Friday, April 29, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Home Cooking: Kimchijeon and Sigeumchi namul

I've been trying to be more adventurous with my cooking lately...or should I say, trying to cook, period. It's really easy to get caught in the rhythm of eating out in Korea; food is reasonably priced and very healthy. Plus, I'm usually the first to point out that I'm not really much of a cook. Maybe it's my ADD or maybe that I need to invite others over more often because cooking for one can get a little lonesome. 

I'm trying and I must admit, it's not bad, not bad at all.

Korean Food- Kimchi pancake / 김치전 / Kimchijeon and Spinach side dish / 시금치나물 / Sigeumchi namul 

Thai Food- Tom Kha Gai / Coconut Chicken Soup

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Yeouido (여 의도) Cherry Blossom Festival: Talent Under the Trees

This weekend, my friend Liu and I visited the Yeouido (여 의도) Cherry Blossom Festival. Adventures with Liu, an expat from China, are guaranteed good times, but we hadn't a clue what we were in for. In my mind, we would take a nice relaxing stroll down a sidewalk surrounded by cherry blossoms. We did just that, but also found ourselves amidst perhaps the entire population of Korea and talent everywhere.

As we walked through the perfectly lined cherry blossoms, we'd meet circles of onlookers surrounding performances of various sorts. People were genuinely happy- dancing, singing, clapping, and smiling. I often time sense the stress radiating from hard working Koreans. Here it's not uncommon for students to be in school 12 hours a day (Saturdays too), business men to work into the late hours of night, and women to dedicate themselves to a job all while retaining almost full responsibility of cooking, cleaning, and childcare. Sometimes I feel like foreigners are the only ones that let loose and have a good time, but that just wasn't the case on this day, at this festival.

타 묘 at The Yeouido (여 의도) Cherry Blossom Festival from Lana Wright on Vimeo.

Korean music that is not K-Pop! Probably the best discovery since my arrival. 타 묘 is adorable and very talented. During their performance, we had the t rain to our left, the Han River/city in front of us, A bridge to our right and cherry blossom trees behind. It was perfect.

Samul Nori (사 물놀이) at The Yeouido (여 의도) Cherry Blossom Festival from Lana Wright on Vimeo.

I've loved Samul Nori since orientation when I was able to play. The sound makes my insides vibrate and I feel alive. Some of these guys brought me up to dance with them!

Brazilian Capoeira at The Yeouido (여 의도) Cherry Blossom Festival from Lana Wright on Vimeo.

I had never seen this before, but it is called Capoeira and originated amongst descendants of African slaves in Brazil. It's mixes music and martial arts.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Zinging into Spring

And never looking back. That's right, spring is here and I have proof.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Insanity Named George

 "Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” -Agnes Sligh Turnbull (Thanks Mer)

I awoke this morning hoping your passing was a horrible nightmare. It took me a few minutes to snap back into reality and now I sit here with my heart aching and still unable to really accept the truth. 

I remember when my parents first brought you home. It was my sophomore year of high school and we had been talking about getting a dog for some time. One day my parents brought you home unexpectedly. I was so mad that they had chosen a dog without me and resented the fact that your insanity was thrown upon me by force, but more so, I resented that I was not allowed to be part of a major family decision. And believe me, you were a MAJOR family decision.

From the start, something between you and I blossomed. It was a relationship based on you doing every single thing possible to bother me and me increasingly “despising” you for it. Out of everyone in the house, you ate only my shoes and underwear. George Barbie Focker became your name, not because I loved you, but because this was the only way for sophomore year me to seek revenge. You were here to stay, to drive me crazy, to take over my bed, to bark uncontrollably, to smack me with your ever so rapidly moving tail, and of course, to eat my shoes and underwear. I wanted a tame dog…and you were pure insanity.

Fortunately for both of us, my sophomore self didn’t know what my adult self wanted. After a while you must have sensed my nearing breaking point because you suddenly stopped chewing my belongings. Cuddling with you became comforting, we soon realized your barking sometimes signaled danger such in the case with a peeping tom, I came to terms with your tail representing your eternal excitement to be near your family and friends, and I realized the relationship that was actually blossoming was one based on love, family, and friendship. You became a best friend to everyone in our family or your “pack.” Our friends were also your friends on facebook with your doggy account and in real life.

These friendships often developed over time because, let’s be honest, you aren’t one for making a good first impression. People responded to you with the same uncertainly that I did in the beginning, but you never ceased to crush the weariness with your giant smile and explosive enthusiasm to experience life with those surrounding you. Even Richie, our cat, grew to tolerate you. Though, looking back, I don’t think it was as much toleration as it was co-existence. You kept tabs on Richie and he kept tabs on you. I now look back at pictures of you and this co-existence is clearly illustrated by those photographic moments of the two of you peacefully laying just feet apart. Neither of you fooled us when pretending to dislike the other. 

 You grew up alongside me. You attended sleepovers, hiked the Tillamook forest, ran countless fields, swam in ponds, creeks and lakes all over, and once you even stole and ate an entire chocolate cake without getting sick. Food was never safe around you because you loved to eat. But what made you the happiest out of anything in the entire world was being at the beach with your family and friends. It is there that you belonged. At Gearhart, you would chase cars that drove along the sand. In the water, your tongue would swing to the side as you chased waves and salt water splashed in your face. As you ran around and claimed your section of the beach, you looked so happy, so free, so at peace. You loved water and you loved running.

 When our family started to fall apart, you were similar to that of a child with divorcing parents, only with four parents instead of two. Family relationships grew rocky, but one thing always remained the same and that was each of our love for you. And of course, no matter whom you lived with, your love for every single member of your pack never wavered. You always wanted everyone to be okay. And never did I feel safer than when you lived with me.

Not a doubt lingers in my mind that you lived a wonderful life full of excitement, love, energy, and adventure. I am thankful that I saw you one last time via skype just weeks ago, but I am also feeling tremendous pain for having been half a world away when you passed. What I would give just to cuddle with you one last time. I wouldn’t even care that you always take over almost the entire bed.

George, Georgie Boy, Georgie Porgie, George of the Jungle, George Barbie Focker, you will always have one of the most special places in my heart. Thank you for being such an amazing companion. Thank you for playing such a special role in the lives of everybody you touched. Thank you for bringing out the easy going, free spirited, and adventurous sides in me. May you rest in peace…I will miss you more than words can express.

2001-4/8/2011, George passed of a suspected heart attack or seizure.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

War Memorial of Korea

I recently visited the War Memorial of Korea. It was sort of a spur of the moment type thing. I was on the subway and approaching the Yongsan stop and suddenly decided I'd give it a looksy...and am I sure glad that I did.

The museum really helped put into perspective what it was like to live in post-war Korea. It baffles me to think that the war took place just 60 years ago and then to see where this country is today. There are few visible signs of the horrifying event in their history, yet many of the Koreans I interact with on a daily basis were alive to experience it.

Names of soldiers and police officers that died during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Inside the museum, a dark cave-like room depicts common scenes throughout and after the Korean War.

The memorial and museum are located on the old site of the Army Headquarters.

Many planes on display are available for inside exploration.

Some parts made me feel uncomfortable such as being near these killing machines.

There just so happened to be a wedding taking place at the nearby wedding hall.