I meant to get back to vacation photos a while back, but every time i do, I get overwhelmed with the sheer number of them. Plus, I was trying to go in order and was up to Cambodia. I took more pictures here than anywhere else, AND it was the favorite place of our trip so I am having trouble picking photos to showcase. To makae it a bit easier, I just picked one of the Angkor temples to start with, and am going to post the disclaimer that these photos are by no means the best of the ones I took or give a full view of the temple. I just picked a few and am calling it good. And, none of the pictures can do justice to actually seeing them in person.

Ta Prohm is the of the smallest temple in the Angkor area that we visited, but it is well known for its trees growing around, on, and through the temple walls. Many of the temples have undergone massive renovations, but this one is close to how it was originally found. The have done some stabilization work, but try to maintain a look of the undisturbed. Although when we were there we saw more work being done, so I’m not sure how much longer it will be the nature temple. Apparently last year they started to clear shrubs and some of the trees as well as rebuilding the piles of fallen stones or carving new ones to fit in where they would have been.  It is cool to see restored temples as well… the details are amazing and I understand why they do it, since if they continued to let all the trees grow eventually they would all crumble away. But to see the power of nature reclaiming the area is really the highlight for me.

We book a book of the area from one of the many children pedaling their wares around the temples, so I am currently learning all the history of the area. I won’t add in all the details yet, but maybe in one of the othr Angkor posts to come I’ll wet your palette.

enter

ruins

feet

doorway

tree

us

As one example that might be a good compromise… up until last year that little rope separating us from the ruins wasn’t there. As you can see from the lack of barriers in the other photos, most places you could go right up and touch or climb all over.

After a lovely morning adventure with my wandering pal, Lindsay, we headed to one of the best places to eat in Seoul: Gwangjang Market. Way back in January of last year, I showed you a few pictures of the food stalls in the market. But I hadn’t stopped to try any of the ares. I took my mom back to the area on a different adventures, but again didn’t stop to eat any food. Luckily, Lindsay helped me end my streak of looking longingly at all the great food. We atually were going to have some of the Korean panckakes (panjeon) which the area is famous for, but a cute little lady reeled us in to her mandu guk stall instead (dumpling soup). And what a great choice it was. I love me a bowl of hot mandu soup, but this was the best I’ve had yet. I’m not sure if it was the great company, the cold day, the general atmosphere, or the actual taste of the soup, but it gave me a happy high for the rest of the trip.

owner

All the pieces of the soup were laid out on the table and she just grabbed handfuls of each and put them into a big steamer. The broth had been simmering in another big pot and was added to the ‘stuff’ in our personal bowls. The hand made noodles were delicious! And I pulled out a foreigner’s friend (what is this? asked sweetly in Korean) and landed us some tasty sweat, spicy chili sauce to add to the soup as well. It is definitely not a place if you are scared of germs/sharing. But I actually think the communal all hands in method makes for a better meal. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about the hyper clean US food scene when we go back stateside. Although our communal after meal sipping bowl was almost over the top.

foodie

As you can tell, Lindsay is beautiful and blonde. She might have thought I was joking, but I told her I love that when we go out all the Korean’s are so excited to see her and tell her she’s pretty. I get a lot of looks for my blonde hair, but when she comes along she distracts them from me with her hair, smile, and generally awesome personality. I’ve gotten used to all the attention, but its fun to go out and she her be the center of attention instead. Its easier to laugh and take in the whole scene when you aren’t the one being slightly embarrassed by the attention.

mandu

Just a few photos of the pieces of our meal before they became tasty soup.

sides

It was very filling! But we also wandered around and treated ourselves to a desert of fried sweet potato (amazing!) and took home some of the famous pancakes for later. Thank goodness for awesome Korean food and even more thanks for great friends!

Getting There: Line 1, Jongno O(5)-ga Exit 8. Walk straight and you’ll see the entrance on your left very soon. It you smell deliciousness, you are there!

