Have you visited a Buddhist temple in Korea and witnessed the colorful architecture and maybe some beautiful hanging paper lanterns and wished there was more information provided so that you could learn more about Korean Buddhism? Have you wanted to have the opportunity to stay in a temple but you just haven’t found the time? Are you wondering what a temple stay is? Temple Stay Supporters and the…
During the Joseon Dynasty some 600 years ago, Bojewon a medical institution was set up in Jegi-dong. ‘Won’ means an inn that was located along a main thoroughfare. These inns provided food and lodging to travelers with government-related work or public missions. There were numerous inns around the city of Seoul including Itaewon, Hongjewon near Seodaemun and Jeon-gwanwon near Gwanghuimun. Bojewon was not only an inn though as it also housed an oriental medicine clinic that provided medical treatments and advice to the poor and those seeking help in the city. With this historical background it was no wonder that in the late 1960s when the Seoul Government was looking for a place to set up an herbal market, they chose this location. Now Yangnyeongsi (약령시) is the largest herbal medicine market in Korea with over 1,000 traditional medicine related businesses in the area.
The streets are lined with shops that have bags, boxes and buckets of herbs, dried fruits and other plants that spill into the streets. The colorful goods beg the eye to stop and peruse everything high and low. Frog carcasses hang from the eaves next to dried persimmons and bark from trees known and unknown are stacked high. The shopkeepers are medicine men that will listen to your ailments and concoct a tea just for you. Popular gifts from the market include ginseng for energy and Youngji mushrooms that have been shown to prevent a range of adult diseases. Everything from honeycombs with live bees still buzzing around them in mesh sacks, cactus leaves and roots of all shapes and sizes can be found. Seeds, leaves, herbs, dried flowers and more excite the eyes as well as the nose and once they are ingested they are sure to aid whatever the problem may be.
Seventy percent of the oriental medicine traded in Korea goes through here which means if you head here for your herbs, due to the low distribution costs, you can get most things that you’re looking for for up to 30 percent cheaper than elsewhere. Though some shopkeepers in the area may not want to deal with the foreigners who have no grasp on traditional remedies, many seem more than hospitable and welcome the labored conversations in order to introduce new people to their very old medical practices.
The area doesn’t seem to get that much attention from the foreign tourists, but it really should. It’s worth a visit especially if you’re interested in learning more about holistic and natural remedies to whatever ails you.
서울 동대문구 제기동 서울 약령시
YangnyeongMarket, Jegi-dong Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul, Korea
Subway: Jegi-dong Station, exit 2. One entrance to the market is immediately to the left, but to get to the main entrance to the festival area, walk straight for 1 minute and you will see a larger entrance on the left. OR Yongdu Station, exit 2. Walk straight to a large intersection, cross the street and turn left. You will come to the entrance on the right.
Bus: 1212, 2223, 3200, 421, 105, 147, 201, 202, 241A, 241B, 260, 261, 262, 270, 271, 272, 420, 421, 720, 2221, 110A, 120, 121, 130, 141, 148, 2222
Days: Monday ~ Saturday. The market is closed on Sundays and national holidays with the exception of a few shops and street vendors.
Hours: 9:00AM – 7:00PM
Amenities: parking, museum
Website: http://www.seoulya.comThe Yangnyeongsi Herbal Medicine Market During the Joseon Dynasty some 600 years ago, Bojewon a medical institution was set up in Jegi-dong.
Today is the last day of the Yangnyeongsi Herb Medicine Culture Festival. I went yesterday and it is completely worth a visit. If you have nothing to do today, head over to the festival! Experiencing Traditional Herbal Remedies
Today is the second and final day of the yearly Yangnyeongsi Herb Medicine Culture Festival (서울약령시 한방문화축제) up north at the Yangnyeongsi Herb Medicine Market in Dongdaemun. Every fall since 1995, this event has taken place to celebrate the history and the effectiveness of traditional herbal remedies. Tents are set up along the main thoroughfare to educate visitors foreign and Korean on different…
This past Saturday, the yearly Seoul International Fireworks Festival (서울세계불꽃축제) took place over at the Yeouido Hangang Park. Of course massive numbers of people arrived using all modes of transportation and not only was the park packed but the bridges were as well. A new addition I noticed this year were police lining the Mapo Bridge and asking that people only view from one side of the path leaving the other side open. Of course, once the fireworks started these police had little power and people didn’t really listen to the requests to stand to one side.
