Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Junk Art Festival in Suwon

Last week the kids and I visited Suwon. Suwon is south of where we live in Suji. For those of you in Denver, it's kind of like Seoul Campus (where I teach) would be on 16th Strett Mall, GoodMorning Hill (where we live) would be Littleton and Suwon would be Douglas County. I think.

We went to Suwon because our friends the Trotters have family in Suwon and knew there was a "Junk Art Festival" happening and invited us to come along. Suwon is very cool. The old part of the town is inside a huge fortress-like wall that goes all around the city. There are lots of cute shops and a huge park with a Buddha statue and some temples.

Ruby and Gabriel get water from a natural spring
The "Junk Art Festival" had things for sale that were handmade or recycled art and there were crafts to do too.
The side of this building is covered in chalkboard paint.
At the top it says "before I die, I want to..." There is chalk available
for you to write your answer. Interestingly, they were all written in Korean,
so I have no idea what any of them say.
Cool lantern made with painted paper cups
Butterfly wall art made from soda cans

This guy was dying fabric on the spot
I decorated a leather bracelet for myself. They provided a strip of leather and these decorative metal things that you pound into the leather to make an indentation for a design.

Then I got to pick the color to dye my bracelet. I chose green.

Ruby, Lia and Grace chose to make dolls out of paper.

There was face painting, or in our case, arm painting. August requested a "yong" (dragon).

While August was getting his arm painted, there was a drum show. It was pretty amazing.

Grace and Ruby each got flowers, (which was a bit of a step down from Grace's original request of a butterfly flying off of a flower on to a rainbow).

Fall is a wonderful time to be in Korea, yeah festivals!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Back to Jeju Island for Chuseok

Chuseok is a Korean holiday that is something like Thanksgiving.  It happens in the fall, but the exact date changes I think depending on the moon, it happens at the same time as the full moon festival in China. This year was a few weeks earlier than last.  From what I understand it's a big family event here, people go to the tombs of family, clean up the grave site, then everyone eats together.  But for those of us who are not Korean it is just a week off from school.

A lot of coworkers took  long trips, Indonesia seemed to be the destination of choice this year.  Several others went to Palau.  A lot of the new families did not go anywhere since we are only a few weeks into the school year and there was not much time to plan a trip.  We decided to split the difference, we didn't want to invest in a huge trip, but we wanted to get away, so we decided to return to Jeju Island for a few days, the same place we went last Chuseok.

Jeju is sometimes described as "the Hawaii of Korea"  which is an unfair comparison.  I've never been to Hawaii but it seems pretty spectacular, and really it sets the bar too high.  Jeju is a volcanic island like Hawaii so they have that in common, and on it's own it is a very pretty island, it's just when you compare it to Hawaii that it comes up short.

It is easy to get to, less than an hour flight from Seoul.  We flew out early Monday morning.  The tickets were $20 cheaper if we took the first flight, so we left the house at 5:30 to catch a 7:30 flight, and we landed at 8:20.  The kids are becoming really experienced travelers, even August is getting good at it.
boarding from the stairs on the runway always makes me feel like I am really traveling

iPads are the secret to peaceful travel

We rented a two bedroom house that worked out perfectly for us.  It was a little out of the way, but we had rented a car and with GPS and google maps on our phones we were able to find it pretty easily. There are a few major roads around the island and then all of the residential roads are ridiculously narrow and lined with stone walls.  When we got to the house the owner met us, a really nice guy, he showed us around, let us know the refrigerator was stocked, and then we settled in.
August playing the cello before it was put safely away

Irish calm in the middle as children flop around her

We spent the next three days swimming, sleeping, eating, reading, and swimming some more.  It was an incredibly pleasant way to spend our time.

There is a strange relationship with rules in Korea.  When driving people only marginally follow the rules, we have never seen anyone pulled over (although I have found out there a lot of cameras, I recently received a parking ticket and a speeding ticket in the mail.  If I had a Korean GPS I would have been warned every time I got close to a police camera)  At the beaches though, someone decided that swimming is only allowed from June to August, so even though it was a warm sunny day, swimming season is over, and most Korean people seemed to obey, almost no Korean people were in the water, and a lot were dressed up in Autumn clothing, kind of appropriate for the calendar, not at all appropriate for the actual conditions. We saw the signs below written in Chinese, English Korean and Japanese, and we ignored them.

We tested out the waterproof camera. It worked.

And finally, some pictures of sunsets. Growing up on the east coast sun setting on the water remains a novelty for me.

Friday, September 20, 2013

G Dragon Exhibit in Gangnam

As we've said before, G Dragon is a Kpop artist from Seoul. Remember recently I went to the concert. Well because Korea and I can't get enough of G Dragon, there was an exhibit at a local art gallery that was all G Dragon-and it was free if you showed your ticket from the concert! Even though I seem like a superfan, my friend Katie is an even bigger fan. You know who's a bigger fan than Katie? My son, August. For example, this summer we went to a restaurant that had kids karaoke on Tuesday evenings. There were a lot of Taylor Swift songs being performed. A. Lot. And then there was August, with Get your Crayon:
Many, many tween girls sang Taylor Swift songs.

Instead of becoming more nervous watching the other
kids, he got more excited, asking me if it was his turn yet.
"get your crayon"
"why so serious?"
Now back to present day. Superfans Katie and August and regular fans, Bonny and I split a taxi to Apgujeong Rodeo

and arrived at the Cais Gallery.
August pointing to the huge picture of G Dragon

(L-R) Superfan Katie, regular fan me, regular fan Bonny
Superfan August 
We were not allowed to take pictures inside, so I will tell you about it the best I can. G Dragon has been photographed many times, and he has been in several magazines. The exhibit took up all 2 floors of the small gallery. Most of the pictures were (I think) from magazine shoots he has done. Did you know G Dragon has been featured in Korean Vogue three times?! Those pictures were there, some pictures that were taken of him and his group Big Bang. It was really great. August loved it too-surprisingly, he was very quiet and looked at all the pictures.
In the basement of the gallery, there was merchandising for sale. Prints of every picture featured of the gallery were only 8,880won (about $8). Did you know that 8 is G Dragon's lucky number?!
August shows someone the picture he picked out
August poses with his picture of G Dragon
 Here are the pictures we purchased:
Katie got this one
August got this one
I got this one
August has spent the last few weeks talking about how he's going to be G Dragon for Halloween. But which look? So many to choose from! We'll keep you posted.