Monday, August 30, 2010
Well you see, back home we do not have the level of humidity that South Korea has and it is also not hot for as long. The temperatures in SA peak around mid-day and then start to cool down but in South Korea there is only a one or two degree difference during the course of the entire day which means that mornings and evenings are also very very warm!
We were given a brief summer vacation and decided to explore Busan and Gyeonju, which was wonderful, however we did not take the heat into account.
So, as summer draws to a close we thought some South Korean summertime survival tips (or at least what we have learnt in our brief time here) might go down well, especially if you're planning a summer holiday here next year!
The tips are simple, as you would expect....put sun lotion on and drink lots of water....luckily at many tourist spots there are watering holes where you can fill up your bottles for free. In mountianous areas, the water is safe and delicious, often coming straight from streams in the mountain (It is not advised to drink tap water, you might end with a funny bug or two).
For those of you who often find yourselves on the menu for mosquitoes then a repellent of sorts is necessary. They come at you with full force and you end up with several bites all over your body. I know they love my blood because I wake up covered from head to toe while Oliver has none, I guess I act as his repellent.
In South Korea, food and drink are one of the best and most popular ways to ward of the heat.
With regards to drinks, you walk into a convenience store buy a sachet of ice-coffee (or tea, or latte, or whatever grabs your fancy) and you take a cup of ice from the freezer, you pour the sachet into the ice and Bob's your uncle you have a delicious refreshing drink. Beer....I don't think I need to explain.
Suggested food...Neangmyeon (cold noodles served with a refreshing cold broth), Samgyetang ( A chicken served in a broth with a mixture of spices and herbs, Ice-cream (available in an array of flavours pretty much everywhere), Pat-ping-su (fresh fruit, cream and red bean paste served on a bed of crushed ice).
And if these tips don't help and your simply can't handle the heat go inside...anywhere...and you will be surrounded by the awesomeness that is air-conditioning! Aaa, the joys of modern technology!
Post by Claudia
Friday, August 27, 2010
Having left Gyeongju, we moved on to Korea's second largest city after Seoul, the wonderful harbour city of Busan. Busan was a truly amazing experience. We headed in to Busan, not too sure what to expect, having previously only been to Seoul, as far as big cities in Korea go. Busan is more than a scaled down version of Seoul. It has a life that is all its own. I'm not sure what it stems from, but my guess is that the energy in Busan stems from it being a coastal town. Back home, in South Africa, coastal towns have a very definite vibe to them that is not to be found anywhere inland.
As part of our 'cultural tour' we figured we'd go explore some of the historically significant places that are to be found in Busan. One of these was the UN Memorial Cemetery, located in the Uamdong area of Busan. Looking at it from the outside, there is not much that hints at the significance of the cemetery. The entrance is very clean and simple, with a uniformed guard standing at the main gate to great you upon entry. Walking through the main gate, you see a couple of signs, which guide you to the various parts of the cemetery. One thing that stands out in my mind, was a gold plaque attached to the main gate, simply stating that this is a cemetery and the utmost respect must be shown to the deceased resting inside.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
We have a small favour to ask!!! PLEASE NOMINATE US!!! Now is your last chance, nominations close tomorrow.
SA Blog Awards 2010 is here and they celebrate successful South African bloggers in numerous categories. We need your help!
Just click on the link below and enter your email address and you are done
They will then send you a confirmation email and you will need to click on the URL to confirm your vote.
Suggested categories for nomination:
1: Best overseas SA blog,
2: Best new blog,
3: Best photographic blog,
Thanks so much you awesome awesome people!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
The Jagalchi Fish Market is a cultural experience in itself, it is filled with so many sights, sounds and smells that vistors easily get consumed by the place for a couple of hours.
It is the largest fish market in Korea and when I say large I mean HUGE. There is a massive outside market where all sorts of fish (already dead) and other fresh produce are sold and then there is the indoor market where all the fish is sold alive.
For those of you who love the flavours of the sea (like we do...hmmmmm) this market is for you and for those of you who are fussy about the fish you eat then this place is also for you because there is such a variety of seafood that you are bound to find something you like.
Either way, the fish market is a great place to go and explore, even if you don't eat any fish, just walking around the harbour and market are a real treat!!!!
Post by Claudia
Monday, August 23, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
We were walking to Wonju Tattoo, and there were somewhat strange noises coming from the surrounding trees and bush areas. Very rhytmic, humming, buzzy noises. Coming from South Africa, we are used to hearing dozens of different bird calls everyday, and even more so when we go to the bush for a holiday (vacation). So naturally we figured...it's a bird. Being ever so curious, I wanted to see this bird. I started looking...nothing. So the following day, and several times after that I kept looking for this mysterious bird, that makes this ridiculously loud noise, to no avail. Eventually Claudia said to me:"I bet you it's not a bird, it's probably an insect." "Not a chance. I wanna see the insect that can make THAT sound!", I said in my best 'I know better than you' voice.