The wind was blowing and the music, though difficult to hear on the Mapo Bridge could be heard thumping away from somewhere in the distance. People oohed and aahed and took photos capturing the showcase of fireworks from Korean teams as well as Canadian, Japanese and French teams. The breaks between sets were a bit long this year for my liking, but it’s hard to complain when you’re talking about fireworks, or fire flowers as the literal Korean translation would be.
Tip: Start on the southern end of the Mapo Bridge for the beginning of the show and every 15 minutes or so walk a bit north across the bridge. By the end of the show you’ll be able to get down to the road to hop into a taxi or bus or subway easily without too much hassle from the crowds.
서울특별시 영등포구 여의도동
Yeouido, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, Korea
Yeouinaru Station, exit 4 is the nearest subway location but if you’re not heading there early in the afternoon, this subway station is not recommended as it becomes overpopulated and is often shut down in the evenings due to danger the massive amounts of people could cause.
Yeouido Station, exit 5 is another option.
Bus: 162, 261, 262, 360, 362, 461, 503, 753, 5012, 5534, 5623, 5633, 5713, 6513, 6623, 6630, 7611 (Some buses may be rerouted due to road closures in the area, but they will still stop near the Yeouido Hangang Park)
When: Held every autumn, fireworks start at 7:30Fire Flowers Light Up The Sky This past Saturday, the yearly Seoul International Fireworks Festival (서울세계불꽃축제) took place over at the Yeouido Hangang Park.
We had a great baby shower thrown for us this past weekend. I wanted my husband to be there to share in the event as it is not something that Koreans do. It was a great way for him to see how we celebrate the impending birth in the States with silly baby games, gifts to help us prepare and friends that love us. Koreans don’t usually prepare in the same ways as we might and I’ve heard that comes from the number of babies that didn’t make it through the birth or didn’t make it to their first 100 days in the past. This is why there is a 100 days celebration after the child is born instead in Korean culture. These days more children survive, but some things still remain, like not having a baby shower or help from your friends in the preparation process.
Currently, in our group of Korean friends from my husband’s relationships there are four other couples that are pregnant. We are very close with two of the couples and all three of our households are within 10 minutes of each other. Our pregnancies are all just weeks apart. This has been great as I didn’t really know where to start with some things and having some other people going through the same processes has been extremely helpful. A month or so ago the other couples wanted to check out a baby outlet store and we tagged along to see what was in the store. One of the couples was stocking up on everything whereas I was checking my list and making notes on prices and availability. They asked why we weren’t buying much of anything. I did get a few things because they were just so cute, but other than that we were just looking. We explained that we’d be having a baby shower and I didn’t want to get too much of the smaller things before that in case my friends did. My husband had to explain what a shower was based on what I’d told him about them previously and after they heard about it they thought it was amazing and thought Koreans should be doing that too. Preparing for a baby can be expensive and having friends and family that help you out is awesome.
I had explained that a shower is a way for your friends and family to get involved in the pregnancy. We celebrate the impending birth of a child with games and a showering of gifts. I went on to say that the games are babycentric so tasting baby food and guessing the flavor or drawing a baby without seeing it or the like would be done. Though he understood the concept, I know he still wasn’t quite sure of what to expect.
The shower was thrown at our house. My friends came over to set up in the morning while my husband and I went out for breakfast. When we returned there were decorations galore and friends and food everywhere. There were also some very special t-shirts one of my friends had made for us. My husband sat down and saw that his said DILF on it, but he didn’t know what it meant. My friends asked him to guess what it meant and he came up with “Daddy Is Lucky Forever”. How cute is that? Once he saw my shirt though, he knew what the MILF and DILF shirts meant and he said I definitely could not wear mine outside of the house. I am okay with that.
We tasted baby food and I won with the most correct flavor choices. We measured my belly and my husbands as my friends were thoughtful enough to buy him a belly suit to wear to make him even more apart of the celebrations. After the games came the shower of gifts. My husband, not having known what was on the list and who is often much more comical and celebratory when opening gifts anyway was given the gifts while I opened the cards. It was all great fun… for both of us.
