Archive for May, 2013


Global Gathering, Take 2

This past weekend was the Global Gathering. The last one was in October or November, and it was such a big hit that they had another one earlier in the year. As last time, it was not well promoted.

Global Gathering 001Some ambassadors even showed up! At least that’s who we thought they were. Chinese guys in suits surrounded by cameras shaking hands with everyone at the Chinese stands. The Chinese stand was selling beet for 1,000W too!

Some places were not really selling cultural food, as one stand was selling Peach Ice Tea from Lipton containers and many were selling kebabs and Turkish Ice Cream. I did get some spring rolls, potato pattys, and fritters as well as a Brazilian drink (that should have some sort of rum but instead had vodka) and Mango Lassi.

There were some interesting cooking methods on display as well, such as solar and biking.

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For dancing and music, there was….

Global Gathering 027traditonal Korean–I’ve seen this plenty of times but it’s great to watch the hat dancers!Global Gathering 072

Brazilian martial arts–started slow but got interesting with this next pictureGlobal Gathering 079

Brazilian martial arts–hand stands!Global Gathering 097

Japanese–pretty slow but great costumesGlobal Gathering 101

Japanese–I was really impressed with this guy, that flag would weight a ton!Global Gathering 123

And this guy was really into the Japanese musicGlobal Gathering 143

Kenyan–looked like me drunk dancingGlobal Gathering 176

Ta-Kwan-do Global Gathering 188
Ta-Kwan-do Global Gathering 209

Ta-Kwan-do

And finally, Ta-Kwan-do dancing and Break Dancing. I wish I could post the videos but I can’t figure it out (someone let me know how to!). The whole time my friends and I were talking about how amazing they are. Slow-motion kicks above their heads? I’d fall over. Back flips from standing on a hard floor? I’d be too scared to start and just land on my back. We also came to the conclusion that the reason Korea are the best at break dancing is because a lot of kids are raised doing Ta-Kwan-do.

There were also tons of photographs from the 1960s and 1970s vs today which showed how quickly Busan has developed.

Global Gathering 042 Global Gathering 043 Global Gathering 044 Global Gathering 046And, of course, plenty of cute things to take pictures with…or punch in the face.

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Namdaemun Gate

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 528Well hello there! It’s back! After being closed for 5 years due to a fire and reconstruction it has been rebuilt and there was kind of intense security. People watching everywhere! I stepped on grass to get a better angle and they told me to move away.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 531 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 535 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 540 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 542 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 544National Treasure No. 1

Designated on Dec 20, 1962

Sungnyemun, the South Gate of Seoul, was erected in 1398, 7th year of King Taejo, founder of the Joseon Dynasty, as one of the four main gates of the capital city.

In February 2008, an arsonist set fire to the gate, almost entirely destroying the roof of the gate house, to the nation’s great horror. Repair was planned and carried out for five years, from 2008-2013, during which the city walls to the right and left of the gate were also restored.

Insadong

When I came to Seoul before, I thought Insadong was quite boring, but maybe that’s because I was there too early, and the shops were mostly closed. Plus it was either a Sunday or Christmas Eve, so that could explain why everything was looking closed.

This time there was a little music concert going on at the start of the main road.

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And cute shops were open. They sell a lot of stuff similar to ArtBox, but more individual and expensive.

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There was also a huge shopping area with an area to decorate at the top and a staircase to spray paint.

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Along the Cheonggyecheon stream in Seoul there were tons of lanterns for Buddhas birthday, which was May 17th. The lanterns went up way before and were taken down 100% on the 19th, with some being taken down before.

I can’t say what was going on in the lanterns, as they were all written about in Korean. Some were in trees next to the road, but most were in the stream itself.

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National Museum of Korea

The National Museum of Korea has lot’s of different areas and two entrances. If you go in though the West Gate the first thing you will see is the Snack area, then the Reflecting Pond  with a Pavilion. If you enter though the Main Gate you’ll see a Gateway Pond and then the Reflecting Pond.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 228From the Reflecting Pond you’ll go up flower lined stairs to the Entrance. On the right is the free entrance, and on the left is the entrance to the special exhibits, which are not free. I went in the free entrance to the main part of the Museum.

