Monday, April 23, 2012

Seoul Goes Green Pt. 2: St. Patrick's Day Festival 2012 Photo Winner

A couple weeks ago I blogged about the St. Patrick's Day Festival in Sindorim, Seoul. Just for the hell of it, I later entered a photo contest for pictures taken at the event. Turns out I won! <-- YAH!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Politics off the Mountain: A Trip to Wolchulsan National Park

Imagine someone from America, Korea, Saudia Arabia, Pakistan and two from India talking politics on a  cross country bus ride in Korea. We were headed down south to walk the famous 구름다리 (Cloud Bridge) at 월출산 (Wolchulsan) in Joella Province and congregated in the back of the bus as the remaining 30 or so hikers napped. Our conversation switched between American, Korean and Middle Eastern politics with a hint of humanitarianism. When will the North Korean regime collapse? Who is fighting in Syria? Why does America feel the need to intervene in fights outside their responsibility? These are just a few of the topics that came up. 

All being said was done so with the uttermost respect for one another. We were mere individuals not representations of our countries as a whole. It almost felt as though South Korea was our safe haven for freedom of discussion- a neutral meeting ground for the six of us. With the exception of my friend native to Korea, we were removed from our home countries, perhaps providing somewhat of a freeing effect. After all, the guy from Saudia Arabia made it very clear that he would not be sharing his beliefs in such a relaxed manner had he been in his home country nor would he do it on the internet where there would be a record. 

Moments like this allow one to truly understand their fellow human beings. A humanistic view of the happenings around the world. 

When the bus arrived at our destination, we were no longer individuals from different backgrounds sharing what we feel, think, and know about the world, but fellow hikers. And although we would talk more on the mountain, it was no longer about such serious topics. That moment had passed and the mountain would now serve it's rejuvenation qualities. 

Mr. Kim, Soojin, Caleb and Christain on the Cloud Bridge

Part of the Climbing in Korea gang


Phallic Rock

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Seoul Goes Green: St. Patrick's Day Festival 2012

Spring in Korea signals the arrival of festivals celebrating just about everything- cherry blossoms, canola flowers, snow crabs, green tea, ceramics, etc. This weekend, a friend of mine attended a festival dedicated solely to the sport of tug of war. Oh, and next month there will be a mime festival. The people of Korea work really hard, sometimes too hard in my opinion, but they certainly know how to go all out when it comes to celebrating. So when St. Patrick's day rolled around this month, it was no surprise there would be yet another festival

Led by the Irish Association of Korea, the event just so happened to land on the first warm, sunny day of spring. More foreigners than I've ever seen in Korea gathered at the D Cube Center in Sindorim, Seoul decked out in their best green attire. The venue, an outdoor auditorium, was the perfect medicine for the vitamin D deprived residents of Korea. Shortly after arriving and meeting some friends, I found myself amidst a crowd of both novice and experienced river dancers. I forgot about the hundreds of onlookers and focused on learning and keeping up with the steps. Anytime I'd mess up, someone would quickly grab my hand and lead me in the proper direction.

Traditional performances with a Korean fusion followed with the highlight being a Korean U2 cover band that rocked the stage while the enthusiastic made their way down from their seats to dance and sing. With beers in our hands and spirits high, my friends and I belted our hearts out and got our grove on until it was time to head over to the after party at The Rocky Mountain Tavern in Itaewon. Here, the bands would make a second appearance and we would dance and sing once again, but this time with a little green in our drinks.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Dobongsan (도봉산) in Monochrome: In Seoul, but Not

One of the greatest things about Seoul and it's outlying areas is the ease in which one can hop on a subway and, in less than an hour, be at the base of a a mountain- an escape from the city life. Dobongsan is one of my favorite mountains in Seoul. I've hiked it many times, but it always feels different. Once I climbed to the top and found cats perched on tiny trees near the ledge. There weren't any cats on this trip, but of course, the massive slabs of rock were there to make me feel ever so grounded.

Monday, April 9, 2012