My husband hadn’t really had any expectations but he was pretty happy that this was one event that we didn’t have to prepare everything for. We could just show up and enjoy the time with our friends. I always love being able to share something from my culture with him and getting pregnant has meant a lot of discussions on cultural expectations not only after giving birth but also during the pregnancy. This was one thing that I was excited to have and share with him so that he could get a taste of how friends and family in the west treat having a baby.Had a boy/girl baby shower this past weekend to share the western tradition of the shower with my husband. It was pretty fun. My Korean Husband Attends Our Baby Shower We had a great baby shower thrown for us this past weekend. I wanted my husband to be there to share in the event as it is not something that Koreans do.
Cooler breezes have blown in and the nights are getting chilly while the days still get pretty hot. It’s always rough dressing for such weather. I’ve constantly been putting layers on and taking layers off and I think being pregnant makes me extra hot so, this year dressing for this weather is even more difficult because usually I would be a bit chilly, but I’m suddenly hot when no one else seems to be these days. Only a month or so to go before we get to meet our little bundle of joy. Yesterday, she had her first hiccups, which meant my belly was bouncing up and down every 20 seconds or so for more than five minutes. It wasn’t the most comfortable feeling and too bad I couldn’t tell her how to hold her breath to get rid of them, but what an interesting thing. I’m not one of those women that thinks being pregnant is the such a beautiful, joyful or wondrous occasion. It just is what it is. The past few months of feeling her move and kick and everything else she’s been doing is just a collection of very strange sensations and yesterday was just another to add to the list. Very strange sensations.
I took on a substitute job for a couple weeks at a community center near my house for a couple hours everyday. I hadn’t ever visited a community center while living in Korea. It was great. They offer so many different classes from yoga to English to ballet to math for all different age groups at a fraction of the cost of going to an English academy or going to a Yoga studio. Of course, everything is taught in Korean aside from the English classes, but the center is a great option for people that want to take up a class in their area and meet people from their neighborhood as well. It seems a lot of newer mothers take their little ones there too for introductory classes to different things to see what their children are interested in. Looks like I know where to go later to meet some other moms and babes.
This month we also celebrated Chuseok, the Korean Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go down to Busan to be with the family due to my husband’s schedule. Fortunately though, quite of a few of his friends also couldn’t make the trip south so we invited them over for our own little friends Chuseok get together. I got to rest, along with the other girl in the photo as we’re both pregnant and just a couple weeks apart, while the guys all cooked up the grub. It was a very nice way to spend the holidays. If you’re an indie musician fan in Korea you may recognize some faces. Yohan and Heullang of Pia came over and Taejin from Wiretap in My Ear/ Yeonnam-dong Dumb & Dumber along with my husband who is of course in Every Single Day. What a star studded event! (That was so sarcastic.)
This month, the doctor recommended that I try to take it easy a bit more and eat more protein because I’m not that big and neither is the little one inside of me. We’re just on the smaller end of the spectrum and the doctor said it’s nothing to worry about just yet, but if I can try to put on some more weight in the next month that’d be good. I’m a very active person so, taking it easy is quite difficult. If I have time to sit, I have time to do something more fun than sitting. My husband is much more concerned about this than I am as I always work along the thought that my body will tell me what it needs or wants. I think my husband is also just coming from a very Korean perspective that a pregnant woman in her 7th month shouldn’t be working whereas I figure this is the best time to work if I have the energy and the time. There was a compromise, hence my substitute job for just a couple hours a day and I took up a bunch of crafts to keep my fingers active when I was home so I’d feel busy when I was just sitting around the house the rest of the time.
I finished up knitting a blanket I had been working on for a few months. I hope that this will be our baby’s blankie. I then found some information on how to make my own bibs and sewed up 22 of them. I of course don’t need that many, but I know five women that are pregnant right now so, I have gifts to give them too. Then since I was on a roll, I made some new pillow covers for the pillows on our couch and found a pattern to knit up these adorable little baby booties. Now to find more little crafts I can dig into.
I hope I’ll be able to get out and about a bit this month to enjoy the Hi Seoul Festival and some other events before the baby comes, but we shall see. Just sixish more weeks to go!September On the Go! Cooler breezes have blown in and the nights are getting chilly while the days still get pretty hot.
