Saturday in 송탄 Songtan

Known for its army bases and high American presence, we were curious as to what we would see in Songtan. Just two stops away on the subway, it was a quick trip. With a few friends, we spent some time in the area close to the main gate of the American base and found most signs to be English, many shops to cater to what I assume are the presumed interests of Americans (like jersey stores and motorcycle jackets)and many, many bars.

That area of town was… well… quite unappealing (the word skuzzy comes to mind, actually). Of course, we didn’t see any of the other areas of town, and according to Wikipedia, there is a Buddhist hall and some hiking trails that look much more interesting and appealing.

Well, enough tip-toeing around our opinions. It is quite unlikely that we will head back to Songtan anytime soon. There are still sooooo many places we want to see!

As an aside, on our way home we saw some stairs that were quite frightening! They were very steep. I think a slinky would go flying off these bad boys.

This photo does not do it justice. You may be interested to notice that the railing is a rope. Clip in for your safety.

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April Field Trip to Youngun Museum of Gwangju

Last week, we headed out with our hogwan to the Youngun Museum of Gwangju for a field trip. When we arrived, the kids and the teachers painted water glasses we would later take home. Next was playing outside on the grounds and lunch on the grass. After lunch, we had a tour of the small facilities before we headed home.

If you are wondering, and I am sure you are, here is how our water glasses turned out:

Saturday in 수원시 Suwon

This week’s adventure took us to Suwon. While it lies just a few stops along the subway, a problem with the trains meant we were destined for a bumpy ride a la intercity bus. Whew, that was an experience and a half! A full bus left us gripping on for dear life as the bus stopped and started, stopped and started and sped along to the city. I have to say, the bus was much more efficient than those in my experience in Canada picking up passengers and then picking up speed. We were able to use our T-money cards, which was nice. Just like the subway, you scan your card as you enter and exit and it calculates the price of the trip. And when I say scan, I don’t mean swipe or scanning a bar code. You just put the card near a reader and it takes whatever info it needs. On the subway, you place it on a little pad and then pick it up again. Very quick and easy!

We arrived in Suwon and decided to seek out the famous fortress of the city: a wall that once lined an ancient city and now runs around a small portion of today’s Suwon. This led to a different kind of adventure: the experience of a crappy map and a crappy phone.  Having only a tiny map in our lonely planet book and a very un-smart phone meant we were trying to find our way solely by instinct and… well, that’s about it. We made our way to the top of a hill and found an area with lots of families and a few attractions like a small animal exhibit (chipmunks included) and a fountain. Which way to the wall? Your guess is as good as mine. We started up a hill in a park area (trees on one side, houses on the other). A little ways up, we decided, no this is just a park path and not the fortress. Back down into the core of the city we went.

The next day we went, once again, in search of the Fortress. A ha! It was right near our hotel! After paying 1000 won ($0.90 CAD) we climbed a whole lot of stairs up to the top. Some trees were in bloom and the views were great.

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As we continued our walk we realised to our dismay, the park we had walked in the day before was right behind the wall! If we had chosen to go left instead of right we would have stumbled upon the wall after a 5 minute walk.

Moral of the story: when travelling in Korea, the features of a smart phone are not a luxury, but a necessity. GPS and google would have meant a more productive and enjoyable experience.  Of course, if you want to be all retro and stuff… you could also try one of those paper map thingies…

How things are really just the same – Korean pizza edition

Sandy and I, in Edmonton, would treat ourselves to pizza on an almost weekly basis so it wasn’t a surprise that a craving for pizza came early in our adventure in Osan. (Plus, we lived across the street from a Dominos, and down the block from a Pizza Hut). Here is what it looked like:

 

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With a nice little ribbon, it came with a garlic-y mayo type sauce, some hot sauce, and what I expected would be dill pickle pizza dip (mmmm) but turned out to be some sweet pickles (meh).

Here is what it looked like:

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Looks good right!?

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You can see some good looking cheese, some broccoli, beef, potato and some olives. There seemed to be some pizza sauce as well as a red pepper sauce. Corn is a popular topping but did not grace our pizza this time.

The verdict: Good!

It wasn’t the best pizza ever, but it was enough for our craving. Since then, we have tried a sweet potato pizza from our grocery store’s little pizza place; it was a potato pizza with a sweet sauce drizzled on top. It was pretty good too. I think we will have to go all out and get some corn on our next pizza!

This Week’s Adventure: The Cold!

No big weekend adventure this week. Came down with a sore throat out of the blue early Friday morning. There has been a cold/flu illness going around the foreigner teachers (which includes a lovely fever), so I was concerned it might be that. But after two relaxing days of rest, it feels like your run of the mill cold. Thank god. On Saturday, when we weren’t sure of how severe the illness would get, Sandy headed off to the pharmacy and had a few things recommended.

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Came back with three items: lozenges, syrup and mystery pills (which we think may be herbal) for a total of 11500 won (the lozenges coming in at 7000 won, taking up most of that). Thank god for those lozenges and all their throat numbing goodness. Cough syrup tasted like that basic cough syrup-y taste along with a heavy dose of vanilla flavoured sugar. No worse, no better I think.

Hopefully, I don’t transmit my cold to too many people – Sandy, the office or my kids!

Hope you had a nice Easter to those who were celebrating it!

물향기 수목원 The Mulhyanggi Arboretum

This weekend we headed to the Mulhyanggi Arboretum near the Osan University. A quick hop on the subway allowed us to meet up with a friend. For 1000 won (about $0.89 CAD) it was a great deal. It was much larger than we were expecting. We spent about 3 hours there, wandering around and looking at the trees and ponds in the park and the tropical tree and flower exhibits in the greenhouses. We were able to get some great pictures too.

Now that we have seen it in the very early spring, we are excited to see it again in late spring as well as summer and fall as there were no leaves on the trees yet but we could tell how wonderful it will be when there are.