Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Hiking and "Eye Shopping" in Seoul - Inwangsan and Insadong

On the first Sunday of April we decided to take a little hiking trip to Seoul. It was a pretty mild day considering how early in the year it was still (it takes a long time for Winter to recede here in South Korea and the comfortable, pretty Spring season is unfortunately way too short). There are a lot of mountains to hike in Seoul just as there are in the rest of the country (hiking is one of the great Korean passions) but the main place that people visit to get their hiking fix is Bukhansan National Park on the Northern edge of Seoul. We, however, decided to avoid the hordes of tourists and walking-pole wielding, visor-clad ajummas (older married Korean woman) by going to a much quieter (and smaller) mountain called Inwangsan to see the Shamanist shrine, part of the old Seoul Fortress Wall and small Buddhist temples there.

Darth Vader-esque ajumma visor - you gotta love 'em.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Everland - Korea's Biggest Theme Park

Back on a warm, sunny day in April, we went to Everland with a couple of our friends. Everland is South Korea's biggest theme park located in Gyeongi province, not far from Gwangju-si where we live. After a comfortable ride on the good old 1113-1 express bus we made it to Everland and excitedly made a dash for the entrance. We all paid for our tickets separately which turned out to be a mistake as some credit/ debit cards give you a massive discount on the entrance fee and some don't make any difference at all. Our friend Jen paid a lot less for her ticket than the rest of us did so clearly paying with a Nong Hyup card like we did was a mistake. Not sure what card Jen used, maybe a KEB bank card, but if you ever go to Everland it would be worth checking out which cards give you a discount and which don't as it could save you a fair bit of cash. 

Just inside the entrance of Everland. 

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


Since we first moved to Korea one of my biggest complaints has been the poor quality of Korean beer and the lack of much imported variety. So after spending 10 months putting up with Hite and Cass (The two Korean beer brands that account for about 90% of the market) I decided that enough was enough and I should start making my own beer. The first step was discovering the wonderful homebrew korea forums, I was pleased to see that there was already a vibrant community of homebrewers in Korea. After posting a thread asking for advice on getting started a very kind guy in the American military offered to help me with ordering equipment from a site in the states. There are a few homebrew supply websites in Korea but they are pretty expensive and the selection isn't great. Military guys out here can get cheap shipping so ordering from abroad made good sense. When I managed to get the kit back from central Seoul where I picked it up and was so excited and opened it up and got brewing the very next day.
Opening up the pack and looking at the ingredients with assistant brewer John. (Note that I already had a glass of beer on the go, essential for any brewing operation!)

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Jindo Sea Parting Festival

Back in the middle of March, we travelled with a few other Gwangju waygookin (foreigners) down to Jeolla Province in the south western corner of Korea to play at being Moses for the day at the annual Jindo Sea Parting Festival. Jindo is the third largest island in South Korea and is connected to the mainland by South Korea's longest suspension bridge, measuring an impressive 484 metres according to Wikipedia. It is also home to Korea's most (only) famous breed of dog, the Jindo, a medium sized hunting dog. 

The Jindo Dog is designated Korean Natural Treasure number 53. It never ceases to amuse me how Korea categorises and numbers its various cultural, natural and national treasures - virtually every temple, monument and statue has a plaque stating its place in the heritage pecking order.