I’m in the process of compiling a book of family stories with old photos for the next generation of babies to come in our family. Along with getting ready for the baby to arrive in approximately seven weeks, I’ve been pretty busy and not blogging as much. Sorry! Since my sister and I are both pregnant and I have quite a bit of time on my hands, though not that much energy, I decided to try and remember and contact the family members and get them to remember some of their favorite stories about us as kids, about our parents as kids, etc. I hope that the book will end up being a more personal storytelling book for them. In the back, there will be a glossary of family members and their photos and what they should be called, ie my cousin Chelsie would be called Aunt Chelsie by my kids. Since we live in Korea and my sister lives in Australia right now, I think it’s so important to get our children, even at a young age, to at least see and start to recognize their family members faces. Our family is uber close, even across the numerous time zones between us at the moment, but we won’t always be this far away.
Here are some of my favorite stories so far and some of the adorable old photos I’ve collected. I can’t wait to get everything in a book and printed up.
Ice Cream Cures Toothaches
One day while mom was at work, she received a telephone call from Brittany who was at school. Brittany explained that she had a toothache and before she could continue, mom immediately started into telling her she needed to say these things before she left for school and not once she had gotten there. The school staff wouldn’t be able to give Brittany any Tylenol and if she was in pain, mom would have to leave work in order to get some medicine for Brittany. At that point in the conversation, Brittany interrupted mom to say that she was sure ice cream would do the trick and that Tylenol wasn’t really necessary. It wasn’t even lunch time yet and Brittany was ready for an ice cream cone.
“So, you’re telling me that ice cream will make you feel better?”
“Where can you get ice cream at this time of day?”
“If you go to the cafeteria right now they will give you ice cream?”
“You only have enough money for lunch. You do not have extra money for ice cream.”
“Yes, I do.
“So, you can go to the cafeteria and get ice cream and your tooth will feel better?”
Late to Work No More
Mom had gotten so tired of being late to work day after day. In an effort to get everyone moving a bit faster in the morning she sat Hallie, Brittany and Heather down and told them if they were late again they would owe her a quarter each time she got into the car before she did. After a short pause, Brittany stood up and took off for her bedroom with Heather right behind her. Hallie stayed put and calmly added that she thought the plan was a great idea because she was tired of waiting for Brittany and Heather as well. Just as Hallie was finished adding her two cents, Brittany returned from her bedroom carrying her piggy bank. She handed it over to mom and said, “Here you go. You are going to get all of this anyway.” Just as she was finished and sat down, Heather came up the hallway carrying a large arm load of clothes and shoes saying, “I’ll just put this in the car. I’ll get dressed there from now on.”
Once in a while Grandma and Grandpa would take a trip out of town and whenever they did someone had to go over to their house to bring in the mail and the newspaper. Hallie, Britt and Heather would stop over daily during these times. Their mom would drive them over to Grandma’s house, they’d jump out and run inside after keying in the numbers into the garage door pad. They were quick enough that their mom never noticed that they could possibly be doing anything else in the house. After one trip though, Grandma called Carol and asked if someone in our family liked pickles. It seemed that she had come home to find an empty jar of pickles in her fridge along with all of the mail and newspapers sitting neatly on the counter. After that, she always left a new jar of pickles in her fridge. Additionally, the girls fessed up years later that they had also been taking crackers from the basket of individually wrapped crackers that Grandma had absconded from different restaurants on her nights out.
If you’re going to ask someone to come and take in your mail and newspapers while you’re away, be sure to know what their favorite food is and have it stocked up so that they can have a snack when visiting.Family Story Time I’m in the process of compiling a book of family stories with old photos for the next generation of babies to come in our family.
The winds have shifted and the cooler breezes have been blowing in to say autumn is here and winter is on its way. With autumn comes some amazingly colorful mountain views but also to delight, the cosmos bloom. It’s a flower that holds on until the end and seems to wave goodbye to summer and welcomes us in to autumn. It’s one of the last flowers to enjoy before the plants begin to wilt and turn…
Gongdeok Jeon Town (공덕전타운) is not a town as the name would suggest and is really not much more than two shops that sit side by side selling the same sort of fried food fare, but if you’re someone that enjoys the fried food on the street carts around the city and want to see everything that could possibly be offered to you, this is the place to go. Just a couple blocks from Gongdeok Station exit 5 just after Jokbal Alley, or Pig’s Feet Alley, is Jeon Town. Display counters showcase everything from fried peppers, zucchini and fish to shrimp, oysters and sesame leaves.
