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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Seoul Nostalgia



Migliore and Doosan Tower

On Tuesday 13 October 2009 The Straits Times Life section travel page published an article on Seoul's shopping belt. The places mentioned brought back fond memories of this sleepless city in Korea. In January 2001 we visited our son and his family in Seoul and stayed with him for more than a week. His 3 bedroom apartment was at Libery House at Hanandon which was near the shopping belt. The snowfall had stopped but snow could still be seen in many parts of the city. During our stay we visited Namdaemum, Dongdaemun, Migloire and Doosan Tower. The latter two shopping malls had a few basements with hundreds of locked up stalls in rows facing each other. The passage ways were narrow and we had to jostle with the crowd and push our way through to move on. We ended buying nothing on that day because of the crowd. However, we went back a few times to make purchases. Besides the shopping belt there were places of interests for tourists. We visited the palaces and toured the palace grounds with a guide. We also went to Insa-dong, the art centre. Art works such as painting, ceramics, antiques and souvenirs could be obtained from the shops and roadside stalls.

Itaewon, another shopping area was famous for imitation branded goods especially the luxury leather goods such as handbags, accessories and lugguage. We had a bad experience on the way back. We took a public bus there and expected the bus to return the same way. Instead, the bus ended half way at the bus terminus. We got out of the bus and walked to the main road. Fortunately, I recognised some of the landmarks and walked all the way back the our apartment. Looking back, it was quite an adventure walking and recognising the landmarks.

I learnt of Yongsan Electrical Market and ventured there alone by public bus. The large shopping mall had nothing but electrical products. There were a mix of Korean and Japanese made electrical goods consisted of cameras, tv sets, fans, refreigerators, radios, computers and many others. There were many side roads and all the roadside stalls were selling mainly computer parts with a mix of radios, fans and other smaller items.

As for Korean food we ate from hotel restuarants, home catering, food shops to roadside stalls. All the meals came with a variety of kim chee (Korean pickle). There was a Kim Chee Museum showing more than a thousand different kinds of kim chee. Still, I love our bak chor mee, nasi lemak, laksa, roti prata and other Singapore food.

We had another adventure on the way to Seoul International Airport. That morning it was snowing heavily. Due to the traffic congestion we arrived at the airport just in time. Unfortunately, we were at the wrong airport terminal. We had to take an airport bus to the other terminal. Time had been wasted waiting for the bus and by the time we arrived, the SIA flight had taken off. We waited for 12 hours at the airport for the next flight home as all flight in and out of the airport had stopped because of the heavy snowfall. What an experience! It was also my first time seeing snow falling like cotton from the sky.

Liberty House


Changdeohgung Palace


Palace ground


Hyatt Hotel children playground


Namdaemun (South Gate)


Namdaemun market place


Dongdaemun (East Gate)


Dongdaemun market place


Doosan Tower


Insa-Dong



Itaewon


At a hotel restuarant


Street stall


Yongsan Electrical Market


Slept at airport while waiting for the flight

Seoul Internation Airport carparks

Friday, October 2, 2009

Lantern Festival

I remember the lantern festival as a kid. We would gather around to light our lanterns before walking round the block. I had problem lighting my lantern and often burned them. Each time my grandma would buy me a replacement. During the festival lanterns of all shapes and colours were displayed for sale at most streets and corners. The common ones were in the shape of a ball and cockerels.

Now it is our turn to buy lanterns for the grandchildren to celebrate the mid autumn festival.
The festival is not complete without the moon cakes. Hotels and well known restuarants still made the traditional moon cakes. But at the cake shops there are so many colourful moon cakes of different shapes and sizes.

The Lantern Festival is not only for Chinese kids. It has become international as far as our neighbourhood is concerned as can be seen in the pictures below.



My grandson


Lantern Festival for all races


Kids with lanterns going round the blocks

A magic show rounded up the festival

Thursday, October 1, 2009

John Wayne

Recently I was on holidays in California. Along the highway to St Diego there were many overhead directional signboards. One of them showed the way to John Wayne Airport. I was told that the airport was originally known as Orange County Airport. It was renamed in 1979 as John Wayne Airport in remembrance of him. To commemorate the renaming of the airport, a nine-foot bronze statue of John Wayne aka the Duke was installed at the airport on November 4 1982.


Signboard showing the direction to John Wayne Airport


John Wayne Airport Diagram


John Wayne Bronze Statue

In US I saw many black and white classic movies in the tv including those acted by John Wayne. He was an actor who wore many hats. He acted as a Yangkee soldier, a sherrif, a fighter pilot, a marine corps, a bookie, French Foreign Legion and many others. Altogether he appeared in more than 150 movies.

I went shopping at Walmart and was lucky to find a classic collection of John Wayne dvd. In the pack was 4 dvd discs with a total of 25 classic movies. Included was a bonus of 80 minutes showing John Wayne movie trailers spanning his colourful career. The pack of 4 discs cost me US$5.00 only. I tried to get for friends but it was the only one left.


A Town Sherrif


A Bookie


French Foreign Legion

A Yangkee soldier

US Navy Officer


US Army General


A Fighter Pilot