View of Seoul from Eungbongsan
Last Wednesday I joined a hiking group that does weekly night hikes all around Seoul. Last week we made the short hike to Eungbongsan (응봉산). The “mountain” itself probably takes a grand total of ten minutes to get to the top. It’s really just a big hill with a park at the top. But its position in the center of Seoul makes for an amazing nighttime view of Seoul. We started our hike by meeting in Ichon and walked along the Han River for about 2 hours before getting to the base of the mountain. From Oksu station (line 3) take the local bus two stops.
Han River at Night
The pictures don’t do it justice, but you can get the idea of how beautiful Seoul looks at night from a bird’s eye view.
Updated blog post 5/16/2016:
So you want to know about pole-dancing in Korea? Yes, it exists, although stripper pole-dancing does not, (just want to clear that up), and yesterday I took my first pole dancing class. I will tell you right off the bat that I failed miserably. I just started going to a new dance studio called JK Pole Dance a few weeks ago. They offer classes in hip hop, jazz, K-pop, silk art, pole-dancing, and now Zumba! (taught by yours truly.) The dance studio has two studios, one for regular dance classes and one for the pole classes. The pole dance studio has 4 poles so if you want to take a class you should call the studio ahead of time to reserve a spot. The first day I basically learned the basic warm-up steps and I attempted to learn trick #1, which is just a spin around the pole with one foot on the ground and the other foot behind you in an arabesque. It was not as easy as they made it look. Between having to make sure my foot was 10 cm away from the pole (after being here for over a year I am still unable to convert inches and feet to centimeters. I regret not studying harder in math about the metric system) and concentrating on my arms being at the perfect 70 degree and 30 degree angles it was just not happening for me.
Trick # 1
Pole dancing would be an awesome form of dance to add to my repertoire, but after spending an hour just trying to master one step, I know it’s not going to be that easy. I’m hoping next time that I can at least get two feet off the ground. Just trying to add to my recession-proof skill set in case I should ever need to go down that route. (Dad, if you’re reading this I am totally kidding). But seriously speaking, pole dancing is a great upper body and abdominal work-out. It takes a lot of core strength and I’m not lying when I say I’m feeling a bit sore today.
B-boy /Pole fusion
For anyone in Seoul that’s interested, here’s the info about the studio. You can also check out some cool pics and videos of their classes:
Directions: Go to Hapjeong station (green line 2) and use exit 8. Walk straight out of the exit for about 5 minutes. You will pass 2 SK gas stations. At the second gas station turn right. You will pass two side streets. After the second side street, look up and on your right hand side you will see a sign that says “Dance Studio.” JK Pole Dance is at the basement level of a building right next to a fish restaurant. You can find a map on the studio’s website.
Last Wednesday Seoul experienced one of its largest single days of rainfall in history and the rain has not given us much of a break since then or at all this past month to say the least. There was nothing that could prepare me for this kind of rainy season. If you search for pictures of Seoul’s crazy weather this season you can see what I’m talking about, but thankfully what you will see isn’t in my neighborhood, but surprisingly only less than a 30 minute subway ride away. The rainfall has created floods that reach the tops of buses and create waves in the middle of streets here. So when the rainy weather gets you down in Seoul it’s time to put on your cute rainboots and rock that umbrella and find interesting things to do to keep you out of your apartment. It makes a lot of sense now why Seoul has the cutest selection of rain boots and umbrellas.
Today was another rainy day and I decided to go to an art museum. This, however, is no ordinary art museum. It’s called the Trick Eye Museum and all of the paintings in the museum use a 3-D art technique that plays with classic masterpieces and makes you feel like they are popping right out of the wall. All of the pieces are interactive and super fun to strike a pose with. You can get to this museum by going to Hongik University Station exit # 9. Walk straight and turn left at your second intersection. At Starbucks cross the street and you can find it down one of the side streets. Here are some fun pictures from the day!
Feeling a Little Small
Feeling Really Tall
Waiting for Cupid
Feeling the Burn
Cherry blossom fever has now spread to Seoul and now the entire city is sprinkled with pink blossoms. I have also joined the bandwagon of Koreans and foreigners and their obsession with the flowering trees. This weekend I caught some cherry blossom action near one of the ancient palaces in Jongro called Changdokgung and in Yeouido, which is the most famous place in Seoul for cherry blossoms. A lot more people and a lot less cherry blossoms than Jinhae, but still very pretty. Enjoy the pictures.
They were much shorter way back when
Traditional Korean Tea Party
Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival 2011
If you ever plan on traveling to Korea, The War Memorial of Korea museum is a must-see. It includes three floors with six huge exhibition rooms that cover everything from artifacts from prehistoric Korean military to videos and information about present day tensions with North Korea. The museum is overwhelming at first glance and it is impossible to see everything in one day. The few hours that I spent there definitely didn’t do it justice but being that there is no entry fee I will plan on going back again. I am not a history buff by any means, but I really enjoyed the material on the more recent history from the Korean War to present day. The museum exhibitions really opened my eyes to how rich and deep-rooted the history of the Korean culture truly is. It is amazing that such a small peninsula has such a history of foreign aggressions, colonizations and warfare. The Korean people have fought so hard to keep this land as their own and their patriotism and militaristic spirit is reflected in their character. If you are interested in going there you can take line # 1 to Namyeong station exit 1 and walk about 10 minutes until you see the Yongsan military base on your left. The museum is right next t the base. You can also take line # 4 or # 6 to Samgakji station exit 12 and walk for about 2 minutes. You will see the museum on your left. It’s definitely something you can’t miss while in Seoul.
Clock Tower created in 2002 to represent War and Peace