Saturday, November 22, 2008

Coffeeshop & Bathhouse

A few weeks ago we moved residences. We were finding our 18th floor penthouse suite to be a bit inadequate, so we moved into more intimate student housing at a nearby university. This picture is of us at a throwback coffeeshop across the street from our new address.

Korean bathhouses are perhaps the best in the world outside of Japan. They have three components: the bathhouse itself, of which there are necessarily no pictures; the saunas, which are usually hot but in this instance was a chattery 40' (Adrienne posed for a quick pic and was outta there); and a public resting area where people have picnics, naps, watch TV and even spend the night. All this for $5.

Light pink for girls; dark, brawny red for boys.

The pillow is wooden, the stones are salt, the room is a balmy 140' (nothing compared to the red-hot 192' max that boils an egg).

This picture demonstrates that the saunas are a great place to a) die and b) flirt.

In the center of the resting room is an petrified tree to give a more natural ambience.

A woman reclining in the shadow of a plastinated tree.

Mechanical foot massager: $1 for 10 minutes. Made in Japan.

My favorite is #33.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Aquarium, Snacks and Neighborhood Sights

Us at the aquarium.

Stephen with a really gigantic crab. Their poses are somehow similar.

A shock-o-meter near the electric eel tank. The idea is that you touch sensors on a plastic eel and it shows you what kind of animal would be killed by that voltage. We found the pictures of animals in pain to be particularly graphic. We've mentioned the Korean love of cartoons before - this is the dark side.

Adrienne's favorite part was the eels. She had fun taking picture after picture of all of the different varieties as they poked out of rocks and zoomed around tanks.


Korean food stand and restaurant near the aquarium. Outside they sell ambiguous tempura creations, some kind of flat fish cake on skewers, plus a saucy-spicy concoction. The sit-down restaurant menu is in picture form around the stand - helpful for those who can't read Korean.

Adrienne posing with a Chrisitian missionary who was handing out mini vitamin drinks along with Jesus pamphlets. Kids started running towards her as soon as they saw her on the street. She must be on to something.

Stephen with samka kimbap, one of our favorite snacks. Samka means triangle and kimbap is a generic term for Korean sushi, which is different from Japanese because it usually includes veggies and meat as opposed to raw fish. We go for the veggie samka kimbap which is basically white rice mixed with kimchi and wrapped in seaweed. Most difficult thing ever to unwrap without ruining it.

Clouds seen from our bedroom window at Dr. Jun's.

Mosaic dragon near Dr. Jun's.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Grapes, Election, and Dong Myeon-sa

Stephen thinks this picture is very hilarious. The grapes in Korea are different than in America; they are sweeter and juicier, and have 2-3 seeds in each grape, depending on its size. Adrienne thinks this picture is ridiculous.
With our boss, the day after the election. He was very confused about the purpose of this picture, and even more so that we wanted him to be in it.

One of the rooms at Dong Myeon-sa, a temple near our home. ("Sa" means temple.) In Korea, temples have rows of paper lotus lanterns hanging from the ceiling, which you can see on the left side of this picture.

Kimchi fermantation vessels. Since ancient times in Korea, these huge ceramic pots have been used for making kimchi. People often keep these vessels on the patios or balconies of their homes.

Outside of the main temple at Dong Myeon-sa.

Evil spirits underneath the feet of one of the four heavenly kings.

Adrienne posing with one of the four heavenly kings. These kings are always present at the entrance gate to a Korean Buddhist temple. They are also known as guardians of the four directions.

These guys are pretty scary.

Steve made another friend! We call this little guy Shivers because he always looks so cold when we pass by him on our way to the walking path near our apartment.

We came across a ritual while walking one morning. The woman in white silk was throwing rice and other ritual objects into the ocean. Behind her was an arrangement of ceremonial foods, including an entire pig's head.

Throwing rice into the ocean.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Oryukdo and Haemul Pajeon

Today our boss took us to Oryukdo, a group of islets just a short drive from where we live. The name Oryukdo means "five or six islands." It is called this because at high tide a land bridge connecting two of the islands is submerged. So at low tide there are five islands and at high tide there are six. These islands are actually very tiny, and only one is supposedly inhabited.

Sun setting near Oryukdo today.

View of one of the Oryukdo islets - this is the supposedly inhabited one. There is a white lighthouse on this islet and you can see it in the background on the right side if you look closely.

This woman was casting out a basket to harvest various shellfish from the ocean. Right after we took this picture, she heaved the basket out to sea with a cheerful and dramatic yelp.

One of the fisherwomen displaying her goods for sale near Oryukdo. She had all kinds of shellfish we had never seen before, and nobody knew the names in English. Our boss said he doesn't like eating them, but he offered to buy some for us and eat them with us if we wanted. We declined, but this was a very typically Korean gesture.

Close-up of the fisherwoman's catch.

"Adrienne, Dr. Jun - Look up at the camera! Smile! Dr. Jun? Dr. Jun? Oh well, I'll just go ahead and take the picture."

Our dinner tonight - haemul pajeon, Korean seafood and scallion pancake. This was gigantic, the picture doesn't do it justice. Various types of seafood - octopus, squid, crab, shrimp - plus mushrooms, peppers and maybe a shoebox full of scallions, all fried in a battery mixture of some sort. Delicious, though certainly not healthy.