So last weekend, before the cold snap and the snow, I went to Seoul to see the Lantern Festival. As usual, I spent most of the day on a marathon 10+ mile (16+ km) hike around the city. I ended up seeing two palaces, Insadong, Myeong Dong, Namdaemun (again), and various other places. There is always something new to see of do here, and now that the snow has fallen, it time to go see them all again.
Here is a small sampling of the photos from the days travels.
The the food in Korea is amazing!? A thousand ways to use the simple red bean, even in desserts! Kimchi, seafood, and street foods! I have a plan to just take 20,000 in 1,000W notes and just try every street food I find. Anyone want to join me?
Wow, its been almost a month! Things have certainly flown by. Its getting quite a bit colder here, and I presume the snow will start soon enough.
A couple of weeks ago, just as the leaves started turning I took a trip out to Cheonan and Gakwonsa Temple. The big draw at the temple being the 25 meter (75 foot) tall Buddha Amita-Bul located on the grounds. However, the whole temple is gorgeous, peaceful, and quiet, especially as the last light of the sun strikes it. The temple is nestled in the side of a hill and the Buddha is perched on top of the hill above the temple itself. There are a few trails into the mountains and its well worth a couple of hours to explore and enjoy the peacefulness of the grounds.
I decided to wander around Suwon yesterday and go to the Hwaseong Fortress. Little did I know it was the 52d Suwon Hwaseong Cultural Festival. I literally just stumbled into it, but it was certainly something to see. It seemed to stretch most of the fortress, down into the Jindong Market and up Suwon’s “Chicken Street.” At some point, I saw these two boys wandering around in traditional dress and I had to capture the moment.
I have this little script I came up with in Hangul, and I used it yesterday for the first time in an environmental portrait. It worked! I was actually pretty stoked. Koreans are in general a very warm and much more open people than others I have encountered. Here is the script and the image:
So I found myself exploring the back streets around Itaewon a few days ago. As I was walking down Itaewon-ro looking for a place to eat, I saw some stairs leading up away from the road. I figured it might be worth a look for some nice cityscapes. Little did I know that two hours later I would have walked all the way straight up the side of a mountain, along winding paths, to find myself at Seoul Tower. It was quite the hike!
So I finally got back to flying this past week. I have to say Seoul is probably the largest city I have ever seen. Bigger than New York, I think. Quite literally the city stretches as far as the eye can see, even from over 1200 feet in the air!
I need to find a “fixer” for Seoul. If you are unfamiliar with the term, its generally considered to be a local of the area that can help a photographer, etc find the places best suited to the style of documentary they are working on. Basically a “Guide” that can talk to locals, etc. Don’t have much cash, but I can probably offer a decent meal, english conversation, and some photographic tutoring if you’re into Photography.
Just send me a note, leave a comment, etc and I’ll get back to you.
So, with Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) being this weekend, there really wasn’t a whole lot open. Apparently, everyone goes home and cleans their ancestors grave sites and generally does reverent things with family. They don’t hang out in busy merchant and market districts. My original plan was to go up to Seoul, but I was informed this was the one time of year Seoul would be empty. I decided to postpone it for a few weeks.
So, I went out to the the markets again today, this time with my big “Hey! look over here” camera, the D810. I had some shopping to do, and I needed to practice my Hangul. I have graduated from grunts and pointing, to simple sentences! I can now manage to get what I want politely, although I still point a lot and often don’t get the right number of items. You see, in Korea they don’t sell a lot of individual food/small items. When you go shopping and ask for “one” of something, you are really saying give me “one LOT” of whatever. For instance, today sporting my best Hangul, I asked for “Dul juseyo,” while pointing at some dumplings. What I actually intended was to get two dumplings, instead I got two ORDERS, or six dumplings. At least it was only about $1.60 USD and they were tasty.