Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cheonggye Stream
This stream is a natural and artificial stream that flows almost 11 kilometers through downtown Seoul and was recently uncovered and restored after almost 50 years of being underground. During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) the stream separated the noble people from the common people and has long been a part of Seoul's history. It was finally covered over because of problems with flooding and sanitation in the late 50's but is now once again flowing through Seoul. The other night I walked along the Chonggye stream to see this most recent tourist attraction in Seoul. It was almost 11:00pm but there were still many Koreans walking and posing for pictures with the stream in the background. It's an especially good walk at night with all the colored lights they have along the stream. I saw quite a few stumbling drunk Koreans and was wondering how many fall into the stream every night. Later this week I hear that a 51-year-old woman fell from one of the bridges and died on opening day, October 1st and I have a strong feeling that soju played a part in the tragedy.

Kimchi mandu
Saturday hike
This weekend the temperature dropped several degrees and the leaves have all started changing into beautiful fall colors. On Saturday I hiked up a mountain within walking distance of my apartment and at the top I had a great view of Anyang and the surrounding landscape. Once again, almost every Korean I passed had a strange fascination with my choice of footwear. Partially up the mountain there was an outdoor gym complete with a stationary bike, weights and huge hula hoops. I sat on a rock when I got to the top of the mountain for awhile enjoying the view and eating apple slices that a Korean woman near me graciously shared. After I hiked back down I went to a restaurant near my apartment and had kimchi mandu for the first time. Mandu is a steamed Korean dumpling that is usually stuffed with some sort of meat, glass noodles, onions, garlic and other various vegetables and spices. I ordered the vegetarian version with kimchi and it was only 1,500Won and absolutely delicious! I think I'll soon become a regular at the mandu place.

Amanda, Aly and Tracey
Koreans typically do not celebrate Halloween at all I found out this weekend when I went into Seoul all dressed up on Friday and Saturday night. Amanda and I constructed our wedding dresses on Thursday night out of a few yards of white and lacy fabric. We had white gloves, homemade veils and sashes that read, "Here come the Brides" written in rainbow colors. Some people actually thought we had bought our dresses (some even thought we actually just got married!), what a compliment to our domestic abilities! Who knew what we could do with a few yards of fabric and some safety pins? On Friday night we only saw a couple other people dressed up in Hongdae. On Saturday we went to a bar that had a costume party and ended up getting 2nd place, losing to a Korean girl dressed up as a Korean soccer fan. It was by audience applause and it was all over when she waved the Korean flag... there's no competition when it comes to Korean pride. Conveniently for us, there was also a priest present to make our marriage official. It was a really fun night but it was a relief to throw the dress away the next morning-- it was definitely not the most comfortable thing I've ever worn out. (The guy in the picture is Tracey, who wrote the article in the Korean Herald about the PETA protest of KFC)