Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Getting Your Future Told In Korea

Walk around certain parts of Seoul and you will see areas devoted to 사주, which is a type of fortune telling based on the Chinese astrology. Although I don't believe in fortune tellers whatsoever, I've always wanted to try. Yesterday, I had a chance. After a delicious meal in 피맛골, a friend and I stopped into a 사주 tent near Insadong and had our fortunes told.
After asking for my birthday, the woman started scribbling out all of these Chinese characters. In about five minutes, she started analyzing my fortune. Luckily, I was with a Korean friend, because she was talking quickly and using vocabulary words that I didn't know. This is what I was told (note, these are things that are characteristics of my personality/energy and not necessarily what the future has to hold)

  • I have strong leadership qualities.
  • I don't like when other people boss me around.
  • I am always on the move (whether that is physically or mentally)
  • I could be interested in decorating --> this led her to saying a plastic surgeon would be a good job
  • I have some sort of energy that attracts people (what was it called...)
  • I have a lot of wood in me (4), while only one each of fire, water, and earth. I have no metal inside of me.
  • I need to meet someone with a lot of metal so they can knock me over and get into my heart. (The person I went with happened to have a lot of metal ... bum bum bum)
  • I'm not very careful with my money. I should watch it more carefully.
  • I might have some respiratory problems
Yeah, I still don't believe in fortune telling. Even though some of these traits match, I could read into any trait and be like, oh yeah, that partly applies to me in these situations.  Still, it was a cheap experience so I guess it was worth it. 15,000 won for two people. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wandering in Donam Dong (돈암동)

Since I'm at my new school, I've been exploring a couple of new areas near my school. One of these areas in Donam Dong, which is a part of a long walk I take from my school to central Seoul.

Walking through Jeongneung into Donam I saw a random temple. Located close to Gireum station exit 3, Bongkuksa (봉국사) is far from a must see in Korea, but if you are in the neighborhood you could check it out. It isn't far away from the road to be quiet, but the trees sure are beautiful.

Festival going on

Bell at the entrance

I then continued my wander through hill after hill in Donam dong. Seriously, I don't want to walk the same route everyday, but is walking along the subway line the only way to get from northern Seoul to the center without climbing hill after hill? One thing I noticed was an excessive number of new apartment buildings. I've complained about this before, but Seoul's awesomeness is a bit marred by these huge complexes that are all designed in the same way. Donam had some very cute and unique buildings. Like this:
This isn't the best example, but you get my point
Something about villas and outdoor staircases really does it for me. They are unique and they seem so cozy. Of course, I can see why someone wants a more modern apartment building with all the newest amenities. It is convenient, comfortable, and easy to show off to your neighbors. However, I think it is only a matter of time that the elites realize that a re-modeled villa could give the comforts of modern living with much more pleasing aesthetics. I wish this realization would happen sooner than later; on this walk in Donam, I saw what seemed to be a poorer neighborhood entirely demolished.
Looks more like post-war Korea than modern Seoul

I'm sure next time I walk through Donam this will be replaced by some fancy apartment building with a ridiculous name (like Human Ville ㅋ ㅋ ). But of course when you see this destruction you wonder who used to live here, whether or not they were able to leave by their own volition, how much money they were paid, and how much big corporations are going to make off their new land. Gangnam may have been impressive in its ability to turn from farm land to a sprawling metropolis in just 30 years, but northern Seoul has a hell of a lot more character, and doesn't need any more huge apartment complexes. I imagine there are local community organizers trying to preserve the local character, so I wish them the best of luck. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Another Full Weekend in Seoul ^^

This past weekend was pretty grand. Kaleigh had her going away party on Friday. That meant makkeoli and food in Gangnam. Many of Kaleigh's friends showed up, including some people who I had never met before. Always good to meet new people, right? A lot of the party continued at Octagon (a really fancy club south of the river) but I ended up going to noraebang with a smaller group.
On Saturday, I spent the day volunteering for a sports festival being thrown by the Deaf association. I think they probably just wanted to have a token 외국인 (foreigner). I spent the start of the day greeting participants, After lunch, I worked pretty much as a cheerleader trying to get my team (TEAM BLUE!) to win the very variety-show style games.

After the festival, the volunteers all went out together for some budaejjigae. This soup originated during the Korean war when a hungry country would make use of excess food supplies in military bases (like hot dogs and spam), throw it together with broth and red pepper and any other ingredient they could fine. The result is surprisingly palatable, though I would never head to a budaejjigae restaurant if I had the choice.

The weather was glorious Saturday evening, so I decided to walk from dinner (near 용마산역) to my friend's housewarming party (near 청량리역). The walk was probably just around an hour and quite worth it. Look at these cloud formations over northeastern Seoul!

The housewarming party, thrown by my fabulous friend Magaly, was a great time with some wonderful people. Life is nice when you like the people you surround yourself with.
It also helps when your friends are so good looking
Sunday morning started with a breakfast back home in Haebangchon (HBC). C and I made a delicious breakfast from our home country: eggs, bacon and pancakes. ^^
More attractive people
After a coffee (and a terrace beer) with some of my favorite boys in Seoul, C and I met up with some peeps for the 2012 Incheon Music Festival. Foreigners were able to purchase tickets for the great price of 150 won. That is about ten cents. The lineup was pretty spectacular, with the top stars being Kara, Shinee, 4 Minute, IU and BOA. There were a bunch of other artists as well (some that I had heard of). Our seats were decent, the price was perfect, and though the vocals weren't always the best, my goodness can these artists dance.

I also met someone this weekend... could be a good match for me. We'll see where that goes.
Writing about this weekend tires me out a bit. It was quite full... I would say that I'm going to take it easy this weekend but I don't want to lie; I love full weekends!

Monday, September 3, 2012

August's Aliments

Food wise, August was pretty spectacular. Then again, pretty much every day in Korea has at least one delicious meal.
I posted about this before, but I love 추어탕
Some sort of Korean fusion dish with seafood
Fresh squid
Cheese stuffed rice cakes
Samgyeopsal on the beach
Crazy good curry chicken salad sandwiches Kaleigh and I made
찜닭 with the minister's son
Ajjuma making us fried food
Soju is great with fried food
The meal for ancestral rites

Mackerel dinner in Suyu
Making okonomoyaki (Japanese cabbage and potato pancake)
Frying up some shrimp
Almost ready
Let's eat!
Brunch at PDS Coffee in Suyu
묵밥 (acorn jelly iced soup)

닭국수 (chicken noodle soup) near Insadong

Ddeok from my old school to my new school
New school buffet dish one

New school buffet dish two

Burger Mine's burger buffet