Buddha’s Birthday is one of the holidays celebrated in Korea. We got a day off from work and an invite from the owner of the climbing gym we frequent, to go to the Five Ten Climbing Festival in Chuncheon, a city about an hour outside of Seoul. It was a rain soaked day, but a fun one at that.
Unexpectedly, I ended up taking part in the competition under the alias of Kim Yeong Man, (according to the sticker slapped on my back) and had a great time. My foray into competitive climbing got off to a great start, but I hit a wall (no pun intended) in the afternoon section. Regardless, it was a fun experience. Plus, it’s always nice to get out of the city.
Danielle and I made a return trip to N Seoul Tower over the weekend. We were lucky enough to reach the tower about fifteen minutes before a Korean cultural demonstration was set to begin. Figuring that it would be something cool to see, we found a decent vantage point and waited around for the performance to begin.
What ensued was both entertaining and an opportunity to take some good photos. The demonstration began with some drumming and “hat dancing” (the performers wear hats with long ribbons attached – these ribbons are made to “dance” by careful movements of the head and neck, or at least that’s my amateur assessment). The drummers were followed by sword and spear demonstrations, during which the above photo was taken.
I managed to take this picture just before he kicked the hay off of the bamboo…if only I had pressed the shutter a half-second later.
I think these pictures speak for themselves; however, if you want some more info on funny picture booths, visit Danielle’s blog.
It was our second trip to Insadong in less than a week. Danielle noticed a little stand that specialized in carving personalized “stamps” (dojang or name chop) into small stone blocks. After looking into it and deciding that the stand’s offerings were a bit tacky, we made off, ready to wander into another shop. It just so happened that one of the nearby stores also offered personalized dojang engravings. However, their collection of stones, as well as the atmosphere, was far superior. Danielle decided, almost right away, to get a personalized dojang. She picked a stone, wrote her desired text: “wake up and dance” on a piece of paper, and the process began.
Although it may sound simple, carving these stamps requires lots of talent, not to mention a steady hand and a keen eye. The base of the stone is sanded a bit to smooth out any imperfections. Next, a “stencil” is painted on the base. The stone is then placed in a vice, and the carving begins. You can select one of two styles. Danielle chose the option where the letters or design on your stamp are carved into the base. After watching the process and seeing the outcome of Danielle’s dojang, I had no choice but to get one. It was just too cool. With the other style, (the one I chose) the carver carves around your lettering or design. The choice has to do with negative vs. positive space. Danielle’s leaves the lettering white as it doesn’t make contact with ink. My lettering (my initials) is colored, while the background remains white.
Danielle and I are both really happy with our decisions to have these made. They’re cool souvenirs, and ones were likely to use for a long time. The stamps come with presonalized ceritificates, stamped with a rabbit (it is currently the year of the rabbit). We also got some red ink and boxes to store our new “name chops”.
In the picture above, one of the shop’s talented carvers works on my dojang. If you want to see how my dojang turned out, check back in the next couple of days for dojang (part 2).
Another shot from our trip to Changdeok Palace.
Last week, on our first visit to the Namdaemun Market in Seoul, Danielle and I were introduced to hoddeok, one of many yummy street-fare treats found in Korea. We found ourselves at the market again this week, (Christmas shopping) determined to sink our teeth into the little round “cakes” one more time. Hoddeok is essentially a small pancake stuffed with a gooey brown-sugar-syrup filling. It is sweet, delicious, and just the right size to make it a perfect snack. One caveat though: be careful when you eat it because the filling tends to ooze out and get all over your curly hair and jacket…I think I’ve said too much.
In the picture above, hoddeok are the small, round pancake-looking things on the grill. Mmmmmm.