The first floor (ground floor) covers prehistory and ancient history, as well as medieval and early modern history.  There is also a Buddhist Preceptor Wallang and Ten Story Pagoda. Below are photos from prehistory and ancient history. (1) the earliest cave paintings found in Korea, in Ulsan, which shows what people ate and how they caught it; (2) a boat dating to 6,000 BC; (3) shells and rocks with faces; (4) stone daggers from the Bronze Age and was only possessed by a privileged minority and served as symbolic or ritual objects; (4) Bronze Knife-shaped Coins with the Chinese character ‘Ming’ written on the front; (5) the Buddhist Preceptor; (6) tombs in the shape of eggs; (7) and the Ten Story Pagoda.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 232Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 237 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 242 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 245 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 250 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 259 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 278Next are photos from Medieval and Early Modern History. (1) a roof statue of a beasts head; (2) Bundles of Celadon Vessels Loaded on a Cargo Boat; (3) A game board to teach girls how to be proper; (4) a map of Beijing; and (5) a map of the body for Acupuncture.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 283 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 287 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 300 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 302 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 304Next are Calligraphy and Paintings on the second floor.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 309 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 315And then donated works. There are 9 different galleries for people (or families) and one room for people who donated one item (individual donations). (1) A ‘lion’ like no other; and (2) A mold for a roof tile.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 324 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 332On the final and third floor there are sculptures and crafts, starting with Buddhist Sculptures and moving into vases.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 341 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 349 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 364Lastly is Asian Art with art from: India and Southeast Asia, Central Asia, China, Sinan Shipwreck, and Japan. (1)  An Elephant God Statue from India; (2) A horse prepared for war which from afar I thought was a unicorn Pegasus…from China;(3) masks from Japan for theater.

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I’m a bit confused by the War Memorial’s Wedding Hall, but it seemed popular enough. Doesn’t solve my confusion, but I guess Koreans are into having weddings in war memorials…?

Upon entering from the left of the front entrance, there is a list of names of people who died in the Korean War with ‘Our Nation Honors Men Her Sons and Daughters Who Answered The Call To Defend A Country They Never Knew And A People They Never Met’ which is also on The Monument of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington DC.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 116Upon entering though the main doors, there are candles lit and 2 books: one of UN deaths and one of Republic of Korea deaths with more carvings of ‘We honor those fallen heroes who sacrificed their lives for the country’, ‘They are the true heroes of the Republic of Korea who gave their lives for the peace of the homeland’ and, ‘the noble sacrificed of heroes became the eternal light that protects the Republic of Korea’. Next is a beautiful room with what looks like a painting of hay on top of the wall, and a big bowl at the bottom overflowing with water.

Next you go downstairs and there is the War History Room(s) with paintings and artifacts from many different Korean Wars.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 144 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 149 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 171One on the 2nd floor, there are many dioramas from different wars, including the Vietnam War.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 176Next I went up to the 3rd floor, where there is a statue showing ‘The Republic of Korea Armed Forces Serving the People’.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 182From between the second and third floors you can see exhibits of planes, helicopters and parachutes. There is also an area to get close to and touch the planes, tanks, guns and such.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 195 I missed all the videos (I either didn’t want to wait or they were not running on a Saturday Holiday Weekend). Out the main entrance there is a huge statue with many soldier statues around it.

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To the left (when you face the museum) there is the Statue of Brothers which is a hut with two men embracing in Army uniforms on the top.

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I was told by many that the USO tour of the DMZ is the best, yet I don’t think I know anyone who went on another tour…

Anyway, you leave Seoul at 7:30, so you should get there between 7:00-7:15 for check-in.

Next you take a bus to Camp Bonifas which is the start of the JSA. There is a video presentation which gives you the history of the Korean War and DMZ. Below is the history with my photos from the tour.

By September 15 1950 future-North-Korea had pushed future-South-Korea to Busan, which was when future-South-Korea received support and pushed future-North-Korea to the Yalu River which was when China joined in and pushed back future-South-Korea to the International Cease-Fire Line on the 27th of July 1953. The JSA was established in 1952. The Military Demarcation Line (MDL) is the actual boarder, but the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is for 2 kilometers in both directions (north and south).

Within the DMZ there are two villages: Taesongdong (Freedom Village) for the South and Gijungdong (Propaganda Village) for the North. Taesongdong has a population of about 200 and the people who live there grow rice, don’t pay taxes and the men don’t have to do military service (but many do out of honor). Gijungdong does not have a full time population, but the military has seen people come in for repairs. South Korea gave Taesongdong a 100 meter tall flagpole as a gift, so North Korea gave Gijungdong a 160 meter flagpole to compete and say they are better. We drove past Taesongdong (you need approval to go in) and could see Gijungdong from one of the Checkpoints.

