Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Happy Memorial Day

Today was a day off! I love days off and they love me! D'Arcy and I started off the day with a trip to our favourite little Mexican place in Itaewon. The food is so delicious and fantastic. We'll definitely be returning another time before it's too late so it wasn't an emotional experience.

From there we took the subway to the National Museum of Korea at Ichon station. One of the great things about Korea is the price for certain things. A subway ride is less than one dollar. A four hour bus ride to another city has been (for me) between 15 and 20. And the entrance fee to this huge and modern museum is two dollars. I can't forget the fact that you never ever tip. I'll certainly miss that. Anyway, this museum is full of all kinds of things Korean from the different dynasties of the past. There are prints, ceramics, paintings, sculptures, etc. etc. etc.

We were lucky enough to encounter this jolly chap, a retired English teacher who took us under his wing and taught of very important things about Korea and Confucionism (but not how to spell confucionsim). There are five elements of Confuscionism that he forced us to memorize. Let's see if I can: Trust, Benevolence, Wisdom, Hope (I think) and I can't remember the fifth. Each of these correspond to a direction - North, East, West, South, and center. Along with these five principles are five colors (red, black, white, blue, and yellow) that all have special significance and directional relation, four animals (Black Turtle, White Tiger, some colored dragon, and Red Pheonix). Then there are the four seasons that correspond to all the directions except the center. I am doing pretty well here after all... I didn't do so well when he put us to the test on the spot after throwing all this stuff at us at once. He told me he thought I was clever but after my poor performance on his test he changed his mind. Damn.

By the way, he is a volunteer at the museum, not just some strange-o there to quiz English speakers. We appreciated his lesson even if it didn't all make perfect sense to us. It's nice to see the pieces slowly fitting together in my head about the history, the culture, and the geography of this country thanks to traveling, reading, watching, and talking.

After exhausting our historic interests for one day we headed north towards the prison museum at Independence Park. Okay, I guess we were looking for a different kind of history; the gory Japanese rule torture methods kind of history. To bad we got there just as it closed down. It'll have to be another day and hopefully that other day comes. We did stroll around Independence Park, built to commemorate Korea's Independence from Japan. For those who don't know, Japan occupied Korea from 1910 until 1945 when Korea was liberated. Hey, was Korea liberated by the UN or the USA? Our tourguide today confused us. In any case, during the occupation Japan destroyed many important historical sites in Korea (they used a temple as a zoo for example) and many Korean people still harbor ill will for Japan. What I can't understand is why there isn't the same kind of animosity for China who assisted North Korea in attacking the South. Anyone?

Wow... too much rambling is going on here. Here is a lovely "waterfall" as labeled on the map at Independence Park. Too bad the water was all dried up and only this crusty puddle in a painted bottom pond remains.

After walking around some more in the bustling Jongno-sam-ga we ended up in Dongdaemun at another favourite - the Nepalese restaurant called Everest. Ahhh.. it's so delicious. This time we knew it would be our last time and sighed inwardly as we gorged ourselves on nan and dal and chicken masala. Mmm.

Happy Anniversary to my brother and sister-in-law. Two years! Here's a picture of them when they first met. Brian has sweet hair and how is Shanna standing up at that angle? Scratch that, it's a jolly jumper.

While I'm at it, here is a picture of my family minus my dad (sorry pops). We all look well coordinated and suave here. This was actually about four years ago when we were all youthful and we wore black. Look at my hair!


At June 09, 2006 10:18 p.m. , Blogger Blake said...

That guy forgot to tell you that the social teaching from Confusianism are the reasons that many Korean men, as soon as they have any responsibility, are the biggest assholes on this earth.

Just a thought. :)

At June 10, 2006 7:21 a.m. , Blogger Jessica said...

Yeah, really. And why women put up with the shit they do.


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