Weeks kept going by with us not seeing the bird that could make that noise. Until one day we saw the bird. It was a cricket. And a particularly ugly looking one at that. Somewhat of a demon cricket. Very dark brown splotchy colouring, which explains why we could never see them in the trees, with big eyes and a set of transluscent wings. Very eerie looking creatures. But somehow their appearance has explained their sound...very odd.
The noise has been everywhere you go. From 4 in the morning, until quite late at night. It becomes somewhat of an irritating noise, until you just dont pay it any more attention. And as it seems to be cooling off here now, the noise also seems to be slowly fading away. It's sure as hell not a sound I'm gonna miss while trying to sleep at 5.30 AM!
Goodbye dear crickets!
post by oliver
Sunday, August 15, 2010
It started out quite well! I was surprised with cake, chocolates and flowers at school!!! It was great! By the time the end of the day came I was so stuffed with cake it was unbelieveable!
Little did I realise that the party fun had just begun! During vacation, mine and Oliver's schedules are different. I leave for work earlier and get back home three hours before him. So I was not expecting what came next.
Oliver had littered our entire apartment with postits of him telling me happy birthday and giving me kisses.
The only problem was that Oliver had accidently locked our living-room door (we have one of those weird doors that if you push in the button and close it, it locks). Unfortunatley for me, I had no key so I spent the next half an hour trying to be like MacGyver and attempting to pick the lock!!! That did not work out too well for me! Eventually I had to resort to calling the locksmith! heehe!
And what did I find in the living-room?...even more postits and presents!!! Aren't I special?
Once Oliver got home...we had a quick piece of Baskin Robbins Ice-cream cake. Oh my word!!!! It was filled with nuts, chocolate and all sorts of other yummy things!!!
However, I was hungry for food. The amount of cake I had consumed and made me hungry for something salty.
So we headed out for some samgyeopsal! We went to a local resturaunt which has some of the best tasting pork ever and it was served nice and thick!!! yummy!
After that, we were off to Wa Bar to throw some darts and have some beers with friends!! It ended up turning into quite a crazy night and we only got home after 4am!!! Phew!
I woke up on Saturday still fully clothed with my feet hanging off the end of the bed, I must have passed out! I got up to get some water and found myself laughing when I walked back into the bedroom. Oliver had fallen asleep on top of a bowl of ice-cream cake. The ice-cream had melted and he was covered in the stuff. Clearly he had passed out too!
That's needless to say that we both woke up with massive headaches butthey were accompanied by huge smiles...it had been a great night, with great people!!!
Thank you everyone for making my birthday a special affair!!!
Post by Claudia
Friday, August 13, 2010
If ever you find yourself in Busan but you are not too sure where to stay, may I suggest Gwangan.
Gwangan (like most parts of Korea) has an individuality and a charm that is uniquely its own.
I have never seen skyscrapers so close to the ocean with a massive bridge stretching out over the sea. Gwangalli Beach was really something totally new for us.
When we tell people we went to Gwangalli Beach, many are surprised that we didn't go the South Korea's most famous beach "Haeundae Beach".
Well here's why we didn't:
Haeundae Beach is literally covered with umbrellas and people for as far as the eye can see! It is also more for people that are looking for a spring break type of vibe! So if that's what you after this is the place for you but unfortunatly it was not what we were after.
We were after something a little more relaxed, and Gwangalli Beach was perfect! Although it still has many people on it, it is nothing in comparison to Haeundae. Furthermore, it has a more family orientated, relaxed vibe. The type of place where you take long walks on the beach and try to find awesome sea shells (which we did by the way!).
Here is a photo of Gwangalli at night....spectacular isn't it?
However, one of the most impressive features about this beach is the bridge that covers the entire horizon. They have these awesome little DIY machines where you can take a photo of yourself with the bridge, for free! Pretty cool so we got a daytime and night time one:
Oliver got some great panoramics of the bridge, the symbol of Gwangalli Beach:
Another really cool thing about Gwangalli Beach is that on weekend the road running parallel to the beach is closed and takes on quite a festive atmosphere. There are street performances everywhere including men on stilts, jazz bands and puppet shows. What's more is you can have your picture painted or sketched by one of the many street artists or have a drink at a beach facing pub.
Just a short distance from the beach there is a complex which has tons of amusement park rides. It was here that I realised I am a complete and utter wimp! I screamed like baby on every ride.
Even the giant ferrece wheel got me going, we had such an amazing view (pity I was scared senseless).
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
So we hit the streets, we are used to there being Dakgalbi places on every street corner, but Gyeongju, to our amasement is quite dead at night. In fact we struggled to find a decent place open which wasn't on the tourist path.
So Oliver took the lead, turn left here, a right there, and another turn and yes before we knew it we were lost...horribly lost. So in true Claudia fashion I decided to take charge. Adamant that I could get us to our beloved Dakgalbi. But all I did was get us even more lost! Hmmmm!
Before we knew it we had been walking around for two hours, were starving, my feet were dying, and we had ended up where we had started. Dammit!
