Week 30: Balloon Fiesta

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Last weekend ended with a day trip to Goheung, about 2 hours south of Gwangju. It’s surrounded on three sides by the ocean. I would be an island but for the neck of land that connects it to the mainland. This was my second trip with Pedro (^_^) and though it was smaller group this time, we still had fun. There were five people all told (myself and Pedro included). Continue reading

A bit about culture

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I’ve heard the phrase, and perhaps you have too, “Korean society is reminiscent of 1950’s America.”

Of course this is in reference to things like attitudes towards gender roles and responsibilities. To some degree this is true. Koreans culture was strongly influenced by Confucianism where women were given a lower status than men. Family has always been an important element in society. Social media like dramas are starting to show women in different and stronger roles but it’s still a little new.

It’s easy to look at Korea as it is now and compare it to other modern countries. If you do it that way, I suppose you might find this place a little conservative or lacking. Of course, you’re looking at it all wrong if you start from that perspective. Continue reading

Week 29: Damyang (다먕)

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IMG_7959 (2)On Sunday, I’d had enough of resting at home so I finally dragged myself outside with my camera. Now, I haven’t mentioned it much because it didn’t seem worth talking about, but now we need context. I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to air. It’s all the pollution floating around here. It’s the only way I can explain my sniffles and almost constantly runny nose and watery eyes. Some days are better than others. Today, in fact, I’ve barely had to blow my nose and nothing has made my eyes water. Other days, I sneeze my way through. I suppose my constant exposure to kids (germ paradise) and my bad sleeping habits don’t help.

I’ve been using my sniffles to justify all the free time I spend at home instead of traveling….not that I’ve ever really needed reasons to do nothing. Still, I’d finally had enough of doing nothing and I was starting to worry that I’d miss the entire autumn season. Continue reading

Hangeul Day!

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Today was Hangeul Day: a celebration of the creation of the Korean writing system. It’s a national holiday (so I had the day off) and rightly so. We can all be thankful to king Sejong for creating the Korean alphabet otherwise I’d be stuck learning my Chinese characters all over again (since that’s what Koreans were using before the invention of Hangeul). Not that I have anything against Chinese writing; the history is fascinating. Hangeul is so much easier though.

Today also marked the start of festivities downtown (for a remembrance festival) that will last for the next few days. There was a parade and a lot of stalls set up selling handmade pottery, chairs and other crafts. It was very busy. A shame I didn’t think to bring my camera. I still have a few more days so maybe I’ll catch something yet.

Kyoto: Vignettes and Thoughts

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Despite the long posts about my trip to Japan, they’re still little more than bare bones. If you’re interested, here are more thoughts to flesh it out….in no particular order. Let’s start with a few (self) discoveries/realizations I had while there.

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Some temple where you can pray to get rid of bad habits and compulsions by sticking what you want to get rid of in one of those hanging balls that are actually shaped like humans (or monkeys) with their arms and legs tied. At least that’s what I gathered from the English brochure.

1.  Context is important. Continue reading