I took my cafe hunt down to the mighty Han River for a quick afternoon coffee. There are many river view cafes along the river, but we chose the one on Dongjak Brigde for its easy access. Definitely learned that we need to go back to watch the sun set and get some great night views of the bridge. And to go in warmer weather so we can take advantage of the roof deck.

Haechi, our mythical friend lead teh way from the subway to the cafe.

follow

cafe

See, wouldn’t this be pretty in the evening? Seoul Tower would be lit up, there would be streaming car lights, bridge lights, and a sun set!

view

The coffee wasn’t very good. But they have a whole range of drinks and some food as well. It is a bit pricey, but I guess you are paying for the location.

mug

Getting There: Dongjak Station, Line 4 or 9. Exit 1. Turn left out of the exit and go up the flight of stairs. Continue straight and you can’t help but run into it. Its about a 2 minute walk from the subway. There is also paid parking right on the side of the bridge, but I’m not sure how much it cost.

There was a whole lot more going on than fishing at the ice fishing festival we went to in Inge. This post is but a taste of all the crazy winter fun to be had. One of the most popular activities seemed to be chair sliding. Partially because it was fun to glide down icy hills, but also because they doubled as places to sit while ice fishing. We didn’t think of this until it was too late. But we did take a chair for a spin.

icechairs

You might have seen a weird contraption at the upper left of the above photo. I have a picture of it in action, but I thought a quick video would give a better idea of what it did. They actually had all sorts of these guys in various levels of swinging. Little to no motion (just a trip around the lake), medium swing (below), and heavy duty, nauseating fun.

They also had an ice sculpture area…but it was more of a stick area which has been doused in water and frozen area. Still beautiful!

icetree

It wouldn’t be winter without a few hole/snowball fort digging. And the chair sliders came with great spikes for the job.

holes

The National Ice Soccer Championship was also taking place on the far edge of the lake. I think this guy was just taking advantage of a break in the action.

icesoccer

These guys were here to prove you didn’t need a rink or real ball to play some soccer. This pickups game of bottle soccer was very bit as intense. The falls, the fouls, the cheering. It had it all.

bottlesoccer

And inside they had a whole area set up as well. Indoor ice fishing in a huge blow up structure (for kids and random contests), lots of food, and a mountain village craft and activity center. One room was dedicated to depicting the festival in  Korean paper statues (called hanji). It was quite thorough!

paperart

If you don’t make it to a winter festival this year, make sure to put it on the list for next year. We are sure glad we did!

We took a short trip out of the city this weekend to go to one of Korea’s big winter festivals. Along with my random wanderings, I also wanted to try to find something for Ian to enjoy. I saw a post for an ice fishing festival and decided it would be cool to check out. Doing a little research showed me there are tons of ice/winter festivals in Korea. Choosing was hard, but we settled on Inje’s version. The festival was bigger than I was expecting, especially as it has been going on for over a month. There was tons to do, but I figured I’d start off by showing photos are why we went in the first place — ice fishing!  The poles weren’t quite what I’d been expecting, but it they were cheap and easy to get started. I do have to report that we didn’t caught anything. I’ll chalk it up to our afternoon start.

fishers

bait

hole

And I couldn’t resist a few on the cute kid front. A fishing bear and a couple of rabbits checking out their haul.

fishingbear

catch

I have been having a lot of Korean adventures, but what I haven’t been doing is remembering to come blog about them. I usually wait for a comment or two on each post before doing another one, so the lack of activity has made me bad about posting… but I will try to do better about getting one up every other day or so as long as someone is still out there.

