Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

We live in Singapore!!!

Author: Jamie

Hello. Sorry for being so terribly bad at updating this blog the last few months. We have a good reason. It’s a long explanation though so bear with me.

Singapore Marina Bay

After Kalden was born in Korea, we flew with him back to Dubai. I was then given an offer on a job in Singapore, which I took. We then had to move out of our apartment and into a hotel for a month in Dubai while we arranged the details of the move. After selling all our stuff and putting the rest on a boat to Asia, we then flew to Singapore for a brief visit and then continued on to Korea. We stayed in Korea for a week and then took off to Canada for an extended visit with family. We stayed in Sudbury at my Aunt and Uncle’s lake house and then at my Dad’s place in Ottawa. From there we went to Toronto for a few days before heading back to Korea. Rory stayed back in Korea while I went to Singapore to start the new job. Rory followed a week later and we stayed once again in a serviced apartment. We looked for houses, bought furniture, worked hard and managed a few nights out as well.

Tomorrow we move into our new place!

This will be the first time in 6 months that we will be settled and hopefully won’t move again for many years. Through the whole nonsense, Kalden’s been amazing (and Rory too for that matter). I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful and flexible family who are willing to move around the world for me.

Singapore Skyline

So here we are in Singapore. A new job, new son, new city, new part of the world and new beginning. We’ll be going to Korea much more now (for work and family) and being in Asia, will have a lot more exposure to Korean culture and people. I hope that I’ll be able to keep this blog going and provide a lot more interesting insight into our family, into Korea and into our new experiences abroad.

Thanks for sticking through it all.

Sincerely, Jamie, Rory and Kalden

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Korean’s, when prompted, will quickly inform you that their country has four seasons. Well, as we transition into the third one, CNN Go has put together a great list of Korean festivals that should entice you to visit.

Busan in Fall

In order, they are:

1. Busan World Fireworks Festival

2. Busan International Film Festival 

3. Jejudo Olle Walking Festival 

4. The Hallyu Dream Festival 

5. Andong International Maskdance Festival

6. Korean Food Tourism Festival

But you’ll have to check out the full details at CNN Go at this link. 

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Timelapse video of Seoul

Author: Jamie

Over at Hermit Hideaways, they posted a great video by   showing the vibrancy of the great city Seoul. I’ve shared it below.

I took a lot of great video on my recent trip to Korea using my new GoPro camera. Hopefully I will be able to put something together like this. Watch this space. In the meantime, enjoy this video.

Timelapse – Seoul from j0n4s on Vimeo.

We really enjoyed our trip to Seoul. This wonderful buzzing city is just awesome and really worth a stay.
Shooting some time lapses was a great way to explore this urban scene.

We used:

1x Pentax k-5
2x Pentax k-7
3x GoPro Hero

Samyang 8mm/3.5
Tamron 17-50mm/2.8
Sigma 17-70mm/2.8-4.5
Pentax 35 mm/2.8
Pentax 50 mm/1.7
Pentax 50-135mm/2.8

We produced a bunch of images. Even more than I expected and so we bought some more hard drives to bring all this files back home safely.

38.000 pictures
390 GB of Data

For post production I used Lightroom an the wonderful LRTimelapse (http://lrtimelapse.com/)by Gunther Wegner

Music: You my wonderful… flower – Lavori Domestici [HWR008 VV.AA.] www.homeworkrecords.net

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South Korea in Summer

Author: Jamie

Packed Beach

I’ve never been to Korea in summer. Crazy, I know. I’ve been in winter many times and even spring, but never when the weather was really nice and warm. That will all change in a few weeks. I am heading over to Seoul with Rory to visit the family again but this time, I will frolic with the students playing guitar on park benches, ogle the sea of short skirted and high heeled ladies and get out of the city into the rugged countryside of a beautiful country. In fact, we’re going on a road trip!

Gyeongju

That’s right, Rory and I are planning a 4 day trip around most of the peninsula. We’re open to taking any suggestions from readers who might suggest some great stops along the way, but here is the general plan:

Day 1 – From Seoul to Gwangju: We don’t expect the drive to be too exciting along this route but the destination is. For anyone that knows me, I love bamboo. I believe it is the most versatile, renewable material on earth. The Chinese build 50 ft scaffolding with it, it’s edible, bugs don’t eat it, it grows faster than anything, and it doesn’t rot. I also think it’s beautiful and some of my favorite scenes in Asian martial arts movies is when they have elaborate fight scenes in majestic bamboo forests. So that’s where we’re going on Day 1.

