Thursday, January 15, 2009

Vacation Day in Seoul

All this hype about going to Japan and I forgot to blog about what I did on Tuesday. Now that I have emptied my bank account to go to Japan that doesn't leave much room to spend and explore Korea. But hey I will be here for a while so there is time.

Anyways, on Tuesday I took a ride into Seoul to see some sites and get something done. Here for you is what I did.

Visit the GI Hospital:
Back when I lived in Seoul I lived in Gil-dong, which coincidentally was very close to a GI Hospital. (Specialty hospital for those with intestinal diseases or problems)

Having Crohn's / Colitis means that I take a certain kind of medicine that weakens my liver. This means that I could end up with a very low white-blood cell count. To make sure the medicine is not taking on too much damage I need to take blood tests about every 2 - 3 months.

So I was off for my usual blood test, and this time with no BK!! Although, I did make him write me a note to show the nurses.

It took about 1.25 hrs getting from my house to Gil-dong. By the time I got there I was ready to get off the train.

On my way out of the station there appeared before the exit gate a merchant stand. It looked like they were selling seasonal treats.

Anyways here are some shots of the hospital:It was not difficult getting what I needed done, especially because I had BK's note. Also, I had been there before and knew my way to the blood giving room. I was in and out within 30 minutes. I need to go back for the consultation about my results but that does require BK, so that won't happen till next month when we both are available.

LEEUM Samsung Museum of Art:
After the hospital visit I was back on the Seoul train and headed towards Hangangjin Station to see the LEEUM museum of art. There are a lot of options to see historical works of art out here, but I desire to see the contemporary and modern works.

You walk up a hill to get to the museum, which is situated in what appeared to be a quiet and posh neighborhood. Here we see the entrance:

Public works by Louis an ominous feeling to the museum.

The Lobby. This place was not crowded, heck I counted only a handful of visitors including myself. But that makes for a good quiet-contemplative art viewing.
Viewing the artworks could not have been complete without my trusty Audio-Tour-Guide. For some these devices can evoke feelings of dorky-ness. Well let me tell you since this was a Samsung museum the Audio guide device was far from geeky and more for a techy! (Touch screen and the audio would automatically turn on when you stood in front of a work of art.) Pizazz!
Photography was only permitted in the lobby and stairwells. Who the heck wants to take pictures of stairwells? Anyways I tried my best to sneak in a few fotos of the galleries, but it was turning against me. The place had cameras everywhere and so soon enough men in suits with earpieces started to show up around me. So I put away the camera.

Anyways, here are the snapshots I got away with.

This is no work of art but a shadow pattern on a window shade in the museum.

Works by Kim Jung Hyun:

Suh Se Ok "Dancers"
My FAVORITE: Kim Tschang Yeul "Waterdrops"

An Installation work of art:
Ik Joong Kang "I Have to Learn English"

I tried hard to get a good shot of this work, but the security guards were starting to get closer. Let me explain it. Basically the walls were covered in what appeared to be wooden tiles. Each tile had cut into English words like "Happy" and even "tile". There was an audio portion playing overhead. The audio was a Korean / English learning tape. If you have ever practiced learning a language you end up listening to an audio practice tape. First you here a sentence in the new language and then you hear it in your native language. That is what we had here. First there was an English sentence spoken and then the Korean equivalent. One sentence I recall stated "Hi, I work at ECC Language Institute, how are you?" Something like that.

As an English instructor I felt this piece touched home with what I do at work on a daily basis. This was emphasized in the repetition. It was on a loop so after standing there for a while you heard the same stuff over and over. Also you end up looking at each tile trying to read each word. You could definitely get a sense of how learning a new language is overwhelming.

So after that I couldn't take any more pictures. It was too bad because I saw a Nam Jun Paik television set piece and of course thought of you Mom.

I left the exhibit and didn't bother with their collection of historical treasures. I was hungry, anyways.

Leaving the museum, I knew I was close to Itaewon so I got back on the Seoul train and went a few stops over to Itaewon.

Itaewon (Foreign Food Shop and Bookstore)

Itaewon is starting to grow on me more and more. Maybe it is because it is close to my subway line 4 (just one transfer and takes 45 minutes to get to). But it seems going there and seeing other foreigners gives a reassuring feeling. I do have to say though that I am not the foreigner that goes there and drinks and sits in the smokey bars chatting away.

But Itaewon has some places to check out.

I found the Foreign Food Shop which is like a black market food store which is not bad, considering how that sounds.

Its a tiny little shop jam packed with a lot of stuff. Mostly it houses Indian food stuffs like curry powder, curry mixes and jasmine rice. But it has some Western foods like:
  • Jelly
  • Sweet Tea
  • Cake mixes / Pancake Mix
  • Various Teas
  • Canned goods like canned peas
  • Spaghetti goods including lots of noodles
  • Deodorant and other toiletry items
But I have to say after doing a lot of shopping at Emart and Home Plus the items in the store reflected what I have seen elsewhere. But there were a few rare items such as Oatmeal and huge-ass bricks of cheese.

Cheese refrigerator Eat your heart out~

I contemplated buying a thing of Oatmeal but decided not to on the fact that I didn't want to carry it around with me.

Leaving the Foreign Food Mart I looked up the hill and saw a Bookstore. Since the sign was in English I felt this place must be an English language bookstore, which indeed it was. The store is called What the Book. The Kyobo bookstore is of course much bigger. But What the Book bookstore houses USED books. Meaning this place has that true bookstore-smell. You have to know what I mean. Here are pics from the interior.

I spent about an hour in this place making sure I didn't walk away missing out on something. They have a kids book section too, in case you need something to freshen up the classroom.

Allright, that ends this long post. With all this Japan planning I have forgotten to just enjoy my vacation. Ah well~


  1. forgot to tell us where you had lunch on your day in Seoul? Did you get something to munch on in the food shop?
    No pic of your food?

  2. Yes I forgot to mention that. I ate a little Mexican place I had been to before. I was too hungry to take pics. It was good though. ;)


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