the ongoing eyeball

Here are a bunch of scenes from the past few days.

With the semester done, and the weather warm, we have been exploring various corners of the city we haven't been.

We spent an afternoon walking around Yeohuido island, which is often compared to Manhattan by people here since it is the central financial center of Seoul. It is also a government center since the National Assembly is there. The architecture on the island is different from the rest of Seoul, more modern in most cases and western looking.

We have to be careful to pronounce our neighborhood carefully (Yeonhui-dong) or a cab will bring us to Yeohuido. The "n" is crucial if you want to get home.

Yeohuido also has the tallest building in Seoul, which is called the 63 Building. It is, yes, 63 stories tall. I have heard that it was limited to that height because of something related to the military academy, but I can't remember the exact story.

It is a very striking building, especially considering how much it dominates the others around it.

Apparently Busan is going to have a 106 story building in the next decade, so this will be eclipsed.

What amazed me is this team of window washers. They were washing each floor for 12 seconds by hand, wiping in a circular motion with both hands as they were hoisted up. No squeezge or motorized apparatus. That looked exhausting.

The island is ringed by parks along the Han River and it features a large park in the middle with a grassy middle and wooded areas on either end. The wooded areas are rather fancifully called "wilderness areas," but they are pleasant little green spaces at least. It is a nice place to stroll.

I gather that the park didn't even exist until 1999, it used to all be paved. (In keeping with my theory that Seoul is on a move toward beautification that is going to pay big dividends in the future).

Nice big statue of King Sejong in the park.

The center of the park still has a large Soviet- sized paved plaza with an enormous Korean flag. It is relatively uncommon to see the Korean flag (I have only seen two others near this size, in the DMZ and in a park in Geoyonggi Province).

Only certain things are allowed in the park.

No coughing.

though married boxing couples are welcome.

In another trip we got on a bus and took it in a direction we had never been. We were really happy to find that it took us to a Buddhist temple complex that is not in any of our guidebooks. It is Bongguk-sa and it was built in 1395.

The temple is built into a beautiful steep wooded hillside. It rises very steeply from the busy street and offers a really welcome respite from the traffic and pollution of Seoul.

Looking from the hill back to the front gate, here is a view giving you an idea of how in the middle of the city it is. Note Naebu expressway, which is the one that runs down by our apartment that we go jogging under.

There is another gate with a large Buddhist bell.

The complex features several buildings, colorfully painted and quite beautiful. Some of them are built right next to the rock faces.

Here are some kimchi jars at the temple.

At the highest point, up a curving stone stiarcase in the hillside, there are little crevices with small statutes and necklaces.

We got back on the bus and ended up way on the other side of Seoul in an are filled with hundreds of traditional herb shops. It was very interesting, these shops filled with bark, roots, herbs, and god-knows-what-all.

We had fun randomly taking a bus in a new direction, though this adventure took us about an hour and half away from our house once we figured out where we were, giving you some idea of the size of Seoul.

A few other things caught my eye as we wandered about.

I don't know what this machine does, but it looked like something out of the movie "Brazil".

The name of this joint maybe could use some work.

One area of butcher shops we wandered in specialized only in selling beef ribcages and pig spines (with tail still attached).

Here are two views of two rappelling Santas on a building on our street, a night view of one and a day view of the other. I have to explore whether Santa rappells all over Korea or only here. The two together look like a Santa assault.

Here is a generic view of lots of red peppers, a core food here of course.

and slightly more interesting view of a garlic truck with garlic for sale on the street.

And a shot of a pig's head on a bowl of intestines. One of the Fulbrights, who has been in Korea several times for extended times over the past 20 years, saw this picture and said "oh, the obligatory pigface picture."

So, here is the obligatory pigface picture.

Squid swimming in a tank, which are fascinating to watch swim. (almost more fun than eating them)

and, finally, a Korean homie in full regalia.


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