Douglas Brown, and the other was Korean For Foreigners (Intermediate 2), by GANADA Korean Language Institute. While I was sitting on a bench studying Korean, I met these two Korean girls. The one on my right side is Min-ji (민지) an architectual design student, and the other is Hye-lim (혜림) a fashion design student. We talked a bit about my thoughts on Korean architect. I suggested we take a walk to examine the local designs. On our way around, we took a walk around the APEC house. APEC house is a place on a peninsula where the leaders of several nations came for a conference in 2005. The picture above is of us standing in front of a light house in that area.

This is a random couple enjoying a romantic moment in the fog.

I really love the shape of the Korean pine tree you can see in the foreground. The wooden walkway takes you all the way around the peninsula, with many great views to photograph.

Here is Hye-lim again.

Here is Min-ji again.

At the end of our walk, I bought the girls some coffee. Except for our talk about architecture, we spoke Korean the entire time. So this was excellent practice for me. Two cups of coffee is a small price to pay for attractive girls to practice conversation with.

At the end of the evening, I sat down on the beach to do some people watching. I was told that if the weather stays nice, people will be on the beach all night. I wanted to wake up and enjoy a full day, so I didn't stay too long. I found a really dingy motel to stay at for $50. I don't have any photos of it, but I do have photos of my second night's motel which was 1000 times better for the same price. I'll post those photos later.


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Hike up Namsan

In late April I went for a hike up Namsan, a small foothill in the center of Seoul. You can take a tram up to the top where Namsan tower is. I did this with my parents in September 2007. This time I walked from Itaewon station to the Hilton Hotel, where across the street is a flower park and an entrance to the footpath to Namsan.

From the flower park, you can walk up a trail until you reach this road that goes the rest of the way to the top. You don't need to walk on the trail at all. You can start at the bottom of the road and follow it to the top. Pedestrians share the road with tour buses.

This particular day was beautiful because the flower pedals on the trees were blowing in the wind as they fell to the ground. I especially enjoy such moments as they only happen briefly.

From a small lookout platform I took a photo of the city smog and of Namsan Tower. The top of Namsan Tower is a 360 degree observatory.

Ancient Koreans used these chambers to send smoke signals for communication.

On my way back down through the flower park I took some more photos. I liked how these came out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Let's Visit Seoul!

I'm in the process of creating a new blog called Let's Visit Seoul! I want to make it into a place where people planning to visit Seoul, or are living here, can find interesting things to do and get some good tips.

I know there are tourist websites made by the Korean government which will have much more information than I care to research and provide, however I don't think having the most information is necessarily the best.

Also, the information and tips I give will reflect the interests and experiences I most enjoy. So basically, Let's Visit Seoul! will have my personality.

I'm going to get a good deal of knowledge about Seoul by putting this website together. So for me, this is going to be a fun project.