Culture Korea Style
As you can see I’ve easily adjusted to life in Korea. I’m well fed– the food is amazing and Koreans LOVE to eat, so you know I’m not mad at that; I’m well bathed — you remember the scrub down? I still can’t help but to touch myself, my skin is so soft. And now I’m well culture-fied ,as I’ve spent the last two days learning the art of Korean traditional dance and exploring Changdeokgung (King Taejong’s palace); and tooling around the crafts market.
On Saturday, Jenny and I woke up early as we had to catch a bus to Anseong, about an hour’s drive from Seoul, to set up for the evening performance at Halmoni’s dance academy — Tapyung Mu Initiation Academy. I think I may have told you about Halmoni and her remarkable life — she was born in Anseong, began studying dance at 13 under the Master Han Sung Joon, toured the world, served as director of the Korean National Arts organization, elected to Korean Parliament and opened the dance academy. If you want to know more about Halmoni, a book about her life is being published and will be released in October.
Anywhoo, every Saturday during the summer the students of Tapyung Mu, give a free dance performances for local residents and visitors to enjoy. Jenny and I were there to set up the chairs, but Ahjushi (Uncle) had already set up the chairs so we didn’t have to do much. The students performed five out of eleven of the traditional dances taught throughout the year. The dances (which I was able to capture on film) are executed with flawless and exact precision that I found myself trying to imitate some of the movements. Needless to say, I won’t give up my day job for dance. My favorite dance is Tapyung Mu or the Peace Dance, which is an ancient dance that the Queen would perform for the King before he headed off to war. The dance was a way that she would protect and bring peace about the king and his men. In addition to bringing peace, the costume for this dance is quite beautiful I’m wearing it in one of the pictures I uploaded. After the performance Jenny and I hung around for a while before we got on the bus back into the city.
On Sunday, Jenny and I had traditional Korean BBQ. Did I mention that I love that Koreans love to eat! And the food is so good and good for you — that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Actually the Koreans are quite good at incorporating a lot of healthy items on their day to day menu — lots of vegetables including the staple kimchee (spicey cabbage, relish or cucumbers), rice lean meats ( beef and pork) and every form of dried, salted fish you can imagine. Surprisingly, I like the fish. Anywhoo, Korean BBQ was great, we had the beef and then finished it with a cold noodle soup. Jenny said that it was tradition to finish a hot meal with a cold meal, something about yin and yang. I didn’t really stop eating to ponder that. After lunch we stopped for coffee and cake, you know I have to have my something sweet and then we headed out for traditional tourist sightseeing.
Our first stop was at the Insadong Crafts Market. For the first few days of my trip, I was feeling pretty special because I hadn’t seen a lot of westerners, so I was enjoying the fact that I was something new to Korea, or at least that’s what I liked to tell myself. Well all of that changed at soon as we got into the market. Tourist from every walk of life were milling about, haggling over the price of paper fans, key chains and silk coasters. We didn’t stick around the market too long, just long enough to buy two Korea patches for Peyton and paper fans because it was hot.
After the market we headed over to Changdeokgung for a tour of the palace and a walk through the secret garden. The 2.5 km tour lasted for an hour and a half and was quite informative. The tour was well worth the 3,000w ( that’s $3 US), I highly recommend taking the tour, although I would suggest taking the tour on a less hot and humid day for maximum enjoyment.
You’ll never guess what I did today. I got my hair done at a neighborhood hair salon. Omma, strongly suggested that I pay a visit to her stylist for a quick was and curl. Do you think she was trying to tell me something. Well in any event, I took the hint and I have to admit, I’m pleasantly surprised. Omma was quite pleased with the results as well. My hair looks almost as good as if Mr. Marvin had done it (don’t tell him) and for a fraction of the cost and time spent in the salon. $10 tax and tip and I was in and out in 30 minutes, have you ever heard of such a thing?
That’s enough for culturfication, for now. I leave you somethings you should know if you everyplan on visiting Seoul Korea:
Things you should know:
Korea is relatively inexpensive. So you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank for necessities — food, hair stylists, taxis, food, acupuncturists, scrub downs. For example our most expensive cab ride was approximately $10 and we were in the cab for about an hour and the scrub down was $100 tax and tip for 2 hours. Go figure.
Koreans love to eat and love to feed you, so bring your appetite
Some streets don’t have names, so good luck trying to get around in some of the neighborhoods, even the post man has issues
Seoul Baby D