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There is a Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) which has the Czech Republic, Poland, Switzerland and Sweden involved. After the collapse of the USSR and many changes in the Czech Republic and Poland, North Korea lost confidence in the NNSC. Also, the Czech Republic left 100% and Poland left 50% (meaning they show up sometimes). We did not visit this.

The Bridge of No Return is where POWs were returned at the end of the war. People were given the choice of which side to go to: say where they were or go to the other side. Whatever they chose the must stick with, as there is no going back. the UN returned 82,471 people and North Korea returned 12, 457 people.

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In 1976 the Axe Murder Incident happened. This was because of a UN Checkpoint (near a bridge toward South Korea) that was surrounded by 3 North Korean Checkpoints and could not be seen by the next nearest UN Checkpoint because of a tree grove. Many UN forces showed up to chop down trees, but there were also many NK forces and the NK soldiers killed many of the UN soldiers. Later, a huge troop came to cut down all the trees, and now the further Checkpoint is not used because everything can be seen from the first one. At the National Museum of Korea there is a diorama of this. Currently, there is a memorial stone there.

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In 1984 there was a Soviet tour and one person decided to try to run across to the Southern side of the JSA. Soldiers from both sides jumped into action and many died but the Soviet defector lived and was no longer living the USSR.

After the presentation, we went to the Freedom House and were able to take pictures outside. The Freedom House was built by South Korea as a place for South Korean and North Korean families to meet if they were separated by the war. However, North Korea has not ever allowed this to happen. There is a North Korean building called the recreation building, which has nothing inside but cots and is where NK soldiers say if there is a meeting inside the Freedom House. They make rude gestures at the South Korean and American soldiers. They have named it the Monkey House.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 044Below you can see the set up of the view from the back of the Freedom House. The middle building is the MAC building, which is having construction done so we could not go inside. The soldiers dressed in dark colors facing one another are North Korean, and they do that so they do not defect. The one facing the MAC building is doing so to stop people who try to run over before they reach the two watching one another. If there is no tour they go inside. They are all trained in Tae-kwon-do and have weapons. The soldiers facing them in gray uniforms are South Korean soldiers, as are those in the camouflage. 96% of the UN soldiers are South Korean.

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After the presentation and tour we left the JSA and saw more of the DMZ.

Next we went to an observation point, where you could not see much because it was gray. There was another video presentation which didn’t tell us anything new (at least I don’t think so, many people from other tours were talking).

Next we went to the 3rd Tunnel. There was supposed to be a video presentation there but the line was too long–kind of annoying after paying so much (we pay more than the other groups). The tunnel was okay….dark and wet inside so I can’t imagine many soldiers actually would go though it and be able to fight once they got though. After a 358 meter walk down to the tunnel, 265 meter walk in the tunnel we got to the 3rd blockade where you can see though a hole to the 2nd blockade. It used to be manned but now CCTV watches it. There is a water tank between the 3rd and 2nd blockade which, if the 2nd blockade is broken, will break and allow the water to flow downhill. Between the 1st blockade and 2nd blockade is concrete. It is 73 meters underground and 1635 meters long. There are 20 tunnels total, but only 4 have been found. The 3rd is the most dangerous.

Next we went to Dorasan Station which is supposed to be the Starting Point of the Transcontinental Railroad. This would have been put into use on June 14 2003, but never has been. It is 56 kilometers from Seoul and 205 kilometers from Pyeongyang. Once the Trans Korea Railway extends to the Trans Siberian Railway and the Trans Chinese Railway South Korea plans to emerge as a distribution hub of Northeast Asia. This way to North Korea!

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Caribbean Bay

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Long weekend for Buddha’s Birthday so a friend and I went up to Everland’s water park–Caribbean Bay! You can take a bus via Pusan Tours to Everland and swap the ticket for a Caribbean Bay ticket (but you need your guide with the ticket receipt). Once they start selling more tickets for Caribbean Bay I’m sure you’ll be able to buy them from Pusan Tours too.

The inside part of Caribbean Bay opens at 9:30 and is open year round but the outside part (which opened when I went–MAY 17th!) opens at 11. Not all the rides were open, some open June 1st, but I’m not sure if we would have had time for all that!

Overall, you have to take off all jewelry (or anything that can fall off) and earrings–for your safety which I call b.s. because they just don’t want to have to find your necklace at the bottom of a pool. Many people wear life vests, but have them not buckled, so its competently a fashion statement. 90% of the water is not deep enough for adults to drown in (I could stand everywhere and I’m only 5’3″).

