Sunday, November 28, 2010

Blog 33 - 28th November

Monday 22nd November is Lebanese Independence Day. Independence from whom you may ask? Actually it was from the French in 1946. This photo is of an ice cedar tree, as you know the national symbol and featured on the flag. Can you see the Lebanese and Korean flags in the background?

The wife of the Lebanese Ambassador, Majida Mustafa, invited me along with about a hundred others to celebrate at the J W Marriott. Majida is pictured below dressed in traditional costume and dancing the dubke, Lebanon's national dance . The food was fantastic and the first time I have seen authentic Lebanese food here in Korea.

I do love to dance, however resisted the temptation on this occasion. Thank you to my friend Catharine for the photos. Check out her wonderful blog at

The following evening I returned to the same ballroom at the J W Marriott for the Korean Australian Alumni Gala event. Damien also came this time and wore his red Korean time to mark the occasion. Can you see him on the left towards the front? This was the evening of the North Korean bombing, however apart from the Australian Ambassador,who was busy briefing Canberra, everything seemed to be 'business as usual' and the 260 invitees were able to ignore the troubles and have fun. I even won a big box of Australian beef. Quite a luxury here. Bad luck I am a vegetarian!

My Korean teacher Romy invited me and two friends, Sandra from the US and Kartrina from Sweden, to Yongmunsa, a Buddhist temple and the site of the oldest ginkgo tree in Asia. Here is the link if you are interested

It is snowing here tonight as we returned from a birthday dinner for Damien. Watch for some snow photos next time. Also stay posted for some photos of Dominic our son, and Madelaine, my niece, who will be visiting soon. Hooray!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blog 32 - 15th November

Autumn is truly beautiful with clear blue skies and crisp cold days. Here are some photos of the campus. In the background are forested mountains: SNU campus is in a valley, surrounded by mountains, which just now are in gloriously varied autumn colours. Ginko trees abound on Seoul National University (SNU) campus, so these days it's a carpet of golden leaves. The Ginko is sometimes called the maidenhair tree, for its leaves are shaped like those of the maidenhair fern. Damien is the guest editor this time so get ready for a botanical tour.

The small shrine (above) is just opposite Damien's department terrace garden, on the 9th floor. Just shout out a few Buddhist prayers: Without a mountain, there is no river. But no shoutingBuddhists always speak quietly.

Because the campus has some 30,000 students, the main circulation loop road (which totals 7 km in length) can be rather too busy, but somehow the trees make is seem altogether a most beautiful place.
At our apartment, the forested hill we see from the living room is similarly ablaze in autumn colours. Being on the third level, we look straight into the tree tops.

This one (above) is taken from our balcony window.

Damien had a nostalgic trip out to the old Suwon campus, where he lived for the first two years in Korea. It's mostly abandoned now, awaiting a new purpose, and most of the mature planting has gone wild, but there are still some magnificent trees including this Ginko.

This is a main circulation stair on campus (the site is very hilly) which runs from the main amenities building (cafeteria, bookshop, 7/11, etc) up to the main library, so it's a busy link.

Another revered spot on campus is a small pond (Jahayeon) which reflects the tree colours throughout autumn.

We recently returned to the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is located in Seoul Grand Park to the south of Seoul, and took these photos in the gardens. Here is Damien coming to grips with a carefully composed assemblage of rusty iron, not to be confused with a pile of building rubble.

Here am I in what reminds me of Ned Kelly's helmet - complete with tree. And below, under the autumn avenue.