So we thought another approach was needed. We hopped into a taxi but didn't know the name of any place where we could eat. So I confidently said Dakgalbi to the taxi driver, in my typical mumbled Korean. She repeated, or at least I thought she repeated Dakgalbi. I smiled, and responded with a YES, VERY HUNGRY!
She drove for about ten minutes and we were in the heart of what felt like local territory (how did we miss this?), she did a couple of turns up small winding roads and before we knew it we were outside a restaurant (HALLELUJAH!!!).
We confidently stepped inside, greeted the host, and looked up at the menu anticipating the awesomeness of our Dakgali meal ahead! To our shock, there was no Dakgalbi on the menu, nothing! URG!
Stay or leave? stay or leave?
Skrew it, we have had Dakgalbi so many times, lets try something new! And I am so so happy we did!
We ended up eating Dwaegi galbi Jjim (steamed pork in a sauce that makes you want to cry it is so good). And in typical Korean fashion it was accompanied by several side dishes and salad leaves. That together with some beer and soju made for a great first dinner in Gyeongju!
Dwaegi galbi Jjim in a no fuss pot which comes straight off the stove
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Beyond the breathtaking beauty and charm of Gyeongju it is also the historical and cultural centre of South Korea.
In order to fully appreciate what Gyeongju has to offer I would say that at least 3 days is needed but you can easily spend 5 or 6 days there and not get bored.
Oliver is busy working through his photos and we will put them up in the gallery once they are finished. Mine are just to give you an idea, although they simply do not do Gyeongju justice!
We only had 3 days in Gyeongju and this is what we got up to:
- Arrived in Gyeongju at 11:00
- Found a motel,which was easy to do as there were so many. We landed a pretty sweet deal paying only 35,000 Won a night.
- Then we grabbed our cameras and headed for our first tourist destination, the Gyeongju National Museum. This is a great place to get an idea of the Shilla history in Gyeongju and the museum is massive so you can easily spend a couple of hours there. Oh, and the best part, it's free (or at least they let us in for free).
- After that, we took a three minute walk to Anapji pond which is an amazing site to behold and is just a nice place to be in.
- Then we took another three minute walk and ended up in valley full of flowers, wow!
- Then we saw the Far East's oldest astrological observatory, Cheomseongdae, in Wolseong Park.What a great start to a wonderful holiday!
One side of Anapji Pond
- Rise and shine, got a bun and some coffee from a place aptly called Coffee and Bun. Mmmmm!
- Then bought some Gyeongju Bread (small round pastry type things filled with sweet red-bean paste) which were over priced but a must try nonetheless.
- Then we made use of Gyeongju's very tourist friendly bus system which takes you to all of the main tourist destinations.
- On day 2, we were heading for Bulguksa, one of South Korea's oldest and most well known temples.
- It was incredible, the only downside was how unbelievably hot it was.
- We got to see a unique three story pagoda, a dabotap, wonderful gardens, intriguing Buddhist interiors, and unusual stone formations.
- After that, it was a 15 minute bus ride up the mountain (way up the mountain) to Seokguram Grotto to look at a Buddha statue which had been carved into the side of a mountain. The walk to the Buddha was great but actually viewing it was a bit uncomfortable because of the mass amounts of tourists that were there.
- After all that, we headed back downtown to the valley full of flowers. We hired two bikes and did some leisurely riding through the valley and a neighbouring forest...it was great fun, except for the fact that my bum was dead!
- Our last stop for the day was Tumili Park where we got to see hill mounds which are actually tombs and then we got to go inside one....
Two of the grassy hill tombs.
The rock formations inside Bulguksa Temple....there were thousands of them!
The pagoda and dapotop inside Bulguksa Temple.
The entrance to Bulguksa Temple
- We made our way to Eastern Gyeongju, the more modern part area. We wanted to go to a Shilla park but it was too expensive for our liking. Instead we headed to Gyeongju cultural park which was nice but lacked the charm we had encountered on our previous days.
- We did however get to go to a massive fossil museum and check out a really large building that had been hollowed out to look like a pagoda.
- We then went back to the valley (it is so beautiful it deserves many visits) bought a couple of beers and sat and watched the world go buy until we were ready for dinner. Hmmmm, a great finish if you ask me!
- On arrival stop off at the tourist office and get a map, it will help you plan your stay.
- Have an international driver's licence handy. You can hire scooters there for 24hours for 45,000 Won which is a steal considering how perfect Gyoengju is for scooters (Trust me, our only regret from the trip is that we didn't have an international driver's licence).
- Keep a water bottle handy. Most places have fountains with fresh and clean water so you can top up your bottle there instead of constantly buying new bottles.
- Try not to go in the heat of summer (like we did) it gets incredibly hot and sometimes pushes you inside when all you want to be is outside. Spring or Autumn would be ideal.
- Take it in...it is truely amazing...stop taking photos for a moment and just take in how incredible your surroundings are!