Which brings me to… a non- Korean adventure. When I was a child, I used to do all sorts of crafts and projects with my mom. And then a college degree in math and physics kind of side tracked the right side of my brain. But Korea has made the crafty me come back, and in force. Of course I have the photography (which I actually count as left side math brain — do you want a lecture of the physics of lens :) ? ) But I have also learned to crochet, sort of knit, re-took up sewing, painting, etc. And today, I attempted a crayon melt piece. This is totally kindergarten all over again, but I’d seen a few on Etsy and figured they’d be easy to recreate here at home. I definitely learned a better technique about halfway through, so I’ll have to try again for a more polished version.

crayon

On Friday one of my best Korean pals, Lindsay (who writes a mean blog of her own) , and I went off in search of an owl-y adventure. And Seoul provided as with the perfect spot… the Owl Museum!

owlmuseum

Not really a museum, but instead a life’s worth of collecting owl all displayed on the walls. You also get to sit and have a cup of coffee (or tea or cocoa) for the 5,000 won admission fee. We weren’t allowed to take pictures instead, but if you think of thousands of owls of all sorts, shapes, colors, and uses, you’ll be half way there! We also got to do owl-y crafts. We made on owl face to hang up and stamped some owl paper to take home.

The owner of the shop is a cute little lady who has been collecting owls most of her life and roped her husband and son into the hunt later on. She and her husband were there to explain where all the owls came from as well as to provide refreshments. If you decide to go, I’d suggest finding something else to do in the area as well. The museum is good for about a 30 minute visit, but the neighborhood is full of lots of fascinating stuff!

door

walls

Getting There: We took Anguk Subway Line 3, Exit 2. Its a bit of a walk from the subway, but I’m sure there is a bus that goes right by it. You follow along the road for quite a ways. Its a left turn past the Vietnamese Embassy and then continue around. It’ll be on a little alley on your right. If you are up for the walk, I’d suggest picking up a little map of the area from the Tourist Information booth you’ll pass just a few minutes outside of Exit 2. It’ll be able to explain the way better than me and have lots of other fun things to check out while you are there!

And as an added bonus, I “stole” this from Lindsay’s blog post. As I said before, you can’t take pictures inside teh shop, but the owner will take a picture for you in the front entryway. We had her use Lindsay’s camera for the shot.

Over the recent Lunar New Year holiday, Ian and I had the chance to try out some traditional Korean folk games. I’ve profiles a few before: like Jegichagi, the Korean hacky-sack, and Neolttwigi, the seesaw jumping game,  but the game we are going to talk about today is Yutnori. Last Lunar New Year I showed you this picture:

game2

But I didn’t know how to play it. This year, we had our own chance to learn the game.  Our score board wasn’t quite as cool, and we had no old Korean men joining in, but I won, so it was still good in my book.

scores

The game  is a lot like Sorry! But you use big wooden sticks instead of dice. The sticks are called ‘yut’. One side is flat and the other is round. You thrown the sticks in a circle (if they land outside, you get 0 points and loses that turn) and how they land determines your moves. You throw four yut (the other one must have already landed in the picture below).  For each stick that lands flat side up, you get to move one spot. If all 4 land round side up, you get to move five and go again. The board has some shortcuts for landing on certain spots exactly, and landing on an opponent sends them back to the start. landing on your own, lets you move the pieces together. The first player (or team) to get 4 pieces around wins the game. We only played with two pieces though, so short games are okay too. I think each old man clan might have their own house rules as well. One well known variation is to mark one yut with a black dot on the flat side. If it is the only yut to land flat side up, you move backwards one.

throw

When you find people playing, there is usually a big crowd and loud cheers. It has quite a long tradition, possibly dating back to the Three Kingdoms (~57 BCE). It also used to be used as a way of fortune telling, and the folk original of the game is said to be a bet between villagers about raising livestock. In fact, the number of points scored are all named to reference animals:   1 do pig        2 gae dog         3 geol cow       4 yut sheep       5 mo horse

Cleaning Up

In order to try and cut down on the spam comments, I have changed a few settings around. Most of you should have no problem commenting, but if it tells you its being held in moderation, it just means I have to click yes before it will post. Hopefully, as long as you use the same name/computer it should happen only once or twice before it recognizes you as a real person. Let me know if you run into trouble!

P.S. I love the comments, so keep them coming!

Photography Links

Newman Photography can now be found at the following links:

Go on over to check them out (and 'like' the page) if you want, but don't feel obligated to check. I'll still be posting the Korean content here daily.

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