Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Antique Markets

With a couple of free hours one Saturday in May, Bob and I ventured out to visit a couple of antique markets here in Seoul.  Dapsimni and Janghanpyeong markets are located within walking distance of one another, and they were located just a short subway ride away.  We saw all kinds of miscellaneous items including some really old and expensive Korean antiquities.  Although we didn't purchase anything at this time, it did get us thinking about what we might want to acquire before returning to the states someday.

 Anything you can't live without?

Empty Nester's

Bob and I started an "Empty Nester's Group" a year or so ago, and patterned it after the group that we had just qualified for in The Woodlands First Ward before moving to Seoul.  There are not many of us here that are eligible for that grand privilege, but we have tried diligently to invite and include those who do.  The basic idea  is that you take turns planning a "date night" activity for the group to participate in together.  We hosted an Olympic-themed party at our home in January.  It was a huge success and we have rarely laughed so hard as when we watched all of those (not us, course) "old folks" compete in the games.  The team cheers were the best part of the whole evening with Joe Southerland leading the "Alligator" song with his team.  This event doubled as a farewell send off to Ming and Jon Thorpe (first couple pictured below), as they moved back to the states.  The Thorpe's became good friends and often invited us to their home or to go out to dinner together.  They will be missed.  Also pictured below are the Southerlands, McKinneys, Andersons, Holtons, Goodmans (that's us), and Barnes.

We had trouble drumming up support for hosting the date night, so our next activity was held at our home again in May.  This time we were sending off Vicki and Joe Southerland (big photo below).  Vicki served as a counselor in the Relief Society with me when we first moved to Korea and she was my salvation!  She helped me get acquainted with all the sisters and organize the visiting teaching.  That is no small task in our huge and very transient branch!  Vicki is the most positive and supportive "cheerleader", and I really needed that!  We will miss them, too!  Those pictured below are the Minnichs, Cases, Andersons and Chong Nan U (with Vicki).

As you can see, there is life after kids! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Lisbon, Portugal

Bob had to make a quick trip to Lisbon, Portugal, the second week of May.  After doing all kinds of research about the area, I became quite excited to tag along with him.  However, his schedule was tight and with the travel time involved, the trip would have afforded us only two days there.  I could hardly justify the expensive flight for such a short visit.  Fortunately, Bob actually took some photos of Lisbon on his phone so that I could live the experience virtually.  Believe me, it's not quite like being there myself!

His group took a short walking tour of the city one afternoon and they were able to get a nice view of the landscape.  In the background of the first photo, to the left, is the Sao Jorge Castle (Saint George Castle), and to the right is a view of the Tagus River.  Notice the detailed tile-work which covers the exterior of the buildings in the second photo.  Portugal is known for it's tiles and artistic mosaic pavements.  Another interesting thing to notice on the blue building is that the tops of the archways on the bottom floor remain level even though the foundation of the building slopes downward along the road.  The height of each arch increases as you proceed down the road, yet they appear to be uniform in size.

Praca de Comercio, or Central Commerce Square, features the Triumphal Arch and a large bronze equestrian statue.

These photos were taken in Liberation Square which is the location of a 1960's revolt against the dictator who lived next to the church with the big red door.  The result was liberation from 60 years of Spanish rule.

Lisbon's eighteenth century City Hall Building is found in Municipal Square.  The unique Rossio Train Station with its intertwined horseshoe shaped entrances is an example of neo-manueline architecture completed in 1887.  

Saint Anthony was revered as a matchmaker and was born on the site of the present-day Saint Anthony Church.  Construction of the Baroque style building with Neoclassical columns began in 1757.  Legend has it that if you toss a coin and it lands on the head of the statue you will get married that year.  Across the Tagus River is a huge Monument to Christ.  This statue depicts the Savior with outstretched arms to Lisbon and was built in 1959 with gratitude to God for having spared the city during World War II.

The Elevador de Santa Justa (third photo below) is a neo-Gothic designed iron elevator which was built in the nineteenth century by a student of Gustave Eiffel.  It was built as part of a contest which took place to create an elevator that was more than three stories high.  Initially, the Lisbons found the elevator to be unattractive and wanted to take it down, but it still functions today as a symbol of their innovative spirit.  Notice the beautifully tiled floors of Rua Augusta, Lisbon's main pedestrian street.

Sao Domingos Church is pictured in the first photo below.  Se Cathedral (second photo below) is a twelfth century Romanesque style Catholic church and Lisbon's oldest building.


And finally, below is an example of an intricately detailed arched gate found in Lisbon.  It is a unique and lovely city with amazing architecture and views.  I'd love to visit this beautiful country someday, but if not, you and I can say we've seen a tiny piece of it through the eyes of Bob.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Dongdaemun and Daehangno

There is an area of Seoul called Dongdaemun, which is largely known as the place to shop for clothing and accessories.  It includes the world's largest market of fabrics and clothing materials, many of which are supposedly sold at wholesale prices.  As a foreigner, we rarely get to buy things for much of a bargain, but we keep trying!  I haven't mastered the art of shopping in Korea, but this is my "go to" place for many things.  There is a toy market where I have found some things for the grand kids, and a baking market where I can actually find powdered sugar (still looking for good brown sugar), and other baking supplies.  You have never seen a shoe market as immense as the one here - too bad my feet are larger than the sizes they carry.  I don't even try to find clothing in my size - although they are slowly becoming more aware that westerners don't fit their tiny mold.  And in the rare event I decide to sew something, I wonder for hours in the fabric market until I am completely overwhelmed!

Since we moved here, they have been working on construction of a huge building where a stadium once was in the heart of Dongdaemun.  It opened a couple of months ago, so on Saturday, April 12, 2014, Bob and I decided to go see what it was.  It is called Dongdaemun Design Plaza and is designed by a world-renowned architect, Zaha Hadid.  The exterior is decorated with over 40,000 aluminum sheets, none of which are the same.  The roof is covered with grass and gardens, to create the illusion of green space in the middle of the city - at least during the summer months, I suppose.  The plaza is home to a design museum, fashion design center, lounge, museums, shops, and exhibition spaces.  I guess during the excavation process, foundations and artifacts from previous buildings were uncovered and preserved and can be seen while walking around the grounds and within a small museum.  The first photo below is an aerial view which I found online here:

We walked to Heunginjimun (or better known as Dongdaemun Gate), which is the eastern gate of the eight original gates to the city of Seoul.  We followed the wall to the north from there and ended up at Naksan Park.


Leaving the park to the west, we ended up in the Daehangno area, which is an artsy community with over 150 small theaters and lots of street art and impromptu performances by young artists. We found a great Italian restaurant and enjoyed lunch in this delightful community.  I will definitely return here again sometime!

I love to just get out and walk around this city (at least during the few months when the weather is as gorgeous as it was this day).  There are treasures to be found in every niche and corner of this vast metropolis.  When I can detach myself from the crowds, awful smells, decay, and trash that often overpower my focus, I really do enjoy some of the hidden beauties of Seoul.