Sunday, March 31, 2013

Day 6.080: Happy Easter (eggs)

Here are some "eggs" from our trip to the sculpture park yesterday.

A proper post about our visit is coming - honestly!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day 6.079: Redux removed

We returned to The Fields Sculpture Park at Omi International Arts Center. We had a fantastic time, but more than I can do justice to this evening, so just one little snippet for tonight.

The first time we went I took this:

Peter Stempel - High Plains Drifter Redux

The second time I recreated it like this:

Peter Stempel, High Plains Drifter Redux

This time I took another picture of E5N1 in the same spot...of course:

Alas, Peter Stempel's High Plains Drifter Redux is no longer there!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Day 6.078: Now that's a movie!

I was surprised to see that the car next to mine on my train journey up to Seoul as I was preparing to leave Korea had the following sign on the door:

The sign made it clear I shouldn't open the door, so I didn't.  Surely it couldn't really be a cinema?

Apparently, yes it was!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Day 6.077: Unfair advantage

I went in to take some photos of Exile #4's class for their yearbook page. Unlike the portrait day, I do not give anyone notice of these occasions to ensure that their kids are dressed in their best clothes or have their hair brushed or whatever.

Of course, we had an unfair advantage.

We didn't - apparently - take advantage.

P.S. Despite her messy hair, it was great to see Exile #4 at her day-job!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Day 6.076: One-pot meal

Here is a photo-story of a remarkable meal. I had it one evening on each of my 2013 trips to Korea. It may not be the kind of one-pot meal beloved of busy families and students, but it really was cooked in one pot...

We arrived at the table and this was placed in front of us on a gas burner.

The abalone on top was still alive (click here to visit the video proof - or don't).  Also in the pot, some dumplings, a chicken or two, some rice cakes (like short fat rice noodles) and an octopus.

Soon afterwards, we fished out the dumplings and some of the fairly-plain but tasty broth and set to work adding greens and mushrooms to the stew:

Here was my "starter":

And then, a little later, we had the chicken, vegetables, rice cakes, octopus (cut up with scissors at some point) in some more of the broth (now getting a little more complex):

Finally, noodles were added to the pot, along with some other ingredients and after a minute or so we had our final course from the pot - by now the broth was quite spicy and delicious - perfect to accompany the plain noodles.

And OK - yes there was a course that didn't come from the pot - but they were local and delicious (and not served during the January version of this meal!)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Day 6.075: High (grass)

I'm ability-impaired right now - but due to jet-lag not illicit substances.

So, to keep things ticking over, here's a picture from my mountain adventure that I just spotted and was rather pleased with.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Day 6.074: In a different season-zone

I answered my first work email at around ten to five this morning and my last one at five to eleven tonight. Jet-lag has its advantages for my employer - and for the same recipient of both of those emails - albeit on two different days for him!

Meanwhile I'm coming to terms with having had this side of Spring:

snatched from me after being very much in evidence in southern South Korea last week!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 6.073: On the snow-fa

Exile #2 took this picture a few days ago. Both the snowman and the snow sofa are still there, but not quite as pristine looking now.

And that's that for today. I'm rather tired!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Day 6.072: East ended

It's amazing what you find on the seatback entertainment system on a Korea Air flight - although this is not what British readers might initially think (based on a sample of two so far). It is in fact the live image from the downward camera as we flew in over New York City - not the credits of Eastenders despite the first-glance similarities.

In other news, I'm safely back home from my trip to the Far East!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Day 6.071: Mugwort pancakes

Our final meal before my departure was lunch in an extraordinary place. A small traditional house serving as a one-table restaurant. The meal was vegetarian - described by our hosts as "well-being food". All around the room and outside the small house were jars containing pickles and fermenting soy beans and other beneficial foodstuffs. It was also quite delicious especially the pancakes whose main ingredient resembled spinach but was, apparently, mugwort which we saw beginning to grow just outside the house as we left.

The name of the place was something like "The World You Do Not See" it was also a place you would never find unless someone showed you - probably twice.

After we ate it was revealed that as well as being a cook, the proprietor was a musician, artist and poet. After cooking for and then serving us she sang two songs with an ancient guitar of dubious tuning, I was pressed into singing one - followed by our host, so I did not fully escape the singing even though we did not have time to visit the singing room.

Here are some pictures.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Day 6.070: New York state of mind

With my departure imminent, my thoughts are turning increasingly to home - and not just because of trying to pack everything I brought back into the mysterious shrinking suitcase.

Of course, I have been in regular contact with home. Here is a capture of one of our Skype video calls featuring one of the easiest entries in our theme for the trip: testing Dad on the state flags!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Day 6.069: Snow: body does it better!

I gather that two of my three kids celebrated the first day of spring (and an unrelated half-day off school) by making a snowman and various other snow sculptures. I'm actually sad to be missing out on this late-season snow but I have enjoyed the moment before!

Here in South Korea, the blossom trees are coming out and we have started saying that it's turned cold when it falls into the 40's in the evening.