Damyang forest outside Gwangju, is a very popular spot in Korea. Damyang plays host to the Damyang Bamboo Festival which is located within a forest of 2.4 kilometers of bamboo and includes many activities celebrating the beauty and function of the bamboo plant. We won’t be there for the festival but I still hope to take some fun pictures there. So stay tuned.

Bamboo forest

Day 2 – From Damyang to Gyeongju: After a nice winding drive through South Korean hillside, we will arrive at Gyeongju, also known as the ‘Museum without Walls’. Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla (57 BC – 935 AD) which ruled about two-thirds of the Korean Peninsula between the 7th and 9th centuries. The city has 31 National Treasures, and Gyeongju National Museum houses 16,333 artifacts. There are four broad categories of relics and historical sites: tumuli and their artifacts; Buddhist sites and objects; fortresses and palace sites; and ancient architecture.

The Museum without Walls

Royal tombs

Day 3 – From Gyeongju to Donghae: The next leg, and the longest will see us up the Eastern coast of the Korean peninsula. I’m really looking forward to this drive as it will be most beautiful, winding through mountain roads with the China Sea on our right. We will spend the night in a coastal city called Donghae, which is famous for its scenery and beaches and the next morning will venture to one of the most popular beaches in Korea, located in Gangneung. We expect it will be extremely packed, much like the image below, which is kinda why I’m excited to go. It looks absolutely nuts.

Korea beach

Day 4 – Gangneung to Seoul: The last leg of the trip will have us going through some lush mountains, back towards Seoul.

All in all, it’s a pretty fun 4 days that I get to spend with Rory all to myself. I’m really looking forward to it.

I’ve added the spots to our Google Map of Korean Tourist Destinations. Check it out and feel free to let us know what other great road trip destinations we should add on the map.

By the way, here are some other great Korean Road Trip Blog Posts:

http://hermithideaways.com/2012/06/20/korea-road-trip-2012/

http://foreignerjoy.blogspot.com/2010/01/korea-road-trip-part-4.html

http://www.updmedia.com/asia/korea-road-trip.php

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Step into Seoul!

Author: Jamie

VisitSeoul.net has a pretty cool Facebook app that lets users experience various elements of Seoul, South Korea. It’s part of a bigger push by Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to attract visitors to the Peninsula. In fact, Korea, China and Japan in a (rare) showing of solidarity, are in the process of identifying and developing tourist routes to promote tourism in the greater East Asia region.

Seoul, South Korea

When I travelled Asia, I felt that Korea, being situated between Japan and China, was often overlooked by people on the backpacker trail. Of all the cities I went to though (aside from Hong Kong, which I loved) I felt Seoul was a perfect blend of Chinese tradition and conservatism, Japanese style wackiness, Western influence and thousands of years of uniquely-styled Korean culture that results in an amazing experience. I highly recommend anyone to go there for at least a week.  In fact we are travelling there for the Chinese New Year in January. We’ll definitely be posting about our trip so stay tuned.

Check out the Travel Details section of this blog for information and maps on getting around the city and what to see and do.

Visit Korea

A poem I wrote about Seoul :)

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Walled city of Suwon

When I was travelling Korea in 2005, one of my favorite day trips from Seoul was the walled city, Suwon. In fact, it is the only remaining Korean city with a complete wall intact. I had a great time walking around the top of the wall, posing for young school children who wanted to take my photo and enjoying the spring weather.

Suwon Fortress

Suwon was an hour’s subway ride outside of Seoul and short bus trip from there to the wall. The city is quite large, with over a million people, but I was more interested in the historical significance and beauty of the wall and the interior city with its markets and busy alleyways.

Hwahongmun 화홍문

Hwahongmun, otherwise known as Buksumun, is the gate under which the river flows. The gate has the obvious function of being a bridge, but also housed cannons for defensive purposes.

 

The walls were one of Korea’s first examples of paid labour. The walls still exist today, though they, together with the fortress, were damaged severely during the Korean War.

colorful Suwon

The city was full of colour

According to Wikipedia, Hwaseong Fortress (which means Brilliant Castle) was originally constructed under the guidance of philosopher Jeong Yag-yong. In 1800, shortly after the death of King Jeongjo, a white paper detailing the construction of the fortress was published. This proved invaluable during its reconstruction in the 1970s.

colourful lanterns

These lanterns were hanging in someone's driveway

The fortress walls once encircled the entire city, but modern urban growth has seen the city spread out far beyond the fortress. The walls are now a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and often used in materials promoting the city.

Suwon fortress

The main gate of the wall is now a through way for the city's traffic

I would suggest it to anyone who has a day to spare while visiting Seoul.

