Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blog 28 - 19th September

Our most recent visitors were two Australian sisters, Hannah, who is living in New Zealand and Emily from Canberra. They are the daughters of Ronis, a past guest editor on this esteemed blog and ex-neighbours from Koolaman Street.

We spent ages wandering in the rain around Bukchon Dong and accidentally stumbled across a small workshop making Korean knots and watched the three women chatting and working.

LinkThe Seoul Museum of Chicken Art was a wonderful surprise with hundreds of chickens and artwork of chickens form all over the world including Africa, Australia and Europe. A welcome respite after the pouring rain. Here is the link

Emily and I wandered a bit further to see the World Jewelry Museum however it was closed. here it is anyway for those who are looking for it in Jongro Gu .

Those who have visited us will be familiar with Hoam House restaurant across the road. Check out the dishes that accompany bibmbap. Something to look forward to for future visitors. Here we are with Stephanie who is living and studying in Beijing and squeezed in to our apartment for a few nights too. She crept in at 3.00am and we woke to a surprises packet of German muesli from China for breakfast.

On 11th September we went on a tour of the Demilitarized Zone. The grey building in the background is in North Korea where North Korean military, equipped with binoculars were watching our every move.

Here our friendly ROK (Republic of Korea) army are protecting us!

The view into North Korea from the armistice site. Our US Army guides had to memorize a 14 page script describing the landmarks of the DMZ and take up to 3 tours a day. This is their job! What fun!

This monument is commemorating the armistice ending the Korean War in 1953. Below is the exact place of the border between North and South Korea. The microphones on the table are monitored 24/7 and the United Nations flag marks the spot. No - the soldier is not a dummy! He is for real. We resisted the temptation to buy a doll like him in the army tourist shop.

On a slightly lighter note, we attended the Korean International Art Fair at COEX. The UK is host this year and Australia will be host next year. This means that instead of four Australian galleries there will be many many more. Here is the date - put it in your diaries for a visit!

Following a visit to Friends meeting house and chocolate cake in the nearby grounds of EWHA Woman's University, we ate a last meal traditional Korean style on the floor with other Quakers. Of course a Korean experience is not complete without a taste of Makoli (rice wine pictured in the green bottle)

Our balcony is looking much more lush after Damien's Fathers Day gift of plants.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Blog 27 - 5th September

Our friend and neighbour, Monika, has been visiting and presenting a paper on Heatwaves in Adelaide at an International Environmental Health Conference at COEX here in Seoul. Here she is through the window of a Hanok (traditional house) at Namsangol Traditional Village .

This recreated village, in the midst of city buildings, is so quiet and peaceful and then a few minutes away we walked to Myeong-dong, a vibrant night spot, for a bit of retail therapy!

While Monika was here, I also attended a conference, the 13th Asian Conference of the International Association of Facilitators. The conference was hosted by the Korean Facilitators Association which formed in 2009 and volunteered to host an international conference one year later! There were 150 delegates from 18 countries including Finland and Ghana. It was a very hands on and collaborative experience as is obvious from this photo of a 'Flipchart Graphics' session where we learned how to write legibly and draw simply. Yes - this was a room full of professionals acting like kids! Here is the link if you'd like to check out the site.

The Birds of a Feather session invited like minded participants to gather to problem solve common key questions, concerns and strategies.

Monika took us (and we took her!) to dinner at Korea House where we were served an ongoing series of sumptuous dishes. Here is Monika (below) looking very gorgeous and (above) the waitresses wearing traditional hanboks. I never cease to be amazed that they never look dirty , uncomfortable or hot, despite the fact that their dresses float along the floor and it is 85% humidity in Seoul at the moment.

It has rained almost every day for the past fortnight. Add to this, a typhoon last week where many trees were toppled to the ground, four people were killed, schools and some workplaces closed for the morning, and it makes for an interesting and exciting time. Monika and I climbed Mount Namsan in the rain and could not work out if we were wet from perspiration or rain. The tower measures 236.7 metres from the base and was well worth the workout! The view was wonderful. This photo of an uprooted tree was taken on our way down and was one of many. The storm was the strongest to hit the Seoul metropolitan area for 15 years. In true Korean style 29,000 government officials, soldiers and volunteers have been working on the clean-up.