However, all the snow and snowman making reminded me of this - from the road-walking section of my hike up the mountain at the weekend:

I particularly liked the snow and rain pictures - although the snowman might not be the most obvious way to signify a slippery road surface!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Day 6.068: A fried chicken

Shortly after my return from my last trip here to Korea in January, I read this post at FUSSYlittleBLOG extolling the virtues Korean fried chicken. I realised that in the four weeks I'd spent here up until then I'd never eaten fried chicken, so this time I was determined to find out what the fuss was about.

I dropped Daniel a line to get what information I could and then managed to get away on my own to downtown Busan where I set out to find fried chicken, eat it and not miss the last train home. I succeeded - just.

It turns out that in a country of very specific restaurants - grilled pork restaurants, boiled pork restaurants, chicken soup restaurants etc. - it is not straightforward to find a fried chicken restaurant because it is not a dish traditionally eaten as a meal. No, it is drinking food. So, newly armed with this knowledge I went into a small establishment resembling the seating area of a bar (but with no bar) more than a restaurant. Took a seat and ordered chicken and beer.

It was a whole small chicken in what seemed from my interpretation of the menu to be the house traditional spiced-sauced style. There were two legs, two wings and pile of bone-in pieces about the size of a child's fist. It was sticky spicy sweet deliciousness and I'm very pleased I tracked it down.  Maybe I'll get to try some of the other varieties, but this will be hard to beat.

After I ate a little over half the plate and realised that there was no way I was going to do justice to the rest, I checked the train times and realised that the last express train was leaving in about 40 minutes and I was over a mile's walk across downtown streets or two stops on the metro away from the station and didn't yet have a ticket so it was a bit of a rush - but I made it with, maybe five minutes to spare!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Day 6.067: Wildlife: Jongnam-style

This is the wildlife I managed to shoot (with the camera obviously) on my way up (and down) Jongnamsan on Saturday:

I can identify the great tit, a pair of crows and a red squirrel (it its dark-brown winter coat).  I think that the bird on the left-centre may be a grey-headed woodpecker, but as for the other small bird (top left and bottom right), I have no idea what it is (except quite striking)!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Day 6.066: Ten thousand fish

On Friday afternoon, we visited a temple a few miles away. The name of the temple means "Ten thousand fish" because, as we were told before we went there, many many fish make their home there.

What we found was not quite what we were expecting!

Here are the fish:

The story goes that these fish left the East Sea and came here to hear the words of a wise monk - and they stayed and turned to stone.

One of the "mysteries" of the site - apart from this extraordinary stripe of jumbled stones down one side of the hill - is that some of the stones sound like steel when they are struck:

Here we are with our host and our guide (photo taken by the driver who is the one hitting the rock in the video):

This beautiful carving is new - done two years ago in a rock in situ.

And this temple building contains the largest of the "fish stones" - still in its original location with the building built around it.

The other "mysteries" include a pool which is never dry even when there is little water elsewhere and whose water level is said to vary with the sea level rather than with rainfall or other expected factors.

When I first heard about this place - I was told it was "very strange". I have to agree!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Day 6.065: Jongnamsan for breakfast

On Saturday morning, I set off shortly after dawn, and before breakfast to climb a mountain.  My hike started with a two mile walk through the streets to this industrial area.  The mountain is in the center.

At the far end of the street, the road up the mountain started, briefly passing through some fruit farms:

They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  It was true for me.  I was able to read the top line of this sign "Jongnamsan" - the name of the peak I was heading for, so I followed the arrow through an open gate.

It was not the right way.

Soon, I was back on the road and starting to get some impressive views:

This may be the strangest collection of trash I've ever seen dumped - a broken office chair, two punctured drums and some perfectly serviceable Lego.

Signs of spring were everywhere:

As were glimpses of things we'd seen driving around the area.  We drove past this wind turbine yesterday.

I had water with me, but this looked quite inviting:

The views kept getting better.

And better.

Soon after the first vehicle passed me - taking the narrow, twisting and, at times alarming road up the mountain - I came to the top of the road - a small parking lot, a sign and the beginning of an even steeper climb.

And finally, I reached the summit.

And settled down to eat some breakfast and read a book.

And then it was time to head back down.

I took a small detour to the smaller peak you can see above - this is the view back to the top from there.  You can see someone climbing - if you look very carefully!

The second peak has what can only be a helicopter landing area on it.  I wondered who you would call for an airlift, but decided I was able to walk down.

I found an alternative route down from there. This is an approximation to the whole route I took.

My final adventure, along the river, was seeing this at the side of the road.  It was open and accessible, and well - how could I resist?

It was a little wobblier than I expected, but seemed safe enough.  There were some nice views from the top.

However, the view down the steeper, more overgrown and possibly even more wobbly stairs on the other side made me wonder if I'd made a mistake.

I made it down safely - and back to the hotel.  Some 11 miles or so in total.


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