Monday, July 14, 2008

Travelogue: June 08: Day 05-07

Travelogue: June 08: Day 05-07

Day 05

Sunday. What did we do on Sunday. Oh! We went to a museum dealing with nobility. You know, what they wore (beautiful ceremonial stuff), how they got around (palanquins until the early part of the 20th century, then a couple of really nice cars with painted & lacquered wooden bodies), what their education was like; they even had a copy of the site where one of the kings had his placenta kept.

We also went to what Kim said was the largest bookstore in Seoul, Kyobo. Sorry Sarah & Michelle, she got schoolbooks for you. I got a couple of DVDs, including a couple of "manhwa," anime. It was actually very difficult to find anime with English subtitles.

Kim's family -- 2 of her brother-in-law's, her sister, and her mother -- brought us out to dinner Sunday night. Apparently, it's a very famous restaurant. Their specialty (I think it's the only thing they serve) is chicken soup: they boil young chickens until the meat is literally falling off the bone. There is some rice tossed in right at the end, Chinese dates & ginseng. You pull the meat off with your chopsticks and put a very small bits of salt & pepper on it to eat it, and put the bonds to the side. And you have a spoon for the actual soup.

A little rough getting in; since the sidewalk outside sloped, I had to go when one door which was relatively level with the sidewalk, then drop about 6 inches to the floor of the restaurant. Then I had to do the same from the other door to the sidewalk to get out. But, since they had those plastic trays like you see on bread racks at the grocery store or bakery, we took those upside down and it was only two 3 inch drops... the chicken soup was delicious, and I wasn't able to finish the whole thing.

Day 06

Was a cooler day, temperature wise. At least where we were. Which was near the northeast portion of Seoul at a folk village. Think of, oh, Sturbridge Village or Plymouth Plantation. Lots of "Do Not Enter" replica houses from different time periods and regions of Korea. Some interesting examples of roofs, for example: thatched, oak bark, slabbed wood, slate, and tile. There were a handful of craftsmen, showing their craft: woven straw sandals, a fan maker, etc.

Kim & I spent a while in one of the museums located on the site. We didn't go into the Museum of Korean Drama, as we didn't realize it was there until we were leaving, but the Museum of Folk Life was very interesting. I sent some postcards to the handful of children that I had addresses for which depicted scenes that were discussed at this museum.

It was a gorgeous site. It reminded me so much of when the Renaissance Faire was at Black Point Forest -- you know, before the mundanes were allowed in. Except cleaner, and better taken care of.

Of course, it is a permanent site. And, it's open year-round. The food court has a poured cement floor, although most of the rest of the site is dirt. Of course, the insurance companies would have a field day. The site had examples of different types of bridges, crossing a stream. What they call "a traditional single log bridge" consisted of just that -- a single log, flattened on the top, crossing the stream. There was a "stepping stone" bridge, one paved with stone (but without railings), one paved with stone with railings, and a couple of others. And all were open to the public -- in fact, you needed to use them to get to the other side of the stream...

That was all we did yesterday, since the site was an hour and a half away. Well, we also stopped at the gift shop there...

(There were a handful of amusement park rides there, as well, that we did not partake of. One thing that we did do, mostly because it's been a really really long time, was stop at one of those air gun target booths. You know the ones I mean: hit the target enough times and you win a prize. I won a prize! For those of you keeping track: a seated position, the barrel resting, someone holding the butt to my shoulder/chest/above the belly, my left index finger on the trigger, and pulling with my left hand/arm AND trying to pull the fingertip with my right hand. A picture of this will definitely be posted after I get home.)

Day 07

Which brings us up to today. We started off with a leisurely cruise on the river. Seriously. And yes, another first: my first time on a boat in the past 11 years. Granted, it was a tour boat, and only lasted an hour or so, but it was nice. No salt air, though.

Then came a surprise. This was something that Kim's brother-in-law was able to set up for us: a behind the scenes tour at KBS Studios. KBS, for those of you who don't watch Korean dramas or television, is one of the big TV stations in Korea. They do a lot of what is normally called "Korean drama," what most of us in America would call a cross between a soap opera & a miniseries, in that they are soap operas that range in length from 10-15 episodes all the way up to close to 80 episodes (the historical ones tend to be longer). One of the most famous in the states is "Winter Sonata," which was the first one that I watched. Between me having that (and a whole bunch of foreign movies which require an all region DVD player) and some other dramas that I got, and Truc watching a lot of them on the Internet, we managed to get Jalia hooked on them during this past year. So much so that, when we went by a place later this afternoon that had celebrity
souvenirs (you know, stuff with the celebrities picture on them) she got a calendar, socks, a wallet, a clock, a coffee cup, a keychain, a coin holder... all with the picture of her favorite drama star on them (in case you were wondering, it was the star from "Winter Sonata")...

It was a very nice for Kim, Jalia & Truc, because none of them had seen the workings from backstage before. We saw the prop area for some talk shows, and then they went downstairs to see what wardrobe looks like (5500 different costumes). That was down some stairs, so I waited up top. Then we saw a couple of soundstages, and a few minutes of rehearsal for a music program that was being taped this evening. Upstairs to the newsroom, we saw where they report the news. Until recently, apparently, the newsroom & news studio were in two different buildings. Now if you look through the wall behind the studio, you see all of the reporters & researchers. Mark, they use two cameras that make what we used for "Fairyland Tonight" look almost preindustrial!

Anyway, after we left there, we went shopping in the "tourism" zone. Well, one of them. This one is located just outside the American Army Base. Very busy area, with what appeared to see higher prices than anywhere else that we've been. Not just to get the Americans, although there were a lot of us there; they were lots of other nationalities wandering around that area.

Then, back here so that I could catch up on the travelogue and sort goodies.

Don't worry, lots of pictures were taken over the past week.

A slight commentary on things out here:

There have been a lot of "candlelight protests" going on, something every night. Basically, a lot of the population feels that South Korea is getting taken advantage of in a recent trade agreement with the United States concerning the importation of beef. Most of the other Asian countries that have beef trade agreements with the US won't allow any beef from cattle that are older than 30 months, because the older they are the more likely they are to have "Mad Cow" disease. Somehow, South Korea didn't get that clause in the agreement that they made, and the people there don't like that.

People are also using the protests to protest against other things that they don't like about the current government (basically, they just held elections, and the party that didn't win are trying to tell the ones that did win what problems need being worked on. Please note: this is a great oversimplification).

None of this has bothered me, as in: it has not affected my enjoyment of the trip.

Now, since it's 11 p.m., I'm posting this and going to bed.



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