You can put money onto a wrist band to pay for things, but I don’t suggest doing that because the line for a refund is HUGE around the time people start leaving (and you don’t wanna spend half a day there, right?). What we did was take some money and put it in a mini locker with shoes, jewelry and shorts so we could access it easier than going back to the big lockers.

We started heading for the Wild River area right away but got detoured in Fortress by the Surfing Ride! Some people are basically professionals (at the ride–I don’t think they’d be good at a real beach). They brought their own bogy boards, wetsuits (yep wetsuits at a water park), hats, sunglasses, Roxy gear, Volcom gear, etc. and were in the line almost the whole time. We went for our first ride and last and saw the same people. There are many ways to fail at this ride. You can go left or right and get Lazy River’d–aka fall into another ride called Lazy River which goes around Fortress–or you can do what I did every time and get pushed over a bump and into a pool. I guess I was too light because the same thing happened to the little kids. Still fun.

Next we went to Wild Blaster which is a two person raft ride which was tons of fun! Lots of tubes to go though and splashing water.

Next we tried for Aqua Loop but if you have any jewelry you can go…so I couldn’t. My friend went and said it was basically water up your nose and a wedgie.

Next we tried to find food…but all the lines and restaurants were super packed and not veggie friendly. Lots of meat on a stick. I did get something similar to a snow cone though, with real fruit! Well, syrup and real fruit. They had churros which were dry and seemed like something new that year.

Next was Tower Boomerang Go and Tower Raft. They are right next to one another and Boomerang will probably have the longer line as it is just a massive drop. I felt my but in the air on this ride. While in line you can watch people and that is half the fun. Looks of fear and screaming…from grown men while their children laugh is always good. Raft had lots of turns and no big drops  but I went more than 50% up the curved walls which was terrifying. Screamed like a little girl (and not little girls on rides because they just laugh).

Next we went to the Wave Pool, where there is a green part where no one is allowed to stand EVER. If you don’t have a life vest you can’t be on the far side, even though with waves you just go up and down….the green part is the crash area which is the only ‘danger’. I still had fun. My friend who was on a swim club in school was pretty pissed though. There are a few pirate ships in the area and I got yelled up for going up it but then when the lifeguard saw my face he let me go…very strange.

We then went inside and did the Quick Ride which wasn’t that quick compared to the other rides. Maybe it’s quick because of the wait if you want a raft. For going without a raft there is a huge wait, but waiting for a solo or double raft was not too long and the wait at the top was not too long either. Fun ride, beautiful inside just because of the run shining though the tube. That’s on the 5th floor. The floors inside are pretty confusing. It’s all about 1/2 stair cases.

The 3rd floor is the best way to get on the Lazy River (depending on time, I’m sure). Lots of empty rafts are there and being collected so you can grab one and jump on going outside and back in. I’d say do two rounds and ignore the kids splashing and be lazyyyyy. It’s hard. But at some point you’ve gotta give up and stop saying ‘don’t push me!’

Their spa is pretty nice with 2 hot rooms and a hot pool.

Buddhas Birthday in Nampo

The weekend before Buddhas Birthday there was a celebration in Nampodong (or Seo-gu as a whole). I was told lots of mixed things and I’m still not sure what is true. First told parade from 7-8  from the BTCFC soccer stadium to Busan Tower, then 4-8 at the same address, then 8-9 from Busan Tower to Lotte and back. I wasn’t there that late because I had a going away part to go to, but it definitely wasn’t from 4-8 going from the BTCFC soccer stadium to Busan Tower because that would have gone past my apartment and I was there from 3-6.

Anyway, I just went to Nampodong and saw some decoration that had been up for a bit, including a massive dragon.

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Next I went up to Yongdusan Park which is where Busan Tower is. There were massive lanterns, similar to those I saw in Jinju. There were, of course, more in Jinju, as the city is famous for their festival.

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Also, BREAKDANCING! I’m told Koreans are the best.

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This last weekend there was a hike scheduled to start in Children’s Park and go further to the mountains to the West.

I was a bit hungover due to no food the night before and no food in the morning (not smart, but I didn’t think about it and was in a rush both times).

Children’s Park is beautiful and I can’t wait to go back. It starts with a a strange square statue and then goes into a pond with massive fish and swans followed by ramps to make it easier to go up.

Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 003 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 017At the top there was a temple. It’s all decked out for Buddhas Birthday on the 17th.

Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 026 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 032 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 043From the top (at least the top I got to) this was the view. I thought it was pretty great anyway.

Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 048 On the way up to this point, every step up made me want to throw up, and it was only getting worse. I decided to walk down on my own and find a way out. Adventure Time!

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