Visitors are directed to grab a basket from the beginning of the counter and then to fill up on whatever they’d like to try along the way. Once the basket is filled with all of the fried veggies, fish or meat you could want, it is handed over to one of the helpful older women behind the counter who will throw the lot into a fryer for one last go to heat everything up and make the food edible. While she is doing that, patrons are directed to take a seat inside where and are given side dishes and sauces to go with the food and if the feeling so overcomes you, you can even order some makkoli, or rice wine, a drink often served with this kind of meal.
With everything from fried peppers, mushrooms, zucchini and sesame leaves for those veggie lovers to fried shrimp, abalone and crab along with mini kimchi pancakes, veggie pancakes and seafood pancakes, there is something for everyone. As the colder weather is fast approaching, this is a great place to head this winter when the temperatures are a bit too chilly to be standing outside at your local food carts. Sit inside, drink up with friends and enjoy a meal you won’t soon forget.
Directions: Gongdeok Station, exit 5. Walk straight out of the exit, pass Jokbal Alley, or pig’s feet alley, just a block up and the next block is Gongdeok Jeon Town. Keep eyes and noses peeled to the left and you’ll be sure to spot it.
Cost: 3-4 people can easily eat for W15,000 – 20,000 + the cost of drink.If you just can’t get enough of deliciously fried Korean food, head to Gongdeok to try it all at once! Fry Everything, Please Gongdeok Jeon Town (공덕전타운) is not a town as the name would suggest and is really not much more than two shops that sit side by side selling the same sort of fried food fare, but if you’re someone that enjoys the fried food on the street carts around the city and want to see everything that could possibly be offered to you, this is the place to go.
Sky Park, or Haneul Park (하늘공원), is ready once again with tall grass blowing in the wind for people to come and enjoy the views in the cooler autumn breezes. Throughout most of the summer, the eulalia stalks are just starting to grow and they don’t offer much in terms of a view but if you’re going to visit Sky Park, this is the time to do it. Until November, the tall grass will be swaying in the breezes and changing from the green stalks that you can see now to browner autumn hues until finally they are cut down for the winter and then again there won’t be much to see for awhile except for the surrounding views of the city from that position up on the hill.
We went a little earlier this year than I normally like to head to the park, but I heard there was also a rather large plot of sunflowers up there to see at this time of year. We caught the end of the sunflowers, which unfortunately are definitely gone by now, but there’s always next year. The sunflowers and the tall green grass can be enjoyed throughout the month of August and then from September to November, the paths criss cross through the tan eulalia stalks. Every so often you’ll run into an artistic installation like the bird houses, the metal dome or the saucer to climb up into. It’s easy to get lost in the paths, though you couldn’t get lost for too long as it’s not that big but it’s easy enough to lose the other people visiting the park and meander by yourself for a bit and just enjoy nature.
Eighteen years ago this mound was a landfill that had hit capacity with over 92 million tons of garbage. Dirt was piled on top and the only reminders of that time today are vents and tubes scattered on the mountain to maintain safety and recycle the methane gas produced from the mountain into fuel for World Cup Stadium and the nearby neighborhoods. The area has been completely transformed through the Landfill Recovery Project started in 1996 with the grasses that have been planted and the release of 30 thousand butterflies to establish a natural ecosystem once again. From this park views of the city, Mt. Namsan, Mt. Bukhansan and Mt. Gwanaksan can be enjoyed.
For some later fall views of the park, check out my post from November in 2012 to see what’s in store later in the season. The park isn’t far from Hongdae and would make a great trip before you head into that bustling area for a night out. Enjoy the beautiful autumn hues while you can.
마포구 상암동 482
482 Sangam-dong Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea
Bus: 271, 6715, 7011, 7013A, 7013B, 7019, 7715
Subway: Closest subway station is Worldcup Stadium Station. Take exit 1 and look at a local map in the station.
Hours: Change depending on the season so be sure to check. Currently they’re open until 6:00PM, but it can be 5PM, 6PM or 7PM depending on the month.It’s that time of year when the greens are fading into tans and browns outside and the views are beautiful. Tall Grass Blows In The Wind Sky Park, or Haneul Park (하늘공원), is ready once again with tall grass blowing in the wind for people to come and enjoy the views in the cooler autumn breezes.