The Beebop in Hongdae:
Both times we have been to Seoul, we stayed at a hostel called The Beebop.
The Beebop has a great bohemian atmosphere with a handle on the abundant art scene in and around Hongdae. Olive, one of the owners of the hostel, is really pleasant and helpful. A big movie/travel buff too!
Comfortable, relaxed rooms, kitchen and living room. Also, a great place to meet fellow travelers!
The Hostel is really close to Hongik University, a really cool place to stay in Seoul.
Last week I got to read to two kindergarten classes. I had not been with kindergarteners since I student taught last year. It was awesome!
Damyang is known for it’s bamboo, Sequoias, and noodles. It is very close to Gwangju and a bus will have you there in a half hour. It is a quiet little town with a great bike path along the river. The bike path continues along the river through Gwangju and then onto Mokpo on the southern coast.
We rented a tandem bike and we used it to explore along the river bank. A short ride will bring you into endless stretches of farmland; a very welcome sight coming from the city. Women could be seen under umbrellas picking vegetables off of the bike path. Nice and slow-paced.
After the bike ride we had some “famous” noodles. Everywhere in Korea is famous for something. We sat on an elevated bamboo platform and ate them overlooking the river.
A really neat cafe and gallery sits across the river from “Noodle Street” and it is worth the look.
Damyang is a great escape and worth a Sunday afternoon.
Punk Rock has always been one of the most accesible forms of music by the people, for the people. Simple structure and simple chords allow just about anyone to pick up a guitar and belt out whatever is on thier mind.
This sort of pick it up and do it method of making music has really become…
Buddha’s Birthday was on May 28th in Korea this year.
We had heard that the temples decorate in honor of the event, so we really wanted to take a road trip and do some hiking and sight-seeing around some temples. One of our personal favorites in Korea is Songgwang-sa. A little bit of research revealed that a great network of trails go over Janggunbong Mountain and end at a beautiful old temple called Seonam-sa.
We took a direct bus to Songgwang-sa and took a wonderful hike to Seonam-sa. We packed a small picnic lunch and set aside the whole day for the hike. We took a bus home from Suncheon Bus Terminal, it is about a 30-40 minute local bus-ride away from Seonam-sa.
Both temples had beautiful decorations and I would recommend the hike even when it is not Buddha’s Birthday.
Finally, we went to the World Expo in Yeosu.
This year 105 nations from around the world came together to share culture, food and have a discussion concerning the biggest resource we all share: our oceans.
It was really cool. The international pavilion was full of great food and exhibits. I got to revisit one of my favorite places in the world, Peru. We got to spend some time in our home, the good old USA.
There was music.
Outside the international pavilion there were plenty more exhibits. The lines were so long for many of the bigger exhibits such as the aquarium or the robots exhibit; so we skipped them opting to visit more smaller venues and to maximize what we could see at the expo.
The “Big O” show was really something to see and the entertainers from around the world put on some really eclectic performances. We saw this really cool opera of sorts with water jet packs, back-flipping jet-skis, people on stilts and a giant puppet. All very carnival-esque.
The History of World Expos Museum is really fascinating as well and it should not be overlooked. Did you know hot dogs and ice cream cones were invented in St. Louis during a World Expo?
We are definitely going to go back and get in line first thing in the morning for the aquarium (the biggest in Korea). In the meantime, enjoy the photos.
For more on the expo’s mission check this out: http://www.policymic.com/articles/11649/world-expo-korea-really-cool-events-but-not-many-answers-to-pressing-world-problems
My, my what a night.
For the last week Angie and I have been doing some traveling through Japan. We hit three places: Hiroshima, Kyoto and Tokyo. Japan was a place of great food, colorful people and a great city aesthetic. In short, it was awesome.
We took the ferry from Busan to Japan. It was a great way to travel. Though the night ferry took around 8 hours, we had some really nice mats to sleep on, we sang some karaoke and we met some fellow travelers. Plus, we were well rested to hit the ground running around 7 am when we hit Hakata.
We were in Hiroshima around noon, still with plenty of time to explore the city.
(Side note, I highly recommend the rail pass. You can hop on and off trains like a hobo. It’s great!)
This is a city that will forever be synonymous with humanity at its absolute worst. Coming right at the end of what Kurt Vonnegut calls “the world’s second failed attempt to commit suicide” the United States dropped a mechanism of unheard of destruction over the city killing hundreds of thousands of people. It was a city reduced to rubble.
But, from the ashes has risen a really clean, young and beautiful city. Hiroshima today is a city worth visiting for more than just the sites associated with the A-Bomb; although the city keeps the memory of what happened there alive as a warning to the world to never again allow something so horrible to happen.
The “A-Bomb Dome” was a beautiful building that was almost directly underneath the A-Bomb when it exploded and somehow, most of it remained standing. It is all at once a somber, chilling and beautiful memorial to what happened and it is also a message of survival. The dome was especially striking when it was lit up at night.
Aside from the A-Bomb related museums, which everyone should see at least once, Hiroshima boasted some beautiful parks, a really nice shrine and the best okonomiyaki we had in Japan.
We also had some beers with some New Zealand guys and some Japanese students back at the hostel. Hiroshima was a great first day for our week in Japan and it was a great transition for the larger cities that lie ahead.
In the future, I would love to catch a Carps game.
Spend the Night in Busan
Last Friday after I finished my English Camp, we headed straight to Busan on a 2 pm bus. We were leaving for Japan the following night, so we figured why not start the vacation early and explore a bit of Busan.
Busan is a great city in Korea and it is my new go-to place for a taste of home. We had some great Mexican, heard some music on the boardwalk and did some sight-seeing near the ferry terminal.
A great sea-side city.
On the way back we had an hour to kill before our bus left for Gwangju. We realized that it was our one year anniversary here in Korea. I was yet to have McDonald’s since coming here, so we decided it was as good a time as any to put a savory Big Mac in and around my mouth. It was the perfect end to our vacation and the perfect start to our second year here in Korea.
Also, the Big Mac here might have tasted better than in the US. It seems like they try a lot harder for the taste.
Jeju Island- Sunset
For the past ten days, our good friends Corey and Rachael came to visit us in Korea.
Having guests to show around the country reminds me of all the things I love about Korea. It also gives me a chance to indulge in the more touristy things I would probably not think to do otherwise.
The photos are some shots from Seoul where we hit just about every popular spot in the city. Meeting up with our good friend 은욱 (Eun-ook) and his girlfriend 은아 (Eun-ah) was a whirlwind through 미영동 (Myeong-dong) and 남대문 (Namdae-mun) Markets that brought 2012 to a triumphant close and kicked off Corey and Rachael’s trip in Korean style.
From Seoul it was a non-stop two weeks including a temple stay in Busan as well as visiting the beautiful 광안리 (Gwangan beach), the 보성녹차밭 (Boseoung Green Tea Fields), seeing downtown Gwangju, the 5.18 Memorial, and finally visiting our favorite 찜질방 (Sauna).
We had an awesome ten days that went by way too fast. Enjoy the photos!