Saturday, October 3, 2009

Art, the Olympics, and mosquitoes

This weekend is Chuseok in Korea, which is the equivalent of our Thanksgiving. Koreans leave the city and go visit their ancestral towns to celebrate where they are from, remember their ancestors, and spend time with family. Its remarkable how empty the city is, with many restaurants closed and almost all the stores shutting down for the holiday. Its actually less stressful walking around the streets and the air feels cleaner.

Before making the big move to Seoul, I was told that the mosquitoes here are the most persistent and annoying in the world. I thought I experienced the worst mosquitoes in Ukraine one summer, but the Korean ones are notch worse. They somehow get into my apartment and wont allow me to sleep. A few nights ago, I was up until 5:00am, dog tired, sitting in my bathroom with the light on, waiting for one to fly in. As soon as one did, I'd shut the door and try to kill the bloody thing. The bathroom trap worked and 10 mosquitoes died that night but I knew that this couldn't continue, I need to sleep! Once again, Mr. Moon came to the rescue by recommending I buy a spray at the local grocery store. Sure enough, the stuff works and I've been sleeping like baby again.

I've been exploring Seoul almost everyday, but I want to share pics from the Olympic park. Its one subway stop from my place and supposedly the only park in Seoul where people are allowed to walk on the grass. For those that don't know, Seoul hosted the Olympics in 1988.

This is the world peace gate, which is the first thing you see walking up to the park.

Pillars with unique faces line both sides of the peace gate.

This is right near the peace gate. Lotteria is Korea's equivalent of McDonald's (they have McDonald's everywhere too). The burgers aren't to my liking though. Koreans love their coffee and Starbucks is easy to find as well.

Lotteria advertises a new burger. One patty is chicken, the other is beef (it might be pork, I don't know). I'll pass.

Similar to Seattle, they have a sculpture park here. The art is from all around the world and there were probably over 50 sculptures throughout the area. Very cool.

This one is from the USA

This one was from Italy, if remember correctly

From Spain

A view of the peace gate from a hill in the park. The park was full of families having picnics and people rollerblading, riding bikes, and enjoying the day.

Now a few random photos. This is a Kia for sale for 11,000,000 won, which is about $8,800 USD. The cars have the prices right on top of them.

This is just one of many churches in the this city. Its remarkable how many churches there are here, which are very easy to spot at night because they all have an unmistakable red neon cross on top the buildings.

A large Methodist church. Most of the church buildings are regular looking office buildings, but the way you can tell its a church is because of the red neon cross on top.

I don't like donuts but in case I get the urge, Krispy Kreme is in my subway station.

In case of a gas attack, the subways have gas masks. I saw about a dozen, so I'm not sure how they'd be rationed. Women and children first?

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