Here’s a CNN documentary on the fortress:

 

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Happy Dokdo Day!

Author: Jamie

Korean Island

Aparently today (October 25th) is Dokdo Day!

For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Dokdo Islands (A.K.A. The Liancourt Rocks) are a small set of rocky islets in the East Sea off the coast of Japan and Korea. They have been hotly contested by the Japanese and the Koreans, as both lay claim to them. It is a touchy topic in Korea and even in 2005 when I was travelling there, I distinctly remember watching a game show with the old Korean lady I was boarding with, where the contestants had to sing a song about Dokdo, which apparently almost all Koreans know.  This song was seriously stuck in my head for 6 months travelling through Asia.

Dokdo

Apparently the Koreans’ claim to the island has led them to develop a bit of it, building a lighthouse, a helicopter pad, a large South Korean flag visible from the air, a post box, a staircase, and police barracks and even hosted a basketball tournament recently. In 2007, two desalinization plants were built capable of producing 28 tons of clean water every day. Both of the major Korean telephone companies have installed cell phone towers on the islets.

Dokdo Day

There is no extent that South Koreans won't go to promote their claim of the islands.

According to Hancinema, singer Kim Jang-hoon will publish a photo collection entitled “Kim Jang-hoon’s Dokdo Concert” to commemorate Dokdo Day. In addition, he will hold the “Dokdo Festival” from October 26 until November 5 at the “Boda” Visual Art Center in Yeoksamdong, and the festival will include various programs such as a Dokdo photo collection, exhibition of installation art, and library program that keeps rare articles regarding Dokdo.

Disputed islands

Regardless of who holds claim to the islands, Dokdo is very beautiful and home to many species of fish, birds and animals. This Dokdo Day, let’s just be happy that we can be witness and share in nature’s beauty. Happy Dokdo Day!

Related links:

The Dokdo Rap - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aX5NWYrLM0Q

A creepy video narrated by and from the point of view of the island itself - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SoBhxrVLG4&feature=related

http://www.dokdocorea.com/

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/02/dokdo_or_takeshima.html - Good group of images

http://www.truthofdokdo.com/info

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Boryeong

Image from 2012 Festival by NOMADIC SAMUEL

korea mud festival

For much of the world, when people think of Korea they think about how well behaved, clean and well mannered the country and culture are. Well, there is one occasion when these stereotypes fly out the window. The Boryeong Mud Festival is an annual festival which takes place during the summer in Boryeong, a town around 200 km south of SeoulSouth Korea. Like all festivals, it started small but now attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the small town each year.

In addition to great fun people have throwing, smearing, squishing and splashing mud all over each other, the mud is considered rich in minerals and used to manufacture cosmetics, so essentially people also get a high quality mud pack equivalent to a high-end spa treatment.

Although the festival takes place over a period of around two weeks, it is most famous for its final weekend, which is popular with Korea’s western population, many of whom are English language teachers. The final weekend of the festival usually falls on the second weekend in July.

Above and below are some pictures from Hannah371. You can see a slideshow of her work on Flickr.

cute asian girl covered in mud

sexy girl in mud

boryeong mud fest

Here are some more great photos. Be sure to check out the official website to learn about how you can book your trip for next year’s festival!

mud fight

By Yume_Love

sexy belly button

By Sparnak

sexy girls covered in mud

Muddy hands

By Brett90

covered in mud

muddy sliding

muddy games

Dirty girls

mud drinking

By emma1828

cute korean girls covered in mud

By wiQ

cute and muddy

Bytoughkidcst

Sexy girl bikini mud

By KTO-2

muddy girls

By rocking the camera

UPDATE – the 2012 festival has started and some great photos are already making the rounds. Check out this set by reluctant mud goer, NOMADIC SAMUEL.

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Korean Nights

Author: Jamie

Another beautiful video about South Korea. I need to get me an HD video camera when I go there for Korean New Year, write some music in the meantime and put it all together. I’m inspired by this and the one I posted earlier called “Do you know South Korea?

Korean Nights from Ricardo Mendialdua on Vimeo.

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Congratulations to Pyeongchang for winning the 2018 Winter Olympic bid. I’ve been working on a post about Korean sport and now I suppose I have to finish it.

According to the Hyundai Economic Research Institute, the games will generate W64.9 trillion of direct and indirect economic effects. That’s a lot of money.

For anyone who’s never been, Korea can be quite a pretty place in winter. I would recommend to anyone to try to be in Korea in 2018 to experience the Winter Olympics in a dynamic, vibrant country. It’s going to be a good party and I hope we will be there.

Korean figure skating

Read about the win.

KBS

Chosun Ilbo

 

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